Friday, January 30, 2009

Apt Flash- $2000, No Fee- Full Sized Alcove Studio, ample closets, terrace. 80's East (west of 2nd Ave), 24 hour doorman. The deals just keep on coming! Call 646-237-4175.

Despite Sales Freeze, Mighty Isis Rises, Cantilever And All!

The Isis, A Kenneth Horn/Alchemy Properties condo, continues to rise over East 77th Street and 2nd Avenue. Eventually 18 stories, this boutique condo has grown to 12 so far, a significant jump since we checked in last October. At this stage, the impressive cantilever is revealed in its full glory. Last we heard from a NY Times article dated early December, The Isis has shuttered the sales office until spring. Mr. Horn believes that in this market people are not buying from floor plans, so there would be little sense in having a sales office until people can get into the building to see what they are buying. You'd guess there is a little market timing involved as well.

From Left And From Right, Calls To De-Citi Citifield

What do left-wing nut Rep. Dennis Kucinich and ultra-right conservative Rep. Ted Poe have in common? Both have written Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner demanding that Citigroup dissolve the agreement with the New York Mets that pays the Mets $400 Million dollars for naming rights to their new stadium.

What do these politicians propose if Citigroup doesn't do it? "Absent this outcome, we feel strongly that you should compel Citigroup to return immediately all federal monies received to date, as well as cancel all loan guarantees", the letter reads. Wow, that's some pretty tough talk!

Will it happen? Well, if you consider Obama's public shaming of the banks yesterday, and the fact that Citi has already relented on the $50 million dollar jet pretty quickly, I'd say that we are bordering on likely. Should Citi back out of the deal? That's easy. Absolutely!

"New Shea" might be making a comeback!

Flashback: From Shea Rubble Rises Citifield, But Why Don't We Call It "New Shea"? (A. Fine Blog, 12/8/2009)
Now: Rename Citifield: Bipartisan Push In The House (Huffington Post)
Now: Lawmakers Angered Over Citigroup Naming Rights (NY1 + Video)

Friday Morning Links

Corcoran Closes Harlem Office (The Real Deal)
Zell Trumps Zuckerman After Macklowe Purchase (Bloomberg)
Recessionomics: Manhattan's Ungentrification (Gawker)
Fed Buying Mortgage Bonds Again (Bloomberg)
Sloane Mansion Sees $9 Mil Price Chop (Observer)
West Village: One Jackson Getting Glassed (Curbed)
MTA To Spend Stimulus Cash On Fulton Hub (NY Times)
Bonus Blues: Damn! Obama Calls 08' Bonuses "Shameful" (NY Times)
Drier Indicted For Selling Fake Real Estate Notes (ABC News)

Thursday, January 29, 2009

A. Fine Blog Traffic Sets New Record- I've heard much about how the tough real estate market is dragging down traffic of late. Not at A. Fine Blog. I am happy to announce that this January has been the busiest month ever for the blog. We have set new records for both unique viewers and page views. On a year over year basis we are seeing a 65% increase (and counting). Thanks everyone!

Gotham's Green 200 West 72nd Rising Impressively

200 West 72nd, Jan 29th, 2009

Rendering Courtesy Metro Green Business

It's a huge building, 19 stories with 196 rental apartments and 48,000sf of retail on the lower 5 floors. It also happens to be Gotham Constructions first effort at a "Green" building with the intention of achieving LEED certified Silver status. As you can see in the rendering it will be a glass enclosed structure, what you can't see is the many green elements that range from building materials, a/c without chlorofluorocarbons, efficient appliances, and even a reflective roof with garden.

One thing for sure is that the building is looking huge. As of this morning they were working on the 14th floor. While this is to be a top of the line luxury rental, don't worry, if times get tight, you can always take advantage of the $1 "recession special" at Gray's Papaya across the street.

