Plaza District Skyscrapers Drive Prices Through the Roof



One57, which is being developed by Extell Development, will be Manhattan’s tallest residential tower when construction finishes in 2013. Photo: Anna Cooperberg.

Over the next few years, West 57th Street is poised to change in a big way.

Manhattan’s tallest and most expensive residential building, the 90-story One57, at 157 W. 57th Street, is slated to open in 2013. Just one block away, the same developer, Extell, just filed permits to develop an 88-story building, though no specific opening date has been released. And Nordstrom, the Seattle-based department store chain, plans to open its first NYC flagship at the base of that building.

One57 is already making waves, and not just because of the crane boom atop the building that dangled for days after Hurricane Sandy. Residences currently on the market in the building are priced from $16.75 million to $53 million for a full-floor unit, and a high-end Park Hyatt hotel will also call the building home. Some 60 percent of the 92 condominiums are in contract, according to Anna LaPorte, a spokeswoman for Extell, including two penthouse duplexes priced at $115 million, spurring the building’s nickname “the billionaires club.”

For these prices, amenities surpass the standard doorman, gym, and indoor pool. One57 will have a screening and performance room, a library with a pool table and a 24-foot-long aquarium, and for those who wish for more privacy, a “discreet” entrance into the building on 58th Street, according to the building’s website.

Realtors said that the luxury building will change the block. “I think it … only will enhance the neighborhood,” said Elizabeth Sample, a realtor at Sotheby’s International Realty who has made two deals in the building. “[It is] moving the residential area further west.” She said the building has already gone through 11 price increases – for example, she sold one 4,500 square foot apartment for $32.5 million, and the price has increased to about $33.4 million since the purchaser signed.

But others fear that One57 will hurt the neighborhood by reducing the future market for affordable housing, increasing traffic and congestion, and causing small businesses to suffer.

A block away from the One57 site, Studio 57 Fine Arts, a small art and framing store, is going out of business after six years. Manager Jack Monastero said that he’s closing shop because his rent doubled. Monastero is still looking for another space to which he can move the store, but would like to stay in the neighborhood.

“In another five years it’s going to be great, but right now, we need to survive,” he said of the neighborhood. “It’s great … for the upper class,” he says of One57, “but for the middle class, it’s not great at all.”

Lisa Holland-Davis, a senior vice president at Halstead Property, said that One57 prices will drive up prices in the surrounding area and bring in wealthier buyers. “Property owners [are] buying in this neighborhood because, generally speaking, they have the finances,” she said. Both Holland-Davis and Sample cite the Time Warner Center at 59th Street and Broadway, which opened in 2004 and contains the Mandarin Oriental hotel and high-end apartments, as establishing a luxury residential market in the neighborhood.

Holland-Davis said that even one-bedroom condominiums start in the millions. Renting won’t save much cash, either. “In the new buildings, the sky is the limit for renters,” she said, noting that a one-bedroom apartment with nice views in the area can rent for at least $4,000 a month, while a two-bedroom with nice views will rent for $8,500 to $10,000. The rents are variable based on apartment size, views, and whether the apartment is a condo or a co-op.

Indeed, on real-estate website Trulia’s heat map for New York listing prices for this week, the average listing price for 57th street between Eighth Avenue and Fifth Avenue is $2.37 million and up. Holland-Davis said that prices can be expected to spike in early January, when demand rises because that’s when hefty Wall Street bonuses are rewarded.

Gentrification and price increases in the neighborhood are part of a Manhattan-wide trend that will affect the market for affordable housing, according to Bob Kalin, the tenant organizer for Housing Conservation Coordinators, a non-profit organization that preserves affordable housing in Hell’s Kitchen and Chelsea. “As the billionaires’ buildings get built, it just changes the neighborhood around it,” he said. “It disinclines the city to build affordable housing because it [expensive buildings] raises the tax base.”

Some area residents and workers are worried about other things that One57 may bring, besides higher prices and some very well-heeled neighbors. “I think it’s going to bring traffic,” said Anthony Butista, a doorman at The Briarcliffe, as he helped to decorate the lobby Christmas tree.

“It’s going to bring us trouble with our residents in terms of getting taxis,” Butista said.

The Briarcliffe is right next door to One57’s construction zone. Doorman Alex Beriguett, who has worked at the Briarcliffe for 13 years, said that he is not happy about the building going up.

“Small businesses are going to suffer,” he said. “[It’s] going to hurt people who have helped the community.”