News

Boldfaced Buys

Gotham MagazineJuly 02, 2013
From NoMad to Central Park North, Chelsea Clinton, Gisele, Ichiro, and Carmelo Anthony opt for lavish digs with leafy views.

Gotham’s luxury real estate market is still red hot and shows no sign of slowing down as buyers continue to snap up homes at sky-high prices.

Clinton Hill: All the Requisites, Plus Great Bones

The New York TimesJuly 02, 2013
Steve Mona and Elaine Page liked their rental loft in Dumbo just fine, but they wanted to live in a place that felt more like a neighborhood. Mr. Mona, a garrulous Brooklyn-born retired police lieutenant, wanted a stoop where he could chat up passers-by. Ms. Page, an English human-resources executive, wanted a “high street,” the very British term for a town’s main street, where you can get everything you need in a single stroll.

The pedestrian-friendly Brooklyn neighborhood of Clinton Hill, sandwiched between Fort Greene and Bedford-Stuyvesant, satisfied them both. Last month the couple, who will be married in September, moved into a brownstone duplex on Clinton Avenue, for which they pay $5,100 a month. Mr. Mona and his goldendoodle, Bisquit, like the deep front yard, while Ms. Page has found her high street just up the block on Myrtle Avenue.

Not so long ago, the notion of Myrtle as an attraction would have seemed preposterous. In the 1980s the street was nicknamed Murder Avenue, and as late as the mid-1990s one in four storefronts were shuttered. Now crime is much reduced and the section of Myrtle from Flatbush to Classon Avenue, which includes a stretch in Fort Greene, has a retail vacancy rate of only 5 percent, said Michael Blaise Backer, the executive director of the Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnership. Three quarters of the 160 businesses are owned by women or minorities, Mr. Backer said. Ninety-five percent are locally owned, and the strip has a social, mom-and-pop vibe.

“There’s a dry-cleaners right there, tons of takeout places and restaurants, and a few small groceries,” Mr. Mona said. “Elaine found a yoga studio and a nail salon, and she comes home every evening with her arms full of bags and a smile on her face.”

Myrtle owes much of its resurgence to Pratt Institute, whose campus occupies 25 acres in Clinton Hill, mainly south of Willoughby Avenue. In 2011, Pratt opened a $54 million academic and administrative building on Myrtle and Grand Avenues. The ground floor is occupied by Utrecht Art Supplies and Khim’s Millennium Market, whose arrival helped address a shortage of fresh food. Far from presenting a fortress wall to Myrtle, the red masonry facade has a three-story window through which student art can be seen.

“We wanted the building to be invitational to the neighborhood,” said Dr. Thomas F. Schutte, Pratt’s president, who is also the chairman of the nonprofit Myrtle Avenue Revitalization Project. “And it was received with great pleasure that we called the building Myrtle Hall, because it showed we embraced the neighborhood.”

Further transformation is imminent. Just west of Myrtle Hall, demolition has begun on a two-block strip of buildings that housed a post office, a supermarket and shops. The Silverstone Property Group plans two buildings, seven and eight stories tall, with 240 rentals, 20 percent of them below market rate. The development will include retail space, occupied in part by an expanded supermarket.

Ground is also to be broken by next year on a $6 million public plaza on a strip of Myrtle from Hall Street to Emerson Place, with 25,000 added feet for people and performances.

What You’ll Find
Clinton Hill — 350 acres bounded by Flushing Avenue on the north and Atlantic on the south, between Vanderbilt and Classon Avenues — is known for ethnic and architectural diversity. A 2007-2011 census survey of that area plus a few adjoining blocks estimated that 26,969 people resided there. Thirty-nine percent were black, 36 percent white, 15 percent Hispanic and 6 percent Asian.

“It’s kind of a gentle mix of people,” said Doug Bowen, an executive vice president of CORE real estate, and a resident since 1999. “And there’s a lot of pride in the residents, both homeownership pride and neighborhood pride. Even renters show up to the neighborhood association meetings.”

Much of the area south of Willoughby lies within a historic district. In the 1870s, some of Brooklyn’s wealthiest citizens began building mansions on Washington and Clinton Avenues. The latter is flanked by such monumental structures as the Italianate villa of Charles Pratt, a partner of John D. Rockefeller, and the mansions of three of his sons. Two of these houses are occupied by St. Joseph’s College; a third is home to Dr. Schutte of Pratt. Another structure, a red-brick and limestone castle at No. 278, is listed by the Corcoran Group at $5.85 million. Described in a city landmarks report as “surely the most eccentric house in the historic district,” it has been subdivided into six units. Elsewhere in Clinton Hill are small frame houses, apartment buildings, shiny condos, and chocolaty rows of period brownstones, some well maintained, others weary and neglected. On Washington, just north of Underwood Park, the stately red-brick 1851 Brooklyn Society for the Relief of Respectable Aged Indigent Females is a condo conversion.

Although few indigent females or males, however respectable, can afford Clinton Hill these days, the neighborhood is still within reach of some buyers priced out of areas like Cobble Hill and Fort Greene. Among these newcomers are Tim Dockery, a lawyer, and his mother, Meliora, a semiretired corporate trainer, who bought town houses on opposite sides of Classon Avenue last year. Mr. Dockery’s girlfriend, Sabiola Turner, was expecting the couple’s second child, and Ms. Dockery wanted to be nearby to help out.

“There are so many different kinds of bars and restaurants,” said Ms. Dockery, who paid $1.8 million for her house. “The area is just exploding with life.”

What You’ll Pay

Tight inventory is elevating prices. Town house sales have ranged from $900,000 to $3 million in the last year, said Mr. Bowen of CORE, with “the large majority” from $1.9 million to $2.5 million. New condos or conversions like 91 Grand are selling for $725 to $750 a square foot, he added.
Brownstone condo conversions are common, with two-bedroom floor-through units selling for $750,000 to $800,000 and duplexes with outdoor space costing $1.2 million, said Pamela R. Young, a senior associate at Corcoran.

