October 28th 2011
New York Daily News
Warburg Realty’s Deborah Lupard is one of the most dynamic people selling New York real estate. Not only does she star on HGTV’s “Selling New York,” she moved to Tribeca 30-plus years ago when it was an urban dead zone, became pregnant while producing Oliver Stone’s “JFK” and has been the top broker in her firm’s Tribeca office six of seven years.
A divorced single mom, Lupard works alone. In her first two years in the business, she worked every day. Because of her film production career (“Big,” “The Color of Money”), Lupard is a natural on television.
“It’s like the camera isn’t there,” she says. “It’s fun, good for business and comfortable.”
A self-proclaimed “non-snob,” Lupard sells anything, meaning she’ll give the same attention to a $550,000 one-bedroom off Fifth Ave. as a $5 million Tribeca loft. She likes a challenge.
Her newest listing, at 55 Liberty St. in a 1909 Gothic-revival 32-story skyscraper designed by Henry Ives Cobb, is just that. One of the earliest skyscrapers in the United States, the terra-cotta and limestone tower contains a host of apartments with odd layouts and design quirks.
Lupard, though, has sold in the building before, first in 2007, when she moved a one-bedroom for $905,000. Her current listing, 15B, has features that could throw some buyers off or turn others on.
The 4,500-square-foot home priced at $3.395 million has 360-degree views, a 52-foot living room, floral murals in the foyer, a man’s bathroom wallpapered in stock certificates, wood-paneled library facing the Federal Reserve and a small studio upstairs with a kitchenette for the mother-in-law.
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When it was bought and renovated in 1995, it was given the finest finishes, lighting and security system. Today, some might call it dated.
“This is definitely for a certain buyer,” says Lupard, who recently showed the apartment to a pro football player. “It has incredible features like the views and the open spaces, but we’re competing against brand-new condos at this price.”
Lupard at Fest of FiDi with “Selling New York” crew (Jeff Bachner)
The previous owner, a Wall Street Master of the Universe type who recently died, kept a safe in a room hidden behind his library. Ironically, the home’s western views look at today’s Occupy Wall Street protests at Zuccotti Park. That doesn’t faze Lupard. In fact, not much does.
Her Holly Golightly-on-a-mission attitude is like watching a highly efficient real estate machine. Lupard knows her numbers and neighborhoods.
“Deborah has a steel core,” says Frederick Peters, founder of Warburg Realty. “She’s aggressive and extremely social but has ethics and values. She’s selling but never bothering.”
The “his” bathroom is lined with stock certificates (Jeff Bachner)
This apartment has been on the market six months. Lupard, who shares the exclusive listing with Warburg’s Andrew Feiwel, a resident and co-op board member at 55 Liberty, was hired a month ago to revive it.
To bring people to the apartment, she teamed with Robin Dolch of Hundred Stories Public Relations to set up a Feast of FiDi event. Using the lure of TV cameras (“Selling New York” would be filming the event), Lupard and Dolch got six local food and wine vendors (Suteishi, Downtown Cellars, Luke’s Lobster, La Maison du Chocolat, Financier Patisserie and Harry’s Italian) to cater the party in exchange for publicity.
“Events drive foot traffic,” says Lupard. “Open houses don’t work at this price point. We had 200 RSVPs, so I should get a good response.”
The night of the event, rain poured down. Lupard looked concerned as brokers trickled in. The “Selling New York” television crew from JV Productions trailed her as she showed the apartment to a potential buyer. Cameras, lights and a dangling microphone added to the upbeat energy as more than 200 people filled the apartment.
The wood-paneled study has views of the Fed (Jeff Bachner)
In the 50-foot living room, Suteishi’s chilled salmon and cucumber salad with black caviar drew large lines. In the library, Financier’s raspberry white chocolate mousse cakes attracted sweet-toothed attendees.
Brokers tested closet doors, played with light switches, eyed the bar in the library, the light pastels in the master bedroom, and smiled at the views of the Federal Reserve Building.
“It has great potential,” says Corcoran’s Amy Davis, who was attracted to the event by the apartment, not cameras or cuisine. “It’s very flexible. You could open it up and have a huge downtown loft. I have a client who collects interesting spaces. This could work for her.”
Personally, I like the space. In most New York City time-warp apartments, you step back into the 1890s with parlor rooms or the 1970s with shag carpets. This is 1995. The green-marble floors and toilet surrounded by stock certificates add to the allure. I would keep some design elements (library, built-ins, entry mural) and gut others (upstairs apartment and safe room).
Lupard worked the room undaunted, turning negatives into positives. She loves what she does, and she can laugh about it. Her cell phone ring, after all, is the theme from “Kill Bill.”
“This was a dead listing,” she told me afterward. “Because of the party, we saw Internet traffic jump. The turnout was great. Everyone there knew someone who could buy the apartment or bring someone who could buy it. There’s a buzz about this space now, and people have a better understanding of this great building. That’s all I can ask.”