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Downtown Is the New Upper East Side

Financial District, Manhattan

Downtown Trend
Feb. 9, 2018

The Upper East Side, long synonymous with New York’s wealthy elite, appears to be losing its luster. Luxury buyers are increasingly heading downtown – especially to Tribeca and the Financial District – and they’re snapping up condos instead of co-ops, marking a major shift in the city’s high-end landscape, according to a new report from Stribling’s Private Brokerage. 

As a result, Mansion Global reports, the once-coveted Upper East Side is becoming the unlikely home of bargains – with the exception of neighborhoods close to the new Second Avenue subway, which have seen a rise in values. Elsewhere uptown, the value of cooperatives has declined more than 15 percent since mid-2016 and is now looking like a relative bargain, says Kirk Henckels of Stribling’s. 

The rising desirability of condos over co-ops is also undisputed. In 2012, $5-million-plus apartment sales were 55 percent condos and 45 percent co-ops; in 2017, luxury sales were 82 percent condos and 18 percent co-ops. 

What a difference a century makes! The robber barons of the early 1900s unnerved the old-guard elite living lavishly in midtown Manhattan when they headed uptown to build grand mansions in the then-unstylish Upper East Side. Think Andrew Carnegie’s mansion (now the Cooper Hewitt Museum) and the opulent home of Henry Clay Frick (now the Frick Collection). But the tide has turned, and New York’s elite are moving on downtown. 

“The evolution of buying patterns among property type, style, and location in the first quarter of the 21st century is not unlike the paradigm shift that occurred in the first quarter of a century earlier, when the wealthy left their ornate Midtown mansions to live in more tailored Uptown apartment buildings,” Henckels writes in the report. “The humorous aspect is that in both cases, the ‘old guard’ were/are horrified.”

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