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.”


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.”


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 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.


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.


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 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.


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 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.

Done Deals

Brokers WeeklyNovember 14, 2012
Greenwich Village
822 Greenwich St. #2B

Modern one bedroom has entry foyer leading to loft-like living room with 10 ft. ceilings, wood-burning fireplace, floor-to-ceiling, built-in bookcase. Gourmet kitchen with breakfast bar. Living area is separated from the bedroom by exposed brick wall and custom, opaque glass sliding doors. Bedroom has walk-in closet. Elevator co-op has full-time superintendent, laundry room and low carrying charges. Asking price: $915,000. Time on market: 67 days. Brokers: Tony Sargent, CORE and Sandra Balan, Corcoran.

Walker Tower Turns Into Luxury Condominium Residences

World Architecture NewsNovember 13, 2012
Ralph Thomas Walker - the “architect of the century,” designed Walker Tower in NY.

This conversion of a 1920’s Bell Telephone switching building into the Walker Tower residences offered an opportunity to reimagine the architecture of the building, while respecting the original structure. The result is a 286,000 SF, new, lighter Art Deco architecture expressive of both interior organization and structure that is more reminiscent of cast iron or Gothic in its significantly higher ratio of openings to solid surfaces.

While the solid mass of the original building remains at the base and continues to be occupied by the telephone company from floors one through seven, window openings were enlarged starting at the first residential level. Within the existing bulk of the building, sills were lowered at individual sidewall windows while non-structural masonry piers were removed to insert multi-story tripartite window bays with floor to ceiling glass at streetwalls. Newly added volumes rise along the tower where neutral brick solids are replaced by a vibrant metal rainscreen that consists of profiled vertical metal pilasters and mullions and three dimensionally formed metal spandrels, Sympathetic to the original building’s use of ornamental statuary bronze and nickel silver, the rainscreen is rendered in a bronze colored stainless steel and metallically-painted formed aluminum plate. The micro-linen texture of the bronze stainless steel and the metallic flake in the aluminum surface creates the appearance of two metals that change according to sunlight and sky patterns. Taking a cue from early renderings showing an unbuilt crown atop the original building, four tapering metal spires were added to extend the tower skyward.

Converting this through-block commercial building to residential use required a unique planning strategy to ensure ample light and air for habitable rooms. Organizing kitchen, bathroom, closet and utility spaces adjacent to building corridors in an interior zone pushes the habitable rooms toward the building exterior. This establishes a sensible circulation network within the residences.

Consonance in apartment interiors is achieved through the use of materials, fixtures and detailing that – while not directly derivative of – is appropriate to the Art Deco pedigree of the building. The interior environment is balanced by a resident programmable home automation system that controls the humidified ducted air conditioning, radiant floor heating, supplemental mechanical ventilation and exhaust system.

The adaptive re-use of Walker Tower combines a true understanding of the original structure with intelligent space planning, sensitivity to materials and state-of-the-art technology to reinterpret a rich architectural past in a way that can be valued in the present.

House of the Day - One Museum Mile: Great Views Near High Culture

AOL Real EstateNovember 13, 2012
If it seems like we can't get enough of these new, sleek New York City apartments with killer views, you might be on to something: We can't! This combination apartment in Manhattan's Upper East Side offers sweeping vistas of world famous Central Park and the Big Apple skyline.

With 3,600 square feet of floor space, the interior of this sprawling (at least, according to New York City standards) apartment can be molded to fit a variety of lifestyles. According to the listing, the current setup features six bedrooms, six bathrooms and five half-baths. The building comes equipped with a 24-hour doorman, a gym/spa and a roof-deck swimming pool.

The building's nickname, One Museum Mile, hints at its proximity to some of New York City's most famous museums. Within a mile of the front door, you'll find the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Guggenheim Museum and the Museum for African Art (slated to open later this year), among others.

Oliver Brown Joins CORE

November 07, 2012

New York, N.Y. (November 7, 2012) – Manhattan real estate industry leader and top producer, Oliver Brown, joins CORE as Vice President and Associate Broker. Oliver comes to CORE as one of the most respected agents at Sotheby’s where he was consistently one of the highest ranked brokers. Priding himself on the unique ability to hone in on clients’ needs and match them to properties or position them primly to list, Oliver has built up a proven track record of success in both the uptown co-op and downtown new construction markets.

