In the News: Proposal for a Big New FiDi Plaza

Tribeca CitizenFebruary 11, 2015

“There are restaurants in Tribeca that I absolutely love,” Almond’s Eric Lemonides told WWD. “But there are very few really good, let’s-take-the-kids-and-go-get-something-to-eat places. Our bread and butter are the people who live up the block and are like, ‘come on, let’s go to Almond.’” So answer my email, eh? Anyway, the article says the restaurant officially opens next week.


“The Downtown Alliance is proposing to eliminate a two-lane exit ramp from the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel and combine a pair of small Financial District plazas that it separates into a single, larger public square.” That’s it in red. —Broadsheet


Manhattan Portage has a Q&A with Azikiwe Mohammed, “one of the very few NYC artists you will meet to be born and raised in Tribeca.” Also, he has “dedicated over half his life to working for the Church Street School for Music and Art.”


Eater loved Little Park. By the way, the restaurant seems to be holding the high-top tables along W. Broadway for walk-ins.


Event and floral designer DeJuan Stroud has moved from 433 Washington to Hell’s Kitchen. I noticed the other day that the company had left; it made me wonder whether someone has plans for that building (and its neighbor to the north?), but I saw nothing on the DOB’s website. Actually, it and its three neighbors to the north could be headed for development…. I had heard a rumor that 27 Desbrosses is not log for this world. —New York Times


The retail condo at 261 Broadway sold; that’s where a Wendy’s was said to be in the works. It was bought by “the Doria family, which founded the popular gourmet grocery store Grace’s Marketplace.” A Grace’s at that spot would be interesting, but it’s likely just an investment. —The Real Deal


A bit of turmoil at the Museum of Jewish Heritage. —Wall Street Journal


If you’ve never read about how those old houses on Harrison got there, 6sqft tells the story again. Also, lots of neat pix, like the one below (courtesy of Tom Postilio and Mickey Conlon of CORE).

When Apartment Listings Are Misleading

The New York TimesFebruary 07, 2015

Guarding Against Inaccuracies


During my recent search to buy an apartment, I came across many misleading listings on websites. Many studios were listed as one-bedrooms. And even some one-bedrooms were listed as two-bedrooms. The square footage was frequently incorrect, with different numbers on different websites. I found that the common charges and taxes cited were also unreliable. Are there regulations against such poor standards?


Upper West Side, Manhattan


“Welcome to New York City real estate,” said Paul Purcell, a managing director at the New York City office of William Raveis. “Given that we have no multiple listing service or central source for information, we are at the mercy of garbage in and garbage out. And then that misinformation gets duplicated as it gets picked up by various sites scraping other sites for information.”


New York City does not have a single, centralized location for real estate listings like the national multiple listing service, which is widely used in other markets. Nor is there a standard form that all brokers use, leaving plenty of room for error. Apartment hunters are at the mercy of brokers to update a listing when the price changes or the unit goes into contract. To make things even more confusing, co-ops measure square footage differently from condominiums. And then, of course, one person’s Junior Four is another’s two-bedroom.


“Room counts also range,” said Patrick Lilly, an associate broker for CORE. “For example, a windowed alcove studio with a wall up is called a one-bedroom legally.”


But brokers are not supposed to make things up. “Nearly every regulatory body involved with real estate does have rules against intentionally misleading the consumer,” said Doug Perlson, the president of the Manhattan Association of Realtors and the founder of RealDirect.


Both the National Association of Realtors and the Real Estate Board of New York have codes of ethics for members. The New York Department of State has laws requiring brokers to give honest and accurate descriptions of the properties they list. The department has the authority to revoke or suspend a broker’s real estate license. If you see a listing that is patently inaccurate, you could start by alerting the listing broker to the error. If you suspect the misinformation was intentional, report the listing to the manager of the office, the Real Estate Board or the Department of State, where you can file a complaint online or by phone at (518) 474-4429.


Brokers insist the industry is no Wild West. The dreaded comments section on many websites helps keep brokers in line. “The days of the bait and switch, those don’t really happen anymore,” said Adam Ginder, chief operating officer of MNS, a brokerage firm.


Confronted With a Fire Hazard


I own a 10th-floor apartment in a 12-story building constructed in 1910. The building, now a condo, is in a landmark neighborhood and has no sprinkler system. Apartments such as mine have no fire escape or means of emergency egress other than the central stairway. The board recently instituted a policy for all residents to put household rubbish in that central stairway for daily pickup by a building porter. I’ve pointed out to the board that the policy violates the city fire code. The board has responded with deaf ears; the same is true of the city fire department. What, if anything, can I do, short of bringing a lawsuit against the board?


Gramercy Park, Manhattan


A condo board wields substantial power over how a building is run, but its members cannot endanger the safety of residents or blatantly disregard the law. “Boards mistakenly believe that they can do whatever they want because of a legal rule known as the Business Judgment Rule,” said Leni Morrison Cummins, a Manhattan real estate lawyer, referring to the state rule that gives condo and co-op boards wide latitude when making decisions about a building.


