What does luxury in Brooklyn look like? That doesn’t seem to matter so much as what it looks at.
The borough’s most expensive apartment, the triplex penthouse of David Walentas’ ClockTower building at 1 Main Street in Dumbo, had its coming-out party Thursday night, to the awe and approval of New York’s real estate elite. The space is listed at $25 million, more than twice the sale price of the most expensive residential property sold in Brooklyn to date.
But, according to Anthony Brown, 41, of Prudential Douglas Elliman, the price point is right on. “It’s what I expected,” he says. “Think about comparing apples to apples—this is one of the oldest buildings in Dumbo. You can’t compare. Even for the luxury market, it’s sexy.”
And it doesn’t matter that it’s Brooklyn. “Some people would turn up their noses because it’s Brooklyn, but Brooklyn is developing it’s own thing,” says Ureen Simpson, 25. Ms. Simpson says the penthouse at the ClockTower is “equivalent if not better,” to luxury space she has seen on the market in Manhattan recently, although “this is a first for Brooklyn, I must say.”
The location, age of the building, but most of all the inimitable view are what make this penthouse uniquely appealing. “It’s usually this jaded broker thing,” at such events, says Mr. Brown, “but here, I am actually very interested in this apartment.”
“When have we ever wanted to see the building before getting a drink?” Bill Sheppard, 56, of Brown Harris Stevens, asked his fellow brokers while ascending the narrow stairs to the top floor. The glass elevator that the stairs encircle has not yet debuted.
“It’s the nicest view I can possibly imagine,” says Alan Goldsher, 47. Five bridges and all the usual New York City skyline highlights are visible from the partially exposed crow’s nest on the four-story, 6,800-square-foot apartment’s level on the building’s 19th floor. “In New York, view is everything,” says Danielle Grossenbacher, also of Brown Harris Stevens.
The sentiment at Thursday’s soiree was also that Brooklyn luxury might have a different character than Manhattan’s, but there is no reason it should not carry the same sort of price tag. “Definitely the appeal is that it’s not the city, it’s a neighborhood,” Mr. Brown says. “People come to Brooklyn for livable spaces, not boxes on the best block.”
And to pay for Upper East Side luxury might be gauche, but to pay for a truly unique artifact is totally understandable. “This is one of a handful of special New York City apartments,” Mr. Sheppard says.
Even the hefty price stirred little criticism, with brokers and residents alike christening the sale neighborhood-friendly. Dumbo residents Henry and Jaki Florsheim say they care very much about “balance” in their neighborhood. But Jaki does not object to the ClockTower penthouse price because the building is old and one of a kind. Without the threat of imminent hyper-gentrification, she says she doesn’t mind the luxury market in her backyard. “Dumbo is de-facto limited in terms of how much luxury housing there can be, and the board is very tough in terms of development,” she says. “And the developer, Mr. Walentas, you trust him, because his wife is an artist.”
Adding to the value of 1 Main, Mr. Walentas’ first acquisition in Dumbo, the neighborhood he has single-handedly crafted, is the fact that no one can ruin the view—unless they can get air rights to the East River—arguably the best Brooklyn has to offer.
The northwest bedroom on the 17th floor affords a view of the Chrysler Building and the Empire State Building framed perfectly by the cables of the Brooklyn Bridge. Looking out at the pristinely composed shot, Ms. Grossbacher of Brown Harris says, “I think this would be the most beautiful postcard you can send from New York City.”