Ah, the love-hate relationship people have with their New York City real estate.
Right now, I’m hearing a combination of people bashing new development, and people oohing and aahing about it.
What I’m hearing:
- “The designs are amazing.”
- “These designs are awful.”
- “I love the windows!”
- “How do people don’t live like that!”
- “Classic Pre-war layouts just need to be updated! They are good as they are!”
- “These pyramid designs are ridiculous!”
- “These designs are a complete retread of the past!”
- “This isn’t a neighborhood!” (referring to Hudson Yards)
- “This isn’t really Tribeca!” (referring to Broadway and Chambers)
- “This really isn’t the Upper West Side!” (referring to 110th and Central Park West)
- “This is a terrible location! (referring to 79th and Lexington)
As New Yorkers and Americans work through the emotions of the last two weeks, will anything change in the way people are reading the New York Times?
Have people always been hate-reading the section?
Or will it remain an escape for most people, without the baggage of the election? Has populism in any way infected the New York City housing market?
What I am noticing is a pile-up of advertisements for lots and lots and lots of New Development around Manhattan, most of it decidedly focused at the high end.
A developer recently told me that he’s not worried about mortgage rates, election woes, stock market, or anything – but for the amount of inventory he’s seeing building up downtown.
So, what makes a property stand out from the rest?
How does a developer find a site at a reasonable price that isn’t on the fringe of a neighborhood?
And if she does find a site, how do the numbers work without building the largest and most expensive apartments?
The 421A program appears to be coming back, to a lot of hubbub.
This in the past has helped create affordable housing and allowed developers to pass on a tax-break to buyers.
Some argue that this is yet another distortion of the tax landscape.
But at the current tax rates for property, no rentals are getting built without it.
With this in play, developers are at least looking at their options.
But really, condos seem to be the only options for any builders who haven’t owned their dirt (aka land) for years.
I was thinking about the story of Gladys Knight, who was reportedly asked, after her big hit “Midnight Train to Georgia,” what it felt like to be an overnight sensation.
She responded (this is not a quote), “If working for 20 years at every r&b club in america counts as being an overnight sensation, I’ll take it.”
I love the idea of this, as a way of complimenting Real Estate developers.
We may bash their designs, we may laugh at their marketing, and you may hate-read the New York Times.
But sometimes, and more often than not, developers are working on these projects for many, many years, and this building you poke fun at is the culmination of SO MUCH WORK.
With that in mind, I wanted to tell a story about a 565 Broome Street, a development that has been in the works for nearly a decade.
In 2007, the real estate market surely had its share of revelry, a party that was the last real estate cycle.
I became friendly with the owner of a little house on Watts Street and came to find out that all four of these non-landmarked houses in the photo nearby had owners who were interested in finding a developer interested in making a deal.
That, buy all the houses, tear them down (they were no landmarked), and build up.
I believe the number being floated around for what was 81,000 square feet was $30 million.
The lots were zoned so that you could build about nine times the size of the lots.
They call this FAR, floor area ratio.
So for those of you who need it spelled out a bit further, 9000 x 9 = 81,000 square feet.
Alas, despite a lot of signs pointing to West SoHo really turning on- Trump SoHo, hotels nearby, no takers.
Then, we crept into 2008, and the world collapsed for a while, and with it the opportunity to put that deal together.
I’m shrinking the story into something you might read, but let’s just say that two developers later, we have found ourselves with Renzo Piano‘s first residential project in New York.
He’s designing another building for the same developer in Miami, so we’ll see which one ends up defying the current slower markets in both cities, and being huge successes.
I love the design of this building.
Pritzker Price award-winner
Renzo Piano is known for his work on the new New York Times building on 8th avenue, recently scaled on its outside cladding.
He has designed many other delightful buildings including the new Whitney Meatpacking building.
Without question, bringing in such a heavy hitter to design 565 Broome, as the site is now known, is a smart choice.
The location, between Watts and Broome Streets, along Varick Street, is a bit busy, to say the least.
this building happen, the original developer had to negotiate with four townhouse owners, who often couldn’t agree on much.
Then they had to contend with the owner of the Varick Street side, which had a bizarre “road” behind the buildings and a right to access that road through a “driveway” in the photo you see, almost a horse entry from a bygone age.
By the way, this did lead to a rear building which was very cool.
I’m sad when things like this disappear, but the design of the building includes a porte cochere which perhaps vaguely refers to it, in a much larger way.
Take all of this time, energy, and investment- and then of course, the risk of market timing.
One developer sold the put-together site to another, and here we are.
My quick take:
It’s a welcome addition to a gritty area, though from the apartments looking West there will be, not unlike from the Far West Village, a view of traffic, then river.
The special curtain wall allows for a very clear view of both.
The curved corners in the design will be special and in general the ceiling height and feeling of air and space will be magnificent.
As long as the windows are well done, which I expect them to be, the barrier between traffic noise and apartments will be more than sufficient.
I love the porte cochere, and I adore the automated parking functionality that the building offers.
That said, I am concerned that getting to the building in your car during rush hour will be a challenge.
The saltwater pool, the magnificent public spaces, all should turn out to be amazing.
Having spent some time in the public and office spaces of the New York Times building, these will be a success.
Large apartments, with sleek Italian kitchens, all venting hoods and washer/dryers, penthouses with huge terraces, all a plus.
I’m reminded about the indoor/outdoor components of the larger Penthouse apartments at 21 West 20th Street, one of which remains.
I am slightly concerned at the carrying charges of the apartments, where $3000/month covers your real estate tax and common charges for for 1bedrooms, and two-bedrooms cost $4500/month before mortgage costs.
That’s a tad hefty-
at all, though.
And I get why it hasn’t.
In a sea of properties that don’t feel unique enough, this stands out.
Piano’s name reaches out globally.
As on the West Side Highway with Richard Meier’s glorious apartment buildings on Charles and Perry Streets, 565 Broome will give you something special to look at as you await your turn into the Holland Tunnel to New Jersey.