Rockefeller Family’s Longtime Manhattan Apartment

The one-time home of former Vice President Nelson Rockefeller traverses the entire 15th floor of a Fifth Avenue building

A Fifth Avenue apartment former Vice President Nelson Rockefeller bought directly from the building’s developers in the 1960s has hit the market this week for the first time ever, asking $11.5 million.

The unit traverses the entire 15th floor of a mid-rise limestone cooperative facing Central Park and includes a 75-foot terrace overlooking the treetops. Rockefeller, who was vice president under President Gerald Ford from 1974 to ‘77 and died in 1979 at the age of 70, bought the roughly 3,900-square-foot home in 1963, during his 12-year tenure as New York’s governor, according to the new listing, which Bloomberg first reported.

The expansive four-bedroom unit has remained in the family for nearly 60 years, and now belongs to one of his sons, Nelson Rockefeller, Jr., property records show.

It was far from the only home the Republican lawmaker kept on Fifth Avenue. He once owned a massive, 30-room triplex at the Italian palazzo-style building directly next door. He gave up two floors of that home to his first wife, Mary Todhunter Clark, upon their divorce in 1962, and kept the bottom floor for himself, according to a former listing for that apartment.

A golden opportunity arose around that same time, as developers razed several nearby townhouses to build the current Fifth Avenue property on the market. Rockefeller bought the 15th floor of the new building, which was nearly at the same height as his unit next door. He knocked through the buildings and added a set of six shallow steps to merge the two.

“It’s extremely unusual—the idea of someone buying a full-floor unit that was going to match the level” of a neighboring building, said listing broker Kirsten Jordan, who’s marketing the current listing alongside Clayton Orrigo and Stephen Ferrara, all of the Hudson Advisory Team at Compass.

“I don’t even know how you would even get the approvals to do that,” she added.

The Rockefellers later split the two units again and sold off the apartment next door.

What’s left at the current listing is a vast “white box” ready for someone to reimagine, according to the brokers. However, there are numerous mid-century details from the vice president’s time worth keeping or restoring, Mr. Orrigo said.

A warm wood-paneled office with a stone fireplace and views of Central Park would still make for an excellent study or media room, according to the brokers. Meanwhile, the neighboring great room still bears detailed parquet wood floors and walls with rounded corners.

“It’s almost Art Deco in some of the curvature,” Mr. Orrigo said. “There are some special things.”

That’s not to say the apartment hasn’t been touched since the elder Rockefeller lived there. The younger Rockefeller, who now owns the unit, recently re-clad the outdoor balcony in marble. The plumbing in the kitchen is also all new, said Ms. Jordan, shortly before showing the unit on Friday.

New York City’s housing market went through weeks of near-paralysis at the height of the pandemic, especially in the luxury segment, which was already in a price slump. But Ms. Jordan and Mr. Orrigo said they’ve been surprised by the volume of interest for the Rockefeller home so far, including from residents within the same building.

They said they’re beginning to see a gradual return of luxury home shoppers in the city, many attracted by the range of listings on the market and years of declining prices.

“The buyers that were sitting on the sidelines for so long, they are salivating in many ways,” Mr. Orrigo said.

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