Prices for renovated one-bedrooms in the Clinton Hill Co-ops, 12 mostly high-rise buildings dating to the 1940s, have reached $420,000 or thereabouts, said Roberta Axelrod, the director of co-op sales for Time Equities.

A search on Streeteasy.com found 62 residential properties for sale and 114 for rent; most two-bedroom rentals ranged from $1,595 to $3,500 a month.

What to Do

The Free Marketplace, featuring local artisan goods, live music, and family activities, will hold events on July 28 on Waverly and Fulton, and on Aug. 11 at Putnam Triangle, a public plaza. Also at Putnam Triangle, instructors from Mark Morris Dance Center and Cumbe teach free dance classes at 6:30 p.m., Wednesdays in July.

Come September, busy working people will be able to pick up specialty prepared foods at Peck’s, a new shop on Myrtle run by their neighbor Theo Peck, whose family co-owned the legendary Lower East Side restaurant Ratner’s.

The Schools

Options include Public School 56, on Gates Avenue, which teaches through fifth grade and got a B in student performance in a recent city progress report. Middle School 113, on Adelphi Street in neighboring Fort Greene, earned a C.

SAT averages last year at the Benjamin Banneker Academy, a high school on Clinton Avenue, were 471 in reading, 472 in math and 448 in writing, versus 434, 461 and 430 citywide.

The Commute

The G train runs along Lafayette Avenue. The A and C stop at the Washington-Clinton station. Buses include the B38, along DeKalb, and the B54 along Myrtle.

The History

In his 1944 book “The City of Brooklyn 1861-1898: A Political History,” Harold Coffin Syrett noted that the area’s “position was not unlike that of the Heights; but its elegant residences were fewer in number and their owners slightly further removed from the traditions of genteel respectability.”

Native Italians Gone, but Little Italy Buzzes

The Wall Street JournalJune 29, 2013
The thousands of Italian immigrants who filled Little Italy's narrow streets and tenement buildings in Lower Manhattan a century ago are long gone.

Fewer immigrants from Italy arrived over the decades and those living in the neighborhood dwindled over time. Recent Census data didn't find any Italian-born residents in the main tract for Little Italy, down from 44 in 2000. The area has long been squeezed by Chinatown to the south and, more recently, the gentrified and pricey SoHo and Nolita to the north. In 2010, the National Park Service designated Chinatown and Little Italy a single historic district.

But as its hold on Italian-American culture has receded, some vestiges of its history remain: strips of long-standing Italian restaurants and shops along Grand and Mulberry streets draw plenty of tourists, and the annual, 11-day Feast of San Gennaro—now in its 87th year—brings an estimated one million people to its streets, according to festival organizers.

And current residents say it retains a vital, neighborhood feel, whatever the predominant ethnicity.
"It's the ambience—we all know each other. Not everybody's Italian, there are very few old-days Italians left, but it's a real community, we're closely knit," says Sante Scardillo of the Little Italy Neighbors Association, which supports reasonable rents and responsible development to preserve the neighborhood's character.

"We look out for the neighborhood," said Mr. Scardillo, who was born and raised in Little Italy. "There really is this sense that you're in a very human-sized place."

Special zoning regulations dating back to 1977 limit building demolitions and high-rise development in the neighborhood, and are aimed at preserving Little Italy's historic, pedestrian-friendly feel. The cafe-lined Mulberry Street is closed to traffic on summer weekends, allowing restaurants to spread tables onto the sidewalk.

Area condominiums and cooperatives include the Brewster Carriage House, at Broome and Mott streets, a century-old building where updated 2,000-square-foot condos sold last year for around $4 million, StreetEasy.com says. The Police Building at 240 Centre St., which served as police headquarters from 1909 to 1973, now contains cooperative apartments with a median listing price of $1,536 a square foot, according to StreetEasy.

Most of the residences within the neighborhood are rentals, says Glenn Schiller of Corcoran Group, and the existing condominiums, cooperatives and townhouses tend to offer lower prices compared with neighboring SoHo and Nolita. The median listing price for 19 listings in Little Italy last week was $3.25 million, StreetEasy.com says, compared with a median of $3.95 million in SoHo.

"It's convenient to transportation, a convenient walk to all downtown neighborhoods, with a little bit of a better price point because you're off the beaten path by a block or two," Mr. Schiller says.

The area has its share of new restaurants and boutiques, but a handful of the Italian establishments on Grand or Mulberry are more than 100 years old. Ralph Tramontana, president of the Little Italy Merchants Association and owner of Sambuca's Cafe on Mulberry, says that soaring rents are threatening some the remaining businesses.

"It may not have as many Italians as it had in its heyday, but the buildings and restaurants have a meaning to so many millions of Americans who started their life in New York," he says. "I see it on a daily basis—a grandfather walking with grandchildren telling them, this is where my grandpa lived when he came here. It's like a living history in my eyes."

Parks: Mulberry Street is a pedestrian mall on summer weekends. Columbus Park, at Baxter, Mulberry and Bayard streets, with basketball courts and playground, is a few blocks away, as is the 8-acre Sara D. Roosevelt Park, bordered by Canal, East Houston, Forsyth and Chrystie streets, with a turf soccer field, a senior center, ball courts, playgrounds and a roller-skating rink.

Schools: The neighborhood is part of District 2, and local schools include Public School 130, the Hernando de Soto School, an elementary school that has an enrollment of around 1,000 students and received an A rating from the city for the 2011-12 school year.

