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Lights, Camera…Sale!

The Real DealJanuary 04, 2013
Meet New York City’s top real estate listings photographers.

In recent years, a new niche industry has exploded within the real estate industry: listing photography. With the advent of digital photography and growing international interest in New York City real estate, more and more brokers have turned to professionals to shoot their listings rather than taking the photos themselves.

Photographer Michael Weinstein, who has shot real estate listings for 16 years, recalled being worried that digital photos would ruin his business. Instead, he said, they’ve benefitted him in ways he never could have foreseen: Now that digital images can easily be viewed on the web, buyers come from Russia and China to purchase homes in New York based solely on his photographs.

“Photography has become more important in terms of the international market,” Weinstein said. “I feel my work now has become more valuable than ever.”

Whether it’s a Park Avenue penthouse or a Downtown studio, brokers said, listing photographs can make — or break — a deal.

Most brokers “are visual people,” said Emily Beare, managing director and associate broker at the brokerage Core. “We’ll look at the pictures, then look at the floor plan and then look at the description. So the photography has to be enticing.”

Beare said she usually tries to get photographers Richard Caplan or Nico Arellano to shoot her higher-end listings, believing that their work helps generate sales.

Agents said they will pay a premium — often out of their own pockets — for the right photographer. Most city real estate brokerages maintain a list of approved photographers, and a marketing budget that agents can tap into when hiring from that list. But many brokers said they will often seek out their favorites, even if they’re not on the list or cost extra money.

Here’s a look at some of the most sought-after real estate photographers in New York.

Evan Joseph
Many top brokers said when they have a seven- or eight-figure listing, they seek out Evan Joseph.
Joseph, who is one of around 10 approved photographers at Douglas Elliman, did the photography for the CitySpire penthouse currently listed by Elliman’s Raphael De Niro for $100 million; in fact, Joseph said he does all of De Niro’s listings priced above $10 million. He also shot the photos for Elliman broker Dolly Lenz’s $95 million listing at the Sherry-Netherland, a $75 million duplex at Trump Place at 240 Riverside Boulevard and a $65 million mansion in Alpine, N.J., listed by Elliman’s Oren Alexander.

Joseph said he also frequently works with Carrie Chiang of the Corcoran Group, and recently shot her listing for Derek Jeter’s penthouse, which sold for $15.5 million in October.

“Evan is the best. He’s amazing,” said Camilla Papale, Elliman’s chief marketing officer. “The quality is so high.”

That’s important, she noted, because “the better the image, the better the space is represented.”
Joseph began shooting real estate listings during the Dot-com era of the 1990s, when he began taking photos for some early real estate websites. He quickly mastered the craft of interior photography for marketing purposes, he said.

When shooting a listing, he said, “I want people to feel like, ‘Wow, I have got to live there,’ not just, ‘Oh, that’s a nice space.’”

In recent years, though, Joseph has expanded into lifestyle photography for artsy magazines. He has also co-authored the photography books “New York City at Night” and “New York Then and Now.”

Listings now comprise about a quarter of Joseph’s overall business, and he has a business partner, Travis Dubreuil, who helps him maintain his crowded schedule.

He declined to discuss his pricing, but said he’s proud that so many leaders in the industry keep coming back to him.

“I work hard to cultivate these relationships,” he said.

Nico Arellano
Photographer Nico Arellano has earned a reputation among brokers for his unique photo-processing style: He shoots an inte rior space with a variety of exposures and then blends the different shades of light into the final image, giving it a warm and inviting feel. Most photographers merge images with a computer program, but Arellano said he prefers to do it manually, even though it takes much longer.

“The difference is enormous,” said Arellano, who is originally from Miami and has also worked in fashion photography. “The photos are so much more beautiful. You want to walk into the room and sit down.”

Arellano’s photos “can direct your eye to a certain point in the room,” Beare said. “He hits it every time.”

Arellano typically charges about $150 for the first photo, and then reduced amounts for each subsequent image. He charges less for bulk deals with firms like Halstead Property, Elliman and Core, he said, because he benefits from the consistent work a large brokerage can provide.

Once he’s on a firm’s list of approved photographers, it acts “like my agent, in a way,” he said. “If a company has 1,000 brokers and 25 photographers on the list, they’ll call regularly.”

John Porcheddu
Unlike the many independent real estate photographers in the city, John Porcheddu doesn’t have to worry about finding work.

As one of the go-to guys on staff at Gotham Photo Company, a leading New York City real estate photography provider, Porcheddu is guaranteed a steady flow of clients.

Gotham — which specializes in doing listing photos, headshots, video and floor plans for real estate brokers — was founded in 2005. Porcheddu is one of its most-requested photographers, according to Gotham president Vince Collura.

“Clients request their favorite photographers, and John gets a lot of calls,” Collura said. “Many of our guys have specialties that could make them a good fit for a particular [listing], but John does it all.”
Porcheddu, who started taking photos as a hobby in high school, said working for Gotham allows him to focus on shooting rather than logistics.

“Instead of spending half of my time on advertising and stuff, I can just go and take pictures,” he said.

Through Gotham, Porcheddu charges $175 for a six-photo standard shoot, while larger, time-consuming packages can run over $300.

Michael Weinstein
When Town Residential broker Ginger Brokaw has an important listing, she said, she’s willing to wait for veteran photographer Michael Weinstein, one of several photographers on Town’s list of approved vendors.

“I would wait a week for Michael … especially if it was something unique or challenging,” Brokaw said. “I return to him time and time again.”

Weinstein was working in fashion about 16 years ago when he approached one of the marketing executives at Halstead about taking headshots of the firm’s brokers. The executive responded by asking if he’d ever shot properties.

“I said, ‘I never got paid for it, but I’ll certainly try,’” Weinstein recalled.

He discovered he had a knack for it, and his business took off. “I got busy really quickly,” he said.

Weinstein said he usually charges a flat rate, but sometimes negotiates prices with individual brokers, depending on the number of photos needed for a listing. He recently did the photos for a co-op at 828 Fifth Avenue listed for $72 million.

Dennis Cusack, director of sales at Town, said Weinstein’s photographs helped draw a huge buyer turnout for a listing at 225 West 95th Street.

“The first open house I think there were 45 people, and the second one was in the high 30s,” Cusack said. “Probably one of the most important things about the listing is the photography, and that’s why we go to Michael.”

Richard Caplan
Former Wall Street trader Richard Caplan became a professional photographer only five years ago, but has already shot over $2 billion worth of real estate, including a penthouse asking $48 million at 145 Hudson Street.

Caplan said he decided to move into photography so he could spend more time with his family. The career change made sense, he said, since “I’ve had a camera in my hands since I was seven years old.”

High-profile Elliman agent Fredrik Eklund said he’s worked with Caplan for years, and has even paid to fly Caplan to Sweden (where Eklund runs a brokerage) for real estate shoots.

“I’ve grown to trust him,” Eklund said. “I don’t even go to the shoots anymore.”
Eklund said Caplan instinctively shoots details within an apartment that convey a desirable way of life.

“We not only sell property, we sell a lifestyle,” Eklund said. “The photos need to be perfect.”

“Whether it’s a beautiful flight of stairs or an open floor plan, I’m looking for that sweet spot in the room,” said Caplan, who has an assistant and an editing team.

But he noted that there isn’t a lot of room for ego in real estate photography.

“As much as I like to see myself as an artist, I am here to help a salesperson,” he said. “The job is going to be what they want it to be.”

