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Carter's View

The asking price in the condominium conversion plan approved last week by the New York Attorney General's office for the 163-unit Apthorp apartment building at 2207 Broadway is about $1.06 billion.

The building contains about 88 tenants that are covered by the city's rent protection laws and are not required to purchase their units.

An article by Josh Barbanel in yesterday's edition of The New York Times quoted Jon Herbitter, the president of Mann Realty that acquired the full-block property in 2007 for $426 million as stating that insiders will not be offered any discounts when the offering is distributed today.

Sales will open to the general public in the fall.

The most impressive of the handful of surviving full-block apartment buildings in the city with major garden courtyards, the Apthorp was designed by Clinton & Russell and completed in 1908.

The building occupies the block between Broadway and West End Avenues and 78th and 79th Streets.

The limestone-clad building has beautiful sculptural elements not only at its base but also near the top. The Apthorp's grand, arched entrances, moreover, have three-story pilasters topped with sculptural figures and very elaborate and lovely iron gates and bas reliefs of draped females holding up garlands. The Apthorp was built by the Astor family who also erected Astor Court, ten blocks to the north, which also has a large garden courtyard, but is not a full block building.

In his book, "New York's Fabulous Luxury Apartments with Original Floor Plans from the Dakota, River House, Olympic Tower and Other Great Buildings" (Dover Publications, Inc., 1975), Andrew Alpern noted that the Apthorp "originally contained ten apartments per floor," adding that "during the thirties and forties many of these were cut into smaller units to accommodate changing patterns of urban living." "The apartments are particularly well detailed, with each of the original suites containing a room-sized foyer with a mosaic tile floor. There are glass-paneled French doors throughout, and many of the rooms are ringed with Wedgwood-esque friezes."

In her excellent book, "New York, New York, How the Apartment House Transformed the Life of the City 1869-1930," (An Owl Book, Henry Holt and Company, New York, 1993), Elizabeth Hawes provides the following commentary about the Apthorp:

"William Waldorf Astor, who was called the landlord of New York despite the fact that he had lived in England since the 1890s, had been sitting on his properties for almost a generation, and his decision to build apartment houses on them now served to signal the world that the movement for development was nigh....Where a pretty two-story stone-and-frame house had stood for a century and a half, the Apthorp Apartments rose now. Until conversion to a roadhouse and hotel in the late 1850s, the house had been the country seat of Baron John Cornelius Van Den Heuvel, the son-in-law of the prominent lawyer Charles Ward Apthrope, and sat at the southern end of Apthorpe's rolling two-hundred-acre estate....Astor's endorsement of the Beaux-Arts courtyard building was early and expansive....The Graham was grand; the Apthorp was triumphant....Inside and out, the Apthorp was an exceptional building, and it showed off the new aesthetics to advantage....One hundred and four families lived in the Apthorp, which made it a vast holding, the largest of its kind in the world to date....There were hundreds of house phones or ash bins or mail chutes in the building, for example. On the top floor, there were 150 porcelain tubs, 20 boiling tubs, and 20 steam dryers in the laundry rooms -and as many irons in the ironing room...."
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Additional Info About the Building

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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