Toasting to Success: What’s Next for 2016

Our team enjoyed seeing each and every one of our wonderful clients at our 2015 holiday party as we toasted to our best year yet! Thanks to bespoke staging and an in-depth understanding of micro-market dynamics, our team helped sellers land top dollar for their properties. Cheers to the New Year! We look forward to creating even more success for our clients! – Tony Sargent & The Tony Sargent Team

Photo Credits: ErikaKapin



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Fall’s Most Buzzed About Real Estate Conversions

Empire Stores DUMBO Rendering

Rendering: Midtown Equities’ retail and office conversion Empire Stores located in DUMBO in the Brooklyn Bridge;

With little space to build new properties in hyper-dense New York City, it’s no surprise that developers are eager to give makeovers to pre-existing buildings not living up to their potential. Whether they are being redone with an eye towards retail or commercial occupation, there are a slew of exciting renovations slated to open in the next few months all around the city. Check out a few of the most buzzed about below:

  1. Dumbo’s Empire Stores: Dumbo has long been one of Brooklyn’s chicest neighborhoods, with residents like style-setter Olivia Palermo upping the style factor on this quiet waterfront oasis of calm. The neighborhood is about to get a fresh injection of fashion and fun with the 19th century warehouse Empire Stores opening the end of this year. Expect stunning views over the city, and a rooftop beer garden sure to rival the Standard in short order.
  2. 34 Prince Street: On bustling Prince Street in between Mulberry and Mott comes the unlikely conversion of the former St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral School into seven super-luxe condos and two extremely elegant town homes at 34 Prince Street, which will be known as “The Residences at Prince“. (For urban history buffs, the development’s website features a fascinating ‘scroll through time’ interactive feature showcasing the property over the last century). The design will remain reflective of Nolita’s refined and artistic aesthetic, while still managing to offer an impressive size for each apartment – especially for the neighborhood – with one of the townhomes clocking in at over a whopping 10,000 feet. Many of the apartments will offer a perfect verdant oasis in the form of outdoor space – a luxury anywhere in the city, but especially this part where you’re more likely to find a Rag & Bone store and a Momofuku outpost than a sliver of greenery. Pre-construction townhouse marketing and sales exclusive courtesy of Core; condo sales exclusive of Time Equities.
  3. 89 Grand Street: Perhaps the country’s hippest zip code, Williamsburg’s stunning 89 Grand Street is getting a full-on facelift, thanks to a building re-design that’s being handled by Morris Adjmi. Parts of the wall of the old warehouse-turned-residential property will be cut away to make room for lucky resident’s terraces, an art gallery will occupy the ground floor, and a super-cool glass addition wrapped in steel will adorn the building’s top – rendering it the neighborhood’s crown jewel, literally.
  4. 82 Ainslie Street: In another exciting Williamsburg development, 82 Ainslie Street (just a quick jaunt from the Metropolitan Avenue L stop) is getting a big upgrade. Currently a quiet (and graffiti-covered) two-story brick building, the developer recently filed permits to add sixteen apartments spread over four floors. Bryan Russell of Syndicate Architecture will design the transformation (with Juda Klein of Parkview Management handling the development). Currently, the building is slated to include a shared second floor terrace and average square footage per apartment of 718 square feet, including two two-story duplex units. For those who have been waiting to invest in Williamsburg, this is a key new development to know.

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Art Preview: The Whitney’s Hottest Openings

Art Preview: The Whitney’s Hottest Openings Art (C) 2010 - Tony Sargent - "Indigo" (30' x 30")

In its first year at its new location in Manhattan’s red-hot and distinctly international Meatpacking District, the Whitney Museum of American Art has lined up a slate of marquee exhibitions for the fall.

The stunning Renzo Piano-designed building, between the buzzing High Line and the Hudson River, has a permanent collection of thousands of works by some of the most important modern and contemporary American artists, including Jasper Johns, Cy Twombly, and Cindy Sherman. The museum draws in part on this vast and significant archive to stage the next few months’upcoming shows while holding special exhibitions for up-and-coming New York-based artists.

