News

Developers Step Up Concessions in Tepid Market

The Real DealMarch 09, 2017

With its undulating glass facade, 252 East 57th Street was among the marquee new developments that promised to reshape Midtown East back when it debuted in late 2014. But after an extended period of sluggish sales – just under half the condominium’s 95 units remain unsold – the developers decided it was time to take drastic measures.

 

On top of price cuts last year, World Wide Group and Rose Associates are now offering brokers a 4 percent commission, including 1 percent that’s non-refundable and will be paid as soon as a contract is inked.

 

“We were trying to think outside the box in terms of what would set us apart,” said Stribling’s Pamela D’Arc, who is marketing the condos. “People come down 57th Street and I think they literally go from one end to the other.”

 

Discounts have been part of the high-end condo market’s story for many months now, but price slashing is not the only way developers are trying to hook buyers. Faced with stiff competition from a heap of new luxury product on the market, developers are paying transfer taxes, offering discounts, dangling gifts cards and other sweeteners in front of brokers and buyers.

 

It’s all about getting deals done as quickly as possible.

 

“They don’t want to give off the perception that they’re lowering prices, so they may offer a concession,” said Douglas Elliman’s Vickey Barron. For buildings with unsold inventory, offering incentives can be an easy way to move sales along, she said.

 

“They’re not wrong for doing it,” Barron added. “You don’t want to be sitting with empty apartments.”

 

Developers whose construction loans are coming due have the most on the line, and are anxious to stave off lenders anxious about getting paid back.

 

“The pressure on developers is starting,” said one marketing executive. “I’ve been getting calls from banks asking what the larger units will rent for.”

 

Slow and soft

 

It’s taking longer to sell new condos these days as high-priced units planned during 2014 and 2015 flood the market. New development sales dropped 13.2 percent year-over-year to 479 units during the fourth quarter, according to appraisal firm Miller Samuel. Meanwhile, the average number of days on the market jumped 20.7 percent to 181 during that time.

 

“People come down 57th Street and I think they literally go from one end to the other.”
In recent months, the slowdown has spooked a handful of developers, notably CL Investment, which scrapped its $300 million luxury condo conversion at 287 Park Avenue South this fall. In February, the Chinese investment firm also sold its 32.9 percent stake in Coda, Magnum Real Estate Group’s rental-to-condo conversion at 385 First Avenue.


Kuafu Properties hit pause on its major development at 161 East 60th Street, a $300 million site now controlled by ex-Kuafu principal Denis Shan, while JDS Development Group and Property Markets Group suspended sales at 111 West 57th Street last year. At the time, PMG’s Kevin Maloney preached the value of waiting until the market improved.

 

In instances where waiting isn’t an option, buyers are calling the shots, he recently observed.

 

“The next two years will be the year of the deal,” Maloney told Bloomberg this fall. “If you have cash, I can’t imagine there’s not a condo project that’s coming out of the ground where you can’t walk into the sales office and say ‘This is the deal I’m willing to offer.’”
And while the terms of those deals may not be ideal, many developers aren’t in the position to call the shots.

 

“In a strong market we would say no — in a soft market like now, we would consider it.” said Elliman’s Richard Steinberg, who is marketing the Chamberlain, Simon Baron Development and Quadrum Global’s 39-unit condop at 269 West 87th Street. He said buyers always try to push the closing costs, transfer taxes and mansion taxes onto developers — that’s the name of the game. The difference is, in a market like this one, they’re more likely to be successful.

 

“At the end of the day, it’s what is net to the developer,” Steinberg said. “So if it’s a higher offer, and they want us to pay closing costs, of course we would do it.”

 

Just the tax

 

While many developers stay mum about offering concessions, others talk them up as a marketing tool.

 

Last month, Toll Brothers City Living offered to pay the transfer and mansion taxes for any buyer who went into contract at select buildings before Feb. 26. Billed as a part of the company’s “national sales event,” the offer was good at 55 West 17th Street, 100 Barrow Street and the Sutton at 959 First Avenue.

 

“We have, in certain locations, had increased incentives to sell,” Toll Brothers CEO Douglas Yearley said during a Feb. 22 earnings call. “But even with those increases in incentives, our gross margins have far exceeded the company average.” He said while the company was proceeding with caution in the market, it was “well-positioned to absorb what has been going on in New York City.”

 

Still, Toll Brothers is one of very few developers who have made across-the-board offers. It’s far more common for sponsors to take a building-by-building — and deal-by-deal — approach to sales.

 

“Each developer is in his own situation with his own project,” said Magnum’s Ben Shaoul, who said he’s willing to pay transfer and mansion taxes at 100 Barclay — where sales launched in 2015 and prices average $2,254 per square foot, according to StreetEasy — but wasn’t extending the same offer at 196 Orchard Street, which hit the market a year later and is asking $2,324 per square foot, on average. “To generalize about the market is naive and ridiculous,” he said.

 

Most buyers nowadays are trying to save a buck where they can. “If you are a buyer at over $10 million, you will be asking for concessions,” said one top broker, who requested anonymity.

 

Compass’ Leonard Steinberg said, “Correctly priced properties in prime locations that are beautifully executed, mostly don’t require additional incentives to sell. But right now, there is a bit of a race to drive concessions.”

 

For example, Jody Kriss’ East River Partners is offering tax concessions for a “limited time” at its condo developments at 164 South Oxford Street and 171 South Portland Avenue in Fort Greene. MNS’ Andrew Barrocas, who is marketing the projects, said the sweeteners helps sales velocity, and that the developer was only offering them until the end of March.

 

“Extell’s commission deal shook the market.”

 

The savings, particularly on luxury apartments, can be significant. For a $10 million property, mansion and transfer taxes — which come to about 2.5 percent — can set a buyer back $250,000. Watching who foots the bill for attorney’s fees, which can run another several thousand dollars, are another way to take the temperature of the market: When things are red-hot, buyers sign those checks, but when sales are sluggish, sponsors may absorb those costs.

