Exec. Vice President
Park Avenue Office
Exec. Vice President
Sr. Vice President
By JENNIFER GOULD KEIL
February 25, 2006 -- New buildings turn up the heat around Time Warner Center
One of Manhattan's hottest neighborhoods is in such a state of flux that it doesn't even have a name yet. Perhaps it will become TiWa. For now, call it the Time Warner Center area or Columbus Circle. Or even Midtown West. Whatever you call it, it seems like it's where everyone wants to be.
The Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle is the area's anchor. The transportation hub is its heart - from the A, B, C, D, 1 and 9 trains at 59th Street and Columbus Circle to the N, R, Q and W trains at 57th Street and Seventh Avenue to the F train at 57th Street and Sixth Avenue. Central Park is its soul.
The neighborhood, which can be defined from 54th Street to 63rd Street from Broadway to West End Avenue, began to come into its own with the 2000 opening of the Hudson Hotel on West 58th Street. But the opening of the Time Warner Center and the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in 2004 is what really redefined the area.
The Time Warner Center brought with it some of the finest restaurants the city has ever had: Per Se, Masa and Caf‚ Gray, all competing with the already stellar Jean-Georges restaurant across the street in the Trump International Hotel & Tower.
Next came the celebrities: P. Diddy and Yankees pitcher Randy Johnson found places at the Park Imperial at 230 W. 56th St., while Jay-Z and Ricky Martin crashed at the Time Warner Center - where one apartment sold for the record-breaking price of $42.2 million.
Now the neighborhood is in the midst of a second wave of development, with residential buildings including 15 Central Park West, Element, at 555 W. 59th St., and The Hudson across the street at 225 W. 60th St.
The Hudson is a prime example of the how the area is changing. It's one of a handful of new buildings - details are still being worked out for three others - planned on a formerly desolate block that was once home to a taxi-repair shop and part of an elementary school. The block, says Halstead Property broker Jill Sloane, who has sold two units at The Hudson, "will become its own neighborhood. This building is the first on the block. Three other large buildings are targeted for the block."
The Hudson, built of steel and glass, will have about 80 units, including 800-square-foot one bedrooms for $815,000 and 1,000-square-foot two-bedrooms for $1.1 million. Perks include floor-to-ceiling windows, a gym and a rooftop terrace and outdoor bar.
Prices in the Time Warner area are high and continue to climb.
Prudential Douglas Elliman super broker Dolly Lenz, who bought her own four-bedroom apartment at the Park Imperial last year for $4 million, says she has already been offered $6 million for it. Lenz said she bought in the building because she "felt the excitement, the heat of the location. It was an emerging area that was really going to explode."
Halstead Property broker Dorothy Somekh has also seen her investment grow.
Somekh paid $2.5 million for a two-bedroom at 15 Central Park West - which is still under construction and will be completed next year - and similar units there are now selling for $3.025 million.
"It could be the deal of the century," she says, especially considering that condos at the nearby Plaza hotel are selling for "$3,000 to $5,000 per square foot, depending on the view."
Halstead Property's Eric Janssen recently sold lawyer Hector Torres an $8.7 million, four-bedroom apartment in 15 Central Park West.
Torres, who currently lives in Sands Point, Long Island, is looking forward to moving back to the city with his wife and four children.
"Suburban life was too homogenized," Torres says. "I love that this is a new building adhering to the traditional architectural format of Central Park West."
Once he moves in, Torres says he will love being able to walk to work in Midtown, stroll to the park with his kids, and dine with his wife at restaurants like Per Se, Jean-Georges, Shun Lee and Picholine.
Brothers Arthur and William Zeckendorf and Whitehall Street Real Estate Funds are developing the massive two-wing, 200-unit condo building Torres will be calling home. The project takes up a city block from 61st Street to 62nd Street, bounded by Central Park West and Broadway.
The brothers want 15 Central Park West, with its limestone facade, to fit in with "New York's prewar architectural splendor" while adding a 21st-century high-tech sensibility.
Amenities include a 20-person screening room designed by Theo Kalomirakis, wine cellars (see story on 42) and storage bins. (Halstead's Somekh purchased a 60-square-foot bin for $35,000.) The building will also offer a library, two restaurants and continental breakfasts for residents.
Those who have been in the neighborhood a long time have, of course, seen their investment grow along with the 'hood.
One couple who live on West 57th Street recently combined a three-bedroom apartment they bought 13 years ago for about $400,000 with a one-bedroom they bought two years ago for $480,000. Even after a $500,000 renovation, they believe their apartment has more than doubled in value.
Certainly, new construction is adding to the allure of the area.
Consider Element, located between West End and Amsterdam avenues, in an area that Shlomo Reuveni, senior vice president of Corcoran Group Marketing, is selling as Columbus Circle West.
The 35-story glass-tower building has 198 units, including five townhouse residences, and is more than 50 percent sold.
Prices at Element go from about $815,000 for a 791-square-foot one-bedroom to $2.7 million for a 1,476-square-foot penthouse.
Amenities include cold storage for fresh-food deliveries, a wine valet service with Morrell & Co. and a three-lane, 60-foot indoor lap pool with a whirlpool and a children's pool.
There will also be an indoor half-court basketball area, a racquetball court, a children's playroom created by FAO Schwarz, children's gym classes provided by Jodi's Gym - which holds classes and parties for posh tots around the city - and landscaped outdoor space, including a "great lawn," a meditation garden with yoga classes and an outdoor lounge.
"The neighborhood," Reuveni says, "has really arrived."
Saturday, February 25, 2006