Developer Anbau Enterprises suspended sales today at the Citizen, a 16-story condominium project in Chelsea, in order to complete construction over the summer, the company told The Real Deal. Stephen Glascock, president of Anbau, and Iva Spitzer, an executive vice president at the Corcoran Group, which is marketing the property, insisted that the unorthodox move was not motivated by construction delays or sluggish transactions.
Since the project went on the market in early April, 11 of its 29 units — or 38 percent of the building — have gone into contract, Spitzer said. As of yesterday, seven were on the market, priced between $1.325 million and $2.71 million, according to Streeteasy.com.
Still, it is an unusual step to de-list properties that are otherwise moving.
“If I had 229 units I would never be doing this,” Spitzer said. “If we had a really long row to hoe, we definitely wouldn’t be doing this.”
Spitzer and Glascock said they intend to use the slow summer months to construct the Citizen’s elevators, lobby and upper floors, in order to relaunch sales in September with a temporary certificate of occupancy in place. That would allow buyers to move in to the building, located at 124 West 23rd Street between Sixth and Seventh avenues, immediately.
“We think it’ll show even better in September with all the elements complete,” said Glascock, who founded Anbau with his wife, Barbara van Beuren.
The unusual hiatus is also the result of the building’s configuration, with smaller units concentrated on the lower floors. When sales started, the studios were already built and have since sold out, Spitzer said.
She and partner Shelley O’Keefe, the Citizen’s director of sales, balked at the idea of marketing the larger three-bedroom and penthouse units on the upper floors without showing potential buyers a finished apartment – not to mention walking up numerous flights of stairs in the summer heat.
“If you wanted to see full-floor units, I can’t show [them] to you,” Spitzer said.
The sales team is not planning to alter its marketing strategy or pricing, and the break is not expected to delay closings, she said.
The project has been almost four years in the making. Anbau purchased the then-vacant site from Arthur Minerof’s FranPearl Equities for $19.3 million in September 2008, and about a month later acquired air rights at the same site, city property records show.
The company announced plans for the development later that year, but it was not until February 2011 that Anbau broke ground.
Soon after, the company filed a lawsuit claiming Minerof, who indirectly owns the buildings on either side of the site, had effectively “paralyzed” construction and jeopardized millions of dollars in 421-a tax abatement benefits by preventing workers from accessing his properties to install protective measures.
Glascock told TRD on Tuesday that the company filed the suit to get an immediate resolution to the dispute and continue construction on schedule. The suit was settled in October.
The Real Deal’s architecture critic has said that the building’s two-tone brick façade, designed by BKSK Architects, displayed a “jarring jazziness.”