The brownstone at 226 West 71st street between West End Avenue and Amsterdam recently completed a major renovation that added a very modern two-story addition to a traditional old building built in 1900.

According to this listing, the brownstone, which once held multiple families, was delivered vacant. And the listing explicitly says: “It is outside the Upper West Side Historic District and could become one of many coveted Luxury single-family homes in New York or New York Investment Property depending on the Buyer’s need. It is not subject to Landmark Restrictions. As a result there are additional buildable square feet (up to approx. 8,000 Total)…The house is completely de-constructed internally with open floor plans, awaiting your architect.” It sold for $5.175 million in 2011 to a corporation called 226 West 71st street LLC.

A neighbor posted the photo above on Facebook with the following note:

“Dear Neighbors: Thanks for working so hard to ensure that the massive, three-story addition to your townhouse you’re building fits in so well with the existing architectural character of the neighborhood.” (Our tipster got us permission to post the photo and the comment.)

So, dear opinionated readers, do any of you have comments on the addition? Is this the new-new-new Upper West Side, and we’d better get used to it?

NEWS, REAL ESTATE | 34 comments | permalink
    1. connie says:


    2. Amy says:

      Wow…that looks ridiculous.

    3. Steven Barall says:

      There are certain things money just can’t buy. Taste comes to mind.

    4. Rebecca Elise says:

      wow that looks so incredibly awful.

    5. Irena says:

      So why does someone buy an UWS brownstone to build this kind of contemporary unit atop it? Seriously.

      Hope the owner likes it a lot and plans to stay forever, because anyone who likes the brownstone won’t buy it with that awful building atop it. And anyone who likes the white “cake topper” building on the brownstone, won’t want a brownstone building.

      Money clearly does not ensure either architectural integrity or good taste. What an eyesore.

      Let’s hope that this is NOT a trend for building on brownstones anywhere in the city.

      I am sure there are ways to have created a modern/contemporary structure that was still more in keeping with the brownstone beneath it. (You see this in Europe, where they can modernize without destroying all the past glories.)

      Ugh. Ugh. Ugh.

      I feel really bad for whoever owns the nearby buildings. Their value just went down, down, down. I’m not one to advocate legislation that limits what owners can do but this is an example of why some restraint has to be mandated by law.

    6. Ira says:

      Architectural arrogance! Realtor arrogance!

    7. jd says:

      The least they could have done was paint it brown.

      • Meg D says:

        I agree!

        Have you seen the glass one atop the brownstone on W. 78 just west of Amsterdam? At least it blends in better than this weird white box on top of the brown building.

    8. Ken says:

      As was once said, quite appropriately, by someone else:

      It is my wish for the world that people with good taste would acquire money and people with money would acquire good taste.

    9. meech says:

      The architectural equivalent of having toilet paper stuck to your shoe.

    10. Gregory Nuber says:

      It saddens me because I am a creature of nostalgia and now I fear the old way is slowly leaving us…so sad…so true…I just saw an add for a diaper that tweets when it senses your infant has wet him or herself…really?

    11. Mike B says:

      If this annoys the UWS residents and the Community groups, then that’s enough for me to absolutely love it. They should add polka dots.

      • Ken says:

        Right-on Mike!
        Are you always this big a d-bag?

        • Mike B says:

          No. And I’m not the d-bag here either. I’m just a person who hates when people try to tell others what to do with their property. If it’s legal, everyone else should just STFU or move.

          • Ed R. says:

            Charming, Mike. You kiss your mother with that mouth?

            Yes, the owner can – and did! – do anything he wants. That’s freedom. But, being part of a society, with consideration for others, also carries responsibility. No one said the addition shouldn’t have been built. Everyone is just saying the builder might have had the consideration, sensibility and respect for those around him, as well as for the position in which he found himself, the owner of a historically significant, if unprotected, building in a historic neighborhood.

          • Ken says:

            You are indeed – because you – like the developer of this property – are attempting to draw attention to yourself via disruption. It is the very definition of the phrase. No one is questioning their ‘right’ to do what they did – just their lack of appropriate judgement, their disregard for both the neighborhood and negative effect their actions likely have on property values. I challenge you to find even one neighboring property owner who welcomes this modification.

            • Mike B. says:

              That’s an easy challenge to win. Me. I own a few brownstones in that area and would buy that guy a beer if he did that on my block.

              I’ve had the Landmarks Commission screw me over so many times on simple inconsequential matters that cost me so much money that this is a welcome flip of the bird to anyone who agrees with people like them.

