Square Feet: Inside an Amazing Six-Story Chelsea Townhouse

NBC LXTV-Open HouseMay 07, 2012
We're inside a gorgeous six-story Chelsea townhouse. For more information on this property, please contact Tom Postilio (212-726-0783), Natalie Rakowski (212-726-0779) and Mickey Conlon (212-612-9623) of Core. View the listing.

Is This the Best Roman Orgy Bath in the State of New Jersey?

CurbedMay 07, 2012
As seen before, Versailles knock-offs can pop up in any form, which is actually a good thing because it allows French manor houses to be built exactly where they belong: North Jersey. This one, 25,000 square feet yet solar-powered and "green," according to the listing, sits on 4.4 acres in Saddle River (where Mary J. Blige is still trying to unload her very similar-looking mansion) and has moldings to evoke the grandeur of yesteryear, a foyer dripping in crystal and marble, and an interior pool area within a practical stone's throw of the dining room and kitchen. Provided he/she has $19M, the next owner can look forward to curling up on one of those knock-off Knoll sofas with a copy of Fifty Shades of Grey. Do take a video tour.

Field Trip Friday: Ralph Walker Exhibition

Open House New YorkMay 07, 2012
This week, volunteer council members Connie Finstad and Joseph Giargiana are our guest bloggers who have written about their visit to the Ralph Walker: Architect of the Century exhibition. Ralph Walker, called “the only other honest architect in America” by Frank Lloyd Wright, was one of the most influential minds to shape New York’s skyline, producing most of his work during the first half of the twentieth century. His most notable buildings include the Irving Trust Building at One Wall Street and the Barclay-Vesey Telephone Building, now known as the Verizon Building. The exhibit, open through mid-May by appointment only, celebrates and explores the life of this legendary American art deco architect and his influential works, which subtly surround us and which we pass every day. Read about Joe and Connie’s experience below.

I had passed the building so many times before and certainly had photographed the entrance a number of times. Last summer, my best friend, visiting with his son, stopped me in front of 212 West 18th Street and asked, “what is this building?” I had to answer honestly, and say I just didn’t know.

Here was our conversation:

“I think it used to be a telephone building, but I don’t know what is it now.”

“This was a utility building? No, it’s too elegant for that.”

“No, I’m sure it was, see the subtle signage?”

“What are they doing with it, what’s all this scaffolding for?”

“I don’t know, but I’m sure we’ll find out.”

His son photographed the elaborately designed grill and glass work above the entrance, and we moved on.

It’s those details we pass, every day, that make me stop and appreciate the inherent design, architecture and history of this city. Needless to say, living here, I feel blessed and inspired every day.

Walker's words brought to you by TriBeCa signage shop Let There Be Neon

Last weekend I entered the construction site with a colleague to visit the first ever exhibit to explore the life and work of Ralph Thomas Walker (1889 – 1973), the great and influential architect to shape New York’s skyline during the “roaring twenties” through iconic skyscrapers with asymmetrical setbacks and art deco ornament.

“Ralph Walker?” I thought. I’ve never heard of him.

Preliminary drawing of the Barclay-Vesey Telephone Building at 212 West 18th Street (late 1920’s).

The New York Telephone Building (constructed 1929 – 1931) at 212 West 18th Street is being restored, modernized and transformed into a collection of 53 expansive residences and renamed “Walker Tower” (floors 8 to 23). Verizon owns the lower floors. His passion for elegant detail separated his designs and ornate details from other applicants of proposed civic architecture

Building at completion (1931) shows the lack of a full-height spire.

Walker’s architectural style is best known as “humanism,” the attempt to design buildings less industrial and more warm and appealing to the eye. In the exhibit we saw a number of examples of the buildings he designed and proposed, as well as photographs of his breath-taking interiors. The docent, Marci, is pleasant, knowledgeable and informative, and answered most of our questions before we even asked.

Walker Tower is being developed by JDS Development Group and Property Markets Group. Their intention is to complete Walker’s original design, which had been compromised due to budget restraints when first constructed. An architectural model of the project is also in the exhibit. CORE reality at 127 Seventh Avenue and 18th Street has the exclusive offering agreement and will launch sales in the building during 2012.

The Barclay-Vesey Telephone Building (constructed 1922 – 1926) at 140 West Street is his masterpiece. The recently published, limited edition book by Kathryn R. Holliday is available at the exhibit.

Marci holds Holliday's limited edition book showing the magnificent golden interior in front of an image of the original Irving Trust Building at One Wall Street and Broadway.

The exhibit located on the ground floor at 212 West 18th Street is free and open to the public daily, by appointment only and should be available for viewing through mid-May.

From Penthouse to Playhouse: Inside the New York City Duplex with an 18ft Stainless Steel SLIDE

UK Mail OneMay 07, 2012
There’s finally an apartment for the man that refuses to act his age - and it has even got a slide to keep him forever young.

Nestled on 13th Street between 1st Avenue and Avenue A, the asking price for this 2,400 square foot duplex is just $3.9 million, a little more than the average kid's allowance.

