Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Wednesday Morning Links

Fire Sales In Miami Bring Deals (The Real Deal)
Despite Transfer Tax Slump, City Budget Has $800Mil. Surplus (UK/Guardian)
Another Worker Suffers Fall From Building (NY Times)
Verizon May Soon Join Local TV Market, Adding A New Cable Option (NY Times
Sales In The Hampton, North Fork Drop Impressively (The Real Deal)

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Union Square Park Reno Resumes With Restaurant And Trees In Limbo

The jackhammers are out and the heavy equipment is rolling in Union Square Park this morning after a NY Supreme Court judge ruled that construction on the Park's renovation can continue- however, a restraining order against knocking down trees and renovating the pavilion has been extended indefinitely. In the short term it is a sensible ruling in that nobody objects to more playground space, or a much needed renovation of the Farmers Market facility that has no more charm than a parking lot. However, the real issue, that of a private restaurant occupying public space in the pavilion remains unresolved. From a strict legal standpoint, it looks likely that such appropriation, or as critics see it, expropriation, would likely have to be approved by the state.

Tuesday Morning Links

Judge Extends Injunction On Union Square Park Restaurant (NY1)
Hard Rock Hotel, 4500 "Video Lottery Terminals" Possible At Aqueduct Racetrack (Crain's)
DOT Looks T0 Green Up City Streets (StreetsBlog)
Toll Trolls For NYC Developments (The Real Deal)
3 Townhouse Combo In Carnegie Hill Causes Controversy (NY Times)

Monday, April 28, 2008

Coming Soon: "The Star Tower" - LIC North

The Star Tower on LIC's North Side is preparing to open for sales, if the launch of it's website is any indication. The Star Tower is across Hunters Street from the Roe corporation's successful "Fusion" condominium. The building will be located at the site of the defunct "Long Island Star" newspaper. More details coming soon....
Update (5/14)...We have an abundance of details on Star Tower, Call us at 212-675-1111 for the scoop.

Green Office Tip

In an ongoing effort to "green" our office, we continue our quest to save energy. While we are only one office, we will use our blog to help others to save energy and green up their offices as well. So, on occasion, we will pass along "Green Office Tips". Hopefully, some of you will implement them so that our efforts are multiplied.
Here is one tip which is easy to adopt, it only takes a couple of minutes, but can save tons of energy. Your computer is a big-time energy hog. Often one's computer will sit idle for hours, sometimes even overnight. So, if you don't already do it, it is easy to change your computer settings to turn off the monitor and hard disk after a set amount of time, thereby saving tons of energy. If you run on windows xp, or similar system here is how you do it:
1. Click "start" button, then "control panel".
2. Click "appearance and themes", then "display".
3. Click the "screen saver" tab at the top, then "monitor power"
4. Under "power schemes" you can set the amount of time that can surpass before your monitor and hard disk automatically turn off.
It's a great way to cut consumption in a big way with little effort or inconvenience.
For more "Green Office Tips", check the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency Website

Monday Morning Links

Loan Industry Fights New Mortgage Rules Citing Expense (NY Times)
All-Inclusive, Multi-Market, Luxury Real Estate Wrap (Luxist)
Chickens, Bees, And Pigeons Find Homes On NYC Rooftops, Intentionally (NY Daily News)
Flushing Flourishing With Development (NY Daily News)

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Weekend Links

Pretty slim pickings on Real Estate news this morning. There have been plenty of reports out this week showing the weakness on the national scene, but Manhattan, despite lower traffic seems to be holding up just fine price-wise.
Food for thought: if the US Dollar, which has been showing signs of life, starts to appreciate, would this create a surge in foreign buying? Theoretically, if foreign buyers thought that they could take advantage of the cheap dollar to buy real estate and also see that dollar appreciate, they double their odds of making money. Just a thought.
15 Union Square and Chelsea Modern Deemed Standouts (NY Times)
Outdoor Space: Oasis For Some, Storage For Others (NY Times)
Checking In On NYU Dorm/Church Combo..Uggh! (Curbed)
Exit Strategy For Willets Point Plan? (NY Observer)

Friday, April 25, 2008

Friday Morning Links

Manhattan Immune From Real Estate Bust? (Business Week)
Meat Packing's Gansevoort Plaza Open (StreetsBlog)
Building Boom Over? Residential Permits Plunge (Crain's)
Wall Street Layoffs Could Reach 36,000 (The Real Deal)
Verdict On Sean Bell Shooting Case Due This Morning (NY Times)

