Ain't Nothin' Going On but the Rent: In NYC, $100 Million Apartments Are a Thing

A section of Midtown Manhattan has quickly become known as 'Billionaire's Row.'


Mar 28, 2014
Culture and education editor Liz Dwyer has written about race, parenting, and social justice for several national publications. She was previously education editor at Good.

New York City has never had a reputation for being a hotbed of affordable housing. But we don’t need a Spike Lee rant on gentrification or a mayoral candidate’s song about how the rent’s too damn high to know that a slew of $100 million residences popping up in the city is pretty senseless.

Nevertheless, a 51-story building set to be constructed in Midtown Manhattan will have a penthouse apartment “priced at considerably more than $100 million,” reports The Wall Street Journal. The 12,400-square-foot, three-story apartment will be the most expensive apartment in New York City.

The proposed building’s 520 Park Ave. address has never been affordable for Gotham’s most impoverished residents. But the area’s become known as “Billionaire’s Row” because “seven other condominium towers under construction or planned near or along 57th Street” feature similarly priced apartments.

According to data from the New York City Housing Authority, in 2013 nearly 170,000 families were on a waiting list for public housing. NYC also saw a 13 percent jump in homelessness last year. At the same time, the city is experiencing a glut of über-expensive housing. Greg Heym, an economist at Brown Harris Stevens and Halstead Property, told WSJ that there’s a “31-month supply of apartments and houses priced at more than $10 million.”

The average middle class New Yorker is being priced out of the city too. According to the Economic Policy Institute, a family of four needs to earn $93,000 to be considered middle class in NYC. But with Manhattan apartments costing nearly $4,000 per month, that income doesn’t go too far. It’s certainly not enough to afford a $100 million penthouse.

In his inaugural State of the City address, Mayor Bill de Blasio pledged to narrow the gap between New York City’s rich and the poor, including preserving or constructing “nearly 200,000 units of affordable housing.” That’s a lofty goal, but if developers keep seeing dollar signs like this, de Blasio has his work cut out for him.

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