Gotham Construction Making It's Mark On Manhattan, And It's A Green One (Metro Green Business)
Scourge Of 72nd Street Gets New Name (Curbed 4/2008)

Thursday Morning Links

Price Chops On Park Avenue (Observer)
Palazzo Grey Gets Chopped To $9 Mil (Curbed)
Queens Residents Are Happiest In The City (Metro)
Shea-Ing Goodbye, Going Going...(Queens Crap)
How About A Mini Cooper With Your Commission? (The Real Deal)
Elliman Out, Corcoran In At Manhattan House (The Real Deal)
Hamptons Rental Market Looking As Bad As Hampton Sales Market (Observer)
Coney Island Rocket Donated To The City (Crain's)

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Flash- Fed keeps rates unchanged at 0- 1/4%.
What else were they to do at zero?
Fed says it continues to buy mortgage backed debt and other debt to help drive down rates and increase liquidity.
Text Of Full Fed Statement (Marketwatch)

Wednesday Morning Links

A Look At The Standard, "The Last Cool Building" (Observer)
Top Real Estate Brokers Speculate Over Next Madoff Induced Sale (Observer)
D.C. Tops NY, London For Foreign Real Estate Investment? (Biz Journals)
Case/Shiller Index Shows Prices Fall At Record Pace (CnnMoney)
Long Shot Vision Of A Car-Free 42nd To Get Hearing (Cityroom/NYT)
Brooklyn Bridge Park Prospects Dropping Like A Rock (Curbed)
Nouvel's 100 Eleventh Get Glassed (Curbed)
9/11 Memorial Taking Shape (The Real Deal Video)
Fulton Transit Center May End Up Looking Like Original Plan (NY 1 Video)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

LIC Update: Pepsi In Pieces, Old Hickory Park Open

Pieces of the Pepsi Sign (little red pieces at top)

Old Hickory Park is new again!

Just an update on a couple of stories visited a ways back.
Pepsi Sign- The sign has now moved to it's new foundation a hundred yards or so from the old spot, and the sign is ready for it's letters. The letters and old Pepsi bottles in a very small pieces at the base of the sign waiting to be put back together again.
Old Hickory Park- The little park at the junction of Vernon and Jackson (across fr new condo phenom 10-17 Jackson) has been revamped and is now open to the public. Playground equipment for the 5 and under set has been installed along with cobblestones and chess tables for the 85 and older set.
Traffic- Despite the lack of 7 train service last weekend, open houses at L Haus, Powerhouse, and 5 SL seemed to be very busy. Developers are anxious and sales agents are openly encouraging offers. Toll Brothers has begun offering 3.99% financing for conventional mortgages, if you have a high credit score and a dash of courage.

Tuesday Morning Links

Friday, January 23, 2009

LIC Mystery Revealed: 10-17 Jackson Shines!

Renderings Courtesy Of Studio V

This one has been on my plate for a while. It is the building at the intersection of Vernon Blvd. and Jackson Avenue. The structure is beginning to rise a few stories above ground, and I finally have renderings and info, courtesy of architect Studio V.

The building, by Times Square Construction, will rise 9 stories, which is one or two stories short of the original plan. The great news is that the building will not be shorter, rather the developer has chosen to go with 11'4" ceiling heights. Ahhh- this I like! It's name will be it address, "10-17 Jackson". It will contain approximately 33 units and ground floor retail which is being built with the potential for a restaurant in mind. The exterior will be a combination of floor to ceiling ribbon glass, stainless steel shingles, and perforated aluminum screens. The architect says that he is going to pains to blend in with the community.

The interiors will have dark walnut floors throughout and exposed concrete columns. Bathrooms will include natural stone floors, teak accents and "floating vanity". The kitchen cabinets will have white lacquer cabinets, natural stone floors, Liebherr fridge, and Jenn-Air appliances.

Ok, so far without seeing floor plans, I love everything about this new development with the exception of the Jenn-Air appliances. I guess that's easily fixed- it's not too late for the developer to read this and pick up some Viking, Bosch, or Miele fixins. Everything else sounds great. I think it's a great looking building that fits in (feel free to disagree, it's in the eye of the beholder), it's in a great location, should have some views, and those high ceilings- fantastic!

