News

CurbedWire: 241 Fifth Ave. Teaser Website; 837 Washington Groundbreaking

CurbedDecember 07, 2012
FLATIRON—Yesterday, 241 Fifth Avenue received some signage, and we hoped the teaser website would be next. And it was! The minimalist website is live, and it provides a sliver of new information: the building will have one- to four-bedroom units, and pricing falls somewhere in the range of less than $1 million to more than $2 million. Interested parties can submit an information form on the website.

MEATPACKING DISTRICT—Due to Hurricane Sandy, the groundbreaking for 837 Washington, the twisty office and retail building by Morris Adjmi, was rescheduled for next Tuesday, December 11. The 55,000-square-foot building will rise beside the High Line across from the Standard Hotel, and it will be ready for occupancy by fall 2013. The Landmarks Preservation Commission, as you may recall, loved the design once Adjmi chopped it down to an acceptable height.

Race to the Top (Price) at a Tony Address

The Wall Street JournalDecember 07, 2012
What do Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein, actor Denzel Washington and Nascar driver Jeff Gordon have in common? An address.
Manhattan's 15 Central Park West, just north of Columbus Circle, is one of the most exclusive—and expensive—addresses in a city full of exclusive, expensive residential buildings. The first of its 202 units hit the market in 2005 and sold out by the time construction was completed in 2007, raking in about $2 billion for the developers.

Today, the building continues to break price records as apartments hit the resale market. Many units have been elaborately upgraded and priced at more than double what owners paid for them a few years ago. In January, former Citigroup Chairman Sanford Weill sold his penthouse there for $88 million, making it the most expensive apartment ever sold in New York City, at more than $13,000 per square foot. (The average Manhattan condo sells for about $1,300 per square foot, according to Prudential Douglas Elliman's most recent Manhattan market report.)

Some real-estate observers say that despite a record of stratospheric sales, asking prices today in the building have gotten overeager. While the average price per square foot in the building continues to rise, sales volume has slowed in the past few months, says appraiser Jonathan Miller. So far this year, five apartments have sold, compared with 17 last year and 15 in 2010, according to data from Brown Harris Stevens.

Rick Kelly, a broker with Prudential Douglas Elliman, says some of the pricing there today is tied to an "irrational exuberance" over the past few months about the building and the high-end market in general, with roughly $4,500 to $7,000 per square foot a more realistic price for units on lower floors without park views and no outdoor space, and $8,000 to $10,000 per square foot for apartments on higher floors with park views. With seven units currently for sale in the building, "there's room for negotiating," he says.

That hasn't deterred some residents from setting ever-higher prices in the wake of Mr. Weill's record-setting $88 million sale. Steel magnate Leroy Schechter has priced two combined units on the 35th floor—the units are still under construction—at $95 million, or $15,835 per square foot. He still hasn't gotten any takers. (Emily Beare, Mr. Schecter's listing broker, says she plans to begin fully marketing the apartment in January, once it is complete.)

Ms. Beare acknowledges pricing the work-in-progress apartment "was tricky." The unit is 700 square feet smaller than Mr. Weill's and does not include outdoor space. But unlike Mr. Weill's penthouse, it includes panoramic views of Central Park and the Hudson River, compared with park and interior-courtyard views. Slated for completion in January, it has its own elevator landing and includes an apartment that Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez rented for a time. Mr. Schecter says the price is justified because there isn't anything similar currently on the market and "it's the only building of its kind." The nearly 6,000-square-foot apartment will have five bedrooms, including a master suite with a sitting room and dressing area, seven bathrooms and two separate laundry rooms.

One high-price listing was just taken off the market. In September, two adjacent units on the 24th floor with a total of roughly 4,000 square feet were listed for $44 million. Last week, the seller decided to delist them, and one is now available for rent at $38,000 a month. According to public records, the apartment is owned Neil Witriol, the retired president of a company that makes steam baths and showers. He paid $7.8 million for the first unit in 2008. Listing broker Roberta Golubock, of Sotheby's International Realty, says that unit has been gut renovated and includes a bathroom with chromotherapy showers (so the owner gets bathed in light as well as water). He paid $8.9 million for the second unit in 2010, which he is currently leasing.

The least expensive apartment available in the building: a 1,900-square-foot, two-bedroom apartment on the 16th floor asking $8.5 million, according to StreetEasy.com.

Broker and luxury-market tracker Donna Olshan says many residents at 15 Central Park West have spent upwards of $1,500 per square foot on gut renovations and upgrades to the relatively basic fixtures that came in units purchased from the developer.

The building now faces some competition in the neighborhood. Under construction a few blocks away are two ultra-high-rise, ultra-high-priced buildings also attracting billionaire and multimillionaire buyers, including many from overseas. Developers of One57, a 90-story building across from Carnegie Hall with views of Central Park, say two buyers are in contract to pay more than $90 million for two apartments. The former site of the Drake Hotel on Park Avenue is slated to become a nearly 1,400-foot-tall ultra-luxury condominium. It includes a penthouse marketed for $85 million.

William Lie Zeckendorf, who developed 15 Central Park West with his brother, Arthur, says in general, he thinks units in the building on the market today may actually be underpriced. Unlike the coming high-rises, his building is directly on Central Park and already built. "I think the building is frankly so much better than what's out there," he says. "I think the prices should be higher."

The Zeckendorfs were met with widespread skepticism when they began developing the building nearly a decade ago. In 2003, they paid $401 million for the Mayflower Hotel and a surrounding lot—a record price for a development site at the time. William Zeckendorf says they modeled the project somewhat after another building they did at 515 Park Ave., known for its old-world look, modern amenities and generous floor plans. With 15 Central Park West, he says, they decided to make the apartments even larger and the building's amenities even grander. "We were trying to fill a segment of the market we felt had been under-built for 30 to 40 years in Manhattan," he says.

They hired architect Robert A.M. Stern to create the design, which Mr. Zeckendorf says they closely oversaw themselves, meeting with Mr. Stern or his office five to six times a week for a year to discuss layouts, amenities and finishes. The result is a towering building clad in limestone with a formal oak-paneled lobby and grand columns; the building is meant to evoke the city's classically grand prewar buildings.

The complex is actually made up of two connected buildings, or wings, because of zoning restrictions. The front building, known as "the House," has 20 stories overlooking Central Park and includes Mr. Weill's former apartment, which was purchased by a trust linked to Ekaterina Rybolovlev, the 23-year-old daughter of Russian fertilizer billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev. In the back is "the Tower," a 43-story building that, on its upper floors, includes both park views to the east and Hudson River views to the west, and is home to celebrities like rocker Sting and his wife, Trudie Styler. Average apartment size in the complex: roughly 5,500 square feet.

Owners also have access to a private 14,000-square-foot fitness center, an indoor swimming pool and a screening room. With a full-time staff of more than 50, the building also has two separate entrances, including an old-world-style gated motor court. The building also includes 29 smaller "suites" designed as separate quarters for staff, guests or home offices, available for purchase only to residents. Some have sold for upward of $2 million. Also available for residents to purchase are roughly 30 climate-controlled wine rooms with access to a central tasting area; none are currently available.

