… CELEBRITY-MAGNET CONDO
Superior Ink Condominiums and Townhouses, 70 Bethune Street
Preservationists lost their fight to save this factory from extinction, though they did manage to shout down plans for a glass tower here. Charles Gwathmey had his name attached to the project, but its developer, the Related Companies, instead hired Robert A. M. Stern. Perhaps they wanted to replicate the success of 15 Central Park West, the architect’s star-filled—Denzel Washington! Sting! One of the Google guys!—project uptown, and they may be on target. Boldface names love the West Village, and experts say Superior Ink will have the protected views, tight security, and discreetly decadent apartments they crave. Plus the townhouses will have two entrances—better for dodging paparazzi, notes downtown maven Leonard Steinberg.
… MARKETING TACTIC
It may have begun with jokey kids, but these days, YouTube is a marketing vehicle for Handycam-slinging Realtors. (Don’t forget that its biggest star to date, Lonelygirl15, was herself hustling for work, as an actress.) “Buyers and sellers love that they don’t have to view tons of open houses,” says publicist Kelly Kreth, who has appeared in half a dozen YouTube segments, some with Prudential Douglas Elliman’s Darren Sukenik. “If something catches their eye, they can make an appointment. It’s like prescreening.” One broker says he found a buyer by sending a video to his e-mail list; within 24 hours he received a full-cash offer. The gambit is successful enough, in fact, that Elliman is trying out a video site operated by one of its agents, Michael Hoy, who’s been posting videos of rentals since February. (For now, it’ll have just Brooklyn and Long Island listings.) The production values run from high (music, cutaways, a “host”) to zilch (grainy, no audio). But “it has a specific audience,” Sukenik says. “It only works for the young’uns. If they’re over 30, they don’t know it or don’t have time.”
The penthouse at the Mark, 25 East 77th Street
The Mark’s not even officially on the market for another month or so—the hotel’s under renovation and the upper floors are becoming co-op suites—and already real-estate watchers are saying that its 9,799-square-foot, five-bedroom penthouse will have trophy hunters fighting to pay its rumored $60 million price. It’s certainly bidding-war worthy, says Stribling Private Brokerage’s Kirk Henckels. With a 2,300-square-foot terrace, a private conservatory, hotel services, a ballroom with a copper-lined cupola, multiple fireplaces, and nine bathrooms, “it has everything a high-end buyer would want,” says broker Michele Kleier. (Expect a big sales push for the whole building; Louise Sunshine, the queen of condo marketing, is onboard.) The runner-up: The former Bob Guccione mansion on East 67th Street, still on the market for $59 million. “It really should have gone long ago, says Henckels. Penthouse years aside, it’s got an impeccable pedigree—members of the prestigious Milbank family have owned the house, and Rothschilds and Bloomingdales have lived on the same block—and the twin townhouse has 27 rooms and an indoor pool.
… BIG PRESERVATION FIGHT
Ever since Donald Trump got his way with Trump Soho, preservationists have been hoping to gain some control over the far-west area of Soho known as Hudson Square, specifically the fourteen acres atop Pier 40. Soccer fields occupy the site now, though the Hudson River Park Trust is considering two plans: one for an Über-sports complex, the other for a 600,000-square-foot entertainment center (including space for Cirque du Soleil). Neither one is popular among the locals, with the latter drawing special scorn. Expect a battle when the trust reconvenes this fall to determine who the main developer will be. Last May, more than 1,000 downtowners showed up at a meeting, voicing concern about the redevelopment, and they’re not about to quit. Another huge fight: the vitriolic battle over Columbia University’s Manhattanville expansion, which could displace thousands of West Harlem residents.
… PLACE TO BUY A FIXER-UPPER BROWNSTONE
Crown Heights may be best known as headquarters of the Lubavitcher Jewish community, but it’s been gaining a new rep these days. Bay-windowed brownstones and limestones, plus detached houses with driveways, line President and Carroll Streets and even Eastern Parkway. Their reasonable prices are attracting a new class of buyer—young, middle-class middle managers, or couples who shun condos but can’t afford settled brownstone communities like Park Slope and Cobble Hill, where a house costs twice as much or even more. A Crown Heights limestone needing some rehab can be had for $700,000 to $800,000, according to Peggy Aguayo of Aguayo & Huebener, and that’s as close to a steal as you’ll find in brownstone Brooklyn these days—that is, if you can find one at all. Experts say these homes tend to stay within families and thus come on the market comparatively infrequently.
… HIPSTER ENCLAVE
The word’s been out on Bed-Stuy’s brownstones for awhile, but in the past year the neighborhood has been attracting the asymmetric-haircut set. That’s largely thanks to a spate of competitively priced new construction, like the Mynt, a 72-unit rental where one-bedrooms start at $1,700 per month. “They’re feeding off of what happened in Clinton Hill, which is a completely different world now,” says David Maundrell of aptsandlofts.com. Indeed, that’s where many of the new Bed-Stuy residents are coming from, cranked out by the hipster factory that is Pratt Institute. Proximity to the G train (which gets those indie kids to and from Williamsburg and Cobble Hill) is key, as is the “rugged and sort of bad-ass feeling” that remains, despite vastly lower crime rates. The indie rapper M.I.A. moved here last year, and she could be to Bed-Stuy what Mos Def was to Dumbo.
… SUPERFLUOUS LUXE CONDO AMENITY
The cinema room
Yes, they’re theoretically great for Oscar parties and Super Bowl bashes, but honestly, does anyone ever actually book that screening room? “It’s useless,” declares Maundrell, who says his firm, which has consulted on dozens of projects in Brooklyn and Queens, no longer recommends them to developers. (Buyers haven’t really been tempted by them, anyway.) “If someone’s going to watch TV or a movie, I don’t know why they’d want to get up and go downstairs and sit in a place with lots of empty seats,” he adds, noting that any couch potato worth his remote control has DVR these days.
… LUXE CONDO AMENITY YOU MIGHT ACTUALLY WANT
When roof decks, wine cellars, and Sub-Zero everything have become de rigueur, it’s easy to forget that luxury is not just what’s glamorous but what’s useful. To wit: Two new buildings in the city, 141 Fifth Avenue and 995 Fifth Avenue (the old Stanhope), have fully tricked-out custom closets. “When I see a developer who’s taken the time to think about living in the apartment, it makes such a difference,” says Harriet Weintraub, who markets those buildings. These beautifully finished spaces are designed like mini-boutiques, with cubbyholes, drawers, shoe racks, and spaces tall enough for eveningwear—and, most important, they’re ready at move-in. Shaun Osher, who’s working on 141 Fifth, says buyers notice the difference fast. “It’s one less thing they have to do when they come in,” he says, noting that adding such closets later can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Other buildings have caught on, giving clients the opportunity to work with customizing companies; the developer at 100 Eleventh Avenue works with Clos-ette, and Transform will do the spaces at Arris Lofts.