Dining: Restaurants on Mulberry Street include Grotta Azzurra, founded in 1908; Angelo's of Mulberry Street, which dates back to 1902; and Umberto's Clam House. Ferrara Bakery and Cafe is on Grand Street. Newer restaurants include Brinkley's Broome Street, a gastro pub on the corner of Broome and Centre streets.

Shopping: Di Palo's and Alleva Dairy are both cheese and food shops on Grand Street.

Entertainment: Bars and lounges include GoldBar, on Broome Street, and the Mulberry Project.

Real Estate: 122 West Street, PHK

Modern New YorkJune 28, 2013
Perched on the 6th floor, Penthouse K is a stunning duplex boasting three separate terraces. The 1,000 sf private rooftop terrace offers panoramic 360 degree views of Manhattan and Brooklyn. Outdoor entertaining is a breeze with a built in grill, counter and storage. The master suite enjoys sunny southern exposure and access to a terrace. The kitchen has been upgraded to include a Bertazzoni professional range and Liebherr fridge. Further upgrades include a Mitsubishi silent heating/AC system and luxurious dark stained oak floors. The lofty living/dining room boasts a Spark fire ribbon 42" gas fireplace and 10 foot ceilings. This gracious home is currently set up as a sprawling 1 bedroom but can easily be converted back to the original configuration of 2 bedroom home.

The Pencil Factory, originally built in 1872 for the Eberhard Faber pencil company, is seamlessly integrated into Brooklyn's Greenpoint waterfront. Linking the past with the present, residents are offered high design integrity and a host of modern amenities including common roof deck, fitness center, residents' lounge, onsite parking, bike and residential unit storage and a virtual doorman.

Bevy of NoMad Condo Projects Quickly Find Buyers

The Real DealJune 27, 2013
NoMad is awash with new residential and hotel construction, and buyers are signing contracts for new condominiums at a brisk pace, the New York Post reported.

At Huys, a new 58-unit condo that went on the market in March, units are now over 50 percent in contract. Similarly, 241 Fifth Avenue, a 45-unit building roughly a block north of Madison Square Park, marketed by Core’s Doron Zwickel, is already 70 percent sold, as The Real Deal reported. It will be move-in ready this summer, the Post said. And the four-unit Whitman, on the park’s northern edge, reportedly sold a unit to Chelsea Clinton and still has a $25 million, 6,540-square-foot penthouse available. Melanie Lazenby and Dina Lewis of Douglas Elliman are handling sales.

South of the park, the Related Companies and HFZ Capital Group are soon restarting sales at One Madison Park, and Bruce Eichner’s firm Continuum is gearing up to launch a project on East 22nd Street.

The neighborhood is also a heavyweight on the hotel front, with the 190-roomn SLS hotel slated to open at 444 Park Avenue South next year and Virgin Hotel on 29th Street and Broadway set to open in 2016.

NoMad residents will also get a boost on the home dining front this summer when a Fairway opens at the base of the 33-story Chelsea Landmark on Sixth Avenue and 25th Street, as The Real Deal reported. The 23,000-square-foot space will come complete with organic and specialty foods, the Post reported.

New Listings: 407 Park Avenue South, 9D

Brokers WeeklyJune 26, 2013
Kips Bay
407 Park Ave South, 9D
$550,000

One bedroom residence with private balcony off the living room with eastern exposure. Separate dining/office area off the kitchen. The Ascot is a full-service building which has a 24-hour attended lobby, live-in super, newly-renovated fitness center, laundry room and roof deck for residents. Listing agent: Adrian Noriega, CORE.

Jazz Legend David Sanborn Lists Upper West Side Brownstone

BloombergJune 26, 2013
Out of the shadows he emerges, sax in hand, dark sunglasses shading his face. Not loud or intrusive, David Sanborn's cool demeanor sets the tone for the smooth notes he's about to play.

The six-time Grammy winner seems at home on a dimly lit stage, or in his 20th-century brownstone in Lincoln Square. Much like the music flowing from his saxophone, Sanborn's home speaks for itself: modern yet classic, grand yet unassuming.

Located at 135 W 69th St, New York, NY 10023 on one of the Upper West Side's handsomest row of townhouses, the place is now on the market for a cool $12 million. Measuring 19 feet wide, it looks modest from the street, but with 13 rooms, it's anything but small.

The townhouse has been renovated with a well-appointed chef's kitchen and spa-like baths. Its early 1900s character also remains with original millwork, coffered ceilings, wood-burning fireplaces and period-centric chandeliers in nearly every room.

But perhaps the most fitting room for the musician, who earned a Grammy for Best R&B Instrumental Performance with his single "All I Need Is You," is the top-floor music studio.

"We went to great lengths to build the soundproof studio," Sandborn said in a NY Daily News report. "We blew off firecrackers to test it. No one heard a thing."

According to reports, Sanborn has lived in the area since he moved to New York City in the early '70s. In that time, he has played jazz shows at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola in Time Warner Center and been seen shopping and eating at local establishments.
Sanborn recently released a new album, "Quartette Humaine," which he recorded with pianist Bob James.

The listing is held by Tom Postilio, Mickey Conlon and Shaun Osher of CORE.

NoMad Lands

New York PostJune 26, 2013
North of Madison Square Park is buzzing with restaurants, hotels and new condos — here are five reasons we’re excited

NYC is awash in acronyms: Today SoHo, TriBeCa and FiDi are fully part of the local lingo.

But what about NoMad — North of Madison Square Park?

If you haven’t been tossing the term around, you soon will. This area, from 26th Street up to 30th and from Lexington Avenue over to Sixth, has seen an explosion of chic hotels, hip restaurants and glitzy residential buildings where there were once mostly wholesale clothing stores and rug merchants.

Here are our top five reasons that what was once a barren no-man’s-neighborhood has finally landed.

