Someone clearly forgot to tell the Lower East Side that Manhattan real estate is experiencing a slow down. As thousands of new condos near completion in the once gritty neighborhood, in a project known as Essex Crossing, investors and owner occupants alike have been snapping them up. Prices have risen recently too with in some developments close to $2000/sq. ft. Once a bastion for impoverished immigrants and then, in the 1970’s and ’80’s, punk rock, drugs and chaos, glimmering buildings such as the 94 unit, 196 Orchard and the 45 unit 150 Rivington St. have entirely changed the complexion of the once desolate neighborhood. A number of rental projects and commercial spaces (retail, a movie theater etc) have already been completed. In total, over 20 developments,to be completed by 2024, will take to the skies. Some will be simple 4-10 unit buildings while other will be glassy condos in the heavens.
The first residents moved moved in almost a year ago. “The response has been so positive,” Isaac Henderson, the project manager for Essex Crossing, told Curbed NY. He referred to the fact that the Rollins, (named after saxophonist Sonny Rollins),the first market-rate rental, is “fully leased up,” as well as the crowds at the recently-unveiled Target, as proof. “The demand has been tremendous, and people are super-excited.”
Cited by industry professionals as “The next destination”, what makes the Lower East Side so appealing is that “It is the only neighborhood in New York that has yet to see a wave of development,” with an entirely new infrastructure arriving almost at once. The summer months saw a frenzy of activity, with a number of high priced condos going into contract. A unit at One Manhattan Square sold for around $13 million, according to developer Extell Development. A penthouse at 215 Chrystie Street asking $23.5 million also went into contract for “close to the asking price,” according to the director of sales. He said two other penthouses in the building asking over $18 million are also in contract.
“This is the cool spot to be,” Mayor De Blasio said recently of the LES “Sure you can get more value uptown, but good luck trying to convince your friends to come that way on the weekends. You’ll save a ton of money on Ubers and cabs by living in the midst of the action. Having the best that New York City has to offer in your front yard—who wouldn’t want that?”
It’s not just the young and hip with parental wealth or Wall St. jobs who are flocking to the neighborhood, either. Older established investors, with an eye for a deal and a desire to live somewhere vibrant have also been buying. The walkability factor of the new community is a big draw. The developer, Charles Bendit, co-chief executive office of Taconic Investment Partners LLC, the firm behind 242 Broome Street, said a number of buyers came from the Upper East and Upper West sides and the suburbs, and were looking for a place with history and a “neighborhoody” feel. One such buyer, according to the Wall St Journal, is Dr. Randall Wiston, an oral surgeon from White Plains, and his wife Dana, two empty nesters who purchased a three-bedroom penthouse listed for more than $3.7 million at 150 Rivington.
“It is a vibrant, young, fun, cool, hip place,” said Dr. Wiston, who is 56 years old and thinking ahead to retirement. Appraiser Jonathan Miller of Miller Samuel feels that while other areas of Manhattan may be sluggish, the smart money is heading downtown.
“It shows that the Lower East Side is one of the last value plays left in Manhattan,” he said.