 

“Particularly in the over $2,000-a-foot market, developers are more likely to negotiate on some of the costs,” said Alvin Schein, a partner at law firm Seiden & Schein, who has worked with Toll Brothers, Madison Equities, Magnum and Extell on various projects.

 

The Bentley club

 

But developers aren’t just luring buyers by agreeing to pick up the tab on the added extras. In some cases they’ll agree to make design modifications if it will get a buyer over the line.

Others are trying more outlandish stunts. Wonder Works Construction and Girona Ventures, the developers of a townhouse at 357 West 17th Street asking $36.8 million, are throwing in a Bentley worth at least $200,000. And at the Nevins, a new condo in Boerum Hill that hit the market six months ago, the developers offered gift cards to brokers and buyers during the holiday season if they signed a contract by the first week in January. (They offered $2,000 for one-bedrooms, $3,000 for two-beds and $4,000 for three-bedroom units.) “We didn’t want to lose momentum,” said the Corcoran Group’s Tamir Shemesh, who is marketing the 73-unit project for developers Naveh Shuster Group and Adam America Real Estate. Shemesh said the building is nearly 70 percent in contract, but, “you can’t sell a project at the same pace that you sell in the beginning, so when you see the potential for slowdown, you boost it up.”

 

Some developers prefer to spend their dollars on agents who can bring in buyers. Earlier this month, Extell took the unusual step of offering brokers a 50 percent commission advance on sales at properties now under construction — including One Manhattan Square, 70 Charlton and the Kent.

 

“Extell’s commission deal shook the market.” said one broker. “We’re going to see more and more of it — particularly in the Midtown corridor where there is a glut of product.”

 

Gale International, which is trying to sell the last penthouse 21 West 20th Street , is taking a similar approach, wooing brokers with an unusually high commission of five percent.


“Offering a higher commission does not sell an apartment, but what it does is attract the attention of the brokerage community,” said Stan Gale Jr., president of the firm. “Everyone knows that there’s a lot of product out there, people need to differentiate.” He declined to comment on whether the firm would offer concessions in the form of paying closing costs. Toll Brothers City Living is also offering a portfolio-wide commission incentive.
But in some cases, the only way to sell is to cut prices.

 

“Developers are not only offering to cover closing costs, but are breaking the final barrier — pricing,” said Martin Eiden, a broker at CORE. “The reduction in pricing not only affects people who bought in the building and are trying to resell, but neighboring properties.”
In January, for example, Extell cut the prices of five apartments at Carlton House by 10 percent. “We’ve priced to account for today’s market,” Barnett recently told the Wall Street Journal. “The market wants to see some discounting.”

 

Others are going a lot further, finally facing the music about what their product is worth.

 

DHA Capital and Continental Properties’ triplex penthouse at 12 East 13th Street was once asking as much as $30 million. But sitting without a suitor for three-and-a-half years, it’s now all the way down to $16 million.

 

“It’s a very different market now,” said Compass’ Herve Senequier, who is marketing the pad. “Most properties above $15 million have received pricing adjustments, and the price now makes more sense.”

Subway-less NYC

Brick UndergroundMarch 08, 2017

Living near a subway doesn't always guarantee a swift journey to wherever you're headed. As Gothamist reported last month, the latest stats from the MTA reveal that mass transit delays—many of them from overcrowding—are only getting worse. In November, for instance, some trains were running on schedule less than 40 percent of the time.

 

A slow subway, though, seems better than none. Last year, Chris Whong of the Department of City Planning created a map of the city's "subway deserts"—that is, areas that are a 10-minute walk or more from the nearest station—and found that large swaths of the boroughs are underserved. Eastern Queens and the northern Bronx, in particular, include many neighborhoods that lie beyond the reach of the city's 472 subway stops.

 

A New York Times article links poor transit access to lower incomes and higher rates of unemployment, noting that the people who stand to benefit the most from easily reachable subways are less likely to be able to afford living in a neighborhood that offers them.

 

But at the same time, some New Yorkers would rather live off the subway grid. In Red Hook, for instance, locals have spoken out against the prospect of streetcar service coming to the south Brooklyn area, saying they prefer to stay under the radar rather than see their home become the next hot NYC neighborhood.

 

So how do residents in these places make it work? And do neighborhoods like Bayside, Whitestone, and Riverdale have something to offer that makes up for the lack of public transit?

 

Getting around: to drive or not to drive?
The Times article on subway deserts suggests that most residents of such places rely instead on bus service. But in the more suburban corners of the city, cars are often the norm.

 

For instance, when Nick Fasulo moved from Astoria to Bayside—a neighborhood of eastern Queens that's over 3.5 miles from the nearest subway station in Flushing—he knew he'd have to buy a car. He uses it to get around the neighborhood, visit car-less friends back in Astoria, and, on weekdays, drive to Bayside's Long Island Rail Road station. From there, it's a 24-minute ride to Penn Station (provided the LIRR is running smoothly), and about a 20-minute walk to work. From door to door, he says, the commute typically takes him a little over an hour.

 

"It's probably tough," he says, of living in Bayside without a car, but notes that he does see plenty of buses around town. (The MTA bus map reveals several bus lines along Bayside's main thoroughfares of Bell, Francis Lewis, and Northern Boulevards, though that still leaves sizeable chunks of the neighborhoods sans bus or subway options.) He adds that finding parking in Bayside is easy for drivers, and that most people rely on street parking rather than lots.

 

Christian Nacpil, a broker with Citi Habitats who has lived in Bayside for 15 years, says he commutes to Manhattan by taking the bus to the LIRR, but that there seems to be an even split between locals who drive and who rely on public transit. "A lot of people commute out to Long Island, so they're either driving to work there or commuting via bus and train to Manhattan," he says.

 

The situation is similar in Whitestone, Queens, which is northwest of Bayside. Paula Manna works for Citi Habitats and lives in Whitestone; she also attended high school and college in Queens, and recalls that most people she knew had cars. "It's more suburban, and not easy with the transit," she says, "but people are accustomed to driving around and walking to the store."

