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“That 70′s style still lives in lobbies and living rooms”

While he confesses to never having seen an episode of Mad Men, Scott Aaron believes this season’s Sterling Cooper crew would get a kick out of the funky downtown 70s arts scene that he commissioned interior designer Andres Escobar to create for 56 Fulton.

“It’s photography based inspiration from the downtown New York 1970s and 80s scene. Think Patti Smith, The Ramones, Andy Warhol ,” said Aaron, a partner on the venture with the Brauser family which has owned the site, currently a parking garage, for over 30 years.

“I was walking through SoHo looking through photos at the Morrison Hotel Gallery and the John Varvatos store and was inspired to do something that was very downtown New York and thought the candid images of iconic rock and roll artists from that era were really edgy. I brought the idea to Andres and he came up with some really amazing designs and we went with it.”


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“Stonehenge, SL Green Complete 1080 Amsterdam Renovation in NYC”

New York—Stonehenge Partners and SL Green Realty Corp. have opened 1080 Amsterdam, a rental apartment tower in the Morningside Heights neighborhood of Manhattan. It’s the seventh property by this particular partnership—in this case a redevelopment of an older structure.

The property is just south of Columbia University, and dates from the early 1930s. It was formerly staff housing for the nearby St. Luke’s Hospital Center; Stonehenge and SL Green leased the property for 99 years in late 2012.

The 95 apartments at 1080 Amsterdam range from studios to two-bedrooms, including some terraced residences with private outdoor space. At the top of the tower is a full-floor penthouse with two-bedrooms, two-bathrooms, a formal dining room and wrap-around terrace with views from Columbia University to the Financial District.

Monthly rents range from $2,500 to $12,000, and move-ins starting around the beginning of June. The partners haven’t released pre-leasing figures yet.

The 20-story property was renovated by Steven Kratchman Architects and re-envisioned for the Upper West Side with interiors by designer Andres Escobar. The two-year renovation project included revamping the building’s mechanical systems, as well upgrades to windows and corridors.

Each apartment includes various high-end finishes, such as hardwood floors, Scavolini Italian cabinetry, and Caesarstone countertops. Common amenities include a 24-hour attended lobby, fitness center with a private studio, a media lounge with a flat-screen TV, and a bike storage hub. The property’s residents will also have access to events at the property and other Stonehenge properties, such as fitness classes, dinner parties with noted chefs, and private movie screenings.


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“Harlem Hospital Housing Turned Rentals Start at $2,500”

Developer-slash-property manager Stonehenge seems to like turning hospital staff quarters into apartments for laypeople non-medical professionals with a decent budget. Last summer St. Vincent’s staff housing completed its conversion to 160 rental apartments downtown, and now, leasing just started at the company’s newest project, which is… St. Luke’s staff housing converted into 95 rentals. In the 1931-built Art Deco tower at 1080 Amsterdam, renovated by Steven Kratchman Architects with interior design by NYC darling Andres Escobar, Stonehenge and developer-teammate SL Green are offering studios range from $2,500 to $2,800 a month, one-bedrooms from $3,500 to $4,000, and two-bedrooms from $6,495. The photos above and below offer the first look at the apartments’ interiors, in which sunken living rooms and hardwood floors seem to be a thing; the first move-ins are slated for June 1.


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“Staycate at one of NYC’s swankiest hotels”

NYC’s swankiest hotels New York

Designer Digs

Not since the early days of Balazs and Schrager has New York seen such a boom in design-driven hotels.

