News

House of the Week: 252 Seventh Avenue

The New York PostFebruary 01, 2012
Chelsea $2.15 million
Bedrooms: 1 Bathrooms: 2 Square feet: 1,489
Common charges: $883

Fifteen floors above Seventh Avenue, this condo in the Chelsea Mercantile building (with a Whole Foods on the ground floor) offers “sparkling, open city views” to the east, along with high ceilings, “custom‐built” storage, an “open” chef’s kitchen with all‐new appliances, a
den/home office and a 29‐foot‐long living/dining space. Agent: Michael Garr, Core, 917‐ 689‐4504.

All the Fixin’s: A Guide to Renovations That Add Value to Your Residence--and Ones That Don't

The New York PostFebruary 01, 2012
When it comes to a renovation — be it a kitchen, bathroom or an entire apartment — it’s natural to want it to reflect your needs and tastes. But you should also take the long view: In terms of resale, which renovations will hold their value and, more important, which might help or hinder a sale?

Having worked with both New York City buyers and sellers, broker Christian Rogers of Core observes, “It’s less about the bling than about quality work. Assume that everything you put in, you aren’t going to get back — but using high‐quality materials that aren’t taste‐specific can only improve the apartment and increase its value.”

There’s no definitive formula for calculating the value you get from specific renovations. But the 2010‐11 Remodeling Cost vs. Value report from Remodeling magazine notes that even with a minor kitchen reno — which in NYC averages $24,000 and includes replacing
cabinet fronts and counters and installing a midpriced sink and energy‐efficient stove — one can recoup nearly 87 percent of the costs.

“I can say from my discussions with brokers that it’s certainly worth it to renovate and modernize the kitchen and bathroom and use better‐quality appliances,” architect David Katz says.

In fact, an artfully done renovation can make the difference between something selling quickly — and, in some cases, for a hefty profit — or languishing on the market. Rogers gives an example of a three‐bedroom West Village combination, where the owner did a number of things right, including adding lots of storage in the kitchen, going with modern fixtures in the bathrooms, installing white oak floors that were “elegant, very neutral” and skim‐coating the walls.

“In a building where a typical three‐bedroom went for around $2 million, this apartment sold for $3.14 million,” says Rogers.

Another renovation that will pay off?

“Creating storage gives you a lot of bang for your buck,” says Doug Perlson, co‐founder and CEO of RealDirect brokerage. “New York apartments always have less closet space than you want. And it’s relatively easy and inexpensive.”

And experts are in agreement: When in doubt, opt for functional over frills. Says Martin Horner, principal of interior design and architecture firm Soucie Horner, “Trends come and go, but simple detailing and a neutral palette are timeless.”

KITCHEN
A full‐scale kitchen renovation can run well into the six figures, especially when moving walls or plumbing fixtures. This tends to happen with prewar apartments, where the kitchen, once considered a room to be hidden from public view, is often a cramped space
that’s tucked away.

Today, the trend is toward open kitchens that meld into the living area. So, when Horner was tasked with renovating an Upper East Side prewar pied‐à‐terre in 2003, the tiny galley kitchen needed to be addressed.

“We took out a wall that separated the kitchen from the maid’s room,” Horner explains. “And we also took out a full bathroom, too. Normally, I wouldn’t lose a bathroom, but making the kitchen larger was more important.”

He created an under‐cabinet area for a washer/dryer — always a huge selling point — and added flourishes like a wine cooler and a professional range. The tiled floors were ripped out in favor of custom wood, which was seamlessly integrated with the original wood
flooring in the family room (formerly a dining room).

For those looking to do an upgrade rather than a full renovation, Danielle Fennoy, founder of interior design firm Revamp and a regular on HGTV, suggests replacing old appliances with stainless‐steel ones that “are middle‐of‐the‐road but look expensive.” Choose neutral
colors for the backsplash and counters, she advises, and “don’t go too over‐the‐top with tilework and knobs. If you want color, go for it where it’s easy to change, on the walls or the cabinet fronts.”

As for fixtures, “Don’t go just by looks, but by how they work,” Fennoy says. “If you have to do dishes every day, you want a faucet that works well. So, do your due diligence by reading reviews and go to showrooms and try them out.”

BATHROOM
Architect David Katz was brought in when a client needed to get her tired Village apartment into shape to sell. One of the first spaces he tackled was the bathroom. “It had been poorly done 15 years earlier,” he explains.

The dated black bathtub and sink were replaced with new ones — including a pedestal sink — that were true to the prewar spirit of the original apartment.

“To redo a typical bathroom, it runs anywhere from $20,000 to $30,000,” Katz says. “That involves tearing down walls, redoing tiles. For this job, the budget started low but kept increasing as she took more interest in it.”

If you are looking to keep costs down, opt for clean, modern subway tile, which can start at $4 per tile (though hand‐crafted ones go up to $20), and install a pedestal sink, which creates the illusion of more space.

“Invest in good lighting and place it around the mirror not just above it, so you’re surrounded by light; it makes all the difference in the world,” Fennoy says.

She suggests that if you want to splurge, consider a recessed medicine cabinet that doesn’t project out over the sink. It will cost $1,000 to $1,500, plus about $200 for the cabinet, but it gives you much more space.

Which bathroom renovations — besides black tubs — should you avoid? “It’s usually a small space, so don’t go with busy tile patterns or a busy floor,” says Fennoy. “Remember, every single bit of tile has grout lines, so less is always better.

“And don’t do a rain‐head shower — most women don’t like them,” she adds. “And never ever change a bathtub into a shower if it’s the only one in the apartment. People with kids want a tub.”

CLOSETS
According to an NYC buyer survey conducted by RealDirect, 87 percent indicated they wanted “ample closet space” (compare that to just 52 percent who chose “doorman”).

Though you can’t necessarily install a closet where there isn’t one, you can make an existing closet more user‐friendly.

Fennoy notes that in many apartments, “The closets are ill‐conceived and not intended for more than one person.” She typically creates shoe cubbies, adds double‐hanging rods and expands the floor‐to‐ceiling storage space. “When people open up the closet and see how organized it looks, that’s an easy sell.”

A closet renovation is obviously less expensive than other projects, but it’s not necessarily cheap. “The space was there,” Horner says of his client’s bedroom closets, “but we turned it into more of a dressing area.” He built out the two spaces — one had built‐in drawers,
another was designed for just shoes — switched out all the doors and added automatic lighting. The total — $13,000.

Where Not To Put Your Money

Custom window treatments. “People will spend tens of thousands on big, long, heavy drapes, and they’re actually detrimental to a sale,” Rogers says.
Millwork and custom built‐ins. “It’s very expensive to do well, and at the end of the day, the buyer might ask you to rip it out,” Katz says.
Venetian‐plastered walls. “Ninety‐nine percent of the time, it’s done terribly,” Rogers says.
Too much technology. “I’ve had people say, ‘Just give me a dumb house,’ ” Horner says.
Marble or terrazzo flooring in the living area. “This is not Miami,” Rogers says. “It’s an impediment to selling and at a significant cost.”
New bathtub. “It’s an easy thing to refinish a tub,” Katz says.

More Upgrades That Add Value

Home office. “One place had a long, narrow closet, and they opened up the wall, put doors on it and created a home office that became a very important point when they were selling,” Perlson says.
Lighting. “Mix things up for a better look and feel, using decorative and halogen lighting, sconces and pendants,” Horner says.
Entryway. “Carve out a small gallery space at the front, so there’s a sense of arrival in the home,” Katz says.
Central heat and air. “Very expensive, but if you are doing it, get a multi‐zone system,” Rogers says.
Sound systems. “People appreciate having the wiring work and speakers installed. In a weakened market, they’re willing to pay for plug‐and‐play,” Rogers says.
Solid doors with good hardware. “You know when a door feels flimsy,” Katz says.
“Changing out a door is relatively easy.”

The Luxury List: Top Manhattan Real Estate Brokers

The Real DealFebruary 01, 2012
It’s always been difficult to rank the city’s top real estate agents, given the lack of publicly available information about their performance — at least when measured by cold, hard data.

But for the first time ever this month, The Real Deal compiled a ranking of luxury sellers’ agents based on the dollar volume of their closed sales, rather than listings. And we’ve drilled down even farther, discovering who reigns supreme in different corners of Manhattan. We looked at sales of $5 million and up, below 96th Street, which were closed and recorded in 2011. Then we used the new
“Shop for a Broker” tool from listings aggregator Street.

Easy to match up the transactions with the seller’s agents. Lastly, we did our own research to help ensure we weren’t missing any transactions, ultimately matching nearly 90 percent of sales. (A portion of the remaining sales were off‐market deals that never officially had listings.)

Since the identity of buyers’ brokers is not publicly available, the rankings include only listing brokers. The ranking also does not factor in sponsor sales at new developments, since it’s difficult to compare the process of selling condominium units for a developer to working with individual homeowners.

For most of the luxury brokers on the list, the key to dominating in a particular neighborhood was securing one mammoth sale. But a select few — Serena Boardman of Sotheby’s, John Burger of Brown Harris Stevens and Robby Browne of Corcoran, for example — seem to have cornered both the volume business and the megadeals.

These three brokers are household names in the residential real estate world, but they’re not the only ones. However, some familiar names are absent from this list, partly because we’re looking at a snapshot of closed deals from 2011, and partly because some brokers had deals spread across Manhattan, and didn’t dominate in a specific neighborhood.

Upper East Side
More than any other Manhattan neighborhood, the Upper East Side is home to soaring deals. As a result, the competition for the top broker spot is at its fiercest.

High‐society broker Serena Boardman, who ranked as the neighborhood’s top luxury broker, closed over $45 million in deals in 2011 — the most expensive being a $12.5 million townhouse at 13 East 94th Street. The home — sprawling over 15 rooms and five stories — was owned by Maren Properties LLC, an entity that has been linked to Mark and Renee Rockefeller, fourth‐generation members of the prominent family.

Boardman is no stranger to clients with names ripped from the society pages. She also helped Eli Broad, the billionaire philanthropist and art collector, sell a full‐floor co‐op on the top floor of the Sherry‐Netherland hotel on Fifth Avenue for $8 million.

Boardman rarely, if ever, speaks with the press, and it seems that many of her deals also take place out of the public eye. Take, for example, the $36 million sale of Limited Brands founder Leslie Wexner’s co‐op at 834 Fifth Avenue — one of the priciest to close in 2011 —where Boardman reportedly made hush‐hush calls to other brokers to secure the buyer, real estate developer Larry Heyman of Heyman Properties. (The deal was not included in her total because there was never an official listing.)

Robert Schulman, an executive managing director at Warburg, ranked second with two Park Avenue co‐op sales totaling $44 million last year.

First, he represented Irving and Judith Shafran, a matrimonial lawyer and book editor, respectively, in selling their 18th‐floor, four‐bedroom home at 778 Park. The Shafrans originally listed the apartment in December 2009, mere days before Bernard Madoff was arrested for running an epic Ponzi scheme in which the couple had invested, according to court documents. The property was on the market until this past November, when it was sold to Zygmunt Wilf, a real estate developer and owner of the Minnesota Vikings.