 

There's also the option of taking express buses to get to Manhattan: The QM2, for instance, brings passengers from Whitestone to Midtown in under an hour. There are local buses as well; Manna notes that her fiance takes a bus to the Bayside LIRR stop and commutes from there.

 

In the Bronx, Riverdale residents may find themselves with several alternatives to choose from. Sid Whelan, a broker with CORE, notes that there are many small sub-neighborhoods within Riverdale; those to the east of the Henry Hudson Parkway aren't too far from the 1 train, while those to the west are at least a mile away from the nearest stop.

 

In these areas, he says, people tend to use the neighborhood's Metro-North station, from which it's about a half hour ride to Grand Central.

 

Some developments, too, try to make a move to Riverdale worth it for tenants by helping to ease their commutes. "There's a huge diversity of amenities in terms of buildings," Whelan says. "Some will have a shuttle bus to the Metro-North, in addition to things like pools and great views." Other properties make driving easy by offering parking garages or on-site Zipcars.

 

The upside to life beyond the subway
Across the board, residents of the subway-less corners of NYC say that life beyond the subway has the same major advantages as the suburbs: a quieter, more relaxed pace of life, more space to spread out, and an overall "suburbs in the city" feel, minus the steep property taxes of Nassau or Westchester County.

 

For Manna, that blend is key to her choice to live in Whitesone. "I like the lifestyle of being able to park in front of my house and pay lower rent on a bigger place, where I can hang out and barbecue," she says. "It's about suburban amenities, but still living in the city."

 

And at the same time, there are stretches of the neighborhood that are walkable; Manna points to 150th Street and 14th Avenue, where there is plenty of shopping and restaurants. Because Whitestone has an extensive East River waterfront, there's also a handful of parks for riverside strolls.

 

Fasulo says that Bayside delivers a close-knit feel more commonly found in the burbs. Young families are drawn to the area because of Bayside High School, which, according to Inside Schools, has a high graduation rate and programs for high-achieving students. "There's a soccer field across the street from the school, with lots of teams playing and practicing once the weather warms up," Fasulo points out. "There's a great neighborhoody feel."

 

Riverdale, too, draws New Yorkers because of the quality of its local schools, Whelan says. Inside Schools writes that while Riverdale's area—District 10—is known for having overcrowded public schools, it's also the highest-performing district in the borough, and is near respected specialized public high schools like Bronx Science. There are also several esteemed private schools, like the Ethical Culture Fieldston School and Riverdale Country School, but of course, sending children there is a significant added expense.

 

While the east side of the highway has a busier, more city-like feel, Whelan says, the neighborhood is generally slower-paced and affords more privacy than what you'd find in Manhattan: "You will see lots of houses with big yards, where the neighbors are 30 yards away or more."

 

On the other hand, in a bid to attract younger buyers who might be leaving Manhattan and Brooklyn in search of greater affordability, some Riverdale co-ops are trying to brand themselves as places that foster a good social life. "Co-op boards are putting real thought into what they can to do make their buildings more fun and lifestyle-oriented, like putting in common rooms and gyms. We're seeing a lot more of that kind of thing," Whelan says.

 

But will you save on housing?
But are these neighborhoods more affordable? A RentHop map suggests that the more central the location, the higher the rent, but places like Bayside, Whitestone, and Riverdale aren't exactly cheap, despite being further from the heart of the city.

 

"Living in the city is expensive no matter where you are," says Whelan. "Apartments are selling much faster [in Riverdale]. The absorption rate has really drastically changed, and you're going to start seeing prices going up." Riverdale's status as an emerging market seems cemented by the fact that Douglas Elliman started tracking it in its most recent market reports.

 

Bayside, too, is a tough place if you're seeking bargains. "The fact that it has that suburban vibe and is also close to Long Island makes it a little pricier," Nacpil says. "But you can find a three- to four-bedrooms for under $1 million, or rent a floor of a house for about $3,000 a month, which is more real estate than you could get in Manhattan."

 

According to Zillow, Whitestone's market is also strong, with the median home price at $768,800. But, Manna says, you're getting a lot more bang for your buck in terms of square footage. "My fiance was complaining about our apartment until I took him to see places in Brooklyn," she recalls. "Now he thinks we live in a mansion."

 

Live upstairs from Bethenny Frankel in this Soho loft

6sqftMarch 07, 2017

For a while, anyway, as the Skinny Girl mogul and RHONY regular recently listed her renovated pad downstairs at 22 Mercer Street. But the cobblestones of Soho‘s Cast Iron District boast more than enough celebrities to withstand the loss, and this 2,392-square-foot loft has had its own renovation; on the market for $4.75 million, it’s stellar enough that it doesn’t matter who the neighbors are.

 

Three bold arched double-paned windows frame the living/dining room, which also has a wood-burning fireplace. An open kitchen is sleek, yet feast-ready with stainless steel Gaggenau and Miele appliances including a five-burner cooktop and additional bar sink.

 

A dramatic 95-foot windowed hallway leads to the home’s two bedrooms, both with en-suite bathrooms. The master suite has electric blackout shades and hides a custom dressing room behind sliding pocket doors.

 

Beneath it all you’ll find Brazilian walnut flooring; custom window treatments, a surround sound system and a high-tech security system with closed circuit cameras create a tranquil space and peace of mind.

 

The 16-unit pet friendly boutique condominium offers a full-time doorman, a landscaped rooftop terrace and private storage.

New NYC apartments Hitting The Market: Spring 2017

CurbedMarch 07, 2017

Spring is just around the corner, which can only mean one thing: the real estate market is about to pick up, and quickly. And of course, that can only mean one thing for Curbed NY: it's time to look at the many, many, many apartments—both rentals and condos—that will be hitting New York's real estate market in the next few months. Across more than 40 developments, there are starchitect-designed buildings (your Viñolys, Meiers, and SHoPs among them) and apartments in some of the city's most anticipated megaprojects, along with under-the-radar outer-borough rentals and "affordable" apartments. It's a lot to take in, and as always, if we missed anything, the tipline is right this way.

