You're Priced Out. Now What?

The New York TimesJanuary 27, 2012
It’s easy to fall in love with a neighborhood in New York. And given the high cost of housing, it’s common to realize that you can’t afford the home you want in the neighborhood you love.

So, what to do? Your first instinct may be to look a few stops away on the same subway line, trading Williamsburg for Bushwick, for instance. Or you might choose a neighboring area, moving to Yorkville, say, instead of the Upper East Side.

Sometimes that works, but other times it only lands you in an inconvenient neighborhood with little resemblance to the area you had in mind. It can help to allow your imagination to range farther afield, maybe even across a river. Instead of proximity to your heart’s desire,
consider places with similarities, like housing stock, nightlife and dining, the typical resident and the overall feel.

Following are five pairs of neighborhoods: a popular, expensive area, and a cheaper option, perhaps less well known. Of course there will be tradeoffs. But you might enjoy the alternative even more than the original.

THE charms of the Upper West Side are so well known they scarcely bear repeating. Ornate prewar co-op buildings and brownstone row houses line the neighborhood’s tree-canopied streets. Two of Manhattan’s great parks, Riverside and Central, delineate its boundaries. The schools are among the best in the city. It is home to the American Museum of Natural History, Lincoln Center and other world-class cultural institutions. But to live among all of that is quite expensive. The few brownstones that come on the market can top $10 million. Two-bedroom co-ops regularly sell for more than $1 million.

At 136 West 75th Street, a two-bedroom two-bath co-op is listed for sale for $1.195 million by Halstead Property. The median price per square foot in 2011 was $896, said Jonathan J. Miller of the appraisal firm Miller Samuel.

Park Slope, Brooklyn, has often been an option for those priced out of the Upper West Side, but with prices rising there, prospective buyers might consider its neighbor on the other side of Flatbush Avenue, Prospect Heights. There, the median per-square-foot price, $446, is half that of the Upper West Side, Mr. Miller said.

The neighborhood borders its own great green space, Prospect Park, as well as the broad Eastern Parkway and Grand Army Plaza. The Brooklyn Museum, the Brooklyn Public Library and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden are just across the parkway.

“The late-19th-century apartment buildings on Eastern Parkway and the row houses on the mid blocks — it’s the same style of architecture you find on the Upper West Side,” said Simeon Bankoff, the executive director of the Historic Districts Council, a citywide preservation group. Much of the southern end of the neighborhood is under landmark protection, including stretches of St. Mark’s Avenue, Prospect Place and Park Place. To the north are smaller brick row houses and the construction site of the arena for the vast Atlantic Yards development.

A wave of new residents arrived in the early 1990s, said Gib Veconi, the treasurer of the Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council.

“People would buy a house with their last dollar,” Mr. Veconi said, “start remodeling the ground floor and rent it out to get some income, and slowly renovate over time, mostly with their own labor.”

Now, he said, more affluent residents buy houses and commission half-million-dollar gut renovations in under a year.

David Rogers, a broker with Prudential Douglas Elliman, said brownstones in the neighborhood sold for roughly $1.4 million to $1.8 million, depending on condition and location.

At 416 Park Place, a two-family town house with a three-bedroom owner’s duplex is listed at $1.55 million by Brown Harris Stevens.

New bars, restaurants and coffee shops have recently opened on Vanderbilt Avenue, the neighborhood’s commercial spine. Saul Bolton, who earned a Michelin star for his restaurant in Boerum Hill, opened a restaurant here called the Vanderbilt. The ice cream shop Ample Hills Creamery draws crowds of children on summer afternoons.

The large houses of Prospect Heights have drawn families to the area. Joyce Szuflita, the founder of NYC School Help, which helps families find schools in Brooklyn, said parents had put a lot of energy into improving Public School 9.

Mr. Veconi of the development council said Prospect Heights’ new appeal was not surprising. “The allure here was that this was an undervalued neighborhood,” he said. “I felt like people were going to get this sooner or later.”

Over the last two decades the Lower East Side has become a microcosm of everything New York is known for. Its short, intimate blocks harbor innovative restaurants, boutiques, galleries and clubs. Its history as an immigrant enclave is celebrated at the Tenement Museum, and its Jewish past persists at the venerable Eldridge Street Synagogue and the lox purveyors Russ & Daughters on East Houston Street.

And as the neighborhood changed, the price of housing soared. New condos sell for a median of $1,020 per square foot, according to Mr. Miller, who said asking prices over $1 million were not uncommon. In the new building at 60 Orchard Street, Stribling & Associates is listing a two-bedroom two-bath condo for $1.35 million.

But prospective buyers would do well to look across the East River at Greenpoint, Brooklyn, which has a vibrant ethnic history as well as lively shopping and dining — and much lower housing prices. The median condo price per square foot in Greenpoint is $563, Mr. Miller said. At 149 Huron Street, two blocks from the subway, Apartments and Lofts has an accepted offer on a two-bedroom condo listed for $513,000.

Greenpoint is not as convenient as its better-known neighbor to the south, Williamsburg, because it is on the G subway line and Manhattan is not a straight shot. The housing is a mix of new condos, small apartment buildings, brownstones, brick town houses, conversions, a few loft spaces and wooden row houses, many covered in vinyl siding. For many decades Greenpoint was a Polish enclave, and Manhattan Avenue is crowded with bakeries, butcher shops displaying kielbasa, and inexpensive Polish restaurants.

But now, wedged in among Polish businesses, the avenue also has an artisanal ice cream parlor that serves Earl Gray cones, an infants’ clothing and toy store, and coffee shops. The area around Franklin Avenue, once a desolate strip, has restaurants, bars, shops and condos, and is part of a small historic district.

Families have been attracted to the neighborhood because they can get more space without sacrificing the quality of their schools. P. S. 31, for example, gets high scores: 90 percent of students meet state standards for reading and 97 percent for math.

“Greenpoint is a great Brooklyn neighborhood,” said David Maundrell, the founder of Apartments and Lofts, which markets many condos in the area. “There are different ethnic backgrounds, the Polish and Irish and the new people moving in over the last 10 years. You have amazing retail and services. It is a well-rounded neighborhood.”

Inside Vinny’s of Carroll Gardens on Smith Street, firefighters sit alongside locals in their 70s out for a meal with their grandchildren. Waitresses sit down at your table to take your order. The food is old-school Italian — red sauce and eggplant-parm heroes. Next door to Vinny’s is Persons of Interest, a new old-school barbershop where the “combo platter” — a shave and a haircut — costs $75.

It is that congenial mix of the traditional and the retro-modern that has drawn well-heeled newcomers, many with families, to the deep-yarded brownstones that are Carroll Gardens’ signature. Asking prices for these houses, many built in around the time of the Civil War, can easily top $2 million; the median price was $602 per square foot last year, according to Mr. Miller.

At 230 Union Street, Prudential Douglas Elliman is listing a town house for $2.295 million.

