News

Hedge fund manager's 11,000-square-foot NYC penthouse could fetch record sum

Yahoo! FinanceJune 08, 2012
For most people, real estate deals are made under pressure — you have to sell fast because you’ve made an offer on another place, or you’re moving to a new city and you don’t have time to really indulge your perfectionist streak.

Not so for the superrich. At the highest end of the global residential real estate market, trophy properties, like expensive art, are rarely bought under duress.

Billionaires from all over the world can afford not only the price of Manhattan’s top penthouses and full-floor residences, but also to wait, since they are never scrambling for a place to call home.

“These billionaire buyers are really united by one characteristic: their choice of residence is completely discretionary,” said Kelly Mack, the president of the Corcoran Sunshine Marketing Group. “More often than not these buyers are willing to sit on the sidelines, often for years, to wait for that stratospheric trophy property that is truly unique and stands perfect in every way.”

Not that there’s a lot to choose from now, anyway. The inventory of apartments that might be of interest to the world’s wealthiest people has been thin of late, with demand from a growing pool of foreign billionaires eager to park their money in Manhattan outpacing new developments, especially downtown.

As of Tuesday, according to the appraisal firm Miller Samuel, 28 condos and 5 co-ops were listed for $30 million or more in Manhattan. Fifteen of the condos were in one building: One57, the tower under development at 157 West 57th Street, Miller Samuel said.

To open a window on this world, I put this question to high-end brokers and other real estate professionals: If you had a client willing to spend $30 million or more, what five apartments would you show them?

Before we get to the specifics, a few broad guidelines about trophy-property shopping emerged from this exercise. “When you go above $25 million you better have a great view, a great building and a great location,” said Leonard Steinberg, a broker with Prudential Douglas Elliman.

To that point, the lack of a great view is probably why the condop penthouse at the Mark on the Upper East Side, with a $60 million asking price, wasn’t mentioned by many brokers. Sure, it has a chapel-like 26-foot-high ceiling in the living room and 2,400 square feet of roof space, and it’s one of only 10 condo units in the famed hotel. But the penthouse just doesn’t reach high enough to capture the sort of breathtaking views that would seem to justify the price tag.

Something else that turns out to be true about these trophy properties: They are often made, not born. Rare is the trophy penthouse or full-floor residence that isn’t the result of creative combinations of several apartments to create a suitable mansion in the sky. Only in the past decade have developers designed massive units with the picky billionaire buyer in mind, said Shaun Osher, the chief executive of CORE.

Privacy matters, especially separate entrances in buildings with hotels. Foreign billionaires demand concierge services night and day, and a long slate of amenities like gyms, spas and children’s playrooms. But these buyers are not overly concerned about security, said Angela Rapoport, a broker with the Corcoran Group. “Russian buyers I work with see New York as a political and economic haven and a secure place to live,” she said.

Brokers say they have learned to be patient, even though they are eager for a big commission check. Two years ago, Mr. Osher said, he was working with an Asian billionaire to find a trophy apartment and came up short. He approached the owner of a duplex on the 76th and 77th floors of the north tower at the Time Warner Center that wasn’t on the market. The owner said he would sell for $100 million. The man bid $60 million. The owner said no.

“He is still looking,” Mr. Osher said.

In the end, I confined my list to condos because co-ops are inaccessible to most foreign buyers, who either cannot get past the co-op boards or are unwilling to try.

One co-op, though, was mentioned by several brokers: a triplex penthouse at the Pierre owned by the hedge fund manager Martin E. Zweig that has 16 rooms, 4 terraces and a 2,800-square-foot grand salon, the former ballroom of the Pierre Roof. It hasn’t (officially) been on the market since 2008, when Mr. Zweig listed it for $70 million, but that would not stop brokers from showing it to a rich client willing to run the co-op board gantlet, said Raphael De Niro, a broker at Prudential Douglas Elliman.

The following list is a snapshot from the last week or so. Several brokers said they were waiting for new downtown developments that will provide fresh trophy penthouses to challenge uptown’s dominance. Projects like Walker Tower in Chelsea (at 212 West 18th Street), where a two-floor, 12,470-square-foot penthouse is expected to list for $94 million later this summer; and 56 Leonard (due, finally, to start selling later this year, Ms. Mack said), in particular a full-floor penthouse, may shake up the status quo, and are likely to draw at least some patient billionaires off the sidelines.

THE OTHER PENTHOUSE AT 15 CENTRAL PARK WEST Sanford I. Weil may have seized the headlines this year with the $88 million sale of his 6,744-square-foot penthouse in the complex’s “house” to a trust benefiting Ekaterina Rybolovleva, the college-student daughter of a Russian fertilizer billionaire, but there is another fabulous penthouse available.

Daniel S. Loeb, who runs the hedge fund Third Point LLC, owns the largest penthouse in the taller “tower,” which brokers in my sample unanimously ranked among the Top 5 trophies. Brokers and developers around town say Mr. Loeb and his wife are quietly shopping the 10,674-square-foot space, which he bought in 2008 for $45 million, and are in search of something larger. “I heard he wants $100 million,” Mr. De Niro said.

Wishful thinking? The real estate community seems primed to keep shattering records, so a little hype never hurt. A spokeswoman for Mr. Loeb’s hedge fund declined to comment on whether he is looking to sell.

As for who is on top, Michael Gross, who is writing a book on 15 Central Park West, has no doubt. “Rybolovleva’s penthouse, grand though it is” he said, “is so far beneath Daniel Loeb’s — 19 floors to be exact — it is barely worth mentioning in the same breath, and he would have to crane his neck quite a bit downward to see it.”

