New York Post

The Golden West

By: Braden Keil and Hannele Rubin
Published: 10/13/2002Source: New York Post

Bye bye, Barbra Streisand. Hello Ricky Martin.

Although Babs is hightailing it out of the Upper West Side this year, selling her Central Park West nest, plenty of rich and famous folks are piling in. For the first time, the less pretentious Upper West Side - home to Jerry Seinfeld, Madonna and Howard Stern - has edged out the traditional front-running "gold coast" Upper East Side - home to Richard Gere, Liza Minnelli and Derek Jeter - as the city's priciest neighborhood. The average price of an Upper West Side condo with three or more bedrooms was $3.7 million in the second quarter of 2002, compared to $2.7 million on the other side of the park, according to a survey released last week by The Corcoran Group, the city's largest residential brokerage. The Upper West Side's status upgrade is mostly thanks to one of the world's most expensive condominium buildings - the Ritz-Carlton conversion at 50 Central Park South and Sixth Avenue. The former St. Moritz hotel now boasts 11 luxury lairs on the top 12 floors of a new 35-story hotel. Prices there started at $17 million and went up to an estimated $65 million for a multi-unit palace on the park. "From a residential-building standpoint, it has the highest average price in the world," said Insignia Douglas Elliman's Dolly Lenz.

At least eight of the units have been snatched up since they went on the market early this year. Among the buyers: Larry Ellison, the CEO of software giant Oracle, who paid $19 million for a 5,000-square-foot condo with a 689-square-foot rooftop deck; and Jones New York founder Sidney Kimmel, who shelled out $23.5 million for his place on the 27th floor with a 1,374-square-foot terrace. Many of the apartments include beamed ceilings and terraces overlooking Central Park, and all have Ritz-Carlton hotel services, including room service. Also upping the Upper West's average were sales at the new Park Laurel condos at 15 W. 63rd St., where some pads fetched as much as $10 million. The West Side is expected to keep some of its momentum with the over-the-top contracts being signed at the AOL Time Warner building, now under construction at One Central Park. Latin pop god Ricky Martin has signed up to be one of the new residents. But proud West Siders may want to savor their victory now, as it may not last. With several new luxury developments - including the long-awaited mixed-use high rise on the site of the former Alexander's department store at 731 Lexington Ave. - hitting the market on the East Side, the price pendulum is sure to swing back eastward very shortly. "The East Side happens to be quiet for the moment," said Corcoran president Pamela Liebman. "But that's about to change."