About three miles east lies Crown Heights North, a neighborhood with a trove of brownstones and row houses, in a variety of styles, that can be had for a fraction of those in Carroll Gardens. The median price for all of Crown Heights last year was $384 per square foot, Mr. Miller said. The houses are of newer vintage, built from about 1870 to 1920, but many bear the elaborate details of the Gilded Age.

Once among Brooklyn’s wealthiest neighborhoods, Crown Heights is filled with mansions and town houses. Many were built by well-known architects, including Montrose Morris, Axel Hedman and C. P. H Gilbert.

“This was the luxury housing of its day,” said Simeon Bankoff, the director of the Historic Districts Council. “There are some drop-dead gorgeous buildings there.”

Today Crown Heights North has a large historic district. St. Marks Avenue, Dean Street and multiple blocks of Prospect Place have some very ornate houses. These sell for over $1 million when they become available, said Barbara Brown-Allen, a broker with Prudential Douglas Elliman.

Other houses, depending on the work required to bring them up to snuff, go for $700,000 to $900,000. Many are quite large, often 20 feet wide by 50 feet deep and four stories tall. At 1174 Dean Street, Prudential Douglas Elliman is listing a town house for $1.195 million.

The 2, 3, 4 and 5 trains run through the neighborhood, and the A and C are not far away, in Bedford-Stuyvesant. Franklin Avenue, the main commercial strip, is about a mile from Prospect Park.

A number of the stores cater to West Indian and Panamanian residents. Nick Juravich, who blogs about the neighborhood at I Love Franklin Avenue, said that since he moved here in 2008, more than 30 businesses had opened, including Mexican, Indian and Thai restaurants. “We have a sleek new wine bar that would fit right in on Smith Street,” he said, meaning the main drag in Carroll Gardens.

Hell’s Kitchen, as is obvious from its name, wasn’t always the most desirable place to live. But that has changed, at first slowly and then more quickly. Restaurants, bars, coffee shops and other businesses have settled in along Ninth Avenue, and a few are opening farther west on 10th Avenue.

Much of Hell’s Kitchen has been protected from high-rise development, so that on the cross streets, low-rise town houses, brownstones and historic churches remain. In the northern part of the neighborhood, Prudential Douglas Elliman is listing a two-bedroom two-bath condo at 426 West 58th Street for $1.749 million.

Development has been pushed to the neighborhood’s edges, toward the Hudson River and along 42nd Street, where high-rises, mostly rentals, have sprouted in the last few years. Two-bedrooms at the new MiMA tower on 42nd Street rent for about $6,500 a month; the most expensive three-bedroom there is $16,250 a month.

Mr. Miller said the median price per square foot in Hell’s Kitchen in 2011 was $854 — a bargain compared with costs in some other Manhattan neighborhoods.

But that figure is still 35 percent more expensive than the median of $555 in Long Island City, Queens, which is growing its own forest of handsomely appointed residential towers. Large condo projects are rising throughout the neighborhood, overshadowing brick town houses, as well as garages and other businesses.

It’s easy to see why developers are drawn to its East River shoreline. High-rise towers are under construction alongside a riverfront park with views to the west of the United Nations and Midtown — just a few minutes away on half a dozen subway lines. Restaurants, supermarkets, preschools and dog day care centers are popping up. The neighborhood has a mix of old and new on Vernon Avenue, the commercial strip closest to the water. There’s a strong arts community and even some remaining manufacturing.

Long Island City is home to MoMA PS1, a center for modern art and performance events. Galleries and lofts are taking over industrial buildings.

“You have a sense of a real community here,” said Bob Singleton, the director of the Greater Astoria Historical Society. “You have all the benefits of a small town with all of the advantages of a big city right next to you in Midtown Manhattan.”

Eric Benaim began selling units in Long Island City in 2006 through his firm Modern Spaces, which lists a
two-bedroom two-bath condo at L Haus on 49th Avenue for $870,000.

“It has all started happening over here in the last year and a half or so,” Mr. Benaim said. And, he added, “It’s only about eight minutes on the subway to Hell’s Kitchen.”

When artists began moving into lofts in manufacturing buildings with cast-iron fronts in SoHo in the 1960s and 1970s, they were looking for cheap space to live and work. But they wound up changing the way people think about cities, said Andrew Berman, the director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation.

“We take for granted the notion that it is cool to live in a converted loft building in an old industrial section of a city,” Mr. Berman said. “But that is a relatively new concept, an outgrowth of artists’ taking over disused industrial spaces in SoHo.”

Today, few artists could afford to buy a loft in SoHo. The neighborhood is packed with boutiques, brand-name stores, upscale restaurants and hotels. Lofts that decades ago housed painters sell for millions of dollars, like one listed by Prudential Douglas Elliman for $3.25 million at 475 Broadway, now in contract. The median price per square foot is $1,122, according to Mr. Miller.

Just 20 blocks uptown, another neighborhood is going through a similar revival: the Ladies’ Mile Historic District. Roughly framed by the Avenue of the Americas and Broadway from 17th to 24th Street, the area also has historic loft buildings with large windows and cast-iron facades. But the median per-square-foot price is $987, about 20 percent less than in SoHo, Mr. Miller said.

And it has a different history. The Ladies’ Mile was home to some of the city’s largest department stores, including Macy’s and Lord & Taylor.

Unlike the industrial buildings of SoHo, the stores along the Ladies’ Mile were ornate, many built in the Beaux-Arts style. Some have mansard roofs. The former Hugh O’Neill store has large gold domes.

As in SoHo, artists found their way to the upper floors of these large buildings. So many photographers worked here that it was called the photo district, said Jack Taylor, the president of the Drive to Protect the Ladies’ Mile District. However, it differed from SoHo in that galleries, restaurants and retail were slow to follow.

The historic district was approved in 1989. About a decade ago, big-box stores moved in. Today the area has a TJ Maxx, a Best Buy, a Home Depot and a Trader Joe’s. There are new restaurants; on a recent Sunday, the line at the brunch spot tbsp on 20th Street was nearly out the door.

Some of the old department stores are being converted into condos, including the O’Neill Building and the Cammeyer, a former shoe emporium at 650 Sixth Avenue, where CORE is marketing a unit for $2.85 million. The units are not the same raw and massive spaces one finds in SoHo.

“It feels more like a residential neighborhood,” Mr. Taylor said. “Ladies’ Mile used to be like Siberia, but now it can be pretty hard to bear in terms of noise and crowds. There is no denying it is populated.”

‘Selling New York’ Recap: Esquire Magazine Partners with the Kleiers

GatherJanuary 27, 2012
Selling New York goes to Chelsea and Dumbo this week with Esquire Magazine.

Parul Brahmbhatt, of CORE, attempts to price and sell a unique 1,800 sq ft. zeppelin lovers' loft. She has no idea how to price it so she brings in Shaun Osher, the CEO of CORE. The loft is being sold as is, with everything included - including the hanging mini zeppelins from the ceiling. It looks more like a museum than a home. The loft is on 29th Street in Chelsea and the seller wants $2 million. Shaun tells Parul that's not going to happen.