The Naming Process: How City Buildings Get Their Monikers

AM NYJanuary 02, 2013
Does your building have a name? How did it get it and what does it mean?

Assigning names to New York City apartment buildings began in the late 1800's and was meant to give this radically new way of living a feeling of respectability and permanence. Think Dakota. Think Apthorp. Now, names are an integral piece of the marketing plan for new projects. Branding is key.

According to Jenifer Steig of the real estate investment company the Cheshire Group, a "bad name won't kill a project, but a good name helps a building succeed."

The Philip House
Here's how Steig's company decided on a "good name" for its latest project, a 1927 building at 141 E. 88th St. that they are converting from rental to condo.

Steig says that "the building had great bones, a great location, a great pre-war feel" and the plan was to give it a "contemporary feel while making the best of the old."

The original name, The Rhinelander, paid homage to Philip Rhinelander, the patriarch of the family that developed huge parcels of the Upper East Side in the early 1900s.
"But, Rhinelander just doesn't roll off the tongue. We wanted something softer, more inviting, stylish," she said.

COOP, Cheshire's marketing agency, conducted focus groups and presented the developers with some choices: Shortening it to The Lander; going for something homey like The Hearth; something referring to its Carnegie Hill location like Hill House or Hill Court ; or something conjuring a sense of style like The Lexington or The Kensington."

In the end, they chose The Philip House, retaining the historical feel but streamlining it for the a new century.

One Museum Mile
When the developers of a new building at 109th Street and Fifth Avenue hired CORE to give their one-year-old building a marketing shot in the arm, Tom Postilio, managing director of CORE, said that one of the first items on the to-do list was a name change.

Originally known by its address, 1280 Fifth, CORE decided to jump on the fact that the city extended the length of Museum Mile up to 110th Street.

Since the building is set to house the Museum of African American Art (once the museum raises enough funds to make the move), Postilio and staff decided on One Museum Mile.

"This seemed to be the perfect way to identify our building. Traveling south, our building is the first."

Postilio is bullish on the name change: "We believe that the name change has increased traffic and deals."

Gotham West
The Gotham Organization's 1238 unit building on the far west side is the largest new development in the city right now, almost an entire city block, 10th to 11th avenues, West 44th to West 45th streets.

According to Melissa Pianko, EVP of Gotham, the naming process for her company is "an integral part of the marketing plan, the result of the work of a collaborative team of designers, marketing agency, and owners."

Gotham considered names with a Dutch origin, "earthy" names like Courtyard, but in the end they settled on Gotham West.
"After all, we've been Gotham since 1931 -- even before Batman. It seemed like a perfect choice."

The Contour
Some buildings are given a name that reflects their look. The LeFrak Organization's first residential rental project in Queens in almost 40 years, a renovation of a commercial building that was once known as LeFrak Tower, at 97-45 Queens Blvd., is re-christened "The Contour."

It's being marketed as the "building with all the curves you've been looking for."

Douglas MacLaury, SVP of the Mottone Group, says that usually advertising agencies generate names that reflect the "architectural envelope and the type of residences that are being built."

That's how his company's building Azure, on the Upper East Side, got its name.

"It's a glass structure, higher than the other buildings in the neighborhood, and on a sunny day the silvery building takes on a blue tint. Tower units have a river view, more blue."

The Isis
The folks at Alchemy Properties don't rely on focus groups or marketing agencies to find a name for their projects.

When it's time to name a building "we have fun in the office. We let everyone, and I mean everyone, who works for Alchemy get in on the act. And no, sometimes the choice is not the one I suggest," says Kenneth S. Horn, president and founder of the organization.

His new development at 303 E. 77th St., is dubbed The Isis.

"Isis is the Egyptian goddess of hearth and home. It seemed just right since we want to attract families with our spacious apartments with a classical feel," he said. "The hued pattern of the building gives it a mosaic quality, another good reason for the name."

Finding just the right name means a lot to Horn: "I founded this company in 1990 during a down market in the industry-my goal was to 'turn clay into gold.'"

‘The Year of the Penthouse’ - In the top 10 deals of 2012, residential sales broke records

The Real DealJanuary 01, 2013
Town Residential founder Andrew Heiberger recently dubbed 2012 the “Year of the Penthouse,” due to the recent stream of record-breaking deals. The year started with the now-famous $88 million sale of a penthouse at 15 Central Park West, and before 2012 was done, city-wide records for condo, co-op and townhouse sales had all been broken — some more than once.

In 2012, there were 10 sales over $30 million, compared to six in 2011, according to data from the listings website StreetEasy. And at $88 million, 2012’s most expensive sale dwarfs 2011’s $48 million record and 2007’s $50 million top deal.

Brokers attributed 2012’s jaw-dropping prices to limited inventory and a seemingly insatiable appetite for high-end product.

Shaun Osher, CEO of the residential brokerage CORE, said mammoth sales such as the one at 15 Central Park West are seen as less and less of an anomaly.

“They’re not run-of-the-mill, but they’re definitely becoming a lot more frequent,” Osher said.

Read on for a closer look at the priciest closed sales of 2012 as of press time.

15 Central Park West, PH20
Closing date: Feb. 15, 2012
Price: $88 million

In a deal that set the stage for a year of mammoth residential sales, former Citigroup Chairman and CEO Sanford Weill closed on the sale of his 15 Central Park West apartment in February for a record-breaking $88 million. The closing price, almost double the $43.7 million Weill paid for the apartment in 2007, made international headlines and sent shockwaves through the residential market for the rest of the year. The deal was the priciest residential property ever sold in the city, a record previously held by J. Christopher Flowers’ 2006 purchase of the Harkness Mansion at 4 East 75th Street.

The 6,744-square-foot penthouse spread was purchased by Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev, a philanthropist and the owner of AS Monaco Football Club. Kyle Blackmon of Brown Harris Stevens represented the seller in the deal, while BHS’s Maria Torresy brought the buyer. BHS declined to comment on the deal.

It was first reported that Rybolovlev bought the apartment for his equestrian daughter Ekaterina. But his wife, Elena, with whom he was engaged in a tumultuous divorce battle at the time, later alleged in a lawsuit that the billionaire had purchased the apartment in his daughter’s name in order to hide assets in anticipation of their divorce proceedings.

Weill has reportedly since moved to a sixth-floor apartment in the same building.

Rybolovlev’s record, however, is already set to be broken, with the expected closing of a $95 million deal reportedly in contract at Extell Development’s One57 at 157 West 57th Street. Closings at One57 are set to commence in the summer of 2013.

50 Central Park South, #30/31
Closing date: June 11, 2012
Price: $70 million

In June, casino mogul Steve Wynn paid $70 million for a duplex at the Ritz-Carlton at 50 Central Park South listed by Blackmon of Brown Harris Stevens. Wynn bought the apartment from Christopher Jeffries, the founding partner of Millennium Partners, which had developed the condominium portion of the 35-story hotel in 2002. Jeffries reportedly paid $22 million for the apartment upon its completion.

The 10,882-square-foot duplex, on the 30th and 31st floors, previously served as the hotel’s ballroom. The upper floor has a library, media room, dining room and kitchen, while four bedrooms are on the lower floor.

Serena Boardman of Sotheby’s International Realty represented Wynn in the deal. Neither broker responded to a request for comment.

