New HAR.com launches in beta

The Houston Association of Realtors has rolled out a revamped beta version of its popular website HAR.com. Last week, listing syndicator ListHub announced it would start feeding listings to public-facing websites operated by multiple listing services with HAR as the …

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Greenwich Village model home to be unveiled a little too late

215 Sullivan Street rendering

215 Sullivan Street rendering

Broad Street Development, the firm behind the condominium conversion at 215 Sullivan Street, has an unusual dilemma. The company was preparing to unveil the project’s model apartment next week, but with low inventory driving sales at the building, there may be no more units left to unload by the time the paint dries.

“We don’t know if we’re going to be sold out before the launch event. That’s the irony of all this,” said Douglas Elliman broker Fredrik Eklund, who is marketing the project alongside colleagues John Gomes and Sara Clephane. “We had a teaser out and signage on the building since December and the interest was overwhelming to say the least. I just wish we had more units.”

215 Sullivan Street rendering

215 Sullivan Street rendering

Indeed, 70 percent of the building’s 25 units are now in contract prior to the opening of the sales office and model apartment, including a $15.5 million penthouse, a spokesperson for the project told The Real Deal. Apartments, priced from $2.9 million to over $15 million, have been trading for a blended average of nearly $2,600 a foot.

The units were originally supposed to go on sale in April with a finished model apartment and sales office, but in response to market demand and the lack of available inventory in Greenwich Village, the developer decided to begin selling the units before the four-bedroom model apartment was finished. The brokers have been meeting buyers in their office and selling off plans.

215 Sullivan Street rendering

215 Sullivan Street rendering

The condominium project includes the restoration of a Calvert Vaux-designed 19th century building and the construction of a new adjacent building. Occupancy is slated for the beginning of 2015.

Some apartments have yet to be released, including some two-bedroom units and a massive six-bedroom townhouse unit in the Vaux building with over 2,000 square feet of private outdoor space and private parking. The townhouse will ask nearly $20 million.

While pleased at the pace of sales, Eklund said he’s disappointed that more prospective buyers haven’t gotten to see the model home.

“I said to John, [we’ll have] a finished, furnished model in the building with a fireplace, a bookshelf and beautiful chandeliers,”’Eklund said, “and then the irony is that we’ve sold a lot of the units before we even get there.”

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Chinese visitors to New York favor New Jersey hotels

Chinese visitors in Manhattan

Chinese visitors in Manhattan

Chinese tourists visiting New York City opt to stay in New Jersey more than other international visitors, new data shows.

According to figures by tourism bureau NYC & Company, only 65 percent of visitors from China choose to stay in Big Apple hotels, compared to 87 percent of tourists from Brazil and 85 percent of visitors from the U.K.

Chinese tour guides, catering to the preference, are increasingly, booking rooms on the other side of the Hudson River in bulk. The guides are attracted to rates that run hundreds of dollars cheaper than in the city, coupled with steep group discounts, according Crain’s.

In an effort to scoop up a bigger slice of the surge in Chinese visitors, hoteliers and tourist attractions are also starting to offer new deals and perks, Crain’s reported. The 1,949-room Marquis supplies each room with room with slippers and a teapot, while the Crowne Plaza hotel in Elizabeth, which is booking more than 5,000 nights per year from Chinese tour operators, extends a discount and breakfast in exchange for the high volume. [Crain’s]Angela Hunt

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TF Cornerstone, Related officials to head Hudson Yards/Hell’s Kitchen BID

From left: Kevin Singleton and a rendering of Hudson Yards

From left: Kevin Singleton and a rendering of Hudson Yards

A brand new Hudson Yards/Hell’s Kitchen Business Improvement District has tapped Kevin Singleton, executive vice president of TF Cornerstone, as its front man.

Singleton will handle maintenance and programming within the BID’s planned four-acre parks system, along with street clean-up and other services for 450 area businesses. Andrew Cantor of the Related Companies, the developer behind the $20 billion Hudson Yards project, will be second in command.

“It makes sense from a community, development and business perspective to ally these two (neighborhoods), and forge one voice,” Singleton, whose firm constructed several buildings in the area, told Crain’s.

The BID currently has a budget of $1.2 million, for which several area developers chipped in, according to Crain’s. The funds will go toward building businesses in Hudson Yards and aiding existing ones in Hell’s Kitchen, a key point in securing Community Board 4 approval before the BID was signed into existence last year.