Wilf faced criticism for paying $19 million for the residence while simultaneously seeking municipal tax breaks for a new football stadium in Minneapolis.

Schulman also helped David Matlin, an investor known for his interest in distressed assets, and Lisa Matlin, who runs a Carnegie Hill gift shop, sell a sizeable spread at 625 Park Avenue. The 7,500‐ square‐foot home was made up of two units — one “completely renovated to the highest standards and specifications” and another that “awaits your personal touch.”

David Simon, the CEO of Indianapolis‐based mall giant Simon Property Group, bought the whole shebang for $25 million.

Kathy Sloane — who took third place on the ranking with two deals worth a combined $36 million — has also worked with a cadre of business bigwigs.

A senior vice president at Brown Harris Stevens, she handled the sale of a third‐floor co‐op at 640 Park Avenue for Peter Smith, a retired Lazard Frères executive, and his wife, Marie. The fourbedroom, six‐bathroom residence fetched $20.5 million and went to hotel scion Alexander Tisch.

Sloane worked with another financier on the sale of a full‐floor unit at the Carlyle Hotel at 35 East 76th Street. Peter Schoenfeld, the head of P. Schoenfeld Asset Management, and his wife, Charlotte, sold the home for $15.5 million to Brad Grey, the chairman and CEO of Paramount Pictures.

By our count, almost 100 agents listed and sold properties of $5 million or more on the Upper East Side last year.

That means that some notable top producers are absent from our ranking. Corcoran’s Carrie Chiang, for example, sold nearly $58 million of residential real estate in the neighborhood, but many of her deals didn’t make the $5 million cutoff. Brown Harris Stevens’s John Burger sold William Lie Zeckendorf’s co‐op at 927 Fifth Avenue for $34.6 million, but that wasn’t quite enough to make the top three — at least on the eastern side of Central Park.

And, one of the most talked‐about deals of the year — Johnson & Johnson heiress Libet Johnson’s $48 million sale of the Vanderbilt Mansion at 16 East 69th Street to Beauty.com founder Roger Barnett — was an off‐market deal between friends. Similarly, it’s unclear whether brokers were involved in J. Christopher Flowers’s $36 million mid‐renovation sale of the Harkness Mansion to art mogul Larry Gagosian, and there was never a public listing.

Upper West Side
Brown Harris Stevens broker and senior vice president John Burger dominated sales on Central Park West in 2011 with a stunning $54.1 million in closed deals. That includes three $5 million‐plus deals at the Eldorado, the co‐op where Burger said he has brokered the majority of the trades for the last 20 years.

Burger’s clients in the building last year included Thomas Tierney, a director of eBay and former CEO of Bain & Co., an affiliate of GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney’s former employer Bain Capital. Tierney sold a 19th‐floor penthouse for $6.25 million. Burger later helped him into another one of his Eldorado listings — a larger unit that Silicon Valley entrepreneur Richard Yanowitch sold for $8.95 million.

Burger, who moonlights as the broker specialist at the Dakota at 1 West 72nd Street, also handled a $14.5 million sale at the San Remo at 145 Central Park West — his priciest in the neighborhood — and a $10.25 million sale at the Park Millennium on West 67th Street. He said he had a record year in 2011. “A lot of that comes from hard work, understanding of the marketplace and a strong pipeline of satisfied clients over a quarter‐century,” he told The Real Deal.

Elliman’s Raphael De Niro sold two pricey properties in the Time Warner Center at 59th Street last year for a combined $48.05 million, easily catapulting him onto the Upper West Side ranking. The smaller of the two was a $17.5 million condo atop the Mandarin Oriental hotel owned by a trust reportedly backed by football star Tom Brady (whose agents signed the deed).

But De Niro’s biggest sale was the penthouse two floors up, No. 76B, owned by Todd Wagner, cofounder of website Broadcast.com, which sold for nearly $30.6 million. The buyer was reportedly Taek Jho Low, a Malaysian financier. The $6,331‐per‐square‐foot deal broke price‐per‐square‐foot records in the building, De Niro said. (It also outranked other powerbrokers who handle listings there, including the Sotheby’s duo Elizabeth Sample and Brenda Powers.)

Still, De Niro doesn’t consider himself a neighborhood specialist. “Modern‐day brokers are not constrained by specific geographies,” he said. “That’s the old way of doing it.”

Moving down the rankings, among Cathy Taub’s four $5 million‐plus sales were two idiosyncratic deals, one at the Eldorado and another at the Majestic at 115 Central Park West, where she’s lived since 1994.

Taub and her Stribling colleague Rosette Arons listed an eighth‐floor unit there for CBS medical correspondent Emily Senay and Avery Seavey, head of Manhattan‐based real estate developer the Seavey Organization. An investment banking executive and his wife paid $5.7 million for the threebedroom in January 2011, but before they moved in, the couple “had a change of heart and bought something completely different,” Taub said. They promptly drafted Taub and Arons to relist the apartment.

Taub then found a buyer, a Bank of America investment banker, who knew exactly what he was willing to pay: $5.7 million. “Talk about having an immediate comp,” Taub said. “It was easy to justify the price.”

At the Eldorado, Taub and Elliman’s Oren Alexander sold two adjacent units owned by separate sellers to a single buyer.

Initially, the two brokers listed the apartments separately, with Taub marketing unit 7G for the estate of Gregoire C. R. B. MacArthur, a member of the family whose eponymous foundation awards so‐called genius grants. Alexander had the listing for unit 7F, owned by architect Bernard Marson, a 30‐year resident of the Eldorado. But they wagered that a potential combination would reel in a better deal.

Richard Barasch, the head of Universal American Corp., a health benefits administrator based in Rye Brook, N.Y., nabbed both for about $13.25 million.

Also worth noting is Upper West Side powerhouse Lisa Lippman of Brown Harris Stevens, who racked up an impressive number of deals in the neighborhood. Some were not included because they were sponsor sales.

Midtown
(including Central Park South, Midtown South, Midtown West and Clinton)

If off‐market deals were included in rankings, Lisa Simonsen’s $48 million sale at the Plaza would top any list. But the seller, still unidentified, apparently chose a less public route to off‐load the 6,000‐square‐foot spread.

That leaves Corcoran veteran Leighton Candler at the top in Midtown with one mega $30 million sale. Hedge fund manager Scott Bommer first enlisted Candler to help sell his apartment at the Residences at the Ritz‐Carlton in November 2008, just a few months after he bought it for $28.5 million. The 5,800‐square‐foot unit, one of 12 residences above the hotel at 50 Central Park South, jumped on and off the market until it sold for $30 million in October 2010. The sale was recorded in August. It was not immediately clear what accounted for the lag.

Meanwhile, Emilie O’Sullivan’s sale of two units at the Plaza may not have broken city records, but at $19 million, it was hefty nonetheless.

O’Sullivan, of Corcoran, represented Gigi Mahon, an author and interior decorator who bought the adjacent apartments in 2007 for roughly $3.8 million and $10.3 million. “It just seemed crazy not to buy two [apartments] since their terraces were so close together,” Mahon told The Real Deal.

A New Jersey native who visited the Plaza as a child, Mahon was initially wary of developer El‐Ad Properties’ plan to convert the upper levels to condos. But she eventually came to think of it as the property’s salvation.

Mahon, who is currently living in Palm Beach, Fla., sold the apartments to afford her a financial cushion. “It just gave me a whole heck of a lot of security,” she said. The buyer was reportedly Barbara Garza, a director of Mexican bottler Coca‐Cola Femsa S.A.B. de C.V.

Ranking third was Elliman’s Victoria Shtainer, who has handled numerous deals at One Beacon Court. The deal that landed her on the list was her sale of the 34th‐floor, four‐bedroom condo owned by Wvc Holdings, an undisclosed entity, to Berkshire Hathaway executive Ajit Jain for almost $14.7 million.

Also known as the Bloomberg Tower, the 105‐unit building has welcomed numerous celebrities, including pop star Beyoncé, NBC newsman Brian Williams, baseball star Johnny Damon and two attorneys convicted of financial fraud, Scott Rothstein and Marc Dreier. In fact, Jain purchased Dreier’s former home at auction in 2009 for $8.3 million. That unit is adjacent to the more recent purchase, which Shtainer listed for $16.5 million.

Midtown East
(including Sutton Place, Turtle Bay, Kips Bay and Murray Hill)

The Midtown East designation is a tricky one, since it encompasses the exclusive prewar co‐ops of Sutton Place, such as the Sovereign and River House, as well as the more moderately priced homes of Kips Bay and Murray Hill, where local brokers say first‐time homebuyers are fueling the market.

Not surprisingly, it’s the agents finding buyers for the former who are pulling in the highest dollar volume of sales in the area.

In 2011, Kathy Sloane — one of only three brokers to make the top‐three list in more than one neighborhood — finally sold Broadway producer Marty Richards’ 14‐room maisonette at River House. Richards first listed the two‐level residence in 2007 at $22.7 million; the unit went into contract in January 2008, but the deal fell apart. The Art Deco building at 435 East 52nd Street is one of the city’s strictest co‐ops.

Then, in October 2008, as the world was reeling from an economic tailspin, the apartment went back on the market for a more austere $13.9 million. It finally sold for $11.65 million in February to the Chilean investment advisor Manuel Balbontin.

Deborah Grubman and David Dubin, who also made the list in Tribeca, sold an apartment at River House owned by Goldman Sachs executive Roy Zuckerberg, who also sits on the board of the Mack‐ Cali Realty Corp, for $10.1 million. Evidently, buyers Firoozeh Foulon and Christopher Toub, a bigwig at the investment firm AllianceBernstein, passed the River House co‐op board’s test. The deal was the Corcoran duo’s biggest Midtown East deal of 2011 and their only one above $5 million in the neighborhood.

Meanwhile, Ann Jeffery, a senior vice president and managing director at Brown Harris Stevens, brokered the $8 million sale of a co‐op at 1 Sutton Place South, which was first listed at $8.5 million.

The owners were Gavin McFarland, a banker, and Hannah Griswold, a fund‐raising consultant who formed the Young Lions fund‐raising program for the New York Public Library. They paid $5.6 million for the home in June 2008. Charles Moss Jr., the head of Bow Tie Partners, a New York and Aspen, Colo.‐based real estate and entertainment business, bought the residence.

Jeffery also sold a Park Avenue co‐op and a Fifth Avenue co‐op on the Upper East Side for $24.9 million and $6.5 million, respectively, which were not counted toward the Midtown East total.

Flatiron District and Gramercy Park
he Flatiron District has undergone some serious changes in recent years, with additions like Mario Batali’s Eataly food complex, the renaissance of Madison Square Park and new developments like 15 Union Square West and the Cammeyer bringing condo dwellers to the area. When it comes to Gramercy Park, however, the luxury sales are clustered around that exclusive stretch of green that gives the neighborhood its name.

In February of last year, Corcoran senior vice president Tim Cass sold a duplex penthouse at 50 Gramercy Park North belonging to the Icelandic retail tycoon Jon Asgeir Johannesson for $22 million. Now, the Icelandic LLC–like entity that bought the apartment appears to be attempting to flip it, looking to Cass again to help. Johannesson listed the unit in June for $21.4 million. It was then taken off the market, and then relisted in January after a 12 percent price cut. Cass declined to discuss the transaction.

