Koop’s Recession Diary: A Day in Manhattan

They say, “We’re in a recession!” Well, it all depends on who “We” is.

Jan. 28, 2008 – New York City (apj.us) – Only one mile north of Central Park sits the least expensive 2-bedroom, 1-bathroom apartment on Manhattan Island. It is located on modish Madison Avenue at 131st Street, only 21 blocks – just a 15-minute walk " from 110th Street, the northernmost boundary of Central Park.

This apartment is in trendy Harlem, and at $225,000 it’s a steal compared to what's around it. In the same building there is a 2-bedroom 2-bathroom apartment. The extra bathroom? – well, it costs $45,000 extra! That’s too much. The maintenance for the cheaper apartment is only $538.00 each month and is priced at about $321.00 a square foot.

Let's take a look around the "neighborhood" anywhere within a few miles south – as we don't want to get more than one mile from Central Park or we would no longer be “chic.” By the way – these less expensive apartments in Harlem are also only a couple of blocks from Marcus Garvey Park – so you get to walk past two parks for the price of one on your way to shopping!

Remember, the apartment at Madison and 131st is only 3.5 miles from Bergdorf Goodman, arguably the most expensive department store in the United States. You could walk there leisurely in less than an hour, and I bet you will.

First, we will survey apartments that are one mile South of Central Park. That puts us at about 39th Street – not such a fashionable area. There is one apartment right on that street available now – on the less-desirable West Side – and it’s priced at $1.4 million dollars, or $1,058 per square foot. Now, this apartment has only one bedroom – albeit twice the size of our Harlem getaway. But it is also way west of Central Park, which makes it actually somewhat less desirable.

So why is it so darn expensive?

Ah – well it is bigger – but that would only make it $450,000 if priced like the Madison Avenue place in Harlem. Yes, but it is also an "Architecturally Designed One-of-a-Kind LOFT in the Fashion District!" Well, it is a little "sharper," but certainly no architectural marvel. It has big windows – but they face the wrong way, into a parking lot – and it's off Ninth Avenue, not exactly the safest area in New York City. In fact, it’s located just about dead center at all the entrances to and exits from the Lincoln Tunnel! That makes it great for a quick escapes to New Jersey at 2 AM, but rough on the lungs and the ears in rush hour. And hey! I thought Seventh Avenue was the fashion district! I guess it has expanded. This apartment is very close to the Comfort Inn however – which should be, well, a comfort.

Okay. So now we've set our North-South boundaries – and West, as well. The apartments in Harlem and the south are only five miles apart. Let's now look what we can find right in the middle.

Uh-oh. That brings us to 78th Street – pretty expensive either east or west of Central Park, which sits smack in the middle of 78th Street between 5th Avenue and Central Park West (which becomes Eighth Avenue below Central Park, Frederick Douglass Boulevard above).

Let's go east first.

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