Monday, June 30, 2008

Monday Morning Links

Poor Timing: Con Ed Strike Still Possible (NYDN)
Luring Affluent Renters In Manhattan (NY Times)
The Lure Of The Renovation (NY Times)
All-Inclusive Luxury Real Estate Round Up (Luxist)
Supermarkets Snub Developers (The Real Deal)
Where Apartment Listings And Sex Solicitation Meet (NYDN)

Friday, June 27, 2008

Photo Via NY Post
Gawker Names Top 50 Eccentric New Yorkers- Don't miss this article! Not to spoil it for you, but the British guy who sells potato peelers in Union Square Park is #1. I don't entirely agree as I think the strange man who dons makeup and ladies lingerie and jogs around the Upper East Side is far more eccentric and only ranks #24.
The Top 50 New York Eccentrics (Gawker)

Friday Morning Links

U.S Home Resales Climb, Inventory Dips, Prices Continue Decline (Bloomberg)
Mortgage Rates Inch Higher (AP)
New World Trade Center Timetable Has No Timetable (Observer)
U.S. Property Barons Yield To Specialists (Reuters)
Top 100 Real Estate Influentials Celebrate Themselves (Observer)
Trying To Find The Right Balance For The Seaport (NY Times)

Thursday, June 26, 2008

A Lot To Watch With View And Swimming Hole

If anyone is wondering exactly where the water table lies on the coast of LIC this picture should answer your question! But, what a view! This lot is located on the East River at Vernon Boulevard and 44th Avenue, and a huge lot it is. Over the past several years there have been several plans and a couple of owners. Well, it seems action is finally happening. According to the construction folks on site, excavation is nearly complete and the foundation work should start any day. There is a building permit on the DOB website which indicates a 29 story building going up, with 546,772 square feet of residential space. The owner, whose office I spoke to, is reluctant to reveal details just yet, so if anyone has further info or renderings, pass it on.

Visitors From Around The Globe

Above is a map of where A. Fine Blog hits have come from in the past couple of hours. While we see higher overseas visits during the overnight hours, this is pretty typical for the middle of the day. I would like to welcome everyone from around the globe, and remind you that at the bottom of the page you can subscribe to A. Fine Blog by email or RSS feed.

From LIC North: A 20 Story Condo Tower Near Hallets Cove

Hallets Tower?

Adjacent Piano Factory Lofts (Former Adirondack Furniture Factory)

Wow, this is a biggie! A 20 story condo rising in LIC North, just a couple hundred yards from Sculpture Park. Not much is known about this building aside from the fact that it is being developed by Empire Holdings, the same group that developed Hallets Cove, a successful waterfront condo steps away. The building is being built just in from the former Adirondack Furniture Building (which is being converted to condos under the original use name of Piano Factory Lofts). Since Piano Factory is only 5 or 6 stories, the new tower should have open city views- maybe even good enough to see the "Waterfalls" in the distance.
Sales are expected to begin at the unnamed tower this fall. If they need help with a name, how about Hallets Tower?

Waterfalls Commence...Is It Just Me That's Not Impressed?

The long awaited "Waterfalls" project is underway, and in my opinion, a "gates" it is not. Yes, it is unusual and expensive, but, it's not working for me. So, if you are interested, here is some coverage:

Thursday Morning Links

Dorms, Dorms, Sprouting Everywhere (NY Sun)
Oprah Gives Harlem Senior Center $100k Makeover (Uptown Flavor)
Shutters Making A Comeback (NY Sun)
Under Pressure, M.T.A. Board Cuts Perks (NY Times)
Central Park, A Runner's Paradise (NY Times)

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

NYC Construction Workers Working Drunk. WCBS is airing a video footage of construction workers knocking back as many a six beers in 30 minutes, at lunch, before heading back to an Upper West Side construction site. The liquid lunch seems to be a routine to many in construction putting their co-workers and the general public at risk. Here is the story: NYC Construction Workers Still Drinking On The Job.

High Line Renderings O' Plenty

The city has unveiled a series of rendering of High Line Park. Phase One From Gansevoort To 20th Street opens by the end of the year. Curbed had the best coverage, so I will link away from here.

Breaking: Fed Leaves Rates Unchanged

The Federal Reserve voted 9-1 this afternoon to keep the fed funds level unchanged at 2%. While the Fed named plenty of risk factors to our economy including the labor market, credit market, stock market, housing market and inflation, it also said that the economy is expanding on firming consumer spending. It was probably a more balanced statement than was expected. Most economists expected a stronger statement on inflation. Such wording would indicate that an increase in rates in the near term is slightly reduced.

