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Thread: Is 5th Ave really living up to it's potential?

  1. #16

    Default South Fifth moves on up

    June 3, 2005
    South Fifth moves on up
    A clutch of luxury condo projects from 23rd to 42nd streets is returning a shopping area to its upscale residential roots

    Catherine Curan is a regular contributor to Newsday.

    When people covet a Fifth Avenue address, they usually don't dream of the part of the corridor from 23rd to 42nd streets.

    Wealthy New Yorkers such as the Astors built mansions there in the mid-1800s, but as the area grew more commercial the city's elite moved north. Today this lower stretch of the famously fashionable avenue is the precinct of office workers, and tourists gawking at the Empire State Building on 34th Street amid food outlets, rug shops and stores hawking New York souvenirs.

    But the demand for residential property in Manhattan is prompting some builders to redevelop this stretch of Fifth. A clutch of luxury condo projects, both new construction and conversions, is cropping up along the avenue. Noted architect Michael Graves designed the 55-story limestone and brick tower named 425 Fifth Avenue, at 38th Street. A 50-story tower will soon rise at 325 Fifth, opposite the Empire State Building, and another tower, at 505 Fifth, is nearing completion at the northeast corner of 42nd Street, replacing offices and a strip mall.

    Meanwhile, commercial spaces, such as those at 225 Fifth Ave., are being converted to apartments, and other nearby properties, such as 1-3 E. 35th St. just off the avenue, are set for residential development. Boosters for the area are even trying to add a new nickname to the city's lexicon: SoFi, for South Fifth.

    "People see it as the next emerging neighborhood," says Richard Cantor, a principal in Cantor & Pecorella, Inc., which is handling marketing and sales for the spaces at 325 and 225 Fifth Ave.

    An up-and-comer

    Buyers like the opportunity to live on one of the world's most famously luxurious streets. They also cite the appeal of an up-and-coming neighborhood that's centrally located, close to both the theater district and major transportation hubs, including Penn Station.

    Although prices are lower here than in the luxury corridor from 59th to 96th streets, the new apartments are not modest.

    One-bedrooms at 325 Fifth start at $805,000, and two-bedrooms at 225 Fifth fetch $1.55 million. The district is attracting well-heeled foreigners and affluent New Yorkers who don't mind the lack of traditional residential amenities on South Fifth Avenue.

    "The people who gravitate here mainly eat out. They're not thinking about buying food for three children," says Karen Giaquinto, a luxury condo specialist with Prudential Douglas Elliman who sells property in the area and bought an apartment in 425 Fifth Avenue last year. There are many international residents in 425, she adds, and few children.

    When Bob Zaragoza was considering buying a $1.4-million condo in the building in 2003, his broker strongly advised against it. Zaragoza, 60, recalls that at the time, 425 Fifth was a hole in the ground. It was hard to imagine this part of Fifth Avenue, near the Lord & Taylor department store, as a residential neighborhood.

    But Zaragoza, a retired product developer, liked the proximity to Penn Station for the train to his Long Island home. So he and his wife Deborah, 59, bought a 1,600-square-foot, two-bedroom unit on the 47th floor, with views of the Empire State Building and Statue of Liberty.

    Zaragoza believes so strongly in the area's future that he bought two investment properties at 325 Fifth this spring. "I think it's a great neighborhood," he says. "It's going to become the next 57th Street."

    Buying 'a brand name'

    On a Sunday afternoon in April, Dr. Mark Mohrmann was checking out the construction site at 325 Fifth. Mohrmann had stopped there as part of a tour of two dozen apartments that weekend. A $1.8-million two-bedroom at 425 Fifth was too expensive, and older apartments for $1.2 million needed too much work. So Mohrmann, 36, opted for a two-bedroom at 325 for about $1 million, attracted by the location and luxurious amenities, including a pool.

    "Fifth Avenue is a brand name," says Mohrmann, a hand surgeon. "It's classic New York."

    Avi Gur likes Fifth Avenue for the stores. Gur, 44, owns a limousine business and usually spends any extra income shopping. But when he inherited $75,000 from his mother a few years ago, the Israeli native decided to invest in Manhattan real estate rather than in a fancy wristwatch.

