Friday, May 30, 2008

Unusual, Unintended Amenity Alert: Combo Drycleaner/ Driving Range Steps To Your Lux Condo

This is the one of the most unusual business combinations I can recall- driving golf balls at your dry cleaner. The site is Hunter Street, just South of 42nd Rd., on the North end of LIC- a mere couple hundred yards from The Fusion and (future) Star Tower wonder they didn't include golf-related amenities!

Back From Scene Of Crane Collapse

photo by Flickr/Seth Holladay via Curbed

By Andrew Fine, 5/30, 10am-

Shortly after getting out of the shower this morning around 8 30am, I noticed an overabundance of sirens from emergency vehicles. Being a New Yorker, having lived through 911, you have an innate ability to differentiate between the normal amount of fire engines and when there are way too many. Before I could even think I heard a swarm of helicopters which are always the tell tale sign that something bad has happened. Instinctively, you wonder if something tragic might have occurred on the trains, then you turn to other horrific scenarios. Before thinking all of those through, you turn to the tv and flip through the news channels. Seconds later, you find the news of a potentially fatal crane collapse. In a sad twist of irony, the reflex is some sense of relief that it wasn't something magnitudes worse. Shortly thereafter there is worry for those that might have died in the ordinary course of trying to make a living or simply walking down the street. The last in the very short course of emotions is anger and outrage that such a tragedy is preventable and should never happen in a civilized society.

I went to report and document this tragedy. Crowds had gathered and word had quickly spread that there was indeed at least one, possibly 2 fatalities already reported. The scene that most sticks in my mind was the image of the 3rd and 4th floor apartments penetrated and cratered by the falling tons of street. Looking into somebody's living room or dining room that no longer has a wall or part of the floor, yet a painting on the back wall seemingly undisturbed. You can only hope that the damage to those apartments and others, like the penthouse that was decimated, was merely material and not physical. We all hope and pray that to be the case.

Neighbors who heard the crane fall initially believed that a tremendous bomb had gone off. We can only imagine the sheer terror which these thousands of people experienced this morning. Hopes and prayers will help those traumatized or directly effected by this tragic travesty, but it will not change the circumstances that lead it happen. Action, real, powerful, and politically and economically inconvenient action is needed. Something must be done. The city must get it's shit together pronto and not allow another crane to operate until they do so.

Breaking: Crane Collapse On 91st and 1st Ave

An apartment building on 91st and 1st has suffered significant damage from a crane that has collapsed, crushed a penthouse apartment and ripped off balconies as it has fallen to the ground. A large chunk of the crane remains at ground level blocking the intersection. A frantic search is on for those trapped in the rubble...
Video: WNBC

Friday Morning Links

New Condo Renderings For 150 Charles In West Village Revealed (Curbed)
New Proposals Requested For Pier 57, Update On Hudson Park (The Real Deal)
Con Ed Sues City And Contractor Over Last Year's Midtown Explosion (NY Times)
Xanadu-Like $2 Bil. Project Proposed For Riverhead (NY Sun)
Amenity Alert: Avery To Offer Performances By Lincoln Center Artists (NY Sun)

Thursday, May 29, 2008

From The Courthouse Steps...Manhattan Foreclosures In Action

A crowd gathers around the auctioneer at 60 Centre Street

It was quite a scene today on the courthouse steps of 60 Centre Street as the public auction of foreclosed properties was being conducted on a brilliant day. There was a small crowd of 14 or so potential bidders, colorful characters whose make-up seemed to consist mainly of a group that was pulled out of an OTB . The group included 3 or 4 pros (I call them sharks), a few curious newbies, and a handful of people who looked like they had nothing better to do (and maybe OTB wasn't open yet). All gathered for the opportunity to get a rare deal or watch a rare deal on a Manhattan apartment happen. I spoke at length with both a couple of pros and some newbies and here are my observations:

*Out of 6 or 8 auction scheduled only 2 happened and only one was bought by a participant, the other by the bank. A good deal appeared to be had on the one apartment, 320 East 35th St. #3G. The apartment is a jr.1 bed in an elevator coop with part-time doorman was sold for $302,000.. The same line a couple of flights up just went into contract for around $420,000..

* According to the auctioneer, approximately 80% of the Manhattan coop auctions never happen.

