News

Climate change: With warm weather brokers report an early spring activity bump

The Real DealMarch 01, 2012
When Adina Azarian first opened her boutique rental firm, Adina Equities, in 2003, a veteran broker called to wish her luck and offer a key piece of advice.

“He told me that February is just an awful month for rentals,” recalled Azarian, who still runs her eponymous firm and also works at Keller Williams NYC as its “cultural ambassador.”

He recommended that she take an annual vacation during the cold, dreary days of the year’s shortest month.

But this year, she didn’t take that holiday. And lo and behold, Adina Equities had the highest number of deals closed and new exclusives signed than during any other year in its history, she said, adding, “I will take it as a good sign.”

The firm’s strong performance was due in large part to the much-discussed boom in the rental market that has continued almost unabated through the usually sluggish winter months. But another reason for the activity was last month’s warm temperatures.

On all but four days in February this year, temperatures were higher than their historical averages, according to AccuWeather, a national meteorological service.

Some other brokers have also noticed the relatively balmy climate affecting market activity.

“With the unusually warm weather that we’re experiencing, we’re seeing a lot of homebuyers coming to the market before they normally would,” said Daniel Hedaya, president of Platinum Properties.

“Typically, winter is a tough time for buyers to look at properties, with snow and cold. However, the warmth has brought them out earlier than anticipated.”

Furthermore, acceptances to the city’s elite private schools began to come out early last month. As a result, “we are seeing increased activity among buyers for large residences,” compared to the previous month, said Beth Fisher, the senior managing director of Corcoran Sunshine Marketing Group.

While Punxsutawney Phil may have seen his shadow on Groundhog Day, forecasting six more weeks of winter, brokers anticipate the mild weather will contribute to a springtime surge in activity.

“There is going to be a boom in the spring,” predicted Ariel Cohen, a senior vice president at Prudential Douglas Elliman. “The weather change is going to make an impact on the morale of the market.”

Brokers said that other factors portend a more-than-seasonal uptick in activity this spring.

For one, the city’s (currently low) inventory levels are expected to rise, perhaps dramatically, possibly paving the way for an increase in sales as buyers are confronted with more options.

When it comes to newly constructed condominium buildings, this may already be taking place. In StreetEasy’s inaugural monthly report on the Manhattan condo market, the listings provider found that among new developments, inventory was up 36 percent between January 2011 and January 2012. But inventory for all condos was down 3.2 percent in the same period.

James Malone, an agent at Bond New York, explained that more favorable economic news — for example, better jobs numbers and stock market growth reported in recent weeks — increases sellers’ hopes for getting a return on their original property investment. “This, coupled with the pent-up desire for a new apartment, could produce a really lively spring selling season,” he said.

Additionally, some brokers said that banks are beginning to loosen their purse strings, which could help boost activity in the spring.
“Financing is more readily available and people will be looking to take advantage of that,” Platinum’s Hedaya said.

As a result, deals without mortgage contingencies have begun to appear again, and are even “once again finding a place of prominence,” said Tom Postilio, a managing director at Core.

As far as Azarian is concerned, she plans to follow up a busy February with a busy March.

“I am growing my agent roster again in preparation for the coming months of spring [and] summer renting madness,” she said. “I have every intention of taking full advantage of the market.”

Reality bites: A history of reality TV and real estate

The Real DealMarch 01, 2012
When MTV’s “The Real World” premiered in 1992, few could guess that reality shows would eventually come to dominate prime-time TV, with monster hits like “The Bachelor” and “Jersey Shore” boosting networks’ ratings.

Manhattan real estate is a cutthroat business often involving big dollar signs, so it’s no surprise that New York brokers have made their way onto a slew of reality shows since then.

At first, real estate agents tended to be bit players on these shows — like when Citi Habitats’ Carla Kupiec rented Khloe Kardashian an apartment on “Keeping Up with the Kardashians.” Others took breaks from the real estate business in pursuit of becoming the next “Apprentice” or winning “Survivor.” But networks are now producing shows focused explicitly on New York real estate, starting, of course, with HGTV’s “Selling New York” in 2010. And March will see the premiere of two new real estate-related reality shows on Bravo — “Million Dollar Listing New York” and “Love Broker.”

This month, The Real Deal traced the evolution of New York real estate brokers on reality TV.

Survivor, 2002 After two seasons on “Survivor,” Manhattan isn’t the toughest island Corcoran’s Shii Ann Huang has worked on. The first Asian-American to appear on the CBS show, Huang was on the Thailand season in 2002 and again on the “all-stars” season in 2004, when she was the 11th player voted off the island and won a car. Huang started her real estate career shortly after her second “Survivor” stint. “I called up Barbara Corcoran and said, ‘I was on ‘Survivor,’ give me a job!’ ” Huang recalled. Now a Corcoran senior vice president, she is currently listing a $615,000 apartment at the Novo condominium in Brooklyn and a $9,500-per-month rental at 108 Waverly Place in Greenwich Village. It turns out “Survivor” was good training for real estate, she said, because they both have “a lot of different personalities and a lot of big egos.” Huang is not the only “Survivor” real estate alum in New York. Corcoran Group agent Matthew “Sash” Lenahan was one of the final three contestants on “Survivor: Nicaragua” in 2010. According to a Corcoran spokesperson, he left the firm in 2011; it’s not clear where he’s now working.

The Bachelor, 2004 Real estate pros are often selected for reality-show stardom based on their romantic potential, not just their business acumen. In 2004, for example, Halstead Property agent Jay Overbye appeared on ABC’s “The Bachelor,” competing against Nevada fisherman Byron Velvick for the starring role on the show. Overbye was eliminated, leaving Velvick to continue the season, but the Halstead executive vice president said he has no regrets, and even got a townhouse listing as a result of his participation. The daughter of a potential client ”recognized me from the show,” he said, “and that was my in.” Would he be a
“Bachelor” again? “I’m living with my girlfriend,” he said, “so no!” J Companies Construction Manager J.P. Rosenbaum had better luck in 2011 on “The Bachelorette,” when star Ashley Herbert chose him to win the show — and her hand in marriage. The two are now planning their wedding, and as The Real Deal reported, recently moved into a rental apartment at the Atlas New York on 38th Street in Manhattan.

The Apprentice, 2004 Jennifer Crisafulli made headlines in 2004, when Donald Trump and Prudential Douglas Elliman both fired her in the same week. While appearing on NBC’s “The Apprentice,” Crisafulli complained that she lost a challenge due to bad reviews from “two old, Jewish fat ladies … the pinnacle of the New York jaded old bags.” The Donald fired her shortly thereafter, and Elliman, reportedly offended by her comments, did the same. Crisafulli moved back to her native upstate New York after getting married in 2005, and has stayed under the radar since. Her LinkedIn page describes her as a “Producer and Editor of Photography/Public Speaker/Graphic Illustrator.”

Date Patrol, 2004 For Bond New York’s Jodi Rothman, TLC’s “Date Patrol” was a crucial step on her way to a career in commercial and residential real estate. In 2004, the show followed a mid-20s Rothman, who worked in marketing at the time, around New York for a month. On the show, she worked with communication, style and body language coaches to improve her dating prospects. “Using the skills I learned, I met my husband a year later,” she told The Real Deal. “He was the one who told me to get into real estate!”