Wednesday Morning Links

Senator Dodd Got A Sweet Deal From Countrywide, 4.5% "VIP Program"(AP)
New Renderings For Domino Sugar Site (Brownstoner)
US Close To Approval Of $300 Bil. Foreclosure Bill (NY Times)
Eye On Dubai: Rotating Tower Revealed (Curbed)
Townhouse With Nazi Past Sells For $37.5 Mil. (Observer)
Who's Lending To Whom In Manhattan (Observer)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

LIC Update: Call It The LIC-Mini Burj Al Arab, or Holiday Inn For Short!

(top) 29-02 39th Ave Holiday Inn (bottom) Burj Al Arab, Dubai

While it's not the exactly the Burj Al Arab Hotel in Dubai, it's appearance a few blocks north of the Queensboro Bridge is nearly as striking considering what surrounds it. What is the 13 story+ structure jutting from 39th Avenue and 29th street in LIC? That is a question that I just had to answer for myself after being asked several times recently. The answer? It is a 137 room Holiday Inn which is expected to open next month or the month after depending on who you ask. It certainly stands out with clean exterior, abundant terraces, and unusual curved west facade. According to the best dressed man on site, suites may run as high as $600/night. Just to the east, a second site has foundation in ground in what is owned by Indigo Hotels. So, don't be surprised if the mini-Burj of LIC quickly gets a neighbor.
InterContinental Hotels Group Website With Details

Tuesday Morning Links

Chinese Investors Step Into New York Market (Reuters)
Home Ownership Declines In US (NY Times)
Russian Billionaire To Buy Trump's Palm Beach Home For $100 Million, A Record (WSJ)
Soho Mews Takes Show On The Road To Milan, Rome (BusinessWire)
"Harlem Park" Construction Site Still Inactive (Curbed)
M.T.A. Cutting Station Renos And More (NY Times)

Monday, June 23, 2008

Coney Island Mermaid Continues Hunger Strike Online

A sleepy and hungry mermaid.

If you haven't seen it on Curbed or Gothamist just yet, the Coney Island Mermaid has taken her hunger strike online. So far, it's 42 hours and counting in an effort to draw attention to a public scoping session held by the city tomorrow night. Anyone and everyone can get online and reach out to her right now by clicking this link to her live stream.
The hunger strike will end tomorrow night. She will break the fast with watermelon juice and the strong likelihood of a Nathan's frank (she says that she can smell them now).
Yes, The Mermaid Coney Island Redevelopment Cam (Curbed)
Savitri D., Mermaid (Gothamist)

Why Oil Is $136, Why It Won't Go Down Soon, Why Obama Has It Right And Doesn't Know It

We've heard it all, haven't we? It's the Chinese, no, the speculators, no, the environmentalists, and on and on, but there seems to be no widely accepted solution to our big oil problem.
To be sure, yes, China's demand is surging. China, until recently, has been growing GDP at a 10% clip for the past several years. Yet, that is no explanation for world prices to double in a year.
Then there are the speculators. Yes, speculators do exaggerate price movements, but that can be said to the downside as well as the upside. Surely, if speculating on oil is a one way street, we would all quit our day jobs and become speculators. But, speculators lose their shirts too.
Oh, and those evil liberal environmentalists, if it weren't for them, we'd be awash in our own oil from the shores of Daytona Beach, or ANWAR in Alaska. Fact is, if you took every resource that we had, we still would only account for 3% of the world's proven reserves and we use 25% of the world's oil, so that doesn't add up.
Then come all the bad ideas to solve the dilemma. The pandering, counter-productive "gas tax holiday"(McCain/Clinton). The drill everywhere idea (McCain/Bush). And, the crackdown on those evil speculators (Obama/McCain). The fact is, none of these provide real solutions, and none of them addresses the real reason prices are so high.
So why are they so high? It's actually very simple. The oil markets are pricing in potential conflict between the US or Israel, or both, against Iran. Just think about where oil prices would go if there was a significant conflict in the Middle East. That's what traders are thinking and why prices are so high. Can there be any doubt that there is at least a 50% chance that our current administration or Israel with our consent will attack Iran before the current administration's term is out? This is why I firmly believe that we are stuck with this problem as long as we are stuck with the Bush administration and even longer if McCain is somehow elected.
So what's the solution? It hasn't been discussed a whole lot, but it is simple and straight forward. Obama actually has it right, but not by targeting evil speculators, environmentalists or the lot. What we have to do right now is put the gun down! And, sit down with our "evil doer" adversaries and work things out. The only thing that our saber rattling has done has been to rattle our economy and embolden and enrich our adversaries. Until that is done, we are simply laying blame, scapegoating, or posturing.

