Archives for category: real estate investment

The neighborhood of West Chelsea extends approximately from West 14th to West 30th street from 8th Avenue to the West Side Highway.

In the past 5 years, West Chelsea has drawn worldwide attention notably through the success of the High Line elevated parkway: a 1.43mile former railroad line (west side line) running along the lower West side of Manhattan from 14th to 29th Street (shown below). The repurposing of the park was inspired by the famous Promenade Plantée in Paris and has spurred many new real estate developments along the 9th and 10th Avenue rows, where multimillion dollar condominiums are burgeoning. The proximity to the High Line park along with the quality of mom and pops stores, art galleries and Google’s economic boost to the area  have been attractive factors for home hunters. 

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To better enjoy such quality of life, buyers have been flocking to one of the best place to contemplate in the city: the Seminary block. Located on West 20th Street between 9th and 10th Avenue, this exclusive street block is home to the 1800’s Episcopal seminary that is supported by the church. For the story, in 1878, the new appointed Dean Eugene Augustus Hoffman led the expansion program of the seminary which included the construction of new campus facilities based on an Oxford model with neo-gothic buildings facing onto a central quadrangle. More recently, upon the opening of the Desmond Tutu Center 2007, the western part of the seminary facing 10th Avenue operates primarily as a hotel and conference center. The seminary has been maintained impeccably and the area is pristine.

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For buyers in need of a large home (3,500sf +) the options available in condominiums remains very limited and…expensive. At this time, there are only 8 condos with 4+ bedroom available in the area at a median price of $15.950M, an average ppsf of $3,415 and size of 3,825sf. Any current condos over 4,000sf will cost more than $16M with maintenance and Real Estate taxes approximating more than $10K/month.

With so few options, my attention drew toward the townhouse alternative and more specifically to the Circa 1853, Anglo-Italianate style 5-story townhouse listed at 438 West 20th Street by townhouse specialists Paul Kolbusz and Sara Gelbard. The house is currently asking $8.580M and offers close to 4,800sf of exquisite space, light and luxury. After my visit, I was stunned by how much more a homeowner could get out of a townhouse compare to a condominium. To expand on this idea, I compared and put into perspective the main attributes of both property types.

Facade

Cost of ownership.

As mentioned above, buyers should expect to pay in the $15M range for a 4,000 sf condominium in this area. The monthly cost of ownership of such condominium range in the $9 to 11K/month or over $100K/year. Comparatively, at $8.580M, the townhouse looks like a bargain. In addition, the average yearly cost of ownership ranges in the $10-14K which include real estate taxes, insurance, fuel/gas/electricity and basic repair and upkeep. The townhouse alternative would leave no less than $100K in the owner’s pocket every year on top of $6M on the purchase! Certainly a budget that can be used for other investments or lifestyle upgrades.

Full Service and amenities: the condominium alternative will bring all the services as soon as you walk in which should justify the $6K+ of common charges to be paid each month. The doorman will be there to greet, the gym should have the state-of-the-art fitness equipment, the common areas such as rooftop and lounge would be kept in great conditions and offer additional space for gathering or relaxing. Most likely a dry clean service will be available (at an additional cost of course) and maybe valet parking will be available.

On the other hand, the townhouse lifestyle can bring these 6K+/month into better use. This could translate into hiring a housekeeper or nanny for instance. With so much space in the house, there is the possibility to have a live in house staff to occupy the garden level space so that the owners can keep their privacy through the rest of the house. To substitute for the gym and stay active, the townhouse has also enough space to build a private workout area, and host a private trainer. Still not convinced?

The no-doorman alternative keeps the owner’s privacy to its highest, which many people value in New York City. With a valet parking across the street, this townhouse location really make it simple and effort less to come and go whenever you need.

As far as outdoor space, 438 West 20th Street offers a beautiful and large garden, as well as two terraces each on the 3rd and top floor, that can be re-arranged at the new owner’s taste. The top floor overlooks the Chelsea skyline with no vis-à-vis: a wonderful place an homeowner could appreciate in many ways. Finally, with 5 floors boasting high ceilings, the elevator will allow for quick rides up and down the house and be a wonderful asset for visitors with limited mobility.

The townhouse exclusivity:

Let’s take a walk through the house now and show the townhouse shines a lifestyle and exclusivity that no condominium, no matter how expensive they are, will offer.

This house is currently set up as a 6 story single family with 6-bedroom 3.5 baths, which had undergone a complete and tasteful renovation that preserved its unique character since its 1853 origination. Among the 6 stories, The ground floor has a living area and guest room which provides a sense of autonomy from the separate street entrance and access to the rear garden (see pics below).