Oliver has established himself in the industry through over 20 years of work at Sotheby’s. He has become an expert in the Fifth Avenue and Park Avenue townhouse market as well as the West Village’s new-to-market landscape.

“Oliver is one of the top brokers in Manhattan and has a wide range of talent in all aspects of real estate,” says CORE’s Senior Managing Director of Sales, Reba Miller. “He is a walking real estate encyclopedia and his depth of experience and great integrity aligns with CORE's vision.”

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

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Life’s Broad Sea: International Aid; New York Real Estate; Professional Women

DUKE MagazineNovember 01, 2012
Alumni in the Spotlight

Got $5 million to spend on an Irving Place co-op? New York real-estate broker Mickey Conlon ’98 is your man. Conlon, senior vice president of CORE, represents upper-echelon buyers and sellers. He has passed the $1 billion mark for residential sales and currently is featured on the hit HGTV show Selling New York. December’s Season Six premiere follows Conlon and his partner, Tom Postilio, as they prepare to put legendary actress Joan Collins’ East 57th Street pied-à-terre on the market.

A native New Yorker, Conlon used to tag along with his real-estate agent mother as she worked with buyers and sellers. Even though he earned his real estate license while a freshman at Duke, he didn’t pursue it as a full-time career until 2008. “I was working on Broadway as a producer, and when the economic downturn came, people were disinterested in putting money into Broadway shows. It might seem counterintuitive to go into real estate at the start of the worst market in decades, but I knew that slices of Manhattan were an investment that people could embrace knowing that it would retain value over time. Try using that same pitch with a potential Broadway investor!”

Postwar, Prewar and Everything Before

The New York TimesNovember 01, 2012
IT is a sliver of a word, and a nonspecific one at that, but in New York City real estate, “prewar” speaks volumes.

The term, applied generally to apartment buildings built before World War II, conjures images of high ceilings, thick walls, plaster ornamentation and generous layouts. That much, most New Yorkers who have apartment-hunted probably know.

But what about pre-prewar and pre-pre-prewar? And when it comes to postwar, what of 1950s versus 1960s, and “white elephants,” and the hard-to-categorize buildings started before the war and finished afterward?

These historical categories matter for buyers and renters who have a particular style of apartment in mind, city real estate experts say, because in New York, nothing determines what an apartment looks like so much as when it was built. And the typical characteristics that go with either a prewar or a postwar apartment can also reveal a great deal about an apartment’s resident.

“In Manhattan more than anywhere in the world, people buy what reflects them,” said Darren Sukenik, a managing director of luxury sales at Prudential Douglas Elliman. Most critical for buyers are the apartment itself and the three blocks around it, he said, adding, “You really have to wear it like a loose garment, and it has to suit you.”

Style aside, Mr. Sukenik said, there are practical considerations. Most prewar apartments in Manhattan tend to be co-ops, requiring larger down payments and co-op board approval. If buyers set on prewars can’t qualify for a co-op, Mr. Sukenik might steer them toward exceptions like the row of condominium buildings on West 12th Street that was developed by Bing & Bing in the late 1920s.

Prewar buyers face better odds of finding the right apartment if they focus on specific neighborhoods, like the Upper West Side and the West Village, where the older buildings predominate.

“It’s like finding a zebra,” Mr. Sukenik said. “There are certain countries where there are zebras.”

Less expensive zebras can be found in other neighborhoods — including Cobble Hill, Boerum Hill and Carroll Gardens in Brooklyn, areas that Mr. Sukenik calls “Manhattan Lite.” First-time buyers, he said, can find typical prewar touches like sunken living rooms and beamed ceilings there — or in a less sought-after Manhattan area like 55th Street and Seventh Avenue, for example — for a fraction of the cost of similar apartments in more expensive neighborhoods.

Buyers with even more specific tastes face still more decisions. Mickey Conlon, a senior vice president of the CORE Group, said some prewar apartments can be further categorized as pre-prewar or even pre-pre-prewar. The former, he said, refers to apartments from before World War I, typically with even higher ceilings of 10 to 12 feet, multiple fireplaces and more ornate detailing.

