The developers, Alchemy Properties and Carlyle Group, bought the site, which was home to a low-lying retail building, for $51 million last year. They are expecting a sellout value of about $226 million, according to documents filed with the office of the State Attorney General.
“Finding sites on the Upper West Side is nearly impossible,” said Kenneth Horn, the president and founder of Alchemy, adding that broad swaths of the area are under landmark protection.
But unlike new development downtown, where finding adequate sites is also rare, Mr. Horn said the Upper West Side is not accustomed to flashy glass towers, and buyers gravitate to what is familiar – and family-friendly.
“We wanted to blend into the fabric” of the neighborhood, he said, but with amenities that the grande dame, prewar co-ops often cannot provide. There will be 6,000 square feet of amenities, including a gym, golf simulator, basketball court and a professional music studio open to children and adults.
The interiors will feature oak flooring in a herringbone pattern, custom wood cabinetry by Smallbone of Devizes, and some units will have private outdoor spaces.
(Alchemy is making a similar, albeit pricier bet at the Gothic Revival-style Woolworth Tower in TriBeCa, where the penthouse is listed for $110 million.)
In total, there are just seven new residential projects on the Upper West Side that have filed offering plans recently, said Gabby Warshawer, director of research at CityRealty, a real estate data firm.
Among the new projects are a number of glassy, angular towers rising near the Hudson River, on the former Penn Central rail yard around West 60th Street. Now known as Waterline Square, the sprawling development is changing some buyers’ perception of the Upper West Side, and commanding high prices for the area.
At One Waterline Square, a 37-story condo and rental tower designed by Richard Meier and Partners Architects, the average price is $2,905 a square foot, Ms. Warshawer said, the highest among new projects in the area. Amenities at the tower will include a skate park, a rock-climbing wall and a bowling alley.
At 250 West 81st Street, Alchemy is seeking an average $2,817 per square foot, putting them in competition with buyers who might be tempted by the glassy, Far West Side developments.
“I think we have a different buyer,” said Alexa Lambert, an agent with Stribling Marketing Associates, which is handling sales with Alchemy. “Obviously we’re looking for families,” she said, because of the mix of larger units. But you can’t discount the appeal of a new masonry building, she said, especially one with Mr. Stern’s name attached.
Mr. Stern’s firm is not new to the Upper West Side. In 2007, they finished the Harrison, a 125-unit brick condo building with prewar flavor. Soon after, they finished 15 Central Park West, the limestone tower that many credit as the catalyst for the ultraluxury condo boom that followed.
In 2012, Sanford Weill, the former Citigroup chairman, sold his penthouse there for $88 million, a record at the time, to an entity controlled by Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev.
Unlike 15 Central Park West, which attracted several high-profile international buyers, Mr. Stern said his new project will have a local vibe, on a more intimate scale.
“I don’t think this building is being designed for Russian oligarchs to come jazzing in for two nights and picking up a little smoked salmon,” said Mr. Stern, the former dean of the Yale School of Architecture, noting that this building will serve as a primary home for many buyers.
Still, the condo on 81st Street will have a common bond with the ultraluxury tower farther south – Mr. Stern’s appreciation for stone. The building will start at the base with Indiana limestone and transition to a buff colored brick, with limestone trim, he said.
“You can tell your readers and tell the developers,” he said. “No glass. They’re safe with me if they want a masonry building.”