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As you open the cast iron gate and walk through the front garden, the house welcomes you into a beautiful first floor foyer assorted with one of the five wood burning fireplaces built with marble mantles: think about the cold/rainy/snowy days of NY and how cozy the feel of coming into a warm house hearing the wood fire cracking noise. Passing the foyer, the house leads you to a fully renovated kitchen featuring a Bertazoni oven and Carrera marble counter tops that opens to a casual dining room with access to the rear garden. In an instant, you can disconnect from the outside and any nuisance you want to escape.

Foyer Kitchen CasualDining Garden2 Garden1

One flight up through the beautiful staircase with coffin corners or using your private elevator will lead to the parlor floor which opens up on the light filled living room overlooking the seminary. On the other side of the parlor floor lays a formal dining room overlooking the private garden. Both rooms are separated by a wet bar with a fridge, a great feature that became handy in this grand space built for entertaining.

Staircase

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As you reach out to the third floor, the master bedroom sanctuary features a grand fireplace, and connects to the bathroom through a large customizable walk-in closet. The master bedroom is a gem: dual sink with Delta facets and a jetted, freestanding tub. To complete this oasis of relaxation, the floor benefits from a home office/ lounge area with direct access to a calm and quiet back terrace.

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Bedroom view

The fourth floor brings two additional bedrooms, a full bathroom and a washer dryer. This floor could also be reconfigured as a laundry room, a recreation area or a cinema. It is certainly a floor that opens to ideas for tailored space configurations.

2ndBed 

Reaching the fifth floor will bring an owner’s wildest thoughts into perspective. A top floor gallery with a terrace boasting incredible views of Manhattan. The floor has plumbing for a full bathroom or an outdoor hot tub/Jacuzzi (just a thought), and can be used as an additional entertaining space, an art or music studio, or a projection room among other things.

Gallery Gallery2 Terrace terrace2

Urban sophistication: 

To conclude, the choice of living at 438 West 20th Street reflects a modern, subtle, and sophisticated lifestyle. This townhouse is one of the best accomplished mix of historical grade property with modern features that bring a unique atmosphere and experience that the future owners will be able to embrace for many years ahead.   

Last year I covered the residential, commercial and residential expansions of the area below Chambers Street covering three distinct neighborhoods: Financial District, South Street Seaport and Battery Park City. We can now observe significant changes and an even more positive outlook for the years to come.Residential Q1’14 vs Q1’13 figures look very healthy. Condos average ppsf increased by 25% to $1,106, and the median price by 36% to $968K. The increasing demand for larger units (3-bed) with an average price that amplified by 30% to $2.350M is partially responsible for driving the prices upward. New Developments with 225 Rector as a Star product following by the W Downtown (pic below) and 75 Wall Street have a ppsf that increased on average by 30% to reach $1,391/sf and a median price who increased by 48% to $1,214M.

W Residences

Once stalled mixed-use luxury condo/retail developments such as 50 West Street is finally going up after securing a $400M debt/equity deal mid2013. The Top 30 floors of the iconic Woolworth tower are being converted into condominiums that will average over $3,000/sf. The Four Season hotel and residences on Church and Barclay Street is under construction (below) and 22 Thames Street is slated to become the tallest residential tower in Downtown.

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Knowing that the cap of residential construction has been reached in BPC, and the Financial District residential inventories have dropped by 42% in the past year, these developments will help accelerating the residential life in the neighborhood.The retail activity and prospects are showing signs that very few New Yorkers could have ever imagined just a couple of years ago or even months following Sandy: on the Battery Park City side, Brookfield Place $250M renovation is revamping the entire market place of the World Financial Center (see rendering below) and is now connected underground with the World Trade Center Path Train Station and Fulton MTA transit center. Le District, a French food marketplace is slated to open later in 2014, along with Umami Burger.

Brookfield place

On the other side of the highway, Westfield, who owned the retail space of the WTC recently announced the signature of Eataly at 3 WTC, which follows high end designers (Breitling, Canali, Montblanc) setting up retails next to the 17,000sf Victoria Secret store in the 365x115ft long main hall known as the Oculus (see bottom pic), described as “an elliptical fish-tank-like area with a movable glass eyelid on the ceiling”. Tom Ford, Tiffany and Armani are also eyeing space at 3 WTC

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Westfield place

The commercial landscape is also transitioning: the high rent and low vacancy rate of Midtown and Midtown South have pushed startup firms in need of quick, cheap and efficient set up to the Financial District that has been deserting by financial services and is now being invaded by tech, media, and Internet companies. Several drivers have pushed to this direction. First, the MTA Fulton transit hub converges more than 10 subway lines which will facilitate the commute of the many Brooklyners employed by these creative companies. Second, the price of $52.49/sf versus $66.24/sf for midtown south combined with flexible workplaces is an attractive feature. Also, some tenants are acting as magnets such as Conde Nast’s media empire who has taken over 1 million sf of office space at 1 WTC, the hot ad agency Droga5 who settled on 90,000 sf and collaborative space provider WeWork who took over 300,000sf on Wall Street. Finally the area has 20 new hotel projects under construction which will bring about 1,700 rooms to facilitate tourism and business travelers’ needs. 

