This is Billionaires’ Row in New York City, famous for having the largest concentration of luxury homes in the US.
Located around the southern end of Central Park in Manhattan, the area comprises some of the tallest skyscrapers in the Western Hemisphere.
There’s only one minor issue; they’re mostly empty.
There are a few reasons behind Billionaires’ Row’s commercial failure.
First, unlike other similar areas in the country, this isn’t a gated community.
There are no gates to get in and out of the area, and some would-be residents believe this may create a practical problem.
It also highlights a moral conundrum.
When real estate channel B1M shared a YouTube video about Billionaires’ Row, viewers took to the comment section to address the elephant in the room.
“I remember walking along the edge of Central Park. People sleeping on the benches in the shadows of these empty apartments. The stark contrast in humanity,” one user said.
“The engineering that goes into these buildings is fascinating, but the societal side of things is definitely troubling,” another said.
The second and perhaps most important reason why these buildings are empty comes down to their price.
With an average price of $80 million per unit, some of these apartments are out of reach even for seven- or eight-figure celebrities.
And normally that’s the type of customer that buys an expensive home to live in.
By contrast, these outlandish penthouses are usually bought by billionaires who simply want to enrich their real estate portfolio with a fancy property in New York City.
They don’t buy them to use them, and even when they’re willing to rent them out, they generally set the price too high.
There’s another semi-hidden reason why they’re so expensive.
Developers on Billionaire’s Row spent years acquiring… the air rights for the properties around their lots.
They did it to ensure nearby buildings couldn’t block their newly built views of Central Park.
And yet in spite of the crazy prices, these buildings are of subpar quality, according to owners.
A class-auction lawsuit launched by residents at 432 Park Avenue, a 96-floor skyscraper, cites over 1,500 defects.
Among other things, the families that live in the building complained about sways, floods and malfunctioning lifts.
That’s not a good look.
If you spend eight figures on a penthouse, the very least you can hope for is a lift that actually takes you there.