The Real Deal New York

Inside Town Residential’s holiday bash: PHOTOS

In venue shift from Tao to Tavern on the Green, this year's party struck a different tone
By Katherine Clarke and Alistair Gardiner | December 14, 2016 05:40PM

It’s typically one of the biggest real estate parties of the year, ending with brokers tumbling out of Tao’s Meatpacking District venue in the wee hours. While still attracting hundreds of people, Town Residential’s annual holiday bash struck a different tone this year thanks to a move to Central Park’s iconic Tavern on the Green.

The Victorian building, dotted in fairy lights, teemed with agents, clients and hangers-on — all of whom seemed to be taking advantage of the open bar and the steak buffet.

Developer Doug Steiner, architects Ismael Leyva and Gene Kaufman, Ari Shalam of RWN Real Estate Partners and Spencer Pariser of Taconic Investment Partners were among the heavy hitters spotted working the room. There was also a smattering of Town’s top agents such as Danny Davis, Mark David and Claudia Saez-Fromm and Dana Power, as well as Elaine Diratz, managing director of new development. Competitors such as Andrew Barrocas of MNS and Robin Schneiderman of Halstead Property Development Marketing also made appearances.

Town CEO Andrew Heiberger presided over the party, taking pictures with his agents and introducing guests to his mother and his two children.

Notably absent was former Town co-owner Joseph Sitt, who sold his stake in the company to Heiberger earlier this year.

The dress code for the party was “high fashion,” but some appeared to have missed the memo.

Steiner, who said he is often confused with a bike messenger when he shows up to meetings, was underdressed as usual in sneakers with mismatched laces, jeans, and a black button-down shirt that he wore untucked.

He said he had never been to the Town party before, but thought it would be worth checking out this year, since he’s developing several residential projects, Including 438 East 12th Street in the East Village, which is marketed by Douglas Elliman, and also has a planned tower in Downtown Brooklyn.

“I thought I’d come in and make a quick loop,” he said.

On donning his usual casual attire to the black-tie event, he quipped: “I don’t know what I was thinking.”

Elsewhere, the fashion choices were often bold. Ellen Kapit, a Town broker who focuses on prewar co-ops in Midtown, was wearing a sequined sweater featuring a pug sporting a Rosie-the-Riveter-style bandana. Below the pug, the sweater spelled out in sequins, “Gangsta Wrapper.”

Town broker Glenn Connolly, who works out of the Soho office, donned a bright red sport coat.

“When Santa comes down Sixth Avenue, I pull it out of the closet. After New Year’s, it goes back in,” Connolly said.

He said there’s a bit of a competition each year to have an eye-grabbing outfit. “Why not?”

Much of the evening’s conversation revolved unsurprisingly around the market and the presidential election.

“People want to know what’s happening,” said Jake Phipps, CEO of Phipps & Co., an interior design and manufacturing company. “It’s a coin toss, but we hope it stays stable.”

Town broker Brandon Trenthem said he’s seen an uptick in buyer activity since election night, saying clients who’d previously been sitting on the fence were now back in action. Brooklyn sales and leasing manager Agostina Muro said that while there was still a market for well-priced apartments, product wasn’t flying off the shelves as quickly as it once was.

Kaufman said there was a definite lack of enthusiasm in the ultra-luxury hospitality sector as well.

Still, the mood was undoubtedly revelrous, despite talk of a market slowdown. One party patron sauntered up to the bar, chugged his glass of red wine, abandoned it and grabbed another full glass without disrupting his conversation.

The evening began with live music from a jazz quintet, followed by a DJ who cranked out 1990s-era pop hits before a crowded dance floor. One woman departing the party just after 9 p.m. agreed with coat check personnel that she hadn’t remained at the party long, but noted she was leaving with her “dignity and reputation intact.”

Kathryn Brenzel, Rich Bockmann and Hiten Samtani contributed reporting.