Nora Would Be So Jealous! Apthorp Slashes Condo Prices

The 32 condos available at legendary Upper West Side apartment house the Apthorp now start at $1,575,000—practically a steal!

Nora Ephron, the subject of an Ariel Levy profile in this week’s New Yorker and one of the building’s many famous former tenants, once reminisced over the magic of paying $1,500 per month for a rent-stabilized apartment at the Apthorp. The post-condo conversion prices may not be as big of a bargain, but they do represent a significant decline from recent figures. After all, back in March 2007, the Apthorp condos were asking as much as $3,000 a foot.

That was before the Apthorp became the setting of a tragicomic real estate soap opera, replete with feuding landlords and far-fetched lawsuits, guns and lawyers. Management battles and a tanking economy had left the historic building languishing in condo conversion purgatory at the beginning of this year. But, under the control of the Feil Organization affiliate Broadwall since January, the Apthorp is trying for a turnaround. Broadwall plans to spend $30 million improving the building, from restoring plaster detail work to re-landscaping the courtyard.

The Apthorp occupies the entire block between West End Avenue, 78th Street, Broadway, and 79th. It was the world’s largest residential building when it was completed in 1908, its massive entrance arches and scenic courtyard a monument to Gilded Age grandiosity. Over the years, it has become known for a combination of architectural splendor, celebrity inhabitants, and such quirks as (sometimes) brown tap water.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to own a part of New York’s history at below market prices that will never be seen again – once we reach our conversion goal in September, prices will most certainly go up,” said Prudential Douglas Elliman chairman Howard Lorber in a statement released Tuesday.

Apthorp management has said that they expect closings to begin in fall 2009.

mfischer@observer.com