A two-story penthouse in One57-a glass tower that will be New York City's tallest residential high-rise when it opens next year-recently sold for $90 million, setting a new record for the city's residential real estate market.

The sale closed in May before the unit's floors were framed, let alone built. And even though the penthouse will sit on the 89th and 90th floors, overlooking Central Park, it's not even the most expensive unit in the soaring glass tower.

The sale illustrates how strong the demand has been among the ultra-wealthy for living space in the hot and glitzy tower, even at a time when the rest of the nation's housing market remains largely moribund and the overall economy continues to sputter.

At about the time it was striking new ground in Manhattan residential sale prices, Extell Development announced One57 had reached $1 billion in sales. The building, whose lowest-priced units start at around $3.2 million, was half sold within six months after presales started last November.

"We're seeing buyers from as far away as Hong Kong," says Gary Barnett, president of Extell Development Company, which is building One57 in Midtown Manhattan, across from the world-renowned Carnegie Hall. "Our buyers are visionaries who recognize the building's value and are confident enough to buy off of floor plans at premium prices."

Located on West 57th Street between Avenue of the Americas and Seventh Avenue, One57 is changing the city's landscape more than just visually. It is also making a mark because of its prices, its aesthetics and its impact on the city's real estate market, observers say.

"Because of One57, you're going to see a lot more high-end condos going up," says Jason Sheftell, real estate editor at the New York Daily News. The decline of the euro has helped fuel interest in the city's luxury market across the globe, he adds. "For those looking for somewhere good to buy real estate, that means New York City right now."

Extell has done more than simply provide floor plans to sell its space. The building's sales gallery is just two blocks up from where One57's skeleton is reaching into the sky and starting to get its glass skin. Located on the second floor of the Fuller Building at East 57th Street and Madison Avenue, the gallery gives prospective buyers a glimpse into what it will be like living in a 1,004-foot skyscraper.
The sales center provides a high-tech, multimedia and concrete exploration of both the inside and outside of a building that is gradually carving its own niche in the iconic New York City skyline, starting with the tall black doors into the gallery that replicate One57's entrance. The gallery includes a scale-model of the building, with its floors lighting up as Extell Sales Director Dan Tubb describes their sizes, views and prices. It will house 92 condominiums in all.
The lowest residential tiers start on the 39th floor-a 210-room Park Hyatt hotel will occupy the lowest 27 floors-and will house units with one to four bedrooms, ranging in size from a little more than 1,000 square feet to about 3,500 square feet. In the next tier up, residences will cover half of a floor. For example, the three-bedroom, three-and-a-half-bath, 4,200-square-foot units will have ceilings more than 11 feet high and a great room with northern views of Central Park and southern views of downtown Manhattan. The prices for these start at $10.7 million.

The top-tier residences will each take up an entire floor. These will cover more than 6,200 square feet, with four bedrooms and five and a half bathrooms. The grand salon will have three distinct views; so will the master bedroom suite, which also will have a dual master bath-his and hers toilet closets. Prices for these units hover around $57 million.

While the top penthouse will have the highest view, the "high-living" bragging rights will actually belong to the owner of the lower penthouse, on floors 75 and 76. It will measure 13,500 square feet, with six bedrooms and seven and a half baths, with a fully enclosed, climate-controlled, dual-level winter garden or pool, whichever the owner prefers. The asking price: $115 million.

While prices for real estate in much of the rest of the country continue to drop, Extell has raised its asking prices. The lower penthouse, for instance, originally was listing for $110 million.

While these prices seem to soar as high as the building itself, real estate industry observers say they are reasonable when compared to the rest of the New York City luxury residential market. For instance, Sanford I. Weill, the former chairman and chief executive of Citigroup Inc., sold his penthouse at 15 Central Park West, a few blocks north of One57, last February for what was at the time a record, $88 million. One57's upper penthouse, covering nearly 11,000 square feet, sold for $2 million more, but its price per square foot was less-$8,240 versus $13,000 for the Weill penthouse.

"When you consider the dollar-per-square-foot price, it's very efficient," Tubb says. "It's lower than much of the retail market right now." And for $9,000 or $10,000 per square foot, the views are far superior, he adds. "The floor plans are resonating with buyers," Tubb says. "The price point is resonating."

When completed next year, One57 will be the sixth- or seventh-tallest building in the city, depending on whether the height of antennae or radio towers are included. (One57 will have neither.) It will eclipse the dark glass Metropolitan Tower (716 feet) and brick Carnegie Hall Tower (757 feet) across the street, as well as the domed CitySpire Center (814 feet), a block away.

Securing The View
Extell's tower is usurping some of the views of Central Park that those in the Met Tower used to enjoy. To try to prevent its buyers from suffering a similar fate, at least to the east and west, Extell purchased some air rights in those directions, says Tubb. To the east, the view includes the East River, the borough of Queens and the Citigroup Center. To the west lie the Hudson River, New Jersey and the Time Warner Center towers. The southern view includes the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building and the still-under-construction Freedom Tower. From the upper floors, the Statue of Liberty is visible as you look south. The view that One57's sales force is touting is the one that lies to the north-of the expanse of grass, trees and ponds offered by New York City's iconic Central Park. The red neon sign atop the 42-story art deco Essex House hotel on Central Park South obstructs the park view from One57's lower levels, but higher up, the high-rise's views of the park are unobstructed.