Deeds and Dont’s

The inside scoop on New York real estate

With 1 World Trade Center eclipsing the Empire State Building as New York’s tallest building and the crippling four-years-long recession hopefully having done most of its damage, things seem to be looking up—way up—when it comes to Manhattan high rises. Three projects are currently jockeying for my-skyscraper-is-bigger-than-yours bragging rights.

One57, the glass condo development overlooking Central Park at 157 West 57th Street, will have 90 floors and stand 1,000 feet when it opens in the fall of 2013, making it one of Gotham’s tallest edifices, according to developer Extell. The soaring tower carries equally high prices: A penthouse is asking $110 million (up from $96.8 million, due to increased interest in the building and the $88 million sale of former Citigroup CEO Sandy Weill’s 15 CPW penthouse a few blocks away). At prices like this, One57 is one of the most expensive residential towers ever built in Manhattan.

A few blocks east, at Park Avenue and 56th Street, another behemoth is rising. On the former site of the Drake Hotel, the Drake Tower is poised to become the largest luxury condo development on the island. Developers Harry Macklowe and the CIM Group say their building will loom more than 1,300 feet above Midtown, though there’s no scheduled completion date.

Far west of Midtown’s dueling skyscrapers, on the long-vacant Hudson Yards site, Related Companies is planning to erect the first of two tilting office towers that will resemble a giant pair of scissors. Located near the northern terminus of the High Line Park, at West 30th Street and 10th Avenue, the two tapered office towers will stand 50 stories and 1,000 feet, making the complex the largest commercial development in the city once it’s completed in 2015. (Luxury retailer Coach is reported to be the anchor tenant.) Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates is the project’s architect. —Barbara Thau



Brooklyn: Hollywood East?

As Brooklynites rejoice over the outdoor re-openings of the all-food Smorgasburg market and the Brooklyn Flea, Oscar nominee Anne Hathaway and her fiancé, jewelry designer Adam Shulman, are staying in the hood—possibly for good. Though the couple is reportedly just renting a $6,000-per-month one-bedroom apartment in Dumbo’s Clocktower Building at 1 Main Street, local brokers have spotted the Brooklyn-born Hathaway looking at area townhouses—perhaps in search of a more permanent love nest.

While Hathaway shops, celebrity couple Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick are in talks to buy adjacent townhouses on State Street, near Sidney Place, in Brooklyn Heights. The Parker-Brodericks are avid house hunters (they are apparently looking to sell the $19 million townhouse at 20 East 10th Street they bought two years ago and never moved into), so the deal is still up in the air. If the duo does pull the trigger, just add them to the growing cadre of A-listers who’ve been putting down roots since indie-screen darlings Michelle Williams and the late Heath Ledger landed in Boerum Hill in 2005.

Sure, Brooklyn’s celebrity wattage dimmed somewhat in 2008 when Jennifer Connelly and Paul Bettany abandoned Brooklyn for Tribeca (they traded their $8.45 million mansion on Prospect Park West for a 4,100-square-foot penthouse on West Street). But Brooklyn still remains terra firma to hipster-celeb couples like Maggie Gyllenhaal and Peter Sarsgaard (in a four-story Park Slope brownstone on Sterling Place since 2006) and singer Björk and artist Matthew Barney (the pair purchased a $4.2 million penthouse co-op on Henry Street in Brooklyn Heights in 2009). Other illuminati who call the borough home are actress Hope Davis (Boerum Hill), Oscar nominee Paul Giamatti (Brooklyn Heights), singer Norah Jones (Cobble Hill), and Gossip Girl’s Ed Westwick (Williamsburg). And don’t count Bettany and Connelly out just yet: The couple are expecting their third child and have reportedly just sold their Tribeca pad for $8.5 million after only three months on the market. Back to Brooklyn, perhaps? —Christina Lewis Halpern

totally rockin'

Arista Records founder Clive Davis is widely known as the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame producer with a golden—make that platinum—touch, having signed such prolific singers as Janis Joplin and Whitney Houston and the band Aerosmith. Now the 3,500-square-foot residence he shared with former wife Janet Davis from the mid-1960s through the ’80 is on the block for $11.5 million. The grandly scaled nine-room apartment, in a circa-1900 building at 88 Central Park West, has been host to a staggering array of music legends, such as Bob Dylan and Lou Reed. “Gosh, the people who have sung here,” says Ms. Davis, herself a trained opera singer who still recalls a buffet dinner she and her then-husband hosted for Joplin after one of the performer’s concerts.

