Friday, August 29, 2008

Friday Morning Links

Numerous Manhattan Deals Going Well Below Asking (NY Sun)
Bianca Jagger Fights For Her Stabilized Unit (NY Times)
Moby Sells El Dorado Penthouse (The Real Deal)
Keith Ledger's Loft For Rent For $26k (NY Post)
Wait For WTC Train May Be 8 Years (Downtown Express)
Doctors Replace Bankers As Go To Buyers (NY Sun)
"Waterfalls" Project Killing Trees, May Face Early Shutdown (Curbed)

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Thursday Morning Links

Bloomberg Has Wide Support For Extending Term Limits In City Council (NY Times)
Con Ed's LIC Roof Goes Green (NY Times)
LIC To Get 2nd Supermarket! (LIQCity)
Manhattan House Condo Plan Declared Effective (The Real Deal)
NYC Rental Market Struggles (Observer)
Real Estate Mogul Arrested, Charged In $17 Mil. Larceny (NY Sun)

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Wednesday Morning Links

Good morning everyone!
On Newcomers Adjusting To New York (NY Times)
For Commercial Real Estate, A Real Summer Bummer! (Observer)
Turnabout: New York Investors Buying Overseas (Observer)
Another Hotel For Orchard Street On LES (Curbed)
Mike Piazza's Tribeca Home On The Market For $6.8 mil. (The Real Estalker)
Young Developers Building Lux Condos (NY Post)
Astoria Skyline Growing (Queens Gazette)
NYC Neighborhoods Rule Priceline's Top 50 Labor Day Destinations- LIC Makes Top 50! (CBS Marketwatch)

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Finding The Dream Classic Six

Living Room With WBF

Formal Dining Room

Bedroom With Central Park View

As I am writing this there may very well be multiple applications being placed on this apartment (then again, I hope not). Every once in a while a broker comes across his dream apartment, so I figured that I would share mine with you.

I have been working an incredibly demanding European client lately who has been on a tireless search for the perfect classic 6 on the Upper West Side for his family of 5. His budget for rental is $8000, which would seem ample, but that's when reality sets in. There are plenty of fine options in the range, unless, of course you are the impossible client. There are also plenty of options in the stratosphere of $13,00o. per month, $20,000. per month and up. What I have come up with is, at least, my dream apartment priced at $6,900.

The apartment is a top floor, prewar classic six which, in my opinion, has it all. The apartment has maintained all of the prewar fixings- wood burning fireplace, herringbone inlaid hardwood floors, soaring ceilings with relief adorned moldings and more. The apartment has undergone a complete renovation which respects it's attributes while modernizing the kitchen and baths and adding a washer and dryer. The light is fantastic and the 2 bedrooms have impressive Central Park views. The livingroom and adjoining formal dining room make for an ample and quite impressive entertaining space. The apartment is centrally located in the Upper 50's 1 block from Central Park.

I've been obsessing about this apartment since I saw it at the end of last week. I have told all of my friends. And now, I share it with you. Why am I not taking it? Well, I have just renewed my lease and my kids are going to school a block away from my apartment, for starters.

If you are every wondering what makes a broker tick, and why we all love real estate, it is diamonds in the rough such as this.

Citizen's Arrest, Union Square

Cell Phone Guy (Left) Tending Wound, Suspect Pinned To Hood By Citizen

It was a slow motion chase. A Hispanic gentleman jogging after an African immigrant across Fifth Avenue and down the middle of 15th Street towards Sixth Avenue. A crowd had gathered to see why someone on a cell phone was jogging after another. The person being pursued had 3 bags, and for a moment I thought it was either a shoplifter, or after they had stopped and began walking down the street together, some sort of scam.

Perhaps they were a couple who had just engaged in a 3 card monty scam?

Then the slow speed pursuit began anew as the two had turned around and began running back towards Fifth- this time with the gentleman on the cellphone yelling "somebody stop him, he stole a woman's purse". Well that certainly helped. Not enough to become physically involved. Thoughts of strength of health insurance policy came to mind, so did thinking how at 180lbs, I could effectively take out someone who looked to be about 220-240lbs. Then, if the info was bad and the guy was innocent, did I really want to take the chance that I could be guilty of some sort of assault? He could have been armed as well, I thought.

All of these thoughts did not stop a gentleman from stepping out of the crowd and corralling the suspect with an effective full nelson. I stood in the street looking for a police car and my co-worker Khan ran down to Commerce Bank to alert the police officer guarding the bank without glass barriers. The officer was not allowed to move, since Commerce Bank seems to get robbed on a regular basis, but he did call it in.

