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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
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.
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.
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]
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
Brokers WeeklyDecember 26, 2012
Upper West Side
121 West 80th Street, 4
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.
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.
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.
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.
Real Estate WeeklyDecember 19, 2012
At 23 years old, Reba Miller walked into the luxury boutique real estate firm Whitbread-Nolan for her first day.
She was promptly given a seat and told: “you’re on your own.”
Today, over $1 billion worth of sales and almost 30 years later, Ms.Miller, who made her name by almost dominating the market on Madison Avenue, continues to be a go-to name in New York City real estate across continents.
“I recently received a call 20 years after I sold several apartments to and for an international buyer,” said Miller.“[They] asked for my help and I negotiated a park view two bedroom unit with all rooms facing the Park. They wrote to me today that it was the best apartment they have ever owned.”
Miller’s name should ring international bells.
She has sold apartments at The Plaza for $5,000 a square foot; at 15 Central Park West for $4000 per foot.
She has sold apartments in Trump Tower, Olympic Tower, The Empire and Morgan Court. She once received six commissions at closing in a property on East 78th Street.
After graduating from SUNY Albany, Miller started her career at the same company that gave legendary brokers such as Elizabeth Stribling and Barbara Fox their beginnings. Later on, she found a willing mentor in David Burley, the owner of Walter & Samuels, Inc.
There, Miller was put in charge of sales and was allowed to shape the department as she saw fit. The experience, she says, taught her “anything was possible.”
“He gave me the freedom to run the department the way I believed could bring the most success,” she said. “He valued my opinion. He was a pioneer of much and it resonated with me.”
After years in the business, Miller started her own firm, RP Miller and Associates in 1998, bringing in some $400 million in sales in 13 years.
Now senior managing director of sales for CORE, the boutique firm founded six years ago, Miller says that her contacts on the Upper East Side have made combining with CORE a win-win situation as the brokerage expands its presence uptown with an office on E. 61st Street and Madison Avenue.
“One appeal of my working as the manager of CORE was the exciting opportunity to open up their office in an area I know best,” she said.
“I still have maintained much of the business contacts along Madison Avenue. My relationships in the brokerage community and knowledge of the buildings uptown will help expand the CORE brand.”
Outside of the brokerage world, Miller has won two bronze metals for tennis in the Pan American Maccabiah Games in Mexico City. She has served for the past three years as the co-chairman of REBNY’s board of directors.
Despite slower than desired recovering sales on a national scale, Miller remains bullish on the strength of the New York apartment market, even after the devastation left by Hurricane Sandy.
“We have just been through a major, catastrophic hurricane and people are lining up to buy real estate,” she said. “If that doesn’t reflect Manhattan’s market then I am unsure of what measure to consider.”
Brokers WeeklyDecember 19, 2012
Brick UndergroundDecember 17, 2012
Dragging your spawn up a few flights of stairs might be worth it to snag this $1.095m two-bedroom, one-and-a-half-bath duplex co-op in Chelsea. And at least you won't have to haul your laundry to the basement.
Family-sized NYC apartments are becoming harder and harder to find, says this weekend's NY Times, so perhaps the dominance of two- and three-bedroom apartments on today's Open House Scorecard--the 10 open house listings StreetEasy users saved to their open-house planners more often than any others this weekend--more aptly reflects the number of buyers in hot pursuit versus a sudden influx of brood-sized abodes.
You can see the river and downtown Manhattan from a $1.395m two-bedroom, two-bathroom condo on West 95th Street and Broadway on the Upper West Side. The corner unit features floor-to-ceiling windows in the living room facing south and west. Plus, the kitchen has an oversized window that faces the river, and there’s a through-wall surround sound system. The building, the Princeton House, offers a concierge service, fulltime doorman, a gym, laundry facilities, storage and bike rooms, a roof deck and parking.
Over in Brooklyn, open views from a balcony--and of your clothes cleaning themselves in your in-unit washer/dryer--are part of the draw of a $769k two-bedroom, two-bathroom condo available for immediate occupancy in Park Slope. Located on Fourth Avenue
between Fourth and Fifth Streets, the doorman and elevator building has a 24-hour concierge service, a gym, a party lounge, a kids playroom, an underground parking garage for a monthly fee and a 421A tax abatement for the next 21 years.