In this case, the board has crossed a line. Write a letter to the board and the managing agent, detailing the situation and including photographs. Most condo bylaws include provisions that require boards to maintain the common elements and rectify illegal conditions. Be sure to point to these provisions in your letter. Send the letter certified mail, with a return receipt requested.


You should also report the situation to the city. You can lodge a complaint with the Bureau of Fire Prevention by calling directly at (718) 999-2541 or calling 311. The bureau would then instruct your local fire company to inspect the building. An inspector could issue the building a violation, or possibly even a criminal summons, according to Ms. Cummins. The board would then need to resolve the violation and might face fines.


But, “this is a double-edged sword,” Ms. Cummins said. As a unit owner, you would have to pay a proportionate share of the fines, even if you were the whistle-blower.


Combining Apartments


I own two contiguous units in a co-op that I combined into one. The city has not asked me to change my certificate of occupancy, nor have I requested to have it changed. I pay two maintenance and utility bills. Should I request a certificate of occupancy update from the city? What are the pros and cons of doing so?


East Midtown, Manhattan


Changing the certificate of occupancy is not a matter of choice. It is dictated by the city’s building code and depends on how the apartments were combined. Your architect or your engineer should know if your renovated apartment is in compliance with the law — and if that requires changing the certificate of occupancy, according to a Buildings Department spokesman.


Frequently co-ops do not approve renovation plans that trigger a change in the certificate of occupancy. “Buildings are loath to let anyone mess with their certificate of occupancy, for fear that an inspection may turn up issues that have nothing to do with the work at hand,” said Mauricio Salazar, a principal of Salazar Architecture.


If your plans did not increase the number of bedrooms, for example, you may simply need a letter of completion from the city’s Department of Buildings. Call your architect or engineer to ensure the paperwork was completed. As for simplifying your maintenance and utility bills, ask the managing agent about combining the two stock certificates and leases into one.

Top residential agents of the week

The Real DealFebruary 06, 2015

Emily Beare and Christian Rogers are featured in The Real Deal's "Top residential agents of the week".


ThrillistFebruary 04, 2015

Two recent CORE closings, 159 Carlton (Doug Bowen & Paul Johansen) and 37 Harrison Street (Tom Postilio & Mickey Conlon), are featured in a piece on NYC homes with an interesting history.


What it used to be: Feuchtwanger Stables

What it is now: Loft condo at 159 Carlton Ave


Many of Fort Greene’s historic stables were razed to make room for commercial and residential buildings, but this beauty lucked out. Nearly a century after its construction in 1888, this Romanesque Revival building underwent its initiation for gentrification and now serves as a one-bedroom apartment with absolutely zero hay in it.


ThrillistFebruary 04, 2015

Two recent CORE closings, 159 Carlton (Doug Bowen & Paul Johansen) and 37 Harrison Street (Tom Postilio & Mickey Conlon), are featured in a piece on NYC homes with an interesting history.


What it used to be: Three houses on Washington St

What it is now: One house at 37 Harrison St


If you ever want to save a house from being demolished, chain yourself to it and call the developers bluff, or, just tow it out of harms way with a truck. The latter is what happened to three 19th century houses back in the 1970s. Dubbed the Wilson Hunt Homes, at 37 Harrison St, the three homes are now one huge Federal-style brick house.

Time Equities, Hamlin plan boutique condo at Nolita church

The Real DealFebruary 02, 2015

After paying more than $30 million for St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral School in Nolita, developers Time Equities and Hamlin Ventures will market seven luxury condos with a total sellout of $70.7 million, according to plans filed with the state Attorney General’s office.


According to the offering plan for 34 Prince Street, a three-bedroom condo measuring 2,743 square feetwill ask $7.74 million. A four-bedroom, 3,673-square-foot duplex (with a 1,210-square-foot terrace) will ask $12.5 million. A triplex measuring 4,478 square feet will ask $11.925 million.


Hamlin’s Abby Hamlin and Time Equities’ Francis Greenburger acquired the former school building – on Prince between Mott and Mulberry Streets – for $30.7 million in November. The building, a former orphanage, convent and parochial school, was declared a landmark in 1966.


In addition to the seven condos, the project will include a church-related community facility and two townhouses measuring between 9,000 and 10,000 square feet. Prices for the townhouses were not included in the offering plan. CORE is marketing the townhouses, while Time is marketing the condos in-house, according to the offering plan.


The development at 34 Prince is one of several boutique projects to hit the luxury market, such as Sorgente Group’s eight-unit 60 White Street and Flank Development’s six-unit building at 224 Mulberry Street.


Tim Crowley, director of new development at Core, said the boutique building will fit into the “boutique neighborhood.”


“Nolita is a neighborhood that’s very demure in scale,” he said. “The recent projects added to the neighborhood reflect that.”


Hamlin Ventures and Time Equities jointly developed 14 townhouses in Brooklyn, at 267-287 State Street in Boerum Hill.