In the meantime, a struggle ensued as the full nelson was losing it's effectiveness with one man holding the suspect pressed to the hood of a panel van. There was flailing and the cell phone guy was punched in the face and his glasses broken and a small cut was opened on his forehead. Soon enough not one or two police cars arrived, but closer to 10. The suspect was quickly cuffed and accounts taken.

It was then that I learned the reason for such a slow pace. The suspect had grabbed a woman's purse back on 14th Street and Third Avenue. I had picked up the pursuit at the half-mile mark. For a boring holiday week, the scene was a shot of adreneline. It was also a shot of pride of being a New Yorker. For one person, cell phone guy, to take it on himself to chase down a bad guy, and to see other New Yorkers take the risk of potential physical injury to enforce the law and to aid a potential victim was uplifting. It served as a reminder of how we as New Yorkers, under duress, often shine under pressure to make NYC a better place.

Tuesday Morning Links

Fearing Death, Pedestrians Enjoy Broadway Esplanade (NY Times)
Lux Coop Sales Up, Townhouse Sales Down (The Real Deal)
Crafts Museum Set To Open At Columbus Circle (Crain's)
Another Condo Goes Nondo In Sale To Columbia (Crain's)
Pols Seek Superfund Money To Clean Up Newtown Creek (Curbed)
Shark Tale Shuts Far Rockaway Beach (NYDN via Queens Crap)
Profile Of Kenneth Horn, Alchemy Properties (NY Real Estate Journal)
High Line Has Chelsea Development Soaring (NY1)
Time Equities Breaks Ground On 65 Story Green Tower At 50 West St. (The Open Press)
Rock n' Roll Supper Club To Open In LIC (NYDN)

Monday, August 25, 2008

Monday Morning Links

I hope everyone had a great weekend! August has been more or less lost for me. Between a handful of clients and the whole office makeover, I haven't seen the beach in too long! Although it's a real blow-off week for most, I'll be working to get some content up nonetheless. I'll probably write an article on the state of the LIC market and the challenge presented by new inventory coming on line. In the meantime, here are a load of links:
What You Need To Know Before Renting (NY Times)
A True Handyman's Special (NY Times)
Higher Fees For Mortgages (NY Times)
Inside Vicente Wolf's Apartment (NYDN)
Nationwide Luxury Real Estate Round-Up (Luxist)
Manhattan Looks Abroad For Real Estate Saviours (Financial Times)
New Goldman Sachs Tower Sneaks Into Lower Manhattan Skyline (NY Times)
Ivanka Trump's View From The Top (NY Post)
Manhattan Luxury Sector Shows Positive Growth (WSJ Blog)
Commercial Mortgage Bond Spreads Soar On Concern For Harlem Developer (Bloomberg)
Junkyard Flotilla Making It's Way Back To Long Island City (Times Herald Record)

Friday, August 22, 2008

Friday Morning Links

It's been a long week! Between juggling a couple of clients and keeping watch on the 9 windows in my office being replaced, it's been a tough one for this broker/blogger. I've kept up with the daily links, but it has been challenging to introduce new content. I have one more day with the office in shambles, but I'll do my best to keep it fresh.
Con Ed Apologizes For 2006 Queens Blackout (CityRoom/NYT)
Coney Island's Astroland In "Holding Pattern" (Urbanite/AMNY)
A Look At Long Island City's Boom, In 1912 (Queens Gazette)
Fire, Not Explosives Fell 7 WTC: Report (NY Times)
Scarano's Finger Building On 4Th and Bowery Sells Out In 4 Months (Curbed/2nd item)
Manhattan Retail Is Strong (NY Sun)
Fire Exposes Brooklyn "Pot Farm" (NYDN)
Mad Money Flies Around Madison Square Park (NY Post)
Sag Harbor Cinema Changes Hands (

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Breaking- 79 Horatio Sold At Auction For $7.4 Million

I just received word from a reliable source that 79 Horatio, a 10 unit (9 vacant, 1 rent control) 6300sf, 5 story townhouse has been sold at public auction today for $7.4 Million to a member of the Gottlieb family. This is unconfirmed, but the source is highly reliable.

79 Horatio is unique in that not only was it one of the few properties to actually go to auction at 60 Centre Street (most have deals worked out before), but this auction was actually marketed with it's own website and detailed pdf description:
Update: More backround on this auction transaction from The property was in dispute and the property actually changed hands from one Gottlieb to another:

Wednesday Morning Links

Bloomberg Looks To Wind Turbines On Bridges, Skyscrapers (NY Times)
Plans For Queens West Mega-Development Move Forward (Observer)
More DOT Tar And Pebbling On Broadway (StreetsBlog)
McCarren Pool Parties Look For New Home (NYDN)
"Moonstruck" Home Sells (NY Post)
Another Piece Of Riverside Park, Financed By Extell Opens (CityRoom)
Midstream Construction Financing Comes At A Price For 100 Eleventh (WSJ)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Where I Was Wrong On "Triangles" Project

