Agent Detail
Warburg Realty - A Higher Standard Since 1896
Karen A. Gastiaburo Karen A. Gastiaburo
Lic. Assoc. Real Estate Broker, Tribeca Sales Director

Office:  100 Hudson Street
NY, NY 10013
Phone:  212-380-2401
Mobile:  917-885-9136
Fax:  646-422-4070
Languages: Spanish

Karen Gastiaburo knows New York City real estate from the ground up. A Tribeca Sales Director at Warburg Realty, Karen was the natural choice to open Warburg's Tribeca office in 2005. Today, she manages over 30 agents in Tribeca, and is an integral part of Warburg's management team. A firm believer that success stems from longevity and the desire to learn every intricate part of the industry, Karen began her real estate career over 32 years ago as a secretary in a small New York City real estate company.


In an effort to supplement her pursuit of acting in the early eighties, Karen became a secretary for the townhouse and financial divisions of a prominent well known real estate firm. While theater remained a passion of Karen's (and still is), she quickly realized that she had a keen interest and knack for real estate, so she obtained her real estate license and began selling properties.  Her strong background as a stage actress - notably her perceptive abilities and improvisation skills - proved an invaluable asset, allowing her to easily navigate the "theater" that is New York City real estate! In 1998, Karen was given a well-deserved opportunity to open and manage real estate office in Tribeca and in less than five years, led her team to become top earners within the entire firm.


Committed to Manhattan Karen has a special love for Tribeca, a neighborhood she has watched evolve with a professional eye for over 15 years.  Amongst her many passions she has made a concerted effort through her office to give back to the community that has given her so much.  A strong supporter of the arts, Karen has spearheaded quarterly art exhibits in the office, showcasing artists' works and hosting artist receptions (check out Warburg's Facebook Art Tab). Thanks to Karen's leadership, children are also the beneficiaries of her office's goodwill.  In fact, 10% of sales from each art exhibit are donated to Tribeca's Manhattan Youth Center, and every year the office hosts a festive Halloween party for the kids in the neighborhood. 


Karen is an NYRS Designee, having received REBNY's premier professional residential real estate credential and an active member of REBNY the Real Estate Board of New York. Karen served a 4 year term as Co-Chair on the Downtown Committee, where she worked to maintain open dialogue and strong relationships between the industry firms.


A Harlem homeowner, Karen is also dedicated to her yoga (a Certified Anusara Teacher) and meditation practice and believes that in this stressful business having a clear mind is key to a successful closing.

Apartment Sales and Rentals
255 West 90th Street
COOP Sale 9.0 4 2.0 n/a
143 Reade Street
CONDO Sale 6.0 3 3.5 2,827
101 Central Park West
COOP Sale 6.0 2 3.5 n/a
801 West End Avenue
COOP Sale 6.0 2 2.0 n/a
21 East 22nd Street
COOP Sale 5.5 2 2.0 n/a
42 West 120th Street
CONDO Sale 4.5 2 2.0 878
313 West 119th Street
CONDO Sale 4.0 2 2.0 1,010
275 Greenwich Avenue
CONDO Sale 4.0 2 2.0 1,100
5 East 22nd Street
CONDO Sale 4.0 1 2.0 n/a
22 East 82nd Street
TWNH Sale 4.0 1 2.0 1,200
504 West 111th Street
COOP Sale 4.0 2 1.0 n/a
234 West 148th Street
CONDO Sale 4.0 2 2.0 966
1400 Fifth Avenue
CONDO Sale 4.0 2 2.0 1,100
55 Hudson Street
COOP Sale 3.5 1 1.0 n/a
22 West 15th Street
CONDO Sale 3.0 1 1.0 715
315 East 88th Street
COOP Sale 3.0 1 1.0 n/a
467 Central Park West
CONDO Sale 3.0 1 1.0 n/a
22 West 15th Street
CONDO Sale 3.0 1 1.0 n/a
467 Central Park West
CONDO Sale 3.0 1 1.0 n/a
210 Riverside Drive
COOP Sale 3.0 1 1.0 n/a
315 West 88th Street
COOP Sale 3.0 1 1.0 n/a
42 West 120th Street
CONDO Sale 3.0 1 1.0 602
288-290 West 92nd Street
COOP Sale 3.0 1 1.0 n/a
16 West 16th Street
COOP Sale 2.5 n/a 1.0 n/a
392 Central Park West
CONDO Sale 2.5 n/a 1.0 545
201 East 37th Street
COOP Sale 2.0 n/a 1.0 n/a
55 Liberty Street
COOP Sale 2.0 1 1.0 n/a
99 Reade Street
CONDO Rental 4.0 1 2.0 1,600
46 West 88th Street
COOP Rental 4.0 2 2.0 n/a
450 North End Avenue
RNTL Rental 4.0 2 2.0 n/a
92 Laight Street
CONDO Rental 4.0 2 2.0 1,710
234 West 148th Street
CONDO Rental 4.0 2 2.0 966
46 West 88th Street
COOP Rental 3.0 1 1.0 n/a
300 Albany Street
CONDO Rental 3.0 1 1.0 n/a
152 West 77th Street
COOP Rental 3.0 1 1.0 n/a
67 Hudson Street
CONDO Rental 3.0 1 1.0 n/a
392 Central Park West
CONDO Rental 2.5 n/a 1.0 550
392 Central Park West
CONDO Rental 2.0 n/a 1.0 550
290 West 11th Street
COOP Rental 2.0 n/a 1.0 n/a
392 Central Park West
CONDO Rental 2.0 n/a 1.0 550
75 West End Avenue
RNTL Rental 2.0 n/a 1.0 n/a
290 West 11th Street
COOP Rental 2.0 n/a 1.0 n/a

