On the map: Yorkville meets old New York
In 2018, Frank Mazzotta, the president of Armour Heights Developments, went to New York City on a reconnaissance mission of sorts, touring a handful of Manhattan’s iconic pre-war buildings.
“We walked through, taking pictures. We wanted to see how these developers (built) in tight places, and what materials they [used],” says Mazzotta, extolling the structures’ soulful facades with their old-school masonry and, inside, the ceiling heights and grand layouts.
At the opulent Baccarat Hotel and Residences in Midtown he especially liked the use of privacy screens in the grand salon. His team also made note of 815 Fifth Avenue as well as The Kent on the Upper East Side and The Leonard in Tribeca.
The buildings, especially The Kent, would inspire his latest project, a 20-storey boutique dwelling, 89 Avenue Road, that is slim at just 45 feet wide.
“I didn’t want to build a glass tower in the Yorkville core,” Mazzotta says, feeling a sophisticated pre-war project would be a better fit.
Slated for a March 2024 move-in date, and designed by the architect Richard Wengle, the building offers 35 customizable suites and one three-storey townhome.
Wengle’s design will “see a limestone/pre-cast and brick cladding with punched windows that fits right into Yorkville,” says Mazzotta. A bronze canopy and balcony railings hint at yesteryear, as does the heated architectural stone flooring in the gracious porte-cochère.
“Proportion and detail were the driving force of the design at the pedestrian level,” says Wengle over email.
Prices for the units range from $3.5-million to $20-million and are sized from 1,737 to 3,000 square feet.
The target buyers are well-heeled empty nesters, says Mazzotta.
“I’ve been doing this for 30-years plus. For the last few years I’ve been building adult-lifestyle buildings, and what I found is there is such a huge niche for people who want leave their large custom homes in Rosedale and Forest Hill and Leaside,” he says.
While they want a “lock-and-leave lifestyle,” as he describes it, they don’t want to compromise what they’re accustomed to. They don’t want to be in a tiny condo, share an elevator or be troubled by “the chaos of commercial activity at ground level.”
For this reason, 89 Avenue Road is strictly residential. “Very quiet, very comfortable,” he says.
Dripping in mile-long chandeliers, the lobby by Brian Gluckstein, who designed all of the interiors, is lavish, tipping its hat to the Art Deco period. The space is adorned in large bi-fold screens (hello, Baccarat) and curved furnishings that sit on slick black-and-white marquetry floors.
Units — with ceilings between 10 feet and 12 feet high — span a half or full floor.
“Though we’re zoned for commercial, we’re not doing any of that,” says Mazzotta. If they need action, residents can reserve a table at Sotto Sotto or another nearby restaurant through an app that’s being developed [for residents]. Additional tech includes an extensive home-automation system for every suite.
Amenities will include a 24-hour concierge, 24-hour valet and porter service, a pet-wash station and security at the doors. Each suite also comes with a climate-controlled wine cubby in the residents’ lounge, which makes for a treat after a swim in the heated indoor pool under skylights, or a turn under the sun on the chaise longues in the connecting area off the pool.
“We’re selling a lot of half floors right now,” says Mazzotta. “They’re 1,900 square feet and with that you’re getting a very comfortable suite.”
He notes that the building was originally going to have 24 floors, but it was dropped to 20 storeys in order to maximize the grandeur of the ceiling heights. Some floors might have up to 12-foot ceilings; it’s up to the purchaser.
“We’re trying to build a boutique bespoke building, where we can cater to everyone’s needs,” he says. “We will sit down with our clients and custom-design build their home. We’ll do this with every single suite. We can do duplexes with two floors that have a beautiful spiral staircase going to the next floor.”
A few of the sold units have already been tailored. One purchaser “created a kosher kitchen, so there are two kitchens, with two dishwashers,” he says.
But if a resident is a takeout type, the kitchens can be scaled back and more space can be allotted to the closet, for example. (That said, the 10-by-10 closets with organizers and pocket doors that come standard are generous.)
Meanwhile, gourmet kitchens feature La Cornue gas ranges (Celine Dion has one) and Miele appliances.
The suites also sport gas fireplaces and herringbone wood floors throughout the kitchen, living and dining areas. Master ensuites have steam showers, while thick architectural baseboards and eight-foot doors add to the grandeur.
A flowing layout, well-suited to entertaining, means residents won’t miss their large homes, says Mazzotta. “All of the dining rooms accommodate eight to 12 people and we’ve got beautiful balconies, most of them facing east, where they can have a pleasant eating area that accommodates six to 10 people.”
It’s also worth noting that the building is sited on Avenue Road. “The beauty is you’re not congested on Yorkville or Cumberland,” says Mazzotta. “Or you can use the discreet entrance from the rear Hazelton Lanes as well.” (That said, cars can’t drive in from the Hazelton side.)
There’s also a sustainable side to the building: Rainwater will be recycled to irrigate the green roofs and manicured plantings in the building’s rear, designed by landscape architect James McWilliams.
Even if 89 Avenue Road was inspired by the early 20th century, it’s still very much of the times.
Prices start at $3.5-million. For more information, visit the sales office at 161 Cumberland Street or 89avenueyorkville.com.
The Equinox next door is a shiny modern facility that offers cycling, martial arts, Pilates, yoga and sessions with a personal trainer. 55 Avenue Road.
The Spa at the Four Seasons, one of the few five-star spas in the city, offers a range of services, from Himalayan salt stone massages to reflexology, body wraps and nail and facial treatments. 60 Yorkville Avenue.
Sassafraz restaurant is a two-decade stalwart with a solid menu: the village burger is kicked up with bourbon onion jam. Other tasty picks include an salmon with soba noodles and fish tacos. There’s live music on Fridays, COVID permitting. 100 Cumberland Street.