Fans of the Hulu collection “Only Murders in the Building,” which returns for its second season this week, know the constructing on the middle of the drama because the Arconia, the place Steve Martin, Martin Short and Selena Gomez play an unlikely trio of residents who turn into novice sleuths with a podcast. But the Renaissance-style condominium constructing on the Upper West Side of Manhattan is definitely referred to as the Belnord, and it has been making headlines for greater than a century.

From the get-go, the Belnord was a newsmaker — an edifice of extra, a house for hyperbole. When it was completed in 1909, masking a full metropolis block at West 86th Street and Broadway, the architect boasted that it was the biggest condominium constructing within the nation, and perhaps the world. Newspapers, together with this one, touted the inside courtyard as the most important in Manhattan — a half acre of open area, with a backyard and a garden “for a score of children to romp on,” topped with a bountiful, tiered marble fountain.

They marveled at its capacious rental flats, 175 of them, every 50 ft deep, stretching from road to courtyard, with inside ornament “in the style of Louis XVI” — pale, painted paneling and “harmoniously tinted silks” on the partitions — and essentially the most up-to-date trendy conveniences. The fridges had ice machines, so no iceman would ever invade the Belnord, as one paper put it. On the roof, every condominium had a personal laundry, a low-tech luxurious that included a bath, ironing board and clothesline — for the comfort of 1’s maid.

It could be its personal metropolis, this paper famous, with a inhabitants of greater than 1,500. Over the years, there have been notable tenants: Lee Strasberg, the dictatorial father of Method appearing, who was typically visited by his shy protégée Marilyn Monroe; Walter Matthau, when he was an up-and-coming theater actor with a younger household; the actor Zero Mostel, who performed Tevye within the authentic Broadway manufacturing of “Fiddler on the Roof”; and Isaac Bashevis Singer, the Nobel Prize-winning writer, who preferred to jog across the courtyard in a three-piece go well with.

But by the Nineteen Seventies, that metropolis was in chaos. The ornate limestone-and-terra-cotta construction was crumbling, the roof was leaking and the plumbing cracked. Ceilings have been collapsing. Stalactites, The New York Times reported in 1980, had shaped within the basement. The fountain had been damaged for years, and the backyard was a fenced-in jungle, off limits to residents.

The constructing’s proprietor, Lillian Seril, would earn the doubtful distinction of being one of many metropolis’s worst landlords: By all accounts, she was each litigious and recalcitrant, refusing to repair even the only points, however energetic sufficient to sue not solely her tenants but additionally the owner affiliation that threw her out for not paying her dues. (Tenants recalled shopping for their very own fridges and sneaking them in with the assistance of sympathetic constructing employees, as a result of Mrs. Seril wouldn’t enable their damaged home equipment to be repaired or changed.)

The Belnord’s residents, lots of whom paid only a few hundred {dollars} a month for his or her huge, house-like flats, organized and revolted. In 1978, they started what could be the longest lease strike within the metropolis’s historical past.

For the 16 years that it went on, the Belnord battle was so contentious that one housing court docket choose declared that the 2 sides deserved one another, earlier than washing his arms of the case when a settlement he had brokered collapsed. “I’m convinced the tenants and the owner are going to litigate the building to death,” he mentioned. A metropolis official likened the scenario to the siege of Beirut.

The battle resulted in 1994, when the developer Gary Barnett, who was then solely 38, purchased the constructing with a bunch of traders for $15 million. (As a part of the deal, Mrs. Seril insisted on retaining a 3,000-square-foot rent-controlled condominium for herself — at her demise, in 2004, she was paying simply $450 a month.) A decade later, Mr. Barnett and his firm, Extell Development, would construct One57, the funnel-shaped, blue-glass skyscraper on West 57th that was town’s first supertall tower and, in so doing, incur the ire of preservationists, city planners and civic teams. But in these years, he was a hero. The Belnord was his first Manhattan property, and he would spend $100 million shoring it up.

He made numerous offers with particular person tenants as he tried to show the place right into a luxurious rental constructing, with some flats that leased for as much as $45,000 a month. For a rabbi and his household who have been paying $275 for a 4,000-square-foot condominium, Mr. Barnett purchased a home within the New Jersey suburbs. Then there was the penthouse dweller who hankered for the desert: He flew her to Las Vegas to pick a home with a pool, organized for its buy and paid her shifting bills. Other tenants opted to maintain their low rents, however agreed to swap their huge, 11-room flats for smaller ones.

Mr. Barnett as soon as joked that the fountain he had resuscitated at huge expense — a venture that concerned disassembling and carting it away for repairs — was the fountain of youth, as a result of no one ever appeared to die on the Belnord.

“It was a labor of love to restore that building,” he mentioned lately. “But I didn’t really understand what I was getting into. It was quite a picture.”

