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Selling New York S5E12: Upscale Upsizing

CurbedJune 29, 2012
We got a tour de Upper West Side's luxe living spaces on last night's "no listing less than 6 million dollars" episode of Selling New York. A couple with 4 kids bursting at the well-made seams of their apartment looks to the ultimate Mama for a spacious Upper West Side spread. Will their expansion be the mansion of their domestic dreams? Then, our eyeballs get a treat when the dashing CORE prez presides over a Midtown Manhattan penthouse listing. Will the testy developer demand more attention than he's worth? Do whatever it takes to feel fancy (AKA scoop out ice cream into dish, rather than scarfing straight from container) because you're about to get regaled with recap riches!
Yep, we've got dollar signs in our eyes! >>

CRISIS #1: LOADED FAMILY REQUIRES PALATIAL UPPER WEST DIGS YESTERDAY SO THEY DON'T HAVE TO KEEP TRIPPING OVER TOYS

Oh, it's good to be a Kleier these days! Mama Michele has the task of finding her clients, Cassey and financial guru Angel Morales, a giant apartment in the Upper West Side for their equally giant family (4 kiddies!). Her first stop? 535 West End Avenue to wow them with a $9.7 million 5BR/5BA abode:

"It's perfect!" squees Angel. Mama's commission future is so bright, she's gotta wear shades HEY-OOO!

Actually, she has a scratched cornea. Owie!

Post-perusal, Angel drops a caveat on the sitch—Mama also needs to find a one-bedroom apartment in the same building for his mama! That's her current set-up now. But the building only has a sad studio available...I guess the penthouse is out of the question?

With the proper parameters in mind, Mama hops a few blocks down to The Apthorp at 390 West End Avenue. R.I.P. Nora Ephron who wrote a New Yorker piece about the building a few years ago.

Mama offers a combo platter full of Apthorp options: A custom 4,871-square-foot duplex apartment for a chill $10.39 million with a side of 1BR/1.5BA grandmother unit for the value price of $2.65 million!

This is only part of the whopper-size pad. The stairs for the second level would have to be installed:

Grandmama'spotential get-up:

I'd like to be Angel's mother, please. Body swap!

Cassey loves the Apthorp's stylin' but doesn't like that renovations could take 3 months. Can I get a NEXT?

Nope! Mama is all out of options. JK! Of course she has another property up her knit sleeve. Let's go to the The Laureate at 2150 Broadway for a little from column A and a little from column B.

The Morales are muy into both the $8.5 million 6BR/6BA open spread and the adjacent $1.67 million unit for ma:

Now is a great time to reflect on how when your mom visits, you can only offer her your bed...with you in it.

Cassey and Angel love the apartments so much, they grapple Mama in a dual hug:

But LAST MINUTE DRAMZ ALERT! Mama says the one-bedroom is the only one in the building...and someone else could be bidding on it! "If we can get 'em both, we're sold," says Angel.

Later, with their offer on the table, Mama tells Angel that it's a go for the big apartment but that pesky one-bedroom has another offer. A much higher one too! Angel takes Mama's advice to amp up their bid by $100k. Will it be enough to secure both places? Is there duct tape on my window screen because my landlord won't fix it?

YES AND YES, my friends.

We can rest easy because Angel and Cassey got their apartments...but now they own four places! The two new ones and the two old ones. P.S. I am somehow not really worried about their finances.

Time for a business meeting at the business table in their old apartment:

Mama urges the couple to get their apartment open-house ready so she can list it. Grandma's already got her act together and people are interested in it. The updater explains that Mama is negotiating two offers on grandma's pad and is about to list the larger one. Two deals + two potential deals squeaked out of one client is all in a (few) days work for Mama!

CRISIS #2: REAL ESTATE PREZ KINDA OVER-PROMISES DEDICATION TO DEVELOPER'S LISTING

It's been too long, but CORE president Shaun Osher is back on the show, this time wheelin and feelin' out developer Henry Justin's thoughts on pricing his pet penthouse project at 211 East 51st Street.

Shaun and Hen meet up in the almost done 3,175 square foot p-house for a little tete-a-tete:

Shaun advises listing the unit for $6 million, which Hen objects to with his trademark squinty-eyed DeNiro look:

Balking at the lowball price, Hen insists the $6 million isn't gonna cut it and that he needs to make a Justin-ified 10 percent. He needs $7 million. NEEDS IT.

Shaun shoots him this grizzled look in what is now an official Steely Stare-Off:

I'm not going to stand here and tell you your apartment is worth something that it's not," Shaun spits back. Stick to your guns, Shaunny Boy! Then he tells Hen that he'll have his best sales person overseeing the marketing—which, for the sake of man dramz, is not good enough for Hen.

He wants Shaun. No one else will do. "I'm depending on you," says Hen, which forces Shaun to pledge his utmost attention. This all reminds me of the time I shamed a boy into kissing me. Basically, uncomfortable confrontation has its place!

Next, a scatter-brained Shaun meets up with his team and asks them questions about what's going on with the open house. Broker Tom "Come To The Cabaret Old Friend" Postilio has a snitfit that Shaun expects them to know what's up since the listing exclusively belongs to Shaun.

Tom and Shaun then have a What's Going On?!?!?-Off via their exasperated hand gestures:

Shaun delegates marketing tasks to his team and acknowledges that he's not SuperShaun—he doesn't have time to oversee a listing AND run a business for crying out loud!

Later, Tom corners Shaun on the gritty streets of Chelsea, demanding an update about the status of the staging. "I'm going to kill two birds with one phone," Shaun quips, dialing up Hen. I might have to steal that line from him.

Hen says the—WE DID NOT SEE THIS COMING—furniture is delayed, which prompts Shaun to appoint Tom in charge of dealing with this beneath-him business.

Tom meets Hen at the p-house to judge progress and isn't impressed. Hen is fake unpleased that Tom's there instead of Shaun:
Oh god finally it's time to partaaaay, and hey!, we were there for the re-debut (the penthouse was revamped from an earlier floor plan) of the now priced $6.496 million spot:

The party was replete with roast beef treats...

...and Shaun and Hen gushing how much they love working together and how awesome everything turned out. Tom gets pats on the back for picking up Shaun's dropped broker balls (you know what I mean).

Did the mid-6 price proffer an offer? The update says that two weeks later, there was one! But, hmmm, the listing is still up, and has been lowered to $5.75 million. I smell a bargain!

Episode Review: In Real Estate Olympics, Mama wins the gold and Shaun's dramatic stylings never get old which precisely adds up to 3.0 out of 5.0 cackling WHEN DID A MILLION DOLLARS NOT BE AN UNGODLY AMOUNT OF MONEY? Kleiers.

