Your Next Move

What you can get for $1 million in Morningside Heights, an architecturally rich area that's home to Columbia University

  • Its many educational institutions attract professors as well as parents buying for children
  • Housing stock is mostly prewar co-ops and post-war condos ranging from $500,000 to $5 million
By Nancy A. Ruhling  |
January 31, 2024 - 9:30AM
your next move brick underground

A two-bedroom, one-bath unit in The Circle, a boutique co-op building facing Morningside Park, is on the market for $675,000. 

Douglas Elliman Real Estate

Have you always wanted to live in Morningside Heights but assumed you were priced out? In this series, Brick looks at listings in New York City’s most in-demand neighborhoods for under $1 million—roughly the median sales price for Manhattan co-ops and condos—as well as higher-priced options below $2.5 million. 

If your goal is to live large, think small: Buying a studio or one bedroom is a way to net the nabe of your dreams. New to buying NYC real estate? Be sure to wrap your head around the difference between co-ops and condos. Co-ops are generally less expensive but also are older and have fewer bells and whistles than condos—plus more rules. With that in mind—happy hunting!

In this week’s Your Next Move, Julia Boland, a broker at Corcoran, and Nancy Woods, an agent at Sotheby’s International Realty, give us the inside story on Morningside Heights, a vibrant, community-oriented neighborhood that’s home to Columbia University and Barnard College.

What draws buyers to the neighborhood?

Morningside Heights’ affordability is the number one attraction, Woods says, noting, for example, that “a studio buyer on the Upper West Side might be able to comfortably buy a one bedroom in Morningside Heights.”

She points to the neighborhood’s numerous green spaces and prewar architecture as other draws. 

And because it’s home to Columbia University, Teachers College, Barnard College, Manhattan School of Music, Bank Street College of Education, Jewish Theological Seminary, and Union Theological Seminary, it attracts “professors as well as parents buying for children,” Woods says.  

Noting that Morningside Heights is quieter than some other Manhattan neighborhoods, Boland says it still has a vibrant city vibe. “Public transportation makes it easy to commute to Columbia and even New Jersey,” she says, adding that “it’s a very intellectual, inclusive, and creative community.”

What are housing and pricing like?

Most of the stock in Morningside Heights is condos and co-ops, although there are also townhouses here.

“Buyers love the prewar architecture with Colonial and Georgian Revival row houses and apartment buildings with distinctive architecture, many with waterfront vistas,” Woods says.

Boland adds that “it’s a mix of everything from truly affordable Housing Development Fund Corporation co-ops to luxury condos at Claremont Hall by Robert A.M. Stern Architects. With prices ranging from $500,000 to $5 million, there’s something for everyone.”

What type of property can I get for under or around $1 million?

For this price, you can buy a luxury one-bedroom, one-bath condo in Claremont Hall, Boland says. She notes that one of her new listings (shown below), a two-bedroom, one-bath co-op with a balcony that’s in the Morningside Gardens development, is on the market for $649,000. “It needs refreshing,” she adds.

StreetEasy has 35 listings in this price range.

I can stretch my budget. What can I get for $2.5 million?

“You can get a gorgeous two-bedroom, two-bath condo in the Claremont that’s 1,272 square feet and has stunning south views of Downtown,” Boland says.

Another choice, she says, is a four-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bath co-op in a prewar building overlooking Riverside Park that’s on the market for $2.595 million.

Are there any newer condo developments I should check out?

Newer condos typically offer the most luxurious amenities and finishes, features that attract many buyers.

Completed in 2023, the aforementioned 41-story Claremont Hall has 165 units, a pool that becomes a stage for events, an arts and crafts workshop, and a playroom, study, library, dining hall, pet spa, roof terrace and lounge, and on-site parking. The least expensive units, both one bedrooms with one bath, are on the market for $1.2 million (810 square feet) and $1.21 million (706 square feet). 

The 33-story, 183-unit The Vandewater, which opened in 2019, features an aquatic center with a 70-foot pool, a fitness center, yoga/pilates room, private sauna and treatment room, great room with catering kitchen, dining terrace, music practice room, teen room, study room, playroom, pet spa, and on-site parking. Asking $1.18, an 831-square-foot one bedroom with one bath is the least expensive available unit. 

Which attractions do you show buyers who have never been to the area?

Boland shows clients the public grounds of Columbia University’s expanded campus as well as its food halls, art galleries, and other highlights. Morningside Park, a city landmark, and Sakura Park, named for its Japanese flowering cherry trees, are also on her list, as is the Manhattanville Factory District, a multi-building commercial and community space right over the border in West Harlem.

In addition to the parks, Woods’ must-see list includes Cathedral of John the Divine, Children’s Sculpture Park, Grant’s Tomb, the Morningside Park farmer’s market, Book Culture (an independent bookstore), and the Miller Theatre at Columbia University.
She also points out Marlow Bistro, Milano Market (for sandwiches), Pisticci (for Italian fare and live jazz), Hungarian Pastry Shop, Absolute Bagels, The Expat (for Southeast Asian food and craft cocktails), and Vino Fino Wine Shop.

What are the nearby neighborhoods, and are they less expensive?

Noting the difficulty in comparing Morningside Heights with neighboring communities because of the difference in housing stock, Boland says Central Harlem and Bloomingdale properties are similar in price.

Check out these listings that are around $1 million in Morningside Heights.

your next move brick underground

549 West 123rd St., #15G

Listed for $649,000, this two-bedroom, one-bath co-op has oversized windows, an eat-in kitchen, a dishwasher, and private balcony. It is located in one of seven 21-story buildings that date to 1957 and comprise the 890-unit Morningside Gardens complex. Amenities include a live-in super, elevator, gym, bike room, laundry facilities, and parking garage

your next move brick underground

549 West 123rd St., #12H

This one-bedroom, one-bath co-op, also in Morningside Gardens, has a dishwasher and private balcony. It is asking $399,000. The listing says to "bring your contractor or use a contractor who specializes in the building to create your dream home." 

your next move brick underground

70 La Salle St., #19A

Listed for $669,000, this Morningside Gardens co-op has two bedrooms, one bath, a balcony, and an eat-in kitchen. Additional building amenities include playrooms, game rooms, event spaces, and an on-site daycare and early childhood education center.

your next move brick underground

114 Morningside Dr., #35

This renovated two-bedroom, one-bath co-op, on the market for $675,000, features nine-foot ceilings, hardwood floors, a chef's kitchen, and a wall of restored closets in the primary bedroom. The Circle is a six-story, 30-unit elevator building that dates to 1910 and includes a live-in super, central laundry room, bike room, and designated storage cages.

your next move brick underground

545 West 111th St., #2H

Featuring 10-foot ceilings, skim-coated walls, and restored hardwood floors, this one-bedroom, one-bath co-op has a large open kitchen and French doors separating the living area from the bedroom. The Rockfall is a circa-1909, 10-story building with 130 units and a full-time doorman and concierge, resident superintendent, on-site gym, central laundry, bike storage, and furnished roof deck with Hudson River views. The asking price is $600,000. 

Nancy A. Ruhling is a freelance writer based in New York City.


Nancy A. Ruhling

Freelance Journalist

Nancy A. Ruhling has written for over 50 digital and print publications, including The New York Times, HuffPost and Mansion Global. The Queens-based journalist frequently contributes articles to Brick Underground's Buy Curious column. 

Brick Underground articles occasionally include the expertise of, or information about, advertising partners when relevant to the story. We will never promote an advertiser's product without making the relationship clear to our readers.