The Daily Dirt: What brokers fear most

By Eddie Small | August 09, 2019 11:30AM

From left: Bess Freedman, Fredrick Peters, Shlomi Reuveni and Eric Benaim with 505 West 43rd Street (Credit: BHS, Warburg Realty, Reuveni, and Charliewestny)

From left: Bess Freedman, Frederick Peters, Shlomi Reuveni and Eric Benaim with 505 West 43rd Street (Credit: BHS, Warburg Realty, Reuveni, and Charliewestny)

Here’s what brokers are biting their nails over…well, pretty much everything. 

Brokers are worried about the economy, local politics, national politics, disruptors, third-party lead-generation companies and high cholesterol levels. (Well, probably on that last one. Everyone worries about cholesterol, right?)

The Real Deal‘s Erin Hudson recently went to a jam packed real estate conference at the Elad Group’s under-construction West 43rd Street condo, where brokers including Brown Harris Stevens’ CEO Bess Freedman, Modern Spaces’ CEO Eric Benaim and Donna Olshan discussed a wide range of issues impacting the market. Topics included Amazon canceling its Long Island City plans, President Donald Trump’s trade war with China and the elimination of state and local tax deductions.

Several described the current market as flat out weird, with Reuveni Real Estate founder Shlomi Reuveni calling it “as surreal as it gets” and Douglas Elliman’s Jacky Teplitzky calling it “schizophrenic.”

So, in short, if you feel like you don’t understand much about New York’s real estate market at the moment, that’s probably OK. Because it seems like a lot of other people don’t, either. 

Sam Chang sold another property. He also likes to race pigeons. 

Prolific hotel developer Sam Chang has sold another property — the Club Quarters Hotel at 40 West 45th Street — and its price tag of slightly more than $64 million could allow him to purchase 160 elite racing pigeons. It could allow him to purchase a bunch of other stuff, too, but he has already said he wants to focus more on his pigeon racing hobby, so it’s pretty safe to assume he’ll use at least some of the money to buy pigeons.

Chang sold the hotel to an entity linked to Masterworks Development Corporation after buying it in 2016 for $58.7 million. He recently said he plans to retire from real estate, partially because of a change in city zoning laws that limits the development of hotels in manufacturing zones. But that could just be a convenient excuse to cover up the likely real reason for his retirement plans: a chance to break the record for most expensive racer pigeon price, which is currently at $1.4 million. Fly, pigeons, fly.

What we’re thinking about next: How far will the Stephen Ross backlash go? Are the Miami Dolphins safe? Is this a good time to remind everyone that Dan Marino never won a Super Bowl? Send ideas and catchy protest chants to [email protected].

CLOSING TIME 

Residential: The priciest residential closing recorded on Thursday was for a condo at 317 West 89th Street on the Upper West Side, at $4.35 million.
Commercial: The most expensive commercial closing of the day was for a hotel at 38 West 45th Street on the Upper West Side, at about $64 million. An entity linked to Masterworks Development Corporation is the buyer, and Sam Chang is the seller. 

BREAKING GROUND
The largest new building filing was for a 413,317-square-foot mixed-use building at 163-05 Archer Avenue in Jamaica. BRP Companies filed the permit application. 

NEW TO THE MARKET
The priciest residential listing to hit the market on Thursday was for a townhouse at 21 East 63rd Street, at $40 million. Sotheby’s International’s Robin L. Rothman has the listing. — Research by Mary Diduch

A thing we’ve learned…

The English language is filled with wonderful portmanteaus. “Brunch” comes from breakfast and lunch; “motel” comes from motor and hotel; and “shark” comes from shifty and park, I assume. But Unizo Holdings, a Japanese investment firm that owns more than $1 billion of New York City real estate, has taken the concept to a completely different level, saying that their name not only comes from unite and zoom but also from universal and zone, unique and zone, and unison. Thanks to Kevin Sun for spotting this.

Top stories from our other markets:

NATIONAL
Barney’s this week filed for bankruptcy and announced its plan to shutter 15 of its 22 luxury department stores. What the downsizing spells for the luxury retailer’s various landlords remains unclear, at least for the moment. Retail experts told The Real Deal that negotiations are likely and that concessions from the landlords could be possible to prevent Barneys from vacating some locations.

CHICAGO
What’s the former chairman of the Chicago City Council’s committee on housing and real estate to do after he gets swept out of office? Get into the real estate industry. Former Alderman Joe Moore, who lost in February, has joined Diliberto Real Estate Services. Moore spent 28 years in the Council.

LOS ANGELES
Robert Shapiro, the once high-flying luxury home developer who led Woodbridge Group of Companies, pleaded guilty for his role in a $1.3 billion Ponzi scheme that bilked thousands of investors, many of them elderly. The Real Deal looked at some of the pricey homes, most of them in L.A., that once comprised his empire.

MIAMI
Michael Tillman’s PTM Partners and Estate Investments Group scored a $55 million loan from Bank OZK to build an 18-story apartment project in an Opportunity Zone in Overtown. The developers are building Soleste Grand Central, a 360-unit multifamily building in Miami near the MiamiCentral train station. — Compiled by Alexi Friedman