Wednesday, October 22, 2014

UK Vogue: Luxe and The City

November issue, 2014
UK Vogue, GQ, Tatler, House & Garden Living

Never mind the wobbly world economy. In Manhattan, where gleaming silver towers dot the city’s multi-million dollar skyline from Harlem to Midtown and Tribeca, the shimmering landscape of spectacular jeweled boxes, envy-inducing penthouses and trophy townhouses is as desirable as ever.

Brokers will tell you the hunt for the most exclusive, prestigious and luxurious properties has never been so intense. Real estate has become a fanatical purchase for those who have never had a real estate fetish before, or for those who just have to own a very specific apartment. “The right real estate makes a buyer feel so special that they are willing to pay almost anything,” says Dolly Lenz. Buyers are demanding unobstructed views, irreplaceable locations and exquisite architecture.

The city’s uber-rich, in the finance, media and arts worlds have a growing number of foreign buyers to compete with from across the globe including the UK, Middle East and Asia.

Lenz, who recently launched her own company after 25 years just sold Rupert Murdoch’s record downtown purchase, the triplex penthouse at One Madison, a 60-story glass residential tower perched over Madison Square Park.  He also bought the entire floor below, to complete his penthouse – in aggregate, $57.2m dollars. The building at East 22nd Street boasts panoramic views of iconic landmarks in every direction. And the neighbors aren’t bad looking either. “Kate Upton and Gisele also bought here. It is going to be the most amazing elevator to ride in,” says Lenz, who sold Leonardo DiCaprio a $10 million downtown pad at the green Delos building, where Deepak Chopra has bought and where Donna Karan’s Urban Zen will provide a ‘wellness concierge.’

Lenz is wearing jeans, fresh from a construction site visit, not her usual Valentino or Dolce attire and Manolo heels. Most nights she is ‘closing’ deals at Omar’s, a chic supper club in Greenwich Village with a private room out back favored by A-listers.

Lenz recently sold Karl Lagerfeld’s glamorous Gramercy Park three bedroom to an overseas banker and his fashionable wife - sight unseen – for $4.5 milllion. She’s seeing strong international interest in Tommy Hilfiger’s iconic $80 million penthouse at the Plaza, asking $80 million.

The explosion of new construction and demand for it has brokers busier than ever.
Raphael De Niro at Prudential Douglas Elliman said: “There’s at least $50 billion of new condos at various stages of construction and planning in Manhattan alone. “He said buyers want fabulous homes with spaces that go way beyond impeccable custom touches. “The design, construction quality and interiors of these buildings are going to be at levels that no one has seen before.” He is working on a $2 billion development fronting Central Park that will come to the market in 24 months (eds. no name or further details yet)

De Niro is selling at 432 Park Avenue, an architectural tower in the plaza district and around a year from completion (as at July) and The Puck Residences downtown, an historic ornate prewar conversion. “Both are the best of their kind: nostalgic old New York versus sleek modern New York and both have finishes that are unparalleled by their competitors.”

Other buzzworthy residential includes One57, a skyscraper that is nearing completion on West 57th Street and has two sales over $90 million. The Park Hyatt’s flagship hotel at the base of the building and condo owners will be able to order room service and enjoy the spa.

The Carlton House, on the Upper East Side, right next door to Barney’s is another chic address. Downtown, Walker Tower in Chelsea drew a high profile and fashion crowd including Cameron Diaz and Laura Mercier for its ultra-spacious rooms, views and beautiful simple touches.

Paula Del Nunzio, at Brown Harris Stevens said there was a shortage of move-in ready apartments. She’s seeing strong interest in several, including a $68 million property at 25 Columbus Circle, with Central Park and Hudson River views, as well as a $65 million apartment at 15 Central Park West, the largest and highest apartment in the tower.

(As at the end of July) she was selling the original William Randolph Hearst penthouse at Riverside Drive and 86th street for $38 million, and touting its  “astounding scale and light”: with 7,000 square feet of planted terraces and views of the Hudson River overlooking Riverside Park.

The hot spots holding the highest values are the classics including Fifth Avenue, Central Park West and Greenwich Village.

Frederick Peters, the president of Warburg Realty said the new development marketplace was strong in Manhattan, and also in Brooklyn, where the creative talent has migrated. In Brooklyn Heights, a 6-bedroom, 6-bathroom apartment at One Brooklyn Bridge Park 360 Furman Street is asking $32 million. The views of the Statue of Liberty and downtown New York City skyline from almost every room will have buyers speed dialing their architects.