News

Start-up seeks to disrupt disrupters in real estate

The Washington PostAugust 15, 2017

It’s time to disrupt the disrupters in real estate.

 

Websites such as Zillow and Trulia have improved the real estate industry over the past decade. They were designed to be a one-stop shop for searching a vast centralized database of homes for sale or rent, allowing the consumer to get a clear picture of all available properties.

 

But Zillow’s business model is showing its limitations.

 

Among other issues, Zillow’s database of homes is frequently inaccurate. Many buyers inquire about a house they found on Zillow only to find out it was sold months or even years ago. Zillow’s valuation tool, Zestimate, is regularly out of sync with reality in many markets. Hence, the lawsuits filed against Zillow by homeowners for the low valuation of their homes.

 

Fortunately, there are some new options coming online soon that should provide a better option for home buyers and sellers.

 

I have recently come across start-up firm REX, which could be the next generation in multiple-listing services. See its website at www.rexmls.com.

 

REX is creating a futuristic global multiple-listing service (MLS) built on three innovative technologies — the blockchain, data distribution and digital currencies.

 

If you are not familiar with these new technologies, start studying them now. In the next three to five years, many insurance companies, banks, online retailers, governments and technology companies will be run on these platforms.

 

Early adopters of pioneer digital currency, Bitcoin, are multi-millionaires now. Blockchain is the technology on which Bitcoin currency is built.

 

Simplified, blockchain is a system for crowdsourcing data, not unlike Wikipedia.

 

More precisely, think of a spreadsheet that is duplicated thousands of times across a network of computers. Each computer must approve all data input into the spreadsheet, thus eliminating corruption in the system. Once data is approved through this democratized system, it cannot be revised or deleted.

 

Since no single entity controls the data, it is completely public and verifiable. Thus, data on the blockchain is designed to be incorruptible, transparent, decentralized and secure.


By using blockchain technology, REX is creating a Zillow-like service purportedly without the limitations that consumers experience on Zillow.

 

Blockchain technology, as designed, allows REX to create an accurate database of properties available for sale — a database that has been verified and approved by multiple users in the system.

 

How exactly does it work?

 

If you list your home for sale on REX, you are rewarded for your participation in the system. In addition, other users in the system are rewarded for verifying and approving the information you have uploaded. By the way, you or your real estate agent can participate.

 

The reward offered is REX tokens, a digital currency whose value can be exchanged for services or products on REX, such as home inspection reports or comparable market reports. Users also can exchange tokens for FIAT currency such as dollars. The tokens are an incentive to participate in the system.

 

What does this mean for the consumer?

 

According to REX co-founder Stephen King, it means that there will finally be an updated and accurate database of homes to peruse. It means that users collaborate to provide a curated list of homes for sale which, in turn, creates a more accurate database for comparable research on homes sold.

 

“REX is a community-run platform with built in incentive programs that reward users for their participation,” King says.

 

King says that REX will put control of real estate data back into the hands of homeowners, and away from sites that monopolize the data.

 

REX’s grand goal is to take every separate MLS in the world and roll them into one democratized multiple-listing service. Later versions of REX will include tying into local governments for land titling using blockchain technology, which will allow less fraud and thus potentially reduce the need for expensive title insurance. REX also plans to use REX tokens as a means of funding the purchase of a home.

 

Before launching these futuristic applications, REX must first build a robust database of homes. REX is pre-selling REX tokens and will launch the multiple-listing service later this year.

 

Does REX hope to disrupt the real estate agent?

 

We will collaborate with the real estate industry, rather than create its demise,” King said.

Pro Tips: 5 Easy Fixes to Attract Home Buyers

One Kings LaneAugust 14, 2017

There’s an art to prepping your home for sale, and it’s called staging. Not to be confused with decorating, which is an expression of personal style, staging involves the de-characterization of all your spaces. It requires that everything be stripped down to its most neutral state so that potential buyers (no matter how different their tastes may be from yours) can imagine themselves living in what you once called home. Structural concerns aside, it’s a fairly straightforward process, but one that can seem daunting amidst the emotional and financial struggles inherent to any move. Here, we spoke with Compass’s Lauren Chao and Core’s Thijs van der Does, two of New York’s top real-estate agents, and got their take on what to focus on when staging a room. From paint to clutter control, we’ve summed it all up into five actionable tips. 

 

1. Painting Pays Off

 

“I always suggest repainting or a touch-up, if there’s any hint that the walls looks tired,” says Lauren. Her paint of choice? “Benjamin Moore’s Decorator’s White. It’s a shade that works in every space and is a popular choice with both builders and designers.” Thijs also suggests repainting before trying to sell. “A fresh coat on your shutters, front door, and kitchen cabinets will go a long way,” he says.

 

2. Details Make a Difference

 

“Whether it’s Turkish towels in the powder room or a Monstera leaf on a coffee table, it’s the little things that make a big difference,” Lauren notes. And though every room should feel white and bright, Thijs suggests a few colorful details here and there to help guide buyers’ eyes around a room. “An elegant bowl filled with fresh fruit on a clean kitchen counter is something everyone responds well to,” he says. And don’t skimp on a vase or two of seasonal flowers.

 

3. Clear the Clutter

 

Though you may love your great-uncle’s collection of gnomes on the mantel, it’s likely that buyers will feel quite the opposite. “Clear out the clutter, and keep the decor simple by creating deliberate vignettes to foster imagination,” Lauren advises. “Whether it’s a reading nook with a throw or a thoughtfully curated bookshelf, you want to create moments that enable people to picture themselves living there.”

 

4. Switch It Out

 

“Additional small improvements to consider are switching out the hardware on the cabinetry, replacing light fixtures, or adding a fresh shower curtain and bath linens to make an older bathroom more attractive,” says Thijs. All things easily accomplished in five minutes or less, they may help you score exactly the price you’re asking for.

 

5. Keep the Flow

 

You want every room to read as if it’s open plan. Superfluous furniture should be removed “so buyers don’t have to bob and weave,” says Lauren. Similarly, Thijs suggests replacing bulkier pieces in favor of those with clean lines and a lighter weight. This, he says “will create a clear purpose for each room, so the buyer can fill in the gaps with regard to their personal taste.”

6 perfect (and perfectly legal) live-work spaces

Brick UndergroundAugust 11, 2017

Most people who find themselves working from home just set up a desk in some nook or cranny of their apartment and call it a day. But if you plan to run a proper business from your abode—where employees, clients, patrons and/or patients regularly come and go—you may need to consider a legitimate (that is, legally zoned) space in which to work and live. Here are six spaces that bridge the live-work gap beautifully.

 

Located in a residential building at 236 East 6th Street ($2.1 million) is a charming one-bedroom apartment with a lower-level windowed commercial unit, complete with its own street entrance for an ideal separation between home and office.

New York rent comparison: What $4,400/month gets you right now

CurbedAugust 08, 2017

Welcome to Curbed Comparisons, a weekly column that explores what one can rent for a set dollar amount in various NYC neighborhoods. Is one man's studio another man's townhouse? Let's find out! Today, we're looking at apartments renting around $4,400/month.

 

↑ This Upper West Side duplex loft has two bedrooms, one bathroom, brick walls, original hardwood floors, and even a furnished outdoor space for $4,375/month. It’s also located just a block away from Central Park, the American Museum of Natural History, and the New-York Historical Society.

How to Lease Commercial Real Estate: The Ultimate Guide

Fit Small BusinessAugust 07, 2017

Conduct Multiple Walkthroughs

 

You and your broker should identify multiple commercial spaces to view. This helps you get a better understanding of average price and gives you a leg up during the negotiation process. During your search you’ll also want to compare rents to each other to ensure you’re staying on budget.

 

A rule of thumb is that you should consider between 4 – 10 commercial properties prior to signing a lease. Alex Cohen, a broker and principal of Future Workplace, tells Fit Small Business that:

 

“If it’s a retail space then location is critical. Proximity to other retailers, access to transportation, and visibility/signage opportunity can be critical. In this case, there may only be 4 or 5 spaces available that meet the business’s criteria and objectives. A good broker will sometimes develop creative alternatives that might be outside the locational parameters but offer other advantages – such as co-tenancy or lease term flexibility.

 

In terms of office space, typically tenants may consider 8 -10 alternatives. Tenants will then narrow the options down to 4 – 5 and go on physical tours. Tours are typically conducted in a single day, but if you tour more than 4 – 5 during one day, the spaces can all seem to meld together, challenging the decision-making process.”

