FROM THE 'IT-BUILDING' TO THE 'I-BUILDING'

Image 1 - 152 ElizabethPosted by Leonard Steinberg, president of Compass, on March 21st, 2015

New Yorkers like to think of themselves as innovative, individualistic and original: unfortunately many of them often follow trends like a herd of sheep. An article in this weekends Wall Street Journal showcases how a world once possessed by owning an Hermes Kelly bag, now confronted with the reality that THOUSANDS own this same bag that costs $10,000+, is turning towards something more individualized and less obviously excessive: Carrie-Bradshaw-think appears to be fading.

I see a similar trend emerging in New York real estate. Granted there will always be a market for the most fashionable building of the moment, but buyers of previous ‘of-the-moment’ buildings are learning the cost of fashion in real estate. Unless the attributes and features of a building are truly substantive, the cosmetics can fade fast. There are buildings that were once ‘it’ buildings rather recently that already look rather tired. I shudder how those poor buyers were conned into believing what they were buying was so great when in actuality they were buying something rather ordinary.

Today I am seeing a new trend where wealthy, educated buyers are looking for more than just a trend or moment. The mass production of an ‘it-product’ automatically diminishes its value in my humble opinion. Formulaic design has its limits. A home should allow for individuality and self expression. Too many properties are either dull and repetitive or dictatorial in design. This is changing. We will soon be launching a building at 152 Elizabeth Street in Nolita designed by master architect Tadao Ando with interiors by Gabellini Sheppard that speaks to this subject beautifully. In a sea of sameness, creating a product that is very difficult, if not impossible, to reproduce, let alone mass-produce, is a challenge, but if properly delivered becomes an instant collectors item.

‘It-buildings’ are great up to a certain price-point, but when the majority of people are spending a huge percentage of their net worth on a home, asking them to believe in fashionable of-the-moment possibly-soon-to-be-out-of-style real estate is somewhat dangerous from an investment perspective. Lets see what this next round of ┬áNew York buildings can produce to see if it mimics a trend thats already happening in a much more affordable market….fashion.

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