Africa Israel-Owned 100-Year-Old NYC Apartment Building Undergoing $30 Million Conversion to Luxury Condos


nyc-upper-west-side-buildingThe 100-year-old Upper West Side apartment building that many notables have called home has turned into an archeological dig as it undergoes a $30 million conversion to luxury condos. Construction workers renovating the historic apartments at the Apthorp on Broadway at West 78th Street are unearthing yellowed newspapers from World War II, ornate hand-carved chestnut doors and original icemakers dating to 1908 buried in the building’s thick terra-cotta walls. A 300-pound, 9-foot-tall chestnut door unearthed in Apartment 9B was buried for more than 70 years because it was too big to be moved out, said architect Fernando Papal.”You can’t find that kind of wood anywhere anymore,” Papal said. “It’s priceless.”

Building manager Gilbert Rodriguez said he has found about 12 of the buried doors.

“We restored them and kept them in place,” he said. “The contractors used to use the cavities in the walls to throw stuff away. One hundred years later, we have a backed-up sink, we open the wall and we get surprises.”

In 9E, which has not been renovated in a century, contractors found 1908 refrigerators and 8-foot-tall iceboxes.

A Daily Mirror newspaper, dated Oct. 23, 1943, and headlined with news from World War II’s Italian campaign, seems to have been purposefully buried as a time capsule in a wall in 2F.

The building’s first renovation is now under way as the building owners scramble to sell apartments in a down market.

Africa Israel Investments and Mann Realty bought the Apthorp for $426 million in March 2007 and must sell 25 apartments by Sept. 15 — otherwise the $30 million condo conversion reverts to being a rental.

“We have 10 deals in the works now, but there’s always concern when you have a finite date,” said Prudential Douglas Elliman Executive Chairman Howard Lorber.

So far, only two apartments have been sold.

{NY Post/ Newscenter}