Downtown, for instance, there’s the Jade Hotel, a year-old Greenwich Village property whose bohemian vibe suits its storied location. Indeed, here — in the same ’hood Diego Rivera and Georgia O’Keeffe once called home — interior designer Andrés Escobar has filled this 18-story red-brick building with perfectly atmospheric touches. Flanked by a gas-lit entrance, Escobar’s art deco-styled lobby leads to the speakeasy-styled Grape and Vine restaurant where classic cocktails are swilled around an L-shaped bar. Upstairs, there are 113 snuggish rooms with intricately patterned wallpaper, deep wood and Makassar ebony furnishings, distressed leather chairs and rich tones of blue, crimson or gold throughout. With the exception of the Greenwich Penthouse, which boasts a soaking tub, all rooms have showers only, and toiletries are from C.O. Bigelow. Craving outdoor space? The Greenwich features a walk-out balcony, while the three Hudson Queen Deluxe rooms offer private outdoor patios.
From $269; Jade Hotel


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“Pace Dorm at 33 Beekman Reaches 65 Percent Built”

Construction of the 178,500-square-foot Pace University dormitory at 33 Beekman Street in the Financial District has reached 22 stories, leaving 12 more to go, Commercial Observer has learned.

The dorm, being developed between William and Nassau Streets by a joint venture of Naftali Group, SL Green Realty and Harel Insurance and Finance, will have 378 housing rooms with 725 beds, said Miki Naftali, chairman and CEO of Naftali Group.

“There’s a better way to hopefully create a nice and pleasant place for those students,” Mr. Naftali said. “We designed what I believe is very nice student housing.”

The design of the $130 million project, with interiors by Andres Escobar, was completed over a year ago. The project will be completed in the summer of 2015 with occupancy slated for that fall.

“They’re actually going to have nice views,” of the East River, Lower Manhattan and the new World Trade Center, Mr. Naftali said.

There will be 250 square feet of retail on the ground floor and a 3,000-square-foot public plaza which will be “an area for the students on a nice day to sit and chill and have their coffee,” Mr. Naftali said. The dorm will also have a student lounge, laundry facility, gym, library, study rooms, game room, screening room, cafeteria and two recreational spaces.

“The common areas of this project were designed in a fun, contemporary industrial cool and colorful way in order to be representative of the young student clientele that occupies the building,” Mr. Escobar said. “The students will benefit from a high-ceiling entrance and lounge area, with amusing lighting fixtures.”


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“New condos at 738 Broadway offer the frills and thrills of high-tech…”

Automatic fireplaces, surround sound, overflow bathtubs and elite appliances add luster to deluxe project


The new boutique development at 738 Broadway features one of the nicest fireplaces in the entire city. Four of them, actually, one for each condo in this cast-iron beauty. It’s all part of the conversion of an 1867 warehouse over the past two years.

As soon as residents and guests walk in, the fireplace roars up the greet them. Measuring 2.5 feet by 17.5 feet, it’s probably bigger than some studio apartments — and the 12-foot ceilings don’t hurt, either, when it comes to accentuating this fiery marble monster.

“We had such a big, beautiful space to work with — it was actually a little hard to figure out what to do with it,” designer Andres Escobar says. “The idea of the fireplace was to create a centerpiece. It’s almost a sculpture, but it’s functional, too.”

Best of all, if it’s another nippy night, just use the Creston automation system in the apartment to fire up the hearth remotely. If there’s someone special in tow, say on Valentine’s night, turn down the lights and put a sultry song on the surround-sound speakers. The entire home is wired and app-accessible via the same system.

“No expense was spared,” says Corcoran broker Charlie Attias, who is repping the boutique development.

The man behind 738 Broadway is one of the city’s biggest developers, the secretive Joseph Chetrit. A former textile importer, he’s been involved in such high-flying projects as the conversion of the Chelsea Hotel and the AT&T Building. He also owns Chicago’s Willis Tower, now the second tallest in the country, thanks to One World Trade.

But just because Chetrit is working on huge projects doesn’t mean he has no time for little gems. His exacting tastes are throughout 738 Broadway.

The kitchens feature Miele and Subzero appliances, all hidden behind custom-made Italian cabinetry. Down a hallway are the bedrooms. Almost outshining the fireplace is the master bath. It’s lined in the same Calcutta marble and features a TV hidden behind the mirror and an “overflow” tub. The water pours out of the ceiling, fills the tub and then goes over the sides into the drain. “It’s the latest,” Attias says.

The four units come in a mix of layouts, including two 2,400-square-foot two-bedrooms, a 3,200-square-foot three-bedroom duplex and a two-bedroom penthouse with private rooftop terrace. Prices range from $6 million to $7.5 million for the penthouse. That $7.2 million duplex is already in contract.

