Condos on track

When the Second Avenue subway arrives, new buildings will offer easy commutes

A rendering of a new Second Avenue subway station and a luxury mixed-use project at 1562 Second Avenue
A rendering of a new Second Avenue subway station and a luxury mixed-use project at 1562 Second Avenue

For years, the promise of a Second Avenue subway line has tantalized residential developers who hungrily eyed the stretch of the Upper East Side between Third Avenue and the East River. With the first phase of the new line — which will run between 63rd and 96th streets — set to open in late 2016, a wave of new condos is being constructed to lure residents to this area.

In all, there are close to 900 condo units being developed across 19 projects on the Upper East Side between 59th and 96th streets, according to Halstead Property Development Marketing. Of those, 12 are located east of Lexington Avenue in Yorkville.

Some of the developments are new construction; others are large-scale conversions of the neighborhood’s ample rental stock.

New buildings along Second Avenue or farther east can now justify high prices because of their proximity to the subway, but there’s a lot of luxury homes coming.

Barbara van Beuren, managing director of development firm Anbau, said her company saw a void in the Manhattan condo market for units priced under $3,000 per square foot. That led them to Yorkville.

“Other people were overlooking” the neighborhood, said van Beuren, whose firm is developing a condo on East 89th Street. “Now it’s obviously a different story.”

Buyers have always been enticed by the throwback feel of Yorkville.

“This is a real Manhattan neighborhood that hasn’t been infiltrated by commercial [retailers] yet,” said developer Ben Shaoul, whose firm is converting 389 East 89th Street into condos. “There’s still a grocer, a butcher. There’s a Starbucks, of course, but [the neighborhood] is still very mom-and-pop.”

Families have long been drawn to the Upper East Side because of private schools like Dalton, Spence and Chapin, as well as popular public schools such as P.S. 6, P.S. 290 and P.S. 158.

Nevertheless, some warn that the area’s construction boom may be too much, too soon. Robin Schneiderman, director of new business development for HPDM, said multiple projects are hitting the market around the $2,500-per-square-foot price point. While developments along Second Avenue or farther east can now justify high prices because of their proximity to the subway, he noted, “That’s a lot of luxury product.”

“Yes, it’s great to have exciting new development projects on the Upper East Side,” Schneiderman said. “The question is, how will the market respond?”