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Towers of Power

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A s late as 2007, 740 Park Avenue was the city’s most glamorous apartment building (even inspiring a full-length book by Michael Gross). One housing cycle later, 740 has arguably been supplanted by 15 Central Park West, whose traditional limestone façade envelops every modern amenity (and no co-op board!). Who lives better?

  15 Central Park West 740 Park Avenue
Total Apartments 202 32
Largest Apartment 6,617 square feet 20,000 square feet (approx.)
Biggest Sale $45.8 million $32 million
Notable Residents Sting, Denzel Washington, Bob Costas, Jeff Gordon, Sanford Weill, Alex Rodriguez, Lloyd Blankfein, Norman Lear Vera Wang, Kent Swig, Courtney Ross, John Thain, Jackie Kennedy Onassis (as a child).
Provenance Designed by modern traditionalist Robert A. M. Stern and built by developers William and Arthur Zeckendorf. (Coincidentally, their grandfather, also William Zeckendorf, owned 740 Park back in the fifties.) Designed by early-twentieth-century starchitect Rosario Candela and Arthur Harmon, and developed by Jacqueline Kennedy’s grandfather, James T. Lee. Jackie grew up there, and John D. Rockefeller Jr. called it home.
Debut Finished at the frothiest point of a bubbly market, with nearly all apartments presold despite nineteen price hikes. Buyers who bought early were able, after the building was finished, to flip for double what they’d paid. Construction began weeks before the 1929 stock-market crash. Press reports pegged its costs at an extravagant $2.225 million. When it debuted right into the Depression, sales stumbled.
Apartments Apartments here have unusual grace notes not usually found in condominiums (wide hallways, grand entrances), especially in the larger units. They don’t make them like this anymore: sprawling duplexes with elliptical staircases, parquet floors, lengthy galleries, walnut-paneled rooms, and windows precisely placed to make the most of the sun. As one luxury real-estate broker puts it: “You can’t replicate patina.”
Sales History Hedge-funder Daniel Loeb paid $45.8 million for a 10,674-square-foot, five- bedroom combination of two apartment units when the building had just begun sales in 2005. Ex–Citigroup head Sanford Weill paid $42.4 million for his four-bedroom—a then-record $6,288 per square foot. Even during the recent down cycle, sellers were still able to command top prices. In early August, a 2,500-square-foot two-bedroom, bought for $6.8 million a year before Lehman Brothers went bust, was snapped up for $11.5 million. Has broken price records time and again. A 21-room triplex fetched $25 million in 2004, surpassing $3,000 per square foot, and in 2000, a fourth-and-fifth-floor duplex closed for $32 million. More recently, though, apartment 4/5C, a 6,700-square-foot four-bedroom, has stayed on the market for two years. Even after a $9 million price cut, it’s still available, at less per square foot than some units at 15 Central Park West.
Exclusivity No interview required, but buyers must submit financials and exhaustive background information, and the board does have the right of first refusal. There are 202 units in the building, so a handful of them are available to buy or rent at any given time, except for the largest of the full-floors and duplexes. Exclusivity comes mostly from the sheer expense of buying in. Legendarily rigorous co-op board, presided over by hedge-funder Charles Stevenson Jr. (He’s married to New York Times writer Alex Kuczynski.) Applicants are reportedly expected to have at least a few hundred million dollars in the bank, and need to be able to afford not just the asking price but the potential five-figure monthly maintenance. (A special assessment for façade work in 1990 cost each shareholder $258,000.) There are only 32 units in the building.
Perks Absolutely everything. A 14,000-square-foot fitness center in the basement with a pool that sits under a glass fountain in the courtyard; an entertainment floor that can be used for private parties; a screening room; a library; and a private dining room serving lunch and dinner that offers room service. A famously attentive staff that caters to a resident’s every whim. There’s a small fitness center in the basement.
Privacy Boldface names can purchase apartments under corporate cover. If they’re trying to skirt paparazzi, they can disembark from their cars in the private driveway or inside the building’s parking garage. Board screening process gives neighbors a complete accounting of a buyer’s financial holdings. Buyers here cannot hide behind LLCs; sales are matters of public record, so anyone can find out who bought in the building and for exactly how much.
Vibe Jeans and Hermès loafers; the building hosts an annual Thanksgiving Day–parade breakfast. Formal, well-heeled, somewhat stuffy.


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