The nearly 1,400-foot tower at 432 Park Avenue, briefly the tallest residential building in the world, was the pinnacle of New York’s luxury condo boom half a decade ago, fueled largely by foreign buyers seeking discretion and big returns.
Six years later, residents of the exclusive tower are now at odds with the developers, and each other, making clear that even multimillion-dollar price tags do not guarantee problem-free living. The claims include millions of dollars of water damage from plumbing and mechanical issues; frequent elevator malfunctions; and walls that creak like the galley of a ship — all of which may be connected to the building’s main selling point: its immense height, according to homeowners, engineers and documents obtained by The New York Times.
Less than a decade after a spate of record-breaking condo towers reached new heights in New York, the first reports of defects and complaints are beginning to emerge, raising concerns that some of the construction methods and materials used have not lived up to the engineering breakthroughs that only recently enabled 1,000-foot-high trophy apartments. Engineers privy to some of the disputes say many of the same issues are occurring quietly in other new towers.
The disputes at 432 Park also highlight a rarely seen view of New York’s so-called Billionaire’s Row, a stretch of supertall towers near Central Park that redefined the city skyline, and where the identities of virtually all the buyers were concealed by shell companies.
The building, a slender tower that critics have likened to a middle finger because of its contentious height, is mostly sold out, with a projected value of $3.1 billion. The 96th floor penthouse at the top of the building sold in 2016 for nearly $88 million to a company representing the Saudi retail magnate Fawaz Alhokair. Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriguez bought a 4,000-square-foot apartment there for $15.3 million in 2018, and sold about a year later.