Penthouses in Chelsea Verizon building conversion to ask $10,000 per foot

The Real DealMarch 09, 2012
JDS Development’s conversion of the Verizon building in Chelsea will yield 53 condominium units priced between $3,000 and $10,000 per square foot, the New York Times reported.

As The Real Deal previously reported, the project is a joint venture between JDS Development and Property Markets Group and obtained equity from Barry Sternlicht’s Starwood Capital. It is set to hit the market in this spring under Core, which told The Real Deal yesterday that it selected Vickey Barron and Emily Beare to head the marketing effort.

The building, erected in 1929 at 210 West 18th Street, was one of several central offices for the telecommunications giant that housed copper wire for landlines that has been rendered obsolete by the proliferation of cell phones. Its transition to new ownership was complicated by state regulations regarding telecommunication properties and Verizon’s desire to maintain a small presence in the building. The company will maintain ownership of the second through seventh floors, which it will utilize for offices.

The rest of the 23-story, Ralph Walker-designed project, named Walker Tower after the architect, will house luxury condominiums. The renovation includes lengthening windows, adding new windows and shifting the exterior to allow for terraces with better views the final units will retain the building’s 12- to 15-foot-high ceilings, will include heated French-oak herringbone floors and will feature laundry rooms with side-by-side washing and drying machines. The average unit size will be 3,000 square feet, and the eight penthouses will be listed for as much as $10,000 per square foot. [NYT]

Dial C for Condos

The New York TimesMarch 09, 2012
CELLPHONES have been blamed for all sorts of transgressions: the disappearance of phone booths, the decline of civility in restaurants and movie theaters, even for being potential carcinogens.

But there is at least one point in their favor: they have helped increase the supply of real estate in New York City. As the communications world has gone wireless, Verizon has been selling some of its monolithic “central offices,” once needed to house copper wire for land-line calls but now mostly obsolete. Among the new uses have been business offices, medical research labs and even high-school sports complexes.

One of those Verizon buildings, a 1929 tan-brick Art Deco high-rise at 212 West 18th Street in Chelsea, is being converted into luxury condominiums. The 53-unit project is called Walker Tower for its architect, Ralph Walker, who also designed several other phone company buildings.

The $200 million project is a venture of JDS Development and the Property Markets Group. The developers say they are sparing no expense in the furnishings and finishes. The 12- to 15-foot-high ceilings will be coffered. Radiant heat will course through French-oak herringbone floors. Washing machines and dryers won’t be stacked, as in many buildings, but will sit side by side, in individual laundry rooms.

“It’s such a rare perfect storm in New York to have an asset like this, so we’re not going to denigrate it,” said Michael Stern, the managing partner at JDS, on a tour of what will become a three-bedroom with a home office.

Prices were set in the condo’s offering plan, which was approved last year, but because the residential market has heated up since, the developers are seeking to raise them by 10 percent in an amended plan, he said. When the sales office opens this spring, condos are likely to cost about $3,000 a square foot — double the going rate in the neighborhood, brokers say — and as much as $10,000 a foot for the eight penthouses, said Shaun Osher, the founder of the Core Group NYC, which is handling sales. With an average size of 3,000 square feet, a typical unit might cost $9 million.

In some ways, Walker Tower’s most impressive feat might be even getting built at all. Mr. Stern, who first toured it on Sept. 15, 2008, when Lehman Brothers collapsed, taking down much of the economy with it, had to get permission to take it over from the state’s Public Service Commission, because it housed a telecommunications company.

That extra layer of approval meant that it took a relatively long time to close the deal, Mr. Stern said. Further, Verizon didn’t want to concede the whole building, so it was divided into two condominiums.

Verizon owns Floors 2 through 7, which contain offices for about a dozen employees who will come to work through a West 17th Street entryway. Mr. Stern owns the condo that encompasses Floors 8 through 23.

Other major changes included lowering the parapet wall on the tower’s many wedding-cake-type setbacks, to one foot from four feet, to improve views from terraces. Similarly, windows were lengthened to 10 feet, from 5, and cut into the eastern wall where none existed before, developers said.

Some elevator shafts in the building, which is supposed to be ready for occupancy in spring 2013, were also removed to gain residential space.

