The past decade has been the best of times—and the worst of times—in real estate. The recession cut access to capital, leading to slow development growth in New York. Fortunately, developers and buyers are coming back with a vengeance. As 2013 draws to a close, The Observer looked back at some of the challenges and high points of the past year, and what we have to look forward in the very near future. This is what’s in and what’s out in the New York market. Read More
At 6:30 a.m., West 58th Street is a hushed world, still more night than day in the predawn blue of an early fall morning. The occasional runner treads by en route to Central Park, but, for the most part, the city that never sleeps is, in fact, asleep, a slumbering population that once included Joel and Sherri Maxman.
The Maxmans live at 152 West 58th Street, a nine-story co-op that would be utterly unremarkable were it not for One57, one of the tallest buildings in North America and among the most luxurious condos in the world, rising within spitting distance of its backside.
These days, the Maxmans and the rest of the building are early risers whether they like it or not, awake as soon as the hoist begins its creaking ascent up the exterior of the 1,004-foot skyscraper at 6:30 or 6:40 or 6:45 a.m., its journey punctuated by the clang of counterweights at the top. Elsewhere in the city, construction is restricted to waking hours, but One57’s developer, Extell, has exemptions that allow work to start in the early morning and continue into the evening, seven days per week.
Red Carpet Real Estate
Despite strong community opposition, including that of the local community board, this afternoon the Landmarks Preservation Commission approved Extell’s request to cantilever its 1,424-foot skyscraper over the Art Students League.
The vote was six to one in favor of the application, which will allow Extell to cantilever its Smith + Gordon Gill-designed tower at 217 West 57th Street over the comparatively diminutive French Renaissance building next door. In their discussion before the vote, the LPC cited the minimal impact of the cantilever—which is some 290 feet high and not visible from all vantage points—on the experience of the landmark, as well as the building’s contextually-sensitive cladding.
Clearly, Christian Candy—one half of uber-posh London development duo Candy & Candy—was not deterred from flashy New York real estate investments by brother Nick’s recent scuffle over a pair of apartments at One57. Mr. Candy—that is, Christian—has closed on the 104-year-old Morris Mansion at 19 East 70th Street, The New York Times reports. At $35 million, the sale was (shocker!), the biggest deal of the week.
Though they are amazingly popular with billionaires, Gary Barnett’s luxury developments are not always well-liked by the community, and at the Community Board 5 meeting Thursday night, his latest project met with widespread disapproval. After lengthy deliberation, the board voted to reject Extell’s request for a permit to cantilever a 1,550-foot super-skyscraper at 217 West 57th Street over the landmarked Students Art League next door.
Mr. Barnett himself appeared at the community Bbard meeting, in the company of a small army of consultants, lawyers and employees, to ask the board to approve the plans for what has been dubbed the Nordstrom Tower because the retailer plans to open its first New York department store in the tower’s base (a hotel and luxury condos will, of course, rise above).
The Eight-Day Week
Extell’s plan to cantilever over the Park Avenue Christian Church didn’t work out so well—neighbors and the Landmarks Commission kind of freaked out over the developer’s plan to build a 210-foot-tall condo tower that would wrap about the historic church’s spire and block a wall of stained glass windows. Extell has since backed off of the Park Avenue plan, promising a less controversial design by preservation experts Beyer Blinder Belle. But that doesn’t mean the developer is giving up the dream of cantilevering over a landmark—and this time it’s the Art Students League.
Real estate kerfuffles
George Pitts moderates an R-rated panel discussion, “The Role of the Nude in Contemporary Photography,” between Mona Kuhn (the talk is in conjunction with Ms. Kuhn’s curated exhibition “Under My Skin” at Flowers Gallery), Vince Aletti, Shen Wei and Mariah Robertson, investigating the impact of the naked body in modern photography. Bare flesh always captures Read More
And then there were condos
Despite the rainy, windy weather that is set to hit New York tomorrow and a last-minute lawsuit filed to stop Extell from evacuating two co-op buildings adjacent to One57, plans to repair the crane broken during Hurricane Sandy are still moving forward Saturday morning.
Which means that the unfortunate residents of Alwyn Court, the landmarked building at the corner of Seventh Avenue and 58th Street, will either vacate the building voluntarily in the next few hours or face forcible eviction. The crane repair involves swinging a boom over Alwyn and two other buildings before hoisting it up the side of the unfinished tower.
With prices ranging from $2.9 million to $65 million, no one can accuse Extell’s hotel-to-condo conversion at 21 East 61st Street—which just launched sales—of courting bargain hunters. But in comparison to Gary Barnett’s crown jewel rising a half mile away on 57th Street, the Carlton House looks positively affordable.
In comparison to anything other than uber-luxury condos poised to set records when they close for more than $90 million, the Carlton House is pricey indeed. Though anyone who was really hankering for the low end of the luxury market would be well-advised to stay away from Extell projects altogether—only Extell could make $65 million look, well, kind of reasonable.
There had been rumors that Gary Barnett had tapped Swiss starchitects and downtown darlings Herzog & de Meuron to design his supertall skyscraper at the corner of 57th Street and Broadway, but now The Journal reports that Adrian Smith is the architect for 225 West 57th Street. The bigger surprise, literally, may be that the 1,550-foot height for the Extell tower, which The Observer previously reported, may just be a starting point.