THE PENTHOUSE AND WINTER GARDEN AT ONE57 The developer Gary Barnett sent shock waves through the market last month when he revealed that he had sold the two-floor penthouse atop the still-under-construction One57 for $90 million to $100 million. The buyer remains a mystery, and the closing is at least a year off, Ms. Mack said. Until then, the 10,923-square-foot residence, with its “grand salon” lording over Central Park facing north from the 89th and 90th floors, deserves a place among the Top 5 condos. But supposedly still on the market is the “Winter Garden” apartment, which occupies the 75th and 76th floors. It rates a close second. At 13,554 square feet, it’s even larger than the penthouse, with a private solarium and a formal dining room that looks as if it could seat all of King Arthur’s Court. Price tag: $115 million.

TIME WARNER CENTER: NORTH TOWER, 76TH AND 77TH FLOORS The Asian billionaire may have lost out, but the duplex apartment still makes the list. With a rare wraparound terrace at Time Warner — featuring northward views of Central Park, and of the East River and the Hudson — the residence has some ceilings that are 24 feet high, a private reflecting pool and an interior elevator. And it is on the only floor in the north tower with private terraces, Mr. Osher said. The owner is an American businessman in the finance field.
THE PENTHOUSE AT SUPERIOR INK Brokers rate the penthouse at Superior Ink, at 400 West 12th Street, as one of the two best available downtown today, though it is not for sale. The original owner, the Houston Rockets owner Leslie Alexander, sold it in 2010 for $33.5 million to Mark Shuttleworth, an entrepreneur who became the first South African in space in 2002 when he flew as a cosmonaut to the International Space Station. The 6,300-square-foot apartment has yet to be finished, Mr. Steinberg said. For those dying to capture the Hudson River views from the building, which was designed by Robert A. M. Stern and developed by Related Companies, the full 14th floor of 7,687 square feet is listed for $35.75 million.

THE PENTHOUSE AT 145 HUDSON While some brokers say 145 Hudson Street, a conversion of a 1929 Art Deco industrial building in TriBeCa, is too commercial for some discriminating billionaires, few disagree that the penthouse is stunning. The 7,500-square-foot four-bedroom four-bathroom duplex looks like a glass box in the sky. Designed by James Carpenter, it has “museum quality, high performance, insulated glass,” specially designed walls that allow artwork to be hung without fear of damage from sunlight, and 4,500 square feet of outdoor space on a wraparound terrace. It was the most expensive apartment ever sold south of Columbus Circle when it went for $30.5 million in 2009. After going back on the market for $45 million last May it was taken off less than a month later, according to Streeteasy.

Just Sold: 595 West End Avenue

New York PostJune 07, 2012
UPPER WEST SIDE $820,000
595 West End Ave.

One-bedroom, one-bath condo, 707 square feet, with windowed eat-in kitchen with GE Profile appliances and LG washer/dryer, en-suite marble bath with Zuma soaking tub and Hudson River and Riverside Park views; building features doorman. Common charges $980, taxes $353. Asking price $849,000, on market 12 weeks. Broker: Michael Graves, Core

Patience Pays for Chelsea Flipper on West 17th

CurbedJune 07, 2012
The seller of apartment 1C at 246 West 17th Street must have had a very strong feeling that his apartment was worth twice what he paid for it just two years earlier when he put it back on the market for $2.7 million in 2011. With the potential for almost 100% appreciation after just two years, the seller had some wiggle room to start price cutting, but only did so once (a tiny 3% trim) after just a month on the market. Then the seller just waited, and eventually someone came along to buy at $2.6—89% above the purchase price of $1.4 million in 2009. Market timing helps, but patience and resolve seemed to pay off in this case.

Billionaire Discounts $21.5M Fifth Avenue Spread

The Real DealJune 07, 2012
Perhaps hoping to cash-in on the current momentum of the high-end real estate market, Seagram heir Charles Bronfman is trying a new strategy to market his full-floor apartment at 810 Fifth Avenue.

Bronfman, the former co-chairman of Seagram, has ditched brokers Bonnie Chajet and Ronnie Lane of Warburg Realty Partnership — who have had the listing for over a year — in favor of Sotheby’s International Realty power-broker Serena Boardman, according to data from Streeteasy.com. Boardman has, in turn, lowered the asking price to $21.5 million, down from $23 million.

The freshly price-chopped listing joins a bevy of ultra-pricey properties on the market.

Eyal Levy’s Millennium Tower spread hit the market for $27 million earlier this week, and man-about-town and high-end art patron John de Neufville listed his 81 Horatio Street property for $20 million June 1.

“What we’re seeing is a tremendous amount of interest in the luxury segment of the market right now and sellers are responding to that,” said Core broker Michael Graves. “With recently high prices sales at One 57 and 15 Central Park West, people are no longer shocked or scared away with mega million-dollar listing prices.”

Bronfman’s apartment was originally priced at $24.93 million when it first hit the market in May 2011, shortly after Bronfman bought the property. No renovations have been made to the spread since Bronfman purchased it for $21 million in 2010, according to reports. Bronfman lived just down the street at 838 Fifth Avenue for more than 10 years before buying into the exclusive, J.E.R. Carpenter-designed co-op.

Neither Bronfman nor Boardman were immediately available for comment. Chajet could also not be reached.

The 13-room residence, which is currently configured as nine rooms, features a living room, dining room and library as well as a master suite with his and hers marble-clad bathrooms, according to the listing. In addition, the property has a second bedroom and bathroom plus a powder room, kitchen and pantry.

Bronfman is the uncle of former Warner Music CEO Edgar Bronfman Jr., who sold the so-called “Muppet Mansion” at 117 East 69th Street (formerly the Jim Henson’s creative headquarters) for $23 million last year. Charles Bronfman is apparently a little eccentric: he and ex-wife Bonnie Bronfman reportedly held a massive party at the Four Seasons last year, inviting over 100 guests to celebrate their divorce.

Go West!

The Observer’s Luxury RentalsJune 07, 2012

Trophy Hunting

The New York TimesJune 07, 2012
HERE’S another reason F. Scott Fitzgerald was right when he wrote about the rich being different from you and me.

For most people, real estate deals are made under pressure — you have to sell fast because you’ve made an offer on another place, or you’re moving to a new city and you don’t have time to really indulge your perfectionist streak.

