Love Letters: New Construction, High Prices and a Younger Crop of Renters and Buyers hit Alphabet City

New York PostJuly 12, 2012
New Yorkers who know their ABCs know to keep away from the D’s.

Naturally, we’re talking about Alphabet City. Those two words have an uncanny ability to summon up sordid images of Tompkins Square Park in the 1980s, with its infamous homeless encampments and crack vials. And violent crimes and graffiti. And the musical “Rent.”

Like in every neighborhood in lower Manhattan, real estate developers flirted with the idea of gentrification, but observers had three assumptions about the neighborhood:

1) Prices would never get too crazy.

2) It might lure hipsters, but you could forget about well-heeled professionals.

3) While Avenue A or B might be OK, no luxury developer would put up anything past Avenue C.

But it also looks like all three notions were seriously flawed. Take Arabella 101. The brand-new rental building is opening its leasing office next week and happens to be on Avenue D, across the street from public housing. Arabella 101 has 78 apartments (half of which are market-rate, the other half affordable) set atop the new Lower Eastside Girls Club.

“Starting prices [for market-rate units] are about $2,500 for a studio, $2,900 for one-bedrooms,” says Drew Spitler, director of development for the Dermot Company, Arabella 101’s developer. “And they’re going up from there.”

And the building isn’t a mere shiny box: The eco-friendly development is shooting for LEED certification, and it promises amenities like a gym and a roof deck.

Dermot is not alone in tackling this heretofore unloved part of Alphabet City.

At 316-318 E. Third St., which hugs Avenue D, the Brody Amirian Group is putting up an eight-story, 33-unit building with studios and one- and two-bedrooms; it should be finished in the fall of 2013. Yearly rents are going to be north of $50 per square foot (probably around $52 to $54 per square foot), which works out to over $4,300 a month on a 1,000-square-foot apartment.

“We were told you could get $58 to $62 per square foot if you really hit the market right, with the proper finishes,” says David Amirian, co-principal of the development firm. “But we’re not looking for those kinds of aggressive numbers.”

Amirian says that a deal was in the works for the empty lot directly across the street by a developer, and another project adjoining his (with frontage on Avenue D) is going to be a rental with both market-rate and affordable units.

Older, walkup apartment prices are also on the upswing.

“We were [trying] to stay under $3,800,” says Rebecca Newman, 22, a recent Barnard graduate, who went looking for an apartment in Alphabet City with two friends at the beginning of the month.

After seeing a few two- and three-bedrooms in the neighborhood, “our expectations changed,” says Amy Moroz, 21, who was looking with Newman and their friend Ashley Rose Stumbaugh, 21. “We definitely lowered expectations.”

Fortunately, their broker, Josiah Hyatt of Citi Habitats, found them a three-bedroom, two-bathroom walkup within their budget just off Avenue C.

“It was almost like a gem in the rough,” Stumbaugh says.

Indeed, professionals looking for a deal might find themselves startled by how much rents have risen in the area.

“I would say it was much more expensive than I thought it would be,” says Solaiman Futuri, 32, a doctor who went looking for a two-bedroom with a colleague. Both were excited by the area’s nightlife and restaurants and wanted to be on Avenue A or in the East Village.

“When I first started out it was difficult, very difficult,” says Futuri, who worked with broker Mariko Miyake of Citi Habitats. “Two-bedroom, two-bath apartments were going anywhere from $4,500 to $5,000.” (The two doctors finally lucked out and got a two-bedroom duplex for around $4,000 on Avenue A.)

While a $4,000 apartment might sound pricey if you’re thinking of the Alphabet City of yore, that figure is small fry in comparison to what some of the more tricked-out apartments are asking.

Danny Davis and Vladimir Luzader of Town Residential have a $25,000, four-bedroom rental in a former synagogue on East Eighth Street between Avenues B and C.

“It’s an incredibly unique property,” Davis says. “It’s a former synagogue, and in addition to being very cool architectural space, it has a great history. There were squatters. And if I remember, a rabbi [who worked and squatted there] was busted for dealing pot. But apparently, none of the transactions were out of the house.”

After a moment, Davis adds, “He claims it was for medicinal purposes.”

The 3,200-square-foot property is a beaut. There are custom-made stained-glass windows (one of which includes a Star of David), as well as Brazilian hardwood floors, cathedral ceilings, an Italian marble fireplace and more than 900 square feet of outdoor space.

“We’ve been getting a lot of good feedback,” he says. “A lot of interested people want to purchase the house.” (The owner isn’t interested in selling, Davis says.)

Davis has gotten nibbles from renters including an actress in town for a show.

Of course, the real estate gets more expensive as you move west, toward Avenue A. Potential buyers might want to check out another Town property on the market with Wilbur Gonzalez and Adam Taylor: a 6,000-square-foot, $8.5 million, four-bedroom, 2 1/2-bathroom townhouse on East Fourth Street between Avenues A and B, with 11-foot ceilings, Sub-Zero, Wolf and Miele appliances, a 900-square-foot patio and much more.

“It really is a trophy house,” Gonzalez says. “Which made it sort of difficult to price. If it was West Fourth Street, not East, it would be in the $12 to $15 million range.”

The big question is how Alphabet City went through such a transformation where properties could fetch high prices. Some, like Gonzalez, attribute it to the hotels and restaurants that cropped up around the neighborhood in the East Village and the Lower East Side.

“Inventory is so limited and so many people want to be in the neighborhood,” says Elizabeth Kee, a broker for Core who lived in the neighborhood in the early 2000s. “Never in our wildest dreams did we ever imagine [prices would be this high], but it’s a simple supply and demand curve.”

Kee has a listing at the A Building on East 13th Street between First Avenue and Avenue A, a $3.99 million penthouse, which is owned by poker pro Phil Galfond.

Galfond combined two units to make this 2,700-square-foot, four-bedroom, four-bathroom duplex, and added one quirk: He connected the top and bottom floors with a big metal slide in the middle of the apartment.

Kee reports that traffic at the open houses in the condo has been pretty good.

“This kind of property usually get gobbled up immediately,” Kee says. “Unless they have a slide.”

Upper Fifth’s Coveted One Museum Mile Hosts “Discover Our Neighborhood”

July 12, 2012
Lush Views of Central Park Frame a Rooftop Conversation About the Area’s History, Evolution and Offerings

New York, NY – Soaring above Central Park’s verdant landscape, One Museum Mile at 1280 Fifth Avenue– future home to the highly anticipated Museum for African Art – is grabbing headlines once again. Yesterday, between 5:30 and 7:30 p.m., the premier luxury residential development hosted members of the Foreign Press Association at an event titled “Discover Our Neighborhood.”

The evening kicked off with a walking tour led by historian Joyce Gold, who shared insight about the history of Upper Fifth and neighboring Central Park, as guests toured the park’s famed Conservatory Gardens and Harlem Meer. Later, the group returned to the exquisite 21-story structure, designed in part by noted architect, Robert A. M. Stern, for a panel discussion held on the building’s rooftop overlooking the northern end of Central Park.

With New York City’s skyline as a backdrop, expert panelists, including Gold, CORE managing director, Tom Postilio, and StreetEasy vice president of research, Sofia Song, discussed the history and evolution of the neighborhood, as well as trends in the local real estate market. Moderated by Katherine Clarke of The Real Deal, the event also allowed the audience to interact with the panel and ask questions.

“With condominiums and high-rise developments emerging rapidly in Upper Carnegie Hill and along Upper Fifth, there has been a tremendous uptick in foreign interest,” said Bruce Brickman, principal of real estate private equity firm, Brickman, the property’s developer. “The team at One Museum Mile is pleased to host and partake in a dialogue about this dynamic neighborhood and its attractive qualities.”

To conclude the night, guests were treated to a sumptuous cocktail reception at Red Rooster Harlem, comprising signature dishes by James Beard award-winning chef Marcus Samuelsson.

"The event was a great success,” said Shaun Osher, co-founder and CEO of CORE, the building’s exclusive sales and marketing team. “Our international guests enjoyed the panel discussion and walked away with insight about why foreign buyers, in particular, have been drawn to this area.”

One Museum Mile offers studios, one-, two-, and three-bedroom homes as well as penthouses ranging up to 2,118-square feet, which are available for immediate occupancy. The property also offers residences with outdoor terrace space.
For more information, please contact the sales office at (212) 996-1280 or visit the website at

Brickman is a private equity real estate firm that invests in debt and equity with the perspective of an owner-operator. Brickman combines its owner-operator expertise with deep experience in debt to produce excellent risk-adjusted returns for its investors. Brickman was formed in 1992 and has over $700 million of equity assets and $3 billion of portfolio value under management. Brickman owns and operates office and multi family properties in these markets, applies opportunistic and core plus / value-added investment strategies, and invests across the entire capital structure of real estate assets. Through its investment vehicles, the firm owns and manages over 3.5 million square feet of office, hotel and residential real estate.

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


Buyers in a Hurry to Buy at One Murray

Brokers WeeklyJuly 11, 2012
Last week, just after the Fourth of July, several prospective buyers toured One Murray Park, the first condo project to open in Long Island City in over a year.

“We’ve been very busy,” said Shaun Osher, founder of CORE, which is marketing the six-story glass and brick development.

Sales launched several months ago — and the finishing touches are still being placed on the interiors, including a library adjacent to the lobby, a fitness center, and a parking garage — but already 40 percent of the building’s 45 units are in contract. “We expect to reach the closing phase in a couple of weeks,” said Doron Zwickel, a broker at CORE.

Long Island City’s residential market — particularly its rental one — has been strong in recent years, prompting Eric Benaim to launch the firm Modern Spaces in the neighborhood, and Prudential Douglas Elliman to open an office on Vernon Boulevard, a major retail corridor. Rental buildings like Linc LIC, a 42-story luxury tower built by Rockrose, recently topped off.

With demand increasing for housing stock in the neighborhood, which is a seven-minute subway ride from Midtown Manhattan and home to a Citi Bank office tower, prices have been rising.

At One Murray Park, which is located opposite a playground at 11-25 45th Avenue, a short walk from the Court House Square subway station, asking prices have been marked up several times.

“Price ranges are like 2006, 2007 levels,” said Zwickel, who has marketed four projects in the neighborhood, including the 44-unit Badge Building on 47th Avenue. “Some prices are even higher.”

According to StreetEasy, available studios at One Murray Park start at $385,000, one-bedrooms at $490,000 and two-bedrooms at $750,000.
Penthouse A, which overlooks Murray Playground, the two and a half acre park across the street, and has a staircase leading to the roof, is the most expensive unit in the building, priced at $980,000.

The western half of the park recently underwent a renovation, and has new playground equipment. The eastern half is slated for a makeover soon. “The city has poured $2.5 million into it,” said Zwickel.

