Wild Orchids

L'Officiel ThailandJune 01, 2015

Tim Crowley and Emily Beare's listing at 224 Mulberry Street was featured in the Weddings Issue of fashion magazine, L'Officiel Thailand. 

Mixology moves into Manhattan, Drybar's Brookfield Place lease, Perk Kafe's new location

Crain's New YorkMay 29, 2015


349 W. 12th St.
Husband and wife Caroline and Michael Ventura opened the West Village boutique. The store offers contemporary and midcentury home design pieces including lighting, furniture, collectibles and art.


Hudson + Lawrence
355 Atlantic Ave., Brooklyn
The designer boutique opened in Boerum Hill. It offers a collection of small to medium designer brands of women’s clothing and accessories. The style is inspired by the fashion of cities such as New York, Montreal and Athens.


Claw & Co.
101 Delancey St.
New York City graffiti artist, fashion designer and author Claw Money opened a boutique on the Lower East Side. It offers items from Ms. Money’s current collection as well as rare vintage items.



1467 Third Ave.
The Long Island retailer opened its first Manhattan location, on the Upper East Side. The boutique features an array of trendy and affordable fashion brands.


KLM Optical Inc. d/b/a Pearle Vision
1085 Northern Blvd., Roslyn, L.I.
Filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on May 15. The filing cites estimated assets of $100,001 to $500,000 and estimated liabilities of $1,000,001 to $10 million. The creditors with the largest unsecured claims are American Express Bank FSB, owed $386,534; American Express, owed $37,518.50; and ABB Optical Group, owed $37,039.


Nguyen Custom Woodworking
90 Courter Ave., Yonkers
Filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on May 26. The filing cites estimated assets of $100,001 to $500,000 and estimated liabilities of $500,001 to $1 million. The creditors with the largest unsecured claims are John Nguyen, owed $169,729.60; Trustees of the New York District Council of Carpenters Benefit Funds, owed $125,000; and New York District Council Carpenters Pension Fund, owed $115,261.90.


Prime Six Inc. d/b/a Woodland, d/b/a Foxgrove
1723 E. 12th St., Brooklyn
Filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on May 20. The filing cites estimated assets of $50,001 to $100,000 and estimated liabilities of $1,000,001 to $10 million. The creditors with the largest unsecured claims are Internal Revenue Service, owed $341,469.68; New York State Department of Taxation and Finance, owed $287,694.80; and ISG Capital Inc., owed $245,000.


12 Dorn Place, Centereach, L.I.
Filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on May 14. The filing cites estimated assets of $100,001 to $500,000 and estimated liabilities of $1,000,001 to $10 million. The creditors with the largest unsecured claims are New York City Department of Finance, owed $927,234.66; and GE Capital Small Business, owed $180,000.


Department of Parks and Recreation
Requests competitive sealed bids by 10:30 a.m. on June 16 for in-kind reconstruction of site utility plumbing systems in connection with comfort stations and facilities at various Parks and Recreation locations citywide. Bid documents are available between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. in the Blueprint Room, Room 64, Olmsted Center, Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Queens, for a $25 fee payable by company check or money order to City of New York, Parks and Recreation. To make inquiries, contact Michael Shipman at (718) 760-6705 or


Department of Environmental Protection
Requests proposals by 4 p.m. on June 23 for construction management services for the installation of water meters on several unmetered developments operated by the New York City Housing Authority. A preproposal conference is scheduled for 1 p.m. on June 5 at NYC DEP, 59-17 Junction Blvd., third-floor cafeteria, Flushing, Queens. To make inquiries, contact Jeanne Schreiber at (718) 595-3456 or



Department of Citywide Administrative Services
Seeks competitive sealed bids for heavy-duty liners, polyethylene and rodent repellent, and for paper table napkins, both by 10:30 a.m. on June 30. To download either bid, visit Enrollment is free. Vendors can also request either bid by contacting vendor relations at or (212) 386-0044. To make inquiries, contact Yuriy Reznik at (212) 386-0458 or yreznik@dcas


Taxi and Limousine Commission
Seeks competitive sealed proposals by 2 p.m. on July 8 for a dispatch program for wheelchair-accessible medallion taxicabs and street-hail liveries. To make inquiries, contact Jeremy Halperin at (212) 676-1031 or



Accounting firm Schulman Lobel signed a lease for 12,017 square feet at 1001 Sixth Ave., a 24-story, 240,000-square-foot building. ABS Partners' Jay Caseley represented both the tenant and the landlord in the deal. The asking rent was $52 per square foot.


Real estate investment and management firm R.A. Cohen & Associates inked a 15-year lease for 8,100 square feet on the 19th floor at 250 Park Ave. Benjamin N. Blumenthal and Norman Bobrow of Norman Bobrow and Co. represented the tenant. Robert Billingsley, David Hoffman Jr. and Whitnee Williams of DTZ represented the landlord, AEW Capital Management. Asking rents were in the $60s per square foot.


Residential real estate firm Core signed a 10-year lease for 5,500 square feet at 149 Fifth Ave. Shaun Osher, Core's founder and chief executive, represented his company in-house. Jason Greenstein of Newmark Grubb Knight Frank represented the landlord, William Colavito Inc. The asking rent was not disclosed.


Regulatory body the National Mah Jongg League signed a seven-year deal for 2,600 square feet at 450 Seventh Ave. The tenant was represented by Michael Heaner of the Kaufman Organization, the building's owner. The landlord was represented in-house by Barbara Raskob. The asking rent was $55 per square foot.



Medical facility Total Urology of New York inked a 15-year deal for 3,207 square feet at 7 W. 51 St. The tenant was represented by Stanley Plesh of Prime Manhattan Realty. The landlord, listed on property records as PREF 7 West 51st Street LLC, was represented by Josh Augenbaum of Augenbaum Realty Corp. The asking rent was $65 per square foot.


Blowout specialist Drybar signed a 10-year lease for 1,498 feet on the second floor at 250 Vesey St., a 1.8-million-square-foot space in the Brookfield Place complex. Steven Greenberg of the Greenberg Group represented the tenant. Mark Kostic of Brookfield Office Properties represented the landlord in-house, along with Stephen Plourde of the McDevitt Group. The asking rent was about $120 per square foot.


Coffee-brewer Perk Kafe signed a 10-year lease for 1,000 square feet on the ground floor of 1867 Second Ave. The landlord, Ogrin Associates, was represented by Joshua Gettler and Joshua Kaufman of New Street Realty Advisors and dealt with the tenant directly. The asking rent was $110 per square foot.


Following are recent insider transactions at New York's largest publicly held companies filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission by executives and major shareholders. Listings are in order of transaction value. The information was obtained from Thomson Reuters.


Ralph Lauren Corp. (RL)
Ralph Lauren, chief executive and chairman, exercised options on 250,000 shares of common stock between May 20 and May 21 at prices ranging from $43.04 to $57.76 per share, in a transaction worth $12,230,750. On the same days, he sold 250,000 shares at prices ranging from $131.45 to $131.79 per share, in a transaction worth $32,889,548. He now directly owns 511,036 shares.


Becton Dickinson and Co. (BDX)
William A. Kozy, chief operating officer and executive vice president, exercised options on 42,079 shares of common stock between May 18 and May 20 at prices ranging from $62.50 to $84.33 per share, in a transaction worth $3,026,305. On the same days, he sold 20,761 shares at prices ranging from $142 to $142.01, in a transaction worth $2,948,137. He now directly owns 129,953 shares.


Jeffrey Sherman, senior vice president and general counsel, exercised options on 12,380 shares of common stock on May 13 at a price of $84.33 per share, in a transaction worth $1,044,005. On the same day, he sold 10,983 shares at a price of $138.40 per share, in a transaction worth $1,520,047. He now directly owns 26,454 shares.


