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Carter's View

Vornado Realty Trust and the Clarett Group appear to have reached a settlement with rent-stabilized tenants at 220 Central Park South that they want to tear down and replace with a proposed new condo tower, according to an article today by Laura Kusisto at

Vornado and Clarett bought the 20-story rental apartment building in 2005 for $131.5 million and have been trying to vacate it so they can erect a 41-story residential condominium tower.

"They were originally offering tenants, including Corcoran's Leighton Candler, $1 million to vacate the building," the article said, adding that "now, according to city records, 15 such holdouts, including Ms. Candler, have been bought out for between $1.3 million and $1.56 million."

"Despite notable setbacks for landlords trying to vanquish rent-stabilized tenants (see: Stuy Town), the developer in this case has been winning legal battles, and now appears closer to winning the war," the article continued.

The light-gray brick building was erected in 1954 and was designed by Mayer & Whittlesley and M. Milton Glass. It has 124 rental apartments. Mayer & Whittlesley also designed 40 and 240 Central Park South, which, like 220 Central Park South, are through-block buildings that extend to 58th Street.

In their excellent book, "New York 1960 Architecture and Urbanism Between The Second World War and The Bicentennial," (The Monacelli Press, 1995), Robert A. M. Stern, Thomas Mellins and David Fishman provide the following commentary about this building:

"Replacing three nineteenth-century rowhouses, and an apartment building, all built by the Appleby family, number 220 had as its immediate neighbor to the west Charles Buckham's Gainsborough Studios (1908), one of the most distinguished examples of the 'artist's studio' apartment house type that flourished before the first World War. Unfortunately, neither the character of its neighbor nor the previous efforts of Mayer & Whittlesley influenced the design. The twenty-story building had coarsely detailed rows of double-hung aluminum windows set in white brick, corner balconies and a blocky elevator penthouse; a similarly dismal building faced Fifty-eight Street and was separated from its companion by a garden. The setback base of the building on Central Park South compromised the street wall that was so critical to the framing of the park."

The building has a two-step-down entrance, a revolving front door, a concierge, protruding air-conditioners, a garage, and spiked sidewalk landscaping. It is to the west of a fire engine company on 58th Street.

A November 12, 2009 article by Joey Arak at noted that "over the summer a permit was filed to underpin the building in conjunction with a new adjacent project...Extell's project at 225 West 58th Street from architects Cetra/Ruddy," adding that SLCE is the architectural firm for Vornado and Clarett for 220 Central Park South.

Another article by Mr. Arak September 15, 2010 noted that broker-blogger Andrew Fine observed that he had "counted what looked like at least 8 to 10 holdouts including one who is clearly having difficulty parting with a lush, south-facing terrace." An anonymous commenter at Mr. Fine's website,, November 30, 2010, said that "there are 24 rent-stabilized tenants that have been resisting the 'demolition eviction' for four and a half years now." "They are not holdouts. They are tenants fighting to save their homes. Many of them have been living in this building for over 30 years. Some are quite elderly (70s and 80s)....The rest of the tenants, perhaps another 15 units are month-to-month renters that are either employees, family, or associates of Vornado or Clarett."
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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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