Stephen G. Kliegerman
President of Development Marketing
By KATHERINE DYKSTRA
Far West Chelsea’s early adopters will argue that the area was destined to become a hot spot come hell or High Line, er, high water. But it was last summer’s opening of the elevated High Line park’s first phase, from Gansevoort to 20th streets, that really brought the buzz to the neighborhood. Or at least brought the people.
“The High Line has been a huge help to us in so many ways,” says Stribling broker Millie Perry, who is selling the new 456 W. 19th St. building, across 10th Avenue from the High Line, with available units ranging from a $1.62 million, 1,129-square-foot one-bedroom to a $7.9 million, 2,926-square-foot, three-bedroom penthouse.
“No matter what the weather is like, there are so many people out there. A good percentage of our calls are from people literally on the High Line.”
Indeed. Will Ameringer first laid eyes on 456 W. 19th St. while walking the High Line from his apartment in 165 Charles St. (one of the glassy Richard Meier buildings in the West Village) to work at the Ameringer McEnery Yohe Gallery at 525 W. 22nd St.
“I get on [the High Line] at Gansevoort, and I get off at 20th Street,” Ameringer says. “I had seen [456 W. 19th St.] going up over the winter. Then they took the scaffolding down and you could really see what it would look like. I went to go visit in April.”
He’s since purchased a west-facing duplex on the sixth and seventh floors and is set to close in September.
“I don’t think I would have really noticed the building if it weren’t for the High Line,” Ameringer says. “It just looks right into it.”
According to the Friends of the High Line nonprofit organization, the park’s second phase, from 20th Street to 30th Street, is due next spring (with plans calling for a 4,400-square-foot lawn and an elevated “flyover feature” rising 15 feet off the park). That’s a year later than the original projection. But for the slew of residential developments rising nearby, it’s better late than never.
“Now that the market has picked up, and people see the first phase [of the High Line], they are excited about the second,” says Brown Harris Stevens broker Erin Aries, who is selling HL23, an 11-unit condo building that cantilevers over the High Line at West 23rd Street.
Also in the area are the forthcoming Avalon West Chelsea, on the north side of 28th Street just west of the High Line, which has plans for 691 rental units in a 27-story tower on 11th Avenue and a 13-story mid-block building; an 111-unit Equity Residential rental building at 500 W. 23rd St. that has broken ground; and an as-yet-unnamed Grupo Habita-operated boutique hotel designed by Enrique Norten that’s well under construction on 27th Street.
That 10-story, 56-room hotel will include a 24/7 brasserie, two bars and a rooftop lounge.
The Related Companies also has a site at 30th Street and 10th Avenue but has yet to announce plans for it.
That’s a block away from Ohm, a 380-unit rental on 30th Street and 11th Avenue, where baseball legend Darryl Strawberry just signed a lease.
Many developments near the High Line are in their second lives.
The Equity Residential building is being constructed on a site once owned by Shaya Boymelgreen. He’d planned to develop rental units, but that was derailed by the economy. The obnoxiously named 91-unit +aRt condo building at 540 W. 28th St. initially started sales just before the fall of Lehman Brothers in 2008, but rather than try to barrel through the market, sales went on hold.
“It no longer made sense to try to sell a property before buyers could touch and feel it, so we took it off the market,” says Stephen Kliegerman, executive director of Halstead Property Development, which is selling +aRt. Now that the building is close to completion and brokers think things are recovering, the units have come back on the market.
HL23, which has two condos in contract, has also been in something of a holding pattern, though this one wasn’t self-imposed.
“There were projects failing; there was insecurity as to whether a project would even get finished,” Aries says.
“We’re focusing on finishing the building and not necessarily selling it out. We’re a month away from me actually having an apartment to show. We’re going to push the sales and marketing efforts after we’ve completed the building. Right now, we’re going through the motions, taking offers.”
Despite the sluggish market, neither +aRt nor HL23 have lowered prices.“The renovation of the High Line is creating a neighborhood that is increasing in value,” Kliegerman says.
According to numbers he’s compiled, the average price per square foot for new condos along the High Line rose from $1,088 in 2006 to $1,351 in 2009. Studios at +aRt start at 445 square feet and $520,000, and the building’s largest available unit is a three-bedroom, 1,570-square-foot penthouse listed for $2.3 million. Since reopening the sales office in early May, +aRt has signed contracts on two penthouses. Six contracts on other units are out. Closings are planned for late summer/early fall.
As for HL23, with available units starting at $3.35 million for a 2,104-square-foot two-bedroom, Aries says that she has two condos in contract and “a number of offers on the table.
“We’re willing to be patient,” she says. “When it’s finished, the building will speak for itself.”
The whole area certainly inspires hope in this uncertain time, what with the coming extension of the High Line and the decision by the Whitney to go ahead with plans for a museum at the foot of the park.
“We closed on the penthouse at the very worst time ever for the market [Sept. 2009], and it closed at the highest price per square foot for a penthouse in West Chelsea ever, over $4,500 a square foot raw,” says Prudential Douglas Elliman broker Leonard Steinberg of a unit in 200 11th Ave., a building he has been selling.
“I think we’re over 50 percent closed,” he says.
There is one condo out of 15 still on the market at 200 11th Ave. It’s a 2,400-square-foot three-bedroom, with a 300-square-foot garage, and priced at $6.23 million.
Steinberg himself just moved into a unit he bought there. For now, he is the sole occupant of a building still shrouded in netting. But assuming all goes well, he’ll get some company soon.
“It’s all very exciting,” he says. “I tell everyone, including myself, that one day I will walk half a block to the High Line and go down this promenade to the Meatpacking District for dinner. It’s all so dreamy.”
Thursday, June 17, 2010