Open house: Inside the Police Building’s $35M clock tower

240 Centre Street
240 Centre Street

Framed on the south by Grand Street and on the north by Broome Street, the triangular lot at 240 Centre Street is within a stones throw of Chinatown, Little Italy (or, what’s left of it), Tribeca, Soho, Nolita and the Lower East Side.

Which is probably why it was chosen- back in 1909 – to be the site of the Hoppin and Koen-designed police building.

It was the NYPD’s headquarters up until 1973, and then in 1988 the building was converted into luxury apartments.

Today, at the top of the building is unit 6R, also known as the Cupola Penthouse, which comes with 5,500 square feet and a price tag of $35 million. Its owners are Ahmass Fakahany (the retired president of Merrill Lynch and the current CEO of the Altamarea Group) and Alsun Keogh (owner of an architecture and design firm.)

The current layout of the Cupola Penthouse is somewhat of a jigsaw, with three separate pieces brought together to form one whole.

One piece is the north wing, another is the south wing and the third is the cherry on the top – the clock dome which was accidentally uncovered during their renovations.

The first two pieces are joined together in the burgundy-walled entrance foyer of the apartment. Opposite the entrance, nestled next to the elevator and easily missed, is a door which leads to a narrow hallway and what is now dubbed the south wing.

240 Centre Street, Cupola Penthouse
240 Centre Street, Cupola Penthouse

The south wing started its life as a small, separate apartment before being snapped up by Fakahany and Keogh and combined with their existing unit. Despite obvious and thorough efforts to unify the spaces the south wing still retains a distinctly different atmosphere and feels somewhat disjointed. It houses two bedrooms, two-and-a-half bathrooms, a large family room with 23-foot-high ceilings, a small kitchen and a laundry room. Impressive white painted beams that support part of the buildings copper roof run across the elevated master bedroom.

In comparison, the north wing is far bigger and brighter. It is also the original unit the couple bought, before combining the two apartments.

240 Centre Street, Cupola Penthouse
240 Centre Street, Cupola Penthouse

The ground floor of the north wing contains a sun-filled kitchen with a marble island, Viking range oven, and a Sub-Zero refrigerator hidden behind a mirrored panel. Next to that is the dining room, with its sliding glass doors, which according to broker Kevin Brown of Sotheby’s International Realty, were salvaged from an art-deco hotel. The media room – lit by coffered panels in the ceiling – contains the first staircase.

240 Centre Street, Cupola Penthouse
240 Centre Street, Cupola Penthouse

It leads up to the master suite, its large dressing room and a bathroom, which is lined with a custom-made black and grey glass mural.

240 Centre Street, Cupola Penthouse
240 Centre Street, Cupola Penthouse

The next staircase is a narrow and vertigo-inducing spiral (thank goodness for the elevator), leading up to the domed living room.

240 Centre Street, Cupola Penthouse
240 Centre Street, Cupola Penthouse

The huge room is 32 feet in diameter, with a 25-foot-high curved ceiling and 360-degree views of the city. Hanging in the center of the room is an impressive seven-foot pendant chandelier.

Terraces on the north and south sides of the room offer views of the Empire State Building, Brooklyn Bridge and One World Trade Center, while Juliet balconies sit on the east and west sides. According to Brown, the terraces used to be the police observatory deck, from which you could see right across the city. Too many buildings have sprung up to be able to do that now, but the views are still spectacular.

240 Centre Street, Cupola Penthouse
240 Centre Street, Cupola Penthouse

The listing describes this room as the “pièce de résistance,” but it’s got nothing on what’s above.

Ascend the dramatic double-height, curved, floating staircase, and you’ll be faced with the third piece of the puzzle – the clock tower.

Upon entering the apartment Brown explained that this unit builds like music and only now does it become clear what he meant. The exposed brick walls are original, as are the beams, and the copper and terra-cotta tiles that line the cupola 30 feet above you.

240 Centre Street, Cupola Penthouse
240 Centre Street, Cupola Penthouse

No doubt past residents – including the likes of Calvin Klein and Steffi Graf – are kicking themselves for missing the treasure above their heads.

Four huge clock faces act as frosted windows and allow in muted light making the space seem even more ethereal. Apart from the synchronized tick coming from each six-foot timepiece every minute, this dome might just be the quietest place in the city.

Interestingly – for all its glory – the Cupola Penthouse, in its current incarnation has never been lived in. Fakahany and Keogh are settled in another unit in the same building.

To decide on a listing price (it has dropped almost $5 million since last year) Brown turned to another historical-city-building-turned-luxury-condo, the Puck Building.

He was eager to find a basis on which he could price the property as both real estate but also as a piece of art. “Do you buy a Picasso per square inch?” he asked.

Touché.