In the future, Zwickel joked, 11th Street, which runs along the park’s western border and is home to a handful of new luxury developments, will become the Long Island City equivalent of Park Avenue.

Nearby, Vernon Boulevard is home to several popular coffee shops, including Communitea and Cranky’s Café. As for arts and culture, MOMA’s PS1 museum is close by.

“People realize that, in no time, this will be the heart of the neighborhood,” Zwickel said.

Though a handful of buyers are Queens residents who stumbled across the building through local brokers, the neighborhood has drawn apartment hunters from across the East River, too. “We have a fair share of Manhattan buyers,” Zwickel said.

From the roof deck, the building’s position at the center of Long Island City is clear: to the east are the towers lining the waterfront, many of them built by TF Cornerstone, and further inland are the Courthouse and the Citi Bank tower. Surrounding the building are brick row-houses much like those in the East Village.

The building’s development team, Shuster Development & Management and TerraMax Development, have seen promise in this section of Long Island City, and may continue to build there down the road. “The developer is here to stay,” said Zwickel.

In the News: 335 Broadway Configurations

Tribeca CitizenJuly 09, 2012
Popstarr2000 commented on this post that the TV show “Selling New York” (as per Curbed‘s recap) had a segment about 335 Broadway (at the northwest corner of Worth), and whether the developer should decrease the planned number of studios for larger units. (Heaven forbid single people live in Tribeca!) Anyway, 335 Broadway is also known as 93 Worth, which is what I had thought the project was being marketed as…. New windows went in last week—the photo is from before that—and four stories are being added to the top.

••• “Eater hears that [Shaun] Hergatt departed [his] restaurant at the end of last week. [...] Also, apparently members of the staff were walking off the floor on Friday night.”

••• “The starting gun sounded Saturday morning, at 11 a.m. for the KRYS Ocean Race, the first-ever race from New York to Brest, France, for a new class of racer: the Multihull One-Design trimaran. Five of these cutting-edge boats first docked at North Cove last Tuesday, just in time for the Fourth of July celebrations.” —Broadsheet

••• “What to Eat at Cómodo, Opening July 16 in Soho.” Cómodo is the restaurant being opened by the Worth Kitchen couple. —Grub Street
••• “Three of [E.E.] Cummings’ letters—which have never been shown publicly—just went on display at Poets House.” —DNAinfo

Residential Sales Around the Region: 56 Warren Street

The New York TimesJuly 08, 2012

Selling New York S5E13: The Art of Persuasion

CurbedJuly 06, 2012
Brokers in last night's Selling New York had occasion to break out their persuasion when it came to convincing their clients that BKB (Broker Knows Best)! Mama Bear and her cubs shift into staging madness for their Upper East client who has a temptation for overdecoration. Will the seller stage a staging strike and tell Mama to take a hike? Then, a real estate prez tries to convince a developer that his Tribeca loft building conversion should expand beyond mere studios. Will the developer be miffed at the square footage shift? I promise not to give you the short shrift in this ALL-OUT shifty nifty partially heat-stroke induced recap! P.S. Happy Two Days After Independence Day!

Will there be fireworks in this episode? >>


It's fancy lunch time at the Upper East Side's Agata & Valentina and Mama Michele Kleier and her cubs, Samantha and Sabrina, are snacking with long time client Mary Canter. Mary and her hubs are selling the unit Mama sold them six years ago at 408 East 79th Street,The Arcadia. Where are they moving? The Land O' Liberty Bell!

Mama's reaction to Philly:

She's all "PhilaHOWCOULDYOU,YOUCITYTRAITORdelphia?!" Mary's daughters live there and they want to be closer to the grand/kids, something Mama completely understands given her "must live within three-block radius of children" rule.

The problem with Mary's pad? "She bought a modern apartment but does not have modern taste," says Mama.

A gawk at Mary's 2BR/2BA ode to old-school style:

Mama is concerned that buyers will be distracted by Mary's many, many beloved items such as tchotchkes on the wall, ornate crap and stenciled stuff. Sensing Mary will not agree to a complete overhaul, Sab and Sam have a suggestion: NEUTRALIZE!

Sab in Wonder Woman mode about to neutralize the you know what out of Mary's place. Note her gold dress belt doubles as a neutralizing whip:

To further persuade Mary to drink the neutralizing Kool-Aid, Mama and co. show her a comparable yet sleekified apartment in the same building listed at $1.85 million:

After seeing the spotless space, Mary reluctantly agrees to allowing a stager to soup up her apartment. Mama heads to Gracious Home and calls on designer Rebekah Brown for some decor 911.

The cure? This pillow!

Mama is digging the purple and sparkly motif and gives a thumbs up to Rebekah's brighter, lighter vision. But will Mary modify her taste so drastically for the sake of a sale?

Yes she will! Next, Mama and Rebekah meet up at Mary's for a style shift. Dark pillows get replaced by glittery ones. Seventy-five percent of her things get whisked aside in favor of clean lines and unobstructed views. Rebekah maintains that the look is still "big and bold," but less of it.

Now open house ready, it's time for the big reveal! What a diff a few cosmetic changes and a ton of hiding of things like this makes!

A post-staged look at the $1.85 million, 1,424-square-foot unit:

Later, at lunch, Mama and cubs give Mary an update: there are two offers on the table, both low-ballin' in the mid $1.5 millions. Mary ain't biting, but Mama suggests a counter offer to keep potential buyers talking. Mary wonders if a short-term rental might be a good option since the comp apartment ended up doing that, to which Mama says HELLZ NO. A counter offer is the way to go, mmm'k?

Did Mama's strategy work? The update informs that one of the offers increased to $1.65 million...aaaand, my update informs that the listing is still open and has been decreased to $1.65 million. Seems like the offer fell through, but the downshift in price stuck!


CORE head Shaun Osher has his eyes on securing the S&M (Sales & Marketing, people!) for a new shmancy converted loft building at 335 Broadway in Tribeca. He meets the Israeli developers,IGI, at the mid-construction building to pitch CORE's services.

Shaun and the IGI men in hard hats looking like a trio of...

Shaun sees a $300 million sales potential in the development, but isn't keen on IGI's square footage strategy:

Shaun is adamant about having more 3 bedroom units and less studios since that's WHAT THE PEOPLE WANT. And to further prove his point, he takes Eldad Blaustein, one of the Israeli dudes, on a tricked out Tribeca tour:

Rule #1 in Tribeca: everyone must wear black coats, sunglasses and super serious expressions:

Shaun calls Tribeca "the most changed neighborhood in NYC," what with all the babies, restaurants, and boutiques.

Why is there no mention of the frightening influx of inflatable zebras and superheroes threatening the sidewalks?

It's like that mom pushing the stroller doesn't even notice her baby is about to be lightly swatted at by Spiderman.

Eldad appreciates Shaun's tour, but wait! There's more tour! Shaun takes Eldad to a comparable converted loft development at 95 Reade Street to show him a 2BR/2BA unit listed at $2.25 million:

With the prospect of raking more shekels with larger units, Eldad is starting to see the light. Meanwhile, Shaun is wondering if Eldad is going to take his suggestions and WILL HE GET THE LISTING? Or will Eldad take the suggestions and run away to another agency?

Later, at Tribeca's Plein Sud, Eldad reveals he is going to reconfigure the units to mostly two- and three-bedrooms with a sprinkling of studios and one-bedrooms. And, much to his dismay...Shaun is not awarded a rejection from Eldad AKA HE GOT THE PROJECT! I was trying to trick you for a sec—did it work?

The update explains that sales are set to start later this year aaaand Shaun and Eldad have already shaken hands on another project. Mazel tov!

Episode Review: It's always fun to see someone's style get subjected to a stuff-ectomy! That, and Shaun's super-sized success earns this episode 4.0 out of 5 THIS IS THE LAST NEW EPISODE FOR A WHILE, HAPPY HYDRATED SUMMER EVERYONE! cackling Kleiers.

Manhattan’s Top 75 Listing Agents

The Real DealJuly 01, 2012
John Burger has had a good year. Not only did the Brown Harris Stevens broker earn the No. 1 spot on The Real Deal’s annual ranking of Manhattan’s top listing agents, he also more than doubled his dollar volume of listings from a year ago to $411.7 million.

That number sets a new bar for the ranking, which is based on dollar volume of active Manhattan residential listings, gathered from Online Residential in mid-June. (Scroll down to see the chart of Manhattan’s top agents.)

Last year, the top agent, Brown Harris Stevens’s Paula Del Nunzio, had $358.4 million in listings. This year, she ranked No. 3, with $293.8 million. That tally includes an exclusive for the Woolworth Mansion at 4 East 80th Street, which has been included in Del Nunzio’s total since it was listed in March 2011 for $90 million.

Rounding out the top five are the Corcoran Group’s Carrie Chiang at No. 2 with $316.2 million in listings, Prudential Douglas Elliman’s Dolly Lenz at No. 4 with $255.1 million and Sotheby’s International Realty’s Serena Boardman at No. 5 with $198.9 million.

Collectively, the 75 agents with the highest dollar volume of listings had more than $6.34 billion worth of properties on the market, up 8 percent from last year’s total of about $5.96 billion.

Burger — who employs one full-time assistant but otherwise works alone — chalks up his success to the network of clients he has built over a 28- year career.

“Those people have fortunately come back to me over the years for all of their real estate needs and the needs of the next generation,” he told TRD during a phone interview from London, where he was attending a birthday party for a friend and client.

A Manhattan native, Burger was 22 years old when he obtained his real estate license, lured by the chance to work with both investment assets and people. “It’s sales and marketing, like many other forms of sales and marketing, but the end of the pipeline is somebody’s home, and that’s a very meaningful process to be involved in,” he said.

But this year has been a particularly successful one for Burger, thanks to eight-figure transactions like the $34.6 million sale of William Lie Zeckendorf’s co-op at 927 Fifth Avenue, and listings like a private investor’s full-floor co-op at 944 Fifth Avenue, priced at $50 million.
In addition, there are outside factors contributing to Burger’s — and other agents’ — jump in dollar volume of listings this year.

With the presidential election looming, homeowners may have a heightened sense of urgency to sell before new capital gains tax rates take effect, Burger said. He has also noted a “newfound confi- dence” in the Manhattan market.

Burger listed the unit at 944 Fifth, which comes with 70 feet of Central Park frontage and a separate guest apartment, on June 1. He declined to say whether the seller had received any offers since, but said interest in the home was “very strong.”

At another of Burger’s listings at 907 Fifth Avenue — a combination of three apartments that can be reconfigured back to architect J.E.R. Carpenter’s original 18-room layout — the seller bumped up the asking price to $29 million in May. It first went on the market for $25 million in January.

