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A luxury rental in New York, from a low-key landlord

Summit New York, near the UN headquarters, is targeting residents from the diplomatic corps

New York

LLOYD Goldman comes from a real estate family that was once New York's largest private property owner, and while he continues to be a major national landlord, until recently there was one thing that he had never done: build an apartment tower from scratch in New York.

But Mr Goldman, the president of BLDG Management, is now putting the finishing touches on his first ground-up rental building in the city.

The 42-storey, 429-unit building, at 222 East 44th St, is just a couple of blocks west of the United Nations' (UN) headquarters and is named Summit New York, in part to honour the type of high-stakes tête-à-tête that diplomats often engage in.

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Coming up with an ambassador-attracting name - a runner-up was Emissary - was challenging, said Mr Goldman, who added "one of the skills I lack is wordsmithing".

The 60-year-old, who owns a major stake at the World Trade Center, is also known for having studiously avoided the press for decades.

But as BLDG increasingly develops buildings, instead of just buying existing ones, Mr Goldman, who has previously renovated thousands of units, seems to relish the minutiae of designing.

At Summit, which has mostly studios to two-bedrooms, he led a tour and pointed out niches he had installed in walls near doorways, so renters can quickly stash their phones, to free up hands, when arriving home. Similarly, conduits in the wall allow unsightly TV wires to be hidden from sight.

Mr Goldman also pointed out that the "saddle" threshold stones typically placed at seams between bathroom and living room floors, to hide imperfections, were not needed at Summit, because the floors are so flat.

"If you're going to build a new building, you might as well be at the top," he said.

The apartments, with floor-to-ceiling windows, offer compelling views, largely because Summit, near Third Avenue, is set at an angle to the street.

The unusual positioning of the building, from Handel Architects, allows many windows to face the Chrysler Building. Others take in the East River.

Michael Arad, a designer of the Sept 11 memorial at the World Trade Center, and a Handel partner, was the lead designer. Kitchens in the building have quartz counters and Bosch appliances, while baths feature porcelain tile.

For building amenities, Summit offers 36,000 square feet spread between three levels. The top floor has a wine-locker-lined lounge.

The lower "arena" area has a section for boxing, a 60-foot pool and a 75-foot basketball court. There is also 9,000 square feet of shared outdoor space, including sloping lawns. Access to all amenity floors is US$2,200 a person a year, with discounts for families.

"It's in an elite class," said Matthew Villetto, a senior vice president with Douglas Elliman Development Marketing, which is leasing the US$350 million project, a mix of market-rate and affordable apartments.

Of the 320 market-rate units, one-bedrooms start at US$4,500 a month, and two-bedrooms at US$7,700, according to Mr Villetto, who is offering a month of free rent as a concession. The three-bedroom penthouse will be US$30,000.

The 109 affordable units are being assigned through a lottery run by Breaking Ground, a social-services organisation that has received 89,000 applications, BLDG said.

To lure residents from the diplomatic corps, Summit will target the residences of UN officials that line the area. Marketing materials include a hardcover 68-page book the size of a place mat.

Even though there are not many contemporary luxury rentals in the vicinity, Summit may have to compete with condo sublets that are similarly fancy, said Ray Urci, a salesman with Bond New York who works and lives in the area.

He's listing a three-bedroom at 50 United Nations Plaza, a 43-storey condo from Zeckendorf Development, at US$19,000 a month.

An ambassador recently toured it, Mr Urci said, but didn't like that the dining room could fit only eight - and not 15 - people. "But there's a market for UN workers," Mr Urci added. "They come with a big entourage."

BLDG's roots stretch back to the early 1950s, Mr Goldman said, when his father Irving and his uncle Sol started their real-estate careers by snapping up a pair of small buildings in Brooklyn, near where their parents ran an Italian grocery store.

Just a decade later, the Goldman brothers, with other investors, owned the Chrysler Building. Their strategy was to target existing buildings and hang onto them for decades.

If they did sell, the Goldmans often retained ownership of the land beneath the buildings, then leased it to builders. New developments, Mr Goldman said, were non-existent. But after many years, some older buildings "reached the end of their useful life", said Mr Goldman, who founded BLDG in 1984 after the Goldman brothers' portfolio was split between the brothers' children. Today, in New York, BLDG owns the Montana (at 247 W 87th St), the Blake (220 E 63rd St) and the Mayfair (145 Fourth Ave), which are among 250 residential and commercial properties the firm controls nationwide, in places like Florida, Massachusetts and Arizona.

With other investors, Mr Goldman also holds about a 50 per cent stake in three sites at the World Trade Center office complex. Three and Four World Trade are up and running, while Two World Trade has yet to be developed. NYTIMES