Housed on the top floors of 30 West 22nd Street for nearly 20 years, the Van Alen Institute, an organization dedicated to advancing innovation in architecture and design, began to imagine a more accessible space on the 1,620-square-foot ground floor of its Chelsea location.
Earlier this year, the organization launched an international design competition, which was narrowed down to 24 and then three
teams. The jury settled on a plan proposed by Collective-LOK, which will allow the space to take on a variety of uses through a “screenplay” design. Construction is expected to begin in April of next year with a September 2014 opening planned.
David van der Leer, executive director of the Van Alen Institute, and Jon Lott, architect with CLOK, spoke to The Commercial Observer last week about the plan’s unique design components and flexibility.
There are so many unexpected problems that can arise during major renovations—interior demolition work reveals not only water damage, deterioration, rot, asbestos, rodents but, as Penn South recently discovered, hoarders.
Elderly hoarders at the affordable housing complex in Chelsea, which is undergoing a massive project to replace its heating and cooling systems, are costing the co-op a staggering $40 million, according to DNAinfo. And that’s in addition to the $100 million that the complex is already spending on workers and materials.
The Observer has had visions—visions opulent and terrifying, and terrifying in their opulence. On Wednesday night, as a chilly drizzle began to fall, we descended on—or rather, ascended in—212 West 18th Street, the one-time home of the New York Telephone Company, which has been lately re-imagined as an art deco sheath for 47 luxury condominiums.
Named for Ralph Walker, its much celebrated architect, Walker Tower will soon open its doors to residents, having sold all but four units—one of which is the would-be downtown record-breaker Penthouse 1, priced at $55 million. (For the budget-conscious, there remains one condo available for $8.25 million.)
THERE GOES THE NEIGHBORHOOD
In New York, the commonly accepted wisdom is that art galleries tend to gravitate to gritty up-and-coming areas thick with bohemians, artists and hipster hangers-on. But a new study released by the University of Southern California’s Lusk Center for Real Estate claims just the opposite: Galleries open in high-end Manhattan neighborhoods that house the kind of wealthy consumers likely to buy art, not the people making it.
“These findings counter the common and somewhat romantic perception that galleries locate in gritty artist communities,” assistant professor Jenny Schuetz, who co-authored the study with Lusk Director Richard Green, wrote. “Similar to jewelry, furniture and antique districts, most galleries cluster near affluent potential art buyers, rather than the artists themselves.”
The neighborhood profile that attracts art galleries, the study asserts, “is consistent with luxury retail.”
Pretty Fly (For a Tall Guy)
Public Advocate Bill de Blasio seems to have it in the bag.
With a commanding lead in the polls and palpable momentum, Mr. de Blasio was treated like a reigning champion as he embarked on a five-borough campaign tour today that sometimes felt like a victory lap, with less than a week to go before the primary.
Shelley O’Keefe finished arranging the furniture, installing the chandeliers and hanging the artwork in apartment 2A, a three-bedroom floor-through at the Chelsea condo Citizen on a Sunday. By Tuesday, the Corcoran broker was making arrangements to have it all removed. A buyer had signed a contract on the apartment—a victory, if something of a pyrrhic one—the dust never even had a chance to settle on the eye-catching wall hangings or handsome carpets before they were hauled to a floor-through on the 12th floor.
The whole point of staging in a new development is to sell apartments. Just not, preferably, the apartment that’s been painstakingly outfitted with furniture, rugs, lighting fixtures, window treatments, wall hangings and ersatz ephemera. In new developments, staged apartments are not supposed to sell themselves, but rather, the unstaged, empty apartments all around them. Invariably, though, buyers want the staged apartments. Even though in most cases, the apartment will be delivered empty, virtually indistinguishable from all the other apartments in that line.
It’s hard to rent an apartment in New York without feeling like you’re getting ripped off. The exorbitant monthly rents, the brokers’ fees, the multiple deposits—all in exchange for dwellings that are smaller and darker and more ill-suited to human habitation than those in almost every other city. Indeed it can be difficult to explain to out-of-towners that while, in a sense, everyone is being ripped off by the high cost of housing in this rapacious city, you are not literally being ripped off.
Of course, in a city filled with so many desperate apartment seekers, more than a few people do fall victim to rental scams. Like the 40 unfortunate would-be renters who each coughed up thousands of dollars to secure a phony rental in Chelsea.
There’s something in the water … tower?
Not content with the thousands of bars, restaurants and liquor stores populating New York City, some thirsty folk are trespassing to get their fix.
The Atlantic reports on the Wanderlust project, a group that organizes excursions in interesting and illegal locales. Their latest Read More
If a typical break-up calls for vats of Ben & Jerry’s and repeated viewings of The Notebook, then we suppose a highly publicized divorce from a top Hollywood actor and devout Scientologist calls for a cross-country move and a gorgeous new apartment. That’s pretty much what Katie Holmes got last summer when she took up residence at the Chelsea Mercantile—the spectacular, star-infused, 21-story building at 252 Seventh Avenue. The actress reportedly signed the lease just a few days after announcing her split from husband Tom Cruise in June 2012.
Most celebrities scrupulously shield their real estate purchases through a web of limited liability corporations, and most brokers steadfastly refuse to discuss their bold-faced clients. Not Matthew Modine: when he wanted to sell his Chelsea pad at Loft 25, he made a video.
Mr. Modine didn’t get the full $2.29 million for the one-bedroom-with-office duplex at 420 West 25th Street, but his video was quite a hit, according to Halstead broker Mark Friedman, who had the listing. “It definitely got more hits than any other video we’ve done in the history of Halstead.” And Mr. Modine and wife Caridad, did walk away with $2.1 million—a respectable premium over the $1.73 million they paid for the 1,668-square-foot spread in 2008.