Now That’s a City View

A “city view,” as any New Yorker knows, often really means “overlooks a brick wall.” But there are times when that bit of broker-speak is actually not stretching the truth.

There are a handful of co-ops and condos that deliver what they promise, offering front-and-center panoramas of clock towers, streams of headlights and secret rooftop pools usually invisible to people who don’t live there.

Benefiting from cloud-high elevations or out-of-the-way locations with few other buildings of any notable height nearby, these prized apartments can be found in all five boroughs. And the buyers who can’t resist them seem just as satisfied to gaze out on distant traffic and water towers as at parks and rivers or bays.

“People like seeing activity,” said Sandhya Tidke, an associate broker with Halstead who has listings for several condos in the Bronx with city views. “They don’t want to sit there and have some placid view.”

To find units that favor the built environment over the natural one, it might be wise to bring eagle eyes to the online hunt.

If the view is truly special, the lead photo in the listing will often be a shot of a skyline. Buyers might also want to pay close attention to the apartment’s number: A “2A” is probably not going to have the same quality of panorama as a “20A,” despite what agents may say.

If you’re looking for a relative bargain, avoid the city’s edges. Instead, search in landlocked neighborhoods like Park Slope, in Brooklyn, rather than, say, Williamsburg.

And buyer beware: Some listings that turn up in a search with the phrase “city view” are misleading. They may be in towers that offers a dazzling display from a shared roof deck, but not from an individual unit.

We visited six listings in the five boroughs that showcase open city views — from an $860,000 one-bedroom in Long Island City, Queens, to a $14.65 million three-bedroom overlooking Madison Square Park.

CreditBrad Dickson for The New York Times

The privileged few for whom money is no object might consider No. 52A at 23 East 22nd Street, a three-bedroom, three-and-half-bathroom apartment in the One Madison Park condominium in the Flatiron district.

Listed at $14.65 million by Compass, the apartment has an open layout with sweeping city views through floor-to-ceiling glass to the north, south, east and west. Included in the 3,310-square-foot space, which takes up an entire floor, are 10-foot ceilings, kitchen cabinets made of African sapele wood and a 182-bottle wine refrigerator that greets visitors as they step off the elevator.

The views are almost distracting. You could sit for hours in the living room, the home office or the tub in a guest bathroom, entertained by little more than the streetscape. One World Trade Center, the Empire State Building and the Con Edison Tower are easily visible. Gold domes in the vicinity of the Avenue of the Americas shimmer in the distance.

Most dramatic, though, is the Metropolitan Life clock-tower building across the street. One of its massive timepieces, greened with age, looms so large in the windows of the master suite that a bedside alarm feels almost superfluous. Madison Avenue, which essentially begins at One Madison Park’s facade, bustles with traffic as it heads north toward Midtown, shooting off like a vector toward infinity.

“Some buyers absolutely have to have their water views,” said Patrick Day, a Compass salesman, on a recent tour. “But others like iconic landmarks.”

So intriguing are the vistas that a buyer might be able to ignore the criticism of the 60-story One Madison Park and its supertall ilk, which are often reviled as out-of-context eyesores.

But sky-high living may not be for everybody. One person who recently toured the vertigo-inducing home, which was listed this spring, said it was simply too far up in the air, Mr. Day said. Hoofing down stairs in the event of an elevator failure would probably not feel so luxurious.

And in Manhattan, where the average sale price in the second quarter of 2019 was $2.1 million, according to Douglas Elliman Real Estate, No. 52A’s asking price could feel equally stratospheric.


CreditBrad Dickson for The New York Times

Hitting that average price mark is 641 Fifth Avenue, No. 24F, a one-bedroom, two-bathroom condo in Midtown with an extra sleeping alcove and seven closets, listed at $2.1 million.

Aspects of the apartment, inside Olympic Tower, a dark-toned 1970s creation, feel dated, including wall-to-wall carpeting and laminate counters in the windowless galley kitchen. But “this is a view apartment,” said Andrew Sideras, a salesman with Sotheby’s International Realty, which is marketing it.

Mr. Sideras’s point: The south-facing windows on East 51st Street are almost eye-level with the neo-Gothic spires that soar above St. Patrick’s Cathedral. And those marble-clad ornaments are looking fresher than they have in decades, courtesy of a $177 million restoration of the landmark structure completed in 2015.

Something of an anomaly in an area thick with office buildings, the apartment provides a handy perch from which to admire tantalizing details of the Rockefeller Center complex that are hidden from most of the public — among them, the lush gardens on the roofs of the British Empire Building, at 620 Fifth, and La Maison Francaise, at No. 610, where shimmering turquoise pools are set off by the gray-brick background, like jewels that have broken loose from a necklace and landed on a dusty floor.


CreditBrad Dickson for The New York Times

Being in a high-rise doesn’t guarantee views. But when you’re surrounded by blocks of smaller structures, as-far-as-the-eye-can-see moments are possible, as at 35 Prospect Park West, a 16-story co-op in Park Slope that stands tall in a crowd of four- and five-story rowhouses.

