Inside the Real-Life Arconia From ‘Only Murders in the Building’

Yes, it’s a real place. And yes, it’s extremely expensive

Martin Short walks in front of New York City's Belnord apartment complex in Season 1 of Hulu's "Only Murders in the Building" (Photo by: Craig Blankenhorn/Hulu)

Selena Gomez, Steve Martin and Martin Short have returned to New York City’s Belnord apartment complex this month as work begins on Season 3 of Hulu’s Emmy Award-winning and Golden Globe-nominated comedy “Only Murders in the Building” (with some exciting new additions to the cast), where exteriors for the show’s “Arconia” building are shot.

Yes, the Arconia is a real building in New York City. And it’s grown massively in popularity since the TV show debuted.

Built on farmland in 1908, the Belnord is one of the grandest apartment-style homes on the Upper West Side. The landmark building, which earned a spot in the National Register of Historic Places in 1980, has housed notable residents like actors Zero Mostel and Walter Matthau, author Isaac Bashevis Singer and the father of method acting Lee Strasberg, who was often visited by actress Marilyn Monroe.

Today, the Belnord’s apartment units range in price from as low as $3 million to over $11 million.

Showrunner and co-creator John Hoffman told TheWrap that finding the real-life setting of the Arconia back in 2020 was a “very challenging” task for the show’s location manager due to the nature of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Right when we were looking to say, ‘Can we come and film in and around your building?,’ people weren’t coming out of their apartments,” he recalled. “We knew we wanted a courtyard. I had sort of built the idea in my head a little bit off of the Apthorp, which is one of the more elegant ones on the Upper West Side and knew that that was probably going to be out of reach for us to work with and it proved to be that was the case. So we were looking for a model on that…and the Belnord surprised us all and kind of raised their hand as potential for us.”

An aerial view of The Belnord’s courtyard (Courtesy of Evan Joseph/The Belnord)
An ground level view of The Belnord’s courtyard Courtesy of Evan Joseph/The Belnord)

According to Hoffman, approval to film at the Belnord was an “edge of the wire decision” that wasn’t granted until a couple of weeks before production on the first season began. 

“The whole time I kept on thinking like, ‘If this doesn’t happen, I don’t know what the show looks like at all,’” he explained. “So, it was terrifying in many ways but, as much of the time that we were living through was, I just kind of was rolling with the punches as much as possible and crossing my fingers. And as with so much of this show in that first season, most particularly, it felt a little touched with the fates and a little bit miraculous, truthfully.”

The Belnord’s sales director Maya Kadouri told TheWrap that “Only Murders in the Building” has “definitely increased awareness and appreciation for the building,” especially in the younger demographic familiar with Selena Gomez. 

“It’s such a beautiful building that’s impossible to replicate and it makes me happy to see that [Only Murders in the Building] brought a younger and older generation to appreciate one common building,” Kadouri said. “Without the show, it would probably only be contained to those who are interested in purchasing or who reside or know someone who resides in the building.”

Kadouri said that the inquiry from “Only Murders in the Building” to film at the Belnord was accepted due to the show’s focus on its exteriors and courtyard.

Courtesy of Evan Joseph/The Belnord

“I would consider the Belnord itself a main character in the show and it kind of is the focal center,” she added. “It has a presence of its own and we’re seeing that through social media and the reactions we get and the recognition we see people have for the building.” 

Hoffman said he’s been “stunned” by “Only Murders in the Building” fans’ reaction to the show and love for the Belnord.

“I love the pictures I see online of people standing outside the Belnord gates. I hope the Belnord doesn’t mind too much, and I hope they are doing well by it all,” he said. “And I love that there is some institutional sort of recognition of the grandeur of [New York City] that it deserves.”

In addition to sharing the story behind finding the Belnord, Hoffman teased that the show’s upcoming season will be “delightfully ambitious.”

“It goes bigger and better and in many ways unexpected hopefully, and a real mystery at the heart of it,” he said. “But also just everything on rocket fuel.” 

In Season 1, audiences learned about Mabel’s (Selena Gomez) background and her connection to murder victim Tim Kono. Meanwhile, Season 2 saw Charles (Steve Martin) grapple with paternal issues while helping to solve the murder of Bunny Folger. 

“It felt very in line that at the end of Season 2 that we point towards Oliver (Martin Short) and learn a little bit more,” Hoffman said. “We really haven’t spent time in his true world, the one he’s longing to get back to, and we head towards the theater and the world of that. The experience of a chance back at a Broadway opening for Oliver felt thrilling and also refreshing.”

Only Murders In The Building — “I Know Who Did It” – Episode 210 — One question remains: Who did it??? Oh, who are we kidding — there’s a few more questions raised, too. Oliver (Martin Short), shown. (Photo by: Craig Blankenhorn/Hulu)

Despite the introduction of a new locale, Hoffman emphasized that the Arconia will remain “very central” in the upcoming season. 

“The beating heart of the show will always be located within this trio and within that building,” he said. 

When asked about the potential for additional seasons, Hoffman said he loves “the idea of continuing with the show and actually see many ways in which it can twist and continue and further dimensionalize.”

“We’ve talked about [a finale for the series]. We talk about many things sort of in the ongoing, but it feels pretty good to…look further ahead as we get close to the finale of one season and think on what’s the leaping off point potentially for the next,” he added. “Sometimes it’s almost like lightning striking, you sort of go, ‘Oh, of course, that’s what we should do.’ And we all kind of see it simultaneously, which is lovely. So far that’s been the case. But yeah, I would love to continue as long as [Hulu will] have us.”

Courtesy of Evan Joseph/The Belnord
Courtesy of Evan Joseph/The Belnord

The first two seasons of Only Murders in the Building are streaming now on Hulu.