After Toll Brothers, the large, luxury home builder based in Horsham, Pa., bought Manhattan Building Co. 11 years ago, it established its City Living division to diversify. Once the real estate market recovered, the company began constructing condominium buildings along the East Coast; 29 are completed or under way in New York, Philadelphia, New Jersey, and suburban Washington, D.C., and the firm is scouting Boston, Miami, and San Francisco for sites as well.
East Side Swag
Toll’s recently opened Touraine, on New York’s Upper East Side, stands at the city equivalent of “main on main,” says City Living marketing manager Todd Dumaresq—specifically, the corner of Lexington Avenue and 65th Street, near top restaurants, high-end department stores, and Central Park. The lot permitted a small, 50,000-square-foot building, akin to a boutique hotel, which rises 15 stories. Chicago architect Lucien Lagrange designed the façade with cast stone, grillwork, and a roof deck.
Instead of rolling out one prototype, Toll varies square footage, amenities, and materials for each demographic. Architect of record HTO Architect, in New York, designed the layouts. New York–based architect Stephen Alton selected the materials, appliances, fixtures, and finishes to appeal to affluent individuals and couples desiring a prime and bustling neighborhood. Units range from a 764-square-foot one-bedroom to a 4,346-square-foot, three-bedroom penthouse.
In this market, buyers want turnkey units. “They don’t want to spend time making choices,” says David Von Spreckelsen, division president at City Living. “The approach also permits an economy of scale, consistency, and the ability to work faster.” Buyers can make changes, but finished “packages” include what the team knew most would want—a high-end, traditional aesthetic with custom moldings, panoramic windows, herringbone oak floors, coffered ceilings, and top appliances.
The same approach was taken with shared amenities, from a two-story lobby with curved staircase leading to a library with a fireplace, to the roof deck, or down to the lowest level with its gym, refrigerated wine cellar, seating, and fireplace. “I envisioned owners putting on a sweater, lighting a fire, and popping open a bottle,” Alton says. Finished last fall, 21 of the 22 units were purchased within three months, with the least expensive selling for $1.5 million.