More high-end condos come to white brick buildings

Although widely reviled by architectural critics, prewar white-brick rental buildings are having a comeback in the form of luxury condominium conversions, the Wall Street Journal reported. One conversion underway is at 530 Park Avenue, where a 19-story building designed by George Pelham Jr. is being transformed into 116 high-end condos that have hit the market and are asking $3,250 per-square foot on average. Aby Rosen, a principal at RFR Holding, purchased a majority stake in 530 Park last year and will spend $70 million on renovating the building.

A few blocks away from 530 Park another five-tower white-brick conversion is taking place at the Manhattan House, located on the block between Second and Third avenues and East 65th and East 66th streets. It is being converted from 582 rentals into 475 luxury condos.

Back in 1951, the Landmarks Preservation Commission said that the building “was responsible for a general decline in apartment house design.” Now, the building is booming with buyers who can afford good taste. Corcoran Sunshine Marketing Group’s Patricia Hayes Cole, who is overseeing the building’s sales, told the Wall Street Journal that Manhattan House is currently 40 percent sold, with 32 closings so far this year.

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Developers are attempting to add some of the Gilded Age class that many of these once sleek modern white-bricks where trying to eschew. Renovations are enlarging windows and adding new plaster-moldings, libraries, decorative iron railings and ceiling height. “There is white brick and white brick,” Cole said. [WSJ] — Christopher Cameron