If the project has been difficult, the developers don’t seem deterred. In fact, the same team recently started interior demolition on another Walker-designed telephone building it owns, at 435 West 50th Street, which is also envisioned as a condo conversion.

In both, thick walls and floors that were strong enough for crackling switchboards have proved ideal for residential uses, said Mr. Stern, who added, “There are no more solid buildings than these.”

Curbed - Selling NY Recap: Full Nesters vs. Empty Nesters

CurbedMarch 09, 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: 3/8/2012.

Most New Yorkers know what's it's like to not have enough space (duffle bags crammed with clothes under the bed, only accessible by lifting up metal mattress frame, anyone?), and a very lucky few have the opposite "problem." We got a taste of both worlds in last night's episode of Selling New York, when sellers put their ill-fitting square footage on the market. A pair of brokers help a family of five flee their two bedroom Upper East Side apartment. Will a double-listing with the upstairs apartment bring in more bucks for the space-strapped family? Then, an agent assists an Upper West Side empty nester with marketing her too-massive sky-high manse. Oh, and her building doesn't allow public open houses. How will this apartment ever get sold? Find out the fate of two families with not much to lose in this twist-trying recap!
Family fun time starts now >>


Brokers Sabrina Kleier-Morgenstern and Daniel Kerin are en route to seller Kristen Mulvoy William's apartment at 150 East 93rd Street.

Kristen's had three kids in a whopping 13 months—an adopted daughter, followed by twins in pregnancy. Someone get this woman a spa treatment and a plate of nachos, stat.

With her kids sharing a bedroom Brady Bunch style, Kristen is more than ready for a move from her 2 bed/1 bath 1,000-square-foot unit. The price? $699k:

The space is well-decorated and recently renovated, but what I want to know is if this little munchkin comes with:

As they say in French and English: adorable!

Back at Kleier HQ, Dan shares a wacky idea with Sab. A sponsor unit (an apartment that's still owned by the original owner) directly above Kristen's is also on the market. Since it has the same layout as Kristen's, Dan's thinking it'd be a good idea to see if they can get "a combination opportunity" to list both units together. AND MARKET THEM AS A POTENTIAL DUPLEX, PEOPLE! The goal is that it will bring in more $$ per square footage, boosting everyone's income. Sab likes the idea, but wants a 3-D rendering done so buyers can visualize what the bi-level space could look like.

Next, Sab and Dan head over to meet broker Jude Dayani. She reps Kristen's upstairs neighbor and they need to sweet talk her into co-listing.

A peek at the $625k sponsor unit, looking a lot more rustic in its original condition:

Jude gets momentarily despondent about the hassles of co-listing:

But then when Sab is all "you have nothing to lose," Jude snaps out of it and cheerily agrees!
At the open house, architects Brendan Tadler and Young Kim offer their vision of what the rendered 4 bed/3 bath pre-war style duplex could look like:

The proposed duplex price clocks in at $1.324 million. Making the duplex conversion would be another $250-300k. Wait a mathematical moment! How is combining the two units a win for the sellers, if the duplex price is just the combination of the two asking prices? I know someone can explain this to me.

The renderings get a lot of interest at the open house:

Later, Dan, Sab and Sab's son Cooper hang out with Kristen and her kid posse at urban craft center Make Meaning:
While the kinder play with baubles, Sab and Dan tell Kristen there was a lot of interest in her apartment but nada offers. Kristen, happy with how it's all going, tells the broker duo that she referred her selling neighbor to them. The update reveals that a month later, Kristen accepted a $650k offer on her pad. And my research reveals that the sponsor unit sold too. Everybody wins...except the duplex.

Seller Rebecca Clemente doesn't need her 4 bed/3.5 bath Trump Place palace anymore. The 2,962-square-foot double-unit property is too big without the children home anymore. Enter CORE agent Emily Beare!

Em takes a tour of Rebecca's 220 Riverside Boulevard beauty:

Louie, Rebecca's parrot, says the nest should be priced at just below 15 billion saltine crackers (that's around $6 million):

Impressed with the apartment's layout and decor, Em says "it's not just another apartment, it's really a home." Public open houses aren't allowed in the building, so Em comes up with a plan to event. Invite only, open house crashers.