Parul tells Jeremy Noritz, the seller, it should be priced at $1.75 million. He's resistant but he finally agrees. The marketing is going to be tough. Parul heads to Connecticut to meet Joey Marsocci, Lead Designer of Dr. Grymm Laboratories. He's an expert in the steampunk movement. Parul tells Joey she's never heard of the rest of us. He explains it's a Victorian elegance style with a modern technology twist...more strange than elegance.

Parul decides to have the first steampunked open house event at the Noritz home. Joey is invited and he brings twenty of his friends. The event gets tons of press in New York and as far away as Scandinavia.

Next up, the Kleiers go to the Hearst Corporation and Esquire Magazine to find the ultimate bachelor pad. The first place they head to is in Dumbo. It's the clock tower loft, the price - $23.5 million. But this place has 360-degree views, a glass elevator, and four working clocks that provide drama and energy to the space. Stephen Jacoby, Associate Publisher of Esquire says, "You picked a winner for us." But he wants to keep looking.

Next up for Esquire, Trump Park Avenue priced at $33 million. This space is much more elegant than the clock tower but it's lacking in uniqueness. Stephen tells Michele, "It doesn't have enough of an edge." He still likes the clock tower.

The Kleiers take the group to a third property with killer views of the Hudson River. This Chelsea apartment lists for $22 million. Alana Frumkes, the Design Director for Esquire Signature Space notes, "The space is exceptional." Yes, Michele likes the space too but in the end she says she would choose the clock tower.

So Esquire ends up choosing the clock tower loft, duh. They throw a party and it's incredible. There's a DJ, food, and drinks. Then, Michele gets an offer... but it's still in the working. Did it go through?

The outcome with the zeppelin place... No offers are on the table but they have received more publicity. A slow week for New York.

Gimme Shelter: 38 Bethune Street, 18 Jones Street, 36 Bedford Street

The New York PostJanuary 25, 2012
Power couple Naomi Watts and Liev Schreiber’s extensive downtown home hunt has ended with the purchase of a full-floor loft on Washington Street in TriBeCa.

The acting duo have closed on the 4,315-square-foot, three-bedroom, two-bathroom co-op for $3.95 million. The dramatic loft, which has 14-foot ceilings, oversized windows, river views and keyed elevator access, was listed for $4.5 million.

Corcoran Group brokers Chazz Levi and Noble Black declined to comment.

Watts and Schreiber have spent years examining the market. They scoped out units in Flatiron and West Chelsea in the past, and Watts recently checked out three West Village listings on her own.

The actress saw a $14.95 million townhouse at 38 Bethune St., a $6.5 million townhouse at 18 Jones St. and a $6.375 million townhouse at 36 Bedford St. before deciding to buy in TriBeCa instead.

Last week, Watts and Schreiber celebrated the birthday of her brother, photographer Ben Watts, at a party at Meatpacking District hot spot the Double Seven. Mick Jagger also attended the bash.

Shaun Osher on "The Market That Never Sleeps"

New American LuxuryJanuary 25, 2012
Shaun Osher started CORE, a boutique real-estate brokerage and advisory firm, six years ago with partner Jack Cayre after becoming disenchanted with the generic client services offered by New York’s larger firms. CORE quickly rose to the top thanks to its focus on providing the highest level of personalized service and expertise in the field. Osher recently spoke with New American Luxury about the trends, limitations, and wish lists of one of the world’s most exciting, expensive, and evolved real-estate markets—Manhattan.

Part of CORE’s success is due to your unique philosophy and your desire to keep real estate fresh and relevant. What separates CORE from other firms?

CORE represents the evolution of real estate. We are a company interested in how real estate should be conducted in 2012, [whereas] a lot of companies are operating on the same fundamentals that they were in 1980. The world has changed, and we as a company strive to be at the forefront of all of those changes.

What properties are hot in New York real estate right now?

Clients are looking for quality—something they’ve become so used to seeing a lack of in this market. New Yorkers want turnkey, well-conceived, perfectly finished apartments and homes.

Are there design styles that are more popular than others?

Our clients are looking for everything from traditional to modern styles; it runs the gamut.

Different personalities want different things, and we pride ourselves on being able to help find the perfect fit.

Is there anything that high-end New York clients look for across the board, no matter their preferences in style?

The fundamentals of real estate—the things that are key to making your lifestyle and home a special place—we call those “the intangibles.” This includes the view, the layout, the ceiling heights, the amenities, whether there is a doorman or not. Ultimately it always comes down to the same thing: location.

What are the geographic trends right now?

Our focus is mostly Manhattan, and within the island we’ve seen a lot of downtown neighborhoods emerge as desirable luxury neighborhoods, like the West Chelsea area. The West Village area has always been popular, but it’s more desirable now. And really what we’ve seen recently is NoHo [North of Houston Street] evolving into one of the most sought-after neighborhoods in Manhattan.

Outside of location, what’s at the top of every New Yorker’s wish list?

Location and then price points, followed by bedroom and bathroom counts, and then the luxury items—the intangibles I mentioned before. Things like finishes come last.

What are your clients willing to sacrifice to have the ideal location?

Certainly, there is always a trade-off. People will sacrifice space, which is the ultimate luxury in New York. And then they start sacrificing things on their wish list—views, bedrooms, [and] details like flooring, appliances, or other finishes.

Are you seeing an influx in “green” properties? Are New Yorkers ready to have a more eco-friendly lifestyle?

We have more clients now looking for that lifestyle than we did 10 years ago, but unfortunately not as much as I’d like to see. Because of the economy and what we’ve just lived through, and what we seem to be faced with now, money is still the driving force behind the majority of decisions people make. They don’t see how these sustainable choices will save them money in the future; they see the up-front costs.

One of the most exciting things for your firm has to be your involvement with HGTV’s Selling New York. How has the show impacted business?

It’s been the most powerful branding experience and something we couldn’t replicate if we tried. To be shown in 60 countries to millions of people a week is an exposure we couldn’t have dreamed of.

Celebrity Real Estate: 38 Bethune Street, 36 Bedford Street, 18 Jones Street

MYFoxNY.comJanuary 25, 2012
Perennial house hunter Naomi Watts and hubby Liev Schrieber continue their house search. Watts recently checked out a $14.95 million townhouse at 38 Bethune, listed by CORE broker Vickey Barron, just before New Year's. She arrived on her own, and then toured Barron's listing at 18 Jones Street and 36 Bedford Street. Barron declined to comment.

Five Cheaper Alternatives to Tribeca’s Priciest Real Estate

CurbedJanuary 24, 2012
Welcome to Splurge/Steal, a feature that we've shamelessly borrowed from our friends at Eater. In it, we give you five high-class apartments in a particular neighborhood and five more affordable (but still probably not all that affordable) versions of each one. Got any tips? Send them in to our tipline.

1) 58 Reade St. #PH ($8,995,000) / 158 Chambers St. #PH ($1,685,000) Similarities: They're both penthouses with fairly large kitchen spaces and stairs. Differences: 58 Reade has large other spaces as well. Also it has stairs inside the apartment, whereas the stairs involved with 158 Chambers are because it's a walk-up.

