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A blog from CityRealty (Links below will take you to the 6sqft site)

The Mondrian, 250 East 54th Street

At The Southwest corner of Second Avenue

82
Carter Horsley
Review by Carter Horsley
Carter Horsley Carter B. Horsley, a former journalist for The New York Times, The International Herald Tribune and The New York Post. Mr. Horsley is also the editorial director of CityRealty.com.
 

New York has surprisingly few sleek apartment towers and this is one of the best.

Designed by Fox & Fowle, an architectural firm best known for its office buildings, this 43-story is not only stunning, but, perhaps more unusual for New York, colorful.

At one point, this building was known as Le Grand Palais. Now known as The Mondrian, it is named after the great modernist painter famed for his "Broadway Boogie Woogie" designs of colored grids.

The aluminum and glass curtain wall of this tower sports red bands every five floors and the rest of the tower's façades are bright white and dark blue. It is far more colorful than the more touted Museum Tower on West 53rd Street by Cesar Pelli that was supposed to have 14 different colors on its rather dark façade that have been hard to discern.

Although the massing of the tower is a bit odd to maximize its zoning potential, it is, nevertheless, quite handsome in its combination of clean, crisp rectilinearity and a curved corner. The base of the tower is a three-story-high base that fills the site.

The 179-unit condominium tower was opened in early 1992. It was developed by Charles B. Benenson and Laurence A. and Preston R. Tisch.

Mr. Benenson was the head of Benenson Capital Company, a business founded in 1905 by his father, Benjamin. In 1976, Charles B. Benenson built the Connaught rental apartment building on the southeast corner of Second Avenue and 54th Street that was later converted to a co-operative.

According to an article by Alan S. Oser in the November 17, 1991 edition of The New York Times, it took Mr. Benenson five years to vacate the tenants in the apartment building that used to stand on the site of The Mondrian. When his new building opened as Le Grand Palais, Mr. Oser reported that a two-bedroom, two-bath apartment with 1,200 square feet on the 20th floor had an asking price of $698,000 and five, full-floor penthouse apartments, some of which had bidets, were listed at $2.5 million to $3 million.

In an article in the July 21, 1993 edition of Real Estate Weekly, Lois Weiss wrote that "A Western European investor group led by Kirkpatrick MacDonald closed last week on the purchase of the vacant residential building at 250 East 54th Street for $50 million in cash." The article stated that the building was "purchased at a sealed bid auction conducted in April" and "was propelled by mortgagor Crossland Savings Bank, which held a $110 million mortgage for developer Benenson Capital Company." The article also noted that "original purchasers were given their money back when the offering plan could not be completed with less than 15 percent of the units being sold."

The building has a health club and pool, but no garage and no sundeck. It has some colorful panels inspired by Mondrian, the great Dutch modernist painter on the ground and second-floor levels.

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