Will Broadband Play on?

Strike Up the Broadband
New Yorkers love to feel like they’ve got the best hookup in town. But with the market softening, will broadband connect with buyers?

Months after the NASDAQ lost its sure-thing sheen, developers are still trying to sell high-end buyers on a distinctly dot-com version of luxury: broadband.

Take the Carl Fischer building at 62 Cooper Square, which is being converted into lofts. The developer, C-Squarewood, was already wiring the retail space for a Samsung America Web2Zone Internet café, so Samsung shared the costs to wire the upstairs, too. “Offering it is a way to differentiate ourselves,” says Fischer project manager Gary Warfel.

Though some buildings are already wired with the fast T-1 lines usually found in offices, and DSL and cable modems are widely available, Daniel Flohr, chief executive of FiberCity Networks, which is wiring the Fischer, doesn’t think they’re fast enough. “Our definition of broadband,” he says, “is the ability to deliver a sustainable 2.5 million bits per second to each user so that video continuously looks like television.” For those keeping score, the building’s “dark fiberoptic cable” will be roughly 66 times faster than most T-1’s.

Thanks to their downstairs neighbor, the 198 condos atop the AOL Time Warner Center on Columbus Circle are getting wiring so advanced that residents will be able to broadcast over the Internet. That might seem like a limited audience, but Louise Sunshine, whose Sunshine Group is marketing the condos, anticipates that this “ultimate” tech offering will bring the condos a much higher price.

And you don’t have to be a millionaire to surf the Internet like one. Christopher Martorella, president of Metropolitan Housing Partners, believes the AOL and Fischer projects are unique – so far – but he’s planning on putting broadband into a rental building he’s developing at 199 Bowery. “The exposure that people are getting at the office will drive demand at home,” he says. “But you don’t have to have it.”

Investment Property
Will Corzine Sell High?

Just last month, New Jersey senator Jon Corzine’s 5,000-square-foot duplex was thought to be a pied-à-terre fit for a president – he was rumored to be thinking of renting it. Now that Clinton will be commuting to Harlem instead of to nearby Carnegie Hall Tower, Corzine is putting the thirty-second-and-thirty-third-floor four-bedroom penthouse at 515 Park Avenue on the market with Brown Harris Stevens. He’s asking a whopping $21 million (he bought the place for $12 million before the building opened last year). Considering that the former Goldman Sachs chairman is worth $400 million, the $9 million hike has some brokers wondering if he’s lost his knack for the market: “He’s absolutely ridiculous to ask for such an inflated price in a market where nothing is selling,” says one. Perhaps he’s trying to earn back some of the $62 million he spent getting elected.

Big Deals

East Midtown
Sutton Place South
1-bed, 1-bath, 900-square-foot co-op. Ask: $360,000. Sell: $355,000. Maintenance: $1,100. Three weeks on market.

With solid finances, a wholesome family, and an intention to use the apartment only when on business trips to the city, this Connecticut-based buyer thought he’d whiz by any co-op board. But to his surprise, according to Corcoran’s Monique Silberman, who brokered the sale, the board presented him with an additional contract filled with regulations such as no more than two people in a room at any given time and no guests in the apartment without the owner present. As negotiations dragged on, the seller became so outraged he finally declared that if his buyer wasn’t approved, he would “invite a homeless family to live in his apartment for free,” Silberman reports. That got things moving, and the sale recently closed.

Upper East Side
188 East 70th Street
3-bed, 3-bath, 1,800-square-foot condo. Ask: $1.295 million. Sell: $1.15 million. Charges and taxes: $1,861. One year on market.

Even before Dubya’s cuts, taxes don’t have to get you down. A corporate-image consultant bought this investment property with proceeds from the sale of a townhouse on East 49th Street. Under the IRS’s tax-free exchange program, he’ll defer any capital-gains taxes until he sells again. “He didn’t have to pay income tax on over a million dollars in profit,” says William B. May’s Vince Mauro, who brokered both deals.

Will Broadband Play on?