*The apartment I reported on last week, the parlor floor at 24 east 82nd Street (the Whitney/Hearst whatever place) was pulled from the block after an order to show cause pushed it from the schedule. According to a rep of the owner, the owner managed to sell the apartment on her own for north of $2.8Mil..

*Overall, according to the pros, the number of properties that goes to auction in the 5 boroughs, is up about 50% over last year. The change in Manhattan has be negligible, but 'lots in Queens'. Quized further, it seems that Eastern Queens is the most auctioned, while they haven't heard of any in LIC.

*As for the larger market, it seems the middle of Long Island is worst hit. According to the auctioneer, Freeport is the worst. "I've auctioned off most of Freeport" he remarked.

*The deal of the week apparently happened yesterday when the 3 story townhouse at 241 West 71st Street was sold at auction for $3,291,000..

*According to a pro, about 1/2 of all coops bought at auction never close and often turn into a fight to get the deposit back.

If you buy at auction, there are numerous potential pitfalls. Deals are expected to close within 30 days or you default and forfeit the 10% deposit. While banks and lawyers will sometimes give an extension beyond the 30 days, sometimes they won't and it turns into a protracted legal fight. And, just try getting a foreclosure through a coop board in 30 days- it won't happen. Additionally, apartments are sold sight unseen and may have liens, 2nd mortgages, back maintenance payments, etc., so even with a great deal of due diligence, you can still get stung. As one pro described it, buying at foreclosure auctions is not for the faint at heart, or those adverse to extreme risk. While on occasion there are deals to be had, in many ways it's like sitting at an OTB and waiting for a long shot to come in.

Field Trip NYC: Bohemian Beer Garden

What better way to spend a summer day than to cozy up under a shade tree and slowly sip down a tasty Czech brew? That was my agenda yesterday as I took the N train about 12 minutes from 59th and Lex to New York City's last authentic Beer Garden, Bohemian Hall in Astoria. As I stepped in to the ample park like grounds (the beer garden capacity is 900), it was as if I was stepping into a different time and place. The time would be the early 1900's and the place would be the former republic of Czechoslovakia. The wide open garden surrounded by 10 foot walls and filled with mature trees and countless picnic tables was serene and inviting (if you are not snobby). The crowd reflected the wide diversity of the community with young and old alike sharing in their enjoyment of a true Czech experience.
Bohemian Hall has stood for 98 years and from the looks of the 100 or so people drinking and noshing at 6 pm on a Wednesday night, I suspect it will survive and thrive for many more. There is a wide selection of Czech and Slovak brew from Pilsner Urquell to Spaten to even more exotic brews. At $14 per pitcher, they go down quite easy I might add. But that's not all! There is a tasty selection of Eastern European food that ranges from Perogies to Kielbasa. I tried the potato perogies with kraut and sour cream which was authentic and tasty.

If you are looking for a relaxing change of pace on a beautiful summer afternoon or evening, Bohemian Hall fits the bill. I for one will be back!

Thursday Morning Links

New Yorkers Have One Of The Lowest Carbon Footprints (Observer)
City Prevents Trinity School's Exit From Real Estate Business (NY Sun)
New Governor Backs Same Sex Unions From Elsewhere (NY Times)
Scarlett Johansson Buys 53rd St. Penthouse? (Observer)
Slashing And Shooting At Chinatown Condo (WNBC)

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Improve Your Gas Mileage 30% By "Coasting"

Ok, it's a little off topic compared to what's usually on the blog, but lots of people are venturing out of the city on weekends, and everyone is feeling the pinch at the pump when they do so. I have long argued with friends and family about how driving technique can have a big impact on gas mileage. So, this weekend, I took my late model SUV (I know, a poor choice) to the Hamptons and back and took careful note of my gas mileage by on board computer and I carefully watched my driving style. What I found was that over 250 miles of driving in urban, rural, and city locales, my mileage was 30% higher than the manufacturer stated. My vehicle is estimated at 14mpg city, 20 mpg highway, and 16 mpg combined. My results, 17mpg city, 26mpg highway and combined, close to 21 mpg. How did I do it? It's called "Coasting".
"Coasting" is a technique that goes to various extremes to conserve gas and limits stops and starts. Some who have adopted the technique go to the dangerous extreme of turning off the engine, or shifting into neutral after they have achieved a sustainable speed. I'd never do that, but I have managed to resist the urge to "punch it" when maneuvering on the highway. Here is how I conserve through coasting:
1- Rather than blasting the gas pedal to speed up (hitting 7000rpm), I go for a more gradual speed up (2000-3000rpm) to get up to my desired speed.
2- I leave a fair amount of distance between my car and the car ahead of me. This allows me to lay off the gas pedal and coast when someone is braking in front of me. Usually the car ahead will pick up speed before I have to hit the brakes.
3- On downhill stretches I see how far I can go maintaining speed without hitting the gas. When I do have to hit the gas, I do it gradually.
I have found the technique to be easy on both gas and the breaks. Over 250 miles, I managed to save almost 4 gallons of gas, and at $4.29 a gallon out East, that adds up quickly.