2) 408 Greenwich St. #8 ($8,750,00) / 50 Franklin St. #16A ($1,850,000) Similarities: Open spaces with lots of natural light,
multiple bedrooms, doormen. Differences: The open spaces in 408 Greenwich are bordered by a fireplace, fancy bronze panels, marble, and expensive wood. They are also bigger and the natural light is presumably derived from a fancier sun. But 50 Franklin has a terrace! Take that!
Also, the doorman at 408 Greenwich is a virtual doorman, which is either better or worse depending on whether you prefer robots or people.

3) 101 Warren St. #3250 ($8,600,000) / 288 West St. #3E ($1,995,000) Similarities: Both feature visible beams, views of the Hudson River, large living rooms, a terrace/roof deck, three bedrooms, and between 2,200 and 2,300 square feet. Differences: These two are actually very similar. West basically looks like a version of Warren that was made out of much older wood. Also, Warren has three and a half baths to West's one. And it's a duplex.

4) 427 Washington St. #4 ($6,995,000) / 100 Hudson St. #8E ($1,350,000) Similarities: These two are both co-ops with high beamed ceilings, and lots of big windows. Differences: Washington is bigger and simply seems like it was made out of more expensive stuff. Those floors! Whatever "Chevron oak" is, it sure looks great. It's not like Daniel Craig is checking out 100 Hudson St.

5) 60 Beach St. #PH2 ($7,460,000) / 80 Chambers St. #8C ($795,000) Similarities: Both have terraces, and...walls... Okay, these two aren't that similar. Differences: Approximately 2,000 square feet, two beds, two and a half baths, seven million dollars.

Core Tries to Pair Real Estate and Love by Hosting Matchmaking Event

The Real DealJanuary 23, 2012
Clients of Vickey Barron, managing director of New York-based residential brokerage Core, may be getting more than they bargained for when choosing her to find them a home.

With Valentine’s Day coming up, Barron is hosting a matchmaking event called “Love and Real Estate,” in which she is partnering with professional matchmaker Samantha Daniels to introduce her clients to prospective love interests.

The free event for straight and gay folks, which will take place during the first week of February. It’s by invitation only and will include a select group of Barron’s single clients, and a selection of Daniels’, in the hopes of pairing some of the invitees together at a wine tasting event at one of Barron’s current listings at 256 West 10th Street.

The idea for the event, which Barron hosted one before, five years ago, came from the clients themselves, according to a spokesperson for Core.

“One of [Vickey's] clients actually said ‘Vicky’s found me a few homes and now I’m just waiting for her to find me a wife,’” the spokesperson said.

It’s a serious enterprise; Barron interviewed five separate matchmakers before finding Daniels and she has tried to find a potential match for each attendee. After the last party she hosted, a few of the attendees continued dating. No one got married, she said.

A broker and his or her client can get very close, Barron added, saying it put her in a great position to figure out what her client’s were looking for in a significant other.

“I get to know buyers and sellers from working with them for three to six months,” she said. “So many of them are busy young professionals and [divorcees.] They’re all great and I just thought it would be great to put them all in a room together. I bring people and places together for a living, so what’s the difference between people and places and people and people?”

The event may also provide a more risk-free venue for those searching for a date compared with online dating sites or public speed-dating events, Barron added.

“I got them through the New York real estate process, so they all have a good credit score, they’re employed and they’re not wanted by the law,” she joked.

News of the event brought mixed-responses from the real estate community, who said it was a fun idea but not the most professional.
“I’d certainly not be doing that,” said Tamir Shemesh senior vice president at the Corcoran Group. “I’m busy enough selling the real estate. Maybe she believes in it but I believe in devoting all my time to the business of real estate.”

Tiana von Johnson, CEO of Goldstar Properties, who as recently voted the city’s hottest broker by, added: “I’m not really into the whole matchmaking thing. I think it’s a little ridiculous but I’m all for the publicity.”

Corey Wecler, an associate broker at City Connections, said that while it wasn’t his style, he’d “probably do something a little more subtle,” — “why not? Anything to drum up more business and get in front of more people.”

Barron certainly relies on word of mouth; the broker said 98 percent of her business comes from referrals.

“I meet so many great New Yorkers through the process of finding them a home,” said Barron. “Hopefully all of the event’s attendees will have something in common, and it’s also a nice way to say ‘thank you’ for their loyal business.”

Where History Meets Industry

The New York TimesJanuary 20, 2012
SLOPING down from Myrtle Avenue to the walled fortress of the Brooklyn Navy Yard Industrial Park, and bisected by the rumbling equator of the elevated Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, the two-block-wide semi-industrial neighborhood of Wallabout would seem to have some unenviable physical challenges. It lacks subways, and although it shares a name with nearby Wallabout Bay, its residents are cut off by the Navy Yard from the tantalizingly close waterfront.

But for all of the neighborhood’s isolation and industrial grit, and perhaps because of these characteristics, many of its residents describe it with immense pride and fondness.

“To live there, you’re a little bit of a risk taker and an adventurer, because you’re off the grid a little bit,” said Gary Hattem, a chairman of the Historic Wallabout Association, who since 1976 has lived on Vanderbilt Avenue in an Italianate 1850s row house with a wooden porch. “And there’s more of a romantic quality to living there, because the houses are a bit more random.”

Among outsiders, the area has typically been viewed as simply the northern fringe of Clinton Hill and Fort Greene. But Wallabout has been coming into its own of late, attracting developers and preservation agencies alike.

The Wallabout distinction, local preservationists say, is intended to summon up an awareness of the area as something more than just a poorer version of its neighbors. Its history and streetscape are certainly textured. Its name can be traced to the 17th century, when a group of Walloons, French-speaking Protestants from what is now Belgium, settled along the nearby bay, which came to be called “Waal-bogt,” or “bend in the harbor.” The Navy Yard dates to 1801, and the Wallabout Market operated north of Flushing Avenue from the 1880s until it was gobbled up by the Navy Yard in World War II.

The Historic Wallabout Association, a preservation group, defines the neighborhood as the 22 blocks between Classon and Carlton Avenues from Flushing Avenue to Myrtle. Some blocks are mixed-use, but buildings south of the B. Q. E. are generally residential, while those north of it are industrial. Some industrial buildings are honeycombed with artists’ studios.

Wallabout contains the largest concentration of pre-Civil War wood-frame houses in the city, many with early porches and cornices. This was a big draw for Dina Rosenbloom, a marketing executive. Last year she and her husband, Brice, paid $1.3 million for a two-family 1850s house in the new city historic district on Vanderbilt Avenue. As with many old Wallabout houses, its wood facade had been covered with vinyl siding. But it retained plenty of charm.