    12. Oedestrian says:

      Just the kind of ugly, oversized addition with which out of control multi millionaires are abusing brownstones and our beautiful neighborhood. it is disgusting and out of character but does the new owner care ABSOLUTELY NOT. After all the only thing that matters is that he/she has a home in the beautiful Upper West side.

      When are the interests of the current residents to going to matter to anyone? Never, we don’t count. Our concerns don’t count. Our loss of value because of the monstrosities don’t matter. Its all about the arrogant, the tasteless and the wealthy and once they’ve destroyed the Upper West Side they will move on.

    13. f says:

      It would have required only a modicum of taste and good sense to paint the addition a compatible color with the original structure and a slight effort to install windows in a style at least reminiscent of the original ones.

      • Jake says:

        I agree with all the comments below, but they’re missing one major point – the ugliness of this structure is the whole idea.
        It means everybody will be looking at it. The owners will have what they really want – attention, at whatever the cost.
        “Look at me!! I EXIST!!” This is why we have to have some kind of regulation to protect the architectural integrity of our neighborhoods. Other cities in the world do it, so why can’t we? Can you imagine this in London??

    14. Bettina says:

      Beyond hideous! Painting it a darker color might mitigate slightly this structure’s outrageous appearance on a street of mostly lovely old homes, but it would not suffice. When a building is outside the historical district, anything goes? There is no review whatsoever of plans and approval of a design appropriate for the neighborhood?

    15. KS says:

      What a shame! This block is so pretty!

    16. UWS Pilates says:

      Did someone get paid to approve something like this?

    17. Enid says:

      It’s hideous. How could they.

    18. Mark Diller says:

      Thanks so much to the developer for creating such a compelling visual argument in favor of the need for Historic Districts such as the continuation of the West End Avenue Historic District to preserve the integrity of our fabric of our built environment.

    19. Susan Levit says:

      can it get any uglier? What’s wrong with these people?

    20. jerry says:

      Dear Susan, Mark, Enid, Pilates, KS, Bettina, Oedestrian, Ed, Rebecca, Gregory, Connie, Amy, Meech, Ira, Irena, others…and especially Ken and Steve,
      My thanks. You have all said it well. In the words of Smokey Robinson and the Miracles…”I second that emotion.”

    21. Sheila says:

      This is just wrong! Who on earth appoved this? Must be a friend of Bloomberg’s.

    22. Cato says:

      Looks like they may be doing something similar on West 84th between WEA and Riverside.

      One of the brownstones on the south side of the street is framing out what looks like may become a one- or two-story “penthouse”.

      So what was once home to several families not so long ago is now not nearly enough space for one of our new ultra-wealthy neighbors.

      Why do I think we are witnessing the beginnings of the next Banker competition? Maybe they’ve given up competing on who can have the biggest SUV and will now be trying to top each other (literally, in fact) about who can not only buy a multi-family home for their single use, but add to it more and more and more and….

    23. Julie says:

      What a bunch of selfish people – to build such an eyesore on top of a beautiful historic building on a historic block with no thought or apparent concern for neighborhood, history….probably blocks his neighbor’s view too.

    24. AstridB says:

      I kind of like the dichotomy, sorry everyone, I know I am in the minority. Anyway, you see this type of mix of old and new all over Europe, I like it.

    25. Clare says:

      I live in the building next door and am just glad that after a year of loud construction, we finally have some quiet….but now of course there’s scaffolding going up on our building. It never ends.

    26. Liz says:

      This is purely one of those in your face actions. These people did this just because they could. It’s their way of saying to people on the UWS and to their neighbors — Tough. You don’t like it, you can kiss my rear.

      No one, unless they are smoking crack or on drugs could think this works on any level. My dad had an expression: “for some people, taste is only in their mouth”.

      This is so horrific. There is no consideration to the perception of this monstrosity. Well, welcome to the new world order.

    27. Upper West Sider says:

      This building, fortunately, is outside of a so called historic district.

      This new development is an example of what the Upper West Side would look like, both good and bad, without our current overly restrictive Landmark District regulations. We need to give up a fixed in time image of what the buildings “should” look like, which is what we have at this time. We would benefit by having buildings that were upgraded in line with current consumer demand.

      Real estate taxes and related real estate charges such as transfer taxes and mortgage recording tax revenues collected by the city represent approximately half of the total tax revenue collected by the city.

      When this building sells, and it will sell, for somewhat less than $15.9 million, the higher property value and higher tax base will lower the tax burden on the rest of us, all businesses, workers and consumers