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305 East 51st Street, New York City, NY


The designer's rendering of the Halcyon
Building Information
Developer HFZ Capital Group
Architect SLCE Architects
Management Company Corcoran Sunshine Marketing Group
Number of Units 123
Number of Floors 32
Year Built 2014
Construction Method Concrete
Type of Roof IRMA
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305 East 51st Street, New York City, NY, United States
Distance to Public Transit One and a half blocks
Region New York City
Municipality City New York City
Zoning R8B
Title of Land Condominium



Halcyon is described in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary with the following adjectives:

  • a : calm, peaceful
  • b : happy, golden
  • c : prosperous, affluent[1]
Halcyon showing lots of glass

It's a good bet that the designers and marketing folks of this building liked the connotation that the term evoked. But those dictionary concepts can also be applied to the neighborhood of Turtle Bay, a calm, peaceful and prosperous area of Manhattan.

A model of Halcyon showing the terraces on the top of the pedestal base of the building
The East River, where Turtle Bay is situated, is known for delivering harsh weather at times. The name was coined years ago in the 17th century, not because it was overrun by turtles, but because the little sheltered bay offered a safe haven to weather an East River storm. It is thought the name may have come from a Dutch word, deutal, which means 'a bent blade', referring to the shape of the bay.

After the Civil War, the area was developed with brownstones. It quickly become jammed with industry like breweries, gasworks, slaughterhouses, coal yards, and railroad piers. The tenements and other buildings were decaying in the late 1800s and early 1900s before a restoration effort took hold in the 1920s. But again, industry in the area caused another blight. The Consolidated Edison Company produced power at their plant for the city, but showered tons of coal soot to the surrounding area, measured to be about 150 tons of soot per square mile, annually.

The clearing of the slaughterhouses and the removal of the elevated trains in 1948 for the construction of the UN complex greatly improved the entire area and began to attract wealthier residents.

Today, the lands of the former "Turtle Bay Farm", given to two Englishmen by the then Dutch colonial governor in 1639, have been leveled and developed into a highly desirable neighborhood and includes the United Nations complex and many foreign diplomatic missions.[2]


One of the nearby grocery stores

Halcyon faces East 51st Street and is close to the corner of Second Avenue. It is just four short blocks from the United Nations buildings. East 51st is nice quiet tree-lined street that is one-way west-bound.

Within a 20 minute walk, residents can get to quite a few places on the Upper East Side, including the southern tip of Central Park. Second Avenue is dotted with restaurants and designer coffee bars, or for libations of a stronger nature where the operation of heavy machinery is not required.

Interestingly, there are three book stores within a tenth of a mile of Halcyon. There are three grocery locations just steps from Halcyon's front door.

Green spaces in the neighborhood include the Green Acre Park about a block away just beside the Sutton Place Synagogue, the Jewish center for the United Nations. The little park has a waterfall feature and is a nice landscaped plaza nestled between buildings and away from the street, a good place to read a new book from one of the book stores. Of course, Sutton Place Park along the East River is also a popular place to kick back.

Park Avenue, one of the popular retail shopping areas of Manhattan, is three blocks away across Lexington Avenue, and just beyond that lies Madison Avenue and Fifth Avenue. For that matter, still within the 20 minute walk time frame, is the theater district of Times Square.

Pharmacy, food, banks, shopping, entertainment ... it's all here in Turtle Bay.[3]


One of the private terraces
Halcyon is a project that presents interesting design aspects to SLCE Architects. The neighborhood has unusual zoning specifically to have the main tower of a structure setback onto a pedestal.

Halcyon under construction

This gave the designers the idea to separate the tower from the base in a dramatic way. The six story pedestal is clad primarily with Indiana limestone and the tower is clad with bronze colored frames and neutral colored glass. From street level, it gives the appearance of two buildings, a short one in front and its taller brother setback a bit from the street.

The concrete and steel structure is a typical concrete slab building where the floor plates extend only to the building envelope without forming any balconies.

About mid-way up the 32 floor height, there is a setback creating an outdoor terrace area. For the penthouses, there are additional setbacks for their private terraces.

The mostly glass-clad structure is accented with bronze colored trim between the copious windows.

The collapsed crane of Halcyon in 2008
Floor layouts are comprised of studios and one to four bedroom plans. Two of the upper floors are set aside for the spa and fitness facilities for residents.

