Deeds and Deals

Madonna Watch 2007: She’ll Be Back to Buy

It would be a tragedy of biblical proportions if the most epic New York superstars stopped buying New York’s most epic real estate. So, is it a bad sign that former New Yorker Madonna came and left Manhattan this month without grabbing a French limestone townhouse or a 17-room co-op? Apparently not.

A source with knowledge of the chameleonic diva’s real-estate dealings told The Observer that she’ll be back in a few weeks to finish up her New York purchase.

Two weeks ago, her Madgesty hit the Upper East Side with hopes of finding the appropriate domicile for her return to the Big Apple. She toured four different townhouses and fell in love with a 14,700-square-foot mansion on East 62nd Street, according to the New York Post.

The six-floor mansion lives up to Madonna standards: It has seven bedrooms, 10 bathrooms, three kitchens, a gym with a sauna, and a garden. (Unclear if there’s a yoga studio or a Kabbalah meditation room.)

The price tag for the townhouse is $35 million. An exorbitant price for most, it represents just a fraction of the $175 million that the legend pulled in last year, according to Billboard magazine.

Madonna’s primary residence for the past few years has been a 1,000-acre estate in the British countryside in Wiltshire. (Better to match the Detroit-area native’s, um, English accent.)

—Max Abelson and Mark Wellborn

Riverside South Goes French

After years in which one architect—Costas Kondylis—has dominated the 13-block-long Riverside South development, the new kid in town, Gary Barnett of Extell Development, has commissioned the Pritzker Prize–winning French architect Christian de Portzamparc to design the next three buildings there, according to George Arzt, a spokesman for the developer.

M. de Portzamparc’s Web site says the program consists of three buildings with 3.2 million square feet of office, hotel and residential space between 59th and 61st streets. Well, that’s the proposal. Mr. Arzt says a rezoning proposal will go to the Department of City Planning in a few weeks—and it doesn’t sound like it will be the easiest rezoning.

According to figures from the Coalition for a Livable West Side, that amount would represent about 35 percent more built space than that envisioned under the original Riverside South master plan.

—Matthew Schuerman

Serious Drinkers Gather For Blind Tiger Reopening

Some guys just really like their Brooklyn Smoked Dunkel.

A line of roughly 15 men had gathered outside the Blind Tiger in Greenwich Village at 4:01 p.m. last Thursday, when the renowned beer-lover’s mecca finally reopened its doors—this time, with actual beer.

“People have been waiting for, like, a year for this,” noted the last guy in line, who added that he’d taken the day off from work.

After 10 years at Hudson and 10th streets, the much-beloved Tiger was forced to move in late 2005 in order to make way for a new Starbucks.

Perhaps taking a hint from the caffeine giant, the venue reopened last fall at the corner of Bleecker and Jones streets—primarily as a coffee bar, however, on account of a little liquor-license brouhaha with neighborhood politico Deb Glick, a State Assemblywoman. Earlier this month, the bar finally got its license to swill.

By 4:15 p.m. on Thursday, the crowd inside easily exceeded 50, predominantly made up of burly-looking dudes; but at least three females were present.

Chris Shott

Head of Javits Expansion Leaving

Mike Petralia, the state official overseeing the increasingly convoluted Javits Convention Center expansion, is leaving his job by the end of March, according to sources. Appointed by the Pataki administration less than two years ago, he was not expected to last long once Governor Eliot Spitzer took over, especially given the fact that the new Governor is pushing for a new design for the $1.7 billion expansion.

Mr. Petralia’s boss, Patrick Foye, the co-chairman of the Empire State Development Corporation, said he would not comment on personnel matters, nor did Mr. Petralia return a telephone call.

—M.S.

A Manhattan Co-op Under $200 K.? Oh, Those Were the Late 1990’s

How far Manhattan’s come! A report out this week says that the average sales price for a condo or a co-op in the borough has increased more than 200 percent in the last 10 years.

The average price in 1997 was $430,927, and in 2006 it was $1,295,445, according to the report from the appraisal firm Miller Samuel and the brokerage Prudential Douglas Elliman.

The median sales price for a Manhattan co-op apparently jumped 244.4 percent from 1997 through 2006, traveling from what now seems a very affordable $196,000 to the decidedly-less-so $675,000. The median price for Manhattan studio co-ops was under $100,000; now, it’s nearly three times that.

The prices per square foot for Manhattan apartments in the late 1990’s seem especially quaint now.

An Upper East Side co-op sold for an average of $315 a foot 10 years ago, and sells for $988 a foot now. Along Central Park West, co-ops went for an average of $524 a foot; now, $1,548. Chelsea condos in 1997 sold for an average of $319 a foot—just about one-third of what condos there sell for now. In Harlem and East Harlem, the price per square foot increased 340 percent, from $145 to $639.

Despite such price increases, the number of Manhattan home sales stayed steady year to year over the last decade, according to the report, going from a valley of 7,316 in 1997 to a peak of 9,522 in 1999.

Tom Acitelli

Tenant Exits at 120 Wall Street: what’s a nonprofit to do?

The Association Center, the office building at 120 Wall Street once dedicated to nonprofit organizations, is getting more profit-oriented.

Two of the roughly 40 nonprofit tenants have announced that they are leaving, in part because the building’s tax breaks, and the one-time cheap rents of the financial district, are disappearing.

The 78-year-old, 600,000-square-foot office building, owned by Larry Silverstein, was designated the Association Center 14 years ago, when the Dinkins administration was trying to revive Wall Street real estate. The city agreed to forgive nonprofit tenants real-estate taxes, worth about $4 a square foot, but those original leases, and tax breaks, are now expiring. The Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive-research think tank, bought an office condo at 125 Maiden Lane this month, while the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions moved to John Street in February. Together, they rented about 23,000 square feet.

“We found that the prices for leasing were much more than we could bear,” said Robert D. Rosendale, the vice president for administration and finance at the Guttmacher Institute. “We were paying right around $23 [a square foot], and that was going to go to $35.”

He added that the institute needed more space because of a growing staff, and that staying in 120 Wall Street would have required renting on non-contiguous floors.

Both Mr. Rosendale and the credit-union association said that there were rumors the building would eventually be converted to residential condominiums. Dara McQuillan, a spokesman for Silverstein Properties, said, “There are no present plans to operate 120 Wall as anything other than an office building.”

He added that the company had been renewing leases for as far ahead as 2017 or 2018, and that the building’s 100 percent leased.

“The project was developed to stop the exodus of associations from New York, and it did that,” said Joel Dolci, the president of the New York Society of Association Executives, which helped secure the tax breaks. “We are hoping that that does not recur. We are trying to make every effort to assist the organizations with other space.”

The city’s Economic Development Corporation, which last year established a separate desk to serve nonprofits, is talking with other priced-out tenants and encouraging them to consider places like Long Island City and downtown Brooklyn—which also happen to be areas where great hopes for satellite-office districts have so far floundered.

“The Bloomberg administration is committed to helping New York City’s not-for-profits locate and expand in all five boroughs,” said E.D.C. spokeswoman Yonit Golub.

M.S.