House Hunters, 2005 In 2005, Coldwell Banker Hunt Kennedy’s Edward Joseph appeared on an episode of HGTV’s “House Hunters,” helping a client find a fixer-upper apartment. It was a fitting choice: Before he worked in real estate, Joseph was an actor who appeared on soaps like “One Life to Live.” Now at Brown Harris Stevens, Joseph said he loved being back on camera. “Everyone was really professional,” he said. Heddings Property Group Senior Vice President Michelle Churchill also appeared on the show in 2008, while at Elliman.

Tim Gunn’s Guide to Style, 2008 Fashion designer Tim Gunn gave Citi Habitats Senior Vice President Caroline Bass a style makeover on his show in 2008, after she responded to a producer’s search for a real estate agent. “It was a little harsh to hear some things,” Bass said — the famously blunt Gunn called her style “frumpy” and “outdated.” Still, the appearance was a “great experience” overall, she said, adding: “Who could not have better style after Tim Gunn?” She repaid the favor a few months later, when she helped Gunn purchase a $1.5 million, two-bedroom condo on the Upper West Side.

Keeping Up With the Kardashians, 2009 The cost of New York City real estate can be shocking — even for the luxury-loving stars of E!’s “Keeping Up with the Kardashians.” Citi Habitats agents Carla Kupiec and Tim Drucker learned that the hard way in 2009, when Khloe Kardashian (before her marriage to basketball star Lamar Odom) hired them to find her an apartment for a temporary stay in New York. As the cameras rolled, the two agents showed the California native everything from a $20,000-per-month townhouse on Greene Street to a $1,500 basement apartment in the East Village, as she gaped at city prices and tiny studio apartments. “We walked into a room and I said, ‘This is called a studio,’” Kupiec recalled. “And she goes, ‘So, I eat in the same room that I sleep?’” After filming the episode, the team eventually found her a two-bedroom downtown for around $5,000 per month.

The Real Housewives of New York City, 2010 In 2010, Citi Habitats agent Jason Saft appeared on “The Real Housewives” while looking for an Upper West Side apartment for cast member LuAnn de Lesseps, a.k.a. Countess LuAnn. His appearance was brief — “it’s fun to see a 12-hour day edited down to 2.5 minutes,” he said. While the Countess didn’t end up renting an apartment with him, choosing instead to move in to her Hamptons house full-time, Saft said constant reruns of the show have helped him get clients. He even reconnected with distant relatives, who recognized him on the show and contacted him via Facebook. As for the Countess, who often appears prickly on TV: “She’s very funny, very direct and very charming,” he said.

Selling New York, 2010 The success of “Selling New York” — which features brokers from New York firms Gumley Haft Kleier, Core and Warburg Realty — proved that a show purely about Manhattan real estate could find a loyal viewership. The show now garners roughly 2 million viewers a week, according to HGTV. And unlike some reality TV, it is never sensational, said series regular Deborah Luppard of Warburg. “We’re not egging people on to do stupid things,” she said. “It just feels like someone following me around while I do my job.” Warburg President Frederick Peters said the show has been incredibly beneficial for business. Meanwhile, the dog-toting Kleier clan (comprised of matriarch Michele Kleier and daughters Samantha and Sabrina) even scored a HarperCollins book deal thanks to their newfound fame. Their novel, “Hot Property,” came out in September.

Home by Novogratz, 2011 As if Bob and Cortney Novogratz weren’t busy enough with a Manhattan-based design firm and seven kids, they signed on to star in the Bravo reality show “9 by Design” in 2010. It was shelved last year, but HGTV picked up a new show about the couple, which premiered last summer. Called “Home by Novogratz,” this iteration focuses more on the design business and less on the Novogratz offspring. Currently filming its second season, the show will return next month.

Why Am I Still Single? 2011 Miron Properties’ Rich Awn has appeared twice on VH1’s matchmaking show “Why Am I Still Single?” and he has already earned a healthy 15 minutes of fame for his “Richisms” (“I’m like the George Clooney of Brooklyn”). Awn said he enjoys hamming it up on the show: One scene showed him gardening in a kimono, while sipping Kombucha out of a cocktail glass. He was even proud to be lambasted by Joel McHale, host of “The Soup” on E! “I was picked on by Joel McHale,” he told The Real Deal. “That is next to godliness!” When he’s not on TV, he focuses on rentals in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, which surprises some clients. “I was working with a customer who had seen the show,” Awn said, “and it dawned on them halfway through the appointment.”

Sweet Home Alabama, 2011 Bond New York’s Michael Chadwick finished in the top 10 last year on “Sweet Home Alabama,” a dating reality show on Country Music Television. In addition to renting apartments in Midtown West and the Upper West Side, Chadwick is an actor who recently starred in an off-off Broadway production entitled “The Stranger Inside.” To him, “Sweet Home Alabama” felt like a “paid vacation,” he said. Back in New York, Chadwick’s acting chops are good for business — he recently started showing apartments to a paparazzo he met on the red carpet.

Love Broker, 2012 (premieres March 5) After a decade of finding people homes, real estate broker Jennifer Zucher wanted to help them find love, too. So Zucher, a principal at the Upper East Side boutique brokerage Plaza Real Estate Group, started the matchmaking company Project Soulmate with her best friend, Lori Zaslow. Three years later, as The Real Deal reported, Bravo has selected them as the stars of its new reality show, “Love Broker.” Plaza Real Estate is a family business, run by Zucher’s husband and her mother, and Zucher specializes in high-end condo sales. While matchmaking has been a very successful venture, she said she’s “not ready” to give up real estate.

Million Dollar Listing New York, 2012 (premieres March 7) Unlike the more sedate “Selling New York,” “Million Dollar Listing New York” focuses on the big egos and behind-the-scenes drama of New York real estate. In one scene, a snake is delivered to the office of Nest Seekers’ Ryan Serhant, with an anonymous note that says, “Saw this and thought of you.” A spin-off of the California-based “Million Dollar Listing,” the New York show stars 27-year-old Serhant, Swedish adult film star-turned-broker Fredrik Eklund and real estate royal Michael Lorber, the son of Elliman Chairman Howard Lorber. Asked whether the show could deter potential clients, Serhant said he’s not worried. “You can’t please everybody,” he said. Overall, Serhant said the show is a crucial way to set him apart from competitors. “Everyone’s advertising, everyone knows people, and everyone works all the time,” he said. “But not everyone has ‘Million Dollar Listing’ on Bravo.”

House of the Day: Abode of a 'Glamour Puss'

The Wall Street JournalFebruary 28, 2012
Price: $1,095,000
Location: Manhattan, NY

The owner of this Upper West Side co-op is a self-described 'glamour puss,' who decorated his home with antiques and furs. The 1,260-square-foot space also has a converted bedroom the owner calls the 'red room.'

Pro Poker Player's Penthouse With Slide Asks $3.99 Million

CurbedFebruary 24, 2012
If there's any building where a professional poker player could build a steel slide to connect two floors, it's the East Village's hard-partying A Building. And indeed, that's where Phil Galfond had Turrett Collaborative Architects create a helical slide to combine two penthouse condos. (They also added a game room and a terrace putting green, as you do.) Now it's time to pass the fun along to the next generation (and, in Galfond's case, move to Canada in the wake of the Justice Department's online poker crackdown). The Journal reports that Galfond has put the apartment on the market for $3.99 million. (He paid $3.2 million for the uncombined 2BR penthouses in 2008.)