Wednesday Morning Links

Self Proclaimed "Renting Evangelist", Buys A Home, Changes Tune (NY Times)
Home Ownership In The City Continues To Climb (Observer)
Realtors, Justice Department Agree To Open MLS System (NY Times)
Residential Permits Drop By Half (421-a expiration effect)(Crain's)
Bellvue Hospital To Become Hotel? (The Real Deal)
City To Choose Developer For 1.7Mil SF Project On 125th (Crain's)

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

US Home Prices Drop Precipitously, Some See Signs Of Hope

The S&P/ Case Shiller 20 city housing index reported a record decline of 14.4% on a year over year basis. The speed of the decline is nearly five times as fast as the last housing recession. Cities like Vegas, Miami, Phoenix, and Los Angeles, leaders on the upside, suffered the largest declines, over 20%. The New York metro region registered a 7.4% depreciation, although little of that has been seen in Manhattan.
In a separate report, US new home sales rose for the first time in 6 months by 3.3%. The rise was lead by a jump in new home sales in the Northeast, improving sales in the West and Midwest, while sales in the South were still down. Inventory slipped 2.4%.
While the Case/Shiller numbers were gruesome, many are starting to sense that we may be near a bottom. While calling a bottom is very difficult, it may be argued that our housing cycle could be shorter than those in the past. In past market slowdowns, mortgages were held by banks and the process of marking down assets was a very slow process. In today's market, most mortgages are securitized, and banks have been very fast to mark down their assets. This improved liquidity increases the velocity at which assets rise and fall, and could push the market to a bottom in a faster fashion. The jury is clearly still out, so we'll see if this theory holds true over the coming quarters. If you are a contrarian however, it would be hard to resist deeming such bad news as a possible bottom.
Inside The Case/Shiller Numbers (Fin Facts/Ireland)
New Home Sales Rise In April, 1st Time In 6 Months (CBSMarketwatch)

Post Weekend Links

Macklowe's Son To Take Reigns (WSJ)
Macklowe Pays Debts With Sale Of GM Building (Forbes)
White Brick Buildings Get New Found Respect (Not Sure Why) (NY Times)
Pricing Resales At 15 CPW (Barbanel/NY Times)
Famous Provenance Doesn't Always Translate To Higher Price (NY Times)
The Rise Of Nolita (NY Post)
7 Shot In Shooting Spree In Harlem (NY Daily News)

Friday, May 23, 2008

Friday Morning Links

Happy Memorial Day weekend to all. The summer has begun. You can wear white. Weekends really become weekends once again. While you are having fun at the beach, at the grill, or wherever, try to take a moment out to contemplate the meaning of Memorial Day. Our thoughts and prayers should be with the families of the 4000+ lost in Iraq and Afghanistan, and our deepest appreciation goes to the brave that serve our country without question.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Thursday Morning Links

NYC 17 Square Miles Smaller Than Long Thought (NY Times)
Developers Begin Scaling Back Amenities (NY Sun)
"Excessive Demand" Buoys Market For Rental Buildings (NY Sun)
Starbucks To Yank Topless Mermaid Logo (OC Register)
Bloomberg Transfers UES Home To Trust (Observer)
Anonymous $10 Mil Donation Saves East Village Church (Curbed)

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Beach Is Open!!! Water Taxi Beach, That Is!

Summer is sneaking up on us and it is now time to hit the beach. The weekly ritual of packing our bags and more or less blowing off the end of the week to get to the beach early is here.

