15 East 69th Street

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15 East 69th Street, New York, NY

15 East 69th Street
15East69thStreetNYC.jpg

15 East 69th Street in the Upper East Side of Manhattan
Building Information
Developer Chelsfield PLC
Architect Schuman Lichenstein Claman & Efron
Management Company Douglas Elliman Property Management
Number of Units 47
Number of Floors 17
Year Built 1927
Construction Method Concrete
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15 East 69th Street, New York, NY
Distance to Public Transit Over 50 nearby routes
Region New York City
Municipality New York City
Zoning C5 - 1
Title of Land Condominium


Contents

Background

The Westbury Hotel was one of the top luxury hotels in the Upper East Side for many years, similar in stature to such hotels as the Carlyle, and the Stanhope Apartment Hotel. Both of these buildings have since been converted into residential apartments to some degree, and the Westbury proved no more resistant to this trend. In the late 1990s, hotel operators Trust House Forte sold the building to the American subsidiary of the London based company, Chelsfield PLC. This project marked Chelsfield’s debut in the residential market in New York City, although their original plan was to keep the building operating as a hotel.

Instead, the growth in the condominium market of nearly 11% per year at the time convinced Chelsfield that the more lucrative move would be to convert the building into condos. This proved fortuitous, as the 47 units created out of the hotel rooms sold quickly, as buyers were enticed by the modern features, prewar detailing, and the building’s proximity to Central Park. By February of 1999, 30 of the units had been sold, and their prices had risen an average of 7% since they first came to market.

Joan Rivers

While the conversion project may have been financially successful, many lamented the closing of a building with such an illustrious past. Former guests of the Westbury Hotel included celebrities like Al Pacino, Liza Minnelli, Nancy Reagan, Anthony Quinn, Henry A. Kissinger, Richard M. Nixon, Sarah Ferguson, Bill Cosby, Sidney Poitier, Diane Sawyer, and Mike Nichols. There was even one famous story about how a desk clerk once nearly killed Joan Rivers’ dog when the elevator doors closed on the dog’s leash and the elevator began to rise, all while the leash was still attached to the desk clerk left standing outside the elevator. Thankfully, the dog escaped without a scratch and Rivers was none the wiser. [1]

Despite people’s lamentations, the Westbury Hotel did eventually become condominiums in 1999, although the conversion took great care to preserve the exterior of the building, meaning that people will be able to enjoy this handsome, prewar building for years to come.


Location

15 East 69th Street occupies the entire block front between East 69th and East 70th at Madison Avenue, and finds itself in the neighborhood of the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Known for being one of the most affluent neighborhoods in the United States, it is estimated that the Upper East Side is home to one of the greatest concentrations of personal wealth in the world, and the retail and real estate in the area reflects this reputation.

Madison Avenue is just one block east of Fifth Avenue, one of the most famous retail avenues in the world, and home to such luxury brands as Prada, Gucci, Louis Vitton, Cartier, Versace, Fendi, Armani, Tiffany’s, and Chanel. Additionally, luxury department stores such as Bergdorf Goodman, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Barney’s are all located along Fifth Avenue.

A view of Madison Avenue

Residents of 15 East 69th Street will also enjoy prime access to Central Park, located a mere block away to the West. One of the world’s most famous urban gardens, Central Park contains hundreds of walking, biking, and jogging trails, as well as ice skating rinks, recreation fields, and a swimming pool during the summer months. Additionally, Central Park is home to the Central Park Zoo, the Central Park Conservatory Garden, Belvedere Castle, the Delacorte Theater, the Central Park Carousel, and the Bethesda Fountain. [2]

Residents of 15 East 69th Street are within walking distance to most daily errands, and therefore car ownership is not a necessity. Moreover, with over 50 different transit routes close by, the rest of New York City is easily accessible. In particular, the green line subway is close by at the intersection of East 68th Street and Lexington Avenue. [3]


Construction

The building at 15 East 69th Street was originally constructed between 1926 and 1927, and opened in 1927 as the Westbury Hotel. Operating as a hotel for just over seventy years, the hotel was purchased in March of 1997 by the London based development company, Chelsfield, for $80 million. Chelsfield’s original plan was to refurbish the hotel and keep the building operating as such, but the increasing demand for luxury condominiums in New York City at the time convinced Chelsfield to abandon these plans in favor of converting the building. As such, the hotel was closed down, and Chelsfield hired the architectural firm of Schuman Lichtenstein Claman & Efron to turn the hotel’s 238 rooms into 47 luxury condo units at a cost of $150 million.

