Two sales offices opened recently, and I was lucky enough to visit both just as they were coming out of the gate with their marketing.
First, the Chatsworth, 344 West 72nd Street,
is a new prewar rental-to-coop development (more on the coop bit later), by HFZ, one of the busiest developers at the moment.
The second, 20 East End Avenue, a ground-up construction being done by Corigis, is another Robert Stern design.
Both properties, and their early success (contracts for high floor units and others getting signed VERY quickly at both) point to the popularity of three things:
1) Prewar design -and-
2) Prewar condominium and what’s built to approximate it -and-
3) The freedom within New Development really to retrofit prewar buildings with all of the amenities of new construction
There is a desire for the new, without the hassles of the old, but with the styles of the old.
Architects and the magazines in which they review can decide to pooh-pooh either or both of these projects, but the market speaks much louder.
Buyers like them, and vote with their wallets.
You can see the popularity and success of Robert Stern across the city.
From 15 CPW, 520 Park, 30 Park Place, and so on, Stern’s legacy will be felt – in the decades to come.
I wonder if in five decades he will be revered in the way that Emery Roth, J.E.R. Carpenter, or Rosario Candela are spoken about.
In 2050, perhaps the 1920’s buildings will have held up better?
We’re seeing the limitations of 1960’s construction, like Florida brick issues (the ubiquitous white brick), giving coops and landlords like the Rudins headaches on the East Side or in their coop buildings like 2 Fifth avenue.
Or the endless complaints I hear about low ceilings, tiny bathrooms, sound transmission between apartments … Can we definitively say that new construction these days is better that what was built from 2000-2008?
We’re seeing such a higher level of finish, but what is behind the walls, between the walls, etc.?
Only time will tell.
The challenge for designers/architects is in trying to create and to repurpose actual prewar buildings for modern living, or taking the very best of what was done 80-100 years ago and successfully apply it to a new building.
The Chatsworth was among the first crop of apartment houses built in Manhattan.
The Dakota predates it, but its contemporaries include The Apthorp, The Ansonia, and other incredibly ornate structures.
Families were drawn to the large floorplans, and given that it was built essentially
at the end of civilization, next to the train tracks of the West Side, one can imagine that it needed to be pretty spectacular to win people over.
It was so successful, in fact, that they built an annex, a second building to the East, to fill demand.
Fast forward 100 years, and of course the entire neighborhood has filled in, as well.
To the west is
240 Riverside Boulevard, The Heritage, built over what were the railyards.
Its rear is a really interesting set back with some balconies.
The views of the Heritage from The Chatsworth, given that you’re not looking at the river, is so much better than it could be.
Rear apartments looking into courtyards or into other buildings could be a disaster, really, but this is quite nice, almost Parisian.
And the Northern views over Riverside Park, open all the way to the George Washington Bridge, are phenomenal!
Picture windows, light, air, etc.
Ceiling heights are generally over ten feet, with minimal drops for central air conditioning.
Kitchens and baths leave very little about which to complain.
Beyond the thoughtful design, what make this project interesting on the financial side are (1) it is a cooperative, and (2) the monthly charges are very low.
First, the cooperative aspect – I don’t know why the developer chose to structure the plan this way, since
they own the land beneath the building – but in doing so, they have created an organizational structure that does a few things:
1) It allows buyers a guarantee that the coop will always operate with condominium rules – so no onerous board approval process.
2) The developer has written in restrictions against the building taking on debt against the building – which sets it apart from most coops.
3) The cost to purchasers on the way in is much, much less – in the way that regular coop purchasers save money.
No mortgage tax, no title insurance, saving 2-3% alone on the purchase for buyers.
In the meantime, the building is in the process of being lovingly restored, and they expect closings to start in less than six months, with monthly carrying costs in the $1.70 per square foot range – pretty rare for new development these days!
Quite a coup for Upper West Siders lacking large apartments.
20 East End Avenue
I could go on and on about 20 East End Avenue.
These buildings feel like they were beamed in from the 1920’s, sort of like the whales that were beamed aboard the Enterprise in Star Trek 4.
And, just like these whales, which were the only creatures that could communicate with the attacking aliens of the future – perhaps Robert Stern has a special connection to speak to the past and update it for our well-heeled condominium buyers.
These are stunning apartments with 11′ ceilings, featuring incredible attention to detail across each apartment, some of which even have East River views.
Situated at 80th and East End Avenue, not only does the building benefit from access to private schools, parks and the FDR, but also the 2nd Avenue subway project, and really all of the Upper East Side amenities.
The building additionally features a port cochere side entrance, something of a unicorn in a smaller building like this.
Dropping off kids, boxes, or whatever becomes much more enjoyable and private for its residents.
Indiana limestone features prominently in the facade, as you might expect it to.
Compare to his other buildings in the city, whether on East 65th Street or in Tribeca.
These alt-neu designs do not seem to spare expenses either, when compared to the level of finish of a private residence.
So in the end, what is being delivered at $2500 per square foot – does it match up to what you could pull off yourself in a cooperative to approximate this level of finish and quality of building, factoring in all of the costs of time, energy, and the rest?
The reason this project will be a success is that buyers will do the math and see that other than the location (which many will LOVE), what they get for the money seems like a decent deal compared to what else is on offer.
Very interesting, indeed.