Aboard the Second Avenue Subway: What’s next for the Upper East Side?

Market Report provided by Nest Seekers

Six months ago, an extended Q line was built in the Upper East Side as a means of convenient transportation to the rest of the city. This grand scheme was followed by a number of changes in the neighborhood, and these are noticed by both residents and developers.

Nikki Field, a Sotheby’s International associate broker who manages properties in the Upper East Side, pointed out the effect of the Second Avenue Subway to its surrounding neighborhood. “What was the overwhelming encumbrance of that area? It was the lack of mass transportation,” he said. “Now, properties are going to move.”

New Plans and Development Projects

The official launch of the Second Avenue Subway opened up new opportunities for developers. Land in the Upper East Side is relatively cheaper compared to other areas of Manhattan, giving them the ability to launch new building projects at lower prices.

Since the opening of the Second Avenue line, a new wave of condominiums—both affordable units as well as luxury types—is expected to rise. Inspir Manhattan, a joint development project by Maplewood Senior Living and Omega Healthcare Investors, is a 23-story, 215 unit rental tower which aims to provide housing, mostly to older adults. Construction stands at 1802 Second Avenue, near East 93rd Street, and it will house amenities measuring up to 50,000 square feet. It will also feature three restaurants, a theater, a wine cellar, and a 16th-floor atrium. It is expected to open by Spring 2019 with rents starting at $12,000 a month, inclusive of three meals a day. Greg Smith, chief executive of Maple Wood, added that while Inspir’s residents—mainly aged 75 to 85—may not use the subway often, the Second Avenue line provides easier access for visiting families.

Another project involves a 68-story mega-development with 1,100 rental units from AvalonBay Communities. This is located at Second Avenue between East 96th and 97th streets—right at the top of the subway line. This initiative, costing nearly $1 billion, will also include three public schools and park land.

Sometime this year, Icon Realty Management has also been planning to construct condominium buildings on two empty lots under its inventory in Second Avenue. The first lot is located at 301 East 81st Street and will be the foundation of a 19-story building with 32 units. The other lot, 301 East 80th Street, will be housing a 30 story-building with 72 apartments.

Besides the projects mentioned above as well as more than a dozen rentals and condos which Halstead and Brown Harris Stevens mentioned are either planned or underway, a new lineup of restaurants have been sprouting up around the neighborhood. One of them includes La Esquina, a downtown taqueria which has been open for business since spring at East 73rd and Second.

“The End of Affordability”

With the additions of a new subway and upcoming projects, real estate analysts predicted “the end of affordability” in the Upper East Side where rents are usually cheap. In a study conducted by StreetEasy, rents along Second Avenue have been climbing at a steady rate of up to a significant 27% in the last five years. It also found that the easier commute to Midtown has brought the rental prices up by more than $450 in some areas.

True to their analysis, brokers and developers found that values have been escalating in the neighborhood—especially in buildings between First and Third Avenues from East 63rd to East 96th where the extended Q line runs. And, as of June 23, the average sales price for properties along Second Avenue is summed up to $1,486 per square foot—a new record in the last five years, according to CityRealty.

The likelihood that this will continue to increase year-to-year costs is high, based on historical trends and factors like additional projects. Real estate analysts will continue to look further into the Upper East Side’s price patterns. But, for now, both current and potential residents in the Upper East Side will get to enjoy the convenience of a new subway along with the fabulous developments and sites within their area.