New York City real estate is a unique market with micro markets. You can find astonishingly different price range for property just by walking a block or two, or sometimes even just by crossing to the north side of the street. The nuances a local expert knows. Walk a couple of blocks north from the residential neighborhood Gramercy Park and find yourself in the commercial Flatiron district on 23rd St.
How could adjusting zip codes covering just a small area be so different from one another? History and zoning regulation influencing the architecture and characteristic of neighborhoods and some iconic buildings like the Flatiron set their footprint for generations forward.
While sightseeing and enjoying the outdoor food market at Madison Square Park, with a developer and an out of town buyer, they immediately asked me about this iconic eye catching New York City building. Originally named The Fuller Building, after George Fuller, “The Father of the Skyscraper”; with its ambitious plan of 20 stories, the Flatiron became the only skyscraper north of 14th Street at the time, other than The Met Life Tower one block east.
Flatiron got a lot of attention with its defying design, a steel triangular frame with a terra cotta facade. With an undeniable amount of criticism, many skeptics believed it would tip over and fall but the building served as a commercial office space for the past 115 years!
Broadway, one of the most enchanting streets in the city, stretching diagonally along Manhattan was never converted into the grid system. This created a sharp angle on 23rd street with only six feet separating from Fifth Ave. Fuller took advantage of this challenging footprint by creating the cast-iron shaped building. Even before it was constructed in 1902, it was named the Flatiron building and thus influenced the name for the surrounding area, the Flatiron District, to distinguish between the residential areas, such as Gramercy Park.
The building has since been featured in many movies, including Godzilla and Spider-Man and has become a true New York icon. It is also the subject for many photographers and a popular backdrop for many tourist photos. Next time you are strolling down 5th Ave, stop by 23rd street to take that picture. It will make you look tall!
In March I was fortunate again to visit Cannes in France. Everybody knows Cannes, the resort town on the French Riviera famed for its international film festival. Home of The Palais des Festivals et des Congrès, a modern building complete with red carpet and Allée des Stars – known to be Cannes’ walk of fame. As I do it regularly for the last 10 years, I attended MIPIM 2017 (Le marché international des professionnels de l’immobilier), the world’s leading property exhibition and gathering of real estate brokers and developers.
And unlike Cannes Film Festival’s red carpet, at MIPIM they roll down the royal blue carpet, reserved for property people! And I did walk it proudly again, the same as in the nine years before!
Since my first conference, I have learned a lot and mastered a variety of things in the world of real estate. What has changed in the last decade at MIPIM? One of the main things I observed is one could spot more women in the crowd these days compared to ten years ago, however the men are still the majority walking La Croisette and roaming The Palais des Festivals. The biggest difference is that these days, men are more likely to look down at their phone rather than at the women around them! Take a look at the side by side photo above, do you have any doubts which one is from 2007 and which one is from 2017?
The main change I see within the industry is the intensive application of new technology. We are all more electronically connected than ever, yet our face time with people has dropped. If there is one thing I know about this industry it is that communication is the key. It’s the “make it or break it” of every deal. Let’s not forget that MIPIM is an international event and that reaching outside your usual sphere of influence is the exposure you need.
Real Estate world and MIPIM are about connections, and making connections is only the beginning. There are three elements to being a good real estate broker. First, an agent must know how to make good connections. Second, an agent must excel at cultivating relationships and building a strong rapport. Lastly, an agent must be able to close the deal by bringing two parties to a meeting-of-the-minds.
Being your broker, while connecting with you on a personal level, is what makes every day in this business so exciting and rewarding for me!
Katya Bruen is an award winning Associated Broker.
You think you know New York City like the back of your hand? The famous Fifth Avenue is known worldwide. Any New Yorker worth their salt can name the Avenues: Lexington, Park and Madison all running parallel between Third and Fifth. But have you ever heard of Fourth Avenue?
The elusive Fourth is located in Greenwich Village yet chances are you would have difficulty locating it on a map. It holds the title for being the shortest numbered avenue in all of Manhattan. Fourth Avenue runs from 8th Street/Astor Place to 14th Street/Union Square. Similar to Broadway, Fourth Avenue lays diagonally to the grid system granting the block’s residents plenty of sunlight and a unique perspective of the cityscape.
Fourth Avenue has been a hub of information technologies since the 1890s. A cluster of forty-eight bookstores – selling literature new and used – lined Fourth Avenue until the 1960s earning it the moniker Book Row. The renowned Strand Bookstore established in 1927 still remains as a final vestige of this bygone era.
