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New York Magazine

Second Avenue Subway Ville

By: S. Jhoanna Robledo
Published: 3/22/2015Source: New York Magazine

Featuring Jane Beal and Jennie Ma's listing at 343 EAST 84TH STREET: A circa-1901, 20-foot-wide townhouse with five bedrooms. four baths, six working wood-burning fireplaces, a patio, and a garden. $5.995 million (or $20,000 a month to rent) - Jane Beal and Jennie Ma, The Corcoran Group.


Why living in a construction site for a few years might pay off

URBAN LEGEND NO MORE, the Second Avenue subway is looking more like a reality-the first stretch, an extension of the Q that will run from 63rd Street to 96th Street, with additional stops at 72nd and 86th, is slated to be completed in December 2016. (Once it's budgeted to run farther downtown, the T line will also be put into service, running from East Harlem to the Financial District.) The streets of the far East Side have been torn up to make way for the transit line and dozens of new developments-which has chased away some retailers and restaurateurs (like the beloved Tony's Di Napoli), while plenty of others are staking their claim (the Meatball Shop among them), lured by the prospect of a post-subway renaissance. Those late to the party, fear not: There are still deals to be had, especially if you're willing to move east of Second Avenue and make the haul to Lex for the time being.

What's Going Up

Subway construction isn't the only reason this slice of town is teeming with hard hats. Snazzy new buildings are rising and old ones are being rehabbed, as the neighborhood readies itself for the onslaught of newcomers.

CARNEGIE PARK, 200 EAST 94TH STREET: Two hundred apartments-from a studio priced at $695,000 to a three-bedroom asking $2.25 million-are being converted from rentals to condos by Related Properties. Robert A.M. Stern is overseeing the renovation of the lobby and the two amenity floors.

THE CHARLES, 1355 FIRST AVENUE:  This 32-story condo by architect Ismael Leyva hit the market in 2013, with 27 roomy apartments ranging from a 3,135-square¬foot four-bedroom to an 11,747-square-foot penthouse, and is roughly 75 percent sold.

333 EAST 91ST STREET: Construction on this 128-unit co-op, known as Azure, off Second Avenue began in 2008 and was completed in 2010, though a tragic accident – a crane collapse – marred its debut. Sales were slow at the beginning, but after a rebranding, apartments started finding buyers.

360 EAST 89TH STREET: Anbau Enterprises has commissioned SHoP Architects to design an amenity-laden-film, music, and art rooms; yoga and Pilates studios; catering kitchen; garage-34-story brick-and-glass condo. It's expected to be finished by 2017.

1558-1560 THIRD AVENUE: Downtown developer DDG heads uptown for its next venture, which, at 521 feet tall, promises to be one of the nabe's tallest buildings. It's still undergoing the permit process, but it'll be eco-friendly and rebranded as 180 East 88th Street.

1562 SECOND AVENUE: Not much intel is available yet for this project, which is still in the filing process, except what can be gleaned from Issac & Stern Architects' website, which shows the firm's plans for a 14-story limestone building.

301 EAST 61ST STREET: A walk-up was razed, and a new building designed by architect Manuel Glas is rising in its place, reportedly with 19 floors and 30 apartments. It's still awaiting approval from the state attorney general and could hit the market by the end of the year.

1059 THIRD AVENUE: Another Manuel Glas building by the same developers of 301 East 61st Street that's also pending approval. It's expected to loom large, with 30 stories and approximately 40 units.

230 EAST 63RD STREET: A six-story limestone structure with five full-floor apartments and a three-floor maisonette by boutique developer Michael Paul.

225 EAST 81ST STREET: This six-floor building, also by Michael Paul, hits the market this month, with 1, 766-square-foot three-bedrooms starting at $3.5 million and a four-bedroom maisonette asking $6 million.

205 EAST 92nd STREET: This ground-up construction, from Related Properties, on the site of what once was a playground looks to be a behemoth, with 36 stories and 230 units. Amenities include a massive gym run by Equinox and a plaza open to the public.

1681-1689 THIRD AVENUE: Extell, according to New York Yimby, is building a 23-lIoor,90-apartment building on a large parcel assembled from five smaller ones where tenements once stood.

1766-1768 SECOND AVENUE: Yet another one from Extell, this time two adjacent sites that'll host two affordable-housing projects, one rising 11 stories, the other six.

What's Going Down

Here's what we know so far about the first leg of the new Qextension line.

 Post-Mosaic Art: Some station entrances are double or triple height, allowing for large-scale, site-specific installations like one by artist Sarah Sze, who's expected to draw a lavender, blue, and violet landscape on the walls of the 96th Street concourse.

Shvitz-Free Platforms: MTA spokesperson Kevin Ortiz says platforms will be "air-tempered," meaning they'll be cooled to comfortable temps a la Grand Central station's 4, 5, and 6 platforms, the only station that currently has this feature.

Dummyproof Entrances: No need to check if you're on the correct side of the street to catch an uptown or downtown train; the hubs will have mezzanines that lead to both platforms.

Roomier Subway Stops: There'll be wider platforms and up to 13-foot-high ceilings throughout.

Other Perks: iPad-like touchscreens (which will include schedules and maps), cell-phone and Wi-Fi service, countdown clocks, and elevators and escalators at each station.

Chaos, Reward

Buy now, get a new subway later.

NOW THAT THE first phase of "the line that time forgot" is gettng real, those keeping the faith may be rewarded. To quantify that value, Jonathan Miller, president of the appraisal firm Miller Samuel, examined rentals and sales along Second Avenue (and a block east and west) since 2009, when the subway line started to seem viable. (A word about methodology: He excluded sales of new buildings, which tend to skew numbers.)

How much have prices risen so far? Real-estate values along the avenue have been, by his account, "remarkably stable" since 2011-there was a dip from 2009 to 2011, which was partly attributable to a market teeming with inventory, plus an economy still in recovery. Since then, though, there's been an ascent. From 2012 to 2013, for instance, median rents rose by 50 percent, sales prices by 27.8 percent. Even after drilling had begun in earnest and unsightly "muck houses" (so nan1ed because tl1ey stored debris) began to rise on some blocks, obstructing sidewalks, windows, and entire buildings, prices still inched upward. (In comparison, during the same period, the Upper East Side saw median rents dip by nearly 3 percent and sales prices flatline.)

So is it too late to make a move? No. Miller thinks you'll "see continued growth over the next couple of years, and it might outpace the overall market because you're getting closer to this transportation hub going in.”' For better deals and a bigger payoff, consider going east of Second Avenue. "The eastern half of the East Side has potentially more upside over the next five to ten years than the balance of the neighborhood," simply because it's currently that much more inconvenient, he explains.

But what about those recent funding rumors? As for news earlier this month that the money allotted for the rest of the T line below 63rd Street may be in jeopardy, Miller says it won't likely dissuade buyers, who would still benefit from new stations connecting them to other lines." As for renters, unless they're planning to stay for the long haul and get a good deal in the meantime, they may decide the construction headache is not worth it.