The start date for sales and marketing is undetermined.

Friday Morning Links

Governor Picks Upstater, Kirsten Hillibrand To Succeed Clinton (NY Times)
"Rector Square" Sales Office Closed Due To Slow Traffic (The Real Deal)
KoolHaas' 23 E 22nd Sales Office Opens (Curbed)
StuyTown Six Months From Insolvency? (The Real Deal)
Brooklyn Bridge Park Hotel And Condos Sunk (Curbed)
Mortgage Applications Drop As Rates Pop Up A Bit (Bloomberg)
Times Finds Potential Buyer For Part Of NYT Building (Bloomberg)
Bridge And Subway Construction Make Tough Biz Even Tougher In LIC (Queens Courier)

Thursday, January 22, 2009

My Two Cents: Carolyn Maloney For NY Senate Seat

I try to stay away from politics as much as possible on this blog, but every now and then, I have to throw in my two cents.
I was relieved as many New Yorkers were when Carolyn Kennedy dropped out of the race to be appointed to the senate seat vacated by Senator Clinton last night. While it would be hard to argue with her pedigree, her experience was lacking.
I think it is extremely important to continue to have a woman serve in the vacant seat. Currently women are profoundly underrepresented in the senate, holding only 16 seats. We need a woman of vision, experience, skill and capability. Fortunately we have one in the House of Representatives, Carolyn Maloney. Representing Manhattan's Upper East Side, Astoria, and LIC, Maloney has been a champion of women's rights, family issues, and equality for all. She has extensive experience (16 years in the House) on the pressing issues in regards to the economy. She currently serves on a number of finance, economic, reform, and oversight committees. She was named Vice Chairwoman of the Joint Economic Committee for the 110th Congress (2006). During her 10 years in the City Council, she was instrumental in computerizing the city's contracting process and chaired a committee to investigate corruption in the contracting process.
The list of qualifications goes on and on. I think she will do New Yorkers proud if given the chance to represent us in the senate. There is a Carolyn that is a perfect fit for the Senate, and her name is Maloney. I might add, I have a sneaking suspicion that she is the pick (whoops, just jinxed her).
Carolyn Maloney Bio (Wikipedia)

Thursday Morning Links

350 West Broadway, 57 Irving Top Off (Curbed)
Retail On The South End Of Union Square Hits The Skids (Racked)
Columbia Expansion Holdout Sues Over Use Of Eminent Domain (Observer)
Uptown Land Values Drop With Nobody Looking To Build (The Real Deal)
NY Real Estate Lawyer Accused Of Pocketing $500k (ABA Journal)
Kennedy Drops Bid For NY Senate Seat (NY Times)
Proposed Budget Gives $0 to Zoos, Aquariums, And Gardens (NY Times)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Fordham's Big Expansion Expected To Be Rejected By Community

It's a big plan- 2.35 Million Square feet of a plan on Fordham's current West Side campus between 60th and 62nd Street. The community, or at least some people in it, the Fordham Community United, are up in arms. They have armed up as well, hiring well know lobbyists, a pr firm, and an attorney to beat back the institution. Now, it seems, they have an ally in Community Board 7, which is expected to reject the plan this evening according to a recent news article emailed by Crain's New York Business.
The most controversial aspect of the plan is Fordham's intent to sell 2 parcels to private developers to finance the plan. That land was originally obtained through eminent domain. That just doesn't smell right, does it?
Fordham U. Expansion Plan Hits A Bump (Crain's)

Ice On The Hudson

I snapped these pics on Saturday on my trip to BPC. It is a fairly regular phenomena to see ice flows during the winter, particularly on the Hudson. Nothing will top the winter of 1779-1780 when the Hudson, East River and all of New York Harbor froze all the way to Sandy Hook. People were walking from Manhattan to places like Jersey City, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island. The British even hauled canons across the river over the ice. So, New York winters are pretty harsh, but could be a lot harsher.
A Cold Snap (NY Times)
When NY Harbor Froze Over (NY Times Archives) Warning PDF