Trophy listings

This year, several brokers are appearing in the top 10 for the first time, due in part to the presence of several extremely high-priced trophy properties on the market. Landing just one of these ultraexpen- sive listings can propel a broker into the top echelon of Manhattan listing agents.

Consider Noble Black, a former securities lawyer who joined Corcoran in 2005.

Black has never ranked on TRD’s top 75 list, but this year he is No. 7 with $135.1 million in listings. In January, he and Corcoran colleague Bonnie Pfeifer Evans listed songwriter Denise Rich’s pent- house at 785 Fifth Avenue for $65 million. (Evans, who frequently teams up with Black on listings, is a personal acquaintance of Rich’s.) Billed as the largest-ever penthouse offered on Fifth Avenue, the 20-room apartment is the third most expensive home on the market, according to StreetEasy.

Black is also listing a townhouse at 101 East 63rd Street — formerly the home of the late fashion designer Halston — for $38.5 million.
But despite a longstanding interest in real estate, Black almost didn’t join the profession: He was intimidated by staking his livelihood on commissions.

Then, while he was working at a law firm, the producers of “The Apprentice” approached the hand- some young New Yorker about auditioning for the reality show. He didn’t get the part, but he did land a brief consulting gig with the production company. Then, instead of returning to his legal ca- reer, he reevaluated his professional life and decided to give real estate a shot.

That decision appears to be paying off: Black said he is now making more money than the partners at his ex-firm.

So would Black ever return to law? “Oh, God no,” he said.

Coming in one spot below, at No. 8, is real estate veteran Sharon Baum, director of Corcoran’s ex- clusive properties division, with $127.5 million in listings. Despite her long history in Manhattan real estate, Baum is making her first appearance on TRD’s top 10 list. (She did not appear on the 2011 ranking, and was No. 22 in 2010.)

Baum is one of four brokers sharing a $72 million co-exclusive listing at 828 Fifth Avenue. The spread is actually made up of three units: a duplex maisonette off the lobby; a triplex apartment spanning the second, third and fourth floors; and a penthouse on the sixth floor. The apartments previously belonged to the skyscraper developer Howard Ronson.

The other brokers on the listing include Corcoran’s Deborah Grubman and Leighton Candler, who occupy TRD’s No. 11 and No. 22 spots, respectively, as well as Stribling & Associates broker Alexa Lambert, who landed at No. 14.

“Do we like having it to ourselves better? Sure,” Baum said of sharing the listing with Stribling. “[But] we’re fine working with Alexa, because she’s terrific.”

Baum estimates that about 90 percent of her deals take place on Fifth Avenue, Park Avenue and Central Park West, plus the “great side streets” in the area. A former banking executive who was a member of the first Harvard Business School class to include women, Baum works with her younger brother, David Enloe, and three other team members.

Today’s market is unlike any other in her experience — not a seller’s market, not a buyer’s market and not quite a changing market either, Baum said.

“In a changing market, nobody’s right,” Baum said. “In today’s market, for the first time that I’ve ever seen it, I feel that everybody’s right.”
In other words, both buyers and sellers stand to benefit from market conditions, such as low interest rates, off-peak prices and a shortage of good properties.

To be sure, measuring brokers by dollar volume of listings — itself a moving target — does not give a complete picture of a broker’s abilities, since it eliminates important factors such as buyer’s side representation and closed deals — data that can’t be obtained in a comprehensive way presently.

The ranking also excludes certain properties, such as a $65 million townhouse at 7 West 54th Street, which is zoned commercial, noted Brown Harris Stevens’ Del Nunzio, who has the listing. Del Nun- zio, a townhouse specialist, told TRD she got into real estate “through a love of architecture and its transformation of space and light.”

There are a number of other brokers this year with listings above $50 million.

Multiple ways to the top

Sotheby’s duo Elizabeth Sample and Brenda Powers have a $60 million listing at the Time Warner Center. After TRD collected the data, however, they took the property off the market for the slow summer months; the owner hopes to get a better price for the unit in September, Sample said.

“He is willing to wait for the market to catch up to where he wants to sell his apartment,” she added.

Sample and Powers are also listing a 4,825-square-foot unit at the Time Warner Center for $42.5 million.

All told, Sample and Powers had $162.9 million in listings, pushing them up to the No. 6 spot, a significant jump from their No. 19 position last year when they were still at Brown Harris Stevens. In 2010, they were No. 5.

Sample attributed their success in part to the strength of the luxury market.

“Just across the board, there are some record-breaking numbers — record-breaking dollars per square foot — and there is extremely limited inventory because there is such strong demand again,” she said.

Of course, marketing one or two trophy properties is not the only way to pull in hundreds of millions of dollars in listings.

Corcoran’s Chiang, for example, works on new developments as well as individual homes. Currently, she and her team are managing sales for the Cassa NY Hotel & Residences at 70 West 45th Street, where 39 units are on the market, ranging from about $951,000 to $20.3 million. (Chiang and Board- man, of Sotheby’s, both declined to be interviewed for this article.)

Chiang took over the marketing of Cassa from Ilan Bracha, founder of Keller Williams NYC, in Feb- ruary after Chinese firm HNA Property Holding Group acquired the building from an affiliate of Assa Properties.

Bracha is No. 18 on TRD’s ranking, with $100.4 million in listings.

Meanwhile, the Kleier team — made up of Michele Kleier and daughters Sabrina Kleier Morgenstern and Sa- mantha Kleier Forbes — ranked No. 9 with 20 properties on the market. Their $127.5 million in listings range from a junior one-bedroom for $459,000 to a six-story mansion at 158 East 61st Street asking $13.5 million. The trio, which appears on HGTV’s “Selling New York,” debuted on the top 10 for the first time this year after coming in at No. 25 in 2011 and No. 51 in 2010.

Elliman’s Lenz seems to take a similarly diverse approach to list- ings.

Her exclusives include a three-bed-room unit at 15 Central Park West priced at $35 million — which Lenz called a “bargain” during an appearance on Bloomberg TV inthe spring — and fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld’s three-bedroom apartment at 50 Gramercy Park North, now asking $4.95 million.

Ranked at No. 10 is Elliman’s Leonard Steinberg, who works closely with Hervé Senequier and seven other team members.
The Leonard Steinberg Group has a total of $127.3 million in listings, including the $11.5 million triplex penthouse and two other units at the Arman, an eight-unit condo building at 482 Greenwich Street where they are overseeing sales.

The group is also listing 54 East 81st Street, a 7,500-square-foot townhouse that is undergoing a gut renovation, available for $17.95 million.

If you don’t have a product to sell, you have to create it,” said Stein- berg, a former fashion designer. He realized long ago that he’d rather be involved in the conceptual stage of new developments, he said, rather than merely executing a developer’s vision.

In the next few months, Steinberg plans to start marketing 150 Charles Street, a 98-unit West Village condo conversion developed by the Wit- koff Group.

Steinberg called the project the “most exciting” one he has ever worked on.

“It is shrouded in a veil of secrecy,” he said, “but when the veil is re- vealed, it will be beyond anything anyone’s ever expected downtown.”

Counting Condos

The Real DealJuly 01, 2012
New development condos have been in the spotlight recently, thanks in part to the success of Extell Development’s One57.
In May, Extell announced that the building (after hitting the market six months earlier) had sold 50 percent of its units, and had reached a milestone of $1 billion in sales. The 90-story glass tower, which topped off last month, also announced that one of its penthouses had sold for somewhere between $90 and $100 million, a new high mark for condo prices in New York City.

Extell president Gary Barnett told The Real Deal that the lack of new construction in the last few years has helped drum up demand for his project.

“For the next couple of years, we’re probably the only game in town — especially for that kind of quality,” he said.

But One57 isn’t the only new development in the city doing well. The median listing price for new development condos in Manhattan grew by 10 percent in May to $1.49 million, up from the same period of last year, according to a report released by listings aggregator StreetEasy.

Contract activity and median sales prices for new homes in Manhattan and Brooklyn also increased year-over-year, the report said.

major Manhattan and Brooklyn for-sale buildings with at least five sponsor units still on the market. We found around 55 buildings in Manhattan, and roughly 20 in Brooklyn. We also took stock of the projects currently in the pipeline and slated to hit the market in the next several years.
The condos on our list came from StreetEasy, which often receives advance information about upcoming new developments, as well as from brokers, developers and news reports.
It’s tricky to pin down exact figures about units in the pipeline, since developers often keep details under wraps when a project is in the planning stages. But TRD’s analysis found more than 50 new condo buildings — roughly half in Manhattan and half in Brooklyn — some with hundreds of new units on the drawing board. The Marketing Directors put the number of condo units expected to hit the market in the next several years at about 5,580. In contrast, around 7,500 new condo units per year are absorbed in the city annually, according to the firm.

As a result of this inventory shortage, prices are expected to rise for all condos, new and old.

“There’s not a whole lot of people going crazy [building new developments,]” Barnett added. “It’s not easy to get projects done. It’s not easy to get financing. The leverage levels are way down.”

Extell, he noted, has several projects in the pipeline, including the 68-unit Helmsley Carlton House, a former hotel property set to return as a luxury condo in 2013.

Read on for a closer look at the Manhattan and Brooklyn buildings that hit the market in 2012, and a sneak peak at what’s coming down the pike.

The Citizen (29 units)
124 West 23rd Street

Sales launched in early April at the Citizen, a 16-story doorman condo building developed by Anbau Enterprises. But Anbau told The Real Deal last month that sales at the building had been temporarily suspended in order to complete construction at the property over the summer.

Iva Spitzer, an executive vice president at the Corcoran Group, which is handling sales at the property, said it was difficult to market the building with no units to show prospective buyers.

Sales will relaunch in September, a spokesperson for the developer said, with prices ranging from $650,000 to about $4 million. The project is currently 45 percent sold, according to Stephen Glascock of Anbau.

The Abingdon (10 units)
607 Hudson Street
West Village

Flank Architects purchased this former nursing home for $33.3 million last January and converted it into condos. Two penthouses, priced at $21 million and $19.5 million, hit the market in April, and six of the building’s other units came on the market last month.
The decision to bring the top-tier apartments to the market first was made to allow prospective penthouse buyers to customize their apartments (and possibly combine units) before other buyers came in, according to Tim Crowley, managing director at Flank.
The two penthouses are both in contract for close to their asking prices, Crowley said.

The remaining condos, which are nearing completion, are all larger than 3,200 square feet. The smallest, which is 3,263 square feet, is asking $8.75 million. The largest, which is 3,537 square feet, is on the market for $10.75 million.