Not so for the superrich. At the highest end of the global residential real estate market, trophy properties, like expensive art, are rarely bought under duress.

Billionaires from all over the world can afford not only the price of Manhattan’s top penthouses and full-floor residences, but also to wait, since they are never scrambling for a place to call home.

“These billionaire buyers are really united by one characteristic: their choice of residence is completely discretionary,” said Kelly Mack, the president of the Corcoran Sunshine Marketing Group. “More often than not these buyers are willing to sit on the sidelines, often for years, to wait for that stratospheric trophy property that is truly unique and stands perfect in every way.”

Not that there’s a lot to choose from now, anyway. The inventory of apartments that might be of interest to the world’s wealthiest people has been thin of late, with demand from a growing pool of foreign billionaires eager to park their money in Manhattan outpacing new developments, especially downtown.

As of Tuesday, according to the appraisal firm Miller Samuel, 28 condos and 5 co-ops were listed for $30 million or more in Manhattan. Fifteen of the condos were in one building: One57, the tower under development at 157 West 57th Street, Miller Samuel said.

To open a window on this world, I put this question to high-end brokers and other real estate professionals: If you had a client willing to spend $30 million or more, what five apartments would you show them?

Before we get to the specifics, a few broad guidelines about trophy-property shopping emerged from this exercise. “When you go above $25 million you better have a great view, a great building and a great location,” said Leonard Steinberg, a broker with Prudential Douglas Elliman.

To that point, the lack of a great view is probably why the condop penthouse at the Mark on the Upper East Side, with a $60 million asking price, wasn’t mentioned by many brokers. Sure, it has a chapel-like 26-foot-high ceiling in the living room and 2,400 square feet of roof space, and it’s one of only 10 condo units in the famed hotel. But the penthouse just doesn’t reach high enough to capture the sort of breathtaking views that would seem to justify the price tag.

Something else that turns out to be true about these trophy properties: They are often made, not born. Rare is the trophy penthouse or full-floor residence that isn’t the result of creative combinations of several apartments to create a suitable mansion in the sky. Only in the past decade have developers designed massive units with the picky billionaire buyer in mind, said Shaun Osher, the chief executive of CORE.

Privacy matters, especially separate entrances in buildings with hotels. Foreign billionaires demand concierge services night and day, and a long slate of amenities like gyms, spas and children’s playrooms. But these buyers are not overly concerned about security, said Angela Rapoport, a broker with the Corcoran Group. “Russian buyers I work with see New York as a political and economic haven and a secure place to live,” she said.

Brokers say they have learned to be patient, even though they are eager for a big commission check. Two years ago, Mr. Osher said, he was working with an Asian billionaire to find a trophy apartment and came up short. He approached the owner of a duplex on the 76th and 77th floors of the north tower at the Time Warner Center that wasn’t on the market. The owner said he would sell for $100 million. The man bid $60 million. The owner said no.

“He is still looking,” Mr. Osher said.

In the end, I confined my list to condos because co-ops are inaccessible to most foreign buyers, who either cannot get past the co-op boards or are unwilling to try.

One co-op, though, was mentioned by several brokers: a triplex penthouse at the Pierre owned by the hedge fund manager Martin E. Zweig that has 16 rooms, 4 terraces and a 2,800-square-foot grand salon, the former ballroom of the Pierre Roof. It hasn’t (officially) been on the market since 2008, when Mr. Zweig listed it for $70 million, but that would not stop brokers from showing it to a rich client willing to run the co-op board gantlet, said Raphael De Niro, a broker at Prudential Douglas Elliman.

The following list is a snapshot from the last week or so. Several brokers said they were waiting for new downtown developments that will provide fresh trophy penthouses to challenge uptown’s dominance. Projects like Walker Tower in Chelsea (at 212 West 18th Street), where a two-floor, 12,470-square-foot penthouse is expected to list for $94 million later this summer; and 56 Leonard (due, finally, to start selling later this year, Ms. Mack said), in particular a full-floor penthouse, may shake up the status quo, and are likely to draw at least some patient billionaires off the sidelines.

THE OTHER PENTHOUSE AT 15 CENTRAL PARK WEST Sanford I. Weil may have seized the headlines this year with the $88 million sale of his 6,744-square-foot penthouse in the complex’s “house” to a trust benefiting Ekaterina Rybolovleva, the college-student daughter of a Russian fertilizer billionaire, but there is another fabulous penthouse available.

Daniel S. Loeb, who runs the hedge fund Third Point LLC, owns the largest penthouse in the taller “tower,” which brokers in my sample unanimously ranked among the Top 5 trophies. Brokers and developers around town say Mr. Loeb and his wife are quietly shopping the 10,674-square-foot space, which he bought in 2008 for $45 million, and are in search of something larger. “I heard he wants $100 million,” Mr. De Niro said.

Wishful thinking? The real estate community seems primed to keep shattering records, so a little hype never hurt. A spokeswoman for Mr. Loeb’s hedge fund declined to comment on whether he is looking to sell.

As for who is on top, Michael Gross, who is writing a book on 15 Central Park West, has no doubt. “Rybolovleva’s penthouse, grand though it is” he said, “is so far beneath Daniel Loeb’s — 19 floors to be exact — it is barely worth mentioning in the same breath, and he would have to crane his neck quite a bit downward to see it.”

THE PENTHOUSE AND WINTER GARDEN AT ONE57 The developer Gary Barnett sent shock waves through the market last month when he revealed that he had sold the two-floor penthouse atop the still-under-construction One57 for $90 million to $100 million. The buyer remains a mystery, and the closing is at least a year off, Ms. Mack said. Until then, the 10,923-square-foot residence, with its “grand salon” lording over Central Park facing north from the 89th and 90th floors, deserves a place among the Top 5 condos. But supposedly still on the market is the “Winter Garden” apartment, which occupies the 75th and 76th floors. It rates a close second. At 13,554 square feet, it’s even larger than the penthouse, with a private solarium and a formal dining room that looks as if it could seat all of King Arthur’s Court. Price tag: $115 million.