    Gur, who lived in Kew Gardens, wasn't sure he could afford to buy at 425 Fifth. But the 26th floor, where he ultimately bought in, was considered a lower floor - less desirable and therefore less costly. He signed a contract in December 2002 for a one-bedroom unit at $545,000, and moved in last year. He recalls sharing a bottle of Veuve Clicquot with friends after moving in, stunned that he now owned an apartment with views of one of New York's most famous buildings.

    Now he enjoys strolling up Fifth Avenue on weekends, smoking a cigar, and window shopping. "The only problem," he says, "is passing all those stores and not going in to make a purchase."

    New residential buildings and conversions are appearing in the up-and-coming residential area known as SoFi - South Fifth Avenue between 42nd and 23rd streets.

    1. 225 Fifth Ave., commercial conversion.

    2. 325 Fifth Ave., condo tower construction site.

    3. 350 Fifth Ave., the Empire State Building. John Jacob Astor Jr. built a mansion on the northwest corner of 33rd Street and Fifth Avenue in 1859 on what had been farmland. His older brother, William B. Astor, built his mansion next door, at the southwest corner of 34th Street and Fifth Avenue. These palatial homes were followed in 1893 by the Waldorf Astoria hotel, then in 1930 by the Empire State Building.*

    4. 1-3 E. 35th St., residential development site.

    5. 425 Fifth Ave., fully built and open condo tower.

    6. 505 Fifth Ave., partially completed condo tower

    Copyright © Newsday, Inc. Produced by Newsday Electronic Publishing.

  2. #17
    The Dude Abides
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    Also let's not forget the new "luxury rental" tower at 9 West 31st Street, just steps away from Fifth Avenue.

  3. #18
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    505 Fifth Ave., partially completed condo tower??

    This is an office building, not a condo

  4. #19
    Senior Swanky Peteynyc1's Avatar
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    That area near the Empire State Building completely shuts down at nite. Living at 325 5th would be a drag for that reason. Forget about grabbing a quick decent dinner in the area without taking a cab or subway. You cant only think about the main avenue either, but the side streets that surround it. 33rd, 32nd are total dumps in either direction. Who wants to live in a million dollar home surrounded by a shutdown commercial zone. I guess as they say "if you build it they will come" and the decent commericial business or at least a grocery store will follow. I thought the prices would reflect the drawback at least a bit but no breaks here.

  5. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peteynyc1
    That area near the Empire State Building completely shuts down at nite. Living at 325 5th would be a drag for that reason. Forget about grabbing a quick decent dinner in the area without taking a cab or subway. You cant only think about the main avenue either, but the side streets that surround it. 33rd, 32nd are total dumps in either direction. Who wants to live in a million dollar home surrounded by a shutdown commercial zone. I guess as they say "if you build it they will come" and the decent commericial business or at least a grocery store will follow. I thought the prices would reflect the drawback at least a bit but no breaks here.
    The amenities will follow, right now it's hard to keep up. There is virtually no where in the 5 boroughs right now that sell at a discount b/c of any negatives, for the most part. It's more of a premium with a super-premium for those in prime areas.

  6. #21


    Also, I think that this area and the nearby streets on Madison and Sixth are beautiful. They have great old buildings. There are a few dilapidated sites, but I think that they'll be re-developed. Also, nice stores will come....

  7. #22

    Default Fifth Avenue

    Fifth Avenue will always be nice because it is situated in the center of Manhattan.

  8. #23
    The Dude Abides
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    Another broad analysis of the resurging southern stretch of Fifth:

    Greetings From SoFi, N.Y.C.

    Park South Lofts, at 43-45 East 30th Street, will have 40 luxury condos converted from a former factory, with high-tech kitchens and bathrooms.


    Published: July 10, 2005

    SANDWICHED between Murray Hill and Chelsea, Madison Square Park and Bryant Park, the area straddling the spine of Fifth Avenue from about 26th Street to 38th Street has, until now, had no image, no patina, no label.

    "We have jokingly called it 'NoFlaWeMu,' " said Adam R. Rose, president of Rose Associates, which is considered a pioneer in residential construction in the area. His acronym, he explained, stands for "North of Flatiron, West of Murray Hill." Not entirely facetiously, others have suggested North Flatiron and "SoFi," for South Fifth Avenue.