Meanwhile, Aligned Real Estate founders Jonathan Isaacs and Steven Ganz, formerly of Core, handled the $14.6 million sale of the 10,000‐square‐foot duplex penthouse at 31 West 21st Street featured in the film “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps.” The seller was financier Richard Weissman, who paid $1.4 million for the pad in 2003. While the unit’s star turn garnered some attention, it didn’t bump up the price, Isaacs explained. “Somebody at that price point isn’t buying based on the movie,” he said.

Speaking of star power, at least when it comes to real estate, Lisa Simonsen got her fair share of attention last year for brokering the apparently off‐market $48 million sale of a combination unit at the Plaza acquired by Igor Krutoy, the founder of Russian MTV, touted as the most expensive condo sale in New York’s history (see above). But it was a smaller deal at 50 Gramercy Park North that put her on the ranking in this neighborhood.

Simonsen sold a three‐bedroom unit for money manager Thomas Marsico, who was twice named to Forbes’ list of the 400 Richest Americans, for $7 million. The buyer was an LLC, but news reports indicated that actor Jennifer Aniston was behind the purchase. She had toured an apartment in the building in the summer.

Like Johannesson’s former home, the residence sits atop the Gramercy Park Hotel, the posh conversion backed by Ian Schrager and designed by John Pawson that bestows upon owners a key to the private park. Simonsen, who touts her “highly discreet” service on her firm profile, did not return a request for comment.

Chelsea
In recent years, Chelsea has been a breeding ground for new condominiums, and some of the neighborhood’s highest‐grossing agents are working at the sales offices of these developments, such as the Jean Nouvel–designed 100 Eleventh Avenue, 305W16 and +aRt at 540 West 28th Street.

Meanwhile, the high‐powered Elliman team of Leonard Steinberg and partner Hervé Senequier were busy closing these, and other, kinds of deals. They sold two units over the $5 million mark in the neighborhood, totaling $12.6 million.

In August, the two sold a T‐shaped four‐bedroom loft with a 1,000‐square‐foot outdoor terrace at the Eagle, an almost 12‐year‐old condo building at 532 West 22nd Street, and fetched $6.65 million.

Steinberg remained tight‐lipped about his clients, but said that last year none of them were tabloid fodder. “We don’t want Kardashianism in our real estate — although if they did come along with the right check, we might succumb,” he joked.

Core’s Emily Beare spent much of 2011 in the Flatiron District, heading up the sales office at Savanna Partners’ 141 Fifth Avenue, where the last remaining unit, the $13.3 million cupola penthouse, sold in April. Said Beare, “141 was my baby.”

That sale, however, did not count toward her total because it was a sponsor sale. Instead, it was the early sale of a penthouse at 252 Seventh Avenue that put her on the ranking — and in Chelsea no less. Known as the Chelsea Mercantile, the building is home to Montreal Canadiens hockey player Scott Gomez. Rungravee and Larry Wienman sold their 3,800‐square‐foot four‐bedroom there for $7 million in January 2011.

Elliman’s Richelle Spindell ranked third with a nearly $6.4 million unit in the Steiner building at 257 West 17th Street for financier Jonathan Copplestone and Lisa Pomerantz, a fashion marketing executive.

The 4,000‐square‐foot apartment was fashioned out of two units, one of which the couple bought for less than $750,000 in 1996, before the building was converted to lofts. “Their architect did, really, an incredible job,” Spindell said.

The result was featured in the Best of Elle Décor Book, and spiritual guru Deepak Chopra was among the would‐be buyers who came to check out the spread, Spindell said. Ultimately it went to Raphael Marquez, a member of the New York Red Bulls soccer team.

“My entire business is built on referrals and repeat business,” said Spindell, who lives on Sutton Place but enthuses about Chelsea. “I’ve had a lot of people who’ve moved to different areas of the city.”

West Village and Greenwich Village
Corcoran’s Robby Browne may live on Central Park West, but he racked up several high‐priced West Village deals last year with his three team members. Browne closed four $5 million‐plus deals worth a combined $33.11 million in the neighborhood.

At 147 Waverly Place, Browne sold two three‐bedroom lofts: one belonging to Chipotle founder Stephen Ells for $6.1 million, and another (two floors up) belonging to Alastair Tedford, cofounder of the investment firm Albion Investors, for $7.5 million. (Browne also represented Ells and Tedford when they originally bought the apartments.)

Plus, he also handled the sale of the townhouse at 64 Perry Street — next door to the fictional home
of Carrie Bradshaw on “Sex and the City” — for the estate of Wheaton Galentine, a documentary filmmaker, and Harold Eliot Leeds, an architect and professor. After 27 days on the market at $8.5 million, the home sold for just over $9 million. “We never said no to a showing, so everyone was able to get in and see the house,” Browne said.

Still, there were pricier townhouses on offer in the neighborhood.

Last spring, Corcoran’s Eileen Robert represented the Malaysian‐born media mogul Clive Ng and model Farrah Summerford in selling their 25‐foot‐wide townhouse at 20 East 10th Street. The buyers are rumored to be actors Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick.

But not all townhouses fared so well when it came to getting their asking price. Tim Desmond, Alexa Lambert and Linda Melnick of Stribling and Serena Boardman of Sotheby’s secured about $16.8 million for the sale of 47 West 9th Street — just over half what the seller hoped to get.

Andre Singer, a Belgian real estate developer, bought the property for $12.7 million when he moved to New York in August 2008. At the time, the dilapidated building housed four market‐rate rental units, but Singer planned a massive renovation.

“This was a house that was a prime candidate for what he was looking to do,” said Desmond, who represented Singer in both deals.

The developer outfitted the 28‐foot wide townhouse with an elevator, screening room, gym and 1,000‐bottle wine cellar.

He put the 9,000‐square‐foot home on the market for $28.5 million in February, and cross‐listed it with Stribling and Sotheby’s to get the widest exposure, Desmond said, though he added that the brokers advised pricing it in the low 20s.

“He wanted to shoot for the moon,” Desmond said. “He probably was disappointed, but that is the nature of this business.”

Soho
(including Little Italy, Noho and Nolita)

The luxury sales in Soho in 2011 exemplified the breadth of housing stock there, from the renovated artist lofts in Soho proper to the new developments rising to the north.

Elliman’s Dennis Mangone helped hotelier Ian Schrager sell an $11 million four‐bedroom duplex penthouse at 285 Lafayette Street that boasts 23‐foot ceilings in the living room and a sky‐lit private gym. (He co‐listed it with Kirk Rundhaug of Core.)

At 40 Bond Street, the Herzog & de Meuron–designed development where both Schrager and Mangone own condos, the broker also sold a $5.6 million unit, reportedly to the same Londonbased family that purchased two other units in the building.

Mangone, who joined Elliman from Brown Harris Stevens about a year ago, has a roster of boldface names on his client list, including Ricky Martin, Beyoncé and fashion photographer Mario Testino. Despite his Downtown address, he said his business is focused on lifestyle, not geography.

“I work with developers that have a proven track record, and I see who they hire to be the architect of the building and where the land is located, and I look at the floor plans and the views and the finishes,” he said.

Meanwhile, Sotheby’s Meg Siegel handled four listings on Soho’s Wooster Street, a cobblestone road of fin‐de‐siècle loft buildings. Two deals topped $5 million.

The priciest sale was a penthouse at No. 102 owned by investor Erik Postnieks and his wife, Lynn, for $8.2 million in July. The home, first listed at $10.5 million in March 2010, spent more than a year on the market, and the Postnieks sliced the price five times before signing a deal.

That kind of tinkering was par for the course in the neighborhood, said Soho‐based Siegel. “I had sellers who were really uncertain where the market was, so we found the market, and some of the deals took a little time to do that.”

Siegel also sold a $5.25 million loft at No. 104.

Arlene Weidberg, an executive vice president at Halstead, helped Susan Bloomberg, Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s ex‐wife, off‐load two adjacent penthouses at One Kenmare Square for a total of $11.6 million in November. Bloomberg, the mother of the mayor’s two daughters, bought the units in 2006 for $10.3 million. Painted in eye‐popping pinks and yellows, the apartments come with a
4,000‐square‐foot private rooftop terrace, but they were never combined. The buyer, an LLC, purchased both.

Tribeca
For Deborah Grubman, 2011 marked a full year without former partner Carol Cohen, who was allegedly forced out of Corcoran in December 2010 in response to (now dismissed) allegations that she scammed a rent‐stabilized apartment. Now working with David Dubin, Grubman’s biggest Tribeca sale of the year — by a long shot — was the three‐level penthouse at 25 North Moore Street, also known as the Atalanta. The seller was Craig Nevill‐Manning, a top Google engineer and New Zealand native, who bought the spread for $8.25 million in 2005.

Additionally, the pair brokered the sale of a $5.9 million condo in the Hubert at 7 Hubert Street. The seller, Nuprop Owner LLC, purchased the unit for just under $2.7 million in 2004. The buyer was also an LLC.

Platinum Executive Vice President Daniel Hedaya handled two sales for the same client, T Sky LLC, in two different parts of the River Lofts condominium complex. One was in the tower portion at 92 Laight Street and sold for $11.5 million to ex‐Deutsche Bank executive Michael Cohrs. (The other was a two‐bedroom at 416 Washington Street that fetched $2.5 million, but was not included in The Real Deal’s ranking because it fell under the $5 million marker.)

Ranking third in the neighborhood for 2011 was Dolly Lenz — a familiar name on top broker lists. Last year, the Elliman vice chair and powerbroker swooped in to help Alexis Stewart, daughter of Martha, sell a penthouse at the Ice House that had been languishing on the market since 2007. The 3,884‐square‐foot, two‐level unit at 27 North Moore Street, a 1905 refrigeration building converted to 58 lofts, sold for $8.6 million. The buyers were hedge‐funder James Flynn and his wife, Kerianne, who are reportedly planning to combine the home with an adjacent penthouse they own in the building.

That’s not to say that Lenz didn’t score deals in other parts of Manhattan, including the $18.3 million sale of Winick Realty Group Executive Vice President Lori Shabtai’s Upper East Side townhouse.

Other brokers made strong showings in Tribeca, among them Raphael De Niro, whose actor father Robert founded the Tribeca Film Festival. However, some of the broker’s more high‐profile deals didn’t quite make the cutoff, such as a unit at 195 Hudson Street that sold for a hair under $5 million, and director M. Night Shyamalan’s penthouse at 45 Walker Street, which closed too late for our ranking.

Other neighborhoods
The ranking excludes sales below $5 million in an effort to use the most accurate and comprehensive data. However, that meant effectively eliminating certain neighborhoods — among them the East Village, the Lower East Side, the Financial District, Harlem and Inwood — because there weren’t enough deals that met the criteria.

Naturally, top brokers working in these areas are still selling a hefty amount of real estate.