TIME WARNER CENTER: NORTH TOWER, 76TH AND 77TH FLOORS The Asian billionaire may have lost out, but the duplex apartment still makes the list. With a rare wraparound terrace at Time Warner — featuring northward views of Central Park, and of the East River and the Hudson — the residence has some ceilings that are 24 feet high, a private reflecting pool and an interior elevator. And it is on the only floor in the north tower with private terraces, Mr. Osher said. The owner is an American businessman in the finance field.

THE PENTHOUSE AT SUPERIOR INK Brokers rate the penthouse at Superior Ink, at 400 West 12th Street, as one of the two best available downtown today, though it is not for sale. The original owner, the Houston Rockets owner Leslie Alexander, sold it in 2010 for $33.5 million to Mark Shuttleworth, an entrepreneur who became the first South African in space in 2002 when he flew as a cosmonaut to the International Space Station. The 6,300-square-foot apartment has yet to be finished, Mr. Steinberg said. For those dying to capture the Hudson River views from the building, which was designed by Robert A. M. Stern and developed by Related Companies, the full 14th floor of 7,687 square feet is listed for $35.75 million.

THE PENTHOUSE AT 145 HUDSON While some brokers say 145 Hudson Street, a conversion of a 1929 Art Deco industrial building in TriBeCa, is too commercial for some discriminating billionaires, few disagree that the penthouse is stunning. The 7,500-square-foot four-bedroom four-bathroom duplex looks like a glass box in the sky. Designed by James Carpenter, it has “museum quality, high performance, insulated glass,” specially designed walls that allow artwork to be hung without fear of damage from sunlight, and 4,500 square feet of outdoor space on a wraparound terrace. It was the most expensive apartment ever sold south of Columbus Circle when it went for $30.5 million in 2009. After going back on the market for $45 million last May it was taken off less than a month later, according to Streeteasy.

New Listings: 205 East 77th Street

Broker's WeeklyJune 06, 2012
MANHATTAN
Upper East Side
205 East 77th Street, 3A
$975,000

Two bedroom, 2-bath apartment with split-bedroom layout. Renovated home has custom kitchen with GE Café stainless steel appliances. Custom bathrooms with solid maple cabinetry. Master suite has fully outfitted, custom walk-in closet. Washer and dryer installation allowed with board approval. Dover House is a full-service, pet-friendly building with a 24-hour doorman, live-in superintendent, renovated hallways and laundry room and landscaped roof deck. Listing broker: Michael Graves, CORE.

Boutique Breakthroughs

The Real DealJune 01, 2012
In the world of Manhattan boutique firms, a new company is king.

For the first time since The Real Deal started ranking boutique firms in 2009, the seven-year-old brokerage Core knocked the venerable Upper East Side brokerage Leslie J. Garfield & Co. from its continuous perch atop the firms with the highest dollar volume of listings.

Both Core and Garfield have more listings than they did last year at this time, according to TRD’s research. But Core’s 99 Manhattan residential listings are worth a total of $244.7 million, an increase of almost 41 percent from $173.6 million last year at this time. Meanwhile, Garfield’s 23 listings are worth $182.4 million, down 15.3 percent from $215.3 million last year.

Collectively, the 358 agents working at the top dozen boutique firms had 271 Manhattan residential properties listed for sale, totaling nearly $874 million, when TRD collected the data from listing provider Online Residential in early May. That’s up from last year, when the top dozen firms had 276 agents who shared 231 listings worth a total $690.4 million.

“The size of the company doesn’t matter,” Core CEO Shaun Osher said of his firm. “It’s actually the power that we have in our listings.”

Jed Garfield, owner of Leslie J. Garfield, expressed disappointment that the firm his father founded in 1972 was no longer No. 1, but he also said the company generated more revenue than ever last year, with several megasales. (In the last year, the firm’s deals have included the $23 million sale of Irish financier Derek Quinlan’s townhouse at 20 East 64th Street and the $15.5 million sale of 21 East 70th Street.)

Two agents left the firm during that time — one for a wind power software company and another for Prudential Douglas Elliman — trimming the ranks down to eight agents, including Leslie Garfield, who is no longer working full-time as a broker.

“Hopefully you do one thing better than 99 percent of the other people out there, and I think we still do that,” Garfield said.

That one thing involves brokering the sales of high-priced Upper East Side and Upper West Side townhouses, including multifamily townhouses. The firm’s priciest listing is the $30 million, seven-story residence at 12 East 96th Street, marketed as a single-family home, that currently houses an Italian private school.

In contrast, Core’s sales business runs the gamut from Harlem to the Financial District and from co-ops to new-construction condos. Indeed, it appears to be Core’s handling of sales at several new developments that propelled the company from its long-occupied No. 2 spot, according to TRD’s analysis of the firm’s listings.

In November, Core took over sales at 1280 Fifth Avenue, developed by Brickman, from Brown Harris Stevens and Nancy Packes Inc. It later rechristened the 116-unit tower One Museum Mile and launched an advertising campaign with the tagline, “Art appreciates.”

Core brokers Tom Postilio, Natalie Rakowski and Parul Brahmbhatt have 18 of the units on the market at the moment, asking a combined $38.7 million, including an eight-bedroom combination unit priced at about $7.2 million.


The brokerage also has multiple listings at two Chelsea developments — the Cammeyer and 350W16th — as well as a townhouse at 38 Bethune Street in the West Village listed at almost $15 million. The firm is also “imminently” planning to list $500 million worth of condos at the 53-unit Walker Tower in Chelsea, Osher said.

More visibility

Since 2010, Core brokers have appeared alongside Warburg Realty and Gumley Haft Kleier brokers on HGTV’s hit show “Selling New York,” which Osher said has given the firm a platform to showcase its brand and its agents.

“But with respect to our business, our business model is not affected by the TV show,” he said.