Beyond the slide, it’s got four bedrooms, four baths, two terraces, a garden and just about every other amenity from those adults suffering from playground envy.

Expensive Toys: Nestled on 13th Street between 1st Avenue and Avenue A, the asking price for this 2,400 square foot duplex is just $3.9 million

What a Man Wants: Professional poker player Phil Galfond commissioned the slide to be custom built by an engineering firm for a cool $250,000

It Gets Better: Even though the slide is the centerpiece of the man-child palace, the apartment also boasts a game room with a $35,000 glass pool table and a 18-foot high atrium

The stainless steel sculpture was delivered by freight train to its East Village home.

‘The owner combined two apartments and he wanted to put a fun and creative new way of going from the top level to the bottom, CORE broker Lindsee Silverstein said.

Sweet Dreams: The apartment has four bedrooms, four baths, two terraces, a garden and just about every other amenity

Apples and Pears: There's also a staircase for the less adventurous

Step Right Up: The condo has 360 degree views of New York City as well as a 24-hour door man and concierge

It connects the upstairs office to the downstairs living room with just 18 feet of fun.

There’s also a staircase for the less adventurous.

Even though the slide is the centerpiece of the man-child palace, the apartment also boasts a game

Houses of the Week: 133 West 14th Street

New York PostMay 03, 2012
$1.795 million

Bedrooms: 2 Bathrooms: 2 Square feet: 1,600 Common charges: $558
“Centrally located” on 14th Street, at the crossroads of Chelsea and the West Village, this “turn-key” condo loft offers a 25-foot wide living/dining area, an open chef’s kitchen, “oversized” windows, a wood-burning fireplace and a washer/dryer. Agent: Vickey Barron, Core, 212-612-9647

Inside Look: NYC Penthouse Playground

AOL Real EstateMay 03, 2012
New York City's famous for being a rich man's playground and we couldn't have found a home that takes this idea more seriously than this East Village penthouse -- with a built-in slide.

Unsurprisingly, the silver, 18-foot-tall sculptural slide pretty much smacks you in the face as soon as you walk in. Unlike other luxury features, its presence tends to dominate the penthouse (the rest of which is actually incredibly sleek, sophisticated and somewhat minimalist). But the faster you get over the initial shock of seeing a slide built inside someone's apartment, the faster you can hop right on it -- and naturally, we did. Our entire crew. Multiple times.

In case you were wondering, the owner of the now-infamous "slide penthouse" is Phil Galfond, a professional poker player who's only 26 years old!Slide aside, Galfond has also decked out his pad with some truly amazing, one-of-a-kind pieces ($35,000 glass pool table, anyone?).

See for yourself below:

Like what you see? Elizabeth Kee and Lindsee Silverstein of CORE Group NYC have the listing.

House of the Day: A Condo in Old New York

The Wall Street JournalMay 03, 2012
Price: $ 5,750,000
Location: New York, NY
Type of Home: Apartment

Victor Benson, 69 years old, and his wife, Susan, purchased this loft apartment in Lower Manhattan for $2.5 million in 2004, according to public records. In another life, Mr. Benson said his apartment was home to a perfume factory. Part of the 1915 building was converted into condominiums starting in 1998, records show.

Best Place of the Week: 55 White St

NY Daily NewsMay 03, 2012
The great room in a triplex apartment at 55 White St. in Tribeca has the kind of grandeur that evokes library scenes from movies like “The Music Man” and “Beauty and the Beast.”

There are 16-foot ceilings, a wood-burning fireplace, Corinthian columns and custom book shelves- complete with the kind of librarian’s ladder that makes you want to climb up and perform a musical number. A staircase leads up to an open office and a walkway to the master bedroom.

Adjoining the great room is a kitchen with pocket doors that can be opened to share the space or closed during a party. There’s also a bedroom on the main floor.

Downstairs is a giant family room and an additional bedroom and bathroom.

The entire space is 2,600 square feet. It’s listed with Ryan Fitzpatrick with CORE for $3.15 million.

Walker Exhibit Extended Through May

CurbedMay 03, 2012
CHELSEA—Bummed you missed the "Ralph Walker: Architect of the Century" exhibit inside his West 18th Street building currently undergoing condo-ification? Good news! You have another month; the exhibit has been extended through the end of May. The lobby exhibit of Walker's work is open to the public, but by appointment so make arrangments in advance now that you've been granted an extension. [Curbedwire Inbox; Ralph Walker Exhibit]

LONG ISLAND CITY—Court Square’s 75-unit luxury condominium building The Industry LIC has now reached the 51 percent sold mark. All of the 1, 2, and 3BR penthouses have already been sold. Remaining studios, 1BRs, and 2BRs, start at $414,750, $462K, and $749K, respectively.

Flatiron’s Most Unusual Wine Cellar Returns for $6.75 Million

CurbedMay 02, 2012
We've seen the fifth-floor at 17 West 17th Street before, when it popped up last year asking $6.585 million for all kinds of fancy gadgets, including that 2,000-bottle custom wine cellar. But PriceUpping already-expensive year-old listings is all the rage right now, so we're not totally surprised to see 17 West 17th return. It's got slightly different photos (above) and a slightly higher price of $6.75 million, up from $6.585M. Welcome back, friend.

