New York Observer

Naftali Group Gets Inquiries for Upper West Side Condos Before Land Sale Even Closes

July 1, 2013

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Council candidates and the audience at Landmarks West’s forum on development on the Upper West Side last week will be as disappointed as would-be buyers will be excited to know that a new, 18-story ultra-luxury building is set to rise in their midst: the Naftali Group has acquired the Hertz garage at 206-210 West 77th Street from the Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services, with the intention of building just shy of 100,000 square feet of condominiums.

The Naftali Group paid well over what observers were predicting for the site—Bob Knakal, who brokered the sale, told Crain’s that he expected the site to fetch “as much as $45 million,” but told us today that he was surprised when the price hit $55.5 million, due to the incredibly tight market for land on the Upper West Side.

“I think in the first three months of 2013, land values increased 20 to 30 percent,” Mr. Knakal told The Observer. And it’s good that the Naftali Group bought when it did, because Mr. Knakal told us that by the end of the year, he sees land prices rising to 50 percent above where they were last year.

Despite some Upper West Side residents’ impression of their neighborhood as under siege by developers, large building sites rarely come to market in one of the city’s most regulated neighborhoods, which has been landmarked to the hilt. The site sits on a narrow strip of un-landmarked land, bounded roughly by Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue, which falls outside of the the Central Park West and West End historic districts.

“There is absolutely no inventory on the Upper West Side,” Miki Naftali, the developer, told The Observer this afternoon. “For the first time, in my career at least, we’re already getting phone calls” from people interested in the units, before the design has even been unveiled. (Mr. Naftali wasn’t ready to discuss exactly what the project would look like—that’s coming in a week or so, he said—but he did say that he had an architect in mind. “We’re not going to create something cutting-edge contemporary, but it’s definitely not going to be old world.”)

In continuing with the Upper West Side’s kid-friendly image, the units will be family-sized—there will be just around 30 units plus ground-level retail space spread over the nearly 100,000 square feet of space, according to a press release on the deal.

Mr. Naftali told The Observer that he’s looking to break ground in the early part of next year.