By 2015, Mr. Barnett was out of the image, in a deal value a reported $575 million.

Like the whole lot else on the Belnord, the phrases of Mr. Barnett’s mortgage had been problematic, and for a time, after he stopped making the mortgage funds, town labeled the property as “distressed.” (The calculus of the constructing’s debt and its rental income by no means fairly added up.) And so a brand new group of traders swooped in — the solid of which saved altering, as numerous gamers dropped out due to insolvency, lawsuits and different calamities — to show the place right into a high-end condominium, changing the 100 or so obtainable flats into showplaces with Italian kitchens sheathed in marble.

Robert A.M. Stern, the architect whose agency dealt with the conversion, described the method as “a very high-class Botox treatment.”

Prices for the revamped models ranged from about $3.6 million to greater than $11 million, though some tenants purchased their very own flats at deep reductions. After a rocky begin, the condos are actually promoting briskly, conserving tempo with the high-end market within the metropolis, mentioned Jonathan Miller, the veteran property and market appraiser.

And now the Belnord is as soon as once more within the limelight, due to the Hulu collection. John Hoffman, who created the present with Mr. Martin, was delighted and surprised to have scored the place for his manufacturing, significantly in the course of a pandemic. While the atmospheric flats of Mr. Martin, Mr. Short and Ms. Gomez’s characters have been constructed on a sound stage, the story wanted a constructing just like the Belnord, with its grand appointments and panopticon of a courtyard.

“I was obsessed,” Mr. Hoffman mentioned. “I knew we could make something as elevated as that amazing building. It’s a cliché to say that the building itself is a character, but I like the challenge of getting beyond that cliché a bit. What pulls us out of our apartments to meet people? How well do you know your neighbors? Do you only connect when it’s necessary? The ways in which we get pulled together when we live in these spaces is what’s really interesting.”

One Friday night in early June, Debbie Marx, a Latin instructor and longtime Belnord resident, led a customer by her unrenovated basic seven, its meandering, book-lined hallways a time capsule from 1959, the yr her dad and mom moved in. Her father, Josef Marx, was an oboist and musicologist who had his personal music publishing firm; her mom, Angelina, had been a ballerina. Ms. Marx moved again into her childhood condominium within the late Eighties, when she was pregnant together with her first youngster and her mom was residing there alone. Ms. Marx’s father had died in 1978, a sufferer, in a method, of the Belnord battle, having suffered a coronary heart assault within the courthouse throughout a listening to together with his fellow tenants.

Ms. Marx recalled rising up within the constructing — taking part in handball within the courtyard, which was forbidden by Mrs. Seril, and slipping by the bars of the fence to the off-limits backyard, by then a riot of shrubs and bushes. She had her personal courtyard gang, with Walter Matthau’s daughter Jenny and others, however their transgressions have been delicate: nicking the hat from a doorman, commandeering the service elevator, dropping the odd water bomb.

“It’s like an archaeological site,” Richard Stengel mentioned of the constructing. “The further you burrow down, you get a different culture and history.”

Mr. Stengel, the writer, journalist and former State Department official, has been a tenant since 1992, when he moved into an condominium that had been charred by a fireplace and left vacant for years. (If you see Mr. Stengel on MSNBC, the place he’s a contributor, with a deep crimson bookshelf behind him, he’s broadcasting from his condominium on the Belnord.)

John Scanlon, the wily public relations man who died in 2001, was additionally a ’90s-era tenant. In these days, Mr. Scanlon was embroiled in one other long-running New York City actual property battle: the primary Trump divorce. (He was Ivana Trump’s spokesman.)

Like Mr. Stengel, Mr. Scanlon was a member of a Belnord demographic that you just may name literary-and-publishing adjoining. He preferred to tease Mr. Stengel, who was then an editor of Time journal, after they collided within the courtyard: “How does it feel to be on the cutting edge of the passé?”

Earlier waves of tenants included Jewish European émigrés, unreconstructed Socialists and scores of psychoanalysts.

“When we moved in, it had the feel of an Eastern European shtetl,” mentioned Peter Krulewitch, an actual property investor who arrived 35 years in the past together with his spouse, Deborah, a retired Estee Lauder government, and shortly shaped what turned referred to as the Belnord 18, one of many many splinter teams of constructing tenants who tried to barter with Mrs. Seril. “There were these wonderful aging lefties that had been there for years — and fought Mrs. Seril for years.”

In many circumstances, these tenants had succession rights for his or her youngsters. So regardless of the inflow of rental patrons, Mr. Krulewitch mentioned, the Belnord is a metropolis that also — though simply barely — has a inhabitants extra culturally various than the monolithic moneyed class that has taken over a lot of Manhattan.

As Mr. Krulewitch put it, “It has been quite an adventure.”

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