New York’s Real Estate Renaissance: Projects and Neighborhoods
New residential development projects in iconic Manhattan addresses are attracting wealthy international investors to the city – a New York real estate renaissance.
New York is back in full force and wants everyone to know it. Neighborhoods that merged during the Art Deco and Jazz eras have blossomed again in the summer of 2021 with new kinds of vibrancy. Now offices are back to work, vaccine passes are required at most sites, and the city feels safer. Neighborhoods like Midtown and the Wall Street business district are experiencing a post-pandemic real estate renaissance.
New York’s real estate renaissance
With the easing of restrictions on international travel to the United States in November, foreign investors have also returned in force, attracted by the possibility of grabbing iconic addresses. Some of the city’s famous skyscrapers, citadels of modern commerce and culture, are being transformed into high-end residential developments.
One Wall Street and the Waldorf Astoria towers build ultra-luxury offerings housed in famous Art Deco buildings. The difference from what has been built before is a mix of spacious layouts, designer details, and next-level amenities and services that cater to a new type of luxury condo living. Midtown Manhattan’s largest residential project is One Wall Street, located next to the New York Stock Exchange at the intersection of Broadway and Wall Street – a multi-billion dollar development led by Macklowe Properties.
Retaining the facade but completely gutting the interiors and rebuilding with generous proportions, Macklowe creates 566 contemporary units (ranging from studios to helicopter-height multi-bedroom apartments) with 100,000 square feet of amenities, including a swimming pool , a gym and clubhouse, and 174,000 square feet of retail space (including a gigantic whole-foods store).
Completed in 1931, the imposing original 50-story tower was designed by Ralph Walker as an office for the Irving Trust Company. Walker was part of a group of Art Deco pioneers, including Raymond Hood, William Van Alen, and Ely Jacques Kahn, who shaped Manhattan’s cityscape. A 36-story annex was added in 1966, and in 2001 the building was declared a City Historic Landmark of Art Deco significance alongside the Empire State and Chrysler Buildings.
The new One Wall Street residential interiors will faithfully reference the building’s glamorous roots (details include the thin layer of walls, beautiful wooden floors and Art Deco woodwork), but with a spacious and contemporary attitude.
“People are just looking for more space right now – more usable, family-friendly space,” says Kirk Rundhaug, sales director at One Wall Street. “They want to be able to work from home and they want all the facilities in their building, where they know the hygiene protocol is going to be monitored. People are looking for real square footage that they can live in. And that’s what they created here in this particular building.
International clients have been receptive, particularly those from Asia and the Middle East who appreciate the development’s central location and extensive hotel-like services: concierges, coworking spaces and children’s playrooms, as well as a panoramic terrace, a garden, swimming pool, state-of-the-art gym and complete entertainment areas. One Wall Street seeks to be the hero of downtown Manhattan’s residential condo offering, with expansive amenities speaking to a new gold standard of luxury living.
“Art deco has influenced our modern lifestyle more than any other period”
—Kirk Rundhaug, One Wall Street
The neighborhood has, of course, seen a drastic change since 9/11. During the rejuvenation, “more than US$30 billion was invested in downtown real estate and infrastructure,” says architectural historian and local author Thomas Mellins.
He explains how he bought a vibrant neighborhood life in the area where the first American exchanges were established. Popular restaurants, such as The Fulton and Nobu, are a stone’s throw from the Stock Exchange, and creative industries now occupy formerly financial sites. A well-appointed Battery Park is nearby, with the town center offering enviable access to the water from all sides.
“We’re seeing couples from Connecticut, who don’t want to commute anymore, coming to the area,” Rundhaug says. “I love being here because now you have all the restaurants, the grocery stores, the dry cleaners…in the evenings people go out to walk their dogs, dine on the sidewalks and have fun. It was quiet after we left the work crowd, but now it’s a whole different world. It’s a new neighborhood to explore in Manhattan.
The flurry of architectural activity in recent years and the cranes that litter the skyline are testament to Manhattan’s current rebuilding project. On the west side of Midtown Manhattan, projects like Hudson Yards and the Thomas Heatherwick-designed Lantern House (both offering luxury residences) show how the neighborhood is regenerating after the opening of the famous Highline Park pathway.
For those who prefer the center of Midtown, there is another New York landmark that potential residents can own a piece of. Nestled among New York’s hottest boutiques on Madison and Fifth, the Waldorf Astoria hotel towers are being converted into luxury residences with a coveted Park Avenue address.
This Midtown neighborhood has “benefited from US$35 billion in recent business and infrastructure investment…and it’s become a popular neighborhood for those looking for a Manhattan base,” says Dan Tubb, senior manager Waldorf Astoria sales. Tubb received over 8,000 inquiries from around the world, and many potential buyers were drawn to the hotel’s heritage and address.
Completed in 1931, the Waldorf Astoria was the largest and tallest hotel in the world at the time. A beacon for the glamorous global elite, over the years it has hosted the likes of Frank Sinatra, Winston Churchill, Queen Elizabeth II, Grace Kelly and Marilyn Monroe.
The property is being renovated by owner/developer Dajia Insurance Group and renowned architects Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. When completed, the interiors of the tower condos, designed by Jean-Louis Deniot, will combine the opulent splendor of Art Deco with lighter, modern lifestyles, blending American glamor with European flair.
“The Waldorf Astoria has an eternally lavish aura,” Deniot says of the project. “The interiors will reflect the magnificence of the past mixed with the high energy of today. They will be grand and playful – all very inviting.
Tubb says buyer interest in these residences has skyrocketed since New York’s rebound. It is another development with a triumphant array of facilities and services, including a swimming pool, gym, spas and exercise rooms, lounge and library, billiards and games rooms, private offices, coworking spaces and a theater for screenings or performances.
“There’s 50,000 square feet of private residential amenities, and none of it is shared with the hotel,” says Tubb. The Waldorf even hired famed auctioneer and art dealer Simon de Pury as resident art curator. And for added convenience, there are private dining rooms and catering kitchens for events, plus a wine cellar and 24-hour valet parking for tower residents.
All of this points to a new height of contemporary luxury for the New York residential market. In the city that never sleeps, supercharged and super-serviced condos appeal to wealthy American and international clients alike. Whether it’s a pied-à-terre or a primary residence, the Towers at Waldorf and One Wall Street are setting a new bar in New York’s iconic addresses and buildings.
“Art Deco influenced our modern lifestyle more than any other period,” says Rundhaug. “In the 1800s, there were more townhouses, small rooms and living rooms – and, of course, people also had large apartments and houses. But what happened here back then design is that they took all that design, they simplified it and they made it timeless.
So there we were in the final days of 2021, still awestruck by the historic Art Deco architecture and contemporary Deco-inspired designs. Striking geometries, stylized curves alongside stylized flowers and speed lines – the grandest and boldest of new luxury residences still draw on this captivating visual nostalgia. It’s a timeless aesthetic steeped in New York character, but one that offers plenty of fresh style – just look at the stately 9,000 square foot Red Room in the Great Lobby at One Wall Street.
Restored to its full glory after 16 months and US$1 million, the old bank lobby features a mesmerizing mosaic mural of oxblood, orange and gold, designed by renowned American artist Hildreth Meiere. Glistening with glorious energy and possibility, it somehow reminds us of what Carrie Bradshaw said on the original Sex and the City series: “Anything is possible. It’s New York.