by Alison Gregor of The New York Times
TWENTY years after Donald J. Trump envisioned a series of apartment towers on the old Penn Central rail yards south of 72nd Street on the Upper West Side, a small city has risen there, with some 8,000 people living in 4,000 apartments — and plans for thousands more on the drawing board.
The neighborhood, on 77 acres stretching from 59th to 72nd Street, doesn’t have an official name. Some brokers and residents refer to it as Riverside Boulevard, for the new street that runs along its western edge. Others jokingly call it the Strip, a reference to the dozen high-rises that march up the boulevard, a mix of condos and market-rate and subsidized rentals.
The buildings front the green lawns and ball fields of Riverside Park South along the Hudson River. Six more towers with about 3,000 apartments, along with an elementary school, retail space and a hotel, are planned between 59th and 62nd Streets.
From its inception, the Trump project faced stiff opposition from residents and preservation groups worried about overcrowding and the potential loss of light and views. It also ran into bigger roadblocks along the way. Mr. Trump lost control to the big developer Extell, and in 2009, some buyers at the Rushmore, one of the newest condos, sued to get their deposits back.
The litigation has dragged on so long — Extell is appealing a decision in favor of the plaintiffs — that those buyers may be regretting that they ever filed their lawsuit. In the last year, sales along Riverside Boulevard have outperformed the rest of the Manhattan market, and the condos, many with sweeping views of the Hudson, have attracted celebrities like Alex Rodriguez and Plácido Domingo.
In the fourth quarter of 2011, the average price per square foot of a condo increased 10 percent from the previous year quarter, to $1,552. Meanwhile, in Manhattan as a whole, the increase was 4 percent to $1,417, according to data provided by the Corcoran Sunshine Marketing Group, which is marketing Extell’s newest high-rises, the 40-story Aldyn and the 42-story Rushmore. The total number of sales increased 23 percent in 2011 over the previous year; Manhattan-wide, that increase was 6 percent.
“All these many years of the neighborhood becoming a more mature, more accepted, more recognized neighborhood in New York have finally taken hold,” said Beth Fisher, a senior managing director of Corcoran Sunshine.
Sales at the Rushmore, which has 271 units, started in 2006, and 26 apartments remain, ranging from two- to four-bedrooms, said Donna Gargano, a senior vice president for development of Extell, which has four buildings in the area.
The 150-unit Aldyn, which is 68 percent sold, has 48 apartments remaining, ranging from two- to seven-bedrooms and including two duplexes with large terraces and private swimming pools, Ms. Gargano said. Both buildings have been selling at about $1,500 a square foot.
Gary Barnett, the president of Extell, says he believes the apartments are undervalued. He compared apartments at the Aldyn and the Rushmore favorably with those at the Laureate, a swanky new Upper West Side development on Broadway, or older apartments at Sutton Place on the East Side, which have views of Queens. Both sell in the mid-$2,000s per square foot, he said.
“The prices on Riverside are very low in comparison to comparable product in the rest of the city,” Mr. Barnett said. “It’s a great buy now, and I think it has a lot of room for appreciation.”
Read the full article - http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/26/realestate/all-this-neighborhood-needs...