Thursday, January 29, 2015

Related's 205 East 92nd Builds Base

(205 East 92nd from the SE, A Fine, 2015)
(205 East 92nd, from the SE, A Fine, 2015)
Related Companies 425 foot tall, 465,000sf, 205 East 92nd Street is building a base!  The site which spans the block, mid-block between 92nd and 93rd Street is on its way.

The site is rich with history. Jacob Ruppert's Knickerbocker Brewery was on the site from the mid-1800's until the late 1960's. Later, and perhaps more importantly, it was home to a park where yours truly put on his very best New York Knickerbocker impersonations during the 1980's and 1990's, though my jump shot was far more Charles Oakley than Allan Houston.

The community fought a valiant fight to save the park, but it was built under a 25 year deal with the city which had long expired. Fear not do-gooders, a silver lining is that part of the massive project is 46,000 square feet that will house a school for children with learning disabilities. The rest is comprised as 33,000sf of retail and over 300,000sf of residential. What kind of residential is still up in the air. Originally it was reported that there would be 308 units that were a mix of rental and condo. However, it appears that the plan evolved a bit and will now be 231 larger units. That's still pretty small compared to the 3000+ square feet mega-homes that many condo developers are building regularly in the area, but perhaps an indication that Related is hedging their bets and leaning more towards condos now. Another thought, perhaps the developer is ahead of the curve and anticipating a shortage in reasonably sized apartments.

(2nd Avenue Mayhem, 92nd St, A Fine, 2015)
Despite the fact that the Second Avenue Subway is still a complete shit show, the area is hot! New developments and businesses are sprouting throughout the area. Land prices are soaring and condo prices are right behind them. With the subway finally set to open in less than two years, you get the sense that the area is now over the hump. It would appear that Related's timing could not be better.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Lots Cleared For 1558 Third Avenue, Permits Not

(A Fine, 1558-1560 Third Ave and 180 E 88th)
Across from soon to be open Whole Foods (East 88th and Third Avenue), Three walk-up buildings have been demolished and the "L" Shaped lot is ready for foundation work. Proposed is a 469 foot tall, 31 story building consisting of 151,000sf divided into 44 apartments and common facilities. At an average of 3500sf each these Manhattan McMansions would be perfect customers for the new high end market on the other side of the street. That is, provided that actual human beings move into the apartments, rather than simply being dark apartments that make for convenient homes to overseas money.

There is one sticking point. According to the NYC DOB, the permits, originally filed in August 2014 have yet to be approved. The Development Challenge Process is pending zoning approval and the most recent plan exam was disapproved on January 14th of this year. Perhaps the delay is based on height. The property was marketed for sale with a limit of 365 feet, while the permits call for 469 feet. It is not know whether additional rights were purchased from the corner lot that this development surrounds. With a plan of 15' ceilings, perhaps an easy solution would be to scale them down to a still grand 10' to 11' and it comes within the original height as-of-right.
(The Georgica, similar shape, during construction- A Fine, 2008)

The Touraine (courtesy

In any case, regardless of the hold-up, the project has very bright prospects. Assuming that any potential lot line follies can be avoided with the corner property (see: The Georgica on 85th and Second Avenue), the development is very well positioned a block from both the Lexington Avenue subway and the future Second Avenue Subway. High end condos in the area, and this is sure to be one of them, have been fetching in the neighborhood of $3000psf with ease. H. Thomas O'Hara is the filing architect, and with recent work like the masterful pre-war reproduction The Touraine in his portfolio, there is hope that the future condo will grace, rather than disgrace the UES skyline.


1558 Third Ave (Curbed file)
1558 Third Ave (YIMBY file)
1558 Third Ave (TRDNY file)

Whole Foods On UES Gets Real!

(A Fine,2015)

(A Fine, 2015)

We've been hearing about Whole Foods opening at 1551 Third Avenue for years now, but suddenly, it is getting real! The 40' tall great wall of wood that spans all of the east side of Third Avenue from 87th and 88th is coming down and the 39,000 mega market is beginning to gleam for all to see. Opens February 18th. Is Trader Joe's next?