Drawing inspiration from far-flung locales from Mexico City to Paris to Chicago, a retrospective of paintings from the jazz age artist Archibald Motley is currently occupying the museum’s airy eighth-floor space through January 17. Motley’s paintings depict all the glamour, energy, and excitement of that bygone era, and are a must-see for jazz, art, and history enthusiasts alike.

Now through January 3, the Whitney’s first floor gallery is currently filled with the vision of emerging artist Jared Madere. In keeping with its proud tradition of hosting the first show of many a soon-to-be-famous visionary American artist, the Whitney is giving top billing to Madere’s installations, which traditionally incorporate remnants of modern life from burned coal to flower arrangements. Be first in line to see the work of this rising young talent whose work has the art world abuzz.

October 30 marked the opening of two major exhibitions, both on exhibit through February 7. The first is the largest Frank Stella retrospective of the artist’s career to date, with over 120 works from his expansive oeuvre (which most famously includes his rainbow-hued geometric paintings) expertly arranged by the museum’s curators. Stella is one of the most important living American artists, and the opportunity to see such a broad range of his work on display in the museum’s iconic new venue is not to be missed.

The second exhibition features the work of New York based emerging artist Rachel Rose in her first solo exhibition. Known for her striking video installations that create nuanced environments by merging moving images and sound, Rose’s installation on the Whitney’s fifth floor is the perfect introduction to the Whitney’s new location as the installation physically engages with and reinterprets the Whitney’s stunning architecture.

And starting November 20, museum visitors will be able to view 800 selections from the collected works of Thea Westreich Wagner and Ethan Wagner. Co-organized by the Whitney and Paris’s famed Centre Pompidou, the exhibition celebrates American and international work from the 1960s to the present, including Diane Arbus, Richard Prince, Jeff Koons, Sherrie Levine and Christopher Wool. Catch the exhibit until March 6, when it hops the pond for display in Paris. – Tony Sargent

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Luxury Real Estate Minute: Versailles in Manhattan, Jeff Koons’ New Studio, & The Seaport

Luxury Real Estate Minute: Versailles in Manhattan, Jeff Koons’ New Studio, & The Seaport The High Line District has transformed in 1 year | Photo from Sept 28, 2014 by Tony Sargent

As all New Yorkers know, if you’re not moving forward, you’re behind, and real estate is no exception. Summer saw some of the island’s most influential denizens make real estate moves and news in keeping with the city’s exhilarating pace.

Some noted developments:

Alert to all aspiring Upper East Side trophy property holders and investors: there was a drop in the asking price for the “Versailles in Manhattan” and the listing moved over to Compass. Kenneth D. Laub’s spectacular East 64th Street townhome, dubbed “Versailles in Manhattan” for its rococo Louis XIV layout and interiors can now be yours for a cool $25 million. Over on Fifth Avenue Sotheby’s just listed the most grand and colorful apartment in one of Fifth Avenue’s most prestigious co-ops for $21 million. While Downtown charges forward with sleek designs by Zaha Hadid and her contemporaries, the Upper East Side still owns refined grandeur.

Meanwhile, the car dealerships and warehouses along the West Side Highway will have to get used to a slightly more glamorous neighbor: Jeff Koons is moving in. The artist, whose sculptures routinely fetch millions at auction, snapped up three adjacent properties on West 52nd Street by the river to serve as a studio, and has already perched one of his iconic steel balloon-style sculptures atop the studio in progress – marking his territory, you might say.

Further down on the West Side, Hudson Yards continues to take shape as a unique amalgamation of residential, retail, and cultural space. Befitting New York’s world-class combination of these categories, the 28-acre site will feature a Neiman Marcus, a culture space (appropriately dubbed the Culture Shed) with a retractable roof that renders it good for performances and exhibitions year round, and 15 Hudson Yards – the first residential tower under construction, which is sure to fill even the most discerning of buyers’ desire for location, location, location.

For those whose dreams behold the Brooklyn Bridge, Fortis drew back the curtain on renderings of its 60-story luxury Seaport tower just before the drapes closed on summer. Curbed reported S. Russell Groves, an AD100 architect, is the designer. Elliman has the listing with prices rumored to range from $1-20+ million.