The apartment—which “requires some renovation,” according to broker John Burger of Brown Harris Stevens—is part of a little-known, yet star-studded co-operative on the corner of West 69th Street. With 11-foot ceilings and bird’s-eye views of Central Park, it features an entrance gallery, three bedrooms, a sizable living room and dining room, two staff rooms, and an eat-in kitchen. Among the illustrious neighbors are Robert De Niro and Grace Hightower De Niro, who bought mega-producer Harvey Weinstein’s former apartment for $20.9 million in 2006. Saturday Night Live producer Lorne Michaels and folk singer Paul Simon each own one of the building’s two penthouses. And All About Eve actress Celeste Holm, now 94, has lived in her sixth- and seventh-floor duplex since 1953. Former residents include Billy Joel, who sold his duplex to fellow singer-songwriter Sting for $4.8 million in 1988; Sting then sold it to Michael S. Naify (of the family who once owned the United Artists theater chain) for $17.75 million in 2010.

Especially deep-pocketed buyers seeking a piece of the upper-echelon action might want to consider the $22 million, 6,000-square-foot duplex currently on offer, in addition to the Davis pad. Located on the eighth and ninth floors, the two-unit combo has five bedrooms and is in move-in condition, according to listing agent Kirk Henckels of Stribling Private Brokerage. As for Ms. Davis’s place, she plans on staying close to her former home, as she downsizes to another apartment on Central Park West. After all, she says, “This is my hood.” —C.L.H.

long island city: court square rising

Modern luxury with an industrial edge: That’s the mantra being chanted by the throngs of upscale residential developers breaking ground in Long Island City (LIC), Queens’s westernmost neighborhood. The district, mostly a lowland of electronics factories and bakeries—except for the 50-story Citicorp Building, which went up in 1990—is also home to modern-day conglomerates like FreshDirect and JetBlue Airways (the latter moved into Queens Plaza last month). Court Square, just three stops from Grand Central on the No. 7 train, is the commercial hub of this once-gritty enclave. With its sweeping skyline views and last year’s fancy subway-station expansion, it’s now drawing finance execs and young professionals lured by the quick commute into midtown Manhattan. “Court Square is on the verge of transitioning from a business district to a mixed-use residential area,” says Kathleen Scott, director of leasing for Rockrose Development, a key player in the zone’s reawakening. “It’s going to have a weekend life.”

At the heart of this shift, steps away from the Citicorp Building, Rockrose’s Linc LIC is rising. Plans for the 43-10 Crescent Street site (slated for completion next spring) include a 42-story tower with 709 luxury rental apartments and an upscale supermarket on the ground floor. Rockrose plans to offer one bedrooms for $2,550 per month, two bedrooms for $3,500, and three bedrooms for $4,300—about 36 percent lower than average rents for comparable Manhattan digs, according to this year’s first-quarter Elliman Report, which is prepared by Miller Samuel, Inc. Across the street from Linc LIC, Rockrose is spending $750 million to develop two more parcels that would give Court Square an additional 1,000 high-end units, though no opening date has been set. Blocks away, at 21-45 44th Drive, one-bedroom apartments are already being snapped up for $546,000 and higher at the Industry LIC, a newly developed upscale condo by brothers Alan and Stuart Match Suna, owners of nearby Silvercup Studios. Amenities include valet parking, squash and basketball courts, and a roof deck with a great lawn. Court Square is also undergoing a cultural metamorphosis with emerging arts venues recently popping up on the scene, such as the Jeffrey Leder, Japanese-focused RESOBOX, and Radiator galleries. Perhaps it’s not surprising that Prudential Douglas Elliman, confident of the area’s continued evolution, opened its first storefront in LIC—only its second real estate office in Queens—in March. —B.T.





Realtors sure are an optimistic bunch. even during these still-uncertain times, their reports remain focused like laser beams on the upside of a down housing market. Westchester’s 2011 sales were down, as compared to 2010. The culprits: A freakishly long, cold winter (it chilled the spring market, too) and Europe’s debt crisis (cross-Continental ripples depressed the county’s fall market). Realtors did, however, find something to cheer about at year’s end: An 11 percent increase in the number of December’s pending sales, compared to those during the same month in 2010. And it’s the high end of the market that’s booming—a familiar trend already in evidence this spring, at least in the southern Westchester towns catering to the financial sector. (The number of homes that sold for upwards of $5 million rose 70 percent in 2011, over 2010.)  