Citigroup To Announce 6500 Layoffs

The employment outlook in NYC continues to darken. It has been widely reported this morning that Citigroup is set to announce a 10% reduction of workforce resulting in 6500 lost jobs. The WSJ reports that entire trading desks in New York and other cities will be fired as well as many staff in the M&A department. Pink slips will be distributed as early as today.
Citigroup May Cut 10% of Staff (CBSMarketwatch)
Citigroup Slashing Investment Banking Jobs This Week (Reuters/UK)
Citigroup To Cut 10% Of Investment Banking Jobs (WSJ)

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Weekend/ Monday Morning Links

Greenpoint Resists Condo Crowd (NY Post)
HL 23's Neighbors Object To Use Of Crane (The Real Deal)
Super Duper Luxury Celebrity Real Estate Wrap (Luxist)
A Taste Of Europe, In Astoria (NY Times)
Metro And REBNY To Launch Quarterly Real Estate Mag (The Real Deal)

Friday, June 20, 2008

Purves Street, The Luxury Cul-De-Sac Of Long Island City

Purves Street Looking West Towards Jackson

I know that LIC is booming with construction, but one particular street takes the cake, Purves Street which is a block North of Citi Tower and East of Jackson. The entire street, a dead end, is only one block long, but it is not short on development.

The first building to sell there (and sell it did) was 44-27 Purves, a 12 story luxury condo which has just a couple of units left.

At the edge of the block is 26-26 Jackson, a 43 unit lux condo, opening soon, which I discussed yesterday. But that is just the beginning.

At the end of the street a 26 story luxury rental tower is planned, next to it is a proposed 15 story tower, and a 30 story tower that has been approved (condo or rental unknown for either).

Already breaking ground is a 12 story luxury "green" condo by the group that built both 44-27 Purves and 10-50 Jackson. There is also a large lot available on the South side of the street that extends to Thomson Street, which is builable to 250,000sf that is on the market. And Kimaya Lofts is just around the corner on Jackson.

All tolled, there is close to half a million square feet of luxury built or planned on this one block in LIC. In a relatively confined area, it would be a great idea for the developers to get together and plan what the future of this block should look like- they can truly make this one dead end street into a model luxury enclave- the luxury cul-de-sac of LIC.
Condo Explosion In LIC North (A. Fine Blog, 8/07)
More On LIC From A. Fine Blog

Friday Morning Links

Cracks Found On Crane At W- Same Type Crane, Same Firm As Tragedy (NYDN)
Coney Island 'Mermaid" Goes On Hunger Strike (Curbed)
Judge Judy Living Large, 24,000SF, 13 Baths Large (NY Post)
City Unemployment Jumps In Line With Nat'l Numbers (Crain's)
400+ Swept Up In Mortgage Fraud Arrests (AP)
Buildings NYers Hate (AMNY)
MTA Board Opposes Giving Up Free Travel, Perks (NY Times)

Rent Guideline Board Approves Chunky Increases

The Rent Guidelines Board voted last night to increase rents on stabilized apartments 4.5% on 1 year leases and 8.5% on two year leases, the biggest increase since 1989. One million people are affected by the increase. Neither landlords nor tenants were happy with the numbers.
While the increases are high, it should be acknowledged that increases in expenses to landlords have been steep, especially for fuel. While I promise not to go on a rant, I do not approve of this quasi-socialist system. I know the arguments and I have heard them again and again. But, there is no reason one million people should have artificially low rents. In effect those low rents drive up the market rents for the rest. In a capitalist country with the ideal of equality, nobody should be more entitled to live in the city than anyone else.
Board Backs Rise In Rents Up To 8.5% (NY Times)

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Mystery Solved! 26-26 Jackson To Be 43 Unit Residential Condo

It has long been a mystery, the building on the corner of Jackson Avenue and Purves Street in Long Island City. While the 12 story glass tower has risen details have been more than scant until now.