The building also has a private restaurant open only to residents and their guests—one of only three such establishments in the city, and the first built in more than 50 years, according to the developers. The menu ranges from burgers and fries to a more formal seasonally rotating menu, also available as room service.

The building's board of directors has set strict rental restrictions, allowing owners to rent their units for just one year at a time with no guarantee of a lease renewal without board approval; renters aren't allowed to have pets or smoke in the building, according to brokers familiar with the policies. They also, of course, face steep price tags. Mr. Kelly, of Prudential Douglas Elliman, says there are five apartments for rent in the building, including a 2,700-square-foot, three bedroom unit for $40,000 per month in a midlevel floor with park views. Additional fees include 5% of the monthly price for building wear-and-tear, plus a standard Manhattan broker's fee of 15% of one year's rent.

But for some, there's the hope that paying such a premium might pay off. "Business deals get done on cocktail napkins there," says Mr. Kelly. "I think a big draw on the rental side is that proximity."

Small Screen Reminders

CurbedDecember 06, 2012
Selling New York, the non-Vampire Diaries highlight of our Thursdays, returns to our TVs tonight. The first episode of season six begins at the new time of 6:30 p.m.. Which means we should all leave our desks right about...now to get home in time.

Condo Conversion 93 Worth Launches Sales, Unveils Interiors

CurbedDecember 06, 2012
Finally! Office-to-condo conversion 93 Worth in Tribeca has stopped teasing us and officially launched sales. So how much do the condos cost? Forty listings are currently live on StreetEasy, with 475-square-foot studios starting at $600K and the most expensive unit, a three-bedroom duplex penthouse with a terrace, asking $4.5 million. One-bedrooms range from $950,000 to $1.4 million, and two-bedrooms are listed for $1.415 to $2.15 million. Fifty-two more apartments, including six more penthouses, will be released at a future date. The sales team at CORE sent along a few photos of the on-site sales office, which is designed to look like the 13-story building's lobby, with lit Corian panels, vaulted ceilings, and original chanedliers.

In the gallery above, there are a few images of a model apartment, along with a couple artist's renderings showing the interiors. Developed by IGI-US and designed by ODA-Architecture, the apartments feature custom seven-foot windows, high ceilings, solid oak floors, and a washer/dryer. The open kitchens have European cabinetry and appliances from Viking, Sub-zero, and Miele, while the master bath has an iron claw-foot tub inside a marble "wet room" with a "rainforest showerhead." Building amenities include a 24-hour concierge, a rooftop terrace with a pergola and kitchen, a fitness center, children's play room, bike storage, and a dog-washing station.

241 Fifth Avenue Gets Signage

CurbedDecember 06, 2012
FLATIRON—Exciting news: under-construction condo 241 Fifth Avenue has signage! The building has been slow rising over the last year, and it topped out earlier this fall. CORE will be marketing the 42-48 condo development, which is being developed by Victor Homes. We hope a teaser website will be next.

In the News: 93 Worth Debuts

Tribeca CitizenDecember 06, 2012
“A long-awaited new Tribeca condo conversion has hit the market today after hiking its prices 10 percent just a few weeks prior to the launch. Units at 93 Worth Street, between Broadway and Church Street, are set to come online today with prices ranging from $545,000 for a studio to $6.33 million for a four-bedroom spread [....] There are 92 units at the property in total, including seven penthouse additions. Apartments range in size from 475 square feet to 3,300 square feet.” —The Real Deal; photos and floor plans are at 93worth.com.

Which Flatiron Loft is More Attractive to Potential Buyers?

CurbedDecember 06, 2012
Imagine you have around $2,700,000 to spend on an apartment and you've narrowed it down to two condos in the same neighborhood. How do you make up your mind? The answer is simple: you shove them into a metaphorical cage and let them battle it out until one emerges victorious. It's time for Real Estate Deathmatch.

Address 21 East 22nd Street #10GH
14 East 17th Street #7

Price $2,400,000 $2,650,000
Maintenance $1,962 $1,720
Beds, Baths 2, 2 2, 2

14 East 17th Street is the more conventional of these two Flatiron co-ops, but retains its gritty loft-ness. 21 East 22nd Street, also a loft, has a more interesting layout, with a 126-square-foot home office/possible second bedroom jutting out into the expansive living room. It also has a smaller kitchen, however.

Pointers for Buyers Seeking Peak-Worthy Homes

The Wall Street JournalDecember 06, 2012
Buyers don’t necessarily need to head out West to scout for mountaintop homes that offer privacy and wide-open vistas. New York’s Hudson Valley and parts of New Jersey may not abut ski lodges, but they offer some mountain touches, as detailed in three homes profiled recently as a House of the Day:

Lots that were once part of old, large estates can still be found in parts of New Jersey. This 30-room home atop Bernardsville Mountain once belonged to a 500-acre estate and the homeowners built their house on the stone foundation of the estate’s original mansion.

The views offered by a 12,450-square-feet home in Holland Township, N.J., were what won over Chester and Leslie Siuda when they scouted for land in the area. They built their home using over a dozen types of wood to give it the feeling of a rustic mountain home, and Ms. Siuda regularly goes horseriding in the area.

For those in the market for a mountain-style home, upstate New York broker David Knudsen has some suggestions. He guides prospective owners through house hunts in the Catskills region. Read more on the Developments blog.

93 Worth Launches, with Revised Price-Tags

The Real DealDecember 05, 2012
A long-awaited new Tribeca condo conversion has hit the market today after hiking its prices 10 percent just a few weeks prior to the launch.

Units at 93 Worth Street, between Broadway and Church Street, are set to come online today with prices ranging from $545,000 for a studio to $6.33 million for a four-bedroom spread, said a spokesperson for CORE, the exclusive marketing agent for the development. There are 92 units at the property in total, including seven penthouse additions. Apartments range in size from 475 square feet to 3,300 square feet.

CORE is marketing the property on behalf of developer Izaki Group Investments, which purchased the building last October for $49.8 million. The 88-year-old building previously served as a garment loft and still features the property’s original exposed steel columns.

The development represents an influx of new housing stock into the Tribeca market, where inventory is chronically tight. CORE CEO Shaun Osher said the neighborhood was like an “abyss” for available units. He noted that more than 300 prospective buyers signed up to see the Worth Street project before the launch of a sales office, inspiring the developer to increase sales prices by around 10 percent, compared to what was listed in the offering plan.

Expansive industrial loft buildings such as these are difficult to come by, Osher said, but are ripe for conversion. The executive said he expects the building to sell out in time for closings commencing sometime in the middle or latter part of 2013. He said the current prices are very much in line with the market.

The property’s vaulted lobby features perforated Corian panels inspired by Tribeca’s historic textile industry, a spokesperson for CORE said. The building’s amenities include a common rooftop with city views, a 24-hour concierge, a fitness center, a children’s playroom and a dog washing station.

