Townhouse Listings Mark New Direction for BLU Realty

Townhouse Listings Mark New Direction for BLU Realty

Amid plans to grow townhouse and new development divisions, the boutique brokerage Blu Realty Group has landed two high-priced townhouse listings — promising to use unconventional marketing strategies to sell the properties.

Andy Kim, the firm’s co-founder, will bring a $31 million Upper East Side townhouse to the market today, and Vince Rocco, a former Halstead Property broker who now heads Blu’s Riverside Boulevard office, will list a $17.5 million gutted townhouse next month.

Kim’s listing is the fully renovated townhouse at 170 East 80th Street developed by Kate Shin, a former director at the private equity firm Angelo Gordon & Co. The property features an art gallery on the ground floor. Shin had been listing the townhouse for as much as $35 million with Brown Harris Stevens power broker Paula Del Nunzio since January 2011. But Shin told The Real Deal that only now is she ready to pursue seriously a sale.

Shin purchased the property in 2008 for $8.5 million, added three stores and completely redid the interior of the now 10,822-square-foot home with a focus on contemporary, eco-friendly design, which includes a six-story interior waterfall and 2,189-square-foot of landscaped outdoor space. Construction was completed in late 2011; but “finishing touches” were still being completed this spring, when the property played host to exhibitions, curated by Shin, featuring the work of up-and-coming artists.

“Paula is a very good friend of mine, and obviously she’s a top broker,” Shin said of Del Nunzio. But she said Kim is now the right person for marketing the property, since Shin thinks it is more likely to appeal to a young, wealthy person or an international buyer with a passion for art. “[Kim] has a pool of Asian buyers and his team is very good at targeting a younger audience by using online and interactive techniques,” Shin said.

Del Nunzio did not respond to requests for comment.

Kim said his marketing strategy would go beyond “just putting it up in papers and on websites,” but would not divulge specifics. He noted that previous coverage of the property in Forbes, the Wall Street Journal and other national publications would certainly help the sales efforts.

As for the West Side townhouse, Rocco will bring it to market mid-September with his three-member team of Shane Shimon, Lizabeth Sant’Angelo and Derek Nowicki. Located at 38 West 87th Street, the 7,600-square-foot property was gut renovated and so he’s approaching it as a new development. He said he plans to establish a showroom nearby to show prospective buyers the potential for the space while leaving the townhouse itself unfinished.

“We’re going to sell it off the floor plan,” he said, and allow the eventual buyer to customize the finishing touches, which will be included in the sale.

Rocco said he worked to convince the developers – listed in public records as the Florida-based Platinum Venture Partners — to use this unconventional strategy by explaining that market trends rendered this the perfect time to introduce it.

“All these crazy apartment listing prices are elevating townhouse prices to the $20 million and $30 million range,” Rocco said.

A call to Platinum Venture Partners was not returned.

Blu plans to use the approach of selling townhouses based on the floorplans with two or three more similar townhouse developments in the works. Rocco refused to specify the locations of the properties. These additional listings, combined with the properties being listed by Rocco and Kim, are part of the firm’s push into the townhouse and new development sectors, from the Upper West Side resale focus that has carried Blu to this point.

Blu is “hoping to recruit townhouse heavy hitters” who want to work “from a boutique firm perspective,” according to Rocco, rather than those agents who favor the more traditional strategies employed by Manhattan’s biggest, best-known firms.


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