Head in the clouds: Supertalls are reshaping the Manhattan skyline

Current boom producing record number of towering buildings

There are as many as 20 projects in development that will stand at least 900 feet tall. Of those, 14 will stand over 1,000 feet.

But Billionaires’ Row buildings like Extell Development’s One57, Macklowe Properties’ and CIM Group’s 432 Park Avenue, and JDS Development and Property Market Group’s 111 West 57th Street simply wouldn’t have been possible in past eras, because of innovations in architecture.

“New York was asleep at the wheel the past 20, 30 years in terms of design and the skyline,” David Williams, principal of real estate branding firm Williams New York told the New York Times. “Now, I can’t think of a city in The World That Has Seen So Much Being Built On A Single Boulevard. From coast to coast, it’s New York chutzpah.”

The boom was also enabled by the large-scale air rights sales, which have drawn scrutiny from activists and government officials. City planning chair Carl Weisbrod defended the practice, saying it “often leads to a more interesting streetscape and pedestrian experience, as well as an incredibly dynamic, iconic skyline that is the envy of the world.”

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But recently, some of the buildings have struggled to sell units at the pace anticipated. One57 still has about a quarter of its units available, the Times reported.

But Gary Barnett, head of Extell, said it would all turn out well.

“Big as these buildings are, most of them do not have very many units. Maybe there’s a few hundred on the whole stretch,” he told the Times. “It might take a little longer for them to sell, but there is certainly demand for these buildings.”

One amusing quirk of selling the buildings involves their ad materials. While marketing brochures are heavy on photos of the beautiful views that future supertall residents will experience every day, they leave something important out: the other buildings.

No problem, said JDS Development’s Michael Stern.

“We’re not forecasters, so any building that’s not built yet wouldn’t be a factor for us,” he told the Times. “I actually really like 432 [Park Avenue]. It makes my building look less intimidating.” [NYT]Ariel Stulberg