IGI is also behind a condo development at 15 Renwick Street, which CORE is also marketing.

Storm Leaves Mark, but Some Buyers Persist

The Wall Street JournalDecember 04, 2012
Superstorm Sandy wrecked the basement of a large warehouse with cast-iron-columns that was in the midst of a condo conversion in TriBeCa.

But soon after the water was pumped out—when the building had no heat and limited electricity powered by a generator—buyers started coming back in force: Since Sandy, two deals were struck for apartments worth a total of more than $7.5 million.

The deals and the steady stream of potential buyers—an average a four a day have come through the show room at the former warehouse at 250 West St.—show how a strong downtown condo market is overpowering some qualms about the impact of the recent flooding.

The market, especially in TriBeCa, is extremely tight, with the supply of new condominiums after an influx of new downtown buildings sold out. As a result, prices for the remaining available units have been rising, brokers say.

At 93 Worth St., a conversion of a 1924 former garment loft and office building into 92 apartments near Broadway, more than 300 potential buyers signed up to see the project before the launch of a sales office in the next few days. Because of the strong early demand, asking prices were raised nearly 10% in November.

"The market is crazy right now," said Shaun Osher, the founder of CORE, a brokerage company that is marketing the 93 Worth St. apartments. The building lost power in the poststorm blackout but wasn't flooded.

Thomas Elliott, executive vice president for sales and marketing at El Ad US Holding Inc., the developers of 250 West St., said that buyers wanted a look at the last condos in the building, despite Sandy. More than 80% of the apartments are now in contract.

"It is surprising that in the face of all this, there is still interest in TriBeCa in general and our building in particular," he said.
Asking prices for units at 93 Worth St., were raised nearly 10% in November.

At 250 West, one buyer signed a contract for a three-bedroom apartment on the fifth floor for $3.545 million. Another is considering a contract for a two-bedroom apartment at $3.97 million, with six windows looking out at the Hudson River. Both contracts are at the full list price.

To be sure, brokers say that some would-be buyers in lower-priced condos in the Financial District have pulled back since Sandy, or have been looking to renegotiate prices. In luxury riverfront buildings that remain closed, like Superior Ink on West 12th Street overlooking the river, brokers withdrew some listings after the building was shut down.

Brett Miles, a broker at Town Residential, said demand was still "astonishing" at Superior Ink. He pulled down a listing for one-bedroom condo priced at $3.2 million after the storm hit, only to have brokers continue to call asking to see it.

A buyer in contract to buy another two-bedroom apartment he listed in the building at nearly $4.4 million is going ahead with the deal, he said. Meanwhile, brokers representing other prospective buyers have been calling to check with him just in case the deal falls through, he said.

At the W Downtown Hotel and Residences, just across the street from the World Trade Center, buyers are back, too. During the storm, the lobby of the W Downtown was filled with two feet of water, and the building was closed for about 10 days, according to Richard Nassimi, a broker at Corcoran Group, who is overseeing sales there.

But once the building reopened and crews began rebuilding the lobby, buyers signed contracts for eight condominiums, he said. A string of closings are scheduled for December.

"People started to feel better because the building bounced back from an act of God," he said.

At 250 West St., 88 of 106 condominiums are in contract, and the building was due to start closing before the end of the year until Sandy hit. Though the basement flooded, the lobby located above street level was undamaged.

Mr. Elliott said that all the equipment in the basement—pumps, boilers and electrical panels—were being refurbished for temporary use. But they would then replace the basement mechanicals with new equipment, so that it would be covered by warranties from manufacturers.

He said closings will be delayed until the first quarter but he expected all deals in contract to close. El Ad is studying how to add a backup generator as well, he said.

At 93 Worth St., the developer, IGI USA, part of a global real-estate company based in Israel, is adding four stories of boxlike glass-walled penthouses with terraces on top of the 14-story brick-and-stone building.

The building includes a mix of studios beginning at under $600,000 to a penthouse with a 2,000-square-foot private terrace with Empire State Building views listed at $6.75 million.

The apartments have 7-foot-high picture windows, exposed steel columns to give them a loft-like feel, wide oak-plank floors, and brass and bronzed fixtures throughout.

Sales Check: 93 Worth

CurbedDecember 04, 2012
Flooding? What flooding? Buyers don't seem to be worried about the threat of future Sandy-like floods at downtown luxury buildings. At 250 West Street, two buyers have spent more than $7.5 million on apartments since the storm. At 93 Worth Street, prices have been upped before the official on-market date due to the number of interested buyers. Eight units have gone into contract at the W since Sandy, too.

93 Worth, Restored Classic Loft Conversion in Tribeca, Launches Residential Sales

December 04, 2012
NEW YORK, N.Y. (December 4, 2012) – Izaki Group Investments USA (IGI USA) and CORE announce that sales have commenced at 93 Worth Street, a coveted residential conversion in New York City. Located at 93 Worth Street, between Broadway and Church Street in Manhattan’s Tribeca neighborhood, 93 Worth has been converted, restored and modernized into 92 condominium units that combine historic detail with the conveniences of modern loft living.

Built in 1924, 93 Worth is an 18-story building offering a mix of studio, one, two, three and four-bedroom residences, along with seven grand penthouses. The lofts feature oversized, custom 7-foot windows, solid wood doors, high ceilings, original exposed steel columns, 7-inch wide white oak plank floors and private laundry.

The kitchens include custom, hand-finished patina brass fixtures with appliances from Viking, Sub-Zero and Miele. Bathrooms consist of custom, brass patina fixtures, stained oak cabinet vanities with marble tops, and marble-tiled floors and walls. Most residences feature a wet room with enameled, cast iron clawfoot tub and ceiling mount rainforest showerhead.

“93 Worth fills a void in the market. It is rare to find homes like these in a pedigreed building in one of the best neighborhoods in New York City.” noted Shaun Osher, CEO of CORE, the exclusive sales and marketing agency for 93 Worth.

93 Worth boasts an original, grand vaulted lobby with details including perforated Corian panels inspired by Tribeca’s historic textile industry. In addition to a 24/7 concierge, 93 Worth's amenities include a common rooftop with panoramic city views, open lounge with pergola and kitchen station, a fitness center, children's playroom, dog washing station, bicycle storage and available private storage.

In addition to the residential living space, designed by Eran Chen of ODA Architecture, the property will offer approximately 10,000-square feet of commercial/retail space.

About IGI USA

With over 60 years of experience and a record number of achievements in real estate, IGI is well-positioned for success in its endeavors developing commercial, residential, hotel and office properties. IGI has built a strong global presence, with investments and teams in New York, London, Tel Aviv, Warsaw and Budapest. Innovative thinking, a strong financial backbone and a breadth of experience give IGI a competitive advantage in the global arena of upscale real estate development. IGI USA, the US arm of IGI, is a fully integrated development company based in New York City. IGI USA focuses primarily on multi-family conversions and new residential real estate development projects. The firm’s expertise is in developing innovative residential buildings with a focus on aesthetics and detail. For more information about IGI-USA please visit www.IGI-US.com.