Going it Alone: Some High-powered Female Real Estate Execs Opt to Start Parenthood Without Partners

The Real DealMay 01, 2012
Laurie Golub always knew she wanted to be a mom, but in her 20s and 30s, she wasn’t ready.

“During those critical years, I was more focused on work,” said Golub, now in her 40s, who is the general counsel and managing director of business affairs at real estate development company Africa Israel USA.

That changed suddenly a few years ago. “I felt that, notwithstanding my incredible career and fun, exciting life, something was missing,” she said.

Golub wanted a family, and she wasn’t about to let the fact that she is single get in the way. After three unsuccessful attempts at adoption, she brought home daughter Jayda Jynx, who is now 19 months old.

“It is the happiest thing I’ve ever done,” Golub said.

The real estate market may not have fully recovered, but there’s at least one boom happening in the industry: a baby boom. Golub is one of a bumper crop of real estate women who have recently decided to become moms — often going it alone without men in the picture.
Some jobs in real estate — being a residential broker, for example — are especially well-suited to child-rearing because they offer flexible schedules and the ability to bring kids to work, these parents said. Single mom Shawn Williams, a broker at Prudential Douglas Elliman, said she frequently brings her two-and-a-half-year-old daughter to apartment showings.

“If she is not in preschool or with a sitter, I’ll say ‘No problem, I’ll do the showing and my child will be with me,’ ” said Williams, who used artificial insemination to get pregnant. “No one minds. I feel I am really lucky to have that flexibility because I can spend that time with her.”

The flip side, of course, is that a career in real estate often means being available to clients at a moment’s notice.

“I was handling a six-hour closing [when] I started having contractions,” said Core’s Reba Miller, a single mom who got pregnant at age 48 after years of trying. “This caused all sorts of anxiety for me, but we got it done and closed.” Her son, Shaun, was born shortly thereafter.

And single mom Dina Lewis, a broker at Elliman, pitched a listing only six days after giving birth in January to daughter, Hannah.
Both single and married moms agree that making it all work requires extreme organization, and said nannies and assistants are a must. But when it comes to real estate, being a mom can also yield some advantages.

Yael Dunayer of Barak Realty, who is currently expecting her third child with husband Barak Dunayer, said being pregnant actually made her a better negotiator. When she and her husband were opening the first office of Barak Realty, for example, Yael pushed vendors to stay on schedule — her schedule.

“I told people, ‘I am eight months pregnant,’ ” she recalled. ‘You must make this happen now.’ ”

Using Their Powers for Good?

The Real DealMay 01, 2012
In late 2009, the owners of 15 apartments at the Atelier in midtown filed suit against members of the condo board, including its president, Daniel Neiditch. They claimed that Neiditch, head of the brokerage River 2 River Realty, was using his influence to gain a monopoly on real estate deals there.

Neiditch had been directing all leasing and sales inquiries in the 42nd Street building to his company, they claimed in court documents, treating it as “his own fiefdom.” Owners who listed their apartments with an outside broker, the suit claimed, would never make a sale.
“Leasing and sales activity … has been dominated by River 2 River and Neiditch, who effectively controls, as a result of Neiditch’s position as president of the board, the vast majority of units in the condominium,” the complaint alleged.

Neiditch, who currently has 32 of the 38 active sales listings at the Atelier, according to StreetEasy, declined to comment on the accusations

The case was eventually dropped, on the basis that individual owners in a condominium can’t assert claims for damages against the common interests or finances of the building.But the suit highlights the ethical issues that confront real estate brokers serving on the boards of their co-ops and condos.

There is no law prohibiting real estate professionals from serving on their building’s boards, and some of the city’s most prominent agents are currently members of co-op and condo boards. In fact, many in the industry say real estate brokers bring invaluable expertise to the management of their buildings.

Still, the question of possible conflicts of interest has become increasingly visible recently, due in part to a late March e-mail blast from Neil Garfinkel, residential counsel to the Real Estate Board of New York.

In his e-mail, which was sent to every residential member of REBNY, Garfinkel strongly criticized the practice of brokers serving on boards.

“I do not believe that a co-op board member (whether the president or not) should serve on a co-op board and act as a real estate broker in real estate transactions in the co-op building,” he wrote.Despite good intentions, Garfinkel continued, it’s not always possible for brokers to properly balance competing obligations to their clients and to the board.

In one recent instance, he said, a REBNY broker was serving on her co-op board, which was considering a major capital improvement program. As a broker, she felt she had an obligation to disclose the existence of the project to a prospective purchaser, since it would impact the value of the property. But the board president had forbidden her to disclose the capital improvement project to anyone.