Linda M. Tharby, executive vice president and president of life-sciences segment, exercised options on 13,459 shares of common stock between May 20 and May 21 at prices ranging from $75.63 to $84.33 per share, in a transaction worth $1,049,268. On the same days, she sold 6,069 shares at prices ranging from $142.00 to $142.02 per share, in a transaction worth $861,894. She now directly owns 8,280 shares.


Cambrex Corp. (CBM)
Ilan Kaufthal, director, sold 50,000 shares of common stock on May 21 at a price of $41.31 per share, in a transaction worth $2,065,380. He now directly owns 112,315 shares.


Moody's Corp. (MCO)
Lisa Westlake, chief human-resources officer and senior vice president, sold 13,675 shares of common stock on May 20 at a price of $109.69 per share, in a transaction worth $1,500,011. She now directly owns 23,971 shares.

Co-op Board Asked to Interview Homebuyer's Child, Mom Says

DNAinfoMay 26, 2015

MIDTOWN EAST — They’re not kidding around.


A co-op board at a fancy Tudor City apartment building doesn’t just grill prospective buyers to see if they would make suitable neighbors — it also wants to interview their children.


In what could be a first for the city — even in one with such a cutthroat and capricious real estate market — co-op board members at Woodstock Tower have instructed buyers to bring along their kids to interviews that determine whether they get apartments.


That’s what one buyer, Joyce Kacin, said in a complaint she sent last year to state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Mayor Bill de Blasio, claiming the co-op board made the unusual request to her — and that it was discriminatory.


“I was invited to a Coop Board interview,” Kacin, 53, wrote in her two-page complaint. “However, the invitation included the need to bring my minor child! Why, in Heavens Name, would a minor child be required to participate in this?? Why would a child be required to go through such an ominous meeting? What could the child add to the interview that anyone has any right to question or expect?”


Kacin, a publishing executive, said in the Aug. 30 complaint that she reached out to Schneiderman and de Blasio because “discrimination is a blight [they] have vowed to defend” and believed this was affecting co-op buyers and their children around the city. She fumed that the Woodstock board’s request to bring her “minor” son to the interview violated the city’s Human Rights Law, which makes it illegal to reject a purchaser for having a kid.


 “Questions and requirements in these areas are illegal,” she wrote in her complaint. “But, the slippery slope of empowered Board Members took undue license in my case, and I dare say, I’m not alone. If even the ‘existence of children’ cannot be questioned, then how can it be legal to require their participation in a Coop Board interview?”


Kacin said not only is interviewing kids discriminatory — it could leave them scarred.


“Should the applicant be denied, what would the effect on the child be? Children would feel only one thing: responsible,” she wrote. “That is just how children are built. The child would assume the burden of having lost the home that was the hope of the family. That is wrong, unfair, and even abusive.”


Kacin said the board president, Susan Isaacs, only dropped the request to meet her son after she wrote a long letter to the board explaining her reasons for not wanting to bring him along. Even then Kacin wondered whether Isaacs, 71, backed off on the request because she realized it was discriminatory and left the building open to legal action.


“Did she recognize that if she persisted she might be faced with a lawsuit and that is why she relented?” Kacin wrote in her complaint.


A co-op board interview is perhaps the most dreaded step for any apartment hunter looking to buy a unit in a cooperative building.


The board chooses who lives in its building by either rejecting or approving the apartment sale after meeting the prospective buyer. Adding to the unnerving experience is that the board doesn’t have to explain its decision.


Doug Heddings, an executive vice president at real estate brokerage firm CORE, said that prospective buyers shouldn’t panic about a co-op board interviews, but they often do because of “the private and almost secretive atmosphere” surrounding them.


“No two boards are alike and it is like interviewing for a private club,” he said. “Boards are also dynamic so it is difficult to ever know precisely what is being sought in a prospective shareholder at any given time.”


Heddings and other real estate experts told DNAinfo New York that some co-op boards make unusual requests like wanting to meet a buyer’s significant other or a pet dog before deciding, but asking to speak to a child was unusual.


“I have never in my 23 years in this business heard of a co-op board interviewing a child,” Heddings said. “I can’t fathom why they would want to interview children unless they had some sort of difficulty with other shareholders’ children in the building.”


Kacin, who splits her time between New York and Connecticut, told DNAinfo she bristled when the Woodstock co-op board asked her to bring her son to her interview over her potential purchase of a $250,000 pied-a-terre at the 32-story landmarked building on East 42nd Street.


“I nearly walked away from the apartment,” she said, declining to give the age of her son at the time. “I didn’t want my son to be there. I didn’t want to him to deal with this.”


Kacin said that, in her case, she feared if she refused the board’s request, its members would reject the sale and she would lose a $25,000 deposit.


There were also non-financial factors that made walking away tough.


“It’s daunting to consider backing away from the investment of time, the relinquishing of privacy, financial information, and the swallowing of pride to begin all over again at another location,” she wrote in her complaint.


Kacin initially told her broker she wouldn’t bring her son to the interview, but he advised her to comply with the board’s wishes.  When she stood firm, the broker called the seller’s broker, who also said she should follow the board’s request.


Kacin’s broker suggested she contact her lawyer, who said, after looking over her application, that he “felt confident” he could fight and win her deposit back if it were forfeited. But that didn’t assuage Kacin because a fight would mean lawyer fees.


Kacin, who describes herself as a “mature and educated woman” in her complaint, said she decided to take a different tack — by writing the board a note.


“I wrote a letter to the Coop Board and gently, sweetly, and diplomatically asked them to interview me alone, without my child,” she said in her complaint. “To ‘apologize’ for my request, I went into descriptions of my child and my life circumstances which, in hindsight, were an invasion of my privacy and should have been unnecessary.”


The letter swayed Isaacs, the board president, to drop the request to meet Kacin’s son. After interviewing only Kacin, the board approved the sale in April 2014.


When Kacin moved in, she cleared the air with Isaacs over a cup of coffee.


Kacin told DNAinfo that Isaacs said she always asked to meet any buyer’s kids. But Kacin said she believes the board president was not intentionally trying to discriminate and didn’t know that it could be violating the city’s Human Rights Law.


“My point in the [complaint] was to show the ill-preparedness, the lack of training that co-op boards have and real estate agents have,” she said. “They don’t know that this is not legal. It’s completely unethical, but it’s also illegal.”


While most real estate experts told DNAinfo that the Woodstock board’s request to meet her child seemed unique, Kacin believes this practice is going on around the city.


She said boards have become too empowered, making decisions with impunity.


“It’s so discriminatory,” she said. “They could not like the freaking shirt you’re wearing and you could not get in.”


That’s why, even though Kacin said the Woodstock board "saw the light" and believes it is no longer interviewing prospective buyers’ children, she wrote a complaint to Schneiderman and de Blasio in hopes that they’ll crack down on this practice citywide.


The attorney general’s real estate finance bureau enforces rules and regulations governing the sale of real estate, including cooperatives. It also looks into complaints of wrongdoing about developers or sponsors of condominium and cooperatives.


DNAinfo New York obtained Kacin’s complaint from Schneiderman’s office through a Freedom of Information Law request.


A Schneiderman spokesman declined to say whether his office is or had investigated the complaint. However, Kacin said she received a letter from the attorney general’s office telling her it was not pursuing an investigation but that she could take her own action against the board.


Mayor de Blasio’s office did not respond to requests for comment.


Isaacs and Orsid Realty, Woodstock’s property manager, declined to comment for the story, or say if the board’s practice of interviewing children is continuing.