Press Mentions
5.21.14 Karen Gastiaburo and Jason Haber in Real Estate Weekly

CORE’s Chelsea office is hard to overlook. Straddling the corner of Seventh Avenue and 18th Street, it sits behind floor-to-ceiling glass windows that showcase the brokerage’s latest listings on classic print-outs. Through the windows, passers-by can see couches in the waiting area and photos of brownstone walk-ups on the walls.

Retail storefronts seem to have become more important for New York City’s residential brokerages in recent years, according to brokers.

Everything about the office is designed to draw people’s attention – with some success. CORE broker Steve Snider said pedestrians often stop to look at the listings and end up walking in, leading to an average of 25 to 30 additional clients each week. This year alone, Snider has won $5 million in listings from walk-ins.

“We pay a ridiculously high amount of rent, but we also get a tremendous amount of people,” he said. His colleague Paul Johansen added that he gets as much as 90 percent of his business from walk-in clients. There is no doubt that CORE’s Chelsea office is successful. But does it have a future?

A number of observers argue that brokerage storefronts are a dying breed in the internet age. As more and more information on listings is brought online, the argument goes, brokerage storefronts will eventually share the fate of book- or CD-stores and become redundant. Somewhat belatedly, the internet has started to transform the brokerage business. Online listing databases like Craigslist, Streeteasy and Trulia have been growing rapidly over the past decade, taking business away from traditional brokerage offices. The city’s newest brokerage, Urban Compass, chose to showcase its listings exclusively online and doesn’t have a single storefront.

And yet the brokerage storefront has proved to be a remarkably resilient model. REBNY doesn’t track their total number in New York City, but reckons it “probably increased” over the past years. Whenever firms enter an emerging neighborhood, they still usually start by opening a retail office there: just two months ago, Halstead announced it would open its first storefront in Bed-Stuy.

If anything, retail storefronts seem to have become more important for New York City’s brokerages in recent years. Aleksandra Scepanovic, who heads the mid-sized Brooklyn brokerage Ideal Properties Group, believes brokerage storefronts are thriving because people tend to prefer face-to-face contact when it comes to real estate.

“You can read books or listen to music online, but you can’t live in an apartment on the internet,” she said. “You have a physical need for physical space, and you can’t resolve that physical need merely by browsing through the internet.”

“Looking for a place to call your home is a very emotional and face-to-face process. Some clients prefer to initiate human contact sooner rather than later.” Scepanovic said walk-ins at the brokerage’s four storefronts make up about 20 percent of its new clients. Even if clients initiate contact online, they often still prefer to then meet up in the office.

Another reason why brokerages continue to bank on storefronts is the high retention rates they generate.

Scepanovic estimates 68 to 72 percent of people who walk into one of Ideal Properties Group’s storefronts to inquire about a listing or offer one end up becoming clients – compared to a mere 43 percent of people who inquire online or via telephone.

Douglas Elliman broker Mark Menendez, who co-manages the firm’s Tribeca office, puts its walk-in retention rate somewhat lower at 40 to 50 percent. But he agreed that storefronts increase the likelihood of browsers becoming customers.

“When you meet face-to-face it’s a lot more personable. There’s a lot more commitment from both sides, and you can establish a connection,” he said. “When you have someone in front of you, people tend to open up a lot more.”

While clients’ preferences for face-to-face contact and high retention rates seem to spell a bright future for brokerage storefronts in New York City, other factors give reason for pessimism.

For one, clients’ preferences can change. Buyers or renters may crave a broker’s handshake now, but if they become more accustomed to online listings and 3D space-viewing technology gains ground over the coming years, more people could start viewing apartments as something that can be bought or rented online.

Moreover, rising retail rents in New York City are already threatening to make many brokerage storefronts unprofitable.

“I think if retail rents keep going where they are going it will be very hard for brokerages to justify retail offices,” said Gary Malin, President of brokerage Citi Habitats. “Half the office is empty all the time because people are out. To spend that amount of money for retail rents if people don’t use them is tough.”