As for pre-pre-prewar, or before the Spanish-American War in 1898, Mr. Conlon said: “At that time, apartments were still a fairly new concept, so most of the layouts tended to be extremely large. A lot of 14-room, 20-room apartments.”

Sadly for fanciers of huge old apartments, he said, many have been chopped up into multiple dwellings over the years, although some devoted buyers have gone to great lengths to recombine units to recapture the original intent. But reassembling such an apartment, or even fixing one up, with potential repairs to plumbing, wiring, and fixtures, is not an easy task.

“A lot of these older apartments, unless they’ve been completely gut-renovated, do represent much more of a project than most people are ready or willing to take on,” Mr. Conlon said. “If you’re scraping and restoring moldings, whether it’s plaster or wood, and restoring wood floors, there’s tremendous cost.”

That is a major reason many people prefer newer buildings, said Tom Postilio, a managing director of CORE. “They want to have sleek modern glass and move in with nothing but their toothbrush,” he said, “and not have to think of tearing down walls, let alone redoing electrical panels.”

In that case, new construction obviously works best, brokers say, and such units also tend to be in buildings with lots of amenities. But as with prewars, the question with new apartments is whether the buyer can afford the premium prices they command, said William Bolls, a senior vice president of the Corcoran Group.

Better deals among postwar apartments, he said, can be found in tall buildings that went up from the 1970s to the 1990s, like CitySpire on West 56th Street, or the Worldwide Plaza complex on the West Side between 49th and 50th Streets. These towers, typically done in red brick, often have amenities like roof decks and large fitness rooms, but lack some current design touches that would cost more money. Open-minded buyers can find a good match, Mr. Bolls said, even when the aesthetics seem challenging.

For example, though many apartments of this earlier postwar era have Formica-heavy kitchens that can feel outmoded, he said, “sometimes there’s great value in there. Because you have the amenities and the doorman, but you just have to put in a new kitchen and bathroom.”

Among postwar buildings, the more distinctive are those from the 1950s and ’60s, including the many white-brick buildings on the Upper East Side. They tend to have lower ceilings than prewars, Mr. Bolls said, and their hardwood floors are often parquet rather than plank.

The buildings, known to detractors and some fans alike as “white elephants,” have their drawbacks; some have reportedly had leaks and crumbling of their distinctive brick. Still, Mr. Sukenik said, some buyers like their spare, Modernist style and generous floor plans.

They are also, he said, a good place to find the type of apartment known as a Junior 4 — a one-bedroom with a small dining area that can easily be converted to a small second bedroom. The units, roughly 750 to 850 square feet in size, add value because they remain practical to an owner longer. “People grow in their apartments,” Mr. Sukenik said. “Usually the life span in a one-bedroom is about three years. In a Junior 4 it can be five to seven years.”

Just Sold!

New York PostOctober 31, 2012
TRIBECA $1,862,500
77 Hudson St.

Two-bedroom, one-bath full-floor loft, 1,700 square feet, with open kitchen, original wood beams, master suite, washer/dryer, central AC and keyed-elevator access. Common charges $1,048, taxes $414, Asking price $1,999,000, on market 24 weeks. Broker: Ryan Fitzpatrick, Core

On the Market: One Murray Park

New York MagazineOctober 29, 2012
Sackett Union, 291 Union Street, Cobble Hill
Price: $1.85 Million
This long-gestating project has finally made it to market: a 32-unit condo with a mix of two- to four-bedrooms, plus attached townhouses with dedicated parking spots. Sales began in late August, and 22 deals are already signed.
Sample unit: 5A
Details: A 1,823-square-foot, three-bedroom, three-bath duplex with a washer and dryer, parking space, and terrace.
Brokers: Wendy Triffon and Jill Preschel, Alchemy Properties

5 West, 5 West 127th Street
Price: $525,000
This building’s thirteen units went on the market in July, and twelve have sold, perhaps reflecting condo buyers’ push northward to less expensive territory. The amenity list helps: gym and bike storage, and outdoor space for a lot of apartments.
Sample unit: 1B
Details: An 840-square-foot one-bedroom, one-and-a-half-bath duplex with a private, 725-square-foot planted garden.
Brokers: Jeff Krantz and Kristin Krantz, Halstead Property

