Thursday, July 31, 2008

UPDATE: NYPD Issues Permit For "Sons Of The Revolution" Evacuation Day Parade. Get the full story from my buddy over at Queens Crap: NYPD Issues Permit To Sons Of The Revolution.

Thursday Morning Links

NYC Home Prices Outpace Rest Of Country (CBSMarketwatch)
It May Be The Best Time In A Decade To Buy A Country House (NY Sun)
Shame: City Denies Parade Permit For Sons Of The Revolution (Queens Crap)
Alexico Group's 57 Story, 56 Leonard, Arcitect Herzog & de Meuron, Under Way (NY Sun)
Does Extell Have Something Cooking On Charlton & Vandam? (Curbed)
Tourism Boosting City Economy (AMNY)
Sovereign Wealth Funds Grow Buoy Real Estate (NY Sun)

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

One Madison Park Taking Shape

Got these shots this afternoon walking down Park Ave South.
One Madison Park, future home to the rich and famous, is finally coming into focus (if you don't focus on the big ass crane). I'm not sure about you, but I like the cubic presentation. Very modern, sleek- looks like a Million Bucks! Whoops, sorry, make that 18 Gazillion bucks!

Hey "L-Haus", Don't Be Green With Envy, 475 Park Ave South May Have You Beat!

475 PAS

L- Haus
All part of this new "green" trend. No, not that green trend, the color green! Many were confused by the green exterior of L-Haus in LIC thinking it would be permanent, when it's just some sort of insulation. Well, LIC may have it's green monster, but PAS has it's green tower. Actually gives the building a fresh new look, for now.

Bush Quietly Signs Housing Bill, Markets Continue Rally

President Bush quietly signed into law the far reaching housing rescue bill which at one point he threatened to veto. The legislation is expected to extend relief to as many as 400,000 homeowners on the brink of foreclosure and cements the governments commitment to troubled lenders Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The bill also extends nearly $4 Billion to local communities to clean up and restore foreclosed properties so that they don't become a blight to those communities. Hidden in the fine print is a $7500 tax credit for first time buyers with income under $75k or $150k. The credit is paid back by the taxpayer over time, but still amounts to an interest-free loan.
The stock market continues it's bounce back today, as fears over Fannie and Freddie have eased, oil is down 16% from it's high 2 weeks ago, and ADP reported that the economy actually added jobs in July.
President Signs Far Reaching Housing Bill (CBSMarketwatch)
Bush Signs Housing Bill In Private (Huffington Post)

Hamptons Properties Quickly Becoming More Affordable

As a commenter earlier this week pointed out, good news is in the eye of the beholder. The strength and resilience of the Manhattan market, he or she argued, was not a good thing for someone renting who has been long priced out of the market. Alright, good point. Well, to those who see falling prices as good news, there is no shortage of good news from the Hamptons of late. Median closing prices for the Hamptons slid 11.8% from a year ago and prices have slipped back into the six digit range. As I mentioned in an earlier post, after taking an open house tour out there, it was quite obvious that business was very slow. So, if a weak market is good news to you, looks like you can score that beach house at a discount.

Wednesday Morning Links

NYC Continues To Buck National Housing Trend (WSJ blog)
Precipitous Drop In Energy Prices Give Economy Ray Of Hope (NY Times)
MetroCard Vending Machines Crap Out Again During Tuesday Morning Rush (NY Times)
A Look At 15 CPW's Reflecting Pool (Curbed)
Grateful Dead's Phil Lesh Buys In Soho (Observer)
The Six Nastiest Real Estate Battles In NYC (NY Mag)

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Mets Citifield Lux Boxes Nearly Sold Out- The NY Post reports today that all but one of Citifield's 49 luxury boxes have been purchased. Ranging in price from $250k-$500k, Mets officials admit that they may have under priced them. Mets Score Box-Bucks Home Run (NY Post).

Case Shiller Housing Report: "Possible Bright Spot", NY And Six Other Markets Improve

No doubt that it was a pretty lousy report on the National housing scene. Housing prices in the top 20 markets are down 15.8% year over year.
However, looking at the bright side, New York, Boston, Tampa, Detroit, Dallas, Atlanta, and Minneapolis saw month over month improvement which Case Shiller called a "possible bright spot". Overall, the monthly rate of decline slowed down sequentially from -1.4% in April to 0.9% in May. Markets like New York have seen significantly less depreciation versus sunbelt cities like Miami and Vegas which saw the greatest use of creative financing and also the greatest appreciation in the previous boom.
Home prices down 15.8% in past year, S&P says Seven of 20 cities tally monthly price gains in May, Case-Shiller data show (CBS Marketwatch)

Tuesday Morning Links

Middle East Investors Spurn US Real Estate (Except New York) (Observer)
Naked Cowboy Arrested In San Fran's Union Square (NY Post)
MTA Having Issues With MetroCard Machines (NY Times)
2, 3, 4, 5, 7, F Trains At Capacity (Metro)
Farmers Markets Suffering From Fuel Prices (Gothamist)
Numbers Newspapers Envy- Craigslist Continues Booming (

Monday, July 28, 2008

Extell Sales "Skyrocket" To Half Billion Dollars In First Half

While the information came to me via an email from their PR firm, the news is no less impressive. In the face of the much hyped housing correction, Extell Development had little difficulty at all. While the comps were not readily available, reporting $507 Million in sales for the first half was indeed impressive. Considering that the release used the term "skyrocket" describing sales, you'd have to assume that they were up, although that will later be verified. I mentioned at the beginning of the month that Extell and Carlyle had lined up the largest financing deal of the year of over $600 Million. The latest release plays up that Lucida and 212 East 47th are now better than 90% sold, but most impressive had to be that their newest offering, 535 West End Avenue is over 40% sold in just 30 days. Man, these guys are making it look easy!
Sales At Extell Development Company Skyrocket (Reuters)