“It doesn’t feel like you’re in Brooklyn when you walk in,” Ms. Rosenbloom said. “You feel transported to an old wood-frame house in a country town.” The four-bedroom house had been widened to 25 feet by the enclosure of a side walkway, so that an internal bathroom wall is the former exterior of the house, complete with antique wooden siding. “It’s unique, not cookie cutter,” she said.

Although the city bestowed landmark protection on only one block of Wallabout last year, a wider area between Myrtle and Park Avenues was placed on the state and federal historic registers. These designations could bring tax credits to owners like the Rosenblooms if they restored their facade.


The area has long been populated by members of the working and creative classes, joined recently by professionals. The nearby Pratt Institute has brought in artistic types like Jim Morehand, an interior designer turned massage therapist who graduated from Pratt in 1993 and shares a Vanderbilt Avenue row house with Dave Polazzo, a retired teacher. The couple host a salon, Parlor Jazz, out of the house.
Census data covering Wallabout, as well as one block to its east and three to its west, showed that the estimated 7,613 residents in 2009 were 43 percent African-American, 35 percent Hispanic and 17 percent white. The proportion of whites rose 6 percent from 2000, as the share of blacks shrank by about the same amount. Mr. Morehand, who is of mixed heritage but says he is perceived as black, said he had sensed resentment among black renters toward white newcomers, “but there haven’t been any neighborhood conflicts that I’ve seen.”

The area is home to many gay and biracial couples. “We wanted to raise a family in a place where the child sees the differences in people,” said Luan Cox, an Internet entrepreneur who in 2009, along with her partner, Eliane Bugod, paid $654,000 for a condo unit in a town house north of the B. Q. E.

Navy Green, a 458-unit housing complex, is rising on the site of a former naval prison on Clermont and Flushing Avenues. It will include 4 apartment buildings and 23 town houses, with three-quarters of the units for low- and middle-income tenants. Residents began moving into the first completed building last month. A “supportive housing” building that includes 59 units for the homeless is to open in the spring.

For decades Wallabout was so bereft of high-quality shops that residents “dreamed of buying a head of lettuce” nearby, said Mr. Hattem, a board member of Myrtle Avenue’s local development corporation. But all that has changed, largely because of Pratt and the Navy Yard. In recent years Myrtle’s bulletproof-glass liquor store has been joined by organic groceries like Greene-Ville Garden and restaurants like Putnam’s Pub and Cooker. A pedestrian plaza is in the works. And last year Pratt opened a building on Myrtle Avenue, deepening its commitment to a strip once nicknamed Murder Avenue.

“I remember running gun battles down Myrtle, probably in ’02 or ’03,” said an officer with the 88th Precinct, who asked not to be identified because he was not authorized to speak publicly. “But that doesn’t happen anymore,” he added, describing crime as minimal on Myrtle and in Wallabout generally.

“It does feel like the area is primed,” said Adam Friedman, director of the Pratt Center for Community Development, “but we want to make sure the development doesn’t lead to displacement.” He said that Pratt graduate students would begin a land-use study this semester as a first step toward the possible creation of an “innovation corridor” between Pratt and the Navy Yard.

The success of the Navy Yard, with 275 businesses employing 6,000, among them 695 from Wallabout and surrounding blocks, has helped rejuvenate Washington Avenue. Steiner Studios, doubling its space within the yard, is remaking a building to house the Brooklyn College Graduate School of Cinema.

As Wallabout continues to heat up, the future seems very much up for grabs.

“North of the B. Q. E., I think there will be enormous, exponentially increasing pressure to convert more and more of that to residential,” said Andrew Kimball, the president of the Brooklyn Navy Yard. “Certainly Pratt and the Navy Yard are aligned in wanting to make sure there’s a balance kept between residential and industrial.”


Doug Bowen, a resident and senior vice president of CORE real estate, said the average house price last year was $975,000 or $395 per square foot, virtually unchanged from 2010. Andrea Yarrington, a vice president of the Corcoran Group, said houses took an average of 136 days to sell, versus 347 in 2010.

Ms. Yarrington added that 15 condos sold in 2011, for an average of $452 per square foot. A search on showed four co-ops, three condos and three town houses on the market.


Washington Avenue has Il Porto, an Italian restaurant, as well as a gourmet grocery, a Cuban restaurant and an art gallery. J. J.’s Navy Yard Cocktail Lounge, a stalwart of seediness, closed in 2010; its new owner plans to lease to a Dunkin’ Donuts and a Subway.

Fort Greene Park is a short walk. The Brooklyn Navy Yard Center at Building 92, a museum devoted to the yard’s previous occupants and current tenants, opened late last year. It will soon house an employment center.


Public School 46 on Clermont Avenue received an A on its most recent city progress report. No. 157, on Kent Avenue, earned a B.
Middle School 113 on Adelphi Street in Fort Greene teaches Grades 6 through 8. It scored a D.

Nearby public high schools include the selective Brooklyn Technical High School in Fort Greene, where SAT averages last year were 583, 659, and 579, versus 436, 460, and 431 citywide.


The closest train is the G, which runs along Lafayette Avenue in Clinton Hill, stopping at the Classon Avenue and Clinton-Washington Avenues stations.

Buses take under 20 minutes to stops a short walk from the 2,3,4, 5, N and R trains at Court Street-Borough Hall. Some residents take the B62 from Park Avenue; others catch the B57 on Flushing. The B54 runs along Myrtle to the A, C, F and R trains at Jay Street/MetroTech. The B69 bus travels Vanderbilt and reaches the A and C trains at High Street within 10 minutes; residents grumble about infrequent service.


Walt Whitman completed “Leaves of Grass” while living at 99 Ryerson Street, according to “Brooklyn’s Historic Clinton Hill and Wallabout,” by Brian Merlis.

Listing of the Week: Steampunk Apartment With All the Bells and Whistles…and Gears, and Pulleys

MSNBC.comJanuary 17, 2012
120 W 29th St Apt 2, New York NY
For sale: $1,750,000

The magic of the steampunk apartment begins at the entrance, where the science-fiction/fantasy world of this intriguing home comes to life. There's a heavy, submarine-style front door, oxidized green with working porthole and keypad entry. It opens into a dramatically-inspired space straight out of a Jules Verne novel.

Cogs, sprockets and gears line the ceiling and the walls. A giant zeppelin light fixture hangs from the ceiling.

It is a fantastic mix of steampunk and modern, said listing agent Parul Brahmbhatt, who added that for all the apartment's whimsy, the space is completely comfortable.

"Once you're in the space, it doesn't feel cluttered," explained Brahmbhatt. "It may seem like a museum, but it's a museum you can live in."

One of the more spectacular elements of the Flatiron apartment for sale is the 32-foot-long dirigible light fixture that hangs from the ceiling in the middle of the apartment. It's computer programmed, allowing a light display to flash different colors and patterns with the flip of a switch.

Some of the cogs and pipes are antiques. A few of the ropes and pulleys work. In fact, one rope releases a Murphy bed, while others open and close the bathroom and shower doors. Many of the items in the house have been assembled from antique or abandoned items.