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Gardening Festival In Union Square This Sunday

This Sunday, April 27th, Union Square Park hosts the "NYC Garden Grows Festival" from 10 am-5pm. I took one of my daughters to this festival and she had an absolute blast. There are all sorts of hands on crafts and activities for the kids, lectures and demonstrations all day for adults, and a bonanza of free stuff for all. You are sure to get free plants, tomatoes, peppers, soil, fertilizer and more. Last year at the close of the event the sponsors seemed to be giving away everything. I ended up walking out with a 25 lb bag of dirt and 2 gorgeous hydrangeas- free. So if you are in the area Sunday and have even a remote interest in gardening, or need a place to take the kids, it's well worth a stop.
2008 NYC Grows Garden Festival

Thursday Morning Links

Gloomy Progress Report On Mega-Projects (
City Starts $4 Mil Review Of Dept Of Buildings (NY Daily News)
Construction Worker Falls From Scaffold At Lincoln Center (NY Times)
Residents Of Tudor City Fight Solow Plan (AMNY)
Viceroy Hotel Coming To Hudson Square (Observer)
Need A Job? Dubai Short On Real Estate Pros (India Times)

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

A. Fine Company Becomes NYC's First Green Broker

A. Fine Company, Inc. is proud to announce our intention to be deemed New York City's first "green" real estate broker. While we have always been conscious of our carbon footprint, we have closely examined our day to day practices to further reduce our impact on the environment. Here are some issues that have and will be addressed.
Fax machine- what a culprit! We have asked every company and landlord that faxes us to stop faxing and email instead or give us a website where we can access listings. If the internet is not an option we have asked those companies not to fax us and we'll call them when we need them. We only order recycled paper. Further, we now take all old and useless faxes and reuse the other side of the paper. I'd estimate that we have reduced our paper consumption by more than 80%. We also return toner cartridges to staples for recycling.
Computers- The last person to leave the office is responsible for making sure that all computers are turned off. This not only helps reduce energy consumption, but is also good for the computers and makes them last longer. We also pledge that any computer or other e-waste will only be disposed of at special e-waste collection areas set up periodically at Union Square.
Heat, Lights- Fortunately our office in Union Square is blessed with 3 exposures and tons of natural light from 8 large windows. Since the office is is a relatively small loft our use of office lights is rare and usually limited to evenings and very overcast days. During the winter our heaters our always turned off unless absolutely necessary. Usually during afternoon hours, our wall of South facing windows heat the entire office. Our windows are old and inefficient, but the landlord should have all of our windows replaced with double pane energy efficient windows by summer. Of course, during summer months, we will make the most of those windows, our shades, and never run the energy efficient ac overnight.
Office Waste/Composting- OK, I'll admit it is only an experiment, but in addition to the usual office recycling, we are going to give composting a try! We do have a roof deck, so we are putting the compost can out there, and all I can say is, wish me luck. I hope it works, but I will tell you that if we are swarmed by horseflies, this plan will be scrapped.
Gardening- With the roof deck, we are in a rare position to actually garden, use the compost, and as they say the best produce is local. I have some experience with this and had a bumper crop of peppers last year and some decent tomatoes. Produce gardening does several good things. First, you are growing something that eats up pollutants, adds oxygen to the air, and helps reduce city heating. By growing some of your own produce, you reduce the amount that must be trucked to you, thereby saving fuel and reducing pollution.
Canvas Bags- As pictured above, we have a load of canvas bags that we have given out in the past to both promote our company and reduce the public reliance on wasteful paper and plastic that fill our landfills. If anyone would like one of these canvas bags for free, email us with an address and we'll get one out to you while supplies last.
At A. Fine Company, we are not only committed to providing our clients with exceptional service and expertise, we are also devoted to the environment that we all call home.

Update: Weekend At Bernie's Bandits Freed!

The bumbling bandits who put their friend's corpse in an office chair and wheeled it to the local check cashing in hope of cashing his social security check have been freed. The pair, James P. O Hare and David Daloia, were busted when the said corpse aroused suspicion and an off duty officer noticed a crowd gathering around the body. Autopsy results show that the dead man, Virgilio Cintron, had died from complications of Parkinson's, but could not determine the time of death. For that reason, charges have been dismissed, and so ends one strange New York tale. I'm sure Pay-O-Matic check cashing and the Hell's Kitchen community have appreciated all of the free publicity.
Charges Dropped In Dead Pal Check Cashing Scheme (NY Daily News)

Union Square Park Reno Halted!