    Dotted with nondescript office buildings, rug stores, wholesale showrooms and souvenir shops, it has long been the wallflower at the real estate dance, bereft of suitors.

    "If you look at the map of Manhattan in terms of hot residential neighborhoods, you see a hole there surrounded by fantastic areas: Greenwich Village, Murray Hill, Turtle Bay, the Upper East Side and Park Avenue," said Stephen B. Jacobs, architect of a 50-story condominium now coming out of the ground on Fifth Avenue between 32nd and 33rd Streets. "People pooh-poohed it while there were other places to go."

    But the dearth of sites available for development in the frenzied market changed all that and imbued this southern slice of Fifth Avenue with a new glow.

    Richard Cantor, who is marketing the project that Mr. Jacobs has designed for Douglaston Development, said the desire to live in Manhattan is so strong that neglected neighborhoods are evolving to meet the need. "In the case of SoFi, there were office buildings, many dating back to the early 20th century, that are too small for office needs today and not wired for information technology, so they were losing the contest to capture tenants," Mr. Cantor said. "The resulting low rents led to valuations that made the buildings candidates for renovation or demolition and new construction."

    Pitcairn Properties, a development firm based in Jenkintown, Pa., chose to make its Manhattan debut with the Magellan, a 34-story rental tower that opened in 2003 at 35 West 33rd Street, down the block from the Empire State Building.

    "We were looking for sites in New York City where the price of land was affordable - below $100 a square foot," said Salah Mekkawy, the chairman and chief executive of Pitcairn Properties. "We started building in June 2002, shortly after 9/11, and were one of the few who chose to break ground when everyone else had stopped construction. It was a bold move, but we decided that this location was very desirable, close to transportation, with both Penn Station and Grand Central. We expected to attract a lot of professionals and were correct. We have also gotten a lot of employees of foreign corporations."

    So far, the area seems to be attracting mainly singles, childless professional couples and empty nesters. But that may be changing.

    In 1999, when Rose Associates opened the Madison Belvedere, a 404-unit, 50-story rental building at 10 East 29th Street, it was widely credited with kick-starting the current wave of development. "We had no children whatsoever living there," Mr. Rose said. "Now there are more than 10."

    Veronica Hackett, a principal with the Clarett Group development company, does not expect to be deluged with families when the building she is planning for 11 East 29th Street, opposite the Madison Belvedere, is completed in two years. But with Madison Square Park and the well-regarded Public School 116 nearby, she said: "I think we will see couples with one baby. The dining room becomes the baby's room until there is a second child."

    Her target client is the person who wants to be downtown. "But I don't mean Wall Street," she said, "which still suffers from rolled-up sidewalks at night." She also envisions drawing "entry-level buyers, pied-ą-terre purchasers and college students whose parents are looking for a way to house them while making good investments."

    Kathleen Kirkwood, who designs women's shoulder pads, camisoles and sequin jewelry that she sells on QVC, and her husband, Leon Samuel, chief executive of her company, moved in January into the luxury condo put up by RFR/Davis and designed by Michael Graves at 425 Fifth Avenue, opposite Lord & Taylor.

    "We're here because there are lots of wholesale businesses around," Ms. Kirkwood said.

    For her husband, who also helps businesses relocate between Britain and this country, the demographic is part of the charm. "A big attraction is the international population here - French, Japanese, Korean - it's New York in New York," he said.

    Their broker, Michael Gordon of the Corcoran Group, said the area is also doing well with investors. "I sold an apartment at 325 Fifth Avenue to an investor in Ireland," he said. "What appealed to her was the high rent she will get, the amenities and the location. She had her map out and she understood the Empire State Building. The glamour of saying she owns on Fifth Avenue put her over the edge."

    The woman is also buying an apartment in the Gift Building, at 225 Fifth Avenue, on the northwest corner of Madison Square Park, and is coming here next month to buy more, Mr. Gordon said.

    There are a variety of buildings that exemplify the transformation of the neighborhood.

    Sky House, at 11 East 29th Street, a 54-story condo being developed by the Clarett Group, will be on the site of the parish house for the Church of the Transfiguration, better known as the Little Church Around the Corner. "The parish house was not landmarked," Ms. Hackett said, "so we will take it down, and they will have the first four floors of our building."

