15 Central Park WestMore than any other new building, 15 Central Park West represents the crème de la crème of Manhattan’s high-end real estate market. Developed by brothers William and Arthur Zeckendorf, the Robert A.M. Stern-designed condo has lured the city’s wealthiest buyers since its inception. All of its 202 apartments were sold — for approximately $2 billion — before the doors opened in late 2007.
In March 2008, The Real Deal published a unit-by-unit breakdown of buyers at the limestone behemoth. At the time, purchasers included Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein, NASCAR’s Jeff Gordon, Oscar winner Denzel Washington and musician Sting.
This month, The Real Deal revisited 15 CPW to see who’s closed on apartments there in the last year, using city data, published reports and the listings aggregator StreetEasy.
These transactions vividly show that unlike other new construction condos of the mid-aughts, 15 CPW never really lost its boom-time sheen. During the worst of the downturn, units at the building sat on the market longer than they had in the past, and property values no longer escalated with the same breathtaking speed. But the original buyers there are still selling their units for more than they paid. Kohlberg & Co.’s James Kohlberg, for example, bought unit #6C from the sponsor for $6.82 million. He sold it in 2010 for $11.5 million. William Zeckendorf’s deal to sell his penthouse for $40 million, or just under $10,000 per square foot, will break the city’s record for the most expensive condo in dollars per square foot.
Still, apartments in the building are trading for less than their asking prices, but that’s partly because today’s bargain-hunting buyers expect to negotiate, said Mercedes/Berk cofounder Noel Berk, who lives in the building. She estimated that the average apartment at 15 CPW sells for between 5 and 8 percent off its asking price.
And now that the high end of the market has picked up, demand for units in the building is more feverish than ever. “I wish we had more inventory,” said Richard Wallgren, a senior vice president at Brown Harris Stevens who also lives in the building and handles many of the building’s resales. “We have many more buyers than we have properties.”
Recent purchasers in the building range from financiers to fashion designers, and even a purveyor of nutrition supplements for bodybuilders. But surprisingly, a large number are not boldface names. Below are all of the building’s recorded closed sales for 2010 (until press time in the middle of last month), in reverse chronological order. All prices include transfer taxes paid by the buyer.
24B: around $9 million
Kay Haigh, head of trading for emerging market debt at Deutsche Bank, sold his two-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bathroom apartment for close to $9 million as The Real Deal was going to press. Prudential Douglas Elliman’s Andre Rouach had listed the 1,736-square-foot, park-facing unit for $9.5 million in October. Sources said it closed Dec. 16. Haigh purchased the unit for $5.4 million (including transfer taxes) in a deal that closed in April 2008, according to city records. Rouach declined to comment on the transaction or to discuss the identity of either party, but he said there are only a few units of that size facing the park in the building, making them “a rare commodity.”
12H: $3.37 million
Jeffrey Carlstead, owner of the Carlstead Inc. hotel firm, bought this 1,294-square-foot one-bedroom for $2.59 million from the sponsor in 2008. He put it on the market with Corcoran in February 2009, priced at $4.6 million. Wallgren then took over the listing, and after several price cuts, it sold for $3.37 million, closing in November 2010. Since the transaction had not appeared in city records at press time, the buyer was unknown. Wallgren declined to comment on the unit.
S601: $2.6 million
Among 15 CPW’s old-world amenities are 24 staff suites, which residents can buy to house maids, nannies, guests or home offices, and which cannot be sold to outsiders. In mid-November, one of these suites — a 923-square-foot one-bedroom — closed for $2.6 million. The buyer was top Goldman Sachs trader Ashok Varadhan, who with his wife Margaret paid some $16 million for unit 9D in 2007. The seller, who purchased it two years earlier for $1.03 million, is listed in city documents as Jnolva LLC, the same entity that closed on penthouse 41B for $10.89 million in 2008. That suggests the seller is William Zeckendorf, who recently signed a contract to unload his 41st -floor penthouse in the building for some $40 million, according to published reports. As the building’s developer, Zeckendorf was able to buy the spread for a lower price than other penthouses there, most of which sold for north of $20 million. Because there are a limited number of staff suites, they are highly coveted, hence the high price of this transaction, sources explained. “It’s supply and demand,” said one broker. “You’ll pay what you have to to get them. They don’t come up very often.”
11K: $8.45 million
Investor Alex Klein bought this three-bedroom, three-and-a-half-bath unit from the sponsor in December 2007, paying $5.1 million. In the spring of 2009, it went back on the market with Elliman’s Ilan Bracha, who listed it at $8.475 million. And in October 2010, the 2,520-square-foot apartment closed, selling for $8.45 million to Kenneth and Lorraine Levy, of Franklin Lakes, N.J., who purchased the home under the name KLSA, LLC, according to city documents. Bracha did not respond to requests for comment. Mercedes/Berk represented the buyers.
36C: $19 million
Yerim Sow, a Senegalese telecom magnate, purchased this three-bedroom unit from the sponsor, paying $10.49 million in a deal that closed in early 2008. Sow owns Teylium Telecom, a West African GSM mobile holding company. Then, in September 2010, he sold the apartment to an entity known as Aitor Consulting Ltd. for $19 million. The unit had been listed with Corcoran’s Linda Schlang for $21 million. Schlang declined to name the buyer, but said the new owner is an occupant rather than an investor, who looked at several units in the building before settling on this one. She said Sow did particularly well on the price because the apartment has an oversize master bedroom suite and three windows facing the park. “It was an exceptional apartment,” she said.
