For anyone who has read my previous new development posts, I’m not writing as a former architect or an interior designer.
I’m writing as a real estate agent, someone who is quickly inspired or turned off by what I see.
I’m certainly writing with the buyer in mind, looking at what works, what projects have value, what themes that I see running from development to development, and what seems to work or flop- and why.
Plenty of building reviews will have more detail that what I can provide.
If what I write excites you enough to visit a property (ideally, with me), then that’s a success.
Or, perhaps even more importantly, if what I write helps you sound like a real estate guru at an upcoming holiday event, that’s mah-velous.
Over a long enough time horizon, I aim to track trends as they appear and disappear, and inspire you to look up, when you’re on a particular block.
I visited two sales offices in the past month- actually, I visited a lot more- but these were worth writing about.
Both developers, Extell and Anbau, do different scale projects, but seem to have similar goals- to build our luxury product on blocks or locations that would, to that point, be not have been considered luxury.
In doing so, they can buy land at lower prices, and let good architecture and amenities draw in buyers- letting the neighborhood fill in around.
I think of it as equivalent to buying the worst house on the nice block.
They are, in essence, buying the worst block in a good neighborhood, and adding value.
Or, in the case of Extell, they are finding a non-existent block, and re-introducing a parcel to the city.
A quick overview
Anbau has done a lot of construction in prime neighborhoods, but on off blocks- 72nd between Broadway and Amsterdam, 23rd between 6th and 7th avenues, and now- 207 West 79th–
79th between Broadway and Amsterdam.
on the NW corner of Amsterdam and 79th, and a number of less-renovated townhouses.
An established cooperative, 200 West 79th Street, sits across the street, but very little seems to have changed on the block: Small Irish Bar, A donations intake store, a lampshade store- retail that would have been there 20, 30, 40 years ago.
One Manhattan Square
Extell, on the other hand, probably the busiest developer in NYC, has found a location on the Manhattan side of the Manhattan Bridge that will end up creating a neighborhood where one does not really exist.
One Manhattan Square- a terribly generic name, unfortunately- is a massive, 812-unit building with its own world inside.
Really, between this building and Amazon, Fresh Direct, Google Express, Foodkick, and others, there’s never been a better time in the history of the world to be a shut-in.
These developers aim to immediately contextualize the building into the neighborhood.
Bringing in savvy Tribeca architect Morris Adjmi (another New Orleans native like me), someone who is accustomed to helping design buildings that look like they belong in place- this was a solid move.
The achievement is clear: A new building has landed with a bit of fanfare to this landmarked stretch of the Upper West Side, with a classic prewar design and meticulous details. Only 19 units in this gem of a building, which initially seemed like a small unit count to me- until you realize that each floor only has at most 2 units.
So, they are delivering a boutique product of mostly 3-bedrooms and larger, with only 4 two-bedrooms in the building, one or two full floor units, and two townhouse-style units.
I say townhouse-style because they sit on top of retail at the base of the building.
After 15 years of selling real estate, I always wonder who this buyer is who is neither fish nor fowl- the buyer who wants the feeling of the house without being on the ground level in the city, getting the amenities of the full service building.
It seems that the townhouse buyer is usually the townhouse buyer, and the apartment dweller a separate person. But, I can make the argument for the allure of buying the hybrid- (1) getting the space that is wider than the typical townhouse at this price point, (2) Getting the brand new construction, rather than inheriting lots of issues with 100+ year-old houses, (3) Getting the full-service package with the service staff, which one usually has to find independently, (4) in this case getting a much brighter property than would be were it set on the ground floor.
Really, I promise that the rest of the building is interesting, too.
They certainly felt that an all bells and whistles sales office was not going to be the reason people buy here- so it’s a simply presented sales office with the idea that they will get an on-site office in place soon enough.
They haven’t even officially opened.
Anbau has done a good job of making these buildings conform to the LEED standards, which certainly makes them more energy efficient and cheaper to heat/cool as a result.
