Portrait of a Slow Recovery

In October 2008, New York surveyed 37 new condominiums to see how they were faring in the worst days of the credit crisis. We discovered a near freeze in sales, with multiple projects on the brink of foreclosure. This week, amid news of a sluggish but perceptible turnabout, we checked back in. Many of the buildings in our survey did, indeed, stall and stop selling, like the Viridian, a 130-unit Greenpoint development that filed for bankruptcy last year. But a handful of those 37 has done better than okay, and a couple have completely sold out. We looked at six condo projects that have clawed their way back into business.

The Building: Graceline Court, 106 West 116th Street, Harlem
That Was Then: After sixteen months on the market, 19 of the 32 apartments were in contract, and prices had been slashed for the remainder.
This Is Now: Some of those 19 contracts fell through, but of the 32 units, only four are still available, and two of them have serious lookers, says Halstead’s Stephen Kliegerman. The original sales team had sold 50 percent of the apartments by July 2009 after aggressively discounting one-bedrooms; Kliegerman’s firm took over soon after and campaigned heavily to raise the building’s profile and bring in buyers’ brokers.

The Building: Lot 58 Lofts, 105 Lexington Avenue, Clinton Hill
That Was Then: Just three of 29 units were in contract, six months after sales began.
This Is Now:The project just crossed that crucial 50 percent–sold threshold, which makes it easier for buyers to get financing. Three more units also have tenants in place, says Peggy Aguayo of Aguayo & Huebener, which took over sales last January. Brokers slashed prices 10 to 15 percent, renamed the building, and have hosted neighborhood events to entice shoppers into the spaces.

The Building: The Campbell, 148 Chambers Street, Tribeca
That Was Then:Twenty months after its debut, all six units were still seeking takers. (A fire that broke out during construction, in May 2007, hindered sales at an already inopportune moment.)
This Is Now:Broker Tom Currier says the project’s “fully subscribed”—the last contract was signed in January—and the sponsor’s keeping two of the apartments.

The Building: 180 East 93rd Street, Upper East Side
That Was Then: Two months on the market, and not one of the seven units had sold yet. The project would’ve debuted sooner, but paperwork pushed the opening into late summer, just in time for the Lehman Brothers meltdown.
This Is Now: The building’s one maisonette sold in December 2008 for nearly the asking price, but after that, Greystone Property pulled the project off the market to regroup. (Financing wasn’t an issue, and the company could afford to wait the market out.) It was recently relaunched as an ecofriendly condo, and the second-floor unit just sold. Richard Steinberg of Warburg Realty says there are two offers pending.

The Building: 238 West 108th Street, Morningside Heights
That Was Then: Only one of six units had gone into contract. The listing broker at the time insisted “there’s no competition from any existing product in the neighborhood … the sponsor is confident.”
This Is Now: Turns out she was right—every apartment has sold. Halstead’s Stephen Kliegerman says the developer brought his company in at the beginning of January 2009, and after price adjustments and an aggressive online-marketing campaign, three units sold within 45 days of the reboot.

The Building: Hudson Hill Condominium, 462 West 58th Street
That Was Then: Of 66 units for sale, not a single one had been bought.
This Is Now: It’s 72 percent sold, says Alchemy Properties’ Kenneth Horn, the developer. He says he kept the project low-key until June 2009, when construction was well along: “We’ve done 25 buildings in New York, and—2004 to 2007 aside—the market didn’t want to buy from floor plans.” Also helpful: a 15 percent price cut plus offers to foot transfer fees. Since then, sales prices have crept back up almost to asking levels.

Portrait of a Slow Recovery