Citi Habitats recently merged two Upper West Side storefront offices, and its newest office will be on the fifth floor of 665 Broadway with no retail component.

“As all our retail leases come up for renewal, we will do a thorough analysis, and probably move some of them upstairs,” Malin said, adding that offices on higher floors tend to be significantly cheaper than retail spaces.

The high cost of retail storefronts was a main reason why Urban Compass chose to make do without them. Gordon Golub, Urban Compass’ chief residential real estate officer (and Citi Habitats veteran), said the money saved on storefronts allowed the brokerage to invest heavily in its online technology.

But despite Urban Compass’ focus on online listings, Golub dismissed the notion that brokerage storefronts could disappear anytime soon.

“I would expect (storefronts) to continue being important, and I wouldn’t rule out that at some point in our business plan we may decide there is a reason to have some sort of retail presence,” he said.

And while Citi Habitats is consolidating, other brokerages are adding retail space. Two of the city’s three largest brokerages – Halstead and Douglas Elliman – said they increased the number of storefronts in recent years. Corcoran declined to comment.

Mid-sized brokerage Warburg Realty also added retail space recently, and has plans for new storefronts in Brooklyn. Sales managers Karen Gastiaburo and Jason Haber said walk-ins are a “significant piece” of Warburg’s new client business.

As internet technology continues to make inroads into residential brokerage, retail is likely to decline in importance. But if the current trend is any indication, brokerage storefronts won’t disappear anytime soon.

2.26.14 Warburg Realty Sales Director Karen Gastiaburo to Moderate Real Estate Weekly Women’s Forum Session
Warburg Realty Sales Director Karen Gastiaburo to Moderate Real Estate Weekly Women’s Forum Session

Warburg Realty, one of Manhattan’s leading residential real estate companies, today announced Tribeca Sales Director Karen Gastiaburo will moderate the “Women Who Market” session at the 3rd Annual Real Estate Weekly Women’s Forum on February 27th.

She will oversee a panel of top New York City brokers including Dottie Herman, president and CEO of Prudential Douglas Elliman; Melissa DiBella, partner, TerraCRG; Kathy Kaye, senior vice president, Trump Organization; Jill Lovatt, first vice president of retail leasing at Massey Knakal; and Joanne Podell, vice chairman at Cushman & Wakefield.

A broker for more than three decades, Gastiaburo successfully opened Warburg’s Tribeca office in 2005. Today she oversees more than 30 agents there, and is an integral part of the firm’s management team. Gastiaburo is an NYRS Designee, REBNY’s premier professional residential real estate credential. She also served a four-year term as Co-Chair on the Downtown Committee, where she worked to maintain open dialogue and strong relationships between the industry firms.

“I am honored to moderate a panel filled with many of the real estate industry’s most influential and successful women,” Gastiaburo stated. “It promises to be a thought provoking and educational session for all attendees.”

The panel, which begins at 12:05pm on February 27th, will “give the inside scoop on trends they are seeing in the markets, secrets to a success deal, and projects they are excited about in 2014,” according to the Real Estate Weekly Women’s Forum website at

Over 550 investors, owners, developers, financiers and other industry principals are scheduled to attend the 3rd Annual Real Estate Weekly Women’s Forum, the website noted. The event will be held at the McGraw-Hill Conference Center, 1221 Avenue of the Americas in Midtown Manhattan. For more information, visit the website or call 646-862-6136.

2.26.13 Warburg Realty® TriBeCa Hosts Second Exhibition
Warburg Realty® TriBeCa Hosts Second Exhibition
from International Artist Kristina Sretkova

Warburg Realty® TriBeCa office is proud to host its second art exhibit by internationally renowned artist Kristina Sretkova. The artwork will be on display for the public from April 2 to June 30, 2013, with additional pieces being added later in the show.

“Kristina’s paintings were so well received during the first exhibit, we are thrilled to have her back for this latest showing,” said Karen Gastiaburo, Senior Vice and Sales Manager of the TriBeCa office. “Warburg Realty is continuing its commitment to support the artists in our communities and to provide a venue to showcase their work, and we are proud to share it with visitors to our office.”

Berlin based artist, Kristina Sretkova’s paintings are internationally recognized for their power and strength and use of vibrant colors. At the end of April, Kristina will visit the office with additional paintings featuring new styles and energy to further enhance the current exhibit. Reviews of her work often note how color is used to convey a range of emotions—from excitement to passion.

“My painting reflects what is happening within my world, so I wanted to present the office with pieces that have a different energy from my last exhibit,” said Ms. Sretkova. “I’m thrilled to once again have the opportunity to feature my latest pieces at Warburg Realty’s TriBeCa office and share my work with the neighborhood and visitors.”