Chelsea Green, 151 West 21st Street
Price: $2.7 Million
The glassy façade tops an unusual lobby with neo-Baroque window screens, and the kitchens were co-designed by Le Bernardin chef Eric Ripert. Developers of this ecofriendly project—it’s certified LEED gold—have sold most of the 51 units from floor plans, but three remain available.
Sample unit: 11B
Details: A 1,534-square-foot, two-bedroom, two-bath with a flexible layout and three exposures.
Brokers: Corcoran Sunshine Marketing

268–270 St. Marks Avenue, Prospect Heights
Price: $1.1 Million
Actually a pair of separate, side-by-side buildings, altogether containing just six units. Layouts are generous, in excess of 1,400 square feet with eleven-foot ceilings. Appliances are Bosch, floors are white oak, and—this being Brooklyn—every apartment gets its own bike-storage space. Sales officially begin next year.
Sample unit: Apt. 2
Details: A 1,400-square-foot three-bedroom plus a home office with two baths and a garden.
Broker: Aguayo Realty Group

345 Meatpacking, 345 West 14th Street Price: $1.725 Million
Smack in the middle of its namesake district’s central intersection, 345 distinguished itself this summer with a clever eye-catcher: construction netting designed by the artist Yayoi Kusama. The glassed-in section atop the brick façade is framed in bronze.
Sample unit: 2D
A one-bedroom plus den (or office) with two full baths and a private, 311-square-foot terrace.
Broker: Corcoran Sunshine Marketing

122 Adelphi Street, Fort Greene
Price: $295,000
The developer spent extra time and money on details like snazzy floors, extra-high ceilings, superior kitchen finishes, and special wood-framed soundproof windows. A fifteen-year tax abatement will keep common charges down.
Sample unit: 1A
Details: A 440-square-foot studio with oak floors and Bosch appliances.
Brokers: Ellen Whipple and Patricia Benna, Dwelling Group

200 East 79th Street
Price: $7.35 Million
When it’s finished, this condo will reach nineteen stories and contain 39 large apartments. Details are fairly conservative (cast-stone façade, “contemporary classic” detailing). Prices range from $3.155 million for a three-bedroom to the blockbuster listed below.
Sample unit: 11A
Details: A 4,187-square-foot five-bedroom with five and a half baths.
Broker: Alexa Lambert, Stribling Marketing Associates

One Murray Park, 11-25 45th Avenue, Long Island City
Price: $445,000
This building meets the slick new Long Island City standard, with its own gym, underground parking, pet-washing area, and residents library. It was priced conservatively at first—but (after multiple increases) the developer recently rejected an offer of $815 per square foot.
Sample unit: Apt. 2I
Details: A 529-square-foot studio with a 450-square-foot terrace.
Broker: Doron Zwickel, CORE NYC

Mapping the New Developments in LIC’s Court Square

CurbedOctober 25, 2012
Rockrose gets most of the credit for the redevelopment of Long Island City's Court Square, and the developer does have a number of projects going up in the neighborhood. So do several other developers! The Post has a fairly thorough roundup of the microhood's new residential projects, and we've mapped them below, in the second installment of our microhood maps series. Got a microhood for us to investigate? Let us know in comments or via the tipline.

Houses of the Week: 125 North 10th Street, S4A

New York PostOctober 25, 2012
Williamsburg, Brooklyn $839,000
Bedrooms: 1 Bathrooms: 1 Square feet: 873
Common charges: $786

With a 24-hour concierge, “manicured” sculpture courtyard and two roof decks, this North 10th Street boutique building is as fancy as what you’ll find in Manhattan. And this condo — with 10-foot ceilings, a kitchen with “recycled glass” counters and a soaking tub in the “well-appointed” bathroom — comes with a parking space. Agents: Doug Bowen and Win Brown, Core, 646-247-0822 and 212-500-2119

Crowning Achievement for CetraRuddy

Real Estate WeeklyOctober 25, 2012
CetraRuddy is working on the conversion of Walker Tower at 212 West 18th Street in New York City.

The architect is repositioning the 1929 Art Deco treasure originally designed for commercial purposes by the American architect Ralph Walker into a high-end luxury condominium scheduled for completion early next year.

CetraRuddy’s approach to the exterior included the restoration of the original structure as well as the integration of new fabric at several levels.

