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PEOPLE Brokers’ Roundtable

Trading Places

Will Manhattan real estate stay hot for 2015? top brokers talk sizzle and sales. photography by Julie Skarratt

What does this year hold for Manhattan luxury real estate? Gotham magazine asked Richard Steinberg, executive managing director of Warburg Realty, to gather a group of prominent Manhattan real estate executives to talk about what’s hot, what’s not, where the deals are, the ever-escalating starchitect premium, and how new flight capital and young tech wealth are keeping prices buoyant. Joining Gotham and Steinberg were Oren and Tal Alexander, cofounders of The Alexander Team at Douglas Elliman; Bonnie Chajet, senior vice president of Warburg Realty; Guthrie Garvin, senior vice president of Massey Knakal Realty Services; and Elizabeth Lee Sample and Brenda Powers of The Sample-Powers Team at Sotheby’s International Realty. How’s the market and what are you predicting for the rest of 2015? Bonnie Chajet: In Manhattan today you have different market segments. You can be talking condo, co-op, Downtown, Brooklyn, Chelsea, Upper West Side, and Upper East Side. The stock market is good, but I hear that bonuses won’t be so good. I think some foreign buyers are a little nervous about a possible new annual tax [due to changes to the Foreign Investment in Real Property Tax Act]. There are currently a few deals on hold because buyers are waiting to see how it will be moving forward. Oren Alexander: I think there are certain submarkets where you see a lot of saturation—the Downtown penthouse market, for example. Many developers, hearing about this überluxury market,

counterclockwise from top: Guthrie Garvin and Richard Steinberg; during cocktails with Tal (left) and Oren Alexander. Oren during the lunch

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felt their buildings merited a $25 million-plus penthouse. A lot of those penthouses have been sitting on the market, and I don’t see them trading unless they significantly reduce the pricing. Brenda Powers: People feel safe investing in New York, but if developers could be more realistic with their prices, we could be selling more. Richard Steinberg: Unless you have an avant-garde or a forefront architect, especially downtown near the High Line, in Chelsea, or the West Village, you have no shot of selling your unit for big numbers. Amenity-driven buildings are insignificant now, layouts are insignificant. None of this means anything anymore. I know that’s a bold statement. OA: It really depends on where a property is located. For instance, they’re doing a project at 152 Elizabeth by [ Japanese architect] Tadao Ando. He’s the only reason why someone would spend $3,500 to $4,000 per square foot there. Guthrie Garvin: The ultraluxury market is affecting the townhouse market because that seems like a value proposition when you’re looking at $6,000-, $8,000-, or $10,000-per-squarefoot condos. You see townhouses that are priced at $2,500 per square foot but need work. OA: If you look at the most significant sales as of late—Woody Johnson’s apartment, what Izzy [Israel Englander] bought at 740 Park Avenue, and the penthouse at 960—people are willing to spend $60, $70, or $80 million if it’s something unique, one of a kind. Those who spend that kind of money don’t want to know that the people continued on paGe 64

Gotham - 2015 - Issue 1 - Spring  

Saturday Night Live

Gotham - 2015 - Issue 1 - Spring  

Saturday Night Live

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