Real Estate Rewind: A Year-End Review of the NYC Market

Over the past year, New Construction Manhattan has reported on the top stories in New York City real estate. From new construction plans to top listings, and the state of the real estate market, the stories of the year touch on a number of layers that make up NYC real estate. With 2015 coming to a close, it’s an obvious choice to start from the beginning — the very beginning — in this year-end review.

If it’s love that makes the world go around, the subway must be what makes New York City turn accordingly. But when you look at the MTA subway map, there are sections of the city that are underserved with one of the more notable sections being the Upper East Side. What’s marked as the first large expansion of the subway system in the last 50 years, the beginning of the end of the wait for the Second Avenue subway line on the Upper East Side is here with Phase 1 completion plans anticipated for December 2016.

[Rendering via the MTA]

Promised as far back as the 1920s, a series of events throughout the years has led to consistent delays for the subway line. But with construction drawing to a close, the Upper East Side’s Carnegie Hill and Yorkville neighborhoods can expect to reap the benefits of extended Q train service and four of the 16 total stations the extension will bring. As seen with the 7 train extension with the Hudson Yards project, new construction opportunities experienced an uptick as residents and businesses looked to cash in on the up-and-coming area.

The previous year, as mentioned in April 2015, a $12 billion new residential construction cost was documented as a record high in residential spending & foreign investments, reported The Real Deal. The strength of the U.S. luxury market has been owed to the property acquisitions of foreign investors which amounted a $39 billion total in 2014. In the same year, a 73 percent spending increase led to an astounding $11.9 billion in the same year, but despite the top-dollar numbers, the rate of apartments produced in the city has continued to dwindle as the production rate has yet to meet that of the demand.

Sure, the supply aspect has been a bit subpar but the fact that the demand continues to persist is a strong sign of just how concrete the real estate has become in the city. If you had your hands in the NYC market in 2015, or intend in the upcoming year, rest assured that NYC luxury real estate is a solid investment. Buyers’ trust in the market has led some to opt for purchasing site unseen and considering the amount of faith buyers have in doing so, the praise ought to go to someone.

It’s difficult not to call 2015 “the Year of the Starchitect” as many architectural firms shined designing the Manhattan skyline. Buildings like BKSK Architects’ 1 Great Jones Alley with its “exclusive” alley entrance, the converted One Wall Street designed by Robert A.M. Stern, and HOK’s mixed-use 1289 Lexington Avenue are all some highly anticipated new developments slated for completion in the coming years but by far, 1 Park Lane has pulled in the most interest of the lot. 1 Park Lane, destined to be the fourth tallest residential building in NYC, has been linked to being one of the latest projects from Handel Architects and Rafael Viñoly.

[Rendering of 1 Park Lane from Witkoff via New York Yimby]

A definitive starchitect has yet to step forth as the more recent firm to be connected to the design of the 1,210-foot tower is Herzog & de Meuron, whose under construction 56 Leonard is rising proudly in Tribeca as the neighborhood’s tallest building at 60-stories.

Its point of interest is the façada, a Jenga-like design that makes it seem as if each apartment was individually layered. A great example of how space awareness contributes to the final product, 56 Leonard dares to be different while managing to coexist with Tribeca.

This contextual awareness can also be found along the High Line as the construction of the elevated park has brought a wave of new construction along “Architect’s Row” and economic growth to West Chelsea. Nestled with the likes of Soori High Line and 505 West 19th Street, the Zaha Hadid designed 520 West 28th Street, the first NYC condominium development from Hadid, is key example of High Line imagination as the architect opts for a futuristic façade that may not gel well anywhere else but the revamped West Chelsea.

And as in Chelsea, Soho was marked as a hub for 2015 new development as well with two key developments being, the ex-chocolate factory, Xoco 325, and the Flatiron Building replica, 10 Sullivan.

Converted from a one-time Tootsie Roll factory, the DDG developed and designed building at 325 West Broadway ties together the New York heritage of a popular candy and possibly the work of Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí, who was famous for the skeletal look (which Xoco 325 seems to take influence in its exterior) seen in works like Casa Milà and Casa Batlló. To the north of Xoco 325, 10 Sullivan, designed by Cary Tamarkin, brings Flatiron Building appeal to Lower Manhattan. A 16-story mid-rise with industrial appeal, this mixed-use is billed as the tallest residential building in Soho. Featuring gridded windows and a brick exterior, 10 Sullivan guarantees great views of a city flourishing with new development and great ideas.

But with the influx of residential and commercial development, there’s a reminder that a lack of green space has been paired with new construction. Insert the plan for the futuristic floating park at Pier 55, located off of the Hudson River near the High Line in Chelsea.

Described as a “$13 million dollar gift to the city of New York” the plan, from Diane von Furstenberg and Barry Diller, would help to make the city a bit greener. Kinks do exist in the blueprint of Pier 55, but as it sits in its early stages, the possibility of revision remains open.

So, how does one define or sum up New York City real estate in 2015? By the boldness of new construction that has taken the iconic skyline higher or the innovative ideas that gives something old new life? Who can really say. But something that is for sure is that 2015 showed exactly how strong New York City continues to be in its real estate game and that it, as long as ambition remains, is not likely to waver anytime soon.