July 21, 2010 01:30PM By Candace Taylor
Bob Scaglion of Rose Associates (left), NY Living Solutions’ Gannon Forrester and the Aire at 200 West 67th Street
Aiming to gain an edge on the other new luxury rentals just hitting the market, Upper West Side tower the Aire held a contest last month, offering bonuses to the brokerage that completed the most transactions in the building.
The 80-agent sales and rental firm New York Living Solutions won the contest, helping to bring the building to roughly 25 percent leased, according to Rose Associates, the on-site leasing agent for the building.
The contest, which ran from June 1 to July 4, offered bonuses to the firm which completed the most transactions in the 43-story building, located at 200 West 67th Street, during that time period. The prize was $1,000 for each agent who completed a transaction in the building, plus $5,000 for the firm. (The developer, Kalimian Properties, is also paying a one-month broker’s fee.)
New York Living Solutions management is using its prize money to host a celebratory cruise around Manhattan for all its agents, said Gannon Forrester, a managing director at the firm. Agents will receive their $1,000 bonuses then, he said.
The company is focusing special attention on lease-ups of new rental buildings, he said, so the contest fit with that goal. “We made sure all the agents knew about it,” Forrester said.
Forrester directed inquiries about how many transactions the firm did to win the contest to Rose. Bob Scaglion, senior managing director at Rose, would not disclose that number, but said during the period of the contest, about 50 of the building’s 310 units were leased. Three other firms were hot on New York Living Solutions’ heels, he said, adding that Kalimian is running a similar contest at the building this month.
The goal of the promotion, in conjunction with a recent broker party, was to create buzz about the new building, which started leasing in May.
“A lot of the brokers weren’t familiar with the building, so having the party and the promotion was very good,” Scaglion said.
At the Aire, studios range in price from $2,500 to $3,600, one-bedrooms range from $3,600 to $5,000, two-bedrooms range from $5,600 to $12,000, and three-bedrooms are $11,500 to $15,000 (that’s not including a one-month-free concession currently being offered to tenants.) There are also a few as-of-yet unreleased “trophy” apartments that will rent in the range of $20,000 per month, Scaglion said.
The Aire faces stiff competition from other new Upper West Side rentals, including the Corner at 72nd and Broadway (both buildings were designed by Handel Architects.)
But brokers say the high-end rental market is showing surprising strength.
“You would be amazed at the number of rentals above $15,000 a month all over Manhattan,” said Nancy Packes, head of the eponymous new development marketing firm, which handles both sales and rentals.
This is due in part to a pickup in relocations that started early in 2010, she said. “Our core industries are hiring,” she said. “These people are very often coming from far away from New York.”
These new hires, many of them families with children, tend to rent rather than buy when they first move to the city, she said.
And while lavish spending has become socially unacceptable since the financial crisis, wealthy renters are still out there.
After the Lehman Brothers collapse, “everyone was concerned about buildings like the Corner and the Aire,” Scaglion said. “Actually, the depth of the high-end marketplace is good. People are just quiet about it.”
The top end of the luxury rentals marketing is now pushing $80-per-square square foot, up from the $60s during the downturn, Scaglion said.
“If you build a better product, they will pay for it,” he added.