Bridge Tower Place gets underway.
The residences will be marketed by the Sunshine Group beginning in January, and its president, Louise Sunshine, prodded the developers to ensure the final design reflects the sensibilities and needs of the turn-of-the-millennium home buyer.
At the suggestion of Sunshine, this will be the first high-rise in the city to feature SieMatic cabinetry, for instance, and Lehrer said they "quickly realized that SieMatic makes the best." The team then worked closely with the manufacturer.
Residences are tentatively priced from $570,000 for a large one-bedroom with two bathrooms in the base of the building, to $1.95 million for a three-bedroom plus dining room and 3.5 baths in the tower. Some of the lowest floors will also feature terraces. Estimated monthly common charges will run from $798 to $1,545. Monthly real estate taxes are estimated to range from $45 to $145, assuming 421a benefits, but not taking into account a co-op condo abatement plan that is to be proposed by the city at the end of this year.
The base portion of the structure has been allocated for four residences per floor and the tower designed to accommodate three residences per floor. The floorplan calls for ceiling heights of nine feet for the four-bedroom residences on floors three through 25, and heights of 10 feet for the three-bedroom residences on floors 26 through 38.
The building is expected to be ready for closings next November.
That fast track schedule will be maintained and is the result of many late nights, Brodsky said last week, assuring a group of the city's top residential brokers that the building will be completed on time.
And with partner Lehrer, the co-founder of the construction giant Lehrer/McGovern and CEO of the Bovis Companies after its merger until 1995, it's understandable why. "Not finishing on time is inconceivable," said Lehrer, who vowed it will be done before the end of 2000.
"We view quality and reputation going hand in hand," Lehrer told the brokers who gathered for a laptop lunch in the auditorium of the Abigal Adams Smith Museum on 61st Street, as construction workers labored on the new building across the street.
To achieve quality, Lehrer continued, they took the time to put together a great team for the architect, to find the right craftsmen, and to select the materials. "We don't always pick the low bidders, but we do it on time and on schedule," he insisted.
This is, after all, the third design for the building by celebrated architect Costas Kondylis, and the first time he has undertaken a project for these developers. Kondylis began this project more than a decade ago for Jeffrey Glick, then redesigned it for the Milsteins. That family had begun demolition this year before deciding to concentrate on other projects, in turn selling to Brodsky. They also retained Kondylis and refined and enhanced the design scheme.
BridgeTower Place will be understated and fit into the neighborhood, yet be memorable, said Kondylis.
"It takes a great client to do a great building, and that was the case," Kondylis said. "This was completely redesigned while it's been under construction."
Building next to the "famous" Queensboro Bridge was a "plus" for him as an architect, he noted, and it also preserves views.
BridgeTower Place's limestone base is "very traditional" New York. Yet the brick and glass tower features a "distinct geometric design that will set it apart from other buildings in a subtle way," he said.
Lightly bronzed windows provide environmental benefits and protect furnishings and paintings. And when residents install their own drapes and blinds, the tinting will maintain a unified facade scheme.
Elegantly designed storefronts on First Avenue, where the service entrance is located, will not interfere with the character and quality of the residential building, Kondylis said.
Because zoning has since changed, BridgeTower Place will be one of the last towers allowed to be set into a plaza. Rather than the stark, bland plazas of yesteryear, this one is being turned into a lush garden and provides a quiet transition from the city to home.
Carrying an address of 401 East 60th Street, residents will enter under a sheltering marquee and through the landscaped seasonal and perennial garden designed by Tom Balsey.
The lobby itself was designed by innovative architect David Rockwell, who emulated the classical style of the stonework and Rafael Guastavino tiling of the nearby BridgeMarket. "We've created a very distinctive, warm and inviting lobby," Rockwell said.
An unusual, silver-tinted lacewood wall invokes a fabric appearance and will be lighted from below. "This lobby will glow," he noted.
An additional private sitting area will overlook the garden. Here, the warm palette and textural stone will be augmented with burgundy and a creamy wool area rug.
Two elevator banks will serve the building, which will also have a 10-story north wing that is not yet being marketed. These may become luxury rentals owned by the sponsor or smaller units for staff, relatives or home offices, and are still under discussion by the developers.
There will be a convenient garage in the building, while upstairs, residents can enjoy a third-story children's playroom and a landscaped rooftop garden. There will also be a fitness center and adjoining sun terrace.
Studying successful layouts created through the years, Kondylis designed these on the pre-war model. They therefore have foyers, and a separation of the private bedrooms and the more public living areas.
The main living and bedrooms will have herringbone patterned oak floors, and the solid core wood doors have polished chrome hardware.
The telephone lines have T1 capability for today's wired home and are integrated with the building's intercom system.
In addition to the SieMatic cabinets for both kitchen and bath, Kondylis has chosen complimentary marbles for the floors, walls and vanity tops of the various bathrooms. Fixtures are provided by Kohler with polished chrome finishes.
In the kitchen, floors are Bianco Sardo granite with accenting Absolute Black granite countertops and backsplashes. Kitchen Aid appliances are fronted in contemporary stainless steel, while the Kohler stainless steel sink and faucet includes a garbage disposal. Each unit will have its own washer and dryer, while the building's life safety system includes sprinklers.
Although the actual units are not allowed to be sold until the plan is accepted by the New York State Attorney General's Office, which is expected in January, the developers are allowed to pre-market to the community.
"We can receive letters of interest and it helps the developer and ourselves to line up prospective buyers." said Joanne deFranca. director of sales for The Sunshine Group, who will open the BridgeTower Place sales office at 1114 First Avenue on the 5th floor this week.
"I've already had 10 brokers who saw the presentation call and ask to bring clients in," she said last week.
New residents will find the area rich in history, and the ability to learn more about it. BridgeMarket is opening across the street this week, and shoppers and diners will be able to experience the Guastavino tiles for themselves.
BridgeTower Place itself is being constructed on the site of the manor house started by President John Adams' daughter and her husband, Colonel William Stephens. Their 23-acre estate was named after George Washington's Virginia home, and was to be known as "Mount Vernon on the East River," but remained unfinished and was sold. The manor house burned to the ground in 1826.
Meanwhile, the carriage house on 61st Street had become the Mount Vernon Hotel in 1808. Located at 421 East 61st Street, it now serves as the Abigail Adams Smith Museum & Gardens. Owned and operated by the Colonial Dames of America, it is one of the few historic sites that illuminates early 19th Century hotel life.
Maps, paintings and other resources are available to visitors, including many school children, and a small gift shop is open as well. There are candlelight tours from December 16 to 18, and the Washington's Birthday Ball takes place from 2 to 4 p.m. on Sunday, February 20th, with period dancers, musicians and singing.
The docents are excited about BridgeTower Place and the new neighbors that will live there, hopefully bringing more visitors and members to enjoy their historical programs.