Upper East Meets East End: The Ascend Group adds Georgica to Portfolio


The Ascend Group adds Georgica, a new 20-story luxury residential tower, to its growing list of lavish properties.

By Jennifer Seligman
Event Photography by Hollander Photographic

The words “Upper East Side” conjure up images of breezy tree-lined streets, chic cafés, luxurious boutiques, and smiling doormen standing under shaded awnings. Noticing a gap in the family and empty nester market, the Ascend Group LLC, broke ground on the new sophisticated luxury residential tower, Georgica. Named after the serene Georgica Pond in the Hamptons, Georgica is located at 305 East 85th St. near the northeast corner of Second Avenue, offering something that most buildings in the area do not: space.

As the residential tower is marketed toward families and empty nesters accustomed to more spacious abodes, Georgica will feature just 58 residences. Unlike Ascend Group’s first two residential developments, 133 West 22nd St. and the A Building, Rob Kaliner, president of The Ascend Group, has made the decision to forgo studios and one-bedrooms in lieu of more practical and roomy two-, three-, and four-bedroom residences.

“Traditionally there has been more [development] attention and focus on downtown, and there was really not a lot of emphasis on the Upper East Side,” explains Kaliner. “It was really an area that was screaming for attention. It’s a very a stable area. It’s a family area with terrific schools.”

Before Georgica, Kaliner feels that there was very little for people to buy in the area unless they wanted to purchase in buildings where it was necessary to spend at least $1 million in renovations. “People had the choice of living in a dingy old traditional apartment or moving downtown into a beautiful and modern development, and they were choosing [the latter]. Georgica is high-end and refined. It is rich, but not stodgy.”

 “We wanted to create a very Upper East Side building in an urbane and sophisticated way.”

Not only is the Upper East Side a beautiful and coveted location, but the plans for a new subway line to run up and down 2nd Avenue will definitely increase the value of all real estate in the surrounding area. “Most people think that from an investment perspective or an appreciation perspective, [the new subway line] is going to help a lot,” says Kaliner.

Prior to forming The Ascend Group, Bayside, Queens native Kaliner, who now resides in Livingston, N.J., with an additional apartment in Manhattan, obtained a degree in marketing from the University of Bridgeport, Connecticut. He then spent 19 years as the head of KalPak International, a brand identification manufacturer for high-end labels such as Ralph Lauren, J. Crew, and Gap. “I always wanted to go into real estate development,” says Kaliner, adding that switching careers was a natural fit for him as there are many similarities when it comes to marketing and branding high-end fashion and real estate. Both involve “identifying what people want and what they react to.” Since its inception, The Ascend Group has become a leading developer of boutique residential properties in premier New York locations, with Georgica as its third residential development in the city.

The 47-year-old father of two aspires to use real estate to build a legacy for his family by building the most luxurious and quality-construction residential developments that will serve as true homes for his buyers. “I would only build a building that I would want my family members to live in.”

The light and airy all-glass 20-story, 134,000-square-foot tower will have 58 residences ranging in size from 1,237 square feet to nearly 3,000 square feet and will feature gourmet kitchens, home offices, fireplaces, and building amenities such as a children’s playroom, state-of-the-art fitness center, full-time concierge, health club, children’s play area with Wii stations, and a landscaped rooftop deck with a playground, fire glow pit, bar, grills, outdoor kitchen, flat screen TV, and an outdoor children’s theater.

John Cetra and Nancy Ruddy, the husband and wife team of award winning architectural and design firm Cetra/Ruddy, are responsible for Georgica’s sumptuous design. “We wanted to create a very Upper East Side building in an urbane and sophisticated way,” explains Ruddy. “It offers multiple views and floor to ceiling glass. There is so much of the beautiful light that you get at the beaches in the East End and we used that as the inspiration. The lobby will also resemble a great manor home in the Hamptons, with limestone in light colors that looks like light wood.”

In order to celebrate Georgica’s grand opening, The Ascend Group partnered with Haute Living to host an invitation-only “Taste of the Hamptons” event. The soirée featured a white wine and Champagne tasting with selections from the Sotheby’s New York Wine Department and raffles for bottles of Dom Pérignon. Fresh shucked clams and oysters, and hors d’oeuvres were served by A-list catering service Robbins Wolfe Eventeurs. The event seamlessly blended Manhattan chic with haute Hamptons living, exemplifying how Georgica will provide its residents with the best of both worlds.