This 15th-floor, three-bedroom, three-bathroom penthouse at 241 Fifth Ave. is on the market for $6.95 million; the 45-unit, new-construction condo building should be ready for move-ins this summer and is already 70 percent sold.

Apparently, “Huys” is the Dutch word for a new 58-unit construction condo. At least that’s what they’re calling the building at East 28th Street that went on the market in March (for the record, the developer and designers are all Dutch) and is over 50 percent in contract; available units go for $3.1 million to $9.25 million. (Active listings are about $2,100 per square foot.)

And just a block or so north of Madison Square Park is a new-construction condo at 241 Fifth Ave. The 45-unit building, which is being marketed by Core’s Doron Zwickel and should be ready for move-ins this summer, is already 70 percent sold, with prices at a highly respectable $1,800 to $2,000 per square foot (not counting the pricier three-bedroom, 3,080-square-foot penthouse, priced at $7.95 million, still on the market).

And new buildings that are south of NoMad — meaning, they’re actually on the park — only add to the allure of the nearby neighborhood. They include the Whitman, a four-unit building on the northern edge of the park that should have move-ins this summer (and which reportedly sold a unit to Chelsea Clinton) and still has a $25 million, 6,540-square-foot penthouse available; and Ten Madison Square West (the former International Toy Center), with 125 units, which will start sales in the coming weeks, with one-bedrooms starting in the $1.5 million range and a five-bedroom penthouse listed for $25 million.

And there’s activity on the south side of the park, too: Related is restarting sales on One Madison Park, and we hear that Ian Bruce Eichner’s firm, Continuum, is also gearing up to start a project down the block on East 22nd Street.

The grub runs the gamut — from cool and casual to costly and fancy.
Let’s say high-end dining isn’t really your thing. So the NoMad, where culinary superstars Daniel Humm and Will Guidara dish up a foie gras-and-truffle-stuffed roast chicken for $79, might not be for you. But have no fear: If you’re more of a casual diner, NoMad has you covered. There are new sandwich places like Num Pang (Cambodian sandwiches) and Melt Shop (grilled cheese). Hooni Kim, a Michelin-starred chef, recently opened his casual Korean gastropub, Hanjan, on West 26th Street, the same block as the also-new whiskey bar/restaurant Maysville. The neighborhood “was really underserved when it comes to quick, cool, healthy food,” says Nicolas Jammet, the founder of the Washington, DC-based chain Sweetgreen, which offers salads, frozen yogurt and juices and is opening a 40-seat, 2,500-square-foot outpost in the NoMad Hotel this summer.

The Meatpacking District needs to watch its back, hotel-wise.
You might be familiar with the Ace and the NoMad Hotel — two of the heavyweights in the area — but what about Eventi, on Sixth Avenue and 30th Street? And the Gansevoort Park Avenue on 29th Street? And maybe you heard that King & Grove acquired the Hotel Lola on 29th Street last year? Well, all that stuff is old news anyway. We’re excited about the Virgin Hotel, on 29th Street and Broadway, slated for 2016. And we might be even more tickled by the 190-room SLS Hotel that’s opening next year at 444 Park Ave. South. “Jose Andres is our culinary director, and helping us find the right concept [for the hotel’s restaurant] — we’ve interviewed a number of chefs,” says Arash Azarbarzin, president of SBE, the hospitality group that owns SLS. “On the rooftop we do have plans for a lounge. It’s not going to be a nightclub — we’re going to welcome everybody. It’ll have beautiful views of the skyline.” In the basement, they’re planning the smaller S Bar.

Hey, Sixth Avenue is getting a Fairway!
A hot neighborhood is all fine and good, but the question any serious real estate shopper needs to ask before signing a contract is: Where do I buy my groceries? NoMad will no doubt get a great residential boost this summer when a Fairway opens up at the base of the 33-story Chelsea Landmark on Sixth Avenue and 25th Street. The coming store (the 13th in New York and Connecticut) will be a massive 23,000 square feet and will come with all the organic and specialty hallmarks Fairway is known for. And if you feel the need to shell out more money for your groceries, Eataly isn’t going anywhere.

Families need not fear these trendy developments.
OK, NoMad might work for the single, swinging guy looking for cool lounges and fancy restaurants . . . but will it work for a family? We are confident on that front, too. Walk around Madison Square Park and one sees advertisements for free concerts for kids, every Tuesday and Thursday at 10:30 a.m. The kids will no doubt relish a stop at the park’s flagship Shake Shack. (Danny Meyer deserves a lot of credit for giving NoMad some of his restaurateur cred.) And since 2007, there’s been an Apple Seeds — the indoor playground — on 25th Street. “It’s certainly become a lot more family-friendly, even with all the hotels,” says Bobby Berna, co-founder of Apple Seeds, who is himself a nearby Chelsea resident. “There’s a lot of young families in the neighborhood.”

Just Sold: 305 East 85th Street

New York PostJune 26, 2013
UPPER EAST SIDE $3,100,000
305 East 85th Street

Three-bedroom, 3 1/2-bath condo, 2,349 square feet, with kitchen with Miele appliances, master suite with sitting room and walk-in closet, marble bath with steam shower, California closets and Bosch washer/dryer; Georgica building features doorman, roof deck, gym and bike room. Common charges $2,467, taxes $259. Asking price $3,525,000, on market seven weeks. Brokers: Emily Beare and Elizabeth Beare, CORE.

Beer Pong, Hang Gliding, Turkey Hunting: NYC Brokers Nurture Client Loyalty in New Ways

The Real DealJune 25, 2013
In order to distinguish themselves, some New York City brokers are taking the aphorism “the sky’s the limit” literally, resorting to tactics such as hang gliding with clients in order to create a strong bond, the New York Times reported.