Wednesday Morning Links

Related And MTA Rail Yards Deal Hits, "Sensitive" And Questionable Juncture (Observer)
Circuit City Collapse Ads More Salt To Commercial Wounds (Reuters)
Hamptons Home Sales Volume Down 49% (The Real Deal)
McSam Secures Financing For Union Square Boutique Hotel (The Real Deal)
Related's Ross Completes Purchase Of Miami Dolphins (AP)
Interesting Townhouse At 727 Washington Goes Back On The Market (Curbed)
Boston Development Project Looks To Build Solar Farm To Power 30% Of Apts (
"Bargains" Abound For 8 Figure Apartments (Observer)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Happy Inauguration Day!

Good morning everyone! Happy Inauguration Day! Today is a day for celebration. Whether you are a Republican or a Democrat, there are two things that we can agree on: Bush was a disaster and Obama has to be better (or else). We'll see what happens when the pomp and circumstance die down. Congress, somehow too busy to get a stimulus bill on Obama's desk on his first day will get to it in a week or a few. While there are plenty of great ideas on both housing and infrastructure projects- we'll see what's left when the self-interests of 100 senators (oh, make that 99 for now), lobbyists, etc. finish with it.
In the meantime, let's enjoy the day.
Mexican Investor, Slim, Invests $250 Mil. In NY Times (Marketwatch)
City To Launch Ambitious Coney Rezoning Today (Observer)
Member Of EDC Accused Of Demanding Kickbacks (NYDN)
New York Has Plenty Of Infrastructure Plans For Obama (NY Times)
Queens Has Ideas For Obama Money As Well (NYDN)
Restaurants Sweating February, A Brutal Month Without A Recession (NY Times)

Monday, January 19, 2009

Part Of Freedom Tower Now Above Ground

On my trip downtown this weekend, I snapped these pics of the Freedom Tower (or at least part of it) finally rising above ground level. Looks like the crane operators are doing a good business down there.

Apartment Flash...
Murray Hill Penthouse $3500. Saw this one last week and it has already been "price adjusted" by 10%. This is a large prewar penthouse 1 bedroom with large private terrace, wood burning fireplace, plus large solarium (8'x27'). 24 hour doorman building. This weak market is sure making for some pretty nice deals.
Kennedy Is The Pick (NY Post)
Mann Realty And Africa Israel Come To Terms On Apthorp Deal. What, No Rabbi Involved? (Observer)
Atlantic Yards, At Standstill, Reduced To Just Another Rendering (Crain's Via Real Deal)

Ground Zero Watch: At Least The Goldman Sachs Tower Is Soaring

Tower from the West

Tower from the south

The Freedom Tower may be a slow go, and the Calatrava's Path Station- who knows? One thing is for sure though, Goldman Sachs' Tower on West Street is soaring and getting glassed up! The 43 story tower which will hold the company's HQ will be 2.1 Million square feet of Leed-certified gold! It's funny, if they had a time machine, they never would have built this monster considering their current bearish outlook on NYC real estate!

Happy MLK Day!

Most noteworthy of news from this weekend was news from Josh Barbanel on the front page of Sunday's NYT Real Estate section (first link), which was very bullish on the prospects for the sub- $1 Mil. market. The article noted a pick up in both open house traffic and contracts being signed in that segment. Rather than the Wall Street titans which formerly drove the market, these buyers are average joes- accountants, teachers and the like, many of whom are first-time homebuyers.
Sub- $1 Million Buyers Start To Surface Amid Low Rates, Prices (NY Times)
A New Sales Tact: Anti-Bombast (NY Times)
Dolly Lenz Says She Is Losing Deals Thanks To Madoff (Real Deal/ Fox Video)
New York Neighborhoods That Attract Old People (NYDN)
National Luxury Real Estate Round Up (Luxist)

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Crowds Gather At Union Square Circuit City For Liquidation Sale

At 10 am this morning, crowds were gathering outside of Circuit City's Union Square Store. The company announced yesterday that it could not secure a buyer and that it would begin liquidation immediately. 30,000 jobs will be lost. Opening at Union Square today was delayed twice. It should be open at Noon. Although some had pie in the sky expectations, those in the know told me that initial discounts would be in the 10%-30% range.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Sully! Just What New York Needed!