What was a nice playground

Geoffrey Croft, President of NYC Park Advocates has been successful in his bid to obtain a temporary restraining order to halt, at least until a hearing Monday, the demolition relating to the Union Square Park makeover. As of yesterday, the demolition and digging has ceased. According to the judge, there is validity in the argument that usurping public park space for private use is an action that requires state approval.
I am quickly changing my mind on this project. The allure and promise of more playground space and improved facilities sounds great, but something smells awfully fishy about the project. First is the anonymous donor who is providing $5 Million towards the $20 Million project. That donor is widely suspected to be Danny Meyer of Shake Shack fame. It is also widely suspected that he would get the nod to run the restaurant in the park. None of this can be confirmed, but the lack of transparency only fuels suspicion. Second, the work seemed to have been proceeding at breakneck speed. In just over 2 weeks fencing was erected all over the north side of the park, jersey barriers installed, 2 playgrounds completely levelled, pavement stripped, a pit dug, and more. Everyone knows that the City just doesn't work this fast- raising more suspicion. Additionally, it seems that info on the actual design is sparse at best- just Google it and you'll see what I mean. I promise to look into this issue further. From a gut feeling, it just seems like the project is getting railroaded and something is not adding up. Hopefully the courts take a serious and objective look before anything further is done.
Judge Blocks Overhaul Of Union Square Park (NY Times)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Tuesday Links

On Earth Day, NYC Greener Than Ever (AMNY)
Calatrava's PATH Station: Now This Thing Is Getting Awkward (Curbed)
Another Manhattan McDonald's Bites The Dust, Replaced By Organic Cafe (The Real Deal)
Willet's Point Rezoning Off To Tough Start (AMNY)
As Construction Deaths Rise, DOB Feels The Heat (NY Times)

Monday, April 21, 2008

Disturbing: Food Rationing Hits United States

An article really caught my eye this morning, and I am still in disbelief! Apparently, if soaring food prices weren't enough, many stores in New York, New England, and the West Coast have begun placing limits on the amount of rice, flour, or cooking oil that you can buy. Yes, food rationing has hit the bread basket of the world!
Food Rationing Confronts Bread Basket Of The World (NY Sun)

Monday Morning Links/ Weekend Roundup

Basement Storage Bin At "The Dakota" Sells For $801,000. (NY Times)
City Begins Review Of Willet's Point And Hunters Point Projects In Queens (Crain's)
The Shock Of The First Manhattan Apt Hunt (NY Times)
Average Manhattan Apartment Price Soars to $1.6 Million (Daily News)
The $1000. Sushi Roll, Only In New York (Luxist)
Trump Hails Qatar Real Estate Developments (Tradearabia)
Abu Dhabi Unveils 5 Year, $275 Bil. Real Estate Development Plan (Ameinfo)
Governors Island Ready For Makeover (AP)

Friday, April 18, 2008

Main Beach, EH Pushed Into Parking Lot

For a pretty low key winter with few Nor'Easters to even talk about, the amount of erosion at Main Beach in East Hampton seemed pretty significant. Where the South end of the parking lot meets the beach, it appears the beach is winning! In one corner (bottom right of the picture above) the sand is up to 3 feet deep. Also notice the bench and bike rack also under 2 feet of sand. Over the winter it seems like there has been a big push of sand both into the parking lot and inland. The water line from the previous high time also seemed to be at least 30 feet further in than usual. The much protected Piping Plover nests up in the dunes certainly had a challenging winter to say the least.

On a real estate note, I haven't seen anything out of the ordinary. The East Hampton Star still has plenty of full-page ads with multi multi-million dollar listings, and the number of yard signs advertising homes for sale has diminished compared to last fall. I'll have more insight as soon as I hear back from some of my sources here, but it seems like this part of the Hamptons at least may just be the 15 CPW of Long Island.

Friday Morning Links

Homeless Man Finds Freedom Tower Plans In Garbage Can (NY Post)
In Wake Of Crane Collapse, Eight Cranes Ordered To Stop Work (Bloomberg)
Plan For Pedestrian Plaza On 34th Street (Streetsblog)

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Live Blogging From East Hampton

Ok, so it's not Turks and Caicos, but I have made it out to the East End of Long Island, East Hampton to be precise, for a little summer market preview (sorry curbed-beat you to it). It's only a 24 hour trip, but I'll do my best to report back with reflections on the market out here. So far the best news is that it only took 90 minutes to drive from Manhattan to Southampton despite a Mets game in the way. If only it could be like that during the summer! Back with the regular morning links in the am, and hopefully some decent content later in the day.