There are more than 52,000 licensed real estate agents and brokers in New York City, and nearly 28,000 in Manhattan alone, according to the Times. Stribling & Associates’ Dan Critchett, who is a certified hang gliding instructor, offers potential buyers a chance to try out the extreme sport. In such a hypercompetitive market, Critchett told the Times it helps him stand out.

“Buyer loyalty is one of the most difficult things to obtain,” Critchett said. “You’ve got to have a gimmick.”

Other brokers have also found unusual ways to engage their clients. Corcoran Group’s Beth Benalloul, a former personal trainer, often takes clients to exercise classes, she told the Times. CORE Group’s Michael Rubin has tried out turkey hunting, while Corcoran’s Brian Giambalvo has driven his clients to Costco to stock up on household essentials.

Indeed, even commercial brokers are not immune to gimmicks, as The Real Deal reported. Assemblage broker Robert Shapiro once sent helium balloons to a client he hoped to nab, and investment sales broker Adelaide Polsinelli mailed a potential client who dodged her calls a cell phone with her number on it.

Maureen Johnson, a Corcoran broker in East Hampton, told the Times that such interactions help to add a human touch to business transactions. “You see each other as real people, not as ‘you work for me,’” Johnson said. “And I don’t see you as dollar signs.”

Seen & Heard: New Restaurant Plans for Lispenard

Tribeca CitizenJune 25, 2013
Last we heard about 15 Renwick, the big plot on the small street that runs between Canal and Spring, Izaki Group Investments USA had taken over, a new design was in the works, and Core was handling the sales of the condos. Well, last week, as I was walking home from Giorgione, I noticed a sign for ODA Architecture on the plywood—it’s a reunion of sorts, since Izaki is working with both ODA and Core on the 93 Worth.

Hotels Week 2013

CurbedJune 25, 2013
A small update from the slow resurrection of Soho's 15 Renwick Street: it looks like ODA will be architect on the project. ODA also worked with the site's owner, an investment group, on Tribeca's 93 Worth, so the gang's all here. Good thing, too, because 15 Renwick needs all the help it can get.

Musician David Sanborn Lists NYC Townhouse for $12 Million

HGTV Front DoorJune 24, 2013
Musician David Sanborn is selling his Upper West Side townhouse for $12 million, and it comes with a bona fide soundproof room that passed a firecracker test. (More on that below.)

Sanborn, a Grammy-winning saxophonist who's worked with everyone from David Bowie to Paul Simon, has lived in the house since 1989. He converted the building, originally a multi-unit residence, back to a single-family home and restored many of the original details you can see in the photos. The five-bedroom, four-bathroom townhouse has a clean, modern vibe but also retains an authentic classic charm — thanks to the coffered ceilings, beautiful wood carpentry, four wood-burning fireplaces and distinct hardwood inlaid floors throughout.

The home comes with a private garden and terrace off the master bedroom, but our favorite amenity is the recording studio on the top floor. The fully-equipped studio was soundproofed with Sheetrock, according to CORE agent Mickey Conlon, who shares the listing with Shaun Osher and Tom Postilio. "To confirm that there would be no disturbances to the neighboring houses, firecrackers were set off in the space to test its noise-insulating capabilities," Conlon tells us. "Nobody heard a thing." You could have some fun with a tried-and-true soundproof room. State-of-the-art home theater? Ultimate man cave? Sensory deprivation tank? The possibilities are endless.

Here’s the Apartment; Now Let’s Go Hang Gliding

The New York TimesJune 24, 2013
When Dan Critchett, a real estate agent, meets a buyer at an open house, a potential client he hopes to woo, he shakes the buyer’s hand and offers two business cards. The first is fairly standard, a red rectangle that identifies him as an agent with Stribling & Associates, who can help you buy or sell a home. The second offers something else.

“Your introduction to Modern Hang Gliding,” it reads, next to a photograph of two enthusiastic looking people suspended high above the ground. “Sane Affordable Fun.”

Sane? Perhaps. But memorable? Quite likely. One thing is for certain, however: Hang gliding has nothing to do with real estate. And that Mr. Critchett says, is precisely the point.

“Buyer loyalty is one of the most difficult things to obtain,” said Mr. Critchett, who is a certified hang gliding instructor. “You’ve got to have a gimmick.”

There are more than 52,000 licensed real estate agents and brokers in New York City, and nearly 28,000 in Manhattan alone. So for those who making a living in this frantic field, one of the greatest challenges is distinguishing themselves from a large and aggressive pack. Some agents and brokers say that most effective one way to do this is by skipping the usual client lunches and meetings over drinks, and instead finding unusual ways of spending time together.

Beth Benalloul, a Corcoran Group broker and former personal trainer, has often “hyperventilated” with clients in exercise classes. Michael Mansfield of Citi Habitats has gone kayaking in the Hudson River, and Michael Rubin of CORE has tried turkey hunting. Ann Cutbill Lenane of Douglas Elliman arranges a giant scavenger hunt every other year. And Brian M. Giambalvo, an agent at Corcoran, has picked up several clients in his bright blue Honda sport utility vehicle and taken them to Costco to stock up on 30-packs of toilet paper, vats of hummus, and enormous boxes of bandages. And while he’s there, he stocks up, too.

In the hope that their clients will not wander over to the competition, ever circling with arms outspread, these brokers and agents try to nudge their professional relationships out of the traditional bounds of business suits and open houses, and toward activities normally reserved for actual friends.

“I love playing beer pong with clients,” said Kendrick Reinsch, a 25-year-old agent at Citi Habitats. “Which sounds crazy.”

Mr. Reinsch’s pong-destination of choice is a pirate-themed bar on Bleecker Street in Manhattan called Wicked Willy’s, draped with fake palm trees, faux driftwood, black flags and pirate ships. There, he stands next to his clients and tries to toss table-tennis balls into plastic cups filled with beer at the far end of a long table. Mr. Reinsch, who was in a fraternity as a New York University theater major, is quite good.
“You really have to fight the fun not to enjoy this,” he said, plastic cup of Miller Lite in hand. “They’re going to have a good time, and they’re going to remember me.”

