Max Ross | July 27, 2011

For nearly three years, most residential developers have been shuffling around an empty stage like Vladimir and Estragon in “Waiting for Godot” — hoping that some form of capital will eventually show up.

Prices stabilized (sort of), but banks didn’t budge. The economy got better (sort of), and lenders were still silent. Housing stock dwindled and time on the market dropped — and yet, condo development still stalled. In 2009, just 553 new condo units were introduced into the Manhattan market below Harlem, according to Corcoran Sunshine Marketing — less than 10 percent of what it was in 2007 (8,551). (There was an uptick last year, when 1,767 units were brought to market, but most of these units had been conceived long before the recession.)

But capital might show up after all.

“People are sort of coming out of hibernation,” says Town Residential’s Reid Price, a broker who specializes in new developments. Buildings and plans are “there that weren’t there a year ago — or even six months ago.”

Price says that Town is currently looking at “15 to 20 projects — all over Manhattan. Most on the Upper East Side.”

And some are quite ambitious.

Consider one of the projects Town is marketing: 55 Warren, on the edge of TriBeCa. The building is only four units, but workers and materials were brought in from Italy. Each apartment takes up a full floor (about 3,600 square feet). And the penthouse duplex comes with its own resistance pool. Prices range from $6.6 million to about $16.5 million.

A couple of blocks away, Shlomi Reuveni of Brown Harris Stevens Select is preparing to bring a 20-story, 84-unit building to market at 57 Reade, where one-bedrooms will range from 713 to 900 square feet and two-bedrooms from 1,150 to 1,500 square feet. Three-bedrooms will go up to 1,863 square feet. They will be starting on average at $1,173 per square foot. (Occupancy is expected this fall.)

“Unlike most of the inventory in TriBeCa, which is large apartments and conversion buildings with big, deep floor plates at a higher price point, this is something we felt would answer a need,” Reuveni says. “Smaller apartments at a lower price point.”

“This is a really exciting time to bring new units” to market, says Margaret Streicker Porres, president of Newcastle Realty Services, a boutique developer.

Porres has a new nine-unit West Village building at 84 Bedford St. She’s waiting for approval from the Attorney General’s Office before she starts selling (Anne Young at Brown Harris Stevens is the broker), and the expected prices are strong, approximately $1,650 per square foot. (Porres also has an adjacent project, a three-bedroom, four-story, 2,000-square-foot townhome, which will be released in the next four to six months at an even higher price point.)

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