New York may be a giant city, but it’s the individual neighborhoods and their character that make it the fabulous place that it is. The way to really see these neighborhoods in action — and more importantly real estate-wise to find your perfect neighborhood — is to walk from one to the next and observe the differences from block to block. New buildings, shops, restaurants, hotels, even pop-ups: The landscape is never the same twice.
One of my favorite neighborhoods, and where I live, is the Upper West Side. In real estate terms, the neighborhood has changed quite a bit since I first encountered it in 2001. At that time, I was looking for a place to buy, and I met with a friend, a selling agent for the Time Warner Center apartments. At that time the area’s median selling price was $500 per square foot, and she told me “I can sell you any layout, any square footage for $1,000 per square foot.” My husband told her she was crazy and wouldn’t be able to sell. Today you cannot find cheaper than $7,000 per square foot.
No address is tonier than the apartments on Central Park West. Most of these residences are pre-war, with very high ceilings. A couple of months ago I visited a townhouse from the 1800s, which faced the park. It had Tiffany-style inlay windows, 30 foot ceilings with original wood details, and going up the stairs, marble inlays of angels. Hard to beat, especially in a neighborhood where the Museum of Natural History, Central Park and Lincoln Center are within walking distance.
It also contains some of the most iconic architectural structures in Manhattan, including the Dakota, the building known as the home of John Lennon as well as the location of his murder. The Dakota is considered to be one of Manhattan’s most prestigious and exclusive cooperative residential buildings, with apartments generally selling for between $4 and $20 million.
Another ultra-luxurious condo in the Upper West Side is 15 Central Park West at the corner of 61st Street. Construction started in 2005 and was completed in 2008, costing a total of $950 million. When the developer William Zeckendorf bought the land for $400 million everybody thought he was crazy. And now it is one of the most expensive buildings in the city, and wanted by many celebrities and high profile people.
If it’s beautiful architecture, central location and fantastic amenities you’re after, you can’t get much better than the Upper West Side.