746 Madison Avenue

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Overview

Following a story we originally noticed in the Times and subsequently on Curbed, The Landmarks Preservation Commission finds itself in the middle of another clash. This argument stems from Friedland Properties’s plan to demolish a two story building housing a hair salon and a Parisian bistro in order to build an ambitious 14-story luxury condominium. When plans for the residence were released via the Times, many residents in the neighborhood strongly opposed the plan labeling it “a nightmare of noise, dirt and double-parked construction vehicles.” The argument raised by those opposing the project claim that the idea of razing a historic building in order to build another luxury condo is strongly against the grain of the Upper East Side Historic District.

Friedland will rightly point out that the architectural design of the project calls for both maintaining the architectural facade of the original building as well as preserving the storefront retail space. Friedland will likely have the hardest time justifying the unusually tall 14 stories on his plan. Christabel Gough, the secretary for the Society for the Architecture of the City mirrored this sentiment when she stated, “The added bulk will interfere with views of a picturesque French Renaissance Revival building to the south, and of the tower of the Pierre beyond”. The building has sparked so much controversy in the area that its application was accompanied by an opposing petition signed by 229 local residents.

Because of the controversy, the Landmarks Commission was compelled to hold a hearing in late January. At the hearing the commission decided that the extensive plans for the new structure were inappropriate for the area, but that the commission would be open to a smaller plan. Friedland Properties has already begun the process of revising the project’s architectural plan in an effort to appease neighbors and preservationists. It would make sense that they work hard at this—condo space on 65th and Madison is very, very valuable.

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Units and Prices

The original layout consisted of 12 planned condo units, however, because of the controversy we can now expect a reduction in the number of units offered. The building was designed by Page Ayres Cowley, a renowned architect with a focus on religious facilities but overall a fairly wide portfolio of work. The goal of the project will likely be to juxtapose a historic architectural façade with a very modern and luxurious interior design—something similar to what happened at the Apple Bank building a few years back. While the prices of units in the building have yet to be released, space in the neighborhood averages around $1,500 per square foot. One can safely expect the price of a unit in this project to be well above that, probably over $2,000/foot.

Temple B’nai Jeshurun put up the first building, a Byzantine-Moorish-style synagogue, in 1885; it was designed by Rafael Guastavino and Schwarzmann & Buchman. The front was an intricate mix of interwoven arches and a high picturesque tower, with a half-dozen ornamental columns, what appears to be polished granite or marble, supporting a portico.

History

The building was originally created under Temple B’nai Jeshurun and designed by Rafael Guastavino (a highly renowned Valencian architect of the late 1800s) and Schwarzmann & Buchman as a Byzantine-Moorish style synagogue in the late 19th century. The original synagogue seated 1,000 people before being reduced to a two story building in 1938.

Location & Investment Potential

The Upper East Side Historic district has for a long time been one of the hottest real estate markets in New York City. Known for its variety of ultra-luxury retailers and high-end restaurants, the area has a lot of appeal to families relocating or any other demographic looking for a beautiful place to live. This building is a 3-minute walk to central park and 66th Street crosses to the west side. The location is incredible. And while property appreciation has been considerable over the past few years, we’d put this project at a B+ for investment potential if/when it ever gets done.

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