While reporting on the progress of the Flatiron "Triangles" project, I was wrong to assume that the planters blocking the bike lanes on Broadway from 23rd to 25th and across 25th were to be permanently blocked by planters. After further review, it would appear that the planters are there to temporarily block cyclists from taking a spill on the loose gravel drifting from the nearby tar and gravel project. I have also previously commented on the asphalt which has been covered in that tar and gravel. While I don't love the gravel idea, I guess given the experimental state of the project, it's perfectly adequate. I'm sorry if my previous short term impression of searing hot asphalt implied that it was to be the finished product.
I have had a few people complain that I have something against the DOT. I do not. I simply like to see these projects reach full potential. As I have mentioned in the past, I love the idea of more people space.
I still contend that there must be some crosswalk going across 25th and a lack of one poses a danger. I also contend that the granite slabs are great, but a lack of a more distinct barriers between people space and several lanes of traffic, particularly at the top of the largest triangle, is also a danger. But, I do like the space and I am rooting for it to get better and better!
Here is a 28 page pdf via curbed that details the scope of the project:
Madison Square Pedestrian Project (PDF File)

Links Will Be Late

Hey folks. Look for the links later in the day. My office windows are being replaced. While this is great from a Green perspective, my computer access is very limited.....

Monday, August 18, 2008

Flatiron "Triangles" Shows Lack Of DOT Coordination, And Your Bike Lane Just Got F'd (Floral'd)!

Planter and loose gravel on bike lane.

Crossing 25th Street, I don't think so.


I have been willing to give the new Flatiron "Triangles" project the benefit of a doubt. After all, the idea of taking traffic space and transforming it to human space is a great idea. The planters are nice. The tarring and gravelling of the asphalt is an improvement. And, there is nothing wrong with the slab rocks that act as benches. However, the entire project shows both a lack of planning and a lack of coordination on the part of the DOT.

First, the design of the project with no fencing and only slabs of rock and planters to keep people (mainly clueless tourists) from wandering into traffic is a dangerous, if not a potentially fatal mistake. Additionally, there is no way for pedestrians to exit the top part of the middle triangle (near 25th street). Although there is only one tempting lane to cross going East at 25th street, it is a blind curve and traffic crossing to Broadway is coming down that street.

Second, while beige gravel tarred to asphalt is better than asphalt alone, I doubt that this solution will hold up to heavy traffic. The gravel is already all over the place.

Finally, to underscore the dis-functionality of DOT planning on this one, all you have to do is look at the freshly minted green bike lane. Your bike like to Broadway just got f'd- floral'd that is! The new bike lane on Broadway is now blocked by big planters. I'm not sure how much it cost for the labor, paint, and planning of the bike lane, but apparently they had a change of heart rather quickly.

So, in short, we need some serious reworking of this Triangles project. While the flowers are pretty and the idea is a winner, in essence, one death trap intersection has been traded for another, and has thrown this and many other New Yorkers for a loop.

Monday Morning Links

Young Asian Americans Moving On Up, But Not Very Far (NY Times)
Powerful Harlem Church Also Powerful Developer (NY Times)
National Luxury Real Estate Round-Up (Luxist)
"Oceana" On Brighton Beach, A Bright Spot For Local Real Estate (NYDN)
Willets Point Redevelopment An Environmental Disaster? (Queens Crap)

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Tiny LIC Park Reno Continues To Reinforce Historical Innaccuracy

"Old Hickory Park" at the foot of Jackson Avenue abutting the midtown tunnel entrance is under renovation. "Completion Summer 2008" says the park sign. Well not quite, looks to be Fall 2008 if we are lucky. However, that's not the only thing that is just a touch off for this sliver of a park that could measure no more than 1/4 acre.

"Old Hickory Park" is clearly a quizzical play on names. Old Hickory, of course, refers to our controversial 7th President, Andrew Jackson (I won't get into the debate as to whether he was a war hero, savior of the banking system, or a flat out brutal racist). Jackson Avenue itself was named for John C. Jackson, who ran a toll road on Jackson Avenue from 1859 til 1898 when Western Queens was annexed by NYC. The actual origin of the park is unclear and I would love if someone could tell me when it dates to. My best guess is that it was built sometime after the completion of the Midtown Tunnel in 1940. City records show that this tiny park began renovations in April and that the $458,000 project will include playground equipment and passive activity area.

I can't say for certain that the name "Old Hickory Park" was an intentional mistake, a misguided error, or just a play on words. Yet, with a fresh renovation under way wouldn't it make sense to rename the park "John C. Jackson Park" to reflect the historical significance the man for whom the Avenue and the neighborhood of Jackson Heights is named after?

