New York – paradox – part two

My last blog highlighted some of the statistics about the state of residential accommodation in New York. It remains an amazing place – aspirational, buzzing and alive.

The Woolworth Building -show suite!

The Woolworth Building -show suite!

But there is a huge paradox – and we saw four developments in two days which highlight this.

Firstly we were whisked up to the 19th floor of the offices of Related – their boardroom overlooks Central Park – the hospitality, food and views were excellent. They started out as a ‘social landlord’ and now have $20bn of assets. The President, Bruce Beal spoke to us about his passion for the residential sector. In particular they are developing the Hudson Yards at the northern end of the High Line. This is development on a massive scale – 8m square feet of offices and countless apartments. Due to the tax breaks some (around 20%) will be affordable.

Then we met Joel Breitkopf – principal of Alchemy Properties. He showed us two projects – one of which is the 30 upper floors of the Woolworth Building – an iconic 1930’s pile in Tribeca. The floors are being refurbished (which does’t really describe what is being done!) into 34 apartments. The top one is spread over seven floors – and is on the market for $110,000,000… There is no affordable property here.

Then the sobering trip up town to The Bronx. I have never been so far North – up to 149th Street. We had a look around a gated ‘community’ known as Via Verde. It comprises around 500 apartments built on a difficult site. It is aimed at the rental market and like most ‘affordable’ schemes was massively over-subsrcibed. It is not unusual for subscription applications to number 75,000 for a relative handful of flats. Rents are around $975 per month for a 2 bed apartment.

We then headed back to Williamsburg and met the developer who has put together a scheme known as The Edge. This is out of Manhattan and has quickly filled up with those who can’t afford to be on Manhattan. We looked at a modest duplex – extending to around 2,000 sq ft – being marketed for $3m. 80 apartments in this complex were ‘affordable’ and the applications were around 50,000 in number.

In these four developments you really get a sense of the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’. It’s great to see the very cool developments (The Woolworth Building in particular). There is the very high end, the top end and the rest. There’s little in the middle – and certainly next to nothing if you are close to the breadline.

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