The situation put her in “an untenable position,” Garfinkel wrote. “She has a duty of confidentiality to her co-op board that directly conflicts with her duty of disclosure to the prospective purchaser.” Still, a broker could serve a lifetime on a board without encountering a conflict like this one, Garfinkel told The Real Deal, and would likely not be able to foresee such a conflict until it’s too late.But in recent years, some buildings — often after encountering situations like these — have instituted policies prohibiting brokers form serving on their boards.

In 2009, an Upper East Side building removed a real estate broker from the co-op board and amended its bylaws to prohibit other brokers from serving, said Aaron Shmulewitz, a partner at the law firm of Belkin Burden Wenig & Goldman, who currently represents the board.The move stemmed from what the board felt were the brokers’ efforts to “take advantage of his position and benefit monetarily,” Shmulewitz said.

A few isolated incidents like these have sullied the perception of brokers who serve on co-op and condo boards, said Core broker Tony Sargent, a former board member at 31 Jane Street. Whether it’s warranted or not, he said, “shareholders can have a negative connotation with brokers being on boards,” suspecting that agents will “use the building as a personal piggy bank.”
As a result of perceptions like these, some brokers, like Elaine Mayers of Citi Habitats, have purposefully opted out of serving on their boards to avoid potential conflicts of interest.

“I think I could be totally impartial,” said Mayers, who resigned from her co-op board at 205 Third Avenue when she started working in real estate seven years ago. “But I don’t want any appearance of impropriety. Even if I recuse myself on certain issues, someone might think the board viewed my deals more favorably because I was a member.”

Residential Sales Around The Region: 68 Thomas Street

The New York TimesMay 01, 2012

A Tale of Two Markets: Walker Tower

The Real DealMay 01, 2012
In a still-difficult economy, developers are increasingly tailoring buildings to suit the needs of serious buyers. That means targeting two very active groups of purchasers at opposite ends of the spectrum: out-of-town buyers looking for small pieds-à-terre and families raising children in the city.

Empty-nesters, pied-à-terre purchasers or just people looking to avoid a jumbo mortgage often want small but comfortable apartments in full-service buildings, and many new developments are now aimed at this demographic.

At the other extreme are homebuyers — many of them families forsaking the suburbs— seeking multithousand-square-foot apartments with several bedrooms and features like private laundry rooms.

Sales of both these types of units surged in the first quarter of this year. Studios and one-bedroom apartments made up 48 percent of all condo sales, jumping up from 39 percent in the same period of 2011, according to market data from Prudential Douglas Elliman.
At the same time, three-bedroom market share nearly doubled to 20 percent.

As developers aim their buildings at one group or the other, two sectors of the market are emerging and, increasingly, diverging.

Walker Tower, a new condo under construction at 212 West 18th Street, is intended to satisfy the increasing demand for larger units, with units averaging 3,000 square feet and three bedrooms, according to developer Michael Stern of JDS Development.

By contrast, another JDS project — a midtown tower with Central Park views that Stern said he could not yet name — has smaller units more in line with the tastes of foreign buyers.

This kind of specialization means developers “take a little bit more risk,” Stern said. But overall, it’s “good for the market, and leads to more diversity of product.”

Below is a look at these two increasingly different types of dwellings.

Supersize it

Larger Spaces
Many buyers in the current New York marketplace are looking for “grown-up apartments,” with spacious rooms and many of the same conveniences they might find in suburban houses, said Dan Kaplan, a senior partner at FXFOWLE Architects.

When completed, Extell Development’s under-construction One57 will be the tallest residential tower in Manhattan. Three-bedrooms there are reportedly around 3,200 square feet — what might be a five-bedroom in another building.

At Walker Tower, Stern said, all 53 units — there were originally 55, but two buyers have combined apartments — have two or more bedrooms and at least three bathrooms. Most also have a home office.

Tim Crowley, managing director for development at the architecture and development firm Flank, said his firm’s new condo project, the Abingdon in the West Village, consists of six apartments, two penthouses and two multifl oor “mansions.”

The smallest apartments are 3,200-square-foot, three-bedroom units. The “mansions” will be 5,900 and 10,000 square feet.
Buyers for these types of apartments “want to see an apartment that looks like a home,” Crowley said.

Suburban-Style Kitchen

Much like suburban houses, many new multibedroom apartments now feature spacious kitchens. Many, like One57 and 77 Reade in Tribeca, have center islands.

Whereas a traditional New York kitchen might measure 60 or 80 square feet, kitchens in buildings like Walker Tower can cover 250 square feet. But while size has changed, design has changed even more to make kitchens flow more smoothly into surrounding rooms, said John Cetra of the architecture firm Cetra/Ruddy, which is designing Walker Tower as well as the unnamed JDS building in midtown.
In large prewar apartments, he said, “they would have big kitchens, but they weren’t as inviting because the way they were set up was for people with servants.”

Rather than being tucked-away service spaces, today’s large-apartment kitchens are designed to be “showpieces,” as well as the center of family life, according to Vishaan Chakrabarti, a partner at SHoP Architects.

Kitchens in the Abingdon’s three-bedroom units measure 15 square feet — large in their own right — but they are linked by double-width pocket doors to adjacent dens, Crowley said. When the doors are open, the resulting space is 15 by 30 feet.