Lounging across the elegant building’s top two floors is Penthouse D, a four-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bathroom duplex listed for $5.995 million.

Rooms there gaze down on the greenery of Prospect Park, across the street. But the western exposure, best viewed from an artfully planted 2,600-square-foot terrace that wraps around the apartment, may be more interesting. From there, you can see miles of brownstone Brooklyn, a sea of flat-roofed buildings in neighborhoods like Prospect Heights, Boerum Hill and Carroll Gardens, broken by the occasional steeple.

Tall apartment towers that have shot up in the last decade in the Downtown area, at the fringes of the scene, do obscure the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges. But buyers might not mind.

The 3,395-square-foot interior has an eat-in kitchen, a formal dining room, a bookshelf-lined library, a washer and dryer, and a living room with a fireplace and blue Venetian plaster walls. If there is a con, it may be that the prewar doorman building lacks amenities that many modern buyers take for granted, like a gym.

Are buyers captivated? In September 2018, the unit hit the market at $6.25 million. Compass cut the price in February by 4 percent, to its current level. (The average sale price in Brooklyn in the second quarter of 2019, according to Elliman, was $1.03 million.)

Although Penthouse D will soon hit its one-year market anniversary, there are no plans for further discounts, said Joe Ryan, a Compass salesman. “At this point, we believe patience is the way to go,” Mr. Ryan said. “This is in a league of its own.”

Also taking advantage of a favorable landscape is the Accolade, a 101-unit condo with a range of units, from studios to three-bedrooms, at 90 Bay Street Landing in the Saint George section of Staten Island.

At the top of the building is No. 9F, a three-bedroom, three-and-a-half-bathroom duplex currently listed for $1.999 million.

What really allows the condo, in a converted cocoa warehouse, to soak in the sights is its spot on the waterfront, without much else around. Water laps decaying piers on one side of the building, while low-slung brick buildings that once housed lighthouse equipment are on another.

The apartment, which has an open kitchen with granite counters, a living room with 20-foot ceilings and 2,200 square feet, feels airy and comfortable. And view-wise, it may be hard to beat the terrace, a 650-square-foot ringside seat for the ongoing redevelopment of the shoreline.

“It’s been cool to watch it,” said Ryan McGinley, the seller, who owns Flour & Oak, a new restaurant nearby. “I like seeing old things get reborn.”

Since 2015, when Mr. McGinley and his wife, Alissa Jo, moved into the apartment, the Empire Outlets shopping complex has gone up next to the ferry terminal. An H&M store sign is visible to those lounging on the terrace’s patio furniture, and a 115-unit rental tower, part of the next-door Lighthouse Point mixed-use project, is nearing completion around the corner.

All of this has helped turn a longtime industrial view into an increasingly residential one. “Everything is completely changed,” Mr. McGinley said.


CreditBrad Dickson for The New York Times

While an address close to the water can offer wide-open skies, brokers say, waterfront living has its downsides. In the Long Island City section of Queens, bordered on one side by the East River, for instance, being on the water can mean a long trek from the subway.

That’s why many brokers favor the Court Square neighborhood, served by multiple subway lines, including the No. 7, E and M.

“The real value is being a little more inland,” said Ricky Hadzovic, a Compass agent marketing a one-bedroom at the Vista, a 15-story condo at 44-15 Purves Street.

With windows to the north and west, the apartment, No. 10B, listed at $860,000, faces a cluster of glassy high-rises of recent vintage, plus a busy road that connects to the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge. The 713-square-foot apartment also has a terrace, a walk-in closet and a kitchen with quartz counters and a vented range.

Taxes on the unit, which has monthly common charges of $716, are abated until 2029; for now, they are only $7 a month.

If metal-and-glass towers don’t seem all that appealing, wait until dark, some brokers point out. The lights that twinkle from windows can be more appealing than any empty void generated by nature, said Ms. Tidke, of Halstead: “There’s just much more to see at night.”


CreditBrad Dickson for The New York Times

Such is the case at 640 West 237th Street, No. 9A, two-bedroom, two-bathroom condo in the Riverdale section of the Bronx, listed at $1.105 million. The apartment, in the Solaria Riverdale condominium, is on a densely built strip along the Henry Hudson Parkway that is less sylvan than other sections of the neighborhood along the Hudson River.

Nearby buildings include a red-brick rental with shabby balconies. But the 19-story Solaria, which sits on a rise above much of the Bronx, offers views across the borough. The upper stories of some Manhattan buildings are also visible from the unit, which has floor-to-ceiling windows with southern and eastern exposures.

Inside, there are Brazilian cherry floors, an open kitchen with two dishwashers and a master bathroom with radiant heat. There is a balcony, too. And the common roof deck has a telescope, for celestial vistas.

The owner of the unit is the Solaria’s sponsor, ARC Development, which has been marketing the building for more than a decade, through the depths of the last recession. So far, 55 of the original 65 units have sold or are about to close, according to Halstead, and resales are also available.

Bright, packed and bustling, city views might not be for everybody. But “some people want bling,” Ms. Tidke said. “This is their bling.”

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Published at Fri, 19 Jul 2019 12:42:49 +0000