On a trip to LIC this morning, I happened upon one of the owners of the project who filled me in on the details. It will be a residential condo as suspected, 43 units with luxury finishes, a 12 hour human doorman, and a 12 hour virtual doorman, a 12th floor gym, and a roof deck with great views and barbecuing facilities. The building is expected to open for sales around August 1st and will be represented by Peter Ashe, who will occupy a sales office across the street. Prices should be 'around $600 per square foot'. The building does have a name, but the owner has refused to divulge that info just yet. According to the Brooklyn Eagle, the architect is Robert Scarano who won an award for innovate design of the project (I guess you win some, you lose some). I'll have more on Purves Street, which is quickly turning into an all luxury cul-de-sac, shortly (including a hot new green condo with a name).

Tomato Scare In NYC Climbs To 7 Cases, Smells Way Overblown!


Seven. That is the number of suspected cases in New York City linked to possible salmonella contaminated tomatoes.

Seventy Six Million. That is the number of food-borne illnesses reported nationwide in a typical year in the United States.

If you turned your television to a local tv station last night, you may have thought we were experiencing the second coming of the bubonic plague. Every fifteen minutes or so a local news teaser would come on sensationalizing this "outbreak". I highly doubt that 20 or 30 years ago such a benign "outbreak" would even make the news at all.

Consider that every day in America over 200,000 people are stricken with a food-borne illness. Consider that any salmonella that is on a tomato is on it, not in it. Therefore proper preparation- thorough washing, would probably take care of the problem.

Yet, in this day and age, of media sensationalism, millions and millions of dollars of tomatoes are being disposed of for little reason. Makes you wonder and kinda long for the old days.
Six More Cases Of Salmonella In NYC (WABC)

Thursday Morning Links

Rent Guidelines Board Expected To Announce Big Hike Today (WNBC)
Seaport Developer: Toss "Festival Marketplace" Overboard (Observer)
Harlem Renaissance Meets Slowdown (The Real Deal)
The Guardian Of Gramercy Park's Leafy Seclusion (NY Times)
Apartment Customization Goes Beyong Changing Colors (NY Sun)
Court Offers Homeowners Help To Avoid Foreclosure (NY Times)

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Field Trip: Good, Cheap Golf Nearby

Jon Schnapp Prepared To Tee Up at Galloping Hills

Dying to play golf? Not a member anywhere? New to the city and clueless? Believe it or not there is plenty of great golfing (on the cheap) very close to, and even in New York City.

I recently made my first trip of the year to the Galloping Hills course in Kenilworth, NJ.. The course is a mere 19 miles from Union Square and takes about a half hour to get to without traffic. Measuring over 6500 yards, this par 70 course is in very good shape, very green, and challenging, yet forgiving. The cost for a New Yorker is about $75 including cart, while I'm sure it's probably about half that for a Union County resident.

Oh, and there is more, plenty more. Pelham/Split Rock in Pelham Bay Park is one that I've tried which was scenic and challenging. You would never know that you were in the Bronx. This century old links style course is not perfectly manicured, but for less than $40 (for NYC residents), who could complain? Other options that I have not tried, but will soon, are Dyker Beach in Brooklyn, Clearview Park in Queens and Van Cortland in the Bronx, the nation's oldest public course established in 1895.

Below is a link to NY Times article on great public courses in the Metro area. Happy golfing!
As Open Goes Public, Many Players Do, Too (NY Times)

Wednesday Morning Links

DeNiro Meets Landmarks, Tries To Save Penthouse (NY Times)
No Jail Time For "Open House" Thieves (NYDN)
Interview With Robert Knakal (Observer)
Ikea Red Hook Is Open! (Racked)
Macklowe's Towers Get Over 100 Bids (NY Post)
Tom Wolfe, Writer, Not Happy With 980 Madison Plan (NY Sun)

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Rockrose To Build Large Office Tower Next To Citi Tower In LIC

Rockrose Development Corp. is planning an 800,000 square foot office tower, next to Citi Tower, on the North End of Long Island City, The New York Post reports today.
This seems like yet another large piece to the puzzle for LIC North which is undergoing an incredible transformation. Tishman Speyer has a grouping of office towers going up near Queens Boulevard, the city has committed to a $50 Million renovation of Queens Plaza and Jackson Avenue, and recent residential condominiums like Star Tower, Crescent Club, and Fusion have sold like hotcakes.
With such a complete makeover, booming construction, low prices and an easy 7 minute commute to Midtown, LIC North may in fact be the no-brainer neighborhood of the near future.
LIC Condo Development-O-Rama, May 2008 (A. Fine Blog)
Condo Explosion In LIC North, Oct 2007 (A. Fine Blog)
Citi Tower Will Get Neighbor (NY Post)
'Stars Are Aligned' For Long Island City Development (Queens Courier)

A Dive Worth Taking: The Subway Inn

Not for the faint of heart! A gritty, grimy, old fashioned dive bar. Some call it a shithole. I call it one on New York's most treasured dive bars, The Subway Inn at 59th Street and Lexington Avenue. If you don't like a well worn in look, somewhat smelly bathrooms, dim lighting, and a widely diverse crowd, this is not the place for you. If you tread fearlessly, relish reality and real people, this is worth a shot. Speaking of shots, $4- same with the Heinekens.

