Welcome to the latest installment of our ongoing interview series, Meet the Neighbors! Jeffrey Wachtenheim grew up in the city, and that is what gives him his edge as a broker at The Real Estate Group New York. He specializes in downtown real estate, his favorite part of the city he loves.
Where do you live?
I live in a turn-of-the-century townhouse in Greenwich Village.
How is work these days? What is your latest deal?
Guy with 10 percent down on a Tribeca loft, and he loses his job. It’s a three-bedroom, $3 million, prewar, real loft conversion. He gets his job back, puts five percent more down, only to lose his job again. He was pretty confident he would find a new job, but no banks would lend to him, he just couldn’t get financing. He walked away with $500,000 just left on the table.
What was the best meal you’ve ever eaten in New York?
I’ve eaten everywhere, but am sentimental for the old school. Give me a Katz’ Pastrami, or Second Ave Deli any day. For higher end, I always love Union Square Cafe. It’s just classic. Been dining at Restaurant North quite a bit as well, although it is located “North” of NYC.
What was your first apartment like?
My first apartment was at 52 Spring Street in Nolita. It was a full-floor loft with brick walls, in a loft building that was built in 1890. It was a great apartment and I lived there for about seven years, even with a $3,700-a-month rent. I still spend a ton of time in the neighborhood and keep in touch with most of the current residences, not to mention I am now the building’s broker.
What is your recession war story?
Right after Lehman, I put a large pre-war apartment on Lower Fifth Avenue on the market. It was a great space in a top building, though it needed some work. I showed the hell out of it,f but we only got a couple of insane lowball offers. I tried to get the sellers to drop the price, to no avail. After our exclusive agreement expired they listed it with someone else… at the lower price. After all the time, resources and effort I’d expended on their behalf, that hurt. The new agent didn’t sell it either. The owners took it off the market and ended up selling it last spring through a broker who’d sent them one of those “I have buyers looking for a two bedroom in your building” letters.
How do you get around town?
My main mode of transport is bicycle. It’s just the most efficient form of transportation, especially with all the newly installed bike lanes.
What is your favorite building in the city?
Residential building would be, 62 Cooper Square, The Carl Fischer Building. Love the vibrant neighborhood. It’s at the crossroads of Noho, Greenwich Village, East Village and Soho. Just easy to get anywhere you want to go. The building has a gorgeous limestone facade, oversized factory windows and all apartments have great open plans with flexible layouts. I remember this building from when I was a kid, long before conversion and always thought it was impressive.
If you weren’t a broker, what would you be?
If I didn’t work in real estate I’d probably work in the food industry, or creative arts.
What is your dream home?
The penthouse at 140 Perry Street. Unfortunately, it just sold in the ballpark of $15 million. Guess I’ll have to grab it the next time around.
You just won the lottery. What store do you stop by and what do you buy?
If I won the lottery, I would like to contribute back to NYC. Perhaps create additional after-school programs and programs that enable innercity youth to experience things outside of the city. Perhaps an organization that is a mix of academic, sports and cultural activities.
If there was one thing you could change about New York, what would it be?
To preserve the character of New York’s neighborhoods. The city is always changing, and that’s part of what makes it exciting, but its important to remember the roots and individuality of each neighborhood. After all, isn’t that what makes this city so unique.