Stephen G. Kliegerman
President of Development Marketing
By William Alden
Robert Lynn, who's managing sales for the new condos at 540 West 28th Street, has a thing for white oak floors.
"I've been doing this for 12 years, and I've never seen a developer go with floors like this," he said. "I've had experienced brokers in here be blown away by these floors."
All 91 of the condos in 540 West 28th, dubbed "+aRt" and slated to be inhabitable by September, are floored with oil-finished white oak, which, intentionally rough-looking, is supposed to recall West Chelsea's bygone bohemia. "To me, this represents the whole warehouse district vibe," Mr. Lynn said.
"CHELSEA IS THE BIRTHPLACE OF CREATIVE MODERN ART AND THE HOME OF BAD BEHAVIOR," blared the first page of a pamphlet for guests at Thursday evening's opening party for the building. Halstead Property and Ekstein Development, the broker and the developer, respectively, restarted sales on May 17 after halting them in December 2008 due to construction delays. They now advertise a sexily rebellious but safely upscale experience.
They call it "bohemia-nouveau."
The building is still under construction—only two apartments, a $1.3 million one-bedroom and a $1.7 million two-bedroom, were ready for display—but that fact only enhanced the vibe. To enter the lobby, guests had to walk under scaffolding and between chain-link fences sheathed in blue construction tarps. Up on a 10th-floor terrace, excitement was high.
"Right now, I think, is the time to buy," Chris Quick, a guest at the party, said.
Eric Moran, vice president of Ekstein, agreed, citing next spring's opening of the nearby portion of the High Line Park, from 20th to 34th streets, as a valuable amenity.
"This neighborhood is going to be unrecognizable in a very short period of time," Mr. Lynn said.
Still, others were skeptical of the area's potential. John Lee, who identified himself as "kind of like a broker" (he has "a bunch of friends in the business"), enjoyed a Dominican cigar with his friend Ken Chez, of similarly vague employment.
"You know what they say, 'Location, location, location,'" Mr. Chez said. "I gotta walk 10 blocks to get a can of soda."
Mr. Lee offered a retort. "There's a nice chicken-and-rice place on the corner," he said.
"Yeah, if I want to eat that for the rest of my life," Mr. Chez said.
As their cigar smoke drifted around the terrace, brokers and prospective buyers sipped Champagne flutes to a mellow fusion of funk, soul and '80s tunes, courtesy of DJ Nick Cohen. "I try to stay out of nightclubs," Mr. Cohen said. "This is a lot more civilized."
Jeff Goodman, a broker with Halstead, pointed out the other brokers in attendance. There were many.
"After 6, we like to come and unwind," he said.
Friday, June 18, 2010