On a separate but related note, the researching of this blog post brought me back to a familiar site. is a wonderful historical resource with a wealth of information on Hunters Point, Greater LIC, and many other NYC neighborhoods. It often comes up when I am researching the old LIC and it makes for a fascinating read:

"L Haus" Shows Its True (Still Green) Colors

I took a full walk around the back side of future condo "L-Haus" in LIC this morning. The promising Cetra/Ruddy project has been cloaked in bright green insulation for months. Now, finally, the L Haus is beginning to show it's true colors and they are still green! The colors are a little bit brighter in person, the lighter green appears light lime, and the darker green more olive. The building is about 80 percent clad in the green stuff and 20 percent in a silver tone which has not surfaced yet.
I like the corner windows and would be willing to bet that the high floor corner units facing West will sell first (if they are released early). The backyard with the rambling stream like fountain also seemed quite ample. Full fledged marketing is expected this fall.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Dollar Debate Heats Up

There is an interesting debate going on today on a Streeteasy message board about the implications of an appreciating dollar on foreign investment in Manhattan real estate. There are two schools of thought.
One basically assumes that confidence and appreciation of the US Dollar is good for foreign investment (my opinion), while the other side thinks that an appreciating dollar would cause foreign investors to dump the newly appreciated asset.
Surely if the dollar were to double overnight, the latter may be true, but I firmly believe that a long term rally in the dollar is beneficial. One must recognise that the dollar over several years has lost nearly one half of it's value vs. the Euro from it's peak, and that there is plenty of room to rally back. A move from $1.60 to $1.50 (Euro/Dollar) only makes up for the past few months. Buying at the peak Euro value (April-July) was minimal, so very few would have any incentive to flip what was bought during that time when buyers and appreciation were scarce. I also believe that renewed confidence in the long term will boost foreign investment, and a recognition of the bottom may actually cause a surge in investment, much like when mortgage rates bottom there is a rush to refinance.
In any case it's a healthy and interesting debate.

The Georgica Gets Glassed (And Tall)

Georgica (2nd Avenue Side)

Georgica (85th St. Frontage)

Georgica- 2nd Ave Left Side, 85th St. Right Side

Passing "The Georgica" this morning, I noticed the first appearance of significant glass. Pretty nice as a contrast to most other buildings in the area, and quite reflective. It's also hard not to notice that the building is growing quickly (currently at 17 stories) and a bit more massive looking than I expected.

Adding Links

Thanks to great content and overall enjoyability, I am adding Gothamist and Gawker to my links section. They are both great websites. They are informative and chock full of great content. You can find the links by scrolling down on the right side of the blog.

Good Morning! Friday Links

It's been a busy couple of days, so beyond links, my postings have been non-existent. I have a strong feeling that is going to change today. I have a little time and I feel the creative juices flowing, so let's see what the day brings. In the meantime, here are this mornings links:
NIMBY: Homeless Center Roils Brooklyn Hood (NY Sun)
End Of 421-a Could Lead To Surge In Lawsuits (NY Sun)
Toll Bros. Takes It On The Chin (The Real Deal)
Midtown South Has Country's Lowest Vacancy Rate (The Real Deal)
City & State Unemployment Drops In July (NY Times)
Curbed Maps "Karl Fischer City" (Curbed)
Trump To Be Ed McMahon's Landlord? (Gothamist)

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Thursday Morning Links

Strip Club And Hotel Planned for West 23rd, Getting Many Upset (Curbed)
Confrontation Over Willets Point (NY Times)
Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Annex Coming To Soho (Crain's)
Detroit House Sells For $1 (Detroit News)
Another Look At 15 Union Square West (Curbed & NYDN)
Man's Parking Lot Paid Well, But City Owned It (NY Times)
The Incredible Floorplan For the $35 Million Duplex At Carhart Mansion (Curbed)
A-Rod Eyes 15 CPW (NY Post)

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Wednesday Morning Links

MTA Vending Machine Gives Away Free Tickets For 7 Years (NY Times)
Street Closed After Glass Panel Falls 50 Stories From B Of A Bldg (CityRoom)
NYC Hotel Occupancy Rate Rises, Adding Jobs (NY Sun)
Council Members Come Out Against Blommie's Iron Triangle Plan (QueensCrap)
South Americans Skip Miami For NYC (The Real Deal)
Experts Downplay Odds Of 2003 Blackout Repeat (AMNY)

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

LIC's Long Awaited Supermarket Opens 7 A.M. Tomorrow

I actually had this scoop a couple of days ago, but I was out in search of the Montauk Monster and wanted to get pics before the official opening. The official opening, or at least "soft opening" is tomorrow at 7am and the supermarket, all 20,000 sq ft of it will, is expected to maintain hours of 7 am- 9:30 pm. So, I guess at long last LIC can rejoice and enjoy the good eats!

