A $17.5 M. Fixer-Upper: Half-Restored Mansion at 249 Central Park West Finds a Buyer

The outer-castle.

The outer-castle.

Despite the seemingly endless appetite for trophy properties on the Park, the red-brick castle at 249 Central Park West could not fetch the kingly sum of $30 million. The fanciful property—one of nine brick and brownstone homes erected between 84th and 85th streets in the late 19th century by William Noble, a zealous builder whom The Real Estate Record and Builder’s Guide once deemed one of “the particularly bright stars of the coterie of men who have done so much to improve and enrich our city”— just sold for $17.5 million, according to city records.

Then again, the 10,000 square-foot townhouse was a very high-end version of a handy-man’s special.

Seller Nathan Low, who occupies the president’s chair at Sunrise Equity Partners, first listed the property two years ago with Brown Harris Stevens, before dropping both the broker and the price, switching to Corcoran’s Carrie Chiang and a $19.9 million price tag. The closing price—while a reduction by more than a third from the original ask—was still a shade more than the $14.4 million that Mr. Low paid in 2006. (Mr. Noble’s building expenses in 1887 ran to $37,000.)

Mr. Low may have been inspired by 249′s neighbor, 247 Central Park West, another of Mr. Noble’s elegant progeny, which tried for an astounding $37 million ask in 2008—a would-be Westside record. Alas, the imposing Queen Anne mansion would sell in 2011 for a mere $22.3 million, though the sale did not dampen its spirits: 247 is again on the market, this time for $32.7 million.

A view of the well-whittled library

A view of the well-whittled library

But 249 Central Park West’s interiors are considerably less modern than its aforementioned neighbor. As the New York Times reported some years back, 249 was divided into apartments in 1957, an adjustment that coincided with a general savaging of its exterior ornamentation. Brownstone fell away to reveal brick, which received a coat of white paint, and the building entered a period of sustained deterioration. The apartments’ rental income could not even be made to justify repairs to the façade until 1989, when falling masonry invited a citation from the Department of Buildings.

While the once-ornate exterior details remain in need of restoration and the listing quietly refers to 249 as “a diamond in the rough,” adding disconcertingly that “most of the demolition work has been completed in preparation for the building’s metamorphosis,” the house is once again a single family that has been largely returned to its original condition and coloration.

The buyer, who goes by the cryptic—and rather tautological—moniker of 249 Central Park West LLC, is now the owner of a building that stretches 25 feet across and rises, from its corner perch, four stories above the street. There are turrets, gables, dark red bricks, and bay windows, which combine to make a stately, forbidding impression. Also: Tiffany stained-glass windows, views of the park, and, as Curbed once reported, “several ballrooms.” In the intricacy of their carving, the library’s wood-paneled walls recall the work of M.C. Escher. (These might well cause dizziness, and are probably best avoided prior to ballroom twirling.)

Too bad a once-planned basement basketball court appears never to have come to fruition. But who needs basketball, anyway, with all those waltzing options?