Every time I step into this place I feel as if I am stepping back in time and onto a movie set. If Tree's Lounge or Barfly was shot in Manhattan it would have been shot here. Established in 1937, this New York landmark (in my mind at least), was almost lost a couple of years ago when a developer bought the townhouse for more than $6 Million. The good news is that Subway Inn got a lease that allows continued operation until the death of the owner. The bad news, the owner is 97 years old. So dive on in, before it's too late!

Tuesday Morning Links

Breaking: Mets Fire Willie Randolph (NY Times)
William F. Buckley's Park Avenue Duplex, Priced & Revealed (Curbed)
Abu Dhabi Rising (The Real Deal)
Condo Incentives Increase (The Real Deal)
Review Of LIC's New "Ravel Hotel" (Hotel Chatter)
Bloomberg As Popular As Ever (NY Times)

Monday, June 16, 2008

3 Saturdays In August City Will Closes Miles Of Roadway

Park Avenue (Back In The Day)

Mayor Bloomberg is expected to announce this afternoon that a 5 mile stretch of Manhattan will be closed to vehicular traffic on three Saturdays in August (the 9th, 16th, and 23rd). The roads closed will stretch from Centre Street up Lafayette, then 4th Avenue, and Park Avenue to 72nd Street from 7 am- 1pm. Various metropolises around the world institute similar programs, likely the inspiration for this scheme.
While many merchants are upset, the plan would probably work just fine assuming that there are no "funnel cake fests" occurring simultaneously, otherwise it will be a traffic nightmare. Given the proliferation of ubiquitous street fares during the summer, chances are it will probably be the later.
City Will Close 5 Miles Of Traffic...(NY Sun)
Car Free Saturdays....(Streetsblog)

Former Hat Store Unearthed on 84th & Third

This picture was taken on the SE corner of 84th and Third Avenue. The striped awning, reading "Stetson and Knox", has been revealed during a renovation after The Video Room moved to 86th Street earlier this year. Video Room was in the space from 1978, however the life of the hat store is unknown.

While You Were At The Beach....Unusual On Fifth

Not sure really what this was all about, but it certainly was unusual. This was the scene as a 5 block caravan rolled down Fifth Avenue in the lower 20's on Saturday afternoon. They shared traffic with Buses, cars, etc...

Monday Morning Links

OTB Saved, For Real This Time (NY Times)
Leona's Pup Loses $10 Million Trust (NY Post)
Heidi Klum Sells Her Bank Street Penthouse (NY Post)
All-Star, All-Inclusive Real Estate Wrap Up (Luxist)
Softness In Manhattan Market? (Barron's)
Lehman Feels The Pain From Archstone-Smith Deal (Barron's)

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Bloomberg Casts Doubt On OTB Deal

Just when it looked like a done deal. Just hours after the big news conference held by Governor Patterson and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Mayor Bloomberg vowed to continue with the closing of the city's OTB branches come Sunday night. Bloomberg said that "substantial legal and economic issues" had yet to be resolved, leaving the city "with no choice but to move forward with our city's OTB parlors on Sunday".
This smells like yet another power struggle between the Mayor and Albany. According to my sources at City Hall, the OTB issue is turning into the political version of a game of chicken with Bloomberg holding out for a plan that actually benefits the city's coffers.
It should prove to be an interesting weekend.
Resolution In OTB Dispute Fades Away (NY Times)
NYC Mayor Vows To Shut OTB Despite Governor's Plan (Reuters)
Patterson And Bloomberg Differ On OTB's Future (Newsday)

Friday, June 13, 2008

Report: OTB To Be Rescued!