A little more about that slide

Here's how the architects describe Galfond's slide:

The half-tube stainless steel slide starts on the top floor near the office, and lands below near both the living and dining areas. The sculptural slide is housed in a newly created 18’ tall double-height space, which includes custom designed glass railings. The image of the stainless steel curves in front of the oversized window to the city beyond, to say nothing of the irrepressible glee of grown adults on the slide, is surprisingly poetic; with careful detailing, the playground element is an unexpectedly elegant addition to the space.

For visitors less filled with irrepressible glee at the thought of an indoor slide, the listing notes that there's also a staircase "as an alternative way down to the first floor."

There's no floorplan up yet, but here are the floorplans for penthouses F and G, pre-combo:

Selling New York S5E5: Setting Grand Goals

CurbedFebruary 24, 2012
HGTV's Selling New York rides along with brokerages CORE, Gumley Haft Kleier and Warburg as they try to sell fabulous properties fabulously. Here's our recap of how the NYC real estate industry is portrayed to the world, penned by Molly Reisner. Episode air date: 2/23/2012.

What's that ripe scent in the air? It's SWEAT, because last night's episode of Selling New York had brokers (semi) pumped with (a touch of) pressure! First, an agent with a quick turnaround track record is expected to sell her client's Flatiron apartment in no time flat. Will she beat her own record or finish last place? Then, a prominent showtune man relies on his broker buddy to find a kingdom worthy of a move. Will he croon over a commission or sing a super sad song? Dim the lounge lights, get a bowl of salted nuts, and gently stir the olive in this recaptini!

CRISIS #1: ART GALLERY DIRECTOR WANTS TO UNLOAD FLATIRON PAD IN A NEW YORK MINUTE

Warburg broker Leslie Modell Rosenthal has sold two apartments at 108 Fifth Avenue—each within a 2 week period. Which is what seller Stefany Benson, an art gallery director, wants Les to do with her 108 Fifth Avenue unit. Over lunch at Tocqueville, Stef tells Les that the "pressure's on" to work her market mojo. Will the third time be a charm?

Next, Les meets up with Warburg photographer Garrett to take professional pics of Stef's blah $1.725 million place. Get ready for disappointing decor!

Stef's art gallery, Ceres, is having an opening. What better place for Les to butter up some potential buyers and let them know about Stef's upcoming open house?

These busts are next on her target list:

Magically,Les hones in on a very interested candidate—Josh Freidfertig. The catch? He's also a broker. Les thinks this might make him "a tough sell", since, he, um, is a broker? Score one for circuitous logic!

It's open house season, and the only person to show up is...Josh! Here he is, coolly checking out the goods:

Les doesn't want to give Josh the hard sell, but does that thing that all brokers seem to do. Tell the potential buyer that the place could go ANY SECOND!!! Meanwhile, this apartment's been around the block. If you look deep into the listing, it was repped by another agency in April. Then moved to Warburg in July. Yeah, call me Inspector Gadget cuz I'm a sleuth like that.

Later, Josh heads to Warburg for a negotiating session with Les. Welcome to the world's most chill deal maker ever:

Josh's first offer of $1.5 million gets nixed by Les, but when he counters with $1.6 million she's all thumbs up. Wow, that one random guy at the opening turned out to be the buyer!

Sidenote: Josh is handsome, but the bare chested V neck sweater with hair unfurling out of the V? Whyyyyy. It reminds me of that SNL short with Ben Stiller:

Over ice cream treats at The Soft Serve Fruit Co, Les shares the offer news with Stef:

Stef is loving the ice cream (and the offer) and thinks Les "knocked it out of the park" with her brokering. And even sweeter for Les? A day after closing with Josh, Les closed on a new home for Stef. Sounds like she got a double scoop of commission!

CRISIS #2: WEALTHY CROONER WITH NO URGENCY TO MOVE WANTS TO LOOK AROUND

As we've learned in past episodes, CORE agent Tom Postilio used to be a professional singer. Which explains his tight friendship with mega-music man Michael Feinstein.

Tom goes to Michael's recording studio where a whole lot of classic crooning is going on:

Michael and his partner, Terrence, want Tom to list their Upper East Side palace and find something better. Tom is stoked and thinks it's "a very big deal" that he'll be their broker. Well, yeah...there's a baby grand full of commission cash at stake! Their current home isn't just any ol' townhouse though...it's a double wide. Yep, they smushed two townhouses into one 9,000 square foot opulent showpiece.

A peek at the piano man's $23.5 million manse:

Where there's a fireplace every 10 feet:

Michael wants a place with more entertaining space for his sizzling soirees and more storage for stuff. And Terrence? He's ready for a design project. Michael thinks it will be "hard to top" his townhouse, but he's willing to try!

While Michael is away on tour, Tom brings Terrence and architect Carol Vinci to the Centurion at 33 West 56th Street. Co-designed by Sandi Pei with dad I.M., the building sports a $39 million triple-wide penthouse. Yes, that's three penthouses for the price of four!

Naturally, this is the unit Tom shows Terrence. Carol demonstrates what can be done with so many boxy white rooms with giant windows that all look alike:

"I like it a lot," says Terrence, loving that Tom brought Carol along to help with her design vision. With Michael back from the road, the trio cross the bridge to Queens to amble around the historic Steinway family mansion.

Tom claims these light grey suits weren't planned. Riiiight, and I didn't call my best friend up the night before Non-Uniform Day to coordinate matching Benetton rugby shirts:

This 1858 estate, priced at $3.495 million (now price chopped to $2.995 million!), has 10,000 square feet of regal detail:

Michael is enamored with the home's history and its grandness, but demurs ownership by saying "I don't think we have the energy" to do a restoration. No mention if its industrial location has anything to do with it...

Later, Michael sings a sweeter tune when he performs at his club in The Regency Hotel:

After the show, Michael tells Tom he would like to keep looking at places, but...he'll be on tour for four months. The update explains that while Michael is away, Tom continues to search for Michael's quadruple wide love nest.

Episode Grade: A story of a too simple sale feels stale but we got a peek at the faded grandeur of Steinway so it wasn't a total fail with 2.0 out of 5.0 cackling Kleiers.

Yeah, This Apartment Has A Carsten Höller-esque Slide In It

GothamistFebruary 24, 2012
The Carsten Höller slide at the New Museum is now long gone, so there's only one thing to do about the regret we feel from having never gone... and that is to become friends with whoever buys this East Village pad. This penthouse apartment just went on the market, and features a sculptural steel slide that connects the two floors—according to the Wall Street Journal, it will bring you from "the office with a wet bar on the upper level to the floor below."

Core, who has the listing, notes that "This unique architectural detail was added when Galfond combined a pair of deuces (two two-bedroom units, that is) into what is now a 2,500-square-foot home accessed via private key-locked elevator. There’s also a custom Italian-made Rintal staircase for a more traditional path between the upper and lower levels," for the non-adventurous... because that slide does look awfully steep!

This place—located at 13th between 1st and A—can be all yours for $3.99 million, let us know when you get the keys, we're coming over for a test run. The current owner trying to unload the apartment is poker ace Phil Galfond. [via Core blog]

Inside Chelsea’s most stylish new building

New York Daily NewsFebruary 24, 2012
It doesn’t hurt to be a few feet from the Google building at 16th St. and Eighth Ave., but that’s not why this building is cool. It’s cool because its developer has some taste, he’s young, and he’s not a jerk.

