There’s water, water everywhere in New York City, a place mostly made of islands. But sometimes, walking through its dark canyons, you would hardly know it.
Ask some real estate agents where to find good views of waves, and they may suggest the narrow corner of Manhattan that includes the West Village, Hudson Square and Battery Park City.
But prices in those neighborhoods can be staggering. For instance, in mid-May, the only apartment for sale at 176 Perry Street, a glassy spire in the West Village designed by Richard Meier, was almost $12 million.
In a city on an ocean with countless creeks, basins and bays, however, it’s shortsighted to focus on a few blocks on the West Side Highway, especially if you’re in search of a bargain.
Beach-lined and hilly Staten Island is always ready to oblige, with blue horizons a fact of life. But a search of existing properties in the city’s other boroughs, Manhattan, the Bronx, Queens and Brooklyn, with at least a glimpse of H2O for $500,000 or less on StreetEasy.com and NYTimes.com turned up a respectable haul. Excluding Staten Island, StreetEasy produced 94, and NYTimes.com, 19. (For the purposes of this article, new construction, houseboats and superyachts were not included.)
Yes, a buyer in this bracket might have to contend with a long commute, erosion threats or a strained neck from leaning out the window to take in a sliver of water. And beware of the fine print: Ads can be maddeningly vague about whether it’s the apartment’s many windows that enjoy the water view, or the communal roof deck 20 floors up.
Also, don’t assume that because a building is by a bay, there will be many passing ships. The city-facing sides of shoreline buildings have plenty of apartments, too.
On the flip side, just because a high-rise is several blocks from the water doesn’t mean the vista will be of brick walls instead of boats. If the building is in a low-rise area, such as much of Brooklyn Heights, nothing may be in the way.
“A view of water is peaceful, it calms you down, it’s just a great feeling,” said Marcia Coughlin, a saleswoman with East Coast Realtors, who is marketing Cryder Point, a riverside co-op complex in Beechhurst, Queens.
“It makes you feel like you are somewhere else,” Ms. Coughlin added, “other than in New York.”
Much of Spuyten Duyvil, a cliff-side community at the southern tip of Riverdale, the Bronx, seems to have been developed with the Hudson River in mind.
The view from the cliffs across the river to New Jersey is dominated by Palisades Interstate Park, whose forested and building-free expanse can seem pre-Columbian. Not so in Lower Manhattan, where the horizon is New Jersey’s heavily developed Gold Coast.
In many Lower Manhattan neighborhoods, “you’re also looking at a highway,” said Sanjya Tidke, an associate broker with Halstead Property. “You’re not going to have peace and quiet.”
The high-rises along leafy Palisade Avenue in Spuyten Duyvil sit far apart, permitting more apartments to see the river. One of them, River Terrace Apartments, a 16-story co-op at 2621 Palisade Avenue, has an accordionlike shape, allowing all 125 units to have water views, agents say.
Among the less expensive listings at River Terrace is Apartment 4F, a one-bedroom with wood floors, granite kitchen counters and a small balcony, from which a passing barge was visible on a recent morning.
The unit, in a 1960s doorman building with a heated outdoor pool, was listed with Ms. Tidke for $350,000, with a monthly maintenance fee of $957.
“You can’t even get a good studio for this price in Manhattan,” Ms. Tidke said.
She may have a point. The average sale price for a resale condo or co-op in the 212 area code in the first quarter of this year was $1.53 million, according to a Halstead market report.
New York Bay
In Brooklyn Heights, the heights are literal; the neighborhood enjoys a commanding perch.
Not all buildings have an inspiring view of the Statue of Liberty. Many are just a few stories and hemmed in tightly. When they were built in the 19th century, orienting windows toward a bustling port, with its grunting stevedores and scurrying wharf rats, was not a high priority.
Judged solely by a map, 150 Joralemon Street, an 88-unit co-op, would seem an unlikely candidate from which to spy the bay. At the corner of Clinton Street, it sits about a half-dozen blocks inland. But the 1920s former office tower — the words “insurance building” are in relief on the facade as proof — clocks in at 12 stories, meaning it soars above its surroundings.
And because it stands in a historic district, it’s safe to assume that not too many skyscrapers will ever spoil the vista from apartments like No. 9G, a one-bedroom whose long west-facing living room windows reveal a panorama that seems like an atlas come to life: the Verrazano Bridge, the hump of Staten Island, the gleaming towers of Wall Street.
“It’s always changing. You are seeing New York happen. You have helicopters dashing in and out. You have tugboats, the Staten Island Ferry, sailing ships,” said Jessica Henson, the saleswoman with the Corcoran Group who is listing the apartment. “Living in the city is frantic and taxing enough. Coming home to see this every night would really relax me a lot.”
The asking price is $499,000, low for the area.
But the apartment, with about 560 square feet and 12-foot ceilings, has a narrow and quirky layout, and the kitchen is tiny. Then again, one wall of that kitchen is almost all window, and faces water. You could pretend you’re frying eggs in the galley of a yacht.
For a place that’s an island, Manhattan can seem strangely detached from its shores. Late last week, StreetEasy.com turned up just three dozen existing properties in the borough with “water views.”