In a time when we have been bombarded over and over with bad news and more bad news, the "miracle on the Hudson" is just the kind of news that we really needed. For a plane to suffer complete engine failure (over the city), bank 900' over the GW Bridge, and land perfectly on the Hudson River without anyone getting seriously injured, "miracle" is not an overstatement. Chesley B. Sullenberger, the veteran pilot, also former US Air Force pilot, otherwise know as "Sully" is the epitome of a hero. Under incredible pressure, and with no time to spare, his skill and decision making saved 155 people and untold thousands in the city below. The New York Waterway ferries were also heroic. Five ferries were on the scene within just a couple of minutes to pluck the passengers from the wings of the plane sinking in the frigid Hudson waters. And as we now nearly take for granted, NYC police and firefighters, the first responders, were brilliant in coordinating the rescue, with frog suited divers on scene to swim into the plane to make sure it was clear of all passengers. It was only a matter of minutes between plane crash and all safe and accounted for- only in New York! If there was ever an occasion for a ticker tape parade, this uplifting moment, with genuine heroes would be it.
In other news:

Thursday, January 15, 2009

McSam Hotel Rises At Union Square, Gotta Hate Those Lot Line Windows

Steel Rising...

Lot line windows, ouch!

I've been watching this lot for quite some time, wondering when and if it would be built. It's 132 Fourth Avenue (13th Street), and it will be a 162 unit, 11 story McSam (Sam Chang) hotel. There is finally movement and the steel beams are rising! You have to appreciate that Sam at least preserved the attractive turn of the century pre-existing exterior. You can bet that some of the owners at 77 East 12th Street are wishing that the financial meltdown would have stopped this one altogether. Gotta hate those lot line windows!
Previously on Curbed:
McSam Goes Sedate On Union Square (Curbed 7/07)

US Airways Jet Crashes Into The Hudson River

Just in. A commercial airliner has crashed into the Hudson River. Pilot reported hitting a flock of geese.
Live video on MSNBC:

Thursday Morning Links

IBO: Yankee Stadium Costing City, State Over $500 Mil. (Observer)
Cheyenne Diner Heading To Alabama? (Chelsea Now via Curbed)
Very High End Seeing Large Price Cuts (The Real Deal)
08' Saw Over 2 Million Foreclosures In U.S. (Bloomberg)
City's Housing Commish Lauded In HUD Confirmation (AP)
To Avert Blight, City Will Buy And Fix Foreclosed Properties (NY Times)
Mayor Looks To Create 400,000 New Jobs By 2015 (Bloomberg)
Foreclosure Scams Spike (NY Times)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Wednesday Morning Links

Good Morning. I'll be out looking for good blog material today, but in the meantime here is a healthy crop of links to tide you over:
Madoff Expected To Leave Penthouse For Hearing Today (Bloomberg)
Harlem Mystery Building Name Solved: "Windows On 123" (Curbed)
NYC Wins The Sustainable Transport Award (StreetsBlog)
Second Second Avenue Deli To Open On First (CityRoom)
U.S. Sues Theater District Hotels Over Access (CityRoom)
Yankee Stadium Financing Becomes Difficult Issue For Mayor (NY Times)
The Complete Story Of The Apthorp, Including Pistols, Rabbis, And Red Ants (Observer)
A Look At How Moinian Is Weathering The Storm (NY Times)
U.S. Mortgage Applications Up As Refinancings Surge (Reuters)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Apartment Flash/Update- 2 Bed/2 Bd w/ dining area off Sutton Place, 24hr doorman, $3500!
This price I had to call to confirm as correct, and it is. The apartment has a 17' master, a 15' 2nd bedroom, 2 full baths, a 27' living room, and a generous dining nook. The apartment will be completely renovated over the next couple of weeks. Call 646-237-4170 if this sounds like the apartment for you.
The best rental deals seem to be in the 2 bedroom category, where I have several piling up in the "cheap heap". Many of these apartments, like the one I mentioned on Beekman Place last week for $3800 (and still available) are priced more like 1 bedrooms just a couple of months ago. It would be fair to say that if you look hard enough, you'll find plenty of rentals that are 20% off of summer prices.

