Spotlight: Battery Park City - Metro US

Spotlight: Battery Park City

Because of its sleepiness and isolation, Battery Park City is often referred to as a suburb within Manhattan; it’s also probably the cleanest, greenest and most serene neighborhood in the city. This patch of land, bound by the Hudson River and West Street, was created 30 years ago from landfill and excavated material from the construction of the original World Trade Center. Recently, many new additions to the area have added to its quality of life, like PS 276 (the first green school built in NYC), and the new 43-story headquarters for Goldman Sachs — who donated millions to BPC’s new community center and library. However, Battery Park is also one of the only areas where the volume of sales has continued to plummet at a time when most of the city is starting to rebound.

Buyers can’t get financing

All of the buildings in BPC are on land leases, owned and managed by the Battery Park City Authority. This is a situation where the land underneath a building is leased rather than sold to the builder, and ultimately the apartment owner. Many leases are set to expire in 2011, and there are fears that renegotiations will result in huge spikes in common charges and taxes for residents. As a result, Fannie Mae has stopped buying mortgages for these buildings until the situation is resolved, making it nearly impossible for buyers to get financing, and leaving owners with unsaleable apartments. Rolan Shnayder, director of New Development Lending at Home Owners Mortgage, explains that the only deals being done right now are all cash, or through private banks. He adds that as soon as the lease terms are set, lending will go back to normal.

Renters winning

Because of the land leases, BPC has disproportionally high monthly fees, making it historically more attractive for renters than buyers. A 540-square-foot one-bedroom at Hudson View West is listed for $344,999 with common charges and taxes combining for over $1,500 per month, while a similar unit in the building is listed for rent at $2,100.

New development

Soon, BPC will be completely built-out as the final two condominiums wrap up construction. The buildings, Liberty Luxe and Liberty Green, will be on top of a 52,000-square-foot community center available to all BPC residents, offering a swimming pool, basketball court and classrooms. These buildings are designed for LEED Gold certification and will include solar panels and a water recycling system. They will also be the first residentials in NYC to use fuel cell technology.

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