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NEW YORK CITY-A 20-story luxury apartment tower, which broke ground recently in Manhattan’s upscale Gramercy East neighborhood, will be the maiden New York City project of a joint venture between Post Properties and the Clarett Group.

Post Luminaria will be a 150,000-sf rental property at 385 First Ave. and will include studio-, one- and two-bedroom apartments. Average unit size in the 138-unit building is 750 sf and monthly rents will range from $1,800 to $4,500.

While steep by most standards, rents at the amenity-laden Luminaria seem almost modest by Manhattan standards. And given the cachet of a Gramercy East address, the building’s top rental price of $4,500 is a downright bargain.

According to Post President and COO David Stockert, common sense in a soft economy drove the developers’ pricing strategy.

“I think we tried to be relatively conservative in our underwriting of the rents,” Stockert tells GlobeSt.com. “I don’t think they’re dramatically lower than average. I wouldn’t put them under-market, but there was certainly no escalation of rents.”

Demolition on the site started last month, tearing down the single-story retail shops that lined the block. “We’ll be replacing most of that,” says Stockert, referring to the building’s 7,190-sf street-level retail component, which is being represented by Katz and Associates.

According to Stockert, the building’s exterior will be complete and first units ready for occupancy “sometime in late summer of 2002.” The finished building is expected to be fully leased by Q2 of 1993.

Building amenities will include a 24-hour concierge service, fitness center, game room, and storage facilities. “There’s a terrace of about 2,000 sf as part of the project,” Stockert added.

Apartments will be equipped with individual climate control and washer/dryer units. Each unit will be pre-wired for high-speed telecommunication and cable service.

New York’s Gerner, Kronick & Valcarel is the architect for the building. Bovis Construction, which has worked with Post on several other residential projects, will serve as general contractor.

The joint venture will be structured with Post and Clarett contributing approximately two-thirds of the equity and the undisclosed landowner contributing the balance.

The New York-based Clarett Group, which recently completed construction and leasing of The Montrose, a 97-unit building on East 38th Street, and Post Properties Inc, a self-administered REIT based in Atlanta, are looking at two other highrise residential projects in Manhattan, one on 89th Street and First Avenue and one on 51st Street between Broadway and Eighth Avenue.

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