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If you haven't been keeping track of the best-selling buildings in recent years, wealthy New Yorkers are expressing a nostalgic desire to relive the Gilded Age's splendor, even as it veiled underlying societal crises. On the uber-upscale end of the Upper East Side, where NIMBYism is entrenched in land use laws, Spitzer Enterprises, led by former Governor Elliot Spitzer, is boldly progressing with a plan to replace a 55-year-old, 25-floor rental building at 985 Fifth Avenue with a smaller 19-story, 22-unit condo building.
While demolishing a high-rise in good condition to erect a shorter, more opulent structure of fewer units is neither environmentally nor socially favorable, one cannot be surprised when developers orient their projects to cater to the pinnacle of wealth given Manhattan's restrictive zoning laws and high land/ construction costs.

In this article:

520 Park Avenue
520 Park Avenue Park/Fifth Ave. to 79th St.
The Benson, 1045 Madison Avenue
The Benson, 1045 Madison Avenue Carnegie Hill
27 East 79th Street
27 East 79th Street Carnegie Hill
220 Central Park South
220 Central Park South Midtown West
255 East 77th Street
255 East 77th Street Lenox Hill
Existing rental building at 985 Fifth Avenue to be demolished. The current structure at 985 Fifth Avenue, a utilitarian mid-twentieth-century tower holds little architectural significance. It and its neighbor, 980 Fifth Avenue were derided for replacing the last of the Brokaw mansions and breaking from Fifth Avenue's consistent streetwall.
The rear of 985 Fifth Avenue (center) and Central Park and The Met beyond
Situated mid-block across Central Park, 985 Fifth Avenue falls within the Metropolitan Museum Historic District, where zoning laws emphasize conforming to the pre-existing scale. This district has seen minimal new constructions in the past 25 years, with the historic district preserving its unique pre-war grandeur and bucolic sidestreets. All while securing the area as the wealthiest and most exclusive stretch in the city. Furthermore, the 50 blocks of Fifth Avenue between 60th and 110th Streets are almost entirely under Landmarks' purview and have seen just three new buildings in the last 25 years: One Museum Mile, Fasano Fifth Avenue, and an addition at 838 Fifth Avenue.
While the city's housing shortage is dire, preserving New York's heritage is also crucial. Who would want this unique and stately stretch of New York to be ruined with bottom-line construction and glass anomalies? Losing the countless turn-of-the-century mansions is already one of the city's most tragic architectural losses.
Upper East Side co-ops The Brokaw mansions and other residences on the block of 985 Fifth Avenue
Fifth Avenue and East 79th Street
Demolition of the Brokaw Mansion
According to the Metropolitan Museum Historic District report, the pre-existing mansion at 985 Fifth was built as a pair of twin residences for the sons of Isaac Vail Brokaw, a pioneering clothing merchant and a descendant of one of the city's oldest families. 985 Fifth was initially owned by national figure skating champion Irving Brokaw, and after deserting Manhattan in the 50s, the building, in addition to two ornate mansions at 986 and 987 Fifth Avenue, was acquired and replaced in the late 1960s by Bernard Spitzer, father of Elliot Spitzer. Despite the city passing the Landmarks Law in 1965, motivated by the loss of historically significant buildings such as Pennsylvania Station, the Brokaw complex couldn't be saved, but prompted the designation of many of the parkside blocks protected today.
Driveway at the existing 985 Fifth Avenue
985-FIfth-Avneue-view View of Central Park from 985 Fifth Avenue
The existing contemporary glass and brick tower was designed by the Office of Michael Schimenti and breaks from Fifth Avenue's consistent streetwall. The approximately 255-foot-tall building is one of the tallest Fifth Avenue buildings facing the park and is also one of the stretch's few rental buildings -- with apartments leasing for $10,000 to $25,000 a month. Although the existing building is within the historic district, it is considered non-contributing, and the Landmarks Preservation Commission approved its demolition in October 2023.
Rendering via Landmarks Presentation (Credit: Spitzer Enterprises, Studio Sofield, SLCE Architect)
While the current building is protected within the Metropolitan Museum Historic District, it's considered a non-contributing structure, justifying the Landmarks Preservation Commission's approval for demolition. In October 2023, Landmarks also approved the replacement design by Studio Sofield and SLCE, deeming it coherent with the historic district. Studio Sofield is known locally for its interior work, such as at 111 West 57th Street. Their first local building design was 135 East 79th Street, a 2013-built condo located two blocks east of Spitzer's site. This was followed by Beckford Tower & Beckford House bearing a pre-war-inspired facade of buff brick and Indiana limestone.
The new 106,000-square-foot building will rise 19 stories, reaching 210 feet tall to the top of its highest floor, the maximum height allowed for the site. Unlike the current setback-in-plaza tower, the new design will rise flush with the streetwall and recede with several shallow setbacks starting at the 13th floor. The limestone facade aligns with the elegant pre-war co-ops of Fifth Avenue, making the new building almost indistinguishable from its peers. Renderings in the presentation shown to Landmarks also depict a sculpture of a squirrel and a dog fountain at the front entrance. The project is expected to be completed in 2028.
In the informative podcast, Shaping the New York Skyline, Elliott Spitzer touts the new building as "more appropriate for Fifth Avenue from an aesthetic point of view, and in terms of the quality of the apartments, it will be quite something." He emphasizes the unparalleled value of the land, considering it one of the very best pieces of property in New York City.
As it will be several years before the project is delivered, we look at similar new high-end condominium developments faced with an opulent limestone facade. Limestone, a sedimentary rock primarily composed of marine organism skeletal fragments, graces the exteriors of many iconic structures and numerous pre-war buildings throughout New York. Indiana Limestone, renowned for its quality, is extracted from southern Indiana and clads structures such as the Empire State Building, Rockefeller Center, the Waldorf Astoria, and the sculptural group "Glory of Commerce" atop Grand Central Terminal.

