How far uptown is 1200 Fifth Avenue? That is the first question one might ponder when considering this building. The difference between the few short blocks which separate prime Carnegie Hill from East Harlem is tremendous–often amounting to millions. This building presents an interesting dichotomy for both those buying in the building and those who currently live in the neighborhood. A conversion of this magnitude (a classic, pre-war Emery Roth masterpiece into a modern, luxury condominium) transforms the neighborhood all by itself, leading to other condominium conversions and new businesses close by. New buyers have to consider the less-than-perfect 10029 zip code, and residents on Madison and Park can prepare for more price hikes as the entire Harlem neighborhood continues to convert to condos at a rapid pace. It’s something of a compromise–for everyone but the developers and brokers who get paid handsomely for their time and efforts.
I still have to question whether the gentrification of lower Harlem has advanced enough yet to justify the eye-popping price-tags, which typically exceed $1600 per square foot at 1200 Fifth Avenue. On the flip side, one could argue that the spacious floor plans such as those found in the building are hard to come by, as is the ability to walk across the street into Central Park.
One must also keep in mind that passing a Fifth Avenue co-op board is not a simple task by any means–even for wealthy individuals and families. Fifth Avenue co-ops are a cultural phenomenon that many people don’t fully understand. This is why 1200 Fifth, similar to the Stanhope (995 Fifth Avenue), presents an interesting scenario for the buyer. It allows them to keep their sources of income and wealth somewhat private while mingling with nearby residents–some of the richest in the world.
1200 Fifth Avenue was originally designed by the great architect Emery Roth. A few of his notable buildings include the Beresford, the San Remo, the Ritz Tower, the Warwick Hotel, and the Normandy. Living in an Emery Roth building truly warrants bragging rights. The sort of construction he was doing in the 1920’s and 1930’s isn’t possible anymore because of rising material prices, labor costs, space availability, and a host of other factors. This is why 15 Central Park West (which actually compares to 1200 Fifth Avenue with the theme of pre-war architecture and post-war amenities–note 15 CPW is not actually pre-war architecture–it just looks that way) is such a rare and impressive condominium. The blending of pre-war architecture with modern amenities seems to be buzzing in the condo community lately.
The building was converted by Joseph Nakash, Joseph Chetrit, Lloyd Goldman, and Mann Realty (Wow!). They bought the 16-story building from Mount Sinai Medical Center exactly three years ago for $61 million. Try doing the math on a square foot basis for how much profit they’ll make if this building sells out at current prices, and it’ll blow your mind.
As usual, with a building that is priced in part according to views, amenities, and square footage, prices vary widely as 1200 Fifth Avenue. Some of the penthouses that offer Central Park views can command over $3,000/square foot. The smaller, more affordable apartments can go for as little as $1,200/square foot for a 1 bedroom residence.
Most of the original construction layouts were for families converting from townhouses living to apartment living during the wealthy decade of the ’20s. Thus, they are incredibly spacious, and the high prices reflect the rarity of this sort of footage.
In addition to pricey square footage, the common charges are on the high side, at roughly $1.25/foot. While not terribly high, many new developments and condo conversions have tax abatements which push that number down to $1.00 or less per square foot. So, on a relative value scale, the CC/taxes aren’t great.
Unit Features and Amenities
All units have standard luxury condominium features in addition to a few choice amenities. In terms of standard amenities, you’ll find a 24-hour doorman/concierge, washer/dryers in every apartment, wiring for internet and cable, Wolf, Miele, and SubZero appliances, custom cabinetry, a private fitness center, and a bicycle room.
Keep in mind, on a conversion project, the developer is much more limited than a new construction project in how many unique amenities they can add. Emery Roth designed this building, and toying with the building’s apartment layouts or structure would be both expensive and looked down upon.
The developers did a nice job of adding in the following extra amenities:
- Refrigerated lobby storage for grocery deliveries (you’re not going to find many residents venturing out to the local supermarkets)
- Wine cellar in each apartment, which holds 46 bottles–far more than most condos we’ve seen.
The ceilings are high and beamed as per the original 1920s design. Each apartment has been outfitted with an electric fireplace, heated limestone floors in the bathrooms, and oversized “tilt and turn” windows to maximize the spectacular Central Park exposures.
Perhaps most significant about 1200 Fifth Avenue’s location is that you’re across the street from central park and only three blocks from the conservancy gardens within the park. Museum Mile is only a skip away, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Guggenheim, the Frick Collection, and the Jewish Museum. Mt. Sinai Hospital is conveniently located directly next to the building. Plenty of Manhattan’s most important residential buildings are located just a few blocks south.
As we’ve already mentioned, the building is technically in Harlem, which may avert those looking for a prestigious zip code.
In terms of restaurants, shopping, etc., you’re looking at a short walk southwest to find most of these attractions. The immediate vicinity of the building is mostly comprised of the park, museums, and residential buildings. There aren’t many restaurants or shops of interest in the immediate area. There isn’t really any subway access either, but that probably wouldn’t matter because anybody buying at 1200 Fifth Avenue likely isn’t riding the subway.
The investment potential for 1200 Fifth Avenue is based on the further development of the neighborhood. In terms of the integrity of the building, there is no issue at all. Emery Roth is a legend, and living in one of his buildings is an honor. However, one can reasonably point to the lack of non-cultural amenities in the vicinity as a potential drag, along with the north-of-Carnegie-Hill location. You’re probably getting in a cab to get to any restaurant, night-life spot, shopping area, or mass transit. If you’re moving here, it’s for the relative peace and quiet combined with the beautiful Central Park exposures. Overall, considering the high price-per-square-foot (even if low for Fifth Avenue frontage), the investment potential at 1200 Fifth Ave is moderate. You can expect modest price appreciation over time as the neighborhood further develops, and of course, Central Park views are always in high demand.