The 23 storey Barbizon building, on the corner of 63rd Street and Lexington Avenue, could achieve Landmark status on Tuesday.
The building, which is a mix of Renaissance and neo-Gothic styles, originally opened its doors in 1927 as the Barbizon Hotel for Women, and famous residents included Sylvia Plath, Grace Kelly, Candice Bergen and Joan Didion. Strict rules precluded men from venturing above the lobby floor, and it wasn’t until 1981 that they were allowed to live in the hotel.
In 1982 the Barbizon was placed on the National Register of Historic Places, and is being considered for landmark status after a request from the Friends of the Upper East Side Historic Districts last month.
Over the years the building has undergone several reincarnations, but in 2006 it was renovated, and is now a condominium called Barbizon 63, with condos costing between $1 billion and $18 million. Apart from the penthouses, all the condos were sold, with most achieving their full asking price. Since then the resale market has remained strong, even during the global crisis, with many of the apartments being re-sold for a profit.
Danielle Engelbardt, a broker for Prudential Douglas Elliman owns a unit in the building, has handled many sales there, and says “It did well above and beyond the original price projections. It was staggering; we were in a strong market, but it was definitely a home run.”
If the building achieves Landmark status, it will restrict any modifications that could be made to the exterior, but according to Tara Kelly, Executive Director of the Friends of the Upper East Side Historic Districts, the developers, BPG Properties didn’t make any changes to the exterior during the conversion.
Kelly feels it’s important that the building is designated, and says “It has a social importance, not only because of the many famous women who lived in the building, but also for the hundreds of everyday women coming to the city looking to make something of themselves.” She points out that the building is both architecturally and culturally significant.