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Say Goodbye to Summer with 5 New York Must-Dos

Say Goodbye to Summer with 5 New York Must-Dos

August may be over, but my team and I are hanging onto summer a little bit longer with these New York warm-weather favorites. Which are on your must-do list?

1. Rooftop yoga at the James: The rooftop of the James hotel in Soho may serve as a hyper-trendy bar by night, but come morning, the roof deck (and its jaw-dropping city-scape views) plays host to some of the city’s top yoga instructors. These pros can be booked for private lessons, and help aspiring yogis perfect their downward dogs and handstands on Thursday morning group classes.

2. US Open: Whether it’s Federer vs. Nadal or Wiliams vs. Williams, tennis devotees like Anna Wintour, Heidi Klum, and Mary-Kate Olson flock to the famed Flushing courts to see the crème de la crème of matches up close in person at the annual US Open.

3. Drinks in the clouds: The city offers an astonishing array of drop-dead gorgeous rooftop bars, each with its own enchanting ambiance. The Press Lounge serves top-notch cocktails to a lively and fashionable crowd; the roof bar of Gramercy Park Hotel is famously secluded and sophisticated; and the Metropolitan Museum of Art installs a blockbuster exhibition on its roof each summer, which visitors can enjoy all the more with a glass of champagne.

4. Lobster roll at Mary’s Fish Camp: The best lobster roll this side of Nantucket can be found at Mary’s Fish Camp in the charming West Village. In a room reminiscent of its yacht clubs, Mary’s also serves oysters fresh from Cape Cod, and is the next best thing to sitting on the dock and the watching the catch come in for the day.

5. Picnics in the Park: No matter how stressful life gets, nothing a quiet walk through Central Park’s North Woods can’t fix. Skip the crowds flocking Sheep Meadow, and take a quite stroll through this peaceful escape. Make it a picnic with baguette, fruit, and cheese snapped up from famed Upper East Side eatery Zabars.

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Under the Radar Hamptons: Not-to-Be Missed Hidden Gems

Under the Radar Hamptons: Not-to-Be Missed Hidden Gems Amagansett Beach - Photo By Tony Sargent

The Hamptons have long been the see-and-be-seen summer spot for New Yorkers, so much so that sometimes a weekend out East can hardly feel like a break from the city at all. If you’re ready to escape the crowds, spend your next trip exploring these tucked-away gems, beloved by those who have been going to the Hamptons for generations, and know they truly represent the best of the Hamptons’ spirit.

A truly mellow weekend in the Hamptons should be all about cooking and eating great food, much of it from the many farms that dot the Hamptons’ landscape. Luckily, the area is rich with purveyors of fantastically fresh fare for cookouts, picnics, and long days on the beach.

Hamptons Aristocrat is a food truck that could only exist in the Hamptons, painted a serene cream color, illuminated with Edison bulbs, and bursting with local flowers. Everything they serve is organic, locally sourced, and most importantly, delicious. Cavaniola’s is a cheese lover’s dream, stocked with enough comté and camembert to satisfying even the most discerning foodie. Round Swamp Farm Market is in an old farmhouse on an East Hampton farm that’s been in the family for nine generations, and their rhubarb, sugar snaps, and spring beans – not to mention their pies – are to die for.

When you are ready to venture out for your food, Sagtown Coffee is Montauk’s most low key and lovely java joint. Tucked away in an alley, the buzzy brewery offers an array of high-grade coffee (available iced, too, of course) without the scene-y vibe that accompanies even the most casual trip to Jack’s or the Golden Pear. And while the rest of the world is getting their lobster roll fix at Cyril’s, stop by Beacon in Sag Harbor for yours with a serene view from the deck, and an expertly crafted cocktail to match.

To work off all that camembert and lobster, skip the scene at Flywheel and Soul Cycle and head to Sup Yoga at Kamadeva, which combines paddle boarding and yoga into a killer workout that maintains a mellow vibe. And for an airy take on the great outdoors, head to the Elizabeth A. Morton National Wildlife Refuge – the birds are so gentle and trusting they’ll come eat right out of your hand.