For Wynn, the purchase was the end of a long search for Manhattan digs. In late 2010, he changed his mind about his penthouse at the Plaza, flipping it for $24.4 million after owning it for just six months. Wynn, who was not available for comment, reportedly then spent close to two years touring trophy listings all over the city before settling on the Ritz spread.

785 Fifth Avenue, #PH
Closing date: Nov. 8, 2012
Price: $54 million

Music industry legend David Geffen broke records in November when he paid $54 million for the duplex penthouse above his existing apartment at 785 Fifth Avenue. The seller was singer and socialite Denise Rich. The deal beat out the sale of Courtney Sale Ross’s apartment at 740 Park Avenue earlier in the year (see below) to become the highest-priced co-op sale in the city’s history.

The 12,000-square-foot, seven-bedroom apartment, which includes a full recording studio, had been listed for $65 million by the Corcoran Group’s Noble Black, Chazz Levi and Bonnie Pfeifer Evans. Before being picked up by Geffen, the spread was reportedly eyed by the prime minister of Qatar.

Black declined to comment on the identity of the buyer or seller but said: “What was remarkable about the apartment was just its sheer size. The huge entertaining spaces upstairs were just fantastic.”

He added: “The buyer was already very familiar with the building but liked the fact that this apartment had the high ceilings and a tremendous amount of outdoor space. He definitely had his eye on it for a while.”

Geffen reportedly has no plans to combine the unit with his own apartment downstairs. The New York Post said he would likely complete an extensive renovation of Rich’s former digs before moving in and selling his other apartment.

Deborah Grubman and David Dubin of Corcoran, who represented Geffen in the deal, declined to comment.

740 Park Avenue, #12/13
Closing date: May 4, 2012
Price: $52.5 million

In the second priciest co-op deal of the year, billionaire investor Howard Marks, chairman of the global asset management firm Oaktree Capital, paid $52.5 million for a 30-room spread at 740 Park Avenue owned by Courtney Ross, the widow of the late Time Warner CEO Steve Ross.

The eight-bedroom pad — actually a combination of two apartments — has 10 bathrooms, two libraries and two dining rooms, according to the listing. Six exterior terraces overlook Central Park. Ross reportedly bought the two apartments in the 1980s for a total of $8 million. He passed away in 1992.

The 740 Park Avenue spread was quietly shopped around in 2009 before officially hitting the market in 2011 for $60 million with Kathy Sloane of Brown Harris Stevens.

“It’s a totally unique space,” said Sloane, who noted that she got the listing through a mutual friend. “This was an opportunity to have over 12,000 square feet in one of the best buildings in the world.”
When the deal closed in May, it broke the record set by the 2008 sale of a spread at 2 East 67th Street to Loews Hotels CEO Jonathan Tisch for $48 million.

Other high-profile residents of 740 Park include billionaire Stephen Schwarzman, co-founder of the Blackstone Group, and fashion designer Vera Wang.

Roberta Golubuck of Sotheby’s represented the buyer, but was not available for comment. The deal came just one month after Marks took Oaktree public with $79 billion in assets.

834 Fifth Avenue, #12B
Closing date: Jan. 31, 2012
Price: $42 million

The year started out with a bang when Robert Bass, the founder of investment firm Oak Hill Capital Partners, paid $42 million for a 12th-floor unit at the exclusive co-op, 834 Fifth Avenue.

Bass, said to be worth close to $3 billion, ranked 88th on the 2011 Forbes list of the 400 richest Americans. He bought the apartment from fellow financier Damon Mezzacappa, head of the now-defunct private investment firm Mezzacappa Management and former vice chairman of financial advisory firm Lazard Frères & Co.

Mezzacappa was represented by his wife, Katherine Bryan of Sotheby’s. Elsie Nelson of Brown Harris Stevens represented Bass.
Mezzacappa told The Real Deal he sold the apartment because he moved to Florida after winding down Mezzacappa Management.

The white-glove co-op was constructed in 1930 and designed by architect Rosario Candela. News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch and Charles Schwab, head of the eponymous brokerage and banking firm, are also residents of the building.

The Stanford White Mansion, 973 Fifth Avenue
Closing date: June 21, 2012
Price: $42 million

In June, a mansion at 973 Fifth Avenue designed by famed architect Stanford White sold for the same price as Mezzacappa’s unit. The 15,225-square-foot house, located between East 78th and 79th streets, had been listed for $49 million by Brown Harris Stevens broker Paula Del Nunzio.

The deal marked the priciest sale of a Manhattan townhouse in 2012, though the overall record for the city’s most-expensive townhouse sale is still held by the Harkness Mansion.

Del Nunzio, who declined to identify the buyer or seller, said 973 Fifth “was one of the last two mansions designed by the illustrious Stanford White. It contained not only all the original interior detail of its famed architect, but also his original floor plan. … The view from the roof of Central Park was pure perfection.”

According to public records, the seller of the Stanford White Mansion was an entity called OBE Holdings, and the buyer was 973 Fifth LLC. Plans were recently filed to renovate the property, according to data provider PropertyShark.

The home was designed in the early 1900s for banker and railroad tycoon Henry Cook. Prior to Del Nunzio’s listing, it had not been on the market in more than 30 years.

2 East 70th Street, #PH13A
Closing date: June 11, 2012
Price: $40.06 million

The stringent co-op board at 2 East 70th Street this spring approved Laure Sudreau-Rippe — an attorney and a minority owner of the agricultural commodities conglomerate Louis Dreyfus Holding BV — to purchase an apartment owned by the late private equity giant Ted Forstmann.

Sudreau-Rippe paid approximately $40 million — 11 percent above the asking price — for the 4,000-square-foot home. Forstmann’s estate was represented by Meredyth Smith and Serena Boardman of Sotheby’s. Sudreau-Rippe was represented by Brown Harris Stevens broker Dominic Paolillo.

The three-bedroom unit was never formally listed for sale, but reportedly has a wraparound terrace with views of Central Park.

Forstmann, who famously dated actress Elizabeth Hurley and “Top Chef” host Padma Lakshmi, died in 2011 of brain cancer. He was the chairman and CEO of IMG Worldwide, a sports and fashion-marketing company.

Smith told TRD the apartment was subject to a bidding war. “It’s one of the most extraordinary penthouses on Fifth Avenue,” she said.

730 Park Avenue, PH
Closing Date: Oct. 24, 2012
Price: $39 million

Another “whisper listing” that sold this year was the 12-room duplex at 730 Park Avenue, which traded for $39 million in October.

Daniel Benton, co-founder of technology-based hedge fund Andor Capital Management, bought the unit from a seller named Joann Walker, public records show. The listing was a co-exclusive between Stribling and the Sotheby’s team of Smith and Boardman.

The four-bedroom penthouse reportedly features five terraces, a solarium, a greenhouse breakfast room and a 37-foot-wide living area.
Benton and his wife, Anne, reportedly own another unit in the building, which they purchased for $21 million in 2007.

Whisper listings are challenging to market, but “at the upper, upper end of the market, the buyers and sellers really prize discretion,” Smith said. To unload the property, “we quietly reached out to brokers we know who work with appropriate types of buyer.”

15 West 63rd Street, #29A
Closing date: Nov. 19, 2012
Price: $33.5 million

Riza Aziz, a Hollywood producer and the son of former Malaysian Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak, paid $33.5 million for a seven-bedroom condo at the Park Laurel on 63rd Street in November.

Aziz, whose company is currently producing the Martin Scorsese film “The Wolf of Wall Street,” bought the unit from Peter Edward Chadney and Simone Cecile Von Graffenried Simperl, both residents of Switzerland, public records show.