Union Square Park Gets Dirty- Japanese Pagoda Trees Could Appear Within A Month

North side of Union Square Park 7/28/08

Japanese Pagoda Tree (

Work has been progressing at a feverish pace on the north end of Union Square Park. The length of the north end has been dug, pipes and drainage removed or reworked, the curb cut is in, and now soil is beginning to fill the ditch for tree pits. According to a construction foreman on site the Japanese Pagoda trees could be planted as soon as a month from now. A total of 21 of these 20' trees (which grow to 40' tall and 40' wide) will line both the north and west side of the park. Looking at renderings, it would appear that 9 will be on the north end and 12 on the west side. A representative for the Union Square Partnership was non-committal on the exact timing, but he did confirm that the first 9 trees will be in by fall. Additionally, it is planned that the entire north end- pavers, trees and all, is expected to be complete in time for the Holiday Market which starts around Thanksgiving.
Back To A. Fine Blog Home
Union Square Partnership Brochure For Renovation (PDF File)

A. Fine Blog Tops Monthly Record

Despite the time of year, I am happy to announce that A. Fine Blog has yet again topped it's own monthly record for page views and unique users for the second straight month. I'll have final numbers at the end of the month, but it looks like at least a 10% increase in traffic over last month. Thanks again to all of our loyal viewers.
Again, if you would like the blog emailed or you prefer rss feeds, just scroll to the bottom of the page to sign up.

Good News- Reports:Tisch Purchase At 2 East 67th Sets All-Time Co-op Price Record, $48 Million

2 East 67th (on left), Courtesy City Review

One thing is for certain, the high end of the market in New York real estate isn't exactly hurting. Jonathan Tisch, owner of the New York Giants and Chairman of Loews hotels has reportedly purchased a 14 room beauty at 2 East 67th that faces Central Park for a cool $48 Million. This surpasses the old record set just this January when Scott Bommer, chairman of hedge fund SAB Capital and wife purchase a park view co-op at 1060 Fifth for $46 Mil..
Record Price Reported For Manhattan Co-op (Barbanel, NY Times)
Ben Stein Says Things Aren't So Bad After All- In more good weekend reading courtesy of The New York Times, Ben Stein, noted author and actor, shines the light of reality on our current economic situation. Ben Bernanke's actions have brought "excellent results". Here is the complete article: It's Bad, But Remember, We are Dodging The Worst (NY Times)

A. Fine Blog Declares "Week Of Good News"

I've just about had it with the media. The obsession with negative news and scare stories about everything from dangerous tomatoes to the housing crisis is just about enough to drive us all nuts! If network morning television is your primary source of info, you would think that we've landed somewhere between End Times and the Great Depression. In fact, by conventional standards we are not even in a recession, and the chances are decent that we are will probably avoid one altogether (looking at the glass half full, of course).

So, let's start the week with a nice article in the New York Times this weekend pointing at several encouraging signs, such as:

1- Durable Goods orders unexpectedly jumped in June (+0.8%) lead by a jump in export orders. See, the cheap dollar does do some good!

2- Consumer Confidence jumped in June, again unexpectedly, perhaps thanks to a dip in prices in the pump or related to the fact that things are not as bad on a personal basis as the TV would lead you to believe.

3- The rate of decline in New Home Sales is slowing. June New Home Sales dipped on 6/10th of a percent, and sales in the Northeast and Midwest were up. Median Home Prices were up better than 1%, and inventories dropped.

Off to a good start, aren't we! Here is the full article:

Monday Morning Links

Reluctant Renovators Lured By Price (NY Times)
Streetscapes: Townhouses On East 71st (NY Times)
A Look At FiDi (NY Post)
Madison Square Park Area Keeps Getting Ritzier (NY Post)
Rich Folks Feeling The Pinch Too (Barron's)
More On Target Store And East Harlem Market (Observer)
NYC Tops List Of America's Most Expensive Cities (Forbes)
National Luxury Real Estate Wrap Up (Luxist)

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Saturday Morning Links

Three. Three is the total number of Manhattan homes seized through foreclosure during the 2nd Quarter of this year. There is little doubt that the outer boroughs have had an increase in foreclosure "notices" and actual foreclosures, but you never seem to get the positive out of the media, do you? In fact, with all the dramatic headlines, a thorough Google search could not even yield the comparable number of Manhattan foreclosures in the 2nd Quarter of last year. That doesn't sell newspapers. Good news is only a footnote. At least you heard it here- Three is the number of foreclosures in Manhattan- what, you're not scared?
Staten Island Foreclosures Soar, Manhattan- Not So Much (Crain's)
Housing Rescue Package On Track For Weekend Passage (Yahoo News/AP)
Extell Talking To Costco About Riverside South Location? (Observer)

Friday, July 25, 2008

Friday Morning Links And Comment

Hey folks. Sorry about the lack of insightful posts this week. Turns out we have gotten rather busy and I have been short staffed with a couple of key agents on vacation. So, I have been running all over town. I have isolated a couple of exceptional values in LIC which I am focusing on and have also found come across an exceptional crop of under priced sponsor units (no board approval co-ops) in Manhattan which I am trying to match up with clients. That being said, I have a backlog of blog posts which I hope to get to later today or this weekend. I thank everyone who contacted me with their ideas and I am working to get those on the web soon.
The Port Authority Office Tower- Meet The Contestants (Curbed)
Soaring Above Central Park In A Balloon (Gothamist)
Housing Bill Has Something For Nearly Everyone (NY Times)
NYC Beaches Make Comeback (AMNY)
NYC Drops To 22nd "Most Expensive City" (Crain's)