 

37. 60 White Street
Sorgente Group of America has relaunched sales at 60 White Street, the 1869-built historic building retrofitted by Bostudio into eight posh condos. The building originally appeared on the market in 2014, but two condos hit the market again in February—a two-bedroom asking $4.625 million and a three-bedroom penthouse seeking $9.275 million.

 

38. 403 Greenwich Street
The development of this Tribeca condo by Colonnade Group has been in the works for no fewer than eight years. It was poised to be the world’s first glass brick building, but that originally proposed Joseph Pell Lombardi design was traded in for a more traditional building by Morris Adjmi in 2011. The four-apartment building is finally poised to hit the market this May. Shocker: the apartments will be expensive, with prices ranging from just shy of $4 million for the three duplex three-bedrooms to $12 million for the five/six-bedroom penthouse.

39. 868 Lorimer Street
A ground-up building designed by Stephen B. Jacobs Group, this McCarren Park-abutting condo is due to hit the market in April. Its 14 apartments will include five two-bedrooms, four three-bedrooms, four full floor three/four-bedrooms, and one duplex penthouse priced between $1.55 million and $2.5 million. The Chatham Development Company-developed building will come with indoor parking, a landscaped courtyard, and a media room.

38 Prince Street

New York Lifestyles MagazineMarch 07, 2017

Imagine living in a single-family landmarked townhouse with three protected exposures in Nolita (North of Little Italy). Welcome to 38 Prince Street directly across from Old St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Five levels plus a basement encompassing seven bedrooms, seven full baths, and three half baths all connected by a sweeping staircase and one of the city’s largest residential elevators.

 

The townhouse combines excellent clean, minimalist architecture (late Federal period) with some ornate details (Greek revival) like the North and South facing Oculus windows on the top floor. The top floor also has original exposed beams which are another defining feature of this house. Time Equities Inc., Hamlin Ventures, and Marvel Architects should be very proud of what they have accomplished.

 

SIMPLE YET ELEGANT
The two most defining spaces of this masterpiece are the English basement housing the common areas and the third-floor master level. The English basement houses the kitchen and dining area and leads out to the two-tiered backyard. The kitchen has been designed by Smallbone, and their custom cabinets are made of walnut. Simple yet elegant horizontal slots with Waterworks nickel features create a warm and homey feel. There is even a walk-in pantry. The centerpiece of this kitchen is the stainless steel La Cornue Chateau 150 Range and vented hood. It is an excellent choice for 38 Prince because like the design of this residence, this range is both sleek and elegant. The selection of stainless steel complements the warm walnut cabinets and the single slab Colorado Lincoln honed marble countertops and backsplash tie this tasteful yet modern kitchen together. The kitchen is large, and the dining area next to it is also quite large. There is a fireplace in the dining area but what sets this family area apart is that it leads straight to the backyard. A 1,600 square foot two-tiered backyard. The floor to ceiling glass doors open completely to expose the yard for an indoor/outdoor living. This is a classic design that provides for a private family time in the middle of the bustling city.

 

WINNING DESIGN
The master floor is another defining feature of this residence. An oversized master bedroom, a study, and a true master bath with dressing room and powder room comprise this floor. The master bath boasts two exposures, a bidet, a Waterworks free-standing sculptural bathtub, and a wet room. The wet room has a marble seating bench, a great niche factor, and a steam shower. There is a multitude of counter space with two vanities both made of walnut and aged bronze with free-standing vanities and under mounted Duravit sinks. The entire bathroom is encased in honed Calacatta marble with bronze inlays which create the elegant feel; a huge mirror custom designed by Nebil Gokcebay (of Marvel Architects) opens up space even more. This is a very original master bath in layout and scope. Worthy to be one of The Classicists AD100 honorees in Architectural Digest.

 

Three more levels consist of a parlor floor, secondary bedroom floor, and a top floor with a den and two additional bedrooms. The parlor floor has a grand entertaining room with a fireplace and wet bar and another dining room in the rear. The secondary bedroom floor has three bedrooms and a playroom and three full baths. The top floor has two more bedrooms and a family room with another fireplace. All of the secondary bathrooms are designed elegantly with marble mosaic floors, honed marble tile walls, custom vanities with 1.5-inch thick marble countertops and under mounted Duravit sinks. In addition to Robern recessed medicine cabinets there are Toto water closets, Waterworks classic drop-in bathtubs and Waterworks matte nickel fixtures and accessories. They mix up the powder rooms with polished Calacatta Borghini marble slabs floors and wainscoting and Carrara marble tiled walls.

 

This is a one of a kind opportunity to own a landmarked townhouse in a very exclusive area of NYC. Not enough can be said about 38 Prince. With the skylights and original exposed beams on the top floor, a staff room with full bath in the English basement, a mud room, a front garden, and a freight sized elevator in the townhouse this is truly a rare gem. Smart wired, marble mantles on all three fireplaces and numerous pocket doors throughout this townhouse show elegant design throughout.

Live below Rupert Murdoch at One Madison for $27M

CurbedMarch 06, 2017

It’s been a long, long road for the Building Formerly Known as One Madison Park—aka One Madison—but after years of lawsuits, foreclosures, and other troubles, it bounced back. Eventually, its view-toting, high-priced condos returned to the market and ended up selling to the likes of Tom Brady and Gisele Bündchen—and Rupert Murdoch, who apparently got a case of buyer’s remorse not long after.

 

But there’s still what appears to be one sponsor unit left in the building: a duplex spanning the 55th and 56th floors, which returned to the market today with a $27 million price tag. Back in the day—way, way back, as in 2009—the two apartments were offered separately, but they later appeared as a combo in 2015, then asking $37.5 million.