    Marrying a slender contemporary tower to the Gothic Revival-style church was a challenge. "As architects there were two strategies we could have pursued," said Dan Kaplan, senior principal at Fox & Fowle Architects. "We could have aped the existing building on a larger scale, which we thought was wrong, or we could do a neutral backdrop. So we have created a slender tower with piers of brick interspersed with floor-to-ceiling glass."

    The condos, three per floor starting at the sixth floor, will look out either on the church's garden or over the West Side. Prices for the one- and two-bedroom apartments will range from about $870,000 to $2.2 million. "We will have a mix of smaller units that are not typically available," Ms. Hackett said.

    Bishop Andrew St. John, vicar of the church, is hoping that the proliferation of new buildings nearby will bring in an infusion of new worshipers. "People are coming from nearby blocks and introducing themselves," he said.

    Park South Lofts, at 43-45 East 30th Street, will be occupied in September. A former factory, it is being converted to luxury condos by the American Development Group and Langsam Property Services. The 40 condos, which include three duplexes and a five-floor penthouse, emphasize amenities. As Tim Serignese, director of sales for Park South Lofts, put it: "This is meant for people who work hard and are not in their homes until nights or weekends. They want to be surrounded by the luxuries they have earned."

    Indeed, they will be cosseted by technology. The LG brand refrigerator has a computer in its door that permits the user to watch television; play MP3's; transmit e-mail, video and voice messages; take photos; keep a calendar, appointment and phone log; and monitor stored food for expiration. The LG microwave oven has a built-in toaster and one side of the double KitchenAid kitchen sink also serves as a dishwasher. Bathtubs feature "chromotherapy," which transmits beams of light believed to have restorative benefits (green for stress, red for circulation) into the water.

    Prices for the condos range from $600,000 to $9 million for a 5,000-square-foot penthouse with 1,600 square feet of terrace. The lobby will have a waterfall cascading onto stainless steel.

    The Atlas, a 48-story rental building at 66 West 38th Street that opened three years ago, has a waterfall in its lobby, too. It is more characteristic of the almost post-dormitory-style structures geared specifically to young people with communal facilities and social events.

    "We get a lot of new people here and a lot of shares," said James Ferazzi, a leasing agent. "People put up pressure walls so they can share." There are also older people who work in the area or who have pieds-ą-terre.

    A blinking neon sign in the elevator announces "Welcome to the Atlas" and lists events like yoga classes held in the building or in four other properties owned by the Gotham Organization. An annual spa day on the roof offers manicures, pedicures, yoga and an open bar, and a lounge connected to the gym serves a continental breakfast daily. Gym membership is a bargain: $25 a month.

    Rents are $2,205 to $2,350 for studios, $2,650 to $3,500 for one-bedroom units and about $4,400 for two bedrooms.

    Rising on the site between 32nd and 33rd Streets, where three six-story buildings and a parking lot once stood, is the 325 Fifth Avenue building.

    It is being developed by Jeffrey Levine, chief executive of Douglaston Development, in partnership with Continental Properties, and will be encased in glass, including glass-wrapped balconies. Stretching about one third of a block east to Madison Avenue, it will have a Fifth Avenue entrance and an adjacent public plaza.

    Some units will have 20-foot ceilings. Amenities will include a swimming pool, fitness center, massage treatment room, a lounge with kitchen available for parties and a private screening room.

    Of the 250 apartments, 175, or 70 percent of the total, are under contract. Prices are now $850,000 to $900,000 for a one-bedroom and go to $5.025 million for the penthouse, which has been sold. "We're trying to keep the typical two-bedroom around $1 million," Mr. Levine said.

    Diane and Eugene Bartow, who own an insurance agency in Deer Park, N.Y., have bought a three-bedroom apartment there after a two-and-a-half-year search. "I liked the space, the location, the layout, the pool, the lifestyle," said Mrs. Bartow, the president of the Murray Hill Neighborhood Association. "You never have to go outside for anything."

    Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

  9. #24
    The Dude Abides
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    Demand Climbs for South-of-Chic Stretch of Fifth Ave.


