Living In: Central Park South: A Frenetic Neighborhood with Calming Views

Living In: Central Park South: A Frenetic Neighborhood with Calming Views

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This short stretch along the park has become a “micro-neighborhood,” said Lawrence Lee, an associate broker at Triplemint real estate. “An identity has formed: It’s fun and exciting, with people on the street speaking every language imaginable,” he said.

1 CENTRAL PARK SOUTH, NO. 1508 A one-bedroom, one-bath south-facing condo overlooking a garden courtyard in the Plaza Hotel with 24-hour doormen and access to all hotel services, including maid service, listed at $2.25 million. 917-273-8613

Credit
Elias Williams for The New York Times

“It’s a wonderfully unique neighborhood,” said Renee Cafaro, the United States editor of SLiNK, a fashion magazine for plus-size women, who in 2004 moved there to an apartment leased by her family, paying rent until early this year, when she bought a two-bedroom, three-bath condo a few buildings over, at the Plaza, 1 Central Park South. “It’s safe to say it’s a multimillion-dollar apartment,” she said of her new place. “I know it’s seen as a pied-à-terre for foreign billionaires, but there are many people like me who call it home.” That sense of home applies to the entire neighborhood, said Ms. Cafaro, who is the treasurer of Community Board 5. “It’s truly, iconically, New York.”

Ron Pobuda, 77, has been a resident of 210 Central Park South for 17 years and he puts it another way: “There’s life out there,” he said. “You’ve just got to love it.” Even the clopping of carriage horses entering the park “is not a bad sound,” he said. “It gives it a country feel.” People in his co-op — doctors, lawyers, engineers and business owners — “have become friends,” he added. “We have a huge backyard and have building parties once a month. People chat. In the fall or spring, we will put a rec area on top of the building, where you can cook or have drinks.”

In 2000, Mr. Pobuda, a business owner then recently divorced, bought a two-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bath apartment with a terrace overlooking the park. A few years later, he added an adjoining studio with another terrace. Each time, Mr. Pobuda said, he paid about $1.25 million. His first renovation cost nearly $1 million; the second, half a million.

He lives within walking distance of Broadway theaters, Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center and assorted restaurants, and often ambles in Central Park. “I walk out my door, and it’s there,” he said. “This neighborhood is where I spend most of my time.”

What You’ll Find

Monuments bracket the neighborhood between Fifth Avenue and Columbus Circle. On the east, Grand Army Plaza features the Pulitzer Fountain, topped by a bronze statue of Pomona, the Roman goddess of abundance. Columbus Circle, on the west, is not technically part of the neighborhood, but it still has a big presence there, with its 70-foot granite column topped by a statue of the circle’s namesake Italian navigator.










In between is a phalanx of substantial buildings, including many that are architecturally ornate and have historic landmark status.

A new building rising at 220 Central Park South, near Columbus Circle, has drawn much attention. Some area residents, like Mr. Pobuda, believe this limestone-clad, 950-foot-tall condo will enhance the neighborhood and raise selling prices. Among those who have reportedly agreed to buy in the building is the hedge fund mogul Kenneth Griffin, said to be spending $200,000,000 for three full floors. (A spokeswoman for Vornado Realty Trust, the building’s developer, said she could not reveal sales agreements or a projected opening date.)

Other residents have reservations. Ms. Cafaro is an author of a May 2015 report by her community board’s Sunshine Task Force, which warned that super-tall buildings near the park will cast long shadows over it. “It’s not just one building, but the compilation,” she said.

A tower planned for the site of the Park Lane Hotel was canceled because of financing problems, and for the moment, the Park Lane remains a hotel. Other hotels, like the Plaza, the Ritz-Carlton and the JW Marriott Essex House, have added residences, with hotel amenities available to apartment owners. Doormen at these and other properties guard the private entrances. In 1981, Donald J. Trump purchased the Barbizon Hotel and a neighboring rental building at 100 Central Park South, with plans to replace the two structures with a mega-condo. Following a contentious battle with renters, the buildings stayed and, refurbished, are now condos called Trump Parc and Trump Parc East.

Stores on Central Park South include several high-end art galleries, a couple of spas and a FedEx store at the corner near Columbus Circle. Marea, a highly rated restaurant, is in the same building. Farther east, with a bustling sidewalk cafe, is Sarabeth’s and, inside the Plaza, the Palm Court and a food court.

106 CENTRAL PARK SOUTH, NO. 8J A studio condo with three closets, including a walk-in, an in-unit washer-dryer and south-facing windows in Trump Parc, a building with 24-hour doormen and a live-in super, listed at $685,000. 212-292-4268

Credit
Elias Williams for The New York Times

What You’ll Pay

Central Park South has name recognition around the world, said Mr. Lee of Triplemint, “and people will pay for that cachet.” Apartments without park views tend to be cheaper, he noted, but still command premiums because of the address.

On Aug. 17, 96 apartments were listed for sale on StreetEasy, ranging from a co-op studio with no view for $565,000 to a three-bedroom, four-and-a-half-bath corner condo facing the park and Fifth Avenue, for $39.5 million. The median sales price for the 12 months ending July 28 was $2.7 million, said Mitchell Clifton, an agent for Keller Williams. For the 12 months prior, it was slightly lower. “Historically, prices have been going up,” Mr. Clifton said. “But there hasn’t been much growth in the last few years.”

On the same August date, there were 45 apartments listed for rent, from a studio for $2,450 a month to the apartment listed for sale at $39.5 million, which was also listed as an $85,000-a-month rental.

The Vibe

The sidewalk scene is often frenetic, with tourists and food vendors — and sometimes odorous, thanks to the carriage horses along Central Park. Many buildings contribute to the Central Park Conservancy’s Perimeter Association, which cleans sidewalks daily. The conservancy has restored the entire south end of the park in recent years, said a conservancy spokeswoman. A 2011 study showed 3.5 million annual park visits were made from Columbus Circle, 3.2 million from the Fifth Avenue corner and 3.7 million from the three entrances in between.

The Schools

Students are zoned for Public School 111 Adolph S. Ochs, which last year had 334 students. This school, on West 53rd Street, has been phasing out middle-school grades and will have only prekindergarten through fifth grade this fall. Its 2015-2016 School Quality Snapshot showed 37 percent of students met state standards in English versus 38 percent citywide; in math, 36 percent met state standards versus 36 percent citywide. Students are also zoned for Middle School 297, a new school in Greenwich Village that will open this fall in temporary quarters on East 15th Street.

The Commute

Many workplaces are within walking distance. The N line stops full-time, and the R and W lines part-time, on Central Park South between Fifth Avenue and Avenue of the Americas and also nearby, at 57th Street and Seventh Avenue, where they are joined by the Q full-time. There is an entrance to the A, C, B, D and 1 lines on Central Park South near Columbus Circle. The F train stops at 57th Street and Avenue of the Americas.

The History

The Plaza Hotel opened in 1907, and its exterior was named a New York City Landmark in 1969. In 2005, the city added a number of the hotel’s interior spaces. Among them were the Palm Court, the Oak Room and the Terrace Room, “used for receptions and press conferences including that of Marilyn Monroe and Laurence Olivier” in 1956, the Landmarks Preservation report noted, when the stars confirmed that they would appear in “The Prince and the Showgirl” and Monroe’s dress strap broke, big news at the time.

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