After more than a century, the Belnord apartment building on the Upper West Side is poised to get a “very high-class Botox treatment,” according to architect Robert A.M. Stern.
Stern — whose “limestone Jesus” at 15 Central Park West took cues from the block-long, Gated Building On 86th Street — was tapped by Ziel Feldman’s HFZ Capital Group to design the rental-to-condominium conversion. HFZ is aiming for a $1.35 billion sellout, among the highest-ever on the Upper West Side. Plans include converting 95 empty apartments that will ask $3,000 per square foot on average.
“Clearly, Robert has magic dust and we hope some of it rubs off on us,” Feldman told Bloomberg.
The Belnord — which occupies the full block between Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue and 86th and 87th Streets — was completed in 1908 and has a 22,000-square-foot landscaped courtyard.
This is Feldman’s second bet on the Belnord. In 1994, he bought it with partners Gary Barnett and Kevin Maloney for $14 million, and then renovated the property into high-end rentals. Feldman later sold his stake, but paid $555 million in 2015 to buy the building back.
Stern’s plans, which were approved by the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission, also include reconfiguring apartment layouts, modifying the circular driveway and adding amenities like a gym and central air.
According to documents filed with the New York State Attorney General’s office, two-bedrooms will start at just over $3 million and three-bedrooms will range from $4.4 million to $7.3 million. The priciest unit, a seven-bedroom pad with 5,093 square feet, will ask $18.4 million, or $3,612 per square foot. HFZ will renovate the entire building into condos as rental apartments, now occupied, become vacant.
Still, those prices eclipse the citywide average of $2,645 per square foot in new development buildings during the first quarter, according to real estate appraisal firm Miller Samuel. The building doesn’t have Central Park views and there’s also ample competition, with 4,282 new condos set to hit the market the year, double the number last year, according to Corcoran Sunshine Marketing Group. The majority — about 60 percent — are luxury units priced at $2,400 per square foot or more.
Feldman isn’t worried. “There is no competition for us,” he said. “Nobody’s replicating the Belnord. They can’t afford to replicate the Belnord.” [Bloomberg] — E.B. Solomont