 

These walk-throughs are called “technical property reviews.” They’re conducted with your broker and the landlord’s broker. Once you’ve walked the properties, you’ll want to consider the different lease terms of each.

 

You’ll also sometimes want to walk a property with a licensed contractor. This is because some commercial spaces require lease build outs, which are necessary additions or improvements to the space. Build outs can be fully or partially covered by the landlord. It’s important in this scenario that you get an accurate renovation estimate and negotiate a build out into your lease.

 

The deciding factor between your options will often be the lease terms. Let’s take a moment to discuss the different types of commercial lease terms as well as the common commercial lease terms.

Quirky loft in Tribeca horse stable reappears, subdued, for $4.5M

CurbedAugust 07, 2017

A Tribeca apartment in the former American Express Carriage House has returned to the market with a toned-down look and yet another price chop. The loft—a three-bedroom, two bathroom floor-through—is back on the market asking $4.495 million, which is $25,000 less than it sought in January, and $700,000 less than when it first hit the market in April 2016.

 

With the new listing comes newly muted interiors. Some of the colorful rugs and furnishings in the 2,400-square-foot loft have been swapped out for more on-trend pieces—see the light fixtures in the living room—and the once-bright bedrooms have been painted a subdued white.

 

The two-bedroom apartment also comes with a den and overlooks an atrium.

 

But such is the cost of trying to sell. The loft at 60 Collister Street also comes with a monthly fee of $2,011 for common charges and $1,737 in taxes. The apartment is on the market with Emily Beare at Core.

Sunny Clinton Hill one-bedroom seeking $510K is a neighborhood steal

CurbedAugust 04, 2017

Welcome back to The Six-Digit Club, in which we take a look at a newish-to-market listing priced under $1 million, because nice things sometimes come in small packages. Send nominations to the tipline.

 

Considering the median listing price in Clinton Hill is hovering at $800,000 (according to one estimate), this sunny one-bedroom in the Willoughby Walk Cooperative Apartments sure seems like a steal at $510,000. According to the New York Times’ metric, the average price of a one-bedroom in the neighborhood stands at nearly $650,000, so even by that measure this seems like a bargain.

 

The apartment is located on the 15th floor of a 16-story building on Hall Street. The co-op opens up onto a small foyer, with the kitchen (which comes with a dishwasher) in front. An L-shaped living area is to the left, and the dining alcove part of this space is currently being used as a nursery/baby’s room.

 

If the listing’s photos are anything to go by, the living room still seems pretty spacious, and comfortably fits a six-person dining table by the large window. The bedroom here is also large and can fit a king size bed, according to the brokerbabble.

 

Aside from that, the apartment features wooden floors, there’s a walk-in closet by the front door, and the kitchen was recently renovated. Residents in the co-op also have access to a laundry facility in the basement, and an outdoor deck and garden.

Six small studio apartments that give the impression of space to spare

Brick UndergroundAugust 04, 2017

Studios tend to get a bad rap due to their typically small size, limited access to windows and natural light and generally cramped feel, but a tiny apartment can work to your advantage if it's well laid out and you are creative with storage, can invest in quality appliances and are the neat and tidy type. Here, six one-room wonders that prove the point. 

 

Four windows, three closets, a wall of built-in shelves and a separate windowed kitchen make this alcove studio at 31 Jane Street in the West Village (on the market for $715,000) feel larger than it is.

 

Finally, a generous entry foyer and a sleeping area with a wall of floor-to-ceilings built-in closets, plus clever open shelving separating it from the living "room", makes the most of the space in a studio co-op at 155 East 49th Street (for sale at $495,000).

Design Dialogues No. 36

SURFACE MagazineAugust 01, 2017

On Wednesday, June 28, designer and cofounder of, Exhibition A, Cynthia Rowley, and founder and CEO of CORE real estate group joined Surface magazine’s editor-in-chief, Spencer Bailey, for Design Dialogues No. 36. Inside the Annabelle Selldorf–designed 42 Crosby in New York City, more than 75 guests gathered, including Pari Ehsan, Buxton Midyette, Jilly Hendrix, and Andy Cohen (of Atlas Capital Group), for a discussion that examined the future of retail, technology, design—and of living in New York City.

 

“I didn’t really have the money to pay for it,” said Rowley of her first apartment in New York, “but I could justify it because it was for work and I had a youth-hostel idea, where you could come and stay with me if you worked and helped make clothes.”

 

“We’ve seen people through divorces and catastrophes,” Shaun Osher observed. “There’s never a dull moment in real estate. And I’ve always said, buying real estate is a completely irrational act.”

 

Rowley ended the evening of cocktails and snacks with a clever tip for those trying to make it in New York: “If all else fails deny, defy, and sugar coat.“

Who’s winning condo marketing’s game of musical chairs

The Real DealAugust 01, 2017

UPDATED, Aug. 3, 2 p.m.: On a Friday morning in the middle of last month, news broke that the residential brokerage Compass had replaced Sotheby’s International Realty as the marketing firm at Siras Oriel Development’s Soori High Line — a 31-unit Chelsea condo development that launched sales in 2014.

 

The announcement looked like a big win for the brokerage’s three-year-old new-development division. Compass, the venture capital-backed startup founded by Ori Allon and Robert Reffkin in 2010, has brought on big names such as Leonard Steinberg, Toni Haber and Billy Goldstein in recent years and has closed $417.6 million in New York City new-development condo deals since June 2014. But so far, the young brokerage only has a handful of exclusive new-development assignments to show for it.

 

Landing the Soori High Line just four months after the firm took over sales at Tessler Development’s 172 Madison Avenue seemed to add to its momentum. But the publicity boost was short-lived. Later that morning, The Real Deal reported that developer Ben Shaoul had booted Compass off his 196 Orchard Street project, replacing it with industry behemoth Douglas Elliman.

 

“There’s nothing wrong with mixing it up,” Shaoul said at the time. “Since I bought the building to today, the neighborhood has changed so much. You want a fresh set of eyes on your product when so much is happening all around you.”

 

Such is the current state of new development marketing, which can be brutally cutthroat. And as luxury sales slow in New York and developers grow increasingly anxious about selling out their condo projects, competition between brokerages — which already seemed to be at an all-time high — has become even fiercer.

 

“In my 15-plus years in the business, I’ve never witnessed so much switching and swapping of teams on different projects,” said Kelly Kennedy Mack, president of Corcoran Sunshine Marketing Group, the new-development arm of the Corcoran Group. “Frankly, I think the whole thing is kind of ridiculous and definitely not in the best interest of the projects long-term.”

 

For all the uncertainty in the market, TRD’s latest ranking of new-development firms, in many ways, reflects our previous rankings — though this time around we’ve included projects in Brooklyn and Queens, where new condos have sprouted like weeds in the last five years.

 

The two-in-one ranking — which we divided up into closed units and “unsold” units — was designed to provide a window into which firms have already notched the most business and which ones have the most potential business coming down the pike.

 

The top firms on the ranking closed a combined $20.62 billion in new development condos in the last three years. And despite New York’s softening new development market, the brokerages that made the cut on our pipeline ranking, which includes all active listings, in-contract deals and so-called shadow inventory — units that have been assigned to firms but have not yet hit the market — have a combined $35.94 billion worth of condos to sell.

 

But closing deals in this market is not likely to be easy.

Gary Malin, president of Citi Habitats — which has the same parent company as Corcoran and did not make the ranking — said buyers “are more willing to take a wait-and-see approach” considering the surge in new supply.

 

Due to the “much more challenging market,” brokerages are locked in severe competition to sell condos in new and often uncompleted buildings, Compass’ Steinberg noted.

 

Susan de França, who heads Douglas Elliman Development Marketing, said, “the competition between new-development marketing firms has always been strong in New York, but when the market changes it does tend to narrow the field.”

 

Once again, Corcoran took the top spot on TRD’s ranking by closed sales.

The firm — which has long been the most dominating force on New York’s new-development brokerage scene — closed $9.13 billion in new-condo deals during the three-year stretch between June 1, 2014 and May 30, 2017. Those deals were sealed at megaprojects including the 145-unit 56 Leonard, where a penthouse recently sold for $48 million, and the 123-unit Halcyon. Arguably its biggest assignment is Vornado Realty Trust’s 220 Central Park South, which has a projected sellout of $3.1 billion and reportedly includes a $250 million penthouse.

 

Clocking in at No. 2 was Elliman with $5.92 billion in closed sales during that same time. Its most high-profile assignment was CIM Group and Harry Macklowe’s 432 Park Avenue.

