What is the latest New York City status symbol? A designer handbag? A reality show of one’s own? A $100 million dollar piece of art? Try again. In 2013, what every person of means needs is a penthouse on the top floor of one of the tallest buildings in the city. Is it the views, the amenities or simply the address itself? Perhaps all of the above, and developers haven’t missed a beat, seizing on taller and taller residential towers.
From One57, with its errant cranes and mysterious buyers, to the still-nascent 432 Park Avenue, with its construction woes and incredibly skinny design, the sky-high choices for the super-rich are reproducing at a healthy rate. But is it an arms race or a mine’s-bigger-than-yours situation? Developers intone it’s neither–calling it a necessity.
With land in Manhattan commanding the sky-high prices it does, the few spots left where developers can build their stratospheric palaces have limitations. 432 Park Avenue in particular, the skinniest of the bunch, is an assemblage that developer Harry Macklowe cobbled together for years, trading an entire building for one portion. So more than anything, it seems to be economics that causes New York City to breed luxury towers that resemble its women: long, thin and very expensive.
“As much as people like to believe developers have big egos, it’s really more about creating a brand and defining their project as outstanding and irreplaceable,” said Adelaide Polsinelli, a seasoned broker with investment sales firm Eastern Consolidated, who has sold land to many high profile New York City developers. “The higher the building, the higher the price. This leads to sky-high pricing, (no pun intended) as the end buyers will pay a premium for that unique status of owning such a trophy.”
While currently still a hole in the ground, the Rafael Vinoly-designed tower at 56th Street and Park Avenue will rise 95 stories upon completion next year–making it the tallest residential tower in Manhattan and on our fair continent. Per The New York Times, the 95th floor penthouse was listed at $82.5 million last year and was reported by the same publication to now be in contract for a fitting $95 million to an unidentified buyer. The ambitious tower, first conceived by Manhattan’s notoriously ambitious developer, Harry Macklowe, was financed by Los Angles-based CIM Group. The tower should cost $1.5 billion to build; profits on the 126 units should exceed $3 billion, the report says. Apartments at the building (where buyers can nab an optional wine cellar, office or “staff apartment”) start at $20 million. The 30,000 square feet of amenities including a private restaurant, a garden, a spa and fitness center, a 75-foot swimming pool, a library, play area, screening room and “performance venue.” Check our real estate section for updates on 432 Park Avenue.
Before 432 Park Avenue stepped into the limelight, Extell Development’s One57, at 157 W. 57th St., was commanding all the attention from billionaires and the media alike. This was not just because of the dramatic crane collapse during Hurricane Sandy last October, but because the building (currently the tallest residential tower in the western hemisphere), was allowing rather limited access even to buyers ready to spend millions for the building’s crystal clear Central Park views. Sales kicked off unofficially in October of 2011, but an air of mystery surrounds the buyers and the developer, Belgian diamond magnate Gary Barnett, who has allegedly refused some buyers sufficient access to the still-under-construction tower.
Just this month quirky hedge funder Bill Ackman and a group of pals were revealed to be in contract to buy 14,000-square-foot 75th- and 76th-floor duplex penthouse at One57 for more than $90 million. The six-bedroom penthouse has 140 feet of Central Park frontage, and is an investment property—likely the nation’s most expensive residential investment property. Of course, the penthouse was originally asking $110 million, reports show, so maybe Barnett was a tad optimistic about New York City real estate? The building also has a 2-year old Chinese buyer–you read it right, reportedly one Chinese couple bought a pied-à-terre for their toddler, saying they expect the tot to attend Columbia or Harvard (perhaps not realizing how far Boston and New York City are, or, maybe the student will commute by helicopter). At One57 buyers also have the option to purchase a lower-floor apartment for the maid, but it’s unclear if she too will have access to the pool, gym, library and theater.
Just down the block from One57, a less flashy but perhaps similarly impressive tower is planned to rise 59 stories. With a Whole Foods and a school in its basement, the 320 luxury condos and rentals should appeal to well-off families not quite well enough off enough to buy on the park. The building is also helping to establish 57th Street as the address du jour. While the tower is planned to be complete by 2014, neighbors have complained that too many mega-developments are underway on the same block, so this might be your last opportunity to share a street with the billionaires populating One57. While construction has not begun, the building’s developers, World Wide Group, plan 270 condo units for the site. Released renderings show a silver faceted tower, with a bulkier feel than that of One57 or 432 Park Avenue. Residences will include “a swimming pool, gym, and a seventh floor terrace … a 25th floor library, lounge, dining room, music screening room and wine tasting room,” according to real estate blog Curbed. Check our real estate listings for updates on 250 East 57th Street.
Is it hype or heaven? Frank Gehry’s 76-story residential tower in the Financial District only recently relinquished its title as tallest residential building in Gotham, to One57. It’s been a long road for the “undulating” tower. Initially it was called Beekman Tower, later, the simpler 8 Spruce Street, before developer Forest City Ratner (of Barclays Center fame) settled on the current name. The building’s penthouse was listed as renting between $40,000 and $60,000 a month in 2012. The units that remain on the market (of the nearly 900!) at the sleek spire boast perhaps the finest amenities currently available for rentals in New York City, including a spa, a grand piano for residents’ use, a full library and … a “tweens’ den.” Check out our real estate section for listings in New York by Gehry.
Also downtown, relative newcomer Pink Stone Capital plans a 54-story tower with 500 units at 111 Washington Street. The building has been in the works since 2007, and it was stalled in the recession; according to the NYPost, it’s now likely going rental. The 430,000-square-foot high-rise will offer more Plebian fare–many studios, one- and two-bedrooms. However, its one or two penthouses should offer spectacular views of the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges. Check out our real estate section for updates on 111 Washington Street.