The Real Deal New York

New developer to market $30M project

Kate Shin's company spent two years readying the townhouse at 170 East 80th Street

December 28, 2010 06:44PM
By Candace Taylor

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Kate Shin and 170 East 80th Street (building photo credit: PropertyShark)
Financier-turned-developer Kate Shin is preparing to put her first project — a newly renovated one-family townhouse at 170 East 80th Street — on the market for upwards of $30 million.

Formerly a director at the private equity firm Angelo, Gordon, Shin founded a New York-based real estate company known as WEmi:t LLC, which specializes in restoring and modernizing Manhattan townhouses and mansions, two years ago. Since its inception, the firm has been renovating 170 East 80th Street, Shin said, and the 13,000-square-foot townhouse is slated to hit the market in the new year with Brown Harris Stevens’ Paula Del Nunzio. Shin and partners purchased the house for $8.5 million in 2008, according to city documents.

Shin said she and Del Nunzio haven’t yet finalized the price, but it will be at least $30 million. The home is expected to hit the market sometime in January, she said.

Shin was born in South Korea but moved to New York at age 16. After getting a master’s degree in real estate development from Columbia University, she worked as an investment banker, then moved into private equity. At Angelo Gordon, she oversaw Asian markets, but the job required a lot of travel and she saw an opportunity to leverage her overseas contacts as a real estate developer.

“I have a great network of Asian investors who want to invest here,” Shin said.

The company’s name, WEmi:t, stands for “Where West Meets East.”

Shin said she isn’t ready to release too many details about 170 East 80th Street, but said it will be a modern mansion with high-end amenities and “a little bit of an Eastern influence,” including attentiveness to Feng Shui.

The house at 170 East 80th Street was built in the late 1890s, city records show. For many years it was owned and used as a showroom by textile artist Leslie Tillett and his wife Doris, or D.D. The couple’s custom-made fabrics achieved widespread popularity once Jacqueline Kennedy used them to decorate the White House. They also designed fabrics for Caroline Kennedy’s wedding.

Shin said the home will have ceilings of 10 feet or higher on every floor, and “a lot of natural light.”

Her company focuses on rethinking townhouse layouts to improve light and ventilation.

“A lot of times if you go into these townhouses, it’s very dark,” she said, adding: “We are trying to maximize the efficiency of the layouts, to turn all this dead space into useful space.”

The architect on the project, Toshiko Mori, is a professor of architecture at Harvard University Graduate School of Design, as well as principal of the Manhattan-based firm Toshiko Mori Architect.

Shin also invested in the purchase of a property at 41-43 Bond Street, she said, with plans to build a new condominium project. But with little construction financing available for new condos in the current climate, she and her partners decided instead to sell the property last year. She’s now looking for additional properties in which to invest.

While the condo market may be suffering, she said she’s not worried about the demand for newly renovated townhouses.
“The supply is extremely limited,” she said.

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