 

The listing doesn’t offer much in the way of a description, and notes that “this residence is only offered as raw space”—the previous listing photos from 2015 back that claim up. But proposed floorplans helpfully offer some idea of what the 6,620-square-foot apartment could look like, boasting a huge living room and a master suite with two walk-in closets.

 

And then there are the views: the apartment is basically eye-level with the gorgeous clock tower of the MetLife building, and floor-to-ceiling windows offer expansive vistas of Midtown and Lower Manhattan on either side.

Tour an Art Deco Masterpiece

The New York TimesMarch 06, 2017

Often overshadowed by the Chrysler and Empire State Buildings, One Wall Street is one of Manhattan's lesser known Art Deco masterpieces. The landmark building's lobby, known as the Red Room, is currently being restored.

 

A worker strips a window ornament in preparation for painting. Here, the window ornament is being painted to match the original metal sheen.

 

Heading up to the building's observation room. The ceiling of the two-story observation room is covered with shells from the Philippines.

 

Situated near the southern tip of Manhattan, the rooftop offers a stunning view of the city. 

Six Homes Anchored by Stylish and Stunning Columns

Brick UndergroundMarch 03, 2017

As far as decorative details go, few lend a space more industrial-chic-style cred than a steel or cast-iron column. What were once largely practical architectural elements (supporting the beams that held up the ceiling), now make a distinctive design statement. 

 

Gunmetal columns and wood beams accent the living space of this 3000-square-foot, three-bedroom, three-and-a-half-bath loft at 284 Lafayette Street (yours for $5.85 million).

A ‘Blank Space’ in Soho Becomes a Family Home

The Wall Street JournalFebruary 28, 2017

Location: Manhattan, NY  

 

Price: $5,850,000

 

Attracted by a 65-foot-long wall of windows, the owners renovated this 3,000-square-foot loft—Sarah Tilton

 

Mike and Lori Gelhard were living in Mamaroneck, N.Y., with their family of five and wanted a place in New York City. This loft in Manhattan’s Soho neighborhood fit one of their main requirements: The circa 1890s space needed everything. ‘It was a rare blank space. It meant we could create exactly what we wanted,’ says Mrs. Gelhard, an artist and designer.

 

‘I’d been commuting to Wall Street and we wanted a pied-à-terre in the city,’ says Mr. Gelhard, a retired banker. ‘We looked for about a year. When we saw this one we walked in and knew.’ Mrs. Gelhard says it was the light from the 65-foot-long wall of windows overlooking Crosby Street that also sold them. ‘That’s what really struck us. When you’re in the space there’s a lot of natural light,’ she says.

 

The couple paid $2.4 million for the approximately 3,000-square-foot home in 2011. They spent two years and another $1.6 million redoing it, they say. The building once housed a printing company, Mrs. Gelhard says. The kitchen is one of her favorite places in the home with the windows and the view of the great room.

 

The Gelhards describe themselves as ‘serial renovators.’ This is their 20th project in 30 years. ‘How we like to renovate is to stay as authentic to the building as possible,’ says Mrs. Gelhard. They left some of the ceiling beams exposed and painted the columns which are original. ‘When you’re in the space you can imagine what it was once like,’ she says.

 

Mrs. Gelhard did the painting in the entry area. They replaced the original floor boards, which were narrow, with 11-inch-wide white oak. The ceilings are approximately 10.5 feet high.

 

The floating headboard in the master bedroom is cedar painted with a silvered finish. ‘I wanted it to look like barn siding,’ says Mrs. Gelhard.

 

The couple chose a sliding door for the shower and black porcelain tile in the master bath. The long sink adds to the industrial look, says Mrs. Gelhard.

 

In their daughter’s bedroom, the couple dropped a portion of the ceiling while keeping some of the original beams exposed. The floating ceiling highlights the 45-degree angle of the wall that the bed sits against, says Mrs. Gelhard.

 

The home has three bedrooms and 3½ baths.

 

The couple, both age 55, are selling as they spend less time in the city now that Mr. Gelhard has retired. They also have homes in Australia and California. There are closets on either side of the Murphy bed, shown here.

 

They will miss the location. ‘You just walk out the door and everything you could possibly want is there,’ says Mr. Gelhard. The home has an asking price of $5.85 million. Todd Lewin and Michael Rubin of Core share the listing.

Brooklyn Real Estate Listings Six Months Later

BrownstonerFebruary 24, 2017

The weekend is almost here, and it’s time for us to take a look back six months and check in on how four of our featured listings fared on the market.

 

It’s been quite a while since all four of our featured listings sold, but that’s the case this week. Even more remarkable, they all sold for above ask — that might be a first.

 

Next we are looking at an estate-condition Italianate brownstone in Bed Stuy. It needs work, but with a load of original detail and stately proportions, it has the makings of quite a grand residence. It’s at 33 Monroe Street, on a particularly nice block near the Clinton Hill border. This former House of the Day sold in January for $2.135 million, $300,000 above ask.

 

33 Monroe Street
Price: $1.835 million
Area: Bed Stuy
Broker: Core (John Harrison, Paul Johansen)
Sold in January for $2.135 million

Chelsea Penthouse with a Tricked-out, Rooftop Cabana

Brick UndergroundFebruary 23, 2017

If a Chelsea penthouse condo with expansive views and high-end fixtures and finishes doesn't quite impress you, note that this two-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bath unit also comes with a rooftop cabana that's irrigated, landscaped, and outfitted with a full kitchen. Given the spring-like weather this week, the tricked-out perch strikes us as an especially appealing spot. The apartment, listed by CORE, could be all yours for $3.495 million—a mite high even for the neighborhood, but outdoor space in NYC usually comes at a premium.

 

The condo's high-floor position and multiple exposures mean that the living space gets lots of sunshine, which highlights the warm oak floors. The open kitchen offers ample storage, and is jazzed up with a marble-pattern backsplash and upmarket appliances. Note, though, that you may be a bit squeezed for dining space. 

