In the Shadow of the Billionaires

| 17 Feb 2015 | 12:58

New luxury apartments along Central Park stir old debates

Living near Central Park has never been for the weak of wallet.

But a gaggle of new, ultra-expensive apartment buildings opening on the south end of the park has rekindled long-simmering debates about the affordability of Manhattan and the role the park plays in the life of the city.

The buildings are astonishing in their price tags and their amenities, "a clutch of preening runway models, super-tall and skinny, the expensive playthings of Russian oligarchs and Chinese tycoons," according to The New York Times.

These babies include One57, a 90-story tower across from Carnegie Hall where two penthouses recently sold for a matching $90 million apiece. (This is the same building from which a construction crane dangled during Sandy, terrifying pedestrians and nearby apartment owners.) One block away is the Nordstrom Tower, at 1,424 feet, which is higher than the Freedom Tower without the antenna. Finally, will be the new towers at 111 West 57th Street, which pop up from the courtyard of Steinway Hall.

To hear the real estate brokers tell it, all of the buildings are distinctly special, each bringing a vital new flair to the city.

Many residents, though, have a different spin, especially the park lovers who are now learning that some of the towers will cast deep, dark shadows over the grass throughout a big chunk of the afternoon.

In 2014 New York, this is the shadow of progress.