Due to the building’s location in the Upper East Side Historic District, the conversion was not allowed to make any changes to the exterior of the building, and Chelsfield brought in the preservation consulting firm of Higgins & Quasebarth to oversee the restoration of the building’s exterior. Restoration work included replacing the exterior cornices and decorative balconies, restoring the double toned brick work of the exterior facade, and restoring the ornamentation of the two story lobby. The conversion of the building into condominiums was completed in 1999, with occupancy of the building scheduled for August of that year. [4]

Layout and Features

During its time as a hotel, the Westbury contain 238 guest rooms, but when the building was converted into the condominium building now known as 15 East 69th Street, these 238 rooms were transformed into 47 apartments ranging in size from 1,564 to 4,481 square feet. Contained within the building’s 17 stories, these apartments have two to five bedrooms, and there is one penthouse unit that covers 6,045 square feet.

Care was taken to preserve the prewar detailing of the rooms during the conversion, and as such, many of the apartments feature nine foot ceilings, crown moldings, wood burning fireplaces, entrance foyers, and spacious layouts. Select units have terraces, libraries, and/or maid’s rooms.

The exterior of the building features a primarily red brick facade that sits on a three story limestone base. There are a couple of setbacks near the top of the building, and residents access the building under a large entrance marquee that is located down the sidestreet.

Originally, the hotel featured entrances on both the sidestreet and Madison Avenue, but during the conversion it was decided that the retail value of frontage on the Avenue was far too valuable for a resident entrance, thus reducing the number of entrances down to one. [5]

Floor Plans

A selection of floor plans is presented.


Amenities

When the building was converted into condominium apartments, the hotel’s long time Chief Concierge remained with the building to provide concierge services for residents. Additional amenities include:

  • 24 hour doorman
  • Maid services
  • Valet parking
  • Fitness center
  • Wine cellar
  • Bike room[6]


Bylaws

15 East 69th Street Bylaws
Rentals Yes
Pets Yes
Age No


  • This building allows rentals and pied-a-terre.
  • There are no age restrictions in this building.
  • This building is pet friendly.

Sustainability

Built in 1927, 15 East 69th Street was constructed long before the modern awareness of sustainability and green living initiatives and therefore, this building is a product of its time.

While not LEED certified, there are small measures residents can undertake to help improve the overall sustainability of 15 East 69th Street, including:

  • Using environmentally friendly household products
  • Updating their appliances to more energy efficient models
  • Making use of New York City’s recycling programs
  • Using sustainable materials when renovating their apartments
  • Using public transit or walking as opposed to car ownership in order to reduce their carbon footprint

Trivia

Ralph Rucci
  • Author, columnist, and wine critic, Peter Meltzer, is a former owner in this building. He housed a private wine collection in the building of over 1000 bottles, which were guarded by security cameras. [7]
  • Fashion Designer Ralph Rucci held his first formal fashion show in this building when it was known as the Westbury Hotel in 1981. [8]
  • Bruce E. Toll has been a resident of this building. Toll is the Vice Chairman of the development company, The Toll Brothers. Toll has since sold his apartment at 15 East 69th Street in 2008. [9]
  • The recent financial crisis and subsequent recession have led many condo buildings in New York to find alternative sources of revenue to maintain the buildings. In the late 2000s, 15 East 69th Street instituted a flip tax on the condo units in the building, a move that successfully raised $600,000 in one year. [10]
  • Tennis star Ilie Nastase has been a resident in this building. Additionally, back when the building was the Westbury Hotel, actress Fanny Brice made her home in this building until 1938. Brice was the subject of the Broadway musical and film, Funny Girl. [11]
  • As a hotel, famous visitors to this building included Bill Cosby, Nancy Reagan, and Anthony Quinn. [12]


References

  1. NY Times
  2. Upper East Side
  3. Walk Score
  4. NY Times
  5. City Realty
  6. NY Times
  7. The Real Deal
  8. Harpers Bazaar
  9. The Real Deal
  10. The Real Deal
  11. Star Walks
  12. NY Times


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