Flatiron District shows residential growth amid plethora of shopping, nightlife

Flatiron District shows residential growth amid plethora of shopping, nightlife

The Flatiron District is known as a prime destination for shopping, nightlife and offices for tech startups, but what many don’t know is that the nabe also has a growing residential community.

The district is known for its booming commercial hub and iconic architecture, from the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company Tower near Madison Avenue to the historic Grand Madison on Fifth, to the Flatiron Building itself, after which it is named.

“It’s become a world-class neighborhood,” said Nick Athanail, 50, a real estate agent with Corcoran who’s lived and worked in Flatiron since 1995. “Culturally, it’s really evolved. It’s a great location, has access to transportation, nightlife and lots of historical beauty.”

He added that there are places to eat at every price point and no shortage of activities.

“My friends laugh at me because I spend so much time in the area,” Athanail said. “If they want me to go to a restaurant or a bar or shopping or somewhere outside the district, there’s always something closer to home for me that’s just as good, if not better.”

The area has seen an influx of major fashion, media and technology companies. For example, Sony’s headquarters — along with 2,000 employees — moved to 25 Madison Ave. earlier this year and Dropbox recently moved one of its offices to 50 W. 23rd St.

Meanwhile, Flatiron is also a major destination for retail therapy. Along Fifth Avenue are big-box vendors like Club Monaco, The LEGO Store, public plazas and Eataly, a popular Italian marketplace.

In terms of nightlife, it is known for rooftop bars like 230 Fifth, which sits at the top of a 20-story building that also houses retailers like Geneva Home Fashion and Linenstore, and Tavern29, a beer garden at the top of the two-story 47 E. 29th St.

For greenspace, locals head to Madison Square Park, which features a dog run, fall music concerts and outdoor artwork.

Due to all of its amenities, the Flatiron District is a major destination for tourists and city residents from other neighborhoods. It is accessible by 10 subway lines between 28th and 14th streets, as well as several buses.

But a residential community has been growing here in recent years, some say.

Lois Eida, 67, who has owned Lois Lane Travel at 230 Fifth Ave. for nearly 40 years, said she has seen an increase in residents first-hand.

“People didn’t live here before,” she said. “Everyone left the neighborhood at night. … Now it’s such a popular neighborhood to live in.”

But the visible affluence in the Flatiron District — as is also exemplified by the young, hip professionals strolling briskly along the avenues in expensive suits and designer accessories — is reflected in its real estate market.

According to the listings site StreetEasy, the district’s median sales price was $1.89 million in 2015, compared to $985,000 in Manhattan as a whole.

The median rent in the Flatiron District was $4,578 last year, up from $3,195 borough-wide.

The district’s housing stock mainly consists of co-ops and condo conversions, including pre-war buildings like 141 Fifth Ave., which was built in 1897 and once housed the Merchants Bank of New York, according to CityRealty. It was converted in 2009 and now has around 40 units.

In the last decade, more than 900 new rental and condos were constructed in Flatiron, and plans for another roughly 670 more are underway, according to a report released in October by the Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership Business Improvement District.

Area resident Kristel Ermel, 39, said she’s noticed that the area has gotten increasingly fancier when it comes to retail and dining, especially restaurants on Park Avenue S like Upland, which blends Italian and west coast cuisines.

As a resident, Ermel said the accessibility to retailers and services like the post office makes living in the Flatiron District very comfortable.

“It’s convenient because I work in midtown. I can walk to work,” said Ermel, a finance director who recently purchased an apartment in the Flatiron District and previously rented in the neighborhood since the spring of 2013. “Everything I want and need is right here.”

Wendy Lu