Midtown’s Halcyon tops off at 33 stories

From left: the Halcyon at 51st Street, Steven Spektor (HFZ Capital Group), James Davidson (SLCE Architects), Ziel Feldman (HFZ Capital Group), Enrique Jimenez (SLCE Architects), John Simonlacaj (HFZ Capital Group), Luigi Russo (SLCE Architects), MacKenzie Landers Thorn (HFZ Capital Group) and Feldman

From left: 305 E. 51st Street, HFZ’s Steven Spektor, SLCE Architects’ James Davidson, HFZ’s Ziel Feldman, SLCE’s Enrique Jimenez, John Simonlacaj of HFZ, SLCE’s Luigi Russo, HFZ’s MacKenzie Landers Thorn and Feldman

Halcyon, a residential tower under development at 305 East 51st Street, has reached its final height of 33 stories.

The property will include 123 one- to four-bedroom condominiums as well as more than 10,000 square feet of amenities on the buildings 21st and 22nd floors. The building is scheduled for completion in early 2015. More than 60 percent of the building’s apartments are currently under contract.

“We are excited to celebrate this major milestone in the development of Halcyon,” Ziel Feldman, founder and managing principal of HFZ Capital Group, said in a joint statement from the developers. “To own a home at Halcyon is an incredible opportunity in today’s market. The building is leading a wave of new development in Midtown East which has become one of the most dynamic residential neighborhoods in the city.”

The building, with its glass and bronze window wall and limestone base, is designed by SLCE Architects.

Architecture and interior design firm S. Russell Groves is incorporating sophisticated materials and luxurious finishes into the design of Halcyon, including walnut paneling, travertine flooring and brushed bronze accents. Residences will feature 10-foot ceilings, oak wood flooring, double-paned energy efficient windows, top-of-the-line kitchen appliances, and sleek spa-like master bathrooms with honed marble and brushed bronze fixtures.

A four-bedroom condo in the building spans 3,563 square feet, with four-and-a-half bathrooms, and 1,365 square feet of private outdoor space. It’s listed for $11,750,000.

Common amenities include a 52 foot indoor swimming pool, a health and fitness center with a Movement Studio, a cedar-lined sauna, an Aqua Spa inspired by a Turkish hammam and a spa treatment room. A children’s playroom and a library will be located on the second floor. – Claire Moses


The art of selling the New York lifestyle to oligarchs

Say you suddenly decide you want to buy an SUV. Would you call your real estate broker at 5 a.m. and tell him to drive to the next dealership ASAP? If this sounds ludicrous, you haven’t met Gennady Perepada’s clients.

On a recent Wednesday afternoon, the fifty-something, Soviet-born broker sat in his small Midtown office examining the sales contract for a brand new Toyota Highlander. His workday had begun in the crack of dawn when a Russian client called him on his Blackberry, which he never switches off or mutes. The client’s wife, who lives in the Manhattan luxury apartment Perepada found for them, needed a car to drive her daughter to school. Could he go to a dealership and choose one.

Perepada in his Garment District office

Perepada in his Garment District office

Perepada, who has ample experience with such requests, called a car dealership right away and left a message. At 9 a.m., he stood at the dealer’s door and began test-driving. By afternoon he had set up a contract, and his client’s wife briefly showed up to sign.

For all that work Perepada didn’t make a single dollar. “It’s a favor,” he said with a dismissive shrug.

Perepada makes his money selling luxury properties through his small brokerage One & Only Realty, mainly to wealthy buyers from the former Soviet Union. But calling him a broker would belittle the breadth of services he offers. On any given day his work may be that of a contractor, building manager or even a luxury concierge.

Once a sale closes, Perepada often handles the renovations, buying furniture and hiring and overseeing contractors on behalf of his clients abroad. He also manages 19 of his clients’ units, collecting rent and paying bills, which makes him something of a one-person, integrated real-estate services firm.

If his clients have non-real estate related requests, Perepada is their man too. He claims to have arranged knee surgeries and baby deliveries in New York City. During the holidays his inbox is overflowing with requests asking him to buy jewelry for assorted wives, girlfriends and daughters.