Harlan Berger put many of his own touches on 305 W. 16th St., a 75% sold “condop” (a co-op building with easy condo-style rules) overlooking Eighth Ave. on one side and a small park on the other. He and a friend built the wood installation in the lobby after Berger picked the slabs out himself from a wood mill in Saugerties, N.Y. He selected the sleek mailboxes, too. He even got New York artist Peter Tunney to create collages to designate each floor. Taken from newspapers, they show fashion, film and music scenes.

Berger, who owns properties in SoHo, Hudson Square, Flatiron and West Chelsea, knows how to spot a piece of land. A warehouse that he and his partners at Centaur Properties own on W. 27th St. houses the avant-garde performance “Sleep No More.” The guy not only goes to Burning Man, he and his neighbor throw a weekend festival each July at his Woodstock home called Burning Lamb.
The Chelsea building, with exteriors by SLCE Architects, has a piece of that creative fever. Berger placed a 34-foot sculpture on the building’s roof. He bought the giant stainless steel and porcelain tile flower after seeing it at Burning Man. By artist Robert Buchholz, the piece titled “Perhaps” represents his mother, father and self. It’s a metaphor for being an only child. Berger had the city close some of Eighth Ave. to get the 5,385-pound steel sculpture of three daisies up to the roof. Then he had to build it into the building and tie it down with steel cables so it wouldn’t blow off.

“Could you imagine how I would feel if that happened?” says Berger. “This thing is meant to enhance someone’s life. People thought it was a marketing risk, but it gives the building something special. Hanging out here on a nice day next to this thing is just cool.”
Thirteen of 53 units are available. Three contracts were signed in February. Style isn’t cheap. Apartments in the building start at $670,000 for a 464- square-foot studio with 677 square feet of private outdoor space set aside for this unit on the roof. There’s a one-bedroom left for around $825,000. That might be pricey for mortals, but for Google engineers with stock trading at around $612 at yesterday’s closing, that’s a bargain.

Go to 305w16.com for more. Of course, the building has a blog, Facebook page and Twitter account. Its owner lives in that happy world where technology, love and profit co-exist. CORE is handling the marketing for the project.

This Professional Poker Player is Selling His Sick 2BR Penthouse for $4 Million, and It Comes with a Slide

Business InsiderFebruary 24, 2012
Phil Galfond, a professional online poker player, is leaving New York for Vancouver because of new regulations on online poker, says the Wall Street Journal.

Fair enough, that means someone gets his sweet apartment in the Lower East Side

The two bedroom (convertible to four), four bathroom penthouse is on sale for $4 million. It has an 18 foot atrium, a wet bar, a game room and two terraces. The building has a pool on the roof. You can check out the listing here, it's being sold by Core Group agents, Elizabeth Kee and Lindsee
Silverstein.

A Duplex with Slide Lists in New York for Nearly $4 Million

The Wall Street JournalFebruary 24, 2012
Professional poker player Phil Galfond is asking just under $4 million for his duplex penthouse apartment, which has a sculptural steel slide connecting the two floors, in Manhattan's East Village.

The 27‐year‐old online poker player bought two identical, two‐bedroom units in a new East Village development in 2008 for $3.2 million, then combined them into a modern space with two bedrooms (convertible to four) and four baths. A private elevator opens into the roughly 2,500 square‐foot apartment, which has an 18‐foot atrium and a game room. The slide connects the office with a wet bar on the upper level to the floor below (there's also a staircase). The apartment also has a private roof deck and two terraces. The building has a rooftop pool.

Mr. Galfond has moved to Vancouver to play poker online following the crackdown the U.S. Justice Department began in April on several major online poker companies. "It just doesn't make sense for me to hold onto [the apartment]" given the uncertainty about when online poker playing might be allowed to resume in the U.S., he says.

Elizabeth Kee and Lindsee Silverstein of CORE share the listing.

Google-Neighboring Chelsea Condo Hits 75 Percent Sold

CurbedFebruary 23, 2012
The rental-turned-condo building at 305 West 16th Street has done a lot to counteract its Death Star reputation, but the tractor beam still works. The building has hit the 75 percent sold and in contract mark as of this week. The building's most recent apartment to enter contract was #6D, which we hear will be, at an ask of $2.4 million, the most expensive deal to date. All of the buildings' model units have moved into the sold column, so there's also a newly-decorated model, the $1.35 million #2E. Depicted above, complete with artfully tossed blanket over the bed. So how are sales going? >>

We can't know much about the in contract sales until they close, so what about the apartments where the deals are full done? A look at the StreetEasy records shows deals with discounts up to 13.8 percent off and a handful of units that sold for over ask:

Are Realty Reality TV Program Listings for Show?

The Real DealFebruary 23, 2012
A 4,000‐square‐foot apartment in Chelsea owned by Manhattan interior designer Christopher Hyland, has been relisted after 18 months off the market, but the textile guru’s not too keen on selling it, he told The Real Deal today.

The 12th‐floor loft unit, which first came on the market for $22.45 million in 2010 and was featured on “Selling New York” with Core broker Michael Graves and agent Kirk Rundhaug, was listed again yesterday for the same price with “Million Dollar Listing New York” star Ryan Serhant and Regis Roumila, both of Nestseekers, but is for sale only because “everyone wants to do TV shows about it,” Hyland said.

He claimed: “I don’t really care if I sell it. I’d just as soon not sell it. Brokers pursue me ad nauseam.”

The sprawling four‐bedroom unit, designed by Hyland and his partner Constantino Castellano in the style of classic Greek Revival and Pompeian, is certainly on‐camera material with its elaborate design, including a Gothic kitchen of hand‐carved oak.

It was showcased on the HGTV hit show in 2010 and will make an appearance on Bravo’s new TV show “Million Dollar Listing New York” later this year, Hyland said, though the appearance on Bravo could not be confirmed. “They’ve asked me to be in the show,” he said.

Even when Hyland appeared on the “Selling New York,” he seemed reluctant to give Core the listing, saying at the time he wasn’t even sure he wanted to sell.

“They approached me, called me practically every day,” Hyland said, conceding that while he loves the apartment, he was open to selling it because “life is an adventure.”

When asked if he would in fact sell the apartment if offered something close to the hefty asking price, Hyland said he wasn’t sure. “If the price is right…,” he joked.

Asked by The Real Deal if the apartment was actually on the market for the TV show, which is currently filming its first season, Serhant vehemently denied the suggestion.

“I would never list an apartment just to put it on TV,” he said. “I’m too busy doing actual business.”

The previous marketing of the apartment by Core was insufficient to reach the apartment’s prospective buyer base, Serhant said, claiming that the apartment had barely been shown in 2010.Showings will start next week this time around, and the Nestseekers broker is determined to find a buyer.

“It’s a very sellable apartment,” he explained, “and appraises very close to the asking price. There’s a premium for the décor. It took [Hyland] four years of renovations and no detail was left unturned. It just feels like a home.”

While Serhant admitted he had approached Hyland about the listing initially, he attributed that fact purely to the idea that he’s “always going after interesting properties.”

He said the pair had a connection because they’re both from the North coast of Boston. The fact that the apartment was on “Selling New York” was not a factor.

