The area below Chambers street defined as the Financial District has experienced a tremendous transformation since the 9/11 attacks, which plunged the area into darkness for almost a decade. Subsequently, the residential, commercial and retail booms have revived the area with more to come.

In the early 2000’s, the area attracted renters in quest for a better bang for their bucks. The 24/7 full service doorman building lifestyle has its perks and despite the limited nightlife options at the time, the 10 subway lines available within 5 min walk from wherever you stand in the Financial District allow residents to quickly exit and be in the hottest nightlife spots or commute to work within minutes. Then, the real estate boom brought top of the line condominiums to the neighborhood such as 20 Pine Armani Casa, which was the first cross marketing condo development pairing a fashion designer with residential real estate. It was and still is a success.

The commercial landscape changes happen upon the 2008 financial crisis when the neighborhood witnessed many firms closing their offices, downsizing or simply relocating. Similar to the residential boom, non-typical Wall Street companies in need of more space for their money started to migrate to the area and enjoy class A building near a major transit hub. Ad agencies, tech and media firms among others have now replaced financial firms. The new World Trade Center also anchored a major tenant Condé Nast acting as a snowball effect since most of his midtown located vendors are now looking to move near the new headquarters. Proximity remains an important factor to maintain efficient relationship.

The retail has been the biggest challenge and is now seeing the expansion this area needs in order to become an all-star venue for locals and visitors. As mentioned in my May 8th 2014 Blog, Brookfield place along with the gallery under the Oculus will bring the most prestigious fashion brands and eateries to satisfy a demanding local clientele who often have to shop outside their neighborhood to find quality products.

With so much going on, real estate developers have been able to move forward with stalled projects by securing additional funding, that precedent events froze. Luxury condos are already in the area, but ultra luxury are not…yet. With land prices fetching $900 to $1000/sf and development costs reaching the $600-$800/sf for a decent product, a developer starting a project with these constraints would have to sell at $3,000/ft to see the risks worth the reward. To create a better spread one could look at either searching for a cheaper acquisition or reducing construction costs. The latter one is harder to handle with rising labor and material costs that a developer can’t always control. The first one is where developers can get creative and search for alternatives (i.e: cheaper) sites to build in, on or upon. It is definitely worth the challenge – keeping in mind the high demand for ultra exclusive and luxurious New York Real Estate. We can find a good illustration of this strategy by looking at Alchemy Properties project involving the Woolworth Building.

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Located at 233 Broadway, the Woolworth building is a National and New York City historic landmark designed in the neo-gothic style by Cass Gilbert and built in 1913. It consists of about 58 stories reaching 792ft (241 meters) in heights that earned it the title of the tallest building in the World from 1913 to 1930. In 1998 the building traded hands for $137.5M to a partnership of Witkoff Group and Cammeby’s. Most recently, Alchemy Properties bought the top 30 floors totaling 106,000sf for $68M, or just about $640/ft. The price point is great, but the quality and uniqueness of the product acquired is even greater. The site is classified National landmark, boasts original and historical details that traditional new developments can’t replicate. Looking at the unit mix below, the development will offer 34 units (33 + 1 Penthouse).

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The average ppsf excluding the penthouse is expected to fetch around $3,440/ft. The crown jewel will be the 8 level (Floor 50th-58th) Penthouse dubbed the Pinnacle (see floor plan below). The Penthouse is asking over $11,000/sf or $110,000,000, one of the priciest listing to ever hit the Manhattan market. The plans currently show the Penthouse as a 3-bed 3-baths with 3 powder rooms. The more than 4,700sf contains between the 50 and 51st floor will host the dining and living rooms. The subsequent floors will be arranged to have media room, library and an observation deck among other luxury features. Naturally, a private elevator will help navigating this 8-story sky-high mansion.

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