Don't have a place in the Hamptons or on the Jersey Shore? No worries. All you have to do is hop on the ferry at 34th Street or hop the 7 train for 1 stop from Grand Central, and your beach awaits. That beach, of course, is Long Island City's "Water Taxi Beach". It's a bit campy, but who can deny the pleasure of cheap beer, hot dogs, and beach volleyball so close to the center of Manhattan? Outside of Dubai or perhaps Miami, it can be said that no other beach has a better skyline view, and some very accomplished DJs too. So, if you are stuck in the city on the long Memorial Day weekend, or any other weekend this summer, you can still make it to the beach without the annoying commute. The season opens tomorrow night.

Wednesday Morning Links

Boston Properties, Goldman Sachs In Talks For GM Building (Bloomberg)
Lower East Side Put On Endangered List (NY Times)
Related's Equity Won The Deal For Hudson Yards (The Real Deal)
NYU To Name Library After Sheldon Solow (Observer)
Condos To Replace Former Danceteria On West 21st (The Real Deal)

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Tuesday Morning Links

Freedom Tower Finally Above Ground (Observer)
Related Yards Deal Subject To Conditions (NY Post)
Senate Strikes Housing Deal (WSJ)
Bloomberg Getting Grouchy (NY Times)
D-Day For Hillary (NY Times)

Monday, May 19, 2008

Sign Of The Times: Foreclosure Auction Looms For Apt At "Hearst Mansion"?

The foreclosure bug has reached the Upper East Side. While much has been made about the lack of foreclosures in Manhattan, a perusal of this week's New York Observer legal notices section shows some intriguing, and dare I say posh, locations up for auction next week.
A parlor floor apartment at 24 East 82nd will be auctioned next Thursday on the courthouse steps of 60 Centre Street. This apartment is in a mansion that is rumored to once be owned by The Hearst family or the Whitney family depending on who you talk to (a thorough search of the internet was unable to determine either). Details, as with any foreclosures, are hard to come by, and an inspection prior is generally prohibited. Speaking with someone familiar with the apartment and from a 3 year old listing, it apparently has 2 fireplaces, high ceilings, palladium windows, great moldings, great bones, but needs some work. It is a large floor through 1 bedroom, with estimated square footage of 1200sf (according to source). The apartment was listed last in 2005 for $1.75 Mil.. The bank looks to recover the $1,100,000 default plus interest from 8/1/07 at auction.

Think this is an aberration? Not exactly. Another upscale apartment around the corner at 8 East 83rd. (#11G) is on the block the same day. The bank is short a mere $245,000 on this 1 bedroom apartment and you could practically fall from the attended front door onto Fifth Avenue.

While 2 apartments do not make a trend, and the apartments are on the low end for the area, it sure gets a bit creepy when names like Hearst and Whitney are anywhere near a foreclosure. Their associations are tenuous at best, but there is no doubt the foreclosure trend has at least made a cameo appearance in their neighborhood.

Reports: Related Swoops In To Take Hudson Yards Deal

A variety of sources (Observer, Crain's) report today that The Related Companies, has stepped in to take over the Hudson Yards project after an agreement between the MTA and Tishman Speyer collapsed last week. Details like pricing and anchor tenants have not yet been revealed. In it's original plan Related teamed with Goldman Sachs and News Corp..

Monday Morning Links

Dick Cavett To sell 77 Acre Oceanfront Lot In Montauk For $30 Mil. (NY Post)
Good Value Brings New Buyers To Sutton Place (NYDN)
$1 Billion Later Subway Elevators Still Fail (NY Times)
Kitchen Renovation Can Result In Triple Of Investment (NYDN)
City To Add 63 Building Inspectors (NY Times)
City Rents Are Dropping (NY Post)

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Saturday Morning Links

Brooklyn Landlord Charged In Attempt to Kill Tenant (AMNY)
Story Of How Long It Takes To Sell An Overpriced Apartment (NY Times)
Living Small- Tiny Apartments (NY Daily News)
Residents Connecting Through Building Websites (NY Times)
Columbia Scoops Up 127 Unit Failed Condo Development (The Real Deal)
Development Du Jour: Star Tower LIC (Curbed)
More On The Hamptons Housing Slowdown (NY Times)

Friday, May 16, 2008

Long Island City New Condo Development-O-Rama (May 08)

Approx. view West from Middle of Star Tower

Star Tower lot

Windows are in at "The View"

The Powerhouse

The Foundry

L Haus


View 59 (l), Crecent Club (Shrouded-r)