Thursday Links

Queens Real Estate Prices Up- Thanks To LIC (The Real Deal)
Mets Ace Santana Buys Modest Pad At 170 East End (NY Post)
Mayor Warns Wealthy Will Flee If Council Tax Plan Enacted (NY Sun)
The Pope's NYC Crash Pad On 72nd Street (Observer)
Friends Of High Line Push To Keep Railyards Portion (NY Observer)
Gowanus Group Proposes "Sponge Park" (Brownstoner)

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Wednesday Morning Links

(The late Sky Cubes)
15 CPW Condo Flips For A Double (The Real Deal)
Calatrava's "Sky Cubes" Condo At 80 South St. Dead (NY Post)
Calatrava's Path Terminal Still Breathing- MTA (NY Times)
Hearst Tower Strives Towards "Zero Waste" Policy (CNN)
Foreign Money Continues To Float NYC Economy (NY Times)
Starbucks To Open In SoHa 118 Condo, First In South Harlem (The Real Deal)

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Bloomberg, 3rd term: Don't Deny It, Try It!

The UPI reported the other day that Mayor Bloomberg was considering asking for a referendum that would change term limits to allow him to run for a 3rd term. Bloomberg's press secretary quickly came out to deny it. Well, I have one message for the Mayor- don't deny it, try it!

While I have been plenty outspoken in my opposition to mayor in many ways- congestion pricing, Queens West South, and the smoking ban (I've since come around on that one), I have also been outspoken about what a terrific job he has done.

First and foremost, the Mayor's financial stewardship over the past seven years has proven him to be one of the best mayors in the history of our city. Handed a huge deficit and innumerable difficulties as a result of 9/11, the mayor has been reasoned, intelligent, responsible, and compassionate in his handling of city finances. In one word, his performance has been brilliant. We, as a city, are facing more economic tough times- a recession, Wall Street layoffs to name just a couple. We can ill afford to have some partisan, long time political hack to take the reins of our city at this critical juncture. This is reason #1 why I implore the Mayor to explore his options for a 3rd term.

Bloomberg is a visionary. OK, some visions I don't like, and many that I did like the Olympics bid and Jets Stadium never lifted off, but the most important thing is to have a big thinker and visionary leading our city. There are so many big projects that have to be seen to conclusion in this city- the 2nd Avenue Subway, Ground Zero, The Fulton Transit Center, and the West Side Yards to name just a few. While in the current climate completing these projects will be difficult, I would argue that they will be virtually impossible without Bloomberg. Not only do I believe with a little luck he can get these jobs done, I am confident in the mayor's ability to provide further vision for the future.

Finally, I have no doubt that the Mayor's heart is in the right place. Yes, he may need a little help in learning to build political coalitions, as is evidenced by his failure to sell passage of Congestion Pricing in Albany, and yes, as a successful manager he is used to calling the shots, but I can't recall any time when I felt like the mayor didn't have everyone's best interests at heart. He is a mayor that is giving philanthropist, takes a $1 annual salary, rides mass transit, and eats at the local hamburger joint. There is a lot to like about Mike.

I would further challenge the mayor. Yes, you've been brilliant economically, but few mayors are remembered for balancing a budget. You've had brilliant vision, too little of which has been implemented. You've been a great mayor, but a 3rd term, overwhelming re-elected by the people, would provide you the opportunity to establish a legacy that will last for generations beyond your service to the city.

Tuesday Morning Links

300 East 23rd Street Condo Revealed(Pictured Above) (Curbed)

Monday, April 14, 2008

Welcome To Afineblog!

It's a long story as to why I have posted this image, but I need a place on the net to store it that has an html code. As always, you can call any time, just don't want you to think I'm pushing it.

Grand Plans For Midtown West Meet Economic Realities

It's been a pretty rough couple of weeks for Bloomberg. It's not just his defeat on Congestion pricing, but several projects which may be quickly spiralling down the drain. From Moynihan Station, The New MSG, and the West Side yards, very little is certain. So reports the New York Times:

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Saturday Morning Links

Burj Dubai Now Tallest Manmade Structure (
Renters Hurt As Sub-Prime Landlords Default (NY Times)
Spitzer Works For Dad, Sees Shrink (NY Daily News)

Friday, April 11, 2008

Union Square Park Destructo-Pics

It may have taken forever to implement the plan to renovate Union Square Park's North end, but it's not taking long for them to get it on now that the project has started. Both playgrounds are being quickly dismantled, the former restaurant is dust, and the North side has now seen extensive fencing.

