Ok, by now you probably already know it, I am a huge fan of the architect Robert A.M. Stern. The fact that I am a fan of classic design and luxury is the primary reason that I am such a fan. I love classic prewar architecture, space, dimension and quality, yet, I also like things being brand new and loaded with amenities and the highest quality appliances, etc.. Robert A.M. Stern builds buildings that will stand the test of time and become timeless New York classics. Today I had the opportunity to preview Mr. Stern's latest creation, The Harrison, Located on 76th Street and Amsterdam. If you meet 2 prerequisites, there is no better new condo in New York. Those prerequisites are: 1- you want to live on the Upper West Side, 2- your taste are more towards classic, conservative design. If you meet these 2 conditions, The Harrison is a home run!
There are so many things to love about The Harrison, I will list a number of them and probably still miss many.
1- Location. If you like the Upper West Side, you can't find a better or more central location than 76th and Amsterdam. Ok, yes, Central Park West would be better, but at 76th and Amsterdam you are a short jaunt to the park, Lincoln Center, Broadway, Fairway Market, The Museum of Natural History, tons of bars, restaurants and more. The area is also known for exceptional public schools.
2-Fantastic building design. The Harrison is actually 2 towers built on a large lot stretching the length of Amsterdam from 76th-77th Street and a fair portion of both blocks half way to Broadway. One building on the corner of 76 and Amsterdam, home of the Amsterdam Inn refused to sell to make way for the development, but this actually turns into an unexpected plus. By virtue of the fact that they split the development into 2 towers, open space in front of the towers is far more generous than would be the case if they filled the entire block with one large building. The benefit is that many apartments in the middle floors that wont have the world's greatest views still have open space and light that wouldn't be the case if it was built filling the entire block.
3- Superb exterior architecture. In the tradition of New York classics, the building's exterior is red brick and limestone. The windows, while over sized, are still in the realm of the normal. Stern goes against the trend of sheets of glass architecture and the result is apartments that are comfortable, classic, and homey. While the modern sheet of glass look is sleek and modern now, who knows how we'll look back at that look 20 years from now- they could look like glamorized Ramada Inns by then. The advantage of normal windows is that they are alot easier to deal with in terms of window treatments and make for a more intimate home. Floor to ceiling windows are bright, but alot of people complain that they feel like they are falling out of the building when near them, they are difficult to cover, and therefore the feeling of privacy is compromised.
4- Highest quality, classic finishes. It is obvious from the time that you walk into the showroom that no expense has been spared for the finishes of the apartments. Start where you would least expect it- the doors. The doors are thick, heavy, tall and substantial. It's a small thing, but indicative of the thought put into the finished product. The kitchens are phenomenal. Covered in African Mahogany panelling, you have a 36" Sub-Zero fridge (in all but the studios-48" in 3 beds and larger) with double freezer drawers, Viking gas burner, Viking convection and Viking conventional ovens, and Miele dishwasher. The kitchen is finished off with white quartzite counters and back splash, under mount double sink and handsome custom chrome hardware. The bathrooms are palatial in size and finishes. A 6' Tea For Two (5 1/2 feet in units smaller than 2 bed) soaking tub is surrounded by statuary white marble. The same marble is utilized around the sinks, walls and floors (the floors also integrate a design of white pearl, black marble, and gold limestone). Simply put, if you like the highest quality classic finishes, The Harrison does not disappoint.
5- Amenities. This is another feature that Realted Companies, the developer has mastered. Having bought Equinox Fitness Club, viola, an Equinox Fitness Club is in the building (I think residents get a generous term membership for free). What else? A more intimate resident's fitness lounge, a dinosaur themed spacious children's playroom, outdoor garden, rooftop sun terrace, entertainment lounge, on-site 24 hour garage, doorman, concierge, and a related personal assistant (not sure what this is, but it can't be bad).
6- Price. While the plan has not been approved by the Attorney General's office, word is that prices will start in the $1200's per square foot (at least in phase 1). Considering the great location, extreme quality of both finishes and architecture, and the full array of amenities, these prices seem very reasonable. It is anticipated that sales will start in earnest before Christmas (previews available now), and occupancy is slated for Spring of 09'.
All things considered, if the Upper West Side is your turf, and you prefer classic to modern and appreciate new with loads of amenities, you will not find a better condo in the area. Plainly put, I've seen every nearly every new condo in Manhattan, but The Harrison truely blew me away!