One real estate law expert, Adam Leitman Bailey, said he believed the board was legally allowed to interview children, so long as the parents accompany the child and it doesn’t reject the potential buyer solely on the basis of having a kid.


He noted that under New York law “there are no limits on a cooperative’s power to want to meet with a family member, whether it be a child or a dog.”


Bailey also said buyers shouldn’t be surprised their kids are getting grilled considering they’re looking for a home in Manhattan.


“Remember that this is New York City where 5 year olds are interviewed to get into kindergarten,” he said. 

Top residential agents of the week

The Real DealMay 26, 2015

John Burger and 3 East 80th Street on the Upper East Side


Price: $19,750,000

Listing broker: John Burger of Brown Harris Stevens

Address: 3 East 80th Street


John Gadsaka, Jonathan Conlon, Patricia Cliff and 145 Hudson Street in Tribeca


Price: $11,800,000

Listing brokers: John Gasdaska, Jonathan Conlon and Patricia Cliff of the Corcoran Group

Address: 145 Hudson Street


Tim Crowley and 224 Mulberry Street in Nolita


Price: $11,200,750

Listing broker: Tim Crowley, previously of Flank, now at CORE

Address: 224 Mulberry Street


Paula Del Nunzio and 182 East 75th Street on the Upper East Side


Price: $9,280,000

Listing broker: Paula del Nunzio of Brown Harris Stevens

Address: 182 East 75th Street


Daren Herzberg, Julie Pham, Brian Babst and 30 Crosby Street in Soho


Price: $7,990,000

Listing brokers: Daren Herzberg, Julie Pham and Brian Babst of the Corcoran Group

Address: 30 Crosby Street


Sources: StreetEasy and The Real Deal. Footnotes: Data is for closed deals filed with the city this week through Friday. The chart only includes sellers’ brokers, because buyers’ brokers’ names are not available in city data or listings. The data does not include deals in contract. To obtain broker information, listing information was compared with sales records filed with the city. Only deals where an individual broker and address can be identified are included. As a result, private sales, listings where an address has not been provided and new development sales by a sales center are not included.

Open House Agenda: 3 Apartments to See This Weekend

DNAinfoMay 22, 2015

Few buyers set out to find the perfect cookie-cutter apartment when looking for a new home. Instead, they hope to find something special - whatever that might mean for them. Here are three apartments with open houses this Memorial Day weekend that we feel qualify.


796 Dekalb Ave., Apt. B2, Bedford-Stuyvesant
Studio/3 Baths
Approximately 1,838 square feet
Common Charges: $516 per month
Real Estate Taxes: $50 per month (abated)
Open House: Friday, May 22, 4-4:30 p.m.


Lowdown: If you look at the floorplan, you might be fooled into thinking there are just two terraces for this Bed-Stuy duplex loft, but there's a third sandwiched between two rooms on the upper level.


"It's really a giant apartment," said Nadine Adamson of Brown Harris Stevens, explaining that the three outdoor spaces offer "a lot of options."


"We've had people come through and say, 'This one will be the herb garden, this one will be the flower garden,'" she said.


The sellers purchased from the sponsor five years ago and kept the loft open, making the below-grade lower level into a bedroom and office space. Because of that, the unit is officially a studio even though it's close to 2,000 square feet in size and has three bathrooms.


They also built in a significant amount of storage space and created giant his-and-her closets, Adamson noted, adding that the lower level has heated floor tiles.


The two larger terraces are off the kitchen on the upper level and the lower sleeping area. The unit has a washer/dryer and its own boiler.


Location: This eastern side of Bed-Stuy is seeing more activity in the area, from a loft conversion around the corner, to a new backyard beer garden opening this month. Herbert Von King Park is two blocks away, and a Home Depot is three blocks down on Dekalb Avenue.


The Myrtle-Willoughby G train station is the closest subway at about half a mile; the J/M/Z Myrtle station is just under a mile away. Several new CitiBike stations are being added to the neighborhood by the end of 2015.


Why put it on your open house calendar? "Based on a per square feet basis, it's one of the best values in Bed-Stuy," Adamson said. "And it has three outdoor spaces. It's a luxury to be able to spread out."


NOTE: This open house is for Friday evening.


874 Broadway, Apt. 807, Flatiron
Studio/1 Bathroom
Approximately 1,000 square feet
$1.75 million
Maintenance: $2,091 per month
Open House: Sunday, May 24, noon to 1:30 p.m.


Lowdown: This unit, too, though listed as studio, has enough room to convert the space into a one- or even two-bedroom apartment. The current owner took down the walls and made it an open space when he purchased it nearly 12 years ago, said Win Brown of Core.


"It's really a unique loft. It's in the back of a L-shaped building and really has no neighbors," Brown said of the eighth-floor unit. "There are 13 windows facing east, north and west, and 12-foot ceilings. You don't really see open spaces like that anymore."


Formerly an office space, the MacIntyre Building has its original black-and-white mosaic tile floor throughout the common hallways, and for this unit it runs all the way into the apartment to the kitchen. The hardwood floors are also original.


The prior owner updated the kitchen and bathroom before selling.


The maintenance of this elevator building - which has a full-time super but no doorman - is on the high side because the building does not own the commercial space, so it doesn't have that revenue coming in, Brown noted.


Location: The building, at the corner of 18th Street, is convenient to Chelsea, just a block west. Union Square, with its famous farmers' market, is steps away. Design-lovers' favorite ABC Carpet & Home - with Jean-Georges Vongerichten's ABC Kitchen - is on the block. An AMC Loews is at 19th Street.


The 4/5/6/l/N/Q/R trains are at 17th and Broadway.


Why put it on your open house calendar? "If you're looking for an authentic loft in the Flatiron District, this is it," Brown said. "The challenge is to find someone who appreciates the open space."


250 103rd St., Apt. 2C, Upper West Side
3 Bedrooms/2 Baths
Approximately 1,250 square feet
$1.795 million
Maintenance: $1,753 per month
Open House: Sunday, May 24, 1:30-3:30 p.m.


Lowdown: The terrace for this three-bedroom is large enough to feel "like an outdoor living room," said Greg Kammerer of Corcoran Group.


"It's really the pièce de résistance," he said of the 260-square-foot space that gets good southern light and has a pergola. "The apartment has a brownstone feel, so someone looking for that with a garden might be interested. But what [differentiates it from brownstones] is it's on the second floor, so it's brighter, you get three bedrooms instead of the usual two, and it's a doorman building."


The seller did light updates to the kitchen and bath, "where they were already in good shape" when purchasing seven years ago. The washer/dryer is new and vented. The building recently installed new windows.


The 75-unit Alexandria House also has a common roof deck and basement storage.


Location: There are nearly half a dozen new restaurants under construction nearby, said Kammerer, who lives in the neighborhood. The 1 train at 103rd Street is half a block from the building.


Why put it on your open house calendar? "There are only a few apartments with appreciable outdoor space that's more than a balcony, and the penthouse units are pricey," Kammerer said. "Because you're on the second floor, you can get a really nice outdoor space without paying multiple millions of dollars."

Brokers Click with Tech Talkers

Real Estate WeeklyMay 22, 2015

REBNY’s latest Breakfast Club seminar, “Using Technology to Maximize Your Database,” drew a huge crowd, filling the Mendik Education Center.


The panel, sponsored by Citibank US, was moderated by Eric Barron, CEO of Keller Williams and featured speakers Erin Wheelock of Keller Williams, Patrick Lilly of CORE Real Estate, and Zvi Band, co-founder and CEO of Contactually.


Band shared the importance of enterprise software like Contactually, stressing how crucial it is to one’s business to be as organized as possible. By remaining organized, the panel agreed, your business will not only be more efficient, it will also be easier to manage and less strain on your memory and time.