Friday Morning Links

Dwindling Chelsea Flower District Keeps Busy (Observer)
Madonna Triumphs Over CPW Coop Board (NY Daily News)
Condos That Are Hot, And Those Not (NY Post)
Off Track Betting Still On Track For Shutdown (NY Daily News)

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Hunters Point South Plan Grows Denser, Yet Finds An Extra Acre Of Park

I've recently received the "Final Scope Of Work" report for Hunters Point South from the city. There are a few significant changes to the proposed project. Here is a partial list:
1- The amount of Parkland at Site B has grown from 10 acres to 11 acres. The city tells me that they have "re-calculated" estimates and also added .35 acre along the South side of the project on the Newtown Creek.
2- The project has gotten even denser. While the number of units at "Site A" remains 5000 (60% affordable rentals), the number of units on the privately owned "Site B" (currently the Budweiser plant) has grown from 1500 to 1650 (of which 20% will be affordable).
3- The school is now bigger. Originally the school was listed as 150,000sf for 1250 Sixth-Twelfth graders, the revised plan calls for 180,000sf for 1600 students.
While the "Final Scope of Work" notes the numerous comments, objections, and concerns of local residents and concerned parties, it seems as if none of them were taken into consideration by the EDC. In fact, the plan has simply put gone from bad to even worse. While the city may have "recalculated" to find an extra acre of parkspace, they also found room for another 150 units (the size of a large building) and 350 more students. The project is yet denser, and by logic taller.
I still contend that the city should simply rezone "Site B" and allow a developer to build large in exchange for some affordable units, and sell 8 acres on the North end of Site A to a developer who would also be required to provide say 20% affordable, and take the massive proceeds from such a sale and build much more affordable housing elsewhere. The remaining 22 acres should be a public park, open space which the community needs and is sorely lacking. This plan would reduce the total density to 3000 units (1500 in each A and B) from 6650 the city plans, and more than double the park space. The city would get 600 affordable units and cash for it's affordable housing program, while LIC would have less strain on it's infrastructure and more park space.
If anyone would like to see the full 72 page "Final Scope Of Work", I'm happy to email it to you.

Thursday Morning Links

It's been a busy week in A. Fine land, as it appears that Spring has finally sprung and the buyers have come out of their Bear (Stearns)-induced hibernation. There are a number of issues and new developments that I have meant to blog on. Hopefully today I get that opportunity. Meanwhile, here are today's links:
11 Spring Loses The Scaffold To Reveal Gorgeous Prewar Facade (Curbed)
Freedom Tower To Get Observation Deck (NYDN)
Foreclosure Market Active And Robust (WSJ)
Despite Economy, Coops Maintain Strict Standards (NY Observer)
MoMa Tower Plan Panned At Meeting (NY Times)
Tribeca's Priciest Townhouse Listing Ever- $35 Mil. (NY Observer)

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Wednesday Morning Links

DeNiro Shows Off His Hotel (Curbed)
Real Estate Tax Eyed To Make Up For Congestion Pricing Funds (The Real Deal)
With CG Dead Bloomberg Turns To Solar Power (CityRoom)
Final Opening Day At Shea (AMNY)
Manhattan Apartment Rents Climb Over 5% In 2007 (Bloomberg)
Foreclosure Heat Map Shows Manhattan A Cool Blue (TechCrunch)

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Tuesday Morning Links

Renderings Of New Willets Point Plan (Curbed)
Traffic Fee Dies, Mayor Unhappy (NY Times)
Subway Cars As Artificial Reefs Work So Well, States Now Fighting Over Them (NY Times)

Monday, April 7, 2008

Breaking: Congestion Pricing Still Dead

Despite an evening meeting to discuss Congestion Pricing yet again, it is still, apparently, dead. I still urge caution, the night is still young, and I still fear the 11 pm news cycle, and also the am news cycle. I have to give a shout out to Despite being on the complete opposite side of the argument, I have finally found a blogger who has actually written on this issue more than I have. It's a great blog-keep up the good work! Here is their take on this evening's action:
It's (Apparently) Official: Congestion Pricing is Dead (

