In This Week's [em]Observer[/em]…

The Sheffield Conversion, Always with the Hold-Ups
No one said that converting a large rental building into condominiums was going to be easy–especially when tenants keep living there. The developer Kent Swig and his partners bought the Sheffield on West 57th Street two years ago and planned numerous renovations to make it more appealing to upscale condo buyers. But they have had to work around the 80 or so tenants who remained because they are protected by rent regulations.
Go to story by Matthew Schuerman.

Ratner Scrambles for Funding for Gehry-Designed Tower
Forest City Ratner is looking to compete for some of New York’s scarce tax-exempt bonds to finance a Frank Gehry-designed tower in Lower Manhattan. The 950-foot tall tower, to be built on a parking lot between Spruce and Beekman streets, promises to be one of the flashiest, and expensive, new buildings south of Midtown.
Go to story (toward bottom) by Matthew Schuerman.

Divorce, Manhattan Style
Ronald M. Gold has been a real-estate appraiser in New York for nearly three decades. And in that time, he has learned something: “I don’t trust anyone or anything except public records, signed leases and corroborated information.” For Manhattan appraisers, this brutally pragmatic approach to real-estate swings acutely into action in one particular area-divorces.
Go to story by Tom Acitelli.

Engineers Crow ‘I Told You So’ at Building Collapses
On March 31, riders of a downtown No. 6 subway train creeping toward the Bleecker Street station heard an unsettling announcement. “Ladies and gentlemen, we are moving slowly because a building has collapsed on Houston Street.” Looks of exasperation were replaced with looks of worry. “Didn’t a building come down last week?” a young woman on the train inquired. Yes, it did. In fact, the three-story building that caused the slowdown, 41 East Houston Street, was part of a spate of recent collapses.
Go to story by Mark Wellborn.

Heller, Nottingham Win Big at Office Oscars; Major Names Shut Out
The real estate stars were out at Peter Kalikow’s 101 Club on Park Avenue on Tuesday evening. Tightly dressed and very merry, the brokers who trade, lease, and finance the city’s skyscrapers were celebrating the industry’s most coveted award, the Real Estate Board of New York’s Most Ingenious Deal of the Year.
Gary Barnett nabs diamond district building for $5 M.
Gary Barnett, the president of Extell, has been dutifully buying buildings for a diamond-district site for more than a year and now has purchased one more at 41 West 46th Street for $5 million.
Go to Commercial Breaks by John Koblin.

Belafonte Buys Neighboring West Side Condos for $5 M.
Octogenarian folk hero Harry Belafonte won’t be leaving the Upper West Side, even though he sold his 48-year home on West End Avenue last October. According to city records, he has paid $5 million for neighboring apartments in the freshly converted Apple Bank Building.
Imperiolis Buy Entire Canal Street Walk-Up for $2.4 M.
With The Sopranos airing its glorious final episodes, a longtime star and his wife are embracing the less entertaining roles of office manager and landlord. Ornate interior designer Victoria Imperioli, whose husband Michael plays the drug-addled Christopher Moltisanti, has paid $2.4 million for a four-story walk-up at 499 Canal Street.
Go to Manhattan Transfers by Max Abelson.

One, Two, a Thousand Fillmores; Irving Plaza First
Last week, titanic concert-production company Live Nation, which operates more than 90 venues nationwide, boldly rebranded its 1,000-person-capacity rock club, Irving Plaza, in an apparent attempt to market some of the cachet of the dearly departed Fillmore East, which shuttered in 1971. Irving Plaza, which recently renewed its lease through 2016, is merely the first concert space on Live Nation’s Fillmorefication list.
Go to Counter Espionage by Chris Shott.

Downtown Market Becomes Lead Indicator in First Quarter
To truly gauge the ongoing success of the Manhattan office market, cast a gaze on downtown’s recent performance. The vacancy rate in downtown continues to dwindle deeper into single digits as rents for office space there rise; these trends mirror the market as a whole, a market that’s defied expectations in the last few years–yet one that seems to be merely following historical patterns.
Go to The Lab by Tom Acitelli.

‘Michael Shvo Is A Gift from God’
That’s true if you’re Curbed–at nearly three years old, the granddaddy of New York real-estate blogs. Senior editor Joey Arak talks about Dumbo, The Times, and what makes ‘the Real Lower East Side.’
Go to The Sit-Down by Tom Acitelli.

Furniture Without Pity
As New York’s design cognoscenti trundle off to Milan for the annual Salone di Mobile (a.k.a. the Chair Fair), and as Berlin prepares for a highly anticipated art exhibition on pain (Schmerz), is it a coincidence that much of today’s au courant furniture looks masterminded by someone who really, really hates it when their guests stay too long?
Go to Interiors by Miranda Purves.

The Lost City Under Penn Station
Most of us know how the story of the original Penn Station ends: The breathtakingly grand neoclassical structure–designed to be a suitably splendid entryway to the nation’s largest city–was razed by the cash-strapped Pennsylvania Railroad in the 1960′s and replaced by the current charmless depot that we, unfortunately, know so well today.
Go to book review by Adelle Waldman.