Private Laundry and Storage Spaces

Buildings with supersized apartments tend to place less of an emphasis on elaborate common spaces, but have more in-apartment features.

In family-style buildings, “people have bigger and better video screens in their apartments than they have in the public amenities space,” said Randy Gerner, a principal at the Architecture firm Gerner Kronick + Valcarcel. “So why go to the amenities space?”

Today’s large apartments also tend to have large walk-in closets and in-unit storage space that’s easily accessible, Cetra said. Some projects he’s worked on have laundry rooms “big enough that you could do the ironing in there.”

These spaces can also be used as “hobby rooms.” At one family-style building near the Theater District that his firm is working on, Cetra said he is exploring the idea of making such extra rooms soundproof so musicians can practice in them.

At buildings like Walker Tower and One57, master bedrooms aren’t just for sleeping: They often have separate dressing and/or lounging areas.

“This is going beyond just the big bedroom,” Cetra said. “It’s creating an adult suite.”

Cetra said he’s seen these areas furnished as sitting areas with TVs, or outfitted with wet bars. That way, he added, “if you’re not sleeping, there’s another way to use the space.”


Small but not too small

By contrast, some buildings are specifically aimed at buyers who don’t need or want as much space. Blesso Properties’ 421 West 22nd Street, for example, features all studio apartments with custom-made Murphy beds and hidden Bosch washer-dryers, while William Beaver House in the Financial District has “Murphy offices” concealed behind sliding closet doors.

Still, as more wealthy international buyers flock to Manhattan, the definition of pied-à-terre has expanded beyond simple “foot-on-the-ground” crash pads, said Cetra of Cetra/Ruddy architects.

Pieds-à-terre these days tend to be between 850 and 1,100 square feet — room enough for a small two-bedroom, or a one-bedroom with flexible extra space for a guest.

At new Tribeca condo Reade57, which the building’s website describes as “perfect for year-round living or pieds-à-terre,” one-, two- and three-bedroom units range from 713 square feet to 1,863 square feet.

Compact Kitchen Appliances

Buildings like 20 Pine and William Beaver House have “targeted their marketing to bachelors and pied-à-terre buyers,” explained StreetEasy’s Sofi a Song. As a result, “their kitchens [aren’t] suitable for a family, but rather for those who liked to order in.”

At William Beaver, Tsao & McKown Architects designed compact “Murphy kitchens” that are smaller than the units’ bathrooms, the New York Times reported.

And at new condo 200 Eleventh Avenue on 25th Street, an Elliman ad for one unit describes the kitchen as “discreet” and “concealed by folding teak doors.”

“Sometimes it’s not worth it to have a really large kitchen, because if you’re just going to have breakfast there, or you’re just going to keep chilled champagne in the refrigerator, you’re not going to need it,” Cetra said.

Still, maintaining resale value means kitchens can’t be discarded completely, even when residents eat most of their meals out, said Eran Chen, design director at ODA Architecture.

So the developers of these apartments often use smaller dishwashers, ovens and refrigerators to conserve space.
Gerner of Gerner Kronick + Valcarcel said at pied-à–terre units his firm has worked on, appliances are “small and fabulous” rather than “large and fabulous.”

“We might use Gaggenau appliances,” he said; while fully functional, they are often “more seen than used.”

More Building Amenities

Buildings with smaller apartments, Cetra said, tend to have more common amenities, to give residents an outlet from their tighter spaces. The A Building at 425 East 13th Street, which Cetra Ruddy designed, has a rooftop pool — a first for the firm, he said.

William Beaver has a 40-seat screening room, a lap pool, a basketball court and a landscaped dog run. Reade 57 has a landscaped common terrace, fitness center and lounge aimed to create “a cool, urban club ambiance,” according to its website.

Pied-à-terre buyers tend to be more focused on fullservice buildings than on in-home amenities, especially since they may not be planning to spend much time in their apartments.

“If you’re coming in and out of the building only a few times a year, typically you want the knowledge that it’s a staffed building with doormen and such,” Chakrabarti said. “You want as few headaches and as little maintenance as possible.”

That may include the services of a full-time concierge.

William Beaver House takes it a step further, with a “lifestyle manager,” to provide services to its residents.

Reade 57 has a 24-hour doorman, and all the apartments are prewired for cable, phone and Internet; services that “are designed to make your life easier and hassle-free,” the website says.

NJ Mansion Took Seven Years To Design

CBS Living LargeMay 01, 2012
May 1, 2012 Living Large: NJ Mansion Took Seven Years To Design The owner of this incredible home took numerous trips to France over the course of its seven-year design, all so that the finished product would mimic a French palace. CBS 2′s Emily Smith toured the Saddle River, New Jersey estate in the latest edition of Living Large.

Does Reality TV Pay?

The Real DealMay 01, 2012
Citi Habitats agent Jason Saft famously appeared on Bravo’s “The Real Housewives of New York” in 2010, while looking for an apartment for cast member LuAnn de Lesseps, a.k.a. Countess LuAnn.

