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Why Do NYC Developers Falsify Records on How Tall Their Bldgs Are?



By: Curtis Sapir

They say size doesn’t matter, but in real estate, it does.

That’s why some maintain that expensive buildings in the city aren’t quite as tall as advertised.

“For a small pool of New York buyers, a floor in the 90s is the new Park Avenue address — and developers are fudging numbers to accommodate them,” reported the New York Post.

According to the paper, Saudi retail billionaire Fawaz Al Hokair signed an $87.7 million contract in 2013 for the right to own the top floor of the Western Hemisphere’s tallest residential tower, 432 Park Ave. “Al Hokair could boast that his 8,255-square-foot penthouse is on the 96th floor — six floors higher than billionaire Michael Dell’s then-record-breaking spread on the 90th floor of One57 (previously the city’s tallest residential tower). Splendiferous, that is, if you ignore the fact that 432 Park is an 88-floor tower, eight floors less than advertised. That’s not a fluke, it’s a power move. Nearly every new luxury condo in the city’s latest wave of super-tall construction mislabels floors to stroke buyers’ vanity.”

“If you have the 95th floor in your address, that’s going to be impressive to pretty much everyone,” Leonard Steinberg of Compass Real Estate told the Post. “Being on the 95th floor is unbelievable. In how many cities can you even live on the 95th floor?”

“When [brokers] go see buildings under construction, we say, ‘Go to the top floor’ — which is often marketed as the 90th, but there will be a sign in the elevator that reads 63,” added broker Tristan Harper of Douglas Elliman in an interview.

“If we lived by the letter, buildings in New York would have a 13th floor — and I haven’t seen a 13th floor in a long time,” Steinberg said, adding, “Every developer wants to maximize value.”

Buildings can be made to appear larger in a variety of ways, the Post article explained. For example, lobbies with very high ceilings give the impression of Greater height. Other spaces that aren’t exactly floors also add so the appearance of bigness. Some buildings have hotels on the lower floors, and quote a size the begins at ground level even though there are no Apartments there. Insiders call it construction Counting. When Trump Tower debuted in 2001, publicist said it was the tallest residential building in the world that 90 floors. It actually only has 72 floors. Trump himself said in an interview that he chose the number 90 simply because he liked the number.

“If you repeat something often enough, it becomes the new normal,” Steinberg told the Post. “There was a moment when a Botoxed face looked really weird. Now a face without Botox looks weird. It’s like that with real estate.”

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