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East Harlem Co-Op Tries Feng Shui to Help Sales

By Jeff Mays | February 8, 2011 7:49pm | Updated on February 9, 2011 6:14am

By Jeff Mays

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

HARLEM — Potential buyers who walked into the alcove studio apartment on the 7th floor of Embelesar 118, a mixed-income co-op in East Harlem, were frequently confused about how they could make the space work for them.

Eric Agosto, a broker with the Corcoran Group who is showing the units, said he wanted to find a way to show prospective buyers how they could take advantage of the space and use it to give them "a greater sense of peace."

"We thought about what we could do to make people feel they are not living in the city," Agosto said.

So developers hired feng shui master-to-be Susan Chan to make the apartment more appealing. Using ancient Chinese techniques to increase the flow of positive energy, Chan added soothing colors and set the couch up so it was in a commanding position looking down the apartment's long hallway toward the door.

She also made sure the apartment had the proper elemental balance of earth, fire, wood, water and metal. Lighter colors were added to bring in a balance of light.

"People now are seeing the features. They know where to look. We have orchestrated it so people say 'I feel I'm home, I can relax,'" Chan said during a tour of one of the apartments. "Feng shui is all about balancing energy."

Located on East 118th Street between Lexington and Third avenues, the 57-unit co-op has affordable units ranging from $223,00 to $290,000 for studios and 1 bedrooms. The market rate units are priced from $392,000 to $650,000 for 1 and 2 bedrooms.

Students up the block, where Hunter College is building its new school of social work, have already expressed an interest in the building. A few avenues away is the East River Plaza with a Target.

"With the economy the way it is, people are spending more time at home," said Chan, who has used feng shui to stage several other apartments.

So far, the feng shui design was making a difference, said Agosto. In one studio unit that Chan was working in, the size was an issue.

"When you walked into this place before it was done, people said 'this is small, how am I going to live here? Where am I going to put my bed?'" Chan said. "Once it was staged, people don't have to think about that. They walk in and say 'I can see myself living here.'"

Embelesar 118 is having an open house of Chan's feng shui apartments this weekend. Buyers who sign a contract to purchase an apartment based on a visit will get a free feng shui consultation with Chan.

"Your energy might be too much earth so maybe you don't need so much fire," said Chan, who is about to be certified as a feng shiu master. "Everyone's feng shui is different."