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Miraculously These 12 Places Still Exist On The Upper East Side

Mathew Perpetua wrote an excellent article last week over at Buzzfeed titled "44 Amazing NYC Places That Actually Exist." It got me thinking about the amazing places that actually still exist on the Upper East Side and served as inspiration for this blog post.

The city is quickly losing amazing landmark businesses, and the UES is no different. Subway Inn (though being reborn), Lascoff Drugs, and Gino's are just a few that come to mind that we have recently lost. Fortunately, the Upper East Side, despite recent growth and development, is still a treasure trove of businesses and places where you can easily slip back into an earlier age.

1. Lexington Avenue Candy (1226 Lexington Ave at 83rd St.)
(A. Fine, 2015)
An absolute treat! Opened in 1925, so much of this luncheonette is original. You want a real New York egg cream? Lexington Avenue Candy is your place! Both windows feature Coke bottle collections from around the world and through the ages. The atmosphere is right out of old NY, and the diner fare is pretty tasty too.

2. Glaser's Bakery (1670 First Avenue at 87th Street)
(A. Fine, 2015)
One of three remaining holdouts from the German enclave that still remain. Established in 1902 this old school bakery still churns out some of the best black and white cookies known to man (and woman).

3. Schaller and Weber (1654 Second Avenue bet 85th and 86th)
(A. Fine, 2015)

Another Germantown classic. Classic beer steins are on display and for sale in the front window. This butcher and grocery has been in the hood since 1937. Thinking about some brats, these are the wurst, I mean, best, you can find. Side note, Schaller has the best bologna in town.

More!!! Just after the jump!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Trader Joe's Hearts The Upper East Side, Location Unknown..

Wouldn't it be great to have a Trader Joe's on the Upper East Side? Many locals sure think so, and many have asked me to look into that possibility. Rumors have been swirling in the neighborhood for the past year that a location is coming soon, yet there has been little substance to the rumor that I can find. Food Emporium's closure last year on Second Avenue between 86th and 87th only added fuel to the fire, as a viable space was now available. Digging deeper, Trader's is represented by RKF & Associates, the same broker that listed the Union Square space and coincidentally, the listing broker for the Food Emporium space. If the price was right, you would figure that it would make for a straight forward transaction. So, with this, why not track down the CEO and ask him myself? I did just that.

Trader Joe's is an unusual company- they don't talk, the don't pre-announce locations beyond a couple of months, and they do not seek publicity. If you Google "Dan Bane", the CEO, the only interview you will find is with USC magazine, affiliated with his alma mater. Through a bit of perseverance, and a talk with the Regional Acquisition Manager, I managed to get a response from Dan Bane by email. In short, he reiterated that they do not discuss locations, and found the Manhattan market "tough" to find deals. That said, he indicated that Trader Joe's would "love to open a bunch of stores in Manhattan", they continue to "work on deals", and they would "love to open a great store in your area (Upper East Side)."

I'm not sure if that is a morsel or a nugget, but I would say there is hope for more Trader Joe's in Manhattan in the future, and on the Upper East Side. As for the 86th Street location, an email to the listing broker has not been returned, not like I would expect him to reveal details of a deal that he may or may not be working on. So, I guess the rumors will continue to swirl, just now with perhaps a tad more validity.

Trader Joe's Location Request Page

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Metropolitan Hill Development-O-Rama: 151 East 78th, 60 East 86th...and More!

On Metropolitan Hill (77th to 86th Street, West of Third Avenue) there is a scarcity of new residential condo developments. Those that are currently rising are decidedly high end, and despite being far from ready for occupancy, mostly spoken for. Here is a look at what is percolating in the neighborhood:

151 East 78th Street. This tasteful, classic, Candela inspired effort by architect Peter Pennoyer has topped and is currently ensconced in bright white wrap. Beneath the wrap, the building has not yet been faced, so we are still anxiously awaiting the red brick and limestone facade which should seem to blend seamlessly into its prewar environment. The 16 story building has 14 units, at least 10 of them in contract at an average of approximately $3200/psf. No worries, the nearly 7000sf Penthouse is still listed as available on Streeteasy for a mere $29,500,000. 

