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The Mandarin Oriental’s Fifth Avenue Condos Are Having Problems

An image from the listing of apartment 18A at the Mandarin Oriental Residences, whose owners are suing the firm behind the building. Photo: Douglas Elliman Real Estate

The Mandarin Oriental Residences, Fifth Avenue are advertised like hotel rooms that you can buy. The 65 condos come furnished in tasteful, bland beige and include all the spoils of a hotel suite: starchy Frette linens, Acqua Di Parma bath products, and a Dyson hair dryer. The building contains Daniel Boulud’s only private restaurant and has a partnership with Saks Fifth Avenue that stocks closets, allowing buyers to arrive in town without so much as a suitcase. For this and other reasons, the building — which was finished last spring — is pitched to pied-à-terre buyers as a place where “every detail has been meticulously crafted to create a sanctuary of comfort and sophistication.”

The Mandarin Oriental Residences are at 685 Fifth Avenue and were converted from offices atop the former Gucci store at 54th Street. Photo: Douglas Elliman Real Estate

That has not been the experience of John and Diane Goodman, a couple who bought a one-bedroom there in November 2022 for $6.1 million, closed in December, and this week filed a suit in Manhattan Supreme Court that delineated the distance between the apartment they were promised and the one they now own. A recessed panel above the bed is supposed to line up with the side tables — and doesn’t. A bathroom cabinet was supposed to come capped with stone — and isn’t. The metal slides for two drawers have been installed — but the drawers do not exist. They also mention the fact that the supposedly furnished apartment only came with two place mats, despite stocking flatware for six. When the Goodmans asked for the missing four, they say they were charged $100 apiece — a form of “nickel-and-diming” that the lawsuit describes as “inconsistent with the luxury and value promised.”

Since the apartments at the Mandarin were first listed, only 13 of the 65 have sold. This isn’t bad, according to the appraiser Jonathan Miller and Kael Goodman, the CEO of the real-estate analytics firm MarketProof. These types of condos, branded around hotels, are much more expensive than their regular-condo counterparts, which means that they naturally take longer to sell. But still, it isn’t great. And there are other, subtler signs that the apartments aren’t everything that was promised: A 691-square-foot studio, with office-tower views, that sold last year for $3.88 million was first put up for rent for $38,000 a month, but has stayed on the market for five months — despite a new price drop to $16,000.

Drawer slides but no drawers (left). Recessed-lighting bay that doesn't line up (right). Photos: New York County Clerk.
Drawer slides but no drawers (left). Recessed-lighting bay that doesn't line up (right). Photos: New York County Clerk.

The Mandarin may sell itself as a place where “every detail has been meticulously crafted” — down to the place mats. Which is what Goodman sees as the problem the lawsuit is poking at and a problem inherent in any luxury-branded listing — where buyers are told that their sky-high expectations will be met. “The quality that’s been promised is so high.”

A listing photo for the studio that was originally asking for $38,000 a month, and features views of office towers. Photo: Douglas Elliman Real Estate

*Updated 12:44 p.m.: The article originally quoted Kael Goodman saying the quality promised was “too high.” It has since been corrected.

Mandarin Oriental’s Fifth Avenue Condos Are Having Problems