“This is sort of on the fringe,” said Michael Belkin, a partner at Wonder Works Development Group, which is erecting Vitre, a glassy 21-story condo rising at 302 East 96th Street, just east of Second Avenue.
Offering finish work like Italian cabinetry, and amenities like a second-story lounge that opens to a fenced-in patio, the building has 48 one- to three-bedroom apartments with prices starting at $915,000, Mr. Belkin said. Sales began last month at Vitre, which will open in summer 2018.
The developers, who bought the site in 2015 for $22 million, according to city records, considered it a bargain relative to places like TriBeCa or Chelsea. But they didn’t come just for the subway, which opened to the public on Jan. 1, 2017. “It wasn’t the primary determining factor,” Mr. Belkin said, “though it definitely came into our thoughts.”
Since then, however, Vitre seems to have embraced its location. Adorning its website is a large photo of the new vaultlike glass subway entrance at East 96th, about a minute from Vitre’s front door.
The subway, which began its most recent phase of construction in 2008, has helped drive up prices. On June 23, the average sale price in the Second Avenue corridor was $1,486 a square foot, the highest level in five years, according to CityRealty, which tracks apartment sales.
CityRealty analyzed 28 buildings in the area, including Carnegie Park, from the Related Companies, at 200 East 94th Street, and the Charles, from Bluerock Real Estate, at 1355 First Avenue, both of which opened in 2015.
Long considered a more affordable region on the Upper East Side because of its distance from the Lexington Avenue line, Yorkville apartments have typically sold for about 20 percent less than those located west of Third Avenue, Ms. Field said. But “the gap is absolutely narrowing.”
The gradual escalation of prices, which also can be explained in terms of a recovery from the last downturn, has been apparent on a personal level for Shai Shustik, a developer who lives at 300 East 71st Street, a red brick co-op near the new East 72nd Street subway stop.
In 2007, Tali Haddad, whom Mr. Shustik would later marry, bought a one-bedroom in the building for $520,000, he said. From within the third-floor unit, which faced Second Avenue, the subway construction sounded like a “bombing,” said Mr. Shustik, who stayed there often.
Six years later, in 2013, Ms. Haddad, who by then had become Ms. Shustik, sold the unit for $685,000 as construction was still plodding along. They made money on the deal, but the value was hurt by a two-story temporary structure that served as an office for subway workers, which blocked views from the window, Mr. Shustik said.
Once the subway opened and the structure came down, prices went up, though overall market conditions may also have played a part. Indeed, in May of this year, the apartment sold again for $900,000, according to property records, representing about a 30 percent spike in just four years. “I was definitely shocked they were able to achieve that number,” Mr. Shustik said.
Mr. Shustik, who works as the principal of Manhattan Residential, a development firm that owns several rental buildings in nearby East Harlem, is now undertaking a project closer to home.
At 327 East 84th Street, near Second Avenue, inside a three-story former garage with an ornate brick facade, he will create a four- or five-unit condo where each apartment will include a private, enclosed parking space. The project is awaiting some building permits, which are expected this summer. In 2015, city records show, the site cost about $12 million, a price some brokers said would be hard to match for a comparable site today.
In the meantime, Mr. Shustik is heartened by the arrival of new restaurants, like an outpost of La Esquina, the trendy downtown taqueria, which opened this spring in a long-empty space at East 73rd and Second. “Now that the subway construction is out of the way, you can feel better energy around here,” he added.
While the eastern Upper East Side has seen booms before — a thicket of condos sprouted in the 1980s — the latest wave offers more opulence than in the past, brokers say.
And not only in the luxury condos. A spare-no-finishes approach seems to inform Inspir Manhattan, a 23-story, 215-unit rental tower dedicated to older adults at 1802 Second Avenue, near East 93rd Street.
Developed by Maplewood Senior Living, with a partner, Omega Healthcare Investors, Inspir will offer 50,000 square feet of amenities, including three restaurants, a theater and a wine cellar, according to Greg Smith, Maplewood’s chief executive. A 16th-floor atrium with double-height ceilings will offer room enough for mature 20-foot trees.
The first in a planned chain, the $300 million development is supposed to open in the spring of 2019, at rents starting at $12,000 a month, a price that includes three farm-to-table meals a day.
Although Inspir’s residents, who will be between 75 and 85, may not be regulars on the new subway line, Mr. Smith said easier access may make the area more appealing to their families, especially ones that may want to live nearby. “That gentrification is certainly a bonus for us,” he said.
Other projects proposed for the area include a full-block mega-development from AvalonBay Communities, the real estate investment trust, on Second between East 96th and East 97th Streets on land leased from the city, part of which had been used to store subway construction equipment.
The nearly $1 billion undertaking proposes 1,100 rental units across 68 stories, plus three public schools and park land, though as of late June, the deal had not yet closed, an AvalonBay spokesman said.
“It’s a pretty exciting location,” said Matt Birenbaum, the chief investment officer. “It’s right on top of the new Second Avenue subway line.”
Elsewhere, Icon Realty Management is planning condos for two empty lots it owns on Second Avenue. One, at 301 East 81st Street, will have 32 units across 19 stories, and another, at 301 East 80th Street, will offer 72 apartments and 30 stories, with both expected to break ground this year.
While the gleaming new subway stops, where stations are air-conditioned and lined with art, at least give developers a talking point, they may not be enough to make up for an overall softening in the luxury market.
To wit: The Kent, an 83-unit condo from the Extell Development Company at 200 East 95th Street at Third Avenue, which some brokers have held up as a bellwether of the area’s rejuvenation, is about 25 percent sold, after a year of marketing, according to StreetEasy. That slow pace, brokers add, came despite some discounting. A spokeswoman for Extell declined to comment.
Still, even if sales are sluggish, the trip to Midtown is speedier. Plus, a sense of isolation seems to have lifted, according to Ms. Field. Yorkville, she said, “is no longer Siberia.”