Facing poor sales, the partners behind Jean Nouvel’s 53W53 seek additional price chops

February 14, 2019

Rendering by Hayes Davidson

The partners behind the Jean Nouvel-designed tower at 53 West 53rd Street (also known as the MoMA Tower) will be serving even more price chops to the ultra-luxury project in the midst of lackluster sales, though they disagree on how much that should be. As Crain’s reported, Hines, Goldman Sachs, and Singapore’s Pontiac Land Group recently underwent an arbitration process to settle the matter, with Hines seeking aggressive discounts. The 1,050-foot condo building has already received $167 million in price cuts since hitting the market almost four years ago with a projection of $2.14 billion in sales. About 15 percent of the 145 units at 53W53 are under contract currently, with closings set to begin in the spring, a spokeswoman for the project said.

The poor sales in an oversaturated market reflect CityRealty’s 2018 year-end market report, which revealed a notable drop in transaction volume and a decline in condo sale prices throughout Manhattan’s real estate market. There are now so many competing high-end projects—520 Park Avenue, Central Park Tower, and One57 among them—that buyers don’t feel a sense of urgency. “Developments that came at the height of the market are now yielding to a softening market and it’s an understood dynamic among builders that they’re going to have to cut their pricing in order to sell,” said Douglas Elliman broker Frances Katzen to Crain’s.

Some have also cited specific issues with 53W53’s design which might be contributing to stalled sales. The structural diagrid on the facade cuts through windows and interferes with the sweeping Manhattan views. As 6sqft previously reported, this also poses a host of pragmatic issues since the windows are rendered inoperable, requiring a special ventilation system and custom window shades.

“In a market where views and light are highly rewarded, you don’t want to interrupt sight lines for any reason,” Donna Olshan, president of the residential brokerage firm Olshan Realty, said to Crain’s. “I commend the developer for wanting to build something so artistic, but I’m not so sure of its market viability.”

The tower, located next door to the Museum of Modern Art, will include one of the museum’s galleries in its base as part of the museum’s expansion, which is set to be completed by October.

[Via Crain’s]



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