“In terms of how we approach this topic,” Band explained, “there are a lot of people who you think you want to stay in touch with, but the truth is that not everyone is equally important as the other. There are people you take to the movies, people you take out to eat, people you buy a new set of steak knives, etc.


“You should take your entire network and separate it out into different groups of people based on who brings what to your business. Contactually can help you identify those people and help you keep in touch with them.”


“If there’s one thing you can do for yourself today, it would definitely be starting to clean up your database,” added Barron. “I know people who’ve spent between 90 and 120 days just cleaning their databases, and their lives are easier because of it.”


The panelists also discussed not only which clients to keep in touch with, but how to keep in touch with them. At one point, a member of the audience inquired as to how to avoid harassing clients with useless information, and Patrick Lilly offered his advice on the subject:


“When I think about what I’m going to send to whom,” he said, “I don’t do things that I feel would annoy me if I were the recipient. Ask yourself, ‘What would be of real value of this person?’ Then focus on that. When you know that what you’re sending someone will provide real value, it’s a lot easier to sell it and it’s a lot easier to go forward with it.”


“Remember, technology is only good if there’s that personal connection attached to it,” he added. “That’s why some of the old-school methods of sending someone a hand-written card or taking them to dinner are still the best ways to do business.”


Wheelock urged the audience to learn the values of time management, saying that many people allow outside variables to dictate their days.


“I’m not the best at it myself,” she admitted, “But learning how to manage your time, such as when you’re going to cultivate your contacts, when you’re open to show houses, when you’re going to follow-up with clients, and so on, is an important part of maximizing your business.”


To learn more about REBNY’s Breakfast Club and other upcoming seminars, contact Jeanne Oliver-Taylor at

What could Gary do? Analyzing Extell’s $4.4B sellout at the Nordstrom Tower

The Real DealMay 21, 2015

Developer Gary Barnett has sky-high ambitions for the Nordstrom Tower: Whether or not his condo tower at 217 West 57th Street becomes the tallest building in New York City, Barnett could break records if he comes close to his projected $4.4 billion sellout.


Extell Development anticipates $4 billion worth of apartment sales, according to the Wall Street Journal, which dug up Extell’s regulatory filings on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, where it sold $300 million worth of bonds. If the developer achieves its goal, it would comfortably eclipse the $2.8 billion sellout projected at Vornado’s 220 Central Park South, and double the $2 billion sellout of Extell’s own One57, located just half a block away.


Barnett has been on the defensive in recent months as sales slowed at One57. But sources said his low basis at the Nordstrom Tower is a boon to the project, which is expected to generate $2 billion in profits, compared with One57’s profits of $1 billion, according to the regulatory filings. And while Extell only owns 12 percent of One57 — Abu Dhabi–based Aabar Investments and Tasameem Real Estate Company are major investors — it owns 87 percent of the 1.2 million-square-foot Nordstrom Tower.


A back-of-the-napkin calculation: A $4 billion sellout for the 233-unit project means that the average price will be just north of $17 million.


Sources who have seen Extell’s plans for the tower say it has large floor plates, around 7,400 square feet. The building’s 1,775-foot height – the subject of recent speculation – will also set it apart and the top floors will have 360-degree views.


Extell is likely to price units at Nordstrom Tower using comps from One57, sources said, where the sales average is $6,772 per square foot, according to StreetEasy. (The $100.5 million penthouse sold for around $9,200 per square foot.)


Assuming floor plates of 7,400 square feet, and an average of $7,000 per square foot, full-floor units could go for around $50 million, calculated Jonathan Miller, president of real estate appraisal firm Miller Samuel.


Sources speculated that some floors would have two condos each, measuring around 3,700 square feet, with full-floor units higher up. Leonard Steinberg, president of Compass, noted that many super-wealthy buyers “love a large apartment with full services all on one floor.”


If that’s true, it’s likely that Nordstrom Tower will join the $100 million penthouse club. “Based on the numbers, [Barnett] should have no problem achieving $120 million, $130 million and up,” said a source who reviewed Extell’s plans.


Currently, there are several penthouses asking $100 million and up in Manhattan, including one at Vornado’s 220 Central Park South that is rumored to ask up to $175 million. To date, Vornado has not listed prices for its four priciest units.


Industry leaders said 220 Central Park South’s prices will impact nearby developments, including Nordstrom Tower. Vornado CEO Steve Roth is setting a “new standard,” HFZ Capital’s Ziel Feldman said during an interview at The Real Deal’s recent New Development Showcase and Forum.


Of course, a lot depends on where the market stands.


Overall, the luxury market was a bit soft during the first quarter, according to data from Miller Samuel. The median price dropped 10.6 percent to $5.1 million, and the absorption rate – defined as how many months it would take to sell all for-sale properties – climbed 42.4 percent to 17.8 months.


“There was more luxury product that came to the market and people had more choices,” said top-producing CORE broker Emily Beare. “There wasn’t the same urgency.”


And while Barnett is known as a smart and savvy developer, he’s been fielding criticism over the past year as sales have slowed at One57, despite the record-breaking $100.5 million penthouse sale in January.


“[Nordstrom Tower] has twice as many units as One57 and One57 hasn’t sold out yet after five years,” said Miller. “It’s over my head. I don’t understand.”


Andrew Gerringer, managing director of new business development at the Marketing Directors, said developing an ultra-luxury condo in the Midtown corridor seems, to him, like “a bit of a risky proposition given today’s market.” He noted: “They’re obviously taking a calculated risk. It won’t be delivered for a couple of years,” he said. “Hopefully the market will be there for when the product gets built.”


However, Extell’s cost basis in the project is relatively low, since the developer began assembling the site in 2005. “Most likely, he bought the land somewhere in the $300 to $400 range,” said a source familiar with the plans. With land prices more than double that now, the source said Barnett’s “cost basis is about $450 to $500 less than anybody else’s.”


That gives Extell tremendous wiggle room on pricing. It also lets Barnett hedge against the current market, and undercut his competitors if the market turns.



“Gary is very much a value player,”  said real estate attorney Ed Mermelstein. “He’s going to do well simply for the fact that he bought right, he builds well and he’s got a great product. Based on when it was purchased, he bought well.” 

Move On Up: Checking in with some of the Hottest New Developments in Manhattan

Luxury Listings NYCMay 20, 2015

This steampunk-inspired project at 15 Renwick Street — located on the western fringe of Soho on a single-block street, one of only a few in Manhattan — features 31 condos, including three adjoining townhouse units with private yards and four duplex penthouses. Each residence features wide-plank walnut flooring, eight-foot windows, Waterworks fixtures, Bosch washer/dryers and Creston home automation systems. Amenities include optional private parking, a fitness center and boxing gym, 24-hour doorman, roof deck and Zen garden. From $2.5 million.

NYC's Premier Properties

Luxury Listings NYCMay 20, 2015

Careful detailing combined with contemporary and contextual design showcase this unique 3,924-square-foot duplex. This thoughtfully planned 4-bedroom, 3.5-bathroom home features mixed-width solid white oak flooring, recessed lighting and a grand, private terrace overlooked by the bedrooms above. Listed at CORE by Emily Beare, 212-726-0786, 

Costly Condos in Midtown

Luxury Listings NYCMay 20, 2015

Lisa Graham's listing at Museum Tower, 15 West 53rd Street, #23AF was featured in the May/June 2015 issue of Luxury Listings NYC.

Core Takes Space for Fourth Office in Manhattan

Commercial ObserverMay 19, 2015

Core has leased 5,500 square feet at 149 Fifth Avenue in the Flatiron District, marking the Manhattan residential real estate firm’s fourth office, Commercial Observer has learned.