Photo courtesy is reporting this morning that a deal to save New York's Off Track Betting parlors is in the works. LoHud reports that a deal has been reached to have the state take over operations. The deal will save 1500 jobs which were threatened to be lost as soon as the close of business Sunday night. Now, to all those who like to discriminate against dirty old men who congregate and smoke in front of the OTB locations, we are sorry for your disappointment.
Deal To Keep NYC OTB Expected Today (

Friday Morning Links

Harlem Residents Not Too Hip To Gentrification (NY Times)
City Makes Deal With Unions At Willets Point (Observer)
Madison Square Adds Public Space On Roadway (Curbed)
OTB Still In Peril, 1500 Jobs At Stake (NY Times)
LIC Councilman: Enough With The Hotels, Already! (The Real Deal)
Yankees Seek $400 Mil. More To Complete Stadium (Metro)

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Thursday Morning Links

Getty Images

Celebrity Endorsers Lure The Rich To Dubai (WSJ)
Dubai's Crown Prince Opens An Office In...Pittsburg (WTAE)
World's Tallest Building, Burj Dubai, Faces Delay For More Luxury Goodies (Business24-7)
2 Hour NY to DC "Rocket Train" Approved By House (NY Sun)
"Sex And The City" Movie Good To Real Estate Junkies (NY Sun)
Deutsche Bank May Tank Skyscraper Market (CBS Marketwatch)

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Union Square Partnership Reveals Hot New Renderings

Birdseye View From NorthEast

Expanded Playground Space

Fresh from my email inbox are new renderings of Union Square Park's North end makeover. According to the email, excavation work for the extended Pavilion and insulated tree pits and storm drains is nearly complete. However, the best part of the email was tantalizing new renderings of the finished product.
For more and larger images, check:
Union Square NYC Website

There Goes Another Landmark: Abu Dhabi Negotiating To Buy Chrysler Building

(Image courtesy Eikongraphia)

Reports on the wires this morning from The NY Post indicate that the Abu Dhabi Investment Council is in negotiations to buy a 75% stake in the famed Art Deco icon, The Chrysler Building, for $800 Million.
Chrysler Building On The Block (NY Post)

Wednesday Morning Links & Comment

The Flatiron Building (1910)

Storm Watch and Power watch segments are suspended as the weather, thankfully, has gotten back to normal. Ironically, it was the change in weather that brought far more power outages than usage from the extreme heat. Currently, better than 130,000 in the tri-state are without power, down from a peak of 200,000 last night. The vast majority of outages are in Jersey. Here are today's links:
Thousands Without Power After Storm (WNBC)
New Hotels Planned For Eighth Avenue (NY Post)
Mortgage Delinquencies Soar In NYC, Especially SE Queens (Crains)
Surprise- US Pending Home Sales Rise (NY Times)
A Peak Inside Amish Market, LIC (Racked)
The Glass Tycoon: Interview With 350 W. B'Way's Aby Rosen (Observer)
Italian Firm Buys Majority Stake In The Flatiron Bldg (Observer)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Storm Watch: What A Storm

The Line of thunder which is currently passing overhead packed a major wallop on the front end. I'm not sure I've seen a stronger gust in Manhattan- at least from my terrace. As I noticed my windows blowing open, I also saw my cherished garden- complete with 40 lbs container plants, blowing around like thimbles. I rushed out to retrieve these plants so they would not get blown from the terrace altogether. In doing so, I had an abundance of dirt dust and other debris rush into my apartment in a matter of seconds. The windows were clearly bowing, and for a moment, I thought a tornado might actually be near. I noticed lawn sized garbage bags blowing down the street and heard crashes of glass. The familiar flagpole on a neighbors penthouse terrace seems to have been bent over or cracked in half. It was mighty hot and storms were expected, but that was a doozy. I would figure that gusts had to have reached at least 60mph, if not 80mph.
Gotta make you wonder how windows at new construction fared, and scaffolding, and other possible airborne objects. I would expect damage reports shortly.

Power Watch: 1500 Without Power, Crown Heights, West Bronx Hit Worst

Today is the 4th and expected to be the final day of our unusual early heatwave. While 1000-2000 people at a time have been without power on average, it seems that Con Ed has thus far done a good job at keeping all of our ACs running. Of course there have been some burnt out feeder cables, low voltage in Yorkville and varied subway delays and disruptions, but as a whole things seem to be holding up rather well (I hate to jinx it). Right now 1480 customers are without power with several outages in the West Bronx and Crown Heights.
For a helpful graphic on outages in NYC, check Con Ed's "Storm Center".

Tuesday Morning Links

Monday, June 9, 2008

Power Watch: Yorkville Losing Voltage...

