What were the priciest condo projects of the past 40 years?

The Zeckendorfs make an appearance every decade

From left: (top) 200 East 69th Street, 160 West 66th Street, 845 United Nations Plaza, 1 Central Park West, 15 Central Park West, (bottom) 768 Fifth Avenue, 432 Park Avenue, 157 West 57th Street and 133 West 11th Street
From left: (top) 200 East 69th Street, 160 West 66th Street, 845 United Nations Plaza, 1 Central Park West, 15 Central Park West, (bottom) 768 Fifth Avenue, 432 Park Avenue, 157 West 57th Street and 133 West 11th Street

Zeckendorf Towers began rising above Union Square at a time when co-ops were still king and the concept of condominium buildings was relatively new in the city.

In the late 1980s, when the project’s developer submitted plans for the condo towers, Union Square had not yet hit its stride, and the project’s site — once the flagship location of discount department store S. Klein — had sat vacant for two decades. Still, developer William Zeckendorf Jr. believed that transportation options near Union Square would help lead to the area’s revival, a bet that paid off.

William Zeckendorf

“It was a challenging project. A lot of people thought he was too much of a pioneer at the time,” William Lie Zeckendorf said of his father. “That was a neighborhood transition project.”

Roughly 10 years later, his two sons, Arthur and William Lie Zeckendorf, who launched their own company Zeckendorf Development, would take another risk at 515 Park Avenue. The condo building featured units three times the size of the those in the Union Square project — an average of 3,000 square feet — and was expected to command the unheard of price of $2,000 per square foot.

“Arthur and I worked on that deal for two to three years,” William Lie Zeckendorf said. “It was a hard sell. Investors didn’t believe that you could get that.”

He noted that he and his brother have taken a different strategy than their father, focusing exclusively on the ultraluxury segment of the market. (Their father also developed office and hotel projects.) They also typically only work on one project every two years, whereas their father would take on several — at one time half a dozen — at once. To mitigate risk, the brothers try not to rely heavily on bank financing.

In every decade since the 1980s, the Zeckendorf family initiated at least one of the city’s most expensive condo projects. These Included Central Park Place, Zeckendorf Towers, 515 Park Avenue, 15 Central Park West and 520 Park Avenue. Zeckendorf Development’s 15 Central Park West — often cited as the city’s most exclusive address —  had the highest initial projected sellout of any of the family’s condo projects proposed between 2000 and 2017, weighing in at $1.7 billion, according to a data analysis by The Real Deal. 

To get a closer look at the projects that have dominated the high-end condo market, TRD compiled data on the priciest condo projects — by the original sellout price registered with the New York State Attorney General’s office — for each of the past three decades and the current one so far. For the 1980s through the 2000s, we included projects according to their filing date. For the most recent developments, we included projects that the AG’s office has deemed “effective,” to assure that no abandoned projects made it onto the ranking.

Unsurprisingly, another name, in addition to Zeckendorf, repeatedly sprung up in the 1980s and 1990s: the Trump Organization. Trump Palace was the priciest condo building offered up in the 1980s, with an initial projected sellout of $304.7 million.  In addition to Trump Palace, Trump Parc at 106 Central Park South and Trump Tower at 725 Fifth Avenue also made the top 10 priciest condo projects in the 1980s. Zeckendorf rounded out the ranking with Central Park Place and Zeckendorf Towers as the ninth and 10th most expensive project, respectively.

