The Real Deal New York

Central Park West prices top $3,000 per sf

October 15, 2007
By Adelle Waldman

Not many neighborhoods in New York carry so much glamour with their names alone that they merit a soap opera in their honor. Central Park West stands alone, though the eponymously titled drama about the beautiful people in the neighborhood only ran from 1995 to 1996. Mariel Hemingway’s star may have faded, but the neighborhood’s cachet remains very much intact.

The proximity to the park and its stunning views make the majestic apartment buildings designed by renowned architect Emery Roth in the 1920s and 1930s some of the city’s gems, and the central location appeals to more than architecture fans.

What’s not to like? Very little, except for the prices and limited supply of apartments.

Prices can be as high as $3,000 a square foot for a high-floor apartment facing the park, said Daniel Douglas, one of the founding members of the Corcoran Group’s West Side office. A 3,000-square-foot apartment with views might go for $4 million on Riverside Drive, but something comparable would go for $8 million on Central Park West, he said.

There’s just no comparison, he said. “These are grand apartments, trophy apartments,” Douglas said.

Much of the charm is attributable to Roth’s signature romantic style, showcased in such elegant towered buildings as the San Remo at 145 Central Park West, The Beresford at 211 Central Park West and to the north, at 90th Street, the El Dorado, a Roth collaboration.

The grandeur of these buildings is mirrored in many of the other less famous buildings lining the park, not only in terms of elegant exteriors, but also the apartments within.

“They have gracious elegant layouts and six- to seven-room apartments, in which you can accommodate families with two children,” said Abbie Gellert, director of West Side sales for Halstead Property.

Between Columbus Circle and 72nd Street, there are only two postwar buildings, including the Trump Hotel and Tower at 1 Central Park West, Gellert said. The others are all prewar co-ops.

There may be another condo on the way, eventually, with the sale of the 15-story Mayflower Hotel and a vacant lot behind it on an entire block bounded by Central Park West and Broadway, between 61st and 62nd Streets, in May. The buyers, a joint venture of the Zeckendorfs and others, said they don’t plan to develop the site, bought for $401 million, immediately.

Although the size of so many apartments here ensures that this remains a family neighborhood – home to couples who have committed to raising their children in the city-unlike less tony neighborhoods, the quality of the public schools is not much of a factor, brokers say. That’s because Central Park West residents generally send their children to private schools.

The neighborhood naturally attracts people with a great deal of money, but also, typically, people who have their heart set on living there.

“People realize there are a limited number of apartments at any given time, and very often they will wait years for an apartment of the right price range and size to come available,” Gellert said.

“Then they will take it right away. But for brokers, years of work went into the sale, staying on top of the market.”

Because many of the co-op boards ask for 50 percent down payments, this market is less sensitive to changes in interest rates, she added.

The prewar buildings have also been adding services that are comparable to those offered in newer condo buildings, including playrooms and gyms, said broker Christine Driscoll of Brown Harris Stevens.

Between 59th and 72nd, there is only one rental building, Douglas said. At the Langham at 135 Central Park West, apartments may rent for $35,000 a month.

But there are bargains to be found even within this ritzy area. Douglas said a small, low-floor studio in the back of a building – with very little light – might sell in the high $100,000s. Not bad for such a swank address.

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