The Countess didn’t end up renting an apartment from Saft, but the episode was far from a waste of his time. While on camera, he showed her an apartment at 1 Seventh Avenue South, where he had several listings. In the weeks after the show aired, he said, he saw an enormous uptick in interest in the Greenwich Village building.

One $7,500-per-month apartment, which became available a week after the show aired, found a tenant within two days, he said. Most of the interested parties referenced “Real Housewives.”

“It was the fastest turnaround we’d had of any apartment in the building,” Saft said. The TV appearance “added a certain cachet,” he added.

A bevy of reality TV shows — like HGTV’s “Selling New York” and Bravo’s new show “Million Dollar Listing New York” — now feature New York City real estate, and seem to revel in showing off Manhattan’s luxurious, multimillion-dollar apartments. But how does all this exposure actually impact prices and sales activity?

As Saft discovered, a reality show appearance can boost activity for a property on the market. Listings that have lingered for months or years can suddenly gain traction after appearing on TV, brokers said. And television exposure can also speed up sales at a new condo or even spur interest in buildings by a particular developer, brokers said.

“A seller can get to 2.5 million people in one 30-minute show, which is more exposure than most listings will get in a lifetime,” said Sabrina Kleier Morgenstern of Gumley Haft Kleier, a regular on “Selling New York.”

That said, while reality shows may lead to more activity, they don’t seem to significantly impact a unit’s final sales price, brokers said. And sometimes the strategy can backfire: There’s always a chance that producers might emphasize an apartment’s less-than-stellar features, deterring potential buyers.

“Anytime you go on TV, it’s a double-edged sword,” said Prudential Douglas Elliman broker Victoria Shtainer. “You never know what you’re going to get.”

Speeding up sales

Morgenstern recently represented a buyer at 50 Gramercy Park North, an apartment building attached to the Gramercy Park Hotel. Due in part to high maintenance fees, Morgenstern said, the unit had been sitting on the market for more than a year.

Then it appeared on “Selling New York” with listing broker Kirk Rundhaug of Core. Activity picked up, with several potential buyers touring the property.

“The exposure on any kind of national TV show helps tremendously just because it reaches such a large audience,” Rundhaug said. Morgenstern’s client heard about the unit through the show, she said.

He was interested in seeing it because he owned a condo in a hotel in Boston, Morgenstern said, and wanted something similar in New York. Within a few weeks, he’d signed a contract to buy the apartment.

The very act of filming inside a unit helps get attention within the brokerage community, often spurring deals before the footage even airs, Rundhaug said. At a penthouse unit Rundhaug listed a few years ago at 433 East 74th Street, he said, he received an offer on the day of filming, he said.

Leslie Modell, an associate broker at Warburg Realty and a “Selling New York” regular, said the very promise that an apartment will be featured on TV is enough to give prospective buyers a shove in the right direction. “They think, ‘We better wrap this up before it airs,’ ” she said.

When Modell listed a unit at 301 East 78th Street earlier this year, the unit had spent 287 days on the market without finding a buyer, she said. Then, when the owner agreed to have the apartment featured on the show, “I started marketing it in print as featured on the hit show ‘Selling New York,’” she recalled. “I also told all buyers that it was going to be on the show, and that attracted a lot of interest. … People think if it’s been on the show, it must be special.”

The unit went into contract a few weeks after the episode aired, Modell said.

While the show helped draw attention to the listing, it didn’t seem to do much for the price: The unit closed for just $995,000, almost $200,000 below the $1.18 million asking price.

That was also the case at Morgenstern’s Gramercy Park deal, which sold for 23 percent off the $5.45 million asking price. While TV exposure can help pique buyers’ interest in a unit, they don’t seem willing to pay extra just because an apartment has appeared on the small screen, said Shaun Osher, CEO of Core and another “Selling New York” regular.

“The market’s the market,” Osher said, “so I don’t think [TV] generally affects the sales price.”

Saft found that renters were willing to pay slightly more at 1 Seventh Avenue South after seeing it on “Real Housewives.” Still, it’s very difficult to tell how much the added publicity impacted the sale price, and how much was simply market fluctuation.

Before the show, “we were getting 3 to 5 percent less” for units in the building compared to after the show aired, Saft said. But then again, “market conditions had improved” by the time of the airing.

And reality TV can also harm a listing, as Elliman’s Shtainer discovered when a three-bedroom Yorkville apartment she’d listed appeared on “Selling New York.” The client viewing the apartment was an elderly lady; appalled by the thought of moving further east than Park Avenue, she harshly criticized the unit on camera. Luckily, the apartment had been sold a month before the show aired; if not, the appearance would likely have hurt its chances of selling.

“If the apartment hadn’t already gone into contract,” Shtainer said, “I would have lost the listing.”

But that’s the risk brokers take when they agree to have their listings filmed. Clients often disparage the apartments they see, both in the real world and on TV, Modell said.

“They say ‘I don’t like the view’ or ‘I don’t like the way it’s decorated,’ ” she said. “All publicity’s good publicity, but you don’t want someone ripping your apartment to shreds on a national TV show.”

