True crime has certainly evolved into the in-vogue genre du jour, especially when it comes to podcasts. From “Serial” to “Up and Vanished” to “My Favorite Murder,” the platform is rife with macabre offerings. And audiences, it seems, can’t get enough. As Vulture recently espoused, “When future historians look back at this golden age of podcasting, they’ll likely point out that true crime was the engine that boosted the medium into the stratosphere.” So leave it to Steve Martin to devise a new comedy series for Hulu that pokes glorious fun at the subject and its plethora of ardent fans.
“Only Murders in the Building,” co-created by John Hoffman of “Grace and Frankie” fame, hit the streamer this week and has already garnered a 100% and 99% Tomatometer and Audience Score, respectively, on Rotten Tomatoes. (The trailer alone is enough to set true crime lovers’ hearts aflutter!) The series focuses on a madcap group of neighbors – actor/former television detective Charles-Haden Savage (Martin), Broadway producer Oliver Putnam (Martin Short) and artist Mabel Mora (Selena Gomez) – who find themselves at the center of a mysterious death and decide to turn to their favorite medium – podcasting – in an attempt to solve it. The lighthearted romp is set against the backdrop of the trio’s home, a lovely New York building named The Arconia.
There’s bad news for anyone hoping to secure a spot at the luxe co-op themselves, though. The building as seen on TV doesn’t exist IRL. In truth, The Arconia is a mash-up of three different NYC spots, the most recognizable of which is The Belnord, a fashionable Upper West Side property that can be found at 225 W. 86th St. Taking up an entire city block, the limestone and brick monolith was designed in 1908 by H. Hobart Weekes of the Hiss & Weekes architecture firm. Initially built as a luxury apartment house, at the time of its construction it was said to be the largest of its kind in the city, not to mention one of the most plush. The 175 original units were outfitted with mahogany finishes and decorated in a Louis XVI style, with each room featuring outside openings. In a prudent move, all bedrooms were constructed facing the inner courtyard “thus insuring quiet from the street noises, which it is impossible otherwise to attain in the city,” noted a 1908 New-York Tribune article.
Built for the Belnord Realty Company, hence the unusual moniker, rental rates at the handsome Italian Renaissance-style property initially started at $2,400 a year, which equates to about $70,000 ($5,800 a month) in today’s dollars.