Volume 20, Number 50 | THE NEWSPAPER OF LOWER MANHATTAN | APRIL 25 - MAY 1, 2008
Mixed Use

By Patrick Hedlund

What recession?
As reliable as the warming weather and the Yankees’ early-season pitching woes, spring in New York City offers a bounty of first-quarter real estate reports on which to feast. April figures from Halstead Property, the Real Estate Board of New York and Prudential Douglas Elliman continued to defy the economic slowdown and sluggish housing market, showing impressive gains for the average sales prices of Manhattan homes.

Halstead reported that the average price for a Manhattan apartment jumped 47 percent, to $1.691 million in Q1 year over year, fueled chiefly by luxury sales. Co-op prices increased, by 34 percent to $1.333 million, and condos went up 52 percent over the past year, to $1.997 million. According to Halstead, average prices jumped 12.5 percent year over year Downtown, with the Village seeing a median-price increase of 42 percent.

Downtown loft prices were also up over last year, with a 36 percent gain for the median price in the Noho/Soho market, while median prices for Village lofts dropped by 21 percent.

REBNY’s ResidentialNYC.com stated the average sales price of Manhattan homes — co-ops, condos and one-to-three-family dwellings — jumped 41 percent in Q1, to $1.6 million. (Manhattan condos enjoyed a 43 percent surge, while co-ops rose 26 percent.) Prices for apartments in the Village saw a 22.4 percent overall increase, to $1.364 million. Specific Downtown neighborhood data showed that the highest average prices for all housing types were in Soho ($2.304 million) and Tribeca ($2.224 million), with generally larger units located in these areas. The data challenge both a shaky economic outlook and a reported 22 percent drop in the number of home sales throughout the city, REBNY reported.

The numbers from Prudential Douglas Elliman’s quarterly breakdown showed a 33.5 percent surge in average Manhattan apartment prices year over year, to $1.723 million, and a 13.2 percent increase in median sales. This data contrasted Elliman’s figures showing a 34.3 percent dip in total sales year over year, which was attributed to an unusually robust market in 2007 due to Wall St. bonuses and the weakening dollar.

Chang flips Stone
Downtown developer Sam Chang has sold the Financial District lot he purchased early last year for more than triple what he paid, proving the prolific hoteliers acumen in flipping property for profit.

According to news reports and city records, Chang’s McSam Hotel Group last month sold the 6,800-square-foot vacant lot at 8 Stone St., between Whitehall and Broad Sts., for $60 million to Rhode Island-based Magna Hospitality Group. Chang reportedly purchased the site for $17 million in January 2007, turning a $43 million profit in the deal.

McSam had reportedly planned to construct a 192-unit hotel at the address, and the Department of Buildings’ Web site shows approved plans for a 43-story tower at the site.

In March, McSam sold off two Midtown hotel sites for $40 million to Magna, as well as the Comfort Inn at 305 West 39th St. for $24.64 million, according to real estate publication The Real Deal. 

Sweet deals
A pair of high-end retail tenants recently inked deals to take space on Wall St., continuing the trend of upscale boutiques flocking to the Financial District.

La Maison du Chocolat, a Parisian-based gourmet chocolate shop, signed a ground-floor lease for 1,500 square feet at 63 Wall St., between Hanover and Pearl Sts. The space, a converted, luxury rental building and former headquarters of Brown Brothers Harriman & Company, marks the chocolatier’s third Manhattan location.

Tumi, a luxury luggage and travel-accessories purveyor, inked a long-term lease for 1,100 square feet at 67 Wall St. The triangular-shaped building, bordered by Wall, Hanover and Beaver Sts., is the former headquarters of the Munson Shipping Company.

Both 63 and 67 Wall St., home to the The Crest and The Crest Loft developments, also house retail tenants that include British clothier Thomas Pink, a BMW showroom and Crumbs Bake Shop.

“Wall St. has become the go-to block Downtown for retailers looking for an ideal location with ample foot traffic,” said Jack Berman, vice president of Metro Loft Management, owner and developer of the Crest properties.

A daylong conference on tenants rights and harassment held in the Village on Friday apparently went unnoticed by Downtowners and their local representatives, said a tipster who attended the event.

According to area activist and zoning specialist Doris Diether, a member of Community Board 2’s nascent Tenants Rights Task Force, nobody else from her board stopped by to speak for the neighborhood where the meeting took place, at the Cardozo School of Law on Fifth Ave. and 12th St.

The event, put on by the City-Wide Task Force on Housing Court, Inc., featured discussions on aid for rent-regulated tenants, Housing Court’s function and the city’s newly adopted anti-harassment law, among others.

“It was a very interesting meeting,” explained Diether, who stayed for the entire, 8-hour program, “but it could have been more exciting if there were more people there from our area to scream.” C.B. 2 includes Hudson Square, Soho and parts of Chinatown.





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