Perepada heeds to all these requests even though they don’t earn him any money because he knows it makes him more valuable to his foreign clients.

“For today’s wealthy person, the most important thing is saving time, which equals money,” he said.

Perepada’s visible success – he owns two brand-new Mercedes, a large house in Sheepshead Bay and a vacation home in Miami –offers a glimpse of how the influx of foreign money is starting to change the brokerage profession in Manhattan.

While local buyers won’t have trouble finding contractors or a jewelry store, foreigners often do. Moreover, Perepada said his predominantly Russian-speaking clients don’t have the time to fly to New York for a few weeks and arrange for an apartments purchase and renovation. The more services a broker can offer to them, the better.

Apart from representing buyers, Perepada’s brokerage also had a number of exclusive listings in the greater New York area, including a (removed) condo in Tribeca and condos in Midtown. This is no small success for a brokerage with five agents that didn’t exist ten years ago.

Perepada grew up in Ukraine and started off as an ice cream chef in the Soviet Union, working in places as remote as Siberia and Uzbekistan. In 1990, as the communist state began to fall apart, Perepada left for New York with his wife and his six year-old son. He was 29 years old and didn’t speak a word of English.

“It was bad,” he recalls. “I was an immigrant – I had no money, nothing.”

Perepada doesn’t like talking about his first decade in the United States – all he said is that he worked odd jobs and learned English by ear. In the early 2000s he got his real estate license and began working as an agent for G-Line Realty.

“I told everyone I’m an agent, and started selling homes,” he recalled.

His big break came when he decided to fly to Moscow for a real estate conference and offer his listings there. The contacts he made led to others, and soon he had a long list of clients from across the former Soviet Union and currently has representative offices in Kazakhstan, Russia and Azerbaijan.

The gifts from clients Perepada keeps in his office give an idea of how far his business reaches: there are figurines from Kazakhstan and painted plates from Azerbaijan sharing a wall with a framed New York Times and Forbes articles on the broker.

Part of his success has to do with timing. Perepada became a broker at precisely the time when wealthy Russians began buying up condos in New York. But the past few months have shown how volatile this trend is.

The threat of U.S. sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine has slowed down Russian investment in New York. One of Perepada’s clients had already requested a contract for a luxury condo, but then backed out last minute when sanctions became a possibility.

Perepada said he is optimistic that tensions will subside and Russian buyers will continue to buy in New York. “Time will show,” he said. “You always have to hope.” In the mean time, “my local clients are keeping me busy.”


American Dream coming true at big Vegas convention

REConThumbnailBy Holly Dutton
in Las Vegas

American Dream mall developers, Triple Five, chose the annual ICSC convention in Vegas this week to announce they have signed two major department stores and added more store space to meet demand from retailers.

Rendering of the super-mall

Rendering of the super-mall

Paul Ghermezian, COO of Triple Five, said that leasing at the $2 billion shopping center in New Jersey’s the Meadowlands is going “very brisklyˮ and the mall is on schedule to open in the fall of 2016

The mall developer is part of  the New York City real estate exodus to Las Vegas for the annual ICSC RECon.

The Las Vegas Convention Center announced that attendance hit 33,000, topping last year’s number of 32,000 another milestone for the industry, which saw attendance plummet in the years following the crash.

The mood is markedly upbeat, and despite the inevitable swollen feet and sleep deprivation, most brokers Real Estate Weekly talked to happily reported they were booked back-to-back Monday and even Tuesday with meetings.

Joanne Podell of Cushman and Wakefield said she was pleasantly surprised at how busy the conference is.

“There’s so much enthusiasm,ˮ she said. “Last year, everyone was saying ‘I think it’s okay,’ this year everyone is saying it IS okay.ˮ

Hal Shapiro, a managing director at Winick, said the energy of the conference is good this year and he has moved some of his deals forward on the convention center floor. He emphasized that face time is the real draw for ICSC.

