New York City seeing a rise in super-rich mansions (not McMansions)

Curbed highlights a Gizmodo story about “McMansions” in New York City – and both get it wrong as these new homes are far beyond McMansions:

But developers may be reaching a breaking point in Manhattan, where warehouses are being bought to build $100 million single-family homes.

A handful of real estate stories this week question whether NYC is reaching peak development. First off, we have a mind-boggling report about the rise of single-family “palaces” in Manhattan. According to the New York Times, the super-rich are buying up warehouses, parking garages, and other commercial buildings to turn them into gigantic McMansion-style homes (including what will soon become the largest single-family home in the city). According to one broker, the new “benchmark” price is going to be $100 million, as opposed to the almost austere $50 million buyers expected to pay a few years ago.

It’s one thing to get rid of warehouses and garages—but another set of trend pieces alert us of a more problematic trend: The disappearance of gas stations in the city. As developers strive to find new plots of land that can be rebuilt from the ground up, they’re buying up gas stations left and right. We’ve covered at least one of these developments before, but according to the NYT and the Village Voice, it’s becoming a problem for cab drivers who can’t always find a station in time.

Note: the New York Times article cited above which starts with the story of a new 40,000 square foot home does not use the term McMansion. Calling them McMansions is just wrong; these are unusually large and expensive homes that go far beyond the typical, mass-produced, large suburban home.

More on these new homes from the New York Times:

“The town-house buyer doesn’t want a multi-unit condominium that is mass-produced,” said Wendy Maitland, a senior managing director of sales at Town Residential, who just closed a deal on a town house at 45 East 74th Street for $26 million. “This is an entirely private home, built for the lifestyle of someone who has multiple staff, a private driver. These people do not need a doorman, and they aren’t sharing amenities.”

Such buyers don’t exactly need a discount, but the value of private homes compared with condominiums is a draw anyway. “There is a gap in the marketplace — mansions are an area that is undervalued,” said Louis Buckworth, a broker at the Corcoran Group. He recently represented the British real estate magnate Christian Candy in buying a $35 million 30-foot-wide mansion for his family on the Upper East Side. (“Mansion” is typically defined as a town house at least 25 feet wide.) Mr. Candy’s new home, at 17,000 square feet, cost less than $2,100 a square foot. Meanwhile, “an 11,000-square-foot apartment at One57,” said Mr. Buckworth, referring to the glass tower in Midtown that Extell Development is building, “sold for $10,000 a square foot, making what we paid a joke.”

McMansion owners may want similar things – privacy, more space – but these homes are a step above.

Interestingly, even with their size and price, they tend to compare favorably to expensive homes in other global cities:

And for many buyers — especially foreigners who see real estate as more affordable in New York than in cities like London or Hong Kong — the numbers are eye-catching. Mr. Candy, for example, just sold a $250 million apartment in London and a $400 million home in Monaco, Mr. Buckworth said. “So as a foreigner, you say to yourself: ‘I can spend £20 million for an average-size flat in London, or get a mansion in prime Manhattan.’ And you can see why these numbers aren’t going to be particularly scary.”

So instead of pitching the story on Curbed and Gizmodo as the excesses of the American wealthy in New York City, this could be told as a story of relative value for big homes in a major global city. Same data, different contexts and narratives. Just bringing up the word McMansion implies selfish owners out to live in ostentatious homes.

0 thoughts on “New York City seeing a rise in super-rich mansions (not McMansions)

  1. Pingback: To the Miami Herald: a 23,576 square foot home is not a McMansion | Legally Sociable

  2. Pingback: Countering the suburban McMansion with the city “colossal condo” | Legally Sociable

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