Boom Nation: Real Estate Assassin of New York

ByABC News
February 9, 2006, 9:09 PM

Feb. 10, 2006 — -- In New York City, where real estate prices rise like the sun (daily), there are a huge number of middlemen and middlewomen who make a living by renting and selling everything from minuscule studio apartments to three-story, six-bedroom penthouses.

It's estimated that Manhattan alone boasts 12,000 to 15,000 real estate brokers and agents. But few working the turf are quite like Michael Shvo -- "the real estate assassin."

We met him at the sight of his latest financial killing -- 20 Pine Street, in downtown Manhattan. The 35-story building, formerly owned and occupied by Chase Bank, is in the throes of refurbishment as 410 separate apartments replace offices and corridors.

After achieving the highest number of residential sales in New York -- 350 properties collectively worth over $1 billion in 2003 -- Shvo has moved on from simple brokering. He's now playing the role of "creative director" for entire buildings. Developers purchase a property and then call Shvo on one of his cellphones.

Shvo has conceived of the entire project at 20 Pine Street. He's engaged Georgio Armani's interior design company, Armani Casa, to give communal areas the minimalist resonance that is the designer's singular style. Armani Casa will also design and fit your apartment if you so choose.

Shvo has also created a unique marketing environment on the ground floor, to persuade potential purchasers to buy property. Brokers and agents from all over Manhattan have toured the marketing hall like a museum exhibit that must be seen to be believed.

Instead of viewing a plastic scale model of the proposed building and poring over floorplans, as happens most often with new developments, Shvo's team take potential buyers along a virtual tour.

A huge room, half the size of a football field and just as wide, contains separate partitions featuring video footage and computer-generated images that evoke the atmosphere of the finished building. At the end of the "catwalk" is a literal kitchen and bathroom, both finished with state of the art fixtures and fittings -- all surrounded by black Brazilian bark. It's probably the single most expensive marketing office in the world. And it's working.