The unit was not publicly listed, and a spokesperson for Aziz told TRD that no brokers were involved in the deal.

The sellers purchased the apartment for almost $24 million in 2010, according to public records. The 15-room duplex has 7,728 square feet of interior space and a terrace. Aziz most recently produced the movie “Friends with Kids.”

1030 Fifth Avenue, #9W
Closing date: April 17, 2012
Price: $31.5 million

Tech mogul George Blumenthal closed on the $31.5 million sale of his six-bedroom, prewar co-op in April, just three months after listing it with Warburg Realty’s Bonnie Chajet and Ronnie Lane. The 6,000-square-foot unit at 1030 Fifth Avenue, a white-glove building on the corner of 84th Street, closed for $3.5 million less than the initial asking price.

The ninth-floor unit was purchased by hedge funder Zachary Jared Schreiber and wife Lori, who were represented by Brown Harris Stevens’ Blackmon.

The Schreibers also own a three-bedroom apartment at 15 Central Park West, which they listed briefly with Blackmon in 2011. The unit is no longer on the market, according to StreetEasy.

Their new apartment at 1030 Fifth Avenue has a library, a formal dining room with a fireplace, a gym and two maid’s rooms, according to the listing.

Chajet declined to name the seller, but said she sold the apartment to him more than 20 years ago. When he was ready to sell, “he came back to me,” she said. “He was an empty nester ready to change his lifestyle.”

Chajet said he has since moved into a smaller apartment in a more modern building on the West Side.

Predicting the 2013 Market

The Real DealJanuary 01, 2013
Although the European debt crisis seems to be further from investors’ minds today than it was a year ago, fresh hurdles like the fiscal cliff standoff in Washington, prospective tax changes and a New York City mayoral election loom. And those are not the only questions that industry pros are pondering as 2013 gets underway. Also on their minds: Will the tech sector continue to prop up commercial leasing? What kinds of housing stock will move — and what will languish on the market? Where will the next wave of retail condo sales take place? And which overall sectors of the market will investors gravitate towards?

This month, The Real Deal talked to New York City real estate insiders from several different sectors of the market to get their industry predictions for 2013.

Investment sales
Greater threshold for risk

Those who follow Manhattan’s commercial sales market predict that investors will shift their attention this year — and the result could be more new development projects.

“Because existing assets have gotten so expensive, I think you will see investors go further out into the risk spectrum and decide it may make sense to develop or redevelop property instead of buying [existing assets],” said Dan Fasulo, managing director at Manhattan-based research firm Real Capital Analytics. “We are at the point in the [recovery] cycle where the spread between buying and building will tempt investors to build.”

Indeed, when it comes to buying existing properties, challenges remain: There is too much capital for the number of buildings being sold. And, analysts say, owners are reluctant to sell because they aren’t sure where to invest their funds next.

“It’s clear owners prefer owning well-located bricks to owning paper,” said Peter Hauspurg, chairman and CEO of the investment sales brokerage Eastern Consolidated.

Still, as investors’ worries about inflation foment, many are scrambling to get capital into the real estate market, and to get projects started with financing at today’s low interest rates, experts said.

In 2013, Hauspurg said, the most active sector for investors seeking “high-powered yields” will be condominium development, particularly in the outer boroughs — a shift from the post-Lehman years, when investors rushed to buy up multi-family properties and trophy office assets.

Office leasing
The tech sector question mark

While 2012 saw deal volume plummet, industry pros say that commercial leasing could have fared far worse, given that the financial services sector — the motor behind New York City’s office market — shed jobs last year.

“There is not a lot of velocity, but at the same time there has not been this great increase in vacancy” in 2012, said Eastern’s Hauspurg, adding that the much-ballyhooed technology sector has picked up the slack.

But the major question mark for this year is whether the tech sector will be a lasting economic force. “Is the start-up dynamic going to continue? It all feels very Internet circa 1998,” said Nat Rockett, Executive Vice President at Cushman & Wakefield, of the tech industry’s recent New York leasing spree.

He pointed to the fleeting success of some tech companies as cause for continued uncertainty in the leasing market.

“I remember six months ago everybody who had space in Soho said, ‘Zynga will take it.’ Now it’s like — ‘Guess what? Zynga doesn’t look like it will survive 2013,’” he said of the online game developer. And while some tech firms have ventured from their preferred Midtown South market (because of the lack of inventory and increased prices there) to find cheaper space Downtown, not all areas are benefiting from the spillover. Rockett, for example, said the tight market in Midtown South has done nothing for submarkets that are suffering, such as the Plaza District.

Residential rentals
Pricing nears tipping point

The Manhattan rental market has been white hot for some time. And the high end of the rental market will continue to fare well, thanks to international renters looking for New York City homes.

“Tight credit is definitely helping drive the upper end of the rental market,” said Larry Friedman, principal at brokerage AC Lawrence.

But at the middle and bottom of the market, renters are increasingly resisting rising rents.

“There will be a tipping point where you start pricing people out of the marketplace,” predicted Gary Malin, president of brokerage Citi Habitats.

Indeed, the middle and low segments of the rental market are also seeing an increasing number of renters take the plunge and purchasing, given the record-low interest rates. And, as TRD reported last month, Citi Habitats found that rental prices in Manhattan dropped across all apartment types between October and November, and that overall Manhattan rents slid $76 to $3,368 during that time.

“The pace of increase [in rents] has slowed in the last two months, year over year,” Jonathan Miller, president of Miller Samuel, the real estate data firm, told TRD at the time. “We could be reaching some sort of threshold; we’re getting more resistance to the rising rental market.”

With a lack of large-scale new rental developments in Manhattan, Malin said he expected new, amenity-rich buildings in the outer boroughs to continue to see strong activity, and noted that there may be more development of that sort as well.

“There are nice amenities at a significant discount to Manhattan,” Malin said, pointing to new rental construction in Brooklyn and Queens.

But, generally, expect more of the same in the rental market next year, real estate executives said. “I think the vacancy rate will hover right around where it is, and concessions will continue to play the same role they’ve been playing” — that of a marketing tool for new buildings — not a financial incentive landlords feel they must provide, Malin said.

Residential sales
More One57-type condos on horizon

Some sectors of the residential sales market could falter next year as foreign and domestic buyers seek different products from one another, sources say. That desire for different types of housing will intensify a growing chasm between the market for new construction — which often appeals most to foreign buyers — and for townhomes and co-ops, said Frederick Peters, president of Warburg Realty.

In 2013, expect tonier co-ops to sit on the market, as sellers emboldened by headlines about rising prices in New York City list their homes for ever-higher sums, Peters said.

“We’ve seen a lot of major inventory sit … because buyers are not willing to throw money at it unless they think it’s spectacular,” he said.

CORE broker Michael Graves said he expected inventory to increase. But in the wake of the Presidential election and once the fiscal cliff is resolved — no deal had been reached at press time — sellers will be more likely to pull the trigger, he said.

“We will see a healthier dose of inventory in the first and second quarters [first],” Graves predicted.

Not everyone agreed with that assessment, however.

Miller predicted that supply will likely remain constrained, which will lead to modest price appreciation. International buyers are not going anywhere either, Miller said, which could also buoy prices.

“For all our problems [New York City’s market is] the lesser of all evils, and I see that continuing in 2013 because what’s driving [buyers here] doesn’t have a short-term solution — a softening economy in China and an economic bubble in South America,” he said.