Though there’s nothing too special about the building, a $1.095m two-bedroom, one-and-a-half-bath duplex co-op in Chelsea offers garden and skyline views from West 29th Street and Eighth Avenue. The apartment has a wood-burning fireplace and a renovated kitchen with stainless steel countertops, Electrolux gas range and a new dishwasher. There’s also a stacked Bosch W/D and three through-wall air conditioners. However, the duplex is located on the fourth and fifth floors of a self-managed walk-up.
For more family-size apartments with nice views and building amenities, browse the rest of the Scorecard below.
1. 221 West 82nd Street—3-bed co-op, $1.695m
2. 49 West 72nd Street—2-bed co-op, $1.1m
3. 33 West 56th Street—3-bed condo, $6.5m
4. 215 West 95th Street—2-bed condo, $1.395m
5. 353 4th Avenue—2-bed condo, $769k
6. 20 West 84th Street—2-bed condo, $1.975m
7. 145 Lafayette—2-bed co-op, $599k
8. 415 Greenwich Street—3-bed condo, $3.995m
9. 303 West 29th Street—2-bed co-op, $1.095m
10. 221 Jefferson Avenue—6-bed multi-family, $1.089m
New York PostDecember 16, 2012
As famed Feinstein’s at the Loews Regency winds down for the hotel’s planned renovation, real estate brokers and “Selling New York” stars Tom Postilio and Mickey Conlon hosted a bash for VIP clients. Michael Feinstein performed a private show of Gershwin tunes for guests including Tyne Daly and “Law & Order: SVU” star Tamara Tunie. The room buzzed when Joan Collins — who performed her own one-woman show at Feinstein’s in 2010 and whose Midtown apartment was just featured on the HGTV series — arrived. Feinstein’s recently told us they were weighing options to continue at a new location, but nothing has yet been announced.
A ‘Witch’ and a Builder
The New York TimesDecember 16, 2012
CurbedDecember 14, 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: 12/13/2012.
In this week's episode, Michele Kleier is feeling the pressure from the property developers over at Greystone to sell their $4.75M, 4BR, 4.5BA Upper East Side penthouse before the summer rolls around. But this isn't Michele's first rodeo, and she's ready to bust out the big guns and git 'er done. Also featured this week is the fresh-faced Adrian Noriega, who's trying to move a Flatiron property for the highest dollar-per-square-foot possible. But with his client's disdain for dirty carpets, she's hesitant to allow an open house in the apartment. Will Adrian be able to create enough buzz around the apartment without an open house? Will Michele be able to turn over the UES penthouse before the end of spring? Read on, friends. Read on.
We first catch up with Mama Kleier at 180 East 93 Street, where she's hanging with Doug Benach, president of Greystone Property Development, and Jeffrey Simpson, the director of development at Greystone. They've given Michele (and co-broker Lauren Muss) the exclusive on two penthouses in the Upper East Side building. Penthouse two has been sold, but that pesky penthouse one has yet to move. The trio discuss marketing strategies and decide that the apartment needs to be staged and shown in an open house.
Michele brings in one of her designer friends, Rod Pleasants from McIver Morgan, to size up the crib and figure out the best way to stage it. Of course a huge penthouse on the Upper East Side is going to be nice, but it lacks a bit of character (kind of like the neighborhood). He wants to dress up the apartment with clean lines and simple furniture that showcases the natural light and understated elegance of the place. I know what you're thinking—you never knew Chevy Chase led a double life as a interior decorator.
Ian Kleier, Michele's hubby and the co-president of the family firm, meet for lunch at Chin Chin in midtown. Michele is confused by the fact that her husband is taking her on a date when it's not her birthday or an anniversary. Can't a guy just do something nice for a change? Eh, apparently not: Ian wants to discuss his stroke-of-genius marketing strategy for penthouse one. Two words: Dump Lings. OK, I guess that's one word.