The week in luxury: A map of NYC’s priciest apartment sales

The Real DealFebruary 02, 2015

Christian Rogers and Emily Beare’s closing at Walker Tower was the 2nd highested recorded sale in NYC last week.

Emily Beare + Elizabeth Beare | 1040 Fifth Avenue, 14A

Modern NYCFebruary 01, 2015



History, elegance, and the conveniences of modern restoration converge in this magnificent home boasting unobstructed views down Fifth Avenue, Central Park, the midtown skyline, and The Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir. This home's 26 windows and custom detailing accentuate the graceful layout of the grand scale rooms. Shelton, Mindel and Associates extensive three-year renovation, featured by Architectural Digest, only enhances this rare opportunity to live in one of Fifth Avenue's most highly regarded buildings.


Upon entering from a private elevator landing, you are welcomed into this light-soaked eleven room residence by a central gallery that opens to a generously sized living room featuring breathtaking western and southern exposures, a wood-burning fireplace and original herringbone floors. Off the living room sits a versatile library/media room, an exquisite formal dining room, as well as a serene planting terrace. The chefs kitchen and adjoining dining area, home office/recreational room, staff quarters, mud room, and laundry room facilitate flow for contemporary daily living.


The gallery hallway leads to private quarters where the spaciously lavish master suite is framed by a private terrace facing south, and sitting room with eastern and northern exposures. Complete with a luxuriously appointed bathroom and four closets the suite delivers a resplendent sanctuary from the city. The additional bedrooms enjoy southern light with windowed en-suite bathrooms.


Built in 1930 and designed by renowned Pre-war architect Rosario Candela, the landmarked 1040 Fifth Avenue offers the highest standard of luxury living in one of the tallest limestone-clad buildings on Fifth Avenue, once home to Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Amenities include a doorman, elevator operator, concierge, storage room, and pets are welcome.

Dow Chemical chief shells out $10.75M to be Cameron Diaz’s neighbor at Walker Tower

New York Daily NewsJanuary 30, 2015

Dow Chemical’s fourth quarter profits far exceeded analysts’ estimates despite languishing oil prices. Now, the corporation’s CEO is rewarding himself with a chic Manhattan pad.


Andrew Liveris, who has served as Dow’s top dog since 2004 and reportedly takes home a tidy $41.5 million a year in compensation, has landed a $10.75 million apartment at Walker Tower, the high-profile condo tower on W. 18th St. that’s also home to celebs such as Cameron Diaz, the Daily News has learned.


The property last traded for a comparatively meager $6.98 million just over a year ago, records show.


The 17th-floor, 2,500-square-foot pad has three bedrooms, sweeping views of Midtown, French herringbone oak flooring and 12-foot ceilings.


The building, designed by architect Ralph Walker in the 1920s, was transformed into a luxury condo by developers JDS and Property Markets Group several years ago.


Listing brokers Emily Beare and Christian Rogers of Core were not immediately available for comment. A spokesperson for Core said the deal was just the third resale in the building.

Exile on Main Street: They Fled NYC for Suburbia, But Missed Taxi Cabs and Takeout

New York ObserverJanuary 29, 2015

Lynn Shanahan loved Westport, Conn. It was restful, beautiful and close to New York—an ideal escape from the city on sticky summer days. And then she moved there.


“I was standing on the train platform in the dark at 6:15 a.m. when I realized I had made a mistake,” she recalled.


“We had this vision of the perfect life,” said Ms. Shanahan, the CEO of apparel conglomerate Kellwood Company, describing the tranquil suburban existence she’d imagined: The long morning walks, the serene return in the evenings. Even the move was a breeze—she and her husband already owned a house in Westport, which served as a beloved, quasi-bucolic summer escape for the couple and their three children.


The reality was far less idyllic. The house and yard required constant tending, weekly grocery shopping trips proved a chore compared to casually picking things up throughout the week and dinner options after 9:30 p.m. dwindled to pizza or Chinese takeout. Fine every now and again, but “when you’re 50 years old, you’re kind of over that.” Worst of all was the commute, which quickly solidified into a dreary pattern: “Get back, go to sleep and get back on the train again.”


The Shanahans couldn’t return to New York fast enough. Once their oldest daughter finished out her last two years of high school in Westport, they fled back to their apartment in Carnegie Hill, which they’d rented to a family that was itself enacting a suburban exit.


For many a New Yorker, moving to the suburbs is more a compromise than a cause for joy, a decision that’s made all the more difficult by its grim finality—you’d often think moving trucks were crossing the River Styx rather than the Hudson—done with the understanding that a return to the city, if there ever is one, is at least 15 to 20 years in the future. But a small percentage of newly-minted suburbanites double back in a matter of months, desperate to return even if it means taking a loss on a house or squeezing back into a tiny rental again.