Elliman was followed by Stribling Marketing Associates at No. 3 (with $1.48 billion), Halstead at No. 4 (with $1.11 billion) and CORE at No. 5 (with $928.8 million). There is a clear divide between the haves and have-nots: Corcoran and Elliman accounted for a staggering 73 percent of the top 10’s combined sales over the period.

 

The divide is even more stark when looking at unsold inventory, where the two firms snagged 80 percent of the total.

As of June 29, they respectively had $17.23 billion and $11.32 billion in unsold units.

In a telling sign, Compass took the No. 3 spot for unsold inventory with $2.07 billion worth of units, suggesting that the young firm is making inroads into this rarefied sector of the residential market.

 

The upstart brokerage was followed by Stribling at No. 4 (with $1.79 billion worth of pipeline units) and Sotheby’s at No. 5 (with $800.2 million).

And it’s clear no new development marketing firm can get too comfortable in this market. That’s because more often than not, the firm hired at the outset doesn’t make it to the finish line.

Revolving doors

 

Virtually every major residential firm has experienced both sides of the switch-and-swap frenzy since the start of 2016, when the market began sliding.

When Shaoul replaced Compass at 196 Orchard, it was Elliman that stepped in. But a little more than a year earlier, Elliman was on the receiving end of the boot at the developer’s 157-unit 100 Barclay project in Tribeca when Corcoran Sunshine was hired to take over.

And Corcoran has also been kicked to the curb.

Developer Bruce Eichner, for example, replaced the firm at his 83-unit 45 East 22nd Street known as Madison Square Park Tower in September 2016 in favor of none other than Elliman. Meanwhile, just last month, Forest City Ratner and Greenland USA replaced Corcoran with Nest Seekers International’s Ryan Serhant, who will handle more than 100 unsold units at 550 Vanderbilt Avenue — the first condo tower at the sprawling Pacific Park development in Brooklyn.

 

Mack said if a brokerage pursued the wrong sales strategy, switching firms may be justified, but she added that in most cases it does little good.

 

Swapping new development marketing firms is similar to firing the coach of a losing soccer team with a less-than-stellar lineup of players. In other words, it’s a more viable option than firing the whole team.

“It’s easy to blame the marketing agent,” said Steinberg. The alternative, he argued, is to blame the market — but doing so would imply that the developer miscalculated.

 

Getting fired from a project isn’t, of course, just a PR blow for a firm — it can also be a major financial setback with millions of dollars of potential deals hanging in the balance.

While developers generally pay marketing firms a fee until closings start, if a brokerage gets replaced early in the sales process, before commissions start trickling in, it risks losing money, noted Stephen

 

Kliegerman, president of Terra Development Marketing, the parent company of Brown Harris Stevens Development Marketing and Halstead Property Development Marketing.

 

Kliegerman said the fees fronted by the developer “are minimal relative to the staff you’re bringing to the table.”

 

Mack said Corcoran’s contracts usually include protections — such as a financial penalty — designed to ensure that the firm doesn’t lose money if it gets replaced early.

Brokers, however, can’t make up for lost time.

 

“We could be on projects for three years before we even start selling, and then it could be a two-year sale cycle,” said Steven Rutter, the director of Stribling Marketing Associates. Spending all that time on a project only to lose out on some of the commissions is not ideal, sources say, although there are generally termination fees.

 

Andrew Heiberger, CEO of Town Residential — which ranked 9th in both closed sales and unsold inventory — said the most marketing firms can do is plan ahead for uncertainty. “When I underwrite these projects for my budget, I usually never assume we sell these projects 100 percent,” he noted.

 

 In January, the developers behind 212 Fifth Avenue — a partnership between Madison Equities, Building and Land Technology and Thor Equities — sued Town for failing to hit sales targets at the 48-unit condo conversion. Behind the scenes, sources said, the sponsors were at odds over whether to cut prices. The two parties ultimately settled.

 

“We are proud of our contributions to this project and the fact that we sold 23 units at record prices totaling over $189 million,” a representative for Town said in a statement.

 

Luxury condo sales have slowed considerably over the past two years. The average number of days that new development units sat on the market in the second quarter of 2017 was 225 — nearly double that of the same period in 2014, according to Miller Samuel. Meanwhile, the average sales price per square foot fell by close to 1 percent year over year in 2017’s second quarter, and the drop on the high end is almost certainly more pronounced.

 

“The wealthy don’t have the urgency to buy as they did a few years ago,” Steinberg said.

On top of that, he argued, buyers are increasingly “neighborhood-agnostic,” meaning they’re willing to look at buildings across the city. In turn, developers and their marketing firms must now take additional and often costly steps to compete with rival buildings, which helps explain the recent spread of concessions in the sector.

 

In one extreme example this year, Wonder Works Construction and Girona Ventures, the developers of a $36.8 million townhouse at 357 West 17th Street, offered a “free Bentley” with the property — which the buyer would indirectly pay for through the sales price. As of late July, the property was still on the market.

 

In addition, some developers with new condo units to unload are dangling higher-than-standard commissions (usually 4 percent) to attract buyers’ brokers to their projects. Extell Development, Toll Brothers, the World Wide Group and Rose Associates are among the players that have adopted that strategy.

 

“[Developers] almost have to appeal to the brokers first and the buyers second,” Rutter said.

Still, the competition to win assignments is as intense as ever.

 

One strategy brokerages are using to win over developers is offering services beyond just sales, research and even property management. Kliegerman said Halstead recently hired architect Whitney Kraus, formerly of Selldorf Architects, and is looking to hire another architect to advise on floor plans and zoning. The idea is to have Kraus act as an advisor and as a kind of conduit between the developer’s architect and the marketing firm. “It also adds another level of expertise to our team that benefits our client,” Kliegerman said.

 

Brokers say that despite market conditions, some firms are overpromising on pricing to convince developers to hire them. “There are definitely companies that do that,” said CORE’s founder and CEO, Shaun Osher.

 

“But that’s not a successful business model,” he said, “because overpromising on price eventually catches up with you.”

 

Kliegerman said that on at least half the assignments his firm loses, the “overriding” reason was another firm insisting that it could land higher prices.

Few sponsors, sources say, like to face the reality that their units are worth less than they think.

But promising higher-than-realistic prices can quickly backfire.

 

“Overpromising and underdelivering doesn’t necessarily create a good relationship,” Malin of Citi Habitats said. “Owners are smart enough to know that someone promising prices that can’t be delivered by the market is a red flag.”

In the end, marketing executives say a key part of their job is convincing developers to accept prices that will move units and still generate a healthy profit or allow them to at least break even.

 

“It’s always an extraordinarily difficult conversation to have,” Mack noted. Such talks can become “highly emotional” because developers are passionate about their projects, and “some of them find it insulting” when marketing firms suggest a project may not be worth as much as they thought, she said.

Steinberg said he spoke with executives at RFR Realty and China Vanke about pricing at some of the units in their 100 East 53rd Street condo project. Sales at the 63-story tower, which is slated to open by the end of the year, had been lagging until the developers decided to cut prices for some units this year, he and other sources said.

 

“These days you can’t have it both ways. You can’t have maximized pricing and swift sales,” Steinberg explained. “We’ve had difficult conversations on that subject, and sometimes you just don’t come to agreement. And then you have a decision to make: Do I continue to spend my time marketing something when the market is just saying no?”

Rutter said that convincing developers to adjust pricing when necessary is key to success. At 252 East 57th Street, lowering prices and offering new commission incentives put the project “back on people’s radar” and led to consistent sales,” he noted.

Even though marketing firms may risk losing a project if they sound too pessimistic on pricing, the alternative of not selling apartments because they are overpriced is far less appealing, Rutter argued.

 

“My feeling is that if we don’t [insist on lower prices] and we’re not selling, we risk developers going to someone else anyway,” he said. “What I don’t want to happen is have them go to someone else and have [that broker] convince them to lower the price.”

 

— Research by Ashley McHugh-Chiappone, Harunobu Coryne and Yoryi De La Rosa

Correction: A prior version of this article inadvertently excluded Nest Seekers International from the new development unsold units ranking. They ranked No. 10 with $353.7 million in listings. The combined value of unsold listings by the top 11 firms is $35.94 billion.

In New Condos, Art Is Now a Crucial Part of the Deal

The New York TimesJuly 30, 2017

On a new development at 50 Greenpoint Avenue in Brooklyn, wrapping two corners of the building, at ground level, are colored works by the Brooklyn street artist JMikal Davis.