Casa Vizcaya

10-63 Jackson

10-50 Jackson


Hunters View

One Hunters Point

Above are the pictures of how all the major developments in LIC stand as of May 15th. You may notice that they are far more numerous than a couple of years ago, as the pre-421-a tax abatement rush clearly increased inventory. And some inventory, namely 150 units at "The View" and 180 units at "The Star Tower", haven't officially hit the market yet. While these newer offerings are likely to see substantial sales right out of the gate, the increased inventory should give buyers the upper hand throughout the neighborhood.
I compared my list of buildings from 6 months ago with current prices, and for the first time in recent memory, prices have stabilized. Prices in the area range from the $600's psf to the mid-$800's per square foot. That is about to change.
Rockrose's "The View" which will test the upper limits, with prices in the $900's psf and up. "The View" possesses one thing that none of the others have- a guaranteed view that will never go away (and a level of luxury that is on par with Manhattan standards). The closest comparable is 5SL, which has sold through exceptionally well and cracked the $1000psf barrier for a terraced apartment with a view last year. It is no doubt a slower market now, but on site agents I have spoken to in the area are clearly hoping the "The View" is a success. Such a high profile building will drive interest in LIC, and those agents are looking for spillover clients who may not be able to afford waterfront living. Not to mention that Rockrose will house the area's first big supermarket, Duane Reade and other retail.
"The Star Tower", located across the street from Roe Corp's earlier success, The Fusion, will contend to be the "it" building in LIC this year. While it is further North, it will be 25 stories affording great views and it is loaded with amenities (including a rooftop pool). If current price talk holds (1 beds from mid 400's, 2 beds starting at 700k), this condo should be a huge hit.
It certainly is interesting times in LIC. It's a great time for a buyer, since the selection is vast, the market has slowed, and prices (especially at the buildings that have been around for a while) should be negotiable. I would expect more of the same over the next year, mainly due to a challenging market and the need to work through inventory. Since the 421-a surge has abated (pardon the pun), the inventory situation will only improve starting this fall. While it may take a couple of years to see gains that we have come accustomed to, the area is perfectly situated, and improving rapidly. So, if you are looking for a great home, a myriad of amenities, and a potentially potent investment, LIC is still the place to be.
As usual, if you need help sifting through the options, need info on who is negotiating, by how much, and want the edge on the competition, you can always call us at 212-675-1111.

U.S. Housing Starts Surge 8.2% In April

In a surprise to both economists and the market in general housing starts surged in April by 8.2% on the strength of a surge in condo construction (+36%). Single Family home starts were down for the 12th straight month, by 1.7%. Total starts were 1.032 Million vs. an expectation of 939,000. While one month doesn't make a trend, it lends evidence to those that believe that the U.S. housing market has hit a bottom.
April Housing Starts Surge (CBS Marketwatch)

It's My Park Day, Tomorrow At Union Square Park

Come one, come all. Tomorrow is the annual "It's My Park" day at Union Square Park and various other locations from 10 a.m.-7 p.m.. All ages are welcome to volunteer for a variety of tasks ranging from Planting to Painting and cleaning. Even if you only have an hour or two, it's a great way to get into the community spirit. All you have to do is show up> More details:

Friday Morning Links

We'll be doing an all-inclusive round-up of condos in LIC today. In the meantime, here are the morning links:
NYC Adds 35,000 Jobs In April (NY Times)
Manhattan Retail Rents Rise (The Real Deal)
Governor Has $1250 Rent Stabilized Pad (NY Sun)
Condo To Replace 100 Year Old Metal Shop In Soho (NY Times)
Tishman's Big Project In LIC Inches Forward (The Real Deal)
How "Sex In The City" Ruined New York (TimeOut NY)

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Union Square Tree Carnage..And Offer To Preserve History

No matter what side of the Union Square renovation debate you are on, there is no doubt that seeing and hearing a 50', 80 year old Siberian Elm cut down is awfully sad. That's exactly what has happened at Union Square this morning. A small crowd gathered spontaneously to watch the spectacle. That's one beautiful tree down and 13 to go (some a bit less glorious). From the few vague renderings that I have seen, Union Square will probably net trees from the makeover, but there is no replacing 80 year old trees.

