The Real Deal New York

On Park Avenue South, luxury loves company

November 27, 2007
By Eric Marx

A swanky restaurant or an office building is a far more common sight than a new condo development along Park Avenue South, but the predominately commercial and rental corridor is seeing some changes. Yitzchak Tessler, who began marketing 260 Park Avenue South last year, has another building one block away that will enlist some major architectural star power.

Architect Gwathmey Siegel will design a 17- story residential building at 240 Park Avenue South, on the northwest corner of Park Avenue South and 19th Street. The project will replace a nondescript row of shabby-looking low-rise commercial structures.

The project will house 55 condo apartments in a 110,000-square-foot building with a setback tower that rises just above neighboring buildings.

Like its neighbor at 260 Park, the new project will feature loft-style apartments with 11-foot ceilings (15 feet in the penthouses) and 8-foot high windows that will let in light from the front, back and sides — courtesy of a back courtyard and a rounded southeast corner that will grant expansive Downtown views. All the units will be “frontal,” unlike at 260 Park Avenue South, Tessler says.

“It’s going to be a very high-end building, and [the fact] that they’ve decided to go with a name architect reflects their aspirations,” says Judith Thorn of Warburg Realty.

A short supply of new condos in the area — from Union Square to Murray Hill, Gramercy Park, and the Flatiron District — means nearly anything put on the market will sell well, Thorn added.

The last project by Tessler, a principal partner in Linjan Associates, is a case in point. Apartments at 260 Park Avenue South quickly sold at an average $1,275 per square foot. Construction is now nearing completion on the 110-unit project.

The project at 240 Park Avenue South will include 800-square-foot one-bedrooms, 1,500-square-foot two-bedrooms, 2,150- square-foot three-bedrooms, and four 4,000- square-foot penthouses.

Gwathmey, who recently designed a striking glass tower in Astor Place for the Related Companies, describes the building as “sympathetic without being imitative” of the existing neighborhood architecture. It will have a limestone façde and subtle color palette.

Tessler says pricing will be in line with the front-end units at the 260 building (where the highest prices reached as much as $2,400 a square foot), though a marketing agent is yet to be appointed, nor have papers been filed with the state Attorney General’s office. Construction is expected to begin in early 2006 with a completion date forecast for mid-2007.

While commercial and rental buildings dominate Park Avenue South, lots of low-key businesses and nonprofit tenants who can’t afford to pay the increased rents or buy their buildings may lead to a lot of turnover in the next two to four years, says Shaun Osher, who handled sales for 260 Park Avenue South.

Nearby, a significant amount of development is going on along the East 23rd Street corridor (see story in this issue), and around Madison Square Park and the lower portion of Madison Avenue just to the west.

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