"(The owner) literally found the stuff all over the place and put it together piece-by-piece," said Brahmbhatt. She likens the features to many of the things seen on TV's "American Pickers."

One bathroom has a vanity constructed from an oil drum. The bedroom has the feel of being inside a tattered dirigible.

The kitchen is a carefully planned space with plenty of counters and high-end appliances that are juxtaposed against the antique tools used as drawer and cabinet pulls.

"The amazing part of the apartment is the attention to detail and quality. He has a way of mixing the old and the new," said Brahmbhatt. "He's spared no expense in making it livable."

With 1,800 square feet of living space and a large attached patio, Brahmbhatt says the apartment is spacious and perfect for entertaining.

While some of the items will be moved for whoever buys the property, the owner wants to keep the aesthetics of the place as it is, says Brahmbhatt. For the right buyer, portions of the collections of antique fans, cast iron bed warmers and typewriters could be included in the sale.

Although part of a larger co-op, the apartment is only one of two in the building. That makes it somewhat unique, plus it is located in the Flatiron District, where redevelopment has been spurred up through Chelsea.

Thanks,in part, to the development of The High Line park, West 29th Street has seen recent openings of hotels and restaurants, resulting in rise in real estate values, according to a recent story in the Wall Street Journal. In the Flatiron District, median home values hover around $1,187,200. Median rent prices are $3,300 a month — and rising.

According to current mortgage rates, a monthly payment on the apartment would be $6,434, assuming a 20-percent down payment on a 30-year-mortgage.

Selling New York Recap: The Inspector Investors

CurbedJanuary 13, 2012
It's hard to imagine having enough bills to buy an investment property in NYC, but we can viva the dream with last night's Super Extra Rich People installment of Selling New York! First, an ambitious agent gambles his time on a wealthy gallery owner on the prowl for some new property. Then, a dashing Italian uomo (man in Italian, I totes looked it up) looks to rent out his recently purchased Harlem apartment...and just might snap up the one next door. Will profits get turned or agents get burned? While everyone's wheelin' and dealin', I'll make you an offer on this recap you can't refuse...


CORE agent Kirk Rundhaug is having a good day. He's on the yearly schooner outing around Manhattan with his colleagues AND he just got a call from Gloria Naftali AKA The Investor. "With certain clients, you're 24/7 with them" Kirk explains. In other words, Gloria is like a syrup tap with mad money flowing out instead of sweet, golden maple. Kirk tries to hitchhike out of a conversation with boss Shaun and back onto land so he can get rolling with Gloria's request:

In DUMBO, Kirk meets up with Gloria's personal broker, artist Judi Harvest. Judi previews all potential properties first to judge if they are worth a visit from Gloria. Not a bad gig, Judi! Can someone tell me what kind of '70s euro-lego toy car this is? It looks so adorable and unsafe!:

The twosome head over to 189 Bridge Street to check out the $7.5 million penthouse. Hmmm...this must have been before all the stop n' go price chopping. Come lay your peepers on this 5,100 square foot slice of '80s South Beach: The birds cling to the window, hoping for an escape from the cheesy dual staircase layout:

Judi knows right away it's not right for Gloria. She wants "something more intimate in scale" and closer to the Village. So off they go to... The Cammeyer at 650 6th Avenue in The Flatiron District. This slow-to-fill building still has the $4.995 million penthouse up for grabs:

The sleek white decor and sculptural design excite Judi but she thinks Gloria is looking for something "even more spectacular." Keep werkin' it Kirk! Finally Gloria makes an appearance with Judi and Kirk at this mystery building on 2nd Avenue:

Will this $4.295 million number have enough WOW for Gloria? Gloria makes a go for the mega martini glass. Chug! Chug! Chug!:

The 15x22 pool intrigues Gloria as do the 48th floor views but she needs some time to ponder... And when Kirk checks up on her later about her decision, she says she's not inspired to buy something so big. Agents aren't mind readers Gloria! Lay down some parameters! Why I'm getting worked up about this, I have no idea. Kirk's time investment in Gloria didn't go unrewarded though - while he continues searching for Gloria's elusive gem, Judi referred a client to him who made an offer on a $5 million Chelsea penthouse!


Citi Habitats SVP Lucie Holt is all kinds of nervous! She's about to show her client, Raffaele Caracciolo, the apartment he purchased SIGHT UNSEEN(!!!) recently. The goods? A $775k 2 bed/2bath in Harlem's new Apex Condo at 2300 Frederick Douglass Boulevard. It's part condo, part boutique hotel. It's a...hondo!

Shall we?

Raf finds his investment "bellissimo" and is eager to get it rented. Lucie's all "the place next door is coming on the market, you should think about it" and Raf gets a sour face at the thought of doling out more euros:

But Lucie persuades him to investigate the opportunity, so they visit the $1.15 million neighboring unit. Lucie convinces Raf there's "a lot of growth in Harlem" and she'd have no problem renting the second place if he buys it. Raf gets excited about connecting the two apartments one day for a mega-manse. Isn't every New Yorkers fantasy to bash down their neighbor's wall?

Raf'll make an offer once Lucie rents the first apartment. Lucie snags a renter real quick, clocking in a cool $3900k a month for Raf's pocket. Raf is contento about the progress and tells Lucie to start the bid at $1 million and stop it at $1.05 million.

It's negotiatin' time! Lucie meets up with Apex Sales Manager Khadeejah Johnson at Harlem's bier international. K's not feeling Raf's lowball offer, but I'll let the video do the talkin':

K's point is that the Apex is 50% sold now, which wasn't the case when Raf got the first unit at a deal. Now he's gotta pay up!

Oooh, a counter offer from Apex comes in...they'll take $1.06 million including closing costs. Lucie shares the news with Raf on video chat. Si, si, si! he says. Lucie's wishin' for a second commission comes true. Raf gets his lockdown at the Apex AND the second unit already rented. Limoncellos all around!

Episode Grade: One investor put her agent to test and another seized an opportunity at his agent's behest! I'll invest 3 out of 5 cackling Kleiers with 4% interest.

Three Developments Change the Stigma of Upper Fifth

The New York Condo BlogJanuary 13, 2012
There is a fascinating trend occurring in Upper Manhattan in real estate. There have been 3 luxury developments that have been extremely successful in pulling the affluent buyer to Upper Fifth on and above 96th Avenue, a location that until now was deemed less ‘desirable’.

Along with 4 East 102nd and 1212 Fifth, 1280 Fifth is one of those success stories. Curious, we spoke with CORE founder and CEO Shaun Osher for an insider’s take on this transition.

What has been the stigma surrounding “Above 96th street?”

Manhattan neighborhoods are always evolving. 96th Street is an antiquated border that once denoted the northern boundary of the Upper East Side. Central Park is just as lush and green above 96th Street as it is below and the architecture is equally as impressive. Both developers and savvy buyers recognize the value of having a Fifth Avenue address with direct park views, access to Central Park and presence along Museum Mile. It is that opportunity that is driving the growth along Upper Fifth Avenue, the newest in a long line of well-known neighborhoods that have evolved such as the Upper West Side, Chelsea, SoHo, and the Meatpacking District – all neighborhoods that are now among the most coveted in New York City.