An opening reception with be held at the 100 Hudson Street office on Thursday, April 25th from 6:00 to 8:00 pm. Visitors are welcome to view the work at Warburg’s TriBeCa office during office hours, and 10% of all proceeds will be donated to Manhattan Youth’s Downtown Community Center. Ms. Sretkova will also be participating in Tribeca’s TOAST Art Walk this year from May 3-6th here at Warburg Realty.

3.27.12 In todays Daily Broadsheet
P.S. 89 Kids Test Both Their Mettle
and Their Metal
School's Team Earns Gold in Dance Competition,
Puts Metallic Sculpture on Display in Tribeca

P.S. 89's fifth-grade class is seeing gold in more ways than one this month. Last week, the class's ballroom dancing team won a gold medal in the Manhattan "Dancing Classrooms" competition for public schools. This week, a video of that accomplishment will accompany an exhibition of their metallic figure sculptures in the windows of 100 Hudson Street's Tribeca Warburg Realty.

The figure sculptures fulfill a standard grade requirement, but P.S. 89 art teacher Sarah Hene said, "it also connects the figure-drawing study done in art class with the knowledge of the body and how it moves that students gained during their ballroom dancing program. I have always loved the expressive quality of [Alberto] Giacometti's sculptures," whose work is now on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Modern and Contemporary collection.

To create the sculptures, each student first positioned armature wire into the desired pose, covered it with aluminum foil and plaster gauze, and painted the figure black with an overcoat of gold for a "bronzed look." "They truly give a glimpse of who the artist is; you'll see a dancer, an athlete, a gymnast, even a relaxing vacationer," said Ms. Hene.

Karen Gastiaburo, manager of Tribeca Warburg Realty since 2005, has supported the arts since moving into the space with a quarterly art show for local adult artists and windows dedicated to the younger community. "My most favorite part -- I have a window seat facing Leonard and Hudson -- is watching the sweet faces of the kids come up to the window to check out the art. Some of them sometimes recognize their own pieces. That part is really fun and frankly makes my day," she said.

The display will stay in the windows through the Tribeca Open Artist Studio Tour (TOAST) from April 27th-30th. For more information on TOAST Tribeca, click HERE

4.6.11 Tomorrow night's Selling New York Virtual Viewing Event in today's Daily News!

“Selling New York” fans, brush up on your multitasking. Tomorrow night, beginning at 9pm, cast member Deborah Lupard and her Sales Director Karen Gastiaburo of Warburg Realty Partnership will host a “virtual viewing party” during the season-three premiere of the HGTV reality series. Fans who log on to Warburg’s Facebook fan page can ask them questions in real (estate) time.

3.1.11 Karen Gastiaburo on
Tribeca tightens
Neighborhood's dearth of inventory helps desirably priced apartments fly fast
March 01, 2011
By Melissa Dehncke-McGill

If there's one thing driving the Tribeca residential market right now, it may very well be the lack of a market. Indeed, brokers and market analysts say the neighborhood's inventory, which is roughly 30 percent lower than it was at the peak, is influencing how almost all properties are being perceived and how quickly transactions are taking place.

While even slightly overpriced apartments are still sitting on the market, when a property is priced right, particularly if it's a two-bedroom or larger, it's getting snapped up fast.

One broker said, "Two-bedrooms up to $1.9 million are [typically] trading in under two weeks with multiple offers.

"Open houses for [those] two-bedrooms … are packed," he said, adding that he recently had nearly 30 potential buyers at a third open house.

Of course, part of the reason there is so little inventory is because, unlike a few years ago, there are virtually no large new developments on the market in Tribeca today. That's because many of the planned projects in the pipeline stalled or failed when the economy soured, and because it's extremely difficult to get funding for new projects.

Meanwhile, while families are still flocking to Tribeca (look no further than the fact that noon to 3 p.m., aka naptime, is the hardest window to show properties), some say singles are becoming more interested in the area as it has become more populated with hot destinations like the new bar Weather Up and Sean Avery's 77 Warren.

Still, prices have remained relatively flat in the last year and a half, and some sellers are stubbornly resisting price reductions. For more on which apartments are selling best and worst, which parts of the neighborhood have the most celebrity buzz (it's no longer just Northern Tribeca) and what the current development pipeline looks like, we turn to our panel of experts.

Karen Gastiaburo
Senior Vice President, Warburg Realty

What are you seeing in terms of sales prices in Tribeca compared to the recent past?
We are pretty much at a place where things have leveled out. The average co-op price in Tribeca is probably around $1,000 to $1,200 [a square foot]. In terms of the [fancier] condos … like the Summit, 101 Warren, and Artisan Lofts at 143 Reade, they are anywhere from $1,500 a square foot to as high as $2,000 a square foot. … I think to a degree that a lot of the sellers down here -- and I am kind of generalizing -- are still somewhere back in 2007. We'll see a lot of things that have been on the market for some time and haven't sold. In the cases where something is moving quickly, it's all about being priced well.