I have managed to secure a 7' long branch of the tree which could probably produce 15 or so saplings. So, if anyone is interested in preserving history and giving a 2nd life to this beauty, email me ( and we'll make arrangements. You might want to do this soon, since I have no idea how to root a sapling (gardening tips accepted).

Thursday Morning Links

The 100 Most Powerful People In NYC Real Estate (Observer)
Toll Bros. Brooklyn Sales Have "Faded" (Curbed)
Bloomberg Blames Albany For Dashed Dreams, Run For Gov. Next? (NY Sun)
Alternate Side Of Street Parking Suspended For The Summer In Slope (NY Times)

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Wednesday Morning Links

Sue Simmons Drops "F-Bomb" On Chuck Scarborough While Live On Air (Video- Huffington Post)
Extended NoHo Historic District Gets Green Light (Curbed)
Hudson Yards Back To Square One (Observer)
LPC Approves Nouvel's MoMa Tower (The Real Deal)
A New Way To Fight That Parking Ticket (NY Times)
No Joke: Utilities In NYC Are A Bargain (NY Daily News)

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Get A. Fine Blog In Your Email

I hope everyone is enjoying the blog! Just wanted to remind viewers of the option to receive an RSS feed, or a simple email feed- just enter your email at the bottom of the page. Thanks for viewing!

Upper East Side Condos May 2008 Development-O-Rama (70's +80's)

The Brompton- 92% Sold, $1750psf avg

The Lucida- 90% Sold, $1888psf avg

255 East 74th, 90% sold, $1869psf avg.

300 East 79th, 45% Sold, $1600psf avg.

The Georgica, just opened, $1450psf avg.

The Isis, coming soon, starting at $1350 psf

The Legacy, 2 duplex units left ($1300psf avg.)

The Upper East Side is officially a condo glut-free zone! Not only have prices appreciated over the past several months, sell through has been exceptional. Looking at the 3 biggest developments- The Lucida, The Brompton, and 255 East 74th, each condo is better than 90% sold and the buildings have not been completed. Additionally, the average price per square foot in these three buildings is up 11% over the past 6 months to average $1835 per square foot.

Looking forward, well located buildings like The Georgica (avg. $1450.psf) which just opened, and The Isis (starting at $1350. psf), officially open in June, look like they are priced to move. Investment wise, both buildings look very solid. Full market report and further info available by request (email:

Please note: all prices per square foot are approximates for units remaining and subject to error.

Tuesday Links

Schumer, Bloomberg Clash On Hudson Yards, WTC (Crain's)
East Village Toy Tower To Bite The Dust (Curbed)
Foreclosure Bill Moves To State Senate (Crain's)
City Foreclosures Dip (The Real Deal)
NY's Oldest Barfly Graces Cafe Des Artistes (NY Times)
NY Condo Sales Slow? Fits And Starts, At Least (NY Sun)

Monday, May 12, 2008

Monday Links

The All Encompassing Real Estate Wrap From Luxist (Luxist)
Foreclosures Pick Up In The Hamptons (NY Post)
Stop Work Orders In City Soar With Crackdown (Crains)
Port Authority, Taxpayers May Pay Goldman $321 Mil. For WTC Delays (NYDN)
New York Knicks Find Respectable Coach (ESPN)

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Housing Slowdown Hits The Hamptons

You wouldn't know it from driving down the charming streets and lanes of the Hamptons. There are no foreclosure signs here, no overt signs of desperation. There are the usual number of "for sale " signs along the road. The difference this year is that they are simply not selling. An article in this week's East Hampton Star details how, suddenly, starting in March, sales are down somewhere between 50 and 75 percent. Unlike most markets, inventory is up only a paltry 5%, and few sellers have moved on price. However, if sales continue as slow into the summer months you would figure that is bound to change.
The Skids: Recorded Deeds Lower Than Ever (East Hampton Star)

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Saturday Weekend Links

Vito Fossella, NYC's one and only house republican and champion of family values is likely to resign this weekend. In the wake of an embarrassing DWI charge, it has also come to light that Fossella has fathered a love child with his mistress of at least 4 years. So much for family values!