 

At 50 Greenpoint, a new 44-unit condominium in Brooklyn, passers-by will find a surprise.

 

Wrapping two corners of the building, at ground level, are riotously colored works by the Brooklyn street artist JMikal Davis. Mr. Davis, who also goes by the name Hellbent, is perhaps best known for spray-painting entire buildings with vivid compositions that resemble overlapping layers of wallpaper.

 

The pieces at 50 Greenpoint, which are integrated into the facade, are made from stepped, backlit panels of aluminum composite material that have been laser-cut with intricate patterns. Each work measures about 7½ feet tall by 10 feet long.

 

“It’s my first sculptural piece,” Mr. Davis said. “I’m lucky to have done a few commissions with different realty companies, and they’ve always given me carte blanche to do my thing.”

 

Brendan Aguayo, a managing director of Halstead Property Development Marketing, proposed the project. “It definitely stands out,” he said. “I think it will become iconic.”

                    

As Oren Evenhar, chief executive of Evenhar Development and Pine Builders, which is developing the building, said: “It’s a little something that reminds you you’re in Greenpoint. This happens to be a very fun neighborhood that appreciates art, and we wanted to do something that reflects that.”

 

Greenpoint isn’t the only neighborhood getting a blast of developer-commissioned art. New residential developments across the city are installing significant works by artists both emerging and established in outdoor plazas, lobbies, common spaces and model units. Where developers previously battled over big-name architects and all-out amenity spaces, from pet spas to hamams, many are now turning their attention to outsize art projects.

 

At 56 Leonard, the condo building designed by Herzog & de Meuron that resembles a teetering stack of boxes, a 20-foot-tall, nearly 40-ton polished stainless steel blob by Anish Kapoor (who recently bought an apartment in the building) will be squished between the sidewalk and overhanging second floor this fall. When the project started, “10 years ago, I thought we were pioneers to incorporate an artist into the design,” said Izak Senbahar, president of the Alexico Group, which is developing the building. “But since then, it has become a little more common.”

 

Commissioning a major work of art doesn’t come cheap, Mr. Senbahar said, admitting that the cost was in eight figures. But “I am in the business of creating a wow factor,” he added. “Is there a commercial side to it? Yes. We’re all in the business of designing a product that will resonate with buyers.”

 

At Sky, a 1,175-unit rental building at 605 West 42nd Street, the Moinian Group opened Sky Art last month, a temporary gallery in a connected 10,000-square-foot street-level retail space at 555 11th Avenue. Programmed in partnership with the exhibition producers Nicolai and Michael Frahm, it is presenting a major component of “Ugo Rondinone: I ♥ John Giorno,” a sprawling exhibition taking place in 13 locations across Manhattan, including the New Museum, High Line and Hunter College Art Galleries.

 

Sky also has a collection of works by blue-chip artists scattered throughout its public areas, including a bronze polka-dot pumpkin by Yayoi Kusama out front and works by Sol LeWitt and Günther Förg inside.

 

“We wanted to create more excitement for the project and the neighborhood,” said Mitchell Moinian, whose family developed the building. “We will always, as a family and a company, be creating art spectacles and activations.” He continued: “We have several buildings under development right now in Manhattan. This is a foreshadowing of the great art initiatives to come.”

 

Shaun Osher, the chief executive of the real estate company CORE, said he now routinely advises developers of new buildings to invest in art for their lobbies: “We’ve started recommending, more and more, to have really great pieces of art. It’s the tone-setter and the first impression.”

 

And compared with the cost of building in New York, showstopping art is a relatively minor expense. “They’re spending hundreds of millions of dollars putting up a building,” he said. “The lobby is the last place they should be value-engineering.”

 

At 42 Crosby Street, a building designed by Selldorf Architects, where CORE is responsible for sales and marketing, the development company Atlas Capital Group commissioned the artist Paula Hayes to create two planted terrariumlike front windows: one with an illuminated Gazing Globe filled with silicone and electrical parts from her 2015 exhibition in Madison Square Park, the other with a cast-acrylic resin Trapeze chandelier.

 

 “I wanted it to be something both for the passer-by and a buffer for the residents,” said Ms. Hayes, who often produces plant-focused works. “It creates a stop-and-look with something that’s very affirming.”

 

At 22 Bond, a six-unit condo building being developed by Richport Group and Second Development Services, the artist Federico Uribe’s “Fly Mosca” — a 10-foot-long insect sculpture made from salvaged boat parts — will be installed on the facade next month, and a sculpture of cascading gold crowns by Roy Nachum will fill a street-level window.

 

Some buildings are even putting the artistic process on display. At 261 Hudson, a 160-unit rental building designed by Robert A.M. Stern Architects, the Related Companies commissioned Bradley Theodore, an artist known for bright skeletal portraits, to paint a large-scale work for the lobby.

 

Bryan Cho, an executive vice president at Related, said that having Mr. Theodore paint the work on site, in the lobby, provided an opportunity for residents to “watch him work and experience his process,” resulting in “a surprise, even to us.”

 

At 50 West, Time Equities’ new condo building, the first piece on view is a 10-foot-tall twister sculpture of white powder-coated aluminum by the artist Alice Aycock.

 

According to Francis J. Greenburger, the founder and chairman of Time Equities, the reason for bringing art into buildings is simple. “As we know from going to any museum, people like art — and they like to have it where they live,” said Mr. Greenburger, a collector who founded an art awards program in 1986, the Omi International Arts Center in 1992 and an Art-in-Buildings program in 2000 for his company’s properties.

 

Art installations also signal quality, said Jennie Lamensdorf, the director and curator of the Art-in-Buildings program. “If you see that the developer cares enough to put art in the lobby,” she said, “you can reasonably assume that he’s going to give the same amount of care to the rest of the building.”

 

At 50 West, Time Equities’ new 187-unit condo building, there is a glass-walled exhibition space in the lobby viewable from an outdoor plaza, which will host a rotating display of art. The first piece on view is a 10-foot-tall twister sculpture of white powder-coated aluminum by the artist Alice Aycock. The company also hosted an Artist-in-Construction Residency program that gave Noa Charuvi, Hugo Bastidas, Paul Anthony Smith and Bahar Behbahani access to the construction site and a neighboring studio to make site-specific pieces for the building between 2014 and 2016.

 

Beyond common spaces, some developers are turning model units into full-fledged art galleries as well. This past April, the curators Romain Dauriac and Jenny Mushkin Goldman transformed the sales gallery of 53W53 into a temporary gallery for the exhibition “Singular Object.”

 

And at the Printing House at 421 Hudson Street, the developer Myles Horn is hosting Muse in the Mews, a group exhibition organized with Salomon Contemporary. The show, which opened in April, takes over an entire townhouse for sale with works of art that are also for sale.

 

“It’s a very effective cross-marketing tool to bring in a select group of people who might not normally come to an open house,” Mr. Horn said. “A lot of people who came to see the art exhibition inquired about the townhouse, and a lot of people who came to look at the townhouse inquired about the art.”

 

But attracting visitors isn’t the only advantage to filling the townhouse with art, he said: “Mostly, it makes it look beautiful.”

In New Condos, Art Is Now a Crucial Part of the Deal

The New York TimesJuly 28, 2017

On a new development at 50 Greenpoint Avenue in Brooklyn, wrapping two corners of the building, at ground level, are colored works by the Brooklyn street artist JMikal Davis.

 

At 50 Greenpoint, a new 44-unit condominium in Brooklyn, passers-by will find a surprise.

 

Wrapping two corners of the building, at ground level, are riotously colored works by the Brooklyn street artist JMikal Davis. Mr. Davis, who also goes by the name Hellbent, is perhaps best known for spray-painting entire buildings with vivid compositions that resemble overlapping layers of wallpaper.

 

The pieces at 50 Greenpoint, which are integrated into the facade, are made from stepped, backlit panels of aluminum composite material that have been laser-cut with intricate patterns. Each work measures about 7½ feet tall by 10 feet long.

 

“It’s my first sculptural piece,” Mr. Davis said. “I’m lucky to have done a few commissions with different realty companies, and they’ve always given me carte blanche to do my thing.”

 

Brendan Aguayo, a managing director of Halstead Property Development Marketing, proposed the project. “It definitely stands out,” he said. “I think it will become iconic.”

                     

As Oren Evenhar, chief executive of Evenhar Development and Pine Builders, which is developing the building, said: “It’s a little something that reminds you you’re in Greenpoint. This happens to be a very fun neighborhood that appreciates art, and we wanted to do something that reflects that.”