Tuesday Morning Links

Madoff Still Not In Jail (NY Times)
Madoff's Freedom Ignites Rage Among Neighbors (Bloomberg)
Dispute Stalls Apthorp Conversion (NY Times)
Subway Grades Confirm It, The 4 Train Sucks (NY Post)
LIC's "The View" Going Part Rental (Outer B)
Condo Developer Files For Ch. 11 (Crain's)
Report Sees Another Surge Of Foreign Investors In 2009 (Globe Street)

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Weekend Wrap Up

All eyes should be on Washington and the Obama stimulus package. There is talk that the package would include a rise in the "jumbo conforming" limits that Fannie and Freddie can buy. The word is that the new limit would be $729,000 and House Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank says that it has Obama's backing. The bill would likely be passed at the end of this month or early February and the new limit could be implemented immediately. This would be modestly beneficial to the NY market where Jumbo rates are significantly higher than conventional rates and real estate values are far higher than national standards. The real benefit would be to properties priced at or under $1 Mil..
Could "Jumbo Conforming" Limits Rise To 729k? They Just Might (NY Times)
Obama Said To Back New 729k "Jumbo Conforming" Limit (Bloomberg)
Fed Buys Over $10 Bil In Mortgage Backed Securities, Driving Down Rates (Marketwatch)
Plan To Cut Foreclosures Passes Key Hurdle (WSJ)
Concierge Service Now Help With Downsized Lifestyles (NY Times)
Super Lux Deals Slide In NY and London (Luxist)
National Luxury Real Estate Wrap (Luxist)
Scions Poised To Gain (Crain's)
Apthorp Owners Dispute May Hot Rabbinical Court (Crains)

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Long Island City Market Report Now Available- Just a heads up to those that have been waiting. To request a copy, simply email

Friday, January 9, 2009

Rejoice: The Streets Are Ours Again!

Adios Tree, Tourist Free!

Where Did Everyone Go? No Gridlock on Fifth.

Ah, it's finally that time that I wait for all through the holiday season. It's the first full week of January, when are large portion of the tourists have fled, and the streets are our again!No more packed sidewalks. No need to avoid Midtown. No more slow walkers who change their direction without considering the speed walking New Yorkers who surround them, or those people who don't understand that if you are on a sidewalk in New York and you are not walking, you should kindly pull over. You can get reservations, you can see a Broadway show (if it hasn't closed yet), you can hail a cab with far less competition. I love it!

I found myself on Fifth Avenue this morning around 10:30. It was a sight to behold. It was like something out of a disaster movie, or like "The Day After"- empty sidewalks, no traffic. Even the Rock Center tree was being dismantled- joy! I stopped in Saks, I was only outnumbered by the idle salespeople.

Sure, New York needs tourism and it's one of the few vibrant parts of our economy, but this is the time of year that we get our rest and it should be enjoyed.

61 Fifth Ave, Former Schrafft's Building, Set For Demo

Back in the day, 61 Fifth Avenue served as home to Schrafft's restaurant. Built in 1938 it catered to the upscale lunching set. Prior to that, it was part of the Brevoort Estate and Minetta brook ran behind it (imagine that an actual brook in the Village). Over the past 30 years the building has served various purposes from the Lone Star Cafe to a night club. Fire destroyed much of what was left of the building a couple of years back and the building was put up for sale for $17.5 Million. A deal was struck this March at $15 Mil. (according to city records) and plans are underway to build a 10 story mixed use building. It should include 3 or 4 homes, many multi-level and a commercial space on the ground floor. While it is unclear if the city has granted the variance for a change in zoning, demolition was approved in December and should commence any day.

