Dec. 12 (Bloomberg) -- The crane collapse at One57, Manhattan’s tallest residential tower, will delay completion of the luxury-condominium development and the move-in of its first residents by as much as 60 days.
“We were hoping to start delivering in June, July,” Gary Barnett, president of Extell Development Co., the developer of the 90-story building at 157 West 57th St., said in an interview. “Now it pushes back delivery one to two months.”
One57, which has set price records and lured buyers from around the world, attracted national attention during superstorm Sandy as the crane’s partial collapse left the boom hovering like a dagger over 57th Street and prompted a weeklong shutdown of nearby buildings. While the crane was secured on Nov. 4, the Department of Buildings has issued a partial stop work order at the site, essentially halting most construction on the tower’s highest floors, which have yet to be enclosed in its signature blue glass exterior.
Removal and replacement of the damaged boom will take until at least the end of the first quarter, according to Barnett. Parts of a new crane and the derrick that will be required to hoist it up are being “engineered and designed,” he said.
“We think there’s going to be a delay in terms of being able to take the crane off the building,” Barnett said. A new crane will be needed on site for construction through the second or early third quarter of next year, he said, instead of coming down in the first three months of the year as initially planned.
Buyers of the lower floors, which have already been enclosed in glass, should be able to move in by August, he said. Work there such as electrical wiring and laying down sheetrock is continuing.
Sales at the tower reached $1 billion in May, the company said in a statement at the time. Extell had an asking price of $115 million for the building’s two duplexes, and both sold for more than $90 million each, setting Manhattan price records. Buyers have been putting in deposits based on floor plans, a model apartment in the 6,000-square-foot (557-square-meter) offsite sales office and sample apartment views photographed by a camera mounted on a drone helicopter that snapped pictures at different elevations.
As apartments sold briskly, Extell has twice increased prices, according to documents filed in September with the New York State Attorney General’s office, which presides over the details of condominium sales. A 6,200-square-foot full-floor apartment on the 88th floor, the highest unit available for sale as of September, was listed at $67 million, a 28 percent mark-up from its initial offering price in June 2011.
The 87th-floor unit was increased to $64.5 million, or 36 percent more than in June 2011, the documents show.
The top floors are only reachable now by an external construction elevator. A ride in early October to the still open-air 86th floor took about five minutes in the rattling metal cage, which creaked upward like a roller coaster grating over a metal track. The view reveals itself in the stages of ascent: office tower rooftops, then a backward view of the red neon sign of the Essex House hotel. Once on the 86th floor, the scene is the unobstructed expanse of Central Park, high enough that its rectangular edges look like a moss-colored doormat at the foot of where someone’s living room will be.
On a clear October day, the full-floor unit on the 86th story -- a four-bedroom, four-bathroom apartment of about 6,200 square feet -- had views of Statue of Liberty and the spire of One World Trade Center to the south, the George Washington Bridge and a sliver of Westchester to the north, and to east, the circling planes above La Guardia airport. The unit was listed at $62 million in September, according to attorney general documents.
The apartment will have features such as a bathroom medicine cabinet that will be suspended from the ceiling, against a wall that will be all glass, said Jeff Dvorett, vice president of development for Extell.
“You can stand up there and shave and put your make-up on and while you’re looking out to the city, you see yourself in the mirror at the same time,” he said.
One57’s 92 apartments were 60 percent sold in mid-October, before Sandy hit, Barnett said at the time. More apartments have sold since the storm, including one of the full-floor units, which start above the 76th floor, according to Barnett.
Two-bedroom units, which start on the 39th floor, have completely sold out through the 56th floor, Dan Tubb, director of sales, said in October. Those units are all priced below $10 million and have a partial view of the southwestern corner of Central Park, according to a scale model in the sales office and data from the attorney general.
“The only thing that hasn’t sold rapidly has been the in between, the say 15-to-20 million-dollar range,” Barnett said in an October interview. “They’re not perfect views,” because they are on mid-level floors, where views of Central Park have other buildings in the line of sight.
Extell is focusing on that sliver of sales in its next marketing push, he said. It plans to build a model apartment on one of those floors in the first quarter.
“People realize it’s a very attractive buy in terms of getting into the building,” Barnett said last week. “In terms of selling out, I don’t think we’ll sell it out without getting people in the building.”
One57 broke ground in 2009, in the depth of the Manhattan real estate collapse, when other developers shut down sites.
“We knew that we had the market to ourselves,” Barnett said in the October interview. “There’s no comparable product getting completed for at least three years.”
Three blocks away on 57th Street, the developers Harry Macklowe and CIM Group are working to supplant One57 as the tallest residential building in the city. They have begun work on a 1,397-foot tower, 393 feet taller than Extell’s, on the site of the former Drake Hotel on Park Avenue.
“Drake hasn’t gone vertical yet and we know how long it takes to complete a tower that’s 1,300 feet tall,” Barnett said. “It’s not getting done faster than we’ve done ours.
‘‘I expect them to do fine,” he said. “But their sales will accelerate after we sell out.”
After Sandy, Extell also is contending with the prospect of lawsuits tied to the crane’s collapse. The developer, as well as the construction manager for the site, Sydney-based Lend Lease Corp., are being sued in federal court by a dental firm on West 59th Street and two dentists, who accuse them of negligence for failing to secure the crane and say the street shutdown caused a substantial loss of income.
Michael Hurwitz, a lawyer who lived in his office while displaced for a week from his 58th Street home, has filed notice that he intends to seek damages.
Iwona Polski, a Sydney-based spokeswoman for Lend Lease, referred comment to Mary Costello, the New York-based senior vice president for corporate affairs, who didn’t return a phone call yesterday.
Barnett said the lawsuits wouldn’t hinder the progress of construction.
“You can sue anybody for anything in New York City,” he said.
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