“Our challenge for the conversion of Walker Tower was to reflect the history and bones of this exquisite pre-war building while creating intelligent living spaces that appeal to contemporary home buyers,” said John Cetra, founding principal of CetraRuddy. “In addition to creating smart floor plans, we sought to maximize daylight and views, creating a new Art Deco character.”

For new masonry elements, CetraRuddy implemented a four-color blend of bricks to simulate the original palette. The bricks were made in custom shapes to create formal geometries similar to those found in the original building.

Additionally, CetraRuddy added windows that span between piers and enlarged all existing openings to create floor-to-ceiling windows.
Intricately faceted multi-story stainless steel pilasters, tinted in a bronze color, are set between window openings and existing masonry piers at various setback levels.

Spandrel panels were custom fabricated out of built-up aluminum sections and finished to emulate the nickel silver detailing found in the building’s entrance.

The integration of these elements required that the design team create a level of detail not seen in new construction in New York in over 70 years.

Walker’s original design concept included an ornamental crown that was never built. In tribute to Walker’s vision, CetraRuddy designed a crown, using a two-toned metal palette to emulate the original statuary bronze and nickel silver, Art Deco motifs found at the building’s entrance and lobby.

Walker Tower is a development of JDS Development Group in partnership with Property Markets Group.

Square Deal - Buyers and Renters go Long and Bet on Next Wave

New York PostOctober 25, 2012
Think of it as a miniature Midtown Manhattan. In Court Square, the Long Island City neighborhood that encircles the Citibank tower in Queens, the buildings are tall and glassy. The streets are wide and swarming with cars, the subways abundant and the business district bustling.

And that’s just the beginning.

The next few years will see thousands of new residential units, most of them rentals, at discounts to Manhattan. And it all will be one stop away from Midtown on the M or the E — an easier commute than from most of Manhattan.

“Renters are transportation-hungry, and the transportation in Long Island City is unparalleled,” says Justin Elghanayan, president of Rockrose Development.

He is so convinced of the area’s potential demand for rentals that three years ago he scrapped plans for an office tower at 43-25 Hunter St. and reconceived the project as 1,000 rental units. This is just one of the investments his firm has in the Court Square area.

Rockrose’s grand plans include 709 rentals at the 42-story Linc LIC at 43-10 Crescent St., which is already topped out and will start leasing in spring. A 14,000-square-foot supermarket in the base of the building could open a few months after. Across the street is Rockrose’s aforementioned 1,000-rental project, which will include one or two buildings. And to come is a lower-rise, 100-unit building that could be rentals or condos.

On Purves Street, the Vista’s 48 condo units are selling fast. “We released eight units to test out the market and sold them all in the first 25 minutes,” says Eric Benaim, president and CEO of Modern Spaces, which is marketing the project.

The Criterion Group has plans for two 100-plus-unit rental buildings also on Purves. And Ekstein Development has three buildings in the works: 98 rentals (80 percent market rate, 20 percent affordable) in partnership with L+M at 26-14 Jackson Ave.; 59 rentals (also 80/20) at 46-09 11th St.; and 106 rentals at 44th Drive and 11th Street.

“We love Long Island City,” says Erik Ekstein, president of Ekstein Development. “We’ve seen the growth of the rental rates continue to climb. Vacancy is close to zero.”

Brokers and developers cite singles and young professionals from Manhattan and from deeper in Queens as the demographic in Court Square. The area has a different feel from the Long Island City waterfront, where sky-high residential buildings, park space and a lack of through-traffic calls to mind Battery Park City.

“The waterfront has attracted a lot of families. We’re more for singles or shares or maybe newlyweds,” Ekstein says.

“I considered living by the water, but transportation was huge [for me] — there are seven subway lines within two blocks of my apartment,” says Elka Gruenberg, who moved into 42-51 Hunter St., a 24-unit condo building two blocks from the Court Square station.
“And something about this area felt more authentically New York — all the small businesses.”

As evidence she points to LIC Market, a buzzworthy restaurant and wine bar; Sage General Store, which serves home-style cooking; and
Dutch Kills, a cocktail joint from mixology maven Sasha Petraske.

Elghanayan says that one of Rockrose’s goals is to preserve and even foster that authentic neighborhood feel.