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Thursday Morning Links

Thom Mayne's Cooper Union Looking Good (Curbed)
A Guide To NYC's Best Black & White Cookies (Gridskipper)
Zuckerman Bullish On Buildings, Bearish On Just About Everything Else (Observer)
MTA Pitches Fare Hike In 2011, On Top Of 2010 Increase (Observer)
Lawmakers Call For Taxicab Fuel Surcharge (NY Times)
Drop In Offering Plans Less Than Anticipated (NY Sun)

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Good Night For Bars, Really Bad Night For Train Service

Yikes! Just about every commuter train in the Northeast is temporarily suspended as Amtrak is having power supply problems that are effecting the entire Northeast corridor, including Midtown Direct service and most of Jersey Transit. Well, at least the bars will be happy!
In an unrelated story, power is out to several building on 17th Street between 5th and 6th Avenues. When I asked a super if power was out he said yes several buildings, then told me something "just blew up". There are about 40 Con Ed vehicles on the scene.
For transit alerts check

On The Market: 5SL #3R Reduced To $799k

I guess this is the first "price chop" mentioned on this blog, and it's my own listing! It seems that at least during the summer, the buyers hitting LIC are strictly value minded. And why not? While prices in Manhattan have barely budged, one of the great allures of Long Island City is the great pricing for quality product. Well, if it's value that you are looking for, #3R at 5SL certainly fits the need, especially at $799k. Summer is a traditionally slow season, yet my clients have a sense of urgency, and response was lukewarm at $849k. So they have decided to spice it up a bit with a nice price reduction. Considering that there is significant savings in closing costs (close to $25k), and that this is in the doorman building, and it's the best priced unit in the building, any value shopper would consider this a great catch.

Wednesday Morning Links

Mortgage Loan Rates Spike On Fannie/Freddie Woes (NY Times)
Gov, Mayor Slam MTA On Fare Hike Plan (AMNY)
AMNY Starts A Log Of Subway Musicians (AMNY)
Versace To Design Interiors For One Madison, Former MetLife Bldg Gone Condo (Bloomberg)
Danny Meyer Keeping Busy With New Ventures (Crain's)
Trump Jr. To Start $1 Bil. India Real Estate Fund (Bloomberg)
Hotel Pennsylvania Escapes The Wrecking Ball (Observer)
Hero Saves Couple From Brooklyn Blaze (NYDN)
Manhattan Rents Not Coming Down (Observer)
$5 Million Lotto Doorman May Quit His Day Job (NY Post)
About Working In Court Square, LIC (Observer)

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

A Little Brompton Envy, Maybe?

Much has been made of various white-brickers recently, with talk of potential landmark designation in at least a couple of cases. However, I still find the white brick genre thoroughly uninspired and downright hideous. The problem is that they are usually built in a plain box shape with a few recessed terraced layers at the top -- snooze! And white doesn't work in New York! All of these buildings eventually turn into dirty-looking soot-samplers.
With that in mind, I was delighted to see on a recent stroll around the 'hood that 201 East 84th Street, a 19-story co-op on the corner of Third, has decided to go from dirty white/grey/soot brick to a much more desirable red brick. Sure, this move may have been inspired by Robert A.M. Stern's modern condo masterpiece, The Brompton, in their faces a few blocks away, and there may have been just the slightest touch of envy involved, but I do applaud the owners of 200 East 84th for going from blight to right.

Tuesday Morning Links

MTA Planning Another Fare Hike (AMNY)
4 Train Named City's Least Dependable (NY Post)
15 CPW Announces Retailers (The Real Deal)
How Government Action Changed LIC (Observer)
Did They Ever Play Polo At The Polo Grounds? (Gothamist)
Baby Faced 13 Year Old Village Mugger Has Trouble Convincing Victims (NY Post)
Big Jellyfish Fill Hudson River (NYDN)
Stocks Look Lower On Poor Amex Earnings, Wachovia Concerns (NY Times)

Monday, July 21, 2008

Send Your Ideas!

Every now and then a blogger comes to a point that I call "bloggers block". You have several ideas to write about, you write them, and then you are stuck. So, if any of you out there have a great idea for a story or have something that you want me to look into, by all means, say so. Audience participation is very welcome.
One thing that I was going to mention was the mischaracterization of the current rental market. Since we focus on sales, it has been very rare that I have taken out a rental client. I have been hearing and reading that it is suddenly a renter's market. Since my 2 best agents are out of town, I have taken on a couple of (rental) referrals. Now, I can tell you first hand, that a renter's market it is not.
First, there is no great glut of inventory in rentals. It seems that the amount of units available is around the same as usual for this time of year- more in fringe areas, less in prime areas. Most striking is the increase in prices. Looking back at my database, prices are on average 25% higher than 2 years ago. So, even if you shave $100 or $200 off the price, it's still much more. This would explain why there is little turnover and why I am hearing rental agents sing the blues. Tenants get a big price increase and head out determined to do better. They call a rental agent, run them around, and then come to the stark realization that prices are way up and they better stay put. With new jobs in NYC being pretty sparse, this trend may change over the coming months, but it sure hasn't quite yet.
So, I found one thing to blog on, but need more- send your ideas, and I am happy to get right on them!

Killer App: Con Ed's Storm Center

I found this during the last heatwave. Con Ed has this great application on it's website, which you can access here. It is updated every half hour, and it seems to be very accurate. Make sure to check the zoom feature as well, and you'll be able to see exactly where the outages are. With yet at least one more day left to this heatwave, you never know when it may come in handy. So far, this season, I'd give Con Ed a grade of A-, but there is plenty of long, hot summer to come.