Meanwhile, two ground-floor units at the base of the building will hit the market this fall, Crowley said.
Chelsea Green (51 units)
151 West 21st Street

Chelsea Green, a 14-story condo, hit the market in late May and was already 50 percent sold by the end of last month.

Sales in the 51-unit building so far have averaged approximately $1,396 per square foot, for a total of $31 million, according to Corcoran Sunshine, the exclusive marketing agent for the property. Construction is currently underway, with occupancy slated for fall 2013.
Developed by Alfa Development — the team behind the fast-selling, 36-unit Village Green at 311 East 11th Street — the project is comprised of one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments, in addition to a four-bedroom penthouse with a private roof terrace.
In March 2011, Alfa bought the land — which included the four brownstones that used to sit on the site — and development rights from Extell for $17.14 million.

The property has incorporated green technology into its designs, including energy-efficient dishwashers and water-conserving faucets.
The Arman (8 units)

482 Greenwich Street

Sales launched in February at the Arman, a boutique nine-story condo under construction on the site of what was previously the studio of the late painter and sculptor Arman.

The eight-unit, Karl Fischer–designed building now has only three units remaining, according to developer Ben Shaoul of Magnum Real Estate Group. The building, which is scheduled for occupancy in the fall, features full-floor, three-bedroom units of approximately 2,470 square feet. The remaining units are priced from $3.9 to $6 million.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Arman’s wife gave Magnum the land in 2005, a year after the artist’s death, in exchange for several residences at the building as well as a parking space.

The building is being marketed by Leonard Steinberg and Hervé Senequier of Prudential Douglas Elliman. (See “The all-star team.”)
225 Rector Place (289 units)

Battery Park City
Emerging from years of controversy, the 289-unit condo conversion at 225 Rector Place returned to the market in May after a three-year hiatus.

Approximately 180 units are now on the market, priced between $475,000 and $1 million, with 12 more penthouses being held back till the fall.

The Related Companies first constructed the property in 1985 as a rental, then in 2005 sold it to developer Yair Levy, who planned to convert it to a condo. But Levy defaulted on his loans and the condo buyers there sued him over incomplete construction.
As has been widely reported, Related bought the building out of foreclosure last summer for $82.8 million.

As The Real Deal previously reported, a state Supreme Court judge ordered Levy last August to pay $7.4 million in restitution to the condominium, and permanently banned him from selling real estate in New York State after he was found guilty of spending millions of dollars of the building’s reserve fund money on personal and general business expenses.

Under Levy, 25 percent of the units in the building were sold. In the month since Related restarted sales, the company has sold an additional 10 percent of the units, to reach a total of 35 percent sold, a spokesperson for the developer said.

422W20 (36 units)
422 West 20th Street

At press time, there were only six units remaining at 422W20, the 36-unit condo developed by the Brodsky Organization, according to Corcoran Sunshine, the exclusive marketing agent for the building. The project — which is just two blocks from Brodsky’s Chelsea Enclave — hit the market in March.

The building, which was most recently used as a dormitory for married General Theological Seminary students, is slated to be ready for occupancy by the end of the summer.

The project includes one- to three-bedroom units ranging from $640,000 to $2.1 million. It has been selling quickly, thanks in part to its relatively affordable prices compared with other developments in the High Line–adjacent neighborhood, according to recent news reports.

Outside of this project, there are currently only 10 one-bedrooms on the market in Chelsea priced for less than $750,000, according to StreetEasy.

Walker Tower (50 units)
212 West 18th Street
This conversion of the Verizon building in Chelsea, designed in 1929 by architect Ralph Walker, came on the market last month, with 50 condo units priced between $3,000 and $10,000 per square foot. Units range in size from 1,350 to 6,500 square feet.

The project is a joint venture between Michael Stern’s JDS Development and the acquisition and development firm Property Markets Group. It was financed in part by Barry Sternlicht’s Starwood Capital.

Core brokers Vickey Barron and Emily Beare are heading up sales. Architecture firm Cetra/Ruddy oversaw the conversion of the building to condos.

Verizon, which previously used the 24-story building to store copper wire for landlines, is retaining ownership of the second through seventh floors, which it will use as offices.

250 East 57th Street (320 rentals/condos)

This $700 million, 1 million-square-foot, mixed-use project is currently rising at 250 East 57th Street and Second Avenue. It’s a partnership between the World-Wide Group, headed by Victor Elmaleh, and the Educational Construction Fund, a government fund that encourages development that includes new schools.

ECF, which owns the land, in 2006 selected World-Wide to develop the 1.5-acre site. The project is slated to include a Whole Foods Market, two new schools, a 59-story residential tower with 320 rental and condo units and an additional 78,000 square feet of retail.
The new, 38,000-square-foot Whole Foods is scheduled to open in the fall, while the residential units will be completed in a second phase of development beginning by the end of the year.

Stribling Marketing Associates has been tapped to head up sales. A spokesperson for World-Wide said it was not immediately clear when sales would begin.

211 East 13th Street (82 units)
East Village

New Jersey–based Ironstate Development is partnering with developers Charles Blaichman, Abram Shnay and Shnay’s son, Scott, on this condo building, which is slated for completion next year.

The developers bought the lots that comprise the site for $33.2 million last October from Builtgross Associates, which had owned them since 1986.

The project, designed by BKSK Architects, will feature a mix of studios and one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments, plus 4,500 square feet of ground-floor retail space on East 14th Street.

The Marketing Directors will handle sales at the building, which is slated to break ground this summer. Sales will launch in the spring of 2013, according to the sales team.

Ironstate was not immediately available for comment.
The Printing House (TBA units)
421 Hudson Street
West Village

In January, a group led by real estate investment fund Belvedere Capital and private equity firm Angelo Gordon & Co. purchased this converted rental property — a former industry printing house — for $67.6 million from Mountbatten Equities.

The purchase included the roughly 105 rental units in the 183-unit building. Mountbatten had previously sold the remaining units as condos.

The January sale came shortly after Mountbatten and Taconic Investment Partners settled a lengthy legal battle over the property. Taconic claimed it had a deal to buy the apartments for $77.25 million in 2010, but that Mountbatten reneged and was only using the
company as a “stalking horse” to find a rival bidder.

The new owners, who ended up paying nearly $10 million less than what Taconic was supposed to pay, are now ready to sell the remaining units as condos. They’ve hired rental-to-condo conversion specialist Myles Horn, principal of MJH Birchwood, and sales are set to begin in September.

Ninety-five of the apartments in the building will be upgraded, and some will be combined to form larger units, The Real Deal has reported. It is unclear exactly how many units will be hitting the market in total, however.

Tricia Cole of Corcoran Sunshine is advising the owners on sales and marketing strategy. However, Corcoran Sunshine is not officially handling sales at the building yet.

345Meatpacking (37 units)
345 West 14th Street

Thirty-seven luxury condos are slated to be built at the site where rapper Jay-Z and hotelier Andre Balazs tried and failed to build a hotel.
After the investors defaulted on the property’s $52 million senior loan in August 2009, Jay-Z reached a settlement with the lenders and deeded the property back to them for the value of the senior mortgage.

DDG Partners, the developer of 41 Bond Street, then acquired the project’s loan at a discount from Capital Source Finance and took control of the site in 2010.

The condo units are slated to come on the market by the first quarter of 2013, according to Joe McMillan, CEO of DDG.

The Madison Jackson (110 units)
371 Madison Street
Lower East Side

Sales at Michael Bolla’s 110-unit condo project were supposed to launch this spring, but were bumped back to the summer, according to a spokesperson for Bolla, who did not respond to a request for comment on the reason for the delay.

A managing director at Elliman, Bolla — who had previously restored a historic townhouse in Chelsea — partnered with the Sung family on this Lower East Side project.

The six-story building, which was formerly home to a school, will offer loftlike units ranging from 700 to 1,600 square feet. There are also plans for a 7,000-square-foot penthouse. Prices are slated to start at $542,000.

As previously reported, the building will be designed to appeal to the Orthodox Jewish community with 24-hour kosher and vegan food service, and a pool with designated single-gender swimming hours. Bolla also stepped in to save a Judaica store in the area earlier
this year by arranging financing for the retailer who was having trouble making rent payments.

The Toy Building (145 units)
1107 Broadway

The Witkoff Group is working on a highly anticipated condo conversion of this former International Toy Center building, but it’s not clear when the units will hit the market.

Witkoff, which acquired the 16-story property from the now-defunct Lehman Brothers in a one-day auction last September, will reportedly convert the building to 145 condos. The company, headed by Steven Witkoff, reportedly paid $190 million for the building, and is planning to plow another $100 million into renovations.

According to news reports, a Morgan Stanley real estate fund is providing financing for the conversion.

The building has been vacant since 2007. It was previously owned by Tessler Developments, but was returned to Lehman, its lender, when Tessler defaulted on its loan in 2010 — two years after Lehman declared bankruptcy. (Lehman emerged from bankruptcy last year and is now in the process of liquidating its assets.)

Witkoff did not respond to requests for comment.

150 Charles Street (98 units)
West Village

In the next few months, Elliman agents Leonard Steinberg, Raphael De Niro and Darren Sukenik will start marketing a new condo conversion at 150 Charles Street.

The conversion, also a Witkoff Group project, will have 98 units. Pricing has not yet been released. The property was formerly the Whitehall Storage building.

The new Cook + Fox–designed building, which retains the warehouse’s old three-story façade, is slated to add up to 20 stories, according to news reports. Not surprisingly, Witkoff has faced criticism from the local community over the proposed height. Neighbors argue that the addition will block light in their buildings. Plans also call for a series of waterfalls cascading from the roof to the street level of the building.

20 Henry (38 units)
20 Henry Street
Brooklyn Heights

Developer Urban Realty Partners and its equity partner, insurance giant AIG, started converting this former candy factory to condominiums in 2007. But Urban defaulted on its loan from Bank of New York, and AIG collapsed during the financial crisis.
Then in 2010, Canyon-Johnson Urban Fund, the development team that includes NBA legend Magic Johnson, bought the stalled project, according to public reports. Bank of New York sold the note to Canyon-Johnson at a roughly 25 percent discount off the unpaid loan balance. It is not clear exactly how much Canyon-Johnson paid.

But sales started in February and, at press time, 25 of the project’s 38 units were in contract, according to Stribling & Associates, which is handling sales in the building.

The project is slated for completion later this year, with closings expected to begin in late summer.

“Current sales are averaging more than $1,000 per square foot, and four of the six penthouses are in contract,” said Michael Chapman, an executive vice president at Stribling.

Fino 122 (19 units)
122 Adelphi Street
Fort Greene

New Fort Greene condo Fino 122 launched sales in February. The 11-story property is comprised of one-, two- and three-bedroom units with price tags ranging from $295,000 to $3.3 million.

