When it comes to the townhouse at 51 West 83rd Street, you have to give the Upper West Siders points for their novel approach to NIMBYism. Rather than adopting the “not in my backyard” stance that characterizes so many local disputes, neighbors took the more unusual “not in your backyard” tack, vehemently opposing Mavi Jeans owner Ragip Ersin Akariliar’s plan to install a pool and three-tiered deck behind his house.
So it’s not altogether surprising that even though the Turkish millionaire won the battle, securing landmarks approval for the indoor/outdoor pool, two of the deck’s three stories and glass curtain wall in the back of the house, he decided to abandon his renovation plans and move elsewhere. The house, frozen in the midst of a gut renovation with all approvals in place, hit the market for $7.2 million this March.
Maybe the new owner, Townhouse West 83rd, LLC, will have better luck when it comes to charming the crusty denizens of the landmarked block, chief among them next-door neighborhood Jonathan Stuart, who led the charge against Mr. Akariliar’s plans.
“These people are flamboyant billionaires, and they have no concern about the neighborhood,” Mr. Stuart raged to the Post at the height of the dispute, later vowing that he would not back down even if the owner was legally entitled to his pool and deck because he was “not intending on allowing them to ruin my life without a big fight.”
So Mr. Stuart should be happy to hear that the new buyer will most likely not be adopting the pool, or Mr. Akariliar’s other more avant-garde (read pricey) design features. As Halstead broker Louise Phillips Forbes, who shared the listing with her colleagues Jonathan D. Schulz, Jason Miller and Richard Johnson told The Observer, the new owner intends to complete the renovation and sell the home, but will most likely “value engineer the swimming pool out.”
Which is kind of a pity, given that the design for an indoor/outdoor pool with a specialty door intended to seal the off the outdoor portion during the winter sounded pretty awesome. City records show that the new owner paid $6.8 million, beating out five other bidders who wanted to buy the property, despite the block’s unfriendly reputation.
As it happened, Ms. Forbes said that Akariliars, who paid $4.3 million for the house in 2008, were not driven out by the neighbors, but rather, “unintentionally fell in love with another house.”
“It was kind of classic Upper West Side story,” Ms. Forbes said of the contretemps. “You had a very proactive individual who wanted to make his property into something wonderful and neighbors who were… well, literally, they were making arguments about how this pool would affect the migration of the birds.”
These days, the idea of a mere millionaire ruining the neighborhood by putting a pool in his backyard seems almost quaint, but if the new owners want to make nice with the neighbors, knocking on doors with a plate of warm cookies might not be a bad idea. Or better yet, an apricot crisp, a photo of which Mr. Stuart submitted to the Landmarks Commission as evidence of all that would be lost if the apricot tree straddling the two properties was demolished during pool construction.