Celtic Tiger collapse also damaged some luxury Manhattan real estate
Prestige building in hard times because Irish buyers have to sell
During the now long gone era of the Celtic Tiger in Ireland, New York was more than attractive to foreign buyers in the real estate market. Now, with the economic downturn that doesn’t appear to be fixing itself anytime soon, Irish investors with property in New York are feeling the pinch.
A New York Times column by Andrew Rice traces the stories of several Irish who purchased units in an apartment complex, The Centria, which held the alluring location across the street from Rockefeller Center in New York City during Ireland’s economic boom. For Irish during the Celtic Tiger, the investment looked like a no-brainer.
Now the Irish investors are in trouble because of the collapse of the market in Ireland and they need cash.
In the last year, 16 apartments, all owned by Irish investors, have turned over, and another four are now under contract. “I represent a lot of those owners,” said Charlotte Van Doren, a senior vice president with Stribling & Associates. “They need to sell, and they are selling.”
At the beginning the lure seemed inescapable. “A New York City condo is a trophy property to anyone in the world,” Richard Steinberg, executive managing director of Warburg Realty. Steinberg had recently returned from a business trip to Shanghai where he marketed Manhattan properties to foreign investors.
“If ever there were a case to test whether the city’s market is truly unsinkable, it would be the Centria,” writes Rice. “To most New Yorkers, the building is just another anonymous tinted-glass tower — it was hardly marketed locally at all — but inside, it’s Ireland.”
“We used to say you could tell where the next financial trouble spot in the world was by who was buying in New York,” says Adrienne Albert, chief executive of the real estate firm the Marketing Directors.
Back in 2007, it was the so-called “Irish carpenters” who were buying in New York City. Irish buyers took particular interest in The Centria - “The concentration of Ireland’s new money into one Manhattan investment was so pronounced that one newspaper dubbed the Centria the ‘Celtic Tiger Villas,’” writes Rice.
Rice writes, “Albert’s adage certainly proved true in the case of the Centria, which she was involved in selling. The Irish high-rise venture in New York, once a lesson in the power of foreign capital, looks, five years later, like the zenith of a communal delusion.”
“As a nation, we just went nuts,” said Billy Redmond, an Irish native who has owned a property in New York City’s Centria apartment complex since the Irish economic boom. Redmond had purchased the apartment without ever setting foot in it, and having only a limited knowledge of New York City itself.
Redmond said of his purchase, “The primary driver behind my making the decision was, it’s New York, it’s Manhattan, it’s Rockefeller — it doesn’t get better.”