Restoration of London Terrace Gardens nears completion, tenants brace for increases

July 08, 2011 03:09PM

The grand columned Anglo-Italianate facade of Chelsea’s 10-building London Terrace Gardens apartment complex, built in 1930 and 1931, had been covered in scaffolding since 2008 while undergoing a massive restoration project, but that scaffolding is now beginning to come down. The three-year $7.7 million project, which falls in line with Landmarks Preservation Commission standards without actually having landmark status, will likely be completed by fall, according to Ellen Gribben Bornet, the general manager of the complex, which is managed by Rose Associates, the New York Times reported.

The complex features a full-size indoor pool, private health club, sun deck, and garden area.

Gregory Stanford, an architect who has lived in the complex, for 18 years, supported the restoration despite the inconvenience it caused with noise and dust. “I love the building, and being an architect, I know these things take longer than people normally think they should,” he said. “My attitude is, if they’re restoring the building — if it means that a gargoyle will not fall off and kill somebody on the sidewalk — then it’s worth it.”

Tenants, especially those in rent-stabilized apartments, are expecting an increase in rents to be announced once work is completed.

“We’ve calculated that it will be probably at least $100 a month more per tenant in perpetuity to pay for this thing,” said Andy Humm, the president of the London Terrace Gardens Tenants Association.

Bornet added: “We will file for a rent increase. However, we haven’t even begun to calculate the amount per room.”

Howard Zimmerman, the architect overseeing the restoration, said the decision to go ahead with the project was unusual for New York.

“Ownership could have decided, ‘Let’s save the money and not re-brick it, because nobody goes up there, and it won’t get us any rental income,’” he said. “But they wanted to restore it and honor what it was.”

The project’s developer Henry Mandel famously claimed the complex was once the largest of its kind in the world. [NYT]