In affluent metropolises across the globe, the term ‘Billionaires’ Row’ is one that gets substantial airtime, usually in reference to a street or thoroughfare on which lofty, palatial abodes of the 1 percent are erected. In New York City, the term describes a growing number of Manhattan highrises, collectively constituting the most expensive real estate in America — possibly on the planet.
StreetEasy (a leading New York online realty marketplace) calls it “an enclave around 57th Street [that has] become a symbol of the city’s increasingly stupendous riches”, but the Row has morphed over the years into a loose conglomeration of ultra-luxe skyscrapers, walkable distance to Central Park and Fifth Avenue. It’s a common misconception that the boundaries are demarcated on 57th Street. More sprawl as opposed to continuous stretch, realtors generally think of it as a loose affiliation of eight towers, crisscrossing between 57th Street, 59th Street and 8th Avenue.
Despite low physical occupancies, most of the eight towers that make up the proverbial Row have benefited from stratospheric buying power. Just this July, British rocker Sting reportedly traded in his Manhattan duplex for a US$65.7 million penthouse at 220 Central Park South — the development on the Row with the best proximity to Central Park. Details regarding most of the Robert A.M. Stern-designed tower’s listings are extremely sparse, though according to Architectural Digest, Sting’s recent acquisition features three bedrooms, five and a half baths and panoramic views of the surrounding parkland. The sale comes mere months after realtors managed to make a deal with billionaire fund manager Ken Griffin, for a US$238 million penthouse that’s now regarded as the most expensive home in America.
Of the Row’s eight towers, three are concentrated at the western end of 57th Street — surrounded by NYC landmarks such as Carnegie Hall and the Russian Tea Room. Assuming you’re descending from Central Park, your next encounter with the Row is likely to involve a development at 111 W 57th St — more commonly known as Steinway Tower. Situated atop the site that was once Steinway Hall, this 1,428-foot monolith will bear the distinction of being the ‘world’s skinniest skyscraper’ once construction wraps in 2020. Inside, the vast majority of the development’s 60 condos are comprised of full floor residences — including 20,000 square feet of amenities and a residents’ lounge complete with Steinway grand piano.
Down the block from Steinway Tower you’ll find One 57 — a 90-storey high-rise that completed construction in 2013. Nicknamed the ‘Billionaire Building’, One 57 was among the first skyscrapers to catalyse development of the Row, and its residents list has the credentials to back this. Within a year of opening, Dell Technologies CEO Michael Dell had set up shop in one of the building’s US$100 million penthouses, before being joined by other members of the 10-figure club such as hedge fund guru Bill Ackman and Shanghainese billionaire investor Liu Yiqian. Competition, however, is quite literally on the doorstep: with One 57 located just a stone’s throw from 225 W 57th St — site of Extell Development’s new Central Park Tower. Upon its completion in 2020, the series of luxury condos will include a 7-floor outpost of American luxury retailer Nordstrom and is slated to usurp the title of ‘world’s tallest residential building’.
If you taxi a few blocks south toward 53rd Street, you’ll happen across 53 W 53rd St — the southernmost facing of the Row’s gleaming high-rises. Scheduled to reach completion at the end of 2019, numerous offers for the building’s 145 units have already been made — including, reportedly, the sale of one of the development’s US$33.5 million penthouses. The location does seem at first isolated from the majority of the action on the Row, though 53 W 53rd Street’s trump card is its excellent proximity to New York’s premiere cultural institutions — MoMA and Rockefeller Centre, to name a handful.
If you fancy a brisk jog, head northeast towards Park Avenue, home to two covetable addresses. Even a country mile away, the “basket grid” silhouette of 432 Park Avenue hovers into view. The property was previously crowned the ‘world’s tallest residential building’, before being dislodged by the still-under-construction Central Park Tower.
In the course of wandering further north, you’ll be confronted by 220 Central Park South — yet another Neoclassicist marvel designed by Robert A.M. Stern Architects. Resplendent in limestone cladding, the building exterior evokes Stern’s other work throughout Manhattan, and is the only Row highrise to occupy a spot in the Upper East Side — home of the Met and Guggenheim museums, and The Carlyle by Rosewood. According to Luxury Listings NYC, 520 Park Avenue offers “perhaps the highest ratio of amenity-to-unit space of any building in the city”, encompassing a range of recreational facilities suitable for both families and individuals.
To close out your journey, heeds the words of William Douglas and go east. A three-block stroll will put you within spitting distance of 252 E 57 Street, the shortest and most decentralised of the Billionaires’ Row towers. Completed in 2017, this impressive 712-foot-tall tower channels the seamless, arboreal form of Alvar Aalto’s ‘Savoy Vase’. Interiors are suffused with a similarly splashy quality, courtesy of celebrity designer Daniel Romauldez, who is best known for working with a range of private clients including Mick Jagger and Tory Burch.