The Lower East Side is a pretty great place to spend time, regardless of how you plan to spend that time. Tasty foods at all price points, nightspots ranging from unapologetically dive-y to velvet rope-intensive, diversions from high-brow to low, history for days and a very booming present to boot -- the Lower East Side has all that. Which makes it that much stranger that the L.E.S. has taken so long to emerge as a powerhouse in the Manhattan luxury condo marketplace.
Yes, much of the neighborhood's housing stock is of the reformed-tenement variety, and there are zoning hangups among other complicating factors, but given how many people spend their evenings on the Lower East Side, it's somewhat strange how few of them can spend the night there in new luxury condominiums.
But as the Lower East Side's profile on the Manhattan real estate scene continues to rise (and rise, and rise), so -- belatedly -- has its stature in the NYC condominium marketplace. Some promising new Lower East Side condo listings have helped, of course, but it's easy to read about the Lower East Side's emergence as an "it" neighborhood as a case of cool belatedly getting its due. Easy and, we'd argue, not really wrong at all.
In the New York Post, Katherine Dykstra runs down the hows and whys of the Lower East Side's rise to a spot among Manhattan's hottest residential neighborhoods. "'There’s a different demographic in the area. There are higher-income professionals that have taken notice of the Lower East Side and moved there,' retail leasing VP Joshua Strauss tells Dykstra. "'It’s becoming an area where there are young people who would never have lived there before. There are expensive condos being built and money drawn to the area.'"
The first part of Strauss's comments aren't necessarily news -- the Lower East Side has been transitioning from gritty to polished for the better part of a decade, and signs of gentrification are not hard to spot. But the "expensive condos" part... that is news. "For the most part, new housing stock has come in the form of boutique condo projects, largely because of zoning regulations," Dykstra writes. "Despite the Lower East Side’s rising stock, the area’s housing, even its new condos, are selling at a discount compared to those in nearby downtown neighborhoods."
That doesn't necessarily make them cheap, but the blockbuster new Lower East Side condominium 38 Delancey, at around $1,000 per square foot, is certainly less expensive than similarly well-appointed Soho luxury condo listings a few blocks west, for instance. And the condos for sale at the futuristic Blue Condominium, despite comparing well with other lower Manhattan condo listings, are also slightly less expensive. While most new condo developments on the Lower East Side are of the boutique-y variety -- and thus too small to make it into New Construction Manhattan's condo listings database -- the presence of big-ticket luxury LES condo listings such as 38 Delancey and Blue Condominium suggest that, at last and very deservingly, the Lower East Side is getting its due as a place to live, and not just a place to hang out.