In keeping up with the recent popularity of 60s-themed television shows and fashion (news flash Ian: Mad Men came out, like, five years ago, and PanAm was already cancelled), he thinks the theme of the open house should be Martini Madness. So, gin martinis and pu-pu platters, because what's better than filling your belly with booze that tastes like pine needles and then overdosing on MSG?
Through the handy work of Rob, aka Chevy, the apartment is looking fab. Just in time for Martini Madness! Or, a blatant excuse for Michele and Ian to bust out their old wardrobe and drink a ton of gin, just like the good ol' days. No-fuss-Lauren-Muss loves the martini idea because as she says, "Brokers love a cocktail and love food." Yes, brokers... and every other human being on the planet.
The folks over at Greystone are pleased with the open house turnout, but Doug reminds Michele that she's only as good as her last deal (aka get selling!) But if her last deal was the penthouse upstairs, then wouldn't she be as good as somebody who sells penthouses?
Regardless of misused cliches, Michele's open house was a smash success and she and Lauren are currently negotiating two strong offers on the property.
Next up in the real estate rigamarole is Adrian Noriega—a feisty young buck from Core—who's eager to prove himself as top NYC broker. He wants to sell the $3.296M, 3BR, 2BA at 15 West 20th Street for the highest dollar-per-square-footage possible. The apartment is something of a paradox: it's super sleek and modern, but also decked out with yoga themes and Indian decor, Phoebe's fave. The apartment is filled with windows, and while the view isn't anything to write home about, overall the space pops with bold colors and natural light.
The only problem? Phoebe is dead set against an open house. "I don't like the idea of people coming in and traipsing in with their dirty shoes," she says. Isn't she selling this place anyway? Who cares if the floors get a little dirty.
Did she just tell him not to forget his shoes? Yeah, like he is going to get all the way to Union Square before realizing that he was just wearing dirt-laden socks throughout the city.
Soon after their meeting, Adrian spends the day showing the apartment, and has to awkwardly tell every person that comes in to please take off their shoes. Secret foot fetish or diligent broker? You decide.
After showing the space, Adrian receives a $3.14M offer on the apartment and heads to Phoebe's absolutely ridonk estate in Bedminster, New Jersey, (I know, I know) to share the news.
While it's still the highest price that an apartment in the same building has ever sold for, Ambitious Adrian thinks they can do better. The apartment was just featured in the Wall Street Journal and he wants to take advantage of the buzz surrounding it. It's time for an open house.
Say whaaaaaat?! After boring holes into Adrian's skull with her eyes, she agrees.
Adrian is gearing up for the open house, and even found medical booties for guests to wear over their shoes (that's what she said! Wait...what?)
Just take a moment to let this picture sink in.
The open house was a success, and Ambitious Adrian not only gets a higher bid, but it's an ALL CASH offer, which literally makes me want to throw up. Or maybe that's all the gin. With furniture and lighting thrown in, the deal actually ends up closing at $3.375M. The lesson Adrian takes away from this? "You have to really push your clients to sometimes do something that they're completely against." Ah, good lessons in real estate, and in life.
While there's nothing like a good apartment staging, and Adrian's hospital booties were uber stylish, we like watching brokers work a little harder for the money. For that reason, this episode gets 2 out of 5 cackling Kleiers.
CurbedDecember 14, 2012
Here's a theory about the new trend in downtown condo sales: everyone wants apartments that look like prewar Upper East Side pads, minus the Upper East Side. That's the Journal's argument for why buildings like 18 Gramercy Park—where Leslie Alexander paid $42 million for a duplex penthouse this year—are selling so well, while buyers have lost some affection for the downtown standard, the glassy tower.
The Journal turns its attention to, yep, Walker Tower as an example of a downtown building with that uptown feel, and there are some stats to bear that out. An unidentified buyer has signed a contract to combine two Walker Tower penthouses for $34 million. The priciest penthouse in the building is now asking $55 million, up from its original $50 million, though $5M extra probably won't make much of a difference to a buyer at that level.