Elliman’s Ariel Cohen, for example, brokered nearly $19 million worth of resales at 15 Broad Street in the Financial District, the 382‐unit condo conversion where he helped with pre‐construction sales in 2004 and has lived since 2007.

Kelly Cole, a senior vice president at Corcoran, sold 23 properties in Inwood and Washington Heights. And, at Co‐Op Village, a collection of 12 co‐op buildings clustered on the far east corner of Grand Street, two teams of brokers — Neal Young and Jeremy Bolger of Halstead and Jacob Goldman, the founder of Loho Realty — each sold close to $15 million in co‐ops.

Furthermore, brokers who have done the difficult work of selling out new condo projects may not appear here, since the list does not include sponsor sales. That effectively cuts out Elliman’s Fredrik Eklund and John Gomes, who work at new developments across Downtown; Warburg’s Richard Steinberg, who was responsible for a slew of deals at Twenty9th Park Madison in Midtown South; and Brown Harris Stevens’s Shlomi Reuveni, who handily spearheaded sales at the Laureate on the Upper West Side, among others.

Home and Garden: Market Ready

The New York TimesFebruary 01, 2012
Q. Should I remove the family photos hanging on my wall before listing my apartment?

A. Clearing out family photos “should be the very first thing you do when you prepare an apartment for sale,” said Elizabeth Kee, an associate broker with the New York real estate company Core.

It’s important “to depersonalize and declutter,” Ms. Kee said, and “that includes picture frames that are located on mantels and bookshelves.”

The reason, she said, is that “you have a lot of different types of people, from all walks of life, with different customs, cultures and religions,” coming through to look at a home when it’s on the market. “You don’t want the space to feel like it belongs to any one group of people.”

Ms. Kee acknowledged that taking down family photos can be a task fraught with emotion.

“I’ve had a lot of instances where people feel like they should leave their wedding pictures up,” she said. “They think that they’re so beautiful, and they probably spent a fortune on them. They feel that having a picture like that shows what a great home it is. But that can actually be a huge turnoff to buyers, especially in New York, which is a transient city.”

However, David Kassel, the owner of ILevel, a New York art-placement and picture-hanging service, isn’t so quick to dismiss family photos.

“With a family photo wall, it may be a good thing if it’s done really well, so people can imagine their own family there,” said Mr. Kassel, who has worked with interior designers like Jeffrey Bilhuber and Charlotte Moss. “Our experience is that people have a really hard time making these design decisions and can’t fathom how to arrange pictures.” In that case, you might actually be doing the buyers a favor by leaving your photos up.

To create a stylish family photo wall, Mr. Kassel offered a couple of tips. First, use frames that complement one another. “You don’t want to have gold and silver frames together,” he said. “Gold and wood frames together are good; black and white frames together are good.”

Also, make sure the pictures are arranged in a grid or with common spacing — about an inch and a half between the frames — to create an orderly composition.

If your photo wall isn’t that aesthetically appealing and you’d prefer to take the pictures down, Mr. Kassel had some advice for cleaning up the wall.

To remove pencil marks and scuffs left by frames, he said, try a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. To fill the holes left by picture hangers, use spackling paste, but be sure to wipe the repair down with a wet sponge before it dries to get a smooth finish that doesn’t require sanding. “You might have to spackle it twice,” he said, and “it’s a lot easier to rub it with a damp sponge as opposed to sanding and creating a big dusty mess.”

Who's News: Anne Marie Salmeri Joins CORE

Brokers WeeklyFebruary 01, 2012
Anne Marie Salmeri has joined the ranks of CORE as a senior associate broker. The former Corcoran agent has nearly 20 years of real estate experience and has assisted both buyers and sellers in all areas of Manhattan – from Battery Park City to Inwood – as well as in many neighborhoods in Brooklyn. She has broad experience in townhouses, condos and co‐ops, and is meticulous when preparing board packages and preparing her clients for the co‐op board approval process. As a member of REBNY, she has spoken at various seminars, including a real estate class on co‐op board packages at New York University. Prior to her career in real estate, Salmeri worked for a health and fitness company which led to her relocation from Connecticut to Manhattan.

New Listings: 240 West 23rd Street

Brokers WeeklyFebruary 01, 2012
CHELSEA
240 West 23rd Street, 3/4B
$1,499,950

Loft duplex has one bedroom and home office. Top‐of‐the‐line chef’s kitchen with Poggenpohl kitchen cabinets and a Miele dishwasher. Balconies on each level, and a cherry wood built‐in bookcase, closets and a desk. The two levels are connected by a metal staircase. The kitchen and living/ dining area are on the first level along with a recently renovated full bathroom with glass and limestone walk‐in shower. The second level has the master bedroom, with home office/interior second bedroom. Washer/ dryer located in a separate utility room. Listing agents: David Grossman and Maggie Kent, CORE.

Have You Heard... Love and Real Estate

Brokers WeeklyFebruary 01, 2012
Pucker up. CORE managing director Vickey Barron and celebrity matchmaker Samantha Daniels are hosting a Love And Real Estate event aimed at pairing up their single clients. “I meet so many great New Yorkers through the process of finding them a home,” said Barron. “Hopefully all of the event’s attendees will have something in common, and it’s also a nice way to say ‘thank you’ for their loyal business.”
Daniels, who is regularly seen on TV for her matchmaking expertise, helped select guests for a night of wine tasting, hors d’oeuvres and views at one of Barron’s current listings at 256 West 10th Street, 6‐D. The event will also be filmed for HGTV’s hit show, “Selling New York,” which will showcase how Barron’s creativity led to her success in real estate.

You're Priced Out. Now What?

The New York TimesJanuary 27, 2012
It’s easy to fall in love with a neighborhood in New York. And given the high cost of housing, it’s common to realize that you can’t afford the home you want in the neighborhood you love.

So, what to do? Your first instinct may be to look a few stops away on the same subway line, trading Williamsburg for Bushwick, for instance. Or you might choose a neighboring area, moving to Yorkville, say, instead of the Upper East Side.

Sometimes that works, but other times it only lands you in an inconvenient neighborhood with little resemblance to the area you had in mind. It can help to allow your imagination to range farther afield, maybe even across a river. Instead of proximity to your heart’s desire,
consider places with similarities, like housing stock, nightlife and dining, the typical resident and the overall feel.

Following are five pairs of neighborhoods: a popular, expensive area, and a cheaper option, perhaps less well known. Of course there will be tradeoffs. But you might enjoy the alternative even more than the original.

UPPER WEST SIDE/PROSPECT HEIGHTS
THE charms of the Upper West Side are so well known they scarcely bear repeating. Ornate prewar co-op buildings and brownstone row houses line the neighborhood’s tree-canopied streets. Two of Manhattan’s great parks, Riverside and Central, delineate its boundaries. The schools are among the best in the city. It is home to the American Museum of Natural History, Lincoln Center and other world-class cultural institutions. But to live among all of that is quite expensive. The few brownstones that come on the market can top $10 million. Two-bedroom co-ops regularly sell for more than $1 million.

At 136 West 75th Street, a two-bedroom two-bath co-op is listed for sale for $1.195 million by Halstead Property. The median price per square foot in 2011 was $896, said Jonathan J. Miller of the appraisal firm Miller Samuel.

Park Slope, Brooklyn, has often been an option for those priced out of the Upper West Side, but with prices rising there, prospective buyers might consider its neighbor on the other side of Flatbush Avenue, Prospect Heights. There, the median per-square-foot price, $446, is half that of the Upper West Side, Mr. Miller said.

The neighborhood borders its own great green space, Prospect Park, as well as the broad Eastern Parkway and Grand Army Plaza. The Brooklyn Museum, the Brooklyn Public Library and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden are just across the parkway.

“The late-19th-century apartment buildings on Eastern Parkway and the row houses on the mid blocks — it’s the same style of architecture you find on the Upper West Side,” said Simeon Bankoff, the executive director of the Historic Districts Council, a citywide preservation group. Much of the southern end of the neighborhood is under landmark protection, including stretches of St. Mark’s Avenue, Prospect Place and Park Place. To the north are smaller brick row houses and the construction site of the arena for the vast Atlantic Yards development.

A wave of new residents arrived in the early 1990s, said Gib Veconi, the treasurer of the Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council.

“People would buy a house with their last dollar,” Mr. Veconi said, “start remodeling the ground floor and rent it out to get some income, and slowly renovate over time, mostly with their own labor.”

Now, he said, more affluent residents buy houses and commission half-million-dollar gut renovations in under a year.

David Rogers, a broker with Prudential Douglas Elliman, said brownstones in the neighborhood sold for roughly $1.4 million to $1.8 million, depending on condition and location.

At 416 Park Place, a two-family town house with a three-bedroom owner’s duplex is listed at $1.55 million by Brown Harris Stevens.

New bars, restaurants and coffee shops have recently opened on Vanderbilt Avenue, the neighborhood’s commercial spine. Saul Bolton, who earned a Michelin star for his restaurant in Boerum Hill, opened a restaurant here called the Vanderbilt. The ice cream shop Ample Hills Creamery draws crowds of children on summer afternoons.

The large houses of Prospect Heights have drawn families to the area. Joyce Szuflita, the founder of NYC School Help, which helps families find schools in Brooklyn, said parents had put a lot of energy into improving Public School 9.

Mr. Veconi of the development council said Prospect Heights’ new appeal was not surprising. “The allure here was that this was an undervalued neighborhood,” he said. “I felt like people were going to get this sooner or later.”

LOWER EAST SIDE/GREENPOINT
Over the last two decades the Lower East Side has become a microcosm of everything New York is known for. Its short, intimate blocks harbor innovative restaurants, boutiques, galleries and clubs. Its history as an immigrant enclave is celebrated at the Tenement Museum, and its Jewish past persists at the venerable Eldridge Street Synagogue and the lox purveyors Russ & Daughters on East Houston Street.

And as the neighborhood changed, the price of housing soared. New condos sell for a median of $1,020 per square foot, according to Mr. Miller, who said asking prices over $1 million were not uncommon. In the new building at 60 Orchard Street, Stribling & Associates is listing a two-bedroom two-bath condo for $1.35 million.

But prospective buyers would do well to look across the East River at Greenpoint, Brooklyn, which has a vibrant ethnic history as well as lively shopping and dining — and much lower housing prices. The median condo price per square foot in Greenpoint is $563, Mr. Miller said. At 149 Huron Street, two blocks from the subway, Apartments and Lofts has an accepted offer on a two-bedroom condo listed for $513,000.

Greenpoint is not as convenient as its better-known neighbor to the south, Williamsburg, because it is on the G subway line and Manhattan is not a straight shot. The housing is a mix of new condos, small apartment buildings, brownstones, brick town houses, conversions, a few loft spaces and wooden row houses, many covered in vinyl siding. For many decades Greenpoint was a Polish enclave, and Manhattan Avenue is crowded with bakeries, butcher shops displaying kielbasa, and inexpensive Polish restaurants.

But now, wedged in among Polish businesses, the avenue also has an artisanal ice cream parlor that serves Earl Gray cones, an infants’ clothing and toy store, and coffee shops. The area around Franklin Avenue, once a desolate strip, has restaurants, bars, shops and condos, and is part of a small historic district.

