Carnegie Hill, Manhattan’s Upper East Side neighborhood named for Andrew Carnegie’s mansion comes by its elite status honestly.
No longer a private residence, the Babb, Cook & Willard-designed Georgian Revival estate built in 1899 at 2 East 91st St. now houses the Cooper-Hewitt museum, and it still anchors the area as it did when it was home to one of America’s wealthiest industrialists.
Carnegie Hill is marked on the north end at 96th Street, to the west at Fifth Avenue and Central Park, extending east to Lexington Avenue and 86th Street to the south.
The neighborhood is comprised of diverse housing stock from co-ops to single-family townhomes, and the cost of entry varies widely. “Prices range from $399,000 to $29.5 million. The average asking price for a co-op is $3.8 million, $5 million for a condo, and new developments are approximately $6,200,000 with an average price per square foot of $2,500,” said Stacey Froelich of Compass Real Estate.
Carol Staab of Douglas Elliman Real Estate added that based on her research, single-family townhouses, arguably the most coveted type of real estate in the neighborhood, vary from $6.3 million to as high as $32.5 million.
Carnegie Hill has long been a fashionable enclave and the architecture is a reflection of the trends it has followed over the years. “Beautiful townhouses, limestone mansions and elegant pre-war apartment buildings of modest height make up the housing stock in this very affluent neighborhood, where turnover is relatively low,” Ms. Staab said. “Even the few, new condominiums that are in the neighborhood mimic the rest of the classic architecture.”
“Townhouses line the side streets of Carnegie Hill and represent styles that were popular during the late 1890s, such as Neoclassical, Queen Anne, Romanesque Revival and Neo Renaissance,” Ms. Staab said.“Over time, major alterations have changed some of the details—stoops have been removed, ornamental details have been cut away and, in some cases, entire facades have been changed. However, most of the changes made are attractive, and the neighborhood retains its unique residential character.”
“Large, mid-height luxury doorman apartment buildings are where most people live,” she said. “The architectural styles are French, Italian Renaissance and post-Renaissance. The apartment buildings are mostly co-operatives known for their high ceilings and generous, elegant classic layouts with grand foyers. The most coveted apartment buildings were designed by renowned architects such, as Rosario Candela and J.E.R. Carpenter.”The entrance of 1150 Fith Avenue, a pre-war co-op building with live-in Super and 24 hour staff. Current average listing price of apartments in the building is about $6.6 million.
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What makes it unique
“The Landmarks Preservation Commission designated Carnegie Hill a Historic District in 1974, and then expanded that on Dec. 21, 1993,” to include a larger swath of the neighborhood, Ms. Froelich said. “The Carnegie Hill Neighbors Association is extremely active in preserving the neighborhood. They even have a tree-care committee and tend to the plantings and landscaping of the Park Avenue mall, which is funded by the co-op and condos in the neighborhood. This dedication keeps the neighborhood pristine, plus there are 28 individually designated landmark buildings.
"The biggest draw, of course, is having Central Park as your backyard,” she said.
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As is common with most Manhattan neighborhoods, Carnegie Hill is populated with enough restaurants, cafes, and boutiques to create a world unto itself.
“Some of my favorite places to dine are Sarabeth’s (set inside the boutique Hotel Wales) for brunch, Ristorante Morini (from chef Michael White) for the perfect pasta and, if in the mood for French, Pascalou,” recommended Ms. Froelich. All three are on Madison Avenue.
Ms. Staab offered other Madison Avenue restaurants of note, including Eli’s Essentials and Wine Bar from the iconic food market owner and Carnegie Hill resident Eli Zabar; Vico, an upscale clubhouse-style Italian restaurant; and Paola’s a sophisticated local’s favorite with outdoor seating.
Armani Junior, the French boutique Bonpoint, luxe U.K.-brand Caramel Baby & Child, and Jacadi Paris cater to the sartorial needs of the neighborhood’s youngest residents. Fashion-forward adults can be found browsing the racks at Koos from Dutch designer Koos Van Den Akker; Christopher Fischer, known for cashmere sweaters; modern womenswear at Otte; and the resort wear line at Jack Rodgers.
However, both Ms. Staab and Ms. Froelich mentioned that what truly sets Carnegie Hill apart from the other Manhattan neighborhoods is the large concentration of elite private schools.
Within the neighborhood’s 10 block radius you’ll find The Dalton School (kindergarten through 12th grade); Chapin (girls, kindergarten through 12th grade); Nightingale–Bamford (girls, kindergarten through 12th grade); Spence (girls, kindergarten through 12th grade); Brearley (girls, kindergarten through 12th grade); Convent of The Sacred Heart (girls, kindergarten through 12th grade); and Regis High School (boys, high school).
Who lives there
Ms. Staab described the professional profile as prominent leaders in various financial sectors, lawyers, and doctors.
“The majority of Carnegie Hill residents are primary home owners or pied-a-terre owners. There are fewer foreign investors, as 81%of the available inventory is co-ops,” Ms. Froelich said. Co-op boards, which have strict requirements for their owners, often don’t allow foreign buyers (and if they do, they have to pay cash), since foreign buyers don’t have the tax returns and paperwork necessary to buy into a co-op. Condos are more open to foreigner buyers generally.
“Carnegie Hill has been home to quite a few famous people,” Ms. Staab said, “such as David Rockefeller, who recently passed away. His mansion is presently on the market for $32.5 million. Carnegie Hill was home to Woody Allen who, for many years, fought tirelessly to preserve Carnegie Hill and referred to it as ‘representing New York at its most historically charming.’ Paul Newman and actress wife Joanne Woodward lived on Fifth Avenue in Carnegie Hill.”
As for current residents, Ms. Staab listed business people including JPMorgan Chase chief executive officer Jamie Dimon; hedge fund owner and philanthropist John Paulson; and the Wertheimer family, owners of the Chanel brand.
“It is an excellent time to be a buyer in Carnegie Hill. We have seen an increase in both inventory and active days on the market, which means prices are negotiable. If you are purchasing a co-op, it is important to note that the majority of boards only permit 50% financing, and the board policies tend to be more restrictive,” Ms. Froelich informed. That means foreign buyers may have a harder time getting approved.
Ms. Staab agrees that the market is favorable for buyers. “There is a good selection of inventory for larger apartments of two bedrooms or more. The inventory is tighter in the one-bedroom range. The fastest selling range is $4 million to $6 million. The slowest selling range is $10 million and above.”This four-bedroom penthouse apartmtent features panoramic view of Central Park is currently on the market for $9.45 million.
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Now’s an especially good time if you’re in the market for a co-ops in the over-$6 million range. “The resale outlook is very good because apartments are in demand due to the top schools, the charming, quiet nature of the neighborhood, and the proximity to Central Park,” Ms. Staab said.
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