Monday Morning Links

Next Neighborhood: Manhattan In Three Minutes (FT)
Lights, Camera, Ka-Ching! Renting Your Apt As A Location (NY Times)
Low Rent, Great Upper East Side Location, If You Are Famous (NY Times)
Flippers Sweat To Avoid Flop (The Real Deal)
Guiliani Plans Real Estate Fund (NY Times)
City Planning Encouraging Hotel Boom (Queenscrap)
Midtown Tunnel Toll Taker Fired After Pulling Glock On FBI Agent For Handing Him Crumpled Bills(Gothamist)

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Nice Mention In Financial Times On Long Island City

Thanks to Jeremy Lemer and The Financial Times for the nice mentions in this weekend's edition. The article, entitled "The Next Neighborhood: Manhattan In Three Minutes" details the growth, opportunity, and convenience of Long Island City. I was happy to be the only real estate broker to be referenced. While I did get quotes and our company name and website in the details box, they did mistakenly publish my fax number rather than telephone number, but I certainly cannot complain. Here is the full article:

Friday, July 18, 2008

Upper East Side Declared Best Place To Live In The US

Ok, so there must be some reason that I live there. Yes we have great parks, museums, and really good schools, but the best place to live in all of the US? Well, that's what a one-time congressional report is saying. Maybe the access to a number of hospitals or number of Starbucks has put us over the top. Personally, I'd rather live in Union Square, but the UES really isn't that bad after all. Here is the full article from Metro:

Friday Morning Links

Ahhh, Citigroup Only Writes Down $7Bil., Less Than Feared, Futures Up (CBSMarketwatch)
How Bout' A Big Mac With That Lux Condo? (The Real Deal)
State Starts Eminent Domain Process For Columbia Expansion (Observer)
Rental "Agency" That Used Craigslist Charged With Fraud (The Real Deal)
10 Historic NYC Buildings Now Eyesores (AMNY)
Squeegee Men Are Back, Someone Tell Rudy! (Urbanite/AMNY)

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Vernon/ Jackson Condo Watch Update- I have an update on the condo on the rise at the corner of Vernon and Jackson. The building will rise 8 stories. It will total 34,000 square feet and have 33 units, plus retail on the ground floor. Most enticing so far is that it is being built with 12 feet per floor- meaning great ceiling height. Of course the location is perfect. Further details, renderings, etc., should be available in around a month.
NYC Drives National Housing Starts To Biggest Gain In 2 Years- The Commerce Department reported today that new housing starts had their largest gain in nearly 2 years- thanks to New York City. Citing a construction code change (must be referring to the 421-a expiration), NYC was largely, if not entirely responsible for the 9.1% increase in starts. Without the Northeast, starts would have been down 4%. Full Article: US Housing Starts Spurred BY NYC Code Change (Bloomberg)

First Pictures And Video Of East Coast 4, LIC

A Look At "East Coast 4" from Andrew Fine on Vimeo.

I'll admit up front that taking pictures of a model of a building is challenging. When I couldn't quite get the desired angle, I went to video-mode, and although it's one of those "shaky cam" efforts, combined with the pictures I hope viewers get some sense of Rockrose's latest effort, East Coast 4 (the last building in the video). The building is a 750 unit rental to rise on "Site 2" along the Anabel Basin. Rockrose seems to be making an incredible effort to one-up it's already over the top amenities package at East Coast 2. EC4 will have a rooftop pool, sloping grass amphitheatre, tennis courts, cabanas, and best of all, it's own beach! So long as you join the "East Coast Club" residents of all 4 buildings will be able to enjoy the amenities. With the 20,000 sf gourmet supermarket and Duane Reade opening in the next month or so, there will be very little reason to leave the complex.

Thursday Morning Links

603 Park via multiple sources- Getty Images

Park Avenue Mansion Goes To Contract After 19 Year Sales Odyssey (Observer)
Zabar's To Operate Former Pat's Farmer's Market In Amagansett (Gridskipper)
Bulova Project In Sag Harbor Takes Big Step Forward (Southhampton Press)
Barbara Corcoran Says Get Off Your Ass And Buy!!! (Observer)
Financial Shares Skyrocket After Decent Results From Wells Fargo (NY Times)
Elliman: Queens And Long Island Markets Stabilize (CBS Marketwatch)
Sales And Prices Drop In The Hamptons (Bloomberg)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Wednesday Morning Links

Image via Curbed via Gothamist

NYC A Drinker's Paradise! (NY Times)
Public Advocate Pimps Her Ride, That's How Betsy Rolls (Gothamist)
Sales Slowdown Can Have Huge Consequences For Leveraged Condo Developers (The Real Deal)
Unlimited MetroCard Turns 10 (NY Times)
Local Pols Support St. Vincent's/Rudin West Village Plan (Crain's)
Opposition From Both Parties On Freddie/Fannie Bailout Plan (NY Times)
Feds May Stand In Way Of Hunters Point, Atlantic Yards Plans (Observer)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

In Case You Missed It: Barron's Cover Calling A Bottom

It certainly was interesting reading this weekend when I picked up the Barron's on Saturday morning to find the cover calling a bottom to the housing market. The article, by Jonathan Laing cites several experts from Henry Paulson (Treasury Sec'y) to Chip Case (of the Case/Shiller index) seeing the latest downturn as overdone. The optimists point to a number of recently improved metrics and government statistics that show some signs of rebounding. Case also points out that all 3 times in the last 35 years that housing starts dipped over 50% from the peak that the next quarter surprises to the upside.