Next up, Duane Reade in about a month. It just keeps getting better!

Tuesday Morning Links

Stringer Gives 'Conditional' Thumbs Up To LES Rezoning (Observer)
HSBC Has Mega Lease Out At Silverstein's 7 WTC (Observer)
City Would Photograph Every Vehicle Entering Manhattan And For Radioactivity (NY Times)
Flatiron's "Triangles" Get Some Nice Asphalt Paint (Curbed)
A Look At Planned Massive Development On Avenue D (Curbed)
Coney Island's Astroland On Last Legs (Urbanite/AMNY)
Segways Still Illegal In NYC (NY Times)

In Search Of The Montauk Monster

Not here!...Montauk Light House 8/11/08

I have made a voyage East, for what I call a broker's weekend (starts on Sunday night and can last up to 48 hours). My first break in a month, but the blog always calls.

I came across numerous articles in the local papers that are clearly keeping the legend of the "Montauk Monster" alive and well. From all you read out here, it is not a hoax, but most likely an unfortunate Labrador Retriever or as Discover Scientists see it, a Raccoon. The whereabouts of the body of this oddly deformed and partially decomposed carcass is currently unknown. Apparently the person who decided to take the thing off the beach left it in his friend's backyard while picking up the artist, Rafael Mazzucco, with whom he co-conspired to make art of the bones and, of course, sell them. By the time he got back to his friend's house, the monster was missing. There are various theories as to who has the carcas, too numerous to bother going into.

But, Montauk Monty Fever continues! Many more episodes are yet to be written and many more conspiracies to be explored. Part of my trip was to be dedicated to a search for Monty, but a breaking scoop has me rushing back to NYC (stay tuned). Monty will have to wait. In the meantime, here is the latest on Monty from the East Hampton Star:
Montauk Monster Is Missing (East Hampton Star)
Montauk Monster: The Real Story (East Hampton Star)

Monday, August 11, 2008

Summer Streets Nice But Too Short

PAS On Sat. Morning 8/9/08
The atmosphere was a bit surreal. The ability to simply walk down an empty Park Avenue South without the prospect of getting hit by a bus was interesting. But seriously, what was the deal with the 1 pm cutoff? To go through the time and expense to cut off 7 miles of traffic without making it a full day was a bit of a disappointment. The idea is good, but let's make it a full day, or 24 hours, something more substantial.
Streets Officially Handed Over To Bikes (Curbed)

Monday Morning Links

When Neighbors Compete To Sell (NY Times)
Website Judges Neighborhood Walk Ability (NY Times)
Madison Square Pay Toilets To Be Duplicated Throughout City (NY Times)
Despite Economy Banks Keep Opening All Over (NYDN)
UES Leads The Nation In Political Donations (NY Post)
World's Most Expensive House Sold To Russian Billionaire For $750 Million (Luxist)
All-Inclusive, National Luxury Real Estate Wrap-Up (Luxist)

Friday, August 8, 2008

Green Gone Wild! "Living Wall" Graces 86th Street.

This is clearly taking the meaning of "Green Building" to a whole new level! You've heard of green roofs, but green walls? Yes, Pure Yoga on 86th Street has a green wall! They call it a "living wall", and it is indeed alive. All I can say is "cool"!
The 1000sf living wall is watered by a computerized irrigation system and trimmed every couple of weeks. While I'm sure it's not cheap to build and maintain a living wall, Pure Yoga seems to have come up with a great marketing ploy. The wall does not go unnoticed, someone seems to be taking a picture of it every minute. The plants will be changed in the fall to a heartier variety that can handle the NY winter.
The Making Of The Green Wall (
Examples Of Green Walls (ELT Living Wall Photo Gallery)

Friday Morning Links

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Linden 78: Now That's A Cantilever!

The building hasn't fallen over yet, so I guess it's working. But, wow, that's about the biggest and most impressive use of cantilever that I have seen to date. Linden 78 hangs around 20 or so feet over the neighboring townhouse.

Related's The Harrison Condo Rising Quickly

The Harrison, 8/7/08

Nod To Art Deco

What a difference a few months make. It seems like just yesterday that Related's "The Harrison" condo was just a rendering and a hole in the ground. No longer. Robert A.M. Stern's West Side answer to The Brompton, is rising quickly, and looking good. While everyone knows what a huge fan I am of The Brompton, the Harrison ranks right up there. While I like the Brompton just a smidge more, The Harrison has plenty going for it.

