The Ying and Yang of Luxury Home Buying
After Mr. Rybolovlev shattered the real estate records, prices once considered outrageous are now beginning to look like New York’s new luxury home reality. When Brown Harris Stevens agent (and known real estate doyenne) Paula Del Nunzio listed the Woolworth Mansion last spring for $90 million, many scoffed. To be fair, the 19,950-square-foot home offers a kind of opulence hard to find in today’s market. The townhouse was built in 1916 for Helena Maud Woolworth McCann, the eldest daughter of retail titan Frank Woolworth. Exercise authority Lucille Roberts, whose ladies-only gyms still dot the cityscape, paid just $6 million for the property in 1995.
A central foyer of Versaille-esque grandeur is only the beginning of this robust, gothic-inspired space. The dining room seats 50, recalling a time when grand-scale entertaining took place within the intimate environs of private residences, not hotels or entertainment venues. Similarly nostalgic, the master suite features two separate dressing rooms; in 1916 gentlemen and ladies strove to preserve their modesty. These architectural details evoke a foregone time, one where hospitality and propriety were emphasized with stiff-collared insistence. While the new buyers will lead a vastly different life than Woolworth (or even Roberts, for that matter) the home has resonant echoes of an era which is quickly disappearing from New York’s collective conscious.
In the exact opposite side of the spectrum, the penthouse in a much-hyped new development is currently listed for $110 million. The towering Midtown building, One57, is currently under construction and, when completed next year, will be the tallest residential building on the New York skyline.
The unit was originally priced at $98 million, but around the time the word broke that Weill had found a buyer ready to pay $88 million, the developers increased the price 12 percent. Particularly in new developments, there seems to be a prevailing belief that the sky truly is the limit. Moreover, glossy new buildings like One57 have drawn the attention of high net-worth foreigners eager to live in pristine, hyper-luxurious spaces.
The six-bedroom penthouse supposedly spans 10,923-square-feet, but details are hazy as floor plans are only available through the leasing office. Buildings such as One57 throw old luxury edifices like the Woolworth Mansion in stark relief. The gloss and, one could argue the sterility of the new developments, cater to a very different, but increasingly prevalent, luxury buyer.