Long considered the epitome of wealth and status, New York penthouses are not getting snapped up as fast as they once were in the past.

As first reported by the New York Post, many of Manhattan’s mega-rich no longer want to live the high life in Manhattan’s tallest structures, in part because skyscrapers are being built higher and higher.

“A lot of my clients find new penthouses to be too high,” Herbert Chou, of Christie’s International Real Estate, told the Post. “The perspective is actually a little better in the 28th-to-40th-floor range, depending on the neighborhood. From a penthouse, you are looking down. You are so far up that you are detached from your surroundings.”

Much of the change comes from the major height differences between modern skyscrapers and luxury towers of the past. Classic penthouses on Fifth Avenue or Park Avenue are approximately 250 feet high. The twin penthouses of the tony San Remo building, built in 1929, on Central Park West, sit at 400 feet above the park. One57, which was built in 2010 and nicknamed the “Billionaire Building” due to it popularity among the super-rich, sits at 1,004 feet. 432 Park Ave, which is the home of Alex Rodriguez and Jennifer Lopez, has 96 stories — the couple, however, chose to live on the 36th.

“I got super-nauseated when I toured the penthouse of 432 Park,” a visitor to the 95th floor of the luxury tower told the Post. “Buildings that high sway. I was freaked out by the swaying.”

Back in January, billionaire and hedge fund manager Ken Griffin made the most expensive real estate purchase in the U.S. — an extravagant New York apartment with a view of Central Park for $238 million. Griffin did not choose the top of the 65-story building but rather a 23,090-square-foot pad on the 50th to 53rd floors.

“He wanted to feel more in touch with the city,” the broker, who was familiar with the transaction, told the Post. “It’s because he had lived at the top of 820 Fifth Avenue. Nothing on Fifth Avenue is that tall and he was used to [his old] view.”

Most uber-affluent buyers feel that a modern penthouse is too high — you see only tiny specks rather than gorgeous views of the city. The perfect view of Central Park and New York streets actually comes from a mid-level apartment.

“They actually want to relate to what’s outside their windows: the trees, charming townhouses and people walking by,” Compass agent Vickey Barron told the Post.

Others, however, shy away from the “penthouse” due to its ostentatious nature. With people now expecting celebrities to live on the top floor of a mansion, privacy is also more likely to be guaranteed on a lower floor.

“It’s about values,” a bank executive who told Douglas Elliman’s Georgia Kaporis not to even say the word penthouse. “For me to even be quoted in an article about penthouses goes against my style. It’s like buying a McLaren [an extremely rare and expensive car]. It’s flashy. It’s something I am never going to do.”

As a result, real estate prices are now changing to reflect the changing interest of real estate buyers. Penthouses stand without a buyer (the price of the 432 Park Avenue penthouse had to be cut in half) while development company JDS Development recently raised the cost of the mid-tower units at 82-story building 111 West 57th — a 42nd-floor apartment is now going for $28.5 million.

“There are definitely Masters of the Universe who will always buy at the top,” said luxury broker Ian Slater of Compass. “But as you get farther from the ground, you lose more and more of the buyer pool.”

Email Veronika Bondarenko

Show Comments Hide Comments

Comments

Sign up for Inman’s Morning Headlines
What you need to know to start your day with all the latest industry developments
By submitting your email address, you agree to receive marketing emails from Inman.
Success!
Thank you for subscribing to Morning Headlines.
Back to top
The best event in real estate kicks off next week! Tickets are selling quickly.Register Now×
Limited time: Get 30 days of Inman Select for $5.SUBSCRIBE×
Log in
If you created your account with Google or Facebook
Don't have an account?
Forgot your password?
No Problem

Simply enter the email address you used to create your account and click "Reset Password". You will receive additional instructions via email.

Forgot your username? If so please contact customer support at (510) 658-9252

Password Reset Confirmation

Password Reset Instructions have been sent to

Subscribe to The Weekender
Get the week's leading headlines delivered straight to your inbox.
Top headlines from around the real estate industry. Breaking news as it happens.
15 stories covering tech, special reports, video and opinion.
Unique features from hacker profiles to portal watch and video interviews.
Unique features from hacker profiles to portal watch and video interviews.
It looks like you’re already a Select Member!
To subscribe to exclusive newsletters, visit your email preferences in the account settings.
Up-to-the-minute news and interviews in your inbox, ticket discounts for Inman events and more
1-Step CheckoutPay with a credit card
By continuing, you agree to Inman’s Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

You will be charged . Your subscription will automatically renew for on . For more details on our payment terms and how to cancel, click here.

Interested in a group subscription?
Finish setting up your subscription