 

The north-facing master suite boasts a walk-in closet, plus a rain shower and a luxe-looking bath with a marble double vanity and deep tub; there's a large mirror if you're inclined to gaze approvingly at yourself as you soak. 

 

The second bedroom, at the south end of the unit, is almost as spacious as the master, and comes with its own large closet and full bath.

 

But we're especially intrigued by this cabana, which is primed for warm-weather parties. The apartment also includes an in-unit washer and dryer, and separate storage; elsewhere in the building, amenities include a gym, lounge, media room, and library. 

The High Line's transformative real estate boom, mapped

CurbedFebruary 21, 2017

The arrival of the High Line and a coinciding neighborhood rezoning has spurred a high-end real estate boom that’s still playing out across West Chelsea. Some of the city’s most prolific developers, and the world’s leading architects—including Rafael Viñoly, Isay Weinfeld, and the late Zaha Hadid—have all left their mark on the area. For it, the neighborhood has been transformed both physically and economically: an August 2016 dive by StreetEasy into apartment pricing near the High Line shows that condos along the linear park’s southern end are twice as expensive as those just one block away. The area’s cachet is undeniable, and as construction continues to boom that will become even more true.

 

Now, take a peek at what developments are still playing out along the 1.45-mile park—from recently launched condo projects to sites snatched by developers that are laying in wait, here’s what’s going on along the city’s most desirable stretch of real estate.

 

17. 520 West 28th Street

 

The late Zaha Hadid’s condo at 520 West 28th Street embodies so much of what the High Line corridor has become known for: stand-out architecture (that comes at a hefty price) by some of the world’s greatest architects. The condos of 520 West 28th Street hit the market in October 2015 with its famed—and still-on-the-market—$50 million penthouse following several months later. The final touches are now being put on the futuristic-looking building. The building’s first residents are expected to move in this year.

 

20. 515 West 29th Street

 

The lesser-known sister project to Soori High Line, 515 Highline is also designed by architect Soo K. Chan and, as the Times put it in a 2014 profile, “will be rippled like the surface of a sea.” Unlike Soori High Line, sales have yet to launch at this 12-apartment project. The full- and half-floor pads are expected to ask between $5 million and $25 million. A High Line condo wouldn’t be complete without an outrageous amenity—here that translates to personal outdoor fire pits for each apartment.

 

 

 

5 NYC Apartments Perfect for Pet Owners

GOTHAMFebruary 17, 2017

When you’re looking for a new apartment, a place that’s also a fit for Fido is important. Luckily, some of the city’s best real estate is pet friendly and sure to make your furry friends feel at home.

 

101 W. 24th St., 15B

 

This two-bedroom condo in the elegant Chelsea Stratus affords panoramic views of the city. But when you and your pet need a break from the expansive 1,242-square-foot space—which features everything from high ceilings to state-of-the-art appliances to hardwood floors—there’s a dog run and park among this full-service building’s many amenities. $2.4 million; contact CORE agent Adie Kriegstein, 917-921-6929

 

Chelsea Open Houses This Weekend

CurbedFebruary 17, 2017

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

 

On West 23rd Street, $675,000 buys you this sunny one-bedroom. It’s been designed with oak floors, high ceilings, and a kitchen equipped with custom cabinets. The bedroom is separated from the living room with a set of unique sliding doors and a huge walk-in closet neighbors the large bathroom. 

 

When: Sunday, February 19th (1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m.)

Inside Look: 4 luxury lofts for rent

MetroFebruary 15, 2017

Decades ago lofts were the opposite of luxury, but today they are reserved for those looking for open space and contemporary details. Here are four lofts for rent — from Brooklyn to downtown Manhattan.

 

242 Lafayette St., 3S

 

$8,500/mo

 

Described as a “classic Soho floor-through loft,” this apartment comes furnished in 1,350 square feet. There are two bedrooms and one-and-a-half-bathrooms, with an open kitchen. Unforgettable details includes the 12-foot tin ceilings, exposed brick and oversized windows. The furniture includes a mix of modern and antique pieces to compliment the home.

Homes with Private Saunas

Brick UndergroundFebruary 10, 2017

Flu season is, unfortunately, upon us. You can start by arming yourself with plenty of fluids, boxes of tissues, and an arsenal of pain relievers, cough expectorants, and nasal decongestants. Better yet, take it one step further and sweat out the toxins from the hot and humid comfort of your own personal sauna or steam rooms. Here, a few apartments that have you covered.

 

The master en-suite of this loft-like four-bedroom, three-and-a-half-bath condo at 135 West 70th Street (priced at $3.95 million) is decked out with an enormous dressing room, plus a bathroom with separate areas for the soaking tub, rainforest shower (outfitted by WaterWorks), and a sauna.

New Century Artistry

d+AFebruary 10, 2017

87 Leonard was featured in d+A for the building's quintessential TriBeCa design and architecture.

Foreign Buyers in NYC

Brick UndergroundFebruary 10, 2017

Buyers from overseas don't always have the greatest reputation in the world of New York City real estate. There's a broad perception that international investors are snatching up luxury condos which then sit empty, leaving beautiful-but-vacant boxes scattered across the city skyline. Last year, the New York Post even tried to extract some vigilante justice, calling for an unmasking of the foreign buyers who are turning the city "into a secrecy haven to stash their cash through the use of shell companies."

 

But is that reputation deserved? As with anything in New York City, though, it's hardly that simple, and foreign buyers are not a monolith. We spoke to real estate experts who have worked with international clients to find out what this particular cohort is really like.

 

An introduction to the "average" foreign buyer

First, when it comes to people from overseas looking to purchase New York real estate, the word "average" doesn't really apply. "By definition, if they're able to buy an apartment in NYC, they're not average," says Keren Ringler, a broker for CORE, referring to the fact that being able to afford a part-time home in New York is hardly within the purchasing power of the average person. 