About CORE

CORE is a real estate sales and marketing firm delivering the best in brokerage, communications and advisory services for the luxury residential segment. In addition, CORE’s elite group of highly experienced and successful professionals service developers who value efficient, no-nonsense results. CORE was founded by Shaun Osher as a full-service boutique firm with a strict adherence to the principles of integrity, efficiency and results. For more information visit www.corenyc.com.

A Restful New York Mountain Home

The Wall Street JournalDecember 03, 2012
Price: $4,495,000
Location: Carmel, NY
Type of Home: Mountain Home

This 33-acre property, once owned by the musician Moby, provided its current owner with a peaceful escape from the city and more than enough space for his active dogs to run around.

On the Market

The New York TimesDecember 02, 2012
Chelsea Co-op $697,000
Manhattan: 357 West 29th Street (Eighth and Ninth Avenues), #3B

A one-bedroom, one-bathroom with a wood-burning fireplace and a balcony in a prewar walk-up. Doug Bowen (646)247-0822, Winchester Brown III (212)500-2119, CORE Group; corenyc.com.

PROS: The open renovated kitchen has limestone counters and new appliances. The unit has ample storage, tall windows and central air-conditioning.

CONS: The apartment is five flights up. There is no in-unit washer/dryer.

Stuck in Limbo: How Fiscal Policy Negotiations in D.C. are Impacting NYC’s Housing Market

The Real DealDecember 01, 2012
Manhattan’s luxury residential real estate market will remain in limbo for the remainder of the year as speculation continues over how negotiations on the nation’s fiscal policy play out in Washington, brokers say.

While some buyers and sellers are rushing to close on deals already in motion in order to avoid an inevitable rise in capital gains taxes, brokers said, consumers still considering a sale or purchase are holding off. They are waiting until Congress agrees on a plan to deal with a confluence of fiscal issues, including the expiration of the Bush-era tax cuts, spending cuts and the national deficit.

If the government does not reach a solution by Jan. 1 — the date that the nation goes over the so-called “fiscal cliff” — capital gains could reportedly go from 15 to 20 or 25 percent, while taxes on dividends may go as high as 43 percent from 15 percent for the wealthiest Americans.

Wealthy Manhattanites looking to gift their children pricey properties may also be in trouble: If Congress fails to act, a lifetime gift-tax exemption allowing the transfer of assets worth up to $5.2 million, in place since the beginning of 2011, is set to revert to just $1 million on Dec. 31. That would mean all transfers over $1 million could be taxed as high as 50 percent.

Sotheby’s International Realty broker Nikki Field said she’s seeing hypermotivated sellers flood the market, with the aim of closing on pricey properties before the end of the year.

“The talk of a fiscal cliff is accelerating, rather than slowing down, sales at the high end,” she said. “Some sellers are concerned because the possibility of the [tax] rise reduces their profit margin significantly, while a few are even willing to discount prime properties for a quick close before the end of the year.”

She said her team has recently worked on several deals in which the seller accepted the buyers’ offer on the condition that the deal close by the end of 2012.

Indeed, real estate attorney Bruce Cohen, of the Manhattan law firm Cohen & Frankel, said he didn’t plan a December vacation this year precisely so he could deal with the volume of clients looking to close in the last quarter.

Some of the superpricey transactions that have recently closed include last month’s purchase by Susan Weber Soros, ex-wife of billionaire George Soros, of a townhouse at 116 East 70th Street near Park Avenue for its full $22.5 million asking price. Also last month, media mogul David Geffen paid $54 million for a penthouse duplex owned by socialite Denise Rich at 785 Fifth Avenue.

In the current climate, buyers are able to take advantage of sellers’ eagerness to sell before the end of the year, said Michael Graves, a broker at CORE.

“The fiscal cliff and capital gains tax could negatively affect property values next year, and that volatility is heavy ammunition” for the buyer, he said.

Another factor working in buyers’ favor is that condo inventory is on the rise. According to a report issued by the real estate website StreetEasy last month, the number of apartments for sale in new development projects in Manhattan has risen 10.2 percent in the last six months.

However, those high-end buyers who don’t already have deals in the works are sitting back for the moment. That’s because most buyers are also under-the-gun to sell their own property before they buy another home and will end up getting hit with the capital gains tax on that end of their transaction.

“The probability of a tax increase on the wealthy may cause some high-end buyers hesitation,” said Patricia Levan of Levan Real Estate. “However, when the expected tax compromise comes through, most buyers will feel relieved, and this will increase demand.”

Factoring in both the political situation in Washington and the impact Superstorm Sandy has had on closing volume in November, Jonathan Miller, CEO and president of real estate appraisal firm Miller Samuel, said he predicts a slightly slower fourth quarter than seasonal expectations normally suggest.

According to preliminary data provided to The Real Deal by StreetEasy, just 43 closings that took place citywide in the week immediately after the storm have been recorded so far, compared with 662 closings the previous week. In Manhattan, only 17 closings had been recorded by press time, compared with 238 the week prior.

However, the dip is not expected to be catastrophic in the long term.

A greater concern, Miller said, is what will happen to the housing markets if Congress doesn’t hammer out a compromise before Jan. 1.
“The betting money says that if we do go fully into this fiscal cliff, we’re going into a recession,” he said. “That means rising unemployment and easing demand for housing. We would see the default rate rise and another heavy foreclosure cycle.”

House of the Day: A Dream New York Penthouse

The Wall Street JournalNovember 23, 2012
New York, NY
Price: $5,950,000

Owning a New York penthouse was a dream-come-true for producer Don Blanton. Now, the place that gave him views of a city that has seen him through good times and bad is on the market for $5.95 million.

Ultimate Kitchens for the Holidays

ForbesNovember 21, 2012
Kitchens are the heart of the home. It’s where we cook, eat, and congregate – especially during the holidays. In honor of the season, we’ve spotlighted dream kitchens sure to set a merry mood not just for those holiday house guests — but for the host too.

“A modern kitchen is very important to people – whether you cook or don’t cook – because so much time is spent in there,” says Jarrod Randolph, a luxury broker with CORE Real Estate. “When you walk into a home or apartment –even if it’s older — and the kitchen is newly done and done well, it makes it ten times easier sell.”

With the help of Realtor.com, Sotheby’s International Realty, Coldwell Banker Previews International and Trulia.com, Forbes has cherry-picked a variety of for sale homes offering tantalizing cook spaces, outrageous amenities and delectable layouts sure to set spirits bright.

Homebuyers and owners fork over top dollar for kitchens, which can run into the hundreds of thousands for top-of-the-line materials and appliances. Alongside bathrooms, kitchens are the most common remodeling projects taken up by homeowners, according to the National Association of Home Builders. And they’re on the rise: kitchen projects are up 17% this year compared to 2010.

