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Carter's View

The owners of the former Rogers Peet & Co. commercial building on the northeast corner at 41st Street at 485 Fifth Avenue directly across from the New York Public Library are reconsidering its conversion to residential condominiums, according to a source familiar with the project.

The owners are Belfonti Capital Partners and the Carlyle Group.

The property was acquired from Tri-Realty Management Corporation for a price reported to be about $88 million and the owners announced they would add four floors to the brown-brick, 10-story building. The plans called for the creation of 104 residential condominium apartments and 26,000 square feet of retail space.

The source indicated that the reconsideration reflected the current "hot" market for hotel properties in comparison with the highly competitive residential condominium market, but added that no decision has yet been made and that no communication has been made between the owners and people who had made deposits on about half of the units already. In an article by Braden Keil in today's edition of The New York Post indicated that the owners were "returning deposits," but no deposits have been returned, according to the source.

A decision was expected in the near future, they added.

Designer Peter Som was retained for the interiors.

The building has a three-story limestone base and two-story-high limestone pilasters on its top two floors and an attractive cornice. Its upper floors along the avenue offer impressive views of Bryant Park and its surroundings.

Belfonti Capital Partners, a subsidiary of Belfonti Associates of Hamden, Connecticut, recently opened an office in the city and is also converting the building at 260 Park Avenue South.

Last May, the building, which was for many years occupied by Rogers, Peet & Co., a clothing store, was sold by Tommy Hilfiger U.S.A., Inc., in a transaction it valued "at approximately $48 million." The Tommy Hilfiger concern had previously announced it was relocating from the building to the Starrett-Lehigh Building at 601 West 26th Street.

The building is the latest of several major residential developments on Fifth Avenue south of 42nd Street and around Bryant Park. Others include 425 Fifth Avenue at 38th Street and projects in various stages of construction at 400 Fifth Avenue and 325 Fifth Avenue as well as Bryant Park Tower on the Avenue of Americas at 39th Street and 1450 Broadway.

According to a January 4, 2005 in The Daily Fashion, "the interior sections of the building are being rebuilt from the ground up" and "there will be an interior garden and four glass penthouses" that will have about 3,000 square feet of outdoor space. The article also said that the lobby "will boast a massive staircase that will feature steel railing shaped in the form of one of Som's fabric patterns - a flowery, black and white one, to be exact."

Mr. Som, who is of Chinese descent, grew up in San Francisco and both his parents were architects. He studied at Connecticut College and graduated from the Parsons School of Design and worked for Bill Blass, Michael Kors and Calvin Klein and his debut fashion collection was presented in the fall of 1999.

The building has high ceilings and the residential conversion included JDCC, a concierge service including catering by Serena Bass, a private club with screening room, fitness center and wine cellar and fireplaces in the penthouses.

One-bedroom apartments ranged in size from 651 to 865 square feet and in price from about $795,000 to $1,174,750. Two bedroom apartments ranged in size from 1,309 to 1,533 square feet and in price from $1,625,000 to $2,245,000. One penthouse with three bedrooms, three-and-a-half baths, a terrace and 2,395 square feet was priced at $4,960,000. Another penthouse with the same number of bedrooms and baths, but a terrace and a balcony and 3,459 square feet was priced at $7,000,000.
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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.