The Real Deal New York

Sotheby’s head of new development is out

Kathy Kaye joined firm in March 2017
By E.B. Solomont | September 24, 2018 07:00AM

Kathy Kaye (blue), Kathy Korte Woolworth (green) and renderings of 212 Fifth Avenue (Credit: Getty Images)

Kathy Kaye — the head of Sotheby’s International Realty’s fledgling new development arm — is leaving the firm after just 18 months on the job.

A former executive at Related Companies and Brown Harris Stevens, Kaye joined Sotheby’s last March to build up the firm’s new development marketing division — a new business line for the luxury brokerage.

A spokesperson for Sotheby’s confirmed that Kaye decided to leave the company “to pursue other opportunities,” effective Oct. 31.

“Kathy was helpful in launching our new development platform and assembling a talented team to support our new development portfolio, which remains in place,” the spokesperson said. Kaye did not immediately respond to a request for comment, and it was not immediately clear if she was leaving for another brokerage.

However, her departure comes at a tough time for development marketing firms, which are being squeezed by the soft condo market.

Sales in the sector dropped 36.7 percent during the second quarter as legacy contracts dried up, according to appraisal firm Miller Samuel. The median sales price was $2.7 million, down 19.2 percent year over year.

Looking ahead, there are also fewer condos coming to the market. New York’s Attorney General approved 2,500 new condos in Manhattan in 2016, down 44 percent from 4,580 in 2015.

Historically, the vast majority of new development marketing is handled by the Corcoran Group and Douglas Elliman. Even Compass — which has grown exponentially in agent count and New York sales volume — has struggled to make inroads.

Last year, however, Sotheby’s executives saw an opening in the lucrative sector and said they planned to tap their auction house clients.

“We’ve seen a growing demand from clients who want to use our platform to target buyers throughout the world,” Kathy Korte, Sotheby’s president, said at the time.

It’s unclear how much traction the division has gained.

Sotheby’s currently has six projects in its portfolio, roughly the same ones it did more than a year ago.

It is marketing 212 Fifth Avenue on behalf of Madison Equities, Thor Equities and Building and Land Technology, as well as Alchemy Properties’ Woolworth Residences. It is also handling sales at Macklowe Properties’ 737 Park; Cary Tamarkin and CL Investment Group’s 555 West End Avenue; Delshah Capital’s 225 West 17th Street, as well as units at JDS Development Group and Property Markets Group’s Stella Tower.