One can’t help but have an opinion on the incredible buildings and construction that is part of current offerings to the Real Estate Gods.
To whatever extent I put myself in a position to “judge” these projects, there probably is some disclaimer required.
I am not an architect, but after 15 years as a broker, my reactions at least are informed.
Nearly anyone will tell you how much he or she loves or hates 432 Park, sticking up at 56th and Park.
Others will decry the supertall buildings popping up in their neighborhoods.
Clearly, change is upon us.
We’re in the midst of a generational building period, really something to behold.
Reactions can be turbocharged, as you’d expect.
Surely, reactions to architecture and interior spaces often are the same as to art – perhaps you don’t know why you do or don’t like it, but you know when you like it.
I come from that place.
Is it important to know why you like what you like?
I would say yes, if you are looking to purchase or design a space for yourself.
Speaking of where art and architecture merge: this month, I’ll try to give you a few nuggets on such as we look at two developments worth discussing, 160 Leroy Street and 100 East 53rd Street.
These developers have taken significant steps to add beauty to the skyline or neighborhood, as the case may be.
But first, a step back with a question:
Do buyers want quiet?
Do buyers want the hustle and bustle?
I’ve found that many out-of-towners looking for a part-time residence prefer to be in the middle of things, while New Yorkers are certainly all over the map.
indeed have proposed a masterpiece, inside and out, in the quiet of the West Village, along the West Side Highway (perhaps not SO quiet).
100 East 53rd, on the other hand, is in the heart of Midtown.
Not Times Square, to be sure, but in the heart of workaday Manhattan, at the foot(ish) of the shopping district.
The immediate impression of the sales office, which took up residence in the same space where 150 Charles sold out in a matter of weeks, is that this marketing technology is truly superb at this point.
The ability to integrate LED screens, the the window wall, with moving video, makes it feels like you really are in the units and are experiencing the movement of the Hudson River.
This is the march of the sales office toward virtual reality.
Perhaps at some point the sales office really will almost come to you.
A few overview items about the building.
I’ll focus on the interiors, for the most part, but before I do I’ll only say that the undularity of the building’s skin offers a
nautical tone/feel that the interior design echoes.
Shimmery, airy, and gorgeous.
The interiors feature larch wood flooring, something I haven’t seen in new development before and, in some places, wood on the walls, too.
The light color of the wood keeps it from being too masculine.
Additionally, they introduce a few concepts, or marketing phrases, anyway, to the conversation. First, they differentiate between the “dirty kitchen” and the “social kitchen.”
I like this distinction, in that the former is a section of the kitchen that can be closed off for dirty plates, appliances, etc., while the “social” part is what you would want your guests to see.
Many buyers communicate why they like the open kitchen – to be able to stay in contact while preparing – but the downside is that no one wants guests to see the mess.
This seems to circle the square.
Also, the views are stunning from these units, which, floating over the river, are being offered starting at $2600 per square foot. Even some of the side units have river views.
The $88mm penthouse should attract buyers just by virtue of the rarity of its views.
Ian Schrager, driving the concept behind the building, really has been able to capture the moment – and the interior serenity of these spaces is quite apparent, even in the sales office.
Speaking of Ian Schrager – I recall, vividly, being struck by the design of 40 Bond Street, the last collaboration between Schrager and these architects. Connected to the cobblestone streets of NoHo, 40 Bond used graffiti walls as inspiration.
56 Leonard, their next NYC project, recently topped out its Jenga-like majesty in Tribeca.
160 Leroy, alternatively, really ties to the water.
So we have three very different projects, the first two featuring grit and angularity vs. subtle glamour and air. You get the same feeling of serenity as I’ve experienced in
165 Charles Street, with form and function blending seamlessly.
I put Richard Meier and Herzog & deMeuron side-by-side, no question.
Add to this massive windows, wood touches that feel weightless, and one feels as almost as if floating on the Hudson.
The price points allow the developer to deliver such high quality.