The building, developed by Fort Greene resident and Venezuela native Antonio Calvo, is more than 15 percent sold, according to Halstead Property Development Marketing, which is handling the sales.

The project features private, keyed elevator access to all apartments, parking, a private roof terrace and a fitness and recreation room.

The project is Calvo’s fourth in Fort Greene. He told TRD that he first acquired the site in 2005, but spent three years acquiring surrounding air rights before starting construction. The development was held up for another year because of an error on a document
he submitted to the city Department of Buildings, he said.

The Venetian (33units)
447 Avenue P

A decade after it was first planned, the Venetian condo in the Midwood section of Brooklyn finally came on the market in May.

As The Real Deal has reported, Sitt Asset Management (no relation to developer Joe Sitt) assembled the necessary parcels for the project in 2002 and 2003, with plans to bring a 54,000-square-foot project to the site. But due to a slow market during the recession, the developers delayed bringing the project to market until now.

The property, which was designed to look like a European Renaissance building, is being marketed by Elliman’s Avi Voda and Rachel Medalie. Interiors are by architect Costas Kondylis.

According to Voda, there are contracts out on a couple of units, but none of them have closed yet.

29 Montrose Avenue (10 units)

Apartments at 29 Montrose Avenue started coming on the market last month. The condos range from a 507-square-foot one-bedroom asking $365,000, to a 1,061-square-foot two-bedroom asking $659,000.

The project — which is being developed by the investment fund Pros Management — was stalled for more than two years, due in part to financing difficulties that arose from the debt crisis. It’s being marketed by

David Maundrell, president of, said Pros Management had also developed 189 Greenpoint Avenue and 121 Kingsland Avenue, both in Brooklyn.

Maundrell added that 50 percent of 29 Montrose is already in contract.

388 Bridge Street (144 condos, 34 rentals)
Downtown Brooklyn

The Stahl Organization broke ground earlier this year on a 590-foot residential tower at 388 Bridge Street. The SLCE Architects–designed skyscraper is slated to include 34 rental units and 144 condos.

The $265 million project has been in the planning stages for several years, with the developer painstakingly assembling batches of air rights. According to news reports, a loanfrom an investment group led by M&T Bank at the end of last year finally allowed the development to move forward.

Upon completion in 2013, the building will be the tallest in the borough, but not for long: Just across the street at 88 Willoughby, AvalonBay Communities is planning a 596-foot, 860-unit rental tower. Construction on that project is not slated to begin until the end of
the year.

Stahl did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Russian Roulette

The Real DealJuly 01, 2012
Between the lion’s head doorknocker, ornate stone fireplaces and pastel-colored parlor, the mansion at 973 Fifth Avenue looks like something out of an Edith Wharton novel.

But its $42 million contract price, reported late last month after the home spent a year on the market with Brown Harris Stevens’s Paula Del Nunzio, is decidedly contemporary.

The deal is the latest in a string of eye-popping sales in the last quarter that, some brokers say, has prompted sellers at the high end to test their luck with listings priced above $20 million — whether the properties are worth it or not.

“There is a marked increase in the number of $20 million-plus listings, but it seems that many lack the appropriate ‘trophy property’ status necessary to justify the hefty price tag,” said Mickey Conlon, a senior vice president at the brokerage Core. “It appears as if many owners who don’t necessarily need to sell are recklessly trying their luck at unrealistic prices. Would it be unfair to call it Russian roulette?”

This phenomenon is surfacing even as year-over-year Manhattan home sales have remained flat, and entry-level apartments have gained a greater share of the market, according to the latest figures from Prudential Douglas Elliman.

In the second quarter of 2012, there were 2,647 sales of Manhattan condos and co-ops — a 14.5 percent increase over the previous quarter, but unchanged from the same period last year. The median price dropped 2.5 percent, to $829,000, from the second quarter of 2011.

Appraiser Jonathan Miller of Miller Samuel, who prepared the Elliman report, attributed the drop in prices to the high volume of entry-level units and co-ops — which tend to fetch lower prices than condos — that sold in the last three months.

“More first-time buyers moved into the housing market seeking relief from rising rents and taking advantage of falling mortgage rates,” Miller said.

That characterization is unlikely to surprise many brokers, given the oft-cited influx of buyers last season who were willing to jump on available properties.

“People understand that the market is heating up, the inventory is drying [up] and the deals are harder to come by,” said Yukyong “Kianna” Choi, a vice president with Bond New York.

At the high end, the flurry of headlines devoted to mega-deals, combined with the perception of money pouring into the Manhattan housing market from overseas, has given some sellers an even greater sense of confidence.

“Sellers and their agents are recognizing this demand [for high-end residences] and are aggressively targeting numbers previously unseen in the market,” said Corcoran Sunshine Marketing Group’s Loretta Shanahan-Bradbury, the director of sales at Manhattan House. She noted that there are currently seven listings on the market in Manhattan for more than $50 million, up from three at this time last year.

Among the pricey listings to hit the market in June were art collector John de Neufville’s West Village townhouse, listed for $20 million; a full-floor co-op at 944 Fifth Avenue for $50 million (see “The all-star team”); financier Eyal Levya’s Millennium Tower combination unit for $27 million; and real estate developer Edward Baron Cohen’s Upper East Side townhouse for $20 million.

But not all properties are worth the eyebrow-raising price tags, brokers said.

“I haven’t seen an increase in $20 million listings. I have seen an increase in $13 million listings that think they are $20 million listings,” quipped Julia Hoagland, a senior vice president with Brown Harris Stevens. “Everyone wants to meet their Russian fertilizer soul mate.”
That, of course, is a reference to Dimitry Rybolovlev, the Russian fertilizer kingpin who famously closed on Sanford Weill’s 15 Central Park West penthouse for the $88 million asking price. The deal wiped out previous Manhattan price records.

But other ultraexpensive transactions have followed, from the $52.5 million spread at 740 Park Avenue that became the most expensive Manhattan co-op sale on record in April, to casino mogul Steve Wynn’s $70 million purchase in May of a palatial pad at the Ritz-Carlton Residences. These deals have skewed what sellers see as legitimate asking prices, brokers said.

“The media frenzy surrounding the high-end market has many convinced that there are an infinite number of ultrawealthy [individuals] who are ready, willing and able to drop whatever is asked of them to snap up these properties,” said Doug Heddings, founder of Heddings Property Group. “That just isn’t the case.” Plus, as summer officially kicks off, the high end of the market is likely to slow down — a trend that is already apparent in the number of contracts signed for luxury properties.

In the last full week of June, there were 11 contracts signed for Manhattan homes listed at $4 million or more, down from 15 the week before and 17 the week before that, according to market reports from residential brokerage Olshan Realty.

“Summer’s here, and the predictable seasonal slowdown seems to be upon us,” Olshan Realty president Donna Olshan noted in her latest report.

Elizabeth Sample, a luxury broker at Sotheby’s International Realty, said she would never list an ultrapricey residence in July, when potential billionaire buyers are focused on relaxation, not real estate.

“They’re in Monte Carlo,” she said. “They’re in the Hamptons.”

Selling New York S5E12: Upscale Upsizing

CurbedJune 29, 2012
We got a tour de Upper West Side's luxe living spaces on last night's "no listing less than 6 million dollars" episode of Selling New York. A couple with 4 kids bursting at the well-made seams of their apartment looks to the ultimate Mama for a spacious Upper West Side spread. Will their expansion be the mansion of their domestic dreams? Then, our eyeballs get a treat when the dashing CORE prez presides over a Midtown Manhattan penthouse listing. Will the testy developer demand more attention than he's worth? Do whatever it takes to feel fancy (AKA scoop out ice cream into dish, rather than scarfing straight from container) because you're about to get regaled with recap riches!
Yep, we've got dollar signs in our eyes! >>


Oh, it's good to be a Kleier these days! Mama Michele has the task of finding her clients, Cassey and financial guru Angel Morales, a giant apartment in the Upper West Side for their equally giant family (4 kiddies!). Her first stop? 535 West End Avenue to wow them with a $9.7 million 5BR/5BA abode:

"It's perfect!" squees Angel. Mama's commission future is so bright, she's gotta wear shades HEY-OOO!

Actually, she has a scratched cornea. Owie!

Post-perusal, Angel drops a caveat on the sitch—Mama also needs to find a one-bedroom apartment in the same building for his mama! That's her current set-up now. But the building only has a sad studio available...I guess the penthouse is out of the question?

With the proper parameters in mind, Mama hops a few blocks down to The Apthorp at 390 West End Avenue. R.I.P. Nora Ephron who wrote a New Yorker piece about the building a few years ago.

Mama offers a combo platter full of Apthorp options: A custom 4,871-square-foot duplex apartment for a chill $10.39 million with a side of 1BR/1.5BA grandmother unit for the value price of $2.65 million!

This is only part of the whopper-size pad. The stairs for the second level would have to be installed:

Grandmama'spotential get-up:

I'd like to be Angel's mother, please. Body swap!

Cassey loves the Apthorp's stylin' but doesn't like that renovations could take 3 months. Can I get a NEXT?

Nope! Mama is all out of options. JK! Of course she has another property up her knit sleeve. Let's go to the The Laureate at 2150 Broadway for a little from column A and a little from column B.

The Morales are muy into both the $8.5 million 6BR/6BA open spread and the adjacent $1.67 million unit for ma:

Now is a great time to reflect on how when your mom visits, you can only offer her your bed...with you in it.

Cassey and Angel love the apartments so much, they grapple Mama in a dual hug:

But LAST MINUTE DRAMZ ALERT! Mama says the one-bedroom is the only one in the building...and someone else could be bidding on it! "If we can get 'em both, we're sold," says Angel.

Later, with their offer on the table, Mama tells Angel that it's a go for the big apartment but that pesky one-bedroom has another offer. A much higher one too! Angel takes Mama's advice to amp up their bid by $100k. Will it be enough to secure both places? Is there duct tape on my window screen because my landlord won't fix it?

YES AND YES, my friends.

We can rest easy because Angel and Cassey got their apartments...but now they own four places! The two new ones and the two old ones. P.S. I am somehow not really worried about their finances.

Time for a business meeting at the business table in their old apartment:

Mama urges the couple to get their apartment open-house ready so she can list it. Grandma's already got her act together and people are interested in it. The updater explains that Mama is negotiating two offers on grandma's pad and is about to list the larger one. Two deals + two potential deals squeaked out of one client is all in a (few) days work for Mama!


It's been too long, but CORE president Shaun Osher is back on the show, this time wheelin and feelin' out developer Henry Justin's thoughts on pricing his pet penthouse project at 211 East 51st Street.

