Wednesday, June 27, 2007


Just heard from my wife that the East 80's are blacked out. Power went off about 20 minutes ago (3:45 p.m.). Our doorman says that a Con Ed grid has blown and the 70's are out too. ABC News is saying that there are "sporadic outages" from the South Bronx to East 13th on the "East Side".
The first real nasty day and here we go with a blackout? This could be a long, hot summer!
update 4:30...power coming back on in the 80's and South Bronx...Hope it lasts!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Weekly Links

Well, it's been a relatively slow week for Real Estate news here in the big city. It seems as if July 4th weekend has started a week and a half early, but that's summer in the city for you. Bloomberg has made yet another step in the (obvious) direction to run for president, the current 421-a tax abatement program looks like it will get a 6 month extension, and the investment arm of the UAE's royalty has bought Barney's. Some headlines:
$2,000 /ft on East 86th Street! (NY Post)
421-a program 6 month extension looks like done deal (Crain’s)
Dubai Co. buys Barney’s, Jones doubles investment in 3 years (NY Daily News)
NYC less expensive (for foreigners) (CNN Money)
Central Park North on the move (NY Post)

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Brompton vs. Lucida, Round 3, Brompton + 7 stories

The Lucida, June 13th, 2007

The Brompton June 13th, 2007

The battle continues and The Brompton continues to go up, and The Lucida goes down...and down. The Lucida continues to chisel at bedrock in what looks like the world's largest wine cellar (about 60 feet underground). Meanwhile, The Brompton is impressively moving skyward as work on 4th floor (above ground) has begun. So, I'd give The Brompton a 7 story lead at this point. Sales are another story. The Lucida has sold a majority of it's units, while The Brompton has yet to formally launch.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Implications of Congestion Pricing

In a bold political initiative, at first given impossible odds, Mayor Bloomberg's Congestion Pricing scheme has picked up unexpected momentum over the past several weeks. The idea is to charge vehicles, $8 initially,to enter Manhattan at any point in Manhattan below 86th Street. The goal is to reduce traffic congestion and thereby emissions throughout Manhattan. The question is, how would this work in reality versus theory, and who will this actually impact?
Given that I live below 86th Street and those of us who do would be exempt, my initial reaction was, great, less traffic and less competition for parking spots. Ideally, I figured that traffic would be reduced somewhere along the lines of 20% or more and I saw myself effortlessly breezing around the city as if it were my own. At the same time, I recognized that if I lived on 87th Street or higher I would probably be Congestion Pricing's most vocal opponent. Imagine having a camera recording your license plate number and automatically charging you $8 for crossing a street on the border. What if you live on 87th and always find parking on 85th? Obviously, an invisible wall would form. Not only would you not cross 86th Street, suddenly you'd have competition for parking with every yocal coming to town that didn't want to spring the $8. In effect, traffic would likely increase dramatically in the areas right outside the zone and make parking in those areas an absolute nightmare. I'm sensing some serious inequalities developing and the "Haves" would be South of 86th Street and the "Have-Nots" would be north of 86th Street and in the outer boroughs.
Secondly, who are we penalizing and who will actually be discouraged from driving? Unfortunately, in practice, I believe that those most advesly affected will be New York's hard working lower and middle classes, while tourists, wealthy New Yorkers, and tri-state visitors will be rewarded. The signal sent around the world by adopting Congestion Pricing in Manhattan will be that driving in Manhattan will be more managable. For a tourist or tri-state visitor who is used to paying $400/night for a hotel room or $40 for an hour of midtown parking, what's $8 in the sceme of things? That $8 is reduced further under the plan for people using the bridges and tunnels because the toll paid would be deducted from the $8. On the other hand, there is no doubt that those making a living wage or less are far less likely to enter the zone. So, in effect, wouldn't we be replacing low income drivers with people from outside the city that have difficulty driving and clog up traffic in the first place? Is this really fair to all New Yorkers? Hardly!
So what can be done? Here are some ideas:
1- If you do implement congestion pricing, exempt all taxpayers with a registration inside city limits and do not allow out of town vistors to deduct tolls from the $8 price.
2- Limit truck deliveries between 6 am and 7pm. Trucks double parking for deliveries are the single biggest cause of traffic in the city. Just drive up 3rd Avenue in the 70's any day of the week and witness double parking on both sides of the street. Trucks entering Manhattan should either come between 8pm and 6 am, or pay a stiff fee to enter, perhaps $40 or more per day.
3- Dedicate 60 feet of truck delivery parking on each Avenue block in the city. Something along the size of a bus stop on the opposite side of the street would allow trucks to delivery without clogging up traffic.
4- Strictly enforce and increase penalties for double parking.
5- Encourage mass transit by keeping fares where they are.
6- Increase the amount and safety of bike lanes and give every New Yorker a tax deduction of $200 if they use it to buy a bike.
It will be interesting to see how this plan pans out. Mayor Bloomberg has garnered support by offering new train stations in lesser served communities and the plan looks like it has a chance. I urge the Mayor to consider his plan's impact on New York's working class and to consider additional and/or additional measures to curb congestion in the city.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Links For Market News

Friday, June 1, 2007

100 West 18th Street, Condo Perfection In Chelsea

There are 2 types of condo buyers in today's market: those who settle and those who will settle only for the best. For those that fit into the latter category, 100 West 18th Street, a Brauser Group Development, could be the place for you.
I'm a perfectionist and I've looked at 100's of new condos over the course of the last couple of years, and I'll admit, I am a tough critic. If you try to slip in a GE Profile fridge next to a Miele dishwasher the experience is blown for me! Unfortunately, in nearly every condo you step into, you can instantly identify where the developer was trying to save money. That is not the case with 100 West 18th Street, where it quickly becomes obvious that no expense was spared.
It appears that The Brauser Group shares my values when it comes to quality and craftsmanship. Start with the kitchen, which is absolutely flawless. This open kitchen features honed black granite counters, white oak cabinets, and an exceptional group of appliances from Miele and Sub-Zero including both a conventional and convection oven. Additionally, the kitchen is outfitted with a garbage disposal, 26 bottle wine cooler, and a built-in Miele Nespresso coffee and expresso maker. The spa inspired baths are also a marvel to behold. The master bath, with both an over sized Tea For Two soaking tub and a walk-in European shower features gorgeous cut limestone (which I have only seen in apartments twice the price), and lava stone finishes. The living and bedroom areas have over sized windows, ceiling heights ranging from 9'7"to 10'4", interlocking buckle-proof floors, and an added touch that I love- a built-in iPod docking station in the master. I'm sure for a little extra they'd be happy to wire the entire apartment for you.
Finally, the building, while intimate at 11 stories, has every amenity you'd expect from a larger building. 100 West 18th features 24 hour doorman, concierge, cold storage for Fresh Direct, private fitness center, club room, and two communal outdoor spaces- a Zen Garden and a fabulous landscaped roof deck equipped with barbecues, outdoor showers, and drop dead city views. The location is also phenomenal. Located on West 18th and 6th Avenue on the historic Ladies Mile, you have the luxury of drawing from an incredible array of shopping, dining, and nightlife in Chelsea, Union Square, and the West Village.
Like they say, good things come in small packages, and in this case, this is a package I could get comfortable with very easily.

And You Thought UES Condos Were Expensive!

Had to share this sight from last night outside Eli's on Third Avenue. Money must be growing on trees in these parts! Oh, and if anyone is in need of a tiny herb garden, I'd be happy to sell you one for alot less than $50..