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Carter's View

The New York State Attorney General's Office has accepted the offering plan for the Cipriani Club Residences at 55 Wall Street, one of Lower Manhattan's most important landmarks.

The lower half of the building was designed by Isaiah Rogers in Greek Revival style and opened in 1842 as the Merchant Exchange and became home to the New York Stock Exchange until 1854 and then served as the Custom House from 1862 to 1907 when it was acquired by the National City Bank Corporation for its headquarters.

The bank, a predecessor firm of Citicorp, hired McKim, Mead & White to expand the building. The expansion added four floors and a second colonnade to its Wall Street facade. The building's enormous, 12,000-square-foot banking hall was designed in classical Roman style with a 60-foot-high ceiling. For several years, the bank had a huge and tall red lacquer free-standing wall angled in the center of the banking hall that was a tellers' station.

The building was designated a city landmark in 1965.

The Cipriani family operated the hall and a restaurant before the building was taken over in January, 2000 by Regent International Hotels to become the Regent New York hotel with 144 rooms and suites. The economic aftermath of the terrorist attacks September 11, 2001, however, led to the hotel being closed in January, 2004.

The project will contain 106 furnished apartments including 45 "club residences," or studios, 49 1-bedroom apartments, 8 2-bedroom apartments and 4 3-bedroom apartments.

Buyers of the apartments will be able to choose from three design styles for the fully furnished units, down to linens, toasters and glassware: sleek, classic and eclectic. The apartments are being designed by Tsao & McKown.

A spokesman for the development said that the hotel's rooms had been gutted and that the apartments are new construction. Residents will have two years' membership in a private club.

Prices, including the furnishings, are expected to range from $785,000 to over $3 million.

Giuseppe Cipriani's grandfather opened Harry's Bar in Venice in 1931 and it quickly became one of the most famous in the world.

A new brochure for the development shows Giuseppe Cipriani's head laying in the lap of "Cipriani Club member Margherita Missoni" while holding a cup of coffee. Mr. Cipriani, who is a partner in the development with the Witkoff Group, is wearing a tuxedo and white shirt.

In the brochure, Mr. Cipriani is quoted as stating:

"A rich lifestyle accommodates a breadth of social, leisure and practical pursuits to enhance and ease the lives of the residents of 55 Wall Street and, most of all, anticipate their needs. The Club, an extension of each residence, includes both formal and casual dining rooms in which to enjoy classic Cipriani dishes: an intimate bar serving the trademark Bellini along with the world's finest wines and spirits; a richly appointed billiard room; an elegant wine cellar and private dining rooms; a state-of-the-art screening room featuring the latest Hollywood releases; an old-world, European-style hair salon and barber shop; a library and reading room with an array of international newspapers and magazines and literature both contemporary and classic; a full-service spa featuring tanning booth, wet room, and steam showers; a Cipriani boutique; and access to a world-class concierge able to arrange for services of every sort. Residents have exclusive use of spacious duplex fitness center outfitted with a complete range of sleek equipment in polished chrome and supple leather. A 24-four concierge, doorman, rooftop garden, and butler and maid service by Cipriani will be available to all residents. To own on eof the residences is to own the good life, Cipriani-style."
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Architecture Critic Carter Horsley Since 1997, Carter B. Horsley has been the editorial director of CityRealty. He began his journalistic career at The New York Times in 1961 where he spent 26 years as a reporter specializing in real estate & architectural news. In 1987, he became the architecture critic and real estate editor of The New York Post.
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