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The penthouse is thought to be what all New Yorkers aspire to. (Time Warner Center via Nina Poon of MW Studio/The Corcoran Group) The penthouse is thought to be what all New Yorkers aspire to. (Time Warner Center via Nina Poon of MW Studio/The Corcoran Group)
In the world of New York real estate, the penthouse is considered the ultimate status symbol. After all, it is situated at the top and offers far more impressive light, views, and space than any other unit in the building. So it would follow that the city’s wealthiest buyers would be eager to snatch them up, right?

According to the New York Post, the answer is increasingly, “Not necessarily.” While some magnates will always be content to live at the top, a growing segment of ultra-luxury buyers is starting to turn away from penthouses in new buildings in favor of mid-level floors. A banking executive who didn't wish to flaunt his purchase explicitly told his broker, "No penthouses." Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriguez’s recently sold apartment at the 96-story 432 Park Avenue was decidedly outside the “penthouse collection” and located on the 36th floor. Even Ken Griffin, purchaser of the country’s most expensive home ever, looked at the top of 220 Central Park South and ultimately chose a multi-floor spread comprising lower levels.
111-West-57th-Street-1 The penthouse at 111 West 57th Street is among the city's highest. (Image via Douglas Elliman)
In prewar buildings on the Upper East Side and Upper West Side, the penthouse tends to be anywhere from 250-400 feet off the ground, allowing for gorgeous views of treetops, townhouses, and people passing by on the street. However, the towering new buildings that are coming to redefine the skyline can have penthouses as high up as 1,428 feet (ahem, 111 West 57th Street). This additional height ultimately means additional elevator time for penthouse owners. Upon arrival at home, this height can lead to swaying that a visitor to 432 Park Avenue described as scary and nauseating, not to mention gusts of wind that keep buyers from enjoying any private outdoor space their penthouse might have. Moreover, while these listings tout spectacular skyline and river views, the tops of the buildings can get so wrapped in cloud cover that it’s impossible to see them.
In the short term, developers are cutting prices on penthouses while raising prices on mid-tier units in response to this growing trend. It’s too soon to determine if it is a blip or a sign of less stratospheric residential buildings to rise in New York. Until then, we’ve uncovered apartments in highly coveted buildings that are several stories below the penthouse level, but still offer enviable views and square footage.

Architectural Achievement
56-Leonard-Street-1 All images of 56 Leonard Street via Halstead
56-Leonard-Street-2 Kitchen
56-Leonard-Street-3 Bedroom
Masterfully designed apartment in a stunning addition to the downtown skyline offers breathtaking light and views from floor-to-ceiling windows and a private wraparound terrace alike. Just off the expansive living room, the open kitchen features a black granite island, top-of-the-line appliances, and satin etched cabinets. The master suite has its own balcony, a walk-in closet, and bath with freestanding tub and open city views. See floor plan and full details here.

Centrally Located Stunner
100-East-53rd-Street-1 All images of One Hundred East Fifty Third Street via Compass
100-East-53rd-Street-2 Kitchen
100-East-53rd-Street-3 Bedroom
Elegant apartment just off Park Avenue is flooded with light from northern and eastern exposures, and interiors boast high ceilings, floor-to-ceiling windows with custom full-height curtains, and wide-plank white oak flooring. The open chef's kitchen features a massive center island, Gaggenau stainless steel appliances, and marble countertops. The bedrooms comprise two master suites, each with a luxurious bath. See floor plan and full details here.

Beacon of Billionaires Row
157-West-57th-Street-1 All images of One57 via Christie's International Real Estate
157-West-57th-Street-2 Kitchen
157-West-57th-Street-3 Bedroom
Graciously laid out apartment on a prestigious block boasts 11' ceilings, floor-to-ceiling windows, and rift-saw white oak floors. A Smallbone of Devizes kitchen is finished with custom cabinetry, granite countertops, and professional-grade appliances. The master suite faces east and features a walk-in closet and spa-like marble and onyx bath. See floor plan and full details here.

