The West 150s
Chosen by: Julia Vitullo-Martin, director of the Center for Urban Innovation at the Regional Plan Association.
Vitullo-Martin suggests investing in neighborhoods “with original housing stock built for the wealthy,” like Washington Heights—where the prices of spacious prewars have dipped in the past year. Unlike many up-and-coming outer-borough areas, this part of town has superb subway access, and retail shopping, though not fancy, is “diverse and active.”
Chosen by: Pam Liebman, president and CEO, the Corcoran Group.
It’s “a true New York neighborhood,” says Liebman, adding that it’s near three parks and has great transit. The early-2000s brownstone boom deposited lots of shops and restaurants on the main avenues, and the varied housing stock—condos, rentals, houses—brings in all sorts of residents. “People are calling specifically to live there,” she says.
Chosen by: Sofia Song, director of research, StreetEasy.com.
This area has always been underappreciated, despite its fluid relationship with the Upper West Side. Median prices in the first three months of 2010 are off 24.3 percent from two years ago, even as prices just to the south have held steady. That’s a disparity that won’t last, Song suggests, given the neighborhoods’ similar physical makeup.
Melissa Cohn, president of Manhattan Mortgage.
Though the Upper East Side has prospered, its eastern fringe “hasn’t been popular in years,” Cohn admits. But the Second Avenue subway is tunneling through, and condo projects are going up. If you can face a half-decade of noise and dust, it may pay off. And even now, it has “services that you need, supermarkets, parks. And it’s still convenient to schools.”
Chosen by: Neal Sroka, president, Douglas Elliman Worldwide Consulting.
Sroka says that buyers (including investors from China and Korea) who ignored the outer boroughs in the past are being drawn in by Flushing’s neighborhoody coziness, and hotels and mixed-use developments are coming soon. “People are looking there not only as a low-cost alternative but as a place [where] they feel comfortable,” he explains.
Far West Midtown
Chosen by: Jed Walentas, vice-president, Two Trees Management.
“If actions speak louder than words, we’ve got lots of our money parked on West 53rd Street,” says Walentas, whose partner and father, David, all but created Dumbo. (Two Trees is developing the block from West 53rd to 54th, between Tenth and Eleventh.) The rehabbed waterfront “has really been a catalyst,” he adds. “It’s going to become a desirable place to live, to work, to conduct business.”
The Garment District
Chosen by: Faith Hope Consolo, chairman of retail leasing and sales, Prudential Douglas Elliman.
Oddly, fashion retailers used to avoid this area because it lacked foot traffic. Now, says Consolo, they’re signing leases for storefronts there, especially west of Penn Station. That’s often a clue to where real-estate buyers will follow, and a smattering of new condos and lofts are ready to house them.
The Financial District
Chosen by: Noah Rosenblatt, founder, UrbanDigs.com.
Despite (or because of) developers’ hard sell, Rosenblatt used to warn people off the financial district. No more: Prices have corrected from the mad levels of 2007, he says, and the post-9/11 rebuild is actually under way. Noting billions of dollars in infrastructure and a lot of unsold inventory, he feels “more bullish.”
Chosen by: Jim Wacht, president of Sierra Realty Corporation.
Bushwick and Red Hook were widely discussed as up-and-comers when the economy crashed, and Wacht says that Bushwick is the better bet because of its superior transit access. “There’s a critical mass of kids,” he says, adding that “it has that gritty feel that Dumbo and Soho once had.” And we all know what happened to those areas.
Chosen by: Jonathan Butler, founder of Brownstoner.com.
If Butler were in the market, he says he’d be looking here. “It’s got some Park Slope in it but a little Williamsburg, too”—that is, brownstone warmth plus some bite. “You can’t read a magazine or a blog without seeing another bar or restaurant opening on Vanderbilt and Washington Avenues,” says Butler. His tip: stick to streets not directly affected by Atlantic Yards.