Saturday, December 13, 2014

Real Estate Market Around City Hall Park Heats Up

City Hall Park is becoming the new hotbed for luxury development
The real estate market around City Hall Park in lower Manhattan is heating up.  Is the Department of City Planning taking into consideration the shadows cast into the park caused by new developement?


As the real estate market in lower Manhattan heats up, hundreds of pricey new apartment projects are set to debut by 2016. The new developments will form a ring around City Hall Park, the often-overlooked green space running from Chambers to Barclay Sts, according to the New York Daily News.

Real estate pros have their eyes on the middle of lower Manhattan. 

“This area is becoming so relevant,” said Tara King-Brown, a broker at the Corcoran Group and a resident of the area. 

“As the neighborhood turns from a massive construction site into a real place where people live, the park will establish itself as a residential anchor — and not just a place where office workers go to eat their lunch.”  

City parks have long been a major draw for real estate developers, who crave views of green space and plenty of light and air. For years, developers have trampled one another for opportunities to build around Central Park, Gramercy Park and, more recently, Madison Square Park.

Now attention turns to City Hall Park, which has already had a small taste of new development in the form of Frank Gehry’s rippling steel tower at 8 Spruce St. and a glitzy new rental tower called the Lara at 113 Nassau St.  

But now, hundreds of new for-sale units, including 34 multimillion-dollar homes at the Woolworth Building and 68 at the stunning Beekman Residences at 5 Beekman St., are about to test the market for luxury homes in the heart of Manhattan’s civic center. 

Historically, this is where you’re more likely to run into an arraigned criminal, a politician, or both, than a billionaire oil mogul. 

“City Hall Park is the center of the new downtown,” said broker John Gomes of Douglas Elliman.  Prices are also slated to go through the roof as the hot market for luxury homes in the Financial District and Tribeca spills over into the civic center, which is the last lego block to be developed south of Canal St. Developers are expecting condo buyers to pay up to $110 million for a trophy penthouse in a neighborhood where the median sale price for a newly built condo was just $4.5 million this year. 

On the flip side, some experts are skeptical whether City Hall Park really holds the same cachet — or can help drive sales of high-dollar apartment prices like its counterparts uptown.

In recent years, the odds have certainly been stacked against the 9-acre park. But the history is rich and real. Dutch colonists grazed their livestock there. The green space even predates City Hall itself, the cornerstone for which wasn’t laid until 1803.  The park fell into disrepair by the late 1990s, then was given a major $35 million facelift in 1999 under Mayor Rudy Giuliani. The city installed a perimeter fence, reinstalled a historic central fountain and introduced beautiful bronze gas candelabras to light the park at night.  

 But the victory lap was cut short when 9/11 shut down lower Manhattan. A large chunk of the park remained closed for years after the terrorist attacks, making it virtually inaccessible to residents of the neighborhood. During that time, Mayor Michael Bloomberg cited security concerns surrounding City Hall.  

But Skip Blumberg, head of advocacy group Friends of City Hall Park, says the park is on the rise. There’s been a reopening of the northern segment in 2007 and the subsequent rebuilding of the World Trade Center site just a few blocks south.

Madison Square Park also had a renovation in 2000, right before it become a major destination for residential developers. That’s happening around City Hall Park now, too.  For his part, Blumberg is campaigning for more permanent seating areas in the park and for a new lawn on the plaza adjacent to Tweed Courthouse, the other large municipal building inside the park. 

Read More:

New York Daily News - December 12, 2014 - By Katherine Clarke 

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