It is a shame to see a building with architectural significance disappear. According to The New York Times, the architect says that the structure is beyond repair, but an effort will be made to fit in with the Fifth Avenue apartment houses that surround it. This may be a relief to some local residents as there have been complaints about the ability of homeless to access the property and they clearly do not fit in.

Once again, in researching this property I found myself back at the website Jeremiah's Vanishing New York. Full props to Jeremiah, it a great website. A link to his extensive article on the building follows:
61 Fifth (Jeremiah's Vanishing New York)
Midday Havens Lost To Fast Paced City (NY Times June 2008)

Apartment Flash- Beekman Prewar Doorman, 2 Beds, 2 Baths, Dining Area, Mint Renovation- $3800! This is an example of prices that are dropping like a rock. This apartment on Beekman Place would have easily gone for $5000 or more just mere few months ago. As recently as a few weeks ago, it was priced at $4700. Now, it's $3800! To me, this rent is stunning number. There is nothing wrong with the apartment- the rooms are big and bright, the floors are great, the view is charming. Yet, here it sits. For more pics, just click here.

Friday Morning Links

The January shakeout is here and it should prove to be a couple of very painful months in the city. Plenty of decisions are made in January, decisions largely delayed by the holiday season. Retailers are tallying up their gains and loses and deciding which stores to stick with and which to abandon. Real estate brokers are taking stock of which locations are expendable and which businesses are expendable. Citi Habitats is trimming some branches to hunker down in a tough market, while Homestead New York has decided to pack it in altogether. Major employers are figuring out which employees are expendable, thousands are being laid off this month, and very few are living with job security. Like they say, it's always darkest before the dawn. It's just a question of how dark?
On the bright side, rates continue to slide. Despite the overall uncertainty that is undermining the market, I have a some friends and clients that are thrilled with the rates they are locking in. Also, on the rental side, prices seem to be dropping like a stone. Landlords seem to be in full blown panic mode, afraid of getting caught with inventory at the slowest time of year. I've been seeing some apartments which are offered for a clean 20% less than the previous tenant paid. Those deals are not everywhere, but they are increasing. I'll post an example in a bit.
Homestead New York Closes Shop (The Real Deal)
Citi Habitats To Close 57th St Office In Addition To FiDi Office (The Real Deal)
Goldman Sachs Has Doomy, Gloomy Real Estate Forecast (Curbed)
Madoff Assets (Ones He Couldn't Slip In The Mail) Worth $1 Bil. (Bloomberg)
More On The New Hotel Coming To 835 Sixth Avenue (Curbed)
Mortgage Rates Hit 5%- Lowest In Decades (NY Times)

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Thursday Morning Links

Manhattan Real Estate Market Defies Gravity- So Far (CNN/Money)
Or Not..Manhattan's Sterling Real Estate Market Begins To Tarnish (WSJ)
Deal Collapses For Wi-Fi In Central Park (NY Times/CityRoom)
LIC: Gioia Makes Big Stink About 7 Train Service Disruption (YourNabe)
NYC Foreclosures Show Quarterly Drop Of 32% (The Real Deal)
Toll Bros. Gowanus Project Proposal Progressing (The Real Deal)

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

"Tisserie" In Union Square Packs It In

Tisserie, the bakery/eatery at Union Square (17th and Broadway) has sadly packed it in. A well dressed gentleman outside, who I believe was the owner, encouraged me to visit his Soho store and a sign in the window explained that a bigger Tisserie bistro would be opening at the Park Central Hotel soon. The gentleman outside said that he's faces rent increases 3 years running and that this year's demand would have amounted to more than a doubling of his current rent. "In this economy, forget it" he lamented. It is indeed a sad day when one of the world's best almond croissants is no longer in easy reach. Au revoir, Tisserie, you will certainly be missed! I guess from now on I'll have to burn a couple of calories in pursuit.

