NYC real estate industry fails to entice LeBron James to join the Knicks

TRD New York /
Jul.July 09, 2010 06:45 PM

Halstead’s Diane Ramirez, Zar Properties’ David Zar

Now that the dust has somewhat settled from the media circus that preceded NBA star LeBron James‘ announcement that he will join the Miami Heat, those in the New York City real estate industry are left to pick up the pieces after their failed attempts to woo the King to a Big Apple abode.

James, the former Cleveland Cavaliers superstar, had been spotted apartment-hunting at the Time Warner Center and 40 Mercer Street, as well as at 23 Perry Street and 15 Central Park West.

Hoping to entice the free agent to sign with the New York Knicks, local brokerages, such as Halstead Property, pulled out all the stops.

In a video, Diane Ramirez, president of Halstead, pledged to donate her company’s portion of the commission on James‘ New York City home — if he worked with one of her agents — to the charity of his choice. She said she was disappointed with his ultimate decision, but felt that her efforts to recruit him were not in vain.

“I am proud that we are a firm that thinks out of the box, but one that also shows heart,” Ramirez said in an e-mail. “We wanted him to play for New York and Halstead made the best offer that we could. Relocation is difficult and we were eager to help him in this difficult transition.”

Zar Properties, meanwhile, offered James free use of a 6,000-square-foot loft at 64-68 Wooster Street in Soho while he looked for a more permanent home. But agents at the firm were less surprised that James did not capitalize on their offer.

“He was touring properties more superior than mine and it was very unlikely for him to choose Soho,” said company principal David Zar. “The true intention of the offer was to show the dedication of Knicks fans and how much more he would have been appreciated if he chose New York.”

But while Halstead and Zar considered their options serious, real estate listings website outwardly poked fun at the hoopla the basketball star created.

A tweet from yesterday read: “Lebron — three months of Streeteasy insider membership for free if you sign with the Knicks. That’s a $30 value. Yah, we went there.”

“It was a joke,” confirmed Jared Kleinstein of Streeteasy. “However, if we receive contact from LeBron or his agent we will respond accordingly.”

In response to an initial inquiry from The Real Deal regarding the veracity of the tweet, Kleinstein launched into a witty diatribe about how offended his company was that James didn’t take them up on their offer.

“We felt that giving LeBron three months of insider membership was a necessary move if the Knicks were to have a chance at landing the all-star,” he wrote in an e-mail. “LeBron will go broke unless he purchases an apartment wisely. Without an insider account, he may never know that three of the last four sales at the Time Warner Center have been bought at a discount of over 7 percent off the last asking price. He would be a lost soul in a big city.”

Now it seems that King James will need to find his castle in another big city: Miami, Fla.,
where brokers say he may seriously be considering a place in Coral Gables.

Additional reporting by Lauren Elkies and Sarabeth Sanders


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