Paul Higgins and his wife, Michelle, moved into a one-bedroom third-floor walk-up on Third Avenue in the Lenox Hill neighborhood two years ago, attracted by the abundant public transportation as well as the rent, a little over $2,000 a month.
But if they thought public transportation was good two years ago, it is much better now with the opening of the Second Avenue subway line. The new line has proved to be a bonus for the neighborhood, generally defined as stretching from East 59th to East 72nd streets, from Central Park to the East River, though other definitions exist. Now the Higginses, both in their 30s, hope they can afford to stay.
“We really like living here,” he said, adding, “A lot of people are raising rents because of the new subway line.”
The new subway, which extends the Q line north to 96th Street, is one more amenity in a neighborhood filled with them, including some surprisingly lower-priced apartments for sale and rent.
“It’s a full-service community,” said Valerie S. Mason, who has lived on East 72nd Street for more than 20 years and is president of the East 72nd Street Neighborhood Association. She cited “tons of small restaurants and so many dry cleaners,” along with nail salons, veterinarians, a butcher shop and a gourmet market near her apartment, for which she paid under $4 million in 2011. She said she got a “great deal” because of the subway work going on at the time.
860 FIFTH AVENUE, NO. 8L A two-bedroom, two-bath co-op with a windowed kitchen and a washer-dryer in a 24-hour-doorman building, listed at $1,695,000. 917-363-1992
She and her husband, Christopher, both lawyers in their 50s, have nine rooms and five bathrooms. They raised their son in a smaller apartment in the same building. They chose the area because it is between their church, Brick Presbyterian on Park Avenue and 91st Street, and their Midtown offices, she said, and because of the many restaurants and shops that were open when, as young professionals, they “came home all hours of the day and night.”
While the new subway has reduced crowding on the Lexington Avenue 4, 5 and 6 lines, another benefit is the handicap accessibility at the new Q line stops at 72nd, 86th and 96th Streets and the enhanced one at Lexington and 63rd Street, said Barry Schneider, 82, and his wife, Judy, 78. They have lived in a two-bedroom, two-and-a-half bath apartment on East 64th Street, where they raised their son, since 1967, when First Avenue was filled with singles bars.
Mr. Schneider and his wife helped organize the East Sixties Neighborhood Association 25 years ago. He is president and she vice president. They are delighted, they said, with the new subway line, including the art works in the new stations. “It’s different from any other subway,” she said.
What You’ll Find
Fifth Avenue and Park Avenue are lined with ritzy apartment buildings. On the side streets in that area and farther east are clusters of elegant townhouses interspersed with newer buildings. The area east of Third Avenue has several new condominium buildings.
Though the neighborhood has no shortage of wealthy residents, it is also home to older people who live on fixed incomes in rent-regulated apartments, said Warren B. Scharf, executive director of Lenox Hill Neighborhood House, which provides free meals and other services to seniors, as well as other programs. People with lower incomes also live in apartments above the restaurants and shops along First, Second and Third Avenues, he said.
Of the 510 homes for sale at StreetEasy.com on March 16, the lowest-priced was a studio on East 63rd Street at Second Avenue ($210,000), and the highest a 20-room duplex on Fifth Avenue ($96 million). Both are in co-op buildings.
From 2012 to 2016, the median price of co-ops has gone down while the median price for condos has increased, said Nick Gross, a licensed real estate salesman at TripleMint, based on numbers developed by his firm. “The market for those large co-ops west of Third has softened,” he said. “What is selling are the one-, two- and three-bedrooms east of Third Avenue,” many of them in new condos, he said.
The median co-op price in 2012 was $995,000, based on 469 sales, while the median in 2016 was $849,000, based on 395 sales. Condos were a median $1,425,500 in 2012, with 149 sales, and rose to $1,750,250 with a larger number of sales, 267.
Prices for apartments near the new subway line have already gone up, he said, while rents “are on the verge of spiking.” The 611 apartments offered for rent on StreetEasy included a studio on East 61st Street between First and Second Avenues ($1,775 a month) and the entire 39th floor of the Pierre Hotel on Fifth Avenue ($500,000 a month, furnished).
The neighborhood is filled with contrasts. Stately buildings along Fifth and Park Avenues are as stylish as the boutiques that line Madison. Within walking distance are noted cultural institutions like the Frick Collection, the Asia Society Museum and the Park Avenue Armory.
Farther east, stores offer more everyday services, and traffic is more intense.
Hunter College and Rockefeller University are both in the neighborhood. So are many medical facilities, including Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, which occupies nine buildings in Lenox Hill, and NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell hospital. These huge medical institutions are a buffer to the roar of the F.D.R. Drive.
Children are zoned to two elementary schools for prekindergarten to fifth grade. Public School 267, East Side Elementary School, has 400 students. According to the city’s 2015-16 school quality snapshot, 80 percent met state standards in English and math, compared with 39 percent citywide for English, and 40 percent citywide for math.
At P.S. 183 Robert L. Stevenson, which has 557 students, 74 percent met standards in English and 76 percent met them in math. For middle school, the area has zoned priority to J.H.S. 167 Robert F.Wagner, which has 1,352 students (sixth through eighth grades). In that school, 66 percent met state standards in English compared with 37 percent citywide, while 70 percent met state math standards compared with 32 percent citywide.
Midtown is walkable. Among subway lines are the 4, 5, 6, F and the new Q extension. The Q stops in Times Square, offering many transfer options.
The Mount Vernon Hotel Museum and Garden, on East 61st Street between First and Second Avenues, was built in 1799 as a carriage house. Converted to a hotel in 1826, it was a country resort for New Yorkers who wanted to escape the city, located below 14th Street at the time.
Visitors could swim or fish in the East River, sit in a backyard garden or sip lemonade in the parlor.
Wednesday, March 22, 2017