Tall and Shorter Towers Set for Mayflower Site
A view of Central Park West looking north from 61st Street, with the new buildings rising between the Trump tower and the Century.
By DAVID W. DUNLAP
August 4, 2005
Perhaps the biggest mystery in Manhattan real estate - what are they ever going to build on the Mayflower Hotel block? - is being answered with a pair of limestone-clad apartment buildings, 19 and 35 stories, for buyers with at least $2 million to spend on a one-bedroom. Or $45 million for something bigger, with a terrace.
Having spent years to acquire the full block between Central Park West and Broadway, 61st to 62nd Streets, and having kept the $1 billion project secret for months even as demolition and construction crews readied the site, Zeckendorf Development is now showing its plans to community leaders on the Upper West Side.
As designed by Robert A. M. Stern Architects and S.L.C.E. Architects, the 886,000-square-foot complex - called 15 Central Park West - is to have a 231-foot-high apartment house on the park side and a 550-foot midblock tower, separated by a private courtyard. Stores will line a five-story base along Broadway.
There are to be 201 condominium apartments. The building is to open in 2007.
Asked if they feared that the real estate bubble would burst by then, the co-chairmen of Zeckendorf Development, Arthur W. and William Lie Zeckendorf, sounded confident. "The market remains - knock on wood - very strong," Arthur Zeckendorf said, "and this caters to the upper end, which is a market with a limited amount of inventory."
Although developers customarily use hyperbole when speaking about their projects, William Zeckendorf may be accurate in saying that the Mayflower site "is likely to be the last full block front on Central Park West or Fifth Avenue, south of 96th Street, that will be available in our lifetimes." The hotel on Central Park West was recently demolished. The rest of the 1.3-acre parcel has been vacant for 18 years.
To put the new tower in context, it is roughly 35 feet shorter than the Trump International Hotel and Tower to the south and 210 feet taller than the Century Apartments to the north. Mr. Stern said he was taking design cues more from older West Side buildings than from modern, glass-skinned skyscrapers.
"You'll see plantings, and you'll see people from time to time," Mr. Stern said, "as opposed to many buildings where you have no sense of the human life within."
This would be achieved, he said, through the use of large windows, small balconies, rooftop loggias and set-back terraces like the one stretching 282 feet around the 6,600-square-foot penthouse in the Central Park West structure, which will be offered for $45 million. In the tower will be a few 1,000-square-foot units for $2 million.
About 87,000 pieces of Indiana limestone will clad the structures, William Zeckendorf said, from Oolitic, Ind., the quarry that supplied the Empire State Building.
Between the buildings will be a 70-by-200-foot courtyard and driveway with an oval pavilion at its center and a glass-bottom reflecting pool at the north end. This will be directly over the indoor pool of the residents' health club.
Unless Zeckendorf Development applies for a permit for a parking garage, the project will be constructed "as of right" under existing zoning rules, William Zeckendorf said, meaning that it would not be subject to discretionary review.
Nevertheless, the Zeckendorfs and Mr. Stern this week began making presentations to neighbors and officials, including City Councilwoman Gale A. Brewer.
"Design-wise it seems very appropriate for Central Park West and Broadway," Ms. Brewer said. She added, however, that it was too bad the courtyard would be private, even though it follows the example of West Side landmarks like the Apthorp and the Belnord.
"You just wish," she said, "that people could enjoy it for some period of the year."