There’s no guarantee that Hyland’s apartment will make it onto “Million Dollar Listing New York,” Serhant said. No one at HGTV was immediately available for comment, but a spokesperson at Bravo said Hyland wasn’t on season one of the show.

A Core spokesperson said the listing was legitimate in 2010.

“We would never list something just for the sake of listing it,” she said. “We find that unethical.”

Another source with knowledge of the workings of “Selling New York” told The Real Deal that it was unlikely an apartment would be listed primarily for the purposes of the HGTV show.

“I can promise 100 percent that the stories are real,” said the source, who wished to remain anonymous because he was not authorized to speak about the program. “They all have to be factchecked. There are five different levels of approvals.”

One homeowner, who had an apartment featured on “Selling New York,” remained skeptical that a listing would be purely for show.

“There are so many great apartments in the city and so many of them are for sale, you don’t have to go after someone,” he said.

It is possible however, that apartments could be listed at astronomical prices for short periods of time on these shows to test the market, the source said. In his case, the apartment was over‐priced so as not to attract many buyers, he said, because at the end of the day, he really didn’t want to sell the place.

Manhattan Duplex with Slide for Nearly $4 Million

The Wall Street JournalFebruary 23, 2012
Professional poker player Phil Galfond is asking just‐under $4 million for his duplex penthouse apartment, which has a sculptural steel slide connecting the two floors, in Manhattan's East Village. Juliet Chung has details on The News Hub.

Gilt by Association

The New York TimesFebruary 23, 2012
IT was billed as “A Double Feature of Never Before Seen Paintings,” starring Eve Plumb, a k a Jan Brady, of “Brady Bunch” fame.

That may sound like a set-up for a “Saturday Night Live” skit (cue the theme song from the iconic 1970s show), but this was the big draw for an event in Chelsea on Wednesday night. Ms. Plumb, blond and charming in her black dress, was flitting about, explaining the inspiration for her artwork.

An art gallery opening? No, her work was hanging on the walls of a Chelsea penthouse, and the people hosting the event hoped that the condo would be the real star of the evening.

When the Broad Mill Development Group, the developers of Carriage House on West 24th Street, approached Ms. Plumb about displaying her Western scenes and “noir” series of black-and-whites based on old Hollywood films, she was thrilled.

“Anytime anybody wants to give you an art show you take it,” said Ms. Plumb, 53, who dabbles in art between acting jobs. She had suggested a tagline for the event: “Have a drink, buy some art, get a condo.”

That was a bit too direct for the developers. “I wanted to have some fun; let’s have some fun,” Ms. Plumb said. “I am not a serious person, and it is not serious art.”

A mix of developers, their friends, invited brokers and a few potential buyers strolled by her artwork Wednesday night in the 1,614-square-foot duplex, which features an outdoor hot tub in 835 square feet of outdoor space.

The exhibition was just the latest reminder that simply inviting people to come check out the real estate is no longer good enough. To lure high-net-worth prospects, creative — and often kitschy — events are now the bait for brokers and potential buyers.

Earlier this month, a building at 123 Third Avenue hosted a “bundled luxury event” called “Shop at the Top.” Held just a few days before Valentine’s, it was a one-stop shopping experience with high-end retailers, including La Maison du Chocolat, Aaron Basha jewelry, Illuminum perfume and the jeweler Yael Sonia. Guests sipped on wine and hors d’oeuvres while walking amid the retailers and popping upstairs for tours of four penthouses, priced from $3.6 million to $4.5 million. Roxanne Hulderman, a “celebrity psychic,” did readings in an upstairs bedroom of one apartment.

“We have to be very creative these days to showcase properties and cross-brand, and to think of any outside-the-box ways to bring traffic and attention to properties,” said Tom Postilio, a broker with CORE who attended the event.

While apartments over $10 million in New York are practically selling themselves — often to out-of-towners like the Russians, the Chinese and the Brazilians — some apartments below that level need a little more publicity.

Earlier this month, Mr. Postilio said, he was at a runway fashion show in a three-bedroom apartment with Hudson River views on the Far West Side, listed for $3.49 million. “I turned to my colleague and said, ‘Who would have ever thought that in 2012 we are selling real estate and we are at a fashion show?’ ” he said. “But you never know who might be in the audience. You just have to spark the interest of one buyer.”

As Mr. Postilio acknowledged, the efforts are intended to bring together high-end brokers and high-wealth individuals. Last week he introduced a $6.5 million penthouse at 211 East 51st Street at a party co-sponsored by Manhattan magazine, which brought along 50 of its top V.I.P.s, he said.

Last summer, Azure, a luxury cond-op on the Upper East Side, staged a book signing and reading with Soleil Moon Frye, a k a Punky Brewster, that was attended by almost 100 well-heeled mothers, according to Hundred Stories, the public relations company that organized the event with a group called DivaMoms. Last October, Azure hosted a show by John Grande, a photo-based painter whose works were inspired by cultural icons like Batman and the Playboy logo. The developers also teamed up last fall with the president of the company that publishes “America’s Top Doctors” to host an event, and drew more than 50 doctors from Mount Sinai and other local hospitals.

At the inauguration party for the Carriage House last June, Classic Car Club of Manhattan was invited to show off the building’s garage and hydraulic lifts by rolling in several posh cars, including a Lamborghini, a Ferrari and a Jaguar. The developers spent $15,000 on the opening, and since then about 35 percent of the apartments have gone into contract, with over half the building left to sell, said Joél Moss, the listing agent from Warburg Realty.

The unsold $3.6 million penthouse has become a frequent site for parties, said Eamon Roche, one of the developers. Wednesday’s evening of Ms. Plumb’s art, with martinis and prosecco flowing, was just the latest. “Basically, until they kick me out of this one I will probably have a party here every month or so,” he said. “I can’t afford to own it, but I can afford to throw a party here.”

Ms. Plumb moved with her husband to New York from Laguna Beach, Calif., two years ago to get a taste of living in the city. They are renting a two-bedroom on the Upper West Side with spectacular views, she said.

The party planners had filled one room of the lower level with Ms. Plumb’s Western landscapes — the “See the Pony” series “all have to have a blue sky, a horse and they are done in vertical strips,” she said. On the upper level her “noirs,” collectively called “Here Comes Trouble,” were arranged around the master bedroom. The names of those works include “Look Out Now” and “Feed the Dog.” (The pieces were on sale for $750 to $2,850 and will stay up through March.)

At evening’s end, she said she hadn’t sold any paintings but remained hopeful. Only one broker couldn’t restrain his curiosity about the “Brady Bunch” era of her life, she said. I admitted to her that when I watched the show I always identified with Jan and Peter, two middle children struggling for recognition and attention while the older siblings, Greg and Marcia, seemed to have it easy.

Ms. Plumb tried not to roll her eyes.

She said she understood why the developers had tapped her.

“Whatever gets people to look at your product, as long as you don’t have to take off your top, which is usually my criteria for projects,” she said, laughing heartily. “And at this point nobody really wants me to.”

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: March 4, 2012

The Big Deal column last Sunday, about brokers’ teaming up with sellers of high-end merchandise to attract wealthy buyers, described incorrectly the financial structure of Azure, a residential building on the Upper East Side. It is a cond-op, not a condo. The article also misidentified the club that was invited to show several classic cars at the inauguration of the Carriage House last June. It was the Classic Car Club of Manhattan, not Cooper Classic Cars.