Given those factors, additional super-luxury developments are rising, as the development community salivates over moneyed foreigners.

“You may see more One57s and 432 Park [Avenues],” Miller said, referring to Extell Development’s under-construction tower on West 57th Street and to the residential project that the CIM Group and developer Harry Macklowe just broke ground on.

Retail
Side-street spillover effect

Last year was a strong year for Manhattan retail with big retail condo sales and rising rents. And some say that momentum is not likely to let up this year.

“[This year] is only going to get better,” said Kelly Gedinsky, a broker with Winick Realty, noting that rents climbed by as much as 30 percent quarter over quarter on certain retail strips in 2012’s third quarter, the most recent data available at press time.

Prices surged mostly in prime locations like Madison and Fifth avenues as well as in Times Square, Herald Square, the Meatpacking District and Soho. And Gedinsky predicted that those high rents will spill over to nearby side streets.

In the Meatpacking District, more tenant interest has already been focused on Little West 12th and West 13th streets as retailers have moved beyond 14th Street. The same is true in Soho for Mercer, Greene and Wooster streets, where activity has been boosted because there are so few vacancies along Spring and Prince streets, she said. But Gedinsky said she expected to see more side streets adjacent to busy retail strips benefit from this spillover trend this year.

But even as rents and activity rise in certain areas, others — notably along Second Avenue on the East Side, where the construction of the subway has killed activity for some time now — are stagnant or dropping, brokers said.

Areas where revenues are not driven by tourism could suffer from ongoing depressed rents, said Jedd Nero, a retail broker with the CBRE Group. “When there is a blip, it’s the local players who bleed faster,” he said.

Meanwhile, on pricey Fifth Avenue, a number of large blocks of space are coming to market next year. At Thor Equities’ 520 Fifth, about 77,000 square feet is due to come online, and at Crown Acquisitions’ 530 Fifth, about 42,000 square feet should be available, Nero said. He predicted that retailers might end up sharing the spaces in unconventional arrangements, since there aren’t that many tenants interested in such large blocks of space.

A Day in the Life of: Shaun Osher

The Real DealJanuary 01, 2013
The CORE CEO walks TRD through a typical day, as he bikes up to 75 miles, juggles pricey listings and plays the sax

6:30 a.m. I usually wake up at 6:30. Half the week I stay in Port Washington, on Long Island. That’s where my two beautiful daughters live. The days when I don’t have my girls, I’m on West 9th Street, where I share a townhouse with my girlfriend, Brittley Jarrell, who is the chief operating officer of Core. I’ve always been very active — I work out about four or five times a week. It’s usually a bike ride, between 20 to 75 miles [before work], and it’s usually loops in Central Park. Today, I ran seven miles along the Hudson. I also try to meet with my trainer once a week, to do push-ups, pull-ups, the rowing machine and rope-climbing, like back in my army days in South Africa. I was in the army for two years. There was six months of basic training, which was brutal. I was living in the bush, crazy stuff.

7:30 a.m. When I stay on Long Island, I take my daughters to school. Then I go home and start checking emails on my iPhone. There’s a 9:11 train that I usually take into the city. When I’m here, I will help Brittley take her boys to school. Then I will hop in the shower and do my emails from the apartment.

10:00 a.m. to noon Most mornings, I’m in the office by 10. Today, I had a conference call with the sales team at 93 Worth, a 92-unit condo conversion in Tribeca. Sales started in early December, and more than a dozen contracts have been signed already. Whenever you open a building, you have nearly constant engagement with the sales team and the developer. The first two weeks are very intense.

But it’s a good problem to have. I spend about 15 to 20 percent of my time working on new business, which means meeting with new agents. We have about 70 employees, and we have two offices. We’re opening a third one, on the Upper East Side [at 673 Madison Avenue], in mid-February. It will be a showroom and will house 30 agents.

Noon I don’t really do lunch meetings because they’re long, and I only have so many hours in the day. So, I usually eat on the run or get something in the office. A turkey sandwich, that’s usually my go-to, but I pretty much eat anything. Last Wednesday I had a meeting at noon with Michael Stern, managing partner of JDS Development Group, which is building Walker Tower, a 53-unit condo. We met at the sales office in Chelsea. The project is going well. We’ve sold a significant amount. [StreetEasy shows that 40 percent of the building has sold.]

2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Sometimes I will drop by our office on Seventh Avenue to check in, and an agent will pull me aside to ask about a deal. For example, Emily Beare needed advice on a $95 million listing she has at 15 Central Park West. We have property lists of people who are really affluent, so we reach out and let them know the unit is available. Emily also represented the seller, Leroy Schecter, in his purchase of the Rothschild Mansion on the Upper East Side for $25 million. I pulled some comps together and helped with the negotiation.

5:00 p.m. If I have my girls, I’m heading home to be with them. I am very involved with their after-school activities, so I will take Ava [who is 11] to tennis and pick up Ella [who is 6] from dancing. I love to cook — maybe some chicken, or pasta, though my recipes are expanding. And Ava likes to bake, so once a week after dinner, we’re baking.

6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. If I’m in the city, I will go home and play sax for a while. I keep a tenor sax in Manhattan; my two altos are on Long Island. I keep my soprano sax here [at Core’s headquarters, at Fifth Avenue and 16th Street] and sometimes I play at night when nobody is around. The acoustics are really good in here. I played the sax in jazz bands — I played at the Blue Note, the Cupping Room Café and the Village Gate before it became a CVS. Every once in a while I will still go to see jazz, like at the Village Vanguard.

8:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. I skip the charity events; I usually just write a check. So we will have dinner in the apartment or go out to Tertulia, on Sixth Avenue, or Alta, on 10th Street. I don’t watch much TV — maybe Monday Night Football, or the Tour de France, or some cricket if it’s on. I also read a lot. I just finished “King Leopold’s Ghost,” about North Africa and the Belgian Congo. I also like GQ and Vanity Fair. And Seth Godin’s blog, about marketing, but I don’t really focus on real estate too much.

10 p.m. onward I’m in bed between 11:30 and 1, depending on how many emails I have. I like to start my day with a clean slate.

NYC's Premier Listings: Unit #12ABC at 1280 Fifth Avenue in Carnegie Hill

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Most Expensive Homes on the Market: Upper West Side

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NYC's Premier Listings: Unit #PH6 at 93 Worth Street in Tribeca

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NYC's Premier Listings: Unit #4C at 166 Perry Street in the West Village

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NYC's Premier Listings: Unit #PHA at 310 West 52nd Street in Clinton

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New Developments: What's Rising in Tribeca

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America’s Priciest Listings of 2012

The Real DealDecember 31, 2012
This past year, New York City has seen some shattering purchases, such as the $88 million 15 Central Park West apartment sale and the $90 million One57 contract. But what about listings? Curbed rounded up the year’s priciest properties to come online throughout the country. Of the 10, four are located in New York City, though according to Streeteasy.com, one of the listings was taken off the market in October.

The CitySpire triplex penthouse is currently the city’s priciest, but the nation’s fifth most expensive. The home, owned by Long Island developer Steven Lar, has 360-degree views and 3,000 square feet of outdoor space. However, as The Real Deal reported, some industry executives say the property does not warrant such a hefty price tag.

The next three have asking prices of $95 million and directly follow the CitySpire penthouse on the list. One of them is a full-floor unit at 15 Central Park West. Emily Beare of CORE has this listing, the home has five bathrooms, five bathrooms and two half baths. Steel mogul Leroy Schecter listed the property in August.