“Face-to-face is the good thing about ICSC,ˮ he said. “It’s always more productive to do things face-to-face than email.ˮ



Brookfield Properties’ national director of leasing Ed Hogan said the attendance and vibe of the conference is a “thermometerˮ for the upcoming year. “The show always sets the tone,ˮ he said.

Brookfield Place just has a handful of spaces left and Hogan expects to have everything signed by the end of the summer.

He was busy meeting with retailers and getting feedback for the company’s next major project — Manhattan West near the Hudson Yards. The company isn’t signing tenants just yet, but will use feedback it gets here in Vegas to help finalize plans for the project, which will have 200,000 s/f of retail.

“It’s going to be the most densely built neighborhood in New York City,ˮ said Hogan of the area around Hudson Yards. “And retailers like density.ˮ

American Dream is one of the projects that has been most promoted at the conference, with ubiquitous mobile ads being driven around the Las Vegas Strip and the Convention Center, along with Hudson Yards, which has giant digital ads in the convention center lobby.

Paul Ghermezian, COO of family-owned development firm Triple Five, which is revitalizing the beleagured old Zanadu project in the Meadowlands into the American Dream mega mall, said the company has executed deals with two luxury department stores for the project, though he wouldn’t reveal which ones.

Don Ghermezian and Paul Ghermezian of Triple Five

Don Ghermezian and Paul Ghermezian of Triple Five

Ghermezian added that leasing is going “very brisklyˮ and the demand for retail space is so high at the mall that the project added more retail space.

Ghermezian, who has been attending ICSC in Vegas with his family since he was a kid, said the name and reputation of the former “Xanaduˮ is long gone — he avoids even using the term. “I keep a swear jar in my office for anyone who uses that word,ˮ he laughed.

At night, the party scene once again was the place to see and be seen. SCG Retail drew thousands at the Four Seasons Sunday night, while Massey Knakal held a more intimate fete at Charlie Palmer’s Aureole at Mandalay Bay the same night.

Newmark Grubb Knight Frank held its annual bash at Marquee at the Cosmopolitan Monday night, while Cushman and Wakefield and the the NY Developers poolside parties at The Four Season and The Bellagio, respectively, were hot tickets as well.


City’s landmark process in need of reform, experts say

From left: Meenakshi Srinivasan, the new commissioner of the Landmark Preservation Commission and the Brooklyn Heights Historic District

From left: Meenakshi Srinivasan, the new commissioner of the Landmark Preservation Commission and the Brooklyn Heights Historic District

The future of landmarking in New York is still unclear, but something needs to change, a group of panelists concluded during a Tuesday morning Crain’s forum on the topic.

But besides the mutual agreement that the system needs to be changed, those on Crain’s panel on Tuesday morning had strikingly different viewpoints.

Some panelists at the form complained that the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission doesn’t provide a clear time frame on their decision making process and doesn’t have clear designations for what makes a building or area historic. The panelists representing this developer viewpoint said that landmarking stifles development and economic growth. A recent Real Estate Board of New York Study supported the view, showing that landmarking was hurting housing development, with only five units of affordable housing being created in landmarked districts.

On one hand, those in favor of the policy said that landmarking attracts tourists as well as hi-tech firms, since older buildings are in higher demand than newer, glass buildings from young tech companies.

Nikolai Fedak, founder and editor of New York YIMBY and one of the panelists on Tuesday, argued that the focus should be on the people living in the city.

“Do buildings make up the character of a neighborhood,” Fedak asked, “or do people?”

The commission will soon be headed by Meenakshi Srinivasan, who is the former chairwoman of the New York City Board of Standards and Appeals and an architect. [Crain’s] – Claire Moses


High-end addition treatment center eyes Upper East Side spot

From left: 435 East 79th Street and 201 Fort Pond Boulevard in East Hampton

From left: 435 East 79th Street and 201 Fort Pond Boulevard in East Hampton

Safe Harbor Retreat, a high-end drug treatment center based in East Hampton, is eyeing a new spot for an outpatient treatment center on the Upper East Side.