 

The long awaited project of the Second Avenue subway line dubbed “T Line” has recently shaken the real estate activity on the Upper East Side, east of 3rd Avenue. The T Line – which will eventually run 8.5 miles from 125th Street to Hanover Square – has been in the plans for decades and long been awaited by commuters on the overcrowded Lexington 4,5,6 line. Now that the project finally broke ground, and is getting some momentum, with an anticipated opening date of 2016 for the stretch of 86th Street to 63rd Street, we can witness an increasing interest for properties located on the east side of 3rd Avenue among prospective buyers.

According to data provider CityRealty, the average sales price of Upper East Side condo east of Third Avenue was $1.57M compared to $2.34M for the entire Upper East Side. Activity in 2013 suggests that the gap is narrowing. Indeed, average price per square foot (ppsf) for condos on and eastward of Third Avenue increased 11.4%, above the 10.4% for the overall neighborhood. Similarly, co-ops average ppsf increase 7.7% compare to 5.3% for the entire area.

One of the most noticeable developments highlighting this trend is the condominium building at 515 East 72nd Street, where half of the 142 one-bedroom apartments closed between summer 2012 and 2013. Overall 90% of the 329 units have been sold which brought the building to the list of the 10 best-selling New York City building of 2013. This “spa-like” condo offers outstanding services and wellness amenities such as a pool, yoga rooms, rock climbing wall and fitness center which have been a major draw for prospective buyers. Over the past 12 months, sales averaged $1,318/sf and currently available apartments are asking $1,638/sf on average.

Another influential development which also made it to the list of the 10 best-selling New York City building of 2013 is the Manhattan House. A 513 unit luxury condominium conversion located on 66th Street off 3rd Avenue, where sales averaged $1,713/sf in the past 12 months while currently available apartments are asking $2,107/sf. The building offer five star hotel concierge services, full-time residence manager, valet, parking service, rooftop Manhattan Club with 10,000 square feet of interior and exterior entertainment space, Exhale Mind Body Spa & Fitness club, yoga studio, a bike storage, and children’s playroom designed by Roto.

Many of the high rise condominiums on the East side of 3rd Avenue offer sweeping river and city views but without the premium of their Midtown and downtown counterparts. It’s also an area that is not so congested, offers access to major food merchants, big box retailers, restaurants and located a few blocks away from Madison Avenue shopping strip

Corcoran Sales Market Report – 1st Quarter 2014

You wonder how the market did last quarter?
You would like to prep yourself and get into the NY real estate game?
Open the file below to get started.

January14_Newsletter

November 2013 Newsletter

Fred_Maserati

Following my MBA at NYU Stern, I was a blessed graduate with a secured job at one of the most fascinating brand and company I could ever thought working: Ferrari.
Cars have been a passion of mine since my youngest age, and being welcomed to the exclusive world of Ferrari felt awesome. While the experience there was phenomenal, my entrepreneurial spirit pushed me to shift gear and focus my career into my other passion: Real Estate.

A few months into my new role at the Corcoran Group, the #1 residential real estate firm in New York, I fancied the idea of bringing the most exclusive brands of Real Estate and Cars together. This leads me to organize cross marketing events between Corcoran and Ferrari & Maserati, while partnering with an exclusive agent with a very high end listing at a location convenient for cars to be driven, guests to be entertained and connections to be made.

Local dealerships of Ferrari of Long Island and Maserati of Manhattan under the lead of Marketing and Event manager Laura Fisher provided cars and professional coach drivers. Guests were able to test-drive the cars to fully experience the ride prior to relax and mingle at the property.

My first event happened at a fabulous Gramercy Park North Penthouse with 2 terraces over looking the city and Gramercy Park, only a few blocks from the highway and Park Avenue for the cars to be driven. The guests came in and celebrate this first day of Fall under a radiant sunshine and friendly atmosphere.

My second take happened on Sunday October, 27th, 2013 during a beautiful crisp fall day which could not make things any better. I co-hosted the event at Richard Meier’s 165 Charles Street tower where agent Jon Capobianco introduced his $12.7M full floor listing. Guests were able to get an exclusive preview of the apartment and enjoy test-driving Ferrari and Maserati on the West Side Highway. About 50 people attended this event, and the dynamic was very positive. After test drives, invitees relaxed and mingled at the apartment over Peroni beers, Proseco, and finger food. It was a great venue and a wonderful opportunity for people of various industries (Private Equity, Energy, Tech, Entertainment and Social Media) to meet.

There are more events in the pipeline, and I would encourage any one who shares and lives the passion of luxury real estate and cars subscribing at fmaingois@corcoran.com for more information.

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