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View 34, 401 East 34th Street

Between First Avenue & East River Drive

87
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 massive, white-brick rental apartment building at 401 East 34th Street between First Avenue and the FDR Drive was a pioneer in the redevelopment of the East Midtown area near the Queens-Midtown Tunnel.

It was erected in 1985 by the Zucker Organization and was known as Rivergate until 2014 when UDR, Inc., a real estate investment trust with more than 50,000 apartments, changed its name to View 54 and installed new windows with roller shades.  James D. Klingbell, a past chair of the Urban Land Institute, is chair of UDR.

It has 706 rental apartments.

Bottom Line

A full-service rental building with impressive views and an atrium lobby with a waterfall and fish ponds.  It is very close to the Queens-Midtown Tower and the Water Club Restaurant on the East River.

Description

This huge, 35-story building rises with three deep setbacks in a U-shaped plan on its east side facing the river creating a deep and narrow courtyard  facing the East River and the FDR Drive, which is elevated at this location.

The building has a large plaza on First Avenue, part of which was used for many years as an ice-skating rink in the winter.

It has an atrium lobby with a waterfall and fish ponds.

The Water Club restaurant is a few blocks south along the river.

Most of the apartments in this building have spectacular views.

The apartments are above three retail floors.

Amenities

The building has a health club, a roof deck, a garage, a circular driveway, a doorman, a concierge, a bicycle room, a children’s playroom, an outdoor playground and garden, video security, many balconies, some terraces, storage space, a 24-hour delicatessen, and valet service.

It is pet friendly.

Apartments

Apartments have triple-glazed windows because of the area’s heavy traffic.

Some apartments have 10-foot-high ceilings and fireplaces. 

Apartment S05SC is a two-bedroom unit with a 10-foot-long entrance gallery that opens onto a 22-foot-long living room with an angled balcony next to a 12-foot-long dining room adjacent to a 10-foot-long, enclosed kitchen.

Apartment S20SB is a two-bedroom unit with a 25-foot-long living/dining room with a bay window that is next to an enclosed kitchen.

Apartment S20SK is a one-bedroom unit with a 21-foot-long living/dining room with a bay window that is next to an enclosed kitchen.

Apartment S-31SD is a one-bedroom unit with an entry foyer that leads past an open kitchen to a living/dining room with an angled balcony.

Apartment S20SD is a one-bedroom unit with an open kitchen and an 11-foot-long living room with an angled balcony.

History

The site was formerly occupied by a Coca-Cola bottling plant and Mr. Zucker acquired it in 1978 but had to negotiate for several years with the community board that successfully argued for a 20 percent reduction in its bulk and a public park on First Avenue.

In their great book, "New York 1980, Architecture and Urbanism between The Bicentennial and the Millennium," Robert A. Stern, David Fishman and Jacob Tilove noted that "The building’s banal, multi-balconied, brown brick-clad mass was dressed up with a 6,000-square-foot, three-story glass-covered atrium lobby embellished by waterfalls and Frank Stella’s thirty-two-by-eight-foot Damascus Gate Variation I (1969).

But Thomas Balsey’s public plaza along First Avenue had some real style, providing the real amenity of an ice-skating rink, a happy contribution to the developing neighborhood that was unfortunately removed in 1996 when the plaza was redesigned by Landgarden Landscape Architects."

The building has renovated in 1997.

In a May 12, 1985 article in The New York Times, Dee Wedemeyer wrote that "Mr. Stella, who has been an established artist for more than two decades, is getting considerable attention in Manhattan’s development community these days. Not only has he been commissioned to do a huge work of public art for the [599] Lexington Avenue building, but the lobby of a new downtown office building at 199 Water Street, a block-square rental apartment house at 401 East 34th Street, and a collection of Stella lithographs has been installed in a Murray Hill condominium, the Pierpont at 111 East 30th Street. Earlier, in 1981, the Fisher Brothers put a 45-foot-long Stella in the lobby of Park Avenue Plaza, at 55 East 52nd Street.

It was soon followed by several luxury condominium towers to the north that are south of Tudor City and the United Nations and a massive mixed-use project that was approved in 2008 on former Con Edison property by Sheldon Solow.  The Solow project has remained dormant but in 2013 he sold the southernmost block to JDS Development that announced it would erect two angular apartment towers that will “kiss” each other about half-way up.

This project transformed a non-descript area north of Hospital Alley along First Avenue into a new residential neighborhood and while many of the newer towers are flashier, none have better views.

There are entrances to the FDR Drive nearby and together with the nearby tunnel there is considerable traffic here.