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Fifty Third and Eighth in Midtown West: Review and Ratings | CityRealty

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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.
 

This plain, 25-story apartment building at 301 West 53rd Street on the northwest corner at Eighth Avenue was assembled by Harry Horwitz and erected in 1980.

It subsequently was known as the Encore and more recently as The Metro and has been owned by Ruby Schron, Extell Development, Westbrook Capital and most recently by HFZ Capital Group, which is headed by Ziel Feldman. HFZ is converting it to 252 condominiums and has renamed it Fifty Third and Eighth.

It was designed by Liebman & Liebman and Schuman Lichtenstein & Claman.

BP Architects is designing the conversion, Terrain NYC is the landscape architect and ASH NYC is responsible for the furnishings.

Bottom Line

A gut rehab of a run-of-the-mill, mid-rise apartment tower with a roof deck and garage in Clinton that is between the Theater District and Columbus Circle and Central Park.

Description

This brown-brick building, which is also known as 300-304 West 54th Street and 891-907 Eighth Avenue, is notable for its broad entrance stairs and a one-story stone base. 

The building has street-level retail including a supermarket and its neighborhood has improved considerable since it was built with such major projects on Eighth Avenue nearby as World Wide Plaza to the South and the Hearst Building and Time Warner Center to the north.

Amenities

The building has a 24-hour concierge and doorman, a roof deck, a garden, a garage, valet cleaning services, bicycle storage and a live-in superintendent.

Apartments

Apartments have have white lacquer kitchen cabinetry, white quartz countertops, Bertrazzoni gas ranges and Bosch dishwashers.  Bathrooms have Toto toilets and Glassos white marble walls, and Quirky Aros air-conditioners.

Apartment 2F is a three-bedroom unit with a 20-foot-long living room with an open, pass-through kitchen and a 34-foot-wide patio. 

Apartment 6K is a three-bedroom unit with a 20-foot-long living room with an open, pass-through kitchen.

Apartment 10D is a two-bedroom unit with an 18-foot-long living room with an open, pass-through kitchen.

Apartment 11J is a one-bedroom unit with a 20-foot-long living room with an open, pass-through kitchen.

 

History

Extell Development brought the 264-rental-apartment property, which was known as the Encore, in 2004 from Ruby Schron for $131 million. 

It planned to convert the building with Westbrook Partners to a condominium but in 2007 decided to sell it to Westbrook for $165 million, according to a June 12, 2007 article by John Koblin in The New York Observer.  The article also noted that the sale to Westbrook came “on the heels of Gary Barnett’s Extell selling 17 walk-up apartment buildings in the East Village to Westbrook for $97.5 million.  Extell and Westbrook had converted the former Stanhope Hotel at 995 Fifth Avenue to condominiums. 

An August 25, 2006 article by Sascha Segan at www.frommers.com/deals/hotels/is-your-new-york-hotel-legal noted that “Some great New York City hotel deals listed on prominent websites are actually illegal operations driving New Yorkers out of their homes, according to city and state officials.” 

The article said that “the property at 301 West 53rd Street looks just like any other apartment building in Manhattan. But contrary to its legal use as residential apartments for locals, it's on sale on www.woogo.com as the ‘WooGo Midtown,’ a hotel where suites start at $429/night.” 

“The WooGo hotel company is under fire from the new Illegal Hotels Working Group, organized by New York City councilwoman Gale Brewer, New York State senator Liz Krueger and state assemblyman Richard Gottfried,” the article continued, “for turning apartment buildings designated for New Yorkers desperate for housing into hotels for out-of-town tourists.” 

“Both 301 W. 53rd Street and buildings in the WooGo complex on East 63rd and 64th streets,” the article said,” have been served with recent city violations for "illegal conversion" of apartments into hotel rooms. But the fines are so low…, they're less than the cost of doing business, said Elianna Kaiser, a spokeswoman for Assemblyman Gottfried. New legislation to tighten the noose around illegal hotels is on the calendar for 2007, according to Sarah Hale-Stern, a legislative aide to Senator Kreuger. But that's next year.” 

"Often times they're not up to fire codes, they're not up to building codes, they don't have the appropriate number of exits required," said Virginia Lam of the New York City mayor's press office. 

An April 27, 2012 article by Elizabeth A. Harris in The New York Times said that “armed with a new state law, the city has spent the past year cracking down on the growing industry of short-term rentals; since the law took effect last May, nearly 1,900 notices of violation have been issued at hundreds of residential buildings.” 

Jerry Orbach, the actor, lived in the penthouse.

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