 

That said, she adds that the typical foreign buyer tends to be using their NYC real estate as a second home or an investment property rather than a permanent residence. "There are usually three scenarios," Ringler explains. "The foreign buyer who wants to purchase something for their child who's studying in NYC, the buyer who wants to invest in NYC, and the buyer who wants an apartment in NYC to use as a pied-à-terre."

 

This seems to spell considerable wealth, but Jonathan Miller, president of the appraisal firm Miller Samuel, says that foreign buyers don't always represent the top one percent. "There's a sense that the average foreign buyer is buying at the very high end of the market. I see them all over the map and much more spread out across price points and geography," he says.

 

There isn't data that crunches the numbers for foreign buyers in NYC specifically, due to concerns about Fair Housing laws, but Miller estimates that about 15 percent of all real estate transactions in New York come from people from overseas. A National Association of Realtors survey of international clients who made investments in American real estate offers some insights into who makes up this group. The survey reveals that while they are spending more on homes than Americans, their mean purchase price—$499,600—doesn't represent the peak of luxury.

 

In terms of country of origin, the NAR survey suggests that buyers from China represent the largest proportion—16 percent—of investors in American real estate, closely followed by buyers from Canada (14 percent). When it comes to Europeans, the largest cohorts of international buyers hail from the U.K., France, and Germany; Indians, Mexicans, and Venezuelans also made significant purchases in 2015.

 

Miller notes that in 2013 and 2014, there was a major upswing in NYC real estate purchase from foreign buyers. "We were in recovery from the financial crisis and interest rates across the globe were at record laws, so investors were chasing higher returns," he says. Now, with the American dollar stronger, we're seeing a more average amount of interest from international buyers, Miller adds.

 

According to Adie Kriegstein, a broker with CORE, fluctuations in currency can have a big impact on the amount of foreign investments in U.S. real estate, as can political uncertainty—certainly a factor in these post-election days. "I've had a handful of clients say that things aren't looking good," she says. "But at the same time, other foreign buyers say that because of conditions in their home countries, they still want to invest in the U.S., but they're being extra picky about the product because of the volatility of the real estate market."

 

What are foreign buyers looking for?

 

Kriegstein agrees with Ringler that most foreign buyers are often either using NYC real estate as an investment, or purchasing a home for a child who is studying or working in the city. In both cases, she says, "they want the biggest bang for their buck."

 

Much of what is on a foreign buyer's wishlist, according to Kriegstein, would appeal to most New Yorkers, too: views, great light, a lot of amenities, and the promise of a good return on their investments.

 

One notable distinction is that foreign buyers may be less drawn to charming, prewar co-ops or historic brownstones. Instead, Kriegstein says, they're interested in condos in relatively new developments in locations where they can expect to get top dollar by the time they're ready to sell. This is not only a matter of taste, but also due to the fact that it's more challenging for foreigners to purchase co-ops, due to strict requirements about finances and the tendency of some boards to not permit pied-à-terres. (More on that below.)

 

This can mean neighborhoods undergoing some dramatic revamping, where the next few years promise to bring new residential and commercial developments; think areas like Two Bridges and Hudson Yards.

 

"15 Hudson Yards is the first residential building located in the center of Hudson Yards, and apartments there just started selling," Kriegstein says. "[Foreign buyers] are investing there based on what Hudson Yards will do for the entire city. It's good to get in early."

 

Another area to keep an eye on? Hudson Square, at the confluence of Soho and Tribeca, which was rezoned in 2013 to make way for higher density development, per DNA Info. "That area is going to take off, so it's a prime spot for investors," says Kriegstein.

 

Kriegstein cautions, though, that because NYC is still in the midst of a luxury construction boom, there could be a high supply of high-end units once foreign buyers are ready to sell. For some, that risk rules out some of the more burgeoning areas of the city.

 

To that end, Ringler has found that some of her clients are drawn to the more tried-and-true, covetable corners of NYC, like the Upper West Side, or the neighborhoods around Columbia and NYU, if their children are college students.

 

And in terms of the amount of space foreign buyers are looking for, "two-bedrooms are the sweet spot," Kriegstein says. "It optimizes their investment return when they sell or rent it out, because it appeals to the widest number of would-be purchasers or tenants."

 

What are some of the challenges foreign buyers face?

 

One of the main reasons that foreign buyers are more inclined toward condos is that it's much more difficult for them to get co-op board approval. Ringler notes that boards are hesitant for financial reasons: Would-be homeowners from abroad lack social security numbers, have their money in foreign accounts, and present challenges when it comes to running credit checks. (Some co-ops also have policies forbidding pied-à-terres, narrowing the field of options for investors who won't be living there full-time.)

 

Nevertheless, Ringler works with international clients who do want that old-school, co-op charm. In these cases, she says, "the challenge is how to present the buyer so that the board can feel confident they're making the right decision. That comes from providing excellent letters of references, having good bank balances, and choosing a co-op that understands this buyer will be a good shareholder because they'll look after the apartment."

 

And according to a Nest Seekers International guide for foreign buyers, opening a bank account in the U.S., or transferring the necessary funds to an escrow account, will help ease the financing process.

 

She says that many co-op boards appear to be reconizing the need to loosen some of their stricter requirements. "I do think co-ops are realizing that the market has changed and foreign buyers are going to be an important part of the buying portfolio," she says.

 

Taxes can pose another major obstacle: Barron's offers a rundown of some of the levies foreign buyers might face here, like the 40 percent inheritance tax that the heirs of foreign investor could end up paying here when the property is passed down to them.

 

Many buyers opt to use an LLC for their purchase, because it helps to minimize such tax burdens: Barron's explains that if it's technically a foreign company rather than an individual that owns the U.S. property, the U.S. government is unable to charge an inheritance tax. Such companies are also occasionally used for more unscrupulous reasons. It's enough of a problem, Housing Wire reports, that the Treasury Department launched an investigation of international investors using American real estate to launder money.

