December 16th 2011
The New York Times
WHEN Lori Ordover was hired to market a condominium building at 20 Pine Street in the financial district, she immediately set up a blog about the neighborhood. Sure, she’s eager to point out the Armani/Casa interiors, the 60-foot-long limestone pool and the Turkish steam bath at 20 Pine. But in her opinion the mammoth nearby 24-hour Duane Reade that sells sushi and salon haircuts is a selling point, too.
Among the handful of entries on the modest 20 Pine blog, reached by clicking on the “News/Events” section of the building’s Web site, are profiles of local businesses, guides to the neighborhood and a notice of a panel discussion on the financial district’s future.
The blog is one of a growing number for buildings around the city used by real estate agents and developers to promote entire neighborhoods in the hope that individual buildings will benefit. The strategy is partly simple boosterism.
“It’s sort of wonderful to be in a neighborhood where you have these new places opening up,” Ms. Ordover said. “A lot of us live down there. Selfishly, we felt that if businesses are doing well, more will come.”
“Meet-the-neighbors” blogs can also serve a marketing purpose by helping acquaint buyers with out-of-the-way destinations. The Azure, a condominium at 333 East 91st Street near First Avenue, a quiet part of the Upper East Side, often receives questions from prospective buyers about the distance to schools, shopping and parks. The building’s marketing team hopes to answer them on its blog, said Doug MacLaury, the senior vice president of the Mattone Group, one of the building’s developers.
Beatrice Sibblies, one of the developers of 88 Morningside, a condominium in Harlem, said she started its blog to help familiarize buyers with the people and businesses of Harlem, a huge neighborhood that can be overwhelming for newcomers.
The blog, Morningsider (www.morningsider.com), mentions 88 Morningside only in passing. But Ms. Sibblies, the president of BOS Development and a member of the local community board, says short interviews with local personalities introduce familiar faces in a place where familiarity is important.
“In other neighborhoods, if you talk to your neighbors, they think you’re crazy,” said Ms. Sibblies, who has lived in Harlem for 10 years. “In Harlem, if you don’t talk to your neighbors, they’ll think you’re rude and crazy, and they’ll tell you that.”
She said page views had been growing steadily to about 600 hits a month, up from just 100 or 200 when the blog started over a year ago.
Not all building blogs seek to promote unfamiliar neighborhoods. Some, like the blog for the Carriage House, at 159 West 24th Street, try to strengthen a building’s association with a surrounding neighborhood that is already popular.
“We weren’t trying to sell people on the neighborhood,” said Eric Gray, a partner in Broad Mill Development Group, one of the building’s developers. “We were just trying to get people excited about the fact that if you come and live at Carriage House, all these things would be at your feet.”
He added that the blog, on the Web site of Warburg Realty, which markets the building, can be a helpful cross-promotion for building and local business alike.
Seth Datz, the owner of Downtown Cellars, a wine store featured on 20 Pine’s blog, said, “I think people assume there’s nothing downtown, even though there’s so much evidence to the contrary,” adding, “I think any exposure to what’s down here helps.”