For some, even a brief exposure to the realities of suburban life—shoveling snow and having to get into a car to pick up the dry cleaning or takeout—is sufficiently traumatic to cure longings for expansive lawns, swimming pools and vast storage spaces.


“Whenever I hear a client is moving to the suburbs, I wish them well and figure I probably won’t ever see them again,” Corcoran broker Deborah Rieders told the Observer. “But more often than you’d think, I get a call—‘It’s not working’—a few months or a year later.


“Maybe they’ve lived in Brooklyn for 10 or 12 years, they hear about a lot of people moving to Maplewood and they think it will be just like Brooklyn,” she continued. “Then they move and they don’t like the community or lack of community, they don’t like the fact that they can’t walk, they miss their friends. They don’t realize how alienating it will be until they get there.”


But whatever compels city-dwellers to beat a hasty retreat from the comforts of suburbia, they share a common trait—they not only want out, but immediately.


“Usually they move straight into a rental while they’re looking,” said Ms. Rieders. “Once they’ve made the decision, they don’t want to wait.”


Like many penitent suburbanites, Scott A. and his wife Leah were lured out of the city by a friend, in their case one with a spacious apartment in Jersey City. Their building on East 76th had been bought by Sloan Kettering and they were looking for a new place when the friend told them about a two-bedroom available on the top floor of her building. At $2,456, it was both a little bit cheaper, and a little bit larger, than their current place. Plus, the development had its own dog park, a big plus for two people with a large husky mix. Of course, Jersey City isn’t exactly a suburb, but it may as well have been for the long-time Upper East Side denizens.


“It seemed a bit like living in Greenpoint, it was like, ‘What’s the difference?’ ” said Scott, the CTO of a software company who was, at the time, doing most of his work from home. “Then I discovered what the difference is. You’re in Jersey.”


Small dissatisfactions quickly added up. “Little things that you don’t even think about at first, like no 24-hour diner within walking distance,” he said. They were the only people who used the dog park in their development. The novelty of eating at places like Joe’s Crab Shack soon wore off. And then they found out that none of the hospitals in Jersey City accepted their health insurance.


When the building raised their rent to $2,700, they called their broker, Cyla Klein at Citi Habitats, who herself had spent decades as a Long Island exile raising four sports-obsessed boys—“You do things you’d never think you’d do when you have kids.” Ms. Klein found them half-a-dozen places on the Upper East Side for comparable rents. When we spoke, the couple had moved into a $3,010 two-bedroom in Gracie Square less than a week before. “It’s like we never left, like I woke up from a dream or something,” Scott said.


Did he like anything better in Jersey City?


Such is the mistake made by people who drive up to the suburbs on weekends to house hunt, particularly in spring months like April or May, according to William Raveis managing director Kathy Braddock. Few actually practice the commute before moving—she recommends going to a hotel in the town on a Sunday night and commuting to work on Monday to truly get a sense of what it will be like. A commute that looks like 40 minutes on paper may actually end up averaging double that.


Even then, there can be unpleasant surprises. Many families move out after the kids finish school in June, when the days are long and they can enjoy a drink on the patio as the sun sets. Then the winter comes.


It’s also common for people to think that they’ll save vast quantities of money, only to discover that the cost-of-living difference is marginal. Taxes are often very high in New York suburbs and for commuters, the cost of monthly MTA passes must be added to monthly train and car expenses. And whereas rent is a fixed expense, much like common and maintenance charges, owning a house means lots of unplanned costs—from small plumbing hiccups to major roof jobs, not to mention the expense of yard work, alarm systems and pool maintenance.


“It’s a big transition, and it’s not necessarily a less expensive transition,” noted Ms. Braddock. “Are you used to really taking care of a home? People in New York are usually not.”


Saving money is not the only fantasy. New Yorkers accustomed to schlepping groceries on foot, hauling strollers up and down the subway steps and waiting in long lines often imagine a suburban life of preternatural ease only to discover that in the suburbs, they’re taking the car to the train to the subway just to wait in those same lines.


“The challenge for most people is logistics,” said Douglas Elliman broker Gabriele Sewtz. “There are very few people who don’t like some aspects of living in the suburbs, but the city is so convenient. You just walk two steps and get what you need.”


Sellers who used to live in doorman elevator buildings have a particularly hard time adjusting, she said. “It’s not only difficult to live in a different neighborhood, but it’s difficult to take out your garbage. And no one is there to take out your mail; you actually have to get in line at the post office. It’s not that you can’t do it, but like commuting, all things eat into quality time.”


It’s a more complicated life, observed Halstead broker Deborah DeMaria, who rented out Ms. Shanahan’s apartment and herself spent several years living in Charleston, S.C. Which isn’t a suburb of course, but it felt like it to Ms. DeMaria. She suddenly had a townhouse, a yard, two cars, school carpools to be scheduled, trash cans to be taken out and house sitters to be arranged when they went out of town. Strangest of all, she said, was that despite having a whole house to occupy, everyone hung out in the same few rooms.