“Despite what people think, there aren’t that many condo lofts available downtown,” Attias says. “And pretty soon, these won’t be available either.”


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“5 Reasons South Street Seaport is the City’s Next Hot Spot (56 Fulton)”

It’s been a long time since South Street Seaport was intended for New Yorkers.

This is not to say that natives didn’t show up when Aunt Millie was in town and in need of diversion. And unlike hellish Times Square, the Seaport at least looked like old New York and had unquestionably good views. But Hurricane Sandy flooded the streets — putting many local places out of business and doing collateral damage to the area’s reputation and residential appeal.

“I had visited South Street Seaport many times in the ‘80s and ‘90s, but I never dreamed I’d be living there,” says Steven Levenson, a contractor who had been living in Virginia until moving to the Seaport in 2012.

But Levenson just bought a two-bedroom, two-bath condo in the neighborhood. Something interesting is happening. South Street Seaport — a.k.a., Peck Slip — is in the beginning stages of a huge transformation. “There’s not much actively there,” says Erin Wicomb, co-founder of the Mavrix Group, one of the developers dipping a toe in the waters of the Seaport. “But there will be.”

Residential real estate is being planned, retail is taking root, schools are opening and even a movie theater is on the way. Here are five reasons we think that Peck Slip will be a real neighborhood in the next two years:

Brand new condos

Some of that Seaport real estate has already arrived. Like the Walton, a new 26-unit boutique condo at 264 Water St. that opened for sales just after Thanksgiving. “It’s a historic cast-iron building,” says Jacqueline Urgo of the Marketing Directors, which is selling the building. “It’s loft-like, with exposed brick original columns. It has character and flexible spaces.”

The lofts at The Walton start at $875,000 for an 1,114 square foot unit.Photo: NY Post/Brian Zak The smallest open loft starts at 1,114 square feet and apartments go up to 1,552 square feet. Units range from $875,000 to $1.995 million. Before going condo the Walton was a rental, and four of its previous renters liked the building so much that they decided to purchase. (One of whom was Levenson.) And it withstood the biggest test of the area when it did battle with Sandy back in late October 2012. “By Dec. 1 our building was fully operational and all the occupants were back,” says Levenson.

Rising rentals

Just how rock ’n’ roll is this neighborhood? So rock ’n’ roll that when Scott Aaron, principal at Socius Development Group, and his partners decided to develop a 23-story 80/20 rental at 56 Fulton he told his interior designer (Andres Escobar) to think of “a ’70s, ’80s downtown rock scene: Basquiat, Blondie, CBGB — that kind of downtown scene . . . make it a look back to New York 20, 30 years ago.”

The aesthetic is still “old New York” on Peck Slip even as a new school is set to open in the fall of 2015 across the street.Photo: NY Post/Brian Zak For a city in the throes of “American Hustle” fever, this is an intriguing concept. The 120 unit building will be a mixture of studios, one- and two-bedrooms and include a “funky” residents’ club and 6,000 square feet of retail. “They’ll be good sized apartments,” Aaron says.

Ground will be broken on the site (now an eight-story outdoor parking garage) this summer — the building should be finished in early 2016.

Innovative retail

“We’re deliberately building [Pier 17] for lower Manhattan residents and people who live in New York City.” Thus spoke Chris Curry, senior executive vice president of development for the Howard Hughes Corp. that has a massive new commercial undertaking for Pier 17 in the works. This is a very welcome development to New Yorkers who wrote the Seaport off as a big shopping mall and crummy food court.

Photo: NY Post/Brian Zak

The first place to sign up for the new Pier 17 was iPic Theaters (a luxury cinema chain, which serves full meals and beverages); Scott J. Skorobohaty, Principal of The Vortex Group, LLC brokered the deal for iPic. “The iPic theater will truly distinguish this area, and should help it to become even more of a destination,” says Douglas Elliman’s Faith Hope Consolo of the deal.