But who to pull off this elegant affair? Em pays a visit to uber party planner Colin Cowie at his office

Colin's into it, and also into getting paid. "Who do I send the bill to?" he joke/asks for reals. He suggests getting Gigi, an electric rock violinist, to make musical magic with her strings at the party. SPOILER ALERT: she makes so much magic!

Next, Em meets up with her daughter, Elizabeth (also a CORE agent) to check out invites at Kate's Paperie. The party is supposedly less than a week away and you're doing invitations now?! Basically, the invites are going to arrive two days after the party. And why do I care? I wasn't even invited!

Mother and daughter point out their favorite:

Heyyy, it's RSVP-only open house hour:

Cheeses come with their own topping selection. So fancy!:

Later, at pastry store La Bergamote, Em tells Rebecca there's lots of interest, and maybe even an offer.

A reminder that there is good in the world:

Em doesn't disappoint, as the update explains that she received an offer and is negotiating. Aaaand, it looks like it sold. Now that's the power of a Colin Cowie event!

Episode Review: Pads got purchased, a duplex perplexed, and watching Gigi burn up the joint moves me to give 3.5 out of 5.0 cackling I WANT A COLIN

Can You Afford Me Now: Converting an Old Telephone Tower Into Ornate Luxury

The New York ObserverMarch 09, 2012
Big red is turning into big green!

Verizon has cashed in over $800 million in properties since 2005 because its office spaces have become obsolete in the era of wireless technology. The properties have been flipped for multiple uses—including a Mercedes Benz showroom—but the old central offices are proving themselves to be perfect for developers, the Times reports.

The 23-story pre-war Art Deco building at 212 West 18th Street in Chelsea, more commonly known as Walker Tower, was partially sold off by Verizon. Verizon will remain as a tenant, but only for floors 2 through 7. Floors 8 through 23 will be turned into 53 condominium units.

The development company is not letting any square inch go to waste in the prewar building and is pouring upwards of $200 million into the project:

The developers say they are sparing no expense in the furnishings and finishes. The 12- to 15-foot-high ceilings will be coffered. Radiant heat will course through French-oak herringbone floors. Washing machines and dryers won’t be stacked, as in many buildings, but will sit side by side, in individual laundry rooms.

It’s hard not to be enamored by its high ceilings, ornate entryways, and pre-war charm, but the price tag is quite grounding:

When the sales office opens this spring, condos are likely to cost about $3,000 a square foot — double the going rate in the neighborhood, brokers say — and as much as $10,000 a foot for the eight penthouses, said Shaun Osher, the founder of the Core Group NYC, which is handling sales. With an average size of 3,000 square feet, a typical unit might cost $9 million.

But forget the pricetag. Just look out your massive pre-war windows with beautiful views of Midtown and you’ll forget that your pockets are empty.

Four Cheaper Alternatives to Brooklyn's Priciest Real Estate

CurbedMarch 08, 2012
Welcome back to Splurge/Steal, a feature that we've shamelessly borrowed from our friends at Eater. In it, we give you five high-class apartments in a particular neighborhood and five more affordable (but still probably not all that affordable) versions of each one. Up today: some of the most extreme properties in Brooklyn. Got any tips? Send them in to our tipline.

1 Main Street #9A ($3,400,000) / 370 Ocean Parkway #9KL ($625,000) Similarities: The Ocean Parkway co-op stacks up to this condo in Dumbo's Clock Tower Building in more ways than you might expect. Both have roughly the same square-footage (2,000), number of rooms (5, 6, respectively), and number of doormen (1, full time). The Clock Tower has a common roof deck, while Ocean Parkway has a private terrace.
Differences: From the Clock Tower's roof deck, you can gaze out over lower Manhattan and the Brooklyn Bridge, whereas from Ocean Parkway's terrace you can gaze out over...other parts of Brooklyn. The main difference here is location—the Clock Tower is as close to Manhattan as you can get without actually, you know, being in Manhattan, and Ocean Parkway is left languishing in Kensington, where people act all crazy in the post office

125 Oceana Drive East #PH2A ($4,999,999) / 601 Brightwater Court #5J ($469,000) Similarities: These two apartments are within a mile of each other, each have three bedrooms, and Brightwater Court (the steal) actually has three full baths to Oceana Drive's 2.5. Differences: Size is a big difference. Oceana Drive has ten rooms to Brightwater Court's six, and, although the penthouse doesn't give a square footage, it's easy to see from the pictures that it is considerably more spacious (and that's not even taking into account the enormous private terrace.) The consensus, however, is that the $5 million ask is a bit much.