Update (1/14/15): Just hours later, the $29.5M Penthouse is spoken for, as is the $27.5M penthouse as reported by Curbed. Wow! That was quick!

view from southwest

60 East 86th Street. It seems like just yesterday that the foundation was being poured, yet to my surprise this modernist condo by noted architect Thomas Juul-Hansen is rising 4 stories above the street. The "fluted grey limestone" condo will rise 19 stories and include 15 units, of which at least 11 are already in contract. Average prices have been around $3200psf, give or take, which seems to be the going rate for new luxury condos in the area.

view from the north on East 86th Street
155 East 79th Street. Topped at 14 stories, this boutique condominium will be comprised of only 7 units, and at most only 2 units remain available.The building will have a two story limestone base, and some sort of very upscale grey brick above (similar to 135 E 79th Street). All of the units are duplex, 4300sf or larger, and again, averaging over $3000/psf.

view from the south on East 79th Street
1010 Park Avenue. No real action aside from a scaffold on the former rectory of Park Avenue Christian, just south of East 85th Street. The development, purchased by Extell for $25 Million is expected to rise 16 stories but has had a tough time of it with Landmarks thus far. Nonetheless, I see a future "Lot Line Follies" blog considering the residents next door at 1000 Park Avenue.

Update (1/14/15): 1010 Park Avenue has passed Landmarks and is now a go! 16 stories of luxurious bliss coming soon. Let the "Lot Line Follies" begin! Full Story on the approved plan over at Curbed.

It is interesting to note, of the three condos currently in progress, and none finished, we have a total of 49 stories, 36 total units, and only 10 (if that many) still available. While north of $3000/psf is far from affordable, it is of some consolation that the new additions to Metropolitan Hill are tasteful and in keeping with neighborhood aesthetics, rather than lifeless glass boxes.

Stay tuned for further updates...

Friday, January 9, 2015

New Nabe, The Venerable "Metropolitan Hill" Is Born, Unless You Tell Me Otherwise...

On my last blog, we were trying to make sense of Upper East Side map so that each inch fell into a specific neighborhood for the purpose of making searches of the area easier, and to eliminate nameless tracts of land that just confused native and na├»ve alike. With just a few adjustments to the borders of Yorkville, Carnegie Hill, and Lenox Hill we were left with just one nameless, yet very crusty hood with no name. The borders are 77th Street to 86th Street form Third Avenue to Fifth Avenue.

Thanks to my friends over at Curbed there were numerous names generated, including the first three from the Curbed staff and more from Curbed followers:

Lululemonland (if you are wearing Champion you are in the wrong hood)
Metville Hill
CarNox Hill
Upper Crust Side
EMu (East of the Museum)
BAM (Blocks around the Met)
Central Park East
Miner's Gate (love the reference to the park entrance on 79th)

Okay, I left out a few of the more vulgar suggestions, I'll admit. I've come up with a few of my own:

Sinclair Hill (after the Sinclair Mansion on 79th + Fifth)
Madonnaville (strike a pose)
The Met
Dukesville or Duke Hill
Roth Hill (for Emory Roth, but he didn't do much right there)
Candella Hill (for Rosario Candella, who has)
Museum Mile
Spitzerland (couldn't resist and he lives on 79th)
Bloom-Burg (couldn't resist and he also lives on 79th)

But, alas, despite all the rich and famous, the mansions and the history, The Metropolitan Museum of Art dominates the Western expanse of this very regal hood, and is one of the great cultural institutions in the world! And, it's still on a hill, not to be one upped by Lenox Hill or Carnegie Hill. So, I'll say the jury is still out and we welcome all suggestions. Until then, I will call this fine neighborhood "Metropolitan Hill." Let me know if you think we should roll with this, or if you have a better idea.

