The Bustle of Midtown Manhattan, Right in My Own Backyard

I wonder how many people can say they both live and work on 42nd Street in Manhattan.

Well, there is at least one: me.

Crazy, perhaps? Certainly not the work part—I mean, how convenient to work in an office that looks out over Grand Central Terminal, surrounded by shops, restaurants, a CitiBike rack and the ever-present tourists with cameras in hand.

That said, I feel very lucky. The “live” part—well, it has its moments. My partner and I have called 42nd Street home for 13 years now (yikes), and in ever-so-trendy Hell’s Kitchen, we are probably the least trendy residents. By the way, shouldn’t I receive an award from the city for dealing with the most tourists on a daily basis?

That’s way more than enough about me and my so-called life. The idea for this tome really is to speak about my work environment—in particular, the Grand Central submarket. Of all the columns I’ve written over the years, this is one of the few to focus on what, by Newmark Grubb Knight Frank standards, is the largest Midtown Manhattan submarket, by both number of buildings and square footage. And that goes for top tier (Class A) as well as all classes of space combined.

There are 133 buildings tracked by NGKF in Grand Central, with a total of 53.8 million square feet of inventory. The next largest Midtown submarket is Upper Fifth/Plaza if measured by buildings (87), and Sixth Avenue/Rock Center if measured by inventory (44.7 million square feet). The lineup is actually the same for the Class A segment. But either way you cut it, the building stock is showing its age a bit despite a number of renovations across the submarket. The average year age for Grand Central stands at 73 compared to all of Midtown, which is 63. That said the submarket does have a lot in common with Midtown South, including the Penn Station and Times Square South/Garment neighborhoods that have garnered so much attention lately in attracting those ever-popular technology firms. Priced out of the prime Midtown South locations, firms continue to migrate north as well as south looking for less expensive space. Who would have thought a few years ago that Midtown would be the lower-priced alternative?

Tenants will find that space, too. With an availability rate of 15.2 percent (that would be a total of 8.2 million square feet of space to fill), there is plenty to go around in the Grand Central submarket—from trophy to basic. This is, by the way, the second-highest availability rate in Midtown (after Upper Fifth/Plaza), though it does contain the most space actually available. With an average asking rent at $57.43 per square foot, Grand Central is also less expensive than any other submarket in Midtown.

Of course, I could go into the whole (somewhat controversial) Midtown East rezoning issue and the fact that there will likely be at least one new trophy tower popping up in the next few years—1 Vanderbilt—immediately next door to Grand Central Terminal. And how one day soon, there should be improvements to Grand Central. And how East Side access (with the Long Island Railroad) will make the submarket even more popular by the end of this decade. But I’ve already yammered on long enough. If you’d like to know more, you can always shoot me an email.

Now it’s about time for me to start my 20-minute walk home (no complaints about that). Let’s see, I’m writing this on Thursday so that means throngs of new weekend tourists have descended upon my route back to the West Side. Breathe deep, head down, onward!

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