After two years of stalled construction, a luxury apartment building on 121st Street and Frederick Douglass Boulevard is preparing to welcome tenants next month—if they can afford the high rents.
220 Saint Nicholas Ave. released the prices late last week, which range from $3,000 a month for a one-bedroom unit to $8,000 for penthouse units, and occupancy is set to start in early November. Though the prices are high for Harlem, the developer says they’re justified.
“It’s a high-end product,” Myron Gorjian of Gorjian Real Estate Group, which developed the building, said. “We tried to make this a luxury, luxury product, something that doesn’t really exist in Harlem right now.”
Nine of the 11 units, all of which have outdoor space, occupy the full floor of the building. They feature technologies that seem a few years ahead of the times—an “electronic doorman,” private keyed elevator access, and a high-tech security system.
“The furnishes are top-notch,” Gorjian said, listing off bamboo and marble floors. “The whole building is electronically built to work.”
Gorjian said four units have already been rented, and the group hopes to rent out all of the one- and two-bedroom units, as well as the two penthouses, by the end of the month.
Don Burroughs, an agent with Upper Manhattan-based Bohemia Realty Group, said the building’s limited number of units helps its position on the upper end of the market.
“I know it is comparable to units similar to this in square footage in the Upper West Side,” he said. “I think people understand why people are at that price point. When you get the whole top of the building … it’s a 1,200-foot terrace above your head.”
The location and physical features of the building—all windows face south—also help justify the price point, Burroughs said.
Unlike many other recent developments in Harlem, 220 Saint Nicholas is all-rental, something that Burroughs thinks has turned some people away. He also said some of the units, especially the three-bedroom ones, could be difficult to rent at this time.
Gorjian said that they’ve lowered the prices for three-bedroom units in response to the lack of demand.
“You can’t necessarily fault the price for that, because the market is slowing now in the fall,” Burroughs said. “It definitely is not the best market on which to introduce a higher-end apartment,” he said, arguing that the recent government shutdown may have affected people’s confidence.
The building, which sits on a six-way intersection between 121st Street, Saint Nicholas Avenue, and Frederick Douglass Boulevard, has an interesting history from before Gorjian took it over in 2011.
Construction started in 2009, with then-developer Piper-Cadmium opening sales in 2010 as the building neared completion.
But work stopped at the end of 2010 with the building still just a concrete shell, after one of the financiers, Park Avenue Bank, collapsed that year. According to PropertyShark, the building owned $12 million in liens at the time.
According to city documents, Gorjian purchased the foreclosed building for just over $1 million in 2011.
Gorjian said the low acquisition price was one of the reasons the group decided to go rental-only, but he said he thinks that the building will be successful in the long run, given Harlem’s strong real estate market.
“People are showing more interest. People from midtown and uptown” have been moving into Harlem, he said. “It’s inevitable either way—we’re just riding the wave.”