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Carter's View

The plot behind 1 Sutton Place is "one of the most contested green spaces in the city, with a nine-year turf war raging between the star-studded East Side co-op and city officials over use of the property," according to an article by Heather Haddon published in The New York Post December 19, 2010.

"City and state officials accuse the co-op of illegally squatting on a section of the secret gated garden, arguing that a sweetheart deal from the city for exclusive access to the roughly half-acre plot expired more than a decade ago. The high-strung co-op board (which once made the late Bill Blass promise to not have overnight guests) appears to be ready to give up a quarter-acre strip of the garden for a public park, according to those close to the negotiations," the article said.

The article said that Mark Thompson, the chair of Community Board 6, said that "The city has really treaded very gingerly about it, but this is too important to wait,"

"In 1939, the city gave the building exclusive access to the East River waterfront garden for a buck a year, and, in exchange, the co-op gave up a chunk of its land to build the FDR. That deal expired in 1990, and officials started making a stink about it in 2003, when renovations to the FDR brought the ownership issue to light," the article said.

The residents of the building sued the city in 2007 to "to keep their precious urban oasis - or get $10 million in compensation," the article continued, adding that Peter Neger, the co-op's lawyer, said he expects the board to eventually sign off on an agreement" and "a spokeswoman for the city Law Department said they were 'actively trying to resolve the matter.'"

One of the city's grandest luxury apartment houses, 1 Sutton Place South is a freestanding structure overlooking the East River between 56th and 57th Streets.

The 13-story cooperative apartment house has an elegant triple-arched entrance driveway that opens to a lobby that, in turn, opens to its private garden facing the East River.

Passersby on the street can peer through the arches and glimpse the garden, providing a degree of transparency that is quite rare.

The very handsome building, which has Italian Renaissance detailing, was completed in 1927 and was designed by Rosario Candela and Cross & Cross.

1 Sutton Place South is the finest and most prestigious apartment building on Sutton Place and its only rivals along the East River in terms of grandeur are River House and 1 Beekman Place, a few blocks to the south.

The building is topped by the penthouse in the city, a 17-room unit that has 5,000 square feet of interior space and 6,000 square feet of terraces that wrap entirely around it. The apartment is notable for having two very large "drawing rooms" with curved bay windows at their north and south end of the building. The spectacular rooms have very tall ceilings, one of which contains a skylight.

The building was built in 1927 by the Phipps family and the penthouse was created originally for Amy Phipps as a duplex. When her son, Winston Guest, the famous polo player and husband of C. Z. Guest, the garden columnist, took the apartment over, the lower floor was subdivided into three separate apartments, one of which was occupied by Bill Blass, the designer. The Guests lived on one side of the penthouse and one of their sons, Alexander, lived on the other side for several years and sold the apartment in 1963 about the time that their daughter, Cornelia Guest, was born.

The apartment was then acquired by Janet Annenberg Hooker, the philanthropist who died in late 1997 and was a sister of Walter Annenberg, the communications magnate and art collector. The legendary apartment was put on the market in early 1998 with an asking price of $15 million, then highest price then for an apartment in the city.
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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.