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For years, the story has been the same. New Yorkers, fed up with their cramped, expensive city, were fleeing to Los Angeles, the land of spacious yards and ample sunshine.
But now, real estate agents in NYC have noticed a remarkable trend: a surprising number of Angelenos are buying pieds-à-terre in NYC. “There’s an attraction right now. People are gravitating back to New York, knowing it’s about to be this really exciting period of time,” says Jim St. André of Compass. “It’s been shut down and things haven’t been happening at all. Now it feels like it’s going to be better than ever, and I think a lot of people want to be a part of that.” This year, says St. André, “25 percent of my clients are from L.A.” In past years, that number was closer to 10 percent.
So what’s fueling this moment? “There’s a lot of inventory even though the demand has been great. There’s almost 7,000 units to sell in New York City,” says John Gomes of Elliman’s Eklund | Gomes. Couple that with a perception that there are deals to be had (though prices have rebounded from last year’s pandemic-induced dip); NYC’s strong tech industry; low interest rates; and millennials’ fascination with the city that never sleeps. It’s the stuff that bicoastal dreams are made of.
There is also the convenience of a walkable city. “The vibe is so happy,” says Million Dollar Listing NY‘s Amy Herman Schechter of real estate firm Serhant. “If I were to take a video right now — I’m standing outside one of the sweet Italian cafes on the Upper East Side and there’s a great feeling, every table is taken, people are in their summer dresses.” Herman Schechter now has five SoCal clients buying in New York, generally in the $2 million to $10 million range.
Many Angelenos are drawn to new developments like 17 Jane Street in the West Village, a historic 1910 hand-laid Belgium brick garage recently converted into seven boutique condos designed by the celebrated architect Sir David Chipperfield. According to CityRealty.com, Jennifer Lawrence purchased a $21.9 million condo in the building in 2020.
In Chelsea, Angelenos are buying at sleek 21-story condo/rental hybrid The Maverick, which boasts SoCal-friendly amenities like a spiritual concierge.
Uptown in Morningside Heights, Vandewater, a new 33-story residential condo (with prices ranging from $900,000 to $5.8 million), is drawing Angelenos with its 24,000 square feet of programmed space. Especially enticing are the private gardens elegantly designed by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates.
“In one case, one of the parents does business in New York so this will become the New York pied-a-terre,” says Peter Denby, the sales director of the Vandewater. “In another case, they will use it for when they visit and then in the third case the family bought a one-bedroom for their child to live in while they go to school.”
Currently on the market in Tribeca is a 10-room, 4,500-square-foot condo located inside 443 Greenwich Street, an 1882 building known as a celebrity favorite, where residents have included Jake Gyllenhaal, Meg Ryan, Harry Styles, Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel. It’s listed with Douglas Elliman for $13.995 million.
Schechter adds that she also is seeing clients who are trading up to bigger places in the last year. “[People are saying], ‘Our places feel a little small now that we’re commuting and flying back and forth again. We want to get something that actually feels more like a house,’ says Schechter. “Coronavirus has definitely pushed people to need more space, especially if they purchased a dog. I have a lot of bicoastal people who have pets and they want like a bigger space for their pet.” Among those upgrading are Free Guy director Shawn Levy, who recently spent $13 million on a two-level, 6,280-square-foot penthouse in Tribeca that’s nearly double the size of his previous NYC pad.
One television producer, who asked that his name not be used, tells THR that he also recently bought a larger place in the city, after getting his first pied-à-terre in New York in 2017. “I think in general people in L.A. who are in Hollywood are looking for second places and New York is definitely on the list,” he says. “It’s almost like a cultural recharge. When you’re making these shows and these movies, you’re always trying to mimic some version of real-life and I think it’s easier to do it in New York than in Los Angeles, where, especially if you are working in the business, you are kind of in a bubble. In New York, you find other groups.”
But no matter how many Angelenos buy in New York, it will still take time to make up for the estimated 216,000 people who left the city because of the pandemic. But if trends are an indication, the Big Apple is on its way to a big bounce-back. As Gomes notes, “How could you ever write off New York City?”
It seems Angelenos agree.
A version of this story first appeared in the Aug. 18 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.
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