It’s Springtime in New York again—that short slice of heaven squeezed between the long cold winter and the long hot summer—and the real estate market appears to be sprouting green shoots in celebration. For real this time. The kind of growth that the professionals seem to think can really last. That’s certainly the take that Diane Ramirez, president and co-founder of Halstead Property, shared in a recent interview. And she has some solid evidence to back that up, unmistakable trends she has spotted that indicate a kind of vigor in the market that is sustainable. The market, she posits, has become unfrozen, people are feeling less stuck, and rather than sitting tight with what they’ve got, they’re upsizing, downsizing, and just generally moving on with their lives. “That,” she insightfully says, “is what real estate is all about.”
Rarely do you find a broker with as much knowledge about an apartment as Town Residential’s Paddington Matz has on a full-floor spread she’s marketing at 288 West Street, a loft building dating back to 1860. Not only has she sold the unit four times over (she’s trying now for a fifth), but the first time she sold it, she actually owned it.
“It was the first loft I’d ever bought,” she told The Observer of unit #2W at the Medium Lipstick Building, as it’s known. “I bought it in 1996 for $155,000.” It had been on the market for double that, but this was before Tribeca became the hot neighborhood that it is today. “Back then there wasn’t even a promenade,” said Ms. Matz. “There was a cheapo parking lot on the West Side Highway across the street. It had no services whatsoever—the only grocery store was a Food Emporium.” (Today, said Food Emporium faces competition from a gleaming new Whole Foods just a few blocks to the south.)
School's Out Forever
Last month, the Related Companies’ Stephen Ross was reportedly eyeing the Borough of Manhattan Community College’s campus in Tribeca, in a land swap that would give the college space in Moynihan Station. That idea wasn’t too well received, but it looks like another college—St. John’s University—is putting a building nearby on the auction block.
This afternoon St. John’s announced that it is looking to sell its building at 101 Murray Street. The university bought the property in 2001, after St. John’s merged with the College of Insurance, now called the School of Risk Management, which remains a tenant in the building.
“The University has been continually assessing the value of this asset in terms of space usage and market value,” according to the press release. “With Manhattan’s real estate market now at an all-time historic high, we have determined that it is in the best interest of the University of seek a buyer for the property at this time.”
Tribeca and townhouse are not generally two words that are found in any close proximity. The district’s cobblestone streets are edged by multi-million dollar lofts and, increasingly, glossy condo towers. The rare townhouse that finds itself with a Tribeca address could hardly be blamed for trying to take full advantage of the situation. Such was the case with 452 Greenwich Street, which made a splashy market debut last June asking $24.5 million.
The house may have gotten a little above its four stories. Now, it is back on the market with a new broker—Brown Harris Steven’s Paula Del Nunzio—and a more modest ask of $19.5 million. (The Observer was disappointed to learn that it is still not in our price range.)
It may look like a glass and steel version of wooden Jenga tower, but a piece of 56 Leonard Street will cost buyers considerably more than the $13 Parker Brothers game. Just a month after the Alexico Group closed on a $350 million construction loan for the downtown tower, nine units—ranging from a lowly two-bedroom on the 14th floor to a $24 million full-floor penthouse on the 57th floor—have been listed with Corcoran Sunshine. (The Herzog & de Meuron-designed tower does have one major advantage over a Jenga structure: it’s not likely to fall down anytime soon.)
Planes Trains & Automobiles
The planned conversion of the Beaux-Arts Farley Post Office on Eighth Avenue into Amtrak’s “Moynihan Station” has always been more about real estate and architecture than transportation, spurred by the city’s desperate search for atonement after the destruction of the old Penn Station. Former Amtrak President David Gunn didn’t mince words when he told Bloomberg News in 2011 that the project is “controlled by a bunch of rich developers.”
And Related Companies doesn’t seem to be doing anything to disabuse us of that notion. The New York Times reported that Stephen Ross has yet another trick up his sleeve to revive the stalled project: he wants the Borough of Manhattan Community College to move into Moynihan Station.
The Observer took a long, damp walk to 250 West Street last night for the condo conversion’s official debut (its target audience is clearly not the public transportation crowd), but the Hudson, thankfully, kept to itself on the far side of the highway.
It was not so well behaved last October, when Hurricane Sandy flooded the Tribeca building’s basement, delaying not only the move-in date, but the big reveal of three apartments gussied up by Hearst for its interior design showcase. (Some of the mechanicals in the basement had to be replaced.)
The wind is picking up, the streets are emptying and both Bergdorf Goodman and Saks have both boarded up their big, beautiful windows, but in some corners of the city, life is continuing as New Yorkers seek out the real essentials: donuts, booze and coffee.
In Bed-Stuy, Brooklynites were flocking to Dough to get their fix of hibiscus, dulce de leche and cafe au lait donuts and lay in tins of coffee from the Brooklyn Roasting Company. The line stretched nearly out the door at noon, as workers scurried around the kitchen, mixing, rolling and baking to feed the demanding masses. The store was planning to close at 2 p.m. Nearby, Bedford Hill coffee employees were sandbagging the door; the Daily Grind by the Franklin Train C Train stayed open until 3 p.m.
We don’t like to gloat, but in this case we just couldn’t help it. We told you so Forbes! As The Observer argued when the magazine released its headline-hogging Most Expensive Zip Code list, the Upper East Side zip code 10065 was almost certainly not the nation’s most expensive zip code. Now there’s data to prove it.
According to a new report from the number crunching wizards over at PropertyShark, the Upper East Side is not even New York’s most expensive zip code. And PropertyShark’s report includes co-ops. Unlike Forbes’.
As a child born into one of the country’s most powerful publishing families, it can be hard to escape from the shadow of one’s overwhelmingly successful antecedents. It appears that Samuel I. Newhouse IV didn’t want to be in the literal shadow of the family offices, soon to relocate to the World Trade Center, either. He’s jettisoned his trendy Tribeca loft at 55 North Moore Street for $2.7 million, according to city records.