Shaun and Hen meet up in the almost done 3,175 square foot p-house for a little tete-a-tete:

Shaun advises listing the unit for $6 million, which Hen objects to with his trademark squinty-eyed DeNiro look:

Balking at the lowball price, Hen insists the $6 million isn't gonna cut it and that he needs to make a Justin-ified 10 percent. He needs $7 million. NEEDS IT.

Shaun shoots him this grizzled look in what is now an official Steely Stare-Off:

I'm not going to stand here and tell you your apartment is worth something that it's not," Shaun spits back. Stick to your guns, Shaunny Boy! Then he tells Hen that he'll have his best sales person overseeing the marketing—which, for the sake of man dramz, is not good enough for Hen.

He wants Shaun. No one else will do. "I'm depending on you," says Hen, which forces Shaun to pledge his utmost attention. This all reminds me of the time I shamed a boy into kissing me. Basically, uncomfortable confrontation has its place!

Next, a scatter-brained Shaun meets up with his team and asks them questions about what's going on with the open house. Broker Tom "Come To The Cabaret Old Friend" Postilio has a snitfit that Shaun expects them to know what's up since the listing exclusively belongs to Shaun.

Tom and Shaun then have a What's Going On?!?!?-Off via their exasperated hand gestures:

Shaun delegates marketing tasks to his team and acknowledges that he's not SuperShaun—he doesn't have time to oversee a listing AND run a business for crying out loud!

Later, Tom corners Shaun on the gritty streets of Chelsea, demanding an update about the status of the staging. "I'm going to kill two birds with one phone," Shaun quips, dialing up Hen. I might have to steal that line from him.

Hen says the—WE DID NOT SEE THIS COMING—furniture is delayed, which prompts Shaun to appoint Tom in charge of dealing with this beneath-him business.

Tom meets Hen at the p-house to judge progress and isn't impressed. Hen is fake unpleased that Tom's there instead of Shaun:
Oh god finally it's time to partaaaay, and hey!, we were there for the re-debut (the penthouse was revamped from an earlier floor plan) of the now priced $6.496 million spot:

The party was replete with roast beef treats...

...and Shaun and Hen gushing how much they love working together and how awesome everything turned out. Tom gets pats on the back for picking up Shaun's dropped broker balls (you know what I mean).

Did the mid-6 price proffer an offer? The update says that two weeks later, there was one! But, hmmm, the listing is still up, and has been lowered to $5.75 million. I smell a bargain!

Episode Review: In Real Estate Olympics, Mama wins the gold and Shaun's dramatic stylings never get old which precisely adds up to 3.0 out of 5.0 cackling WHEN DID A MILLION DOLLARS NOT BE AN UNGODLY AMOUNT OF MONEY? Kleiers.

New Listings:120 East 87th street, #R4N

Brokers WeeklyJune 29, 2012
Located at the condo building Park Avenue Court, this loft has 15-foot ceilings and nine-foot windows. An architectural staircase leads to an additional room and an open study suited for guests. The loft has maple wood floors, an open granite kitchen with stainless steel appliances, spacious closets and a washer/dryer. Additional amenities include a 24-hour doorman, porter service, live-in super, neighboring garage, play room, fitness center, yoga room, private courtyards and a swim¬ming pool. Agents: Vickey Barron and Romina Frecha, CORE.

Walker Tower: Historic Icon + Modern Luxury Will Cost You

The ObserverJune 28, 2012
The Art Deco elegance, the trendy Chelsea location, the lush amenities with brand names all in caps. We knew it would cost a lot to live at Walker Tower, we just didn’t know it would be this expensive.

As of Tuesday night, sales commenced at the converted at architect Ralph Thomas Walker’s office tower at 212 West 18th Street. The units, which range from one- and five-bedrooms are going for between $4.5 million and $50 million, The Wall Street Journal reports. (The developer is even considering asking $94 million for a combined duplex on the top two floors).

Those prices seem a little cheeky to us, even given the fact that another downtown temple of opulence—the Skyloft penthouse—recently went back on the market asking $48 million. After all, the downtown record is still remains the dizzyingly high, but not stratospheric $31.5 million condo in Robert A.M. Stern-designed Superior Ink.

Given that the developers are not exactly giving the units away,we’re quite impressed to hear that 25 percent of them have already sold.
But then, downtown doesn’t have all that many iconic, old-fashioned buildings that one might call home. There is an abundance of ever-rising new-new glass towers, but nothing quite like the Walker Tower. Especially since Walker Tower, built in 1929 before neighborhood height limits existed, is basically the tallest building around.

And the just-revealed model units are catching the eyes of big-name brokers, presumably on the hunt for their deep-pocketed clients. Besides good views and the elegance of the art deco era, what does an apartment at Walker Tower get the buyer? Large private terraces, French herringbone beveled oak flooring, tilt-and-turn windows and hydronic radiant floor heating. The five-bedroom units also seem to display a trend that’s become popular in recent conversions like Manhattan House, catering to wealthy New Yorkers love of space.

Two Midtown Condos Duke It Out for the Buyer With $3M

CurbedJune 28, 2012
Imagine you have around $3,000,000 to spend on an apartment and you've narrowed it down to two fairly similar co-ops. How do you make up your mind? The answer is simple: you shove them into a metaphorical cage and let them battle it out until one emerges victorious. It's time for Real Estate Deathmatch. (Trying to decide between two places in real life? Send them in to the tipline and let complete strangers make this very important decision for you.)

211 Madison Avenue, aka Morgan Court, is a duplex, 321 square feet larger, and $150,000 pricier, but its real standout feature is its curved walls of windows. Those are the kinds of windows you look out of while sipping a glass of scotch and thinking, "I run this town." Of course, they're also the same kind of windows you get thrown through when your hubris catches up to you and some associates of one of the guys you screwed over on your way to the top come pay you a visit. 31 East 28th Street, aka The Parkwood, does not have windows you'll get thrown through, but it has nice windows nonetheless. It's very nice. Less impressive, but much more pleasant. And way lower monthly costs.

Just Sold - 245 Seventh Ave.

NY PostJune 28, 2012
CHELSEA $7,895,000
245 Seventh Ave.

Two-bedroom, 2 1/2-bath duplex penthouse condo, 4,100 square feet, with entry gallery, living room with floating staircase to conservatory, pear-wood and limestone kitchen with skylight and French doors opening onto bi-level, 800-square-foot landscaped terrace with gas grill and hot tub; building features doorman. Common charges $2,752, taxes $4,803. Asking price $7,995,000, on market nine weeks. Brokers: Stephen McRae, Sotheby’s and Adrian Noriega, Core

Walker Tower, Restored and Reinvented Art Deco Classic in Downtown Manhattan, Launches Residential Sales

June 27, 2012
NEW YORK, June 26, 2012— JDS Development Group, Property Markets Group and CORE announce that sales have commenced at Walker Tower, the luxury condominium conversion of an iconic pre-war Art Deco building designed by the late influential architect Ralph Thomas Walker. Located at 212 West 18th Street in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood, Walker Tower has been painstakingly restored and modernized, resulting in 50 expansive condominium units (including 8 penthouses) that combine rich historic detail with all the conveniences of upscale residential living.

Built in 1929, before neighborhood height limits were enacted, Walker Tower soars above its surroundings, offering buyers unobstructed and protected Manhattan views in all directions, including stunning views of the Hudson River, Empire State Building and Midtown Manhattan skyline, the rising One World Trade Center tower and the Statue of Liberty. Many units, which range in size from 1 to 5 bedrooms and 1,350 square feet to 6,500 square feet, feature large private terraces, a design perk attributed to Walker’s signature architectural “setbacks.”

The sweeping residences feature soaring ceilings reaching nearly 14 feet high, as well as numerous custom interior finishes, including French herringbone beveled oak flooring, tilt-and-turn windows up to 9.5’ high and 5’ wide, Smallbones of Devizes kitchen cabinetry and lighting packages designed by Kugler Ning. In addition, all residences feature hydronic radiant floor heating, state-of-the-art Crestron Home Automation Systems with 9” touchscreen displays and iPad docks, Dornbracht fixtures, full size washers and dryers, marble and limestone countertops, and Sub-Zero and Miele appliances. Select residences feature wood-burning fireplaces with marble enclosures.

The comprehensive amenities package at Walker Tower includes a 24-hour doorman, concierge, ornate lobby with patterned terrazzo floors, library lounge, children’s playroom, bicycle storage room, fitness center with yoga, sauna and steam rooms, and a landscaped common roof deck with dining area, sun lawn, observation area and covered cabana room with pantry and bar.

Ralph Walker, hailed in the New York Times as the “architect of the century,” is best known for his Lower Manhattan masterpieces, One Wall Street and the Barclay-Vesey Building, as well as for his work on the 1933 and 1939 World’s Fairs. He designed 212 West 18th Street for the New York Telephone Company, and it remained a telephone industry building until its purchase and renaming by JDS Development Group and Property Markets Group. New York-based architecture firm Cetra/Ruddy oversaw the building’s meticulous restoration and conversion.

“The location, height and beautiful original details of Walker Tower gave it great potential to be a special place to call home, but it needed the right team to execute that vision,” said Michael Stern, Managing Partner of JDS Development Group. “We’ve treated the building with great care and compassion, and once our renovation is complete, Walker Tower will honor the great Art Deco architecture of New York while also becoming a modern icon.”

CORE, the exclusive sales and marketing agent for Walker Tower, will kick off the building’s formal sales campaign with an evening event held for top brokers in Walker Tower’s model residence. The fully furnished 3,150-square-foot home features 3 bedrooms (plus a home office), 3.5 bathrooms and a private 1,026-square-foot terrace.

“Walker Tower is a superior product, and we are very excited about bringing its 50 incredible residences to the market, ” said Shaun Osher, co-founder and CEO of CORE. “The surging luxury real estate market in Manhattan shows no signs of slowing down, and we know that these discerning buyers will respond very positively to Walker Tower.”

Occupancy at Walker Tower is slated for 2013. For more information on the project, please visit or call the sales office at 212-335-1800.


Walker Tower, 25 percent sold, gets a Warm Welcome from Residential Brokers

The Real DealJune 27, 2012
Real estate power players turned out last night for the launch of Chelsea’s newest condo development.

Indeed, the opening of sales at Walker Tower — the long-awaited residential conversion by JDS Development of an Art Deco building designed in 1929 by Ralph Walker — drew much attention from the residential real estate community. Town Residential’s Wendy Maitland and Reid Price, NestSeekers’ Ryan Serhant, Prudential Douglas Elliman’s Oren Alexander, Fredrik Eklund and John Gomes, and the Corcoran Group’s Robby Browne stopped by to take a peek at the building’s model unit on the tenth floor. The tower, at 212 West 18th Street, will not be completed until next year.