    Published: February 22, 2006

    The address is Fifth Avenue, to be sure, but for years, the stretch of the avenue heading north from 42nd Street to Rockefeller Center at 49th Street has seemed like a poor relation to the chic area just to the north, running from Saks Fifth Avenue to the Plaza Hotel at 59th Street.

    Recent Transactions Now this section seems to be perking up. Airline ticket offices, fast-food outlets, stores selling faux antiques and cheesy souvenir shops are giving way to midprice fashion retailers and big-box stores. Many of the new tenants, like the electronics chain Best Buy at East 44th Street, are taking spaces that had been vacant for as long as two years.

    Relatively cheap rents on those big spaces are the lure of this enlivened swath of a shopping street that is so well known around the world that it is practically its own brand.

    "Fifth Avenue is the No. 1 street for name recognition," although this stretch "was a no-man's land," said Faith H. Consolo, chairwoman of the retail leasing and sales division of Prudential Douglas Elliman. "But Fifth Avenue between Saks and Bergdorf's became so incredibly expensive that if other retailers wanted to capture that traffic they had to move south."

    Newcomers include the popular Build-a-Bear Workshop in a long-vacant space at the northeast corner of the intersection with East 46th Street, where the HMV record store once was, while across 46th Street Barnes & Noble has opened a location in the site of a former Wiz electronics dealership that was vacant for two years.

    Brokers say high-fashion, high-visibility apparel and accessories chains are looking into Barnes & Noble's previous location at West 48th Street, which is still operating temporarily, as well as an empty space midblock between West 47th and 48th Streets, and in a building under construction at the northeast corner of Fifth Avenue and East 42nd Street.

    "As leases expire, the electronics stores, the banks and the showrooms are going out and being replaced by terrific midprice retailers," said Benjamin Fox, principal and executive vice president of Newmark Knight Frank, a brokerage firm. "The demographics have upgraded substantially."

    The Italian clothing chain Benetton moved to Fifth Avenue between East 48th and 49th Streets 10 years ago, but it was not until 2003 that other fashion-oriented retailers started to follow suit. The French sportswear manufacturer Lacoste came on board that year, and the cosmetics retailer Sephora, which earlier had a brief run farther up Fifth Avenue in the 50's, arrived in 2004.

    Currently, Fossil Watches and Ann Taylor are also part of the mix, as is American Girl Place, a four-story retail emporium and cafe selling 18-inch-tall dolls for $100 and their must-have accessories, from what used to be the headquarters of Korean Airlines.

    Rents are low, especially compared with those north of Saks Fifth Avenue, where every international luxury brand wants to have a presence and, it seems, will pay almost anything to get it.

    "Above the 50's, they are getting $500 to $1,000 a foot," said Jeffrey Winick, chief executive of the Winick Realty Group, who is the broker on a 20,000-square-foot multilevel space at Fifth Avenue and East 43rd Street, which was formerly an Office Depot. "We are asking $100 a foot, blended," with prices greatest for the ground floor and somewhat lower for higher floors.

    Mr. Winick also cited a landlord of another building in the 40's asking an average of $200 per square foot a year for a ground floor, lower level and mezzanine.

    By comparison, a landlord at a spot 10 blocks north on Fifth Avenue is asking $1,800 per square foot a year, according to Ms. Consolo of Prudential Douglas Elliman. "The numbers are mind-boggling," she said. "Above 49th Street, rents have tripled in the last three years."

    Midprice retailers now considering spots below Saks would love to be farther up the avenue among their luxury siblings and more fashion-conscious brands like H&M, Zara and Banana Republic to take advantage of the extraordinary foot traffic. But space is not only expensive, it is hard to come by. High-end retailers, many of them deep-pocketed Italian and French brands flush with inflated euros, have settled in for the long term, often expanding into adjacent property.

    The more southern stretch was once home to a concentration of men's clothing stores like Wallach's, Rogers Peet and Browning Fifth Avenue. Then, as now, the segment was helped by a strong commercial market, with a sizable pool of office workers, and it is also within reach of countless tourists staying in Midtown hotels, where occupancy rates currently hover near 90 percent.