In New York, where we have been very fortunate to avoid most of the fallout thus far, we tend to forget that the national market has been in decline for the past couple of years. While nobody really knows a bottom until it has passed, the Barron's article makes some interesting points. Let's hope that they are right.
Bottom's Up: This Real Estate Rout May Be Short Lived (Barron's)

Tuesday Morning Links

Major League Baseball Building In Harlem Downsized, Financing Challenging (Curbed)
Brack Capital Has Something Brewing On Bowery (The Real Deal)
LIC, Gowanus Councilmen Try To Stop Hotels (Crain's)
Hot Dog Vendor Pimps His Ride (Urbanite/AMNY)
Rangel Gives Up One Of His Four Stabilized Apartments (NY Times)
Rooftop Ice Skating Comes To LIC (Gothamist)
Staten Island Starbucks First To Close, Manhattan Spared, So Far (Crain's)

Monday, July 14, 2008

LIC's Pepsi Sign On The Move, Rockrose Building On Anabel, And More...

It's official. The Pepsi sign which has graced the LIC skyline for the past 72 years is moving for a third time, this time to it's permanent resting place. The sign which originally sat atop the Pepsi bottling plant and was moved to ground level in 2004 with the building of Rockrose's East Coast 1, is moving a couple of hundreds of yards north, so as not to obstruct the view from The View (Rockrose's new condo on the Waterfront). The new foundation will be laid, pilings piled, and then the sign will be moved one letter at a time. Some of the letters may undergo restoration, and the actual letters are set to start moving by mid-September. The entire process should take 6 months.
In other big news on the LIC coast are that plans are in the works for another Rockrose tower on the north end of their Queens West lot, right next to Anabel Basin. The 390 foot tower will have approximately 750 units and will feature even more amenities that East Coast 2 if you can believe it. Such amenities will include beach volleyball, pool, tennis courts, and a natural lawn amphitheater on the roof of the abutting garage. Ground should be broken in January and the project should be complete by Summer 2010. Details are still relatively hard to come by, but I will relay them as soon as they come available.
Update- "The Market", the expansive gourmet supermarket LIC has been waiting for should open between July 31st and the end of August. The Duane Reade is expected to open a couple of weeks later.
Update- "L Haus" condo is expected to open in September with prices around $750-$775 per square foot. There will be a 10,000sf landscaped lawn and patio on the interior portion of the L as well as 5,000sf of indoor amenities including club room, yoga room, meditation center, and media room. Private rooftop cabanas will also be available (for sale).

Monday Morning Links

Manhattan Prices Surge, Activity Falters (Chicago Tribune)
Rich, But Rejected (NY Times)
Tiki Barber Pitching Affordable Housing (AMNY)
Beating The Oil Companies At Home With Solar And More (NY Times)
City Denies Cabbies A Fuel Surcharge (Metro)
All-Inclusive National Luxury And Celebrity Real Estate Round Up (Luxist)

Fed, Treasury Craft Plan To Aid Freddie And Fannie

The White House, The Fed, The Treasury, and leaders in Congress spent the weekend in a feverish effort to bail out or at least "back up" Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government sponsored entities that hold one half of the nation's mortgages. The plan includes giving the two entities access to the Fed's "discount window" and proposes a credit line of up to $300 Billion, potentially saddling the government, and ultimately taxpayers with an enormous liability. The move will likely, in the short term at least, shore up confidence in the entities. While the move raises many philosophical questions about the government's increased role in the overall economy, there is little doubt that the solvency of Freddie and Fannie is critical to keeping our economy from falling off a cliff. More details to follow.
Treasury Acts To Save Mortgage Giants (NY Times)
Analysis: Government As The Big Lender (NY Times)
Stock Futures Up After Government Plan (CBSMarketwatch)

Friday, July 11, 2008

Bear Weekend, Part 2? Fannie, Freddie To Fed Window? Lehman Buyout?

Uncertainty abounds in the financial markets. It seems like we are in one of those periods similar to the Bear weekend in March. While there is denial of the Fed opening the discount window to Fannie and Freddie, you get the feeling that anything can happen. Whispers are growing stronger that the government is planning some sort of contingency plan to bail out Fannie and Freddie, who in addition to Lehman Brothers have battled through a gory week of innuendo, speculation and stock depreciation reminiscent of the run on Bear Stearns just a few months ago. While everyone who is someone is in denial, I would figure that it will be a busy weekend for the fed. In my opinion, the fed is likely to open the discount window to these 2 mortgage lenders that hold nearly half of the nation's mortgages. I would also speculate that Lehman could possibly face the same fate of Bear Stearns, facing a buyout at less than desirable terms to shareholders.
While all this is sheer speculation on my part, I am just calling it as I see it.
What we are really missing here is leadership. Congress and the current administration are way behind the curve on what is happening in the real time economy. Being reactive rather than proactive is costing our economy and the taxpayers more and more every day. The meteoric rise in oil prices is only exacerbating the problem. Yet, there is no leadership on the issue. Clearly tensions in the Middle East are largely responsible. The current administration's stubborn "my way or the highway" mentality is costing us Billions at the pump and across the economy. Given that it is an election year, uncertainty of future leadership is also a problem.
It is time to get proactive. First, we must diffuse tensions in the Middle East and immediately dedicate substantial funds to alternative energy. It is absolutely clear that all of the major players in the Middle East have to sit down and negotiate. In conjunction with a substantial commitment to alternative energy, such a strategy would take the air out of oil prices and breathe some life into consumer spending. Second, the Bush administration and the 2 candidates to succeed him must acknowledge that we are in an economic crisis and that inaction could make things substantially worse. I would suggest an unprecedented move. Bush, Obama, and McCain should sit down together to hammer out a consensus plan to move America forward. The three of them should decide now on a Treasury Secretary and an economic council that will serve regardless of who is elected. Personally, I'd be calling Bloomberg right this minute.
I know such ideas have zero chance of being implemented and are far fetched, but creative solutions are necessary. Hopefully our leadership, for once, will lead.
Now, back to Real Estate......

