Hell and Back Again

Photo: Ed Geller/Globe Photos

When real-estate investors decide a fringe neighborhood has the potential to attract deep-pocketed renters and buyers, a renaming inevitably follows. Witness SpaHa (né Spanish Harlem), Hudson Heights (Washington Heights), and SoFi (lower Fifth Avenue in midtown). Often the ersatz monikers are ridiculed at first, but then work their way into the lexicon (Nolita, for example).

So it’s a little surprising when a developer reclaims the old-school name. But that’s exactly what Elad Properties has done with Hell’s Kitchen, which was supposed to have been replaced by the sanitized “Midtown West” or genteel “Clinton.” Elad has emblazoned hell’s kitchen on marketing materials for the Link, a 43-story luxury development on 52nd Street. “A lot of neighborhoods have become so exclusive it’s now trendy to be in a place that sounds gritty,” surmises Core Group Marketing’s Shaun Osher.

Exactly, says the Link’s Tom Elliott. (Though not as troubled as it used to be, Hell’s Kitchen is a long way from being totally gentrified; property values hover on average around $850 per square foot, according to the real-estate-appraisal firm Miller Samuel, far lower than in neighboring areas. The Link is aiming for $1,000.) “People still want an edge, and you can’t get that in a lot of whitewashed neighborhoods,” he says. Nevertheless, with its Poggenpohl kitchens and bluestone countertops, the Link is pretty far removed from Hell’s Kitchen’s rough-around-the-edges spirit. “We kind of like the juxtaposition,” admits Elliott. Then again, the area’s poised for a flood of high-end buyers; according to The Real Deal, a real-estate trade publication, 485 condo units are slated for the area in 2005, compared with a total of 41 during the previous five years.

All of which steams longtime residents like John Fisher. “This flip-flop doesn’t surprise me,” says Fisher, Webmaster of Hell’s Kitchen Online and TenantNet. “[But] they can’t co-opt the spirit of Hell’s Kitchen.”

Get Me a Beach Chair, Stat
Maybe a Hamptons getaway is just what the doctor ordered for Noah Wyle. The L.A.-based actor, who turned in his scrubs this May after a protracted residency on the NBC drama ER, is reportedly in the market for a South Fork estate, having recently toured a $6.8 million contemporary house at Sag Harbor’s Barcelona Point. The property has a stellar provenance: Heiress Christophe de Menil owns it, and previous tenants include Sarah Jessica Parker and Jann Wenner. Sources say Wyle passed on the property but may return in the fall for more house-hunting. Listing broker Lori Barbaria of Prudential Douglas Elliman declined to comment. Back in Manhattan, downtown brokers are reporting sightings of Marisa Tomei at various loft showings. But she’s apparently not dumping her place in the Village. Sue Leibman, Tomei’s manager, says she was only checking out places for her brother.

Triple Assessment
60 Broadway, Apartment 5Q,Williamsburg, Brooklyn
One-bedroom, two-bath, 1,755-square-foot condo.
Asking Price:
$1.25 million.
Monthly Charges and taxes: $608.
Broker: Christopher Mathieson and Jennifer Regenstreich, JC DeNiro & Associates.

Courtesy JC DeNiro

Is it possible to have too much space in New York? Our panelists were keen on this duplex in Williamsburg’s Gretsch Building, but it needs a buyer willing to pay big bucks for what’s essentially a huge, luxe one-bedroom.

Patrice A. Mack, Prudential Douglas Elliman
“The amenities are top-notch, and the space “is great for entertaining,” she says, but buyers could find two-bedroom apartments nearby for a similar price.
Her assessment: $1.1 million.

Highlyann Krasnow, The Developers Group
“The double-height ceiling is pretty dramatic, and the finishes are spectacular,” says Krasnow, who also enthused over the generous closets.
Her assessment: $1.05 million

David Maundrell, Aptsandlofts.com
The Gretsch is a coveted building, allows Maundrell, but this wide-open space isn’t practical for family-oriented buyers. “They’ll have to build out the loft,” he says.
His assessment: $995,000.

Hell and Back Again