Pricey Plaza rentals await takers

By Lauren Elkies | February 19, 2008 12:36PM

With fewer people hunting for high-end rental units, luxury apartments at The Plaza Hotel are lingering on the rental market.

“At this point in time, apartments do not appear to be renting there,” said Halstead Property associate broker Rena Goldstein, who plans to return apartment 915, a three-bedroom, to the rental market at a reduced price.

Goldstein said she thought rentals at The Plaza have languished because the building’s renovation is not complete and few people have actually moved in.
Goldstein and colleague Felicia De Chabris assumed the listing after The Plaza sales office could not rent it for $60,000 per month and then for $50,000.

Goldstein plans to list it at $39,000 a month, and she is adding an option to buy for $14 million.

As of last week, at least 12 units were available for rent in The Plaza residences, dating back to August 2007, according to a listings analysis done for The Real Deal. One rental unit was first put on the market in August, one in September, three in October, three in November, three in January and one last month.

Monthly asking rents in the 181-apartment condominium and hotel ranged from $6,000 to $39,000, with square footage ranging from 630 to 1,843.

Although rents have been reduced, experts say the steep prices do not seem completely out of whack, considering the millions of dollars buyers are spending and rents at other elite buildings.

“At The Plaza, the rents are not to high compare[ed] to the purchase prices,” said Charlie Attias, a vice president at the Corcoran Group who is listing apartment 507 for $30,000 a month. “I usually say you get $5,000 dollars a month for every million dollars spent in average.”

Several rental apartments are on the market at the Time Warner Center, Trump World Tower and the Waldorf Towers for $10,000 to $30,000 and beyond.

Apartment 507, a two-bedroom, two-and-a-half bathroom unit, has been on the market since November, not a long time, Attias said.

The “average time to rent an apartment is two to three months depending when you put the apartment on the market — during winter time, it takes more time,” Attias said.

Gary Malin, president of Citi Habitats, said that what’s going on with the rental market at The Plaza is not unique.

“At this time, the high end is not moving at a fast pace,” he said. “There are less people out there looking at this time of year in general and less looking for high end right now.”

At least one unit in The Plaza has rented this month. Corcoran’s Attias rented apartment 802, a 1,155-square-foot one-bedroom, one-and-a-half-bath, for $11,500.

Jeff Yi, a sales associate at Halstead, has three rental listings in The Plaza from three different investors. One of his units — apartment 1506 – has been on the market since October. A few weeks ago, he lowered the rent for the alcove studio to $7,500 from $9,500 to garner more interest.

The winter months are known to be slow for rentals, experts say, but The Plaza has been plagued by other problems affecting rentals as well as sales. The building opened before TV hook-ups and intercoms were ready.

“What happened is the whole building was not quite ready to move in,” Yi said.

In October, when Yi put apartment 1506 on the rental market, the lobby and hallways were not finished.  

Amenities and hotel services are not yet in place, and the hotel, restaurant, spa and gym have yet to open.

Yi is hopeful about the eventual rentability of condos in The Plaza.

“Once the building is complete, all the construction is over, all the five-star amenities are available … they will be very desirable apartments,” Yi said.