Its 1,000-unit project will have 30,000 square feet of retail divided into small spaces for boutiques. It’s saving an auto-body shop, which will be leased to M Wells, a Long Island City dining hot spot that was priced out of its original location last year. (M Wells now has an outpost at MoMA PS1.) And before its smaller project comes to fruition, Rockrose plans on taking a page out of Douglaston
Development’s book and inviting food trucks to park in the lot a la Smorgasburg in Williamsburg.

“It’s an area that is developing. It will eventually be just like Downtown Brooklyn,” says David Maundrell, president of, which is leasing 142 units at 27 on 27th at 27-03 42nd Road.

There, studios start at $1,900 a month, one-bedrooms at $2,400 and two-bedrooms at $3,100. Prices are net effective.

At Linc LIC, studios and one-bedrooms are priced the same as at 27 on 27th, with two-bedrooms starting at $3,350.

Not cheap but par for the neighborhood and, according to Elghanayan, 20 to 25 percent off Manhattan prices.
Condos too offer a discount on Manhattan prices.

“I had my heart set on Gramercy, Union Square, anything below 23rd Street,” says Nicole Mynarski. “I looked for over a year. Everything was in the high $600,000s to $700,000s and needed a lot of work. Add in taxes and maintenance, and it was ridiculous.”

In One Murray Park, a 45-unit new condo building at 11-25 45th Ave., Mynarski found a 720-square-foot one-bedroom with an 850-square-foot terrace for $550,000.

“You’d never find the same thing for under a million in Manhattan,” she says.

Where Condos Are as Rare as T-Bones

The New York TimesOctober 25, 2012
IT’S probably not a great idea to come to Manhattan’s meatpacking district in search of meat.

Just five distributors of prime rib and pork chops still stand at the end of West 14th Street, while a decade ago, that number was 75, according to the Meatpacking District Improvement Association, a business group.

The area does have stylish restaurants, hotels and boutiques, which have helped it become a pulsing round-the-clock destination for locals and tourists. But new apartments are as hard to come by as T-bones.

Running roughly from Gansevoort to 14th Street, from Hudson Street to 10th Avenue, the district is still zoned for manufacturing, which means new homes typically aren’t allowed. And in 2003, the area was declared a landmark anyway, meaning that if condominiums are there at all, they tend to be found along the edges.

Finding a way to join the party, then, is no small feat, which is what’s so notable about 345meatpacking, a new 12-story condo.

Developed by DDG Partners at 345 West 14th Street near Ninth Avenue, the building has 37 units, ranging from a 690-square-foot one-bedroom to a 2,100-square-foot three-bedroom. The site of the building, which has been vacant since 2006, falls outside both the manufacturing and landmark zones.

Five of those units are called penthouses, including one with 3,750 square feet of interior space and a 1,930-square-foot two-level terrace.

The finishes seem to have been carefully chosen with an eye to differentiating the spaces. Vestibule walls are made of “board-formed” concrete, which contains traces of the whorls and knots from wood pressed against it when wet.

Thin gray bricks from Denmark are used for terraces; Moroccan tile gleams in guest bathrooms. DDG, a three-year-old local firm that previously developed NoHo’s 41 Bond and uses its own architects, chose bronze for elevator doors.

To mute late-night revelry, walls and windows are thicker than normal, said Joseph McMillan, DDG’s chief executive. “The units will be extremely quiet,” said Mr. McMillan on a recent tour. In the distance loomed the Hotel Gansevoort, whose rooftop pool is a huge draw for revelers in warm weather. “The wind usually goes that way anyway,” he said jokingly, sweeping his hand away from his condo.

Prices, which were approved by the state this month, average about $2,100 a square foot, though less expensive units are available. Indeed, one-bedrooms in the back of the building, which faces an older brick apartment, start at $1.05 million, or about $1,500 a foot; two-bedrooms start at about $2 million. Sales started two weeks ago.

An artsy, international-themed décor is expected. For months, the building’s scaffolding was wrapped in mesh with a swirling gold-and-gray polka-dot pattern stretching to a height of 120 feet and visible for blocks, including from the High Line park.

The unusual public art was based on a painting called “Yellow Trees” by the Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama, who had a recent exhibit at the Whitney Museum. Besides honoring an effort by the city to prettify construction sites, the art helped call attention to the Whitney’s new meatpacking district space, which is set to open on Gansevoort Street in 2015.