The design, with the 4′ x 7′ casement windows, immediately reads “Prewar,”- probably screams rather than reads it, anyway.
The building is not geared to be a view building, though there will be lots of light and city views from the 7th or 8th floor and above.
Simple amenities such as the gym and storage make hit the right notes, but I’ll be curious if there is pushback based on a long-term monthly carrying cost of nearly $3 per square foot.
I understand that this can be the cost of running and operating a building, but to pay $7200 a month for a 2400-square foot 4bedroom unit before any mortgage expenses?
That cost starts to make coops look like a bargain- especially when the ticket price starts at $6.25mm.
The target audience, then, is likely to be attracted most by the quality of the interiors, along with the feeling that you really have the services mostly to yourself.
At the same time, the design is lovely, with terracotta panels on the facade that call to lots of West End Avenue buildings.
The interior finishes are well done- with wide-plank hardwood, and smart layouts, but there’s no wheel reinvention here- which can’t be a surprise.
There is a bit more textured stone patterns, and interesting custom hallways- things that a developer can afford to do with smaller vestibules and fewer apartments- less of a need to value engineer.
This is in keeping with other projects they’ve completed.
In the meantime-
Buyers want sensible, functional, airy layouts on the Upper West Side!
I am sure that this product will be greeted with excitement given the location.
The block will be positively impacted by the building, and Irving Farm across the street will see a lot more business, that’s for sure, as will Nice Matin next door.
My biggest concern is the 1600 square foot 2bedroom units.
At $4mm per unit, the split bedroom layout feels a bit too decadent.
The buyer looking at this price point also has to be considering a bigger coop apartment on Central Park West.
The selling feature here, then, has to be location, and move-in condition.
Which it has.
One Manhattan Square
Walking to this sales office, which is about 5 minutes from the D train – call it Lower East Side or Chinatown- I’m struck by how quickly the neighborhood disappeared, along with how quickly you can get to the building side from the subway.
It seems so bizarre.
And that much more so, to enter what looks like a private nightclub from the street, into what is probably the most insane terrific sales offices I’ve ever been to.
Transporting you, then into this world of its own, you leave the office convinced that you’ve seen the future of a neighborhood.
I’m sure that this must have been the mindset of a buyer who purchased in Dumbo 15+ years ago.
It didn’t feel like a neighborhood, you had the kunks and chunks, and bangs and booms overhead of the train, the hum of traffic from the bridges, and yet- this excitement of uncharted territory.
After years of running right along the river there, it’s clear that there is so much room for improvement of the waterway, and that this connection between the water and the neighborhood will ultimately see success.
First, the building has 812 units.
There is at least
100,000 of amenity space, including one of the largest private parks in all of the city.
The thinking that went behind the landscaping, using multiple levels, really is future-thinking.
As good as what you can experience at Lincoln Center, the kind of space that you want to hang out in when the weather is remotely nice.
The sales office’s 360-degree view experience is surreal, allowing you to get a feel for the views at every 100-foot break.
Really, from 100 feet elevation and up, the views to the East and South open up substantially, and quickly you are completely alone with views, forever.
You can see well over Staten Island, Brooklyn, to the ocean.
I wish I could get caught up in the finishes, but sometimes when the finishes are up-to-par, they sometimes disappear. Or, rather, the price point is justified, the views and amenities are top rate, and the finishes, as long as they are adequate-to-great, become secondary.
To put it another way- you’re not buying here because of or in spite of the finishes.
Does that make sense?
Onto the pricing- I do believe they are offering a real value to lure people to purchase here.
Let’s call it the “Dumbo Discount.”
Yes, it’s still expensive, but with a tax abatement (another signature of Extell projects) and amazing views, I think people will overcome their concerns about noise, and location.
Hundreds of layouts to choose from, sizes, vantage points, city views and Brooklyn views.
Seems like a win to me.