In retrospect, the holdout in the brownstone on the corner actually did The Harrison a favor. Challenged, Stern came up with a 2 part building that I believe is superior to what he may have created with uninterrupted space. By having two towers, the apartments have much more open space in front of them, better light and far more apartments with views. I also like Stern's use of some accents on the base of the building that appear to be a nod to the prewar art deco era. While the outside is looking good, the finishes in these apartments are hands down incredible.

So far, so good. I am sure everyone is looking forward to the finished product.

Thursday Morning Links

Gramercy Park, 8/06/08

"Rich People Rooftops" Make Life Worth Living (Curbed)
City Weighs Extent Of Concrete Testing (NY Times)
Cipriani Escapes Liquor License Fiasco (Observer)
City Wants Building On Morton Street Converted To A School (The Real Deal)
Corporate Sponsors For Subway Stations? (AMNY)
"The Lotta" Says Nada, And Other Harlem Condo News (NY Post)
Brett Favre Traded To NY Jets (NY Post)

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Will Dollar Rally Boost Manhattan Real Estate?

The chorus is growing louder, "the dollar has bottomed". Many of my trusted advisors on Wall Street seem to be in agreement. So, if the dollar has indeed hit a bottom, what is the impact on Manhattan real estate prices? While a huge rally would probably be counter-productive in the long run, a gradual move off the bottom could be quite beneficial.

Over the past couple of years, a larger and larger portion of apartments that I have sold have been to foreign interests. Whether it's folks from Dubai, Mumbai, London, or South America, I have found foreign purchasers grow from 10% of my business to nearly 50% over the past year. However, one comment from a group of Irish investors just after the Bear Stearns debacle has stuck with me. The investor, explaining how he was taking a break said "yes, the dollar is cheap, and we've been buying on that basis for the past year, we are just afraid that it is about to get a whole lot cheaper". From that day in mid-March until just a few weeks ago, I heard the same sentiment from numerous others.

Fast forward to today, and the picture looks far brighter. It's apparent that the fed rate cuts are more or less over, and the next move is a trend of increasing rates beginning at the end of this year or the early next year. Beneficial to the dollar, no doubt. Our economy, despite all of our issues has yet to fall into recession and the odds of that happening are now less than 25%. Even if we were to experience 2 consecutive quarters of negative growth, the fed doesn't have many bullets left (with the funds rate at 2%) and would be unlikely to use them. A thriving export market and higher yields on fixed income securities has and will continue to bolster the dollar.

Here's where my theory comes into play. If foreigners, who have cooled to our markets a bit recently out of fear, lose the fear, sense stabilization, and see hope of a dollar rally, I believe this will result in a surge of foreign buying in Manhattan. A dollar rally clearly gives buying Manhattan real estate twice the potential for appreciation.

Manhattan is a blue chip market which has held very well through a challenging national economic and credit environment. So, capital appreciation would be one objective, but a dollar rally brings the bonus of currency appreciation as well. So, if the belief that the dollar has bottomed grows widespread, expect another surge of foreign buying and perhaps a better market than many expect.

This is just my theory, I may have studied economics, but an economist I am not. Make of it what you like.

Wednesday Morning Links

Building Sellers Play Beat The Clock Against Election Day (Observer)
New Subway Escalators Speed Up When You Get On (NY Times)
Homeowners To Get Property Tax Relief From Foreclosure Bill (AMNY)
Extell Readies Plan For Riverside South (Observer)
Whole Foods To Open On 57th & 2nd Ave (Observer)
Another Day, Another Chase Bank Branch (Brownstoner)
Time To Buy Real Estate? (

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Fed Keeps Rates Steady

As was widely expected this afternoon, The Fed Open Markets Committee has kept rates unchanged. As a whole the statement was very balanced between concerns about growth and inflation.

Angels On The Upper East Side

Ok, I guess it's official, I now have a 2 year old and a 4 year old blogger, my daughters. My wife, Ayesha wrote the article, but, the pics, yep from my little infants. Perhaps we have a record for youngest blogger here?
8/5/08-Special feature by Abigail, Annika, and Ayesha Fine.

Someone has graced the Upper East Side (and who knows, they may be in other neighborhoods, too!) with these things. We've been calling them "angel tiles" for lack of a better term. They're small, maybe 2" x 3". Hand-painted in candy colors, on what seem to be glass tiles. And we're not even sure they're angels; they could be little super-heroes or cartoon characters. They're mostly on trees, but we've found them on emergency call boxes and a private residence. Reminiscent of the artist James De Da Vega's sidewalk chalk pictures or those little hairy jumping beans painted on East Village sidewalks. It was always a little thrilling to discover one.
We first noticed a pair settled underneath stone lions flanking the entrance of a posh residence on East 80th Street at Fifth Avenue. I was always amazed to see them still there - if you owned a bazillion-dollar townhouse, you might remove them, no? I secretly love the owner of that place - that person has a sense of humor!
Now, for the past few weeks, we've been finding them everywhere. We can't decide if they're new installations or if we're only finding them because we know they exist and we keep our eyes peeled now.
I've pointed out the angel tiles to a few neighbors, and they're always astonished that they haven't noticed them before.
If anyone knows ANYTHING about them, please e-mail and spill it!

