If London has a true rival on the international investing front (Brexit notwithstanding), it is most likely New York City.
Marginally more affordable than the UK capital and boasting many of the same perks – it’s a major financial, cultural and education centre with transparent legal infrastructure in a global, gateway city – New York, and Manhattan in particular, have one thing London does not: stylish, eye-catching skyscrapers and in the case of the forthcoming tower at 53 West 53rd Street – 53W53 – an eye-catching super-tall, the latest rage in urban architecture.
Though born in Chicago, the skyscraper is most often associated with New York, and Singapore-based developer Pontiac Land Group (collaborating with Hines and Goldman Sachs’ Real Estate Principal Investment Area) is throwing its hat in the ring with 53W53, not only an architectural marvel, but also a spin on traditional luxury amenities due to its partnership with the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA).
For Pontiac, 53W53 is the first of several ventures beyond Singapore (including projects in Sydney and Maldives), and was simply, “An incredible opportunity that presented itself, and the group does have a love of art, it’s part of Pontiac’s DNA”, says Louisa Daly, vice-president of corporate communications at Pontiac Land Group.
Literally and figuratively taking urban lifestyle living to new heights, 53W53 sits beside one of the world’s most renowned museums in a prime Manhattan location.
Perched on the corner of W53rd and the Avenue of the Americas (6th), 53W53 is surrounded by retail, cultural and business icons: the luxury shopping of Saks Fifth Avenue, Bergdorf Goodman, Tiffany & Co, Barneys and every major label on 5th or Madison Avenue; the Lincoln Centre, Carnegie Hall, Radio City Music Hall, the New York Public Library, dining at La Grenouille and Le Bernardin; and the offices at Rockefeller Plaza, The Empire State Building, Hearst and Time Warner, dozens of consulates and five-star hotels.
Central Park is a few blocks to the north, Broadway a few blocks to the south.
Of course, 53W53 isn’t alone on Manhattan’s super-tall, luxury landscape. Recent launches have included 432 Park Avenue, Central Park Tower, 220 Central Park South and the old Steinway Building (at 111 W 57th) among others.
But it’s certainly the only one to have the cultural cachet at the level of the MoMA to brag about.
“It was designed by Jean Nouvel, and he’s one of the most prolific well-known architects today. The interiors are by Thierry Despont, who’s also very prolific. He’s done interiors for Bill Gates and some of the most discerning clients in the world,” Daly says.
“It will be one of the tallest buildings in New York City on par with the Empire State Building. It’s really going to be magnificent.”
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The latest by Pritzker Prize winner Nouvel (Barcelona’s Torre Agbar, Beijing’s forthcoming National Art Museum), the 82-storey 52W53 is perhaps most notable for its exposed structure design – a so-called diagrid – that separates itself from other towers in the area.
In order to accommodate New York’s complex and varied zoning laws, the tower has taken on an irregular, angular shape, tapered in spots. Because of the zoning and the diagrid, each of the 145 apartments has a unique layout with triple-glazed floor-to-ceiling windows. The diagrid construction also allows for the tower’s 320-metre height with a minimum number of interior columns and gives the overall structure a quasi-futuristic, geometric look that is unique.
Residences range from one-bedroom to full-floor condominiums, plus duplex and penthouse units, and among the features are 10-foot ceilings, Thierry Despont cabinetry, underfloor heating, materials, including walnut, American oak, bronze, marble, limestone and Sub-Zero; Miele, Dornbracht, Villeroy & Boch appliances and fixtures.
In addition to the integrated 36,000-square foot MoMA expansion and deeded memberships at MoMA, 53W53’s amenities include a lobby library, private theatre, Central Park-facing 46th floor lounge, private formal dining room, wine tasting room and vault, a 15,000-square foot wellness centre managed by Wright Fit, lap pool, poolside gardens designed by French botanist Patrick Blanc, squash court, children’s playroom plus 24-hour security and concierge.
A raft of other services (housekeeping, laundry, pet care) are available upon request for a fee.
“The extensive in-house amenities will elevate the living experience to that of a luxury hotel,” Daly says.
It goes without saying that a New York property purchase is a wise investment, and given the instability wrought by Brexit, it will be for some time to come. Ironically, 53W53, for all its high-end accoutrements, is smart money too.
“Last year capital appreciation in Manhattan was about 11%, so it’s a great investment, and prices are 61% lower than in Hong Kong,” Daly points out.
“There’s value for money and here, for US$3 million, you can buy into a world-renowned, incredible project in a prime location a block from 5th Avenue.”
Sitting as close at it does to dozens, if not hundreds of blue-chip MNCs, ensures a strong tenant pool for investors waiting to send kids to highly desirable schools (NYU, Columbia, Parsons, Juilliard) in the city, or for those keeping a seasonal trophy home.
Suite sizes begin at 1,200 square feet for one bedrooms, 2,400 square feet for two bedrooms and 7,000 square feet for penthouses. Prices at 52W53 range from about US$3 million to over US$70 million (HK$23 to $540 million). 53W53 is scheduled for completion at the end of 2018.