The new 11th-floor digs between East 21st and East 22nd Streets will accommodate 40 to 50 agents, who will commence working there this fall, Core indicated. The firm’s director of sales, Douglas Heddings, is meeting with prospective agents to populate the new office. 


The lease, signed May 11, is for 10 years. The firm declined to provide the asking rent.


Jason Greenstein of Newmark Grubb Knight Frankrepresented the landlord, William Colavito, Inc., in the deal. Mr. Greenstein also represented Core along with Shaun Osher, the founder and chief executive officer of Core.


Core has retail sales offices at 127 Seventh Avenue and 627 Madison Avenue as well as its headquarters at 104 Fifth Avenue. Core plans to open a fifth office next year.

$7.5M Novogratz House Has Been Thoroughly Un-Novogratzed

CurbedMay 18, 2015

Last week, we reported that the Novogratz-designed townhouse at 1 Centre Market Place in Little Italy was back on the market for $7.5 million after selling at auction for $5.5 million. As the listing had no accompanying photos, we speculated that the house had not been updated since it last appeared on the market, but as it turns out we speculated too soon. The 2006 townhouse has been changed—in fact, it has been given a thorough renovation and shed any last vestiges of Novogratz-iness, and now sports "new exotic hardwood floors, new hardwood moldings, fresh paint, new light fixtures, radiant floor heating throughout the entire house" as well as new security, heating/cooling, and speaker systems, as well as "new noise cancellation/air-tight insulation throughout all of the walls/ceilings."

8 of NYC's Cutest, Tiniest Apartments On The Market Right Now

Refinery 29May 12, 2015

Shoe-box living doesn't have to equal dark rooms, cramped closets, and kitchens that double as bathrooms. In New York City, we've pretty much seen it all when it comes to surprising real estate — but the most surprising of all is when a teeny apartment actually manages to use its size to its advantage.  


When you're calling less than 600 square feet home, the littlest things can make the biggest difference — from utilizing vertical space to maximizing natural light. Think you could never make small space work this well? Think again. Ahead, see eight of the city's most adorable apartments on the market right now that make even the tiniest of spaces feel like living large.


Neighborhood: Flatiron

Address: 16 West 19th Street (between Fifth and Sixth avenues), #9A

Price: $795,000

Size: 460 square feet


If you're gonna call an under 500-square-foot space home, it better have tons of light. And, this L-shaped Flatiron has lots. Thanks to some oversized windows and absurdly high ceilings (by Manhattan apartment standards, at least), this little gem doesn't feel, well, so little. You're guaranteed to fall in love once you see the sleek wood floors, luxe kitchen, and modern bathroom.

Weekend Open House Tour: West Village

CurbedMay 09, 2015

This weekend on the Open House Tour, we're seeing what's on the market in the West Village. There are some nice listings, including a two-bedroom on Leroy asking $899,000, a one-bedroom on West 12th asking $2.1 million, and a two-bedroom on Perry asking $3.2 million (above).

Related’s Jeff Blau finds buyer for $35M co-op

The Real DealMay 01, 2015

Related Companies CEO Jeff Blau has found a buyer for his fancy 1040 Fifth Avenue co-op.


Blau listed the pad in October for $34.5 million with CORE’s Emily and Elizabeth Beare, according to the New York Observer. He originally listed the three-bedroom apartment with the Corcoran Group for $43 million in January 2014. He bought the unit in 2008 for $21.4 million.


The apartment — inside the iconic, Rosario Candela-designed Upper East Side building — underwent a three-year renovation and includes 26 windows with Central Park views.


The Related Companies acquired a large stake in CORE last year, shortly before Blau re-listed his pad with the brokerage.

Manhattan’s mid-sized market makers

The Real DealMay 01, 2015

More nimble than industry heavyweights, but packing more punch than many smaller firms, the mid-sized brokerages on this year’s ranking acted as change agents in the industry. Like last year, the lineup of mid-sized Manhattan residential brokerages experienced a massive shift this year. The change-up came as well-established firms saw their fortunes turn and as newcomers changed the landscape of the Manhattan market.


The ranking is The Real Deal’s third annual survey of Manhattan’s mid-sized firms and only includes companies with 50-plus agents that didn’t make the biggest firms list. This ranking is done by dollar volume of active listings, which were collected by TRD from listings provider On-Line Residential on March 29 as part of a one-day snapshot.


This year, the top two firms — Sotheby’s International Realty and Compass (formerly known as Urban Compass) — prompted a recalibration of the middle segment of the market. Those companies were followed by CORE, Warburg Realty and BLU Realty.


The tony Sotheby’s, which dropped off TRD’s list of largest Manhattan firms, had a massive $1.4 billion worth of sales listings — up from $1.3 billion a year earlier. While the firm outperformed a number of brokerages on the biggest firms list, and had hundreds of millions of dollars more in listings than its mid-sized counterparts, it landed on the mid-sized list after seeing its agent count drop more than 15.5 percent, to 231 this year.


The firm’s priciest listing, marketed by veteran high-end broker Serena Boardman, is a 9,000-square-foot duplex at One Beacon Court; that penthouse is on the market for $82 million. Boardman also has the listing for a duplex at the Pierre Hotel, at 795 Fifth Avenue, that’s asking $70 million. Meanwhile, agent Nikki Field is marketing a $66 million penthouse at Jared Kushner’s Puck Penthouses, at 293 Lafayette Street.


Nabbing the No. 2 spot, Compass — which is backed by more than $70 million in venture funding — cracked TRD’s ranking for the first time this year. It had 168 agents and racked up $486.7 million worth of listings, including 71 Franklin Street, a mansion that’s asking $65 million. Top broker Leonard Steinberg, who is also Compass’ president, has that listing as well as one for a $46 million townhouse at 2 North Moore Street in Tribeca.


Of course, Compass made waves when it hired Steinberg from Douglas Elliman in 2014, and it has continued to turn heads with other high-profile hires, including Kyle Blackmon from Brown Harris Stevens, Roy Kim from Extell Development and Eugene Litvak from Citi Habitats. The firm lured more than 50 hires from the Corcoran Group alone, including managers Gene Martinez and Patrick Brennan, along with agents Lindsay Barton Barrett, Debra LaChance and others.


CEO Robert Reffkin said Compass jumped into the market in 2013 determined to upend the status quo by offering new technology for its agents.


“It’s not rocket science,” he said. When agents tell him they’ve had the same marketing support and technology for years, he said: “To me, that represents a tremendous opportunity.”


Together the top 12 mid-sized firms held $2.6 billion worth of active listings — far more than that the $1.1 billion that last year’s mid-sized companies racked up. But much of that increase is thanks to Sotheby’s presence on the list.


Strategy sessions


As the market shifts, the challenge for mid-sized companies is to adapt to the ever-changing Manhattan landscape.
CORE, which rounded out the top three on this year’s ranking, is seeing its star rise, after Related Companies acquired a 50 percent stake in the firm this past fall for an undisclosed sum.


“It’s a huge game-changer for us as a company,” said CORE’s CEO Shaun Osher.

Going forward, CORE will collaborate with Related on the development and sales of its residential projects. The firm had 119 agents as of March 29, up from 78 last year. In addition, CORE snagged $277.5 million worth of sales listings, up from $156.9 million in 2014.


Meanwhile, Warburg, which ranked No. 4, is in the midst of a major rebranding under the direction of Fred Peters, president, and his daughter Clelia Peters, who came on board last year as Warburg’s director of strategy and innovation. “It’s an interesting challenge to figure out how most effectively to compete if you are, like me, a relatively small brokerage, and you actually want to run a business that’s cash positive,” Fred Peters said.


