The longtime residents of old-school Sutton Place thought they were getting a new luxury apartment next door that would be 13 stories tall — 30 at most.
But what they’re likely to get is one of the biggest residential towers in the city — 900 feet tall, 90 stories that will loom over the neighborhood like an upscale Colossus.
In December, the developer, the Bauhouse Group, met with residents of 434 E. 58th St., a co-op in the heart of that old money New York neighborhood. Bauhouse planned to demolish — as soon as this summer — four six-story buildings next door and put up new luxury apartments. They wanted air rights from 434 E. 58th St. so they could build higher.
According to minutes of the Dec. 22 meeting, a shareholder asked Bauhouse executive Christopher Jones for details, including whether it would be “a 100-story building.” Jones replied that he was “unsure of exact height” and that “air rights would be a factor,” but the tower “will not be 100 stories, as of now expected to be 13 stories,” the minutes state.
A representative of another shareholder estimated that between air rights and zoning, the “building will be between 12-30 stories.”
Sutton Place is one of those holdover neighborhoods where the New York City of yore still lingers. Its residents have included Vanderbilts, Morgans and Marilyn Monroe. It’s a mix of old six-story apartments, newer 16-story buildings, and most recently bigger towers, so 30 stories wasn’t completely out of character.
The shareholders voted to sell Bauhouse air rights for $11 million. Then reality struck.
On April 7, Bauhouse put out a full-color brochure of a 90-story “ultraluxury” skyscraper that would be one of the biggest residential buildings in the city.
“It appears the developer got the residents to sell the air rights by misleading them into believing the building would be no more than 30 stories,” said Arthur Schwartz, a spokesman for a number of the building residents. “Before the ink was even dry, the developer turned around and announced plans for a $1 billion, 90-story mega-tower, one of the largest condos in the country.”
Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan) said he first heard of the huge tower on April Fool’s Day and was “incredibly concerned” and will push for a land-use review.
Bauhouse officials insist that at the time of the December meeting with the shareholders, they only had enough air rights for 30 stories.
“As the complex assemblage continued into 2015, the size of the building increased,” the developer said.
A spokesman said the meeting notes “do not accurately reflect what was said by the developer” but shareholder participants insist the notes are accurate.