28B: $11.39 million
This two-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bathroom apartment sold for $11.39 million in September 2010 to philanthropist Gina Lin Chu, wife of Nautica founder David Chu. The seller of the 2,367-square-foot spread was another apparel mogul: Joseph Betesh, founder of hip-hop retailer Dr. Jay’s. Betesh paid just $5.7 million for the apartment when he closed in April 2008. The apartment had been listed with Joanna Cutler of Joanna Cutler Real Estate for $12.9 million. The Chus — who have two children — also paid $2.99 million for a smaller two-bedroom unit in the building, #6N, in late 2008.
6C: $11.5 million
In August, nutrition supplement mogul Clyde Rockoff bought this two-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bathroom unit for $11.5 million. Now in his 70s, Rockoff is the president of New Jersey-based Universal Nutrition Services, a sports nutrition supplement manufacturer founded in 1977. The company produces products popular with bodybuilders, like Torrent, a muscle-mass activator, and Atomic 7, a performance supplement. The unit was sold by the California-based entity Cpw 15 LLC, which purchased it for $6.82 million in 2007. According to documents filed with the city, the seller behind the LLC is James Kohlberg, the cofounder and chairman of the private equity firm Kohlberg & Company. Formerly of Kohlberg, Kravis & Roberts, he is also a member of the Board of Directors of the New York Times Company. Kohlberg & Company has offices in Mt. Kisco, N.Y., and in California, at an address listed on the sale documents for this unit.
25B: $8.5 million
In June, hotel executive Sam Bhadha and his wife, Skaila, sold their 1,736-square-foot unit for $8.5 million, according to city records. Bhadha is the executive vice president of the Radisson Lexington Hotel and the Doubletree Metropolitan Hotel. The mystery buyer was cloaked behind Delaware-based corporation Central Park Realty Ny LLC. Public documents show the Bhadhas paid $4.22 million for the unit in May 2008. Three days after unloading the 15 CPW unit, Bhadha signed a contract on a two-bedroom condo at 303 East 33rd Street, the new 12-story condo codeveloped by Toll Brothers.
14H: $3.75 million
In April 2008, children’s clothing executive Joseph A. Sutton closed on this 1,340-square-foot one-bedroom for $2.69 million. Then, a few weeks after Lehman Brothers collapsed, he put it back on the market for $4.95 million, according to StreetEasy. Sutton is an executive vice president at LT Apparel Group, a New York-based family business formerly known as Lollytogs, which was founded in 1958. As the blog Curbed pointed out, when the unit went back on the market, it was suddenly advertised as a two-bedroom, with a wall dividing the breakfast room from the kitchen. But since there was no window, it was not technically a bedroom, which may have hampered sales. In late 2009, Sutton changed brokers, hiring Jay Schneider of Jay Schneider and Partners, who reduced the price to $3.75 million and noted on the listing that it was owned by a “motivated seller.” In May 2010, the apartment sold for $3.75 million to Greenwich-based investor Peter Scannell, the founder of Rockwood Holdings, and his wife, Jean. Schneider declined to comment on the transaction.
24C: $7.1 million
When London-based financier David Bizer paid $5.39 million for this high-floor two-bedroom in 2007, he was Lehman Brothers’ head of fixed-income sales for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Now, he’s global chief administrative officer at Nomura Holdings, the Japanese bank that took over Lehman’s European operations. In May 2010, he sold the park-view apartment to Thomas Neslein, a Norwegian, for $7.1 million.
7K: $2.9 million
Retired Pfizer executive Gary Jortner and his wife, Cindy, closed on this 1,036-square-foot one-bedroom in 2007 for $2.48 million, city records show. There are only a few one-bedrooms in the building, and because it faces Broadway, this unit fetches less of a premium than some others, brokers explained. Two years later, the Jortners reportedly bought developer Gerardo Capo’s 1,724-square-foot apartment on the building’s 12th floor for $5.9 million, and put their first apartment on the market with Mercedes/Berk’s Liz Omedes and Noel Berk. In February, a mystery buyer known as NYC Condo, LLC, purchased it for $2.9 million. The buyers’ agents were Brown Harris Stevens’ Howard Morrel and Leslie Hirsch. Morrel did not respond to requests for comment, but documents filed with the city show that the buyers were Florida surgeon Mit Desai and his wife, Dimple. The couple owns a five-bedroom home in Lutz, Fla., so the 15 CPW purchase may be a pied-à-terre. Berk declined to comment on the buyers or sellers other than to say, “It was a very spacious apartment, with a beautiful, wide-open Broadway view and high ceilings.”
25D: $13.73 million
Lawrence Mueller, a retired tech executive, and his wife, Mary Kay, paid $5.99 million for this three-bedroom unit in December 2007. In June 2009, the unit became the first of the building’s coveted D-line to become available for resale, when the Muellers put it on the market for $16.5 million. Still, with the high end of the market lagging in the midst of the downturn, the unit took time to sell. After a price cut, the 2,434-square-foot apartment closed in January 2010 for $13.73 million. The buyer was listed as Govinda Capital Corporation. Elliman’s Rouach, the listing broker, said the new owners live overseas, but did not comment further. No strangers to profitable real estate flips, the Muellers in 2006 reportedly sold a Colorado mansion they purchased for $3.6 million in 1999 to professional golfer David Duval for $12.5 million.
7H: $3.16 million
Keiko Ibi, the Tokyo-born, Oscar-winning filmmaker and former beauty queen, paid $1.8 million for this 1,084-square-foot, one-bedroom, one-and-a-half-bath unit in 2007. Ibi, who was named Miss Japan at the age of 19, is a director and producer. In 1999, she won an Oscar in the short-subject category for the HBO-produced documentary “The Personals: Improvisations on Romance in the Golden Years.”
In the spring of 2009, she put the apartment on the market with Wallgren for $3.75 million. It closed in January 2010 for $3.16 million. The buyers were Mark and Kathy Huang of Pennington, N.J.