Open layouts that blend with the surrounding living areas prevail when it comes to homeowners’ floor plan aspirations, according to the American Institute of Architects Home Design Trends Survey. Breakfast bars with counter stools and large islands that serve as workspaces and entertaining/dining spaces, all of which bolster an open layout, are among the most popular kitchen details, adds Liza Hausman, a vice president at Houzz, an online platform for home remodeling and design concepts.

In some homes, multiple islands have been implemented to allow the space adaptability to operate as a catering kitchen as well. A $30 million Bel Air compound in Los Angeles, Calif. boasts among its many party-centric amenities a commercial-grade kitchen with two islands, each equipped with twin sets of appliances.

A gourmet kitchen tucked inside an $18.9 million Fort Lauderdale, Fla. mansion has double islands, including one with a griddle and warming drawers, a breakfast banquet and a granite eat-in bar with beverage fridge that extends out into a 2,000-square foot great room. A professional chef works within the lavish space daily, yet, hiding behind a swinging door at the back of the room is a butler’s pantry fully finished with a double fridge, electric stove, and commercial-grade dishwasher. The pantry also has two additional doors that swing out to a formal dining room and an outdoor dining verandah.

“This kitchen essentially has another kitchen behind it so that if you are having parties, you have plenty of room,” says Eileen Kedersha, the ONE Sotheby’s International broker that represents the South Florida home.

High-end appliances are a must, with owners installing Sub-Zero refrigerators, six-burner ranges by Viking and Dynasty (to name a few), and double dishwashers from Miele. “What we’re seeing more of are complete integration of appliances – not just paneled dishwashers and refrigerators, but ovens and microwaves that look like part of the cabinetry,” explains Hausman.

The most decadent of kitchens even incorporate restaurant-ready gadgets like rotisseries, built-in espresso machines, and pasta drawers. One $12.9 million Dutch Colonial in Fairfield, Conn. boasts a wood-burning pizza oven (a foodie feature typically found outside, if at all).

The American Institute of Architects has found that renovation projects are increasingly spanning nontraditional features like computer stations or recharging areas for electronic devices, built-in recycling centers and wine storage areas as well.

Perhaps the most unexpected amenity creeping into kitchens is the fireplace. In Beverly Hills, Calif., a recently finished massive $58 million mansion dubbed the Crescent Palace boasts a massive 5,000-square foot “kitchen” filled with seating for 16, a commercial-sized freezer, a glass walk-in pantry, multiple flat screen TVs – and a lounge area donning a gas fireplace. In Water Mill, N.Y., a $39.5 million Hamptons estate’s state-of-the-art kitchen has its own fireplace bedecked living room as well, so guests can get cozy while looking out on the water of Mecox Bay.

In New York City, where space is notoriously cramped, developers of new multi-family projects haven’t fixated on fireplaces just yet but they are experimenting with ergonomics to make the kitchen feel more like the living room. “We’ve rotated the kitchen so that the cooking surface faces the guests so that you can socialize while cooking,” says Michael Namer, founder and principal of Alfa Development/Management, the New York developer of up-and-coming green condo building Chelsea Green.

All of the kitchens in Chelsea Green are designed by celebrity chef Eric Rippert for Poggenpohl. Facing out toward the rest of the apartment, the space includes a Miele induction cooktop with a Smeg oven, a garbage/recycling pull-out cabinet on the right side and a pots-and-pans cabinet on the left, ensuring no need to turn your back on guests. And its drawing buyers: despite a 2013 completion date, all but three of the project’s 51 units have been bought.

Big Deal: In San Francisco, Life With Out “Starchitects”

The New York TimesNovember 16, 2012
Whether it’s Frank Gehry at New York by Gehry, Christian de Portzamparc at One57 or Robert A. M. Stern at 15 Central Park West, showcasing a “starchitect” is part of the arms race that is luxury condo development in Manhattan these days.

The developers of Walker Tower, a luxury condo conversion in Chelsea, have taken it a step further, trumpeting the original designer of the former commercial building, Ralph Walker, whom The New York Times in 1957 called the “architect of the century.” They have even erected a small museum about Mr. Walker, who died in 1973, in the tower’s sales center.

But across the country, San Francisco offers an intriguing counterpoint: distinctive architecture is conspicuously lacking in the high-rise building boom.
Forty years after it was completed, the 850-foot Transamerica Pyramid remains the most recognizable high-rise tower built in the City by the Bay. Designed by the architect William Pereira, it took a lot of flak from locals during its planning and construction, with detractors sometimes referring to it as a phallic symbol, though their actual wording was more blunt.

Nevetheless, it became a fixture of the city’s skyline. Today it stands mostly alone in a city more interested in conserving its old Victorian-style homes than in making a statement with new development. It is a puzzling phenomenon in a part of the country often seen as an engine of American innovation.

“People work hard to preserve old things without taking the risk to build something new,” Mr. Gehry said about San Francisco in a recent phone conversation.

He was critical of the high-rise building boom under way in San Francisco’s South of Market area, where the newly built towers are boxy and utilitarian. “It’s business without heart,” he said.

In the past decade, 13 high-rise condo towers of 20 stories or more have been built in San Francisco. Another four such projects have been approved by the city, according to the Mark Company, a real estate marketing and sales firm.

There is nary a brand-name architecture firm to be found among the towers that have already been built, though Handel Architects did design the sleek Millennium Tower. A new luxury high-rise being designed by Richard Meier is still struggling to get approved by the city after almost five years of development.

The new buildings South of Market are meant to attract singles and young couples, many of whom are working in the tech industry and don’t yet want the hassles of a single-family home. And while higher-end offerings like the Millennium have attracted a few prominent locals — like the former 49ers quarterback Joe Montana — foreigners, especially from China, make up a large chunk of the buyers.

At the Madrone, another high-rise in the newly developed neighborhood of Mission Bay, a young techie apartment owner I spoke with said that the architecture of the building had never really been a consideration.

That doesn’t surprise Mr. Stern, who doesn’t see young tech buyers as having the sophistication to care about buildings (though, it must be said, they may have refined tastes in the subtle design touches of the latest smartphones). “I think it takes them awhile to get over the initial high-dose blast of wealth to realize that wealth can be used more creatively than just buying big shoebox spaces and sticking in foosball games and other things like that,” Mr. Stern said.

The young software engineers may not care too much about the quality of architecture where they live, but down in Silicon Valley some big tech firms have tapped world-renowned architects to design their new headquarters.

Facebook hired Mr. Gehry, 83, for the expansion of its campus in Menlo Park. Mr. Gehry designed a 433,555-square-foot building with a rooftop garden that will be built on stilts. “It should look like a floating forest where the building peeks from beneath a series of trees,” said Slater Tow, a Facebook spokesman. “We are not out to make an architectural statement, we are out to make the most functional building for engineers.”