 

Greenpoint isn’t the only neighborhood getting a blast of developer-commissioned art. New residential developments across the city are installing significant works by artists both emerging and established in outdoor plazas, lobbies, common spaces and model units. Where developers previously battled over big-name architects and all-out amenity spaces, from pet spas to hamams, many are now turning their attention to outsize art projects.

 

At 56 Leonard, the condo building designed by Herzog & de Meuron that resembles a teetering stack of boxes, a 20-foot-tall, nearly 40-ton polished stainless steel blob by Anish Kapoor (who recently bought an apartment in the building) will be squished between the sidewalk and overhanging second floor this fall. When the project started, “10 years ago, I thought we were pioneers to incorporate an artist into the design,” said Izak Senbahar, president of the Alexico Group, which is developing the building. “But since then, it has become a little more common.”

 

Commissioning a major work of art doesn’t come cheap, Mr. Senbahar said, admitting that the cost was in eight figures. But “I am in the business of creating a wow factor,” he added. “Is there a commercial side to it? Yes. We’re all in the business of designing a product that will resonate with buyers.”

 

At Sky, a 1,175-unit rental building at 605 West 42nd Street, the Moinian Group opened Sky Art last month, a temporary gallery in a connected 10,000-square-foot street-level retail space at 555 11th Avenue. Programmed in partnership with the exhibition producers Nicolai and Michael Frahm, it is presenting a major component of “Ugo Rondinone: I ♥ John Giorno,” a sprawling exhibition taking place in 13 locations across Manhattan, including the New Museum, High Line and Hunter College Art Galleries.

 

Sky also has a collection of works by blue-chip artists scattered throughout its public areas, including a bronze polka-dot pumpkin by Yayoi Kusama out front and works by Sol LeWitt and Günther Förg inside.

 

“We wanted to create more excitement for the project and the neighborhood,” said Mitchell Moinian, whose family developed the building. “We will always, as a family and a company, be creating art spectacles and activations.” He continued: “We have several buildings under development right now in Manhattan. This is a foreshadowing of the great art initiatives to come.”

 

Shaun Osher, the chief executive of the real estate company CORE, said he now routinely advises developers of new buildings to invest in art for their lobbies: “We’ve started recommending, more and more, to have really great pieces of art. It’s the tone-setter and the first impression.”

 

And compared with the cost of building in New York, showstopping art is a relatively minor expense. “They’re spending hundreds of millions of dollars putting up a building,” he said. “The lobby is the last place they should be value-engineering.”

 

At 42 Crosby Street, a building designed by Selldorf Architects, where CORE is responsible for sales and marketing, the development company Atlas Capital Group commissioned the artist Paula Hayes to create two planted terrariumlike front windows: one with an illuminated Gazing Globe filled with silicone and electrical parts from her 2015 exhibition in Madison Square Park, the other with a cast-acrylic resin Trapeze chandelier.

 

 “I wanted it to be something both for the passer-by and a buffer for the residents,” said Ms. Hayes, who often produces plant-focused works. “It creates a stop-and-look with something that’s very affirming.”

 

At 22 Bond, a six-unit condo building being developed by Richport Group and Second Development Services, the artist Federico Uribe’s “Fly Mosca” — a 10-foot-long insect sculpture made from salvaged boat parts — will be installed on the facade next month, and a sculpture of cascading gold crowns by Roy Nachum will fill a street-level window.

 

Some buildings are even putting the artistic process on display. At 261 Hudson, a 160-unit rental building designed by Robert A.M. Stern Architects, the Related Companies commissioned Bradley Theodore, an artist known for bright skeletal portraits, to paint a large-scale work for the lobby.

 

Bryan Cho, an executive vice president at Related, said that having Mr. Theodore paint the work on site, in the lobby, provided an opportunity for residents to “watch him work and experience his process,” resulting in “a surprise, even to us.”

 

At 50 West, Time Equities’ new condo building, the first piece on view is a 10-foot-tall twister sculpture of white powder-coated aluminum by the artist Alice Aycock.

 

According to Francis J. Greenburger, the founder and chairman of Time Equities, the reason for bringing art into buildings is simple. “As we know from going to any museum, people like art — and they like to have it where they live,” said Mr. Greenburger, a collector who founded an art awards program in 1986, the Omi International Arts Center in 1992 and an Art-in-Buildings program in 2000 for his company’s properties.

 

Art installations also signal quality, said Jennie Lamensdorf, the director and curator of the Art-in-Buildings program. “If you see that the developer cares enough to put art in the lobby,” she said, “you can reasonably assume that he’s going to give the same amount of care to the rest of the building.”

 

At 50 West, Time Equities’ new 187-unit condo building, there is a glass-walled exhibition space in the lobby viewable from an outdoor plaza, which will host a rotating display of art. The first piece on view is a 10-foot-tall twister sculpture of white powder-coated aluminum by the artist Alice Aycock. The company also hosted an Artist-in-Construction Residency program that gave Noa Charuvi, Hugo Bastidas, Paul Anthony Smith and Bahar Behbahani access to the construction site and a neighboring studio to make site-specific pieces for the building between 2014 and 2016.

 

Beyond common spaces, some developers are turning model units into full-fledged art galleries as well. This past April, the curators Romain Dauriac and Jenny Mushkin Goldman transformed the sales gallery of 53W53 into a temporary gallery for the exhibition “Singular Object.”

 

And at the Printing House at 421 Hudson Street, the developer Myles Horn is hosting Muse in the Mews, a group exhibition organized with Salomon Contemporary. The show, which opened in April, takes over an entire townhouse for sale with works of art that are also for sale.

 

“It’s a very effective cross-marketing tool to bring in a select group of people who might not normally come to an open house,” Mr. Horn said. “A lot of people who came to see the art exhibition inquired about the townhouse, and a lot of people who came to look at the townhouse inquired about the art.”

 

But attracting visitors isn’t the only advantage to filling the townhouse with art, he said: “Mostly, it makes it look beautiful.”

On the Market in New York City

The New York TimesJuly 28, 2017

Midtown East Co-op • $575,000 • MANHATTAN • 155 East 49th Street, No. 10B

 

A one-bedroom, one-bath co-op near the top of a prewar, brick midrise doorman building on a tree-lined street. Maggie Kent, 212-500-2110, and Michael Lessner, 212-726-0761, Core

 

MAINTENANCE $2,029 a month

 

CONS The galley-style kitchen is a tight fit.

 

PROS This roughly 700-square-foot apartment has original details, including built-in floor-to-ceiling shelving in the bedroom. A converted space in the foyer serves as a walk-in closet. Cats are allowed.

Chelsea open houses to check out this weekend

CurbedJuly 21, 2017

Welcome to the weekly Open House Tour, because who doesn't love a little real estate gawking? This time around, we're looking at what's on the market in Chelsea.

 

Speaking of splurges, this duplex on west 23rd Street certainly isn’t budget-minded—it’s going for $1.6 million—but it’s got plenty of space, along with a truly lovely terrace that’s basically an extension of the apartment’s sole bedroom. It has two bathrooms, a wood-burning fireplace in the kitchen, and what looks like a good amount of storage space.

 

When: Sunday, July 23 (2 to 3:30 p.m.)

Morris Adjmi's long-in-the-works Tribeca condo launches sales from $4.8M

CurbedJuly 20, 2017

A long-in-the-works boutique condo building in Tribeca has now launched sales from $4.825 million. The nine-story building, designed by Morris Adjmi, comes with just four condos, and at this time the developer, the Colonnade Group, has only introduced two apartments to the market.

 

The above-mentioned price is for a three-bedroom, three-bathroom duplex on the third and fourth floor of the building. The other listing on the market, is the penthouse. That quadruplex unit comes with five bedrooms and is located on floors six through nine of the building.

 

The penthouse measures just under 4,200 square feet and comes with three private terraces. A sculptural staircase, made from blackened steel, marble, and oak, connects all four floors of the condo. Some of the standout features include the high-end appliances in the kitchen, the radiant heated floors in the master bathroom, and the terrace adjoining the top floor bedroom, which offers great views of the city.

 

Interiors at the condo were done by Stefano Pasqualetti. The project got its start back in 2009, with a different architect on board, who had proposed a fully glass-clad building. Adjmi took over in 2011, and proposed a design that was a little more contextual than the previous iteration. Regardless, the project didn’t quite get off the ground until 2014, and now the condo is very close to wrapping up. CORE is exclusively handling sales and marketing on the project.