Families have been attracted to the neighborhood because they can get more space without sacrificing the quality of their schools. P. S. 31, for example, gets high scores: 90 percent of students meet state standards for reading and 97 percent for math.

“Greenpoint is a great Brooklyn neighborhood,” said David Maundrell, the founder of Apartments and Lofts, which markets many condos in the area. “There are different ethnic backgrounds, the Polish and Irish and the new people moving in over the last 10 years. You have amazing retail and services. It is a well-rounded neighborhood.”

CARROLL GARDENS/CROWN HEIGHTS NORTH
Inside Vinny’s of Carroll Gardens on Smith Street, firefighters sit alongside locals in their 70s out for a meal with their grandchildren. Waitresses sit down at your table to take your order. The food is old-school Italian — red sauce and eggplant-parm heroes. Next door to Vinny’s is Persons of Interest, a new old-school barbershop where the “combo platter” — a shave and a haircut — costs $75.

It is that congenial mix of the traditional and the retro-modern that has drawn well-heeled newcomers, many with families, to the deep-yarded brownstones that are Carroll Gardens’ signature. Asking prices for these houses, many built in around the time of the Civil War, can easily top $2 million; the median price was $602 per square foot last year, according to Mr. Miller.

At 230 Union Street, Prudential Douglas Elliman is listing a town house for $2.295 million.

About three miles east lies Crown Heights North, a neighborhood with a trove of brownstones and row houses, in a variety of styles, that can be had for a fraction of those in Carroll Gardens. The median price for all of Crown Heights last year was $384 per square foot, Mr. Miller said. The houses are of newer vintage, built from about 1870 to 1920, but many bear the elaborate details of the Gilded Age.

Once among Brooklyn’s wealthiest neighborhoods, Crown Heights is filled with mansions and town houses. Many were built by well-known architects, including Montrose Morris, Axel Hedman and C. P. H Gilbert.

“This was the luxury housing of its day,” said Simeon Bankoff, the director of the Historic Districts Council. “There are some drop-dead gorgeous buildings there.”

Today Crown Heights North has a large historic district. St. Marks Avenue, Dean Street and multiple blocks of Prospect Place have some very ornate houses. These sell for over $1 million when they become available, said Barbara Brown-Allen, a broker with Prudential Douglas Elliman.

Other houses, depending on the work required to bring them up to snuff, go for $700,000 to $900,000. Many are quite large, often 20 feet wide by 50 feet deep and four stories tall. At 1174 Dean Street, Prudential Douglas Elliman is listing a town house for $1.195 million.

The 2, 3, 4 and 5 trains run through the neighborhood, and the A and C are not far away, in Bedford-Stuyvesant. Franklin Avenue, the main commercial strip, is about a mile from Prospect Park.

A number of the stores cater to West Indian and Panamanian residents. Nick Juravich, who blogs about the neighborhood at I Love Franklin Avenue, said that since he moved here in 2008, more than 30 businesses had opened, including Mexican, Indian and Thai restaurants. “We have a sleek new wine bar that would fit right in on Smith Street,” he said, meaning the main drag in Carroll Gardens.

HELL’S KITCHEN/LONG ISLAND CITY
Hell’s Kitchen, as is obvious from its name, wasn’t always the most desirable place to live. But that has changed, at first slowly and then more quickly. Restaurants, bars, coffee shops and other businesses have settled in along Ninth Avenue, and a few are opening farther west on 10th Avenue.

Much of Hell’s Kitchen has been protected from high-rise development, so that on the cross streets, low-rise town houses, brownstones and historic churches remain. In the northern part of the neighborhood, Prudential Douglas Elliman is listing a two-bedroom two-bath condo at 426 West 58th Street for $1.749 million.

Development has been pushed to the neighborhood’s edges, toward the Hudson River and along 42nd Street, where high-rises, mostly rentals, have sprouted in the last few years. Two-bedrooms at the new MiMA tower on 42nd Street rent for about $6,500 a month; the most expensive three-bedroom there is $16,250 a month.

Mr. Miller said the median price per square foot in Hell’s Kitchen in 2011 was $854 — a bargain compared with costs in some other Manhattan neighborhoods.

But that figure is still 35 percent more expensive than the median of $555 in Long Island City, Queens, which is growing its own forest of handsomely appointed residential towers. Large condo projects are rising throughout the neighborhood, overshadowing brick town houses, as well as garages and other businesses.

It’s easy to see why developers are drawn to its East River shoreline. High-rise towers are under construction alongside a riverfront park with views to the west of the United Nations and Midtown — just a few minutes away on half a dozen subway lines. Restaurants, supermarkets, preschools and dog day care centers are popping up. The neighborhood has a mix of old and new on Vernon Avenue, the commercial strip closest to the water. There’s a strong arts community and even some remaining manufacturing.

Long Island City is home to MoMA PS1, a center for modern art and performance events. Galleries and lofts are taking over industrial buildings.

“You have a sense of a real community here,” said Bob Singleton, the director of the Greater Astoria Historical Society. “You have all the benefits of a small town with all of the advantages of a big city right next to you in Midtown Manhattan.”

Eric Benaim began selling units in Long Island City in 2006 through his firm Modern Spaces, which lists a
two-bedroom two-bath condo at L Haus on 49th Avenue for $870,000.

“It has all started happening over here in the last year and a half or so,” Mr. Benaim said. And, he added, “It’s only about eight minutes on the subway to Hell’s Kitchen.”

SOHO/LADIES’ MILE
When artists began moving into lofts in manufacturing buildings with cast-iron fronts in SoHo in the 1960s and 1970s, they were looking for cheap space to live and work. But they wound up changing the way people think about cities, said Andrew Berman, the director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation.

“We take for granted the notion that it is cool to live in a converted loft building in an old industrial section of a city,” Mr. Berman said. “But that is a relatively new concept, an outgrowth of artists’ taking over disused industrial spaces in SoHo.”

Today, few artists could afford to buy a loft in SoHo. The neighborhood is packed with boutiques, brand-name stores, upscale restaurants and hotels. Lofts that decades ago housed painters sell for millions of dollars, like one listed by Prudential Douglas Elliman for $3.25 million at 475 Broadway, now in contract. The median price per square foot is $1,122, according to Mr. Miller.

Just 20 blocks uptown, another neighborhood is going through a similar revival: the Ladies’ Mile Historic District. Roughly framed by the Avenue of the Americas and Broadway from 17th to 24th Street, the area also has historic loft buildings with large windows and cast-iron facades. But the median per-square-foot price is $987, about 20 percent less than in SoHo, Mr. Miller said.

And it has a different history. The Ladies’ Mile was home to some of the city’s largest department stores, including Macy’s and Lord & Taylor.

Unlike the industrial buildings of SoHo, the stores along the Ladies’ Mile were ornate, many built in the Beaux-Arts style. Some have mansard roofs. The former Hugh O’Neill store has large gold domes.

As in SoHo, artists found their way to the upper floors of these large buildings. So many photographers worked here that it was called the photo district, said Jack Taylor, the president of the Drive to Protect the Ladies’ Mile District. However, it differed from SoHo in that galleries, restaurants and retail were slow to follow.

The historic district was approved in 1989. About a decade ago, big-box stores moved in. Today the area has a TJ Maxx, a Best Buy, a Home Depot and a Trader Joe’s. There are new restaurants; on a recent Sunday, the line at the brunch spot tbsp on 20th Street was nearly out the door.

Some of the old department stores are being converted into condos, including the O’Neill Building and the Cammeyer, a former shoe emporium at 650 Sixth Avenue, where CORE is marketing a unit for $2.85 million. The units are not the same raw and massive spaces one finds in SoHo.

“It feels more like a residential neighborhood,” Mr. Taylor said. “Ladies’ Mile used to be like Siberia, but now it can be pretty hard to bear in terms of noise and crowds. There is no denying it is populated.”

‘Selling New York’ Recap: Esquire Magazine Partners with the Kleiers

GatherJanuary 27, 2012
Selling New York goes to Chelsea and Dumbo this week with Esquire Magazine.

Parul Brahmbhatt, of CORE, attempts to price and sell a unique 1,800 sq ft. zeppelin lovers' loft. She has no idea how to price it so she brings in Shaun Osher, the CEO of CORE. The loft is being sold as is, with everything included - including the hanging mini zeppelins from the ceiling. It looks more like a museum than a home. The loft is on 29th Street in Chelsea and the seller wants $2 million. Shaun tells Parul that's not going to happen.

Parul tells Jeremy Noritz, the seller, it should be priced at $1.75 million. He's resistant but he finally agrees. The marketing is going to be tough. Parul heads to Connecticut to meet Joey Marsocci, Lead Designer of Dr. Grymm Laboratories. He's an expert in the steampunk movement. Parul tells Joey she's never heard of steampunk...like the rest of us. He explains it's a Victorian elegance style with a modern technology twist...more strange than elegance.

Parul decides to have the first steampunked open house event at the Noritz home. Joey is invited and he brings twenty of his friends. The event gets tons of press in New York and as far away as Scandinavia.

Next up, the Kleiers go to the Hearst Corporation and Esquire Magazine to find the ultimate bachelor pad. The first place they head to is in Dumbo. It's the clock tower loft, the price - $23.5 million. But this place has 360-degree views, a glass elevator, and four working clocks that provide drama and energy to the space. Stephen Jacoby, Associate Publisher of Esquire says, "You picked a winner for us." But he wants to keep looking.

Next up for Esquire, Trump Park Avenue priced at $33 million. This space is much more elegant than the clock tower but it's lacking in uniqueness. Stephen tells Michele, "It doesn't have enough of an edge." He still likes the clock tower.

The Kleiers take the group to a third property with killer views of the Hudson River. This Chelsea apartment lists for $22 million. Alana Frumkes, the Design Director for Esquire Signature Space notes, "The space is exceptional." Yes, Michele likes the space too but in the end she says she would choose the clock tower.

So Esquire ends up choosing the clock tower loft, duh. They throw a party and it's incredible. There's a DJ, food, and drinks. Then, Michele gets an offer... but it's still in the working. Did it go through?

The outcome with the zeppelin place... No offers are on the table but they have received more publicity. A slow week for New York.

Gimme Shelter: 38 Bethune Street, 18 Jones Street, 36 Bedford Street

The New York PostJanuary 25, 2012
Power couple Naomi Watts and Liev Schreiber’s extensive downtown home hunt has ended with the purchase of a full-floor loft on Washington Street in TriBeCa.

The acting duo have closed on the 4,315-square-foot, three-bedroom, two-bathroom co-op for $3.95 million. The dramatic loft, which has 14-foot ceilings, oversized windows, river views and keyed elevator access, was listed for $4.5 million.

Corcoran Group brokers Chazz Levi and Noble Black declined to comment.

Watts and Schreiber have spent years examining the market. They scoped out units in Flatiron and West Chelsea in the past, and Watts recently checked out three West Village listings on her own.

The actress saw a $14.95 million townhouse at 38 Bethune St., a $6.5 million townhouse at 18 Jones St. and a $6.375 million townhouse at 36 Bedford St. before deciding to buy in TriBeCa instead.