Still, the show has increased Core’s visibility “tremendously,” said fellow cast member Michele Kleier, president and chair of Gumley Haft Kleier.

Kleier, too, is reaping the rewards of her star turn, along with daughters and fellow “Selling New York” stars Sabrina Kleier-Morgenstern and Samantha Kleier-Forbes.

Although the brokerage once again had the third-highest dollar volume of listings, Gumley Haft Kleier increased its listings value by 34.4 percent to $113.2 million. (Kleier said the total was closer to $129 million.)

But she said the increased visibility that comes from TV is especially beneficial for a firm like Core, which counts so many more developers among its clientele. In contrast, developers typically bring in Gumley Haft Kleier to market one-off trophy properties in their projects, as Two Trees Management did with the penthouse in the Clocktower Building in Dumbo.

“It’s extremely helpful for a [brokerage] that focuses on new construction because developers love to be on the show and certainly want the exposure,” she said, noting that the private sellers who make up the bulk of her firm’s clientele may see the show’s publicity as a liability.

Gumley Haft Kleier’s agent count dropped by three to 36, which Kleier said is consistent with her plan to keep her firm at 40 agents or less. “We’re very selective because we work in an atmosphere where everybody works very closely together,” Kleier said.

Osher said he has also committed to limiting the size of his firm, while imposing rigorous standards for agents.
In the last year, this approach has sometimes given the impression that Core had a revolving door, as an influx of new talent — including Prudential Douglas Elliman’s Lawrence Rich and Halstead Property’s Ivana Tagliamonte — joined the firm and left within a few months.

Adding to the uproar, Osher abruptly replaced Mark Ripka, his well-liked managing director of sales, with Reba Miller, head of the eponymous brokerage.

“Most of the agents were asked to leave,” Osher said, although he was reluctant to revisit the controversy.

But many of the defectors challenged Osher’s contention that they were fired, saying they left of their own accord. (Ripka has since joined MNS.)

TRD’s tally reveals that Core is almost exactly the same size now as it was a year ago, with 52 agents compared to 51. More recently, broker Jarrod Randolph, named one of Forbes Magazine’s “30 under 30” in real estate, joined Core from Brown Harris Stevens.
“If you compare us to any [residential brokerage] in the city, our income and productivity per agent is the highest by a multiple,” Osher claimed.

More shake-ups

Core’s position at the top of TRD’s ranking is not the only shake-up among Manhattan’s boutique firms. Three brokerages cracked the list for the first time this year, while others have dropped off since 2011 —partly a function of the way a few listings can affect a boutique firm’s rank.

For example, Barak Realty’s dollar volume of listings fell to $7.9 million this year, compared to $16.1 million a year ago.
“We don’t really have a lot of listings that sit on the market for a long time,” founder Barak Dunayer said.
Three firms have maintained their positions from last year: Fox Residential Group, at No. 4 with $84.5 million in listings; the Modlin Group, at No. 6 with $48 million in listings; and Key-Ventures, Inc., at No. 7 with $45.7 million in listings.

“Our focus is the same: to build high-quality, personal relationships,” said Adam Modlin, who founded the Modlin Group with his brother, Avery Modlin, in 1999. “We don’t have a business where we service strangers or walk-ins.”

But there was still room for rookies on the list.

Blu Realty, a 100 percent-commission firm founded in early 2011, debuted at No. 5 with $57.5 million in listings. Founded by five alumni of Nest Seekers International — Alon Chadad, Moshe Balalo, Andy Kim, David Tobon and Michael Arcos — Blu now has 59 agents and 34 listings, according to TRD’s research.

Blu recently tapped Halstead’s Vince Rocco to head up the firm’s second outpost, an office in Trump Place at 120 Riverside Boulevard launched to capitalize on new developments on the Upper West Side.

The strategy appears to be paying off, as 19 of Blu’s 34 current listings are resales in Trump Place and Extell Development Company’s the Avery, also on Riverside Boulevard. The firm is also set to bring three newly renovated Upper West Side townhouses to market, each priced between $12 and $14 million, Chadad said.

Also new to the list is MNS, the firm created out of a 2009 merger between the Real Estate Group New York and the Developers Group.
While the bulk of its Manhattan listings are concentrated in two Harlem developments — the Lenox at 380 Lenox Avenue and 2280 FDB at 2280 Frederick Douglass Boulevard — MNS has tried to broaden its focus in the last year, working with buyers and individual sellers in addition to developers, according to CEO Andrew Barrocas.

“We market a building, we [sell] it out and agents have gone back a couple years later and gotten resales in the buildings,” Barrocas said.

MNS has also gained a wider reputation by overseeing sales at the Edge, Douglaston Development’s once-stalled Williamsburg megaproject (although Brooklyn listings are not included in this ranking).

With that development nearly sold out, MNS has several buildings in the pipeline, ranging from 20 to 100 units and located in the Lower East Side, Union Square and Murray Hill, Barrocas said.

Another newcomer is the seven-year-old Platinum Properties, which lands on the ranking by virtue of its $16.5 million penthouse listing at 200 Chambers Street in Tribeca.

The apartment first hit the market at nearly $17.8 million last July. Platinum has offered a $100,000 bonus to the broker who brings in a successful buyer.

A Three-Bedroom; Anywhere Is Fine

The New York TimesJune 01, 2012
IF they’d had two boys or two girls, Jon and Charlene Simonian might have stayed in their two-bedroom co-op on Sutton Place. As it was, the children shared a room until they were almost teenagers. Then the Simonians went on the hunt for a three-bedroom.

At that point, 15 years ago, two-bedrooms in Manhattan were selling in the $300,000s, while three-bedrooms ran twice that, Mr. Simonian said. “I just couldn’t get over the fact that an extra bedroom was going to cost us an extra $300,000,” he said.