What's the biggest challenge of selling in the Tribeca market?
Clearly our biggest challenge is dealing with the sellers that don't want to get out of [their pricing] zone. If you put an apartment on the market at a certain price … you'll know within 30 to 60 days if you are getting any kind of activity or offers. If it is not moving within that time frame, you have got to make a price adjustment.

9.22.10 Tribeca Art Exhibit on
Citybizlist New York
September 22, 2010

Warburg Realty’s TriBeCa Office Hosts
New Art Exhibit at 100 Hudson

New York, NY -- Warburg Realty Partnership's TriBeCa office is proud to announce its newest art exhibit featuring pieces by New York-based painter Sharon Florin and photographer Rachel Hudgins. The office located at 100 Hudson Street will host an opening party at 6pm on September 30, 2010 to celebrate the artists and their work. Warburg Realty, one of Manhattan's leading luxury residential real estate firms, is a long-time supporter of the arts-- especially local artists-and is pleased to provide an opportunity for these artists to feature their artwork. The artists will donate 10 percent of any sales to the Manhattan Youth Recreation and Resources, Inc also based in TriBeCa.

"As a member of the TriBeCa community we are proud to support and foster the creative spirit, which is at the heart of this neighborhood," said Karen Gastiaburo, Senior Vice President and Sales Manager at the TriBeCa office. "As a firm, Warburg is thrilled to continue our tradition of offering local artists the opportunity to feature and sell their work to visitors of our gallery space."

Urban landscape oil painter Sharon Florin is a realist painter, and has spent the past 30 years recording the streetscapes and buildings of New York. She is recognized for her ability to capture the texture, detail and light of the city as it appears in the reflection of the skyline and building architecture. Florin has selected more than 15 works of art to appear in the show.

Joining Florin is photographer Rachel Hudgins. Her work is all about storytelling. With 20 years in the entertainment industry producing feature films and as a photographer, her still images have a cinematic and narrative quality. She is renowned for her work with children, which is often described as humorous, timeless and warm and honest. The exhibit will feature nine pieces of her work.
The TriBeCa office will host the exhibit from September 30, 2010, to January 7, 2011 and visitors are welcome to see the works during office hours.

4.26.10 Broker Plays Starring Role in Tribeca Real Estate
Brokers Weekly

Broker Plays Starring Role in Tribeca Real Estate

Despite nearly 30 years in the business, Warburg Realty senior vice president Karen Gastiaburo never set out for a career in the industry. That changed once she realized real estate was about relationship building – a skill served well by her background in theater.

Ambitious and outgoing, the aspiring actress began in the business in the industry as a temp. With a positive attitude and the ability to mesh well with all types of people, she wore hats in the financial, sales and managerial ends of the business as well as, over time, established herself as one of the leading real estate experts in Tribeca – where she has overseen a Warburg sales team for the last five years.

Her career began in the early 1980’s after she took some clerical work at William B. May while she was a student.

“I had just started school and I originally tried to kick off a career in theater. I ended up at William B. May because I was doing temp work as so many actors do,” Gastiaburo said. “But my career in theater helped me so much in this industry. You have to be a chameleon in this business.”

It helped her so much that William B. May invited her back for a permanent position, where she spent the next 24 years. But it was not until she advanced to the financial end of the company where she began to consider sales.

“I was the person issuing the checks and I saw these nice-sized checks and thought maybe I could do this,” Gastiaburo said.

In the mid 90s she obtained her real estate license, focusing on her administrative and office duties by day and learning sales by night. And that same day she earned her license, a friend entrusted her with the sale of their Columbus Circle apartment. She ended up selling the unit within a week of her first open house.

In 1998, the company tapped her to spearhead a new sales office in Tribeca. “I was delighted. We opened a small little office at 51 Hudson, and when we started we didn’t have one broker.”

But under her guidance, the office grew exponentially and became a mainstay in the Tribeca market. One of her most challenging deals during her time there included the sale of a Watch Street townhouse. She noted that while apartment sales have their own challenges, they paled in comparison to the lot, egress and other issues that arise when handling a townhouse transaction.

More than two decades into her career at William B. May, “family drama” at the firm prompted Gastiaburo to consider other options. Leaving the company she had spent her entire life at proved “jarring” and she even thought about leaving the real estate industry all together – until she met with Warburg Realty president Frederick Peters.

When Peters told her he wanted to expand his firm by opening a Tribeca office, she knew she had found the right home. And in 2006, Gastiaburo continued to serve the neighborhood she had grown deep fondness for and opened yet another Tribeca office, though this time for Warburg Realty.

“I love coming down here,” said Gastiaburo who lives on the Upper Westside. “We’ve got a beautiful office, we have a great crew and I had a lot of say when the office was being built.”

Throughout her many years in Tribeca, Gastiaburo has seen plenty of new developments, but one thing she believes makes the area unique is the fact that with so many landmarked properties, the market has been able to retain its charm. She’s also seen new money in Tribeca.