He sometimes plays video games with clients, as well. And this, he said, helps him drum up more business.

“When people get to know you as a friend, they’re more likely to refer their friends,” he said.

While beer pong (also called Beirut) has served him well with many clients, Mr. Reinsch emphasized that Wicked Willy’s may not be a good fit for everyone. It could send the wrong message to a high-end buyer, say, or perhaps an older couple with children, so he approaches potential partners with discretion. Usually, he invites renters who are about his own age.

But in the case of Sarah Rose Katz, a Citi Habitats agent who is also 25, client bonding arose specifically because of an age difference: Her client, Doina Stoiana, 73, who owns a small rental building on the Upper East Side, received an iPhone and iPad as gifts, and it was Ms. Katz who taught her how to use them.

“It must have been 100 hours,” Ms. Katz said of their technology tutorials. “I spent a ridiculous amount of time there. But then we became very close.”

Ms. Katz is now the exclusive rental agent for Ms. Stoiana’s building, and when Ms. Stoiana and her husband, Mike, bought an apartment this year, Ms. Katz represented them as their agent. Ms. Katz and Ms. Stoiana say they have since gone on other excursions, including trips to the Botanic Gardens, and they now communicate almost daily.

“When I tell people in my office,” Ms. Katz said, “they say, ‘I’ve never heard of that before. That’s insane.'”

Maureen Johnson, a Corcoran broker in East Hampton, says that holding meetings outside of a standard business setting helps to humanize both buyer and broker, so she asks clients to come on joint dog walks. She brings along Max, a Silky Terrier, Bella, a Schnauzer-Yorkie mix.

“You see each other as real people, not as ‘you work for me,'” Ms. Johnson said. “And I don’t see you as dollar signs.”

Square Feet: Inside a State-of-the-Art French Manor House

LXTVJune 23, 2013
Open House takes a glimpse inside one of Saddle River, New Jersey’s most lavish homes. The home features seven bedrooms, eight bathrooms, a large central hall, formal dining room, gourmet kitchen, breakfast room, private library/office, an indoor pool, and a private tennis court. For more information on 105 Chestnut Ridge Rd., please contact Michael Graves of Core NYC at 212-932-2222.

How an Architect Couple Designed Their $399K Harlem Studio

CurbedJune 20, 2013
Yet another baller husband-and-wife design duo, architect couple Kayt Brumder Pereira and Jorge Pereira (at Samuel Anderson Architects and Foster + Partners, respectively, with stints at SOM and DS+R between them, so you know they're good) bought their studio apartment in East Harlem back in 2005 for $290,612, when the Roosevelt Lane Condos first opened. During renovations in 2007, they added an unobtrusive lofted bed over an office space built for two, plus incorporated discarded furniture from a former employer and some drawers found on the street—all of which made their small, impeccably decorated space worthy fodder for a profile in New York Times' home section. Now the 571-square-foot unit at 277 East 111th Street, which comes with a north-facing 60-square-foot balcony, is on the market for $399,0000. It all begs the question: If non-architects moved in, or even a couple that was half-architect, would it still look so freakin' lovely? Good thing the Pereiras did the grunt work already.

Mapping the Condos and Hotels That Are Transforming NoMad

CurbedJune 20, 2013
It took awhile, but NoMad—the neighborhood and the neighborhood name—is here. The transformation from a nameless, WTF-is-there "brown zone" on the map to a trendy, desirable neighborhood slowly began in the mid-aughts after the revitalization of Madison Square Park, and over the last few years, development in NoMad has charged full speed ahead. The Ace Hotel and early condo conversions like the Grand Madison paved the way, and now the small area, roughly between 25th and 30th Streets and Lexington and Sixth Avenues, is welcoming new boutique hotels and residential buildings all the time. For our latest Microhood Map, we tracked buildings and hotels that opened within the last three years and those currently in the works. See one that we missed? Leave a comment or hit up the tipline and we'll gladly add it.

NoMad Condo Earns Star Among World’s Most Famous Neighbors

Real Estate WeeklyJune 19, 2013
In the mid-1800s as New York City grew northward, each new frontier neighborhood was soon followed by a surge of wealthy families wishing to escape the crowds, grime and crime of streets further downtown.

By 1850, the well-to-do had staked out the area around Madison Square Park to build their mansions. New upscale hotels and theaters soon followed, with one eventually becoming known as the “World’s Most Famous Arena.”

The turn of the century brought large offices towers built in classical revival or beaux-arts styles and the south of the square was blessed with the Flatiron Building. Financial businesses then moved into those spaces, along with the musical publishing industry.

But by the 1960s, the area, like much of New York City, was in decline. While never becoming as dangerous as Times Square or as drug-filled as Union Square, the streets around Madison Square became known as a real estate “no-mans land,” the sidewalks filling up only with the city’s independent vendors seeking wholesale deals.

Sandwiched between the Village and Midtown, Madison Square would naturally seem like an investment no-brainer, but landmarking of the area has made new development difficult to achieve.

Enter 241 Fifth Avenue, one of the only new developments to go up within the Madison Square North Historic District.

“241 Fifth is currently the only true NoMad new construction project,” said Doron Zwickel, an executive vice president of CORE and the director of sales for the building. “[That] allowed us to create very efficient layouts with minimal loss of space. It will be ready for occupancy within a couple of months, which is really appealing to many buyers who don’t want to wait with uncertainty for completion in 12 to 24 months.”

With 46 bright and airy units, the building — developed by Victor Homes, a division of the M. Shuster Group — doesn’t feel like a new pioneer or an architectural outsider, just a new luxury residence on a stretch of Fifth Avenue that is returning to its former glory.

