Millennials, often thought as impoverished freelancers, have managed to infiltrate some of the most expensive areas in Manhattan. They are, according to a recent report by RentCafe, setting down roots en masse in Battery Park City, which saw a massive 54.5 percent increase in millennial residents over 5 years with many transitioning into homebuyers. The neighborhood is currently of the most expensive zip codes (10282) for renters in the US.
Once a deserted wasteland, which was built on a landfill, the area now is buzzing with a marina, stores, restaurants (centered around the sprawling Brookfield Place) parks and dozens of new rental apartments and condos. It’s particularly lively in the summer. Chances are that the millennials invading BPC have little to do with the clichéd avocado on toast and man bun sporting hipsters, tapping away on lap tops in coffee shops in other parts of the city. The neighborhood is expensive but its proximity to Wall St makes it a perfect location for those working in the financial sector. According to the NY Times the average sale price of a one-bedroom in 2013 was $665,475. In 2017 it was $814,278, and this year, through July, it was $865,170. The cheapest rentals start at around $3000/month for a studio, going up to $35,000 a month for a four bedroom penthouse.
Open spaces and child friendly activities make it a perfect location for young families but new developments are limited, with the area hemmed in by the West Side Highway and The Hudson. Instead, older buildings such as The Liberty Residences — three condos and apartment buildings located on Rector Place, have been completely renovated to modern standards.
The city’s largest catchment of Millennials however is at the nearby Financial District where a mighty 71 percent fall into 19-35 year old demographic.
The city’s is reinvention from middle aged to millennial has continued in neighborhoods which any self respecting person under the age of 40 wouldn’t have been caught dead in years ago. The Upper West Side is a case in point where the millennial population has jumped by nearly 48 percent.
The lure of the UWS has long been established. Leafy brownstones and a close proximity the Central Park and Lincoln Center but for the young and hip the bigger (and more affordable) draws are places such as the dessert eaterie Milk Bar, the brunch haven, Jacob’s Pickles. There’s also an abundance of dormitory type/extended stay residences housing students from Columbia University and Fordham University as well as out of town visitors and those looking for a crash pad in the city.
If you really want to put down roots though in the neighborhood and have the money, all roads point to one building, Robert A.M Stern’s Architect-designed condo condo building — Two Fifty West 81st St near the restaurant Zabar’s which is near completion. Clad in his trademark limestone, the building is a statement of upscale elegance with light filled living rooms, bay windows and Juliet balconies looking out over the city. There are a slew of amenities (music room, sports court, gym, roof top terrace). At the time of writing the 31 condos are mostly sold out. A three bedroom apartment priced at $5.25 million and a two bedroom for $3.875 million remain.
“Finding sites on the Upper West Side is nearly impossible,” Kenneth Horn, the president and founder of Alchemy, the developers of the building told the NY Times, because broad swaths of the area are under landmark protection.
Unlike gleaming glass towers downtown, the classic feel of the building suits the environment which is filled with classic New York architecture. “We wanted to blend into the fabric” of the neighborhood,” he said.
Closer to the water, however, Waterline Square, a triumvirate of starchitect, amenity rich glassy towers is now complete. Let’s not forget that the ultra luxury boom on the UWS was kicked off with another Stern designed building, 15 Central Park West, completed a decade ago and still commanding the highest prices per square foot in the city. Of his latest development the outspoken architect said, “I don’t think this building is being designed for Russian oligarchs to come jazzing in for two nights and picking up a little smoked salmon,” A former dean of the Yale School of Architecture, Stern is confident that his buyers will actually occupy their residences on a full time basis and is proud of his old school ethos.
“You can tell your readers and tell the developers, no glass. They’re safe with me if they want a masonry building,” he told the Times.