Last week, Watts and Schreiber celebrated the birthday of her brother, photographer Ben Watts, at a party at Meatpacking District hot spot the Double Seven. Mick Jagger also attended the bash.

Shaun Osher on "The Market That Never Sleeps"

New American LuxuryJanuary 25, 2012
Shaun Osher started CORE, a boutique real-estate brokerage and advisory firm, six years ago with partner Jack Cayre after becoming disenchanted with the generic client services offered by New York’s larger firms. CORE quickly rose to the top thanks to its focus on providing the highest level of personalized service and expertise in the field. Osher recently spoke with New American Luxury about the trends, limitations, and wish lists of one of the world’s most exciting, expensive, and evolved real-estate markets—Manhattan.

Part of CORE’s success is due to your unique philosophy and your desire to keep real estate fresh and relevant. What separates CORE from other firms?

CORE represents the evolution of real estate. We are a company interested in how real estate should be conducted in 2012, [whereas] a lot of companies are operating on the same fundamentals that they were in 1980. The world has changed, and we as a company strive to be at the forefront of all of those changes.

What properties are hot in New York real estate right now?

Clients are looking for quality—something they’ve become so used to seeing a lack of in this market. New Yorkers want turnkey, well-conceived, perfectly finished apartments and homes.

Are there design styles that are more popular than others?

Our clients are looking for everything from traditional to modern styles; it runs the gamut.

Different personalities want different things, and we pride ourselves on being able to help find the perfect fit.

Is there anything that high-end New York clients look for across the board, no matter their preferences in style?

The fundamentals of real estate—the things that are key to making your lifestyle and home a special place—we call those “the intangibles.” This includes the view, the layout, the ceiling heights, the amenities, whether there is a doorman or not. Ultimately it always comes down to the same thing: location.

What are the geographic trends right now?

Our focus is mostly Manhattan, and within the island we’ve seen a lot of downtown neighborhoods emerge as desirable luxury neighborhoods, like the West Chelsea area. The West Village area has always been popular, but it’s more desirable now. And really what we’ve seen recently is NoHo [North of Houston Street] evolving into one of the most sought-after neighborhoods in Manhattan.

Outside of location, what’s at the top of every New Yorker’s wish list?

Location and then price points, followed by bedroom and bathroom counts, and then the luxury items—the intangibles I mentioned before. Things like finishes come last.

What are your clients willing to sacrifice to have the ideal location?

Certainly, there is always a trade-off. People will sacrifice space, which is the ultimate luxury in New York. And then they start sacrificing things on their wish list—views, bedrooms, [and] details like flooring, appliances, or other finishes.

Are you seeing an influx in “green” properties? Are New Yorkers ready to have a more eco-friendly lifestyle?

We have more clients now looking for that lifestyle than we did 10 years ago, but unfortunately not as much as I’d like to see. Because of the economy and what we’ve just lived through, and what we seem to be faced with now, money is still the driving force behind the majority of decisions people make. They don’t see how these sustainable choices will save them money in the future; they see the up-front costs.

One of the most exciting things for your firm has to be your involvement with HGTV’s Selling New York. How has the show impacted business?

It’s been the most powerful branding experience and something we couldn’t replicate if we tried. To be shown in 60 countries to millions of people a week is an exposure we couldn’t have dreamed of.

Celebrity Real Estate: 38 Bethune Street, 36 Bedford Street, 18 Jones Street

MYFoxNY.comJanuary 25, 2012
Perennial house hunter Naomi Watts and hubby Liev Schrieber continue their house search. Watts recently checked out a $14.95 million townhouse at 38 Bethune, listed by CORE broker Vickey Barron, just before New Year's. She arrived on her own, and then toured Barron's listing at 18 Jones Street and 36 Bedford Street. Barron declined to comment.

Five Cheaper Alternatives to Tribeca’s Priciest Real Estate

CurbedJanuary 24, 2012
Welcome 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. Got any tips? Send them in to our tipline.

1) 58 Reade St. #PH ($8,995,000) / 158 Chambers St. #PH ($1,685,000) Similarities: They're both penthouses with fairly large kitchen spaces and stairs. Differences: 58 Reade has large other spaces as well. Also it has stairs inside the apartment, whereas the stairs involved with 158 Chambers are because it's a walk-up.


2) 408 Greenwich St. #8 ($8,750,00) / 50 Franklin St. #16A ($1,850,000) Similarities: Open spaces with lots of natural light,
multiple bedrooms, doormen. Differences: The open spaces in 408 Greenwich are bordered by a fireplace, fancy bronze panels, marble, and expensive wood. They are also bigger and the natural light is presumably derived from a fancier sun. But 50 Franklin has a terrace! Take that!
Also, the doorman at 408 Greenwich is a virtual doorman, which is either better or worse depending on whether you prefer robots or people.

3) 101 Warren St. #3250 ($8,600,000) / 288 West St. #3E ($1,995,000) Similarities: Both feature visible beams, views of the Hudson River, large living rooms, a terrace/roof deck, three bedrooms, and between 2,200 and 2,300 square feet. Differences: These two are actually very similar. West basically looks like a version of Warren that was made out of much older wood. Also, Warren has three and a half baths to West's one. And it's a duplex.

4) 427 Washington St. #4 ($6,995,000) / 100 Hudson St. #8E ($1,350,000) Similarities: These two are both co-ops with high beamed ceilings, and lots of big windows. Differences: Washington is bigger and simply seems like it was made out of more expensive stuff. Those floors! Whatever "Chevron oak" is, it sure looks great. It's not like Daniel Craig is checking out 100 Hudson St.

5) 60 Beach St. #PH2 ($7,460,000) / 80 Chambers St. #8C ($795,000) Similarities: Both have terraces, and...walls... Okay, these two aren't that similar. Differences: Approximately 2,000 square feet, two beds, two and a half baths, seven million dollars.

Core Tries to Pair Real Estate and Love by Hosting Matchmaking Event

The Real DealJanuary 23, 2012
Clients of Vickey Barron, managing director of New York-based residential brokerage Core, may be getting more than they bargained for when choosing her to find them a home.

With Valentine’s Day coming up, Barron is hosting a matchmaking event called “Love and Real Estate,” in which she is partnering with professional matchmaker Samantha Daniels to introduce her clients to prospective love interests.

The free event for straight and gay folks, which will take place during the first week of February. It’s by invitation only and will include a select group of Barron’s single clients, and a selection of Daniels’, in the hopes of pairing some of the invitees together at a wine tasting event at one of Barron’s current listings at 256 West 10th Street.

The idea for the event, which Barron hosted one before, five years ago, came from the clients themselves, according to a spokesperson for Core.

“One of [Vickey's] clients actually said ‘Vicky’s found me a few homes and now I’m just waiting for her to find me a wife,’” the spokesperson said.

It’s a serious enterprise; Barron interviewed five separate matchmakers before finding Daniels and she has tried to find a potential match for each attendee. After the last party she hosted, a few of the attendees continued dating. No one got married, she said.

A broker and his or her client can get very close, Barron added, saying it put her in a great position to figure out what her client’s were looking for in a significant other.

“I get to know buyers and sellers from working with them for three to six months,” she said. “So many of them are busy young professionals and [divorcees.] They’re all great and I just thought it would be great to put them all in a room together. I bring people and places together for a living, so what’s the difference between people and places and people and people?”

The event may also provide a more risk-free venue for those searching for a date compared with online dating sites or public speed-dating events, Barron added.

“I got them through the New York real estate process, so they all have a good credit score, they’re employed and they’re not wanted by the law,” she joked.

News of the event brought mixed-responses from the real estate community, who said it was a fun idea but not the most professional.
“I’d certainly not be doing that,” said Tamir Shemesh senior vice president at the Corcoran Group. “I’m busy enough selling the real estate. Maybe she believes in it but I believe in devoting all my time to the business of real estate.”

Tiana von Johnson, CEO of Goldstar Properties, who as recently voted the city’s hottest broker by Curbed.com, added: “I’m not really into the whole matchmaking thing. I think it’s a little ridiculous but I’m all for the publicity.”

Corey Wecler, an associate broker at City Connections, said that while it wasn’t his style, he’d “probably do something a little more subtle,” — “why not? Anything to drum up more business and get in front of more people.”

Barron certainly relies on word of mouth; the broker said 98 percent of her business comes from referrals.

“I meet so many great New Yorkers through the process of finding them a home,” said Barron. “Hopefully all of the event’s attendees will have something in common, and it’s also a nice way to say ‘thank you’ for their loyal business.”

Where History Meets Industry

The New York TimesJanuary 20, 2012
SLOPING down from Myrtle Avenue to the walled fortress of the Brooklyn Navy Yard Industrial Park, and bisected by the rumbling equator of the elevated Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, the two-block-wide semi-industrial neighborhood of Wallabout would seem to have some unenviable physical challenges. It lacks subways, and although it shares a name with nearby Wallabout Bay, its residents are cut off by the Navy Yard from the tantalizingly close waterfront.

But for all of the neighborhood’s isolation and industrial grit, and perhaps because of these characteristics, many of its residents describe it with immense pride and fondness.

“To live there, you’re a little bit of a risk taker and an adventurer, because you’re off the grid a little bit,” said Gary Hattem, a chairman of the Historic Wallabout Association, who since 1976 has lived on Vanderbilt Avenue in an Italianate 1850s row house with a wooden porch. “And there’s more of a romantic quality to living there, because the houses are a bit more random.”

Among outsiders, the area has typically been viewed as simply the northern fringe of Clinton Hill and Fort Greene. But Wallabout has been coming into its own of late, attracting developers and preservation agencies alike.

The Wallabout distinction, local preservationists say, is intended to summon up an awareness of the area as something more than just a poorer version of its neighbors. Its history and streetscape are certainly textured. Its name can be traced to the 17th century, when a group of Walloons, French-speaking Protestants from what is now Belgium, settled along the nearby bay, which came to be called “Waal-bogt,” or “bend in the harbor.” The Navy Yard dates to 1801, and the Wallabout Market operated north of Flushing Avenue from the 1880s until it was gobbled up by the Navy Yard in World War II.

The Historic Wallabout Association, a preservation group, defines the neighborhood as the 22 blocks between Classon and Carlton Avenues from Flushing Avenue to Myrtle. Some blocks are mixed-use, but buildings south of the B. Q. E. are generally residential, while those north of it are industrial. Some industrial buildings are honeycombed with artists’ studios.

Wallabout contains the largest concentration of pre-Civil War wood-frame houses in the city, many with early porches and cornices. This was a big draw for Dina Rosenbloom, a marketing executive. Last year she and her husband, Brice, paid $1.3 million for a two-family 1850s house in the new city historic district on Vanderbilt Avenue. As with many old Wallabout houses, its wood facade had been covered with vinyl siding. But it retained plenty of charm.

“It doesn’t feel like you’re in Brooklyn when you walk in,” Ms. Rosenbloom said. “You feel transported to an old wood-frame house in a country town.” The four-bedroom house had been widened to 25 feet by the enclosure of a side walkway, so that an internal bathroom wall is the former exterior of the house, complete with antique wooden siding. “It’s unique, not cookie cutter,” she said.

