NIMBYer than thou
The attendees of last week’s Landmarks West forum on Upper West Side development will be disappointed to learn that a new, 18-story ultra-luxury building is set to rise in their midst: the Naftali Group has acquired the Hertz garage at 206-210 West 77th Street from the Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services, with the intention of building just shy of 100,000 square feet of condominiums.
Potential buyers, on the other hand, are so excited that they’ve been calling Naftali since before the land sale even closed.
The Naftali Group paid well over what observers were predicting for the site—in May Bob Knakal, who brokered the sale, told Crain’s that he expected the site to fetch “as much as $45 million.” But the price hit a staggering $55.5 million. Mr. Knakal told us that he was surprised at the closing price, which he attributed to the incredibly tight market for land on the Upper West Side.
Seven candidates vying to replace Gale Brewer as the Upper West Side’s voice on City Council—six Democrats and one Green Party member—gathered at the New York Society for Ethical Culture last night at the behest of Landmarks West to discuss, to quote the organizers, the overdevelopment of the neighborhood.
The moderator, Bruce Simon, started out by asking the crowd how they felt about the state of preservation on the Upper West Side—too much, too little or just right? Nobody dared raise their hand for “too much,” a few sheepishly copped to thinking it’s “just right” and the majority held up their hands for “too little.”
A hungry, hungry hawk has been terrorizing an Upper West Side Chihuahua.
Actually, it might be a falcon–but either way, one UWS resident is totally freaked out. In a note sent to West Side Rag, Asli Bilgin (who is not an accredited ornithologist), said that her 22nd floor Upper West Side apartment–and her Read More
The printed word has become a dirty word in the Upper West Side.
Two members of the local community board have launched a campaign to rid the streets of free newspapers and the boxes that carry them.
“They’re so dirty that nobody in their right mind would touch them,” an outraged Marc Glazer told Read More
When Jann and Jane Wenner split in 1995, the coupled stayed married, putting off the legal wrangling that would inevitably arise when they split their publishing empire. Mr. Wenner borrowed $7,500 from his own family and from the family of his wife to found Rolling Stone, and once it grew into an empire worth hundreds of millions of dollars and includes Men’s Journal and Us Weekly, it would be understandable if the vagaries of divorce just didn’t seem worth it.
Until, that is, 2011. Mr. Wenner had been living with his partner, Matt Nye, a former Calvin Klein model 19 years his junior with whom he’s raising three kids, and Ms. Wenner finally wanted out. (There was speculation that the divorce was finalized because Mr. Wenner and Mr. Nye wanted to formally marry each other, but despite the legalization of gay marriage in New York, that never came to pass.) There was a little acrimony in the divorce, including a lawsuit filed by Ms. Wenner’s Amagansett groundskeeper, but things seem to have gone as smoothly as a divorce can be expected to go and Jane Wenner got to keep the couple’s Upper West Side townhouse, at 37 West 70th Street.
Greener Than Thou
Robert A.M. Stern’s 15 Central Park West may be the hottest building in New York, but the good fortune hasn’t crept up the western edge of the park, which still plays second fiddle to the Fifth and Park when it comes to closing prices. There are some standouts, though, and the townhouse at 247 Central Park West is most definitely among them. Whether it stands out tall enough to get its $37 million ask is another question entirely.
Built in 1887, it’s the first townhouse you encounter on Central Park West—a rare holdout to withstand two waves of rapacious early 20th century redevelopment. The first, around the turn of the century and the construction of the city’s first subway on Broadway, saw developers raze townhouses and tenements all around No. 247 and its two neighbors on the block to erect apartment houses of a dozen or so floors. During the second boom, around the time the IND Eighth Avenue Line was being built underneath Central Park West and right before the Great Depression, the pressure mounted and builders strove for even loftier heights, with buildings as tall as the 30-story El Dorado eating away at what remained of the low-slung real estate.
the high cost of banking
The sidewalks of Manhattan are famous for surprises—outré fashions, bizarre dog breeds and outlandish happenings (where else would an underwear-clad cowboy have a hard time turning heads?)—but it’s not often that the sidewalks themselves cause double-takes.
Recently, though, an unusual sidewalk/curb/tree pit combo by the corner of Columbus Avenue and 76th Street has been catching the eyes of local passerby. At first glance, the elongated tree pit doesn’t appear all that different than its Upper West Side peers: a delicate sapling protected from the large population of neighborhood dogs by a shin-high iron railing. But on closer examination, the odd characteristics pop out: rather than a standard curb, a border of rocks rings the pit, broken up by two big notches cut out of the curb. Manhattan’s first bioswale, according to the Columbus Avenue BID which installed it.
In recent years, the Upper West Side has been besieged by bank branches, with countless TD Banks and Citibanks, Chase Banks and Banks of America gobbling up once-vibrant street corners, the dull gleam of their ATM screens casting an eerie glow on the empty sidewalks late at night.
There has been hand-wringing, there have been outcries, there is even a zoning ordinance that prohibits banks from having storefronts wider than 25 feet. And unlike the cancerous spread of Duane Reades across every corner of our fair city, which for all their colonial tendencies offer a certain languorous refuge for the stressed city dweller, no one can quite understand what is driving the bank branches’ spread. Aren’t we always told that people are doing more and more banking online? Other than withdrawing cash from the ATM, how often do most of us really visit the bank?
THERE GOES THE NEIGHBORHOOD
The El Dorado (our sincerest apologies to the Spanish language) was home to one of New York’s cattiest co-op dramas of 2012, when the co-op board took heiress Diane Wells to court over her formidable smoking habit and fumes they claimed were leaking into neighboring ninth-floor units through a gaping hole in her apartment. ”On multiple occasions,” the complaint read, “the cigarette smoke and odor [have] filled the entry halls on at least the ninth and 10th floors of [the] building, requiring shareholders to traverse a cloud of smoke between the elevator and their apartment entrances.”
Though the board ultimately succeeded in forcing Ms. Wells to allow repairs to her apartment, the board was not able to get her to stub out her cigs—something that apparently didn’t worry Gretchen Pusch and Richard Bayles, who just picked up a classic six on the tenth floor for $2.4 million (down from a $3.3 million ask two years ago—so maybe the cigarette issue persists?). The sale was brokered by Daniel Douglas and Eileen LaMorte at Corcoran.
The meeting started out, as these meetings tend to, with loud admonitions from the audience to speak loudly into the microphone. “We can’t understand you!” one man shouted. “You do need the mic!” was a common refrain as speakers tried to get by on projection alone. (There was eventually a backlash, with one woman hissing, “Don’t start shouting!” at a particularly vocal and ornery man. Thereafter he resigned himself to disgusted head shakes.)
The crowd was assembled at an Upper West Side community center to discuss a zoning variance that the Columbia Grammar and Preparatory School was seeking for a modest expansion of its campus, which is bounded by West 92nd and 94th Streets and Central Park West and Columbus Avenue. The school wants to make room for a separate middle school, adding a cafeteria (lunch currently starts at 10:20 because of a lack of space) and more classrooms.