Also with the coming influx of shops and restaurants will be a 60 story tower which will be combination of hotel rooms and residential space. Curry won’t say who else his company has been meeting with on the retail side, but if one asks whether this means big box stores or local Brooklyn-like artisans, Curry says: “We’re looking for unique offerings — we want to give people a reason to come back again and again.”

What about the city’s great restaurateurs? Has he met with any of them? “All of them — well, most of them.”

Schools, schools!

Some people talk about “drumming education” into the young. Well, we imagine that the Blue School — founded by members of the percussion-cum-theater troupe, Blue Man Group — can get the drumming part down pretty good. Blue School, at 241 Water St., is a private independent school (going from preschool through fifth grade) that has been around since 2006 and is so popular that there is one opening for every eight applicants.

Thankfully, Peck Slip should be getting a little extra help in this department from PS 343 — a 712-student school (grades K to 5) in the neighborhood’s old post office. Construction started last year and it should be ready for students in the fall of 2015.

On the drawing board

OK, this may be straying slightly from the Seaport, but we would be remiss not to mention the Mavrix Group’s planned 51-story, 96-unit, 114,000-square-foot condo planned on Fulton Street, between Gold and William only three blocks from the Seaport’s edge.

This 120-unit 80/20 rental will have a 70s/80s motif, not to mention 6,000 square feet of retail space.Photo: Jimi Hendrix photograph: Gered Mankowitz / Morrison Hotel Gallery

According to Wicomb, the developers are still considering adding “other parcels to make the project bigger.” (They’re looking at a total of seven parcels of land.) There won’t be a great deal of retail space, but there will probably be some.

“What we want to bring to market will be ultra high-end for an affordable price,” says Wicomb. When the project is finished in 2016, it will hope to command $2,000 per square foot. And this isn’t Mavrix’s only building in the area. “We also have a project in the Seaport,” says Wicomb of a $10.5 million boutique condo closer to the water. As if we needed anything else to get excited about!


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New Astor Place Conversion Has Not Karl-Approved $6M Lofts

All four apartments in the new luxury conversion of the Broadway McKenna Building just hit the market. The boutique development is now called 738 Broadway (also its address, nice ‘n’ simple), and the two lofts and two penthouses are available for perusal and purchase. The lofts are both 2,396 square feet and asking $6 million; one is a 2BR/2BA, while the other has three baths. Then PH1 is a 3,188-square-foot 3BA/3BA ($7.2M), while PH2 has a prized rooftop terrace but sacrifices a smidge on the inside, with just two bedrooms and two bathrooms (for $7.5M). The elevators open up directly into the residences, where living rooms are about 40 feet long and there are oversized windows, wide-plank oak hardwood floors, recessed lighting, and uber-modern fireplaces surrounded by white Calacatta marble. The architect is Curbed favorite Karl Fischer, while interiors are courtesy of Andres Escobar.


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“IHG Announces New Holiday Inn® Hotel for Brooklyn”

InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) has recently announced its newest hotel development for downtown Brooklyn, minutes from the famed Barclay’s Center, the Brooklyn Academy of Music and a variety of shopping and entertainment venues. In partnership with 300 Schermerhorn Realty LLC, the new-build $80 million Holiday Inn® hotel will join the neighborhood at 300 Schermerhorn Street.  Construction is expected to complete by the end of 2014, with an anticipated opening in early 2015. The interiors were designed by Andres Escobar and Associates.

Owned by K.K. Mehta and his son Sanjeev Mehta, the Holiday Inn Brooklyn Nevins Station is their second IHG property in the metro New York area. The Mehta’s opened the first Staybridge Suites hotel for New York City in Times Square six years ago and the property continues to outpace its competitors.

The contemporary 90,000-square-foot, 246-room hotel will have 15 floors with more than 3,000 square feet of meeting space including three meeting rooms and a ballroom. A sauna, steam room, indoor pool and a Jacuzzi and will be among the guest amenities.  The Holiday Inn Brooklyn Nevins Station hotel, owned by 300 Schermerhorn Realty LLC and managed by New York Hotel Management LLC, is franchised by an affiliate of IHG.

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