LIC: Vernon Blvd Bike Lane Delayed By Inaction (Streetsblog)
Murky 7 Train Plans Cloud Hudson Yards Development (The Real Deal)
Bloomberg Calls On MTA, Tishman To Work Out Deal On Hudson Yards (Observer)
Deals Abound, If You Are Willing To Walk Up 5 Flights (NY Times)
Sellers Get Creative To Spur Sales (Barbanel/NY Times)
NY Likely To Lose Last Republican To DWI/Mistress/Love Child Scandal (NY Sun)

Friday, May 9, 2008

15 USW/ Tiffany Building Shows Bones

Before being clad in glass, I figured it was a great time to take a look at the cast iron bones of the former Tiffany Building at 15 Union Square West. The condo, which I am in love with, will take on a distinctly modern look while preserving and incorporating the cast iron arches in the apartments on the lower floors. Fortunately, these sexy arches will remain exposed to the adoring public. To date, approximately 20% of the units are sold, and if you have a little better than $5 Mil to spend you can still capture a spacious 2 bedroom with Union Square Park views.
The Gem Inside The Tiffany Box (A Fine Blog, Feb. 08)
Secrets Of 15 Union Square West (A Fine Blog, Aug. 07)

Friday Morning Links

Deal To Build At West Side Yards Collapses (NY Times)
New PA Chief Has Ideas For Atlantic Yards (NY Mag)
Last Chance At 421-a Abatement Could Spur Development (NY Sun)
Sewer Free Willets Point Resembles Third World (NY Times)
First Nobu Hotel, 62 Stories Of Glass, Renderings Revealed (NY Post)

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Thursday Morning Links And Comment

LIQcity, a local real estate blog beat me to it! They have revealed the name of the LIC mystery condo, now known as "L Haus". Yes, I knew the name a couple of months back, but was sworn to secrecy. My word is my word. While much is made of the name and location (adjacent to the Pulaski Bridge), I think the most exciting aspect to the project will be the degree of luxury that is afforded to owners of this Cetra/Ruddy creation. As I reported before, the opening of the project has been pushed back to September, so details will only slowly trickle out. I have been told that there will be exceptional finishes (as to be expected in a Cetra/Ruddy), and a ton of amenity space (I'll report back on those details as available). If they are coming at $700psf or less, I would expect the building to be a big hit.
NYC was tied up temporarily yesterday afternoon by 1000 or so protesters blocking access to The Triborough Bridge, Holland Tunnel, 59th Street Bridge, Midtown Tunnel, and Brooklyn Bridge. The protest, lead and encouraged by Al Sharpton was in response to the acquittal of 3 police officers in the killing of Sean Bell. The verdict, and the incident was both a tragedy and a travesty, no doubt. Our hearts go out to the family of Sean Bell. That said, anyone who thinks that the appropriate response is to inconvenience tens of thousands of New Yorkers is seriously misguided.
LIC Mystery Condo Outed...It's "L Haus" (Curbed)
State Democrats Push 1 Year Foreclosure Moratorium (Crain's)
Sean Bell Protesters Block Bridges And Tolls, 216 Arrested (NY Times)
Cantor Fitzgerald Launches Real Estate Fund (The Real Deal)
Calatrava's WTC Hub Wings Get Clipped A Little More (NY Times)
Demolition Underway At 14th And Third Ave (Curbed)

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Wednesday Morning Links

MTA Looking To Cover Subway Car Exteriors With Ads (2nd Avenue Sagas)
Landmark Commish Pushes Back Against Rudins, St. Vincents (Observer)
Countrywide Deal At Risk Of Collapse (NY Times)
Progress On The High Line (Curbed)
Worker Dies From Fall On Triborough (NY Times)

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Tuesday Morning Links

photo courtesy of Curbed

Atlantic Yards "Miss Brooklyn", Get Trimmed (Curbed)
Land Values Start To Fall In LIC, Outer Boroughs (The Real Deal)
Fast Food Joints Start Getting Citations For Lack Of Calorie Info (NY Times)
Rent Guidelines Board Suggests Big Rent Increases, Landlords Still Unhappy (NY Times)
East Village May Finally See Downzoning (Curbed)
Breaking....UBS To Sell Assets, Cut Jobs, Lost Another $11 Billion

