Selling the Top of the Big Apple

by John Delach

Late in May, the One World Trade Center (WTC) observatory opened to the public, 1,250 feet above West Street. For $32 an adult can whiz up to the 100th Floor in 47 seconds while looking at a virtual presentation of how the view from the top changed during the last 500 years. One WTC joins the Empire State Building (also $32) and the Top of the Rock ($30) observatories as the highest in New York.


But these towers are for common people, you and me, Aunt Sally from Indiana, tourists from Birmingham, Alabama or Birmingham, England – Paris, France or Paris, Texas and  any other place on the planet considered to be friendly to our nation. Their special views are open to anyone who can afford to buy a ticket.


These towers though, high as they may be are not the truly exclusive top of the Big Apple. That distinction belongs to the new “supertalls,” new mega-tower residential buildings that cater to the incredibly rich who already occupy the very top of the food chain. These insanely wealthy domestic and international messieurs and madams have demonstrated an insatiable appetite to fork over millions of dollars as investments in absurd structures that boggle the mind with their heights, views and the cost of admission.


One57, a 1,094-foot tower completed last year on West 57th Street was the first of the supertalls . It set an all-time ceiling for the cost of single residence this past January, “…when a duplex penthouse there closed for $100.4 million.”


As scandalous as One57 may seem, for now the reigning king of the supertalls is 432 Park Avenue. Naturally, located between 56th and 57th streets, It stands 1,396 feet tall, has 104 units with more than half under contract, “…for roughly $1 billion in potential sales, including a $95 million penthouse.” Those still available range from $16.95 to $82.5 million.


But wait, as the carnival barker would call out to hustle the crowd, “You ain’t seen nothing yet!”


The developer of One57, Extell Development Company, has plans to build “the tallest residential structure in the Western Hemisphere between 57th and 58th Street east of Broadway rising to at least 1,500 feet if not higher.”


How much higher? According to The New York Times, “A spokeswoman for the developer denied reports speculating that the building might top the 1,776-foot pinnacle of One WTC!” The projection is that the building will “generate some $4.4 billion in total sales proceeds.” That’s $4,400,000,000 in cash money.


Across the street construction on a 950-footer containing 118 units has reached street level. Designated as 220 Central Park South reports are “…buyers have already snapped up about a third of the units representing $1.1 billion in commitment.”


“The least expensive apartment, a 2,394-square-foot two-bedroom apartment on the 22nd floor, is listing at $12.25 million.” The 9,500-foot penthouse can be gained for $100 million.


Foundation work has started on a third tower at 111 West 57th Street scheduled to reach 1,421 feet. Designed for 46 apartments in the tower and 14 in an adjoining building, prices begin at $14 million.


Insanity personified, simply mind-numbing just to contemplate these figures. How can it be that there is so much disposable wealth available to fuel such expansive uber-luxury development in mid-Manhattan?


Come the revolution, ground zero will definitely be 57th Street. Forget the Wall Street “One Percenters” with their $343,000 in annual income. No, no, we’re talking here about 1/4 or even 1/8 Percenters. When the time comes to put these interlopers up against the wall; at least we’ll know where to find them. That is, if they are home. Since much of this development is driven by Russian, Chinese, Indian, etc. investors seeking a safe haven to part their ill gotten gain, they will not be in residence often. Timing is vital.


Autumn in New York, why does it feel so inviting…


Pass the word; the revolution begins in the October after the last of these towers is finished. Start collecting cobblestones and Belgian blocks and prepare to man the barricades; to arms, to arms.