While limestone varies in hardness, its aesthetic appeal remains timeless. Paris, adorned with limestone, has long been admired for its elegance, and the city's affluent, past and present, are still choosing this material to flaunt their wealth. below, see some of the latest limestone additions to come to New York.

The New Limestone Palaces of New York

The Naftali Group has begun construction on a 36-story condominium tower at 255 East 77th Street in Lenox Hill, off Second Avenue. The project is set to include 55 residential units and amenities such as a swimming pool, fitness center, yoga studio, sauna, roof deck, lounge, and enclosed parking garage. The developer acquired neighboring lots in December 2021 for $72.6 million, and the current phase involves careful demolition by Alba Services. While renderings are pending drawings submitted to the NYC DOB suggest a design rooted in Classical traditions with a limestone facade. SLCE are the architects of record with Robert A.M. Stern Architects likely the design architects.

27 East 79th Street is an elegant 15-story condominium located moments from Central Park hosting just eight residences. Designed by Alberto Pinto, the building is clad in a Parisian-inspired façade and a luxurious lobby adorned with French limestone tiles and Noir Saint Laurent marble flooring. Residents are welcomed by a signature glass and wrought iron-domed marquee, and each residence has direct elevator entry for maximum privacy and convenience.

27 East 79th Street, #5 (Corcoran Group)

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Designed by Robert A.M. Stern Architects, 200 East 83rd Street is a gorgeous limestone tower on the Upper East Side distinguished by its impressive height, elegant silhouette, and grand arched windows. As you step into the elegant entrance, a doorman and concierge welcome you to a sophisticated lobby. The amenities are extraordinary, and include a fitness center, yoga studio, 70-foot indoor pool with vaulted ceilings, spa, wood and leather-paneled library, children’s playroom, screening room, Winter Garden with terrace access, and a vaulted porte-cochere with automated parking and a private courtyard

200 East 83rd Street, #23C (Brown Harris Stevens Residential Sales LLC)

The Benson The Benson, looking down Madison Avenue (CityRealty)
The Benson, Naftali Group's inaugural Upper East Side condominium at 1045 Madison Avenue, rises 19 stories tall in an area dominated by pre-war cooperatives. The limestone-clad building designed by Peter Pennoyer, comprises 15 full-floor and duplex units, each boasting oversized windows, high ceilings, custom crown moldings, lavish master suites, and kitchens designed by Christopher Peacock. Some homes also offer private terraces.

