Developers are getting schooled. Builders, it seems, are capitalizing on a recent uptick in interest in the West Chelsea condo market from parents whose children attend the elite Avenues School, a 1,600-seat private school at 259 10th Avenue, which opened in 2012 and serves pre-K to ninth grade.
Brokers said they’ve seen parents of the school’s 740 students enter the market in recent months, looking for three- and four-bedroom apartments.
“When you have little ones, to throw them in the stroller, walk them to school and get to work is like a dream,” said Mara Flash Blum, a broker at Sotheby’s International Realty who recently toured the school. “It’s like a suburban lifestyle in the city.”
Indeed, developers such as Cary Tamarkin have built projects near the school with parents in mind. Tamarkin’s 15-unit condo at 508 West 24th Street, which is nearly sold out, features only three-bedroom units, one of which was recently snapped up by a California-based couple with a two-year-old, whom they want to send to Avenues in a few years, Tamarkin said. She’ll be joining the likes of Suri Cruise, the daughter of divorced A-listers Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, who reportedly attends the school.
With Avenues’ tuition topping $40,000 a year, the parents can generally afford luxury pads, said Flash Blum, adding that many are trying to get in before prices shoot up in the neighborhood.
That’s especially true since rumors are circulating that the school (which currently has a line of limousines outside at the end of the day) will open a new high school facility.
“When you develop a project, you have to think about who the buyer’s going to be. When we did [another condo project] at 456 West 19th Street, the area was a lot more industrial, so we made one- and two-bedroom apartments for edgy, creative people,” Tamarkin said. “Now it’s all geared towards families.”
Apartments at another upcoming project by Gale International, at 21 West 20th Street, also appear to be pitched towards buyers looking for large apartments, with units starting at 1,300 square feet.
More than simply impacting condo absorption in the area, the school has tied together a neighborhood that is still somewhat fledgling, said Tim Crowley of architecture and development firm Flank.
“Now it has some of the services indicative of a nice residential neighborhood,” he said, “like a school and a grocery store.”