Priciest projects in the 1980s
AddressDeveloperResidential unitsInitial projected sellout
200 East 69th StreetTrump Organization275$304.7 million
160 West 66th StreetStillman Group345$256.4 million
106 Central Park SouthTrump Organization336$246.58 million
345 East 37th StreetBernard Spitzer831$240.8 million
725 Fifth AvenueTrump Organization235$211 million
100 1 AvenueAlbanese Development Corporation236$192.3 million
5 West 53rd StreetShaw Company246$189.6 million
305 Second AvenueMountbatten Equities127$186.6 million
301 West 57th StreetZeckendorf Company296$182 million
10 Union Square EastZeckendorf Company647$171 million

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Trump also took the top spot in the 1990s with Trump World Tower, which had an expected sellout of $667.6 million. The second and third most expensive projects were also developed by Trump. The company drops off the ranking after the ’90s, as the company shifted its focus in the city to hotel and office development.  It’s also worth noting that the first residential condo project ever designed by Robert A.M. Stern Architects — the Chatham at 181 East 65th Street — ranked eighth on this list.

Priciest projects in the 1990s
AddressDeveloperResidential unitsInitial projected sellout
845 United Nations PlazaTrump Organization362$667.6 million
1 Central Park WestTrump Organization156$365 million
200 Riverside BoulevardTrump Organization 362$284.4 million
515 Park AvenueZeckendorf Development57$243.8 million
610 Park AvenueColony Capital64$185.4 million
401 East 60th StreetBrodsky Organization218$174.4 million
10 Little West StreetMillennium Partners115$157.7 million
181 East 65th StreetRelated Companies93$156.3 million
2 Columbus AvenueBrodsky Organization133$109.6 million
250 East 54th StreetPalais Partners174$109.3 million

Following 15 Central Park West, the Elad Group’s 768 Fifth Avenue ranked second among condos filed with the Attorney General’s office between 2000 and 2010. Related’s Time Warner Center, a twin-tower mixed-use project at 10 Columbus Circle, came in third for the decade with a projected initial sellout of just over $1 billion.

Priciest projects in the 2000s
AddressDeveloperResidential unitsInitial projected sellout
15 Central Park WestZeckendorf Development230$1.7 billion
768 Fifth AvenueElad Group164$1.3 billion
10 Columbus Circle Related Companies402$1.04 billion
56 Leonard StreetAlexico Group149$1 billion
80 Riverside BoulevardExtell Development269$788.7 million
50 United Nations PlazaZeckendorf Development88$711.3 million
270 Greenwich StreetEdward Minskoff Equities | Sheldrake Organization382$634.2 million
10 River TerraceSheldrake Organization, Inc.243$572.7 million
170 East End AvenueSkyway Development Group96$540 million
635 West 42nd StreetMoinian Group478$465.9 million

Many of the most expensive condo projects of the last seven years are along Billionaires’ Row, like Macklowe Properties’ 432 Park Avenue and Extell Development’s 157 West 57th Street. Developments in Lower Manhattan also made a strong showing in the ranking, including Magnum Real Estate and CIM Group’s 100 Barclay, Silverstein Properties’ 30 Park Place and Time Equities’ 50 West Street. Since the 1980s, the idea of luxury — what buyers expect in terms of design and amenities — has evolved to mean, among other things, large units, high ceilings, private entrances and shared amenities. When asked how the expectation of buyers has changed over the last few years, Time Equities’ Francis Greenburger pointed to his project’s observation deck on the 64th floor.

“The main thing that’s changed in the last decade is that we’re seeing an expansion of common-area amenities,” he said. “The concept is that people aren’t just living in their apartments, but they’re living in their building.”

Priciest projects in the 2010s
AddressDeveloperResidential unitsInitial projected sellout
432 Park AvenueMacklowe Properties and CIM Group142$2.4 billion
157 West 57th StreetExtell Development132$2 billion
155 West 11th StreetRudin Management199$1.7 billion
520 Park AvenueZeckendorf Development32$1.2 billion
30 Park PlaceSilverstein Properties157$1.1 billion
1 West End AvenueElad Group, Silverstein Properties246$984.4 million
50 Riverside BoulevardExtell Development274$870.9 million
100 Barclay StreetMagnum Real Estate, CIM Group161$870.6 million
50 West StreetTime Equities191$834.9 million
150 Charles StreetWitkoff Group91$696.5 million

Yoryi DeLaRosa compiled the data for this story.