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Ari Harkov

Ari Harkov
Village Office

The Real Deal

Inside The Open Houses Of Tribeca

Buyers can choose to have spaces built to a spec layout or do their own work at 137 Duane Street.

Pricey properties' turnout thin; action on lower-end

Brunch is normally the main midday attraction on Duane Street between Church Street and West Broadway, but the restaurant-studded stretch of Tribeca had few diners on a recent Saturday in May.

Few were lined up for City Hall, restaurateur Henry Meer's power lunch standby, just blocks from the real thing.

But 137 Duane Street, two doors down from the culinary hot spot, and next to bistro Blaue Gans, Halstead broker Charles Hawkins hoped to see some action. He's handling six of the 19 units in this new building, which has been on the market for seven months. Prospective buyers can choose to have their spaces built to a spec layout or do their own work, as the units are in raw shape. Two units are already in contract, the broker said.

Hawkins' open house offerings range from a 1,494-square-foot studio/mini loft for $987,000 to a 4,900-square-foot penthouse for $7.995 million.

Hawkins called it "an unusually light" day, as only two prospective buyers had come through in the first hour of an open house that started at 11 a.m.

Lenny Moreira, a 47-year-old contractor, came by with Vickey Barron, his broker from Prudential Douglas Elliman. Moreira has rented out his house in the West Village and is living in a rental on the Upper East Side, and has been looking for something to buy for about a year.

Moreira, who said he didn't have a set budget, liked 2A -- a 2,250-square-foot, two-bedroom, two-bath with a home office, with an asking price of $2,701,200 -- but wished the space had more light. A sun-flooded living room facing Duane Street leads to a darker set of rooms toward the back of the building. "I want to see sky," he said.

Moreira, who said he liked the idea of being able to do his own renovations, wanted more light and more dramatic views. "Light is most important to him," Barron said.

At 260 West Broadway, apartments 7A and 7B aren't lacking for light. The two separate spaces, being sold jointly for $4.1 million as a four-bedroom, 4.5-bath unit, now house the home/office space of an orchestra conductor and his family.

Stribling broker Mary Ellen Cashman waited with her assistant Shari Stein in 7B at 1:30 p.m., shortly after her open house started at 1 p.m.

There was soothing music on the stereo, cookies on the living room table and light streaming through the living room windows of the 1,450-square-foot loft. Both units have roughly the same layout and square footage, and the floorplan suggests how to combine the spaces. Despite the appealing atmosphere, only "one looker" had been by so far.

Cashman said the sellers, who have three young children, are looking to buy a bigger place in the neighborhood. She chalked up the low attendance to the fact that most prospective buyers were off at their beach houses.

The units, which were put on the market two weeks earlier, will go quickly, but the hefty price tag means that the potential buyer may not come to an open house. Rather, Cashman said she believed a buyer would send his or her broker to look for them, likely mid-week.

"At the $4 million price point, traffic is a bit different," Cashman explained, noting that buyers with that kind of cash flow aren't poring over the real estate section of the paper looking for open houses.

But 7E at 376 Broadway is exactly the kind of apartment that would draw the real-estate-section-reading crowd.

The 1-bedroom condo, priced at $650,000, in an elevator/doorman building called Mandarin Plaza at the intersection of Broadway and White Street, drew the most lookers of any of the Tribeca open houses that day. By 2 p.m., broker Ari Harkov of Halstead said five groups had been by to see the apartment after he opened it up to the public at 1 p.m.

Harkov said the sellers -- a couple who own an apartment nearby and have been renting the space to relatives -- are "hoping it will go within a week." It had been on the market only a few days, he said.

Noting that a place in Tribeca under $1 million is a rarity, Harkov got his first offer over the phone as this reporter was talking to him.

Harkov later said they're a Queens couple with two children "looking to find a place in the neighborhood that they would use maybe a few times a week." They aren't the only interested party, either.

At the open house, Amrita Sareen wasn't overly impressed with the apartment. "I don't like cookie-cutter apartments" the 28-year-old banker, who'd come with her broker, said on her way out. But Xoua Vang was pleased with it.

The 32-year-old NBC employee had been looking for an apartment for about a year, mostly Downtown. "I'm looking in Chelsea, Union Square, Tribeca -- basically where everyone wants to be," he said.

Vang, who had six relatives in tow -- his family was in town visiting from Atlanta -- said 7E was "about right size-wise" and a condo, another bonus. "I'm only looking at condos," he added, noting that co-ops were out of the question.

Currently renting a place with a roommate in Union Square, Vang said he thought he would make an offer on the apartment as he left the building with his entourage. "I'll make a bid, but not for the asking price," he said, adding that the place was going for about $1,000 per square foot, which is the going rate for the neighborhood.

Copyright © 2003-2005 The Real Deal

Friday, June 15, 2007