New Listings:120 East 87th street, #R4N

Brokers WeeklyJune 29, 2012
Located at the condo building Park Avenue Court, this loft has 15-foot ceilings and nine-foot windows. An architectural staircase leads to an additional room and an open study suited for guests. The loft has maple wood floors, an open granite kitchen with stainless steel appliances, spacious closets and a washer/dryer. Additional amenities include a 24-hour doorman, porter service, live-in super, neighboring garage, play room, fitness center, yoga room, private courtyards and a swim¬ming pool. Agents: Vickey Barron and Romina Frecha, CORE.

Walker Tower: Historic Icon + Modern Luxury Will Cost You

The ObserverJune 28, 2012
The Art Deco elegance, the trendy Chelsea location, the lush amenities with brand names all in caps. We knew it would cost a lot to live at Walker Tower, we just didn’t know it would be this expensive.

As of Tuesday night, sales commenced at the converted at architect Ralph Thomas Walker’s office tower at 212 West 18th Street. The units, which range from one- and five-bedrooms are going for between $4.5 million and $50 million, The Wall Street Journal reports. (The developer is even considering asking $94 million for a combined duplex on the top two floors).

Those prices seem a little cheeky to us, even given the fact that another downtown temple of opulence—the Skyloft penthouse—recently went back on the market asking $48 million. After all, the downtown record is still remains the dizzyingly high, but not stratospheric $31.5 million condo in Robert A.M. Stern-designed Superior Ink.

Given that the developers are not exactly giving the units away,we’re quite impressed to hear that 25 percent of them have already sold.
But then, downtown doesn’t have all that many iconic, old-fashioned buildings that one might call home. There is an abundance of ever-rising new-new glass towers, but nothing quite like the Walker Tower. Especially since Walker Tower, built in 1929 before neighborhood height limits existed, is basically the tallest building around.

And the just-revealed model units are catching the eyes of big-name brokers, presumably on the hunt for their deep-pocketed clients. Besides good views and the elegance of the art deco era, what does an apartment at Walker Tower get the buyer? Large private terraces, French herringbone beveled oak flooring, tilt-and-turn windows and hydronic radiant floor heating. The five-bedroom units also seem to display a trend that’s become popular in recent conversions like Manhattan House, catering to wealthy New Yorkers love of space.

Two Midtown Condos Duke It Out for the Buyer With $3M

CurbedJune 28, 2012
Imagine you have around $3,000,000 to spend on an apartment and you've narrowed it down to two fairly similar co-ops. How do you make up your mind? The answer is simple: you shove them into a metaphorical cage and let them battle it out until one emerges victorious. It's time for Real Estate Deathmatch. (Trying to decide between two places in real life? Send them in to the tipline and let complete strangers make this very important decision for you.)

211 Madison Avenue, aka Morgan Court, is a duplex, 321 square feet larger, and $150,000 pricier, but its real standout feature is its curved walls of windows. Those are the kinds of windows you look out of while sipping a glass of scotch and thinking, "I run this town." Of course, they're also the same kind of windows you get thrown through when your hubris catches up to you and some associates of one of the guys you screwed over on your way to the top come pay you a visit. 31 East 28th Street, aka The Parkwood, does not have windows you'll get thrown through, but it has nice windows nonetheless. It's very nice. Less impressive, but much more pleasant. And way lower monthly costs.

Just Sold - 245 Seventh Ave.

NY PostJune 28, 2012
Manhattan
CHELSEA $7,895,000
245 Seventh Ave.

Two-bedroom, 2 1/2-bath duplex penthouse condo, 4,100 square feet, with entry gallery, living room with floating staircase to conservatory, pear-wood and limestone kitchen with skylight and French doors opening onto bi-level, 800-square-foot landscaped terrace with gas grill and hot tub; building features doorman. Common charges $2,752, taxes $4,803. Asking price $7,995,000, on market nine weeks. Brokers: Stephen McRae, Sotheby’s and Adrian Noriega, Core

Walker Tower, Restored and Reinvented Art Deco Classic in Downtown Manhattan, Launches Residential Sales

June 27, 2012
NEW YORK, June 26, 2012— JDS Development Group, Property Markets Group and CORE announce that sales have commenced at Walker Tower, the luxury condominium conversion of an iconic pre-war Art Deco building designed by the late influential architect Ralph Thomas Walker. Located at 212 West 18th Street in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood, Walker Tower has been painstakingly restored and modernized, resulting in 50 expansive condominium units (including 8 penthouses) that combine rich historic detail with all the conveniences of upscale residential living.

Built in 1929, before neighborhood height limits were enacted, Walker Tower soars above its surroundings, offering buyers unobstructed and protected Manhattan views in all directions, including stunning views of the Hudson River, Empire State Building and Midtown Manhattan skyline, the rising One World Trade Center tower and the Statue of Liberty. Many units, which range in size from 1 to 5 bedrooms and 1,350 square feet to 6,500 square feet, feature large private terraces, a design perk attributed to Walker’s signature architectural “setbacks.”

The sweeping residences feature soaring ceilings reaching nearly 14 feet high, as well as numerous custom interior finishes, including French herringbone beveled oak flooring, tilt-and-turn windows up to 9.5’ high and 5’ wide, Smallbones of Devizes kitchen cabinetry and lighting packages designed by Kugler Ning. In addition, all residences feature hydronic radiant floor heating, state-of-the-art Crestron Home Automation Systems with 9” touchscreen displays and iPad docks, Dornbracht fixtures, full size washers and dryers, marble and limestone countertops, and Sub-Zero and Miele appliances. Select residences feature wood-burning fireplaces with marble enclosures.

The comprehensive amenities package at Walker Tower includes a 24-hour doorman, concierge, ornate lobby with patterned terrazzo floors, library lounge, children’s playroom, bicycle storage room, fitness center with yoga, sauna and steam rooms, and a landscaped common roof deck with dining area, sun lawn, observation area and covered cabana room with pantry and bar.

Ralph Walker, hailed in the New York Times as the “architect of the century,” is best known for his Lower Manhattan masterpieces, One Wall Street and the Barclay-Vesey Building, as well as for his work on the 1933 and 1939 World’s Fairs. He designed 212 West 18th Street for the New York Telephone Company, and it remained a telephone industry building until its purchase and renaming by JDS Development Group and Property Markets Group. New York-based architecture firm Cetra/Ruddy oversaw the building’s meticulous restoration and conversion.

“The location, height and beautiful original details of Walker Tower gave it great potential to be a special place to call home, but it needed the right team to execute that vision,” said Michael Stern, Managing Partner of JDS Development Group. “We’ve treated the building with great care and compassion, and once our renovation is complete, Walker Tower will honor the great Art Deco architecture of New York while also becoming a modern icon.”

CORE, the exclusive sales and marketing agent for Walker Tower, will kick off the building’s formal sales campaign with an evening event held for top brokers in Walker Tower’s model residence. The fully furnished 3,150-square-foot home features 3 bedrooms (plus a home office), 3.5 bathrooms and a private 1,026-square-foot terrace.

“Walker Tower is a superior product, and we are very excited about bringing its 50 incredible residences to the market, ” said Shaun Osher, co-founder and CEO of CORE. “The surging luxury real estate market in Manhattan shows no signs of slowing down, and we know that these discerning buyers will respond very positively to Walker Tower.”

Occupancy at Walker Tower is slated for 2013. For more information on the project, please visit walker-tower.com or call the sales office at 212-335-1800.

###

Walker Tower, 25 percent sold, gets a Warm Welcome from Residential Brokers

The Real DealJune 27, 2012
Real estate power players turned out last night for the launch of Chelsea’s newest condo development.

Indeed, the opening of sales at Walker Tower — the long-awaited residential conversion by JDS Development of an Art Deco building designed in 1929 by Ralph Walker — drew much attention from the residential real estate community. Town Residential’s Wendy Maitland and Reid Price, NestSeekers’ Ryan Serhant, Prudential Douglas Elliman’s Oren Alexander, Fredrik Eklund and John Gomes, and the Corcoran Group’s Robby Browne stopped by to take a peek at the building’s model unit on the tenth floor. The tower, at 212 West 18th Street, will not be completed until next year.

“New York City has never seen a project of this caliber before, so all of the high-powered brokers who represent these luxury buyers have been anticipating the launch of sales in this incredible building,” said Shaun Osher, CEO of Core, which is heading up sales and marketing at the building.

The Real Deal also got an exclusive look at the building’s unfinished penthouse — still accessible only via an outdoor construction elevator. The unit features views of the Empire State Building to the north and the World Trade Center to the south. It will have six bedrooms in total, JDS’ Michael Stern said, noting that would-be buyers have already expressed interest.

A spokesperson for Core told The Real Deal that no two units in the building will have the same foot print. Core’s own brokers were out in force at the launch of the building. Vickey Barron, Michael Graves and Elizabeth Kee all stopped by to mingle and enjoy the crab cakes and mac-and-cheese-inspired hors d’oeuvres.

The lack of new high-end condo inventory downtown may be playing a part in the building’s success. Stern said the building is already 25 percent sold thanks to some transactions that quietly took place before the building’s launch.

Walker Tower has 50 condominium units in total priced between $3,000 and $10,000 per square foot. The average size of the homes is 3,000 square feet, with units ranging from 1,350 square feet to 6,500 square feet. It is a joint venture between JDS Development and Property Markets Group, and was financed in part by Barry Sternlicht’s Starwood Capital. Sternlicht was at the event.

The building was previously used by Verizon as a place to house copper wire for landlines. The company is retaining ownership of the second through seventh floors of the 24-story property and will use those floors as offices.

See The Views From Walker Tower's Opening Party

CurbedJune 27, 2012
Event: Walker Tower View-ing Party
In the House: People in the market for $40M apartments and those who sell them; e.g., Barry Sternlicht of Starwood Capital, Raphael De Niro, Bravo's Million Dollar Listers
Dress Code: Men—Unbuttoned expensive; fitted suits and unbuttoned shirts, except for those who didn't amass fortunes by sloppily removing their ties until right before bed. Women—business suits to power print cocktail dresses. Lots of heels to keep up with other impossibly tall women.
Music: A live five-piece jazz combo kept things swinging and classy. Those waiting for the elevators were entertained by mini-dressed violinists standing on light boxes accompanying a euro-pop soundtrack.
Menu: Full bars on the roof and inside. Steak and tomato skewers, seafood salad, shrimp with spanish sausage.
Overheard: "Wallpaper is back!"

There was a "View-ing" party for the first model unit at Walker Tower on West 18th Street last night, where guests wandered around one finished 3BR/3.5BA apartment with 14-foot-high ceilings, and gathered on its 1,100 square foot private terrace to take in the views of midtown's skyscrapers to the north and east and the sunset to the west. Walker Tower is shooting for the stars with its pricing, according to the Journal—estimates for the top floor are priced at approximately $8,400 a square foot—so big names and faces were in attendance at last night's party. Money men like Barry Sternlicht of Starwood Capital and real estate stars like Raphael De Niro and Ryan Serhant mingled as the sun set over Manhattan. The building also just launched a new web site: Walker Tower.

Developer in Chelsea Honors a Great Architect While Redesigning His Work

The New York TimesJune 26, 2012
The legacy of Ralph Walker, the great 20th-century architect whose Art Deco towers brought muscle to the New York skyline, is having a very mixed year.

One developer has named a residential conversion in Walker's honor, has invested large sums of money during the conversion to replicate building materials Walker would have used, has opened an exhibit about Walker on the ground floor and has supported a handsome new monograph, "Ralph Walker: Architect of the Century," published by Rizzoli International.

One developer has taken an 82-year-old Walker building in Chelsea and is rearranging its distinctive setback profile, has stripped its principal north and south facades of brickwork that he intends to replace with ornamental stainless bronze that Walker never envisioned, has created windows in a facade that Walker left solid because it housed elevator shafts, and plans to crown the building with spires unlike those Walker once imagined.

They are the same developer, Michael Stern, managing partner of the JDS Development Group, and the same building, an old New York Telephone Company switching building at 212 West 18th Street. Mr. Stern and Property Markets Group, a development firm, are turning the building into Walker Tower, a condominium project with 50 apartments. (Or "residences," as apartments are called by real estate brokers, who were invited to Walker Tower on Tuesday evening to see a model unit. The New York Post reported in April that the penthouse may sell for $50 million.) The $200 million project is to be completed by next June.

"We tried to respect what we could of the original design while doing what we could to make it a modern residential building," Mr. Stern said. Where new elements were introduced, he said, they were based on existing decorative motifs found in the building entrance and lobby or on archival drawings showing how Walker's design evolved.

The renovation architects, CetraRuddy, were not bound by a landmark designation and had significant latitude to alter the facade. "Changes can be made to a building if they're done sensitively, in a way that respects the integrity of the building," said John Cetra, a principal in the firm.

But the key aesthetic gesture of the renovation, replacing the central brick bays at the top and bottom of the building with ornamental metal panels, was chiefly inspired not by anything at the 18th Street building, or on Walker's résumé, or even in New York. Instead, it is a reinterpretation of the historical Bullock's Wilshire in Los Angeles.

Crowning the renovation, JDS and CetraRuddy plan to install four 40-foot needlelike spires of cast bronze at each corner of the elevator tower. Mr. Stern and Mr. Cetra found a precedent in an early drawing of the telephone building by Walker's firm, Voorhees, Gmelin & Walker, which showed four spires reaching to the sky. The spires were more elaborate than those now proposed and were never erected.

Apart from the new spires, the building's height of 328 feet will be maintained, as will its existing square footage, Mr. Stern said.

But there is an asterisk. JDS took the position, which the New York City Buildings Department accepted, that four mechanical floors should be counted as existing floor area, even though they were not covered by the certificate of occupancy, which recognized 212 West 18th Street as having 19 stories, not 23. The Buildings Department also agreed to count some of the rooftop setbacks as existing floor area. By those calculations, the building had and continues to have just over 302,000 square feet.

JDS and Cetra shifted that floor area to create more spacious (and expensive) apartments in the upper reaches of the building. Floors two through seven continue to be owned and used by Verizon, the successor to New York Telephone. In Walker's day, the building served the CHelsea and WAtkins exchanges.

Walker's masterpieces from the 1920s and '30s include official landmarks like 1 Wall Street, the former headquarters of the Irving Trust Company (designation report as a pdf from the Neighborhood Preservation Center); the Barclay-Vesey Building at 140 West Street, which is the current headquarters of Verizon (pdf); and the former Western Union headquarters at 60 Hudson Street (pdf).

JDS and CetraRuddy have gone to great lengths to preserve those areas of Walker's building at 212 West 18th Street that they are not removing. "We're working very hard to put back a lot of decorative details that were destroyed over the years," Mr. Stern said.

For instance, intricately angled coping stones and bricks have been recast. Mr. Stern said that to be true to Walker's original design, bricks were needed in five different colors and nine different shapes, none of which could be purchased off-the-shelf, though some were salvaged from other parts of the building. He also said all of the original ornamental metalwork in the lobby would be restored.

Given this dual approach - exacting restoration and liberal reinterpretation - Mr. Cetra was asked whether the final result would be a Ralph Walker building or a CetraRuddy building.

"I'm going to let history answer that question," he said.

Downtown Prices Are Set to Get Lift

The Wall Street JournalJune 26, 2012
Top buildings in Lower Manhattan typically command a fraction of the prices of uptown towers, but the developers of condos in a former Chelsea office building are betting that ultrawealthy New Yorkers will pay some of the highest prices in the city for a spot in the funky neighborhood.

The Walker Tower has been converted to condos.

The developers of Walker Tower, a converted 1929 Art Deco building designed by Ralph Thomas Walker for New York Telephone Co., are planning to put units on the market this week with prices between $4.5 million and $50 million. The developers are also contemplating asking $94 million for a combined duplex—several times the most expensive previous condo sale downtown.

"It's a gamble, certainly," said Shaun Osher, chief executive of the CORE Group, which is marketing the building. "We had a choice to go all-out and do the building justice, or do a safer route and just build railroad apartments.

The developers, JDS Development Group and Property Markets Group, chose the more risky route—investing more than $150 million in converting the building, including widening the window openings, restoring the facade and installing gracious finishes like marble bathrooms and wood-burning fireplaces.

They aimed for the top end of the market, in part, because they say an influx of tech workers, celebrities and others is creating demand for high-end product in Lower Manhattan.

"There's a perception that the youthful, new money is downtown," said Michael Stern, managing partner of JDS.

Walker Tower sits on 18th Street just west of Seventh Avenue, and a few blocks away from Google Inc.'s New York headquarters at 111 Eighth Ave., in an area that has increasingly become a hub for other technology companies. Chelsea also has a concentration of art galleries and remains relatively off the tourist radar, which brokers say attracts art-world mavens and Hollywood celebrities.

Mr. Stern's sense that well-moneyed New Yorkers were migrating south in the city helped prompt him to buy the 24-story building for $25.25 million in 2009.

Also attractive were its unusually high 14-foot ceilings on some floors and sweeping, yet surprisingly intimate views of everything from the Empire State Building to the Williamsburgh Savings Bank Tower.

Mr. Stern was riding up the elevator to see the roof of the largely vacant commercial building in September 2008, when he got an alert on his phone that Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. had collapsed. He nonetheless decided almost instantly that he wanted to buy the building and convert it into condos.

Following the pricey renovation work, the developers are seeking ambitious prices for the units. Even if the developer doesn't decide to combine the two top floors, Mr. Stern said he plans to seek $50 million for the top floor, or roughly $8,400 a square foot.

The highest price recorded for a condominium downtown is the penthouse at Superior Ink in the West Village, which sold for $31.5 million in late 2010. That is a fraction of some top recent sales at 15 Central Park West and the $115 million that developer Gary Barnett of Extell Development Co. is seeking for one penthouse at One57 on West 57th Street opposite Carnegie Hall.

Even before the official start of marketing for the apartment, about 25% of the 50 units in the building are in contract, according to the developers.

Brokers say the lack of ultra high-end sales in Lower Manhattan is due to a shortage of luxury condos offering the kind of white-glove amenities that command top prices. Other high-end condo projects are slated to come on the market in the coming months, including roughly 145 luxury condo apartments in the Toy Building in the Flatiron District, and 150 Charles St. in the West Village.

"It's going to be very telling over the next few months just how deep that market is," said Leonard Steinberg, a broker at Prudential Douglas Elliman. "There's going to be a lot of new inventory and we'll get a much clearer picture as to what is reality and what is fantasy.

Taking a Stand

The New York TimesJune 22, 2012
A SUCCESSFUL condominium depends, in large part, on owners’ paying their monthly fees promptly and in full. Delinquencies can mean less money for maintenance and amenities — and draw the ill will of fellow residents. While the sheer size of larger buildings can often blunt their impact on the budget, small buildings with a high number of delinquencies can be toxic for buyers and a millstone for sellers.

Now, with New York’s economy seemingly recovering, condominium boards are growing more aggressive in cracking down on delinquent owners, according to brokers, lawyers and board members.

Some are publicly shaming deadbeats by posting their names on hallway bulletin boards or barring them from facilities like health clubs and concierge services. Others are reflexively filing liens against owners who are more than 60 days in arrears. And boards are writing requirements into their bylaws to provide additional protections.

According to data from PropertyShark, in the first quarter of 2011 through the first quarter of 2012, condo boards in Manhattan started 111 foreclosure proceedings against owners for common-charge delinquencies, the most since January 2007, when the company first began tracking the information. The median lien amount in the first quarter of this year was more than $16,500, also the highest figure since 2007.

Alexandro Padrés has sat on the board of his building, 184 Thompson Street in Greenwich Village, for five years. Since it was converted to condominiums in 2007, the building has battled owners who fell behind with their monthly common charges and has even navigated the labyrinthine process of a bank foreclosure.

“We have had a lot of experience with this,” said Mr. Padrés, 38, a corporate lawyer who became president of the board in 2010, “and we are adopting a zero-tolerance policy. You can’t have situations where an owner is delinquent for six or seven months and just says that they forgot to pay, even though they were being sent monthly notifications. It just isn’t believable.”

To ensure payment, the building uses a number of strategies, including a 10-day grace period, after which a letter is sent to the owner. If there is no response, the property manager sends a second letter and refers the matter to the building’s lawyer. If there is still no response, the building files a lien against the unit.

Boards are becoming more proactive for a number of reasons: an improving real estate market means there is a greater likelihood that delinquent owners can sell their units for enough to repay the condominium; a proactive approach fits with condominiums’ increasing stringency on buyers’ financials; and finally, after enduring the downturn for several years, boards are growing impatient with owners who are in arrears.

“When the market was soft and there were serious problems,” said Stuart M. Saft, a chairman of the New York real estate practice at the law firm Holland & Knight, “no one wanted to go through the foreclosure process because it was expensive, time-consuming, and at the end, they might not be able to sell the apartment.”

Most buildings would still rather file a lien, a relatively quick and inexpensive process. When a lien is placed on an apartment, it makes it difficult for the owner to sell, since the buyer will want the lien satisfied before closing. Also, banks are often unwilling to refinance a mortgage or provide a new loan to the owner until the lien is removed.

At the same time, condominiums have begun employing other, nonlitigious tactics to persuade the delinquent owner to pay up. This can include barring the owner — or the owner’s tenant, if the unit is being rented — from using nonessential services in the building like the health club or the pool. Doormen may be required to stop accepting packages and deliveries. Some buildings even resort to public humiliation by posting names in common areas.

“A number of our buildings, especially those with high-level amenities, are now passing house rules that revoke the privileges of owners or their tenants who are in default for more than 60 or 90 days,” said Dan Wurtzel, the president of Cooper Square Realty, which manages more than 500 buildings in New York City.

One complex, Zeckendorf Towers at 1 Irving Place, recently instituted a rule that prohibits a tenant from paying the unit owner advance rent, so that if the owner becomes delinquent it will be able to collect directly from the tenant.

“Now, in the event the owner doesn’t keep up with the common charges, this gives the board the ability to go directly to the tenant and have them pay us,” said Lynda Deppe, a senior vice president of City Connections Realty and a resident broker at Zeckendorf Towers. “If they had already paid their rent, we wouldn’t have that leverage.”

Other options include working with the owner to create a payment plan, or persuading the owner to sell the unit and use the proceeds to pay outstanding common charges. Even if there is not enough money left to repay the condominium, a sale frees up the apartment for another buyer, who will pay common charges.

If all else fails, boards can pursue foreclosure. But the process can take a year or more, during which the unit is still not generating the common-charge payment. In addition, the owner may also have defaulted on his mortgage, so the bank may be pursuing its own foreclosure action. When there are competing claims, the bank takes precedence. Back taxes, too, take precedence over claims from a condominium.

“Unless a foreclosure sale brings in far more than the mortgage, our claims are wiped out,” said Jesse Krasnow, a member of the condominium board at the Ansonia at 2109 Broadway. Mr. Krasnow is also a partner of the building’s sponsor and the president of Sirius, the Ansonia’s building manager. “Add to this the fact that bank foreclosures drag on for years, and at the end of it all, the condominium can be out a tremendous amount of money.”

At 184 Thompson Street last year, a unit sold at a foreclosure auction for $610,000, which did not cover its $780,000-plus mortgage. “We saw no proceeds from the sale,” Mr. Padrés said.

A second option is to sue the unit owner for a money judgment. But, said Richard Sharan, a partner at the law firm Pollack & Sharan, “if a unit owner is in arrears on his common charges, he probably doesn’t have much money to collect.”

Money judgments are good for 20 years in New York, however, and can negatively affect an owner’s credit. They can result in eventual payment to the condo if the owner’s other properties are sold or refinanced, said Steven R. Wagner, a partner at the law firm Wagner Davis.

It is easier for boards in co-op buildings to recoup maintenance fees, because they can terminate a shareholder’s proprietary lease and force the sale of the unit. Also, the co-op takes precedence over a bank in the case of a bank loan default, and is paid back first.

Yet while a co-op has a greater chance of collecting, “it still requires hiring a lawyer and commencing legal proceedings, which can cost money and take time,” said Eva Talel, a partner in the real estate group at the law firm Stroock & Stroock & Lavan. “The building ends up not getting maintenance for the unit over a long period of time and has to spend money it probably hasn’t budgeted for.”

When Jack Cassaro, an information technology director at a Wall Street firm, was trying to buy a one-bedroom co-op at 160 East 26th Street in Kips Bay, the board refused to interview him until the seller, who was thousands of dollars in arrears, sent a letter stating that all back maintenance, late fees and legal expenses would be paid in full at the closing.

“It was a nightmare,” Mr. Cassaro said.

In addition, the board required that Mr. Cassaro put six months of maintenance payments in an escrow account until he moved into the unit.

His broker, Elizabeth Kee of CORE, said, “This was supposed to be a cash deal that closed in 10 days, but it turned into a seven-month-plus process.”

But although co-ops and condominiums can face an uphill battle in collecting monthly fees that have gone into arrears, the overall impact on the building often depends on its size. At large buildings where hundreds of apartments share the burden of paying the fees, a handful of delinquencies can have a muted effect.

Not surprisingly, the buildings in Manhattan that have started the most foreclosure proceedings since the start of 2007, when PropertyShark began tracking them, generally have hundreds of units. They include Worldwide Plaza at 350 West 50th Street, with 14 filings; Trump World Tower at 845 United Nations Plaza, 12 filings; and the Ansonia at 2109 Broadway, 8 filings. Trump Tower at 721 Fifth Avenue rounded out the Top 10, with 6 filings over the past 5 years, according to PropertyShark.

At Trump World Tower, for instance, the building is contending with a unit in a bank foreclosure; over the past five years, it has initiated its own foreclosure filings against a dozen others. But with 370 apartments, “it is still less than 2 percent of the building that is in trouble,” said Michael Cohen, the treasurer of the condominium board and a special counsel to Donald J. Trump.

“We build in a 5 percent cushion annually into our budget that allows us to handle these unfortunate situations,” Mr. Cohen said, adding the building had $2 million in its reserve account.

Still, while size can often cushion the effects of a delinquency on a building’s overall health, the issue is becoming more urgent for buildings across the board. “I am increasingly seeing apartments in better buildings that are issuing notices or instituting foreclosure proceedings,” said Mr. Wagner, the lawyer. “It is something that is on everyone’s mind.”

PAY UP

CONDO boards have a few options when an owner stops paying his monthly charges. Unfortunately, the most effective remedies are often the most expensive and time-consuming — and while a legal procedure like a foreclosure drags on, the unpaid bills continue to pile up. Legal experts recommend the following steps:

POLITE BUT FIRM Start off with a letter requesting payment if it is 30 days past due. Then follow up, if the money is not forthcoming, with a more strongly worded letter, perhaps from the building’s lawyer. The board could offer to work out a payment plan.

THIS IS SERIOUS If the bill still isn’t paid, the board can file a common-charge lien on the unit. At this point, the owner’s access to amenities or doorman services could be suspended. In rare cases, the board could offer to buy the unit.

THE GLOVES ARE OFF If all else fails, the board can sue for monetary damages or start a foreclosure filing. (Of course, the owner’s bank may already have done this.)

One Rincon Brings in Reality TV Stars to Push Penthouses

San Francisco Business TimesJune 21, 2012
San Francisco's One Rincon Hill is hoping a little star power will help unload its final penthouses.

On a recent afternoon in a 59th floor unit the sales team held a "luncheon" (not that we're complaining, but really it was just minuscule, bite-sized bread and cheese sandwiches) featuring realty TV stars Ryan Serhant of Bravo's "Million Dollar Listing" and Maggie Kent and Curtis Nixon of HGTV's "Selling New York."

The condo tower, which started selling units back in 2006, has 14 units left, all near the top of the building. Prices range from $1.795 million to $2.575 million. The last one-bedroom, on the 50th floor, just sold for $925,000 and the second-to-last unit (on the 49th floor) recently closed for $890,000. In both cases, the price per square foot was about $1,200.

Nixon, who was visiting San Francisco for the first time, said that in Manhattan a unit with views like One Rincon Hill would fetch a minimum of $2,500 a square foot. Serhart told the crowd of San Francisco residential brokers to count their blessings. "You are very lucky to do what you do in a city like this," he said.

Meanwhile, the developer, Mike Kriozere, and his new capital partner (Principal Global Investors) are being coy about when the second tower of the One Rincon project might get started. It could happen by August, according to real estate sources.

Dream Homes: 520 West 19th Street

New York PostJune 21, 2012

Chelsea $6.875 million “Ideal for entertaining,” this 3,353-square-foot, four-bedroom condo in a full-service boutique building on Architect’s Row (that’d be West 19th Street) serves up “stellar views” of the Hudson River, the High Line and the Manhattan skyline. Meanwhile, “floor-to-ceiling” windows bring the outside in, for “fantastic light” throughout. Among the bedrooms, there are not one, but two master suites, each featuring walk-in closets, and three full bathrooms (plus two half-baths). Agents: Emily Beare and David Beare, Core, 212-726-0786 and 212-726-0743

East Village Penthouse Featuring a Helical Slide

One Kind DesignJune 21, 2012
This sensational penthouse duplex apartment in Manhattan’s East Village, New York features floor-to-ceiling windows with incredible city views in every direction, and a custom sculptural slide that combines the two floors. This convertible four bedroom, four bathroom home is comprised of over 2700-square feet of living space and is accessed through a private keyed elevator. Features include a media/game room, home office, 18-foot double height atrium, two large glass walled terraces, a private roof deck, along with a beautiful Italian-made Rintal staircase, as an alternative way down to the first floor. The kitchen is fully equipped with upgraded appliances, Oyster Stone countertops with glass and lacquer cabinetry and white maple hardwood floors throughout. This is the perfect home for work, live and play.

The penthouse is listed for sale at $3,990,000.

New Listings: 404 East 76th Street

Brokers WeeklyJune 20, 2012
Win Brown and Ivana Nikolic at CORE have just listed this Upper East Side studio at 404 East 76th Street for $550,000. A great 157 s/f terrace overlooks the common courtyard of The Impala and the 471 s/f unit is bright and airy with high ceilings, parquet floors and a wall of windows overlooking a private planted terrace. The agents tell us the apartment has been used as a pied-a-terre and is in “amazing condition with very little wear and tear.” The all-white kitchen has granite countertops and the white tile bathroom has black countertops. There's even a washer and dryer.

Real Estate Reality TV Stars Pay Visit to SOMA…

LiveSoMAJune 19, 2012
Any fans of Reality Television- and more specifically, Reality TV shows like “Million Dollar Listing New York”, “Selling New York”?

Truth be told, I’ve never even heard of these shows, but late last week, we received word that a number of the shows stars spent some time high above South of Market in One Rincon Hill’s 59th Floor penthouses.

The Luxury Marketing Council of San Francisco brought real estate reality TV stars Ryan Serhant (SVP, Managing Director, Nest Seekers International) of Bravo’s “Million Dollar Listing New York;” as well as Maggie Kent (VP and broker, CORE) and Curtis Nixon (broker, Grumley Haft Kleier Inc. ), both from HGTV’s “Selling New York,” to San Francisco and they soaked up the amazing panoramic views from penthouses on the 59th floor of One Rincon Hill, along with nearly 100 Bay Area real estate brokers.

Guests enjoyed the stunning views and small bites from Ladies Who Lunch as they mingled with the high-profile New York brokers who have climbed to the top of the most competitive real estate market in the U.S. The reality TV stars shared their insight on selling million dollar properties, New York-style, and how television and fame have helped (or hurt) their business.

If you haven’t had a chance to get up to the One Rincon Hill Penthouses, they are quite beautiful. And so are the views. You can check out some photos of their view in a post from a couple years ago.

Just Sold! 1280 Fifth Ave

New York PostJune 14, 2012
Manhattan
EAST HARLEM $1,399,000
1280 Fifth Ave.

Two-bedroom, two-bath condo, 1,507 square feet, with kitchen with stainless-steel appliances, granite counters and teak cabinets, bath with polished marble counters and white-oak floors; One Museum Mile building features doorman, gym, rooftop pool with barbecue, private dining room and catering kitchen. Common charges $1,574, taxes $39. Asking price $1,410,000, on market 10 weeks. Broker: Tom Postilio, Core

Market Ready

The New York TimesJune 13, 2012
Q. What’s the best way to deal with windows that open onto an air shaft, to make my apartment look as appealing as possible?

A. Windows that look out onto an air shaft (or any tight interior space) are rarely desirable, but they are a fact of life for many people who live in the city. Still, it’s possible to make them seem less problematic by adding well-considered window coverings.

When buyers tour your apartment, “you want the focus to be completely away from that view,” said Emily Beare, a managing director with the New York real estate company Core. “You don’t want people’s eyes to go there first,” which is likely to happen, she suggested, if the windows are left bare.

Window coverings that obscure the view may keep buyers from rejecting the apartment outright the moment they walk in, even if they peek behind the curtains later. “You want them to experience the apartment and fall in love with the space first,” Ms. Beare said. “Then the view comes into play.”

That was the thinking behind the way she helped stage an apartment she was selling in the Flatiron district, which had only interior views. “We did beautiful window treatments with sheers on the windows, so you really didn’t see what was outside,” she said, but natural light could still filter in. “And then we had very good lighting inside.”

But you don’t have to stop at sheer curtains, says the New York interior designer Amanda Nisbet. Windows on air shafts “are pretty typical for New York apartments,” she said, and “I like to treat them as you would any window, and maybe make an asset out of a difficult architectural issue.”

In her own apartment, Ms. Nisbet did just that. In a hallway with three windows that look onto an air shaft, she added silky orange Roman shades and floor-to-ceiling gray satin curtains. “I really dressed up an otherwise ugly element,” she said. “It’s something visually lovely to look at and makes the hall more interesting.”

Most of the time she leaves the curtains wide open and the blinds three-quarters of the way down. That way, she said, “you still get a little light below, but the top part, at eye level, is closed.”

If you don’t have the budget for such an elaborate solution, Ms. Nisbet says, blinds made from natural materials like bamboo, from a retailer like Smith + Noble, are a good option. “That adds some textural interest,” she said, while hiding the view.

Whatever you do to deal with the issue, she added, “it’s imperative to address it.” If you don’t, a potential buyer’s impression is likely to be, “Oh, this is an ugly view.”

New Listings: 1 Northside Piers, 19H

Brokers WeeklyJune 13, 2012
The CORE Group's Ralph Modica is listing unit 19H at 1 Northside Piers in Williamsburg for $735,000. The one-bedroom has a wall of windows looking out over Brooklyn and open living and dining space. There's a walk-in closet in the bedroom and the kitchen has Thermador ovens and cooktops, a Sub Zero refrigerator, Bosch dishwasher and Quartzite countertops. There's a vented washer and dryer in the apartment and an onsite storage unit is included in the purchase. Northside Piers has a fitness club, resident’s lounge, full-time concierge, yoga room, roof deck, pool, hot tub, sauna, children’s room and garage.

Oreo cookie birthplace could get ‘double stuffed’ in Chelsea Market expansion

Smart PlanetJune 12, 2012
A lot has changed since 1912. The Oreo cookie, fortunately, hasn’t. Manhattan’s Chelsea Market, the birthplace of “America’s Favorite Cookie,” is another story. Once the home of National Biscuit Company, the block-long Chelsea Market building is now home to the Food Network, Google, an indoor shopping complex, and it’s very own speakeasy.

As the Associated Press reported June 9, Chelsea Market is now host to an argument between Jamestown Properties, who would like to expand the building, and neighborhood preservationists, who prefer it the way it is.

Pro-expansion advocates argue that increasing the space of the building could pave the way for the kind of high-tech information jobs Mayor Michael Bloomberg has prioritized as essential to the city’s longevity and growth.

Preservationists, like Andrew Berman of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, argue that a the expansion could compromise the very thing that makes Chelsea Market a popular spot for residents and tourists alike.

“The complex which is an icon of adaptive reuse is wonderful and successful as it is,” Berman told the Associated Press.

While the initial design would add a bold addition to the skyline above the Meatpacking District and the High Line, New York City real estate broker Tony Sargent speculated on his blog, The Sargent Report, that the final expansion would be much less audacious:

As others have suggested, my guess is that the developers have gone with a building design proposal that is larger than they hope for and probably obstructive in the hopes they can come back with something the community will accept that is perhaps smaller in scale.
I hope the developers will design something more to scale and creative and include community-friendly facilities and services that add to the neighborhood.

What are your thoughts? Should the birthplace of the Oreo remain as unfussy as possible, or should the building be allowed to expand, Double Stuff style? Weigh in below.

Lady Gaga’s fave designer sells Chelsea pad

The Real DealJune 08, 2012
Thierry Mugler, the French fashion designer whose work inspired singer Lady Gaga to make her catwalk debut in Paris last year, has found a buyer for his penthouse at 245 Seventh Avenue in Chelsea, a source told The Real Deal today.

Mugler listed the two-bedroom apartment for $7.99 million in January with Sotheby’s International Realty brokers Stephen McRae and Debbie Korb. A buyer closed on the unit last Friday, paying $7.89 million, the source said.

The 4,100-square-foot duplex features an 800-square-foot private roof deck and a floating staircase, according to the listing. It also boasts an African mahogany library with a wood-burning fireplace, two master suites and a home office. Mugler travels back and forward to Paris for work, and had not been living in the apartment at the time of the sale, the source said.

He bought the apartment for $4.5 million in 2004 from Ed Bazinet, the eccentric millionaire who was hospitalized earlier this year after going on a manic five-day spending spree. He reportedly spent more than $20 million at the New York International Gift Fair in February before checking himself in to a psychiatric clinic.

McRae and Korb were not immediately available for comment.

Mugler employs Gaga’s stylist Nicola Formichetti as his creative director and Gaga notoriously purchased every item from his last collection, in every color.

Before strutting down the runway in one of Mugler’s designs last year, Gaga reportedly said: “I want people to see me walk and say ‘she is a Mugler woman.”

When contacted by The Real Deal, Core broker Adrian Noriega, who represented the buyer, said only that the purchaser was an LLC whose principals were based in New York State. The new owner will be doing extensive work on the property, he said, to turn it into a three- or four-bedroom home.

The buyer was attracted to the property because of its dynamic mix of modern.

Manhattan's Five Best $30 Million-Plus Apartments

CNBCJune 08, 2012
Here’s another reason F. Scott Fitzgerald was right when he wrote about the rich being different from you and me.

For most people, real estate deals are made under pressure — you have to sell fast because you’ve made an offer on another place, or you’re moving to a new city and you don’t have time to really indulge your perfectionist streak.

Not so for the superrich. At the highest end of the global residential real estate market, trophy properties, like expensive art, are rarely bought under duress.
Billionaires from all over the world can afford not only the price of Manhattan’s top penthouses and full-floor residences, but also to wait, since they are never scrambling for a place to call home.

“These billionaire buyers are really united by one characteristic: their choice of residence is completely discretionary,” said Kelly Mack, the president of the Corcoran Sunshine Marketing Group. “More often than not these buyers are willing to sit on the sidelines, often for years, to wait for that stratospheric trophy property that is truly unique and stands perfect in every way.”

Not that there’s a lot to choose from now, anyway. The inventory of apartments that might be of interest to the world’s wealthiest people has been thin of late, with demand from a growing pool of foreign billionaires eager to park their money in Manhattan outpacing new developments, especially downtown.

As of Tuesday, according to the appraisal firm Miller Samuel, 28 condos and 5 co-ops were listed for $30 million or more in Manhattan. Fifteen of the condos were in one building: One57, the tower under development at 157 West 57th Street, Miller Samuel said.To open a window on this world, I put this question to high-end brokers and other real estate professionals: If you had a client willing to spend $30 million or more, what five apartments would you show them?

Before we get to the specifics, a few broad guidelines about trophy-property shopping emerged from this exercise. “When you go above $25 million you better have a great view, a great building and a great location,” said Leonard Steinberg, a broker with Prudential Douglas Elliman. To that point, the lack of a great view is probably why the condo penthouse at the Mark on the Upper East Side, with a $60 million asking price, wasn’t mentioned by many brokers. Sure, it has a chapel-like 26-foot-high ceiling in the living room and 2,400 square feet of roof space, and it’s one of only 10 condo units in the famed hotel. But the penthouse just doesn’t reach high enough to capture the sort of breathtaking views that would seem to justify the price tag.

Something else that turns out to be true about these trophy properties: They are often made, not born. Rare is the trophy penthouse or full-floor residence that isn’t the result of creative combinations of several apartments to create a suitable mansion in the sky. Only in the past decade have developers designed massive units with the picky billionaire buyer in mind, said Shaun Osher, the chief executive of CORE.

Privacy matters, especially separate entrances in buildings with hotels. Foreign billionaires demand concierge services night and day, and a long slate of amenities like gyms, spas and children’s playrooms. But these buyers are not overly concerned about security, said Angela Rapoport, a broker with the Corcoran Group. “Russian buyers I work with see New York as a political and economic haven and a secure place to live,” she said.

Brokers say they have learned to be patient, even though they are eager for a big commission check. Two years ago, Mr. Osher said, he was working with an Asian billionaire to find a trophy apartment and came up short. He approached the owner of a duplex on the 76th and 77th floors of the north tower at the Time Warner Center that wasn’t on the market. The owner said he would sell for $100 million. The man bid $60 million. The owner said no.

“He is still looking,” Mr. Osher said.

In the end, I confined my list to condos because co-ops are inaccessible to most foreign buyers, who either cannot get past the co-op boards or are unwilling to try.

One co-op, though, was mentioned by several brokers: a triplex penthouse at the Pierre owned by the hedge fund manager Martin E. Zweig that has 16 rooms, 4 terraces and a 2,800-square-foot grand salon, the former ballroom of the Pierre Roof. It hasn’t (officially) been on the market since 2008, when Mr. Zweig listed it for $70 million, but that would not stop brokers from showing it to a rich client willing to run the co-op board gantlet, said Raphael De Niro, a broker at Prudential Douglas Elliman.

The following list is a snapshot from the last week or so. Several brokers said they were waiting for new downtown developments that will provide fresh trophy penthouses to challenge uptown’s dominance. Projects like Walker Tower in Chelsea (at 212 West 18th Street), where a two-floor, 12,470-square-foot penthouse is expected to list for $94 million later this summer; and 56 Leonard (due, finally, to start selling later this year, Ms. Mack said), in particular a full-floor penthouse, may shake up the status quo, and are likely to draw at least some patient billionaires off the sidelines.

THE OTHER PENTHOUSE AT 15 CENTRAL PARK WEST Sanford I. Weil may have seized the headlines this year with the $88 million sale of his 6,744-square-foot penthouse in the complex’s “house” to a trust benefiting Ekaterina Rybolovleva, the college-student daughter of a Russian fertilizer billionaire, but there is another fabulous penthouse available.

Daniel S. Loeb, who runs the hedge fund Third Point LLC, owns the largest penthouse in the taller “tower,” which brokers in my sample unanimously ranked among the Top 5 trophies. Brokers and developers around town say Mr. Loeb and his wife are quietly shopping the 10,674-square-foot space, which he bought in 2008 for $45 million, and are in search of something larger. “I heard he wants $100 million,” Mr. De Niro said.

Wishful thinking? The real estate community seems primed to keep shattering records, so a little hype never hurt. A spokeswoman for Mr. Loeb’s hedge fund declined to comment on whether he is looking to sell.
As for who is on top, Michael Gross, who is writing a book on 15 Central Park West, has no doubt. “Rybolovleva’s penthouse, grand though it is” he said, “is so far beneath Daniel Loeb’s — 19 floors to be exact — it is barely worth mentioning in the same breath, and he would have to crane his neck quite a bit downward to see it.”

THE PENTHOUSE AND WINTER GARDEN AT ONE57 The developer Gary Barnett sent shock waves through the market last month when he revealed that he had sold the two-floor penthouse atop the still-under-construction One57 for $90 million to $100 million. The buyer remains a mystery, and the closing is at least a year off, Ms. Mack said. Until then, the 10,923-square-foot residence, with its “grand salon” lording over Central Park facing north from the 89th and 90th floors, deserves a place among the Top 5 condos. But supposedly still on the market is the “Winter Garden” apartment, which occupies the 75th and 76th floors. It rates a close second. At 13,554 square feet, it’s even larger than the penthouse, with a private solarium and a formal dining room that looks as if it could seat all of King Arthur’s Court. Price tag: $115 million.

TIME WARNER CENTER: NORTH TOWER, 76TH AND 77TH FLOORS The Asian billionaire may have lost out, but the duplex apartment still makes the list. With a rare wraparound terrace at Time Warner — featuring northward views of Central Park, and of the East River and the Hudson — the residence has some ceilings that are 24 feet high, a private reflecting pool and an interior elevator. And it is on the only floor in the north tower with private terraces, Mr. Osher said. The owner is an American businessman in the finance field.
THE PENTHOUSE AT SUPERIOR INK Brokers rate the penthouse at Superior Ink, at 400 West 12th Street, as one of the two best available downtown today, though it is not for sale.

The original owner, the Houston Rockets owner Leslie Alexander, sold it in 2010 for $33.5 million to Mark Shuttleworth, an entrepreneur who became the first South African in space in 2002 when he flew as a cosmonaut to the International Space Station. The 6,300-square-foot apartment has yet to be finished, Mr. Steinberg said. For those dying to capture the Hudson River views from the building, which was designed by Robert A. M. Stern and developed by Related Companies, the full 14th floor of 7,687 square feet is listed for $35.75 million.

THE PENTHOUSE AT 145 HUDSON While some brokers say 145 Hudson Street, a conversion of a 1929 Art Deco industrial building in TriBeCa, is too commercial for some discriminating billionaires, few disagree that the penthouse is stunning. The 7,500-square-foot four-bedroom four-bathroom duplex looks like a glass box in the sky. Designed by James Carpenter, it has “museum quality, high performance, insulated glass,” specially designed walls that allow artwork to be hung without fear of damage from sunlight, and 4,500 square feet of outdoor space on a wraparound terrace. It was the most expensive apartment ever sold south of Columbus Circle when it went for $30.5 million in 2009. After going back on the market for $45 million last May it was taken off less than a month later, according to Streeteasy.

This story originally appeared in The New York Times.
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