Trends in real estate, lifestyle, art, and fashion are largely expressed through the media. Print media has the power to communicate who we are as a community and culture. It helps guide our perception and influences our methods of marketing. It has the ability to educate consumers and shape ideas.
Jason Binn is the CEO and Founder of Niche Media. In a short 15 years, has made it one of the most prominent and powerful publishing companies in the United States. As such, he is a pioneer that has helped bring thousands of people together.
The recent brisk real estate environment has seen many young developers enter the development arena, trying to make a statement (and a profit). Some have succeeded more than others. Some have a vision and a drive more powerful than others. Alex Sapir has impressed me as one who’s passionate drive, vision, and tolerance for risk will set him apart from the rest. As President of The Sapir Organization, he is currently developing downtown Manhattan’s two most iconic and largest projects. We met for lunch in Soho and enjoyed a conversation about a number of topics. I hope you find his ideas and story as compelling as I do:
I am starting to see more people consciously aware of environmental issues worldwide. There are more hybrid cars on the road, and the stores I shop at have “environmentally friendly” products widely displayed. How does this translate into the way we buy and live inside our homes? Marketing companies and developers are starting to advertise the fact that their buildings may be “green” or LEED certified. I believe that this trend will grow. As technology evolves, green living will become more efficient and become both environmentally and economically preferable. But, there are shades of green and it is not simply black or white. I was fortunate to sit down with Ashok Gupta who is Senior Energy Economist with the Natural Resources Defense Council. He is actively involved in all aspects of green buildings on a daily basis and is incredibly insightful on this subject.
The question we would all love to have the answer to is “where is the next hot neighborhood?” And, of course, I always hear my clients complaints that, “if only I had bought that site in Soho…or Tribeca… or the UWS… or Harlem… or Lower 5th… or the East Village…(you get the idea) before it got hot”. Over the past 15 years I have witnessed Manhattan’s luxury market shrink from many segmented luxury neighborhoods into almost one large luxury neighborhood. The Upper West Side has expanded to Midtown (thanks in large part to the Time Warner buildings). The delineation between Midtown and the Village (East and West) has been smudged, and everyone is watching to see how much luxury residential property can be absorbed in The Financial District. (I’ll discuss more of that in a future SO interview.)
What makes a neighborhood change? Something defining: a new Landmark… a slow expansion of a good neighborhood into a lesser neighborhood… a huge investment by a city agency… a new park… a change in zoning!
West Chelsea has a number of these elements.
In June, 2005, the City Council approved the Department of City Planning’s proposals for a zoning amendment affecting the West Chelsea area. This affected West 16th St to 30th St between Tenth and Eleventh Avenues. The Special West Chelsea District was created and provided opportunities for new residential and commercial development. Some of which is well underway. The high line park has started construction, after much deliberation, and will create a magnificent linear open park on the previous elevated rail line.
The bad news for a developer is… most of the developable land is already taken (Add West Chelsea to your list of complaints about where you should have bought.)
The good news for a condo buyer is… the neighborhood is in its infancy and is neighbored by prime Chelsea, the trendy meatpacking District, the Hudson River, and the High Line Park. Some of the most renowned architects in the world have started to help West Chelsea emerge as one of Manhattan’s most promising and desirable residential neighborhoods.
I was fortunate to talk with two of them: Annabelle Selldorf and Sara Lopergolo of Selldorf Architects.