Welcome to the latest installment of our ongoing interview series, Meet the Neighbors! Steven Leon has only been with Citi Habitats for six years, but real estate has been in his blood forever. The rare Soho native, Leon got into the business while selling some of his family property and realized he had a knack for it. It showed at the office, where the senior associate broker won The Rookie of the Year, Top Listing Agent and Top Producer awards. Before that, he worked in the city’s thriving nightlife scene.
Where do you live?
I currently reside in Soho, and have lived in that neighborhood my entire life. It has and, I believe, will always be a fantastic neighborhood. Amazing to see what survived the test of time and also how so much has changed in and around it. The fundamentals are still there like two different train lines, a major supermarket , 24-hour delis, and most importantly, a sense of a real neighborhood, all within three blocks. This is definitely home.
How is work these days? What is your latest deal?
After nearly six years at Citi Habitats, work is still consistently busy and gets busier every year. I am fortunate that my clients and customers are some of the most dynamic and affable people I’ve ever met. My latest sales deal just closed a few days ago, a beautiful one bedroom at 270 West 11th Street and, before that , a three bedroom penthouse home at the Chelsea Mercantile.
What was the best meal you’ve ever eaten in New York?
I hadve eaten at many places in New York, but the absolute best meal would have to be Mom’s Thanksgiving dinner. Everyone in the neighborhood knows her as Lucy and she was a chef for many years before retiring. Her specialty was French cuisine and her sauces are insanely delicious. Really tough to beat.
What was your first apartment like?
My childhood home was me and two brothers in one bedroom, my sister had her own bedroom complete with the princess canopy bed, and my Mom. It wasn’t big but there was so much love all around and the food was always plentiful and delicious. Still amazes me that Santa Claus came in by the fire escape window.
What is your recession war story?
Thankfully, I don’t have any. I advised my buyers to be cautious and many of them decided to wait. Those that bought or sold closed on very good deals that still make sense today. Those that opted to wait are thankful they did, and I have resumed working with many of them now and we are actively looking.
How do you get around town?
I use every mode of transportation available. Short jaunts from one appointment to another is either a taxi cab or a brisk walk. The subway is great, especially when I have several clients seeking different neighborhoods, and I have to show in the same day.
What is your favorite building in the city?
I would have to say one of my favorites is the Chelsea Mercantile at 252 Seventh Avenue. “They don’t make em like that anymore” comes to mind. The size of the lobby and grandeur of the rotunda are a rare sight, and I believe the entire building was very well configured, particularly the loft-like homes. It’s always first on my list for potential buyers and renters to see.
If you weren’t a broker, what would you be?
I would imagine it would have to be service related but I love this business and can’t imagine not being involved with it in some way or another.
What is your dream home?
It is a beautiful four story condo building in Soho, always dreamed of having everyone in the family live in the same building again. Or the Chelsea Mercantile, for sure.
You just won the lottery. What store do you stop by and what do you buy?
I would take all my friends and clients out to a restaurant for a wonderful Italian meal–in Italy!
If there was one thing you could change about New York, what would it be?
That the World Trade Center and St. Vincent’s Hospital were still a part of it.