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Carter's View

An exclusive front-page article by Braden Keil in today's edition of The New York Post reports that Leonard Blavatnik has signed a letter of intent to acquire the top three floors of the 16-story Mark Hotel at 25 East 77th Street as a condominium apartment for $150 million.

The space for sale, totaling nearly 30,000 square feet, according to the article, is a combination of five planned units on the top three floors of the building. The living room has a 26-foot-high ceiling.

If sold separately, the apartments would comprise a total of 23 bedrooms, 25 bathrooms and five powder rooms.

Also featured is 3,900 square feet of outdoor space - including a huge rooftop terrace with a pavilion and fireplace, a gym and all hotel amenities such as twice-daily maid service, fresh linens and room service.

The upper stories of the building are being converted to residential condominiums by the Alexico Group of which Izak Senhabar and Simon Elias are principals.

The lower floors will remain as a hotel and the building will be known as The Mark.

Mr. Blavatnik owns an expensive house in the Kensington section of London and a $50 million townhouse that he recently purchased from Edgar Bronfman Jr. on East 64th Street.

Mr. Keil's article noted that prices of the units at the Mark have not yet been approved by the state Attorney General's Office, but quoted a source as stated that Mr. Blavatnik's wife "already met with Jacques Grange, the designer of the hotel's residences," adding that "he's already put in an offer."

Mr. Blavatnik, according to Mr. Keil, is the founder and chairman of Access Industries, a privately-held U.S. industrial group with global interests in natural resources and chemicals, media and telecommunications.

An article by Max Abelson appeared later today in the on-line edition of The New York Observer casting some doubt on Mr. Keil's report. "'Len was approached,' a source with knowledge of the deal (or non-deal) told The Observer this afternoon, 'but declined the opportunity,'" according to Mr. Abelson's article, which added "it's hard to fathom how Mr. Blavatnik, who closed just last month on a $50 million townhouse, and who in the past two years has bought a $27.5 million co-op at chic 998 Fifth Avenue, plus a $31.25 million mansion, could need more space in New York.

The beige-brick building, which was erected in 1927 and designed by Schwartz & Gross, has one of the city's most distinctive roofs, a copper-clad sloped pyramid cut off at the tope. The building is directly north of the Carlyle Galleries Building at 980 Madison Avenue where Aby Rosen, the owner of the Seagram Building and Lever House, was unable to get a certificate of appropriateness from the Landmarks Preservation Commission for a design he commissioned from Sir Norman Foster for a silvery glass cylindrical tower roof addition placed at the northern end of the building right across from the entrance to The Mark.

Most of the apartments and the building will have a 24-hour concierge and doorman, a fitness center, a business center, multilingual secretarial support, valet parking, limousine service. In addition, Frederic Fekkai will operate a Salon Mark and residents will have signing privileges at Salon Mark and Bar Mark in the building and Sant Ambroeus, an Italian restaurant a few doors up from the building on Madison Avenue revered for its cappuccino.

The project is expected to be completed next summer.

Alexico acquired the leasehold interest in the building for about $150 million from Mandarin Oriental Management. The hotel, which then had 119 rooms and 57 suites, is cattycorner to the Carlyle Hotel and until recently Issey Miyake occupied its Madison Avenue corner store at 77th Street.

The building has a three-story, rusticated limestone base, a large entrance marquee on 77th Street, balconies on the 14th floor and arched windows on the 15th floor.
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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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