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Manhattan's tallest condo joins swamped luxury market

New York

ON PAPER, it's the most expensive condo tower in the United States, and at 1,550 feet above Manhattan, it's also the Western Hemisphere's tallest.

Extell Development is building Central Park Tower, the firm's ultra-luxury follow-up to One57, the Billionaires' Row skyscraper that touched off the city's high-end construction boom - and set the stage for the market's current slowdown.

Costly condos are not "flying off the shelves like One57 did when we started six or seven years ago, when we were the only game in town", Gary Barnett, president of Extell, said in a Bloomberg Television interview. "There's certainly much more competition."

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The world's well-heeled condo investors have a lot of inventory to choose from in Manhattan. These days, they are not in a hurry to close a deal, especially for the priciest units.

Billionaires' Row, the Midtown corridor known for its concentration of new ultra-luxury towers, saw the biggest decline in the value of contracts signed in the second quarter, according to a report by Core.

The median price of pending purchases dropped 91 per cent from a year earlier to US$5.14 million, the brokerage said.

At their current listed prices, Central Park Tower's 179 apartments have a combined value of more than US$4 billion, making it the most expensive condo project in the country, by Extell's estimates.

Listings made public on the property's website include a US$63 million five-bedroom apartment with 7,074 square feet of space. Less pricey offerings include a two-bedroom unit for US$6.9 million.

Mr Barnett declined to say how many condos have found buyers since sales began last year at the building, which topped out in August and has a Nordstrom store at its base that's set to open next month.

Individually, said Mr Barnett, the apartments are a bargain compared with a neighbourhood competitor, Vornado's 220 Central Park South, where Citadel founder Ken Griffin set a national price record with his US$238 million purchase.

On a per-square-foot basis, Central Park Tower's condos are priced about 15 per cent lower, Mr Barnett estimates. BLOOMBERG