“The building was approved by landmarks a number of years ago,” said Ran Korolik, Vice president USA of Victor Homes. “The [former] developer who got it approved got into a bit of trouble, so we bought the note and had a friendly foreclosure with the guy.

“[We] demolished the four-story building and built according to the landmarks plan, which was the envelope of the building, and we did whatever we wanted to do inside.” Designed by ODA-Architecture, the exterior of the 20-story, 75,000 s/f building blends seamlessly enough into the existing neighborhood that it can be confused for a rehabbed structure.

But once you enter the ground-up project, the newness becomes apparent. Designed by Eran Chen at ODA, the loft-style, semi-wrap-around apartments have a modern minimalist lean with a natural color scheme throughout. White Zucchetti-Kos Faraway finishes are made to compliment the stained white oak floors.

Floor-to-ceiling windows make some apartments on upper floors so bright that lamps are not necessary, except during the short days of winter. Penthouse 15, a 2,706 s/f, three bedroom, 3-bath unit on the 15th floor with a 887 s/f terrace with views of Midtown, is a perfect example of maximizing natural light. The $6.9 million unit, which is still available, was so bright at seven o’clock in the evening that not a lamp needed to be turned on, even in the back of the apartment. The other penthouse, located on the 20th floor, has a 958 s/f terrace and 3,080 s/f of interior space. That three bedroom, 3.5 bathroom is listed at $7.9 million.

All apartments feature Miele appliances, including a washer and dryer. Bathrooms have soaking tubs, glass enclosed showers and natural style lighting that gives them a sunshine-based brightness that makes you forget that they don’t have windows.

Amenities include a rooftop terrace for all residents. A gym, residents lounge and what is being described as a “private wellness treatment room” intended to offer tenants a quiet space to have massage therapy.

The building is already over 70 percent sold, with only 12 units left not incontract. The lowest priced, apartment 13C, a 593 s/f one bedroom is $1.2 million. Two bedrooms start at $2 million and three bedrooms begin at $2.5 million.

Although it is one of the few residential projects in the Madison Square Park area, the developers don’t feel that the area should be described as “up and coming”, because it is already here.

“I think we already got into an area that was [going] up,” said Korolik. “When we bought [the site], it was not as established as it is now, but the Ace Hotel was already here, One Madison was already around and is now making a comeback. The area is kind of built up.”

Sneak Peeks: 15 Central Park West

CurbedJune 18, 2013
Steel magnate Leroy Schecter's full-floor 15 Central Park West pad has five bedrooms, five bathrooms, and a floorplan that basically exemplifies floorplan porn. He's dropped the asking price to $85 million, and is also considering renting it out for $120K/month. But despite some stellar views included in the CORE listing, we hadn't seen any interior shots of this blockbuster—until today, when New York Magazine's real estate scion J. Johanna Robledo took us inside. It's unfurnished, but there are lots of big windows, built-in shelving, and elegant light fixtures. The glass-walled shower with a view looks particularly suh-weet.

New York's Newest Neighborhood – NoMad

Huffington PostJune 18, 2013
In the ever-changing New York City real estate market, it appears that East Williamsburg is no longer the city's newest "neighborhood." The rise of Long Island City, NoHo/The Bowery, and now NoMad are all reshaping the commercial fabric of the lost neighborhoods that were once nothing more than a breeding ground for squatters, foreclosed buildings, and maybe a few starving artists. Land in New York has not always been expensive, new New Yorker's have a hard time grabbing onto that fact. The longer one lives here, the more you realize just how fast the city is really changing.

These real estate changes reflect the city's growing popularity. In 2012, New York City welcomed over 52 million visitors and grew in population almost 10 percent in the past decade. This reversal in 1980s urban decay, represents a larger shift in urban desirability. We are living in a time where cities are cool again. People are ditching their over-sized suburban lifestyle and moving into urban cores, finally reinventing the United States in a more European, city center-based, lifestyle.

The epicenter of this cultural shift has and most likely will always be New York City. The growth of urban centers is seen in New York with massive influxes in domestic and foreign capital. Capital that is literally pouring into the city's real estate market, creating one of the largest housing booms not seen in the last century. Over 1,000 city-owned buildings (in Harlem alone) are being snatched up as quickly as they are put on the auctioning block If the higher end of the market catches your attention, the penthouse at 432 Park Avenue, the city's newest "it" building, is currently in contract for $95 million. This comes just months after One57, Gary Barnett's Central Park South tower recently announced a buyer for his $90-plus million penthouse. These listings are just a couple of several $20-plus million listings that now sprinkle the market. While the ultra-high end market catches the attention of Page 6 readers, other changes are happening to the market that are a little more discreet.

The Ace Hotel, a high-end boutique chain headquartered in Portland with other locations in Seattle and Palm Springs, opened in 2010 in what many thought was a terrible piece of real estate. The pawn shop-riddled stretched of Broadway that connects Herald Square and Madison Square left little to be desired. Yet, one way or another, the Ace was able to change all of that. The hotel has hosted Alexander Wang's Fashion's Night Out Party, houses the ever-trendy Opening Ceremony and Stumptown Coffee, and has a beautiful lobby space dedicated to the artistically geared, upwardly mobile 20-something crowd. An area that was once a dumping ground for knock off perfumes and handbags appears to be turning around and selling true luxury.

North of Madison Square Park -- NoMad as real estate professionals now call it, is the latest spot for the movers and shakers. The Ace led the way, but now faces competition from the equally trendy NoMad hotel. Opening Ceremony is not accompanied by Kitsune Maison, while both Ace and NoMad hotels offer upscale dining to guests and residents alike. The blossoming hotel scene somewhat reminds me of the Bowery just a few years ago. Similar to the Bowery's transformation (led by the Bowery Hotel and then Cooper Square Hotel), restaurants and now housing projects appear to be popping up all over the place. Recently CORE started marketing its newest luxury property, 241 Fifth Avenue. Additional projects on the north side of Madison Square Park, along with ever-increasing demand, will make this area an interesting one to follow.

