Real Estate

Inside ‘Fifteen,’ The Agency’s First-Ever NYC Luxury Condo Project

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Global luxury brokerage The Agency launched sales this week for its first-ever luxury new development condo project in New York City, following its launch in the market in September 2022.

The project of 21 residences has been dubbed “Fifteen” and is located off of Central Park West at 15 West 96th Street. Developed by Sackman Enterprises Inc. and designed by SLCE Architects, it is the tallest new development project to debut so near to Central Park in the last six years, and features one- to five-bedroom units — each with private outdoor space — ranging in price from $1.595 million to over $20 million. The size of each unit ranges from 875 to more than 4,000 square feet.

The developers currently expect units to be completed with a temporary certificate of occupancy by October 2023, shortly after which closings on residences can be conducted.

Inman recently sat down with The Agency’s Shane Boyle, who is leading sales on the condos in conjunction with The Agency Development Group, to learn more about the project and what it means for The Agency as the brokerage continues to strengthen its presence in New York City and on the East Coast. Here’s what he had to say, edited for clarity and brevity.

An exterior rendering of Fifteen | The Agency

Inman: This project is a big deal for The Agency, as its first new development endeavor in New York — how are you feeling about representing it?

Shane Boyle: It’s a roller coaster of emotions. We’re excited and the market has reacted to it probably more than we thought it would. You never really know until you go live and get into it. You do everything in your power to launch a building like this when you’re leading into the summer. I think before COVID, this wouldn’t have been the best plan of action, but since COVID, there hasn’t really been a seasonal market in New York, so we felt good about the timing of the launch.

Our model unit is almost ready and it’s been absolutely crazy since launch in the last few days. We’re already getting offers in on some of the premium three-bedrooms, which are our most expensive apartments in the building. The market and the neighborhood has really reacted positively to it, so it’s been a great start.

What sets this building apart from others nearby?

The neighborhood in general in the Upper West Side is mostly covered by landmark district, meaning you have large pockets of the neighborhood that’s zoned where you can’t take away any of the buildings that are there existing because they’re historic brownstones or historic buildings or churches that are protected. And we’re right on the border of that.

To get new development this close to Central Park is almost impossible to replicate because for the next 30 blocks south, almost the entire neighborhood, you can’t build new development. And the developers were really mindful when putting the design together and picking out the façade and not doing any big glass building and really trying to blend into the neighborhood because we’re very conscious of the neighborhood under the landmark district.

And I’ve had a number of people this week questioning me if it’s a brand new building because it literally blends into the neighborhood so well. We went for these beautiful, huge, big, limestone façade slabs on the front of the exterior of the building and it just looks incredible.

A close-up rendering of the limestone façade of Fifteen | The Agency

Fantastic. With this being The Agency’s first new development project in the area, what does it mean for the brokerage, just in terms of its footprint or solidifying its reputation in New York City?

[The Agency] had been waiting a long time to come to New York and really waiting for the right fit. I was part of the Triplemint folks when we were part of Triplemint. [The Agency acquired Triplemint in May 2022.] I think when Mauricio [Umansky] and David [Walker] and Phil [Lang] and Billy Rose all met together, they really liked what each other were doing and it just felt right, and we had the same values.

With The Agency, what I have grown to love in the last year is their culture. I know that “culture” word, everybody tries to use it, but it is real. And I got to experience it for the first time in person for what we call our forum, which is like a retreat at the end of every year. We went over to California and spent five days in the desert, in Palm Desert, and you’re literally rubbing shoulders with the top agents in the country … Everybody is so accessible and everybody is so willing to be humble — there’s no ego — and willing to learn and talk with each other. You can literally pick up the phone to call anybody and they’ll answer.

So it felt right for that merger to come in. And the obviously, you have The Agency on the resale business and I’m primarily a resale agent myself, but I got the opportunity to come and work on this pre-development stage and help the developers on pre-development for the last 18 months. And then The Agency came in with all their experience on their ultra-high-end clients and new developments that they’ve done on the West Coast, and it’s just been a great marriage and a great partnership.

That’s great. With this building being in such close proximity to Central Park and one of the tallest new development projects to be in that area in recent years, how does that influence your selling strategy?

For the most part, the building and the apartments are seeming to sell themselves because of the views.