 

For her average clients, though, the concerns are far more mundane: Foreign buyers need a little extra help navigating the very complex world of NYC real estate, so it comes down to providing in-depth explanations, Kriegstein says, and occasionally when there are language barriers, a translator's help.

Renovated Options in Bed-Stuy

MetroFebruary 08, 2017

Bed-Stuy has turned from “do or die” to gentrified. Those looking to benefit from rising real estate prices or earn some cool points are moving into the Brooklyn neighborhood at a rapid pace. And with these buyers and renters come renovations. Here are two Bed-Stuy properties — one rental and one brownstone for sale — that show the transformation.

 

752 Jefferson Ave., 1

$2,350/mo

 

This renovated rental promises modern luxuries with charm dating back to the 1900s. The garden level apartment features a private entrance that opens up to a large living space. There is also a separate dining with an arched feature dividing the two.

 

Modern finishes include stainless steel appliances and Caesarstone countertops in the kitchen; and the bathroom has beautiful touches, including subway tiles and brushed bronze fixtures. The massive bedroom has two windows, with views of the backyard, and access to the shared basement, which includes storage, a full sized washer/dryer and a half bath.

155 Attorney Street Launches

CurbedFebruary 08, 2017

Name/Address: 155 Attorney Street

Developer: Midtown Equities

Architect: Studio V

Interiors: GRADE Architects

Size: Seven stories, 37 apartments

Prices: from $3,400/month to $5,700/month

Sales and Marketing: CORE

 

It’s been a while since we last checked on the boxy new development at 155 Attorney Street. But four years after plans for the building were announced, the Midtown Equities-developed project is complete and ready to accept its new tenants. This seven-story rental building may not look like the home of high-end luxury, judging from its unassuming facade, but if there’s any confirmation, it’s definitely the high rent prices.

 

The low-rise building has 37 one- and two-bedroom apartments, ranging in configurations and price tags. The cheapest unit is a one-bedroom, one-bathroom for $3,400/month while a two-bedroom, two-bathroom can go for as much as $5,700/month. There are also two penthouses with private terraces, though those homes don’t appear to be available just yet.

 

Each of the Studio V-designed rentals has floor-to-ceiling windows, relatively high ceilings with recessed lighting, a practical kitchen space with stainless steel appliances, and a washer/dryer setup. There’s a decent amenity package in place for the building as well (there should be, if you’re paying that much in rent), offering a virtual doorman, bicycle storage, a landscaped yard, and a rooftop terrace.

 

At least 15 of the building’s apartments are available for leasing and move-ins are set to begin on March 1.

Cool Comfort

New York PostFebruary 08, 2017

A subdued quality especially inspires architect Thomas Hickey, whose Manhattan firm GRADE is popular with financiers and entertainers like Oprah Winfrey.

 

“Our work is restrained and understated so it makes the cacophony of everyday life disappear,” says Hickey, who works a lot in highly saturated grays. Hickey and his firm design their own furniture and finishes, and GRADE’s homes feature lots of rift cut wide-plank oak and walnut, and metal finishes like polished nickel and blackened alloys.

 

“We’re creating opportunities for comfort, but it doesn’t have to look like a big teddy bear,” says Hickey. “Our clients tend to be 35- to 50-year-olds who don’t want to go from bachelor pad to Martha Stewart. They want to raise a young family without feeling like they’ve thrown in the towel and lost all sense of style.”

Architect Thomas Hickey, of New York-based GRADE, carefully designed this subdued interior for this apartment at 87 Leonard St. in Tribeca to stave off the stresses of the city.

 

On the Market

The New York TimesFebruary 05, 2017

Jasmin Abrol and Patrick Lilly's listing at 171 West 73rd Street, 2 was featured in The New York Times' "On the Market" section.

On the Market in NYC

The New York TimesFebruary 03, 2017

Upper West Side Co-op • $979,000 • MANHATTAN • 171 West 73rd Street, No. 2

A two-bedroom, two-bath duplex with a washer-dryer and a large patio shared with five neighboring units in a townhouse.

 

MAINTENANCE $1,824 a month

 

PROS The apartment, which is less than two blocks from Central Park, has brick walls, wood floors and a renovated kitchen.

 

CONS The lower level, used as a master bedroom suite, is below ground and does not get much light.

 

Bespoke Residences Designed by Taylor Spellman New York

House MagazineFebruary 02, 2017

This bold yet chic living space lends comfortability and access to anyone who enters. The Tribeca mom, the kids, the bachelor, the family friends and the new neighbors – there’s a sense of commonality to everyone when the use of neutral tones comes into play and everyone can find comfort on the beige couches next to a cozy fireplace.

 

87 Leonard blends historic authenticity with contemporary luxury in the heart of Tribeca. Units range from 3,000 to 7,000 square feet… so there is a lot of room to play with. There is also a lot of space that can easily be misused, so it is crucial to make different focal points and different sitting places within the room. “My aim was to create a space that has something for everyone,” explains Taylor Spellman, designer, staging expert and owner of Taylor Spellman New York. “A little bit of everything, but cohesive.”

 

Not doing a lot of color can still be bold and chic and not look too staged. As an example, the goal in the great room was to let the eyes fall upon the industrial aspects, from the beautiful wooden beam to the tall columns, but still insert soft furniture and an elegant fireplace for a fully-rounded composition.

 

“For me, New York is everything. I'll walk down the street for half a block and I'm immediately rejuvenated and inspired,” expressed Spellman. “The electric energy is my fuel!”

 

Layering a variety of textures throughout the bedscape elevates the use of natural, neutral tones; creating a calm vibe for the end of the day and a fresh start in the morning.

 

As much as she loves the energy of the city, Spellman gets a great deal of inspiration from the quiet. “It’s hard to find it, but I love to settle in late at night with a glass of wine and create.During that uninterrupted time, I always come up with my best ideas.”

 

This room brings the outdoors inside for the NYC kid, harnessing different textures and bold colors to bring out the fun and adventure for the up-and-coming city dweller.

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