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Selling New York: Austin Powers Hits Chelsea

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Last night was another episode of Selling New York, HGTV's reality show following Manhattan brokerages CORE and Gumley Haft Kleier as they try to sell fabulous properties fabulously. Here, writer Mike Olson's recap of how the NYC real estate industry is portrayed to the world...

Last night’s episode?aptly named “Eye of the Beholder”?reminded us that we all have a different definition of beauty. For some, it comes in the form of a $3 million Tribeca loft that could still use a cool million in renovations. Others find it in a staid Chelsea studio that has been transformed into a shagalicious party palace with a creepy light show over a creepier round bed. Either way, there was something for everyone. So put on your favorite velvet suit, fluff up your ascot and head right this way.

Subplot #1: Chelsea development has an identity crisis
The Player: CORE founder and CEO Shaun Osher
The Mission: Poor 650 Sixth Avenue. Our old friend has a killer location across the street from the resurgent Limelight Marketplace, but sales have flatlined since the economy went to shambles. Enter CORE, who have signed on to market the building. (The fourth company to try to sell this underperformer.)
The Problem: The building’s deficiencies are apparent early in Shaun’s tour of a $2.175 million, two-bedroom model unit. Right off the bat, this whitewashed apartment needs its floors and original iron column stripped. (Somehow he bites his tongue and doesn’t say anything mean about the second bedroom.)

Next the boss heads to a $925K “bachelor pad” that’s got 749 square feet and some funky, pulsating LED light thingy in the ceiling. This unit would have great views?if the windows weren’t obstructed by a round bed and retro acrylic swing.

“I just didn’t get it,” says Osh of the gaudy party pad. His verdict? This place is just too Miami. We’re inclined to trust him. (He has an accent!)
The Plan of Attack: Rebrand and restage! Renamed The Cammeyer, the marketing campaign has abandoned that vintage ‘70s style to play up the building’s history. Likewise, the model units have been tweaked by a designer to better match the classy exterior. Now the place definitely looks ready for some open house action:

Osher passes the baton to CORE agent Tom Postilio, who shows three would-be buyers around the new and improved (including a shiny new $1 million price tag) studio, complete with requisite oohing and aahing.
The Decision: Though the response is "overwhelmingly positive," buyers are reluctant to plunk down so much for a studio. Except, that is, for one who springs for a bigger unit, signing on the dotted line for $1.18 million. Maybe the guy just really likes pizza?

Subplot #2: Married couple can’t get on same page
The Player: GHK mama bear Michele Kleier
The Mission: What you call a trip to the salon, Michele calls an opportunity. She might not have a left her appointment with a new ‘do, but Michele does have a plan to show salon owners Valery and Revi some properties in Tribeca in the $3-5 million range. The couple loves their 3,500 square foot home, but with three boys (including a newborn), it’s time for some more space.
The Problem: Dad Valery doesn’t have the energy for another gut renovation and wants a pad that’s move-in ready. Mom Revy wants a fixer upper that she can design form scratch. Says Michele: “You can already tell there’s a problem.”
Stop #1: To a $4.5 million turnkey loft we go, where each kid gets his own room and mom and dad get 16 feet of floor-to-ceiling windows in the master.

Now this is right up Valery’s alley?meaning Revi hates it. Her whipped hubby can only shrug as Revi imagines which walls she would knock down first.
Stop #2: It’s fixer upper time. This $3 million, 4,000-square-foot loft is?and this can’t be a good omen?being sold by a couple that split up before they could finish construction. Revi sees endless possibilities and room for negotiation. Valery sees a seven-figure renovation bill and thinks the place “looks like a war zone.” Guess it could use a little TLC.

Stop #3: It’s Goldilocks time, as Michele brings our disagreeing couple to a $3.695 million, 5,300-square-foot(!) pad with a killer double-height living room.

Valery loves all the open space and the ground floor that has a bitchin’ play room for the kids with an attached office and outdoor garden. Revi, naturally, hates all those stairs that give the triplex too much of a townhouse feel. After a scolding from Michele, the couple agrees to combine their wish lists before checking out more places.
The Decision: Who didn’t see this coming? Valery rolls over and while having a glass of wine (the better to numb the pain) tells Michele that the couple has decided to go the fixer upper route. A post-script tells us that the pair is still on the hunt for the perfect gut renovation. Have they considered Brooklyn?

Episode grade: 4/5 cackling Kleiers!

· Selling New York [HGTV]
· Selling New York coverage [Curbed]

The Cammeyer

650 6th Avenue, New York, NY 10011