At 48 units, this notion of boutique art gallery and building merge.
The sales office describes certain locations as “art walls,” and even has a handful of $660-700k parking spots.
I believe it will attract a good combination of primary and secondary home buyers.
Pricing compared to others nearby seems very thoughtfully set, while the lower unit count and service level have been matched well.
A home run.
100 East 53rd Street
Going completely in the other direction is the
This is the third residential project recently designed by Norman Foster of Foster & Partners.
The first two are being marketed by my firm – 551 West 21st Street and 50 UN Plaza.
This third design allows itself to be inspired locally by the Seagram Building, Lever House, also both owned by RFR, half a block away.
From the sales office, which sits in 375 Park (also owned by RFR), one is struck by the stunning streetscape of this Park Avenue Corridor.
Imagining times gone by, when Lever House first appeared in the early 50’s, as the modern era was upon us, Mad Men times in all their now-cliched glory.
So much has changed, nothing has changed.
Casa Lever still delivers the power martini, high concept art – this is a location where one cannot help but be reminded exactly where art and architecture almost become one.
And the sales office doesn’t disappoint, not one bit.
The development seems to push the concept of buying an apartment as a holding, as a work of art in itself.
With about $30mm of art on the walls in the sales gallery, including a number of Andy Warhols everywhere (even in the showroom bathroom), a $7mm Basquiat, sculpture, on and on.
This easily is the most gallery-like sales office I’ve encountered.
And a lovely surprise on that rainy morning, I’d add.
This office allowed me to compare competing ideas about what one can love about New York.
In this case, love of the bustle is taken a step further.
Foster takes his cues from his 50 UN design rather than from 551 West 21st, which is to say he went with a bit less color and warmth.
At the same time, using super low-iron curtain walls, the building skin becomes almost translucent.
What he seems to be going for is really to create an invisible showcase space for art, and city living.
In a way, 118 East 59th, another project we are marketing, is going for the same thing – the serenity of the space.
But the engagement with the resident is a bit more active.
It demands attention in that case. Here, the walls disappear.
This building introduces another term to New York: in marketing the base of the building as the “bustle,” the play on words can’t be escaped.
I wonder why a developer would want to call attention to the busyness of the outside on Lexington and 53rd, but I also appreciate the tongue-in-cheek idea, as bustle also means the support of a dress – what is meant first and foremost here.
Rem Koolhaas called it a corset when designing the building that never was, on 22nd as part of the One Madison high concept.
Such a shame that it wasn’t built … and he still hasn’t had a residential concept come to fruition.
One gets the sense that it may take another real estate cycle to get something built with his name on it.
These disappearing apartments also feature self-described art walls – massive 1800-square-foot one-bedroom apartments are delivered with diamond-polished concrete floors in the lower Bustle floors.
The striking design calls for an “Eataly” type of ground floor retail space, and a high concept second floor restaurant.
This combination will bring more panache to that location.
Goodbye Bernie Madoff in the Lipstick Building, and hello Aby Rosen … problem solved!!
There seems to be strong demand for these community style food courts – employees leaving for lunch and seeking some connection in communal eating areas.
Salad joints, be warned.
It allows retailers probably to charge a bit more for their lunchtime food …
Additional amenities include a third floor pool, big fitness room and yoga spaces.
Architecturally speaking, the structural elements (cement supports) are presented as design, exposed polished concrete, geometric shapes that connect with the flooring.
I love the layouts.
All are geared to be sold like art, for display of art.
I really don’t expect these to be primary homes.
I suspect it will be a building full of part-timers.
In this bustling area, I don’t suppose anyone will mind.
The prices are quite high, in my view, essentially Park Avenue prices on Lexington.
But again, these savvy developers may know their audience well enough to know that they need room to negotiate off inflated asking prices.
Foster’s design is stunning, Rosen’s art just as much, but pricing may have missed the mark.
With some softening at the high end, I’m concern about their ability to hit these numbers.
More in December!