Of course, depleted inventory is partly to blame for the low numbers. And looking at existing apartments is only one way to go. Plenty of the super-tall condos now rising across Manhattan will allow residents to savor just about every waterway in the region, although those towers are almost certainly not going to come cheap.
A recent option, in Murray Hill, was an alcove studio at 225 East 36th Street, a 1960s building called the Crescent. It might be more familiar to drivers as the curvy structure that appears to hug the street after they emerge from the Queens-Midtown Tunnel.
Listed at $384,000, no-frills 525-square-foot Apartment 21C has wood floors, four closets and a small kitchen. The facade’s concave curve, which adds an eastward jog to a southern exposure, allows a partial view of the East River, a flicker between buildings.
Then again, you could just travel up a few flights to the Crescent’s roof, a chair-dotted aerie that shows off a lot more of the river.
Oleg Salykine, the broker and owner of Continent Realty who is marketing the studio, joked that decades ago, when the East River was dangerously polluted, few people cared to drink it in. But anyway, “from here,” Mr. Salykine said, “you can’t see how dirty the water is.”
Shielding residents from unsavory sights was a major concern of Fred F. French, who developed the Tudor City neighborhood at the far end of East 42nd Street in the 1920s, an area that was then home to breweries, a glue factory and slaughterhouses,.
“The single disadvantage — and a very important consideration — was the grime and stench of the heavy industry sited just to the east,” according to a report about Tudor City by the New York Landmarks Preservation Commission. So, turning his back on the unattractive scene, Mr. French oriented his complex to the west while also making many windows on the east-facing walls smaller than might be expected in buildings so close to a major waterway.
But Apartment 1129 at 5 Tudor City Place could be just the thing for an urban pirate or someone born under a water sign, because its one casement window looks out on the river. The studio co-op has wood floors, beamed ceilings and a speck of a kitchen. And at $299,500, the listing, which is with Elise Ehrlich, a saleswoman at Halstead Property, might be smooth sailing for some wallets.
Long Island Sound
Along the coast of Queens, near where Long Island Sound embraces the East River, sea breezes cool several affluent areas, including Douglas Manor and Malba. But the price of admission to these tight-knit and tucked-away enclaves can be a few million dollars for what is usually a stand-alone single-family house.
However, in Beechhurst, which is part of Whitestone, lower-cost options exist, courtesy of a necklace of multifamily complexes. One of them is Cryder Point, a brick co-op with 328 apartments along the water at 162-21 Powells Cove Boulevard.
Not every apartment in the three-building complex, which has a private dock and round-the-clock doormen, provides a nautical view.
But Apartment 5T, a renovated two-bedroom, one-and-a-half-bath unit with wood floors and crown molding, plus a terrace, has a vista worthy of a postcard. The apartment also sports granite counters, a stacked washer and dryer and five closets.
At $449,000, it is among the least expensive homes with water views in Queens, though that feature is not always a deal-maker, said Ms. Coughlin, the agent with East Coast Realtors who has the listing, and a longtime Cryder Point resident. “Some buyers actually don’t care,” said Ms. Coughlin, explaining that they may push a couch against the wall with windows and focus their attention on more terrestrial matters.
The complex’s outdoor pool will open late this year, in July, because Cryder Point is in the midst of a massive project to restore a sea wall. On a recent morning, work crews moved boulders into place on a narrow beach below a bluff. A red tugboat nudged a barge in the distance.
Little Neck Bay
For some people, rooms with a view are not enough. They want to summer, so to speak, at home. Most towers with beachy amenities require a down payment the size of Blackbeard’s treasure, but some exceptions do exist, like the Towers at Water’s Edge in Bayside, Queens. The three-building co-op complex stands tall by Little Neck Bay, close to Nassau County, at 18-15 215th Street.
Not only does the place look like a resort, midcentury Miami Beach style, but it seems to function like one. A parking area with a fountain greets visitors, who enter under tall canopies.
On a May morning, the large, irregularly shaped swimming pool was being filled for the season, while orderly rows of blue reclining chairs awaited sunbathers. Five tennis courts are on site, and there’s a tidy gym in a basement. Chess and knitting clubs meet nearby; a poker night, brokers say, is also a hit. The pool costs residents $480 a year, the gym $419.
“It’s more like a lifestyle that you’re choosing than a place to live,” said Cynthia Crosthwaite, a saleswoman at Douglas Elliman who moved to the complex from Great Neck, N.Y., in 2003, and sells there today.
That towel-clad lifestyle could be yours for $339,000, Ms. Crosthwaite said, referring to her listing for Apartment 9J, a renovated 780-square-foot one-bedroom with a breakfast bar, parquet floors and a spacious shower.
The bedroom has views of the bay, and the unit’s 90-square-foot balcony unveils still more. “We even have a pair of swans that come back every year,” Ms. Crosthwaite said.
But the bay is not exactly lapping at the complex. The Cross Island Expressway, which emits a steady whoosh, separates Water’s Edge from the water.
Still, for those who complain that New York water views are only for billionaires, Water’s Edge may come as a pleasant surprise, Ms. Crosthwaite said. “You’ve got to get out,” she said, “and explore the possibilities.”
Friday, May 22, 2015