It was Steve Jobs himself who commissioned Sir Norman Foster to design Apple’s new 2.8-million-square-foot headquarters in Cupertino, which Mr. Jobs described as a “spaceship.”

Both the Apple and Facebook projects are expected to be completed by the end of 2015.

But just a commute away in San Francisco, there is little buzz about big-name designers. “San Francisco is not a place where people shout architects’ names on a building,” said Mary Comerio, a professor in the Graduate School of Architecture at the University of California, Berkeley. “You get more controversy when that happens.”

Indeed, developers in San Francisco are loath to take architectural risks because the city’s approval process for new development is long and rigorous, perhaps the most onerous in the country, architects say.

It’s hard to fault their caution when you consider how small San Francisco really is — 47 square miles (Manhattan alone is 23 square miles) — with much of the area consumed by neighborhoods zoned for single-family homes. More than the pedigree of the architect, the city worries about things like shadows and wind and, of course, earthquakes.

The earthquake issue is not as tough to navigate as you might think, but it is still a costly concern. The Bay Area remains highly susceptible to earthquakes, and “seismic readiness” can add as much as 15 percent to the cost of a new structure, said Mark Sarkisian, director of seismic and structural engineering in the San Francisco office of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, which built the John Hancock Center and Sears (now Willis) Tower in Chicago.

Not surprisingly, the science of engineering tall buildings has come a long way in the last 20 years. The structures have special joints to dissipate energy without fracturing during a quake. They can bend, almost like a fishing pole.

In the South of Market area, the sandy soil creates a bigger risk if a big one hits. So developers need to dig foundations 100 to 125 feet deep, Mr. Sarkisian said.

All the engineering advances have made newer high-rises less susceptible to collapse than lower-rise brick structures being held together by gravity, experts say.

But it hasn’t been fear of earthquakes that has held up the approval of a residential tower being designed by Mr. Meier’s firm for the corner of Market Street and Van Ness Avenue. City planners were concerned about how an early design for the building, currently scheduled to have 37 floors, would affect wind conditions for pedestrians, said Bernhard Karpf, an associate partner at Richard Meier & Partners, who is in charge of the project.

“They describe that area as having ‘hazardous wind conditions,’ where people would literally get blown off the street,” Mr. Karpf said.

The developer David Choo asked Mr. Meier in 2009 to do something that was “not your traditional San Francisco architecture,” Mr. Karpf said. Meier & Partners initially designed a “free-standing sculptural object” on the small site. With approval threatened, the firm hired a Canadian company to test a scale model in a wind tunnel, delaying the design process by another year.

“We had never heard of these kinds of wind regulations,” Mr. Karpf said. “It became almost obsessive on the planning board’s side to make sure wind is mitigated.”

Their frustration mounting, the Meier architects asked the Canadian company to give them three or four shapes that would meet the wind requirements. “We have to move forward,” Mr. Karpf said he told them. “We have to find a solution that works. It may look horrible, but let’s see if we can reverse the process and turn it into a building.”

In the end, the slender shape of the building “was strongly influenced” by studies in the wind tunnel laboratory, which showed that it would “actually improve wind conditions in this part of town,” he said.

When Mr. Karpf asked Mr. Choo how he could stand to buy a property and still have nothing to show for it some five years later, he shrugged and told the architect, “That’s the way it works in San Francisco.”

Walker Tower in Chelsea Teases Us With Three More Penthouses

ZimbioNovember 16, 2012
Walker Tower, located at 212 W. 18th Street, consists of 50 luxury condominiums. Eighteen units from the first round of available apartments at the restored Ralph Walker-designed building are in contract. The tower, erected before neighborhood height limits, boasts protected 360-degree views of Manhattan, which partially explains the sky-high pricing.

Penthouse 8, a three-bedroom, four-bathroom duplex, is asking $12.495 million, or $4,068 per square foot. Penthouse 3 has a price tag of $20.99 million, or $6,035 per square foot, while Penthouse 4 is asking $12.895 million, or $5,005 per square foot.

Model unit photographs and floor plans below, courtesy of CORE:

It’s Officially Penthouse Time at Chelsea’s Walker Tower

CurbedNovember 16, 2012
The penthouses at Walker Tower have already received a fair amount of hype for the sky-high planned asking prices of $10,000/foot. The penthouses with the highest asks haven't come to market yet, but a few penthouses in the Art Deco Chelsea building did hit the market today, and their prices still induce some sticker shock. Penthouse 8, a duplex, is seeking $12.495 million, or $4,068/square foot. Penthouse 4 is seeking $12.895 million, or $5,005/square foot, and penthouse 3 is asking $20.99 million, or a whopping $6,035/square foot. The listings include the same model unit photos as earlier inventory (17 units from the first batch of listings are in contract, hence the new offerings), but there are floor plans for each penthouse.

Read the Book, Buy the Condo

The New York TimesNovember 16, 2012
ABOUT 60 women gathered inside a condominium on Liberty Street in the financial district on a Sunday evening not long ago to hear Dana Adam Shapiro read from his newly released book, “You Can Be Right (or You Can Be Married): Looking for Love in the Age of Divorce,” a journalistic investigation into why so many marriages fail. The women were also there to buy lingerie, get a psychic reading — and inspect the $2.68 million triplex condo for sale.

The topic had relevance to Heather Knapp, a 29-year-old marketing executive, who is dating a divorced man. “My boyfriend’s an open book, he tells me a lot,” she said, “but I was interested to hear someone else’s take on the experience.” In addition to the apartment, Ms. Knapp, who lives on the Upper East Side, was curious about the increasingly residential financial district.

This event, mixing an author and a condo, is just one of many such gatherings that have taken place at buildings across Manhattan in recent months. Many have been organized by Divalysscious Moms, a company that puts on events for New York-area mothers. Founded by Lyss Stern five years ago, it has 465,000 members. Ms. Stern hosts a book club, exclusive shopping events, makeovers, and other occasions for moms with and without their kids.

In the last year she has brought E. L. James, Kathie Lee Gifford, Laurie David, Soleil Moon Frye and other authors together with the mothers in her network for readings in multimillion-dollar apartments for the purpose of selling books and real estate. “Authors are selling books and the books give such value to the events,” Ms. Stern said. “There is no better way to get buyers into these beautiful apartments.”

Indeed, others are following suit. The designer Jonathan Adler is scheduled to present his new book at 225 Rector Place this winter, and 400 Fifth Avenue is hosting an event for the photographer Evan Joseph’s new book.

Randy Rastello-McManus, a 42-year-old jewelry and graphic designer, said she had been attracted to the Liberty Street reading by both the apartment and the subject. She lives in the Country Club section of the Bronx but is often in Manhattan for work. As she looked at the oversize chandelier hanging from the double-height ceiling, she said the triplex could work well for her family.