Congestion Pricing Death Watch: Dead According To NY1

NY1 reported just moments ago that Congestion Pricing is dead. According to NY1, it was decided in a meeting this morning that the politically charged issue would not come up for a vote after failing to garner enough support. While the report seems rather definitive, I don't think it's over til it's over, and even then, I still fear somehow it will be passed, even after the deadline. If it is in fact dead, it will be a great shame that the mayor was so inflexible in his approach to this particular issue. The idea of less congestion and clean air in the city is laudable. However, there are so many ways that the city can achieve these goals without unfairly taxing local residents (while giving folks from NJ a free ride).
Congestion Pricing Dead (NY1)

Congestion Pricing Death Watch: Almost Dead

WNBC is reporting that Bloomberg has said he believed Congestion Pricing 'will not pass' according to an interview conducted by Mike Tiabbi. A press conference is likely some time after Noon. While I'd like to get excited, it's far too early. Remember last time the deadline past, somehow they managed to buy a few more days. Again, I am not against the concept of Congestion Pricing, just the way it treats city citizens, the poor, and the awful idea that the border would be set in the middle of Manhattan. Should Congestion Pricing fail, I promise to help put together a better plan.
Dead End For Congestion Pricing (DeDapper's Blog/WNBC)

Monday Morning Links

Today is the big day, when, if the goalposts aren't moved, that the Mayor's Congestion Pricing plan either lives or dies. Personally, I'll be saying a little prayer that the plan perishes. The Mayor seemed confident yesterday despite the fact that it looked like he didn't have the votes to pass the plan. The Mayor is a brilliant man, so his confidence leads me to believe that he knows something, which makes me worry. Don't get me wrong, I am all about being green. However, the congestion pricing plan seems both ill-conceived and unfair to people that are either poor, or who live in and around the zone. I feel for people that live within a few blocks of the 60th Street border. Those people would be subject to a huge increase in traffic, noise, and pollution. In effect, with a border smack in the middle of our island, rather than at it's entrances, I can forsee absolutely unbearable congestion near the border, which would likely cancel out any pollution benefits from the plan. And if you are that person who lives on 61st Street, is it really fare that you should have to pay $8 to go one block from your home, while everyone from New Jersey and Long Island can pass the border for free (their river toll is credited)? While Bloomberg has pushed this draconian plan, absolutely nothing has been done to deal with our worst congestion dilemma, double parking. Just take a ride down Lexington Avenue this morning, in many places double parked trucks will reduce traffic lanes 3 to 1. Finally, let's face it, Congestion Pricing is a tax. If the plan is approved and doesn't work, who is to say that the congestion tax isn't increased over and over until it is effective- that's what has happened in London. Let's hope that hasn't a chance of happeining here.

Congestion Pricing Comes Down To The Wire, In Doubt (WNBC)
Hell's Kitchen Remains Hot! (NY Daily News)
International Real Estate Wrap, Di Caprio Buys At Riverhouse (Intl Herald Tribune)
Outer Boroughs Feel Pricing Pressure (NY Times)
A Look At LIC North/Queens Plaza (NY Post)
Can A McMansion Be LEED Certified? (NY Times)
Celebrity Real Estate Wrap-Brooke Shields Buys WV Townhouse (NY Post)
Celebrity Real Estate Round Up (Luxist)

Friday, April 4, 2008

Union Square Park Reno Finally Underway

It all started Six years ago when the City Council pledged $1.9 Million dollars to renovate the North end of Union Square Park. There has been controversy, anger, appeasement, and backroom dealings ever since. That was until this week when fencing went up and construction trailers descended on the Park. Today, the Farmers Market was moved to the West side of the park and various construction barriers indicate that something is finally happening on the North end. The construction, which was last reported to begin this fall, has apparently begun. The final plan which will cost $20 Million will include a tripling of the playground space, a greening of the North end of the park and resurfacing of the Farmer's Market area to include electrical and plumbing upgrades for the vendors. The most controversial aspect is the plan for a 120 seat restaurant which will occupy the badly dilapidated Pavilion built in the 1930's. The Pavilion will be completely renovated and will also include office and maintenance space for park workers. Critics argue that this amount to a "privatization of public space". While this argument may hold some validity, the plan as a whole, largely privately funded, appears to be beneficial as a whole. First, a tripling of playground space is never a bad thing. Second, the north end of the park, home of the Farmers Market, is nearly 2 city blocks of pavement and nothing else. On rainy days like today, this pavement is a minefield of puddles and plainly put a blight. The greening and resurfacing of the area is a welcome, overdue improvement. Yes, we may end up with another Danny Meyer inspired Shake Shack effort, but there was a bar there before, and who couldn't use a good burger now and then?
Related Articles:

Friday Morning Links

Tribeca Has A Mystery Building Too (Curbed)
A Look At MSG Renovation Plan (Observer)
Congestion Pricing Meets Stiff Resistance In Albany (NY Times)
New Jersey's Contribution To Congestion Pricing An "Accounting Trick" (NY Sun)
In NYC, It's Raining Single Women (Observer)
Manhattan Real Estate: An Island Unto Itself? Maybe (CNBC)

Thursday, April 3, 2008

LIC Update: 10-50 Gets It's Shine On, Details On Mystery Condo...