Warburg had $262.5 million in sales exclusives, up from $166 million last year, according to TRD’s analysis. The firm’s two priciest listings are a duplex at the Eldorado, at 300 Central Park West, that’s asking $29 million, and a 12-room co-op at 998 Fifth Avenue that’s listed at $28 million.


Overall, Warburg had 141 listings on March 29, down from 153 listings last year. The firm has another 100 listings in contract, Peters said, noting that the firm’s listings ebb and flow with the market. “If anything, the market has flattened out in the last six months.”


Market shake-out


Other firms popped on and off of this year’s mid-sized ranking.


For example, Stribling & Associates, the top firm on last year’s mid-size list, once again catapulted back onto the biggest-firms ranking with 281 agents and $694 million in listings. Platinum Properties, which ranked No. 5 last year, now appears on the boutique ranking because its agent head count fell to 36 from 68.


Meanwhile, Fox Residential, a longtime presence on the boutique list, jumped to No. 7 among the mid-sized firms. The firm had more agents this year (51 this year versus 46 last year), but a lower dollar volume of listings ($36.7 million in 2015 compared with $43.9 million last year.)


Founder Barbara Fox noted that because TRD’s ranking only factors in sales listings, the firm didn’t get credit for all of its buyer-side deals. “That’s what a small brokerage does,” said Fox, who represented the buyer of a $16.5 million condo on Park Avenue last year. She also represented the buyer of unit 7K at Extell Development’s One57, which went for $30 million, she said.


Of the firm’s overall drop in listings, Fox said she personally did less business over the past 12 months because she was focused on renovating the firm’s new office at 14 East 60th Street.


Of all the mid-sized firms on this year’s ranking, Spire Group saw the largest increase in the dollar volume of its active listings. Kevin Kurland’s 100 percent-commission firm, which launched in 2011, had $21 million worth of listings, compared with just $9.7 million in 2014. At the same time, the firm’s agent count dropped to 131 from 161.


As in previous years, firms that were lower down in the ranking were dogged by a lack of Manhattan residential inventory, which translated to fewer listings but a faster pace of closing deals.


Clocking in at No. 5, BLU Realty had 31 listings, worth $80 million, compared with last year’s 22 listings, worth $92 million.


“Over the last month and a half, we have a lot of accepted offers and contracts out,” said BLU founder David Tobon. After a slow third and fourth quarter last year, Tobon said his agents are starting to do more deals. “We definitely [have seen] more bidding wars” recently, he said.


Other newer firms, which debuted in the wake of the recession, saw mixed results in 2015.


KIAN, founded in 2011 by Charles Doolan and Jae Muk Chung, attracted more agents — some 222 this year compared to 172 last year. But listings dropped to $20.8 million from $22.4 million.


KIAN’s sweet spot, between $800,000 and $2.5 million, has been particularly strapped for inventory. “There’s too much of this ultra-luxury happening,” Doolan said.

The million dollar views from atop 170 2nd Ave.

EV GrieveApril 29, 2015

There's a new listing for a penthouse unit at 170 Second Ave. at East 11th Street.

Here are the details via Core:


This pre-war penthouse with an enormous wraparound terrace is perched atop a majestic Art Deco full-service building in the heart of the Village. A rare offering, this two-bedroom aerie is centrally located at 170 Second Avenue at the corner of 11th Street, and features breathtaking panoramic skyline views to the north, south and west

This lovely residence is a "diamond in the rough," waiting to be updated into a refined "modern classic." Many of the original details have been kept intact including parquet oak floors, beamed ceilings, cut glass doorknobs and original deco light fixtures throughout.

A large central entry foyer/gallery opens onto the spacious dining room and living room which has a wood burning fireplace and 10-foot ceilings. Two sets of French doors lead directly onto that glorious terrace which wraps the home on all sides. Both spacious bedrooms boast abundant northern light and ample closet space. The large, original bathroom features a cast iron soaking tub and separate shower.

Don’t Look So Blau! Related CEO Finds Buyer for $34.5M Co-op

New York ObserverApril 29, 2015

There are instances in which a person’s new home doesn’t suggest very accurately the scale or class of his old one. A recent high-jackpot lottery winner, for example, is likely to spring, first thing, for new digs that put his old, humble ones to deep shame. And a pauper who comes unexpectedly into a grand inheritance, likewise, is apt to make radical domestic upgrades post haste. But Jeff Blau, the CEO of Hudson Yards-developer, the Related Companies, does not, by a long shot, fall into either such category.


It’s true, perhaps, that his old apartment does not quite match the splendor of former Coach creative director Reed Krakoff’s one-time mansion on East 70th Street, which he bought last month for $51 million, but that purchase does give some inkling as to the real estate bigwig’s ex co-op. And the three-bedroom pad at 1040 Fifth Avenue, which was last listed for $34.5 million with Emily and Elizabeth Beare, of CORE, just found a buyer, according to the broker’s website. (It’s nice that Mr. Blau is keeping things in the family; Related acquired a 50 percent stake in CORE last October, which just happened to be the same month the brokerage got the listing, held previously by Corcoran.)

Now, about that apartment. Serviced on a high floor of a Candela building by a private elevator, the apartment, which was subjected to a three-year, Architectural Digest-anointed renovation, boasts 26 windows that take in really excellent Park and skyline views. To one side, a central gallery gives, in Candela’s fashion, onto a flow of public spaces–library, dining and living rooms, the latter with original herringbone floors–and to the other, on private quarters both private and expansive. The vibe is bright, light, refined and restrained.


This is not, in other words, the sort of thing one buys right after winning the Power Ball.


WILD FOR WALKER: New Yorkers begin collecting apartments in buildings by rediscovered 20th Century architect Ralph Walker

New York Daily NewsApril 28, 2015

Who needs Frank Gehry when we can go back to the future with Ralph Walker?


More and more luxe condo hunters are becoming fixated on the work of Walker, who was once among the most prolific designers of Art Deco commercial buildings and is now experiencing a redevelopment renaissance.


The renewed enthusiasm for his buildings comes as a string of developers have converted three of his Manhattan towers to high-end condos. First there was Walker Tower, a 55-unit conversion on W. 18th St. by JDS Development and Property Markets Group. Then there was Stella Tower, a 51-unit conversion on W. 50th St. by the same partnership.


Now another developer is attempting to capitalize on Walker’s newfound fame by converting a massive Walker-designed tower downtown, at 100 Barclay St., beside the World Trade Center site. The new project, also known as the Barclay-Vesey Telephone Building at 140 West St. and developed by Magnum Real Estate Group and CIM, will be the biggest Walker conversion yet, with a total of 161 units.


It’s also Walker’s first ever tower and the first true Art Deco skyscraper in the city.


And it doesn’t stop there. Developer Harry Macklowe is converting a Walker building at 1 Wall St. into condos, too.
Some buyers like Walker’s style so much — and are so convinced that its value will appreciate quickly — they’re snagging units in more than one of the converted buildings.


“One buyer was so impressed with the quality of the building — the structure is in a whole different league that most of the new developments that are built from scratch — and he was fixated on how beautiful it was,” luxury broker Vickey Barron, who has worked on sales at all three buildings. “He loved it so much that when Stella Tower opened up I said to him, ‘You might want to buy another one.’ He said, ‘I would invest in a Ralph Walker building any day of the week.’ ”


In the end, eight of the 47 buyers who bought at Walker Tower went on to purchase at another unit at Stella Tower, Barron said. Now, some of those same buyers are eyeing units at 100 Barclay St.


"People will eventually collect these like they collect apartments in Frank Lloyd Wright buildings,” said Barron, who also collects Walker gems.


