The Real Deal New York

Condos line East 23rd Street’s concrete canyon

November 27, 2007
By Steve Cutler

In a real estate market that moves so fast it creates trendy neighborhoods virtually overnight, announcements from two important developers put the East 23rd Street corridor near the top of the list to be the next hot area for condo development.

Plans are in place for a mammoth luxury condominium at Third Avenue at 23rd Street, to be built by Morton Square and Cielo developer J. D. Carlisle Development Corp. And a team is in place to design and build an ultra-luxury tower at a half-block site on First Avenue and 23rd Street owned by Victor Homes, developer of Lumiere.

In the shadow of the Flatiron Building at Fifth Avenue, Madison Square Park and an expanding Chelsea to the west, the East 23rd Street corridor has been a nondescript, somewhat funky conglomeration of low-rise walk-ups or single-elevator commercial buildings and a few high-rise residences built between 1960 and the late 1980s. But its Murray Hill environs are filling with just the sort of folks developers covet.

“We built and own Kips Bay Plaza,” says Jules Demchick, president of J. D. Carlisle, “and we know who goes to the movies there: young professionals, between 30 and 42 or 43. This is not pioneering by any stretch of the imagination. We had a real feel for the flow and the age group in that area.”

Scheduled for construction starting early 2006, the 21-story building, spanning the entire block between 23rd and 24th streets on Third Avenue, will offer 292 condominium apartments in studio and one- and two-bedroom layouts. Perkins Eastman architects will design the building, as they did the Cielo at 83rd Street and York Avenue for Carlisle.

A collector of glass sculpture, Demchick has commissioned artist Tom Patti to create an original glass work for the building’s lobby. Patti’s work also adorns the lobby at Morton Square.

The Victor Homes project on First Avenue brings the Richard Meier-style glass curtain wall to the project near the East River at 23rd Street. Randy Gerner, principal of GKV Architects, is designing the building, which will be a companion piece to the Post Luminaria, a Late Modern-style luxury rental building he designed at 23rd Street and First Avenue for the Clarett Group and Post Properties, which was completed in 2002. The Luminaria has floor-to-ceiling glass windows, encased in sandblasted matte glass.

“This is high end, with no expense spared, letting us go to the next level, with a technological control system of services within the apartment,” says Michael Shvo, its marketing agent.

The 23-story building will offer more than 200 apartments, ranging from 400 to 2,500 square feet, including duplex penthouses. Construction will begin around the end of this year and sales are expected to start in the first quarter of 2006, well before completion in the middle of 2007.

If the sales at Crossing 23rd, a full-service luxury condominium at 121 East 23rd Street, are any indication, newly constructed apartments on the corridor should fly off the shelf. The building came to market in January.

“We had over a thousand inquiries the first day of opening and we had only 95 units,” recalls Shlomi Reuveni, a senior vice president at the Corcoran Group and the building’s sales agent. “Seventy percent sold within three months.”

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the success of Crossing 23rd is that it lies on one of the most marginal stretches of East 23rd Street.

According to Daniel Baum of newly founded rental firm the Real Estate Group, whose office is just across the street from the building, “It’s a funny block. You have a methadone clinic on the block and when I come into work in the morning I smell urine in our doorway. Yet, directly across from me is the ultra-modern luxury 121 East 23rd Street, which was just built and sold out.”

SL Green Realty Corp. announced in March that it would pay $918 million for One Madison Avenue at the southwest corner of the newly renovated Madison Square Park at 23rd Street and intends to convert its 41-story landmark tower into condominiums. Also, there are plans to convert the International Toy Center and 50 Madison Avenue, which both face the park.

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