Scaffolding Coming Down To Reveal 10-50's Shine

Mystery Condo Now Has Windows

Hunters View and Mystery Condo

10-50 Jackson- Looks like the scaffolding is peeling back to reveal the appealing shine of 10-50 Jackson's exterior. Looks good! It is a far cry from the multi shades of brown brick seen in the area of late.
LIC Mystery Condo- Up on Jackson (+49th Ave), right next to Hunters View, the mystery condo is making incredible progress. Virtually nonexistent a few months ago, the building has topped and is now getting windows-o-plenty. It has a name, and I know it, but I have sworn to secrecy once again! I can tell you that there is no doubt that it will be condo, around 122 units, designed by Cetra/Ruddy, and will have an abundance of luxury amenity space. Sales are expected to start early summer. Other than that, my lips are sealed (arggg).
5SL- Made a stop by to see my friends in the sales office there, and I have to tell you the place looks ready for occupancy. Word has it clearance for closings could come within a couple of weeks. Only 22 units remain including a pair of 2 bedrooms on the Southwest corner of the larger building that have great light and views. I would figure as soon as people see real live people in the building, the remaining units will probably move quickly.

Thursday Morning Links

Update And Pics Of High Line Park (Curbed)
Zuckerman Could Be Front Runner For GM Building (Slatin Report)
Manhattan Foreclosures "Almost Nonexistent", Queens' Soar (The Real Deal)
Renters Rate Brokers On New Website (NY Post)
Bloomberg's Big Green Battle vs. Real Estate To Come (NY Mag)

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Wednesday Morning Links

There are several reports out today from the major real estate brokerages regarding the state of the market during the first quarter. All of the reports show two trends, sales slowing and prices continuing to climb. Even factoring out huge sales at 15 CPW (which skewed average prices higher), more reliable median price numbers also showed healthy increases of 9%-13%. Even as a small broker, I have seen similar trends in our business. March was an unusual month and one in which overall uncertainty was the greatest I've seen since just after 9/11. After all, it's not every day that a major brokerage collapses, the fed takes unprecedented actions over a weekend, etc., etc.. While these events certainly slowed the number of inquiries, we have seen fits and starts of business where for a couple of days at a time you would think we were in 2006 all over again. Now that the stock market has stabilized and there is some sense that the worst may be over in the credit crisis (which is debatable), the real estate market here in the city stands a good chance of having a decent 2nd quarter. One of the most important factors going forward is the rate on a 30 year fixed jumbo mortgage. If there is anything holding our market back outside of Wall Street, it's the higher rate on the jumbo. The jumbo had a low of 6.4% in mid-January but now stands at 7.16%. In light of numerous large rate cuts in the interim, the jumbo rate should be significantly lower, yet banks have built in huge risk premiums and the market for those mortgages is still largely illiquid. That's why we have a higher rate. The jumbo rate would be the one to watch to gauge the health of both the financial system and the prospects for the NY real estate market short term. Were the jumbo rate to move to 6.5% or lower over the next quarter, it's a safe bet that sales in the 2nd quarter will be humming along.
Manhattan Sales Drop By Biggest Margin In 18 Years, Prices Up 13.2% (Bloomberg)
Manhattan Market Cooling, Prices Still Hot (NY Sun)
Atlantic Yards Eminent Domain Case To Go To US Supreme Court (Observer)
Interview With Co-Founder Of Rockrose Development (The Real Deal)
Implications Of Congestion Pricing On Manhattan Rental Market (Observer)

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

"The View", LIC: Separating Fact From Fiction

View West From "The View"

SouthWest View From "The View"

