Last September, Michael Idov chronicled the changes going on at the Apthorp, the giant, glamorous block-through apartment building on Broadway and West 79th Street. Israeli multibillionaire Lev Leviev had just purchased the structure through his Africa Israel investment group and was struggling to take it condo. Last week, according to the Times, the state attorney general’s office finally approved the conversion. But when the tenants get their offers this week, with the prices they will be asked to pay to own the apartments where many of them have lived for decades, the paper reports that the bills will be up to 20 percent more than the expected.
The total asking price for all apartments, including apartments of 88 tenants protected by rent-regulation laws, is $1.06 billion, which would make it one of the most expensive condominium-conversion projects, although less than the conversion of Manhattan House, the postwar full-block complex on Second Avenue and East 66th Street. The Apthorp price works out to nearly $3,000 a square foot, which is somewhat above the initial offering prices at 15 Central Park West when it went on the market in the fall of 2005, and below that of the Plaza condominiums on Fifth Avenue and Central Park South, which began sales a few months later. The only park views at the 12-story Apthorp are views of the interior fountains and garden.
Famous residents of the building have included Norah Ephron, Al Pacino, Conan O’Brien, Cyndi Lauper, and Rosie O’Donnell. But many of the other denizens have been holed away in rent-controlled apartments, with little or no hope of affording the giant cost of buying into the building. They will have until Labor Day to sign the contracts. “The landlord has made this easy for us because of the price of the apartments,” said Ronald Blumer, a co-chairman of the tenants committee. “It is not even in the range of most people to buy.”