On the Dubbel

New York PostFebruary 23, 2012

Award-winning starchitect Winka Dubbeldam, who designed the gorgeous, glassy, 11-story 497 Greenwich St., otherwise known as the Greenwich Street Project, has just put her sixth-floor home there on the market for $2.35 million.

 

Dubbeldam had previously been more interested in renting her condo, sources say, although it had briefly been on the market in 2010 for $2.39 million. The two-bedroom, 1 1/2- bathroom unit is 1,661 square feet with high ceilings, an open layout and sliding doors.

 

The doorman building, with a penthouse owned by artist Cindy Sherman, includes a gym, screening room, wine cellar, pool and Zen garden. There’s even a guest-suite duplex and 24-hour concierge.

 

One reason we love Dubbeldam: In one interview, she lists books as the most underrated object. “I still like their physical presence and having a wall full of them to browse,” she said.

 

Listing broker Jason Walker of Prudential Douglas Elliman declined to comment.

 

Picture Perfect

 

One pricey downtown condo is getting its share of close-ups.

 

Model Angela Martini, Albania’s representative in the 2010 Miss Universe competition, shot a video for her new Martini Bikini swimsuit collection at a 4,700-square-foot penthouse at TriBeCa’s 200 Chambers St. The unit, listed by Platinum Properties, is on the market for $17.995 million and features Andy Warhol and George Condo art, Marilyn Minter photographs and furniture including a $63,000 de Sede sofa. Also included is a $50,000 antique chandelier, which fashion designer Betsey Johnson swung from during a recent photo shoot.

 

Sighting

 

Hot-shot real estate lawyer Adam Leitman Bailey — known largely for lawsuits he’s filed against condo buildings — dining at STK Midtown.

 

Irving Place

 

Irving Schneider, the 91-year-old real estate mogul and philanthropist, is still wheeling and dealing. Schneider, a longtime business partner of Harry Helmsley, just sold his high-floor co-op at 880 Fifth Ave. for $5.9 million — well above its $5.495 million asking price.

 

The three-bedroom, three-bathroom, 3,500-square-foot co-op is in an exclusive Emery Roth-designed, 21-story building that dates back to 1948. Schneider currently resides in Palm Beach, Fla.

 

The buyers are insurance executive Francis Mitterhoff and his wife, Charlotte, who purchased a lower-floor unit in the same building in 2005.

 

Listing broker Jacky Teplitzky of Prudential Douglas Elliman declined to comment.

 

We hear . . .

 

That multiple potential buyers are lining up to see Katy Perry’s $2.75 million TriBeCa penthouse at 65 N. Moore St., where showings began on Wednesday. The two-bedroom, two-bathroom, 1,500-square-foot unit is still described as a “romantic duplex” in the listing despite Perry and Russell Brand’s divorce. Prudential Douglas Elliman broker John Prince could not be reached for comment . . . That socialite Michelle-Marie Heinemann just bought her second apartment at 923 Fifth Ave. for $1.85 million . . . That Silverstone Property Group’s Martin Nussbaum bought the 17-story residential building at 247 E. 28th St. from Samson Management’s Arnold Goldstein for $53 million. Broker Steven Vegh of Multi Investment Group represented both sides of the deal . . . That 322 Meadow Lane in Southampton closed last week for $28.5 million. The 9,000-square-foot, six-bedroom, 6 1/2-bathroom mansion was listed for $32 million.

Selling New York Recap: ASAP Apartments

CurbedFebruary 17, 2012
HGTV's Selling New York rides along with brokerages CORE, Gumley Haft Kleier and Warburg as they try to sell fabulous properties fabulously. Here's our recap of how the NYC real estate industry is portrayed to the world, penned by Molly Reisner. Episode air date: 2/16/2012.

NEED. APARTMENT. NOW-ISH! Time was mildly of the essence in last night's Selling New York, when two buyers bustled around town trying to hone in on a home. First, a broker helps a couple from Atlanta land an Upper East Side apartment. But with a home still for sale in the ATL, can they bring the bucks up north? Then, with one inning left in the baseball season, an agent assists the wife of the Oakland A's manager (MONEYBALL, PEOPLE!) in locating a downtown loft. Will she score a home run or get benched for the season? Aaaand, you're welcome for all my terrible puns. Boil up a Hebrew National, grab a brewskie, and munch on this recap stadium style! Delicious, no? >>

CRISIS #1: BI-CITY COUPLE SEEKS TO REUNITE IN CHARMING UPPER EAST SIDE PAD
Sabrina Kleier-Morgenstern is happy—she gets to show buyer Debbie Pagano apartments in her fave nabe...the Upper East Side! The two ladies meet at Yura on Madison to discuss Deb's sitch, which is that her hubs just got transferred to NYC for a job. Deb's still living in Atlanta with their pooch and is trying to sell their house so she can move up here within the next few months. Her budget? A healthy $1.5 to $2 million. First stop is 900 Park Avenue (or if you want to get Upper East Sidey, The Parc 900 Condominium). Shall we take a glance at this $2.445 million unit? Spoiler: it's pretty snoozy.

Deb likes the location...and that's about it. The 14th floor is too high, the apartment's too modern, and she wants some charm gollydarn it! Naturally all of this is discussed during a heated dance-off, dj'd by the jukebox:

Next, Sab takes Deb down the street to 785 Park Avenue to tour a $2.3 million pre-war property.

The classic decoration and the layout scream peachy keen to Deb's sensibilities. "I love it!" Deb gushes. But...because there has to be a but...Deb wants to sell her Atlanta home before buying in NYC. Sab gets thrown for a loopety with this news but bounces back with a practical suggestion: find a place that has a rent-to-buy option! Liking that idea, Sab brings Deb and her man Grover (unfortch, not THE Grover from Sesame St.) to a $1.795 condo listing at 40 East 94th Street in Carnegie Hill. Will this be the one?!?

Deb and Grover both like the space, and are anxious to live under one roof again. Awww. Later, over scones at Sarabeth's, Sab has a load of good news/bad news to share with Deb. The bad? The sellers of 40 East 94th don't want to rent after all. The good news is that Sab scouted out a bunch of UES listings that are down with the rent-to-buy scenario. Deb says that she likes that idea so much, they've decided to offer the same option for their Atlanta house. Hmmm...if my landlord let me do that, I could own my place in just several decades!

I know you have burning questions about what happened with Deb's search. According to el update-o, many moons later Sab is still trying to find Deb the perfect pad. Guess that whole urgency to live in the same city has gone south of the Mason Dixon!

CRISIS #2: BASEBALL WIFE SCOUTS DOWNTOWN FOR DELUXE DUGOUT

CORE broker Kirk Rundhaug and buyer Kelley Melvin have a lunch date at sushi joint Haru. Outside of the restaurant, they manage to completely ignore this caricature offer. OPEN YOUR EYES TO THE MAGIC OF YOUR CARTOON SELF!:

Kells, wife of Oakland A's manager (this is the Moneyball team!) Bob Melvin, has ditched her old agent and wants to sign on Kirk for TEAM FIND US A COOL DOWNTOWN APARTMENT. Right now, Kells is living in her daughter's 1 bedroom with her daughter there. It's like a sitcom waiting to happen! Or maybe it did happen and was so bad it never got past the pilot. Bob will be returning Big Apple-side in a few weeks and she wants to secure a place before he arrives. With a budget of $2.5 million, somehow I don't think she'll have a problem. Kells wants a Soho or Greenwich Village loft-like feel, which is why Kirk takes her first to...Tribeca? A $1.995 million spot at 68 Thomas Street is first on the list:

Kirk scores points for the industrial vibe, but Kells wants Soho or G'wich Village, mmm'k? Struuuu-ike! Next, Kirk brings Kells with her daughter Alexi in tow to a chic Soho unit selling for $2.595 million.