The building features a jewel box lobby and a private cinema room designed by Italian designer Achille Salvagni. Other amenities include a fitness center, half basketball court, spa with sauna and steam room, library with a garden, art studio, pet spa, and a landscaped rooftop lounge with a fire pit and views of Central Park.

The Benson, #11 (Brown Harris Stevens Residential Sales LLC)

Beckford House & Tower presents a stunning array of one to six-bedroom condominium residences, adding an unparalleled level of elegance to the Upper East Side. Situated on 80th and 81st Streets, the renowned design firm Studio Sofield has masterfully crafted two harmonious residential buildings. The structures seamlessly merge classical and contemporary elements, revitalizing their prominent corners. Every residence boasts meticulous craftsmanship, expansive living spaces, and masterful detailing. The curated selection of amenities further enriches each resident's lifestyle.

Beckford Tower, #7A (Corcoran Group)

Situated one block from Museum Mile and Central Park, The Bellemont epitomizes luxury and sophistication. The corner 12-story building was envisioned by Naftali Group and designed by renowned architect Robert A.M. Stern with designer Achille Salvagni. Its exterior showcases a meticulously crafted Indiana limestone façade and intricate metalwork. Inside are just 12 gracious residences. Amenities include an attended lobby with a 24-hour doorman and concierge service, a fitness center, a screening room, a children's playroom, a squash court with a basketball hoop, and a rooftop terrace with stunning views of Central Park.

70 Vestry Street 70 Vestry (Photo credit: Tim Fisher)
Shaped by Robert A.M. Stern Architects, 70 Vestry Street features a classic stepped massing and an elegant limestone exterior that introduces a timeless statement to its prime TriBeCa waterfront location. The building offers a range of amenities, including a squash court, fitness center, 82' lap pool, yoga and Pilates studio, as well as a lounge, dining suite, and dining room accessible to all residents. The building's staff includes a full-time concierge and doorman.

70 Vestry Street, #4A (Compass)

520 Park Avenue is a soaring condominium crafted by Robert A.M. Stern Architects, offering 35 simplex and duplex residences. Positioned at 60th Street between Park and Madison Avenues, 520 Park Avenue enjoys an enviable location bridging the picturesque Upper East Side Historic District and the esteemed Plaza District.

Residents enjoy a suite of amenities, including a full-time doorman and concierge, a salon opening to a landscaped garden, a fully-equipped fitness center, a double-height indoor swimming pool, a children's playroom, a versatile lounge for office needs, a screening room, and more.

520 Park Avenue, #30 (OFFICIAL)

Designed by Robert A.M. Stern Architects and developed by the Zeckendorf, 15 Central Park West is comprised of two limestone towers and features 202, one- to four-bedroom residences. Units offer multi-directional views and full-floor, duplex penthouses are extremely spacious, with some ranging between 5,000 and 6,000 square feet.

The building is near the restaurants and shops of Columbus Circle as well as Central Park and the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. Amenities include a 24-hour doorman, a private dining room and library, a screening room, and a health club and pool. Many units also have individual wine cellars.

15 Central Park West, #PH40A6K (Douglas Elliman Real Estate)

220 Central Park South represents an unparalleled marriage of cutting-edge living and pre-war opulence. Conceived by the esteemed architect Robert A. M. Stern, former Dean of the Yale School of Architecture and a luminary in New York City's architectural legacy, this towering structure ascends not only among the city's loftiest structures but also stands unequivocally as its most distinguished apartment building of its time.

The 952-foot tall, 70-story tower, and the 18-story "Villa" on Central Park South, command panoramic views of Central Park through expansive windows. A commitment to classic design also permeates the interiors. Amenities include a double-height lobby, a secured indoor motor reception with private parking, a state-of-the-art gym, a basketball court, a squash court, a rock climbing wall, an indoor pool, an athletic club, and spa, a game room, a screening room, and exclusive facilities such as a private restaurant, bar, and roof garden.

220 Central Park South, #23C (Corcoran Group)
Would you like to tour any of these properties?
Just complete the info below.
  1. Select which properties are of interest to you:

Or call us at (212) 755-5544
Would you like to tour any of these properties?