West Village condo conversion The Abingdon serves as another downtown success story, and there, just two condos remain for sale. One is the model unit, taxidermic fox and all, and the other is the "mansion" with separate entrance, which clocks in at 9,615 square feet and hasn't even officially hit the market. The price listed in building offering documents is $25 million.
The Wall Street JournalDecember 13, 2012
A new crop of luxury buildings takes inspiration from the Upper East Side; going beyond the glass box
In the rebirth of downtown living in New York, first there was the converted gritty industrial loft, then the minimalist "glass box" condo tower. Now the glass box has given way to a new demand—for elaborately finished condominiums that echo the gracious prewar apartments of the Upper East Side.
Until this fall, the record deal for a downtown condominium was the $31.5 million sale in 2010 of a raw, do-it-yourself-style penthouse: a vast unfinished concrete space at the top of Superior Ink, a condominium on the Hudson River in the West Village that was badly flooded during superstorm Sandy.
Tastes are changing. The biggest recent deals downtown have been in condominium conversions that take their inspiration from Fifth and Park Avenues. In September, a $42 million penthouse went into contract at 18 Gramercy Park, a former Salvation Army women's hotel that was redesigned by Robert A.M. Stern, the architect behind luxury developments uptown like 15 Central Park West.
A few weeks ago, a buyer signed a contract to combine two penthouses together for $34 million at Walker Tower, an Art Deco skyscraper located in a former telephone company switching station in Chelsea. With half of the 50 condos in contract at Walker Tower, the asking price of the most expensive penthouse in the building was recently raised to $55 million from $50 million, according to Shaun Osher, the founder of CORE, the brokerage company that is handling sales in the building.
Walker Tower, completed in 1929, has a decidedly traditional aesthetic. Apartments at Walker Tower come with a formal entrance gallery, coffered ceilings, 10-foot-high paneled windows and large terraces. There are white marble bathrooms streaked with gray veins, herringbone oak floors, big kitchens with marble and limestone countertops, cabinetry designed by the fashionable U.K. company Smallbone of Devizes and hidden high-tech features.
Converted buildings like Walker Tower are a far cry from the glass-walled condominiums that sprung up all over downtown beginning in 2002 with a series of three modernist buildings in the West Village designed by Richard Meier. Many more glass towers followed, often with designs commonly seen in office buildings, with lightweight glass and aluminum skins for the facade. Inside the spaces were often dominated by a "great room"—a combination open kitchen, dining and living room.
Brokers say that high-rise glass towers still have their fans: Buildings like One57 and 432 Park Ave., now under construction in midtown, are two examples. But some say that the excitement surrounding glass-walled condos has cooled as the buildings have proliferated. For the same square footage, they say, many buyers, especially New Yorkers, now prefer the romance of the older buildings and neighborhoods.
"If you think of Singapore or Dubai, you think of modern glass towers, which have their own elegance," Mr. Osher said. "But New York is an old city in a modern world, like London or Paris. A lot of the richness and heritage of the city is in its prewar aesthetic."
That aesthetic guided the conversion of the Abingdon, a former hotel and nursing home completed in 1906 in the West Village that has been remade as a condo building. The apartments at the Abingdon have a formal layout, with separate public and private spaces, divided by a traditional entrance gallery. Tim Crowley, a managing director at Flank, the architecture and development firm that handled the conversion, says the architects studied prewar interior layouts by Rosario Candela and Emery Roth, who designed many of the grand apartment buildings along Central Park.
Only two condos are unsold at the Abingdon: the model apartment, and the largest condo, a 9,615 square foot, three-story "mansion" with its own separate entrance, which is about to come on the market. The price has not been set, but offering documents list it at $25 million
The 22-story Walker Tower also draws heavily on the past. It was built by New York Telephone in the 1920s, at a time when telephone companies, like banks, created large imposing buildings to impress the public. The architect was Ralph Walker, a once prominent figure in Art Deco skyscraper design, who had been largely forgotten.
Verizon still owns the building below the eighth floor, but sold the top for $25.5 million in 2009 in the midst of the real-estate slump. The buyers, JDS Development Group and Property Markets Group, set about celebrating Mr. Walker and turning the building into an upscale showpiece.