“We had three floors, with a playroom on the third, but the kids never wanted to go upstairs by themselves,” said Ms. DeMaria. “A lot of time, people move because of space, but you’re only in one room at a time.”


She and her family moved to a three-bedroom Financial District a few years ago and her kids couldn’t be happier—their building has a pool and a billiard room. Indeed, as kids get older, a small Manhattan apartment with good amenities and nearby parks can actually be a lot less claustrophobic than a three-bedroom house on a cul-de-sac.


“People get so nutty about their children, they think, ‘Oh I have to do this for my kids,’ ” but they totally adjust,” said Ms. DeMaria. “If you’re fine in a two-bedroom apartment, the kids will be fine in a two-bedroom apartment. If you move to the suburbs, you have to do it for you.”


“The first time we put my son down on the grass, he cried,” said Tracy Beckerman. “We had to play recordings of city sounds to get him to sleep.” Ms. Beckerman lobbied her husband to move back from Summit, N.J., until they had a second child, at which point she accepted the inevitable. She subsequently vented her frustrations by writing a book—Lost in Suburbia: a Momoir, a blog, and newspaper columns.


A former TV producer-turned-stay-at-home mom, Ms. Beckerman said that one of the most difficult things for recent transplants is the one-two punch of losing their friends and in a lot of ways, their identity.


“When you live in a city as vibrant as New York, you don’t realize how much the city is your identity,” she said. She and her husband both had “cool jobs,” she said, they went out to restaurants every night, even with baby in tow—one of his first foods was sushi—and running together in Central Park. She loved her impractical Upper West Side duplex so much that when she was too pregnant to get up the spiral staircase, she told her husband she’d rather hook up a pulley system than move. Leaving behind all the things which she thought defined her, she wasn’t sure what did.


Plus, she had a terrible time making friends at first.


She recalled going to a neighbor’s barbecue where a group of women was animatedly discussing someone in the hospital for a miscarriage, who found out her husband was cheating on her and that she had an incurable form of cancer. “All these terrible things,” Ms. Beckerman said. “I finally said to one woman, ‘That’s awful. This is one of your friends?’ And she said, ‘No, it’s Victoria on Days of Our Lives.’ ”


After writing the book, she received hundreds of letters from other women who feel similarly displaced and her blog is a hotbed of discontent. Though the suburban mom-rage is such that Ms. Beckerman must often clean up the expletive-laden comments section. “It’s run on some family-family newspaper sites, so it can’t be all ‘What the fuck,’ and ‘Fuck that,’ ” she said.


Social isolation is, perhaps, the most common complaint of suburban refugees.


“I think what people miss most is the ability to go out, the opportunity and the options,” said Ms. Sewtz. “Even if people have a newborn and won’t be going out all that much, it bothers them that they are an hour away if they want to go to a show.”


One woman said that whenever she had dinner with friends, she was constantly checking her watch to make sure that she didn’t miss her train. Eventually, she started making all her dinner plans by Grand Central.


“When you have to look at a schedule, it changes your whole outlook,” said Ms. Klein. “All of a sudden you’re not willing to do things on the spur of the moment.”


Still, for all those who regret relocating, only a small number reverse the decision.


“I think two out of three have instant regrets, but no one likes to admit a mistake,” said Ms. Sewtz.


“Who could afford it?” shot back one friend when we asked him if he knew of anyone who did it.


“It’s hard to find rentals outside the city, so most people buy a house, and it’s not always easy to sell the house,” said Ms. Braddock. “Then there’s the question of whether the kids can get back into their schools. It’s hard to recreate your life in the city when you move out. It takes a lot of money.”


It’s not only re-selling the house, but also many of the furnishings, the yard maintenance apparatuses, one or both of the cars. Combined with the fact that real estate prices in the suburbs don’t appreciate as fast as prices in the city, many couples realize that they can’t even afford to reclaim the one-bedroom apartment they were so desperate to leave.


“I think people underestimate that it might be financially impossible to reverse the decision,” said Ms. Sewtz. “A few years ago I had a couple with a one-bedroom condo in Park Slope. They moved to Westchester, had a baby, typical story, then they called me up and said, ‘We want to come back.’ ” But the couple couldn’t afford to buy the two-bedroom they may have been able to get if they’d stayed in the city, so now they’re stuck renting one, trying to save enough to buy. If and when they do, she said, it certainly won’t be in Park Slope.


Shortly after Amy and Matt Kitt started renting in Rye, they contacted the broker, Steve Snider of CORE, to see if he could find a good-sized two-bedroom for less than $800,000.


But disappointed with the options—many of them were only a hair bigger than their old apartment—and expecting a baby, they felt but they had no choice but to stay. So they bought a house whose primary selling point, they say, is that it’s only a mile from the train station.


Even though they moved in June, they still spend three or four days a week hanging out in the city—dinners, Rangers games, visiting Amy’s parents in Brooklyn. “I can’t imagine not being part of the city,” said Mr. Kitt. “Even if we can’t come back until we retire.”


