New Manhattan Apartments Go Retro
Developers go retro as so-called "new pre-war" apartments pop up across Manhattan, combining Old World style and modern-day convenience. NY1's Tara Lynn Wagner filed the following report.
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Everything old is new again, or in the case of a construction project on the Upper West Side, everything new is designed to look old. When building in a neighborhood known for its brick buildings, wrought iron terraces and embellished facades, Extell Development Company made an effort to fit in.
"The building emulates the architecture of the neighborhood, so it sits within the landscape of the neighborhood," says Anne Young, senior managing director of Corcoran Sunshine. "It's not a glass building. It's not a building that's not contextually correct for the west side."
The idea for new buildings in pre-war style is not entirely new. Architect Robert A. M. Stern and Related Companies are working on three such projects, including the Brompton on the Upper East Side, after having found success with the concept 10 years ago.
"We saw how the market responded to the aesthetics of a prewar building combined with the luxuries of modern conveniences of modern and amenities," says Related Sales President Susan de Franca. "And we decided if it worked once, let's do it again."
Young says while it may sound like an oxymoron, 21st-century pre-war is in the design details, from wide base boards to high ceilings, and everything in between.
"The scale of the rooms, the entry foyers, the wooden floors," she says.
Beyond the aesthetic lays the practical, and brokers say new pre-war eliminates practically all of the problems that come with an old building.
"There are many, many benefits," says De Franca. "You don't need a reserve fund for major capital improvements."
The benefits extend into the units as well, through energy-efficient appliances and high-tech wiring. The best of both worlds is perhaps most obvious in the bathrooms, which feature elegant fixtures reminiscent of Old World European hotels, backed by modern, reliable plumbing.
Of course, buying pre-war comforts combined with modern amenities comes at a price, from almost $8 million to over $12 million at the Brompton or as high as $25 million at 535 West End Avenue. But even in today's economy, those buildings are 90 and 60 percent sold respectively, mainly to people who grew up in similar surroundings.
"What it really has been all about is people wanting the warmth of home, the design aesthetics of feeling safe and secure," says De Franca.