At the time of this writing construction is still underway with occupancy expected sometime in 2014. In 2008, construction was delayed for some time following a tragic accident where the crane in the building collapsed falling to the ground below killing seven people and damaging two buildings. The crane was being repositioned to a higher level as the building grew taller, a normal procedure, when the tragedy struck.

The lender, Arbor Realty, foreclosed on then owner, Kennelly Development and HFZ acquired the property and resumed construction. At this point, plans changed for the building. It was originally intended to be 43 stories but a re-work of the plans tops the building out at 32 stories.[4]

Layout and Features

Marble and lacquered cabinetry
The Halcyon has 123 units within its 32 floors. To attract residents, several features have been included in the design in the form a amenities.

Off the lobby and up a curved staircase, is the library and courtyard. Finishes here will include lots of neutral colored wood for the warm and cozy feel. A sky lounge is available to entertain 10 to 50 guests.

On the 21st floor, there is the "movement studio", a place for yoga, spin classes, Pilates, or just for the view. The spa area also features a 50 foot lap pool with an indoor sun deck. The fitness area has the latest exercise equipment, a juice bar and a massage room.

The apartments themselves are finished with marble and lacquered cabinets in the kitchens, white statuary marble in the bathrooms accented with brushed bronze fixtures, and floor to ceiling windows in the living areas.[5]

Marble bathroom finishes
Terraces atop the base of the building

Floor Plans

Here are some of the floor plans:


Halcyon has a nice amenities package. Here are some of the highlights:[6]

  • golf room
  • 50-foot heated pool
  • library
  • playroom
  • gym
  • spa
  • outdoor lounge


Halcyon Bylaws

  • Building bylaws have not been created yet. These guidelines will not be ready until the building has officially been occupied.


Halcyon's penthouse terraces - a little touch of "green" in the sky

The "United States Green Building Council", or USGBC website does not list the Halcyon among its projects. It is likely that this structure was not built to follow specific LEED Certification guidelines.

However, modern construction must conform to safety standards and codes for material use and proper disposal as enacted by the city and the state. Modern paints, adhesives, lacquers, and textiles for carpets and other finishes have low levels of VOC's (Volatile Organic Compounds).

Fixtures presented in the show suites are efficient low-flow models to help reduce the amount of water used. Large window space reduces the need for electric light, thus lowering electricity use.

New York City's recycling programs are comprehensive and compulsory. Residents and visitors alike in New York City are asked to recycle - by law.[7]


A display of androgynous statues in Dag Hammarskjold Plaza

The neighborhood of Turtle Bay in New York City is an accumulation of little neighborhoods in the same area. The character of the area altered dramatically with the demolition of the slaughterhouses in the 1940s and the construction of the United Nations campus. The overall neighborhood is described as a loose group of enclaves, like little republics, created either by neighborhood associations or marketing groups.[8]

  • Some of the sights one may find in Turtle Bay are:
    • Sutton Place - in the northeast corner of Turtle Bay - where buildings have wooden shutters, porte-cocheres, and lush lawns.
    • Flags from many foreign nations indicating a country's outpost or mission to the United States.
    • The Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, commemorating the only Secretary-General of the United Nations to ever die in office. The details of his death from a plane crash in the Congo are still shrouded in mystery.
    • Sutton Place Park along the East River
  • Some historical tidbits that have occurred in the neighborhood:
    • In July of 1863, an entire block of Turtle Bay was torched as part of a demonstration against conscription during the Civil War. It began at the military enlistment office on 45th Street. Rioters were outraged at a policy that allowed draftees to "buy" their way out of the military for $300.
    • Turtle Bay is thought to be the site where the Revolutionary hero Nathan Hale was hanged by the British.
    • The Turtle Bay Gardens - The area became attractive to literati, so was born a large communal garden somewhere in the 1920s. This garden community was home to a long list of notable citizens: Tyrone Power, Dorothy Thompson, Maxwell Perkins, Mary Martin, and Katharine Hepburn, to name a few. The area has since become known the Turtle Bay Gardens Historic District.[9]


  1. Merriam-Webster On-line Dictionary
  2. Wikipedia - Turtle Bay, Manhattan
  3. Walk Score
  4. Real Deal
  5. Halcyon - 305 East 51st Street
  6. Curbed NY - Selling Halcyon Condos With Models, Bathrooms, And Views
  7. USGBC Website
  8. NY Times - In the Many Enclaves, One Neighborhood
  9. Turtle Bay Association

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