Poor, lonely, luxury condo tower! Unlike the co-ops lining Central Park to the East and the West, whose residents really love them, it seems like One57’s new residents are only interested in it for its money. Or, more precisely, how their money might become even more money if they buy apartments there.
As the condo’s top-floor units go into contract, New Yorker’s real estate community has been speculating on who the super-secretive billionaires buying there are. Tantalizingly, Extell confirmed two contracts for more than $90 million, but for months and months and months, there’s been no indication of who the buyers might be. So imagine the collective glee when The Wall Street Journal revealed that one of the buyers was billionaire hedge funder William Ackman. Sort of.
Mr. Ackman, leading a group of investors, is buying the 14,000 square foot duplex on the 75th and 76th floor, not for personal use, but as an investment, much like his Pershing Square Capital Management bets on J.C. Penney. Every property is an investment, of course (words that all real estate brokers murmur in their sleep), but this one is nothing but an investment. Mr. Ackman doesn’t plan to live there, according to sources. He didn’t study the renderings, look at the glittering glass walls and the high-end appliances and think the happy life they would lead together. He did not, in other words, fall in love—what every home, even luxury condo towers dream of.
Nor, apparently, have many (any?) of the other suitors studying the mock-ups and One57’s pinstriped under-construction exterior. Nick Candy’s overtures were reportedly rejected by Gary Barnett because Mr. Candy wanted to flip his unit before the building was even completed. Michael Holtz, the owner of the SmartFlyer Travel Agency, is one of the few other buyers who have been identified, but it’s unclear if Mr. Holtz plans to live there either—he never moved into the apartment he bought at 15 CPW. And then there’s the Chinese couple who bought a condo for their 2-year-old—to live in when he’s a college sophomore, which they optimistically assume will be at either Columbia or NYU.
Of course, high-end luxury condos are often bought as investments, infrequently visited pied-a-terres. One broker estimated that only 10 percent of Plaza residents lived there full-time and 15 CPW’s $88 million penthouse may have fetched more money than any other residence in the city, but as far as anyone knows, it’s still sitting empty.
Still, One57 has been having a tough time of it recently—rendered a laughingstock by Hurricane Sandy, hated by its neighbors and not even the tallest residential building in the city (an honor claimed by 432 Park). All it really has is the promise of the highest closing prices in New York City history. But money can’t buy happiness, and there’s no sadness like having the finest things in the world and no one to share them with.