It comes back to replacement factor and replacement costs. I’ve represented a lot of buyers buying new development, and it’s brand new today, and in two years, because it’s New York, it’s not brand new anymore because there’s something across the street or next door that’s just been built and it’s dropped your value. For here, we don’t really have any competition because of the neighborhood structure and the neighborhood zoning, so the replacement cost is really high.

There’s also a limited number of units — we only have four one-bedrooms, four two-bedrooms, 10 three-bedrooms and a big 5-bedroom penthouse and a four-bedroom. [The 21st unit is the superintendent’s unit.] So if you’re a purchaser and looking at a long-term investment — nobody knows how long they’re going to own a property — but if you’ve tried to take out the crystal ball and predict, ‘Well, if I had this for 10 years, what other new development could potentially come up here?’ You can do your research and say very confidently that because the zoning laws and the historic landmark districts in the neighborhood, you cannot build another new development that’s close to the park within a block or half-block proximity. So the value of those apartments is just going to go higher and higher.

That’s sort of what we’ve seen this week, where it’s mostly local buyers that have been coming in and live in Central Park West and they’re in the old pre-war co-ops and they want condos and they want new development and they don’t want to renovate the existing apartments that they’ve had forever. They’ve been crying our for something like this to come along and people have been watching it for the last 18 months of it going up, and when you’re up there in the apartments, it’s literally … I’m not really saying too much, because the views are just talking themselves. They’re just fantastic. You have floor-to-ceiling windows and you’re looking at the entirety of Central Park. You can see the entire proximity of the park and you’re got the reservoirs, you’ve got some calming water to look at, and then you’ve got the Manhattan skyline as well.

A rendering of a unit’s kitchen and dining area | The Agency

What other types of buyers do you think will be interested in the building?

I mean, [this building has] every aspect covered. I’m mindful of my fair housing laws that I have to comply with, but the Upper West Side, in general, is a neighborhood-y neighborhood. So mostly everybody in the Upper West Side wants to stay in the Upper West Side, and they’re usually downsizing or upsizing. So you’ll have a lot of people who are familiar with the neighborhood and want to be close to the park, and they all want brand-new because you can’t get brand-new next to the park — that’s been our biggest selling point …

I’ve had some pied-à-terre buyers come in and look at it, people from L.A. The subway is right across the street, the B and C train, so it’s an easy commute for anybody that wants to pop in and they want their New York retreat, the southern views and the outdoor space, views of the park and all the light the building gets.

Then you have some one-bedroom folks who I had [come in]. We’re not too far from Columbia University as well, so we have some people that are potentially going to Columbia, or parents buying for their kids.

Then, there’s a mixture of everything in-between, the business professionals, pied-à-terre buyers, and then the big, full-floor buyers that are coming over from across the street on Central Park West and they want brand-new.

A rendering of a unit’s primary bedroom | The Agency

What else should we know about the building?

We have a great amenity package with the gym and tenant’s lounge, a children’s playroom, and big storage cages.

We only have 21 residents and out of that 21, one of them is going to be an in-house superintendent who lives on the fifth floor, which is really rare to find. Usually, you’re only going to have an in-house super with a lot bigger apartment count, like 50 apartments or above. It’s a luxury, especially here in New York.

Again, our biggest amenity is the park and the views — it’s such a refreshing perspective. When you’re in Central Park South amidst all the supertalls that Extell and JDS Development have done an incredible job in building, the macro view is kind of the same. You know, you can be in any of the buildings and you don’t really know which one you are in because they’re all on the same street and they’re looking north.

For [Fifteen], it’s a new perspective, the neighborhood has never seen it, which is exciting. It’s very close to the park, and you’ve just got a whole new vantage point.

The developers and general contractors have done a really incredible job and they’re really particular on the level of craftsmanship that’s going into these apartments. The developers are there every other day, if not every day, going through with a microscope and making sure that everything is absolutely perfect for these residents. There’s a lot of labor of love here and people are really proud of the work that they’re doing in delivering the product to the market, and I’m just very grateful and lucky to be a part of it.

Correction: This story was updated after publishing to reflect that the penthouse unit is the building’s only 5-bedroom unit.

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Email Lillian Dickerson

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