Upper West Side
Trump’s Riverside South is most impressive when you consider how its rollout of 5,700 residential units is affecting demand: It’s attracting people to the neighborhood instead of creating an oversupply. What’s more, most brokers see overpricing in two-bedrooms—perhaps because cynical sellers know that an extra room comes in handy if you have to wait out a down market with a growing family. The Upper West Side is still a seller’s market.
Best Buy: With all the new construction around, townhouses are being overlooked. Unrenovated models off the park are $5.5 million; at $800 a square foot after repairs, they’ll still be a deal.
Upper East Side
With new buildings like the Cielo at 83rd and York and Peter Marino’s 170 East End Avenue luring young marrieds and their children into the neighborhood, the area’s profile is rising. It’s not just for the hard-partying post-fraternity set anymore. Yet there’s also a glut in the postwar buildings east of Lex: Sellers are pricing ambitiously, and buyers are waiting for sellers to blink. They will: Inventory’s up 50 percent in the studio and one-bedroom market.
Best Buy: Lowball, lowball, lowball—keep bidding 10 percent under and eventually you’ll land yourself a little pied-à-terre.
West Village and Meatpacking District
Single women, gay men, young families, and even retirees seeking café society—the diversity of demand accounts for the neighborhood’s recession-proof reputation. “Historically, when markets have fluctuated, the Village has been the last to react going down and the first to go up,” says JC DeNiro’s Armanda Squadrilli, who’s lived in the area for fifteen years.
Best Buy: Walk-ups in the neighborhood have always sold at a discount—but it’s even truer now. The new arrivals, retirees and families, can’t handle six flights. Others might be tempted by a top-floor three-bedroom for $799,000.
Another record Wall Street bonus season combined with a dearth of townhouses, classic sevens and nines on Park Avenue, and prewar co-ops in Carnegie Hill mean that this market plays by different rules than the rest. Even if the city’s real-estate market as a whole takes a big dive, prices at the tip-top of the scale are expected to hold firm.
Best Buy: The bargains (here, a relative term) are at Sutton Place South, Beekman Place, and 10 Gracie Square. Pay $1,500 a square foot and be done with it. That’s 25 percent less than a comparable place on Fifth Avenue in the Sixties and Seventies.
Soho, Tribeca, Flatiron
I-bankers bid up these properties in the mid-nineties, so they accrued most of their value before the recent bubble, making them one of the few markets relatively protected in the case of a real-estate meltdown. The same cannot be said of the new luxury high-rises that marketers have priced in the clouds. Name architects like the late Philip Johnson can’t obscure the fact that projects like 415 Greenwich and 330 Spring are on their neighborhoods’ geographic and psychological fringes.
Best Buy: The still-gentrifying Flatiron. The same cast iron that’s $1,500 a square foot in Soho can be had for under $900.
Chelsea, Hell’s Kitchen
The 27 new buildings that will flank the High Line have yet to be built, but new construction just off the line at 519 West 23rd (a.k.a. HighLine519) is already listing at $1,300 a square foot. Prices are highest in the high Teens and low Twenties west of Ninth Avenue, but the area, already dense with hotels and meatpacking-district overflow, is probably overpriced.
Best Buy: The West Thirties and Forties are half the price ($625 a square foot in some cases)—and the High Line will eventually reach 30th Street, giving Hell’s Kitchen a boost that hasn’t yet been factored into prices there.
Lower East Side, East Village
The luxury condos—296 East 2nd, the Smurf-colored Bernard Tschumi tower on Norfolk—are as unwelcome as crashers at a party. “Most East Village buyers are coming from the East Village,” explains Halstead broker Barry Silverman. Plus you don’t get much value for your dollar. For $50 per square foot less than new construction you can live right in the heart of Alphabet City, above the bars and falafel joints that turn East Villagers into lifers.
Best Buy: Skip the new condos in favor of the fifties-vintage brick towers south of Delancey. The last wave of subsidized tenants are dying off, and prices can run as low as $550 per square foot.
Despite the neighborhood’s many powerful cheerleaders—Mayor Bloomberg, Paul Goldberger—the fact is that it will not really get going until the World Trade Center site is rebuilt. There are gourmet stores (two), full-service gyms (two), a restaurant row (Stone Street), and that’s about it. So, if you’re a young financial pro working so many hours that you don’t have time for a life, a studio or one-bedroom may be a smart move. You can be sure the neighborhood will take off, even if the career doesn’t.
Best Buy: A loft that overlooks ground zero. Because of the dust and the noise, prices are now below $800 per square foot.