“New York City has never seen a project of this caliber before, so all of the high-powered brokers who represent these luxury buyers have been anticipating the launch of sales in this incredible building,” said Shaun Osher, CEO of Core, which is heading up sales and marketing at the building.

The Real Deal also got an exclusive look at the building’s unfinished penthouse — still accessible only via an outdoor construction elevator. The unit features views of the Empire State Building to the north and the World Trade Center to the south. It will have six bedrooms in total, JDS’ Michael Stern said, noting that would-be buyers have already expressed interest.

A spokesperson for Core told The Real Deal that no two units in the building will have the same foot print. Core’s own brokers were out in force at the launch of the building. Vickey Barron, Michael Graves and Elizabeth Kee all stopped by to mingle and enjoy the crab cakes and mac-and-cheese-inspired hors d’oeuvres.

The lack of new high-end condo inventory downtown may be playing a part in the building’s success. Stern said the building is already 25 percent sold thanks to some transactions that quietly took place before the building’s launch.

Walker Tower has 50 condominium units in total priced between $3,000 and $10,000 per square foot. The average size of the homes is 3,000 square feet, with units ranging from 1,350 square feet to 6,500 square feet. It is a joint venture between JDS Development and Property Markets Group, and was financed in part by Barry Sternlicht’s Starwood Capital. Sternlicht was at the event.

The building was previously used by Verizon as a place to house copper wire for landlines. The company is retaining ownership of the second through seventh floors of the 24-story property and will use those floors as offices.

See The Views From Walker Tower's Opening Party

CurbedJune 27, 2012
Event: Walker Tower View-ing Party
In the House: People in the market for $40M apartments and those who sell them; e.g., Barry Sternlicht of Starwood Capital, Raphael De Niro, Bravo's Million Dollar Listers
Dress Code: Men—Unbuttoned expensive; fitted suits and unbuttoned shirts, except for those who didn't amass fortunes by sloppily removing their ties until right before bed. Women—business suits to power print cocktail dresses. Lots of heels to keep up with other impossibly tall women.
Music: A live five-piece jazz combo kept things swinging and classy. Those waiting for the elevators were entertained by mini-dressed violinists standing on light boxes accompanying a euro-pop soundtrack.
Menu: Full bars on the roof and inside. Steak and tomato skewers, seafood salad, shrimp with spanish sausage.
Overheard: "Wallpaper is back!"

There was a "View-ing" party for the first model unit at Walker Tower on West 18th Street last night, where guests wandered around one finished 3BR/3.5BA apartment with 14-foot-high ceilings, and gathered on its 1,100 square foot private terrace to take in the views of midtown's skyscrapers to the north and east and the sunset to the west. Walker Tower is shooting for the stars with its pricing, according to the Journal—estimates for the top floor are priced at approximately $8,400 a square foot—so big names and faces were in attendance at last night's party. Money men like Barry Sternlicht of Starwood Capital and real estate stars like Raphael De Niro and Ryan Serhant mingled as the sun set over Manhattan. The building also just launched a new web site: Walker Tower.

Developer in Chelsea Honors a Great Architect While Redesigning His Work

The New York TimesJune 26, 2012
The legacy of Ralph Walker, the great 20th-century architect whose Art Deco towers brought muscle to the New York skyline, is having a very mixed year.

One developer has named a residential conversion in Walker's honor, has invested large sums of money during the conversion to replicate building materials Walker would have used, has opened an exhibit about Walker on the ground floor and has supported a handsome new monograph, "Ralph Walker: Architect of the Century," published by Rizzoli International.

One developer has taken an 82-year-old Walker building in Chelsea and is rearranging its distinctive setback profile, has stripped its principal north and south facades of brickwork that he intends to replace with ornamental stainless bronze that Walker never envisioned, has created windows in a facade that Walker left solid because it housed elevator shafts, and plans to crown the building with spires unlike those Walker once imagined.

They are the same developer, Michael Stern, managing partner of the JDS Development Group, and the same building, an old New York Telephone Company switching building at 212 West 18th Street. Mr. Stern and Property Markets Group, a development firm, are turning the building into Walker Tower, a condominium project with 50 apartments. (Or "residences," as apartments are called by real estate brokers, who were invited to Walker Tower on Tuesday evening to see a model unit. The New York Post reported in April that the penthouse may sell for $50 million.) The $200 million project is to be completed by next June.

"We tried to respect what we could of the original design while doing what we could to make it a modern residential building," Mr. Stern said. Where new elements were introduced, he said, they were based on existing decorative motifs found in the building entrance and lobby or on archival drawings showing how Walker's design evolved.

The renovation architects, CetraRuddy, were not bound by a landmark designation and had significant latitude to alter the facade. "Changes can be made to a building if they're done sensitively, in a way that respects the integrity of the building," said John Cetra, a principal in the firm.

But the key aesthetic gesture of the renovation, replacing the central brick bays at the top and bottom of the building with ornamental metal panels, was chiefly inspired not by anything at the 18th Street building, or on Walker's résumé, or even in New York. Instead, it is a reinterpretation of the historical Bullock's Wilshire in Los Angeles.

Crowning the renovation, JDS and CetraRuddy plan to install four 40-foot needlelike spires of cast bronze at each corner of the elevator tower. Mr. Stern and Mr. Cetra found a precedent in an early drawing of the telephone building by Walker's firm, Voorhees, Gmelin & Walker, which showed four spires reaching to the sky. The spires were more elaborate than those now proposed and were never erected.

Apart from the new spires, the building's height of 328 feet will be maintained, as will its existing square footage, Mr. Stern said.

But there is an asterisk. JDS took the position, which the New York City Buildings Department accepted, that four mechanical floors should be counted as existing floor area, even though they were not covered by the certificate of occupancy, which recognized 212 West 18th Street as having 19 stories, not 23. The Buildings Department also agreed to count some of the rooftop setbacks as existing floor area. By those calculations, the building had and continues to have just over 302,000 square feet.

JDS and Cetra shifted that floor area to create more spacious (and expensive) apartments in the upper reaches of the building. Floors two through seven continue to be owned and used by Verizon, the successor to New York Telephone. In Walker's day, the building served the CHelsea and WAtkins exchanges.

Walker's masterpieces from the 1920s and '30s include official landmarks like 1 Wall Street, the former headquarters of the Irving Trust Company (designation report as a pdf from the Neighborhood Preservation Center); the Barclay-Vesey Building at 140 West Street, which is the current headquarters of Verizon (pdf); and the former Western Union headquarters at 60 Hudson Street (pdf).

JDS and CetraRuddy have gone to great lengths to preserve those areas of Walker's building at 212 West 18th Street that they are not removing. "We're working very hard to put back a lot of decorative details that were destroyed over the years," Mr. Stern said.

For instance, intricately angled coping stones and bricks have been recast. Mr. Stern said that to be true to Walker's original design, bricks were needed in five different colors and nine different shapes, none of which could be purchased off-the-shelf, though some were salvaged from other parts of the building. He also said all of the original ornamental metalwork in the lobby would be restored.

Given this dual approach - exacting restoration and liberal reinterpretation - Mr. Cetra was asked whether the final result would be a Ralph Walker building or a CetraRuddy building.

"I'm going to let history answer that question," he said.

Downtown Prices Are Set to Get Lift

The Wall Street JournalJune 26, 2012
Top buildings in Lower Manhattan typically command a fraction of the prices of uptown towers, but the developers of condos in a former Chelsea office building are betting that ultrawealthy New Yorkers will pay some of the highest prices in the city for a spot in the funky neighborhood.

The Walker Tower has been converted to condos.

The developers of Walker Tower, a converted 1929 Art Deco building designed by Ralph Thomas Walker for New York Telephone Co., are planning to put units on the market this week with prices between $4.5 million and $50 million. The developers are also contemplating asking $94 million for a combined duplex—several times the most expensive previous condo sale downtown.

"It's a gamble, certainly," said Shaun Osher, chief executive of the CORE Group, which is marketing the building. "We had a choice to go all-out and do the building justice, or do a safer route and just build railroad apartments.

The developers, JDS Development Group and Property Markets Group, chose the more risky route—investing more than $150 million in converting the building, including widening the window openings, restoring the facade and installing gracious finishes like marble bathrooms and wood-burning fireplaces.

They aimed for the top end of the market, in part, because they say an influx of tech workers, celebrities and others is creating demand for high-end product in Lower Manhattan.

"There's a perception that the youthful, new money is downtown," said Michael Stern, managing partner of JDS.

Walker Tower sits on 18th Street just west of Seventh Avenue, and a few blocks away from Google Inc.'s New York headquarters at 111 Eighth Ave., in an area that has increasingly become a hub for other technology companies. Chelsea also has a concentration of art galleries and remains relatively off the tourist radar, which brokers say attracts art-world mavens and Hollywood celebrities.

Mr. Stern's sense that well-moneyed New Yorkers were migrating south in the city helped prompt him to buy the 24-story building for $25.25 million in 2009.

Also attractive were its unusually high 14-foot ceilings on some floors and sweeping, yet surprisingly intimate views of everything from the Empire State Building to the Williamsburgh Savings Bank Tower.

Mr. Stern was riding up the elevator to see the roof of the largely vacant commercial building in September 2008, when he got an alert on his phone that Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. had collapsed. He nonetheless decided almost instantly that he wanted to buy the building and convert it into condos.

Following the pricey renovation work, the developers are seeking ambitious prices for the units. Even if the developer doesn't decide to combine the two top floors, Mr. Stern said he plans to seek $50 million for the top floor, or roughly $8,400 a square foot.

The highest price recorded for a condominium downtown is the penthouse at Superior Ink in the West Village, which sold for $31.5 million in late 2010. That is a fraction of some top recent sales at 15 Central Park West and the $115 million that developer Gary Barnett of Extell Development Co. is seeking for one penthouse at One57 on West 57th Street opposite Carnegie Hall.

Even before the official start of marketing for the apartment, about 25% of the 50 units in the building are in contract, according to the developers.

Brokers say the lack of ultra high-end sales in Lower Manhattan is due to a shortage of luxury condos offering the kind of white-glove amenities that command top prices. Other high-end condo projects are slated to come on the market in the coming months, including roughly 145 luxury condo apartments in the Toy Building in the Flatiron District, and 150 Charles St. in the West Village.

"It's going to be very telling over the next few months just how deep that market is," said Leonard Steinberg, a broker at Prudential Douglas Elliman. "There's going to be a lot of new inventory and we'll get a much clearer picture as to what is reality and what is fantasy.

