By Daniel J. Bollinger

As one of the oldest neighborhoods in the city, the Lower East Side has long been a working-class neighborhood with an ethnically diverse makeup, rich with New York City history. The area stretches east from the Bowery to East River Park; it is bordered on the north by Houston Street and on the south by Canal Street and East Broadway. In its past, the Lower East Side has been an immigrant neighborhood with Irish, Italian, German and Polish settling here. While it became a center of Jewish immigrant culture in the late 19th and early 20th century, today it is prominently comprised of people of Puerto Rican and Dominican descent. With the plethora of development going on, the Lower East Side is poised to become even more of a melting pot. To give scope to the amount of growth in the LES, there is a new development on every block on Houston Street from the Bowery East. The bulk of new development is comprised of four projects: 196 Orchard, 287 East Houston, 242 Broome, and 150 Rivington, bringing 222 units to market in these four developments alone.

At the recent event, “LES is MORE” gathering, the sponsors of these four developments gave us a vibrant discussion on the changing landscape of the Lower East Side post-election. Moderator Leonard Steinberg(President of Compass) along with panelists Benjamin Shaoul (Magnum Real Estate Group), Charles Bendit (Taconic Investment Partners LLC), Arthur Stern (Cogswell Lee Development), Andres Hogg (Hogg Holdings), and José Antonio Grabowsky (Vinci Partners USA) discussed how the LES is ripe for living and investments today. Here are some highlights of the conference and the new developments:

On the topic of the seller’s vs. buyer’s market today, Ben Shaoul explained, “Make deals today: I see the supply dissipating and it becoming a seller’s market as opposed to a buyer’s market.” Ben also feels confident that if you buy today, your investment will increase in value by the time these units come to market because of the increasing trend of limited housing supply coupled with inflation, as he stated. “If you watch inflation over the next three to five years, the value of that apartment will appreciate automatically, and buyers will make money on their purchase.”

Leonard Steinberg echoed Ben’s statements, saying, “The threat of rising interest rates is the one thing that fuels a sense of urgency because when you know rates are about to rise, that really can get you off your chair to make a (purchasing) decision.” These points should be taken into account when considering recent interest rate trends, which just had their largest jump post-election in a few years.

Andres Hogg brought attention to the developers’ efforts to honor the LES’s past when he said, “Developers are respecting the authenticity of the neighborhood. The architects are making sure they keep the authenticity and a design that fits in with old, traditional buildings.” This is also seen in the facades of these buildings, which possess a touch of “old” while certainly exhibiting modern characteristics.

Charles Bendit included his input about the Lower East Side when he said, “People are moving back into the city, especially the empty nesters. The LES has character—it is cool, hip and close to all other “hip” neighborhoods. The LES is the center, and it ties all these other communities together.” His thoughts on location are proven by the LES’s borders with SoHo, NoHo, Chinatown, and the East Village, along with Chelsea and Tribeca just a short walk away.

Arthur Stern commented on one of the most relevant factors, the price points, in addition to the neighborhood, “The neighborhood is authentic, there’s grittiness, and it has a history. It is one of the last areas of old NY. There is more bang for your buck here with these price points.” He does make an excellent point about the prices—with the $1-$3 million range in NYC having the most velocity in today’s real estate market, all four of these developments are right in this sweet spot.

José Antonio Grabowsky commented on the culture and transportation in the area. “The FDR and all trains run through the LES. It is a walk/bike to Chelsea, and all the restaurants, hotels, and museums trend very positively for the neighborhood.” Grabowsky also mentioned that there is not much living inventory in the LES—most upcoming are in these four developments. Speaking of local top restaurants and eateries near the developments, the world-famous Katz’s Delicatessen is located right next to 196 Orchard.

The LES is shaping up to be one of the best-priced neighborhoods to invest in. It is already one of the best places to reside for all the reasons above. There is always something going on in the LES, it’s close to other great neighborhoods, public transportation galore, it still has that old NYC charm with artistic grittiness, and price points in these developments lie within the $1-$3 million sweet spot range. Here, highlights of each development:

196 Orchard/Uptown Elegance with a Downtown Feel

Developer/Sponsor: Ben Shaoul of Magnum Real Estate Group
Architect: Ismael Levya Architects
94 units comprised of studios to 4 bedrooms
Non-traditionally stacked units; there is a 1BR on a penthouse floor
44 different floor plans of varying layouts including gallery styles
Open layouts with oversized windows
All exposures have protected views
Spanish handmade, gilded bronze with brick façade
Design Detail: Bathrooms have deep niches below walnut cabinetry and mirrored medicine cabinets
One penthouse has all four exposures with a private terrace

287 East Houston/Space for Living

Developer: Jose Grabowsky and Andres Hogg
Architect: AA Studios; Jeffery Cole, Executive Architect
28 Units from 1 to 3 Bedrooms, triplex penthouse, two duplex maisonettes
Kitchen: All Miele kitchen with an open layout in a gray & white palette. Very cozy & very functional kitchen design
Master Bath: Minimally elegant. One slab gray marble wall. Large medicine cabinet and rain shower head

242 Broome/Calm, Comfortable Luxury

Developer: Taconic Investment Partners, LLC
Architect: SHoP
Sponsor: Delancey Street Associates
55 Units from 1 to 3 bedrooms
Open layouts with oversized windows
Gracious layouts for LES
All Gaggenau Kitchen package
Warm light brown integrated kitchen cabinets
Beautiful master bath with great niche factor
Amenities: Gym, entertainment lounge with kitchen

150 Rivington/Balanced Design

Developer: Arthur Stern, CEO of Cogswell Lee Development
Architect: GLUCK+ Architects
Sponsor: Cogswell Realty
45 units of 1 to 3 Bedrooms
Open layouts with floor to ceiling windows
Design Highlight: Three sectional sliding glass door adjacent from
living room for more private or more open living
Kitchen: Very ‘balanced’ as well with integrated cabinetry, deep Kraus kitchen sink, and a lovely island with an open layout
Bathroom: Beautifully ‘balanced’ with great matching niche factor in the wet room and above toilet. Unique gray tiles with large mirrored medicine cabinets with wood trim that matches vanity

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