Tuesday Morning Links

LIC Blues: McReilly's On Vernon Forced To Vacate (LIQCity)
Life Preservers For The Wealthy, "Beach Apartheid" (Queens Crap)
DOT Takes Steps To Improve Pedestrian Safety At Park Ave Tunnel (StreetsBlog)
Fighting Those Unwanted Menus (Brownstoner)
Tribeca Named "Most Overpriced Zip Code" (Curbed)
Riots Give Wat To Plain Old Slam Dancing In EV (Urbanite/AMNY)
A Look At The Transformation Of The East Village (NY Times)
5 New Places For Priced Out Hipsters (NYDN)
Nets Basketball Arena May Not Be Ready Til 2011 (Observer)

Monday, August 4, 2008

Looking Down on Lucida, Brompton, And Georgica, Only Literally!

The Brompton From The Southwest

Newcomer, The Georgica, From the West

The Lucida, From the Southeast

Got these aerial views of Brompton, Lucida, and newcomer The Georgica this morning from a nearby condo tower. Georgica is quickly catching up with better than 14 stories to it's credit thus far. The Georgica is now easily seen from Third Avenue and even Lex as it skies over most everything in between. While these ultra-successful condos are commanding ever higher dollars per square foot, some somewhat older condos in the area are looking like real bargains. We'll get to that later.

Announcing Blogger's Summit On Congestion Pricing

Attention all 5 boroughs bloggers.
I am putting together a blogger's summit on Congestion Pricing that I would like to convene late in August. The event would combine cocktails and a discussion of Congestion Pricing with the goal of coming up with a unified platform that we can take to the Mayor, the City Council, and the media. I believe community bloggers have a unique understanding of the pulse of their communities and I believe that we can come together to make NYC an even greater place.
While I have been critical of Congestion Pricing in the past, it was with the plan and not the concept. I believe the Achilles heel of congestion last go round was that it prioritized revenue not the environment. I think we can work together to put the environment first.
If bloggers or citizens are interested in such a discussion, feel free to email me at . Thanks!

Monday Morning Links

NY Times Sees Glut Of One Bedrooms (NY Times)
Signs Of Stability On Long Island? (NY Times)
Cul-De-Sac Living In Battery Park (NY Post)
Sunday's National Luxury Real Estate Wrap (Luxist)
A Deep Look Into The Mind Of Net Trolls (NYT Mag)
Poor Conditions On Subways Are Here To Stay (Gothamist)
Willets Point Responds To EDC (Queens Crap)

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Under Budget Pressure, Look For "Congestion Pricing" To Make A Comeback

The writing on the wall is clear as day and so should be the motives. The MTA and the city, facing mounting budgetary woes, are planting the seeds for the comeback of "Congestion Pricing". The push won't happen before November elections, to be sure, politicians don't have the kind of guts to do that. But, it will happen. The Trojan Horse of congestion pricing will come in the form of Richard Ravitz's MTA commission report due out conveniently in December. The commission is stacked with mayor appointees who support the scheme.
Before we get into the debate about congestion, the environment and all, could we all just take a moment out to see it for what it is- a revenue scheme. That's all I ask, just admit it, and hopefully we'll figure out how giving another $500 Million a year into the black hole they call the MTA will actually benefit the environment.
If you ask me, the goals of the original plan, a negligible improvement in traffic flow and less cars on the street, has already been achieved through high gas prices and a lousy economy. Such conditions have already made driving in the city easier and I'm sure has reduced pollution. That said, I hope the politicians get it right this time. They need the money, mass transit should be encouraged and funded, and hopefully this time a few basic considerations should be taken into account:
1- NYC residents should not bear a disproportional burden under a new plan (the last one basically gave people coming from outside NYC a free ride).
2- Natural borders, like the rivers that surround Manhattan make much more sense than an artificial boundary in the middle of Manhattan.
3- Something must be done, regardless of the plan, to encourage trucks to deliver late at night or early in the morning, and not double park willy nilly all over the city.
4- Biking must continue to be encouraged. Tax credits to buy or own a bike would be a great idea. The city must continue building bike lanes and bike shelters. Importantly, bike lanes should be enforced. Bike lanes must also be reinforced by concrete curbs to promote safety, encorage more biking, and stop vehicles from parking and double parking on them.
5- Hybrid vehicles should be given an exemption or discount and perhaps even tax credits to city residents in such a scheme.
Congestion Pricing is apparently inevitable. Let's get it right this time.
M.T.A. Shortfall Renews Talk of Congestion Pricing as Revenue Source (NY Times)