New York may be even further out of reach by then. “If you have the money to live in a $3 million apartment in New York, you have the means to come back, but if you’re a regular person who doesn’t want to leave the city, but can’t physically live in the city, I don’t think there’s any chance,” said Mr. Snider.


While it can be near-impossible for a couple like the Kitts to return to New York, those who do manage the feat say that it’s an easy transition: They hardly mind downsizing, learning to sleep amid the blare of sirens again or sharing their favorite greenscape with hundreds of other people.


“The noise at night was hard at first, but the adjustment happened really fast,” said Lynn Shanahan. “It’s such a joy to be home from work in 15 minutes. And I can’t believe I can just call a friend to meet for a drink.”


Best of all, living back on the Upper East Side, she can finally enjoy being in Westport again. “I’m back to being able to love the suburbs.”


*Correction: a previous version of this article stated that Deborah DeMaria lived in Battery Park City. In fact, she lives in the Financial District. The Observer regrets the error.

Swing-Equipped Triplex in 'Brooklyn's Tribeca' Asks $4.4M

CurbedJanuary 23, 2015

Gowanus is like Tribeca in a few ways—actually, no, Gowanus is not like Tribeca, expect for maybe in that both neighborhoods were once industrial, but that's like saying America is like Antarctica because they were both once home to dinosaurs. Anyway, it didn't stop the broker of this triplex at 459 Carroll Street, located a block from the Gowanus Canal, from saying that Gowanus is becoming "Brooklyn's Tribeca or Soho." Dubious neighborhood comparisons and stinky canals aside, the place looks really cool. It's located in an old factory that was completely gutted to create an open, loft-like interior with 13-foot ceilings and six skylights. There's a swing hanging from the ceiling in the dining room, and the place has a private 900-square-foot terrace. The 1,200-square-foot cellar is currently used as a studio, but the brokerbabble says its "a perfect fit for home gym, media room, wine cellar or all three." Just be sure to have solid flood protection because no one wants the feces-filled canal seeping in. The home is currently asking $4.395 million, which might be a tad too high since it's been on the market since September.

One Madison’s Last Sponsor Units—a Townhouse-Style Duplex and Triplex—Hit the Market

New York ObserverJanuary 21, 2015

While most people consider sweeping city views to number among One Madison’s most alluring features, surely not everyone who is drawn to glassy new construction wants to live among the birds.  For the less aerially-inclined, the development’s two new townhouse-style residences, which look out over tree-lined 22nd Street, ought do quite nicely.


The units—a 4,000-square-foot duplex and a 4,500-square-foot triplex—have just hit the market at $9.5 million and $11.5 million respectively, and are the last units at One Madison, a.k.a. 23 E. 22nd Street, to be released by Related, which bought the distressed asset from its rookie developers Ira Shaprio and Marc Jacobs (the commodities trader, not the clothing designer) in 2012. The duplex and the triplex are the only units to be have been built ground-up by Related, which tapped BKSK Architects and Yabu Pushelberg to design the annex that would house both units and the lobby, or as the website would have it, the “discreet arrival experience.”


“These are brand-new, which is especially appealing,” Leslie Wilson, the senior vice president of sales at Related, who is in charge of sales at One Madison, told the Observer, conceding that the rest of the tower, which started going up in 2006, was not so ancient. (The units are listed with CORE, which Related formed a partnership with this fall to handle its resales, but Ms. Wilson retains her post at Related.) Ms. Wilson said that the building—which is 93 percent sold—has just two other sponsor units remaining: a floor-through, three-bedroom on the 43rd floor, which is listed for $12.5 million, and a duplex on the 55th and 56th floors for $37.5 million.


(Though a handful of residents were living in the tower when Related took possession, its own sales did not launch until fall 2013.)


The townhouses are above the lobby, with the duplex located on the second and third floors and the triplex on floors 4 through 6. They both have 10 to 12-foot ceilings, great rooms with gas fireplaces and capacious terraces. Best of all, for those who enjoy building amenities like a pool, spa, billiard room and a lounge with a dining room, but not sharing an elevator with their neighbors (we’re sure that Gisele and Tom would be a joy to gaze upon, but we’re not so confident that a run-in with Rupert would be entirely pleasant), the units have their own private elevator.


Ms. Wilson cautioned that the “townhouse vs. tower” buyers are usually very different in new development—”it’s a very different mindset”—but for the new-construction buyer yearning for a more grounded experience, these are the only such townhouses in the immediate area, which has, like One Madison, undergone a rather impressive transformation these last few years.


“The whole neighborhood is blooming and blossoming. It’s like overnight it just sprung out of the desert and got to be like Gramercy Park,” effused Ms. Wilson. “It’s almost like we launched into a fully-formed universe.”


But, she argued, as great as the rest of Madison Square is, “One Madison is the star of the show. It really is.”