Taking a Stand

The New York TimesJune 22, 2012
A SUCCESSFUL condominium depends, in large part, on owners’ paying their monthly fees promptly and in full. Delinquencies can mean less money for maintenance and amenities — and draw the ill will of fellow residents. While the sheer size of larger buildings can often blunt their impact on the budget, small buildings with a high number of delinquencies can be toxic for buyers and a millstone for sellers.

Now, with New York’s economy seemingly recovering, condominium boards are growing more aggressive in cracking down on delinquent owners, according to brokers, lawyers and board members.

Some are publicly shaming deadbeats by posting their names on hallway bulletin boards or barring them from facilities like health clubs and concierge services. Others are reflexively filing liens against owners who are more than 60 days in arrears. And boards are writing requirements into their bylaws to provide additional protections.

According to data from PropertyShark, in the first quarter of 2011 through the first quarter of 2012, condo boards in Manhattan started 111 foreclosure proceedings against owners for common-charge delinquencies, the most since January 2007, when the company first began tracking the information. The median lien amount in the first quarter of this year was more than $16,500, also the highest figure since 2007.

Alexandro Padrés has sat on the board of his building, 184 Thompson Street in Greenwich Village, for five years. Since it was converted to condominiums in 2007, the building has battled owners who fell behind with their monthly common charges and has even navigated the labyrinthine process of a bank foreclosure.

“We have had a lot of experience with this,” said Mr. Padrés, 38, a corporate lawyer who became president of the board in 2010, “and we are adopting a zero-tolerance policy. You can’t have situations where an owner is delinquent for six or seven months and just says that they forgot to pay, even though they were being sent monthly notifications. It just isn’t believable.”

To ensure payment, the building uses a number of strategies, including a 10-day grace period, after which a letter is sent to the owner. If there is no response, the property manager sends a second letter and refers the matter to the building’s lawyer. If there is still no response, the building files a lien against the unit.

Boards are becoming more proactive for a number of reasons: an improving real estate market means there is a greater likelihood that delinquent owners can sell their units for enough to repay the condominium; a proactive approach fits with condominiums’ increasing stringency on buyers’ financials; and finally, after enduring the downturn for several years, boards are growing impatient with owners who are in arrears.

“When the market was soft and there were serious problems,” said Stuart M. Saft, a chairman of the New York real estate practice at the law firm Holland & Knight, “no one wanted to go through the foreclosure process because it was expensive, time-consuming, and at the end, they might not be able to sell the apartment.”

Most buildings would still rather file a lien, a relatively quick and inexpensive process. When a lien is placed on an apartment, it makes it difficult for the owner to sell, since the buyer will want the lien satisfied before closing. Also, banks are often unwilling to refinance a mortgage or provide a new loan to the owner until the lien is removed.

At the same time, condominiums have begun employing other, nonlitigious tactics to persuade the delinquent owner to pay up. This can include barring the owner — or the owner’s tenant, if the unit is being rented — from using nonessential services in the building like the health club or the pool. Doormen may be required to stop accepting packages and deliveries. Some buildings even resort to public humiliation by posting names in common areas.

“A number of our buildings, especially those with high-level amenities, are now passing house rules that revoke the privileges of owners or their tenants who are in default for more than 60 or 90 days,” said Dan Wurtzel, the president of Cooper Square Realty, which manages more than 500 buildings in New York City.

One complex, Zeckendorf Towers at 1 Irving Place, recently instituted a rule that prohibits a tenant from paying the unit owner advance rent, so that if the owner becomes delinquent it will be able to collect directly from the tenant.

“Now, in the event the owner doesn’t keep up with the common charges, this gives the board the ability to go directly to the tenant and have them pay us,” said Lynda Deppe, a senior vice president of City Connections Realty and a resident broker at Zeckendorf Towers. “If they had already paid their rent, we wouldn’t have that leverage.”

Other options include working with the owner to create a payment plan, or persuading the owner to sell the unit and use the proceeds to pay outstanding common charges. Even if there is not enough money left to repay the condominium, a sale frees up the apartment for another buyer, who will pay common charges.

If all else fails, boards can pursue foreclosure. But the process can take a year or more, during which the unit is still not generating the common-charge payment. In addition, the owner may also have defaulted on his mortgage, so the bank may be pursuing its own foreclosure action. When there are competing claims, the bank takes precedence. Back taxes, too, take precedence over claims from a condominium.

“Unless a foreclosure sale brings in far more than the mortgage, our claims are wiped out,” said Jesse Krasnow, a member of the condominium board at the Ansonia at 2109 Broadway. Mr. Krasnow is also a partner of the building’s sponsor and the president of Sirius, the Ansonia’s building manager. “Add to this the fact that bank foreclosures drag on for years, and at the end of it all, the condominium can be out a tremendous amount of money.”

At 184 Thompson Street last year, a unit sold at a foreclosure auction for $610,000, which did not cover its $780,000-plus mortgage. “We saw no proceeds from the sale,” Mr. Padrés said.

A second option is to sue the unit owner for a money judgment. But, said Richard Sharan, a partner at the law firm Pollack & Sharan, “if a unit owner is in arrears on his common charges, he probably doesn’t have much money to collect.”

Money judgments are good for 20 years in New York, however, and can negatively affect an owner’s credit. They can result in eventual payment to the condo if the owner’s other properties are sold or refinanced, said Steven R. Wagner, a partner at the law firm Wagner Davis.

It is easier for boards in co-op buildings to recoup maintenance fees, because they can terminate a shareholder’s proprietary lease and force the sale of the unit. Also, the co-op takes precedence over a bank in the case of a bank loan default, and is paid back first.

Yet while a co-op has a greater chance of collecting, “it still requires hiring a lawyer and commencing legal proceedings, which can cost money and take time,” said Eva Talel, a partner in the real estate group at the law firm Stroock & Stroock & Lavan. “The building ends up not getting maintenance for the unit over a long period of time and has to spend money it probably hasn’t budgeted for.”

When Jack Cassaro, an information technology director at a Wall Street firm, was trying to buy a one-bedroom co-op at 160 East 26th Street in Kips Bay, the board refused to interview him until the seller, who was thousands of dollars in arrears, sent a letter stating that all back maintenance, late fees and legal expenses would be paid in full at the closing.

“It was a nightmare,” Mr. Cassaro said.

In addition, the board required that Mr. Cassaro put six months of maintenance payments in an escrow account until he moved into the unit.

His broker, Elizabeth Kee of CORE, said, “This was supposed to be a cash deal that closed in 10 days, but it turned into a seven-month-plus process.”

But although co-ops and condominiums can face an uphill battle in collecting monthly fees that have gone into arrears, the overall impact on the building often depends on its size. At large buildings where hundreds of apartments share the burden of paying the fees, a handful of delinquencies can have a muted effect.

Not surprisingly, the buildings in Manhattan that have started the most foreclosure proceedings since the start of 2007, when PropertyShark began tracking them, generally have hundreds of units. They include Worldwide Plaza at 350 West 50th Street, with 14 filings; Trump World Tower at 845 United Nations Plaza, 12 filings; and the Ansonia at 2109 Broadway, 8 filings. Trump Tower at 721 Fifth Avenue rounded out the Top 10, with 6 filings over the past 5 years, according to PropertyShark.

At Trump World Tower, for instance, the building is contending with a unit in a bank foreclosure; over the past five years, it has initiated its own foreclosure filings against a dozen others. But with 370 apartments, “it is still less than 2 percent of the building that is in trouble,” said Michael Cohen, the treasurer of the condominium board and a special counsel to Donald J. Trump.

“We build in a 5 percent cushion annually into our budget that allows us to handle these unfortunate situations,” Mr. Cohen said, adding the building had $2 million in its reserve account.

Still, while size can often cushion the effects of a delinquency on a building’s overall health, the issue is becoming more urgent for buildings across the board. “I am increasingly seeing apartments in better buildings that are issuing notices or instituting foreclosure proceedings,” said Mr. Wagner, the lawyer. “It is something that is on everyone’s mind.”


CONDO boards have a few options when an owner stops paying his monthly charges. Unfortunately, the most effective remedies are often the most expensive and time-consuming — and while a legal procedure like a foreclosure drags on, the unpaid bills continue to pile up. Legal experts recommend the following steps:

POLITE BUT FIRM Start off with a letter requesting payment if it is 30 days past due. Then follow up, if the money is not forthcoming, with a more strongly worded letter, perhaps from the building’s lawyer. The board could offer to work out a payment plan.

THIS IS SERIOUS If the bill still isn’t paid, the board can file a common-charge lien on the unit. At this point, the owner’s access to amenities or doorman services could be suspended. In rare cases, the board could offer to buy the unit.

THE GLOVES ARE OFF If all else fails, the board can sue for monetary damages or start a foreclosure filing. (Of course, the owner’s bank may already have done this.)

One Rincon Brings in Reality TV Stars to Push Penthouses

San Francisco Business TimesJune 21, 2012
San Francisco's One Rincon Hill is hoping a little star power will help unload its final penthouses.

On a recent afternoon in a 59th floor unit the sales team held a "luncheon" (not that we're complaining, but really it was just minuscule, bite-sized bread and cheese sandwiches) featuring realty TV stars Ryan Serhant of Bravo's "Million Dollar Listing" and Maggie Kent and Curtis Nixon of HGTV's "Selling New York."

The condo tower, which started selling units back in 2006, has 14 units left, all near the top of the building. Prices range from $1.795 million to $2.575 million. The last one-bedroom, on the 50th floor, just sold for $925,000 and the second-to-last unit (on the 49th floor) recently closed for $890,000. In both cases, the price per square foot was about $1,200.

Nixon, who was visiting San Francisco for the first time, said that in Manhattan a unit with views like One Rincon Hill would fetch a minimum of $2,500 a square foot. Serhart told the crowd of San Francisco residential brokers to count their blessings. "You are very lucky to do what you do in a city like this," he said.

Meanwhile, the developer, Mike Kriozere, and his new capital partner (Principal Global Investors) are being coy about when the second tower of the One Rincon project might get started. It could happen by August, according to real estate sources.

Dream Homes: 520 West 19th Street

New York PostJune 21, 2012

Chelsea $6.875 million “Ideal for entertaining,” this 3,353-square-foot, four-bedroom condo in a full-service boutique building on Architect’s Row (that’d be West 19th Street) serves up “stellar views” of the Hudson River, the High Line and the Manhattan skyline. Meanwhile, “floor-to-ceiling” windows bring the outside in, for “fantastic light” throughout. Among the bedrooms, there are not one, but two master suites, each featuring walk-in closets, and three full bathrooms (plus two half-baths). Agents: Emily Beare and David Beare, Core, 212-726-0786 and 212-726-0743

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