Modell takes steps in advance of filming to reduce the possibility of a strong negative reaction from buyers, she said; selecting a “neutral” color palate, for example.

Sellers in glass houses

Reality TV also comes in handy when brokers want to change perceptions about a building or neighborhood, or even counteract negative publicity. At the Urban Glass House condo in Soho, for example, sales had virtually stalled because of a much-publicized odor problem from a sanitation facility next door. An agent with two listings in the building, Core’s Tom Postilio, decided to spread the word about newly unveiled city plans for a new building to house the odorous garbage trucks.

“I spearheaded an effort, through ‘Selling New York,’ to show how fabulous the building is, factoring in the city’s plans,” said Postilio, who arranged an on-camera meeting with other brokers to strategize about how to reinvent the building’s image.

The episode, which aired in January 2011, also showed Postilio and Osher taking a tour through the building, pointing out its strengths: great views of the Statue of Liberty and generous layouts. It also painted the new sanitation facility as attractive-looking; “We called it a ‘condominium for garbage trucks,’ ” Postilio said.

The strategy worked: Four of six available units in the building sold within three months of the show’s broadcast. “After the show aired, there was tons of extra traffic,” Postilio said. “There were at least 100 people through the door in the first 30 days, and a lot of them referenced the show.”

Developers, too, are seeing the benefit of TV’s current obsession with New York real estate. “Million Dollar Listing New York” doesn’t have much impact on deals for individual listings, since the show airs almost a year after it’s filmed, when most units have already sold. (By contrast, “Selling New York,” appears only a few months after it’s shot.)

But developer Zach Vella said he’s seen a bump in activity at his properties, due in part to “Million Dollar Listing.”

While the show was being taped, Elliman’s Fredrik Eklund was marketing two of Vella’s new condo developments, 471 Washington Street and 939 Park Avenue.

Those two buildings are now sold out. But while filming, Eklund said he made sure to refer to Vella — who also appeared on camera — as one of “the hottest developers of the moment.

” Since “Million Dollar Listing” began airing in March, Vella said there’s been a definite uptick in interest in his other properties, including 60 Collister Street, a 15-unit condominium. It’s hard to tell whether the interest comes from the show or from increasing demand for boutique downtown condos, Vella said.

Still, he’s confident that the show has helped his properties. “When people are buying multimillion-dollar apartments, they want to see other projects you’ve done,” he said.

This summer, the company will begin marketing another development, 250 Bowery.

There’s already a waiting list of potential buyers, Eklund said.

One Museum Mile: Same Address, Different Name

ElegranApril 30, 2012
Museum Mile on the Upper East Side is no stranger to art enthusiasts and even less so to New Yorkers. Running along Fifth Avenue, this “mile” long strip of Manhattan contains one of the densest displays of culture in the world dispersed over nine globally renowned venues. And for the first time in years, a tenth museum will be joining the roster. Later this year, the Museum for African Art will be relocating to Fifth Avenue and East 110th Street and consequently extending the northern end of Museum Mile from East 104th Street to East 110th Street in East Harlem.

In addition to being the newest addition and tenth stop on Museum Mile, the Museum of African Art will be located in the same building as One Museum Mile. Previously known as 1280 Fifth Avenue, the newly rebranded One Museum Mile is a luxury condominium tower with 116 luxury apartments for sale. Along with the museum on the lower floors, residents at One Museum Mile will be able to enjoy other amenities such as a landscaped rooftop deck with outdoor pool and on-site state-of-the-art fitness center with adjacent children’s playroom. Residents of select southwest apartments at 1280 Fifth Avenue can also enjoy views of Central Park and Midtown Manhattan from their apartments.

While real estate professionals and prospective apartment owners have long been referring to the building as One Museum Mile, the official address for the residence is still recognized as 1280 Fifth Avenue. Generally speaking, buyers have been wary whenever they hear of a building address above 96th Street. And in a city where a building’s worth is measured by its address, it will be interesting to see how sales at One Museum Mile will fare with 1280 Fifth Avenue in the near future.

Chelsea's Pricey Walker Tower Conversion Shows Itself

CurbedApril 26, 2012
Chelsea's Walker Tower—the residential conversion of an Art Deco Verizon building designed by Ralph Walker—has been revealing itself slowly, teasing us with pricing (hint: it's high!) and a lobby party. Now building reps have offered up some renderings. The Post informs us that sales will kick off in June. The average ask will be around $3,000/square foot, with the penthouses reaching for $10,000/square foot. Above, a rendering of the full building, designed to show some of the new windows, and a not-quite-finalized render of the restored 18th Street entrance. Some of the detailing matches the facade, and this entrance is probably as close to these apartments as most of us will get.

Just Sold!- 56 Warren St.

New York PostApril 26, 2012
56 Warren St.