So the couple sold their apartment at a small loss and rented a two-bedroom with a convertible dining room at the Brittany, a high-rise rental building on York Avenue. After some years there, with the rent rising and the children grown and gone, the Simonians moved to a three-bedroom in the then-new Hampton Court on 102nd Street and First Avenue. The apartment was slightly larger than their old one, with a big terrace and a rent three-fifths of what they would have paid farther south, Mr. Simonian said. (Three-bedrooms at Hampton Court currently rent for around $3,600 a month.)

The Simonians loved the apartment, where they grew flowers and vegetables outdoors, and the building, where services included a shuttle to the 86th and 96th Street subway stops. A few drugstores and delis were nearby. The dearth of restaurants was no problem. “We are not big ordering-in people,” Ms. Simonian said.

Nor did they mind that “there was nothing charming” about living in that particular area, with its littered streets and housing projects, Mr. Simonian said. The management company, Glenwood, calls the neighborhood Gracie Point, but others call it East Harlem.

The Simonians hunted off and on for a permanent home to buy. “We just didn’t feel that push to do it,” Ms. Simonian said. “We were always sort of open to things. It was an ongoing-saga kind of thing.”

With prices high, they considered leaving for Florida, where they had friends, or Westchester, where they play golf. “I like city life,” Ms. Simonian said, “though I’m a pretty easygoing person and could probably be happy anywhere.” She is on staff at a small private elementary school in Midtown East. Mr. Simonian, now retired, worked in the investment field.

The couple, both in their 60s, decided to remain in the city. “I haven’t been bored one day in 45 years of living here,” Mr. Simonian said. “And since we can afford to live in New York we said, heck, why are we spinning our wheels looking elsewhere?”

They weren’t intending to downsize, but apart from that they weren’t sure what they were after. “I am 69 years old,” Mr. Simonian said. “I want some elbow room.” Their home could be in any neighborhood; it could have amenities or not. Yet, unwilling to pay more than $1,000 per square foot, they found that most nice Manhattan apartments were just too expensive.

“I look at a square foot,” Mr. Simonian said, “and I say to myself, how can this possibly be worth $1,000?” And renovating would bolster the price to “way the heck over my magic mark of $1,000 a square foot, which I had a mental thing about,” he said.

He often asked agents, “Would you spend this money on this apartment?” Usually they dodged the question, Ms. Simonian said. Most apartments they saw were perfectly fine, but “too expensive for what they were,” she recalled. And they were already living in a beautiful rental, so it was hard to give that up.

Mr. Simonian was intrigued by an adorable single-family row house, with three floors and a basement, on East 101st Street. “It had historical charm, it had a backyard, it had space,” he said. The listing price was $1.695 million. He even priced elevators, which cost around $75,000 to install.

But his wife preferred the security and services of a doorman building. (The house did not sell and was taken off the market.)

The Brompton, a 22-story condo on East 85th Street, was one of their favorite new buildings but, again, pricey. A three-bedroom is currently on the market for $2.695 million, or $1,500 a square foot, with monthly charges around $2,300.

One day last fall, with time to kill, Mr. Simonian stopped by the newly built 1280 Fifth Avenue, at the northeast corner of Central Park near 110th Street. He saw several condos there, and loved a three-bedroom, well above the treetops, with around 1,600 square feet of space. He arranged a return visit with his wife, requesting that she be shown his favorite apartment last.

“My eye was not cluttered,” he said, “and the way the whole building was put together was very attractive to me.” The price came in around $950 a square foot, thereby overcoming his main hurdle.

Ms. Simonian was taken with it, too. “I didn’t realize I had a checklist,” she said, “but after I looked I thought, this is everything I could possibly want. And we were in agreement. It was like when we met — it was meant to be.”

They signed on within days, paying $1.525 million. The common charge and taxes run a little more than $2,000 a month.

The building, which will house the Museum for African Art, was recently renamed One Museum Mile. It is about 30 percent sold, said the director of sales, Tom Postilio of Core Group Marketing.

The Simonians arrived in the spring. “There is absolutely no buyer regret,” Mr. Simonian said. “I wish I had an extra million dollars, because I would have bought the corner apartment that overlooks the park.”

They are now exploring the northern end of Central Park. “All I did was play baseball in Central Park with my kids,” Mr. Simonian said. “I never crossed it, I never sat in it and looked at the trees.”

The neighborhood, which some call Upper Carnegie Hill but others call East Harlem, still has a dearth of services, but the Simonians are used to that. “I will pick up something on my way home from work,” Ms. Simonian said.

They enjoy the rooftop pool and the roof deck with a view over the park. “It calms me down,” Mr. Simonian said. “I may not miss my huge terrace on 102nd as much as I thought I might.”

Former NAACP Head Lists Tribeca Apartment

The Real DealMay 30, 2012
Bruce Scott Gordon, the famed executive and former head of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, has listed his apartment at 166 Duane Street in Tribeca for $5.75 million.

Gordon, who served as president of NAACP between 2005 and 2007, listed the apartment with Core broker Michael Graves yesterday, according to Streeteasy.com. The asking price is significantly more than $4 million the $1.38 million Gordon paid for it in 1998, public records show.

Gordon was ranked No. 6 on Fortune magazine’s list of the “50 Most Powerful Black Executives” in 2002. He currently serves as a corporate director of CBS, defense company Northrop Grumman, and manufacturing firm Tyco International.

Gordon’s moderate political views famously led President George W. Bush in 2006 to make his first appearance at an NAACP event. He had previously declined all invitations to NAACP events, because of its leadership’s negative comments about his presidency.
But Gordon ultimately resigned from his position as head of the NAACP.

“I stepped into the role to understand as best I could the needs of the African American community and then to propose strategies and policies and programs and practices that could improve conditions for African Americans,” he said at the time. “The things I had in mind were not consistent with what some — unfortunately, too many — on the board had in mind.”

The 2,670-square-foot apartment, with three bedrooms and 2.5 bathrooms, features 11-foot ceilings and four walk-in closets. The building, on the corner of Hudson Street, has a 24-hour doorman and a roof deck.

While Graves declined to comment on the ownership of the listing, he said that the current owners are avid art collectors and that the property is ideal for art lovers because of its open floor plan and high ceilings.

