As we have written often here at New Construction Manhattan, there's a reason why Manhattan condo listings remain in high demand, whatever the state of the economy, the NYC real estate market, the phase of the moon, or any other salient factor. That simple reason being that Manhattan condominium listings are located in Manhattan, and therefore have an advantage no luxury condominium listings anywhere else can match. But while it's easy to understand the high-gloss, high-culture appeal of SoHo condo listings or the old-Manhattan graciousness of Upper East Side condominiums, what of Roosevelt Island condo listings? For one thing, they're not even on Manhattan (although for our purposes we consider them as such), and are instead located to the east of Manhattan, in the middle of the East River. For another... well, for a long time, Roosevelt Island wasn't exactly a high-profile part of the NYC condo scene.
But things change fast in Manhattan real estate, and things have changed for the better in Roosevelt Island, both thanks to the spruced-up Main Street and the rise of some very appealing new construction condominiums on Roosevelt Island. Once saddled with the less-than-flattering nickname "Welfare Island," this former backwater in the middle of the East River is an afterthought no longer, thanks in large part to a boom of new construction luxury rentals and condominiums. And here's the biggest sign of Roosevelt Island's rising prosperity: People are actually moving there. Quickly and in serious numbers.
Roosevelt Island's population has shot up to 14,000 from 9,500 just ten years ago, according to Crains New York. Luxury rental Riverwalk Crossing is fully leased and the new, Costas Kondylis-designed luxury condominium Riverwalk Court is 80% sold. Three more luxury residential buildings -- including a promising green condominium at Roosevelt Island's famed Octagon building -- will hit the real estate market in the next 24 months. With a mix of affordable housing, apartment rentals, condos and co-ops, Roosevelt Island's residential scene is entering a slow boom despite only having a handful of takeout eateries, a single Starbucks and a one lonely Duane Reade. So what's the draw?
The island is close enough to Manhattan for a commute while being far enough away to be nothing like its island sister. Lovely views without the hefty high-rise price tag; quiet, safe streets; upcoming renovations to the downtown area; and a close-knit community, Roosevelt Island has more charms than the island's history -- which includes stints as a mental institution and smallpox hospital -- would suggest. Green space and (of course) river views are everywhere, and Roosevelt Island's neighborhood-y vibe has long been one of its main selling points. Less amorphous selling points include the renovated 8.5-acre Southpoint Park, which will open this summer, and a new four-acre park currently in the works. Even California's Stanford University has its eye on Roosevelt Island, expressing interest in building an engineering school there that will boost the island's collegiate quotient considerably.
Downsides? Besides the lack of Shake Shacks, transportation is something of an issue, with only a recently-reopened tramway and the ever-crowded F train as Roosevelt Island's only keys to the outside world. New Construction Manhattan, among others, will go out on a limb with the suggestion that all that may change sometime soon, too -- expanded ferry service between Brooklyn, Long Island City and Manhattan is coming very soon, and Roosevelt Island would make a logical stop on that route once things get going. In short, after years off the radar, Roosevelt Island is finally making some noise -- and promises to make a great deal more in the future. Yes, really.