440 Kent Avenue #PHA/PHB ($4,995,000) / 80 Lorraine Street #101 ($399,000) Similarities: These two are both condos in close proximity to water, with open living room areas and large windows. And what Lorraine might lack in fanciness, it makes up for in not causing crippling depression. Differences: The actually proximity to water is a difference—Kent is on the water whereas Lorraine is simply near the water (compared to, say, Bushwick.) In addition Kent is 4,000 square feet to Lorraine's 1,560 square feet. And while Lorraine's floorplan is certainly open, it's nothing compared to the loftiness (get it?) of Kent's 30'x60' living/dining room.

189 Bridge Street #PH17/18 ($6,800,000) / 1392 East 18th Street #3A ($500,000) Similarities: These two condos are comparable in terms of beds and baths—Bridge Street has 5 and 5, while East 18th has 4 and 3. East 18th's roof space is similar to Bridge Street's five balconies and four terraces in the sense that all of those things are outside. Differences: These two are not actually similar at all. We just wanted an excuse to talk about 189 Bridge Street, which features a private elevator, twin glass spiral staircases, heated indoor parking, and a "centralized vacuum system." We don't even know what that means, but it sounds amazing. —Jeremiah Budin

Movers and Shakers: Vickey Barron

The Real DealMarch 08, 2012

Movers and Shakers: Reba Miller

The Real DealMarch 08, 2012

New Listings: 100 Jay St, 18-H

Brokers WeeklyMarch 07, 2012
Vinegar Hill
100 Jay Street, 18-H

Two-bedroom apartment offers a distinctive floor plan providing great separation of space. Formal entry with closet and a half bath opens into a space with floor-to-ceiling windows. Chef’s kitchen with gas range. Master suite with walk-in closet, spa-like bath. A full bath, laundry closet and large hall closet complete the apartment. The Jay Condominium is a full-service building with fitness center, play room, and a penthouse roof deck. Agent: Brendon DeSimone, CORE.

New LIC Condo One Murray Park Gets Ready for Market

CurbedMarch 07, 2012
It's been a while since we've heard about a new condo project hitting the market in Long Island City—and it turns out that's because One Murray Park is the first new LIC condo going up for sale in more than a year. The CORE blog, from which we swiped the above lobby, kitchen, and bathroom renderings, has the full rundown of the project (there's a teaser website, too). Units are officially up for grabs in the Fogarty Finger-designed building next month: 10 studios starting in the $300,000s, 25 1BRs starting in the mid-$400,000s, and 10 2BRs starting in the low $700,000s. Amenities: 421a tax abatement, gum, indoor parking, residents' library, common roof deck, and pet washing area. That's two pet washing rooms this week, which is almost a trend.

Stalled LIC condo set to hit market in April

The Real DealMarch 06, 2012
Construction on a once-stalled condominium project in Long Island City is back on track and the development is set to launch sales in early April, according to Core, the building’s exclusive marketing agent.

One Murray Park, at 11-25 45th Avenue, is the first new condominium to launch sales in Long Island City in over a year, Doron Zwickel, executive vice president at Core, who is heading sales at the property, told The Real Deal.

“The market has been reasonable in recent months,” Zwickel said. “There’s been steady absorption of product. I expect Murray Park will be successful, especially since it’s the first new condo in a long time and also the first on [Murray] Park.”

The 45-unit property, developed by Jon Hendel of TerraMax Development and Eyal Shuster of Shuster Development & Management and designed by Soho-based firm Fogarty Finger, will be composed of studios and one- and two-bedroom units, Zwickel said, ranging from around $300,000 to about $700,000. Zwickel said exact asking prices were not yet available. Closings are slated to begin in late summer.

The property was originally envisioned by Hendel in 2006, with a proposed completion date in 2008, but fell victim to the recession, according to TerrMax’s website. It was later revived last year following a strategic partnership deal between Hendel and Shuster. Neither developer was immediately available for comment.

The construction is now 80 percent complete, a Core spokesperson said, and will likely be finished by the time sales closings begin.
Shuster is “well-rooted” in the neighborhood, Zwickel noted, having previously headed projects such as the Badge Building at 10-55 47th Avenue in Hunters Point, an eight-storyluxury residential condominium building, and 10-63 Jackson, a 50,000-square-foot condo development he brought to market on Jackson Avenue.

