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SUNDAY TIMES
January 28, 2024

Where to buy prime property in New York

As the rest of NYC's market slumps, prime condos are scraping the sky.

At the southern end of Central Park, with views towards the mansions of the Upper East Side, 111 West 57th Street is one of the tallest and skinniest skyscrapers on New York City's so-called Billionaires' Row. Last year a penthouse in the 82-storey building, known as Steinway Tower, was sold for $52 million (about £41 million), a high price even for a city accustomed to big deals.

That prime price could be knocked out of the park, however, iflast week's reports of a $115 million deal for a duplex penthouse in neighbouring Central Park Tower are true - on a clear day you can just about see the curvature of the Earth the giddy heights of the seven-bedroom, 12,000 sq ft duplex. It's a tale of two markets in New York: while steep interest rate rises last year led to price falls and deals that took longer to close across most price points, the prime market registered some outrageous sales. In November 2023 alone the estate agency Corcoran negotiated $45.7 million and $34 million deals for two apartments in midtown Manhattan, and one close to $15 million for a West Village townhouse. There were 48 property deals of more than $5 million in Manhattan in November 2023, 12 per cent up year on year. The prime boom is in stark contrast with New York's general market, which registered a 10 per cent fall. In a further sign of the wealth amassed in brownstones and high-rises, the agency Douglas Elliman reported that 68 per cent of all purchases in the final quarter of 2023 were cash sales, an 18 per cent increase year on year, and a new record for the city. "There were some huge deals done last year on Billionaires’ Row, generally to buyers from across the US," says Rory McMullen, head of the North America desk for Savills. "But we're seeing an uptick in international buyers returning to the wider New York market, notably in the downtown neighbourhoods of Chelsea, Tribeca and So Ho." This hot trio of Manhattan markets to the south of Central Park have been boosted by the recent development of Google's campus next to the Hudson River. "On the Hudson River in Chelsea, condos in the two towers of One High Line were Manhattan's bestsellers last year, achieving $6,000 per square foot," McMullen says. "Pied-a-terre buyers have noticeably returned to the market after leaving post-Covid.

The sweet spot for them is between $2,000 and $3,000 a square foot in downtown developments such as 450 Washington and Tribeca Green." Other notable developments in downtown New York include the Keller at 150 Barrow in the West Village, where one to four-bedroom homes range from $2.25 million to $9.75 million. "The West Village is a protected neighbourhood where it's very difficult to build new developments," says Robert Green of the agency Sphere Estates. "The Keller, just a few blocks from Google's headquarters, is one of the only new condo options there." One other option is the penthouse at Maison Hudson hotel, for sale at $15 million through Douglas Elliman – if you want, the hotel will rent it out on your behalf for $150,000 a month, with full hotel services included. After a four-year delay in construction, sales are about to launch at the Greenwich by Rafael Viñoly, an 88-storey tower nearing completion. The development, which is one block from One World Trade Center, has studio to three-bedroom apartments priced from $1.115 million - its views of the Hudson River and the Statue of Liberty are quite the selling point.

Five minutes' walk away, in the financial district, One Wall Street is New York's largest office-to-residential conversion yet, a 1930s art deco building with studio apartments prices priced from $1.15 million and three-bedroom homes from $9.75 million. Residents of the 566 homes can use fitness facilities that include a sky-high swimming pool with floor-to-ceiling windows. "There were 240 deals in New York across the $10 million-plus market last year, making it the third best performing year of the decade," says Hugh Dixon, head of Knight Frank's New York office. "Between multiple wars, a banking crisis, high inflation and high interest rates, the luxury New York market continues to perform well. Buyers look at it as a stable, steady market with long-term growth." Back in the Upper East Side - for years the most affluent, established and, perhaps, staid New York neighbourhood - the 74 brands itself the "cool-kid residence". The new development's 42 apartments are aimed at luring back younger, design-savvy downtowners to the neighbourhood. Prices for a two-bedroom condo start at $2.975 million. Park Avenue, a prestigious boulevard that is home to blue-chip businesses and exclusive hotels, is New York's "upmarket backbone", according to Knight Frank. The Waldorf Astoria hotel at 301 Park Avenue is the big name here - after extensive refurbishment, the art deco building has 375 branded private residences for sale. A two-bedroom condo there is on sale for $4.85 million with Knight Frank. "Last year was the busiest year for sales, with interest from every continent," says Loretta Shanahan, senior sales director for Waldorf Astoria Residences. "Super-luxury buyers have gravitated toward proven hospitality brands for their residential purchases. They trust and value these brands to deliver best-in-class lifestyles - with our prime location, international buyers are willing to pay a premium to live here."

NEED TO KNOW

• New York property prices fell 3.7 per cent against a global city average of 2.2 per cent growth in 2023, according to newly released figures from Savills.

• New York has condos and co-ops. A condo is owned outright, while in a co-op the owners are shareholders in a building corporation. A condo is generally the more expensive of the two. All the properties mentioned in this article are condos.