Pitch for Private Club On W. 68th St.

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by dan rivoli

a real estate company that specializes in restoring historic buildings is again proposing to turn a landmark, six-floor residence into a private rental space-for a hefty price tag.

last year, fine times, inc., a luxury rental company with 26 buildings in manhattan and brooklyn in its portfolio, proposed operating a private rental space in the beaux art-style row house it owns at 15 w. 68th st. and central park west. in exchange, the façade of the century-old building would be restored and maintained.

the private residential club would let the renter and up to 22 guests stay in the restored 10- to 12-unit building for anywhere from a week to 30 days. there would be garage space, a communal kitchen and a live-in manager with a hospitality background. fine times would also provide a private chef, if a guest didn't already have one on hand.

the residential rental club would be the first of its kind in the city.

"we have many tenants in the upper west side area, and even referrals through tenants, where they may have a relative, they may have an occasion coming up, a big family gathering [and they'll ask], 'do you have something we can rent for a week?' but we don't," said joseph lopez, managing director at fine times.

when the project went in front of community board 7 last year, a lawyer representing the project, mitchell korbey of herrick feinstein, said that a week's stay could be priced as high as $50,000 to $60,000. but lopez now says that the price for the "upscale" establishment has yet to be determined.

last year, board 7 approved plans for adding a handicap-accessible door and some façade restoration. fine times still needs a special permit from the department of city planning to operate the club. at press time, the company was scheduled to appear at board 7's june 16 land use meeting.

the company is reaching out to the community to build support for the project. lopez argues that such a club would have less of an impact on the neighborhood than a standard 12-unit rental building. and the clientele, he stressed, is nothing like tourists who use hostels when vacationing in the city.

"we're going to gear it to the residential experience," lopez said, "which means not only having a residential experience by living in the house, but having things geared toward attractions and cultural activities in the neighborhood."

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