It required a little imagination to make that assessment, because the apartment was unfurnished except for the rows of folding chairs that had been set up for the reading. A resale whose owner provided guests with wine from his collection, the unit has been on the market for about four months. Deborah Lupard, the Warburg Realty agent handling the listing, described the event as a good opportunity to get potential buyers and brokers through the door. Bringing people in, she said, is important because it allows her to explain that even though monthly maintenance is $11,600, the apartment is priced low on a per-square-foot basis, something potential buyers might miss just looking at the listing online. (Also, she can emphasize that the owner will contribute to the maintenance for three years, reducing the buyer’s monthly cost to $7,995.)

Ms. Lupard says author events can work for most apartment listings. Because the Liberty Street event was taking place in a large triplex, she arranged for the psychic, the lingerie and the wine tasting in addition to the reading. A smaller apartment might book just one attraction, to reduce overcrowding. “Anything, an art show or poetry reading, anything that entices as many people to view the property is a good thing,” she said.

The Azure on the Upper East Side, which has three-, four- and five-bedroom units, has hosted three events with Divalysscious Moms. But they were just part of the larger marketing strategy for the building, said Douglas MacLaury, a senior vice president of the Mattone Group, a sponsor of the Azure along with the Dematteis Organizations. The building has also hosted wine-and-cheese gatherings, as well as events on how to find the best doctors and how to get into private preschools.

“We try to choose an author who appeals to the people that we are trying to attract to the building,” Mr. MacLaury said. “If you are trying to appeal to higher-end clientele who can afford these apartments, something to do with fashion, high-end food, those seem to be the topics that bring people to the table.” Kathie Lee Gifford read her children’s book “Party Animals” in the building playroom. Other events have taken place in the lounge and in the four-bedroom model apartment. The building, which has been on the market since mid-2010, is over 60 percent sold, according to Mr. MacLaury.

Authors also benefit from the arrangement, said Jennifer Gilbert, who wrote “I Never Promised You a Goodie Bag: A Memoir of a Life Through Events — the Ones You Plan and the Ones You Don’t,” about her recovery from a violent attack. Her first reading was at One Museum Mile, on Fifth Avenue and 110th Street. Many of the women attending the event had already started the book and were interested in Ms. Gilbert’s story of recovery. The event was held on the roof deck, which has views of Central Park. “We had a nice group of moms,” Ms. Gilbert recalled. “We had tea and talked about the book.”

Author events can be an easy way to draw potential buyers to a building in an unfamiliar neighborhood, said Natalie Rakowski, a managing director of the CORE Group, the brokerage handling One Museum Mile. “We had three or four moms who came from TriBeCa and were pleasantly surprised,” she said.

Though Mr. MacLaury was unaware of anyone who attended an event who ultimately bought an apartment, he said the events helped generate interest among friends and associates of those who do attend. One recent buyer, he said, is a friend of a reading participant.

Dana Haddad, a 40-year-old educational consultant and a voracious reader, came to Ms. Gilbert’s event just to see her. “I was really just interested in being around like-minded people who enjoy reading,” she said. “I also happened to be looking for an apartment, and it had not even occurred to me to look at the building.”

Ms. Haddad, whose fiancé has three teenage children, has been back several times since, to look at apartments.

More Small Dogs and Big Home Prices

The New York TimesNovember 16, 2012
IN his 1995 memoir “Dreams From My Father,” Barack Obama described the Yorkville walk-up on 94th Street near First Avenue where he had lived in the 1980s as “part of the shifting border between East Harlem and the rest of Manhattan.” Over the last several years, as the latest wave of gentrification has washed north of East 96th Street, breaching a traditional dividing line sometimes called the Wall by East Harlem residents, that boundary has blurred even further.

In particular, Lexington Avenue between 96th and 104th Streets has been transformed by the arrival of luxury housing and spiffy lounges. At the East Harlem Cafe, laptop-pecking patrons can dine on a goat cheese and tomato salad called El Barrio, the name by which parts of the neighborhood have been known for decades by its many Hispanic residents.

Brian Armstead of the Corcoran Group, who grew up on East 110th Street, said that one of his condominium sales on 104th and First fell apart last year when the buyer, an investor from New Jersey, learned that the apartment she had chosen was in East Harlem.

“Some Web sites call that area the Upper East Side,” he said, “and then she heard somewhere else it was called East Harlem, so she backed out because it confused her.”

The gentrification has by no means been wholesale; much of the area is still dominated by rows of crumbling tenements and mountain ranges of public housing. In many cases, residents say, multiple immigrant families crowd together in a single one-bedroom unit. But for students of Manhattan’s tendency to remake itself block by block, the signs of evolution are evident.

James Garcia, a manager at a nonprofit group, needs only to gaze from his condo’s south-facing terrace to see the change. In 2005, Mr. Garcia and his partner moved from Battery Park City, paying $595,000 for a two-bedroom condo with two baths and two terraces on 112th Street near Thomas Jefferson Park. Next door was an auto body shop, and beyond that a tire repair place.

“Looking out from our back terrace, there was nothing but public housing back then,” Mr. Garcia recalled, “and now I see eight new residential buildings. And the empty lot next to mine is going to be converted into an eight-story condo.”

Development has been spurred in part by East River Plaza, a long-awaited mall at 116th Street and the Franklin D. Roosevelt Drive that offers the likes of Target and Old Navy. The increased foot traffic has brought restaurants to the avenues nearby as well as to 116th, which has come to be called Little Mexico. On 119th and Third, Hunter College’s graduate school of social work now resides in a shiny new eight-story brick-and-glass building. Along with condos and a graduate center apartment house, the school has drawn a diverse crowd and helped rejuvenate a down-at-heel area of dollar stores.

“There’s a young professional population of every ethnic group,” Mr. Garcia said, “and a noticeable, huge increase in the gay population.”

But perhaps the greatest leading indicator of cultural transformation can be found at the dog run. “You can always tell a neighborhood is changing by its dogs,” Mr. Garcia said. “When we moved here, they were mostly pit bulls, but now there’s every breed, every terrier you can imagine.”

WHAT YOU’LL FIND

Broadly speaking, East Harlem is made up of the one and a half square miles of Manhattan Island covered by Community Board 11: The area between 96th and 142nd Streets, from Fifth Avenue to the East and Harlem Rivers. These borders can be a subject of disagreement. Some place the northern boundary at 125th Street, the southern edge north of 96th.

Nearly half the area’s 101,448 residents are Hispanic or Latino, but from 2000 to 2010 their proportion shrank to 47 percent from 52, according to census data provided by Andrew A. Beveridge, the chairman of the Queens College sociology department. The black population dipped slightly, to 38 percent, while the percentage of non-Hispanic whites rose to 13 from 7 and the share of Asians doubled, to 6 percent. Median household income was $30,833, less than half that of Manhattan households overall.

English and Spanish are both widely spoken, but the background of those speaking the Spanish has changed. The proportion of Puerto Ricans, the area’s dominant group by the 1950s, was just a quarter of the 2010 population, while an influx of Mexicans and Dominicans brought the reported share of each of those groups to 8 percent.

