Sky high living

After 9/11, it seemed impossible that New York's hottest address would ever be in two towers. But as Graham Norwood reports, pop stars and princes are queuing up to buy
Click to follow
The Independent Online

When construction work began on Manhattan's tallest residential tower blocks in August 2001 the idea of living 80 floors up seemed a winner. A month later, after the World Trade Center tragedy just a mile away, most observers thought the idea was dead in the water. But far from it... just ask the people who have subsequently paid tens of millions of dollars to live 750ft in the sky at what has become one of New York's most prestigious addresses.

When construction work began on Manhattan's tallest residential tower blocks in August 2001 the idea of living 80 floors up seemed a winner. A month later, after the World Trade Center tragedy just a mile away, most observers thought the idea was dead in the water. But far from it... just ask the people who have subsequently paid tens of millions of dollars to live 750ft in the sky at what has become one of New York's most prestigious addresses.

One Central Park is in fact two tower blocks soaring up from the AOL Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle, a hitherto down-at-heel corner of Manhattan at the south-west tip of the park. But if you enter an apartment near the top, do not expect to notice the beech floors or marble units because you simply won't get past the floor to ceiling windows and their views.

Apartments located at the front of the towers look down on the park in all its glory - you can pick out the winter skating rink and Strawberry Fields memorials as specks below - while the glamour of Fifth Avenue and that famous skyline dominate the middle-distance. Apartments at the rear face the Hudson, overlooking the Lincoln Tunnel and the Port with the low rise urban chic of Chelsea and Greenwich Village away in the distance.

At the bottom of the towers are AOL Time Warner's global HQ and the New York studios of CNN, cheek-by-jowl with a 251-room, five star, Mandarin Oriental Hotel, a striking glass fronted jazz hall and one of Manhattan's largest malls with 350,000sq ft of appropriately upmarket shops. From floor 51 upwards both towers are given over to private apartments. Modest sized units with up to 1,000sq ft of living space each go up to floor 60 and are then topped by larger apartments with 3,300sq ft and boasting 30ft glass frontages to emphasise those views. From the 76th floors upwards are the penthouses, each occupying a full storey and giving more than 6,000sq ft of floorspace and a 360-degree panoramic vista.

If you can tear yourself away from the windows you will find kitchen fittings from Miele, Thessi and Franke, bathrooms with Italian walnut vanity units and hand-cut marble floor tiles, and internal lifts in each duplex in case the 15 hardwood steps to the upstairs prove too much. As with many top-end apartments you can remotely programme your heating, curtains and audio systems and there is a video entryphone.

Visitors are accompanied and extra security is provided through an innovative thumb-print scanner on communal doors and in the main lifts that ascend more than 700ft in an ear-poppingly short time.

All this has reassured doubters following 9/11; with the towers almost complete, more than 80 per cent of units have been bought. Bankers and global chief executives dominate the buyer list but pop star Ricky Martin has a four bedroom flat on the 65th floor (it cost a cool $6.7m, or £3.5m) while Saudi Royal Prince Turki bin Khalid has five bedrooms on the 69th for $8.1m. London bond trader Michael Spencer is the highest-living Brit in the building - he paid $8.7m for a three bedroom flat on the 73rd storey.

A penthouse was bought a year ago by a Wall Street financier for $42m, then a record for New York real estate but already outpaced by a Fifth Avenue flat now on sale for $60m-plus.

The properties that remain unsold range from $3.925m for a two-bedroom apartment to an eye-watering $30m for a penthouse. But beware - the cost does not stop when you take possession. Service charges run to more than $10,000 a month for the largest units.

For that you get the security, your own laundry room, 24-hour room service from the hotel below, fast-track booking for some of New York's finest restaurants, and membership of the One Central Park Club. This is mid-way up the building and includes a private cinema, a fitness centre, children's playroom and a landscaped outside terrace for private parties. Owners also receive what the publicity bumpf calls "a gloved concierge service" - and we're talking white linen here, not Marigold's.

"We're setting the standard for a contemporary aesthetic. Until now if you've wanted a luxurious place to live with outstanding services in Manhattan you've had to choose an older building that was classic but not new. Now we're offering the same standards in a much more contemporary, clean modern property" according to David Wine, the chairman of Related Companies, the developer that built One Central Park.

The sales pitch on the 70th floor marketing suite plays on the new-becomes-classic theme too. "What we're doing is European in many ways. Related is spending $30m on turning the Columbus Circle area into a proper grassed roundabout with sculptures and epic monuments like you see in London. And the view for a mile or more down 59th Street is like the Champs-Elysees - it goes on forever" suggests sales director Stacey Greenfield.

Actually, it isn't like Europe at all. It's quintessentially New York and no less awe-inspiring for that. Look from the front of those tall apartments and the view is all Sex And The City, with skyscrapers, a buzzing park during the day, and an endless stream of yellow cabs. Look from the back and it's like The Sopranos with the river, the port, and the urban heart of one of the world's great cities.

All of which proves that Manhattan is on the way up again, three years on from September 11. And it doesn't go up much further than One Central Park.

www.onecentralpark.com; properties are on sale in the UK through Knight Frank, 020-7629 8171

Comments