    "It becomes an anchor location, tying in Grand Central and that retail, Times Square, Fifth Avenue below 42nd Street down to Lord & Taylor and up to Rockefeller Center," said Robert Futterman, chairman and chief executive of Robert K. Futterman & Associates. "It becomes the absolute hub of the entire market."

    The new office building under construction on a long-vacant lot at the northeast corner of East 42nd Street will further anchor the area and provide a much needed boost to the intersection, according to Tom Cusick, president of the Fifth Avenue Business Improvement District. Ground floor space has not yet been rented.

    "Assuming it will have a solid, reliable tenant, it will provide retail continuity for people who want to shop the avenue going north or south," Mr. Cusick said. "That continuity is critical."

    Banks, however, need not apply, unless they get the necessary variance. Zoning rules limit the number of banks on Fifth Avenue; the rationale is that they undermine retail activity with low traffic, limited hours of operation and entrances that do not have the ambience and flow of a shopping strip, Mr. Cusick said.

    Eventually, the remaining food shops and other services will move to the side streets, paving the way for more fashion retailers, which, according to Mr. Futterman, were slow to see the appeal of this part of Fifth Avenue. "It took a lot of convincing for tenants to understand how great it was," he said. "It took a little more time but it is coming together."

    Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company

  10. #25


    This area still needs a lot of work. There are many dilapidated buildings that warrant demolition. In fact, the building in which Best Buy recently opened is horrible, as is the horrible Bank of NY building. In an era in which The Drake is being torn down, it amazes me that this crap on 5th stands undistrubed.

  11. #26


    there is the tessler/chetrit site being developet at fifth and 37th street.

    the reason fifth has less development is also becouse of zoning,
    plus maybe you can tell me the last new office building that went up on
    -park avenue,?

  12. #27

  13. #28


    Fifth in the 30's and 40's was dingy for quite some time, but is rebounding. More dingy sites need to be developed (especially in the 40's). The area of 5th in 30's down to the Village is potentially so beautiful because the buildings are incredibly ornate.

  14. #29
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    What building on Park Ave would you like to be torn down Jeff. The avenue is built out nicely

  15. #30
    The Dude Abides
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    Relaxing of Fifth Avenue zoning for banks urged 06-JUL-06

    A presentation was made to the land-use committee of Community Board 5 last night that suggested that provisions of the Special Fifth Avenue Zoning District be amended to make it easier for banks and travel companies to lease retail space on Fifth Avenue between 42nd Street and 33rd Streets.
    The proposal was made by Melanie Meyer of Fried Frank, a law firm, on behalf of S. Green and Joseph B. Day, real estate concerns, and Washington Mutual, a bank.

    The special zoning district had been enacted more than a generation ago to limit a proliferation of banks and travel companies from occupying much of the retail frontage on Fifth Avenue in midtown because it was widely perceived that their storefronts had somewhat of a deadening impact on streetlife in the evenings. It was a time when many of the avenue’s most prestigious retailers such as Depinna and Bonwit Teller’s were closing and when only banks and travel companies seemed to be willing and able to pay high retail rents.

    According to the presentation last night, high-class retail is suffering on the avenue south of 42nd Street and north of 33rd Street.

    Tim Farrell of Joseph B. Day told the committee that the traditional banking branch model “is shrinking and banks are become much warmer and consumer friendly and more of a boutique.”

    In the past many banks opted for large retail branches with considerable street frontage. A spokesman for Washington Mutual, however, told the committee that it was now looking for a minimum of 30 foot frontage and retail space of about 3,500 square feet.

    Ms. Meyer said that her clients were looking for a relaxation of the district’s retail zoning south of 42nd Street that would permit banks to lease spaces without dominating the retail landscaping. “We understand the concern about having banks side-by-side,” she said, adding, however, that establishing specific distances that banks should be separated or limiting the number that could be opened on a specific block could give unfair advantages to the first bank leasor. Meile L. Rockefeller, the chairman of the committee, shown at the right, said that the committee was “open to the idea and that she understood that the 34th Street Partnership was sympathetic to the zoning review. She indicated she wanted to know what other neighborhoods and communities were doing.

    Edward Klimerman expressed concerns that if communities were not vigiliant half of the retail stores would become banks, “Duane Reades and Starbucks.”

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