The development, which will feature a doorman, gym, indoor parking, residents’ library, pet washing station and common roof deck, is eligible for a 15-year 421-a tax abatement, the Core spokesperson said.

“It’s a Manhattan quality apartment for a fraction of the price,” Zwickel said.

The adjacent Murray Park, which underwent a $2 million renovation by the Parks Department in 2010, features a synthetic-turf ball field and a new playground.

It's a Broker Playground at Slide Penthouse

CurbedMarch 05, 2012
EAST VILLAGE—Core real estate is now listing the $4 million East Village 'Slide Penthouse' and hosted a party the other night to celebrate. Cameras were on hand to catch the celebrants for a future episode of our favorite reality broker series Selling New York. [Curbedwire Inbox; SNY]

LOWER EAST SIDE—Art world professionals will be conducting guided tours of Lower East Side galleries Sunday March 11th, courtesy of the Lower East Side Business Improvement District. The tours will leave from the New Museum and those interested are recommended
to RSVP to Maps and guides for self‐guided tours are also available online. [CurbedWire Inbox;]

A Murray Hill Loft Studio for the Fan of Pullman Car Sleeping

CurbedMarch 05, 2012
Welcome back to The Six Digit Club, in which we take a look at a newish‐to‐market listing priced under $1 million, because nice things sometimes come in small packages. Have a nomination? Send it to the tipline.

Price: $429,000
Address: 34 East 38th Street, #4B
Size: 2.5 rooms/1BA
Maintenance: $406 a month

This Murray Hill studio/loft co‐op has a unique sleeping area that will come as a pleasant surprise to fans of overnight train travel: it's a sleep nook tucked above the walk‐in closets. There's not a straight‐on shot of this feature, but we can tell that one has to ascend a wooden ladder to get to bed and that headroom once inside does not favor much animated tossing and turning. There is enough
room up there to fit a full‐size mattress though. The rest of the newly renovated studio looks beautiful, with a functioning wood burning fireplace and sound‐proofed hardwood floors. With amenities like a finished roof deck, laundry, and bike room for monthly maintenance of only $406 a month, this apartment just off Fifth Avenue seems like a relative bargain. It's currently renting for $2,900 a month.

House of the Day: An Indian Palette in Manhattan

The Wall Street JournalMarch 04, 2012
Price: $3,295,000
Location: Manhattan, NY
Type of Home: Apartment

This brightly colored condo in the Flatiron District of Manhattan was inspired by the colors of India. It has two bedrooms, 10-foot ceilings and a gas fireplace. The property, located at 15 West 20th Street, was listed in February for $3.295 million with CORE agent Adrian Noriega.

Ask a broker: CORE Senior Vice President Doug Bowen

New York Daily NewsMarch 02, 2012
CORE’s Doug Bowen was a movie set builder — he even worked on the blockbuster hit “Titanic” — before he turned to real estate. He tells Voyeur about a part of Brooklyn you might not know about:

What’s the next hottest nabe in NYC? Bedford- Stuyvesant has incredible opportunity. The townhouse stock is of very high quality and the commercial strips are beginning to pick up traction. The investment numbers remind me of when I was buying buildings north of Myrtle Ave. in Fort Greene/Clinton Hill at the turn of the millennium.

Personal motto or favorite saying? Do not fear the reaper, just pay him!

What part of business do you love most? The deal-making part! It’s more art than science. I like to think of it as “sculpting” each deal.

Neighborhood you could live without? I know that it is a borough, but can we just jettison Staten Island altogether? Is that mean?

Neighborhood you could NOT live without? Wallabout. Heard of it? It is the latest landmarked district in Brooklyn near the Navy Yard, north of Myrtle Ave. I live there and helped to shape this historic district. I am officially a Walloon, which just sounds cool.

In which era in NYC history would you want to be selling or living? I would have loved living in the West Village during the turn of the 20th century when the row houses (today’s townhouses) were transitioning from single-family homes to multifamily residences. The original bohemians of this time required more affordable living circumstances, and these shared living quarters necessarily caused a very vibrant, visceral and artistic culture.

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!


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!


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'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 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

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.
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