During the boom years between 2002-2007, she recalled a flurry of wealthy young professionals eyeing home ownership in the market known as a thriving arts community and playground for celebrities. In fact, she had two hedge fund clients in their 20s looking to buy apartments between $10-$12 million.

“It was just mind boggling. We saw a lot of young financial people making lots of money – and spending lots of money.”

Boom years or not,, Gastiaburo and her brokers are keeping busy and that’s mainly because they understand that selling real estate is about selling yourself and building relationships. She emphasizes the importance of letting clients see the human elements of a sales person and that allowing some personality to show, only strengthens the trust between a broker and client.

While today’s market isn’t mimicking the 2002-2007 rush, Gastiaburo did say resurgence in activity has optimism in New York’s housing sector.

Appreciative of the flexibility real estate affords her theater endeavors; the former stage actress continues to put her artistic stamp on her day job. Many of her top brokers have come from the theater/arts world and Gastiaburo is always fishing for an opportunity to display art in the office: the office is home to a gallery that changes quarterly and tenement models built by PS 150 students are currently on display.

“And when the dust settles a little bit, I’d certainly like to dabble and go back and do some theater,” said Gastiaburo who has been involved with a Manhattan-based theater and done some voiceover/commercial work on the side.

In her free time, Gastiaburo enjoys travelling abroad as a means of relaxing, recharging and adopting a more global perspective. Past trips include excursions to Peru and India.

3.19.10 Karen Gastiaburo in Promenade Magazine
Promenade Magazine

As Chelsea changes, its roots remain
Author: Kaitlin Ahern

With the High Line open and a boom of new developments, Chelsea remains an artsy neighborhood true to its industrial past.

Long known as Manhattan’s gallery district—home to the highest concentration of art galleries in the country, if not the world—Chelsea has been the preferred corner of the city for the creative and somewhat offbeat for nearly a century. Though not underdeveloped, the area showed considerably more resistance to development than the city’s denser areas. In light of recent happenings, though—including new zoning laws and a popular new park by name of the High Line—Chelsea, and specifically West Chelsea, is seeing some changes. And though these developments are pushing it into a more commercial direction, the area has still managed to stay connected to its roots, maintaining the edgy vibe that’s long separated it from other Manhattan neighborhoods.

Stretching from 16th Street north to 30th Street on Manhattan’s West Side and roughly bound between 10th and 11th Avenues, West Chelsea saw its beginnings as farmland in the early 1800s. Like many other areas of New York’s developing metropolis, its rural charm faded as the neighborhood evolved.

But there is where many similarities end.

An influx of population provided the workforce, and the area’s natural amenities—including, most notably, its proximity to the Hudson—wrote the rest of the story. By the beginning of the 20th century, Chelsea had become an industrial hub—a neighborhood of factories, warehouses, and piers – and a center for silent films, marking the beginning of Chelsea’s affair with the artistic crowd.

The combination of these influences essentially laid the groundwork for the neighborhood’s personality. Factories and warehouses have since become art galleries and off-Broadway theaters, and, more recently, a certain rundown railway line has undergone a reported $85 million renovation into the city’s first elevated park.

Originally constructed in the 1930s, the High Line’s purpose was to remove dangerous freight traffic from the streets of what was then Manhattan’s largest industrial district. The 30-feet-high tracks span from Gansevoort Street north to West 34th Street, between 10th and 11th Avenues. Saved by the Friends of the High Line organization in 1999 and transformed into a model of innovative landscaping and modern design, the park’s first section opened last June between Gansevoort and 20th Streets, in the Meatpacking District, though most of the line is located in Chelsea.

In many ways the High Line is reflective of the neighborhood itself, evolving from industrial center to an offbeat modern marketplace of culture that’s been attracting a lot of attention lately. “I think the High Line has opened up the door to Chelsea,” says Karen Gastiaburo, senior vice president and Tribeca sales manager for Warburg Realty Partnership. “People are focusing in on those parts of town [by the High Line] and doing things to make it more liveable and pleasurable.”

Take the renewed interest in the area spurred by the High Line, combine with a city-ordered rezoning of the West Chelsea neighborhood in 2005 meant to “encourage and guide the development of West Chelsea as a dynamic mixed use neighborhood,” and you’ve got the two-part catalyst that’s steered the area into more commercial waters than ever before. A flood of lively ethnic restaurants and trendy clothing boutiques have earned this area’s recent prestige as an alternative shopping destination. And in the past five to 10 years, Chelsea has seen a building boom, especially in the form of high rise luxury buildings. Many of these new developments artfully echo the area’s industrial past through their architecture and aesthetics.

“The High Line has gentrified the area without changing its flavor,” says Alan Sands, senior vice president and associate broker for Corcoran Group Real Estate and a member of Friends of the High Line. “About five years ago there was a boom of developments, which has brought more people, shops, and restaurants, but it still has that industrial, gallery feel to the district. The architecture and look hasn’t totally changed.”