Long to live in the city? The quiet-vs.-accessibility trade-off is something to consider.

The Washington PostJuly 18, 2017

Waking up in a city that never sleeps is an exhilarating and romantic notion, thanks to Frank Sinatra.

But after a few nights of screaming sirens and honking horns disturbing your sleep — and the deafening sound of pounding and drilling at a nearby construction site all day — the quiet solitude of a cave in Tibet sounds very appealing.

 

Despite the noise, urban and compact mixed-used communities are in high demand in the Washington region.

 

“We have 37 active projects, and I would say 90 percent are built around an urban environment,” said Chris Ballard, co-founder of McWilliams Ballard, a local consulting firm that works with developers to market and sell new construction projects.

 

“That is where the developers are.  That is where the demand is,” Ballard said, explaining the reason for the high percentage of his business being in high-density sections of the region.

 

Why are buyers choosing close-in living over large yards and spacious single-family homes?

 

Walkability is the leading reason among millennials for choosing urban living, according to a recent National Association of Realtors survey.

 

According to Ballard, buyers at every stage of life are choosing a more walkable urban lifestyle.

 

“It is not just millennials,” Ballard said.  “We are seeing large numbers of people downsizing, staying in [Montgomery County] to stay close to family, and moving to downtown Bethesda.”

Ballard’s company is coordinating the marketing and sales of Cheval Bethesda, a luxury condominium in downtown Bethesda.  Ballard says that the building is already 25 percent sold out, with seven months remaining until occupancy.

Many of these home buyers are seeking a simpler lifestyle, with less maintenance and the carefree ease of locking the door and leaving for vacation without the worries of security and upkeep.

According to local home-buying statistics, the District is at the forefront of the walkability trend.

The total sold dollar volume in the District has increased by 13.3 percent during the first half of 2017 from the same period in 2016, according to Real Estate Business Intelligence.  Across the board, most urban neighborhoods in the Washington area have experienced an increase in price per square foot and a decrease in days on market. But what other characteristics do walkable high-density neighborhoods have besides convenience and low maintenance?

  

As I write this article, the construction site next door to my Cleveland Park condo is buzzing with drills and saws.  It has been under construction for one year.  Added to this cacophony is the bathroom renovation recently initiated in the unit across the hall.  I feel a migraine coming.

 

Word of advice: Don’t think that you are going to move to the city and then win the fight against noise.  The developer next door ignored my request to ask the workers to lower their music. (Although, it seems enough people complained that the music has finally stopped.)

 

A new resident of New York City, coming from New Mexico, recently filed a lawsuit against his building manager because his unit is too noisy. His high-rise rental happens to overlook Lincoln Tunnel. In his defense, he claims he was promised a unit on the other side of the building.

Is there any relief from all the noise? Some locals are finding moments of peace and quiet.

 

“As the city gets busier and noisier and more exciting, the need for quiet and space increases,” said Eldad Moraru, owner of Take Five Meditation Studio in Dupont Circle. “We are giving people an escape from the craziness of the city.”

 

Here are some tips to help you relieve the noise factor:

Purchase a unit on the highest floor possible, to avoid street noise. Cheval Bethesda is designed with the condo units starting on the fifth floor.

 

Better yet, purchase the penthouse unit to also avoid noise from an upstairs neighbor.

Higher-level units are typically more expensive. If your budget does not allow for a top floor, seek out buildings with concrete construction between each floor.

 

Check the condo rules to understand the level of noise permissible, and understand the process of complaining about loud neighbors.

 

Check the neighboring lots to determine whether any buildings could be knocked down and replaced with new construction.

 

Corner units are great, because two sides of the unit do not connect to another unit.

A client of mine recently asked me to find him a home that offers as much quiet as possible, while keeping his commute to work in Dupont Circle short. I showed him a townhouse development in Chevy Chase that borders Rock Creek Park. It is not walkable to restaurants and shops, but it is tucked away from noisy roads.

As for me, was the ability to walk to a Cleveland Park coffee shop this morning worth listening to the short-tempered drivers honking at one another as I walked down Connecticut Avenue? Well, it is really good coffee.

$2,500/month Soho studio fits a lot of storage and charm into 200 square feet

6sqftJuly 18, 2017

The Soho cooperative 57 Thompson Street is full of apartments we like: like this cozy one bedroom asking $730,000 last year, or this dreamy two bedroom that was up for rent, or this straightforward one bedroom asking $625,000 last fall. Next up is the studio apartment #5F, now on the rental market for $2,500 a month. Located on a high floor of the six-story brick building, it’s a bright, renovated space with pretty pre-war details intact and a good amount of storage for just over 200 square feet.

 

The space might not be big but it still boasts nice details like exposed brick, high ceilings, and hardwood floors. The open kitchen, tucked into a corner, was renovated and built out with as much cabinetry as you could fit in the tiny space. The windows were also replaced in the renovation.

 

The cozy bedroom nook, which fits a full bed, is lined with a painted exposed brick. There are two closets nearby. This co-op rental has the option of coming furnished–not a bad decision given that it’s well decorated with furniture that compliments the interior.

 

The marble bathroom, too, got a complete overhaul in the renovation.

 

57 Thompson is an elevator co-op on a quiet, tree-lined street of Soho, near the Tribeca border. Because this apartment is located on an upper floor of the building, it’s even more serene. But if the studio ever starts feeling too quiet, or a bit too small–the bustle of Canal Street and 6th Avenue are a short walk from the building’s front door.

Why Plants are the New Art in Architectural Development

ELUXE MagazineJuly 14, 2017

Back in the 80’s, it was de rigueur for architects to incorporate huge, showy and highly pricey works of art in lobbies. For many of us, the first time we had direct contact with works by the likes of Mark Rothko Julian Schnabel or Mark Tansey was in the foyers of banks, expensive condos, or company headquarters. The works were designed to impress, awe and even intimidate a bit.

 

But times have changed, and today’s architects’ goals are different – they want us to feel centred, calm and healthier when we enter a building. And what better way to induce those feelings that through the use of green walls?

 

Green walls, also called living walls, have been installed in company lobbies for businesses as diverse as Lululemon, Google, Airbnb and Air France, and no wonder: studies have shown that in the workplace, green walls make an enormous positive impact. Just some of the benefits include:

 

Reducing urban heat island effects and smog

Cleaning outside air of pollutants and dust

Offsetting the carbon footprint of people and fuel emissions

Removing VOCs and other harmful toxins like benzene and formaldehyde from the air

Soundproofing

Insulating and cooling buildings

Creating habitats for birds and beneficial insects, increasing biodiversity

Growing food in urban settings

Increasing foot traffic in retail spaces

 

But it’s not only companies that are applying living walls to their constructions – residential developers who once invested heavily in statues and paintings to adorn their work have discovered adding green walls and other plant based features increases real estate value, residents’ well being, and of course, aesthetic value of a building.

 

Here, we take a look at 7 beautiful developments that demonstrate how plants are the new art in architectural developments.

 

60 White Street 

At 60 White Street, you’ll be surprised and delighted by the way moss and vines colonise the brick and vertical cables, whilst brick salvaged from the site creates a backdrop for the bluestone and plantings. In this development, the green wall designed for the lobby will contain a selective mix of interesting textured plants that are guaranteed to thrive in interior environments. Furthermore, the plan for an interior grotto adjacent to a lounge area will undoubtedly evoke the sense of a found location unearthed from the ruins of the existing building.

Six homes with private parking that make escaping the city on summer weekends a cinch

Brick UndergroundJuly 14, 2017

They key to a quick getaway on a summer Friday: your own driveway and/or garage where you can park steps from your front door and load up the car with little to no friction whatsoever. Here, six homes that have what it takes…

 

At 7 Hubert Street—a Tribeca townhouse with four bedrooms and five and a half bathrooms (yours for $19.750 million)—a pristine and oversized garage space leaves plenty of space for storing a season’s worth of summer toys, from tennis racquets to golf clubs and stand-up surf boards to sea kayaks.

 

For $3.95 million, you can pick up this newly built, multi-family townhouse (with an owner’s triplex and a smaller studio/guest suite) at 391 South 3rd Street in Williamsburg with a gated front courtyard—just beyond the front door—that doubles as a private parking space.

 

Meanwhile, at 257 Berry Street, also in Williamsburg, a modern single-family home (on the market for $4.5 million) includes an unusual garage/entry that allows the owner to drive directly into the lower level gallery area of the 3,500-square-foot live/work space.

