Prodigy replaces Marketing Directors at Cassa

By Candace Taylor | November 13, 2009 12:52PM

In a bid to attract more foreign buyers, the developer of Midtown condominium-hotel Cassa has hired brokerage Prodigy International to handle sales, replacing new development firm the Marketing Directors.

Developer Solly Assa, a head of Assa Properties, told The Real Deal today that Prodigy is now the exclusive marketing and sales agent for the 48-story glass tower, located at 70 West 45th Street.

“We’re targeting more of an international client,” he said. “Prodigy is really catering to international consumers.”

Assa said that the Marketing Directors sold nearly 40 percent of the project’s 57 condo units since sales began in June. The building was designed by Cetra/Ruddy and TEN Arquitectos, the Mexico City firm headed by Enrique Norten. When completed this spring, it will house 166 hotel rooms operated by Desires Hotels.

Prodigy works primarily with international buyers and has offices in New York, Miami, Panama, Mexico and Spain.

“I have nothing but respect for the Marketing Directors,” Rodrigo Nino, the president of Prodigy, said, but noted that the developer “wants to have a global outreach.” He added, “We just have a bigger audience.”

With its stable of international investors looking to buy Manhattan real estate at a discount, Prodigy, as of late, has been functioning as a sort of clean-up crew for struggling condo projects. In October alone, the company closed 18 units — 14 of which were new sales — at troubled condo project William Beaver House, which Prodigy took over from Core and the Corcoran Sunshine Group. That brings the total number of closed sales at the Wall Street condo to 110, out of 320 total units, Nino said.

“We have a pent-up demand of investors,” Nino said, adding his company has opened up a division specifically tasked with the intricacies of procuring mortgages for international buyers.

The challenge has been finding the right properties for them, he said, since international buyers often want different features than local purchasers.

First, the building has to be open to renters, since many of his clients are investors rather than full time or pied-a-terre buyers. Moreover, foreign buyers often look for familiar brand names.

For example, Cassa architect Enrique Norten “has a lot of credibility in Mexico.”

Finally, it has to have the right amenities.

“A golf course membership in New Jersey doesn’t make sense” for buyers who may rarely spend time in New York, he said.

But Cassa’s amenity package of hotel-style services — including room service and maid service — is ideal, he said.

Nino said his company is looking for additional exclusives on the Upper West and Upper East sides.

The Marketing Directors was not immediately available for comment.