Dear friends and colleagues,
I would like to wish you and your loved ones the happiest of holidays. I hope that you all can take some time to relax and enjoy the presence of the people who are most important to you, but also reflect upon a year that I hope was filled with adventure and laughter and some genuine memory-making moments. I have been most fortunate to work with such amazing and interesting clients this year. As we all know, where we live is really so much more than the real estate we own, and so I also feel particularly grateful to have worked so closely this year within my community—that of my daughter's school, which has been like an extension of our family for the past twelve years. It has been both a humbling and an exhilarating experience. Finally, as we begin a new year, it seems fitting to discuss a few of the seemingly endless new developments sprouting in every corner of Manhattan and boroughs beyond. Here are a few I’m most excited about—in three very different neighborhoods— as well as my picks for where to eat and what to explore in each.
With some economic speed bumps in the news of late, there have been a handful of pundits speculating that the real estate market—especially on the luxury side of the spectrum—would begin to feel the effects. Recent market updates have generated a mixed bag of news, but overall the market remains quite strong. The Real Deal reported that in the first three weeks of November, a healthy 100 different contracts had been signed for sales of $4 million or more. Luxury Daily also just published a lengthy piece highlighting the strength of the local luxury market over the past few years.
More recently on December 21st, UrbanDigs.com showed an uptick in pending sales with a 3.3% increase over the prior month. New York’s price-per-square foot figure, along with the median sale price, was up over the course of the previous 30 days as well, while the median number of days a property stayed on the market sat at a brisk 55.
StreetEasy.com unveiled its 2016 predictions last week too. Though the site’s statisticians are forecasting a general “cooling” of real estate prices throughout the city, they still ultimately point to overall growth within the market. The Federal Reserve’s interest rate hikes, which also made big news last week, indicate the Fed believes the economy overall should have a better time standing on its own going forward—and the miniscule size of the increase is good news for buyers who won’t see mortgage rates increase too much. My boots on the street experience highlights the mixed bag—a couple of my buyers snatched up bargains to close out 2015 in the $3-5 million market and listings priced, staged and well located continued to sell quickly. Those in neighborhoods such as Midtown East and Sutton Place have had a tougher time. A few new buyers and seller have surfaced as well this month, looking to buy and sell properties this spring before interest rates tick up further.
New Development: 152 Elizabeth Street
Japanese architect Tadao Ando has built all over the world and won just about every industry award, including the prestigious Pritzker, Carlsberg and Kyoto prizes —yet he has never designed a building in New York City, until now. Ando’s upcoming 152 Elizabeth Street will be a seven-story haven on the fringe of the Lower East Side and Nolita. A stark contrast to the tall and skinny taking over midtown Manhattan, this boutique project welcomes the historically gritty neighborhood’s character and light into its apartments via floor-to-ceiling windows. Airport-quality exterior glass addresses sound in this busy part of town; sweeping views usher open sky into every apartment; while a water wall in the vestibule and reflecting pools in the penthouse bring liquid serenity. Known for his sleek, minimalist designs, Ando’s approach is to create a sense of harmony by balancing light, air, sound and water in each home, which range from 1,900 square feet to more than 5,600 square feet in the 2-, 3- and 4-bedroom apartments. One of the building’s most striking features will be a 55-foot-high, 99-foot-wide green wall that hugs the fourth and fifth floor terraces. The apartments are on the market now and are planned for occupancy in 2016. This is just one of a number of nearby Lower East Side new developments. Extell, Magnum Realty, Halpern and other firms have also dipped their toes in the LES water, starting development on what are sure to be more chic and stylish residential properties.
With so many amazing downtown spots, its hard to pick just a few to call my favorites.
Victory Garden - 31 Carmine Street off Bleeker Street
Enjoy incredibly delicious ice cream made from locally sourced, fresh goat milk and yogurt. Try the Dukes Affogato salted caramel soft serve milkshake blended with cold brew coffee and chocolate sauce. I hosted Thanksgiving dinner this year, but a baker I am not, and so we brought home for desert the insanely delicious pumpkin pie in gingersnap crust. While I am slightly biased in that the owner of this gem is my client, plenty of others are in agreement.
Anthology Film Archives - 32 Second Avenue at 2nd Street
For the cinephile in you, the Anthology Film Archives offers hundreds of film screenings per year, and houses the world’s most extensive collection of avant-garde films, videos, stills and audio recordings. Keep an eye on their “Series” and “Essential Cinema” calendars for upcoming screenings of works by Andy Warhol and other arthouse icons.