From The North wing looking back to amazing terraces

“The View”, Rockrose Development’s long awaited condo on the water in LIC, finally came into sight last week with both a story broken by and an official debut at yesterday’s New York Observer’s Condo Showcase at The Puck Building. While there has been much talk about the building all of a sudden, there are so many misconceptions and factual inaccuracies going around, I figured that I may as well set the record straight. I have followed the building for quite some time and have been privy to several details, but have been sworn to secrecy until the information hit the general public. So, now is my chance to weigh in and set the record straight. Here are some of the inaccuracies floating around:
“Starting at $1100 per square foot”. Wrong. Prices for “The View”, for now at least, start just below $1000 per square foot. While the average may be at or above $1100 per square foot, none of the prices quoted take into account the outdoor space. Two-Thirds of the units will have outdoor space ranging from 64sf-1500sf. If you factor in outdoor space (usually counted as worth about 50% that of indoor space), the price per square foot comes down significantly.
“At starting prices, I won’t get a view”. Wrong again. The building was configured in a very clever way to give every apartment South, North, or Western views. The back of the building (facing East) is a windowed hallway. The only units with any Eastern exposure are corner units that extend the length of the building and also have direct West exposure as well as either North or South exposure.
“There is no parking”. Wrong. There is a 900 spot parking garage across the street, and the current plan is to offer “The View” residents parking for $200/month.
“There is no supermarket”. True. However, a 20,000 square foot market run by Amish Markets is set to open next door this summer. There will also be a Duane Reade and an Asian Fusion restaurant in addition to the already existing wine shop in the complex.
Here are a couple more morsels which nobody has discussed to date:
-There will be a 19 year tax abatement.
-At the end of 19 years, the building, on a land lease, has the option to buy the land for $1.
-Common charges come in at a reasonable average of 79 cents per square foot monthly.
I have one more breaker here. While the building was set to be open for sales in mid-April, that has been pushed back a month, and the current target for completion has been pushed from November to January 09’.
Considering that the reason most people look at LIC is a view, “The View” delivers in style.

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Condo Review: The Adagio On West 60th

Just a quickie here on the condo I visited the other day, The Adagio on West 60th Street. I just have to throw in my two cents since I was both impressed and pleasantly surprised by the project. The finishes were superb. The apartments, all very spacious, had 11' ceilings and over sized layouts (1300sf 1 bed, 1683sf 2 beds), giving a lofty luxurious feel. I particularly liked the Brazilian hardwood floors, and the super stocked kitchen with a superb selection of Sub-Zero, Bosch, and Gaggenau appliances. While the building, just North of The Element and 10 West End is only 9 stories, I was impressed and somewhat surprised by the amount of light in the apartments.
My conclusion, with prices between $1100 and $1200 per square foot, and low commons and 421-a tax abatement, Adagio, is a diamond in the rough.

Decline Of Civilization: Reports- Britney Spears To Star As Mary Richards In Sitcom Remake

Britney Spears apparently had a brilliant accomplishment last month. She actually showed up for one day of work sober and did not have a breakdown, and did not have to be involuntarily committed to a psych ward. So what does showing up one day of work and executing a few lines do for her? Well, apparently CBS is cooking up her own sitcom, a remake of the 70's hit the Mary Tyler Moore Show, where Britney will play, who else, Mary Richards, the coming of age woman who faces the struggles of an aspiring 70's woman fighting to be taken seriously in a male dominated workplace. Mary Richards was a role model to young women around the world, and the ultimate symbol of the women's liberation movement. So, is it just me that sees the irony here? Not only is a remake of a classic indicative of a vapid dearth of creativity bubbling over in Hollywood and our culture in general, but isn't Britney the anti- Mary Tyler Moore? Is the new ideal a ho? Is the new ideal a nutter who can't even wear panties in public? Is the new ideal someone who despite her vast fortune, decides to get drunk and high rather than care for the beautiful children that she was blessed with. Is the new ideal complete irresponsibility? I can tell you one thing, Mary Richards she is not! Sure, everyone deserves a second, or tenth chance, this is America after all, but how bout casting her as the outspoken, crude, and nasty Flo from the sitcom "Alice"? "Kiss my grits" is much more like it!
The Word: The Return Of Britney Spears (Metro)
April Fools!

Tuesday Morning Links

Bleecker St. Bar Sells 40 Ounce Beers In Brown Bags To...Yuppies (Eater)
Lux Hotel Coming To Perry St., West Village (The Real Deal)
Nouvel Wins Pritzker Prize (Observer)
Congestion Pricing Passes City Council, Albany Next (Crain's)
421-a Expiration Causes Building Surge (NY Mag)
Chairman Of UBS Steps Down Amid Another $19 Bil. In Write Downs (NY Times)
Smoking In Your Home Quickly Becoming A Banned Practice (NY Daily News)
Big Money Real Estate Wrap Up (Luxist)