“The board wanted an example of an emerging community and an existing community working together,” Robert Benfatto Jr., district manager of Community Board 4, told Crain’s. [Crain’s]Julie Strickland

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Glenwood’s third Lincoln Square project to rise

From left: Rendering of 175 West 60th Street and existing lot

From left: Rendering of 175 West 60th Street and existing lot

Amid a surge of residential building in Lincoln Square, real estate firm Glenwood Management is gearing up to start vertical construction on its third project in the area.

The 48-story, 257-unit development coming to 175 West 60th Street won approval from the Department of Buildings at the beginning of 2013.

The Manhattan-based company, which built a 54-story tower at 160 West 62nd Street and a 30-story building at 1930 Broadway, also unveiled the first rendering of the new building, to be designed by the Stephen B. Jacobs Group, New York Yimby reported.

Glenwood picked up the property from Fordham University for $75 million in September of 2011, as previously reported. Construction began at the end of last year, and the tower is slated for completion in the spring of 2016, according to the blog. [NY Yimby]Angela Hunt

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Bronx residents push for pedestrian bridge at Van Cortlandt Park, website launches for 42 Ann Street condos … and more

An advertisement for B&G Pickles from 1946

An advertisement for B&G Pickles from 1946

1. More details on Anthony Bourdain’s planned Manhattan food hall [NYEater]
2. Bronx residents push for pedestrian bridge for highway-split Van Cortlandt Park [NY1]
3. Website goes live for FiDi condos at landmarked 42 Ann Street [BuzzBuzzHome]
4. Wall Street money drives demand for “un-Hampton” homes on the East End [Newsday]
5. Land title insurance agents need New York license by October [New York Business Journal]
6. Apartment in which Philip Seymour Hoffman died rents for $10,500 a month [NYDN]
7. A warehouse in Long Island City was once prime for pickling [Brownstoner]
8. Trulia economist chats about Manhattan prices on Reddit [HousingWire]Angela Hunt

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New loan holder files to foreclose on Rabbi Pinto property

From left: Rabbi Pinto and 122 East 58th Street

From left: Rabbi Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto and 122 East 58th Street

Corigin Real Estate Group, a Manhattan-based private equity firm, filed suit to foreclose on $20 million in loans at 122 East 58th Street, a property owned by Mosdot Shuva Israel, the non-profit organization led by Rabbi Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto.

The complaint, filed Thursday in Manhattan Supreme Court, claims the charity defaulted on the loans on March 17. The total includes a $15 million note and a $5 million note originally borrowed from Signature Bank in 2009, and later extended. Signature sold the notes to Corigin, a firm led by Ryan Freedman, former chairman of development firm Coalco New York on March 13.

The lawsuit names several members of the charity’s board of directors as defendants, including Keller Williams brokers Ilan Bracha and Haim Binstock and Livorno Properties executives Ben Zion Suky and Yosi Zaga, and maintains they provided guarantees to repay the loans. Also named as guarantors were Joseph Ben Moha of Roxy Deli and investor Haim Revah.

The suit claims that $14.3 million is owed on the $15 million note and $3 million is owed on the $5 million note.

Suky told The Real Deal the investors had an agreement with Signature Bank to extend the loan. They borrowed a total of $22.3 million, and paid $5 million of that already, for a $17.3 million loan balance, he said. “They agreed to extend the loan and reduce the interest on the loan,” said Suky, in an interview.

He said Signature Bank notified them the day before it sold the loan, but he was unaware exactly who bought it.

“We are thinking about what will be our next step on Signature Bank,” he said. “We have a bank that we’re going to refinance with, in the next few days.”

Mosdot bought the property in 2009 for $28.5 million, with plans to use the space for a synagogue, school and administrative offices.

The foreclosure case marks the latest in a string of legal entanglements connected to Pinto. The spiritual leader is under investigation in Israel for allegedly attempting to bribe at least one police official.

Last month, Tomer Shohat, a New York hedge fund manager and rival of Suky’s, accused Pinto in a civil suit of urging a New York police detective, Eric Patinoto, to arrest Shohat in February 2013 for grand larceny. Patino also works as a broker for Azad Property Group.

Shohat said the charges against him were dropped in April 2013, and provided a document showing the dismissal.

According to claims made in a separate lawsuit filed by Shohat in Manhattan Supreme Court in February, Suky misappropriated funds at the Metro Apartments at 440 West 41st Street, where they were both investors.

Bracha, Zaga and Moha were not immediately available for comment. Patino declined to comment, saying the matter was under police investigation.

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