Friday, May 18, 2012

NYC’s race to the moon, and what’s up there.

[Links to articles cited in this post are at bottom.]

Last December I wrote here about new residential buildings in Manhattan getting taller and taller.  Well, now they’re getting taller still.

The Real Deal reports that a permit has been issued for a 1300' residential tower to be built at 440 Park Avenue.  The Girasole Tower, a currently stalled project on 11th Avenue, could rise even higher if and when it's completed.
The sliver building I live in.

Today’s Times reports that by 2016, New York could have 6 of the 10 tallest buildings in the country (with Chicago having the other 4), and 3 of the highest residential structures.

The Times writer, Alexei Barrionuevo, asks, “What is it that drives some people to live so high up?  And developers to keep building ever-taller edifices?”

The second question is easy.  Developers will build anything there’s a market for. 
And location (as you may have heard) is an important factor in real estate value.  Manhattan is a highly desirable location, but there’s only so much of it.  If you can’t build sideways, you have to build up.
Regarding the first question:  We could ask the fabulously wealthy person who just bought the penthouse on the 89th and 90th floors of 157 West 57th Street for more than $90 million what appealed to him about the space, but nobody knows who he is

However, I can speak with a little authority, as I live on the 36th floor of my building, which was a high floor for a residential building in 1986, when my husband and I bought our small apartment.
December sunset from my window.
And I took my first job in Manhattan partly because the office was on the 42nd floor of what was then the General Motors building, at 59th and Fifth. 

Lately I’ve been above the 60th floor in buildings in midtown, and, as there is such a cluster of tall buildings there, in some of them all you can see from those floors is other buildings. 

The advantage is strictly one of location, although the elevator ride down can seem almost as long as a cab ride from some lesser area.

But in my downtown neighborhood, the light and views are incredible, even from the lowly 36th floor. 

On a clear day, I swear I can see Chicago. 
(There are those who have claimed to see the Space Needle from my western windows, but it’s just the Willis Tower.)

The apartment is actually too bright on late summer afternoons.  I have to wear a hat with a wide brim while working at my computer to keep the sun out of my eyes. 

But I love, love, love watching thunder and lightning and heavy rain roll in from New Jersey.  And on a cloudy day I know whether the sun will be coming out any time soon. 

Storm en route from New Jersey, camera flash.

There are some disadvantages.  I had to climb up and then down all 35 flights once when a pipe broke, and once in the dark during a blackout. 

(The neighbors on lower floors kindly put chairs out in the hall so residents of higher floors could rest for a bit during the climb.  One offered me water.)   

The building is a sliver, with less than 3,500 square feet on a floor, and it’s designed to sway just a little in a heavy wind. 

This drove my cat crazy, until he got used to it.  He would hide among the sweaters in the closet closest to the center of the floor.

And speaking of wind, yes, it does get windy on my balcony, which is on the south side of the building.  There’s no obstruction to the wind that blows in from the west.  This is especially noticeable around sunset. 

But later on, the wind dies down, and it’s lovely to sit on the balcony with a glass of wine and watch the moon rise and the stars come out.

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