The Real Deal New York

Turning the natural order on its head

By Stuart Elliott | April 01, 2012 07:00AM

Stuart Elliott
The natural order of things is being turned on its head wherever you go these days.

While the first day of spring was last month, we don’t need Al Gore to tell us that springlike weather has been upon us for months. Meanwhile, a record pollen count that is wreaking havoc on New Yorkers’ allergies and ant infestations are part of the strange fallout we have to deal with as a result of the weird winter. Biblical swarms of locusts are probably next.

If that isn’t enough, when you walk by a bar at night, a packed crowd is cheering over a regular season Knicks game. And Jeremy Lin isn’t even scoring 20 points a game anymore (note to self: ask Jonathan Miller about the statistical parallels between real estate and Jeremy Lin’s record run for my next editor’s note).

Need I say more about how the natural order of things is being turned on its head?

All of these bizarre situations lead me to believe that we could actually be on the verge of a significant upswing in the residential real estate market. After all these gloomy years? It seems like it might be the case.

There is a lot of optimism out there, as we write about in our residential market report. As Eddie Shapiro, CEO of Nest Seekers, says, “The recession is over, and we have to get in the mind-set of ‘next real estate boom.’ ”

Even watering that comment down by 50 percent to account for broker hype, that’s a pretty strong testament to the market’s nascent comeback.

Here are some other ways the natural order of things is being overturned, which we look at in this issue:

• A 34-year-old broker is responsible for Manhattan’s priciest apartment sale ever, which closed earlier this year, beating out superbrokers with decades of experience. And now he has another massive listing, this one for $77 million. We take a look at Brown Harris Stevens broker Kyle Blackmon in a profile.

• Whole Foods just cleared its last hurdle to opening an outpost in Brooklyn (see story here). Really, it took this long to get a Whole Foods in Brooklyn? Given the emphasis by both the borough and the store on all things organic and artisanal, it seems odd that Brooklyn is one of the last locations to get a Whole Foods. That’s as much a reversal of the normal order of things as seeing Brooklyn restaurants (most recently, Williamsburg barbecue joint Fatty ’Cue) opening outposts in the West Village, where I live.

• Harlem is supposed to be one of the main poster children for gentrification in Manhattan, but it actually saw the lowest percentage increase in prices of any neighborhood in Manhattan over the past decade (although prices have risen 41 percent during that period). For these and other surprising stats, including which neighborhoods have fared best and worst since the Wall Street meltdown in 2008, check out “Mapping the recovery: NYC’s fastest — and slowest — recovering neighborhoods.”

Still, there are some things that reaffirm that the world still makes sense and is not about to spin off its axis:

• New Yorkers are still suing one another — and in even greater numbers than ever before — over quality-of-life issues in their apartment buildings. See “Sue thy neighbor.”

• As efficient and technocratic as the Bloomberg administration is compared to past mayoral administrations (think back to the party politics of David Dinkins or the personal politics of Rudy Giuliani), it still makes sense to be friends with the mayor. We look at which developers are in City Hall’s good graces and how they got there. See “Making nice with Mike: Developers with close ties to City Hall, and who’s out of favor.”

• The three cofounders of the Carlyle Group — David Rubenstein, William Conway Jr. and Daniel D’Aniello — received $413 million in compensation last year as company profits rose, showing that you can still make a modest living in finance. The buyout firm, with $2.3 billion in its sixth real estate fund and a planned IPO in the works, has a large presence in New York, which we detail in our story, “Carlyle, ready to shop.”

Enjoy the issue.

 Stuart Elliott