The Real Deal New York

Setai Fifth Avenue to open in November

By Yaffi Spodek | September 14, 2010 08:30PM

From left: Elida Jacobsen Justo, director of sales; Robert Siegel and Gregory Karn of Gwathmey Siegel; the rounded corner exterior of the Setai, at Fifth Avenue and 36th Street; and the view of New York City from the 59th-floor windows

The Setai Fifth Avenue, a new hotel and condominium project at 400 Fifth Avenue, is nearing completion, developers announced today during an advance press-only tour of the building. The 214-room hotel, developed by Bizzi & Partners, will open Nov. 1, with the 184-unit luxury condominium residences slated to open later that month.

The 60-story skyscraper, located between 36th and 37th streets, is surrounded by three landmarks, including the old Tiffany building across the street at 401 Fifth Avenue, which transferred its buildable air rights to the Setai through a special permit approved by the city as part of a year-long process.

“We wanted our building to have a specific contextual tie to the neighborhood and its buildings,” said project manager Gregory Karn of Gwathmey Siegel & Associates, the architecture firm that worked on the project, together with interior designer DAS Concepts.

Karn noted that the proposal underwent extensive reviews by the Department of City Planning and the Landmarks Preservation Commission. Perhaps that is how the project — located just two blocks from the Empire Stare building — avoided the negative press which plagued the planned 1,200-foot tall skyscraper at 15 Penn Plaza, criticized by some for detracting from the Empire State Building’s symbolic spot in the New York City skyline.

The Setai is 600 feet tall, and “looks like a toothpick” compared to the 1,600-foot Empire State Building, Karn told The Real Deal after the tour. “Earlier in the process, we presented some renderings to the community board with the Setai in the foreground and the Empire State Building in the background, and ours actually looked bigger [because of the perspective],” he said. However, after modifying the renderings to an elevated view depicting the heights of both buildings, it was obvious that the Setai would not interfere with the iconic landmark.

The Setai features an 11-story podium-like defined base to give the building “a strong vertical aspect, setting a scale that is responsive to other adjacent projects on Fifth Avenue,” Karn said.

The top of the building is an inverted crown of stainless steel, Karn said, with a parapet below its base which conceals the technical lighting equipment, enabling it to glow at night like the Empire State Building, “like an illuminated iconic top,” he said. “We wanted to create the feeling that this building fits into the skyline.”

Other distinctive features at the Setai are its rounded corner on Fifth Avenue and 36th Street, which makes it one of only a handful of buildings in the city with that architectural nuance, according to Robert Siegel of Gwathmey Siegel. “We wanted to take the corner and make it a major part of the building,” he said.

An outdoor terrace on the 11th floor boasts views of the surrounding skyscrapers, most prominently the Empire State Building. Uniquely designed bay-shaped windows, which surround the perimeter of the topmost floors, offer epansive views of the city, specifically from the “column-less corner” windows of the building.

The Setai hotel — managed by Capella Hotels and Resorts — occupies floors 1 through 29 and has its entrance on the northeast corner of Fifth Avenue. It has begun accepting reservations in anticipation of its November debut.

Close to 50 percent of the condo units — on floors 30 through 60 and with a residents only entrance on the southwest corner of 36th Street — have already been sold, according to Elida Jacobsen Justo, the project’s director of sales.

The condo plan was declared effective by the state attorney general in July, with closings now scheduled for November, Jacobsen said. Units range from 800-square-foot one-bedrooms to three-bedrooms plus a 3,600-square-foot penthouse, with prices from $1.725 million to $16 million.

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