This Spring for me brought the homecoming of my 10th grade daughter, who was on exchange in Madrid for ten weeks. This marked the end of the school exchange experience, which began when we were hosts last fall to a Spanish student. Just the anticipation of hosting unleashed a range of emotions for me, not the least of which had to do with my insecurity over how I would keep this new “daughter” entertained and FED (those of you who know me know that I do not spend much time in the kitchen).
For the whole family, hosting proved to be an unparalleled lesson on Spanish culture. Adapting to having her in our home meant letting go of our assumptions about her habits and attitudes. We learned to be more cooperative, patient, communicative and flexible. Suddenly, I saw my life through a magnifying glass, and it wasn’t always pretty. I become acutely aware of what I said and how I talked to my kids, my husband, even the dog! This forced reflection on my life was probably the most unexpected bonus of the experience. At a time when so many connections, both global and local, are of the virtual variety, the significance of this real facetime connectivity to another culture was hard to ignore and easy to appreciate. Though it is true that there never seems a “perfect” time to add anything to our busy lives, I would do it all over again. If you get the opportunity to host, try not to think too much about it. Take a deep breath and jump in!
A perfect excuse for mother-daughter alone time, I went to visit my daughter in Madrid just before she was set to come home. I went without a plan (that alone was terribly outside my comfort zone) and without a guidebook. I let her lead me through her typical day and the places where she had semi-rooted herself: the café where she went to study every day after school because she felt a sense of belonging and comfort, the neighborhoods she roamed, the museums and shops she browsed, the park where she ran. As rich as the experience was for her in getting to know a new and foreign city and culture, it was equally powerful in cementing her love for New York City. Indeed, she was struck by a newfound appreciation for NYC, especially for the diversity of our city streets.
I hope your spring and summer are filled with adventure and learning.
Hot Neighborhood: Where to Live, Sip, Browse, Brunch, Reflect, Sweat, Run, Juice
With its lovely tree-lined, streets and proximity to Central Park, the Carnegie Hill section of the Upper East Side is one of New York City's most prized residential neighborhoods. Named for Andrew Carnegie's palatial mansion at 91st Street and Fifth Avenue — now the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum — the neighborhood was designated as a historic district in 1974. Today, the neighborhood includes a lovely mix of historic townhomes and luxurious co-op buildings set along Fifth and Park avenues. I am so fortunate to be selling some gorgeous apartments in this coveted neighborhood, with a choice in almost every price point.
For Sale: 1130 Park Avenue #PHA
A stunning penthouse with a gorgeous terrace stretching a full 70 feet on Park Avenue, this sophisticated three-bedroom stunner has been beautifully and impeccably renovated, and is located in one of Park Avenue’s most distinguished white-glove cooperatives, designed by renowned architect George Fred Pelham.
For Sale: 1125 Park Avenue #9C
Impeccably renovated, this triple mint corner apartment is the perfect combination of pre-war grandeur and comfortable elegance. The serene and sun-filled home with three spacious bedrooms and a library is set in a white glove, full-service building with amazing amenities, including individual wine cellars.
Where to browse: Doyle
For Sale: 1148 Fifth Avenue #4D
Paris farmhouse meets Brooklyn townhouse in this pin-drop quiet four-bedroom, floor-through apartment with charming outdoor garden space. The definition of casual chic, this apartment has been tastefully renovated in a style that embraces both old-world craftsmanship and modern sensibilities. This enchanting home is set in Hortense Court, a historic 1896 limestone building a half block from Central Park.
Where to reflect: The Conservatory Garden in Central Park
For Sale: 180 E. 79th St. #2F
Super chic and grand prewar classic six with sunken living room and sunny charming south views onto townhouse gardens. The beautifully proportioned dining room is highlighted by a stunning carved wood door, exquisitely detailed crown moldings and artful custom cabinetry. Fabulously located in one of the Upper East Side’s premier white glove buildings.
Where to juice: Candle Cafe
In Contract: 49 E. 86th St. #4-BC
This beautifully renovated four-bedroom, three-bath corner home has lovely open views and magnificent light in every room. Located one block from Central Park and stretching the entire Madison Avenue side of a full-service prewar cooperative.
Where to sweat: Pure Yoga East
In Contract: 1361 Madison Ave. #7E
Flooded with sunlight, this Classic 7 home is housed in a turn of the century building and feels like a downtown loft. One block from Central Park and beautifully renovated, this corner three bedroom apartment boasts a living room perfect for displaying your art collection.
Where to run: The Shuman Running Track at the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir
While the ultra-luxury housing market — namely condos with asking prices over $10 million — has not sustained the growth it did over the course of the last five years or so, there is still plenty of good news and promising numbers in New York real estate, in the mid-market $1 million to $5 million range IF well priced. New development condos in that relatively "affordable" price range, from Nolita to the Upper East Side, are selling briskly. And for coops, Warburg President Frederick Peters notes in his most recent market report, it is the smaller, modestly priced units in the $2 million range that continue to drive a lot of attention and move incredibly quickly.
Much of the doom and gloom in recent real estate reports can be attributed to closed sales data, which lags real-time information by three months to as much several years, in the case of new developments. In order to accurately measure the current state of the spring market, we need to look at real-time data, including supply, contracts signed and number of days on the market. Many articles also mistakenly look at the entire Manhattan market in broad strokes, but the real news is in micro markets that take into account neighborhood sections, types of housing and other factors. The market this spring shows more of this mixed bag. For example, Brooklyn remains strong, especially for one and two bedroom apartments. On the Upper East Side of Manhattan, while certainly showing signs of slowing in categories of housing from classic six to eight room apartments, there are still stories (not fantasy) of competitive bidding situations for the well priced, well located and well renovated apartments of all sizes, particularly those in the under $5 million range.
The sky is not falling and the (micro) market is not dead. Deals are happening, albeit with buyers showing greater and greater sensitivity to price and location, and developers showing a bit of flexibility.