… Comeback Kid
Long dismissed for being nothing more than a mall, Soho—well, okay, Mercer Street—is getting its groove back. First to lure the condosseur to its doors is André Balazs’s 40 Mercer, which sold out without running a single print ad. Next up: 21 Mercer, 22 Mercer, 44 Mercer, 72 Mercer, and, a block away, 92 Greene Street. “It’s come full circle,” says Corcoran broker Wilbur Gonzalez. “It’s a complete construction site right now.”
… Superfluous Amenity
Built-in espresso maker
At least one condo project, Park Avenue Place, is touting a caffeine machine, the latest perk in a marketplace in which, says broker Samantha Kleier Forbes, “every generation of new construction tries to outdo the last one in terms of amenities and finishes.” Nevertheless, it’s pointless: Given a choice, most buyers would spring for something they’d actually use—a Coke machine, perhaps?—while the real cappuccino connoisseurs prefer to pick their own equipment.
… Neighborhood for Families
West Fifties and West Sixties
Years ago, when the Donald started building Trump Place on Riverside Boulevard in the West Sixties, some brokers wondered if buyers would truly want to live that far west. Apparently, they do. The area is now a hotbed of condo activity. And not just any condos, but ones that offer spacious apartments perfect for families, such as the Avery on 65th, the Element on 59th, the Hudson on 60th, and 10 West End Avenue. Another increasingly stroller-friendly neighborhood: Central Park South. With the Plaza and 110 Central Park South drawing far more local families than the expected foreign buyers, experts say newcomers will be demanding—and getting—family-friendly services. Straddling the two neighborhoods is the Time Warner building at Columbus Circle, which catalyzed the transformation of both areas.
… Coveted amenity
Developers have offered this before, but quite a few more of them are cottoning to the fact that this is just the type of amenity buyers really want—hey, it beats the pet spa!—eliminating endless loops around the block to look for street parking, or hikes in below-zero weather to the neighborhood garage. Some examples: Extell’s the Avery and the Rushmore, 200 West End Avenue, JD Carlisle’s Cielo, the soon-to-be-converted Hit Factory, 111 Central Park North, and the Point in Williamsburg. But the coolest one by far is going to be the roboticized garage at One York in Tribeca, where your car is whisked away by a magic carpet and deposited in its very own cubby.
14-16 East 67th Street
Unless that $70 million penthouse in the Pierre actually finds a buyer—it’s been on and off the market so many times and for so long it’s almost an urban legend—the sale of 14-16 East 67th Street, listed by Leighton Candler and Lisa Simonsen of the Corcoran Group, is likely the next property to grab headlines. Its indoor swimming pool, grand ballroom, and 4,000-square-foot master suite are the stuff of real-estate porn (no surprise, Penthouse publisher Bob Guccione used to live there). And anyone who wants it has to submit a bid of at least $45 million by October to even be in contention. Word is that moguls and royals are avidly circling, ready to pounce. Another sexy property: financier Jacqui Safra and former Woody Allen–producer Jean Doumanian’s $50 million mansion on East 75th Street.
… Ritzy Neighborhood
The financial district
The condos that have sprouted in the area—20 Pine, the Cipriani Club Residences, and Philippe Starck’s 15 Broad Street—are certainly fetching premium prices, a come-hither to high-end retailers. Luxury brands Hermès and Tiffany will open stores there soon (at the aforementioned 15 Broad and 37 Wall Street, respectively). Skeptics still abound, but insiders say that Prada and Chanel are also shopping around for space.
… Big Zoning Fight
Morton Williams supermarket site
For years, a battle has been simmering for the soul of the site where the Morton Williams supermarket now stands at the corner of Bleecker Street and LaGuardia Place. Preservationists are fighting to get the spot and its immediate vicinity (which includes the I. M. Pei–designed Silver Towers) landmarked by the city, says Andrew Berman, director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation. NYU now owns the parcel and is rumored to be considering building a large structure there to house a lab center or faculty housing once the grocery store’s lease ends next year, but nothing yet has transpired. (“There’s no there there,” says NYU spokesman John Beckman, adding that if the university starts planning to develop the site, it will give plenty of advance notice.) Still, Berman and his supporters say they’re girding themselves for a fight. Another contender: a planned thirteen-floor residential co-op on Ninth Avenue in Chelsea by General Theological Seminary and the Brodsky Organization. Neighbors want to cap the structure at seven and a half stories, and the tug-of-war has gone on for months.
“Hipster renters have been here for more than eight years, taking all the old factory spaces,” says AptsandLofts.com’s David Maundrell, who has witnessed similar transformations of Dumbo and Williamsburg. But condo projects—like it or not, the death knell of a true bohemia—are coming soon, and they’re cheap. Maundrell says new and redone apartments are available for $350 to $425 per square foot. (Similar spaces in Greenpoint would fetch $500 to $550 per square foot, and in Williamsburg, $700 per square foot.) At 159 Evergreen, brand-new one- and two-bedroom lofts are priced between $280,000 to $385,000.
… Upper East Side
Long Island City
For years, the buzz about Long Island City has been that its time is about to come. But with one high-rise after another announcing its impending arrival in the neighborhood, including the billion-dollar Silvercup Studios development and Queens West (not to mention the nearly-completed Arris Lofts high-rises), its long- debated transformation may have reached a tipping point. Über-marketer Michael Shvo’s (the man behind high-profile projects like the Jade and 20 Pine) has already made the swim across the East River. He expects to be marketing more than 3,000 new apartments in Long Island City in the next three years and predicts that his Manhattan clientele will follow him there.