The Belnord has been in and out of the news for more than a decade as the battleground where the owner, Lillian Seril, and her rent-regulated tenants have clashed over rents and maintenance.
Now a separate dispute has come up over changes to the apartment house’s huge interior courtyard and it calls attention to the complicated issue of what is protected when the exterior of a building is designated a landmark.
Designed by Hiss & Weekes, the Belnord went up in 1908 to 1909 on the full block bounded by 86th and 87th Streets, Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue. It followed the central courtyard model of the 104-apartment Apthorp at 79th Street, completed the year before.
It was a time of rapid innovation in apartment planning, and the Apthorp/Belnord plan addressed a widespread complaint by tenants that back apartments in conventional buildings might look out on a tenement, a vacant lot or any old thing. An advertisement for the Belnord asserted that its courtyard plan “eliminated for all time all undesirable elements and the possibility of intrusion.”
The 175-unit Belnord was promoted as the largest multiple dwelling in the world. Apartments ranged from 8 to 14 rooms, with rents of $175 to $500 a month, high for the period.
Read the full article in The New York Times