The art, which is owned by DDG, was removed in October after a two-month run; it is being stored in a warehouse with its future under discussion, Mr. McMillan said.

And the completion of 345meatpacking next spring will close the chapter on a troubled history.

Formerly the home of a bicycle shop and the Chelsea Day School, the site had been eyed during the boom for a hotel by a group of investors who included the hip-hop star Jay Z and the hotelier André Balazs. But they ultimately ceded control of the property to their lender, CapitalSource Finance, before any construction had begun.

In 2010, DDG bought the mortgage note from CapitalSource for a discount, though Mr. McMillan would not disclose the exact amount or the condo’s development cost. A CapitalSource spokesman did not return a call for comment.

To speed along the construction, DDG opted to use the building permits already allotted, which called for renovating the three-story brick structure on the site, instead of razing it and building anew. So, under building department rules concerning renovations, DDG has preserved half of the old building’s exterior walls, though those remnants are not very noticeable.

A few years ago, before the neighborhood became one of Manhattan’s most fashionable, 345meatpacking’s $2,100-per-foot pricing might have seemed high for the area, says Tony Sargent, a broker at the CORE Group who has sold there for a decade.

In fact, Mr. Sargent is listing a two-bedroom at the Porter House, at 66 Ninth Avenue, another rare condo, whose 22 units were completed in 2003. With two and a half baths and 1,740 square feet of space, the unit is listed at $3.75 million, or about $2,200 a foot. And that’s a resale price, Mr. Sargent noted, adding that the seller added double-paned windows to reduce street noise.

Similarly new developments nearby include the Prime, at 333 West 14th Street, a nine-unit condo completed in 2009, and the Caledonia, a huge condo-rental combination, developed by the Related Companies and Taconic Investment Partners on West 17th Street next to the High Line.

But even those who live elsewhere — in, say, Chelsea and the West Village — come to hang out, Mr. Sargent said, explaining that the district has “united together this whole area, and become a real neighborhood.”

Higher & Higher - Hitting the Top of the Market

New York PostOctober 24, 2012
Last year, the New York City real estate market set a previously unthinkable record: Sandy Weill’s 6,744-square-foot, four-bedroom, four-plus bathroom condo at 15 Central Park West sold for $88 million, roughly $13,000 per square foot.

But in this ever-frothy real estate market, it was a record that wasn’t meant to last. “There’s never been another year like 2012 when it comes to $50 million-plus listings and sales,” says Kelly Mack, president of Corcoran Sunshine.

In fact, last year’s $50 million listing is today’s $95 million listing. As of now, there are three NYC apartments on the market for that price, all on the southern edge of Central Park.

In the same building as the Weill sale, Emily Beare of Core has listed a $95 million, 6,000-square-foot apartment currently in mid-renovation.

Across the park at the Sherry-Netherland, a full-floor seven-bedroom, seven-bathroom co-op, almost 8,000 square feet, is on the market for $95 million. The Fifth Avenue pad has 2,000 square feet of terraces — and some of the best Central Park views.

At 50 Central Park South, Halstead Property is listing a three-bedroom duplex condo that boasts a ballroom. Price tag: $95 million.
But apartments don’t need to be on Central Park to demand these prices. (Consider the $100 million CitySpire listing a few blocks away.) Nor do they even need to be finished.

Such is the case at One57, the new 90-story Extell Development condo/hotel, where some units are under contract for upwards of $90 million (move-ins are expected next year). Remaining units start at $16.75 million.

Full-floor units start at $53 million. “We did about $300 million in sales over the summer,” says Dan Tubb, director of sales for One57.

For those who want a finished product with all the furnishings thrown in, the Heritage at Trump Place, on Riverside Boulevard, has a mammoth, 14,547-square-foot, eight-bedroom, 15-bathroom triplex condo for $75 million. A fountain, jellyfish tank and ventilated cigar room are included. “It’s like James Bond,” says Kevin Sneddon, senior vice president for Trump sales and leasing. “It’s eight different apartments — six that were combined, and a three-bedroom guest suite.”

Even downtown has gotten in on the act. Leonard Steinberg and Herve Senequier of Prudential Douglas Elliman are marketing a TriBeCa townhouse for $49.5 million.