Clearly there is money to be made in the emergence of this new neighborhood. Ultimately, time will be the best factor in the overall success of an area many New Yorker's hardly know about. Real estate professionals across the board seem to have their eye on the high-ceilings, art-deco, and rather untapped market that is the area recently termed "NoMad" the is quickly cementing itself as the city's newest neighborhood, at least for the next couple of months.

Unveiled: The $85 Million Apartment at 15 Central Park West

New York MagazineJune 17, 2013
What does $85 million buy you at 15 Central Park West? Aside from the type of perks most New Yorkers don’t and won’t gain access to, including a private dining room, a library, and an indoor swimming pool, it’s this: 5,800 square feet – the entire floor of one tower – with views that could induce a serious case of the envies (or vertigo).

Apartment 35AB has been on and off the market since 2010 and used to be two separate apartments, but architect Vatche Simonian was called upon to reconfigure it as one. (Nick Stern, son of Robert A.M. Stern, who designed 15 CPW, was the contractor.) It’s also available for rent for $125,000 a month through broker Emily Beare of CORE, who’s repping the property. Word is that there are a number of interested parties circling for either deal, but nothing’s set yet.

What exactly will its future tenant be getting? Photos available online has been less than fulfilling; all that’s been posted on the web listing is a formidable floor plan and pretty shots of Central Park and the city. Are those the views you’d really have if you were the 15 CPW type? Yes – and then some. See for yourself with pics we took on a recent visit.

A Brief History of an $85 Million Penthouse in NYC

HGTV's FrontdoorJune 17, 2013
The 35th-floor penthouse at 15 Central Park West has been making news since last summer. Here's why.

The 35th-floor penthouse at 15 Central Park West, available for rent and for sale, offers unobstructed views of the Hudson River, downtown Manhattan and Central Park.

When it hit the market last summer for $95 million, the 35th-floor penthouse at 15 Central Park West attracted lots of attention — and the buzz has continued well into 2013. At $95 million, the combined condo would have been one of the priciest homes in the city. In April, however, steel magnate Leroy Schecter chopped the price to $85 million (which still gets a priciest-in-the-city award) and, soon after, removed it from the market entirely. (According to the Core listing broker, Schecter had decided to move in.) However, two weeks ago, the unit reappeared on the market as a rental, going for $125,000 a month. It's also back on sale for $85 million, with Emily Beare of CORE as the listing agent.

The condo is located in the prestigious building's west tower, a.k.a. the taller tower — which means views galore for a buyer or renter. The listing describes unobstructed views of Central Park, downtown Manhattan and the Hudson, with views available from virtually every room, including all the bedrooms. There are five bedrooms, five full bathrooms, two half-bathrooms and, curiously, two laundry rooms. The listing doesn't divulge much more, but NYmag.com just posted a juicy tour of the interior and we like what we see.

Will the condo find a new owner or will the saga continue through the summer? We're looking forward to the next chapter.

Buy a Jazz Legend's Upper West Side Townhouse for $12M

CurbedJune 14, 2013
Six-time Grammy winning saxophonist David Sanborn has put his very impressive West 69th Street townhouse on the market, not for the first time. As The Real Estalker points out, Sanborn first listed the house in September of 2010 for $9 million before chopping the price to $8.45 million and taking it off the market in August 2011. Now it's back, though, asking $12 million, and looking like it's got a real shot at getting something close to that. The five-story house has five beds, four baths, and a top floor recording studio in which Sanborn recorded six albums, and tested the soundproofing by setting off firecrackers. Also of note is the the original coffered ceiling in the living room, which was uncovered when Sanborn and his wife began the process of converting the house from a five-unit building to single-family home.

Priciest, Cheapest Units to Hit the Market

The Real DealJune 14, 2013
Cornelia Zagat Eland and Byron Anderson of Stribling & Associates have the priciest single-family listing to hit the Manhattan market this week, according to StreetEasy. Listed for $20.9 million, this 50 Central Park West co-op has four bedrooms and 5.5 bathrooms. The renovated home features 10-foot ceilings, crown moldings and views of Central Park from the dining room and master bedroom. Other amenities include oak herringbone flooring, mahogany doors and a staircase with mahogany handrails.

The next priciest listing this week is for a single-family townhouse located at 135 West 69th Street. Shaun Osher, Tom Postilio, and Mickey Conlon of CORE have the listing, which asks $12 million for the five-bedroom property. The home has hardwood flooring, four wood-burning fireplaces and a private garden space.

Head over to 737 Park Avenue, where a 2,915-square-foot condo is the next most expensive listing. The asking price for the three-bedroom, 3.5-bathroom home is $11.3 million. Macklowe Properties is marketing the development. The unit has 42 feet along Park Avenue, solid oak flooring and marble flooring in the eat-in kitchen.

The week’s cheapest listing is located up in Hamilton Heights, specifically 505 West 148th Street. Cherry Thomas of Exit Realty Landmark has the listing with a $145,500 asking price. The two-bedroom, one-bathroom co-op has hardwood floors throughout. Income restrictions apply.

Cedric Leake of Halstead Property has the next cheapest listing. Listed for $199,000, this co-op home has two bedrooms and one bathroom. It’s located in Central Harlem, at 17 East 131st Street.

The next cheapest listing is down in Yorkville, 321 East 89th Street, which is listed for $255,000. Yael Avi David and Aliza Gatan of Manhattan Flats have the listing for the unit, which is a studio co-op with one bathroom. –Zachary Kussin

Tags: cheapest listings, priciest listings
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