Drink in the luxurious bareness:

The loft makes Kells' heart sing and she doesn't want to lose it but...she thinks she should look at a few more juuust to make sure it's the right pick. Kirk doesn't want to push Kelly to buy, but is concerned she'll lose out if she waits too long.

Off K & K go to another contender at 252 7th Avenue (aka the Chelsea Mercantile) to peek at a $2.495 million 2 bed/2 bath abode:

The more Kells looks around, the more she wants the Soho locale. Soho "really feels like home to me," she shares. Time to make a bid! Kirk gives Bob a call pronto and advises him to give a low offer at first to gauge the seller's price. Oooh, a counter offer of $2.475 million came in. Bob gets video chatted Jetson style with the news:

Kirk thinks an offer of $2.3 million is a fair comeback and Bob agrees. Which is good, because the offer was accepted! K & K celebrate the good news with some cheers'ing at Le Pescadeux:

Kirk gets the MVP treatment with a dinner invite at the Melvins' new Soho address. The update explains that the Melvins were so thrilled with their purchase, they've referred Kirk to friends. He's already picked up a new client from the deal. Go Captain Kirk!

Episode Grade: A dead-end search that gets stale and front row seats to a major league sale leave me ever so slightly buzzed with 2.5 cackling Kleiers.

'Burg's Louver House Hits 60; Cornell Campus Picks Admins

CurbedFebruary 16, 2012
WILLIAMSBURG—268 Wythe Avenue, 91-93 Metropolitan Avenue, Louver House: whatever this building is called, somebody's finally buying there. In fact, reps tell us, the building is now 60 percent sold. StreetEasy shows three 2BRs available for $669,000 to $733,000. [CurbedWire Inbox]

ROOSEVELT ISLAND—Further movement at Cornell-Technion's future Roosevelt Island campus: a few major administrators have been appointed. According to a press release: "Professor Daniel P. Huttenlocher, Cornell University’s Dean of Computing and Information Sciences, has been named Cornell Vice Provost and founding Dean of the university’s historic tech campus, home of the Technion-Cornell Innovation Institute. Cathy Dove, currently associate dean in Cornell’s College of Engineering, will co-lead the campus as Vice President, and Technion Professor Craig Gotsman will serve as the founding director of the Technion-Cornell Innovation Institute." A hearty congrats to all. [CurbedWire Inbox]

NYC—And a hearty Launches & Releases welcome to CORE's Pinterest page. Notable because this is the first brokerage we've seen with its own Pinterest page, and because there's a section for Selling New York fans. [CurbedWire Inbox]

Centurion Unveils a Terrace: UCB Does Real Estate; More!

CurbedFebruary 14, 2012
CHELSEA—And finally, a quick dispatch from Chelsea's sometimes marketing-challenged Cammeyer. The Sixth Avenue building is officially 80 percent sold. The CORE blog also has a little more to say about the building's lobby, which includes "a box from huge panels of white Corian cut out by water jet to produce “tree branches,” their shadows projected onto the plain white walls by a simulated skylight." [CORE]

Haute Event: "Love and Real Estate"

HauteLiving.comFebruary 14, 2012
With Valentine’s Day just a few weeks away, exclusive Matchmaker and founder of Samantha’s Table matchmaking, Samantha Daniels along with top real estate agent and Managing Director at CORE, Vickey Barron hosted a “Love and Real Estate” event on February 2. The two women brought together people who love real estate and who are looking for love so that they could meet each other, chat about great homes and hopefully find a match.

“Love and Real Estate” brought together a select group of both Daniels’s clients and as well as Barron’s single clients in the hopes of pairing some of the invitees together and at the same time create a very unique episode for “Selling New York.” Daniels, who is regularly seen on TV for her matchmaking expertise and insight, helped Barron select the attendees for a night of wine tasting, hors d’oeuvres and breathtaking views at one of Barron’s current listings at 256 West 10th Street, 6‐D.

The exclusive event is being filmed for HGTV’s hit show, “Selling New York,” which showcases high end unique real estate in NY. “Selling New York” is HGTV’s second highest‐rated program and offers viewers a rare glimpse inside Manhattan’s high stakes world of buying and selling luxury real estate.

New York City’s Most Mind-Boggling Red and Pink Rooms

CurbedFebruary 14, 2012
Happy Valentine's Day, everybody! In honor of this day of universal happiness and joy, where nobody is super sad and alone and just barely holding it together right now, we bring you a list of the best red and pink rooms of all time, an inordinate number of which seem to be located on Park Avenue. Unlike Valentine's Day candy, these listings will not be 50 percent off tomorrow. (Or perhaps they will be.)

The Word on the Street: A new breed of lobbies is reinventing New York real estate.

Interior DesignFebruary 13, 2012
The boutique lobby, a new subspecies, has invaded. Fitted or retrofitted into predominantly midsize, midblock buildings, it is changing the game and the New York cityscape.

Through lobbies, the entire history of office and apartment buildings can be told. That history has been continuously written as architectural style moves on, but the speed of change has accelerated under the twin demands for improved technology and increased security. Also forcing change, a decade of front-page spectacles, such as the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, has trickled down to raise expectations everywhere.

What has occurred is the advent of lobbies as environmental art-meticulously detailed, conceptually complex works conceived to be original, individual, and unexpected rather than safely corporate. Microcosms within a building and within the design field, they represent big experimentation on a small canvas. They are cool.

Take the small lobby in a Ladies' Mile commercial building that Eran Chen converted into condominiums when he was a principal at Perkins Eastman. (He now heads his own firm, ODA-Architecture.) Around the concierge desk, he built a box from huge panels of white Corian cut out by water jet to produce "tree branches," their shadows projected onto the plain white walls by a simulated skylight. The branch motif repeats as carvings in the elevators. “Converting old buildings, I'm intrigued by showing the layering over the years," Chen says. "The idea was to create an extreme expression of the new inside the old, a contemporary white box inside a box of beautifully articulated 1906 masonry. The lobby is not an art piece per se, but it's definitely conceptual."

Many boutique lobbies feature actual art, like their bigger brethrendo, but the newcomers are not passive, like a gallery. Instead, they occupy a middle ground between art and architecture. At a glass tower built by Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates, artist James Turrell dissolved the lobby into a cavern of light, a mystic installation in the thick of the Manhattan hubbub. "The walls are just gyp," KPF principal Douglas Hocking says. "You can get so much done now with so little, just a core idea and a few materials. I've noticed a tendency toward less ostentation and more refinement, a reaction to ornate work."

Having long relied on acres of marble and granite to produce Karnak-esque moments of entry, designers are deploying light as a primary material. And they usually hide the source, so visitors occupy the glow and the color without seeing the bulb-miniaturization has advanced the cause. Many designers have also adopted Turrell's technique for walls: They taper to a thin edge, dematerializing them as shiding the cove. Matter cedes to luminescence.