They commissioned a book about Mr. Walker from an architectural historian, Kathryn E. Holliday, that was published in September by Rizzoli New York. They sponsored an exhibition with scale models of his best-known buildings in the lobby.
The developers brought in CettraRuddy, an architectural firm, to restore the building, enlarge the windows and design the interiors. The architects are creating a new crown for the top of the building, a feature that the phone company had trimmed back from Mr. Walker's original design because of the cost.
Inside, the units have oak doors, hand cut mosaic tiles in the bathrooms, ebonized mahogany trim in a marble powder room and custom-made door knobs and fixtures to echo the building's Art Deco design. Hidden automated shades can be lowered on the tall windows, and air conditioning is provided through narrow slits in the ceiling rather than ducts. Radiant heating comes through pipes encased in the floors, a feature rarely seen in Manhattan buildings. Electronic controls in the wall, as well as an iPad provided with each unit, control the music, security system, lighting, shades, heating and cooling in each room in the apartment.
Elliott Joseph, a principal in Property Markets Group along with Kevin Maloney, said that at one meeting about the design, the developers asked whether they had omitted any features that a wealthy private owner might add in an individual Manhattan apartment renovation. The engineers had one suggestion: a system to control humidity to protect art work. A multiple-zone humidification system was added soon after.
“Stale” New York Homes are Back in Play, Amid Inventory Shortage
The Real DealDecember 12, 2012
A slew of luxury listings that have languished on the market for several years have been scooped up in recent months, as a shortage of high-end residential inventory has brought so-called “stale” listings back into play. In the last several months, brokers said they’ve seen the pieces finally fall into place for a range of transactions – starting at around $3 million all the way up to $25 million — that have been absorbed long after they were first listed.
Supply has been outpacing demand for some time. Chronic inventory shortages have put Manhattan sellers in control of the market, they said. Condo inventory in Manhattan is down 24.3 percent year-over-year — its lowest level since 2005 – according to third quarter market figures from Douglas Elliman.
After sitting on the market for nearly seven years and going through a litany of prices changes, the Upper East Side’s Rothschild Mansion finally traded to Leroy Schechter for $25 million in October for instance. And last month, Elliman agent Xiaolan Shang, known as Sherri, finally sold a $9 million apartment at Trump International that had been on the market on and off for a decade.
Shang, who hails from China, picked up an exclusive on the listing just three months prior to the sale; it had previously been listed by a spate of other brokers, including Elliman’s Ariel Cohen, Sotheby’s Roger Erickson and Trump’s Susan James. James eventually brought the buyer, Barbara Ullman, in the final deal. The buyer paid all cash, Shang said.
The price of that apartment had fluctuated since 2008, when Streeteasy.com first shows the apartment being put on the market. It was listed for $8.2 million in 2008 and then for $8.75 million in 2011 before being de-listed. Shang picked the listing up in April, putting it online for $8.9 million, but later raised the price according per the seller’s wishes to $9.5 million. The seller was French businessman Guy Benhamou, according to public records. Erickson apparently suggested placing the unit on the market for around $7 million a few years ago, according to an email sent by the seller to Erickson December 5.
“I still can’t believe it,” Shang said of the deal, which hit records on Monday. “People were coming up to me asking what was going on with the property and why it wouldn’t sell.”
CORE broker Michael Graves faced the same challenge when he took on two penthouse listings at adjoining buildings at 10 East 18th Street and 7 East 17th Street, owned by Elliot Joseph’s Property Markets Group. Both penthouses had been on and off the market since 2008, when the buildings were initially brought to market. The properties, both asking $3.595 million, had bounced from broker to broker before Graves secured the exclusive this summer.
“In early discussions [with the sponsor] after I received the exclusive, I was asked by the sponsor’s partners ‘Michael, how much price reduction do you need? We know these listings aren’t stale, they’re dead.’”
But Graves was confident he didn’t need a price reduction. He had recently completed deals above $2,500 per square foot nearby at 240 Park Avenue South and thought it was a change in marketing, not price, that was needed to sell the apartment. “When something has been on and off the market for three years, a change is definitely needed. But you cannot just blame the broker — market conditions and many other variables are always in play,” he said.