“These kinds of properties didn’t necessarily exist” a decade ago, says Shaun Osher, CEO of Core, which in addition to the 15 CPW unit has a $50 million penthouse at Walker Tower in Chelsea. “Developers started building these beautiful high-end buildings. All of the top sales, or most of them, [have been] in new developments.”

All this prompts the question: What makes an apartment worth $50 million or more?

“In my opinion, it’s irreplaceability,” says Dolly Lenz, vice chairman of Prudential Douglas Elliman, who’s representing the $95 million unit at the Sherry-Netherland. “When you’ve got eight like it, it doesn’t have that irreplaceability value.”

“It’s for the buyer who wants everything — and doesn’t want to sacrifice anything,” Osher says. “Most real estate has one aspect that’s a sacrifice. [The $50 million-plus] checks all the boxes. They have outdoor space, light, amenities, views.”

But the only way to know what’s worth $50 to $100 million is to find out for ourselves. Here’s the absolute top of the market.

* Lehman Art House $65 million

To get a sense of the Lehman Art House, the 1900 Beaux-Arts townhouse at 7 W. 54th St., stop by the Met. When Robert Lehman died in 1969, he bequeathed his art collection to the museum under the condition that the major rooms of his house be transferred and reassembled there. When the owners of the 19,970-square-foot townhouse renovated, they “consulted with the originals over at the Met,” says Paula Del Nunzio of Brown Harris Stevens. The six-level limestone building can be used as office space or as a residence. It includes reproduced crown moldings and door frames and Gothic-style window arches. Agent: Paula Del Nunzio, Brown Harris Stevens, 212-906-9207

* The Mark $60 million

A 26-foot ceiling is tough to come by. So is a recently restored prewar condo in a building with a Frederic Fekkai salon and a Jean-Georges Vongerichten restaurant. Only one apartment has both: the six-bedroom, 7 1/2-bathroom, 9,799-square-foot penthouse at the 42-story Mark at 25 E. 77th St. There’s a big entertaining space (large enough to chuck a football around), a double-sided fireplace, twin Sub-Zeros in the kitchen, walk-in closets and his-and-hers bathrooms (with a steam room). But the best feature is the 2,400-square-foot roof deck. Step outside and feel the Carlyle, Central Park and the rest of the city make its mark. Agent: Lydia Sussek, The Corcoran Group, 212-893-1434

* Woolworth Mansion $90 million

If you want to know what it’s like to live in a $90 million home before you buy it, you can rent the Woolworth Mansion for $150,000 per month. The early-20th-century neo-French Renaissance limestone townhouse at 4 E. 80th St. was once owned by Frank Woolworth and boasts a 35-foot-long drawing room with a fireplace, a dining room that can seat 50, a kitchen with an adjacent solarium and 14-foot ceilings — and that’s just the parlor floor! The recently renovated building has 20 rooms, including a wood-paneled library. Agent: Paula Del Nunzio, Brown Harris Stevens, 212-906-9207

Floored - The best-laid plan, indeed

New York PostOctober 24, 2012
In every Alexa Luxe Living, we break down an elite floor plan. Here’s a four-bedroom, 4 ½-bathroom condo. At around 6,000 square feet, it’s the only post-construction combination in the building and the only apartment of its size that’s not a duplex. The full-service complex features a pool and a health club. Contact: Emily Beare, Core, 212-726-0786

It’s difficult to come up with any building that has enjoyed the same success as 15 Central Park West, the Robert A.M. Stern-designed complex off the southwest side of the park. The building has traded billions of dollars worth of real estate, including last year’s record $88 million sale of Sandy Weill’s condo.

Now 15 CPW is upping its game with a massive, single-floor, four-bedroom, four-plus-bathroom resale with a $95 million asking price.
The seller, steel magnate Leroy Schecter, is one of the few in the building to own conjoining apartments; he hired architect Vatche Simonian to combine them.

Of course, given the fact that the combo — which Schecter previously rented to Alex Rodriguez — is still in the works, many changes can be customized.

“It’s a beautiful apartment, and we want to keep it very classic and neutral,” broker Emily Beare of Core says. “We don’t want to make it look like something out of Versailles.”

The renovation started in early June and is expected to be finished by the end of the year. Prospective buyers are already popping by.

View the floor plan below.
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