“I’m getting pounded with requests to see this apartment and it’s only been on the market for a few hours,” he said. “There’s a real lack of inventory in this area.”

New Listings: 125 W21st Street

Brokers WeeklyMay 30, 2012
Chelsea
125 W21st St. #6D
$1,365,000

Residence 6D at The Indigo is a south-facing one-bedroom home. Five apartments on this floor. 973 s/f condo with high ceilings, 1.5 bathrooms, loft-like living room, casement
windows, cherry hardwood flooring, vented washer and dryer, open chef's Poggenpohl kitchen. Master bath with soaking tub, separate steam mist steam shower, double sinks, radiant heated floors. Listing agent: Michael Rubin, CORE.

In the News: 15 Renwick Street

Tribeca CitizenMay 29, 2012
“News at last out of our old, stalled friend The Renwick, the condo planned for 15 Renwick Street: a new firm has taken over the development site and chosen CORE to handle sales and marketing. [...] The building will break ground this fall, and it shall be a condo.” —Curbed

Harlem’s Real Estate Renaissance

MetroMay 29, 2012
As the summer approaches and the market catches its post-recession bearings, no area in Manhattan has heated up as quickly as Harlem. The media has paid close attention as new condos along Central Park North and towers rising over Frederick Douglass Boulevard have led the way in the neighborhood's real estate renaissance. While residents have benefited from new restaurants and amenities brought in by these projects, new measures are being sought by community leaders to make sure that an area with a rich heritage stays that way.

In an effort to preserve the history of the brownstone-dominated area, a report released last week from Community Board 10 has outlined a plan to establish or expand nine historic districts across Harlem. While it still needs to be approved by the Landmarks Preservation Commission, some of the main intentions for the proposal lie in the fear of having glass condos arise between rows of classic townhomes. The plans may help maintain Harlem's historic charm, but new data on market trends indicate that prices could push longtime residents out either way.

A recent report from StreetEasy.com's VP of Research Sofia Song has shown that while prices across Manhattan have remained relatively flat since last year's first quarter, Central Harlem has seen a 6.6 percent increase in median closing price -- the highest of any neighborhood in the city. Even more telling is the shrinking inventory in the area, as the supply of available apartments is down 17.7 percent from 2011.

One of the big shifts has also been in the buyers. "When federally backed lending programs started supporting home ownership for end-users, homeowners started replacing investors as the top purchasers in 2008," explains Robb Pair, the president of local brokerage Harlem Lofts. "The downturn caused some stress for many, but it was the best thing for Harlem." Despite these trends and rising prices, luxury buyers and renters are still coming to the area for better value and amenities than they can receive anywhere else on the island. On the sales side, conversion projects such as One Museum Mile, which houses condos above the Museum for African Art at 1280 Fifth Ave., have seen success -- even selling some of their pricier units, such as the $3.1 million penthouse that sold this past month.

Down the street, The Related Companies have started marketing 1214 Fifth Ave., Mount Sinai's newest tower, which features 30 floors of rentals and the amenities of a luxury condo, including a pool, fitness center and a screening room. If the rapid growth of Harlem highrises is limited as a result of new zoning restrictions, the neighborhood will need to rely on multifamily conversions to condos to keep buyers coming in. But if interest rates stay low and rents around the city continue to rise, the "renaissance" could continue for years to come.

New LIC Condo One Murray Park Officially Hits the Market

CurbedMay 29, 2012
Location: 11-25 45th Avenue in Long Island City Size: 45 units Prices: Starting at $340,000 Developer: 11-25 Realty LLC Architect: Fogarty Finger Sales & Marketing: CORE A happy on-sale date to One Murray Park, the first new condo project to hit the Long Island City sales market in more than a year. We've already peeked at some renderings of the Fogarty Finger-designed building, and now the CORE blog has a few shots of the model unit. In addition to the 45 apartments, the building has a gym, indoor parking, library, and pet washing area, and construction is "nearly complete." Floor plans, photos in the gallery above.

There are only five listings online, but the building page gives us a sense of overall pricing. Studios start at $340,000, 1BRs at $450,000, and 2BRs at$740,000. Sizes of units listed so far: 479 square feet to 1,085 square feet.

On the Market: 418 Central Park West (at 102nd Street), #8

The New York TimesMay 27, 2012

Unarrested Development: 15 Renwick Street

CurbedMay 25, 2012
News at last out of our old, stalled friend The Renwick, the condo planned for 15 Renwick Street: a new firm has taken over the development site and chosen CORE to handle sales and marketing. Which sounds like a real comeback! The building will break ground this fall, and it shall be a condo.

Developers Tap Core to Market New Condominium at 15 Renwick Street

The Real DealMay 24, 2012
New York-based residential real estate firm Izaki Group Investments USA has taken control of a development at 15 Renwick Street in partnership with real estate investment firm Glacier Global Partners, it announced following a foreclosure auction on the Soho property yesterday, and has tapped residential brokerage Core to head sales at the property.

The partnership is planning a boutique condominium development on the site and plans to break ground this fall, Izaki said; Core will oversee sales at the property as well as another luxury condominium project at 93 Worth Street, which will feature the 90 apartments, six penthouses and 10,000 square feet of commercial space.

“It’s an exciting time in New York City for development,” said Eldad Blaustein, CEO of IGI USA, in a statement. “I believe in the state of the market and we are committed to delivering the highest quality product in this prime location.”

Shaun Osher, CEO of Core, called the site “one of the last remaining undeveloped lots in [the] neighborhood.”

It appears that Harch Group founder Harry Jeremias still maintains a financial interest in the success of the Renwick Street development. The 4,523-square-foot development site was previously approved for a 65,000-square-foot, 12-story luxury building with 44 condominium units under Jeremias, who, having faced a foreclosure lawsuit in 2010 from U.S. Bancorp for allegedly defaulting on a $55.3 million loan to develop a condominium on the site, partnered with Glacier to reposition the debt. The partnership purchased the non-performing loan from U.S. Bank at a discount last April but had to participate in the foreclosure auction in order gain clean title of the property.