In addition to brightening up the photography on the marketing materials, Graves identified a unit at 7 East 17th Street on a lower floor that had similar proportions and which was already renovated to a high standard. “I convinced that owner to allow me to show his unit in tandem with the penthouses in order to illustrate what could be done,” he said. “We effectively took the imagination out of it and gave buyers something real.”
The tactic paid off; the first unit went into contract for the full asking price just a week after Graves took over, while the second found a buyer six weeks later for some $115,000 over the asking price. The deals for both units closed in September.
“This is a very small building in our portfolio,” Jospeh said. “The partners wanted to be finished with the asset. I was so beat up from having it on and off the market for years. I just wanted to sell it already. To get over ask, that’s amazing.”
Meanwhile, the Rothschild Mansion was originally listed in November 2005 for $25 million, where it sat on the market for almost two years. It was briefly taken off the market and relisted with a $35 million asking price in July 2007. The deal closed in October.
Brokers WeeklyDecember 12, 2012
New York PostDecember 12, 2012
UPPER EAST SIDE $2,200,000
400 E. 67th St.
Two-bedroom, 2 1/2-bath condo, 1,417 square feet, with Sub-Zero and Gaggenau kitchen appliances and Zuma soaking tub; building features doorman, parking and 12,000-square-foot amenity space with two pools and screening room. Common charges $1,315, taxes $145. Asking price $2,250,000, on market 13 weeks. Brokers: Alison Abovsky, Core and Therese Bateman, Town Residential
CurbedDecember 07, 2012
HGTV's Selling New York rides along with brokerages CORE, Gumley Haft Kleier 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: 12/6/2012.
The sixth season of Selling New York returns with a new broker and a rare quest: a search for commercial space. Warburg's Linette Semino has to find enough closet space for a recording artist with a bit of a sneaker fetish. Meanwhile, Core's Maggie Kent must help a client whose closet is probably filled with ballet shoes, and who wants light and space for her ballet studio in Soho...for no more than $15,000/month. Will these two folks' near-impossible needs be met?
The fun begins when Warburg Associate Broker Linette Semino meets with recording artist O'Neal McKnight in the studio, where he's recording what's sure to be another smash single. Wait a second—you've never heard of this guy, either? Perhaps that's why his budget is only $2M max (mere pocket change for most of the people featured on this show). What is O'Neal looking for in an apartment? Well, after living on the UES for years, he's ready to take it downtown to Chinatown. JK! He wants to go to Soho or Chelsea, and says he's looking for a place where he can settle down and start a life with his fiancee...and his sneakers.
The first property Linette shows O'Neal is a 1BR, 2BA on 305 Second Avenue, listed at $1.475M. Maybe a little too contemporary for the rapper, who puzzles over the lack of cabinet handles in the kitchen. Is it an Italian thing? No. It's a modern thing. While the apartment is big enough for McNeal to get "his risky business on" (his words, not mine), unfortunately, despite the 17-foot-tall ceilings, this lofty pad's master bedroom is a bit too small for the rapper (despite his petite stature), and there's simply not enough closet space for his shoes.
The second property is a 2BR, 2BA listed at $1.795M. Things get off to a rocky start when O'Neal is 45 minutes late for his appointment with Linette. Doesn't this rapper know the meaning of "time is money?" The apartment has a large closet, so Mr. Bradshaw can rest easy knowing his sneakers are well taken care of. Naturally, he's interested in the apartment, but still wants to see more. Ya know, because he has so much free time.
The third property is a 2BR on Prince and Mott. Linette waits. And waits. And waits. And O'Neal is a no-show. A disgruntled Linette spouts off to the camera that she's angry to be stood up, and that she herself is never late. In fact, she's always 15 to 20 minutes early (in all fairness, 20 minutes is a bit too early, dontcha think?). O'Neal calls and says he's going to meet with Russell Simmons at Global Grind, and will have no time to visit the apartment. Oh, I see how it is: You can be Mr. Busypants and have no time for me, yet you don't respect MY time or MY money? This can't be a one-sided relationship, dammit! Uhhh, sorry. Lost myself a little bit back there. Despite the six-inch advantage Linette has on O'Neal, she fights back the urge to step on him.
