NEW YORK - Billionaires' Row.
That's what New York real estate experts have dubbed a lineup of a half-dozen new superluxury skyscrapers overlooking Central Park that are home to some of the world's most expensive apartments.
One penthouse on the 89th and 90th floors of a skyscraper near Carnegie Hall that went for more than $100 million seems almost a bargain compared to what will appear next year in a high-rise being built on Central Park South: a 23,000-square-foot, four-story apartment offered at $250 million.
That jaw-dropping price was contained in documents the developer filed with the state attorney general's office. Floor plans show 16 bedrooms,
17 bathrooms, five balconies and a massive terrace.
The multi-million dollar question is: Who can afford to buy these places?
"These are the trophy buildings of our era, and the foreign buyer clearly fuels this very, very high-end condominium tower market," says John Burger, a broker for such properties with the Brown Harris Stevens real estate firm.
The novelty is the prestige of living in sleek, breathtaking skyscrapers with 360-degree views of New York City, thanks to advanced engineering that allows residential buildings to stay skinny while soaring to dizzying heights.
Coming in 2018 is the Central Park Tower at 111 West 57th St., which at 1,438 feet aims to become the tallest residential edifice in the western hemisphere.
The 54-story tower at 520 Park Ave. - also set for a 2018 completion - will be what its architect, Robert A.M. Stern, describes as "an elegant spear of asparagus rising out of the ground."
On the financial front, such properties often serve as a "safe haven" for investors from turbulent regions of the world with shaky economies, says Richard Jordan, vice president of global markets for Douglas Elliman, New York's largest residential real estate brokerage.
"They believe in the U.S. market, they love New York and they like privacy," Jordan says.
Other global buyers consider these properties as "the new Swiss bank account" - a discreet, private way of stashing away a fortune, says Burger.
The $250 million mansion in the Manhattan sky is the prize property in the 70-story building that is still under construction at 220 Central Park South. Monthly common charges will be more than $45,000, with annual taxes of about $675,000, the documents show.
For most New Yorkers, there's a downside to the exclusive real estate phenomenon. These properties are helping push up already record-breaking real estate prices, with a current average of $2 million for a Manhattan apartment.
The most expensive New York condo went for $100.5 million in 2014 - the penthouse in the 90-story One57 high-rise where many owners are wealthy Russians.
Those prices eclipse a previous, high-profile sale of $88 million for a penthouse just a walk away at 15 Central Park West. That was sold in 2012 to a Russian mogul by Sanford Weill, the American financier and philanthropist who had purchased the apartment four years earlier for half that. Other residents included Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein and Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez.
"That $88 million sale triggered the sense that there was this yet-to-be-harvested, nine-digit New York housing market," says Jonathan Miller, an independent appraiser. "We started to see a frenzy of $100 million listings - what I call aspirational pricing."
In addition, new high-rises are even sprouting in Queens and Brooklyn. Several real estate experts credit former billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg for pushing city rezoning laws that allowed these to be built in previously restricted areas.
Says Burger: "He positioned New York as the capital of the world."