"My accountant said to me last week, 'You have all your eggs in one basket and who is Ralph Walker?' He wants a deferred benefit plan. I said, 'I'd rather put it with Ralph Walker.'"


Resale values in Walker’s buildings are already among the most impressive in the city, with the value of some units having risen by 30% in less than a year.


Little over a year ago, real estate speculator Burt Freiman listed an apartment in Walker Tower for nearly $8 million, just a week after closing on it for a comparatively paltry $5.03 million. Savvy Freiman got $7.78 million for the pad just a few months later, raising eyebrows and expectations marketwide.


Spurred by such resales, more buyers are trying their own flips. One of Barron’s clients listed his Stella Tower unit for $8.95 million last month, after closing on it with a couple of investment partners for just $5.8 million at the end of January.


Even one of Walker Tower’s developers, Elliott Joseph of Property Markets Group, is getting in on the action, having snagged two penthouse units for himself, for just short of $28 million last year. He’s now relisted them for a combined $44.5 million with broker Michael Graves of Douglas Elliman.


Graves, who sold the first unit at Walker Tower, said he fought an uphill battle to convince early buyers that they should pay far and above the average price per square foot for projects in the neighborhood.


"At that time, many people were scratching their heads at those prices in Chelsea but I don't have a single client that's sorry now that they made that leap of faith,” he said.


Every new resale creates even more buzz about the Walker name.


“There are people who put a lot of stock in the brand,” said Michael Stern, one of the developers at Walker Tower. “Every time another one of those sales goes through, it’s an extra notch on Ralph Walker’s belt.”


The surge of interest of work by Walker, who died in 1973, has in no way been accidental.


The development team behind Walker Tower, which began selling in 2012, worked with branding expert Richard Pandiscio and spent months delving into Walker’s story in a bid to educate prospective buyers on the importance of the architect’s work and the quality of his buildings, even going so far as to commission a book on the subject.


“The developers and I had never heard of Ralph Walker, but through our research, we soon discovered that he was one of the most revered architects of his generation,” said Shaun Osher, CEO of brokerage CORE, the firm that first marketed the units at Walker Tower. “From the moment I walked into the building, I recognized that the architecture and the fundamental bones of the building were nothing like anything I’d seen before."


The building was a home run and attracted a who’s who of A-listers, including Cameron Diaz.


What makes Walker’s buildings so special?


Some of the buildings, they say, have oversized floor plates that are not so conducive to condo conversion. They wonder if a few lesser conversions could negatively affect the overall cachet Walker’s name has begun to command.


“At the end of the day, not every Ralph Walker building is created equal. Some are great for conversion and some are not,” Osher quipped. “Now, others are trying to ride on the coattails of that initial success, but, as they say in the movie business, the sequels are never as good as the original.”


But Walker’s fans know that good design speaks louder than anything else.


“I want to be wowed when I walk into an apartment,” said condo sales guru Andy Gerringer of the Marketing Directors. “That’s what’s going to sell it to me, not that Ralph Walker’s name is on the door.”


For one thing, they’re great examples of New York City’s Art Deco history, with impressive lines and details. They’re also some of the city’s sturdiest structures. Walker was the architect of choice for the New York Telephone Co., and many of his buildings were used for storing heavy telephone equipment, meaning they had to support a great deal of weight.


“These building were overbuilt and incredibly robust,” Stern said. “The average residential building floor plates can support 40 pounds per square inch. Walker buildings can support more like 100 pounds.”


Such fortress-like heft famously paid off for one Walker building during the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center. The tan brick property now being converted at 100 Barclay sustained major exterior damage from debris, from the falling Twin Towers but survived.


But some industry insiders wonder whether Walker’s name, which fell out of circulation after a dispute between the architect and the American Institute of Architects over modern design, will hold its value in the long-term.

41 contracts for $4M or more signed last week

The Real DealApril 27, 2015

Manhattan saw 41 contracts signed for $4 million or more — the highest number in one week so far in 2015 — last week, according to the latest Donna Olshan luxury market report.

Last week also saw the highest number of co-ops sold since the first week of December. Condos still outsold co-ops 28 to 11. Two townhouses went into contract.


The biggest deal of the week was Related’s Jeff Blau’s former unit 14A at 1040 Fifth Avenue for $34.5 million. The three-bedroom, 4.5-bathroom pad first hit the market for $43 million in January 2014. Blau bought a townhouse at 113-115 East 70th Street last month for $51 million.


The second biggest contract of the week was a $25 million townhouse at 14 East 63rd Street. The 8,519-square-foot home includes seven bedrooms, five bathrooms and gallery space.

One Madison Lost Tom, Gisele, and Rupert, But It Has Croquet

CurbedApril 24, 2015

The dark, modern tower at the southeast corner of Madison Square Park is shedding celebrities like a molting bird: Rupert Murdoch wants $72 million for his triplex penthouse (which he hasn't even lived in); meanwhile, Tom Brady and Gisele Bundchen rented their place for $40,000-ish/month. But lest anyone think One Madison has lost its luster, enter unit 8A, which hit the market today asking $10.95 million. The three-bedroom, 3.5-bath has a massive L-shaped terrace that overlooks the park and has views up to the Empire State Building, with room for a proper lawn (staged with croquet equipment) as well as a big outdoor dining table and grill. All lit, at night, by candle- and lantern-light, of course. The space could also be used, as per the brokerbabble, for "badminton, a yoga/meditation platform overlooking the city or even a putting green!!" The owner, shielded behind an LLC, closed on the apartment for $8.25 million in August of 2014, so the turnaround here is pretty quick. Was there time for a renovation?

When the Extras Are Extraneous: As ever more amenity-laden buildings hit the market, some buyers say ‘no mas’

New York ObserverApril 24, 2015

There are times—say, when you’re having an important package delivered or need help hustling luggage out the back of an idling taxi—when living in a doorman building is great.


Other times, it can be, well … not so much.


For instance, Will Meyerhofer, a therapist with a number of clients in the fashion industry, recalls once having to admonish the doorman of his Battery Park rental building for trying to pick up one of his supermodel patients.


“The doorman hit on [this] client to the point where I had to speak to him about it,” he said.


It’s perhaps understandable, then, that when Mr. Meyerhofer and his husband began looking for a place to buy several years ago, a doorman wasn’t high on their list of desired amenities. It wasn’t just the doorman they chose to do without, though. In fact, the couple decided they’d actually prefer a building with no amenities at all.


“I always feel that amenities are stuck onto a building to compensate for the fact that the apartments aren’t very nice,” Mr. Meyerhofer told the Observer. “I went to some buildings in FiDi, and they were bragging about their weight room and common room and terrace. Meanwhile, the apartments were the size of a postage stamp.”


“Simplify, simplify,” advised the great 19th century real estate scribe Henry David Thoreau. (What, after all, is Walden, but a man’s reflection on owning a country house?) In Thoreau’s case, this maxim led him to a one-room cabin outside Concord, Mass. In Mr. Meyerhofer’s case, it led him to a bare bones, 1,400-square-foot Tribeca loft.


“It was basically a great big box that needed to be gutted,” he said. But the lack of frills meant that even after renovations, the purchase price came in at under $1,000 per square foot, Mr. Meyerhofer notes. And the unit’s common charges, including taxes, total around $1,500 a month—a fraction of what he would pay in a ritzier building.


New York’s residential developers are engaged in a great amenities arms race, a city-wide game of one-upmanship involving perks like pet spas, wine rooms, golf simulators and boxing gyms. Some buyers, though, are opting out.


“I see a lot of buyers asking for [buildings with] less amenities,” said Core broker Steve Snider. “I have a client right now, for instance. He already belongs to a gym. He likes his gym, has friends there. So to move into a building [with a gym] and pay for it, he would never benefit from that.”


