Everything You Need To Know About 432 Park Ave
There are more than 100 supertall towers (taller than 300 meters/984 feet) in the world, with several in NYC. With a project that innovates, the whole picture needs to be seen, so the right lessons can be taken away. That’s why we’re taking a look at NYC’s supertalls and megadevelopments, starting with Macklowe Properties and CIM Group’s 1,396-foot 432 Park Ave.
Macklowe Properties founder Harry Macklowe said he always admired the townhouses and luxury retail on 57th Street. When offered the 495-room Drake Hotel in 2006, Harry jumped at the opportunity, he said in a one-on-one interview on BisnowTV.
Planning to combine the townhouses with the Drake Hotel to create an all-new tower, he amassed an assemblage of all the buildings along 57th Street over the course of three years.
But the economy tanked before construction could even begin, stalling the project indefinitely. CIM Group, which helped a variety of New York real estate families during the recession, provided financing for several of Macklowe’s troubled projects, and the two companies formed a partnership that would kickstart 432 Park Ave.
A tower of this height requires complex mechanical and structural engineering to remain aloft.
“Concrete actually shrinks as it reaches its ultimate... strength in a hundred years, so the building had to be programmed for a sway and for compression,” Harry said.
Engineering firm Silvian Marcus structured the tower around a “backbone” of reinforced concrete surrounding 30-inch-thick walls that house the building’s elevator shafts and mechanical services. The outer structural skin is a grid of 3-foot-8-inch-wide columns and spandrel beams of reinforced concrete. This layout allows the tower’s interior spaces to remain open for the 27-foot span between the core and shell. The facade—made of 14,000 psi white Portland cement—is cast around pre-assembled full-floor rebar cages with articulated steel formwork.
The floor-to-floor height is 15 feet, 6 inches, with 10-inch thick floor slabs. To prevent too much wind sway, upper floors have slabs up to 18 inches thick. The window grid and interior space of two floors between every 12 occupied floors are also left open to allow the wind to pass through.
Starchitect Rafael Vinoly designed the 104-unit project, originally slated to top out at 1,300 feet. Rafael said the building’s design revolved around "the purest geometric form: the square" and was inspired by a trash can designed by Josef Hoffmann.
However, he told a crowd the tower “has a couple of screw-ups,” including its window framing, its interior design—designed by Deborah Berke and Bentel & Bentel—and its layout, all problems for which he blamed Macklowe.
For example, Macklowe supposedly wanted the frames to highlight the Central Park views (which are considered the main draw of the tower), but they suck up interior space. Some tenants have removed them.
The two often insult each other: Rafael once described Harry as “a truck driver with an education in aesthetics,” and Harry has said the city’s supertall race was incentivized by “penis envy.” Rafael later apologized for the comments.
Overall, the project cost $1.3B, but Macklowe and CIM have made solid efforts getting their return, despite fears of waning luxury condo sales. One of the tower’s penthouses fetched $87.7M from Saudi retail magnate Fawaz Al Hokair, while the other was put in contract for $76.5M (almost $10k/SF) by a mystery buyer.
In January, the first apartment was sold for $18.1M, more than the $17.8M asking price. Other buyers in the building include Vector Group of Miami financier Bennett LeBow, who bought a unit on the 64th floor for $44.8M, Qatari diplomat Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, who paid $16.2M for a 51st-floor unit and a member of Mikati family, who bought a three-bedroom condo for $28M.
Thor Equities CEO Joe Sitt (pictured) also has a contract on an apartment on building’s 63rd floor, which he closed on July 1 for $18.9M. Sales did slow for a few months last year, so the partners divided full-floor apartments on the 91st through 95th floors, creating smaller spaces (4,400 SF and 3,600 SF) at lower prices ($40.25M and $39.75M).
Each of the tower’s units feature high ceilings and an elevator landing. The building's amenities include 12-foot golf training facilities; a massive restaurant exclusively for residents; a 75-foot, two-lane indoor swimming pool and jacuzzi finished with travertine walls and flooring, changing areas with steam, sauna, and treatment rooms for massage and spa services; a billiards room with a library curated by Assouline; a fitness center with a yoga studio and on-site, climate-controlled wine cellars.
There are also office suites, studio apartments, private storage, valet parking, an 18-seat theater with a state-of-the-art sound system and a 220-inch screen and a 14-seat conference room with video-teleconferencing technology. The restaurant, led by chef Shaun Hergatt and restaurateur Scott Sozmen, will show off a pair of 22-foot-tall cascading chandeliers, each with 55,700 pieces of handset crystal, and an elaborate installation of 339 hand-blown glass globes suspended from polished stainless steel rods.
Harry said he’s received several compliments for the building, with people calling it beautiful and asking him how he feels to have changed NYC’s skyline.
“Well, very honestly, I feel terrific and I'm very lucky to have done it,” he said. “Lucky to be in the real estate business, as opposed to any other. I'm very fortunate to be able to use my imagination have my curiosity answered.”
Although he doesn’t plan to move to the tower, he says there’s not much he’d change about the building, with his only regret being that his parents were not able to see “how to build a building taller than the Empire State Building.”
“I'm sure they're looking down on it,” he said.
These compliments have come alongside criticism, as some have called the tower a “Millionaire’s Matchstick” representing NYC’s ostentatious wealth.
The Recent Events
The building completed construction on Dec. 23, 2015. In July, Macklowe and Qatari investment bank QInvest closed on the purchase of 432 Park Ave’s retail section for $411M, including CIM Group’s Park Avenue Cube, a six-story glass structure that features 13k SF of retail on the first two floors and 70k SF of office space on the remaining four floors above.
There’s also a 30k SF underground concourse connecting the cube with the tower, which itself has 20k SF of retail space across two floors. The deal was allegedly delayed by legal issues, however, with Saudi investor Ramza Al Kholi suing Macklowe Properties over allegations he’d been cut out of a partnership to buy the retail space. The parties settled out of court.
The Final Accolades
432 Park Ave is the third tallest building in the US, the tallest residential building in the world and the second tallest building in NYC, behind One World Trade Center. However, 217 West 57th St (1,550 feet) and 111 West 57th St (1,438 feet) will be giving the tower a run for its money.