Naftali Group Gets Inquiries for Upper West Side Condos Before Land Sale Even Closes

Goodbye rental cars, helloooo condos! (Photo courtesy of the CoStar Group.)

Goodbye rental cars, helloooo condos! (Photo courtesy of the CoStar Group.)

The attendees of last week’s Landmarks West forum on Upper West Side development will be disappointed to learn that a new, 18-story ultra-luxury building is set to rise in their midst: the Naftali Group has acquired the Hertz garage at 206-210 West 77th Street from the Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services, with the intention of building just shy of 100,000 square feet of condominiums.

Potential buyers, on the other hand, are so excited that they’ve been calling Naftali since before the land sale even closed.

The Naftali Group paid well over what observers were predicting for the site—in May Bob Knakal, who brokered the sale, told Crain’s that he expected the site to fetch “as much as $45 million.” But the price hit a staggering $55.5 million. Mr. Knakal told us that he was surprised at the closing price, which he attributed to the incredibly tight market for land on the Upper West Side.

“I think in the first three months of 2013, land values increased 20 to 30 percent,” Mr. Knakal told The Observer. And it’s good that the Naftali Group bought when they did, because Mr. Knakal said that by the end of 2013 he sees land prices rising to 50 percent above where they were last year.

Despite some Upper West Siders’ impression that their neighborhood is under siege by developers, large building sites rarely come to market in one of the city’s most regulated neighborhoods, which has been landmarked to the hilt. The site sits on a narrow strip of un-landmarked land, bounded roughly by Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue, which falls outside of the the Central Park West and West End historic districts.

“There is absolutely no inventory on the Upper West Side,” developer Miki Naftali told The Observer this afternoon. “For the first time, in my career at least, we’re already getting phone calls” from people interested in the units, before the design has even been unveiled. (Mr. Naftali wasn’t ready to discuss exactly what the project would look like—that’s coming in a week or so, he said—but he did say that he had an architect in mind. “We’re not going to create something cutting-edge contemporary, but it’s definitely not going to be old world.”)

In continuing with the Upper West Side’s kid-friendly image, the units will be family-sized—there will be just around 30 units plus ground-level retail space spread over the nearly 100,000 square feet of space, according to a release about the deal.

Mr. Naftali told The Observer that he’s looking to break ground in the early part of next year.