Miki Naftali.Since its inception nearly three years ago, Naftali Group has completed or is constructing 1.05 million square feet of residential condominium, rental and multifamily development, including a Pace University dormitory at 33 Beekman Street. This year, Naftali Group will be launching three condos—234 East 23rd Street, 261 West 25th Street and 206 West 77th Street—and a rental building, the Bergen, at 316 Bergen Street in Boerum Hill. In addition to his offices at 1700 Broadway, which houses 22 employees, Naftali recently opened an office in Delray Beach, Fla. Miki Naftali, the company’s chairman and chief executive officer, received a lot of attention when he led the $450 million restoration and reconfiguration of the Plaza Hotel as the president and CEO of Elad Properties. Flanked by his marketing pro and an outside P.R. person, Mr. Naftali, 51, talked to Commercial Observer last week in the conference room at his offices about development trends, the Plaza and his and his wife’s future move to Manhattan.
[Uptown,] 206 West 77th Street is going to be amazing. As far as we know, we are going to be the only new construction to be complete and deliver in 2015 in prime Upper West Side [territory], and we only have 25 units. It’s outside the historic district, so we are designing a brand new building. Then there’s 182 West 82nd Street within the historic district, so we had to keep and maintain the original façade, and we demolished everything behind it. We couldn’t use all of the air rights we own, because it’s within the historic district.
We are designing smaller units at [234 East] 23rd Street. It’s going to be really cool and geared more toward the younger, first-time buyers.
The second major change I see is that the quality and the design that we all need to deliver is at a completely different level. It’s great because we all design and deliver a much better project. If you combine the two, the cost is obviously much higher to build and design much better units, and the cost to buy those units is much higher.
And One Madison [Avenue], this is something that we never built, and I love it. It’s the only project we designed and never built. At the time, we worked with SL Green, which owns the commercial building, to develop the tower on top. We hired Daniel Libeskind, and he came up with this, in my opinion, very good design. There is a cut-out in the building that wraps the structure from the base to the top. It’s almost like a thread. About 50 percent of the units are penthouse units with outdoor space because of the setbacks. Before we were ready with the construction documents, we went through the financial crisis and stopped everything. If you ask me what I would love to build, this is it.