Jason Wilson, branch manager of Julia B. Fee Sotheby’s International Realty in Scarsdale, cites a trio of indicators signaling better times ahead. Wilson’s showings are up by 108 percent this spring, compared to last; hedge-fund types, who typically pay all cash, are investing in housing once again; and the area has already had its first $10-million-plus deal. (An Armonk estate listed for $12,995,000 is currently in contract.) Wilson reports two other benchmarks that many U.S. municipalities haven’t seen in years: Bidding wars and quick sales. Towns like Bronxville, Larchmont, Rye, and Scarsdale are seeing their fair share of both. Exhibit A: A redbrick Scarsdale home recently went into contract after only 11 days on the market at just a hair under its asking price. —Diane DiCostanzo


Celebrities. Polo matches. Boutiques selling local wine and artisanal cheese. No, this isn’t the Hamptons. In fact, the Dutchess County countryside bounded by Millbrook to the south, Pine Plains to the north, and Millerton to the east is best characterized as the un-Hamptons, given its wide-open spaces, empty roads, laid-back towns (the nearest nightclub is in, um, Chelsea, maybe?), and dearth of paparazzi. “The real draw is the beauty of the land,” says Andrew Gates of Sotheby’s International Realty in both Connecticut and New York and owner of Little Gates Wine Merchants in Millerton. “Here, as opposed to the Hamptons, you still can buy 100 acres of land with views of mountains, meadows, and farmland as far as you can see. And it’s only 90 minutes and 90 miles from New York City. Traffic is a non-issue.”

In Pine Plains, the 1,900-acre Mashomack Polo Club hosts tournaments every summer weekend—and come fall, pheasant and quail shoots and weekend-long fox hunts. Hundred-acre horse farms and massive estates populate the area, and inhabitants form a hybrid that’s playfully dubbed Horses & Porsches. (Jessica Lange, Frank Langella, Bette Midler, Liam Neeson, and Eliot Spitzer all own homes here.) The region’s highest-priced sale, $18.375 million, closed last year in Millbrook. But rumor has it that polo enthusiast (and beleaguered billionaire) Duke Buchan III may top that. Sources say that after Buchan’s Hunter Global Investors hedge fund combusted, he privately listed his property for just under $30 million.

Much more affordable is a $2.1 million modernist home on Charlie Hill Road in Millerton. Architect David Mann designed it for Sara Rotman, owner of MODCo Creative, the advertising firm that designed Tory Burch’s iconic “T” logo and counts Vera Wang among its other clients. Rotman, a dressage expert and former competitive polo player, was naturally drawn to the area. A self-proclaimed “super-big foodie,” she’s also a fan of local organic vegetables, wine, and cheese and loves that she “can get crème fraîche in any market in town.” Her property is something of a media darling itself, with a splashy spread in the New York Times “T” Magazine and, this spring, in Manhattan Magazine. Perhaps the latter’s editors are geographically challenged, but not without reason: With panoramic vistas of the Berkshires, the 1,782-square-foot three-bedroom stunner is clad in red cedar and includes wood plank ceilings, Corian cabinetry, and a double-sided local-stone fireplace off the open-plan living/dining area. Windowed walls grant access to the property’s rolling 10.14 acres, outdoor terraces, and pool. Lindsay Baldwin of Heather Croner Sotheby’s International Realty in Millbrook has the listing. —D.C.




GREEN with ivy on the gold coast

Barberrys, the former home of famed book publisher Nelson Doubleday—and one of Long Island’s treasured Gold Coast estates—is on the block for $14 million. Designed in 1916 by architect Harrie T. Lindeberg (best known for building innovative, sophisticated country homes that defined the area during its halcyon days in the 1920s and ’30s), the 13-acre parcel is perched on a hilltop at 231 Cleft Road in Mill Neck. Offering expansive water views of Oyster Bay Harbor and Centre Island, the home and grounds were planned and built “with the help of the Olmsted Brothers, which is rare for houses of the era,” says listing agent Bonnie Devendorf of Daniel Gale Sotheby’s International Realty in Locust Valley. “Lindeberg always fostered a direct relationship between a structure’s design and the countryside.”

Not only is the eight-bedroom home in perfect condition, says Devendorf, who has been connected to sales of Lindeberg-built properties eight times over the course of her 30-year career, but the Olmsted-designed arboretum-style grounds and gardens add undeniable cachet to the listing. (Stepbrothers John Charles Olmsted and Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. were the sons of Frederick Law Olmsted, who co-designed New York’s Central and Prospect parks.)

A redbrick arch grants entree to the elaborate formal garden, where manicured boxwood hedges frame a geometric grid of emerald-green lawns and lush flowerbeds. Just beyond lies a strolling garden, with grass paths that meander along sprawling beds of blooming daylily, hydrangea, and black-eyed Susan, depending on the season. Terraced stone-and-brick plots also dot the rest of the property. “While the house is nearly a century old, it rivals anything that’s brand new,” adds Devendorf. “Over the last 15 years the present owners have restored it to its former glory. It’s definitely not an old clunker.” —B.T.