 

At 23 Cornelia Street, a deceptively small-looking former carriage house built in 1912 has been transformed into a spacious and modern three-story home (on the market for $24.5 million) with four bedrooms, five and a half bathrooms, an indoor pool, and this 10’6” x 20’2” garage, sandwiched between two front doors, for added convenience with comings and goings.

  

Finally, for about the price of a 1,000 square foot, two-bedroom in Manhattan, you can have this four- bedroom, three-bathroom fully detached, single-family colonial at 110-53 69th Road in Forest Hills, Queens (for rent at $5,700 per month) with a storage-friendly single car garage and two additional parking spots to spare.

5 move-in ready Manhattan one-bedrooms asking less than $500,000

CurbedJuly 14, 2017

Welcome to a semi-regular feature, Price Points, in which we pick a relatively low asking price and a type of apartment, then scour StreetEasy to find the best available options around the city. Today's task: Manhattan one-bedrooms asking under $500,000.

 

Located on East 51st Street between First Avenue and Beekman Place, this spacious one-bedroom, one-bathroom co-op is asking $325,000. That seems like a steal for this massive Midtown East apartment, but the co-op does have somewhat steep maintenance charges of $2,840 per month. Residents in this co-op also have access to a planted roof deck, bicycle storage, and a laundry room.

 

This East Village one-bedroom is a bit of a schlepp: it’s a sixth floor walk-up. But if you can make an exception on account of the location—on East 12th Street between First and Second Avenue—you will find that this co-op features stainless steel appliances in the kitchen, a cozy breakfast bar, hardwood floors, and a bedroom that can fit a queen sized bed. For all of that it’s asking $495,000.

 

If you can get past the fact this is a fourth-floor walk-up, then this cozy co-op on the Upper East Side has quite a bit going in its favor. That includes the stainless steel appliances in the kitchen, the breakfast bar, the fact that the apartment gets plenty of light, and that it’s located just a few blocks south of the 86th Street subway station on the 4,5,6. For all of that, you’ll have to shell out $447,000.

 

Located on the top floor of a five-story walk-up building in Murray Hill, this one-bedroom co-op was recently renovated and features a wood-burning fireplace, an exposed brick wall in the living area and original moldings from the time it was used as a single family home by John Pierpont Morgan, according to the brokerbabble. The co-op is asking $490,000.

 

This sunny and spacious one-bedroom in the Hudson Heights section of Washington Heights is on the market for $399,000. The co-op spans 700 square feet and comes with nine-foot-tall ceilings, three large closets, and wooden floors. Residents of this co-op also have access to two on-site laundry facilities and courtyards.

'Frasier' Star Kelsey Grammer Says Farewell to His Chelsea Home

ZillowJuly 13, 2017

The famed television actor sells his Manhattan apartment for $7.95M.

 

Perhaps Frasier Crane is heading back to Seattle.

 

Kelsey Grammer, the six-time Emmy Award winner who portrayed psychiatrist Frasier Crane on the hit TV shows “Frasier” and “Cheers,” has sold his posh Manhattan pad for just under $8 million.

 

Grammer bought the 3-bedroom, 3.5-bathroom condo in the Chelsea neighborhood in 2010. 

 

The home offers unobstructed views of the Hudson River and Manhattan skyline, along with 11-foot ceilings. The living room has a fireplace, wet bar and wine fridge. Motorized shades help keep the place cool and west-facing windows frame dramatic sunsets.

 

The building was designed by architect Jean Nouvel and is noted for its dramatic, glassy exterior.

 

Grammer first put the 3,076-square-foot home on the market last year, asking $9.75 million.

 

No word on whether the place included a psychiatrist’s couch.

 

Emily Beare and Daniel Amell of Core carried the listing.

Gramercy triplex penthouse with private garden views wants $5.8M

CurbedJuly 13, 2017

It might not get you a key to the exclusive Gramercy Park, but this Gramercy penthouse does have access to its own private garden. The two-bedroom, two-bathroom triplex unit is part of a five-story condo building on East 19th Street, which just has a total of five apartments.

 

The condo opens up into the spacious living room, which comes with a wood-burning fireplace, and three, large street-facing windows. The dining room and kitchen are on the other end of this floor, as is a cozy, wrought-iron balcony, which overlooks the condo building’s shared garden below.

 

The master bedroom is located up one flight of stairs, and comes with multi-paned skylight. Currently the home is set up as a one-bedroom with a home office, but the later can easily be converted into a second bedroom. This might be particularly appealing considering this second bedroom has an even larger balcony than the one below.

 

But if the balconies don’t prove to be enough, there’s also a private roof deck for the apartment that can be accessed by an external, circular staircase. In fact, both the balconies can be accessed through this staircase as well. Aside from that, the condo comes with a washer and dryer in-unit, is part of an elevator building, and has plenty of storage space. For all of that, it’s asking $5.79 million.

Friends in High Places: Secret App Makes Manhattan Skyscrapers Change Color

The Wall Street JournalJuly 12, 2017

On warm nights, Bobby Francis and his three roommates like to hit the balcony of their Manhattan apartment, pull out their phones and change the color of the New York City skyline.

 

With a few taps, spires atop two Midtown skyscrapers flicker blue, red and orange.

 

“It doesn’t feel like something I should have access to at all,” said Mr. Francis, who turns 23 on Wednesday. The consultant sleeps in the former kitchen of a converted two-bedroom apartment.

 

Yet he does. Mr. Francis and his roommates are members of New York’s latest exclusive club: Spireworks, a much whispered-about free app that allows users to change the colors of the spires atop two of New York’s tallest buildings.

 

The only way to join is to be invited by a current user, so access has spread through an unlikely network of colleagues, friends and denizens of the city’s rooftop bars. Among fans, invites remain a precious commodity, creating a new class of haves and have-nots.

 

The have-nots plead their case on social media, and a black market for invitations has opened up on Craigslist.org and other websites, where they sell for $100 and up. The app owners recently asked Tinder, the dating app, to take down a profile hawking a Spireworks invite for $1,000.

 

Anthony Papavasiliou, a 38-year-old owner of a Fort Lee, N.J., Greek restaurant, has been posting on social-media sites seeking access since a friend showed him the app in action two years ago. He donated $250 to Creative Time, a New York nonprofit that supports artists that was giving out invites, but he didn’t nab one.

 

“I just have to have it,” he said, describing himself as “the kind of guy who wakes up at 3 a.m. to get the latest iPhone.”

 

The app lets users control the colors of spires atop two buildings: One Bryant Park, dubbed the Bank of America Tower after its main tenant, and 4 Times Square, home to law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP and distinguished by a large neon logo of fashion label H&M .

 

The app is the brainchild of Mark Domino, a digital-media artist who built “multisensory musical instruments” while a student at Brown University. He is the son-in-law of Douglas Durst, the real-estate tycoon whose family company, the Durst Organization, owns the two midtown office towers. Mr. Domino works as director of digital media at Durst.

 

After sunset each night, app users can log in, choose a building and select from a palette of colors during a two-minute session. Options for sparkles add pizazz. Cloud-hosted software sorts the requests and instructs the lights that line the two spires, a combined 716 feet tall.

 

Usually only five users are allowed to actively change the colors at a time. So, on busy nights, a digital queue forms. Waits approached half an hour on July 4th this year. Red, white and blue were the only colors available that night.

 

“What is more powerful than getting control of the city?” asked Vincent Bruneau, the 36-year-old CEO of a company that runs a corporate-meeting app who scored an invite. “It’s kind of supernatural.”

 

Last year on a trip to Paris, Mr. Bruneau received a 6 a.m. call from a friend back in New York begging him to change the color of the spires so he could impress guests at a party. Bleary-eyed, Mr. Bruneau obliged.

 

Durst has added One World Trade Center, which it manages, to the app on special occasions, including the U.S. Open tennis tournament, the NYC Marathon and World AIDS Day.

 

Seven years ago, Mr. Domino wrote the code to control the spire lights. At the Durst holiday party 2010, his father-in-law hit the button for the inaugural color change. Durst employees invited a few friends and tenants, who each got a few invites to give away.

 

The app’s community grew slowly and by word-of-mouth. In the past year, it has increased dramatically and the number of users is now approaching 10,000, Mr. Domino said. Each user can offer five invites.

 

Earlier this year one couple turned Durst’s Times Square spire blue to reveal the gender of the baby they were expecting, and a handful of men have used it in marriage proposals, Mr. Domino said. One user hid his phone in his pocket and bet tourists near Times Square that he could change the spire’s color as a magic trick, Mr. Domino said.