Although the city bestowed landmark protection on only one block of Wallabout last year, a wider area between Myrtle and Park Avenues was placed on the state and federal historic registers. These designations could bring tax credits to owners like the Rosenblooms if they restored their facade.

WHAT YOU’LL FIND

The area has long been populated by members of the working and creative classes, joined recently by professionals. The nearby Pratt Institute has brought in artistic types like Jim Morehand, an interior designer turned massage therapist who graduated from Pratt in 1993 and shares a Vanderbilt Avenue row house with Dave Polazzo, a retired teacher. The couple host a salon, Parlor Jazz, out of the house.
Census data covering Wallabout, as well as one block to its east and three to its west, showed that the estimated 7,613 residents in 2009 were 43 percent African-American, 35 percent Hispanic and 17 percent white. The proportion of whites rose 6 percent from 2000, as the share of blacks shrank by about the same amount. Mr. Morehand, who is of mixed heritage but says he is perceived as black, said he had sensed resentment among black renters toward white newcomers, “but there haven’t been any neighborhood conflicts that I’ve seen.”

The area is home to many gay and biracial couples. “We wanted to raise a family in a place where the child sees the differences in people,” said Luan Cox, an Internet entrepreneur who in 2009, along with her partner, Eliane Bugod, paid $654,000 for a condo unit in a town house north of the B. Q. E.

Navy Green, a 458-unit housing complex, is rising on the site of a former naval prison on Clermont and Flushing Avenues. It will include 4 apartment buildings and 23 town houses, with three-quarters of the units for low- and middle-income tenants. Residents began moving into the first completed building last month. A “supportive housing” building that includes 59 units for the homeless is to open in the spring.

For decades Wallabout was so bereft of high-quality shops that residents “dreamed of buying a head of lettuce” nearby, said Mr. Hattem, a board member of Myrtle Avenue’s local development corporation. But all that has changed, largely because of Pratt and the Navy Yard. In recent years Myrtle’s bulletproof-glass liquor store has been joined by organic groceries like Greene-Ville Garden and restaurants like Putnam’s Pub and Cooker. A pedestrian plaza is in the works. And last year Pratt opened a building on Myrtle Avenue, deepening its commitment to a strip once nicknamed Murder Avenue.

“I remember running gun battles down Myrtle, probably in ’02 or ’03,” said an officer with the 88th Precinct, who asked not to be identified because he was not authorized to speak publicly. “But that doesn’t happen anymore,” he added, describing crime as minimal on Myrtle and in Wallabout generally.

“It does feel like the area is primed,” said Adam Friedman, director of the Pratt Center for Community Development, “but we want to make sure the development doesn’t lead to displacement.” He said that Pratt graduate students would begin a land-use study this semester as a first step toward the possible creation of an “innovation corridor” between Pratt and the Navy Yard.

The success of the Navy Yard, with 275 businesses employing 6,000, among them 695 from Wallabout and surrounding blocks, has helped rejuvenate Washington Avenue. Steiner Studios, doubling its space within the yard, is remaking a building to house the Brooklyn College Graduate School of Cinema.

As Wallabout continues to heat up, the future seems very much up for grabs.

“North of the B. Q. E., I think there will be enormous, exponentially increasing pressure to convert more and more of that to residential,” said Andrew Kimball, the president of the Brooklyn Navy Yard. “Certainly Pratt and the Navy Yard are aligned in wanting to make sure there’s a balance kept between residential and industrial.”

WHAT YOU’LL PAY

Doug Bowen, a resident and senior vice president of CORE real estate, said the average house price last year was $975,000 or $395 per square foot, virtually unchanged from 2010. Andrea Yarrington, a vice president of the Corcoran Group, said houses took an average of 136 days to sell, versus 347 in 2010.

Ms. Yarrington added that 15 condos sold in 2011, for an average of $452 per square foot. A search on Streeteasy.com showed four co-ops, three condos and three town houses on the market.

WHAT TO DO

Washington Avenue has Il Porto, an Italian restaurant, as well as a gourmet grocery, a Cuban restaurant and an art gallery. J. J.’s Navy Yard Cocktail Lounge, a stalwart of seediness, closed in 2010; its new owner plans to lease to a Dunkin’ Donuts and a Subway.

Fort Greene Park is a short walk. The Brooklyn Navy Yard Center at Building 92, a museum devoted to the yard’s previous occupants and current tenants, opened late last year. It will soon house an employment center.

THE SCHOOLS

Public School 46 on Clermont Avenue received an A on its most recent city progress report. No. 157, on Kent Avenue, earned a B.
Middle School 113 on Adelphi Street in Fort Greene teaches Grades 6 through 8. It scored a D.

Nearby public high schools include the selective Brooklyn Technical High School in Fort Greene, where SAT averages last year were 583, 659, and 579, versus 436, 460, and 431 citywide.

THE COMMUTE

The closest train is the G, which runs along Lafayette Avenue in Clinton Hill, stopping at the Classon Avenue and Clinton-Washington Avenues stations.

Buses take under 20 minutes to stops a short walk from the 2,3,4, 5, N and R trains at Court Street-Borough Hall. Some residents take the B62 from Park Avenue; others catch the B57 on Flushing. The B54 runs along Myrtle to the A, C, F and R trains at Jay Street/MetroTech. The B69 bus travels Vanderbilt and reaches the A and C trains at High Street within 10 minutes; residents grumble about infrequent service.

THE HISTORY

Walt Whitman completed “Leaves of Grass” while living at 99 Ryerson Street, according to “Brooklyn’s Historic Clinton Hill and Wallabout,” by Brian Merlis.

Listing of the Week: Steampunk Apartment With All the Bells and Whistles…and Gears, and Pulleys

MSNBC.comJanuary 17, 2012
120 W 29th St Apt 2, New York NY
For sale: $1,750,000

The magic of the steampunk apartment begins at the entrance, where the science-fiction/fantasy world of this intriguing home comes to life. There's a heavy, submarine-style front door, oxidized green with working porthole and keypad entry. It opens into a dramatically-inspired space straight out of a Jules Verne novel.

Cogs, sprockets and gears line the ceiling and the walls. A giant zeppelin light fixture hangs from the ceiling.

It is a fantastic mix of steampunk and modern, said listing agent Parul Brahmbhatt, who added that for all the apartment's whimsy, the space is completely comfortable.

"Once you're in the space, it doesn't feel cluttered," explained Brahmbhatt. "It may seem like a museum, but it's a museum you can live in."

One of the more spectacular elements of the Flatiron apartment for sale is the 32-foot-long dirigible light fixture that hangs from the ceiling in the middle of the apartment. It's computer programmed, allowing a light display to flash different colors and patterns with the flip of a switch.

Some of the cogs and pipes are antiques. A few of the ropes and pulleys work. In fact, one rope releases a Murphy bed, while others open and close the bathroom and shower doors. Many of the items in the house have been assembled from antique or abandoned items.

"(The owner) literally found the stuff all over the place and put it together piece-by-piece," said Brahmbhatt. She likens the features to many of the things seen on TV's "American Pickers."

One bathroom has a vanity constructed from an oil drum. The bedroom has the feel of being inside a tattered dirigible.

The kitchen is a carefully planned space with plenty of counters and high-end appliances that are juxtaposed against the antique tools used as drawer and cabinet pulls.

"The amazing part of the apartment is the attention to detail and quality. He has a way of mixing the old and the new," said Brahmbhatt. "He's spared no expense in making it livable."

With 1,800 square feet of living space and a large attached patio, Brahmbhatt says the apartment is spacious and perfect for entertaining.

While some of the items will be moved for whoever buys the property, the owner wants to keep the aesthetics of the place as it is, says Brahmbhatt. For the right buyer, portions of the collections of antique fans, cast iron bed warmers and typewriters could be included in the sale.

Although part of a larger co-op, the apartment is only one of two in the building. That makes it somewhat unique, plus it is located in the Flatiron District, where redevelopment has been spurred up through Chelsea.

Thanks,in part, to the development of The High Line park, West 29th Street has seen recent openings of hotels and restaurants, resulting in rise in real estate values, according to a recent story in the Wall Street Journal. In the Flatiron District, median home values hover around $1,187,200. Median rent prices are $3,300 a month — and rising.

According to current mortgage rates, a monthly payment on the apartment would be $6,434, assuming a 20-percent down payment on a 30-year-mortgage.

Selling New York Recap: The Inspector Investors

CurbedJanuary 13, 2012
It's hard to imagine having enough bills to buy an investment property in NYC, but we can viva the dream with last night's Super Extra Rich People installment of Selling New York! First, an ambitious agent gambles his time on a wealthy gallery owner on the prowl for some new property. Then, a dashing Italian uomo (man in Italian, I totes looked it up) looks to rent out his recently purchased Harlem apartment...and just might snap up the one next door. Will profits get turned or agents get burned? While everyone's wheelin' and dealin', I'll make you an offer on this recap you can't refuse...

FREE! CRISIS #1: GALLERY OWNER SENDS AGENT ON SEARCH FOR UNSPECIFIC INVESTMENT PROPERTY

CORE agent Kirk Rundhaug is having a good day. He's on the yearly schooner outing around Manhattan with his colleagues AND he just got a call from Gloria Naftali AKA The Investor. "With certain clients, you're 24/7 with them" Kirk explains. In other words, Gloria is like a syrup tap with mad money flowing out instead of sweet, golden maple. Kirk tries to hitchhike out of a conversation with boss Shaun and back onto land so he can get rolling with Gloria's request:

In DUMBO, Kirk meets up with Gloria's personal broker, artist Judi Harvest. Judi previews all potential properties first to judge if they are worth a visit from Gloria. Not a bad gig, Judi! Can someone tell me what kind of '70s euro-lego toy car this is? It looks so adorable and unsafe!:

The twosome head over to 189 Bridge Street to check out the $7.5 million penthouse. Hmmm...this must have been before all the stop n' go price chopping. Come lay your peepers on this 5,100 square foot slice of '80s South Beach: The birds cling to the window, hoping for an escape from the cheesy dual staircase layout:

Judi knows right away it's not right for Gloria. She wants "something more intimate in scale" and closer to the Village. So off they go to... The Cammeyer at 650 6th Avenue in The Flatiron District. This slow-to-fill building still has the $4.995 million penthouse up for grabs:

The sleek white decor and sculptural design excite Judi but she thinks Gloria is looking for something "even more spectacular." Keep werkin' it Kirk! Finally Gloria makes an appearance with Judi and Kirk at this mystery building on 2nd Avenue:

Will this $4.295 million number have enough WOW for Gloria? Gloria makes a go for the mega martini glass. Chug! Chug! Chug!:

The 15x22 pool intrigues Gloria as do the 48th floor views but she needs some time to ponder... And when Kirk checks up on her later about her decision, she says she's not inspired to buy something so big. Agents aren't mind readers Gloria! Lay down some parameters! Why I'm getting worked up about this, I have no idea. Kirk's time investment in Gloria didn't go unrewarded though - while he continues searching for Gloria's elusive gem, Judi referred a client to him who made an offer on a $5 million Chelsea penthouse!