Friday Morning Links

Charlie Rangel Has 4 Rent Stabilized Apartments (NY Times)
9/11 Families: Get Memorial Done By 2011 (AMNY/Urbanite)
Fannie And Freddie Have A Very Tough Week (NY Times)
Ottomanelli Brothers To Open In East Harlem (NY Sun) Tells You If You Are Paying Too Much (NY Sun)
NY & London Top List Of Best Investments (Forbes)
Dubai Still Booming, But Doubts Cropping Up (CBSMarketwatch)
Gas Smell Hanging Over LIC (NYDN)

Thursday, July 10, 2008

5Sl #3R, The Video

5Sl #3R, $849,000. from Andrew Fine on Vimeo.
I went a little all out on this one. Although I feel like a bit of a goof on video, (oh yeah, it adds pounds, or I'm just plain fat), I thought it would be helpful for people to get a feel of the apartment without having to take time out from a busy schedule to see it in person. If it is appealing, they will come. I used a professional cameraman, and professional editors who usually edit reality tv on cable. I think the finished product turned out decent. It was my first shot at this sort of thing and I only did 2 takes, something I'd spend more time on next go round. I also have a Hunters Point montage in the works which will be out of production by next week. Again, I am just trying to help and educate, and if it is appealing people will react positively. We'll see. Judging by the response so far, I'd do it again.

Danny Meyer Meets The Mets

Should they call it the Shea Shack? Well, since it will be at the new Citifield next year, perhaps not. But the good news, and I mean really good news is that Danny Meyer of Shake Shack fame has inked a deal to open four new restaurants at the new ballpark. In addition to the irresistible Shake Shake, the enormously popular pit barbecue Blue Smoke, an authentic Taqueria, and Belgian fries themed eatery round out the menu. I don't know about you, but this Mets fan will showing up to the new stadium early and often! Ahhh, the visions of a Shake Shack burger at 6 pm on a sunny day without waiting an hour to get my hands on it, ahhhh. Obviously I'm as happy as Mr. Met, pictured above. Sign me up for the first doubleheader!

Update: Things Going Swimmingly At Georgica Condo

A few months back, I highlighted Georgica Condo up on 85th Street and Second Avenue, the condo with a kitchen that, in my book, is up for my "Kitchen Of The Year" prize. Well, a few months on, it's fair to say that things are proceeding swimmingly for the condo with a beach name. I spoke with Rob Kaliner, the president of Ascend Group this morning, and the developer is "very happy" with the way that things are going so far. The building is already better than 30% sold, and he expects that after the traditionally slow summer season, the fall "will be a whole new ballgame". While summer traffic is never fantastic, Mr. Kaliner is happy with the quality of buyer who is coming to Georgica Condo (when they are not on Georgica Beach).
I passed by the building this morning and it is certainly moving along. Twelve stories and counting. Oh, and the double cantilever- hot!
Condo Preview: The Georgica (3/27/08, A. Fine Blog)

Don't Be Scared! "Lite Brite" Tile Mosaics Invade High Line

I found a couple of these little gremlins on my journey along the High line yesterday afternoon. I assume that they are new as I could find no reference to them anywhere on the web. Don't be scared folks, these are not actual Lite Brite boards that freaked out of Boston for whatever reason a year and a half ago, rather they are simple tile mosaics that will harm nobody, at least I think. Perhaps they are just an artistic tribute to our mass paranoia.

Thursday Morning Links

City To Test "Congestion Parking" Plan (NY Times)
Brooklyn Sales Down, Prices "Sideways" In Q2 ......(Bloomberg)
....But, Williamsburg + Greenpoint Prices Jump (Observer)
Home Supply Falls Over Past Year (Wall Street Journal)
In Greenwich, Kids Set Up Wiffle Ball Field- Call In The Lawyers! (NY Times)
It's Official- Abu Dhabi Buys 90% Of Chrysler Building (NY Times)
Graffiti Goes Mainstream In Lord & Taylor Windows (AMNY)

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

From NY Times City Room blog, a list of all of the free outdoor movies this summer.

There Is Life Inside Lucida

The building may not be ready until Q2 of next year, but there are signs of life inside. I would guess that the contractors have set up shop in what is very expensive real estate. Averaging around $2000 per square foot, Extell's hit LEED green condo building, Lucida, is 95% sold, leaving only 6 units for your consumption.

Rejoice! Balazs' Standard Opening "Soonish"!

It makes quite an impression, Andre Balazs' Standard Hotel, looming large over the Meatpacking/Village/High Line. And the good news is that it is opening "soonish"! I snapped this shot today on a self-guided, sweaty, High Line tour.

