Seated in a cream-colored club chair with his back to Fifth Avenue, Michael Stern soberly turned to the crowd of reporters.
“It’s been a long journey to get here,” he said.
Three years after suspending sales at 111 West 57th Street, Stern — along with co-developer Kevin Maloney and Spruce Capital Partners — flung open the doors Thursday to the project’s the long-dormant sales gallery.
Waiters passed champagne, bite-sized Japanese omelets and quiche Lorraine. SHoP Architect’s Gregg Pasquarelli was on hand, calling the project a “once-in-a-career” opportunity to redefine the Manhattan skyline, while paying homage to New York’s iconic architecture with bronze and terra cotta exteriors.
To Stern, the project — which marries the historic Steinway building with a slim, 1,428-foot tower — has always been a “composition of two movements.” Its location is unrivaled, he said Thursday. “It is on the 50-yard line of Central Park.”
The 60-unit condominium is expected to be complete next year, and the current sellout is $1.3 billion, according to filings with the state Attorney General’s office. Prices start at $18 million for a 4,491-square-foot unit in the tower portion of the building, where the priciest unit will ask $57 million.
The sales gallery, located on the fourth and fifth floors of 673 Fifth Avenue, models one of the building’s more luxurious duplex units. There’s a curved marble staircase and interiors by Studio Sofield, whose design blends opulence and masculinity.
The lounge — complete with a Steinway grand piano — has an adjacent wet bar and tapered door handles that are models of the building itself. In the master suite, velvet-walled dressing rooms lead to his-and-hers bathrooms. (Hers features white onyx floors and walls, a nickel soaking tub and glass-rod light fixtures replicated in other parts of the building.)
The official sales launch caps a tumultuous few years for Stern’s JDS Development Group and Maloney’s Property Markets Group, who acquired the site in 2013 for $132 million (plus $46 million for a ground lease.) Since 2016, the developers have traded lawsuits with equity partner AmBase Corp., which accused JDS and PMG of trying to dilute its stake. Ultimately, Spruce Capital Partners, the junior mezzanine lender, took control of the building through foreclosure. This past June, Corcoran Sunshine Marketing Group filed a $30 million lawsuit accusing the developers of self-sabotage and infighting that “undermined and frustrated” the sales effort.
On Thursday, the developers sought to distance the project from the drama that has followed the building. They said units in the Steinway part of the building will begin closings next year. Tower units will follow suit in early 2020. Douglas Elliman Development Marketing is now handling sales.