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New York billionaire seeks permission to build ‘temple for a titan’ penthouse on top of historic building

Neighbours are wary that the penthouse will ruin the famous views

Maroosha Muzaffar
Tuesday 16 November 2021 09:00 GMT
File: Bill Ackman was due to meet the New York Landmarks Preservation Commission this week
File: Bill Ackman was due to meet the New York Landmarks Preservation Commission this week (Associated Press)

Billionaire hedge-fund manager Bill Ackman is seeking permission from New York’s Landmarks Preservation Commission to build a “flying saucerpenthouse on top of a historic building on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.

Mr Ackman has won the backing of Manhattan’s Community Board 7 on the Upper West Side for the plan to build what one opponent has branded “a temple for a titan”, on top of the 120-year-old building that overlooks Central Park.

The penthouse apartment on West 77th Street in New York City would replace a pink stucco penthouse on the 17th floor of the building.

Mr Ackman, 55, and his partner, Neri Oxman, bought it in 2017 for $22.5m.

In his video appeal to the Community Board 7 members, Mr Ackman said: “We love the site. We love the Upper West Side. My wife and I would like to raise our new family here, we have a two and a half-year-old child. Our approach here was to build something that would be additive to the neighbourhood.”

He added: “Everything is as minimal as it could possibly be. The bottom line is that no one will care as much as us about designing something that will be beautiful [and] have a minimal impact. We want to live peacefully with our neighbours, we do not want them to get angry with us.”

However, locals fear that the penthouse would ruin the world-famous New York views. One local reportedly told the community board: “The immodesty of the penthouse apartment is disturbing, it uses the 6-16 building as a strap for a platform temple to a titan. It stares at humanity and wildlife beneath.”

The unidentified neighbour added: “New Yorkers, Americans, people all over the planet visiting the Museum of Natural History ... would find in their field of vision the Ackman eyrie and wonder who let this happen, what on earth possessed them.”

Currently, the billionaire lives in the Beresford apartment building in New York City.

The 13-bedroom apartment that Mr Ackman wants to develop was previously owned by feminist and gender policy writer Nancy Friday.

This article was amended on 17 November 2021. It previously incorrectly attributed the description ‘temple for a titan’ to Mr Ackman, but this was not said by him.

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