According to the current issue of Urban Land magazine, the density of midtown Manhattan is in the process of being expanded by “Supertall” (over 300 meters) residential towers overlooking world-renowned Central Park. Although none of them completed and planned exceeds the 1,776 feet (541 meters) height of the “Freedom Tower” in Lower Manhattan, they will change the appearance and already high residential density of Midtown Manhattan.
The 843-acre (341 hectare) Central Park was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux in 1857 and opened in 1858 with improvements added right up to the present day. Dense housing and hotels for the wealthy surrounded the Park on all sides over the years following its opening with no available current sites for expansion. The new Supertall Residential Buildings are being constructed on small sites on nearby streets by replacing or renovating existing buildings, in addition to one next to the Museum of Modern Art in the Park itself. They are designed for and targeted to the identified 40,000 super-wealthy (over $100 million net worth, by Wealthinsight research) households around the world who want a luxury home in a prestigious location overlooking Central Park for personal use and/or investment in the center of the world’s most famous city. Although initial purchasers of these lofty luxury apartments are paying from several million to over $100 million (a New York City record dwelling price) for elaborate apartments are reported to include many rich Asians and residents from other nations with rapidly expanding economies, they also include some of the 615 American billionaires (the most of any country, according to Forbes magazine) who want a New York address.
The sudden trend toward Supertall central city buildings is not confined to New York (although the demand seems surprising in the target city of the disastrous 9/11 tall buildings’ terrorist disaster), new advances in high-strength concrete and dampening technology to reduce building sway in high winds make tall slender structures feasible in other major cities including Singapore, Hong Kong, Sydney and London. But Midtown Manhattan in New York is the initial primary focus of these buildings. Some may argue that The Burj Kalifa in Dubai, still the world’s tallest building at 2,680 feet in height, renewed the interest in higher buildings after the 9/11 attack. But, the demand is being manifested in New York with the completion of the 1,000 foot tall “One57’ in 2014 (Park Hyatt Hotel and 94 luxury apartments), followed by the 2015 completion of “432 Park Avenue” rising 1,396 feet (tallest residential building in the world) with 88 stories on a modest 93 by 93 foot floor plate. It is due to be surpassed in 2018 by the even higher (1,522 feet) “Central Park Tower”, or “Nordstrom Tower” because of the department store at its base. Three other slender towers are in process: “111 West 57th Street”, is to be completed in 2016 with 77 apartments in 1,438 feet as the slimmest tall building in the world with a base to height ratio of 1:24; “53 West Third Street”, with 139 apartments in 77 floors and 1,050 feet above ground, is to be completed in 2018 next to the Museum of Modern Art; and “220 Central Park South”, at 950 feet and 100 apartments in 65 floors, is underway for 2016 completion.
Pending the sales success of these super-expensive luxury housing buildings, other developers are certain to follow their lead. The image of New York City will reach new heights. As stated by the managing partner of one of these buildings, “The price that people are willing to pay for the unobstructed Central Park view is really the only reason these buildings can be economically feasible.”
Dr. David Forster Parker
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