Lower East Side Tenement Museum - 103 Orchard Street off Delancey Street
One of my favorites, this revered museum is located within an actual tenement building erected back in 1863. The tours examine the lives of immigrants who lived there and throughout American history. My son’s third grade class at St. David’s has been studying NYC immigration this semester and the lucky boys have toured this fabulous museum, complete with guided tours of actual apartments that recreate the lives of real immigrant families from the 19th and 20th centuries. The historian in me keeps me going back for more. With the subject of immigration topping the news these days, it is not lost on me that this special place is a perfect reminder of the immigrants who came before us. That includes my grandparents, who were welcomed here with open arms so they could make a life for themselves and their families with infinite possibilities.
Shuko - 47 East 12th Street off Broadway
If you can get a table at this high-end but decidedly intimate and casual (read: unstuffy) Japanese restaurant, it will be more than worth the effort. Shuko has quickly emerged as one of the city’s finest restaurants. I celebrated my recent birthday there with my husband and we decided on the omakase. No thinking required— a full twenty-three perfectly proportioned pieces of sushi. The chefs are informative and likeable and there is a big probability that you will be best friends with your neighbor by the end of the meal. I was invited around into the bar side for a photo with my favorite chef.
Winter Jazzfest - January 13th through 17th at select venues
Voted the number-one jazz festival by critics in Jazz Times magazine, Winter Jazzfest NYC is the ultimate local event for those who appreciate the art form in all its various incarnations. The two “marathon days” provide the best bang for your buck, while the festival reaches its apex with a special tribute set to John Coltrane.
New Development: King & Sullivan Red Hook Townhomes
Located in Brooklyn’s waterfront community of Red Hook, some of these 22 new townhouses have already been claimed with sales prices reportedly averaging $2.7 million. With spacious floor plans featuring fireplaces, open island kitchens, and gracious interiors, these homes are sure to impress. Select residences feature multiple outdoor spaces, including dual roof deck sections, while AA Studios specially designed the structures to fit right into the neighborhood’s architectural tradition.
Brooklyn’s boom is far from over. The Real Deal just released a top 10 list of the biggest new developments coming to the city soon, and Brooklyn is home to six of them, including all of the top three. Drop me a line for more details on any of these.
If my kids did not go to school blocks from my home, I would be on the next train to Brooklyn. In the meantime, I will remain a happy visitor. These are a few that are worth the subway ride.
Williamsburg Art & Historical Center - 135 Broadway at Bedford Avenue
Set in the old King’s County Savings Bank building, this museum’s Williamsburg address hints at its scope and significance. After all, the neighborhood is home to the largest artist community in all the five boroughs. Be sure to catch the adorable, all-canine portrait gallery “Dog,” just extended, and running through January 10.
The City Reliquary - 370 Metropolitan Avenue off Havemeyer Street, Williamsburg
Everything from 1939 World’s Fair memorabilia to an authentic collection of original Brooklyn seltzer bottles are among the impressive collections of city artifacts at the City Reliquary museum on the site of a former deli with an unassuming, retained storefront.
New Development: 12 East 88th Street
Just moments from Central Park in my backyard of Carnegie Hill, 12 East 88th Street will welcome residents into newly renovated luxury units this coming year. Simon Baron Development is overseeing the conversion, which will combine pre-war charm and elegance with sleek designs and modern sensibility by Vicente Wolf. Apartments will range from two- to five-bedroom homes and expected amenities include bike storage, children’s playroom, gym and additional storage space. Another condo creeps into the coop heavy neighborhood and I’m sure it will be met with insatiable demand. This new development is definitely part of a trend, with the New York Times reporting that the coop-dominated UES has seen a huge boom in condo conversions this year.
The Upper East Side has seen a boutique bakery invasion of late, finally giving us uptowners a serious choice.
Bluestone Lane - 2 East 90th Street off Fifth Avenue
A true one-of-a-kind coffee shop, this unique Bluestone Lane location is housed next to the historic Church of Heavenly Rest and features a gorgeous sandstone interior with overwhelming archways. Their premium coffee and rotation seasonal dishes for breakfast, lunch and snack times are divine as well. Nestled among among the many schools in the area and the tourists of Museum Mile, it is the perfect spot for a leisurely brunch or a quick coffee break.
Noglu NY - 1266 Madison Avenue between 90th and 91st Streets
Just opened this past fall, Noglu is a French restaurant offering nothing but gluten-free options. There are outstanding quiches, croquet monsieur, and a great signature club sandwich. My newly transplanted gluten-free California niece is a massive fan, as am I. Try the blueberry muffin. It tastes like it came right out of your grandmother’s oven. Glutens and non-glutens alike will agree.
HARBS - 1374 Third Avenue at 78th Street
Even newer to the neighborhood, the Japanese bakery HARBS has enticing melon, grapefruit, and cherry cakes and much more. The company has 40 locations in its home country, and this Upper East Side spot marks its second in New York City. The chestnut cake is as beautiful as it is delicious.