When Linette meets up with O'Neal to show in the fourth property, a $1.55M 1BR, 2BA at 49 East 21st Street, she doesn't mince words with him regarding his easy-come-easy-go attitude. "Remember that time you stood me up?" Yeesh. Upon hearing the news that all of the previous properties he'd been interested in are now off the market, he nonchalantly replies, "well, it wasn't meant for me." Hey, you know what they say: If you love something, let it go, and if it comes back it's yours. Unfortunately, in NYC real estate, that type of thinking might end up with you living amongst The Mole People. Fortunately for O'Neal, this place does seem like a perfect fit. Pre-war, soundproof walls for the rapper, a separate storage unit for his kicks, and a traditional kitchen (the cabinets have handles). O'Neal says he can totally see himself living there. So is he ready to place an offer? Mmm, nope! He's actually heading to L.A. for a week and doesn't want to make a big commitment. Another property bites the dust.
In the end, Linette meets up with O'Neal and his fiancé, Miriam, who clearly wears the pants in the relationship (while O'Neal wears the sneakers). The decision is made for them to apartment-hunt as a threeway. Hot! I smell a rap song coming on...
Also featured on the season premiere is Maggie Kent, the core of Core (see what I did there?), who is meeting Rosie Lanziero, a soft-spoken dance instructor from the Soul Arts Academy. After maxing out her current space in the East Village, she's looking for a commercial space downtown and wants to make new roots in Soho (I mean, who doesn't?) Mutual friend Alyson Palmer is so excited about the Soho move, her eyes might just pop out of her head:
Rosie thinks everything is "marvelous" and "amazing," and the woman rocks a pashmina like it's going out of style, which is silly because pashminas will obvi never go out of style. Maggie heads to the Core office to recruit the expertise of David Beare (how youuu doin'), the go-to guy for commercial spaces in the city.
Before checking out potential rentals, Maggie takes Rosie to the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater & School to give her some inspiration and help her figure out what her needs are. Rosie loves the light and airiness of the place, and the feeling of open energy that it exudes. So, all completely intangible concepts. She can "see the energy" and "feel the energy," yet I don't think I've ever seen those types of qualities mentioned in a real estate listing.
David, Maggie and Rosie make their way to 552 Broadway in Soho to check out a potential dance studio space. With its exposed brick and natural light, and 5,500 square-feet of space, Rosie is feeling the vibe and says she wants her dance studio to have the same soul and spirit. Hmm, soul, spirit AND natural light in an NYC rental space? Now you're just talking crazy talk. All this woman wants is space, light and energy. And to continue to wear her silver leggings without judgement.
Unfortunately, the space is listed as $18k a month and she has a budget of $15k. But in true Maggie Kent fashion, she says she'll go to bat for her client. Anything for that commission—mama needs a new pair of shoes! Oh wait, that's O'Neal.
Great news! The spirit guides were shining down on Rosie that day, and Maggie is able to get the price down to $15K. The catch? She only has six weeks of free rent which would serve as renovation time. Despite Rosie's free spirit and oozing aura, she knows how to play hardball, and asks for three months instead. Luckily, Maggie steps up to the plate (how many baseball references can we make in the span of one paragraph?) and is able to get her the extra renovation time needed. Cheers to that!
Maggie pays Rosie a visit in her new palatial palace of light, energy and spirituality, AKA her dance studio. In all fairness, it does look pretty great. With sandblasted brick walls, an open floor plan, and tons of natural light, the space is a perfect fit for Rosie and her young dancers. Maggie feels all warm and fuzzy inside knowing she was able to help Rosie's business expand, and ya know what? I feel kind of warm and fuzzy inside, too.
Episode Review: The fact that SNY is finally back has us feeling happy, which is an automatic extra cackling Kleier. So the season premiere gets 4 out of 5 cackling Kleiers.