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The Sky’s the Limit in New York City Real Estate

A report from the 57th Street corridor, where buildings for billionaires are rising fast

A little over a year ago, the first residents started moving in to One57, the skinny skyscraper that set off the “billionaire’s row” building craze. It was both an opening salvo and, in many ways, a coda to the super-prime, super-tall wave of development along the corridor: In the following months, many of the other lanky towers slated to rise would either break ground or close on construction financing.

But since then, no new towers have been announced—there are, after all, only so many billionaires to go around, and concerns about the depth of the ultra-luxury market have seemingly stilled the hand of developers contemplating similar, as-yet-unannounced ventures in the area.

There’s also the public outcry over both the shadows and the shade of inequality cast by the towers, making it not unlikely that in the future a public review process will be imposed on all towers over 1,000 feet. So while we have yet to see more than two of the seven silhouettes that will ultimately transform 57th Street rise, there is a good chance that its visage may soon be as iconic, and unchanging, as that of Central Park West or Fifth Avenue.

One57 

The building that began it all: Extell’s 1,004-foot tower has proven to be exceedingly popular with oligarchs and other billionaire investors. Luring buyers with views of the Catskills and one-ton bathtubs carved out of single marble slabs, the building currently holds New York’s residential sales record thanks to a $100.5 million deal that closed last year.

432 Park

Officially the second tallest building in New York, 432 Park (which stands 1,396 feet) actually beats One World Trade Center if you don’t count the latter’s spire. A Macklowe and CIM Group collaboration, the tower is known in social register circles as the skyscraper where real New Yorkers are buying.  

225 West 57th Street 

Also referred to as the Nordstom tower for the department store that will occupy its first seven floors, this skyscraper is Extell’s second act on 57th, poised to rise to 1,775 feet. When completed, it may set off a One57 exodus: as one broker told the New York Times, “When there is a newer, shinier, prettier gal, they may decide to cash out and go for the next one.”

111 West 57th Street 

The slenderest tower of them all, this SHoP-designed, JDS-developed skyscraper will rise 1,428 feet from a base of just 60 feet. Located next to Steinway Hall, the as-yet-unbuilt high-rise is expected by many to be the most elegant on the corridor, with only 60 apartments starting at $14 million a pop. 

220 Central Park S.

Excavation for this limestone-clad skyscraper began shortly after developer Vornado finally reached an agreement with Extell to stagger 220 so as not to block 225’s views. Designed by Robert A.M. Stern, the tower seems shrewdly positioned to be a successor to Zeckendorf Development’s 15 Central Park West: pre-war stylings + brand-new condos = unheard of prices. 

520 Park Avenue 

That is, unless 520 Park Avenue, another Zeckendorf and Robert A.M. Stern collaboration, steals 220’s thunder. Its triplex penthouse, which hit the market in February, is asking $130 million. “Clearly 520 Park is the 15 Central Park West of the Upper East Side,” Arthur Zeckendorf told Forbes. 

53 West 53rd Street 

A darling of architecture buffs, this Jean Nouvel-designed tower, alternately known as the MoMA tower, finally secured $1 billion in financing and 240,000 square feet of air rights from the Museum of Modern Art and St. Thomas Episcopal Church (after ten years of wrangling). Expect 145 apartments, with expansion-crazed MoMA on floors two through five.

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