By Orlando Lee Rodriguez
You know you have some buzz in the sandbox when you can make an auditorium filled of subdued real estate professionals squeal like a bunch of 4th graders who just saw their teacher tumble down the stairs.
But that kind of group gasp is exactly what it sounded like at the 2013 Brooklyn Real Estate Summit last week when David Von Spreckelsen, senior vice president Toll Brothers, reveled a key number for the company’s Pier 1 project.
“We decided to do a single, loaded corridor building so that every unit would face the river, park and Manhattan,” said Von Spreckelsen, speaking on the Brooklyn Residential Development Pipeline panel. “It resulted in deep apartments. In order to get light [in], we started making [them] wider, so they could get more widows. The apartments kept getting bigger and bigger.”
Then Von Spreckelsen, one of three David’s on the panel, all of whom had to be called something else to avoid confusion, said the magic words that set tongues wagging …
“We have 123 units and the average square footage is 2,300 s/f.”
After the gasps, Von Spreckelsen jokingly ribbed the crowd as one that had never been exposed to spacious luxury housing.
“You need to get a higher class crowd,” he said, followed by a roar of laughter.
However, humor was not the only driver of excitement and entertainment on the panel, which included David Maundrell of aptsandlofts.com; David Kramer of the Hudson Companies; Michael Lichtenstein of Lichtenstein Group, and Kas Sanandaji of The Lightstone Group.
Panelists gave the attendees in the room lots to look forward to down the pipeline when it comes to Brooklyn development, especially in the price per square foot department.
“The demand for condo units in Brooklyn is wild,” said Maundrell. “My re-sale team has to have two people staffing an open house because there are 100 people coming through in an hour.”
That kind of volume, Maundrell said, is giving incentive to owners to convert rentals over to condominiums.
“We have people looking to put condo units on the market in a small building for $1,200 a square foot,” he said.
And those kind of numbers may not be too far-fetched for multiple locations in Brooklyn very soon. With land so limited in Brooklyn, and inventory so scarce across the borough and the city in general, prices continue to shoot up quickly.
“Our response to the RFP had $925 a foot,” said Von Spreckelsen about the Pier 1 project. “That was more than a year ago. Right now, we will probably come out between $1,100 and $1,200 psf. I think it will be the first project in Brooklyn of this size to fetch more than $1,000 a foot.”
With prices like that on the horizon, brokers may be in for some profitable years ahead as Brooklyn remains one of the hottest markets in the city for young singles and now, growing families with children.
“The difference between now and 10 years ago in Brooklyn is that families have no problem raising their children [here],” said Mundrell. “Brooklyn is not just an affordable choice, but people desire to be here. I think we are in good shape.”