After more than two decades, Andrew Heiberger reflects on Manhattan, the Hamptons, and Miami
Andrew Heiberger, founder and CEO of the top-ranked luxury real estate firm, TOWN Residential (www.townrealestate.com), has more than a few tales to share about his experiences in three of our most beloved stomping grounds: Manhattan, the Hamptons, and Miami. He is amongst a few to have been present and involved in all three of these markets, as they have evolved into internationally acclaimed, luxurious locales.
With Manhattan serving as his primary residence from his early 20’s through now, at 45, he is the proud father of two children, and a highly successful real estate entrepreneur who helped revolutionize the industry. Experience is an understatement. From pioneering mandatory enrollment in REBNY (the Real Estate Board of New York), to helping launch real estate trade publications and web sites by sharing his unparalleled knowledge and information, Heiberger has played a significant role in demystifying the Manhattan real estate market. This all started at the age of 25, with the founding of his first brokerage firm, Citi Habitats, in 1994, where he pioneered the computerized listings database and was the first to create a Manhattan-wide residential rental and sales brokerage firm. He was responsible for helping people streamline their search when looking for an apartment by expanding the commonly used search parameters from four to 13 neighborhoods, which today he calls sub-markets.
Focused on the hyper-local and authenticity, an affiliate of Heiberger’s debut firm also was among the first Manhattan-based real estate brokerages to establish itself in Brooklyn on Montague Street. Industry leaders took note and followed his lead; that office was eventually purchased and converted to Corcoran, while Heiberger stayed focused on Manhattan. The firm grew to 20 neighborhood offices throughout Manhattan, and in 2003, Citi Habitats' agents completed a combined sales and rental closed volume of almost one billion dollars.
When the timing was right, in 2004, Heiberger successfully sold Citi Habitats to the NRT-owned Corcoran Group, operating as a sister company, a relationship that continues to thrive today. Heiberger yearned for new challenges, and he founded Buttonwood LLC, a development and investment firm, in 2005. His Manhattan development experience included being the lead developer on Greenwich Club Residences and One Rector Park, as well as partnering and investing in other various high profile luxury developments.
Today, Heiberger is onto what is shaping up to be his greatest success – TOWN Residential. This time around, Heiberger is solely focused upon the luxury Manhattan real estate market, explaining, “I’ve applied my own life experience as a customer who has received great luxury service and treatment. I’ve lived it, and I bring a developer’s mentality to it, and people have taken to it, including our clients, our Representatives, and our colleagues. We have a service mentality at TOWN where we not only handle every transaction with great expertise, but we also take great care in addressing the before, during and after of every real estate experience – from the very first touch point a client has with TOWN, whether it’s walking by our street level offices or being greeted by our top concierges.”
Some of Heiberger’s favorite emerging and revitalized areas include the Upper East Side, which he predicts, “will be restored to a grandeur our generation has not seen through the completion of the Second Avenue Subway.” Unprecedented public works like this, including the rejuvenation of the City’s many parks and squares – Madison Square Park, Bryant, Park, Union Square, and more, and projects such as the Highline, Columbus Circle, and the West Side Promenade are examples of hyper-local factors that are elevating new sub-markets.
Currently, “Our entire marketplace in Manhattan is buoyed by these two factors that will ensure prosperity for the next decade: the national and international allure of Manhattan as a place to live, work, and invest in business, and the fact that Manhattan is on an island with land availability of less than 2%. It’s a simple case of supply and demand.” He continues, “Manhattan has evolved into THE premiere destination for investment, tourism, residency, education, industry, and culture, and it is appealing to all types. This indisputable fact bodes real well for our real estate market for many years to come.”
A Long Island native, Heiberger remembers enjoying his summer vacations in the Hamptons from his late teens and early 20s through now, where he resides in South Hampton. While performing on such a high level in Manhattan’s real estate business, this has always been the perfect complement to balance his lifestyle, and he has always continued to regularly unwind and summer in the Hamptons.
It is here where Heiberger actually cut his teeth in the real estate development business. “I started working in the Hamptons when I was just a teenager and my father was a custom homebuilder in Quogue in 1984,” he recalls. Heiberger worked on his dad’s construction sites as a laborer, and then he earned his Bachelor’s Degree in three years from the University of Michigan, his Juris Doctorate from the University of Miami School of Law, and founded Citi Habitats in Manhattan. A few years later, along with his dad, he embarked upon his first large-scale luxury beachfront real estate development in the Hamptons called Westhampton Dunes.