Residents on the Upper East Side from 77th to 111th Street have been asked to turn off all non-essential appliances as an 8% voltage loss to the area has been reported. Subways are a mess as several lines have lost service- the F, G, N, 7, and A trains are affected. Another 1500 or so Bronx residents are without power. Well, at least we made it a few hours before multiple disruptions. Let's hope it gets better before it gets worse!
Update- The Hungarian Deli on 81st and 2nd has only partial power. I ran down to buy some Hungarian Sausage to help the cause. If anyone else wants to help out a small merchant, that would be the place it can be done.
Update- NYPD communication vans are on the streets using loudspeakers to urge people in Yorkville to conserve power. I spoke with a Con Ed worker, who was lukewarm in his assurance that we would "probably" make it through the night without a major outage. Westchester now has the most current outages with over 2000 without power. In Yorkville on 81st and 2nd and 87th and 3rd are reporting outages.

Crane News

There was plenty of crane news this weekend, including the allegation that a crane inspector who was promoted in the wake of the March collapse was taking bribes and licensing crane operators without training.

Power Watch: 2,000 Without Power In NYC

The day is young, but it hasn't started out very well for 1,000 Con Ed customers in Boerum Hill who have been without power since a manhole fire last night. So far 2,000 customers, mostly in Brooklyn are without power. Around the region 3,000 are without power in Ct, and 2,700 without on Long Island.

Monday Morning Links & Comment

Today will be a big test for Con Ed. With temps expected to top out around 100 degrees, warmer than any day last year, we'll be on power watch all day. We'll see if Con Ed's infrastructure improvements actually happened, or if they are adequate enough.
Power Outage Knocks Out Subway Service For 2 Hours In Brooklyn, Queens (NYDN)
Renovation Tips From Brokers- Keep It Simple (NY Times)
Geothermal Surfaces In NYC (NY Times)
Luxist's All Inclusive Real Estate Wrap (Luxist)
Katie Holmes Searches For Rental, And More Celeb Moves (NY Post)
Virgin Records Stores On The way Out From Union Square, Times Square (Fox News)

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Heatwave To Grip NYC

Get ready to feel the heat! Are rare pre-summer heatwave begins today with temps climbing into the low 90's. That is just the beginning, as temps tomorrow and Monday could reach as high as 100 in the NYC Metro area. Temps are expected to stay in the 90's til at least Wednesday when relief will gradually arrive.
As usual, precautions should be taken, including dressing lightly, drinking plenty of fluids, and limiting time out in the heat. Check on the elderly and make sure the kids are well hydrated.
This will be Con Ed's first big test of the year. With very high temps over the weekend, power demand Sunday night through Wednesday will be excessive and could prompt brownouts, blackouts, and pleas to conserve energy. Given Con Ed's track record, things could get interesting.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Friday Morning Links

2 Climbers Scale NY Times Building To Protest Global Warming (NY Times)
Video: "Reverend Billy" Scales Union Square Park Pavilion To Protest Reno (
Some Brokers Lament Rise In Inventory As Prices Remain Flat (The Real Deal)
Extell Buys Diamond District Property For $50 Mil, Amassing Air Rights (The Real Deal)

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Thursday Morning Links

Evictions Can Continue As East Village Walk-up Converted To Mansion (Observer)
Hotel Pennsylvania Get Yet Another Reprieve (Curbed)
421-a Change Prompts Some Developers To Sell Sites (The Real Deal)
Los Angeles Has 17 Times More Foreclosures Than NYC (Observer)
Hillary To Finally Call It Quits (NY Times)

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

7 Train And 421-a Must Haves For West Side Development, Developers Agree

At today's NY Times "Vu 2008" forum on West Side development, panel members Joseph Moinian (Moinian Group), Larry Silverstein, and Ric Clark (Brookfield Properties) were all extremely bullish on the long term prospects for the far West Side, while speaking in near unison over concerns for the need for a 7 train extension (including a 41st St, station) and reinstatement of something identical or very similar to the soon to be expired 421-a program.
Silverstein said flatly that the 7 train extension is critical, otherwise development "isn't going to happen". Moinian, meanwhile alternated from the assuring statement that the developers "will have" the 7, to a more pleading statement that the train is a "must have". Many comparisons were drawn to the eventual success of Canary Wharf in London. Silverstein aptly pointed out that the the first two developers failed and that the success only came after the availability of mass transit.
In regards to the June 30th expiration of 421-a benefits, everyone agreed that the state has gone too far and that a reinstatement of something very similar or identical is needed to spur development while providing affordable housing. Moinian saw the expiration as a "major concern", while Silverstein noted that 'affordable housing would be impossible without the 421-a. Steven Spinola, President of REBNY, saw the expiration as "frightening". While the terminology used was fairly dramatic, the vibe from the participants was that the state would figure this out, make adjustments, and eventually the problem will blow over.
The only area of any substantive disagreement was of the impact of the credit crisis. Silverstein sees a ground shift and a much more conservative approach on the part of banks. Clark saw this as a much more short term issue, he said 'a financial crisis seems to crop up every 10 years or so, and 5 years later they seem to forget about it'. Moinian pointed out that when institutions jump back in, New York is the #1 place that institutions will invest.
It was somewhat remarkable that 3 diverse developers could have such a broad consensus. Now if we could only see the same on the part of Bloomberg, Schumer, and Dolan, we'd be all set.

