February 4th 2011
New York Daily News
It started with bang, and the bang kept coming. 20 Pine: The Collection has more firsts than most real estate projects combined. In 2006, crooner John Legend played the FIDI building’s opening party, and the condo world’s first 24-hour sales office drew Japanese and Korean buyers at 4 a.m. nightly.
Finally, after lawsuits, a LigFownership dispute, cash bailout and a recent sales and marketing transition, the city’s ultimate “lifestyle” building designed in part by Armani Casa has entered into its no-hype period.
Nothing shows that more than the change in sales teams. Out is Michael Shvo, credited with creating the lifestyle strategy and bringing Legend and the 24-hour sales office. In is Warburg Realty, a well-respected boutique agency run by Frederick Peters with a starring role on an HGTV show.
Immediately, Peters gave the building to someone who lives there. Warburg agent and 20 Pine condo board member Deborah DeMaria moved her entire family into the building four years back. They combined two apartments to create a 2,400-square-foot home.
“Soon as I saw this building, I bought in it,” says DeMaria. “I had a prom party for my daughter in the downstairs lounge. We all use the fitness center. Kids have snowball fights on the 25th-floor terrace. Now that I work here, I haven’t left the building in two weeks, and I don’t really miss anything at all.”
DeMaria and Warburg are charged with selling the building’s last 30 units, all controlled by developer Africa Israel. Only small events are planned. Prices were re-examined. Model units will get a makeover. As for Shvo, the best buzz generator in New York City real estate ever, he still hasn’t closed out a local project he opened up. To his credit, though, 20 Pine can and does blow your real estate mind.
Here are 10 things you would never know about the project complete with 30,000 square feet of amenities, a five-star spa, more than 20 terra cotta Sphinxes on its facade, a Turkish bath, indoor pool in a bank vault, and a concierge service that delivers suits for funerals, gets backstage passes to concerts and finds Hermes Birkin bags. On any given day, it’s common to see owners waltzing around in bathrobes on their way to and from the spa. Go to 20Pine.com for more.
1. The 60-foot indoor lap pool is kept at exactly 82 degrees. Housed in the second of three bank vaults with the original vault doors restored and intact, the pool with tile by Ann Sacks feels more like a giant steam room.
The reason for 82 degrees? It was originally 80, according to the spa manager, but residents wanted it bumped up. The building also has two reflecting pools — one on the 25th-floor Terrace Lounge and another in the Hamman Lounge, where a waterfall runs seven days per week.
No idea what the water temperature is there.
2. With 409 apartments, 20 Pine has 68 different floor plans. On the fourth floor, which housed the original bank building’s mechanicals, the ceilings are a little higher and the windows bigger.
3. Celebs in the building include Per Se chef Thomas Keller, which is ironic because the sleek kitchens are more entertainment centers than cooking stations. Maybe that’s why he likes it.
Also there are rapper Jay Sean and radio host Dr. Joy Browne. “Long-term guests of owners,” condo board speak for renters, include model Melyssa Ford and Rachel Zoe’s ex-assistant Brad Goreski, if you call him a celeb. Studios that rented at $4,200 before the boom are about $1,000 less today. Of the units sold, approximately 30% are subsequently rented.
4. 20 Pine’s private subway entrance with access to the 2, 3, 4, and 5 trains has received far more attention than it deserves. Although residents swear by it, it’s just a door.
5. Besides the mayor’s disaster shelter, 20 Pine could be the safest place in New York City. The foundation walls in the building’s lower of six subterranean levels are said to be 36 inches thick. In certain spots, like the bank vault that houses two billiard tables, it feels like you’re in the Batcave.
6. Every time slot for the 24-hour sales office was booked solid for three months from the day it opened on Jan. 31, 2006.
7. Built in 1927 as the headquarters of the Morgan Guaranty Trust Company, the ancestor of J.P Morgan Chase, the building has three bank vaults weighing 45 tons each.
Too heavy to move, they were restored and left in place. One of them, near the golf simulator, has never been opened. Can someone please call Geraldo Rivera? We’d love to see what’s in there.
8. The views from the upper floors are in-your-face architecture. You can almost touch 55 Liberty, the Stock Exchange and the AIG building.
9. According to Lori Ordover, a consultant to Africa Israel on the project, 17 units are in contract with five units recently closed. After looking at pricing, no decreases are expected. Homes start in the $700,000 range.
A studio with a home office that looks directly onto Federal Hall, a building standing on the same site where George Washington was inaugurated as President of the United States, costs $1.065 million.
A 1,807-square-foot, three-bedroom, three-bath is listed at $2.415 million with common charges costing $1,671 monthly. There is a $3 million raw space penthouse still on the market.
On the Warburg hiring, Ordover said, “Warburg was hired because they have a broad broker outreach, they have brokers who have successfully sold in the building.
“Deborah DeMaria, who is lead broker, has been a building owner since the opening; her commitment and dedication to the building was another factor that attracted us.
“She has intimate building knowledge; she’s on the board of the building.”
10. The elevators can be confusing at 20 Pine. Two go express to the 25th floor. One goes down to the amenities. Two are for the lobby to 25. One goes directly to the penthouse floors. Another is used for move-ins.
For luck, three more trivia bits:
11. The concierge, run by Quintessentially, has had some pretty weird requests lately.
Available to all tenants living on the 25th floor and above, the concierge was once asked to ship a suit for someone for a funeral. They also had to provide instructions and a demonstration for someone’s remote-control system, including a section on how to lock and unlock the apartment’s front door.
12. Twelve babies were born to residents of 20 Pine last year.
13. According to architect Susan Wright of Gruzen Samton, who handled the building’s conversion from office space to lofts, 24 Egyptian heads look out from the building’s setback corners. They are either a Sphinx or King Tut, whose tomb was discovered in 1922, five years before the building was constructed.