Another one of the $95 million listings on the Curbed list is a unit at the Ritz Carlton Hotel at 50 Central Park South. Dianne Weston of Halstead Property is named as the listing broker, but Streeteasy shows that the unit is no longer on the market. The third $95 million listing is at the Sherry Netherland. Dolly Lenz of Douglas Elliman and Kathy Sloane of Brown Harris Stevens have the listing for the seven-bedroom, eight-bathroom home. The co-op home is a full-floor unit. As previously reported, the owner of the unit is Liberty Travel founder Gilbert Haroche. The home totals 9,000 square feet and includes 2,000 square feet of outdoor terrace space.

As for the top three priciest listings, they’re located in Los Angeles and listed for $150 million each, according to rumors. One of them is a Beverley Hills compound owned by real estate investor Jeff Greene. [Curbed] –Zachary Kussin

Selling New York S6E4: A Tale of Fashion & Heartbreak on the West Side

CurbedDecember 28, 2012
HGTV's Selling New York rides along with brokerages CORE, Kleier Residential, and Warburg as they try to sell fabulous properties fabulously. Here's our recap of how the NYC real estate industry is portrayed to the world, penned by Angela Bunt. Episode air date: 12/27/2012.

Watch as we round out 2012 with Warburg's Leslie Modell Rosenthal and Core's Omar Jermaine, both trying to sell apartments on the West Side of Manhattan. One: a woman desperately trying to create buzz around a seemingly perfect apartment at 220 Riverside Boulevard, whose only flaw may be that it's a bit too West. And the other: a fashion designer-turned-broker eager to find the right fit for his fashion industry friends. With the couple's wishy-washy criteria, and the lack of trains that run all the way out to West End Avenue, it'll be a post-Christmas miracle if these two can sell the featured properties.

We begin this week's episode with Leslie Modell Rosenthal, associate broker at Warburg, who is struggling to move an apartment on 220 Riverside Boulevard. At $3.495M, the 3BR, 3BA apartment is gorgeous: beautiful wood floors, massive windows lining the dining room that showcase the Hudson River, not to mention the surround sound speakers and stainless steel appliances. The only trouble is it's been on the market for a couple of months (eons in Manhattan real estate-time) and is growing stale. With it being so far on the West Side, it's a bit of a tough sale and Leslie is getting frustrated. Hey, New York City -- can a girl get a subway that goes past 9th Avenue?

While Michael is super excited about having his own bathroom (finally, he can play Words With Friends while pooping in peace!), Susan says she can't part with their current eat-in kitchen, and it seems they are dead set on a pre-war pad. Which Leslie obviously already knew and is just grasping at straws in an effort to sell the place before the owner finds another broker.

Leslie has to come up with a quick and effective plan in order to stir up some buzz around the apartment and get an offer. She turns to her fashonista daughter, Missy, to help her come up with an idea. Something with food, drink and fashion... I know – a fashion show that Missy conveniently will model in! In all fairness, Missy is pretty hot.

The mother-daughter duo are going to tackle the event as a team: Missy will get the clothes, Leslie will get all her top broker friends to come. Oh God oh God oh God, I hope the Kleiers show up.

Yesssss. These girls sure know how to party! From the looks on their faces, I can't tell if they're already half-in-the-bag, or if they're on an adrenaline rush from earlier slipping hubby/father, Ian, a Roofalin so he wouldn't interrupt their ladies' night out.

Filled with brokers and buyers, the fashion show is seemingly a big success. But despite the large turnout and positive feedback, Leslie still receives no offers on the digs. She and her daughter lick their wounds over a glass of wine, and at the end of the episode we learn that the owners reject Leslie's advice to stage the apartment and do a *gulp* price drop. Cutting her losses, she moves on to other listings. Bummer! But at least the fashion show helped jump start Missy's modeling career, so, not a total loss.

Let's hope we have a bit more luck with our next broker, Core agent Omar Jermaine. Omar used to work in fashion and recently made the jump to real estate so he has ins in the biz. This is why it should come as no surprise when Omar gets a call from Andy Hilfiger, broski of Tommy, who is in need of an apartment in Manhattan for he and his wife, Kim. While Andy knows for sure that he doesn't want to live on the East Side, he is hazy on what type of apartment he wants: a townhouse? A loft? No worries, Omar's got it covered.

Move over, Maggie Kent, Omar here is giving you a run for your money when it comes to dreamiest brokers at Core. His looks, his voice, his quirky-yet-charming gap in between his two front teeth. I think I'm in love.

Tommy Hilfiger's brother (Adam? Alex? What's that dude's name again?) loves brownstones, and I love brown... stones, also. So the first stop on on the apartment hunt is a brownstone at 157 West 87th Street. The $4.175M crib comes equipped with 4BR and 6BA, a large dining room, french doors, and even has its very own man-cave! With a mixture of contemporary and classic styles, the apartment feels very cozy and homey.

Maybe a little too homey: Kim says they are looking for something smaller that will require less maintenance, but she still needs at least 2-3 bedrooms. Any more specifics that may help Omar in his hunt? Nope: "We'll know it when we see it," she says. No worries, Unfazed Omar has got it covered.

Eager to prove himself, he brings his clients to see a loft apartment at 110 West 25th Street. The $3.125M home is a 3BR, 3BA and seems to fit the bill based on Kim's earlier suggestions.

But Wife-of-Tommy-Hilfiger's-Brother just doesn't feel it. She likes it, but she doesn't like like it.

Third time's the charm, right? He brings them to a 2BR, 2BA, $3.5M property located at 419 West 55th Street. The open floor plan, ridiculous terrace, and out-of-control skyline makes this apartment feel less like a home and more like a slick NYC apartment. Plus, it has a den that could serve as a home recording studio for Andy's flourishing music career!

Omar thinks he's finally found the perfect spot for the couple, until Kim continues to crush his dreams. She's not really feelin' the terrace and Andy doesn't want to live on the Upper West Side, even though earlier in the episode he said that he didn't care. No matter—Omar will press on until he finds them the perfect place.

The next time we see the up-and-coming broker he's heading to Andy's downtown pop-up shop, Riff, to "close the deal," and even wore his lucky fedora for the occasion.

The Hilfigers tell Omar that they really appreciate all the work he's done, and while they really liked everything he showed them they need to prepare for Fashion Week and are going to put a hold on the apartment hunt for now. But... but... why? A befuddled Omar heads to the bar to drink away the pain of his first real estate rejection. Ah, Omar, the first cut is always the deepest.

We were depressed enough already from our holiday weight gain and Seasonal Affective Disorder, we don't want our television shows to bum us out even more! These poor brokers couldn't get one measly offer in this episode, so for that reason alone I'd give it a 2 out of 3 cackling Kleiers. BUT, because Omar is so hot, we'll throw in an extra one. So, this episode gets 3 out of 5 cackling Kleiers.

Curbed Awards ’12 Architecture: The Good, the Bad & the Ugly!

CurbedDecember 28, 2012
It's time to make up a bunch of awards and hand them out to the most deserving people, places and things in the real estate, architecture and neighborhood universes of New York City! Yep, it's time for the Ninth Annual Curbed Awards! Up now: architecure.

Oops There Goes My View Award
One57, the city's next tallest residential building, has topped out and took with it the Central Park views of many nearby buildings. Needless to say, the neighbors, especially those in the Metropolitan Tower, are pissed that the value of their view took a nose dive.