CRISIS #2: AGENT URGES ITALIAN INVESTOR TO STRIKE TWICE IN HARLEM LUXURY BUILDING

Citi Habitats SVP Lucie Holt is all kinds of nervous! She's about to show her client, Raffaele Caracciolo, the apartment he purchased SIGHT UNSEEN(!!!) recently. The goods? A $775k 2 bed/2bath in Harlem's new Apex Condo at 2300 Frederick Douglass Boulevard. It's part condo, part boutique hotel. It's a...hondo!

Shall we?

Raf finds his investment "bellissimo" and is eager to get it rented. Lucie's all "the place next door is coming on the market, you should think about it" and Raf gets a sour face at the thought of doling out more euros:

But Lucie persuades him to investigate the opportunity, so they visit the $1.15 million neighboring unit. Lucie convinces Raf there's "a lot of growth in Harlem" and she'd have no problem renting the second place if he buys it. Raf gets excited about connecting the two apartments one day for a mega-manse. Isn't every New Yorkers fantasy to bash down their neighbor's wall?

Raf'll make an offer once Lucie rents the first apartment. Lucie snags a renter real quick, clocking in a cool $3900k a month for Raf's pocket. Raf is contento about the progress and tells Lucie to start the bid at $1 million and stop it at $1.05 million.

It's negotiatin' time! Lucie meets up with Apex Sales Manager Khadeejah Johnson at Harlem's bier international. K's not feeling Raf's lowball offer, but I'll let the video do the talkin':

K's point is that the Apex is 50% sold now, which wasn't the case when Raf got the first unit at a deal. Now he's gotta pay up!

Oooh, a counter offer from Apex comes in...they'll take $1.06 million including closing costs. Lucie shares the news with Raf on video chat. Si, si, si! he says. Lucie's wishin' for a second commission comes true. Raf gets his lockdown at the Apex AND the second unit already rented. Limoncellos all around!

Episode Grade: One investor put her agent to test and another seized an opportunity at his agent's behest! I'll invest 3 out of 5 cackling Kleiers with 4% interest.

Three Developments Change the Stigma of Upper Fifth

The New York Condo BlogJanuary 13, 2012
There is a fascinating trend occurring in Upper Manhattan in real estate. There have been 3 luxury developments that have been extremely successful in pulling the affluent buyer to Upper Fifth on and above 96th Avenue, a location that until now was deemed less ‘desirable’.

Along with 4 East 102nd and 1212 Fifth, 1280 Fifth is one of those success stories. Curious, we spoke with CORE founder and CEO Shaun Osher for an insider’s take on this transition.

What has been the stigma surrounding “Above 96th street?”

Manhattan neighborhoods are always evolving. 96th Street is an antiquated border that once denoted the northern boundary of the Upper East Side. Central Park is just as lush and green above 96th Street as it is below and the architecture is equally as impressive. Both developers and savvy buyers recognize the value of having a Fifth Avenue address with direct park views, access to Central Park and presence along Museum Mile. It is that opportunity that is driving the growth along Upper Fifth Avenue, the newest in a long line of well-known neighborhoods that have evolved such as the Upper West Side, Chelsea, SoHo, and the Meatpacking District – all neighborhoods that are now among the most coveted in New York City.

Why do you think there has been so much development activity on Upper Fifth in the last 2 years?

Pioneering developers have recognized the opportunity to tap into the natural beauty of Upper Fifth Avenue. The area is an extension of Museum Mile and has all the benefits of northern Central Park — which is perhaps its most exquisite section of all and includes the Harlem Meer.

What differentiates 1280 from the competition?

1280 Fifth Avenue is one of the best new ground-up new development projects to come to market over the past 5 years. It is designed by one of the most renowned architects of our generation, Robert A.M. Stern, who is responsible for other iconic New York City buildings, including 15 Central Park West. With that pedigree, 1280 Fifth Avenue has no competition. The building offers direct park views, a wide variety of layouts and amenities including parking, 24-hour concierge service and a rooftop swimming pool, all at a price point that is not available anywhere else on Fifth Avenue. All of this, coupled with Central Park, offers an impressive list of qualities to buyers currently searching the Manhattan new development market for a unique place to call home.

Who is buying at 1280?

1280 Fifth Avenue is a luxury building which has attracted some of the most prominent names in business, the arts and medicine. It is richly populated by highly successful individuals with the most discerning taste.

Woody Upper West Side Duplex Gets an Attractive Pricecut

CurbedJanuary 12, 2012
Check out this duplex at 270 West End Avenue on the Upper West Side, which just got pricechopped down to a pretty attractive $2,399,000. It's not cheap by any means, but considering that you're getting a 3 bedroom, 3 bathroom duplex with 2,500 square feet space on prime Upper West territory, it's tempting. The CORE blog goes on to talk about the old/new contrast created by the pre-war building and the contemporary reno, which is neat. Maintenance might be an issue at $6,485/month, however. Other than that, a nicely renovated apartment in this neck of the woods at $959 per square foot? We're sure there's a buyer out there for this one.

Just Sold! - 85 Adams Street

The New York PostJanuary 12, 2012
Brooklyn
DUMBO $935,000
85 Adams St.

Two-bedroom, two-bath condo, 1,165 square feet, with stainless-steel kitchen appliances, washer/dryer and soundproofing; building features doorman, garage, roof deck, garden and gym. Common charges $942, taxes $23. Asking price $965,000, on market eight weeks. Brokers: Reyn Rossington, Core and Greg Williamson, Prudential Douglas Elliman

House of the Day: A Duplex with Multi-Borough Views

The Wall Street JournalJanuary 11, 2012
A Duplex with Multi-Borough Views

Price: $6,800,000
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Type of Home: Penthouse

This duplex penthouse in Brooklyn's Dumbo neighborhood sports floor-to-ceiling windows, multiple-borough views and staircases imported from China. —Corrie Driebusch

Done Deals: 254 East 7th Street - 2012-01-11

Brokers WeeklyJanuary 11, 2012
East Village
254 East 7th Street
$587,500

This spacious three-bedroom apartment offers hardwood floors, high ceilings, abundant light, an eat-in, windowed kitchen, 2 baths, and a washer/dryer hookup. The building is a well run co-op that has recently replaced the roof, refaced the front of the building, is pet friendly, has a shared garden and storage in the basement. Asking price: $649,000. Time on market: 6 months. Brokers: Rachel Field, Corcoran; Doug Bowen, CORE.

Added Life, Costs on West 29th Street

The Wall Street JournalJanuary 06, 2012
The opening of a chic hotel followed by trendy dining and retail establishments is sprucing up the landscape in a rapidly gentrifying pocket along West 29th Street between Broadway and Fifth Avenue.

The 12-story Ace Hotel, part of a chain that started in Seattle, opened its doors on West 29th Street in 2009 and resulted in several collaborations to bring in new businesses housed in the hotel or nearby. They include the Michelin-starred Breslin Bar and Dining Room, Stumptown Coffee Roasters, John Dory Oyster Bar, Opening Ceremony boutique, sandwich shop No. 7 Sub and Project No. 8a, an eclectic souvenir shop.

Later this year, Rudy's Barbershop, a West Coast chain with a retro aesthetic, is set to open in the retail space next to the Breslin restaurant.

But in an area that has been home to knock-off bag stores, jewelry shops and perfumeries, among an assortment of other retail and wholesale businesses, the launch of the Ace Hotel was an unlikely story from the start.

Spotted Pig restaurateur Ken Friedman, who is co-owner of the Breslin, recalls being approached by hotelier Alex Calderwood, head of the Ace chain and co-founder of Rudy's Barbershop, several years ago and asked about opening a restaurant in conjunction with the planned hotel.

Mr. Calderwood said the only "bad news" was that the hotel was on 29th and Broadway. "But he said, 'Mark my words, we are going to change the neighborhood from what it is now to a place that you'll be happy you chose to be there,'" according to Mr. Friedman. Mr. Calderwood confirms the conversation.

The Breslin opened in 2009 and Mr. Friedman launched John Dory Oyster Bar around the corner from the Ace in 2010, following the success of the Breslin.

Mr. Calderwood said that what drew him to the area wasn't just the location—close to the subway and in an area where several buildings are designated city landmarks, but also the unique cultural mix along the pocket on West 29th.

The hotel sits directly across from Masjid Ar-Rahman mosque and Gourmet Palace, a Pakistani and Indian restaurant.

Perfume Plus, whose owner has relocated twice in the last three years because of rising rents in the neighborhood.

"Our suspicion was that the tourists would find the contrast interesting in that it's seeing a piece of real New York which you don't see that much anymore," said Mr. Calderwood. "A lot of Ace customers are cultural enthusiasts, so they're a bit more open to areas like this."

Area residents say the newcomer businesses have helped bolster the strip. "They've totally cleaned up the seedy element that was there in this corner before," said Jesse Meyer, a sales associate with Bellmarc Realty, who has lived at the Gilsey House, just steps from the Ace, for nearly a decade.

Ms. Meyer said the listed prices of properties for sale as well as those for rent have been steadily climbing for the past few years.

But the combination of the economic downturn and rising rents are squeezing the bottom line for many small businesses in the area, some owners say.

"I used to pay $12,000 rent for a store and now they want $18,000, so I moved to smaller space," said Mian Rasheed, owner of Perfume Plus Inc., who has relocated twice in the last three years. "Basically, with all the high-end development here, they want us to leave, and I don't know how long some of us will last."

Rundown: An 1,800-squarefoot one-bedroom with two bathrooms and a terrace. Agent: Parul Brahmbhatt of CORE Group, 212-612-9646. $1,895,000 | 1200 Broadway, 6

Rundown: A 2,000-squarefoot, two-bedroom loft in the landmark Gilsey House. Agent: Jesse Meyer of Bellmarc Realty, 646-812-1175.

Others say the shuttering of several stores in the area in recent years has led to a decrease in foot traffic—something many small shops rely on.

"Small guys can't survive here," said Ghulam Jalani, owner of Rockaway USA clothing store on West 29th Street. "Very few people pass by now—it's nothing but a few tourists, and even they go to brand-name stores."

Meanwhile, real-estate people predict the pace of development in the area will continue in the next few years.

"There's only so many new places that are emerging areas in Manhattan and this is one of them because you're in between a number of really strong neighborhoods—Flatiron, Murray Hill, Gramercy Park," said Jason Pruger, an executive managing director at Newmark Knight Frank Retail. "The turnover will happen—it's just a matter of time."

New Listing: 25 Sutton Place South

Brokers WeeklyJanuary 04, 2012
This coveted corner two-bedroom, 2-bath home on Sutton Place South has just been listed by CORE's Elizabeth Kee for $1.249 million. The apartment, at 25 Sutton, offers the beauty of north, east and south exposure, with expansive river and city views. North and East facing windows frame a picture featuring the Queensboro Bridge. To the South and East, watch the city’s nautical traffic on the East River from the double glazed tilt-and-turn windows in the living and dining rooms. The full-service, white glove co-op has a parking garage, fitness room, children’s play room, and a resident’s private garden terrace on the river. Utilities are all included in the maintenance.
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