Michael Gross Is Not Writing The Same Book Twice

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Michael Gross

When we heard Michael Gross was working on yet another book about an uber-rich New York residential building, our eyes rolled ever so slightly. The Observer had read and loved his opus on 740 Park (“The World’s Richest Apartment Building”), but with one in the works about 15CPW, titled The House of Outrageous Fortune,  what more could he possibly have to say about the nesting habits of the extraordinarily wealthy? Beyond what he had already written on the subject for us, of course.

A lot, it turns out.

So, is 15 Central Park West really is so different from 740 Park that it warranted an entire tome? “It couldn’t be more different now could it,” he said. “It’s condo versus coop, Central Park West versus Park Avenue, and a 75 year old building versus a four year old building,” he told The Observer by phone, apparently without irony.

“After 740 I resisted mightily the allure of doing another New York apartment house,” Mr. Gross continued. “If you were looking at buildings that housed great wealth, great power and great standing in New York, at that point in 2005 they were pretty much on Park Avenue and Fifth Avenue and I really didn’t want to write the same book again.”

Plus, so much had changed in such a short period of time. “We’re seven years past the publication of 740 Park, and you know, I don’t think it takes very much to understand that we’re in a very different world than the world I was writing about then. And if you’re looking for the symbolic piece of real estate for the world we’re in, I can’t think of a better focus,” he said of 15 Central Park West.

We pondered his point. It’s true, that in the post-recession era foreigners seem to control more capital than born-and-bred New Yorkers, a fact that is certainly true at 15CPW. Within the past five or six years, the most powerful people buying New York real estate don’t want time-tested coops, it seems. Rather it’s the gleaming new developments that are continually closing eight figure deals.

Still, after writing 740 Park, not to mention his recently published book about real estate in Los Angeles, what motivated him to begin work on yet another residential drama? “Paying the maintenance,” he told The Observer with a laugh.

eknutsen@observer.com