 

At a 2015 party celebrating the listing of a posh Tribeca penthouse with clear views to Midtown, a broker with the app wowed potential buyers as they played rooftop croquet while being serenaded by a string quartet. “Talk about being king of the castle,” said Elizabeth Kee of Core, the listing agent. The apartment sold for $8.3 million.

 

When Natalia Krasnodebska got a Spireworks invitation from her friend Ashley Zelinskie, she said she fired off a thank-you tweet. Almost immediately, Ms. Zelinskie, an artist currently showing at Sotheby’s , was flooded with dozens of requests for invitations from strangers. She said she declined them all.

 

Mr. Domino said he didn’t like the velvet-rope vibe that has grown around the app. He said he wanted Spireworks to be an “open system to share in moments of discovery and play.”

 

He said he is looking for ways to cut down on “bootlegging,” perhaps by doing away with the invitation system in favor of one unlocked by charitable donations. Durst said it has had preliminary discussions with charity partners but declined to name them.

 

Mr. Domino also said he was dismayed how many of the app’s most ardent fans are young men who want to use it to pick up women.

 

He said that in a recent survey of Spireworks users, bartenders at the Boom Boom Room, a millennial hot spot atop the Meatpacking District’s Standard Hotel, complained the club was saturated with men using the app to try to seduce women.

 

James Geraci, a recent college graduate from the Boston area, tweeted to the official Spireworks account during a Memorial Day visit to New York seeking an invite. Some women were coming by his hotel room, which faced the spires, and he said he thought the app would be “a power move of a pickup line.”

 

No one ever responded. Mr. Geraci said he “ended up having to try to impress the girls the old-fashioned way.”

Friends in High Places: Secret App Makes Manhattan Skyscrapers Change Color

The Wall Street JournalJuly 12, 2017

On warm nights, Bobby Francis and his three roommates like to hit the balcony of their Manhattan apartment, pull out their phones and change the color of the New York City skyline.

 

With a few taps, spires atop two Midtown skyscrapers flicker blue, red and orange.

 

“It doesn’t feel like something I should have access to at all,” said Mr. Francis, who turns 23 on Wednesday. The consultant sleeps in the former kitchen of a converted two-bedroom apartment.

 

Yet he does. Mr. Francis and his roommates are members of New York’s latest exclusive club: Spireworks, a much whispered-about free app that allows users to change the colors of the spires atop two of New York’s tallest buildings.

 

The only way to join is to be invited by a current user, so access has spread through an unlikely network of colleagues, friends and denizens of the city’s rooftop bars. Among fans, invites remain a precious commodity, creating a new class of haves and have-nots.

 

The have-nots plead their case on social media, and a black market for invitations has opened up on Craigslist.org and other websites, where they sell for $100 and up. The app owners recently asked Tinder, the dating app, to take down a profile hawking a Spireworks invite for $1,000.

 

Anthony Papavasiliou, a 38-year-old owner of a Fort Lee, N.J., Greek restaurant, has been posting on social-media sites seeking access since a friend showed him the app in action two years ago. He donated $250 to Creative Time, a New York nonprofit that supports artists that was giving out invites, but he didn’t nab one.

 

“I just have to have it,” he said, describing himself as “the kind of guy who wakes up at 3 a.m. to get the latest iPhone.”

 

The app lets users control the colors of spires atop two buildings: One Bryant Park, dubbed the Bank of America Tower after its main tenant, and 4 Times Square, home to law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP and distinguished by a large neon logo of fashion label H&M .

 

The app is the brainchild of Mark Domino, a digital-media artist who built “multisensory musical instruments” while a student at Brown University. He is the son-in-law of Douglas Durst, the real-estate tycoon whose family company, the Durst Organization, owns the two midtown office towers. Mr. Domino works as director of digital media at Durst.

 

After sunset each night, app users can log in, choose a building and select from a palette of colors during a two-minute session. Options for sparkles add pizazz. Cloud-hosted software sorts the requests and instructs the lights that line the two spires, a combined 716 feet tall.

 

Usually only five users are allowed to actively change the colors at a time. So, on busy nights, a digital queue forms. Waits approached half an hour on July 4th this year. Red, white and blue were the only colors available that night.

 

“What is more powerful than getting control of the city?” asked Vincent Bruneau, the 36-year-old CEO of a company that runs a corporate-meeting app who scored an invite. “It’s kind of supernatural.”

 

Last year on a trip to Paris, Mr. Bruneau received a 6 a.m. call from a friend back in New York begging him to change the color of the spires so he could impress guests at a party. Bleary-eyed, Mr. Bruneau obliged.

 

Durst has added One World Trade Center, which it manages, to the app on special occasions, including the U.S. Open tennis tournament, the NYC Marathon and World AIDS Day.

 

Seven years ago, Mr. Domino wrote the code to control the spire lights. At the Durst holiday party 2010, his father-in-law hit the button for the inaugural color change. Durst employees invited a few friends and tenants, who each got a few invites to give away.

 

The app’s community grew slowly and by word-of-mouth. In the past year, it has increased dramatically and the number of users is now approaching 10,000, Mr. Domino said. Each user can offer five invites.

 

Earlier this year one couple turned Durst’s Times Square spire blue to reveal the gender of the baby they were expecting, and a handful of men have used it in marriage proposals, Mr. Domino said. One user hid his phone in his pocket and bet tourists near Times Square that he could change the spire’s color as a magic trick, Mr. Domino said.

 

At a 2015 party celebrating the listing of a posh Tribeca penthouse with clear views to Midtown, a broker with the app wowed potential buyers as they played rooftop croquet while being serenaded by a string quartet. “Talk about being king of the castle,” said Elizabeth Kee of Core, the listing agent. The apartment sold for $8.3 million.

 

When Natalia Krasnodebska got a Spireworks invitation from her friend Ashley Zelinskie, she said she fired off a thank-you tweet. Almost immediately, Ms. Zelinskie, an artist currently showing at Sotheby’s , was flooded with dozens of requests for invitations from strangers. She said she declined them all.

 

Mr. Domino said he didn’t like the velvet-rope vibe that has grown around the app. He said he wanted Spireworks to be an “open system to share in moments of discovery and play.”

 

He said he is looking for ways to cut down on “bootlegging,” perhaps by doing away with the invitation system in favor of one unlocked by charitable donations. Durst said it has had preliminary discussions with charity partners but declined to name them.

 

Mr. Domino also said he was dismayed how many of the app’s most ardent fans are young men who want to use it to pick up women.

 

He said that in a recent survey of Spireworks users, bartenders at the Boom Boom Room, a millennial hot spot atop the Meatpacking District’s Standard Hotel, complained the club was saturated with men using the app to try to seduce women.

 

James Geraci, a recent college graduate from the Boston area, tweeted to the official Spireworks account during a Memorial Day visit to New York seeking an invite. Some women were coming by his hotel room, which faced the spires, and he said he thought the app would be “a power move of a pickup line.”

 

No one ever responded. Mr. Geraci said he “ended up having to try to impress the girls the old-fashioned way.”

Rent the lavish parlor floor of a 1900s Soho townhouse for $6,500/month

6SQFTJuly 12, 2017

Not every Soho apartment is a former warehouse loft–and here’s proof. This one-bedroom unit takes up the parlor floor of the 20-foot-wide 1900s townhouse located at 200 6th Avenue, one block south of Houston Street. Stretching over 1,300 square feet, the interior is loaded with drool-worthy prewar details that include herringbone hardwood floors, two working fireplaces, crown molding, antique chandeliers and wall-mounted candelabras. For good measure, there’s a nice display of exposed brick in the bedroom–a typical feature of the traditional Soho loft. The condo is up for rent for either six months or a year, asking $6,500 per month.

  

Some other lovely prewar perks on display are the 12-foot ceilings and eight large windows. The living and dining area has two west-facing windows, which allow for sunlight throughout the day. And in the winter, the grand fireplace can be put to good use.

  

The galley kitchen off the living room has its own window and stainless steel appliances that include a vented cooktop and oven. The olive green cabinets and built in breakfast bar, of course, are modern additions.

 

The brick-lined bedroom overlooks a garden down below. It boasts not one, but two large walk-in closets.

 

200 6th Avenue has been broken up into five condo units. It’s right around the corner from the Avenue but separated by Father Fagan Park, which creates a quiet and private environment for residents. The Soho location means it’s close to tons of restaurants, bars, boutiques and the famous Dominique Ansel Bakery, too.

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