“My dad was already an experienced and successful developer on Long Island, so along with my father, who was the lead, we bought, constructed and sold homes in Westhampton Dunes beginning in 1997 through Legacy Development. Through our joint-venture, we constructed over a dozen plus luxury homes in the Hamptons; it was successful.”
During his summers and an occasional off-season weekend, Heiberger would retreat to the Hamptons with his family and friends. “There is no other place like it in the world,” says Heiberger. “Each town has its own unique charm, qualities and characteristics. The Hamptons is first gaining traction on an international level. It has long been a summer vacation destination for wealthy Manhattan residents. But in recent years, I’m noticing a trend, whereby certain elite enclaves and villages such as Southampton, Sag Harbor, East Hampton and Montauk are attracting the world’s top buyers and tourists. I expect to see many more luxury buyers and vacationers from all continents in the coming years.”
Heiberger fell in love with Miami at age 21 when he went to law school there, and he has always returned for winter vacations through the years. “Over the last two decades, I witnessed the entire South Beach evolve. From its very first bar called the Clevelander on Ocean Drive, and its very first high-end restaurant on Washington called Mezzanote, into the world-class destination that it is today,” Heiberger recalls. While at the University of Miami School of Law, he resided on Brickell Avenue and Tigertail in Coconut Grove, and he ultimately landed at the toney five-star Setai resort and residences.
After experiencing being a law student and a repeat vacationer to Miami, Heiberger couldn’t rest. “I saw the opportunities, and I knew that this was too good to be kept a secret; this would be hot, so I plunged into the real estate scene, investing in several individual units in the early 2000s up through 2005 in top projects including the Setai and Ten Museum Park and the Murano Grande,” he remembers. “I saw Lincoln Road transform from a wasteland to a world-class retail shopping street, and Ocean Drive transform from a very bohemian, unsavory, desolate area to the pinnacle of luxury.” Heiberger shared his trajectory and matured in the real estate business simultaneously with the revitalization of Miami itself.
“Today, condos and investments have pulled through and are back on track, due to the international appeal and allure of Miami, and finally the city is up to par with its weather and its beaches,” said Heiberger. “Miami has once again returned to the top, after a 40-year roller coaster ride, to the grandeur of the late 40’s and early 50’s. Back then, Miami was the place to be.”
“We’ve all heard the expression that Miami is a suburb of New York,” he continued. “That is no longer true; Miami is a suburb of the world. First class events such as Art Basel, The Boat Show, the Food and Wine Festival, the USTA Tennis in Key Biscayne, the World Music Conference and multiple PGA and LPGA golf tournaments, plus having the Miami Heat and stunning beachfront hotels, have all boded well for Miami’s success. That is book-ended by the outstanding shopping and beaches and scenery."
“I am proud and privileged to have had front row seats as an industry insider, resident, and guest while three of the most exciting markets in the United States ascended to the top of the world stage.”
ABOUT TOWN RESIDENTIAL:
Launched by Founder and CEO Andrew Heiberger in 2010, TOWN is a top-ranked fully integrated Manhattan real estate services firm specializing in luxury residential sales, rentals, and the marketing of new development sales and rentals. TOWN Residential, LLC is a partnership of Buttonwood Residential Brokerage, LLC and Thor Equities, LLC, a leading real estate development and investment firm. An integral part of the New York real estate landscape, TOWN has a team that exceeds 500 licensed Representatives and staff in nine neighborhood locations: TOWN Greenwich Village, at 530 LaGuardia Place; TOWN SoHo, a landmarked corner storefront at 337 West Broadway dating to 1886; TOWN Upper East Side, a corner storefront at 239 East 79th Street and Second Avenue; TOWN West Village, a trophy office at 446 West 14th Street; TOWN Astor Place, a block-front space overlooking historic Astor Place in the Gwathmey Siegel-designed Sculpture for Living at 26 Astor Place; TOWN Fifth Avenue, located in the prestigious Crown Building at 730 Fifth Avenue at 57th Street; TOWN Flatiron, located at 110 Fifth Avenue and 16th Street; TOWN Financial District, located at 88 Greenwich Street; and TOWN Gramercy, located at historic 33 Irving Place. For more information about these offices and TOWN Residential, visit: www.townrealestate.com.