A Fine Idea: Time To Realign UES Boundaries.....(A Fine Blog)
Redraw The Upper East Side's Borders So No Block's Left Behind (Curbed)
.....P.S. Just a heads up, more comments on Curbed's FB page, so can't hurt to like it.

Monday, January 5, 2015

A Fine Idea: Time To Realign Upper East Side Boundaries To Make Sense Of It All Once, and For All!

Where does Lenox Hill end and where does Yorkville Begin? Is Lenox Hill's western boundary Park Avenue, or is it Fifth? If Carnegie Hill runs west from Lexington Avenue and Yorkville runs east from Third Avenue, what the heck is in the middle? These are just a few geographical questions that have confounded New Yorkers and those looking for property on the UES for years! A fine idea would be to fix this, put each inch of the UES into a specific neighborhood, and finally bring sanity to our map! Fortunately, I have an easy fix.

Currently, the "Upper East Side" is an area that covers 59th Street to 96th Street, from Fifth Avenue at the West to the river at the East. Inside the Upper East Side are three distinct neighborhoods- Carnegie Hill, Lenox Hill and Yorkville, and 4 nameless areas that are often grouped with an adjacent neighborhood, or sub-grouped into a lesser area, also named the Upper East Side. The result- confusion! Go ahead, search StreetEasy. There are two Upper East Sides- the whole Upper East, and a smaller Upper East Side which is 72nd to 86th west of Third and 72nd to 79th east of Third. Yep, mind numbing!

Here is a map With the current boundaries:
Fortunately, if you work with me here, there are simple answers for us to fix this once and for all! What we need to do is consider the character of each neighborhood, adjust 3 borders, and name one new neighborhood!

Carnegie Hill
First, we move the Carnegie Hill eastern border from Lexington Avenue to Third Avenue. The area between Third Ave and Lexington (86th-96th Street) seems to fit in architecturally better with Carnegie Hill than Yorkville. A good example would be the landmarked houses at 146-156 East 89th Street. Also, by topography, most of Third Avenue between 86th and 96th Street, is still at the top of the Hill, so it just makes sense.

Second, onto Yorkville. There is a gap between Yorkville and Lenox Hill that runs from the East River to Third Avenue between 77th St and 79th St which is another land with no name. Considering that the landmark protected Shively Sanitary Tenements are between the same streets on York Avenue, kick in P.S. 158, and these couple blocks have more of a Yorkville vibe. Hence, move the Yorkville border down from 79th to 77th, from Third Ave East and we have another problem solved.

Lenox Hill
Third, Lenox Hill. Historically, and by most reference material, the nabe runs between 60th and 77th Street, from the River on the east to a western boundary of Park Avenue. While that may be the way we traditionally see it, listing websites, for instance StreetEasy, push the western border to Fifth Avenue. The New York Times does not differentiate the neighborhood at all for sorting purposes. While StreetEasy's logic may be to simplify the search process, history gives us reason to do the same. Lenox Hill was named after James Lenox, a Scottish merchant who cobbled together 30 acres in the area in 1818 (from auction of Archibald Gracie's foreclosed property) and added to his holdings months later through three additional purchases. The tract came to be know as "Lenox Farm", and wouldn't you know it, the tenant farmhouse stood on the hill between 70th and 71st Street just East of Fifth Avenue. I think we have justification to formalize this border and slide it west to Fifth Avenue.

To Be Named Later

This leaves us with only one contiguous box of unnamed space between 77th St and 86th Street west of Third Avenue. It is an extremely wealthy area with the likes of Madonna occupying three combined townhouses between 3rd and Lex (I won't name the street in the interest of privacy), the Metropolitan Museum of Art in all her majesty on Fifth, and the former mansions of the Henry F Sinclair and James B Duke to name a few. I'll post on this new neighborhood idea next blog post, so stay tuned!

In summary, we can do this people!!! With three simple border alignments, we can finally have the map of the Upper East Side make sense, and be perfectly searchable by neighborhood. No more ambiguous unnamed no mans lands. No more missed listings or comps! No more confusion. Together we can stop the insanity......and, here is your new map: