News

The Inman Top 101

InmanDecember 16, 2015

Patrick V. Lilly from CORE was nominated for the 2015 Inman Top 101 award. Patrick is the associate broker and team leader at Core Group Marketing. Lilly has built a new “young blood” network of top-performing agents called REV, real estate visionaries, who are mapping out the future role of the agent.

 

First job: Taking orders at Jack in the Box

They’re the Top: The Biggest Residential Real Estate Deals of 2015

Observer Real EstateDecember 16, 2015

There has been a whole lot of fuss over the innumerable downtown developments this year, with each new condo decked out even more than the last, and each declared to be signaling the true arrival of the neighborhood into the real estate community. The real money, however, has remained right where it has always been: uptown.

 

In fact, only two of the 20 most expensive deals of 2015 were located south of 57th Street: Jon Bon Jovi’s beleaguered 158 Mercer Street penthouse, and a Greenwich Village townhouse at 16 East 10th Street—and neither made the top 10.

 

One57 has reigned supreme, with six units in the Extell tower making the list. The legendary $100.47 million sale of a duplex penthouse at One57 actually closed in December 2014, hitting public record the following month, but it led the way for the multitude of other over-the-top, seemingly endless One57 sales in 2015.

 

Another One57 penthouse topped the list for 2015, at $91.54 million. Maybe we’ll see it again next year, since it’s allegedly going to be back on the market at some point in the near future—it purchased as a “fun” investment.

 

While only four of the most expensive deals this year were co-ops, the second and third place spots were both taken up by Fifth Avenue co-ops. Both sold, surprisingly, to foreign buyers, perhaps signaling something of an adjustment in the attitudes of co-op boards.

 

“Co-op apartments at that level, there are very few,” Brown Harris Stevens president Hall Willkie told the Observer, “and they rarely come on the market. Co-ops are still the majority of the market, and high-end co-ops are so desirable. When they are properly priced to sell, they sell well.”

 

The previously unchallenged 15 Central Park West suffered a bit of a setback. Its $88 million penthouse sale once seemed untouchable, but what a difference a year makes! Duplex 1819B sold at a shocking $3 million loss from the purchase price of $48 million in 2014—and it’s seen by some as a canary in the coal mine.

 

“The biggest problem in our market is overpricing,” Mr. Willkie said. “There’s a softening, but mostly in condos, because there’s a lot of inventory coming on. A lot of buildings are being built in that luxury category. When you increase supply, it can have a softening effect.”

 

So, what do we have to expect in coming months?

 

“We are coming into more of a buyer’s market than we have been in a long time,” Mr. Willkie said. “Buyers are extremely price-sensitive. It has nothing to do with budget; they are out there and willing to buy, and are signing contracts, but it’s only on properties where they feel the price is justified.”

 

On that note, here are the top 20 deals of the year, as compiled by appraiser Miller Samuel.

 

#19) 1040 Fifth Avenue, No. 14A

$30 million

 

After a three-year renovation by Shelton, Mindel and Associates, Related CEO Jeff Blau and his wife, Lisa, put their floor-through co-op on the market, attaching a hefty $43 million price tag to the listing held by mother-daughter CORE team Emily and Elizabeth Beare. A private elevator landing, library, 26 windows, a wood-burning fireplace, and the knowledge that Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis once resided just a floor above still did not ensnare a buyer for such a cost. Removing $13 million did, though, or perhaps the planting terrace was what attracted a buyer known as Tulpe LLC—it’s German for tulip, in case you were wondering, since flowers are apparently so in this year.

Tim Crowley on What’s Next in 2016

InmanDecember 16, 2015

Inman is interviewing industry through leaders to find out what's next in 2016. Here's Tim Crowley, the director of new development at CORE

 

Are you optimistic about 2016? The economy? Why?

 

I am cautiously optimistic. I have concerns about the U.S. political environment’s negative impact on macro level investment — particularly investment in real estate. The U.S. has become a global destination for real estate investment. The rhetoric and isolationist tenor that has defined the election may be just wacky enough to pump the brakes on that inflow of global capital. If that is the case, it is likely a short term headwind, but annoying just the same.

 

The housing market? Why?

 

The housing market in urban centers, especially New York, is going to be defined by a nearly instantaneous shift from irrational exuberance to meritocratic markets where good real estate will perform exceedingly well and ill-advised/bull market concepts are going to back to the bank. I would be very concerned to be holding any measure of inventory in the 57th Street corridor, which had asking prices in excess of $5,000 per square foot. Fortunately, that type of real estate is aberrant enough to not overly affect the larger housing market. I would imagine that the market for sailboats in 1912 was not terribly affected by the sinking of the Titanic.

 

Your success? Why?

 

We have several very promising projects in the 2016 pipeline, in both Brooklyn and Manhattan, that we very excited about because they are thoughtful, well-considered and their success does not hinge on Gazprom or Petrobras having positive quarterly results.

 

What are you worried about?

 

The instability in the oil and gas markets.

 

How much do you fret about global events?

 

Probably not as much as I should. My concerns tend to focus on financial and commodity markets and the domestic political environment. I worry less about global stability, for two reasons — one, the Western world and developed Eastern world are inherently stable and two, because ignorance is bliss. I worry about the environment, but am hopeful that China especially has come to the conclusion that scrubbing China of pollution is probably its greatest economic and social opportunity. Far and away my biggest concern about global terror is our collective reaction to global terror. Violence is the worst. It hurts people and it makes politicians act like loons.

 

Will mortgage rates go up or down next year?

 

I don’t think that they will skyrocket, but I hope they start to get to a place that isn’t long-term detrimental to the health of U.S. currency.

 

Which market are you in?

 

New York City is where I live and work. E-trade is where I trade securities; Fairway is where I shop — but I am not currently in that market. I am at my office.

 

Will unit sales go or up or down in your market?

 

They will go up in the more consumable price points, $50 million apartments within wafting distance of Benihana will not sell particularly well. There is a finite number of billionaires, and only some fraction of those individuals want to own residential real estate in New York. A smaller fraction yet want to own non-waterfront, non-park front real estate in Midtown. 15 Central Park West and 220 Central Park South make total sense to me, but I am fairly bearish on the teriyaki towers.

 

Will home prices appreciate in your market next year?

 

Those not defined by the sweet smell of chicken teriyaki should do just fine.

 

Will agents be more productive next year? Why? Or why not?

 

Agents will start to leave the business next year because information exchange is almost at full saturation. Those who made a career by selling access and information are going to find new industries. Those who can analyze all the available information into cogent thoughts on valuation and market trajectory are going to dine very well over the next several years.

 

What will be the biggest source of real estate leads next year?

 

Leads will come predominantly from two places: good real estate brokers (regardless of firm size or level of Instagram fame), and very informed direct buyers.

 

Are you making plans to expand, contract or maintain your business this year?

 

Expand with the cogent types.

 

What is your biggest challenge in the coming year?

 

Maintaining New Year’s resolutions beyond January 7. I really think I got it this year. Candy, I will miss you the most, friend.

Survey: Renovated Kitchens and Washers/Dryers Wanted

StreetEasyDecember 16, 2015

Maybe NYC renters have had their fill of ragtag kitchens with tiny fridges, undulating counter tops, a stove that sometimes works and barely a ledge to eat. Likewise, buyers do not relish the idea of schlepping to the bowels of the building to use the washer and dryer for hours at a time. At least, that seems to be sentiment from the findings of a recent online survey StreetEasy conducted, asking buyers and renters a myriad of questions around their apartment shopping experience, including which amenities rose to the top of their wish lists. For renters, it was a renovated kitchen and for buyers, it was an in-unit washer-dryer.

 

“I am not surprised at all to find that the survey of buyers’ most desirable in-unit feature is the washer/dryer,” said Adie Kriegstein, real estate agent for CORE. “Buildings either permit them or not and for many people it’s a ‘must have’ non-negotiable feature of their search, so when conducting online searches they list this as a criteria.” In the survey, renters and buyers were asked to stack-rank the following amenities: Dishwasher, in-unit washer/dryer, central AC, recently renovated kitchen, recently renovated bathroom and enter other amenities, if not listed. Nearly 50 percent of the results from the renter’s survey chose “recently renovated kitchen” above all else. Here are the findings for renters, in order of importance:


  1. Recently renovated kitchen

  2. In-unit washer/dryer

  3. Recently renovated bathroom

  4. Other (Closets, outdoor space, pets, doorman, elevator)

  5. Central AC

  6. Dishwasher


Nearly 50 percent of the buyers surveyed chose in-unit washer/dryer as their most-wanted amenity, followed by recently renovated kitchen. “In Manhattan, if there isn’t a washer-dryer in the unit, the likelihood you can install your own is slim,” said Kriegstein.  “I have had buyers forgo larger homes priced at greater price points just so they can have a washer-dryer in their unit.  It’s a modern-day convenience and once you have had one in your home you can’t give it up.” Here are the findings for buyers, in order of importance:


  1. In-unit washer/dryer

  2. Recently renovated kitchen

  3. Dishwasher

  4. Recently renovated bathroom

  5. Central AC

  6. Other (Outdoor space, building amenities)


Apparently, central AC is far down everyone's list, but come the dog days of August, those surveyed might want to change their answers.

Map: 50 Biggest Celebrity Real Estate Moves of 2015 in NYC

CurbedDecember 15, 2015

It's time to make up a bunch of awards and hand them out to the most deserving people, places and things in the real estate, architecture and neighborhood universes of New York City! Yep, it's time for the 12th Annual Curbed Awards! Up now: the biggest celebrity real estate moves of the year.

 

With two weeks until the end of the year, we're looking back at some of the biggest real estate stories of 2015—and what could be bigger than celebrity real estate? Every year, bold-face names make some of the biggest property moves throughout the five (well, let's be honest, two—Manhattan and Brooklyn) boroughs. They trade apartments like currency: buy, sell, and rent—and Curbed obsessively tracks the real estate moves of the rich 'n' famous every step of the way. Here now, 50 different property moves made by the city's most bold-faced names, all laid out in a handy map. Which star made the biggest deal of the year? Check the map to find out. Happy ogling.

 

NATE BERKUS - $10.5M

 

Is anyone surprised that Nate Berkus's home is impeccable? The celebrity interior designer listed his three-bedroom Greenwich Village duplex for $10.5 million, which is noteworthy because it's a whopping $4.5 million more than he paid for it in 2013. Berkus and his husband, interior designer Jeremiah Brent, purchased an adjacent one-bedroom apartment in the building (which was designed by famed architect Emery Roth), then renovated it and combined it with the penthouse to create the apartment as it is now.

 

JOHN LEGEND AND CHRISSY TEIGEN - $4.5M

 

John Legend and Chrissy Teigen are parting with their one-bedroom Nolita pad for an apartment fit for a family. Of course the apartment's as beautiful as the A-list celebrity couple; it underwent a Don Stewart and Winka Dubbeldam-led renovation before getting the Architectural Digest treatment in February. The renovation reconfigured the master bathroom and converted another bathroom into a dead-end hallway of closets and laundry facilities, all while bringing an "old-school industrial look" to the nearly 2,000-square-foot apartment.

 

ZACHARY QUINTO - $3.2M

 

Actor Zachary Quinto bought a two-bedroom loft in 43 Great Jones Street. The apartment, which had previously sold in 2007 for $2.5 million, was listed in March 2014 for $3.7 million but lingered on the market and endured a series of price cuts before Quinto and his longtime boyfriend Miles McMillan scooped it up for $3,162,500. It was recently renovated, and features a private elevator landing.

 

NOELLE BECK - $17M

 

Noelle Beck, known for her roles on "Loving" and "As the World Turns," and her husband purchased the four-story Anglo-Italianate style townhouse at 243 East 17th Street in 1997, paying $1.6 million. Now, almost two decades later, they are cashing out, having put the house back on the market for $17 million. The house itself is really something, with arched windows, cast-iron balconies, five fireplaces, fancy chandeliers, and a skylight, along with a bevy of original details.

Luxe Buyers Signed 19 Contracts at $4M and Up: Olshan Report

The Real DealDecember 14, 2015

The priciest contract was a 4,078-square-foot condo unit at 224 Mulberry Street, which asked $12 million, down from $13.25 million when it first hit the market last year. The three-bedroom apartment features at 990-square-foot terrace, as well as an eat-in kitchen and two parking spots. Developer and architecture firm Flank developed the eight-story, 32,000-square-foot Nolita building, with sales opening in September 2014.

 

Eberhard Pencil Factory Conversion Hits the Market for Lease

Commercial ObserverDecember 11, 2015

A little over a year after purchasing one of the buildings at the former Eberhard Pencil Factory in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, the owner has put the property up for lease, Commercial Observer has learned.

 

Caerus Group is looking to lease the landmarked 74 Kent Street between Franklin and West Streets to a single user with a blended asking rent in the $60s per square foot, said Alex Cohen, a commercial real estate broker with Core who is marketing the property along with Stephen Ruiz of Cushman & Wakefield. The 33,372-square-foot property is adjacent to Kickstarter’s headquarters.

 

“There is no other commercial space in Greenpoint that competes with it,” Mr. Cohen said.

 

CO reported when Caerus went into contract to buy the building for $7.5 million in August 2014. Since the acquisition, Caerus has redeveloped and restored the landmark with open loft floors and exposed brick. Each floor has outdoor space and there will be elevator access to a 6,000-square-foot green roof.

 

Construction, which includes a large storefront, is almost complete and the tenant can move into the Hustvedt Cutler Architects-designed four-story building (three floors plus a lower level) at the beginning of the second quarter of 2016.

 

“Having realized last year the acute office shortage in Greenpoint, we saw 74 Kent Street as a diamond in the rough,” Leo Tsimmer, managing partner at Caerus, emailed CO. “We worked hard with [New York City] Landmarks Preservation Commission to make sure to keep the brilliant intact, while taking advantage of the fantastic architectural features, such as impressive ceiling heights, century-old brick walls, timber beams, an opportunity to create outdoor spaces on every floor and a roof deck with spectacular views.”

CORE Scoops Up Cobble Hill Space for Its First Brooklyn Real Estate Office

Commercial ObserverDecember 09, 2015

Residential real estate company CORE is moving into the Brooklyn market.

 

CORE has signed a lease for its first office in Kings County, at 180 Smith Street in Cobble Hill, the firm announced to Commercial Observer.

 

Leasing 1,800 square feet, CORE will occupy retail space on the first floor and have offices on the second floor of the five-story building owned by Donald Boyce. Twenty to 25 agents will work out of the new office when it opens in spring 2016.

 

Having a Brooklyn office could help draw new talent to the Manhattan-based firm.

 

“We have a number of current agents that will be moving to the new location,” a spokeswoman for CORE said. “Additionally, we have been in discussions with several teams interested in joining the firm now that we have a Brooklyn location.”

 

Shaun Osher, CORE’s founder, brokered the deal directly with the landlord. The spokeswoman declined to provide the lease terms.

 

CORE’s headquarters is at 104 Fifth Avenue. Its other offices are at 127 Seventh Avenue and 673 Madison Avenue. The firm has an upcoming office at 149 Fifth Avenue, on which CO previously reported.

 

The Cobble Hill office will have “a more relaxed ‘Brooklyn’ feel with more steel and wood when compared to our other offices,” the spokeswoman noted.

New Development Drives 24 Contracts at $4M and Up: Olshan Report

The Real DealDecember 07, 2015

Of the 24 luxury pads that went into contract last week, 17 were new condos, according to Olshan Realty’s latest luxury market report.

 

The No. 2 contract was the penthouse at 224 Mulberry Street. The pad, at Flank Development’s six-unit boutique condo, was asking $23.75 million, down from $28 million when it hit the market in April. Measuring 5,625 square feet, it has four bedrooms, four terraces, two fireplaces and two parking spaces.

Celeb Photographer David LaChapelle Makes a Sale on His Dreamy Chelsea Abode

6sqftDecember 04, 2015

After placing his West Chelsea home on the market just five months ago, it looks like famed photographer David LaChapelle (he’s shot everyone from Madonna to MJ to Leo and Lady Gaga) has made a sale.

 

LaChapelle’s bright beauty at 427 West 21st Street sold for its $2.46 asking price, providing a pretty tidy profit for the artist who paid just $1.74 million for the space in 2011. According to the Observer, LaChapelle decided to shed the apartment because he now spends most of his time in LA and Hawaii—the latter where he owns a remote 18-acre forest on the island of Maui. 

 

But while LaChapelle enjoys warmer West Coast and island climates, the new buyer of his Chelsea pad should find themselves just as comfortable in his former residence. The one-bedroom home is quite a unique space with plenty of historic details highlighted by lots of light.

 

The home is located along Chelsea’s Seminary Block, one of the neighborhood’s leafiest streets. The residence is bright and airy with 12-foot ceilings across its floor-through layout. As it is situated on the parlor floor, there are also lots incredible architectural details within, like hand-carved crown molding, French doors, etched glass door inlays, stained oak floors and medallion-wrapped light fixtures.

 

The spacious home also has a generous 8-by-14-foot terrace just outside the updated kitchen accessed by windowed bay door. The bedroom sits at the front of the home facing the street, and also keeps one of the three wood-burning fireplaces.

Photographer David LaChapelle's Chelsea Co-Op Nets $2.5M

CurbedDecember 04, 2015

When photographer David LaChapelle listed his Chelsea co-op back in July, we were surprised by the not at all over-the-top interiors of the one-bedroom apartment. Considering LaChapelle's work—surrealist, imbued with neon colors and absolutely bonkers themes—the fact that he owned such atraditional pad was unexpected, to say the least. But clearly a buyer was feeling the home's traditional vibe: According to the New York Observer, the apartment recently sold for its full asking price of $2.46 million. The parlor-level apartment has some rather lovely features, including three fireplaces, a marble kitchen, and a porch. And it netted LaChapelle a profit: He originally bought the place in 2011 for $1.47 million.

David LaChapelle’s Manhattan Apartment Sells for $2.4M

New York PostDecember 04, 2015

Photographer David LaChapelle’s Chelsea apartment has sold for its full $2.46 million asking price, according to city property records. The new owner is Chloe Frances Squires.

 

The colorful co-op apartment is inside a townhouse at 427 W. 21st Street. It first went on the market in July, as the Post exclusively reported at the time.

 

Although it is only a one bedroom and one bathroom on a parlor level, the apartment commanded a high price because of its location and details like hand-carved plaster moldings, wood trim, 12 foot ceilings, custom cabinets and three marble fireplaces.

 

The high tech unit comes with a chef’s kitchen and a private terrace that is ideal for entertaining. The listing brokers were Heather McDonough and Henry Hershkowitz, of CORE.

In Hamilton Heights, a Renaissance

The Wall Street JournalDecember 04, 2015

Alexander Hamilton may be the current toast of Broadway, but he is having a moment, too, in the uptown Manhattan enclave that bears his name.

 

Bookended by City College to the south and the Hispanic Society of America to the north, Hamilton Heights, so named for the founding father who made his home in the area, is enjoying a renaissance with a wave of historic home restorations, followed by new restaurants and cafes.

 

“The neighborhood has exploded in the last few years,” said James Endress, founder of Absolute Properties, a brokerage firm on Amsterdam Avenue. “You can still find needles in the haystack…if you’re up for a project, it’s good to look here.”

 

Mr. Endress, who has lived in the neighborhood since 2007, said prices and inventory are attracting people “who want townhouses but have been priced out of the Upper West Side.”

 

Sara Henderson, a retired investment banker, was one such buyer. She moved from a condominium on 94th Street and Central Park West to a four-story townhouse on West 141st Street.

 

“I always wanted to live in Harlem and always wanted a townhouse,” she said. “I had something specific in mind—I wanted detail and I was willing to restore.”

 

In her old neighborhood, she couldn’t find a property within her price range and taste. After six months of looking, Ms. Henderson closed on her townhouse in April 2014, paying $2.3 million. She restored parts of her home, and after finding it too large to manage on her own, recently put it on the market. Within a month, she had several bids and accepted a cash offer of $2.9 million.

 

One of Harlem’s most architecturally eclectic neighborhoods, with landmarked blocks of townhouses and churches, prewar apartment buildings and national monuments, Hamilton Heights seems lost in time.

 

“Architecturally, it’s one of the most beautiful areas of the city, [attracting] people who have an appreciation for prewar elegance and beauty,” said Sidney Whelan, an agent for CORE, a boutique residential brokerage, and himself a 12-year Hamilton Heights resident. He said the townhouse inventory that dominates the area near Convent Avenue doesn’t trade often, and new development around the historic interior is limited. The Langston, a 180-unit development built in 2005 at 68 Bradhurst Ave., is one block outside the Hamilton Heights neighborhood. Aside from a spurt of activity in 2006 that brought three boutique developments to market, other projects have been small in scale.

 

But buyers looking farther west will find more apartment conversions.

 

“Toward Riverside Drive there’s a diversity of floor plans, some with huge apartments and some with tiny layouts,” Mr. Whelan said. “It’s a kind of chaotic inventory on those kind of conversions…there’s neither rhyme nor reason to it.” But, he added, “You can find some gems there.”

 

Adding to the mix will be the conversion of the long-vacant P.S. 186 on West 145th Street, a private/public project that will create 79 units of housing, eight at market rates. It also will be the home of the Boys and Girls Club of Harlem.


Slated for completion in fall 2016, the project will “help transform 145th Street and bring in more upscale retail,” Mr. Endress said. Places like the craft-beer tavern Harlem Public, which opened in 2012 at 3612 Broadway, have jump-started the makeover, paving the way for other like-minded businesses.

 

Grange Bar & Eatery owners Roy and Rita Henley, who live on West 145th Street, said they were inspired to open their restaurant by both the Harlem Public’s success and a desire to provide a new offering.


“We were sick of the commute downtown and decided we missed this in the neighborhood,” Mr. Henley said. “At the time, Harlem Public was the only thing open—no one [else] was doing anything craft or pushing the envelope here…I knew the neighborhood was ready.”

 

The Henleys, in turn, may have helped spawn a micro-dining destination, which in the past year included the nearby Tsion Café, Hogshead Tavern and the newly revamped Sweet Chef bakery. At 1616 Amsterdam Ave., Filtered Coffee opened this spring in a storefront that will include OSO, a restaurant in which Matthew Trebek, son of the “Jeopardy!” game show host, is a partner.

 

Tsion Café owners and local residents Padmore John and Beejhy Barhany said they were encouraged to open a restaurant after seeing a revitalization of abandoned houses and storefronts. When they opened a year ago, Mr. John said, “A lot of people told us we’ve been waiting for something like this for ages.”

 

Other retail has yet to catch up. The main retail corridors along West 145th Street and Broadway are a jumble of bodegas, salons, small electronic and phone stores. The neighborhood lacks a diversity of grocery stores, forcing residents like Alisa Roost, an associate professor at Hostos Community College, to travel for items beyond staples.

 

“We have more coffee shops than we need…I personally would love a reasonably priced grocery store,” she said. “We don’t have good grocery stores but we have a good brunch place. Sometimes it doesn’t work the way you’d think it works.”

 

Dining and drinking: On the eastern side of the neighborhood, the Grange Bar & Eatery specializes in farm-to-table dishes and craft cocktails. Tsion Café fuses Ethiopian, Caribbean and North African cuisines. Hogshead Tavern features craft beers and whiskeys, and small plates. A bar, coffee shop and noodle shop line the Broadway block between West 148th and West 149th streets.

 

Culture: The landmarked Audubon Terrace is home to a number of small museums including the Hispanic Society of America, whose collection includes works by El Greco and Velázquez. Hamilton historians can visit his home at the Hamilton Grange National Memorial at 414 W. 141st St. The Dance Theatre of Harlem, 466 W. 152nd St., offers classes and performances at its Everett Center for the Performing Arts. Sugar Hill Children’s Museum of Art & Storytelling opened in October at 898 St. Nicholas Ave.

 

Transportation: The neighborhood is served by the A, B, C, D and No. 1 subway lines to West 145th Street.

 

Schools: In District 6, schools that serve prekindergarten to fifth grades include P.S. 153 Adam Clayton Powell, P.S. 28 Wright Brothers School, P.S. 192 Jacob H. Schiff and P.S. 325. P.S. 368 Hamilton Heights School serves kindergarten to fifth grade. P.S./I.S. 210 21st Century Academy for Community Leadership includes prekindergarten through eighth grade; Middle schools include Hamilton Grange Middle School. The New Heights Academy Charter School serves grades five through 12. High schools include A. Philip Randolph Campus High School and the High School for Mathematics, Science and Engineering at City College.

 

Corrections & Amplifications: A bar, coffee shop and noodle shop line the Broadway block between West 148th and West 149th streets. Also, Roy Henley is a co-owner of Grange Bar & Eatery. An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated the businesses line the Broadway block between 139th and 148th streets and incorrectly gave the first name of Mr. Henley as Ron. (Dec. 4, 2015)

David LaChapelle’s ‘Magic’ Touch Helps Co-op Sell for $2.46M

New York ObserverDecember 03, 2015

One would expect a somewhat…avant-garde abode when picturing the home of a photographer often associated with surrealism.

 

The co-op that photographer David LaChapelle just sold, however, is rather picturesque. Mr. LaChapelle lived in the one-bedroom, one-bathroom co-op for the past four years, before listing it in July.

 

After establishing himself as a photographer, Mr. LaChapelle decided he was over the art scene in 2006 and moved to a “forest” in Hawaii, but he  went pretty much back to where he started and returning to the city and eventually making his way to this co-op.

 

Could it be that he’s going back to his Hawaii forest?

 

It could! “From my understanding, it wasn’t getting used enough,” CORE broker Heather McDonough, who shared the listing with Henry Hershkowitz, told the Observer. “He’s based more in LA and Hawaii now.”

 

Located on the first floor of a West Chelsea townhouse, the unit also has a private terrace, floor-to-ceiling bay windows, stained oak floors, and French doors.

 

The 12-foot ceilings, hand-carved molding, and three fireplaces must have really spoken quite literally to the new owner, Chloe Frances Squires, who purchased the parlor-level unit for exactly the $2.46 million it was asking.

 

“He really knows how to highlight the attributes of the home [and] that makes people really fall in love with it,” Ms. McDonough said.

 

“It was kind of his magic that touched the home,” Ms. McDonough continued. “He goes in, and he really knows how to make a place feel magical.”

 

Indeed.

Celebrity Photographer David LaChapelle Sells Chelsea Apartment For $2.5M

Luxury Listings NYCDecember 03, 2015

The so-called “Fellini of photography” David LaChapelle has sold his Chelsea apartment at 427 West 21st Street for $2.5 million, according to city documents.

 

LaChapelle listed the one-bedroom, one-bathroom co-op apartment in July for the same price. The townhouse features 12-foot ceilings, three fireplaces (two of which are marble) and a private terrace, according to the listing.

 

LaChapelle is best known for his fashion and commercial photography. He made his name when he was just 17 years old, after Andy Warhol hired him to shoot some work for Interview magazine. Since then, his photographs of celebrities like Missy Elliot have appeared in magazines such as Details, Paris Vogue, Rolling Stone and The New York Times Magazine.

 

In 2006, LaChapelle suffered a burn out and moved from New York to Hawaii. Since then, he has focused on art photography — though his photographs often make reference to celebrities like Michael Jackson.

 

Heather McDonough and Henry Hershkowitz of CORE had the listing.

Traditional Supermarkets Haven’t Thrown in the Towel in Manhattan

Commercial ObserverDecember 02, 2015

Just about every real estate and retail industry professional will tell you Whole Foods Market is clearly on the winning side of Manhattan’s grocery store wars.

 

While other chains have been shrinking (and in some cases disappearing altogether) Texas-based Whole Foods, which has only been in Manhattan since 2001, has been on a spree, with eight active locations around the borough and more on the way (one near Bryant Park and another in Harlem). In its fourth-quarter earnings report, Whole Foods announced that its year-over-year sales grew 6 percent to $3.4 billion. “When Whole Foods came to the city people thought they discovered not gold—platinum,” Faith Hope Consolo, the chairman of Douglas Elliman Real Estate Retail Group, told Commercial Observer. “It just gave a whole new dynamic to the way people shopped for food. They created a meeting place when they opened on [East] 14th Street. People were meeting there to date.”

 

But on the other side, the traditional supermarket has been in a tailspin. Soaring rents and traffic congestion, which delay deliveries and hinder parking, have made it difficult to compete in Manhattan. And given how easy it is now to fill an online cart with groceries and have it show up at your door the next morning, some are writing the industry’s obituary. Whole Foods also excels at pre-cooked meals, a trend that’s become popular with shoppers in Manhattan because of convenience.“High-quality prepared food is a big thing,” said Anna Castellani, the founder of organic grocery chain Foragers Market.

 

Many customers think, “I don’t cook anymore but I am not going to buy garbage,” Ms. Castellani said. “People are going to Whole Foods for [prepared food], too.”All this pressure caused the granddaddy of all grocers, the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company (A&P)—which controls Waldbaum’s, Pathmark and Food Emporium—to file for bankruptcy in July, the second time in five years.

 

Another grocer, John Castimatidis, is currently in damage-control mode. His real estate and grocery company, Red Apple Group, is spending about $10 million to revitalize his Gristedes chains around Manhattan despite his once-powerful empire dwindling down to a third of what it once was. Mr. Catsimatidis, a former mayoral candidate with a net worth of $3.4 billion, according to Forbes, claims to have had “nearly 100” supermarkets in Manhattan between his Gristedes, Red Apple and Sloan’s Supermarkets in the early 1990s. Today, his company owns 31 Gristedes locations across Manhattan (and one new Red Apple location in Downtown Brooklyn).

 

Red Apple Group only grosses about $200 million in revenue annually from its grocery stores, and loses a “few million” a year after operating costs, Mr. Catsimatidis said in a recent interview with Commercial Observer. He admitted that if it weren’t for his other endeavors—his Red Apple Group also has vast energy and real estate holdings—that he would have had to close Gristedes.

 

“We’re able [to survive], but only because we want to,” Mr. Catsimatidis said. “If the supermarket business was the only business that we did, we would be out of business.” (Mr. Catsimatidis can be even more blunt—when CO asked him about the worst decision of his career in this year’s Owners Magazine he said: “Failing to get out of the supermarket business 10 years ago, given what I have learned now.”) Mr. Catsimatidis is quick to lay blame on the unions for how tough the grocery store economic climate has become. “Look at what happened to A&P. Bankrupt. Gone, because a lot of these old-time supermarkets are fully unionized,” Mr. Catsimatidis said. “If you figure what we are paying the unionized employees, it’s probably double the non-union employees, and it’s not necessarily in salary. A lot of it is in health care and pensions.” 

 

In bankruptcy filings, A&P also indicated that high demands from unionized employees took a toll on the company (although, it still paid $9.4 million in bonuses to top officers at the company, according to The Wall Street Journal). An A&P spokeswoman declined to comment, and referred CO to the company’s bankruptcy filings.

 

Whole Foods, meanwhile, doesn’t have unionized workers. A spokesman for Local 1500, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), didn’t address Mr. Catsimatidis’ criticisms directly, but noted that Whole Foods is notorious for not letting its workers unionize. Aly Waddy, director of organization at Local 1500, said the union received frequent calls from employees, but every time the topic arises at a location, the company’s corporate officers come in and use aggressive measures to persuade workers against having a vote to unionize. They cut hours, for example, she alleged. A Whole Foods representative did not return requests for comment.

 

 “What we’re finding is there is a trend in these organizations in bad labor practices,” said Ms. Waddy. “There is a lot of resistance from these companies to allow those workers to unionize.” Another factor that has hit traditional supermarkets is that drug stores, such as CVS Health Corporation and Duane Reade, have doubled as mini-marts as much as pharmacies, chipping away at a supermarket’s typical business. (See story on page 68.)

 

Despite these factors, plenty of real estate pros refuse to believe the old-school supermarket will disappear completely; it may just not be around in its current form. “There is no more demand for what traditional supermarkets offer,” Alex Cohen, a commercial real estate broker at Core, said. “They don’t offer farm-to-market fresh produce or the boutique offerings that a Wegmans or a Whole Foods does. They have to establish some identity to survive.”

 

“I don’t think it’s over, but I think they have a lot challenges that they have to overcome,” said Natalie Kotlyar, the head of accounting, consulting and auditing firm BDO USA’s northeast retail and consumer products practice. “Sales is an iterative process; if the traditional supermarkets don’t change with the times, they will go extinct.” For traditional supermarkets, surviving in Manhattan has been a game of adaptation.

 

Key Food Stores Co-operative, a brand of individually owned supermarkets with corporate offices in Staten Island, is known for selling inexpensive products. However, the company created high-end gourmet spinoffs 55 Fulton Market and Urban Market, which both sell organic products, as well. Urban Market has cropped up in the outer boroughs in Long Island City, Queens and Williamsburg, but the company recently signed a lease for a space in Manhattan at 70 Pine Street in the Financial District, as CO reported in November. (55 Fulton Market is located at 55 Fulton Street.) Representatives from Key Food did not respond to requests for comment.

 

Morton Williams, a family-owned supermarket chain that has 12 locations in Manhattan and two in the Bronx, is another traditional grocery store that also adjusted its style. “We have tried to stay up with the trends that are prevalent with modern America,” Morton Sloan, the chief executive officer of the company, said. “We know that today’s modern family doesn’t [want] to go home and start making a roast beef. So we have gone into the prepared food market in a big way, and into selling organic products.”

 

The company also began offering online shopping and delivery (within two hours) or in-store pickup. Mr. Sloan said that Morton Williams has experienced more “pressure” because of Whole Foods and drug stores, but its stores are still profitable. In a sign that its new strategies are enjoying some measure of success, both Key Food and Morton Williams bought some A&P stores at a bankruptcy auction.

 

But for traditional supermarkets, Whole Foods isn’t the only competition to watch out for. Another grocer that has been gunning for the dinosaurs is Trader Joe’s—but rather than a pricey, high-end alternative, Trader Joe’s moved in the opposite direction. Started in California, and now controlled by the owners of Germany-based discount supermarket Aldi, Trader Joe’s owes its success largely to off-the-charts marketing and lower-cost pricing, thanks to its own private labels on products. Trader Joe’s first came storming into Manhattan in 2006 and currently has three locations in the borough.

 

Even Whole Foods has taken note and is adjusting to its low-cost competitor. Whole Foods announced in June its smaller and less expensive 365 by Whole Foods Market model to help further its expansion plans, and is searching for new locations in Manhattan for the brand, as CO previously reported. Whole Foods has also promised to cut back prices on its products, and let go of 1,500 employees in preparation for that. “This is a very difficult decision, and we are committed to treating affected team members in a caring and respectful manner,” Walter Robb, the co-CEO of Whole Foods, said in a September press release regarding the job cuts. “We believe this is an important step to evolve Whole Foods Market in a rapidly changing marketplace.”

 

But if traditional grocery stores are suffering, Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods would be wise to take note of the threat to their flank. The direct-to-consumer grocery store, such as Instacart and Amazon Fresh, has already cultivated a consumer base and will doubtless be a force to be reckoned with. These types of grocery services offer consumers delivery of fresh products after purchasing online. Both Instacart and Amazon Fresh promise same-day delivery.

 

Fresh Direct, which is currently based in Queens, is the progenitor of this grocery model. It sources about 100 farms in the state for fresh products and delivery as early as the next day. It has an enormous presence already in Manhattan, and reportedly makes about $500 million in revenue, according to Crain’s New York Business (although representatives wouldn’t confirm that number). “It’s a big market. People have dozens of habits for their immediate needs,” Jason Ackerman, the chief executive officer and co-founder of Fresh Direct, said. “We are never going to have 100 percent of the marketplace and neither is one store.”

 

And even nimbler online-to-consumer versions are cropping up, such as Max Delivery, which was started just over a decade ago in Tribeca by entrepreneur Chris Siragusa. Like Fresh Direct, Max Delivery focuses on bringing farm fresh and organic grocery products to customer’s doors. But the store runs on a fleet of about 55 bicyclists that deliver products to consumers (below both sides of 92nd Street) within one hour of their purchase. For heavier orders, multiple cyclists are put on the job.

 

Max Delivery moved in May from its roughly 5,000-square-foot space to a 10,000-square-foot location on the ground floor of 318 West 39th Street between Ninth and Eighth Avenues. The company employs about 150 people in total, and Mr. Siragusa is actively looking to open new locations in Brooklyn and other cities. Max Delivery functions solely online at the moment; however, because there is still a big market for people who need immediate service, Mr. Siragusa plans to add a walk-in component, where consumers can place orders at the location and the staff will retrieve the items from the store and bring it to them on site.

 

The grocery has seen five consecutive years of profits and is growing at about 30 percent in revenue each year, Mr. Siragusa said. One of the major contributors to that is that people aren’t just ordering in bulk anymore, he said, but really using the service for convenience. He believes more traditional stores will turn to his business model to survive, “As people become used to better, more convenient service from the supermarkets, I think companies will be pushed to do something towards what we have been doing,” Mr. Siragusa said. “What we are seeing is that [customers] are saying, ‘What do we need to eat tomorrow?’ As more and more [direct-to-consumer] models come up, more and more people are going to order for the next day or two, because that’s all you need.”

Designing Men

New York ObserverDecember 02, 2015

Emily Beare’s listing at 39 Fifth Avenue was featured in New York Observer’s “Transfers” section.

December 2, 2015 Chelsea’s “The Flynn,” Aka 155 West 18th Street, Gets New Renderings

NY YimbyDecember 02, 2015

When YIMBY checked in on the gray stone-clad condo building at 155 West 18th Street last month, windows were going in and the facade was snapping into place. Now, we have more renderings of the exterior and the apartments at the 11-story development. The building, known as “The Flynn,” will have 30 apartments when construction finishes. Apartments will range from one- to four-bedrooms and include four duplex penthouses with private roof decks and two adjoining garden units on the first floor.

 

Units will typically clock in at just over 1,900 square feet, and residents will have access to a six-car garage, storage, and a gym. The ground floor will have 6,400 square feet of retail and a little 549-square-foot community facility.

 

ODA New York dreamed up the building’s design, which is meant to invoke the cast iron 19th century industrial buildings of Chelsea and the Meatpacking District. The facade is clad in a dark stone called Jet Mist granite stone. The interiors continue that theme with concrete columns in the apartments and polished concrete floors in the lobby. But they also feature warmer materials, like slate and marble in the bathrooms and dark wood floors in the living areas.

 

Sales are set to launch next week, but the developer, IGI-USA, couldn’t release any pricing. CORE is handling sales, and move-ins are scheduled to begin in the middle of 2016.

 

The developers are also planning an unusual scheme to help market the building. With the help of Spring Street Social Society, IGI-USA is hosting a series of “pop-up performance vignettes” in the building’s sales gallery from December 2nd to 13th. “The series reveals a voyeuristic glimpse into the imagined world of namesake character Flynn as he engages with an eclectic cast of neighbors, lovers and friends,” according to a press release from the property’s PR team. Six actors and dancers will perform twice a night in the ground-floor sales gallery, which has floor-to-ceiling windows and has been furnished to “resemble the living room of Flynn.”

A “Billionaire’s Row” Adjacent Rental With 360- Degree Views of The City

Brick UndergroundDecember 01, 2015

If you think you can snag a steep discount on rent by moving a single block away from "Billionaire's Row" on 57th street—well, we're about to burst your bubble. But eye-popping $27,000/month price tag aside, this East 58th Street two-bedroom gives plenty of reason for would-be renters a reason to dream of Midtown.

 

Given its proximity to ultra-luxe condo building One Beacon Court—a building so upscale its on-site retail is Le Cirque—you can expect all the usual high-end amenities included in this listing, such as a 24-hour doorman, concierge service, a "state of the art fitness center," children's playroom, and a massage room. But the real perks are the views, which come in every single room (but the bathroom), and look onto Central Park and the East River. Even the breakfast nook has a view of the skyline fit for a sultan (or a bonus-toting stock broker). In addition to the floor-to-ceiling windows, the 10-foot ceilings give the place an airy feel, meaning it's a solid bet for any deep-pocketed renter seeking out extra natural light as we head into the dreary winter months.

 

It's pricey, yes, but given that the building is also home to one of the most expensive apartments for sale in the entire city—a $79 million penthouse, which was originally listed for $115 million—maybe this can be justified as a relative bargain?

Midtown Spotlight

Metropolitan MagazineDecember 01, 2015

Lisa Graham is featured in Metropolitan Magazine's November/December 2015 issue in their "Midtown Spotlight" section.

Nate Berkus, Jeremiah Brent List Village Penthouse for $10.5M

The Real DealNovember 27, 2015

Interior designers Nate Berkus and Jeremiah Brent are listing their duplex penthouse, but, sadly, they aren’t including the furniture. The pair are looking to sell their 2,800-square-foot Village co-op unit at 39 Fifth Avenue for $10.5 million.

 

The apartment, which was featured on the cover of October’s Architectural Digest, features a massive, windowed walk-in closet divided into two parts. It also has two terraces and three fireplaces.

 

The designers bought the penthouse unit along with an adjacent apartment in 2013 for about $6 million, CORE’s Emily Beare, who is listing the unit, told the Wall Street Journal.

 

Berkus and Brent aren’t including their furniture in the sales price, but Beare told the Journal they’d consider selling individual pieces.

 

39 Fifth Avenue, built in 1922, stands 14 stories and encompasses 62,000 square feet. 

Architect-Owner of This Polished-yet-Casual Village Loft Asks $3M

6sqftNovember 26, 2015

Century-old bones and clean white walls frame the well-proportioned interior spaces of this warm, sophisticated two-bedroom loft in Greenwich Village, the result of a recent gut renovation by the architect-owner. John Berg of BergDesign Architecture, with his wife Jennifer Desmond, purchased the sunny downtown co-op at 250 Mercer Street for $1.5 million in May of 2013, two years and an impressive renovation ago. The bright high-floor unit is now on the market for $2.9 million.

 

We’ve featured some of the architect’s projects, and this apartment’s renovation is detailed on the BergDesign site, with the imperative of keeping “three priorities: durability, casual living and contrasting rich materials” for a family with small children in mind. Between lofty ceilings of over 11 feet and oak hardwood floors, walls of north- and east-facing windows give the space an airy feel and let in tons of sunlight. The large and stunning open kitchen features top-of-the-line appliances like a Wolf range, Bosch dishwasher and Liebherr refrigerator. The architect explains that “New book matched teak kitchen cabinets, distressed zinc countertops, pre-existing rough columns and bleached oak flooring provide the tactile counterpoint to refinished precise white walls and ceilings.” Winged bedrooms provide privacy; well-considered but simple design choices are also in evidence in the apartment’s two bathrooms.

 

The spacious second bedroom has an en-suite bath; there’s also a washer/dryer and ample storage space, including a storage room right outside the unit. Building amenities include a 24-hour doorman, live-in super, bicycle storage and a shared courtyard and rooftop deck. Located on Mercer Street just off busy Broadway–and bordering the NYU campus–the building is conveniently located near Washington Square Park and multiple train lines. The home’s next owner will also get to be neighbors with Jessica Chastain’s tenants, as the strawberry blonde “Crimson Peak” star owns and rents out an apartment in the building; it was recently listed for $11,500 a month.

See Inside! Nate Berkus and Jeremiah Brent list Oh-So Chic Manhattan Apartment

Today HomeNovember 25, 2015

"We designed every square inch of it," designer and television personality Nate Berkus told Architectural Digest when the magazine featured the Greenwich Village apartment he shares with his husband and fellow designer, Jeremiah Brent, and their daughter, Poppy.

 

They particularly love the double closet — "a monstrosity of a closet," as Jeremiah put it — in the 3-bedroom, 3-bath spread, which they've listed for $10.5 million. 

 

The light-filled penthouse is a duplex drenched in white with high, coffered ceilings and black and gold accents.

 

The home spans 2,800 square feet and includes a chef's kitchen with skylights and an eight-burner range, a formal dining room and a wrought-iron staircase that leads to private living quarters below.

 

The master suite boasts a fireplace, an outrageous closet, and a master bath including dual sinks and a freestanding cast-iron tub.

 

Architectural Digest placed the home in a "beautiful stretch just above Washington Square Park, where the avenue begins and the surrounding prewar buildings are prized by those who seek elegance but also cherish the vitality, diversity and cultural heritage of Greenwich Village."

 

The couple recently bought a house on the other coast, Variety reported.

 

The listing agent is Emily Beare of CORE. 

Nate Berkus and Jeremiah Brent Just Listed Their New York City Masterpiece

PopSugarNovember 24, 2015

Just recently, Nate Berkus and Jeremiah Brent introduced to the world their stunning New York City penthouse in the October issue of Architectural Digest. The couple worked together to renovate the sprawling space, which is now back on the market.

 

Perfectly suited for a young family, the listing is any house hunter's dream. From carefully selected vintage furniture to the picturesque nursery Nate and Jeremiah designed for their daughter, Poppy, it's hard not to swoon.

 

But real estate gold such as this comes at a whopping price — $10.5 million to be exact. Keep reading for a glimpse of every room in this gorgeous "townhouse in the sky."

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