Midtown Masterpiece
53-West-53rd-Street-1 All images of 53W53 via Hines/The Corcoran Group
53-West-53rd-Street-2 Bedroom
53-West-53rd-Street-3 Master bath
Graciously designed apartment in a spectacular Midtown building boasts interiors by Thierry Despont, flexible floor plan, soaring ceilings, tall mahogany doors, and open chef's kitchen. The master suite offers incredible closet space and marble bath with radiant heated floors and custom carved stone vanity. The apartment looms above the Museum of Modern Art and is a short walk from Central Park, Fifth Avenue, and the Theater District. See floor plan and full details here.

High Living in Lower Manhattan
252-South-Street-1 All images of One Manhattan Square via Extell
252-South-Street-2 Kitchen
252-South-Street-3 Bedroom
Expansive apartment with open layout is flooded with natural light and views of the Empire State Building, Midtown skyline and the East River through triple exposures. The master suite features a large walk-in closet and bath with custom cabinetry, marble tile walls, and radiant heated floors. The building's 100,000 square feet of amenities span across four floors and cater to every interest and hobby. See floor plan and full details here.

A Luxe Landmark
14-Park-Place-1 All images of The Woolworth Tower Residences via Sotheby's
14-Park-Place-2 Kitchen
14-Park-Place-3 Bedroom
Beautifully designed corner condo in an architectural masterpiece rises 435 feet above street level and boasts triple exposures, ceilings over 10 feet high, terra cotta-adorned windows, and solid oak herringbone floors. The windowed kitchen enjoys Manhattan skyline views, custom cabinetry, Dornbacht fixtures, and Miele appliance suite. The corner master suite features a windowed dressing area and bath with steam shower, free-standing tub, and marble heated floors. See floor plan and full details here.

Fantastic Flatiron Condo
45-East-22nd-Street-1 All images of Madison Square Park Tower via Douglas Elliman
45-East-22nd-Street-2 Kitchen
45-East-22nd-Street-3 Bedroom
Half-floor corner condo looks out on northern, southern, and eastern exposures and views of the Empire State Building, Madison Square Park, and the Met Life Clock Tower through massive floor-to-ceiling windows. Just off the corner Great Room, the massive chef's kitchen features marble countertops and backsplash, custom cabinetry, and high-end appliances. Both bedrooms offer generous proportions and light, and the master suite boasts double exposures, walk-in closet, and two en suite baths. See floor plan and full details here.

Exquisite in East Midtown
138-East-50th-Street-1 All images of The Centrale via Douglas Elliman
138-East-50th-Street-2 Kitchen
138-East-50th-Street-3 Bath
Impressively designed apartment is lit up with Manhattan skyline views through northeast-facing floor-to-ceiling windows. The open-concept layout lets the living/dining area flow seamlessly into a chef's kitchen with honed marble countertops, Dornbacht fixtures, and full Gaggenau appliance package. The spa-like marble bath features radiant heated floors, wood veneer millwork, and built-in medicine cabinet. See floor plan and full details here.

NYC's Newest Neighborhood
15-Hudson-Yards-1 All images of Fifteen Hudson Yards via Scott Frances/Related
15-Hudson-Yards-2 Kitchen
15-Hudson-Yards-3 Bedroom
Sun-drenched apartment in the latest addition to the Midtown skyline boasts sunset and Hudson River views through floor-to-ceiling windows. The open kitchen comes with a distinctive marble island, custom oak cabinetry, and Miele appliances. The master suite features generous closet space and luxe bath with double vanity, oversized shower, and separate soaking tub. See floor plan and full details here.

Terrific Tribeca Tower
111-Murray-Street-1 All images of 111 Murray Street via Rise Media/The Corcoran Group
111-Murray-Street-2 Kitchen
111-Murray-Street-3 Bedroom
Expansive apartment in an amenity-rich building boasts 10'8" ceilings, triple exposures, floor-to-ceiling windows, grand foyer, and gorgeous hardwood floors. The kitchen is finished with elegant cabinetry, state-of-the-art appliances, and high-grade fixtures. The west-facing master suite features river views, impressive closet space, and luxurious windowed bath. See floor plan and full details here.
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