Monday, May 5, 2008

Desperate For Cash, State Goes To The Race Track

You may have heard it a hundred times, but this time it just might be true- gambling could be coming to Aqueduct Race Track and soon. The state is working feverishly to choose between 3 bidders including SL Green and the operators of Hard Rock Cafe. The plan would be to renovate the facilities and add 4500 "gaming machines" in what would likely amount to a 30 year, $10 Billion to $20 Billion deal. The state, which could not contain it's urge to spend (it's budget was 5% larger than last year), is hoping that a deal which would include an up-front licensing fee, would help close a $5 Billion budget shortfall. So, the incentive is clearly there to make this deal happen.
Short On Cash, State Hastens Plan For Casino In City (NY Times)
Albany Likely To OK Video Slots At Aqueduct (NY1)
3 Groups To Bid On VLTs At Aqueduct (Thoroughbred Times)

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Long Island City "Mystery" Condo Goes Green

The Cetra/Ruddy, ultra-lux condo is suddenly green! I'd have to assume that they are going with a 2nd layer of insulation. The LIC condo, affectionately nicknamed the "Mystery Condo" is delaying it's official opening til September, although it's name will be revealed this month. I know the name, but in return for my continued secrecy, I have been promised that I can break the story later, and it will not be called the Green monster, i can promise you that. Perhaps they are playing cat and mouse- waiting to see how Rockrose's "The View" does when it opens it's sales office later this month, or maybe they want "Hunters View" to be cleaned out when they open.
Also, The Star Tower, which promises to be LIC's first ultra-lux high rise (25 stories), should open to the general public around the 3rd week of May.
The offerings in LIC keep getting more and more luxurious and more and more expensive. It should prove to be an interesting Summer/Fall season.
Update (5/14)..An abundance of details have come available for the Star Tower, call us at 212-675-1111 for the scoop.

Weekend Links

Condo Shoppers Wowed By Amenities, Face Sticker Shock (NY Times)
$31 Million Mansion Sits Empty (NY Times)
All Inclusive Luxury Real Estate Wrap (Luxist)
Debate: Uptown vs. Downtown (NY Post)
Dubai Adds 5 More 100+ Story Towers (Gulf News)
Rents In Abu Dhabi Soar 17% (Gulf News)
Bike Lanes Turn To Battlegrounds (NY Times)

Friday, May 2, 2008

Friday Morning Links

Economic Clouds? Wall Street Sees Sunshine! (NY Times)
Bank Of England: 'The Worst Is Over' (Marketwatch)
Bloomberg Extends Property Tax Cut Another Year (NY Daily News)
08' Looks Like Lean Year For New Development (The Real Deal)
Related And Vornado Try To Lure MSG (Curbed)
2 Columbus Circle Revealed (NY Times)
Blogger Proposes Wind Turbine On Top Of 59th St. Bridge (Roosevelt Islander)

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Implications Of The Fed's Rate Cut

The Federal Reserve decided to cut rates yet again by a 1/4 point yesterday while signalling that a pause in rate cuts is a probability. While historically any rate cut is significant, the significance of this rate cut is not as much financial as it was a signal that both the financial and credit markets have stabilized to an extent that drastic measures no longer seem to be required (for the time being, at least). It is remarkable that just 7 weeks removed from the collapse of Bear Stearns and near panic in the markets that things have calmed to such an extent. It is early yet, but it appears as if Ben Bernanke has done a remarkable job of steering the Fed through some very perilous straits. As much as a rate cut is significant, the real challenge as far as real estate is concerned, is mortgage rates. Rate cuts do have an impact on mortgage rates, however the larger determinant of late has been the large spread between Mortgage rates and the 10 year treasury. In early 2007 that spread stood around 1.25%. In the middle of the Bear debacle it spiked to 3.5%, and has since gradually decreased to just over 2%. Should we see the spread fade back to historical levels, we could expect mortgage rates drop another point. The spread between the Jumbo mortgage and the 10 year is even larger and has farther to fall.
In sum, the Fed has done a great job of stabilizing the markets and it is starting to be reflected in the spreads. Hopefully this is a trend that will continue, as the real stimulus will come from lower real rates.

Thursday Morning Links

Fed Cuts Rates 1/4 Point, Hints At Pause (Wall Street Journal)
Mortgage Delinquencies Soar In Outer Boroughs (Crain's)
Lower East Side Retail Rents Soar (NY Times)
Bloomingdale's Avoids Strike (Crain's)
Council Approves Harlem Rezoning 47-2 (NY Times)
International Retailers Continue New York Invasion (Observer)
What Doormen Do To Kill Time On The Overnight Shift (NY Times)