City: Catastropic Failure Of East River Garage "Imminent"

image via Google maps

According to a city audit the 2 acre plot of land East of the FDR between 18th Street and 23rd Street is in deep trouble. The report goes so far as to say that the garage hanging over the East River is in "imminent danger of catastrophic failure". The land, which is leased by a company named NY Skyports contains a 4 story parking garage, a nearby Gulf station, and a marina. While Skyports vehemently denies that there is any danger, somehow gas station and catastropic failure in the same paragraph sound a bit scary to me- heads up Peter Cooper Village!
City Parcel in Manhattan Is in Dangerous Condition, Comptroller Warns (NY Times)

Wednesday Morning Links

Pretty slim pickins on the news front this morning. From the looks of the city streets the past couple of days, it looks like a fair amount of people decided to take an extended July 4th vacation. So, if there is no great content, I'll have to go out and find some of my own. Check back later to see what I come up with.
Third Man Scales NY Times Building (NY Times)
Mixed Messages On The Rental Market From Metro (Metro)
Tribeca Whole Foods Opens At 8 a.m. Today (AMNY)
MTA In Denial About Bus Overcrowding (Queens Crap)

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Hamptons Report: Buyer's Market Could Not Be More Obvious

The writing has been on the wall for the better part of the last year. First came the mortgage crisis which sapped the ability of average working people to buy a house. Not that they didn't have the income or decent credit score, the target moved and these people were no longer qualified for a mortgage. So, last year, the Hamptons housing market suffered on the low end (call it Six figure homes). This year, the dynamics have turned even more negative and widespread. In addition to even tighter lending standards, Wall Street money, which buffets the Hamptons market, has clearly dried up for the time being. The result, less sales and more inventory. While those dynamics usually result in lower prices, it is clear both that it hasn't happened to a large extent just yet, and it also seems that it is undeniably inevitable. To be sure, I set out on an open house tour of my own making this weekend.
At every stop, in nearly the same breath as introducing themselves, brokers were talking "wiggle room", "negotiation", and "being due for a price adjustment" before even showing the house. What kind of an offer? Well, it seemed like 10% below ask would actually be welcomed.
Underscoring the desperation that is beginning to wreak from these brokers is an experience I had on Saturday. I attended an open house for a spec house down the block from me (that's listed at $2.7 and has been on the market for a year). I had made the mistake of telling him which house I lived in. I told him that it wasn't me in the market, but my brother-in-law, and that he'd be stopping by shortly. The open house was scheduled for 1-3pm, I left my wife and kids at the house for nap time. Sure enough, just as they had fallen asleep (a tough task in itself), at 2:45, the broker drove up and started yelling "hello" through the screen door. While I admired his initiative (to give us a show sheet for my brother-in-law), I was not happy that the kids were woken up, and I will never tell a broker where I live again (at least in a buyer's market).
Where brokers wouldn't give you the time of day 2 years ago, things have certainly changed out East. Given the relatively sparse amount of foreign money rolling into the Hamptons market, and the dim outlook for Wall Street over the next year, I doubt that a bottom will be seen out there until the winter of 09'-10'. If Wall Street catches fire any earlier that could change, but in the meantime, you may want to keep your home address to yourself.

Tuesday Morning Links

Cabbies Looking For Fuel Surcharge, Bloomberg Opposes (WCBS)
Bloomberg Aggressively Reducing Greenhouses Gases From Municipal Buildings (Yahoo/Reuters)
Cement Truck Strike Stalls Some Development, Negotiations Resume (Crain's)
Comcast Head Flips 15 CPW Condo For Close To A Double (The Real Deal)
"The Roxy" Nightclub To Rise Again (AMNY)
The Noise That Is Driving Murray Hill Residents Nutty (Urbanite/AMNY)
Interview With W.K. Suggs, Architect Of Harlem's Gentrification (Curbed)

Monday, July 7, 2008

15 Union Square West Getting Glassed

From my travels around Union Square today, a shot of the new, super thick dark glass going up at 15 Union Square West, the condo I can admit that I have a crush on.
A retrospective from A. Fine Blog:

Who Needs A Million Trees When You Can Have A Million Muni-Meters?

Arrgghh! I noticed that they were coming a few weeks ago when preparations were being made every 50 yards or so along 17th Street between Union Square West and Fifth Ave. There are 3 on each side of the street and, arguably, they lower the carbon footprint of the city. Six of the trees to be planted in the city under the Million Trees Initiative? Hell no, they are Muni-Meters! So much for my tree request! Maybe the city can donate the money for previously free parking to buy a tree or two. Right now trees are losing the battle on this street, the count:
Muni-Meters 6, Trees 3.

Monday Morning Links

More Kids In City, More Noise Complaints (NY Times)
East 68th Street, A Bright Palette Of Row Houses (NY Times)
Ciao Cipriani, Lease At 200 Fifth Is up In 09' (NY Post)
Philippe Starck Designs...A Home Wind Turbine? (Inhabit)
All-Inclusive U.S. Luxury Real Estate Wrap (Luxist)
NYC, DC Named Top Investment Cities By Foreign Investors (Boston/SF)

Friday, July 4, 2008

Independence Day Links

To all those in the states, a Happy Independence Day! We are celebrating both the birth of our nation and the bold document declaring such independence. While fireworks, barbecues, and beach days are our pastime on this day, we should all reflect on the principals on which this country was founded and our adherence to such principals today. Just take a moment to think about it, and have a great 4th!
Here are today's links:

A First Look At New, Speedier "Select" Bus Lines (Streetsblog)
Another Nutty Union Square Protest (Village Voice)
Foreclosures Up In City, Virtually Unchanged In Manhattan Over Last 2 Years (Curbed)
A Somewhat Downbeat Hamptons Summary (The Real Deal)
Cantilevers Make A Comeback (NY Sun)
Accountant Accused Of Swindling $2.8 Mil. From Tishman (NYDN)
Whole Foods Opens In Tribeca (NY Sun)

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Thursday Morning Links

Green Roofs Finally Get Some Green

The state legislature has approved a bill that will give tax credits of $4.50 per square foot of "green" roof space. Green roofing usually runs about $15-$20 per square foot, so the break is a big step in the right direction. Green roofs reduce the need for air conditioning by 10-20%, so residents and businesses that implement them see reduced utility bills right off the bat. The green roofs also reduce carbon monoxide, produce oxygen, and look a hell of a lot better than tar!