Three-bedroom, one-bath co-op, 2,020 square feet, with open kitchen, 12-foot ceilings, speaker wiring throughout, skylight, keyed-elevator access and two storage spaces. Maintenance $1,277, 25 percent tax-deductible. Brokers: Tom Postilio and Natalie Rakowski, Core and Edward Longley, The Hollingsworth Group

How Wall Street Layoffs Will Affect The Housing Market

ForbesApril 25, 2012
Investment banks including Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup and Morgan Stanley may slash and burn dozens of jobs as soon as next month, as my colleague Halah Touryalai reports. And these positions may never be replaced. It’s the latest round of layoffs for Wall Street, which let thousands of workers, particularly traders, go in 2011.

Wall Streeters have already suffered some discouraging news this year, as cash bonuses for work done in 2011 were cut and capped. A February report estimated that Wall Street bonuses dropped 14% from 2010 to 2011. For staffers at firms like Bank of America and Citigroup, the cuts were as high as 30% and bonuses at Morgan stanley were capped at $125,000.

All that cost-cutting has had repercussions that fan out past that eight-block swath of downtown Manhattan street where smocked traders scream in pits and analysts calculate risk. In years past, Wall Street has always affected Main Street. Literally.

“The finance sector plays a very large role in New York City and as a result of that, those people play an overall role in the residential real estate market,” explains Gary Malin, president of Citi Habitats, a New York City-based realty firm.

On a grand scale, we saw all too painfully how intertwined Wall Street and real estate were as the housing bubble deflated and the global economy plunged into a recession in early 2009. Locally, Wall Street residential enclaves like the Financial District and New Jersey’s Hoboken emptied out as finance folk packed their bags, newly out of work at companies where balance sheets were rapidly deteriorating and jobs disappearing. In the Tri-State area around the Big Apple residential projects stalled and homes fell into foreclosure.

Now less than four years later, as bonuses shrink and another spate of layoffs roll out, how will that affect the housing market? The answer, like all things in housing today, depends on location and a variety of factors.

In Manhattan, brokers remain positive about the housing market despite compensation woes on Wall Street. Malin, for example, explains that the market has become much more diversified since the days of Lehman Brothers and bankruptcy filings. Wall Street doesn’t represent the bulk of the buying base that it did a decade ago, he says. Foreign buyers have re-entered the market, clocking some of the priciest sales since the downturn, and burgeoning industries like tech have helped inject Manhattan’s residential market with income streams that aren’t tied to investment firms.

“We have been affected by Wall Street bonuses being lower, however, inventory is really low as well,” adds Jarrod Guy Randolph, a vice president at CORE Group. Randolph, who has represented developers’ new condo projects directly for the past decade, says the market has not only been recovering but booming, particularly for new higher-end apartments. He says these “premiere properties” have welcomed multiple bids, bids over asking price, even wait lists in recent months. “People still have to move…so it’s yet to be seen what the layoffs will do to the marketplace, if much.”

But while Manhattan agents remain confident in the city, the neighboring suburbs may be harder hit by labor pains felt on Wall Street. Take the so-called hedge fund capital of the world, Greenwich, Conn., where smaller bonuses are already affecting home sales this year.

“The recovering economy has given us a good real estate market if you are looking at houses under $2 million; but over $2 million, which is primarily the area of the market fueled by Wall Street bonuses, sales are significantly down,” says Mark Pruner, an agent with Prudential Connecticut Realty and author of the blog. He calculates that sales were up 39% for homes under $2 million and down 31% for pricier properties in the first quarter of 2012.

“What you are seeing is that people are getting smaller cash bonuses and being more conservative about spending them,” Pruner asserts. It has also meant that sales in the tony town often associated with Wall Street have been, like New York City, fueled increasingly by buyers hailing from other industries. He is seeing more advertising and consumer goods executives come to Greenwich — as well as foreign buyers. Pruner notes that 25% of his clients currently hail from Southeast Asia.

Other expensive ZIP codes where wealthy Wall Streeters have long taken up residence saw both sales and prices slip down last year. In February The Real Deal looked at home values in New York’s Nassau County and Westchester County, as well as New Jersey’s Bergen County and Connecticut’s Fairfield County. The real estate publication found that:

“…The real estate markets in these wealthy tri-state area suburbs mostly softened in 2011 compared to 2010 in terms of prices and sales activity amid national and global economic turmoil.”

Even so, realtors and economists believe these markets will continue to bottom and stabilize in 2012, even as bankers lose their jobs. Westchester County, for example, already welcomed a 28% increase in luxury home sales (priced $2 million or higher) in the first quarter, compared to the first three months of 2010, according to Houlihan Lawrence. The median sales price was down 10% and the majority of those sales remained under $5 million, a 5% decrease from last year.

Square Feet: A Downtown Duplex With a Slide

NBC LXTVApril 24, 2012
Come inside this unique East Village duplex that has a slide connecting the two floors. For more information on this property, please contact Elizabeth Kee and Lindsee Silverstein of Core NYC at 917-613-8686 and 347-347-0714. View the listing.

This episode of Open House was hosted from 250 E 49th St. New York. For more information on this property, please contact Marlene Marcus of Brown Harris Stevens at 212-906-9244. View the listing.
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