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Crane Building On 51st Faces Foreclosure

According to a report in today's New York Times, the owner of the condo development on 51st Street where a crane killed 7 people earlier this year, is in default on his loan obligations and faces default on the property. Mr. Kennelly, the owner and former firefighter turned developer, is in the hole to the tune of $70 Mil. to Arbor Realty funding which has begun foreclosure proceedings. The height of 43 stories has been a contentious issue both before and after the tragic accident with local residents and eventually the city contending that it should have been built no higher than 33 stories. There has been a stop work order on the property for the past couple of months. With construction frozen at 18 stories, the building is proving to be an eery reminder of it's unfortunate past.
Where Crane Fell, Foreclosure Looms (NY Times)

Friday, August 1, 2008

New Twist In "Floorplan Porn": "Floorplan Plate Porn"

We in real estate love what we call "floorplan porn". No, it has nothing to do with porn, just really hot floorplans. I was amused when I passed the Fishs Eddy window on Broadway and 21st when I saw plates with floorplans on them displayed with descriptions and prices under them as if you were passing your local Corcoran or Sotheby's office. The plates range from a 5" square with studio floorplan for $7.95 to the much more substantial 12"x16" Penthouse floorplan plate for $32.95. The tagline on the Fishs' website is "why rent when you can own"? At those prices, I'll take the Penthouse!

Flatiron "Triangles" Project Is Hot, Blazin' Hot!

Looking South From 25th Street

Looking East From 25th between Fifth and B'way
I read in the Flatiron Partnership Newsletter that the "triangles" project was quickly getting squared away (their words, not mine) . For those unfamiliar with the project, the DOT has eliminated several lanes of traffic at the intersection of 5th and Broadway between 25th and 22nd Street to make way for pedestrian plazas, plants and seating. Naturally, I had to take a stroll to see how wonderful everything is turning out.

I have to say that I was disappointed.

So far the Triangles projects consists of around 35,000 square feet of black asphalt (that is hot as hell), around 100 large orange traffic barriers, and plenty of green painted bike lanes. In it's current state, you can't help but to think that you are standing in traffic and about to get hit by one of the numerous express buses making a sharp turn through the new traffic pattern. The black asphalt is not only a poor choice because you can fry an egg on it on a day like today, but also because it has a very temporary feel, like the DOT is gonna call the whole thing off in a couple of weeks. The other negative is that it seems as if a confusing traffic pattern has now been converted into a confusing bike and pedestrian pattern. The spot on 25th where Broadway traffic can cross over to Fifth Ave could be particularly treacherous. The bike lane splits in 2 and disappears until you are across the street. Perhaps they could paint a stop sign in all that green for the bikers because it could be unclear to some if they have safe passage- some may roll right into Fifth Avenue traffic against the light.

All hope is not quite lost on this project, however. The good stuff is yet to come- 170 planters, 40 tables, 120 chairs, and best yet granite barriers to lessen the threat of getting hit by a bus, and yes, 30 light blue umbrellas for hot days. Perhaps they should double up on the umbrella order!

Friday Morning Links & Comment

Sorry for the lack of comment yesterday. It was one of those rare summer days when the phone was actually ringing off the hook. I won't take one day as a trend, as regardless of the market, summer is usually quiet. There has been much talk of late, on Wall Street at least, that some sort of a bottom might be in the works for both the stock market and housing market. One thing is for sure in this modern age, volatility is greater than ever. I would speculate that the rise of technology could be making for quicker, yet sharper corrections. There is little doubt that the correction our economy has seen has been sharp. National housing prices, the stock market, the oil market, and especially the credit market has seen dramatic adjustments in a record time. Perhaps when the consensus decides that we have seen a bottom, the recovery will be just as swift. We can only hope.
Here are today's links:
Newest Seaport Plan Includes Retail (Observer)
601-603 Park Ave Mansion Closes For $31 Million (The Real Deal)
Washington Square Park Reno On Time, 60% Complete (WashingtonSquarePark)
Gowanus Building Seems To Have Gone Anti-Corporate (Curbed)
Luxury Condos Pick Up In Market Share And Price (Jonathan Miller Via Curbed)
Are Chain Stores Taking Over New York? (AMNY)
Foreclosure Epidemic Skips Over Big Apple (The Cooperator)
Artist Bartlett Sells West Village Townhouse for $17 Million (Bloomberg)
Tired Of Gloom And Doom? REBNY Has Some Positive Numbers For You (WSJ)