A. Fine Blog Sees 2nd Q Traffic Increase 35%

A hearty thanks again to everyone for helping make A. Fine Blog a huge hit. We set yet another record for viewership last month with a 35% increase over last quarter and a whopping 2000% increase over the 2nd Q of last year (our first full Quarter). Our viewership has increased every Quarter since we started. Thanks everyone!
If you would like to subscribe to the blog by email or rss, just scroll to the bottom of the front page.

Wednesday Morning Links

Apartment Sales In Manhattan Remain Vigorous (NY Times)
Manhattan Sales Prices Up, Number Of Sales Down (Bloomberg)
LIC: Penthouse At Badge Building Closes For $1.925Mil., A Record (Curbed)
Busted For Telling People Not To Smoke Pot On Gay Street? (CityRoom/NYT)
Report: Con Ed, Union Come To Agreement (NY Sun)
More Questions About Yankees Tax Deal (Newsday)

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

On The Market: LIC Luxury 2 Bedroom At 5SL

Kitchen. For more pics, click here

5-09 48th Avenue # 3R, LIC
Price: $849,000. ($899,000 inc. parking spot)
Size: 2 Bed/2 bath
Sq Ft: 1093
Taxes: $79.71 (421-a abated)
CC's: $851.47
Broker: A. Fine Company, Inc., 212-675-1111

Description: A bright and cheery winged 2 bedroom/2 bath in 5SL, Long Island City's premier luxury doorman address. Apartment features gourmet kitchen with Bosch Dishwasher, Bosch stove and cook top, Liebherr fridge, "Alpine Snow" Sile Stone counters with breakfast bar and garbage disposal. The master suite has gorgeous maple hardwood floors (which are throughout), a spacious walk-in closet and en-suite master bath with spa shower, honed limestone double sink and bamboo vanity. The living room is 16' wide with over sized windows, great light, and a Bosch washer and Bosch dryer stacked in nearby closet. The 2nd bedroom is generously proportioned and adjacent to a second full bath that features soaking tub and marble pedestal sink. The building features 24 hour concierge, gym, playroom, cold storage, bike storage and common outdoor space. The building is located in the heart of Hunters Point in Long Island City- 1 block from the waterfront Gantry State Park, and 2 block from the 7 train which is one stop from Grand Central.

The skinny: Buying this never lived in resale saves a ton on closing costs (approximately $25,000.) and on that basis makes this apartment the best priced 2 bedroom available in the building. Additional savings can be had by buying the parking spot, which the owner is offering for $50k if purchased with the apartment, a savings of $20k at the going rate.
UPDATE: We are planning to hold an open house tomorrow (Weds 7/2) from 4-6pm (pending clearance from the managing agent). If you would like to have a look, give a call to check on Open House status, or call to see by appointment any time.

Money No Problem As Extell And Carlyle Line Up Largest Financing Of 2008 For Riverside South

From Left: Avery, Rushmore, and 2 new Extell Towers in dated rendering

Credit crisis? What credit crisis? At least that's what Extell and Carlyle Group may be saying to themselves after lining up $613 Million for 2 new properties at Riverside South in what is 2008's largest construction loan.
Extell plans on putting up 2 towers, a 23 story rental and a 38 story combination rental/condo between 62nd and 63rd Street on Riverside Boulevard for a total of 880,000 square feet. Construction has commenced on the project which is expected to be completed in the first half of 2010.
Additionally, Extell reports that since 2006 they have sold 437 luxury condos at The Avery and The Rushmore since 2006, for a total of $788 Million (better than 70% thus far).
We all thank Extell for giving us a big piece of good news for both the real estate market and credit market in one shot. Keep up the great work guys!
Press Release (PR Newswire)

World Trade Mess

The hands have been thrown in the air. The plans have been hashed and rehashed, funded and refunded. Grand renderings have been rendered then re-rendered, getting smaller and smaller. The conclusion? The result? Actually, more of neither. The Port Authority has officially thrown out it's timeline, and as AMNY puts it, is officially asking for a do over.

How we've found ourselves nearly 7 years removed from 9/11 without significant progress at WTC is mystifying, confusing, and aggravating. Blame spreads far and wide. Here is a wrap up of what is looking more and more like a disgrace:

Tuesday Morning Links & Comment

Sorry about the lack of content yesterday. No, I haven't run off for a July 4th vacation, rather I was out picking up a couple of new exclusives. In what is both a challenging market and a seasonally slow time of year, as a broker, you have to take extra care to be choosy about which listings to take on. Over the past few months I have turned down a few exclusives because I thought the owners were overreaching and inflexible- a deadly combination for a broker. Unfortunately there are plenty of brokers out there that will tell clients what they want to hear rather than what they need to hear. In any case, I have rounded up some good ones starting with a really nice 2 bedroom, 2 bath in LIC. The 1100+ sf apartment is at 5SL (in the front building with 24 hour concierge). Considering the savings in transfer taxes (it's a resale so there are none- saves $15k) and the fact that the owner is willing to sell the parking spot at $20k below market, I have the best value in the building at $849k ($899k w/ parking). I will be detailing the listing on the blog later in the day. Tomorrow, I will be revealing a new listing a 3 bedroom/3.5 bath listing atop the Corinthian. You can also look forward to my 2nd Q review and 3rd Q preview in the coming days.
In the meantime, here are this morning's links:
Purple Reign: NYU's Latest Expansion Plan Rendered (Curbed)
Subway Delays Up 44% (NY Post)
Marshall's To Join Target, Home Depot At Harlem's East River Plaza (The Real Deal)
Latest Trend: Sponsor Financing (NY Times)
Secret Trump Penthouses Go On Sale Only In UAE (Gulf News)
Where To See The July 4th Fireworks (AMNY)