A call to Jeremias’ attorney, Terrence Oved of Oved & Oved, was not returned by press time.

IGI declined to comment further on the specifics of the development, including the number of units, size of the units, or pricing. It did confirm however, that it will be opting to go with a new design for the property.

As previously reported, Glacier, a real estate investment firm, revived other projects stalled in the recession in the last year. It purchased the $40 million first mortgage on the stalled condo project Five Franklin Place in Tribeca last year and has plans to revive the project with partner Fishman Holdings, an Israeli private investment firm.

New York Real Estate- Luxury Properties

PromenadeMay 24, 2012
Located at the crown of Fifth Avenue along Museum Mile is One Museum Mile, a new luxury residential development designed by a renowned team including Robert A.M. Stern Architects, LLP, Andre Kikoski Architects and SLCE Architects. Residence 12 B, listed at $2,825,000, is a 1,756-square-foot three-bedroom, three-bathroom home, featuring white oak flooring, teak cabinetry, deep brown granite countertops in the kitchen, and stainless steel appliances by Thermador, GE and Bosch.

In addition, it boasts unparalleled views of Central Park and the Manhattan skyline.

One Museum Mile amenities include 24-hour concierge, live-in super, a children’s playroom, teenage game room, a roof deck and rooftop pool with a grass and barbecue area.

New York Real Estate - Luxury Properties

PromenadeMay 24, 2012
Located at 233 West 20th Street in Chelsea is a magnificent 25-foot wide townhouse originally built in 1824, featuring six-bedrooms, six bathrooms and four half-bathrooms that have been re-designed for a 21st Century lifestyle. This home spreads over seven beautifully designed floors with terraces to the north and south providing a sun-soaked solarium feel with iconic views of buildings such as the Empire State Building.

With 7,000 square feet of interior space, the home boasts a grand foyer with a passenger elevator and spacious, bright living rooms. On the second floor is the grand master suite featuring two full bathrooms and an oversize windowed dressing room. This home features a private roof top retreat as well as phenomenal garden patio that adjoins a custom-designed Neff kitchen.
This home is priced at $10.95 million.

Meg’s House Hunt

New York PostMay 23, 2012
Meg Ryan is house hunting in Chelsea after putting her Bel Air mansion on the market. Ryan was spotted touring a $10.95 million townhouse at 233 W. 20th St. The seven-floor home features a rooftop terrace, a garden-level solarium and patio, two kitchens and a wet bar. Listing agent Tom Postilio of Core had no comment. Ryan has listed her six-bedroom Bel Air estate for $11.4 million, and has been looking at downtown pads with rocker boyfriend John Mellencamp.

New Listings: 257 Berry Street

Broker's WeeklyMay 23, 2012
CORE's Vickey Barron and Doug Bowen have just listed this newly constructed Williamsburg townhouse, which is for sale for the first time priced at $3,795,000. The 5,000 s/f four bedroom, 2-bath house at 257 Berry Street is described by the pair as a “ single family, mixed-use home” that offers a gallery space. The residential portion is 3,780 s/f and has four — count them — four terraces. Ceilings are double-high, it has a “sculptural steel” staircase, and commercial grade oven/stove/broiler/ salamander. The gallery space is 1,150 s/f and has a loading dock at grade level. This space includes a skylight, bath and cellar below. The home is fully wired for audio and has central A/C, storage, a laundry area and intercom system.

Gallery: Jennifer Gilbert at One Museum Mile

Broker's WeeklyMay 23, 2012
One Museum Mile in collaboration with the DivaMoms Book Club hosted “I Never Promised You a Goodie Bag” – an event celebrating the exciting new memoir penned by socialite and event planner Jennifer Gilbert.

Founder of the award-winning event management company Save the Date, Jennifer Gilbert is a well-known entrepreneur and true survivor. During the private event, Jennifer read selections from her new book, “I Never Promised You a Goodie Bag: A Memoir of a Life Through Events — The Ones You Plan and the Ones You Don’t,” sharing her life story with guests on the rooftop of One Museum Mile. After listening to selections from her memoir, Jennifer encouraged guests to ask questions, both personal and professional. Guests enjoyed a cocktail reception and views over Central Park from the rooftop of One Museum Mile.

CORE Announced as Exclusive Sales and Marketing Agency For IGI USA'S 15 Renwick

May 23, 2012
NEW YORK, N.Y. (May 23, 2012) – Izaki Group Investments USA (IGI USA) is pleased to announce that they have taken over 15 Renwick, a coveted residential asset in New York City. 15 Renwick, a boutique condominium development, is located on a one-block street in West SoHo – where TriBeCa, SoHo and the West Village converge. This area, also known as Hudson Square, is positioned to attract the interest of discerning buyers as it is an established and exclusive living destination choice.

“It’s an exciting time in New York City for development,” said Eldad Blaustein, CEO of IGI USA. “I believe in the state of the market and we are committed to delivering the highest quality product in this prime location.”

In addition to 15 Renwick, IGI USA will be delivering a luxury condominium project at 93 Worth, Tribeca, later this year. CORE has been signed as the exclusive sales and marketing agency for both projects.

About IGI USA
Founded more than 60 years ago in Israel, IGI USA is a fully integrated New York City-based real estate company. While the IGI primary investments are in conversion and new residential real estate development, IGI is looking to invest in Manhattan multi-family real estate where the firm has expertise. 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.

# # #

Best Properties on the Market: One Museum Mile

The WeekMay 18, 2012
Central Park/East Harlem This 870-square-foot condominium is located in a new Robert A.M. Stern building on Fifth Avenue that overlooks the northeast corner of Central Park. The building is home to the Museum for African Art. Building amenities include a 24-hour concierge, a gym, a children’s playroom, a roof deck, and a pool. $855,000. Tom Postillo, CORE, (212) 996-128
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