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Talk to anyone who lives on Central Park North in South Harlem and they’ll crow about their views, unattainable from any other vantage point in the city. Residents of the boulevard (also known as West 110th St.) enjoy sweeping panoramas of the park and the Manhattan skyline.
“You don’t get that iconic view from Central Park South or Fifth Avenue,” said broker and star of Bravo’s “Million Dollar Listing” Ryan Serhant, who is marketing the street’s newest luxury condominium at 145 Central Park North, which launched sales last month. “It’s something you need to see to believe.”
Joining only a handful of other luxury buildings on the park’s three-block northern perimeter, 145 Central Park North was developed by GRID Group on the former site of a shuttered one-story church.
Taking advantage of a uniquely wide and shallow lot — 70 feet deep with 100 feet of Central Park frontage — the team created a 13-story, bronze-clad, glass curtain wall façade that gives every residence a park view via floor-to-ceiling windows.
For nearly a century, Central Park North was ignored by NYC’s biggest developers, dismissed as being “too far north” to attract truly wealthy buyers.
Today, the thoroughfares to its east, west and south are home to the tallest and many of the most expensive developments in the US. The best sky palaces and white-glove co-ops on Fifth Avenue, Central Park West and Central Park South command prices exceeding $10,000 per square foot. Just across the park, 220 Central Park South set a national sales record when Citadel’s Ken Griffin dropped $238 million on a single residence.
But even the top luxury developments along Central Park North garner between just $1,500 and $2,200 per-square-foot, according to StreetEasy data.
Yiannes Einhorn, principal at GRID Group, the developer of 145 Central Park North — where one- to four-bedroom units start at $1.25 million and top out at $4.75 million for a four-bedroom, three-bath penthouse with a private rooftop and hot tub — hopes to raise the status of the last affordable Central Park-facing street in the city.
“We could feel more activity coming to Harlem,” said Einhorn. “There’s a pulse.”
But this isn’t the first time a real estate player has tried to signal change here.
In 2007, 111 Central Park North — a 19-story, 85-unit blue glass luxury tower — went up on the corner of Lenox Avenue. It was the first new development on Central Park North in nearly 20 years. The surprising structure caught Bruce Tilley’s eye.
He and his husband Luis Mora, 63, had moved to Harlem from Chelsea in 2000 where they bought a brownstone on Hamilton Terrace and 144th Street for $750,000 and put roughly the same amount into a gut renovation. Their idyllic single-block lane just north of St. Nicholas Park is known for its lovingly preserved brownstones, but the prospect of an apartment directly on Central Park was irresistible.
“We could feel more activity coming to Harlem. There’s a pulse.”
Yiannes Einhorn, principal at GRID Group
“I could only imagine what those views would be like,” said Tilley, 66, a newly retired furniture store owner, who now rents a two-bedroom, 2½-bath, 1,400-square-foot apartment with a terrace for $7,500 in the building.
He tipped off longtime friend Kriena Nederveen, a fashion stylist, who was hunting for an apartment. A former denizen of the Upper West Side, Nederveen said that initially the prospect of living in Harlem seemed insane.
“I’m not moving there with my kids, are you crazy?” Nederveen recalled thinking, conjuring “memories of cops and drug dealers” from the 1990s. “[But] the city’s changed tremendously,” she relented.
She was among the first to buy at 111 Central Park North, scooping up two units on the 12th floor for about $4.5 million in 2007. She later downsized to a three-bedroom, three-bath, 2,000-square-foot residence in the building that’s currently on the market for $2.89 million with Louise Stocker of Douglas Elliman.
“There are tons of families here,” said Nederveen. “Our activities transitioned as my kids aged. First, it was skating gatherings and hot chocolate in the park — and I could see them from my window. Now, it’s the neighborhood’s new coffee shops.”
Besides 111 and 145 Central Park North, only two other luxury developments have risen in recent history on the northern perimeter: Robert A.M. Stern’s One Museum Mile — which opened at 1280 Fifth Ave. on Duke Ellington Circle at the northeast corner of the park in 2012 — and Circa Central Park, a modern curvilinear tower on Frederick Douglass Circle built in 2017.
The remainder of the street’s residential buildings are five- to nine-story pre-war rentals, co-ops and condos with brick or stone facades, some of which have been renovated in recent years. When these buildings first went up after the turn of the century, the street was known as the “Golden Edge,” enjoying the glow of the Harlem Renaissance when doctors and show-business types lived there.
But today, viewed from street level rather than a penthouse window, Central Park North is hardly “glowing.” There’s a mix of low-end retail and commercial buildings. There’s homelessness and fetid mounds of garbage — and all the more so in the months since the onset of the pandemic.
Steven Goldschmidt, SVP of Warburg Realty, who lives a couple blocks west on 110th Street in Morningside Heights, said that for years, developers have used “smoke and mirrors” tactics in hopes of rebranding the street. Circa was said to be on the Upper West Side. One Museum Mile was “Upper” Carnegie Hill. There was also the ill-conceived “SoHa” portmanteau agents used for South Harlem, which immediately received pushback from community leaders.
“Yes — it’s Central Park, but this is Harlem,” said Curtis Archer, president of the Harlem Community Development Corporation, a state agency founded in 1995 to lead a variety of neighborhood revitalization projects, including the forthcoming Victoria Theater redevelopment, a multi-use complex slated for completion next year that will include mixed-income rental apartments on 125th Street next to the Apollo Theater.
The HCDC is playing a role in the future development of Central Park North, as well. The agency owns the land between Lenox and Fifth avenues where the Lincoln Correctional Facility — a longtime blight on the street that shuttered just last year — currently fronts the park. The site will most likely be redeveloped into a residential or multi-use building with an affordable housing component, in contrast to the market-rate new developments that have gone up over the last two decades.
Another boon to the blossoming area is the Central Park Conservancy’s $150 million revitalization project on the northern section of the park, which will replace the aging Lasker Rink with a new ice-skating and swimming pool facility and seamlessly integrate the landscaping of the Harlem Meer with the scenic Ravine to the south. Currently in the design phase, the project is slated for completion in 2024.
The area is also transportation spoiled with the 2, 3 subway lines at the foot of 111 Central Park North and the A, B, C lines at Frederick Douglass Boulevard. As such, it’s become a magnet for families who enjoy close proximity to the prestigious private schools along the Upper East and Upper West sides.
The ingredients for a truly upscale street are all there, but Central Park North’s unique and enduring challenges mean that developers won’t be building supertowers here anytime soon. Even with a few glittering new buildings, it’s still a buyer’s market on the north side of the park.
“Society moves and mixes,” said Tilley. “Harlem is a great repository of open-minded individuals. That’s what makes it special, this unique blend of people.”
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