As information technologies shifted from analog to digital, Book Row metamorphosed into its modern day equivalent Silicon Alley. At the tail-end of the 1990s during the tech boom, companies flocked to the area emboldened by New York City’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. The area has since attracted over $7.5 billion in venture capital investments. Facebook and WeWork are among the companies thriving in this forward thinking, fertile corporate environment. It’s no coincidence Silicon Alley is also home to a plethora of top-tier institutions of higher education: NYU, Cooper Union and The New School to name a few.
I am happy to get in touch with you again. The last story I sent you about Gramercy Park was published in Blau Journal Global Real News and the newsletter of The Association of Surveyors and Architectural Consultants. If you have not seen it, you should check it out here: www.blaujournal.com
What makes Gramercy Park neighborhood so special?
Hearing the birds chirp Downtown is not a common thing in the big City and that’s what you get walking these cute treelined blocks that surround Gramercy Park. It is the only private park in The City where all of the buildings and townhouses surrounding it are landmarks.
I hope you like the pictures of my favorite buildings posted below. More pictures are on my Instagram account katyabruen.
ON GRAMERCY PARK EAST, YOU CAN FIND WHAT I CALL “THE WHITE AND BLACK CASTLES.” TO THE RIGHT IS 34 GRAMERCY EAST; IT LOOKS LIKE A DARK FORTRESS WITH A QUEEN ANN STYLE, RED TERRA-COTTA BRICK AND ELABORATE CARVING. IT IS THE OLDEST COOPERATIVE IN NEW YORK CITY, BUILT IN 1883 WHEN APARTMENT LIVING FOR THE WEALTHY WAS A NEW CONCEPT. TODAY, OWNERS ASK $3,000 PER SQUARE FOOT. JIMMY FALLON FROM ‘THE TONIGHT SHOW’ SHOWED HIS LOVE TO THE BUILDING WHEN HE BOUGHT HIS THIRD UNIT IN THE BUILDING.
Adjacent to it is the most recent Coop conversion. The “White Castle,” 36 Gramercy Park East, has a contrasting white terra-cotta facade and knights at the entrance, but no damsels in distress to be found.
According to the trustees however, the best view is from 18 Gramercy Park South, developed by the Zeckendorf brothers and renowned architect Robert A.M. Stern. Built in the 1920’s but redeveloped recently, average price per square foot runs around $4,500. It’s the tallest building around the park standing at 17 stories high. Each floor has a single residence while the top floors are duplex penthouses with an infinity pool and a terrace that is just shy of 2,000 square feet.
Think of the view from across the park, with both castles in sight, from the condominium on 7 Gramercy Park West. Next to it, 4 Gramercy Park West, is a two unit townhouse that was once the home of former 1800’s New York City mayor James Harper.
A lot of history was made on these 2 acres in New York City, what will the future bring to the neighborhood? Maybe a guest visit by you.
One would think a small move from the Upper Eastside to Gramercy Park, Downtown would be only a minor change, but it’s a world of difference. I love walking the tree lined blocks surrounding Manhattan’s only private park with its 1830’s iron gates. The park holds lots of stories. Presidents like John F. Kennedy and Teddy Roosevelt played there as children. Authors and filmmakers feature this park in their stories.
I MOVED TO GRAMERCY PARK AND IT CHANGED MY LIFE!
The Gramercy Park Historic District landmark preservation is what gives this neighborhood its small village feel, right in the middle of the big city, a combination that appeals to me.
People ask me all the time, “how could I get through those gates into the park? Do I need a key? How do I get it?” Well, I can help you get a key to the park for $350 annually. The caveat is, keys are for residents only. There are about 1,200 lucky people who own one of the units in the 39 landmark buildings and townhouses surrounding the park.
There are other not as costly ways to get a key to Gramercy Park. One helpful way is to become a member of the synagogue, the church or the clubs on the blocks that surround the park. For instance The Players Club donated the statue of club founder Edwin Booth as a centerpiece in the park. Another organization, The National Arts Club, was once home to former New York governor Samuel Tilden.
If becoming a member is too much, being a one night guest at Gramercy Park Hotel will grant you access to one of the six keys that they have. You might find it cool that the Rolling Stones once stayed there and that Humphrey Bogart had his wedding there.
For one hour on Christmas Eve, the garden opens its doors like magic; there are no keys necessary, all are welcome to enjoy the Christmas Carols. Thanks to Google-maps, you can get a clear 360° street-view from inside this exclusive park without ever setting a foot inside. Google maps will also spare you the time of having to read all of the many rules to the park. Such rules include no pictures, no stepping on grass, no playing music and even pets are not allowed in the park. The only animals you will find there are the birds chirping when they visit one of the two bird houses within the park. Human houses are much more costly to get into, but walking here every day to hear the sounds of the birds chirping is totally worth it!
I will be happy to tell you next time all about my favorite buildings and townhouses.
Until then, feel free to come for a visit at Gramercy Park neighborhood.