Regal Co-op Carved From Jackie O's Father's Home Asks $1.5M

CurbedJanuary 21, 2015

The parlor-floor apartment in a building that was once the private home of Jackie Kennedy's father, John Bouvier III, is up for grabs for $1.5 million. The 1800's landmarked brownstone on 36th Street between Park and Lexington avenues has long been divided into seven co-ops, but the apartment for sale still retains some of its original details like hardwood flooring and molding. The current owner of No. 115's parlor floor sure does have panache compared to Jackie O's legendary elegance; the two-bedroom home's interiors are adorned in full-wall mirrors and more than one heavily-wallpapered ceiling.

Dreaming of a Basement Playroom or Gym

The New York TimesJanuary 17, 2015

The Value of a Gym or a Playroom

I am a shareholder in a prewar co-op with a large basement space that is owned by the sponsor and kept locked. The sponsor is in private negotiations to sell it to one shareholder. Some of us think the co-op should try to buy the space for common use like a playroom or gym. What value does this kind of amenity add over all to a co-op building? Is it advisable for the co-op to negotiate buying this space from the sponsor?


Upper West Side, Manhattan


You are not the first New Yorker to wish for amenities in your building. Many of us would relish the chance to hop on a treadmill or unleash the kids in a playroom without stepping outside on a wintry day. Why else would new condominiums come packed with perks for everyone down to the family dog? In fact, many older buildings have been feverishly revamping common areas so they can compete with new condos.


Your co-op board should review its offering plan to make sure it does not already own the space. It might have been deeded to the corporation back when the corporation was created. If the deed does not exclude the basement, the corporation might have rights to it, which would mean the sponsor does not have the right to sell it.


“The first step is for the board to make sure that the sponsor actually owns, and therefore has the right to sell, the basement space,” said Leni Morrison Cummins, a Manhattan lawyer who represents co-op and condo boards.


But if the deed explicitly excludes the basement space and the offering plan spells out that the sponsor owns it, the board could try to buy it. The corporation’s governing documents must give the board the authority to buy commercial space. Look to the co-op bylaws, which frequently restrict how much money a board can borrow or spend. The bylaws might also require a vote, which frequently means that two-thirds of the shareholders would have to support the idea for the measure to pass.


Once the board determines whether it can buy the space, it needs to figure out how much the space is worth. “Talk to an expert in valuation and get an appraisal,” said Paul Purcell, a managing director at William Raveis New York City. Once the finer details are worked out, the board should brace for another pressing decision: treadmill or elliptical? Or both?


After a Domestic Partner Dies


Until his recent death, my uncle lived in a rent-controlled apartment for more than 40 years. His life partner had lived with him there for most of those years, but the lease was only in my uncle’s name. My uncle’s life partner would like to stay put, but I am not sure whether he has any right to stay in the apartment under the same rent-controlled status.


Upper West Side, Manhattan


Your uncle’s partner should be able to remain in the apartment, since he was living there for more than two years before your uncle passed away, assuming he can support his claim. In New York State, both rent-stabilized and rent-controlled apartments provide tenants with succession rights for family members.


Since the couple were not married, the surviving partner would have to prove emotional and financial commitment and interdependence with your uncle, if the landlord challenged his claim. He could provide joint bank statements; photographs of the couple through the years; shared assets; wills and health care proxies.


If his evidence is indisputable, he could write a letter to the landlord demanding that his name be added to the lease. He could file a petition with Homes and Community Renewal, the state agency that oversees these apartments, to compel the landlord to give him a lease renewal.


“The couple may have filed at City Hall for a domestic partnership,” said Dov Treiman, a Manhattan lawyer specializing in landlord-tenant law. “If they did that, it’s game over for the landlord.”


If his evidence is weaker — if, for instance, the couple had some separate bank accounts — Mr. Treiman said he could wait until the lease expires to see if the landlord offers him a new one before raising the issue.


Fee for Buying an Apartment


I own a unit in a condominium building. Recently, the condo board instituted a policy requiring buyers to make a $1,500 capital contribution to the condominium when they buy a unit. The bylaws do not give the board authority to require a capital contribution in this situation. In my view, it is essentially a flip tax. While $1,500 may seem small in the context of a real estate transaction, I believe it sets a bad precedent. Future boards may raise the amount. If I sell my unit, can the new buyers simply refuse to pay the capital contribution charge? Is there any other way I can challenge this?


Williamsburg, Brooklyn


A condo board cannot collect a capital contribution unless the bylaws give it explicit permission to do so. If your bylaws do not permit such actions, then the board has certainly overstepped its boundaries.


The action “is tantamount to an amendment of the bylaws, which can be done only by a vote of the unit owners,” said Richard Siegler, a Manhattan real estate lawyer who represents condo and co-op boards. New York State law requires two-thirds of the unit owners to vote in favor of the measure for it to pass. Unfortunately, the board could probably enforce the rule without a vote. If a buyer refuses to pay the $1,500 fee, for example, the board might not waive its right of first refusal, which would block the sale. In that scenario, would a seller realistically take the board to court over $1,500?