Why do you think there has been so much development activity on Upper Fifth in the last 2 years?

Pioneering developers have recognized the opportunity to tap into the natural beauty of Upper Fifth Avenue. The area is an extension of Museum Mile and has all the benefits of northern Central Park — which is perhaps its most exquisite section of all and includes the Harlem Meer.

What differentiates 1280 from the competition?

1280 Fifth Avenue is one of the best new ground-up new development projects to come to market over the past 5 years. It is designed by one of the most renowned architects of our generation, Robert A.M. Stern, who is responsible for other iconic New York City buildings, including 15 Central Park West. With that pedigree, 1280 Fifth Avenue has no competition. The building offers direct park views, a wide variety of layouts and amenities including parking, 24-hour concierge service and a rooftop swimming pool, all at a price point that is not available anywhere else on Fifth Avenue. All of this, coupled with Central Park, offers an impressive list of qualities to buyers currently searching the Manhattan new development market for a unique place to call home.

Who is buying at 1280?

1280 Fifth Avenue is a luxury building which has attracted some of the most prominent names in business, the arts and medicine. It is richly populated by highly successful individuals with the most discerning taste.

Woody Upper West Side Duplex Gets an Attractive Pricecut

CurbedJanuary 12, 2012
Check out this duplex at 270 West End Avenue on the Upper West Side, which just got pricechopped down to a pretty attractive $2,399,000. It's not cheap by any means, but considering that you're getting a 3 bedroom, 3 bathroom duplex with 2,500 square feet space on prime Upper West territory, it's tempting. The CORE blog goes on to talk about the old/new contrast created by the pre-war building and the contemporary reno, which is neat. Maintenance might be an issue at $6,485/month, however. Other than that, a nicely renovated apartment in this neck of the woods at $959 per square foot? We're sure there's a buyer out there for this one.

Just Sold! - 85 Adams Street

The New York PostJanuary 12, 2012
DUMBO $935,000
85 Adams St.

Two-bedroom, two-bath condo, 1,165 square feet, with stainless-steel kitchen appliances, washer/dryer and soundproofing; building features doorman, garage, roof deck, garden and gym. Common charges $942, taxes $23. Asking price $965,000, on market eight weeks. Brokers: Reyn Rossington, Core and Greg Williamson, Prudential Douglas Elliman

House of the Day: A Duplex with Multi-Borough Views

The Wall Street JournalJanuary 11, 2012
A Duplex with Multi-Borough Views

Price: $6,800,000
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Type of Home: Penthouse

This duplex penthouse in Brooklyn's Dumbo neighborhood sports floor-to-ceiling windows, multiple-borough views and staircases imported from China. —Corrie Driebusch

Done Deals: 254 East 7th Street - 2012-01-11

Brokers WeeklyJanuary 11, 2012
East Village
254 East 7th Street

This spacious three-bedroom apartment offers hardwood floors, high ceilings, abundant light, an eat-in, windowed kitchen, 2 baths, and a washer/dryer hookup. The building is a well run co-op that has recently replaced the roof, refaced the front of the building, is pet friendly, has a shared garden and storage in the basement. Asking price: $649,000. Time on market: 6 months. Brokers: Rachel Field, Corcoran; Doug Bowen, CORE.

Added Life, Costs on West 29th Street

The Wall Street JournalJanuary 06, 2012
The opening of a chic hotel followed by trendy dining and retail establishments is sprucing up the landscape in a rapidly gentrifying pocket along West 29th Street between Broadway and Fifth Avenue.

The 12-story Ace Hotel, part of a chain that started in Seattle, opened its doors on West 29th Street in 2009 and resulted in several collaborations to bring in new businesses housed in the hotel or nearby. They include the Michelin-starred Breslin Bar and Dining Room, Stumptown Coffee Roasters, John Dory Oyster Bar, Opening Ceremony boutique, sandwich shop No. 7 Sub and Project No. 8a, an eclectic souvenir shop.

Later this year, Rudy's Barbershop, a West Coast chain with a retro aesthetic, is set to open in the retail space next to the Breslin restaurant.

But in an area that has been home to knock-off bag stores, jewelry shops and perfumeries, among an assortment of other retail and wholesale businesses, the launch of the Ace Hotel was an unlikely story from the start.

Spotted Pig restaurateur Ken Friedman, who is co-owner of the Breslin, recalls being approached by hotelier Alex Calderwood, head of the Ace chain and co-founder of Rudy's Barbershop, several years ago and asked about opening a restaurant in conjunction with the planned hotel.

Mr. Calderwood said the only "bad news" was that the hotel was on 29th and Broadway. "But he said, 'Mark my words, we are going to change the neighborhood from what it is now to a place that you'll be happy you chose to be there,'" according to Mr. Friedman. Mr. Calderwood confirms the conversation.

The Breslin opened in 2009 and Mr. Friedman launched John Dory Oyster Bar around the corner from the Ace in 2010, following the success of the Breslin.

Mr. Calderwood said that what drew him to the area wasn't just the location—close to the subway and in an area where several buildings are designated city landmarks, but also the unique cultural mix along the pocket on West 29th.

The hotel sits directly across from Masjid Ar-Rahman mosque and Gourmet Palace, a Pakistani and Indian restaurant.

Perfume Plus, whose owner has relocated twice in the last three years because of rising rents in the neighborhood.

"Our suspicion was that the tourists would find the contrast interesting in that it's seeing a piece of real New York which you don't see that much anymore," said Mr. Calderwood. "A lot of Ace customers are cultural enthusiasts, so they're a bit more open to areas like this."

Area residents say the newcomer businesses have helped bolster the strip. "They've totally cleaned up the seedy element that was there in this corner before," said Jesse Meyer, a sales associate with Bellmarc Realty, who has lived at the Gilsey House, just steps from the Ace, for nearly a decade.

Ms. Meyer said the listed prices of properties for sale as well as those for rent have been steadily climbing for the past few years.

But the combination of the economic downturn and rising rents are squeezing the bottom line for many small businesses in the area, some owners say.

"I used to pay $12,000 rent for a store and now they want $18,000, so I moved to smaller space," said Mian Rasheed, owner of Perfume Plus Inc., who has relocated twice in the last three years. "Basically, with all the high-end development here, they want us to leave, and I don't know how long some of us will last."

Rundown: An 1,800-squarefoot one-bedroom with two bathrooms and a terrace. Agent: Parul Brahmbhatt of CORE Group, 212-612-9646. $1,895,000 | 1200 Broadway, 6

Rundown: A 2,000-squarefoot, two-bedroom loft in the landmark Gilsey House. Agent: Jesse Meyer of Bellmarc Realty, 646-812-1175.

Others say the shuttering of several stores in the area in recent years has led to a decrease in foot traffic—something many small shops rely on.

"Small guys can't survive here," said Ghulam Jalani, owner of Rockaway USA clothing store on West 29th Street. "Very few people pass by now—it's nothing but a few tourists, and even they go to brand-name stores."