The group, which currently maintains a residential drug treatment facility in the Hamptons priced at $50,000 for a 30-day stay, discussed the possibility of opening a 435 East 79th Street outpost with Community Board 8’s Health and Social Services Committee last week, DNAinfo reported. As the Hamptons location serves many patients who also live on the Upper East Side, officials said they have received requests for another spot near their home base.

While Safe Harbor snagged initial approval from the state to open an Upper East Side center, a number of area residents oppose the move, expressing concerns that the center would distribute methadone to some patients — a charge David Evans, a legislative and regulatory constant representing Safe Harbor, dismissed.

“We don’t do opiate replacement treatment,” he told the assembled crowd. “We’re not licensed for that and we just don’t do it.” [DNAinfo]Julie Strickland


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Menachem Stark’s son robbed at knifepoint, is Vornado’s 220 Central Park South a 15 CPW copycat? … and more

The Bauhaus Pan Am/MetLife Building at 200 Park Avenue

The Bauhaus Pan Am/MetLife Building at 200 Park Avenue

1. Menachem Stark’s son robbed at knifepoint [NYP]
2. Is Vornado’s 220 Central Park South a 15 CPW copycat? [Michael Gross]
3. Renderings revealed for Ian Schrager’s 215 Chrystie Street “condotel” [Curbed]
4. Stribling & Associates’ first Brooklyn office celebrates one-year anniversary [Press release]
5. The world’s best new skyscrapers: PHOTOS [Business Insider]
6. Celebrating 131 years of Bauhaus [Curbed]
7. U.S. ranked no. 1 spot for Chinese investors buying second homes [Forbes]
8. Modern office architecture explored through film [Architizer]

Julie Strickland


Old Greenpoint warehouse to be converted into a hotel

The Henry Norman Hotel in Greenpoint, Brooklyn

233 Normal Avenue in Greenpoint, Brooklyn

A new hotel is coming to 233 Norman Avenue in Greenpoint.

Plans are in the works to turn a four-story warehouse on the corner of Norman Avenue and Henry Street into a hotel, which will include a rooftop bar.

Architect Robert Scarano is behind the 58-room revamp of the old industrial building. Signs announcing the Henry Norman Hotel, and its rooftop, have been plastered around the neighborhood, according to local blog FreeWilliamsburg. Owner Joe Torres already owns and operates Brooklyn’s Box Hotel, which is also a converted warehouse.

Plans to convert the building have been in the works since 2006. In 2013 permits for the conversion were re-approved by the city. [FreeWilliamsburg] – Claire Moses


This month in real estate history: Robert Moses parts the Bronx

Robert Moses

Robert Moses

From the May issue: The city approved a fiercely opposed route for the Cross Bronx Expressway that was reviled for destroying tight-knit neighborhoods in the name of modernization and public mobility, 61 years ago this month.

The Board of Estimate, which decided budgetary and land-use issues at the time, voted to back the freeway plan that cleaved through several South Bronx neighborhoods just north of Crotona Park and required demolishing about 1,500 homes and relocating about 5,000 people. [more]


Tuesday Blogwrap

Bedford Avenue Has More Bike Accidents Than Any Other Brooklyn Street [Atlantic City Lab] Photos: Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Pier 2 Features Rollerskating, Shuffleboard [Gothamist] Modern Developments Are Gaining Ground Even in Farthest Brooklyn [NY Observer] The Sad Remuddling of the Former Home of Robin Des Bois on Smith Street [PMFA] Sign Petition to Curb Excessive Construction Noise at Lightstone Mega Development [PMFA] “Brooklyn” Is Filming in Brooklyn (Near the Cyclone, Not This Newfangled Coaster) [Bedford+Bowery] Two Lincoln Center Performances Coming up at the Kensington Library [Kensington BK] Lemi, the Missing Brooklyn Heights Parakeet, Is Spotted by Instagram User [BHB] Community Board Meeting Tonight May 20 [Q at Parkside] Photo by Joel Zimmer… Read More