Most Exciting Born-Again Building
We did our happy dance when work restarted at 56 Leonard Street. The Jenga-like finger resumed construction in October, after sitting dormant for more than three years. No major modifications have been made to the design (except for the removal of the Anish Kapoor sculpture at the base), so we can expect to marvel at the superstructure by spring 2016.

Best Building We'll Never See
Thanks to a design challenge by the Municipal Art Society, Skidmore Ownigs and Merill created the most exciting realistic building we've seen in a long time—twin towers rising above Grand Central, linked by a massive pedestrian halo. While the architects worked with engineers to make the design feasible, it's far too awesome for this city to ever implement.

Hot Karl Award For Continued Crappiness
Karl Fischer had a busy year, bringing his ugly designs and shoddy craftsmanship to a dozen new sites. Here are a few highlights:
6) The Arman: Karl's nicest-looking building unveiled floorplans and interiors in February.
5) Crescent Club: More good news for ol' Karl! The long-stalled Crescent Club finally opened and people apparently really like living there because the apartments are renting like hotcakes.
4) 84 Third Avenue: Plans were unveiled for a boxy behemoth at the corner of East 12th Street. It will bring us 12 stories of Karl Fischer madness.
3) 267 Sixth Street: A.k.a. the building Karl Fischer named "Landmark Park Slope." A bit presumptuous, no?
2) 201 Water Street: Hot Karl takes to the waterfront, with plans for a warehouse-to-residential conversion. Can he succeed in making it uglier than it already is?
1) 261 Skillman Street: Perhaps the saddest of all Karl developments, a Bed-Stuy church is set to receive a condo makeover from the man. Ugh.

Most Poetic Archicritic
Bloomberg critic James S. Russell has such a way with words that his flowery prose inspired us to create a feature just for him: Rhyme Time With James Russell. Click through to enjoy his poetry.

Most Prolific Starchitect
Lord Norman Foster has felt the love from New York City developers this year. Not only were his plans for The New York Public Library finally revealed, but he was chosen to build the new 425 Park Avenue and 50 UN Plaza.

Best Rediscovered Architect
Thanks to JDS Development, Ralph Walker is receiving the Post Lifetime Achievement Award for the rebirth of Walker Tower as luxury condos. The developers really played up Walker's reputation while marketing the building, putting on a special exhibition and creating the above video about him. He'd probably be quite pleased with the conversion, as the apartments are selling for ridonkulously high prices—the most expensive penthouses are expect to ask $10,000/square foot. They aren't on the market yet, but there is one that's already asking more than $6,000/square foot.

The Reborn Robert Scarano Award
Banned architect Robert Scarano may not be causing controversy in New York anymore, but his buildings still are. An empty Scarano building at 165 West 9th Street in Carroll Gardens has neighbors up in arms because the city has started using it as a homeless shelter for single men. The whole thing is wildly complicated and shady, which we're sure makes Scarano happy.

Most Mindboggling Rendering Reveals
4) 432 Park Avenue: We've lost track of which future building will be the tallest in the city, but at one point, Rafael Vinoly's tower at the former site of the Drake Hotel was going to take that honor. It revealed itself in June.
3) Hudson Yards: A million different versions of Hudson Yards have popped up in renderings over the last few years, but this year, we finally saw the whole new neighborhood.
2) Moynihan Station: Some day, likely in the far off future, we may catch trains in a place called Moynihan Station, and it could like this.
1) Greenpoint Land: Will these 10 towers and Santiago Calatrava bridge actually rise on the North Brooklyn waterfront?

Most Extreme Makeover Plans
Howard Hughes Development Corporation isn't just renovation Pier 17 in the South Street Seaport—they are knocking the whole thing down and starting over. The new pier will have a glass mall and entertainment venue topped with a large, publicly accessible green roof. It's created by design-firm-of-the-moment, SHoP Architects, of course. Add to the makeover the proposed green roofs for historic buildings in South Street Seaport, and the place is going to turn into a proper nature reserve.


Building of the Year
We really had no choice but to give this one to the Barclays Center. The low-slung, pre-rusted arena inspired some of the best review from the city's archicritics, both good and bad. Highlights from the good: Kimmelman called it "an architectural chest bump," and Justin Davidson said it is "a great, tough-hided beast of a building." Highlights from the bad: James Russell thinks the arena is "exceedingly strange" and "an extraordinarily expensive lost opportunity." Alexandra Lange called it an "alien presence," and Liz Robbins said it's a "a giant rusty bread basket." No matter what you call it, it's here to stay.

Still on the Market

CurbedDecember 28, 2012
Even though billionaires dropped a shitload of money on luxury real estate in New York City this year, many of the year's most expensive listings still remain on the market. Like? The $100 million City Spire penthouse, the $95 million Sherry-Netherland Listing, and the $95 million combo at 15 Central Park West. Predictions for 2013: will they be pricechopped or purchased? [NYT]

The 10 Priciest Properties to Hit the Market in 2012

CurbedDecember 28, 2012
For the world of ultra high-priced listings, 2012 was a stellar year, with three $95M New York apartments listed within a month of one another, three pocket-listed L.A.-area mansions whispering $150M price tags, and the return of Gianni Versace's epic Miami Beach pad. Find all of the year's most expensive listings on the map below.

The Sport of Tycoons

The New York TimesDecember 28, 2012

New Listing - 121 West 80th Street, 4

Brokers WeeklyDecember 26, 2012
Manhattan
Upper West Side
121 West 80th Street, 4
$999,000

Co-op townhouse has been re-envisioned. High-ceilinged great room, den with fireplace. Miele appli¬ances and poured concrete kitchen counter and sink. Restored window lintels, custom built-ins, top-of-the-line BlueStar oven, vented hood and washer/dryer. 14-unit co-op. Cats allowed but no dogs. Listing Agent: Tony Sargent, CORE.

Selling New York S6E3: Picky Kids and Astrologers

CurbedDecember 21, 2012
HGTV's Selling New York rides along with brokerages CORE, Kleier Residential, and Warburg as they try to sell fabulous properties fabulously. Here's our recap of how the NYC real estate industry is portrayed to the world, penned by Angela Bunt. Episode air date: 12/20/2012.

In this episode, we follow the babe-a-licious Rebecca Edwardson, associate broker at Warburg, as she tries to help Steve and Colleen Savage find an apartment. After nearly 100 showings, the only problem standing between this family and their dream home is - drumroll, please - their son, Noah. Also featured on the episode is Vickey Barron, managing director at Core. She's helping previous client Robert Leighton sell his massive 1BR, and has to contend not only with his a-bit-too-high price point, but the financial advice of his astrologer. God, people in New York are so weird.

The episode begins with Rebecca and The Savages discussing their next real estate plan of attack. They're going to check out apartments on the West Side (nothing past 100th street because Steve says it "gives him nosebleeds") and need to see something that's located close to their son's school. Rebecca points out that the next property they see will be the 90TH APARTMENT SHE HAS SHOWN THEM.

The first pad showcased is a $2.8M 4BR, 3BA, with a terrace *swoon* located at The Boulevard on 86 and Broadway. With a great view, open floor plan, and a ton of windows, by any other standard the apartment is amazing.

Colleen loves it, Steve likes it, but little Noah is feeling kind of meh. But why? Shh, don't bother him he's reading his book.

