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Meet the Neglected Wrecks of Manhattan's Gold Coast

The Upper East Side is a neighborhood known for its refinement, reserve, and restrained opulence. Yet some buildings exist along its moneyed corridors like a poor relation's Trans-Am, abandoned and on blocks in front of a manicured lawn after breaking down during an uninvited visit. It's best not to talk about such things; easier just to plant some flowers to block your view of the wreck and pretend it's not there. But sometimes a crass friend—like The Times—will come to visit and start asking questions like "OMG! What happened to that place!?" Thus, this week's Appraisals column, which profiles two junkers going to seed amongst some of the world's most valuable real estate.

Upscale property flipper Janna Bullock is going to become known less for turning millions in profits by buying and selling multi-million dollar townhouses, and more for buying and holding bombed out (literally and aesthetically) wrecks that make neighbors cringe. Bullock is the owner of the exploded Dr. Bartha townhouse lot, but that building was already a goner when she purchased the property. After purchasing the landmarked 12 East 82nd Street for $16 million in 2006, however, Bullock received Landmarks Preservation Commission approval to make some changes. The LPC did not anticipate that the changes would involve the removal of the rear of the building and then its virtual abandonment to the elements. The 19th century townhouse now looks like a person in an overly revealing hospital gown locked outside in poor weather—sad, exposed, and lacking any dignity. Perhaps some day, the landmark will become so rundown that it will have to be replaced by a $40 million, environmentally conscientious green dream home.

The ghostly appearance of 890 Park Avenue echoes the plight of its final resident. The red Victorian townhouse has a last-man-standing vibe, sandwiched between two massive pre-war apartment buildings. The owners of 890 Park are patiently waiting for it to become fully vacant. There is one tenant left: 84-year-old Elliot Spencer Turgen, who lives on the fourth floor in an apartment he's called home since 1967. While he is still in the building, the owner who bought it in foreclosure 15 years ago is not putting much money into keeping up appearances along one of the most affluent stretches of New York. It has to be difficult for Mr. Turgen to answer questions from neighbors about how he is feeling these days, and not wonder if they are in fact anticipating any imminent improvement to their streetscape if he answers, "poorly."
· Even In A Prime Neighborhood, Some Forlorn Vacancies [NYT]
· Site of Blown-Up UES House Returns for $40M with Green Plans [Curbed]
· Janna Bullock coverage [Curbed]

12 East 82nd Street

12 East 82nd Street, New York, NY