Luxury Residential: 440 Park Avenue to Redefine Skyline

While no specific renderings of 440 Park Avenue have been released yet, speculation regarding the final design has been rampant. Despite the lack of any official release, preliminary renderings as well as ruminations from inside sources have given the public limited details regarding the building.
440 Park Avenue: Image from curbed on flickr 
            The two most notable facts are that the building will be roughly 1,400 feet in height, and that the design is going to be very simplistic—some kind of variation on a skinny and very tall glass box. While the actual design may end up rather boring, the height of the building is sure to prove a controversial point. If built to a height of 1,400 feet, 440 Park Avenue will be the tallest building in Midtown by a rather significant margin. The Empire State Building, for comparison, has a roof-height of 1,250 feet.


            Design is very important for tall buildings, but the argument could be made that a simple and unexciting design for 440 Park Avenue could prove beneficial to New York’s skyline in the long-run. At first glance, 440 Park looks rather out of place, given its tallest neighbor is the Citigroup Center which is still almost five hundred feet shorter. The disparity between the future 440 Park and its neighbors will soon shorten dramatically, though.
One57, located at 157 West 57th Street, is already under construction, and will top out at just over 1,000 feet. Torre Verre, the Museum of Modern Art’s Expansion, will also rise to 1,050 feet, although construction will likely hold off for another few years. Besides these two towers, Extell is also planning another building that is likely in excess of 1,000 feet at 225 West 57th Street.
            A new era is clearly dawning for residential construction in Manhattan, and it is marked by extreme height. Each one of the buildings mentioned above will be taller than any existing residential towers in Manhattan, and all should be built by 2020 at the latest, a testament to the pressure New York’s housing market is currently under. As the disparity between demand and supply continues to increase, there is more pressure to develop as much residential as possible in the city. Combined with a surge in foreign investment, the perfect storm exists for the development of these super-tall residential buildings—and the aforementioned buildings are likely just the start.
            An additional factor in Midtown residential construction is the desire for views. While everyone loves a great view, the influx of foreign wealth has taken this demand to new levels. As the number of units with views of Central Park in Midtown is severely limited due to the area’s density, any building that rises above the canyons can offer units at a premium, with foreign investors in particular likely to splurge on such units. Thus, views are pushing up building heights as well—tenants paying the premium for luxury hotel-serviced apartments are likely to spend even more if the apartment comes with a stellar view.
440 Park with Torre Verre: Image from curbed on flickr
            The result of all this is a city where, for the first time, construction of super-tall residential buildings is occurring because of legitimate demand. The very tall residential projects in Dubai and other cities—besides being empty—are generally financed by government-owned banks as they are being built to stimulate rather than satiate demand. New York is the only city in the world where private developers are independently financing projects that reach such heights.
            These factors point to one outcome, which is that projects like 440 Park Avenue will soon be relatively common in New York City. To have four super-tall residential buildings either in the planning stages or under construction in New York—at once—is remarkable in itself. That they are all being built because of legitimate demand is another story. The prices units are selling for in One57 indicate that demand for units with both luxury amenities and breathtaking views is extremely pent-up, as prices per square foot have soared into the $7,000 range (read more: New Condos: Survival Edition via the NY Times).
            Thus, the implication is that even though 440 Park may have a mediocre design (although that is still far from certain, given no actual renderings have been released), it will soon be surrounded by potentially dozens more skyscrapers of similar heights. New York’s status as the defacto capitol of the globe means that barring another Great Recession, foreign capital will continue streaming in, and demand will continue to be astronomical for projects similar to 440 Park. The building itself may be blasé, but 440 Park signals the dawning of a new era for Manhattan—the residential super-tall—and 440 Park will soon have enough company at 1,400 feet that its blandness will relegate it to filler-status.
            New York has been a historical hotbed of competition and innovation, and competition will be what takes the skyline to newer and greater heights. Extell’s project at 225 West 57th is the next up to bat, and the incentive is absolutely there to challenge Macklowe’s 440 Park, whether it be through superior height, design, or both. 

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