Most East Harlemites live in some form of rent-regulated housing, and the neighborhood has one of the largest concentrations of public housing in New York. But development pressure is mounting. In 2010 and ‘11, more new certificates of occupancy were issued in East Harlem than in any other city neighborhood, according to a report by the Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy at New York University.

George Sarkissian, the district manager of Community Board 11, said that rising rents had priced some longtime residents out of their own neighborhood. “We have private equity firms that have bought up large portfolios of low- and middle-income housing at the tail end of their rent-regulatory period,” he said, and in some cases the buildings have opted out of government rent-regulation programs, bringing some apartments to market rate. “So there’s a bit of tension between people who have been in East Harlem for generations and those who are moving here, although there’s no outright conflict.”

The community board has made a priority of preserving affordable housing, Mr. Sarkissian added, and it has held discussions with new building owners to try to persuade them to remain for 25 years in the federal Section 8 program, which provides rental payment assistance to low-income New Yorkers.

Below-market-rate and mixed-income housing has also been built by private developers making use of government incentives. One of the newest mixed-income co-ops is the eight-story Lancaster Madison, the fourth in a corridor of pleasant brick-and-masonry buildings between 117th and 120th Streets on Madison Avenue.

“All the brand-new buildings make you feel that people are already investing up here,” said Enrique Vela, an architect, while taking a break from painting a room for the baby whom he and his wife, Gimar Diaz, are expecting. Last month the couple paid $395,000 for a two-bedroom unit in the Lancaster Madison. “The neighborhood’s not there yet,” he said, “but it’s getting there, and when it does I think we’ll be sitting pretty.”

WHAT YOU’LL PAY

Fifth Avenue from 96th to 110th Street has several new developments and renovated prewar buildings that sell or rent at heights unheard of elsewhere in East Harlem. Three-bedrooms in 1214 Fifth, a new 53-story glass tower on 102nd, rent for $9,000 a month and up, said Daria Salusbury, a senior vice president of the Related Companies, the building’s leasing agent. Condos at One Museum Mile, the tower atop the as-yet-unopened Museum for African Art on 110th, command more than $1,000 a square foot.

Outside of this rarefied corridor, two-bedrooms in luxury condos typically bring around $615,000, said Mr. Armstead of Corcoran, and the pace of sales has picked up markedly since September. A search on Streeteasy.com found 71 residential properties for sale.

Two-bedrooms in tenements rent for around $2,300, said Dianne Howard, also of Corcoran. Luxury rentals can be had for $2,500 to $3,000 a month, Mr. Armstead said.

WHAT TO DO

The area boasts some of the best Mexican food in town, at restaurants like El Paso Taqueria. Diverse local favorites include Ricardo Ocean Grill; Harley’s Smokeshack; Creole; and Piatto D’Oro, one of whose owners is a former Roman paparazzo.

THE SCHOOLS

Among the public elementary schools is the Bilingual Bicultural School on 109th, for kindergarten through fifth grade, which earned an A on its most recent city progress report. Middle schools include the Isaac Newton Middle School for Math and Science on Pleasant Avenue, which scored a C. At the Central Park East High School on Madison, SAT averages last year were 405 in reading, 421 in math and 395 in writing, versus 434, 461, and 430 citywide. The private St. Bernard’s School on 98th runs through Grade 9.

THE COMMUTE

The 2, 3, 4 and 5 express trains stop at 125th Street. The 6 makes five stops on Lexington from 96th to 125th. The trip from 116th to Grand Central Terminal takes about 20 minutes. From 125th on the 4 or 5, the ride to Wall Street is about 25 minutes. There is a Metro-North Railroad station at 125th and Park.

THE HISTORY

In 1930, 80,000 Italians lived in East Harlem; by 2010 that population had dwindled below 1,900. “My father grew up here in the 1930s,” said Robert Martinez, the maintenance superintendent at the local Boys’ Club of New York, who is of Puerto Rican descent, “and if you weren’t Italian or Irish you couldn’t pass Second Avenue toward the East River between 106th and 116th. My dad was very light-skinned, so he was able to filter in with the Italians; our name is Martinez so he called himself Martini.”

Priciest, Cheapest Units to Hit the Market

The Real DealNovember 16, 2012
Nikki Field and Patricia Wheatley at Sotheby’s International Realty have Manhattan’s most expensive listing this week, according to Streeteasy.com. Located at 14 East 82nd Street between Fifth and Madison avenues on the Upper East Side, the home is a landmarked limestone mansion with an asking price of $25 million. The home has 16 rooms, 13-plus-foot ceilings, an elevator, a garden and two terraces, according to the listing.

The week’s next priciest listing is a two-floor condominium unit at 11 East 70th Street that has an asking price of $24.85 million. The property occupies the lower two floors of two limestone mansions and is adjacent to the Frick Museum, according to the listing, which Nicholas Judson of Judson Realty, LLC has. There are five bedrooms and 1.5 bathrooms, 7,000 square feet of living space.

A condominium penthouse at the Walker Tower, located at 212 West 18th Street in Chelsea is the week’s third most expensive unit.
CORE’s Walker Tower sales office has the listing with an asking price of $20.99 million. The home measures 3,478 square feet and has four bedrooms and 4.5 bathrooms. The home also has radiant floor heating, two terraces that total 168 square feet of exterior space, a fireplace in the master bedroom suite and French herringbone oak flooring.

Head uptown to West Harlem, to 501 West 138th Street for the week’s least expensive listing. Lorna Leibowitz and Roberta Campos at Prudential Douglas Elliman have the listing for the two-bedroom, 1.5-bathroom co-op, which has space for an extra bedroom and another half bathroom and an asking price of $210,000. Income restrictions apply.

Further uptown in Fort George is where the next least expensive listing is located, at 180 Cabrini Boulevard. Jennifer Pasbjerg at Halstead Property has the listing for the studio co-op with an asking price of $239,000. The home comes newly renovated, according to the listing.

The third cheapest listing is also located in Fort George, at 263 Bennett Avenue. With an asking price of $249,000, the one-bedroom, one-bathroom, 550-square-foot co-op home comes renovated. Fumiyo Hayashi at the Corcoran Group has the listing.

Walker Tower in Chelsea Teases Us with Three More Penthouses

BuzzBuzzHomeNovember 16, 2012
Three more penthouses at Art Deco-tastic Walker Tower in Chelsea have hit the market, asking up to $6,035 a square foot.

Walker Tower, located at 212 W. 18th Street, consists of 50 luxury condominiums. Eighteen units from the first round of available apartments at the restored Ralph Walker-designed building are in contract. The tower, erected before neighborhood height limits, boasts protected 360-degree views of Manhattan, which partially explains the sky-high pricing.

Penthouse 8, a three-bedroom, four-bathroom duplex, is asking $12.495 million, or $4,068 per square foot. Penthouse 3 has a price tag of $20.99 million, or $6,035 per square foot, while Penthouse 4 is asking $12.895 million, or $5,005 per square foot.

Model unit photographs and floor plans below, courtesy of CORE.
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