After years of living in the shade of Manhattan’s many trendy neighborhoods, the Upper East Side is experiencing a well-deserved renaissance that is breathing new life into our beloved, albeit at times, under-appreciated community. The mass exodus of recent years to downtown and Brooklyn have left many with somewhat of a social fatigue, giving birth to an honest search for quality and bringing seekers back to the doorstep of our neighborhood.
New bars and restaurants continue to swing open their doors for the entertainment and sustenance of our 217,792 residents on what seems to be a weekly basis. A prime example is superstar Chef Michael White’s opening of Vaucluse at 100 E. 63rd St.
For homeowners, this spike in interest along with very limited inventory has created a classic “sellers market.” On the Upper East Side it has become all too common that negotiations of decent quality apartments in most price ranges end up in a “best and final” bidding scenario. Though frustrating to buyers, more often than not, open houses are a relative mob scene which is refreshing and truly well deserved, as good value, for the time being, is still intact. But whoever said the New York real estate market makes sense? According to real estate mega-site Trulia, year-over-year the average price per square foot for an apartment on the Upper East Side is $1,385 which is actually down 4.4%, while the median sales price is down only 0.5%.
Lightstone Group’s acquisition of 40 East End Avenue with plans to build a 30-unit condo is indicative of a coming trend. Big money from buyers and developers is rapidly flooding back into the Upper East Side, including plans for the controversial 900 foot-tall Sutton Place mega-tower which would be one of the largest condos in the country. Additionally, a plethora of new developments and conversions are are in the works and many are in different phases of completion.
So is it the expectation of the opening of the 2nd Avenue Subway, the best schools in the city, the safe streets, or simply the Upper East Side’s turn in an elusive line that is feeding this momentum? Our perception of old-world privilege and mundane lifestyle is shifting. With that said, there continues to be affordable housing for a younger crowd that wants to live in Manhattan, as well as a wide array of the city’s most exclusive apartments, but the renaissance has just begun.
Doug Singer is at Singer New York Real Estate