One example is the property at 456 West 19th Street, an 11-story boutique condo building developed by architect Cary Tamarkin. The structure houses 22 duplex residences, each with double-height living areas, ranging in size from 1130 to 3000 square feet. Among those are four penthouses, located on the building’s top four floors, each featuring six-foot-wide fireplaces and large private terraces (1100-1800 square feet), which “mirror the waves of the neighboring Hudson River.” Prices for the residences start at $1.5 million, with penthouses priced from $6 million. About half of the units have High Line views, and most have views of the river as well.

“I think the type of person that’s attracted to West Chelsea is one who appreciates the fundamental beauty of the neighborhood,” says Millie Perry, director of sales for the building under Stribling Marketing Associates. “The feedback I’ve gotten from buyers is that they’re drawn by the exterior beauty of the building. They love the way it blends in with the industrial elements of the neighborhood, but it’s also a classic brick building with these stunning windows.”

A bit north lies the six-story property at 525 West 22nd Street, developed as the first condo building in the area in 1997 and renovated in 2008. According to Sands, who represents the building for Corcoran, the structure is a rare find in that the layouts of each residence are different. “The developer only did the kitchens and bathrooms, then people did their own thing with the rest of the apartment once they moved in,” Sands explains, adding, “There’s a lot of warmth in the building that’s not being recreated in today’s world.”

What’s more, the eastern wall of the building actually fronts the second section of the High Line (in fact, a third floor apartment was once a loading dock), which means many of the residences will have stunning views of the park when the second section opens this year.

But the gem of the property is Penthouse A, with 3600 square feet of space and 1100 square feet of private rooftop terrace, which is currently listed at a cool $8.495 million.

“In 1997 it wasn’t an art district, but the unit itself has a gallery feel,” Sands says. “It has the original cement floors and exposed brick interiors, 12-foot high ceilings, and floor-to-ceiling columns. It fits in well with the Chelsea area.”

In terms of real estate, pricing has been very strong in the neighborhood, Gastiaburo says. Many of the new luxury developments have high price points, from $1500-$1700 per square foot, which is above the average city neighborhood, she says.

With more properties in development over the next five years or so and the addition of the two northern sections of the High Line, Chelsea is on track to become one of the city’s more lively residential neighborhoods. But as it evolves, its roots will likely stay intact.

“The area has changed, but the flavor has been maintained,” Sands says. “It’s certainly a destination, and the High Line has opened it up even more to New Yorkers who weren’t aware before of the beauty and uniqueness of the area.”

1.1.09 January 2009 -- Tribeca Trib
The Tribeca Trib
January 2009

To the Editor:

Recently, in an effort to better assist my agents in our current market, I decided to implement a “word of the week” at our office sales meetings. I started with the word “fear.”

I wanted to know what my agents were feeling. Instead of being fearful, as I thought they might be, they described themselves as being somewhat contemplative, but often in the position of consoling and comforting some of their clients who were fearful.

Comfort often comes simply from knowing we are not alone. Now, more than ever, it is time to unite, to be compassionate, lend a helping hand, give some advice. This is important not only for us as brokers, but as people in the community we work and live in.

We are all personally changed by our current conditions. Let us hope and have faith that this change will inevitably be for the better. We are all affected; we are all in this together.

Karen Gastiaburo
Warburg Realty

9.1.08 Trying Times in Tribeca

Trying times in Tribeca
September, 2008

Tribeca was recently singled out in a report by, which called 10013 "America's most overpriced zip code," and brokers there are, in fact, seeing fewer buyers willing to pay those steep prices.

"We are definitely seeing things slowing down," said Karen Gastiaburo, senior vice president for Warburg Realty in its Tribeca office. "Buyers are taking their time; no one is in a hurry. They want to see what's going to happen with their jobs, with the upcoming election."

The Forbes report was based on a price-to-earnings estimate — with earnings generated from rental listings aggregated by the Web site In other words, how much a property costs versus what it could bring the buyer on the rental market. Tribeca's 36.3 price-to-earnings ratio means that homes there are selling at a vast premium compared to similar rental properties.

But in fact, according to data from StreetEasy, Tribeca isn't selling much at all. The Web site noted that 139 sales closed in the second quarter of 2008, down from 212 sales in the second quarter a year earlier.

Blame the credit crunch. Even if an offer is made and accepted, buyers can expect to wait at the banks, which are now scrutinizing more mortgage applications, said Gastiaburo. "We are seeing banks change their minds mid-stream, and buyers are having a rough time getting a mortgage," she noted. Gastiaburo cited a client who was purchasing a Tribeca property for about $2 million and had signed a contract, but was held up by a bank changing their pre-approval process.

"I'm seeing that it takes three to six months to get an accepted offer. It's not like four years ago when things sold like crazy off the shelf, when you blinked your eye and something got sold," she said.

