August 18, 2022

Posting: Plaza’s Developer Tackles TriBeCa Project

Those units, which are to be completed by fall 2012, will range from a 1,250-square-foot studio to a 5,000-square-foot four-bedroom, as well as a penthouse that will have its own garage and elevator, said Tom Elliott, a vice president of El Ad, which is based in New York.

Prices have not been officially set because the state has not yet approved the condo offering plan. But Mr. Elliott said he expected that apartments would be listed for $2 million to $10 million, or an average of about $1,500 a square foot. The building, which was built in 1906 but in later years installed cubicles to become a Citigroup office, will also have a fitness center, a shared roof deck and a 61-foot indoor pool.

El Ad recently sold the last condo at the 181-unit Plaza, which may close a chapter of a project that suffered its share of bumps along the way. Soon after El Ad bought the Plaza in 2004 for $675 million, critics assailed the plan for conversion to condos, saying it would slash hotel jobs and alter a fabled landmark.

Then the housing downturn hit, and some condo owners sold at a loss. A shopping plaza has struggled to lure crowds, and this spring the operators of the Oak Room said they would shut it down after a dispute with El Ad about loud parties. The chief executive of El Ad, Miki Naftali, stepped down in May.

There is little doubt that selling the Plaza’s last condo brings El Ad a measure of relief. But 250 West holds some risks of its own. Because it won’t be completed when the sales office opens, brokers will have to sell using little more than a model apartment on the fifth floor, and a showroom adorned with finishes.

Buyers might not be willing to commit until they can see a finished product, Mr. Elliott said, but he predicted that the building would sell out in 18 months. “We feel we have always delivered on everything,” he said.

Other El Ad conversions of historic structures include 21 Astor Place, a 50-unit condo in a Romanesque former library building, and the O’Neill Building, at 655 Avenue of the Americas, which once housed a department store.

Selling apartments before they’re finished, even to wealthy buyers, can be daunting, said Gerard Longo, the chief executive of Madison Estates and Properties, a development firm and brokerage in Brooklyn. Mr. Longo said his company, which built three condos near 250 West, including the 21-unit Fairchild, at 55 Vestry Street, prefers to have a completed building to show buyers.

Even then it can be tough. The Fairchild still hasn’t sold out, two and a half years after sales began. The last unit on the market is a triplex for $3.5 million, Mr. Longo said.

Still, he said, 250 West occupies a “pristine” lot with front and center views of the Hudson River, and the Jersey City skyline as a backdrop; it also offers easy proximity to Hudson River Park, where two new recreational piers, 25 and 26, are in the works.

A point in 250 West’s favor is its comparatively large apartments. A one-bedroom at 250 West, with 1,500 square feet, might be considered a two-bedroom at the Fairchild, Mr. Longo said.

“This is a very family-oriented neighborhood,” he said. “You see lots of kids and strollers on the street.”

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