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New York Times 

A Developer Picks Up Where Others Leave Off

By Alison Gregor

WHILE some other developers may be having second thoughts about New York City's residential real estate market, Larry Korman seems to be making himself at home there.

His Philadelphia-based company, Korman Communities, where he is co-president alongside his brother Bradley, is finding a new niche in turning former condominium projects into luxury extended-stay lodging.

Since 2005, the company, which also builds homes, has bought four residential properties in Midtown Manhattan that were slated for condo conversions.

Two of those properties are now operating as extended-stay hotels, under the name AKA. They are the AKA: United Nations, at East 46th Street and Second Avenue; and the AKA: Sutton Place, formerly the Sutton Hotel, at East 56th Street between First and Second Avenues.

This spring, Korman Communities will also open the AKA: Central Park, formerly the Wyndham Hotel, at 58th Street, near Fifth Avenue; and the AKA Times Square, at 44th Street, near the Avenue of the Americas.

That will bring to nine the number of AKA extended-stay properties, which also include two in Philadelphia and one each in Washington, Arlington, Va., and Westchester County, N.Y. The properties were originally intended for condo conversions.

The AKA name is a play on words, standing for "also known as — your home away from home," said Mr. Korman, who is 43.

"It took me 10 years to come up with the AKA name," he said, explaining that it also stood for "A Korman Accommodation."

The guests at the AKA properties, which are the size of boutique hotels, typically require lodging for 30 days or more.

Amenities at AKA hotels include luxury kitchen appliances, mosaic-tiled showers and choices of pillows.

The residences provide technological amenities like Internet service and other conveniences like kitchens, fitness centers and pools, along with hotel services like housekeeping, he said. Rates are usually about half of what a boutique hotel in the neighborhood would charge and vary with the length of stay, Mr. Korman said.

Mr. Korman oversees the general operations of Korman Communities, handling duties ranging from deliberating with architects on design issues to ensuring that the curbs near his properties are clear of trash. He leaves the acquisitions to Bradley Korman, 42, while another brother, Mark, 39, is working on building up the company's commercial real estate division.

The company — founded in 1909 by his great-grandfather Hyman Korman — is a family affair: His father, Steven Korman, 67, is the chief executive. Larry Korman's wife, Korin, who owns two spas, develops spa products for the AKA residences.

Larry Korman said he knew from a young age that he wanted to run Korman Communities someday.

"From age 3 on, we all used to go on the weekends with my father to the properties," he said. He went directly into the family business after graduating from Duke University in 1986, where he majored in business and political science.

"This is something that to do well, you have to have a passion for what you do," he said.

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