Elegant Living at 400 Fifth Avenue
by mike olson
Angled windows bring abundant daylight to the spacious interiors
In an era when condominium construction tends to take the form of glass buildings aggressively rising in several months, it is a rare occurrence for any new development to become a true part of the city skyline. But every night at dusk, the illuminated crown of 400 Fifth Avenue blazes over Midtown, holding its own against New York’s most recognized buildings.
Just two blocks north of the Empire State Building, 400 Fifth Avenue has a pedigree befitting its location. Designed by the late Charles Gwathmey of Gwathmey Siegel & Associates, the same architect who dreamt up the Sculpture for Living building on Astor Place and the 1992 renovation and addition to the Guggenheim Museum, the building has a limestone façade that harmonizes with the historic structures surrounding it. Its distinctive windows, however, create a sparkling diamond effect unlike anything else on this bustling boulevard. “The way the windows are angled is very unusual,” explains Karen Mansour, executive vice president of sales and marketing for Douglas Elliman Development Marketing, which represents the building. “In the apartments, the floor-to-ceiling panoramic views are unobstructed and absolutely fabulous. We’ve had events in the penthouse and people are just mesmerized.”
Having that view in every direction proves residents are in the middle of it all, a key advantage that 400 Fifth Avenue holds over other luxury developments in the corners of the city. “The location is very central,” says Mansour. “You’re near the theater, you’re near great shopping, you’re 10 minutes away from any part of town, which makes it extremely convenient.” Still, it takes more than a short trip to Soho shopping or a Broadway matinee to lure in high-end buyers. Luckily, 400 Fifth also has the amenities.
The building’s high level of finish is obvious the moment one enters a unit: black oak flooring, solid wood doors, custom Poliform kitchens with Mont Blanc stone countertops and Haisa marble flooring, and, of course, the staggering views from those angled windows. Like 400 Fifth’s dynamic exterior, the feel is all about balance, perfectly poised between chic and comfortable, modern and warm.
Even better, the 175 condominium units on floors 31 through 60 sit above the five-star Setai Fifth Avenue, so the amenities available to hotel guests (in-room dining, housekeeping, turn-down service, an on-call babysitter, to name just a few) are on offer to residents for a small fee. Likewise, they’re just an elevator ride away from a workout at the 3,000-square-foot gym or an afternoon of leisure at the Auriga spa. And unlike other condohotels, 400 Fifth has a private lobby entrance for its residents that is attended 24 hours a day.
As demand in the luxury market continues to outpace supply, the inventory of high-end construction is dwindling, making it more and more difficult for buyers to find the right place to call home. “Right now a lot of the new development that was built a few years ago has already been absorbed,” says Mansour.
Throughout Manhattan a yearto- year comparison shows that the number of luxury apartments sold has jumped by 17 percent. Those trends are even more pronounced in 400 Fifth’s neighborhood, where the number of active listings has fallen by one third since the spring of 2009, while the number of pending sales awaiting closing has increased by 75 percent. “What the area is doing right now is very simple: There is no supply,” explains Noah Rosenblatt, founder of real estate analytics and consulting website urbandigs.com. “There’s been a progressive decline in supply over the past two years and a reflation in demand from the lows in 2009.”
With all these potential buyers unwilling to wait years for the next generation of new developments to hit the market, it’s no wonder that hunters are swarming to the condos in 400 Fifth, from one-bedrooms, priced from $1.4 to $1.6 million, to the lavish 3,590-square-foot penthouse selling for $13.5 million. Penthouse two is a 6,883-square-foot space that boasts an asking price of $27.5 million.
In New York, you get what you pay for, and buyers know they’re finding a space in an instant classic. “It’s a beautifully constructed building,” adds Mansour. “When you buy into new construction that just happens to be by a world-renowned architect in a building that is iconic to the skyline, you will appreciate great value going forward.” Indeed, even if the upper end of the market were overflowing with luxury properties, 400 Fifth would be in a class all its own, at once a modern jewel and a nod to the days of classic New York. 212-736-3500
photography by evan joseph (interior); richard berenholtz (exterior)
Cover shoot: May/June 2014 issue of Gotham magazine.