Aug 15th 2006 2:55AM A reply to several points raised in this thread:
1. The layout is typical of many large pre-war Manhattan apartments, with a gallery and hallways used to divide the apartment into public, private and service areas. I'm betting the late owner lived in the apartment for many years because the rabbit-warren layout (multiple maids' rooms, etc.) was common in decades past, when kitchens and bathrooms were smaller and people designated rooms for different purposes (unlike today's great room where functions flow together). Anyone buying this apartment would probably combine the maids' rooms to make a home office or a laundry room. Still, folks, you've got to realize that there's less space in a city, always will be, and so rooms are smaller, even in expensive apartments. It's not a proper comparison to set an apartment against the space (and probably flow) possible with a regular home.
2. Even many grand Manhattan apartments don't have their own laundry rooms. Some of that is a throwback to the past, when servants did the laundry in central laundry rooms in the building basement. And some of that is the fact that many co-ops forbid washers and dryers in apartments, often because of wiring and electrical issues. People get around these rules by bribing doorman and superintendents to allow washers and dryers to be delivered and hooked up. I know this sounds crazy -- in most of the country, even very modest dwellings have private washers and dryers. But New York is, well, New York. (For many years, garbage disposals were also outlawed in many Manhattan apartments.)
3. Nineteen million sounds like a lot of money for an apartment, but consider that we're talking Manhattan here, not Indiana. In the past few years, many large apartments in the best co-ops on Park and Fifth avenues have sold for $19 million and more. It's all about supply and demand.
4. On the other hand, the pricing of this apartment may be ambitious, which means $19 million is simply the figure that opens negotiations. A view of Central Park, as one poster noted, is a precious commodity in New York, but this apartment's view is "only" tree level; it's not a more desirable, panoramic view of, say, the reservoir and the Central Park West skyline. Also, as another poster noted, the apartment would probably require extensive renovation, if nothing else to update the bathrooms and eliminate the maids' rooms.
4. This building, 944 Fifth Avenue, sits on one of the prime stretches of Fifth Avenue (in the 70s). Barbara Walters also lives in the building. The co-op board for such prime real estate is going to be tough. The board would never approve the purchase of the apartment by some nouveau-riche Russian (with, quite possibly, dubious sources of income and a tacky, Cavalli-clad girlfriend). One such gentleman tried to buy Mary Tyler Moore's apartment at 927 Fifth, a few buildings down the avenue. Not a chance, the board said.