“You’re not going to start a lawsuit over this,” Mr. Siegler said. Your best bet is to reason with the board that it should follow the bylaws of the condo, noting that failing to do so would create a bad precedent for the building. But in the grand scheme of New York City real estate transactions, $1,500 is not a huge sum. Think of the upside: It provides the condo with a revenue stream that does not burden existing residents with higher common charges.


“Flip tax is not a bad word,” said Douglas L. Heddings, a real estate broker for CORE. “In my 22 years in the Manhattan real estate industry, there is rarely a buyer who is dissuaded from a purchase due to a flip tax.”

Top residential agents of the week

The Real DealJanuary 16, 2015

Price: $14,510,062
Listing broker: Hilary Landis and Deborah Kern of the Corcoran Group
Address: 737 Park Avenue


Price: $10,750,000
Listing broker: Kyle W. Blackmon of Brown Harris Stevens (now at Urban Compass)
Address: 115 Central Park West


Price: $6,150,000
Listing broker: Shaun Osher and Emily Beare of CORE
Address: 45 Walker Street


Price: $4,600,000
Listing broker: Leonard Steinberg and Herve Senequier of Urban Compass
Address: 62 Cooper Square


Price: $4,073,000
Listing broker: Vickey Barron and Michael Graves of Douglas Elliman
Address: 425 West 50th Street

Big Reveal: $250,000 For a Teeny Lofted Murray Hill Studio

CurbedJanuary 15, 2015

 Every single person who guessed the asking price on this tres petite studio went too high. Folks thought it was in the $300K range, even as much as $522,000. But the actual ask is a more reasonable $250,000. Located on 35th Street between Second and Third avenues, the "fourth-floor loft-like apartment" just hit the market this week, boasting views of the Chrysler Building, hardwood floors, and "ample closet space."


When Curbed posted Pricespotter on our Facebook page, about 10 people weighed in, with one guessing precisely $250K.

Adrian Grenier could be a Chelsea boy

New York PostJanuary 14, 2015

Adrian Grenier — apparently part of the overpriced Brooklyn backlash — left the confines of the tragically hip borough to check out apartments in Manhattan. But the 38-year-old “Entourage” star didn’t bring his on-camera crew. Instead, he brought his mom, Brown Harris Stevens broker Karesse Grenier, and a stunning mystery gal pal.


The eco-activist attended an open house at 340 W. 19th St. — a $949,000 three-bedroom, one-bathroom co-op — in a sixth-floor walk-up. Grenier stayed silent and left the talking to his mom, who didn’t appear impressed. However, the unit is fully renovated and comes with a chef’s kitchen and lots of natural light.


CORE listing brokers Stephen Gallagher and Natalie Rakowski declined to comment.

$750M Elliman team jumps to CORE

Real Estate WeeklyJanuary 14, 2015

CORE announced that Douglas Elliman’s McDonough Hershkowitz Team has joined the firm.


In 2014, the team closed on over 80 transactions, selling over $110 million – up 55 percent over the previous year. Additionally, another $50 million in sales were put into contract, securing an average of 101 percent of the asking price for their sellers.Heather McDonough and Henry Hershkowitz are responsible for over $750 million in residential real estate sales in New York City. Their experience includes a specialty in new residential development in addition to a resale business.


“We are really excited about the future and the opportunity to work with CORE. Shaun’s professionalism, the team he has put together and the caliber of CORE’s new development work make this a perfect fit for us,” said McDonough.“The partnership with Related Companies was the icing on the cake for us to make the move.” 


“With CORE we are really given the opportunity to do what we do best, and take our business to the next level. Heather, our team and I are looking forward to kicking off the year with CORE,” said Hershkowitz.

Their new development experience includes a number of additional notable projects including Shigeru Ban’s Metal Shutter Houses, Gwathmey Seigel’s Soho Mews, Polskek Partnership’s Chelsea Enclave, KPF’s One Jackson Square, Asymptote’s 166 Perry, Gwathmey Siegel’s SoHo Mews and 123 Third Avenue.Most recently in 2014, the team repositioned and re-launched 15 William, quickly  it to 50 percent sold with a sellout of $285 million, ranking the project one of the most popular developments in 2014.


“I have known Heather and Henry for years. They are great brokers and two of the best in the business, but more importantly, they are hard-working, good people. They are agents who understand the ethos of this business which is to work toward their clients’ success rather than their own. I’m really glad they made the move to CORE,” said Shaun Osher.


Joining them at CORE will be Cartwright Lee, Katja Knupfer and Cindy Tong.


With this hire, CORE has over 115 agents in Manhattan. Other recent new agents to join CORE include Sarah Lipman and Barbara Lombardo from The Corcoran Group and Vered George, Frank Mohr and Eric Purcell from Douglas Elliman.

Who's News: Tim Crowley

Brokers WeeklyJanuary 14, 2015

Print piece announcing Tim Crowley’s hire at CORE in this week’s Real Estate Weekly

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