"We've had clients in contract on $3.5 million with 90 percent financing," said Ken Malian, senior executive vice president for Prudential Douglas Elliman. "Then the bank pulled back, and the buyer had to come up with an additional $450,000 to close."

In the last couple of months Gastiaburo has seen people pull out of deals in new construction buildings. "Because there's a large gap of time from when you buy and are looking to close, I've seen many cases where things have shifted. People have lost jobs and can't afford the apartment." Occasionally a buyer can get someone else to buy in and do a flip, she noted.

About half the inventory that's moving is in new developments. In the second quarter of 2007, 125 apartments sold in new developments, with an average price of $1.82 million. A year later that number dropped to 72, but the average price climbed to $2.37 million, according to StreetEasy.

Brokers are seeing some resurgence in closings for luxury units such as the Tribeca Summit at 415 Greenwich Street. Currently the building has 22 units in contract and eight still on the market.

"Deals are happening when sellers price their property realistically. If a property is overpriced it will sit on the market for a while," said Malian.

Sean Murphy Turner, a broker for Stribling in Tribeca, said condo apartments in conversion buildings like Artisan Lofts at 143 Reade Street and Sky Lofts at 145 Hudson are also showing some activity.

"Artisan Lofts has done very well this year with only a few units left to sell," she said. Turner is handling Sky Lofts, which a couple of years ago was ordered by the city to tear down the new penthouse on top of the building because it was built seven feet higher than permitted. The penthouse was then rebuilt. Turner said the building is now in its second phase, with 12 units coming on the market in the fall. A 7,400-square-foot penthouse there went on the market in the beginning of June and was expected to be in contract by the end of August. According to Turner, it's selling for $34.5 million.

Malian said that the small luxury units for sale in the new Pearline Soap Factory at 414 Washington Street are starting to get some attention. "We weren't seeing much action in the spring, but since then we've gotten offers and signed contracts. Activity has picked up from June and July."

As for re-sales in Tribeca, StreetEasy reports that there were 79 of them in the second quarter of 2007 with an average price of $2.65 million. This year there were 59 re-sales with an average price of $2.87 million.

"Sellers are not really lowering their prices," said Alan Miller, senior director at Eastern Consolidated. "Look at the re-sales at 200 Chambers where apartments are being sold by people who bought the units new about two years [ago]. They are going really well."

Some are seeing south Tribeca (especially an area below Chambers that used to be thought of as the Financial District) moving faster because of new amenities such as Whole Foods on Greenwich Street between Murray and Warren, which opened in July.

"South Tribeca is really growing strong, especially around Murray, Warren and Chambers streets," said Turner. "There is more value there, with Whole Foods and the close proximity to Hudson River Park. The area is enjoying a surge of popularity that didn't happen five years ago."

Heather Bise of DJK Residential said "it's particularly easy to sell to families" and noted that "there's Washington Market Park with its large playgrounds and gardens."

Bise said she sees more and more strollers in the neighborhood. However, not everything is selling. "I've been able to find units that are 1,800 square feet for under $2 million. The apartments going for $4 million are just sitting there," she said.

Fringe areas in Tribeca also seem to be selling slower, said Miller.

"The area east of Broadway, near City Hall and Chinatown, is considered the fringe. Right now there is a project on Franklin Street between Lafayette and Broadway that is moving very slow."

Some prospective buyers waiting it out to live in Tribeca have ended up renting temporarily.

Jackie Kurtz of Warburg said because the market has slowed, renters aren't moving out and into condos or co-ops as much.

"They are staying in their apartments longer and so not that many rentals are available," Kurtz noted.

Kurtz said that rents have gone up in what she calls a "normal" increase over the last year.

Gastiaburo said the rentals move pretty fast. "I showed two apartments last week in one building — they were two two-bedroom apartments, and a few days later they were both gone. I ended up renting a two-bedroom, two-bath over on Laight Street for $15,000 a month."

Even though it's generally a buyer's market, supply and demand keep units in Tribeca moving, said Miller, who took an optimistic stance.

"Tribeca has a limited supply of units and is historically landmarked with restricted zoning — it will never be overdeveloped with buildings that are 30 and 40 stories. It's not very hard to absorb the supply of units," he said.

7.18.05 Gastiaburo of Warburg Realty Partnership to open Tribeca office
Gastiaburo of Warburg Realty Partnership to open Tribeca office

Warburg Realty Partnership has scheduled a September opening of a Tribeca office.

The Tribeca office will be led by Karen Gastiaburo, former manager of the William B May Tribeca office. With over 23 years of residential real estate experience, Gastiaburo, was a natural choice for managing director of Warburg’s newest venture.

The Tribeca office will be the fifth location for the firm, the third to open in the last year, joining the existing 969 Madison Avenue, 795 Broadway, 30 East 76th Street and 2235 Frederick Douglass Boulevard Outlets.

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