Wednesday Morning Links

Sorry for the late posting of links today. I had an early morning conference with Larry Silverstein, Joe Moinian, and Ric Clark of Brookfield properties. I'll be reporting on that shortly.
Vornado Turns To "Plan B" For Moynihan Station (Curbed)
Number Of Stabilized Apts Down, Harassment Complaints Up (NY Daily News)
Manhattan Building Permits Up 46% In 08', 421-a Surge? (Oberver)
Bloomberg Said To Explore 3rd term Or Governor Bid (NY Times)
Smokers Cough Up Another $1.25 Per Pack (NY Times)

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Is That A New Rat?

I've seen plenty of inflatable rats in my day, but this looks like a new one. And wow, this rat looks like a real mean, and obviously greedy one. And that cigar, he must be one fat cat, um, I mean rat!
This rat was posted up in front of the Babies R' Us in Union Square. While he may look like a mean fella, he seemed to be a hit with passersby who were not shy about petting him and even have pictures taken with him.

Tuesday Morning Links

The 50 Most Powerful Women In NYC Includes 4 In Real Estate (NY Post)
History Of The High Line Video (High Line Blog)
Sites Using Kodiak Cranes See Work Halted (Crain's)
Bloomberg Admin (Under Pressure)Looks To Relocate Willets Point Businesses First (Observer)
31 Places In The US To Go This Summer (NY Times/Travel)

Monday, June 2, 2008

Gehry's Beekman Tower Rising, And The New York Times Loves It!

Computer rendering courtesy The Real Deal via Artefactory

"Hypnotic", "Landmark", "Intoxicating", are just a few of the words used by NY Times architecture critic Nicolai Ouroussoff, in Saturday's edition to describe Frank Gehry's 76 story tower that is rising on Beekman Street downtown. Quite a review, despite noting the uninspired 'simple 5 story red brick base used to house a school'. Gehry, it seems hasn't had much luck in NYC, but with these kind of reviews, it seems that is all about to change.
Looking Skyward In Lower Manhattan (NY Times)
Beekman Tower Takes Shape (The Real Deal)
Construction Watch: Beekman Tower While It's Short (Curbed)

Market Pulse: Manhattan Real Estate Seems To Be Picking Up Steam

Just a quick snapshot of current market conditions.

While a couple of weeks do not make a trend, it does seem that Manhattan Real Estate is beginning to wake up from the Bear Stearns-inspired hibernation. What we are beginning to see from web statistics, deal flow, and client flow is that foreign investors have re-entered the market. The reason for the re-emergence is two-fold, both which relate back to the Greenback.

First, it appears that the fear factor of the US markets inspired by the financial crisis in mid-March, has worn off. Shortly after the Bear debacle, I for one, spoke to many foreign investors who were suddenly skittish and concerned about a potential dollar collapse. 10 weeks removed, it appears as if both the US financial markets, and US Dollar specifically, have stabilized (at least on a relative basis). Foreign investors stand to benefit not only from market appreciation, but Dollar appreciation as well.

Second, while the dollar is at these low levels, Manhattan Real Estate continues to look like a relative bargain compared to cities like Mumbai, London, and Moscow.

The New York market certainly faces it's challenges from a national near recession, higher than average credit spread (which is keeping rates higher they would be under ordinary circumstances), and hemorrhaging of Wall Street jobs. For the foreign investor at least, the potential double punch of price and currency appreciation is proving quite tempting.

As always, I'll keep you posted.

Monday Morning Links

What You Need To Know To Get A Mortgage (NY Times)
Living In Yorkville (NY Times)
A Look At Stuy Town (NY Post)
15 CPW Apt Looks To Flip For $16,000./ft. (NY Post)
Tax Man Giveth: 421-a Changes (NY Daily News)
All-Inclusive Celebrity Real Estate Round-Up (Luxist)