Perhaps in an act of frustration, desperation, or just plain delirium, the lovely Rebecca takes Colleen and Noah to a property listed way above their price range. Colleen is really liking the 4BR, 4BA marked at $4.435M. In fact, she says she's liked a ton of the apartments they've seen: "I know Steve has very high standards, and Noah – of course – has his standards, and they can be hard to please." Aka I hate my family.

Noah isn't very impressed with the completely fabulous view, and says the bedroom is a little too small for him. Listen, you little twerp, your bedroom is bigger than my entire last NYC apartment, which I had to move out of because it was infested with mice. You're gonna' live in this apartment, and you're gonna' like it!!! Uhh, I mean... whatever you want, Noah. You're a good boy!

(Sidebar: Does anybody else think that the dad and Noah are in cahoots, and he's purposely telling his son to hate on every apartment just so he gets more face time with Rebecca?)

Although it's on the low end of their budget, Steve is really into the apartment. This is the type of floor plan he likes, and while he hasn't cooked in two years (wait, seriously?), the large kitchen area and massive countertop might inspire him to get back into it (clearly trying to impress Rabs with his domestic skills). The only problem is that butt-ugly wallpaper in the master bedroom. You're about to drop $1.65M on an apartment, and that's your major concern? The freakin' wallpaper? With the OK from Steve, they just need Noah to agree. Oh yeah, and that other woman Colleen.

After the rest of the family checks it out, they agree that this is the right place for them. It's a Christmas miracle! Noah even likes the green paint on his future bedroom wall, and says the apartment is muchos buenos. Well, at least we know that private school education is paying off. High-five!

Our next adventure in apartments veers less on the exhausting side, and more on the eccentric. We join Core's Vickey Barron as she tries to help a previous client, Robert Leighton, sell his apartment on 256 West 10th Street. After 35 years in Manhattan, Robert is ready to move out of this city and into a home in Nyack. His current apartment is a 1BR, 1.5BA, which he previously renovated from a 3BR when he first moved in. The result is a massive open space, which is kind of cool, but at the same time it's like eh, let's put some walls up in here.

The well-decorated space is filled with kitschy artwork and antique furniture. In fact, his wooden doors are from "some palace in the south of India" aka Ikea.

Robert works with an astrologer who says he must sign the contract with Vickey within the window of 12:35pm - 12:45pm in order to get the proper energy around the deal. Hmm, I cannot imagine why this man is still single. Because of all the work he's put into the place, his asking price is listed a bit high at $2.825M. Vickey, who might be the coolest and most straightforward broker I've seen featured on this show, knows that without some swift and proactive solutions the apartment won't sell at that price point.

Vickey decides to host a party at Robert's crib, and invites all of her single clients to come over for some boozing and cruising (for apartments... and tail).

Judging by the turnout, the party is a success! But if it doesn't end in an apartment sale then it's all for naught. Of course, Robert is there to help along in the process. And by "help" I mean "hit on potential buyers."

"Yeah, I'm moving to Nyack. It's pretty cool."

Post-party, Richard invites Vickey to his new studio space in Chelsea for which he's signed a lease. I have no clue what the man does, but apparently it's lucrative enough for him to own an apartment, a home in Nyack, and now pay a monthly rent for his "new audio business." Sounds like a made-up profession, but at least he can fit his awesome antique doors from India in the office!

Vickey shares the good news with Richard that they've received two strong bids on his previous property, one of which includes a $2.6M all-cash offer. Richard says that he doesn't need an astrologer to tell him what to do in this situation, and he accepts the $2.6M of straight cheddar. Well, thank God for that.

A family who refuses to make any major apartment decisions without the approval of their small child? A grown man who refuses to make any major financial decisions without the approval of his astrologer? This stuff basically writes itself. We give it 3 out of 5 cackling Kleiers.

Inside party planner Colin Cowie’s Flatiron penthouse, on sale for $6.5 million

New York Daily NewsDecember 21, 2012
Wedding planner to the stars is selling his architectural wonder—a two floor penthouse on West 19th St. with hidden compartments and a rooftop terrace.

Interior designer Colin Cowie, a South African lifestyle guru and party planner to the stars, television personality and writer at his West 19th St. penthouse which is on the market for $6.5 million.

Colin Cowie’s Flatiron penthouse, filled with eclectic glassware and outfitted with hidden storage compartments, is an architectural rarity.
At nearly 3,000 square feet and occupying two floors, it’s currently configured for only one bedroom, which makes sense if you’re in Cowie’s line of work: throwing fabulous parties.

Cowie is a designer and party and wedding planner to the stars, having thrown bashes for celebs including Jennifer Aniston, Tom Cruise, Jennifer Lopez and Oprah Winfrey. He’s decided to list his apartment at 27 W. 19th St., which he custom-built from a blank space in 2009 for $6.5 million.

“I was privileged to be able to build this from the ground up in New York City,” Cowie said. “I built it like a boat. Every square inch is custom-made.”

Architectural details incorporate what Cowie has learned over the years as a designer. In the living room, the mantel has a hydraulic lift in it to reveal a storage area, filled with glassware and vases.

In the hallway between the living room and the kitchen, a bathroom and closet are behind hidden doors that blend into the wall when closed. The stairway looks like a simple wood finish, but closer inspection shows that each wood panel has a closet behind it – and more storage space.

Sliding doors provide more flexibility. When Cowie wants a formal dining space, he can seal off the area with mirrored doors that hide a kitchen island and bar area. He then can open them for a more casual, airy feel. The kitchen island, which normally serves as a casual dining space, can be extended to create a double-length workspace, providing plenty of room to work on plating food for a big party.

The dressing room highlights Cowie’s focus on organization — there’s a nook for everything, from sunglasses to cuff links. All the apartment’s storage allows for items to be tucked away.

“I’m a minimalist by nature, but I have a lot,” Cowie said, laughing.

Cowie combined the 14th and 15th floors of the boutique building. He bought the apartment in 2009 for $4.852 million, puttin gover $2 million into the space. He has a 900 square-foot roofdeck with unobstructed views of the city. Like the rest of the space, it’s ready for a fiesta. A dumbwaiter in the kitchen allows for easy transport of food and drinks up to the outdoor space.

Core broker Emily Beare, who helped Cowie buy the space, is now the listing agent on the property. She said Cowie is selling because he likes to move every few years and design a new home. He’s now seeking a live-work space. For those interested in buying the total package, Beare said Cowie would consider also selling the apartment furnished. For more information, call 212-726-0786.

Four-Story Chelsea Townhouse Listed for $7.25 Million

CurbedDecember 19, 2012
The thing about 323 West 19th Street, a four-story single-family Chelsea townhouse recently listed for $7,250,000, is that it never got carried away with itself. Getting carried away with oneself is something that can often happen in townhouse renovations, and sometimes it turns out well. (Sometimes it doesn't.) But 323 West 19th Street seems content as a fairly standard—albeit very, very nice—5BR, 3.5BA, 3,680-square-foot house, and that's okay with us. The rear garden is something else, though.

With ceilings of nearly 11-feet in height, the grand parlor floor encompasses a large and airy living room with a wet-bar and one of five wood-burning fireplaces. The living room is flanked by a handsome wood-paneled library with fireplace and a cozy sunroom that leads to a large terrace. On the third floor is the master bedroom with stunning en suite bathroom, fireplace, walk-in closet, private terrace as well as an additional bedroom or den. The fourth floor is flooded with natural light from a skylight and features three bedrooms and two bathrooms.
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