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March 31, 2009


Corcoran shrinks space at Madison Avenue HQ


The Corcoran Group is downsizing its corporate headquarters at 660 Madison Avenue. The brokerage behemoth occupies the entire 11th floor of the building and parts of the 12th and 18th floors. But it is now planning to sublease part of the space it occupies on the 12th floor, according to Pamela Liebman, president and CEO of Corcoran.

“In 2007, we took a larger additional space on 12 to house our executive office,” Liebman said. “As a result, we made the decision this year to release the smaller original space that we have had on the floor since 2001.”

She said all affected employees and brokers “were comfortably placed [at] other desks.”

CB Richard Ellis agents James Ackerson and Craig Reicher have the listing for the 4,476-square-foot, 12th-floor space, which has a terrace overlooking Madison Avenue and is immediately available, according to the CBRE Web site. The rent for the space, which is furnished, newly carpeted and has had a recent paint job, is listed as negotiable. CBRE declined to comment for the story. By Candace Taylor

$30M penthouse buyer tied to FDIC scam

The purchaser who acquired a $30 million duplex penthouse at 145 Hudson Street in Tribeca in February pleaded guilty in 1997 to defrauding the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Resolution Trust Company of $1.4 million.

The buyer, William Duker, was sentenced in 1997 to 33 months in prison and fined $7,500 for overbilling the FDIC and the Resolution Trust Company. He also paid $2.58 million covering criminal restitution and civil damages.

Duker, now a private investor living in upstate New York, said he purchased the Hudson Street penthouse as an investment and not as a personal residence. He said the four-bedroom apartment, which was at least $4.5 million cheaper than its price disclosed last fall, was a good value.

“I think its uniqueness sets it apart from what is happening in the market,” he said.

Duker bought the 7,500-square-foot unit at the Skyloft Penthouse from the developer, Stanley Scott’s 145 Hudson Street Associates. He went into contract in August 2008 and closed on February 11, according to city records published last month. By Adam Pincus

Elliman’s real estate office of the future

Prudential Douglas Elliman is opening what it hopes will be the real estate office of the future. The company recently leased the former headquarters of Eva M. Daniels Realty office at 664 Fulton Street at the corner of South Elliott Place in Fort Greene, said Michael Guerra, an executive vice president at Elliman and the company’s director of sales for Brooklyn. Elliman’s Anthony Santangelo will serve as director of sales at the new location, which is slated to open late this month.

But this isn’t just any office. Elliman is still ironing out the details, but it’s likely that the small storefront space will become the prototype for a new, money-saving strategy the company has been considering for over a year: real estate office meets high-tech coffee shop.

The rhombus-shaped space, which fit only about eight desks when Daniels was there, is much smaller than Elliman’s other offices, Guerra said. So, instead of being divided into separate offices and cubicles, the space will primarily remain one large open room dotted with café-style tables and chairs, with only a conference room as a private area. Elliman agents will likely not have desks assigned to them, but instead will book free space in the office for days when they may conduct business there, he said.

“Both our agents and the public will be using the space in the way they use a coffee shop,” he said. “We want to create a warm, friendly atmosphere.” By Candace Taylor

To sell out District, developer turns to BHS

After JC DeNiro & Associates sold out 80 percent of District, developers Africa Israel, Wonder Works Construction and Urban Equities NY dumped the company in favor of Brown Harris Stevens to market the remaining 20 percent of the apartments in the 163-unit building at 111 Fulton Street.

Switching sales and marketing firms has become common practice for developers, as sales have slowed over the last several months.

“[JC DeNiro] sold 80 percent of the units” without much fanfare, said developer Joseph Klaynberg. “We decided to change the firm so we could have bigger exposure to the world.” Brown Harris Stevens Select, the new development marketing division of Brown Harris Stevens, has begun marketing the building to international buyers, he said.

DeNiro, which had signed an agreement with the developers to sell up to 70 percent of the building’s units, “couldn’t draw major brokers,” and made most of the sales through “mom-and-pop little shops who brought the purchasers,” Klaynberg said. JC DeNiro handled sales for District since sales began in summer 2007.

Since changing firms in late February, three more contracts have been signed at District, Klaynberg said. The remaining units are all penthouses with an average price of $900,000 and a per-square-foot average price of more than $1,000, he said. By Sara Polsky

Aptsandlofts.com cuts costs by consolidating

Brooklyn sales and rental brokerage aptsandlofts.com has joined the ranks of other New York City firms consolidating office space as a cost-cutting strategy in the current real estate slump, though the company managed to double its total square footage in the process.

The Williamsburg-based company closed its two offices, according to David Maundrell, president of aptsandlofts.com, and recently moved all of its operations to a new 6,000-square-foot space in Williamsburg at 482 Driggs Avenue at the corner of North 10th Street.

Founded in 2003, aptsandlofts.com formerly maintained a 1,000-square-foot sales office at 171 Bedford Avenue at the corner of North Eighth Street, which it opened in 2006, and a 2,200-square-foot corporate headquarters at 496 Driggs Avenue at North Ninth Street, just a few doors down from the new space. Corporate staff began moving into the new space in the fall of 2008, and the move was completed early last month.

All of aptsandlofts.com’s sales agents and staff are now located in the new space, along with Union Square Mortgage Group, the mortgage brokerage Maundrell recently launched in conjunction with Ross Weinstein.

Maundrell said although the company’s total monthly rent will now be about $2,500 higher than in the past, the move will mean “a tremendous cost savings” overall for the company because it will spend less on heating, air conditioning and other overhead costs.

“Even though the rent went up, we’re going to save money,” he said, adding that no one was laid off in the move. By Candace Taylor

Students find better deals off campus

As the rental market slows and rents drop, more Manhattan university students are finding better deals living off campus in rental apartments.

Citi Habitats sales agent Tim Brassil said he has definitely seen an uptick in student clientele, especially in February. February is normally a slow time of year for rentals, he said, but late in the month he looked at apartments with five different New York University students and their families.

Students can often find more space and privacy for less money, and the apartments can be more convenient than the units the school offers, brokers said.

“Sometimes [off-campus housing is] even closer to the campus than what the campus can offer them,” Brassil said, adding that he often finds his clients “more competitive pricing and more flexible terms.”

Hanna Weitzman, a recent NYU graduate, moved off campus after her sophomore year. She and her roommate moved into a two-bedroom apartment on Houston and Avenue C, where they each paid just over $1,000 a month in rent, compared to the $1,100 to $1,900 a month for on-campus housing.

Of New York University’s 38,000 undergraduate and graduate students, 12,000 live in university housing, according to the schools’ 2008-2009 department of housing records. By Jane C. Timm

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