Talking with the director of new development marketing at Citi Habitats

Cliff Finn says Beatrice almost leased up, clears up 8 Spruce pricing confusion
March 03, 2011 05:42PM

Compiled by Amy Tennery

Clifford Finn, 47, is the director of new development marketing at Citi Habitats. A rental specialist, Finn has been involved with leasing at several recent rental developments, including the Continental at 885 Sixth Avenue at the corner of 32nd Street and the Beatrice, on the top floors of the Eventi hotel a few blocks south. Most recently, he’s begun marketing 8 Spruce Street, a 76-story rental tower by famed architect Frank Gehry, which drew 1,000 brokers when it opened to renters last month.

What led you into real estate?

As a toddler I was obsessed with my building blocks and used to build buildings taller than I was.  Later on, I made a set of apartment numbers on cardboard and went around my house and placed them on any door I could find. I pretended that my house was an apartment building and I was the landlord. As a teenager I used to make my parents take me into sales offices every time a new building would go up and there was a sign. 

A lot of the major developments you’ve taken on recently — 8 Spruce Street, the Continental, the Beatrice, the Ashley and the Aldyn — have a large number of units. What’s your strategy for marketing larger rental developments?

[It] is not necessarily all that different from smaller ones.  Mainly, inventory control would be the primary difference.  When there are too many options it is very difficult to get prospective tenants to focus.

The Continental and the Beatrice are within blocks of one another and have similar price points. What’s been the biggest challenge of marketing such similar buildings in the same neighborhood concurrently?

To make sure that each building has its own character, style [and] amenity package.  Although there may be similarities in the apartment mixes or sizes, the design criteria is very different. The Beatrice is 95 percent leased. The Continental opened less than two months ago and is just about to hit 30 percent leased.

Different prices per square foot at 8 Spruce Street have been reported in different news outlets. Can you help clarify the issue with the real rents for the various units?

The reason different prices per square foot have been reported has to do with the fact that as a policy, we did not release individual apartment square foot information.  As a result, many people made them up.  People were blogging and advertising prices for the apartments before we even finalized them.  It became viral very quickly.

Currently… studios start at $2,630, one-bedrooms from $3,575 and two-bedrooms from $5,945. Three-bedrooms begin on the 53rd floor and will not available for showing until later in the spring.  They are expected to begin around $18,000.

What’s your favorite development that you’ve ever marketed and why?

That’s a tough one. I like all of them. Of the rentals, I would have to say Silver Towers is probably my all time favorite… The towers are beautiful and the views exceptional.

What building do you live in? Do you rent or own?

Ironically, I live in a relatively small 20-unit Building On Greenwich Street in Tribeca. I own.

For how long have you lived in the city?

I was born in Manhattan, Mount Sinai Hospital on 99th Street and Fifth Avenue, to be exact.  I suppose that makes me a native New Yorker. I lived here in the city most of my life, with the exception of a few years in northern New Jersey when I was young.