LB Architects relied on light in redesigning a 1989 office building, Tower 45. On the side plaza, which acts as a pocket park, and in the lobby, senior designer Eric Lukenich suspended monumental illuminated rectangles at odd, jostling angles. These light trays animate both of the spaces.

Rather than treating lights as chandelier objects in the lobby of a1959 office building, Lukenich tucked fixtures into coves and pockets to showcase an array of features, including a wall of stacked textured marble. He composed his interior from shifting, asymmetrical blocks. Classic simplicity has given way to material and geometric complexity." We created a continuity from outside to inside, a procession that celebrates the entry into the building," project manager Elizabeth Dull says. "In such a small space, detailing was key-the transition between materials, how each should meet another."

In boutique lobbies, the attitude is liberating, the results are expressive, and the rules are few. Still, it's important to respect the bones of the spaces and to facilitate functionality without foregrounding its mechanics. What matters is invention at the service of beauty and effect, making the private more public and offering a visual gift to the street. From the front doors to the elevators, a total environment delivers an intensified experience. Unlike modernist forerunners, boutique lobbies are conceived not as prototypes but as a site-specific new reality.

Selling New York Recap: Grooming and Guidance

CurbedFebruary 10, 2012
HGTV's Selling New York rides along with brokerages CORE, Gumley Haft Kleier and Warburg as they try to sell fabulous properties fabulously. Here's our recap of how the NYC real estate industry is portrayed to the world, penned by Molly Reisner. Episode air date: 2/9/2012

Helping hands were extended in last night's Selling New York when two newbies dared to dip their careers and wallets into NYC real estate's raging waters. First, a fast-talking agent agrees to bring his sweet daughter-in-law under his wing for a crash course in real estate know-how. Will she ever be able to ditch her training wheels? Then, a potential buyer is more interested in her broker's under-renovation apartment than a move-in ready unit. Ethical drama ensues! Bring your GPS because that storyline is ALL OVER THE MAP. Feeling lost already? Hint: Scroll your mouse due south for the next 8 feet of recap routing!

First, click on the blue text >>

CRISIS #1: WILL RICHARD STEINBERG'S DAUGHTER-IN-LAW MAKE IT OR BREAK IT IN THE REAL ESTATE BIZ???
It's family dinner night at Orsay for Warburg broker Richard Steinberg. On the menu? His daughter-in-law, Jill Steinberg, asking her pop-in-law if she can work with him. Jill'll be taking her real estate exam and getting her license in a few weeks and wants some heels-on experience stomping around the real estate world. Richard had a feeling Jill would ask—and now, for the first time ever, his "I knew it" face exposed!

"I would be honored," says Richard—but she has to start at the bottom as his assistant. He explains she'll shadow him (AKA no talking, woman!) when he goes to pitch for a 10 condo exclusive at...

Williamsburgh Savings Bank. The one at 175 Broadway in Williamsburg, not the one at 1 Hanson Place in Downtown Brooklyn. There, he meets with The Dome Voyagers developers Juan and Carlos to check out the space and offer his services.

Check out the soaring lobby, and some manufactured meddling from Jill who's just trying to unsubtly make Richard look good:

Jill's untimely interruptions to Richard's pitch unsurprisingly earn her a "less is more" lesson from pops. Next, Richard takes Jill to Level 2 of Real Real Estate Experience with an apartment showing at 205 West 19th Street in Chelsea.

Richard leads a potential buyer through the layout of this $3.695 million beauty. Jill? She watches. And listens. And learns. FROM THE MASTER!

Why are these candles bent over? WHAT REALLY HAPPENED TO THESE STICKS OF WAX? CSI: Special Candle Unit needs to get on the case!

The buyer likes the size and the light, but not so much the open kitchen or bathrooms. Pass! Richard commends Jill on a job well done (of keeping her trap mostly shut). Richard has one more level for Jill to complete. There's an open house at 39 East 29th Street and SURPRISE! Richard makes Jill in charge of showing the $2.035 million listing.

Will Jill carpe the open house or crash n' burn? Jill handles questions, knows to call a regular bathtub a "soaking tub" and is all around pleasant and professional. Richard thinks Jill did a Steinbergtastic job and explains it's all about confidence. Back at Jill's home, the family is in a celebratory mood. Richard says that since the open house, there have been two offers and two contracts signed on units in the building. And, Jill passed her real estate test and is fully licensed. Even better? Richard wants Jill to work at Warburg and tap into the young families demographic.

All this good news is too much for Elmo—he has an unnoticed fainting spell with his eyes open. I know, why is no one paying attention to this?:

Where is Jill now? Well, she's got her own page on Warburg's site for starters. And the update shares that she's working on a Warburg initiative to sell NYC properties to overseas clients. Get it, girl!

CRISIS #2: BUYER WANTS WHAT THE BUYER CANNOT HAVE—HER BROKER'S PAD!
CORE agent Vickey Barron has one goal: to sell a recently renovated apartment at 280 Park Avenue South in Gramercy. Maybe it will be to potential buyer Irasema Alonso. She's been looking for just the right 1 bedroom in the nabe to snatch up, but she hasn't seen her dream digs. Will this $1.35 million unit compute with the Yale economics professor? "

"This apartment has everything I'm looking for" Irasema gushes. But it doesn't have cans of paint all over the place, ladders in the middle of the room and exposed wires! Irasema is intrigued when Vickey mentions she's renovating her own apartment which is right around the corner. Maybe she wants to renovate a place too! She asks Vickey if she can see her place. Weird, but OK! (And actually, it's apparently not the first time this has happened.) The ladies go down the block to Vickey's for a look at her $1 million unit, with $250k already sunk into renovations:

Could this tubing be the latest trending NYC amenity...a gerbil chute?! Because gerbils need indoor slides too:

Vickey's no amateur when it comes to reno'ing real estate—she's done 10 apartments in the last 18 years. Hello, side business! "Renovating takes vision, time and commitment" Vickey explains, which is why she doesn't encourage buyers like Irasema to embark on the headache of renovating places themselves.

It seems that all of Vickey's reno-bashing has only made Irasema want her apartment more! When the two sip some outdoor drinks, Irasema has lots to say. First, she wants to offer $1.215 million for the Park Avenue South pad. All cash, baby! Second, she'd rather buy Vickey's place for $1.3 million cash money.

Vickey seems almost annoyed at the offer:

Because she needs to focus on selling Park Avenue South, not wheel and deal her own stuff. Despite her negative reaction, Irasema still wants Vickey to think about her offer. So much so that when they grab some grub at Socarrat, Irasema asks about her apartment AGAIN. No dice. Vickey sticks to her ethical guns and says her responsibility is to sell her listing. Whose owners have counter-offered Irasema's bid with $1.250 million.

It seems that Irasema shied away from the counter offer since Vickey is showing the place to other buyers. She miiiight consider selling her own apartment once 280 is in the can... Hey! 280 got sold! Irasema goes to Vickey's now finished home to see the final product:

Dazzled by the design and layout, Irasema extends her offer again to Vickey. But it's not enough dough to put a dent in Vickey's reno costs. Bright side! Vickey agrees to be Irasema's broker and help her find the perfect spot to call home. Yay? Episode Grade: A cockles-warming tale of helping one's family mixed with a meandering story that kind of went nowhere leaves me lukewarm with 3.0 out of 5 cackling THE STEINBERGS ARE TAKING OVER THE SHOW!
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