And the culturally-inclined need not feel compelled to make an appearance at a Parrish Art Museum opening to get their fix: On Friday nights, Bridgehampton’s Silas Marder Gallery projects classic films like Cool Hand Luke and Woody Allen’s Sleeper on the side of their barn-cum-gallery, attracting a cool and creative crowd who also appreciates the space’s avant garde sculpture garden. And for modern art aficionados, a pilgrimage to the Pollack Krasner House and Study is an absolute must – the floor in the house where the artist lived is splattered with paint in Jackson’s iconic style.

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Chinese Buyers Purchase $28.6 Billion in US Property, Find Safe Haven in New York Real Estate

Chinese Buyers Purchase $28.6 Billion in US Property, Find Safe Haven in New York Real Estate

This summer, a luxury family home in Scarsdale, NY sold for $1.75 million. On the surface, such a sale is hardly remarkable. In fact, perhaps the most unremarkable part of the sale is that the buyer’s Chinese nationality drew little attention. Even a year or two ago, the sale of a non-Manhattan luxury home to a foreign investor would have been unusual. Today, it’s increasingly commonplace. The Shanghai-based investor who purchased the Scarsdale home (and immediately rented it out to a local family) is one of hundreds of Chinese investors who are increasingly investing in real estate not just in Manhattan, but also in New York’s boroughs and suburbs.

In the last year, Chinese buyers have replaced Russian buyers as the primary real estate buyers in New York– and this trend is expected to continue throughout 2015. Given current international market fluctuations and Russia’s continued economic struggles, this news may come as little surprise to many of you.

Since last year, Ukrainian turmoil, economic sanctions against Russia and a progressively worsening economy have slowed down Russian purchases in New York real estate, said Marlen Kruzhkov, an attorney with Gusrae Kaplan Nusbaum who advises many investors from former Soviet Union countries.

Chinese buyers, on the other hand, are eagerly pulling savings from their home country and investing overseas, and New York real estate has been a prime target for these investments. The recent stock market crash, including the late August drop of 8.46% in a single day for the Chinese exchange – capping off a 32% drop between June and July, according to Bloomberg data – has only enhanced the trend.

In the year ending in March 2015, for the first time, Chinese buyers exceeded all other buyers in terms of unit purchases and dollar volume, purchasing $28.6 billion worth of U.S. property, according to National Association of Realtors. In particular, they have been finding their safe heaven in New York real estate.

“New York is an international market. They feel that the market is very transparent, very conservative and they feel very comfortable in coming to the U.S. and to buy real estate in New York,” said Emily Zhu, director of marketing for Advantage America EB-5 Group, who works with many Chinese developers and investors in the U.S.

As the Scarsdale purchase reflects, Manhattan is no longer the only target for foreign investors, who have been seeking better prices and yields in the other boroughs. “A lot of Chinese buyers are starting to accept places others than Manhattan,” Ms. Zhu said.

For instance, Chinese developer New Empire Real Estate (NERE) is currently building on Park Slope’s Fourth Avenue and “there are a float of Chinese buyers that buy even before the development is constructed; there are a lot of pre-sales,” said Ms. Zhu, who represents the developer.

After the stock market turmoil, “some Chinese investors will want even more to diversify their assets in order to own something that is tangible rather that intangible,” Ms. Zhu said.

Things have changed for Russian buyers. “The economy is contracting terribly and the situation is getting progressively worse,” said Mr. Kruzhkov. As a result, he added, “The nature of purchasers has changed. There are less people buying.”

In particular, small and medium-sized Russian investors seem to have disappeared altogether from the New York City real estate market.

Only the wealthiest are still around, but they have changed their targets.

“In the last 6 months, they have been investing in different things, they are not necessarily buying apartments. They are investing more in development projects or pre-existing income producing buildings, more commercial or mixed-use,” properties said Mr. Kruzhkov.

For example, one of his Russian clients recently sold a Manhattan apartment for almost $25 million. He immediately re-invested in a development project.

A major flow of foreign capital into New York’s development market – especially as Chinese markets continue to cool – is a trend to watch in the coming months.

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Market Update

Fall’s Most Buzzed About Real Estate Conversions

Posted on December 3, 2015

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