Douglas Elliman Takes Over Sales at MoMA Tower

Douglas Elliman chairman Howard Lorber, Corcoran CEO Pam Liebman and 53 West 53rd. (Giles Ashford, Getty)

After years of struggles, the developers of the Jean Nouvel-designed luxury skyscraper at 53 West 53rd Street are hoping a new team of brokers will jumpstart sales.

Hines and Singapore-based developer Pontiac Land Group have appointed Douglas Elliman Development Marketing to take over marketing and sales from rival Corcoran Sunshine Marketing Group, the companies announced Wednesday.

Samantha Sax, Pontiac’s chief marketing officer, said in a statement the development partners are looking to Elliman for its “depth of sales talent” and “true global reach.”

Susan de França, president and CEO of Douglas Elliman Development Marketing, pointed to the brokerage’s relationship with London-based property firm Knight Frank as being key to bringing in overseas buyers. She said they also anticipate significant interest from American buyers in wealthy markets, notably Los Angeles. Fredrik Eklund and John Gomes’ team was “hand-selected” by Elliman’s ownership to work on the project, de França said.

Shari Scharfer-Rollins, who leads sales at 432 Park Avenue, will be the sales director and brokers Frances Katzen, Jade Chan and Matthew MacKay will also be part of the team.

“Because of our diverse broker network we’re able to identify the various different demographics,” said de França. “We know the market is on our side right now.”

Elliman’s predecessor, Corcoran Sunshine, has been in charge of marketing since sales launched in 2014. At the time, the tower was aiming for a total sellout of more than $2 billion, but as the condo market softened, that number was slashed by at least $167 million.

Closings at the project began in spring 2019, and that same year, the developers headed to arbitration after disagreeing about how much more to cut prices.

As of June 2020, there were 55 sold residential condos and 107 unsold units, according to documents filed with the New York State Attorney General’s office. The project’s total sellout was adjusted to $1.96 billion with prices ranging from $1.2 million for a 415-square-foot studio to $66.5 million for a 6,700-square-foot penthouse, per the amended offering plan.

A representative for Pontiac Land Group declined to comment on the building’s sales.

Kelly Kennedy Mack, president of Corcoran Sunshine, called the decision to replace her firm “disappointing,” particularly as the market for new development condos ready for immediate occupancy is picking up. But she defended her team’s work on the project.

“While the pandemic has created a lot of challenges and uncertainty, our track record of success on Billionaire’s Row speaks for itself,” she said in a statement. Corcoran was selected by Vornado Realty Trust to lead sales at 220 Central Park South, which had the top 10 priciest residential sales of 2020.

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