“It’s a competitive and frothy market, and when you are buying property you aren’t just looking at the purchase price, you’re looking at your monthly nut,” said Douglas Elliman broker Rob Gross. “So if a lot of your common charges or maintenance is going towards payroll for doormen or upkeep of amenities, it can add up.”


Indeed, says Sonya Auvray, a client of Mr. Snider’s currently looking to buy in Chelsea, while building extras like a full-time doorman are nice, “I just don’t want to pay for that luxury.”


With two young children, ages 4 and 6, Ms. Auvray is exactly the sort of buyer who might be expected to appreciate the perks of a full-service building. But, she said, “I’m not fussy. I’d rather have the [extra living] space over the amenities.”


In fact, she notes, she and her husband would ideally like to buy a commercial space they can convert to residential. “Those are very hard to find, but they are out there, and you can get something for close to $1,000 a square foot if you can find it,” she said.


Another potential amenities downside—to Mr. Meyerhofer’s mind, anyway—is having to shell out to repair common area damages you had nothing to do with.


“One of my friends is in a building with a hot tub, and you end up with Trustafarians dropping their margaritas in there,” he said. “And then somebody has to drain the thing and get the glass out and fix it, and you’re on the hook for that.”


And while potential buyers might like the idea of amenities like a dog-washing station or game room, few actually use them regularly once they move in, Mr. Snider says.


“A wine cellar?” he scoffed. “Really? I’m going to put my $400 bottle of wine in a common wine cellar with my name on it like it’s in the office refrigerator?”


“I show people things like a 28-seat movie theater, and they’re like ‘What the heck is this? I don’t have 27 people over, ever,’ ” he added.


The one exception is a roof deck, Mr. Snider said. “I think everyone likes to have a roof deck.”


But even here, Mr. Meyerhofer demurred. “The fact is, a roof deck in New York you can use for about three months [out of the year], and they tend to be kind of windy and cold, and they get dirty,” he said.


The rise of online shopping and dining apps has helped devalue certain traditional amenities, as well, said Mirador Real Estate managing partner Karla Saladino, whose firm has in recent months conducted a number of focus groups aimed at determining what building features buyers most value. For instance, she says, “The word ‘concierge’ is kind of a dead word. People are like, ‘I can use StubHub and OpenTable just fine without you.’ ”


Rising in popularity, on the other hand, are perks like in-home beauty and pet services delivered by outside parties, Ms. Saladino said.


Buyers who do go the high-amenity route can find themselves stuck with no way to shrink their monthly nut short of selling, cautioned Robb Pair, president of real estate firm Harlem Lofts.


“You can’t cut [the common charges] even if you want to,” he said.


“I used to live in a condo in Midtown that had a doorman, a concierge, all that. And I have to tell you, when I was on vacation, I would be up all night thinking about how I was wasting money because I was paying for all that common stuff I wasn’t using.”


Mr. Pair recently helped developer Valerie Feigen find a building in central Harlem that she plans to convert to a four-unit, low-amenity condo project.


The building, at 56 East 130th Street, will offer a virtual doorman, package area, rooms for bikes and strollers, and a shared rooftop that Ms. Feigen said she thinks “have become sort of basic necessities.” Beyond that, though, the plan is to eschew amenities in order to keep sales prices and common charges low.


“Everything is a choice,” she said. “And to me the choice more and more people are going to make is for individual space [over communal amenities].”


Elliman’s Mr. Gross is likewise working with a developer, whom he declined to name, on a 35-unit East Village condo project that he says will take an amenity-light approach.


“I don’t see us getting a doorman, though we’re not sure if we’re going to put in a virtual doorman,” he said. “There is a roof deck, because the building has a roof. There will be bike storage. But this is going to be an incredible price play, so we want to keep our monthlies low.”


Of course, it’s possible that in trying to shed amenities, you’ll find yourself more enmeshed in them than ever: Mr. Meyerhofer, the man who never wanted a doorman, has himself become a doorman of sorts.


“The crazy thing is, I work from home, so I am the doorman for my building,” he said. “UPS has kind of figured out that I’m the guy to buzz. So I get packages for all the neighbors.”

The week in real estate market reports

The Real DealApril 22, 2015

The latest batch of reports from around the industry found that overall average asking office rents in Manhattan reached their highest point since 2008 and investment sales hit a record $20.8 billion in the first quarter of the year.




Q1 2015 Residential sales: REBNY


The New York City residential sales market had stronger sales volume and higher average sales in the first quarter of 2015 compared to the same period last year, according to a quarterly report from the Real Estate Board of New York . Sales volume totaled $10.1 billion, a 21 percent increase from the previous quarter, and the average price for a home was up 12 percent to $898,000. 


Q1 2015 Brooklyn new development sales: MNS


New development sales volume in Brooklyn nearly doubled in the first quarter of 2015 compared to the previous quarter, according to an MNS report. The Clinton Hill neighborhood had the strongest quarterly growth, with median sales up 34.7 percent from the previous quarter to $1.2 million. 


Q1 2015 Manhattan new development sales: MNS


Manhattan’s new development sales volume increased 16.9 percent in the first quarter of 2015, according to a report from MNS. However, the median price per square foot for new developments fell 12.5 percent from the previous quarter, and the median sales price fell 21.1 percent. 


Manhattan luxury contracts April 6-12, 2015: Olshan Realty


Thirty contracts were signed for apartments priced $4 million and above during the second week in April, with an average asking price of $6.4 million, according to the Olshan Luxury Market Report. The priciest contract signed during the week was for a 4,160-square-foot condo at 224 Mulberry Street, which had an asking price of $13.5 million. 




Q1 2105 Manhattan office leasing: Cushman & Wakefield


Manhattan leasing activity was steady in the first quarter of 2015, pushing overall vacancy rates down to 9.2 percent, a 1.3 percent decline year-over-year, according to a quarterly report from Cushman & Wakefield. Average asking rents were up across all markets, and overall asking rent in Manhattan rose to $69 per square foot. 


Investment sales


Q1 New York City investment sales: Cushman & Wakefield


Investment sales hit a record $20.8 billion in the first quarter of 2015, a 26 percent increase in dollar volume from the previous quarter according to a quarterly report from Cushman & Wakefield. 

Charming ‘Back House’ Apartment Is a Tiny Treasure in the West Village

6SqftApril 21, 2015

The cool thing about tiny living spaces is how it makes you so aware of all the wasted space you have in your own home. This micro apartment at 340A West 11th Street makes the most of every inch of its usable space, and if storage is key, then this pad has the combination. We think you’ll quickly see that inside this red brick “back house” less really is more.


Enter to find your adorable 13-by-13 living room, complete with old world touches like oak wood floors, built-in bookcases, and a wood-burning fireplace. The tiny kitchen has everything a New Yorker really needs (because who in NYC uses a kitchen anyway?). There’s an abundance of cupboards to store your winter sweaters—we mean dishes—and a four-burner stove, mini fridge, and a freezer for the ultimate culinary experience. The space also features a deep farmhouse sink and thick Carrera marble countertops and backsplash.


Believe it or not, the bedroom can actually accommodate a queen-sized bed. And the amount of storage in this space can put bedrooms three times its size to shame.


Now, if you’re looking to stretch your legs, this gorgeous co-op already has a solution. This $625,000 historic home, built around 1850, is surrounded by a private landscaped garden with flowers, a 50-foot elm tree, and multiple sitting areas.


340A West 11th Street is a pet-friendly co-op between Washington and Greenwich Streets, hidden behind a cast iron gate. The peaceful home is just a short walk from all the West Village action, including the Hudson River Park, the High Line, and famous restaurants.

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