Real estate broker Oren Liberman has seen just about every corner of Roosevelt Island, from tiny studios to luxury penthouses. In the past six years, Liberman estimates that he’s completed about 200 transactions, including both sales and rentals, here on the Island.
“New people who come to Roosevelt Island are shocked to find such a clean and quiet place so close to Manhattan,” says Liberman. “There really is nothing else like it. Roosevelt Island has its own sanitation and is remarkably well kept, which is among the first things people notice. Also, the views are unique and amazing. If ever I have a hesitant client, I take them to Four Freedoms Park; it works every time.”
Although deals can still be found on the Island, Liberman acknowledges that, in some buildings, rental prices are approaching what you’d pay elsewhere in Manhattan for comparable apartments. “They used to come to the Island to save money, now they come for a better lifestyle,” Liberman says of some of his clients.
On a mid-December afternoon, Liberman offered a tour of a few of his favorite rental options currently available on the Island.
Building: 480 Main Street
Size: 650 sq ft
Advertised Rent: $3400, plus amenities feeWhat used to be the tot lot playground is now Riverwalk Point, the newest building on the Island. Runners on the east promenade can glimpse the building’s ground floor gym and yoga room, set off from the sidewalk by a landscaped outdoor space and grill. Riverwalk Point also boasts a business center with a couple of Macs and a children’s playroom. The amenities cost $30 per person per month. There are no private terraces in this building, but there are two roof decks featuring barbecues. One can be rented for parties.
Apartment 18C is a 650-square-foot one-bedroom apartment with a window in the kitchen that frames Firefighters Field and the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge. Like all of the apartments in the building, it has a washer and dryer. It’s on the market for $3,400. The apartments in this building are less spacious than those in its sister building, Riverwalk Crossing; the largest apartments have just two bedrooms.
Building: 888 Main Street
Size: 1,315 sq ft
Advertised Rent: $5,625The Octagon, built in 2006, is the Island’s northern-most rental building and is built on the former asylum. (The Octagon joined the National Register of Historic Places in 1972, but its survival remained in doubt for decades.) The U.S. Green Building Council awarded the Octagon LEED-Silver Certification, and it is billed as a green residential community.
Apartment 340 is a 1,315-square-foot, corner three-bedroom that goes for $5,625. “The corner living room is really special in the Octagon,” Liberman says. The rooms’ floor-to-ceiling windows offer expansive views overlooking the water and Manhattan. (There are 65 three-bedrooms in the building with two different layouts, but most are corners.) Like most of the building’s units, the apartment has a washer and dryer, a galley kitchen, but no terrace. (Only four river-facing penthouses feature terraces.) All of the Octagon’s three-bedroom units have washers and dryers, and many of its one-bedroom, and two-bedroom apartments do as well.
The Octagon is the only building that has its own parking. Liberman says that when you apply online, you can even choose your spot. The amenities at the Octagon include a gym, two childrens’ playrooms, express buses to the subway and Tram, monthly tenant events, heated outdoor swimming pool, and daycare.
There is also a U-shaped studio layout in the building to which Liberman is very partial. “I never see studios like that in any building,” says Liberman, “It’s extremely functional.” At 500 square feet, it’s not the building’s largest studio, but the shape makes for a distinct sleeping area, living space, and either dining or office space. There are a few currently on the market for $2,257.
Building: 405 Main Street
Size: 1,450 sq ft, plus patio
Advertised Rent: $6,950“I have a treat for you today,” Liberman says. It is one of just five west-facing three-bedroom apartments in Riverwalk Crossing featuring the extra-large patio (28.5 by 21.6 feet) visible from the Tram. In his six years of specializing in Island real estate, this is the first time Liberman has seen one available. In fact, this one has been inhabited by the same family since the building opened seven years ago.
The apartment is as spectacular as you’d expect. It’s a corner unit with three bathrooms – two are ensuite – a washer and dryer, open kitchen, and the high ceilings present in all Riverwalk Crossing penthouse apartments. On the market for $6,950, Liberman says that if the unit were on the market in the summer months, the rent would be closer to $8,000 per month.
The 17-story building is solely market-rate rentals. There is a playroom (a recent addition to the building by tenant demand), a gym, roof terrace with barbecues, and a lounge. Leases can range from nine months to 24 months.
If you were interested in this apartment, Liberman says there’s a wait list for three-bedrooms in the building, and offers are made by management to those on that list before they consider renting to an outsider.
Building: 20 River Road
Size: 1,400 sq ft
Advertised Rent: $6,000Manhattan Park is an 880-apartment complex comprised of four buildings, 10, 20, 30, and 40 River Road. (Another building, 2-4 River Road, while managed by Manhattan Park, does not have market-rate apartments.) Each building has a large roof deck with grill, and a complimentary fitness center. There’s a small playroom that is not attached to any of the buildings. On the property is one of the Island’s two outdoor pools; and there are seasonal activities for building residents, including a pumpkin patch, holiday party, and outdoor movies.
Apartment 21C in 20 River Road is currently the most expensive apartment in Manhattan Park. This renovated 1,400-square-foot unit has been converted from a three-bedroom with dedicated dining room to a four-bedroom apartment. Unlike most Manhattan Park units, 21C has a washer and dryer in a dedicated laundry room, and mouldings throughout the apartment. It also features an impressive view of the Manhattan skyline. The rent is $6,000 per month.
Most apartments above the fourth floor feature a small terrace. A few apartments feature large private roof decks as well. Every first floor apartment in Manhattan Park has a backyard.
Liberman takes pride in his knowledge of the Island and its real estate. “I’m personally very familiar with every single building on Roosevelt Island,” Liberman says. Despite that, he refuses to reveal his favorite building, saying, “I have a good relationship with all of them, it’s like choosing between your kids.”
Building: 540 Main Street
Size: 1,200 sq ft
Advertised Rent: $4,830
Unlike the other buildings, there is no on-site leasing agency at Roosevelt Landings. You need a broker to walk you around. The 1,000-apartment complex runs along the east side of Main Street and is comprised of even-numbered buildings from 510 - 580 Main Street. All of the buildings are connected at the fourth and seventh floors.
There are 50 garden apartments within Roosevelt Landings. Apartment B128 in 540 Main Street is one of them. The two-story, four-bedroom apartment includes one and a half baths and a garden that is so big you could fit a table, chairs, multiple kids’ pools, and an actual garden in it.
Unlike the other Roosevelt Landings duplexes, which typically have a closet only at the top or bottom of the stairs where the entry is, apartment B128 features a deep closet, as well as space for a couple of scooters, a double stroller, and some bikes in the entryway. Like most units in the complex (including all two-bedrooms and larger), the apartment has an eat-in kitchen. It is priced at $4,830. Liberman says that in summer months, the management would be asking $6,000.
Roosevelt Landings is the only complex on the Island without a doorman, a gym, or any amenities. But it isn’t without perks. In fact, in Roosevelt Landings, all utilities are included in the rent; in 2014 the building got a highly efficient energy and heat upgrade.