Meanwhile, real-estate people predict the pace of development in the area will continue in the next few years.

"There's only so many new places that are emerging areas in Manhattan and this is one of them because you're in between a number of really strong neighborhoods—Flatiron, Murray Hill, Gramercy Park," said Jason Pruger, an executive managing director at Newmark Knight Frank Retail. "The turnover will happen—it's just a matter of time."

New Listing: 25 Sutton Place South

Brokers WeeklyJanuary 04, 2012
This coveted corner two-bedroom, 2-bath home on Sutton Place South has just been listed by CORE's Elizabeth Kee for $1.249 million. The apartment, at 25 Sutton, offers the beauty of north, east and south exposure, with expansive river and city views. North and East facing windows frame a picture featuring the Queensboro Bridge. To the South and East, watch the city’s nautical traffic on the East River from the double glazed tilt-and-turn windows in the living and dining rooms. The full-service, white glove co-op has a parking garage, fitness room, children’s play room, and a resident’s private garden terrace on the river. Utilities are all included in the maintenance.

Manhattan Sales and Rental Projects Hitting the Market in 2012

CurbedJanuary 04, 2012
Did everybody make some good New Year's Resolutions? Not too ambitious, right? Remember, you don't want to be filled with disappointment and self-loathing one week into 2012 when your insanely rigorous three-tier cooking/exercising/reading plan falls to pieces. The trick is to create manageable goals involving things you already know how to do and that way you'll slowly build up confidence and by the time 2013 rolls around you might just be ready to accomplish something. For instance, our New Year's Resolutions were as follows:
1) Make more maps.
2) Compile information about Manhattan sales and rental developments that are going to go on sale this year.
3) Put it all on the internet.
And look at this—four days into the year and we've knocked down all three of those birds with one well-aimed stone. Guess we can take it easy for the next 11 4/5 months. (See a sales or rental project we've missed with an on-sale date sometime this year? Let us know.)

Just Listed: 100 West 58th Street

Brokers WeeklyJanuary 04, 2012
100 West 58th Street

Steps away from the South entrance of Central Park. One-bedroom, 1-bath home in The Windsor Park, a newly converted pre-war condo originally designed in 1929 by Rosario Candela, with renovations by Gwathmey Siegel and Associates. Living room, kitchen equipped with Sub-Zero, Bosch and Viking applicanes, master suite with four-fixture bathroom. Full-Service building has fitness center and rooftop terrace. Apartment is available fully furnished. Listing agents: Tom Postilio, Mickey Conlon, CORE.

New Development Updates: 83 Franklin

The Real DealJanuary 04, 2012
Leasing Update
83 Franklin

83 Franklin Street Just two apartments remain at the 11-unit rental building, developed by Francis Moezinia and David Moussazadeh. The building’s homes range from 2,000 to 3,000 square feet, and have rented for $8,500 to $22,500 per month. Amenities include a common roof deck, gym, children’s playroom and bike room. Core is the agent. Contact:

A 'Weill'-d Winter Market

The Real DealJanuary 04, 2012
The news that former Citigroup chairman Sanford Weill found a buyer for his 15 Central Park West penthouse — listed only three weeks earlier for $88 million — rocked the real estate community last month.

The buyer, a Russian fertilizer billionaire named Dmitry Rybolovlev, purchased the spread for his 22-year-old daughter, and an anonymous source told Forbes that she would be paying full price. If that’s true — when contacted by The Real Deal, a spokesperson for the family declined to say — the price would demolish previous records for the most expensive Manhattan residential sale. (For more on real estate records broken last year, see “For the record.”)

Though a lack of inventory has helped sales in the luxury market, brokers characterized the Weill deal as an outlier, rather than a sign that the market is back to any sort of boom-time climate. “A sample size of one isn’t necessarily enough” to indicate where the market is heading, cautioned Jeffrey Schleider, founder of Manhattan-based Miron Properties.In the fourth quarter of 2011, the median sale price for a Manhattan apartment was $855,000, up 1.2 percent from the same period of the previous year, according to a market report from Prudential Douglas Elliman. The number of sales dropped 12.4 percent over the previous year to 2,011, according to the report, written by Jonathan Miller, CEO of appraisal firm Miller Samuel.

Donna Olshan, president of luxury specialist Olshan Realty, said the Rybolovlev acquisition speaks to the trend of foreigners investing in U.S. assets under the belief that they are safer bets than those abroad.

“There [are] people around the world who want to move money into the United States,” Olshan said. “It might be a piece of real estate and it might be a sports team, but they need to move their money out of [their home countries].”

The Weill deal may be an outlier, but brokers did report an uncharacteristic burst of heat in the sales market last month. At press time, the number of signed sales contracts for Manhattan apartments in December was up 9.5 percent over the previous month, while November contract volume rose 7 percent over October levels, according to Jeffrey Jackson, chairman of appraisal firm Mitchell, Maxwell & Jackson.

According to UrbanDigs, a real estate analytics and consulting firm, Manhattan buyers signed an estimated 513 to 525 contracts in the first three weeks of December. At that pace,the total number of signed contracts was set to hit between 756 and 775 for the month — up from the 712 new deals signed last December.

Brokers said the increased activity could be caused by buyers finally returning to the market after being sidelined by uncertainty, or hoping to beat the competition associated with a January uptick. Other factors could play a role as well.

“When you see the rentals go this high, and the interest rates are low, and the prices are good prices, you know that it sets the stage for the sales market to move,” Olshan said.Miron’s Schleider offered another explanation: “The most common theory I hear floating around is that the tame weather has allowed people to stay involved in the market.”However, with experts predicting a lackluster bonus season on Wall Street, the usual January sales spike may not provide the same boost as in past years.

Diminished Wall Street compensation “may result in a slower first quarter than in years when there have been big bonuses on the horizon,” said Anne Young, a senior vice president at Brown Harris Stevens.

As a result, some brokers said they are turning their focus away from buyers in the finance sector to focus on new market segments, including creative workers and foreign buyers.John Gomes, an executive vice president at Prudential Douglas Elliman who specializes in new developments, said he plans to consider shifts in the local workforce — away from finance and towards technology start-ups — when allocating marketing budgets this spring.

“As we see the decline in jobs in the finance sector,” Gomes said, “I firmly believe this group of innovators will be the future millionaires that we’ll be selling real estate to in this city.”Mickey Conlon, a senior vice president at Core, said he is hoping to capture more business from foreign buyers to make up for less-active Wall Streeters. But smaller bonuses could be good news for the rental market.

Even if bonuses are not large enough to convince financiers to buy new homes, Bond New York Executive Director of Leasing Douglas Wagner hopes the payouts will at least spur them to upgrade rental accommodations.

“Our industry relies on a certain amount of discretionary movers throughout the city,” Wagner said. “Hopefully, bonuses will be large enough to give renters the confidence to improve their living conditions and move up, even if they might be prevented from buying this year.”