Surprise: LIC's "The View" Selling Big Money Penthouses, Challenging Records

There has been lots of talk about "The View" in Long Island City. There has been buzz about their "price back guarantee program", the number of sales or lack thereof, and of course the requisite few people griping about pricing. There is one big surprise out of The View that nobody has yet talked about. The View has actually posted a couple of signed contracts lately that challenge records for LIC sales prices. While the 1 bedrooms priced from the low 500's have hardly flown off the shelves, two penthouses listed at over $3 million have recently gone into contract.

Penthouse 5 with 2260sf indoor space and 210sf outdoor listed at $3.25 Mil and PHA with 2107sf indoor and an ample 1147sf terrace listed at $3.1 Mil., are both now in contract. While the sales office will not disclose the final prices and they were more than likely negotiated, both sales challenge the $3 Mil. LIC price record for a mammoth unit at Arris Lofts 2 years ago. The 3 bedroom units also seem to be gaining some traction with 3 contracts signed recently, the list prices ranging between $1.45Mil. and $1.84 Mil.. Certainly some impressive numbers in this climate.

Die Before Closing, Lose Your Deposit

This seems like an only in New York type story or something that will be part of an urban myth, but it has really happened. An article from The Real Deal details how a co-op buyer at 1130 Park Avenue went to contract and was approved by the board, but before closing passed away. The estate decided it did not want to move forward with the purchase and sued for the deposit back. The result? The State Supreme Ruled- tough luck- the dead person's estate doesn't get the deposit back. Now that's a tight contract!
Co-op seller keeps dead buyer's down payment (The Real Deal)

Wednesday Morning Links

Solow Stands To Gain $250 Million In Brownfield Tax Credits For East Side Project (Observer)
Bellmarc Sheds Corporate HQ To Save On Costs (The Real Deal)
Good Rental Deals To Be Had (The Real Deal)
Revised St. Vincent's Plan Even More Hated (Curbed)
Most Discounted Nabes In Manhattan (The Daily News)

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Mortgage Rates Plunge Again

For those frustrated by the extremely short window to refinance or lock in a low rate a couple of weeks ago, your chance is likely to come again in the next couple of days. Mortgage rates have plunged over the past 2 days as the fed program to buy up mortgage securities has commenced in earnest. Just today, the spread between the 10 year Treasury and 30 conventional mortgage shrank by 26 basis points (just greater than 1/4 of 1%). CNBC was reporting that 30 year conventional mortgage rates have moved from 5.1% at the end of last week to as low as 4.5% today. So, if you are looking for a rate lock, or refi, you may want to keep close tabs with your bank or broker.
Mortgage-Bond Yields Hit Lows on Speculation of More Fed Buying (Bloomberg)

Tuesday Morning Links

Who does Madoff own? Who does Madoff have the goods on? Those should be natural questions when a man who has admitted to stealing up to $50 Billion somehow has the privilege of house arrest in a penthouse apartment on the UES. So now he is accused of sending out packages containing $1 Million worth of watches, cuff links, etc. from that home during his "house arrest". And why not? This guy is the biggest cheat in our history. Who decided that we could all of a sudden trust him? The handling of this case continues to be a complete joke.
Bid To Revoke Madoff's House Arrest After Mailing Out $1 Mil In Goods (NY Times)
CitiField And Shea: Updated Pics (WCBS via Curbed)
4th Quarter Reports: Sales Down, Prices, Not So Much (Observer)
Lousy Economy Saves UWS's "Emerald Bar" (NY Times)
November Construction Spending Better Than Expected (Bloomberg)

Monday, January 5, 2009

Monday Morning Links

Wind Power Starts To Find Its Way To NYC Rooftops (NY Times)
Lobbies Become Big Selling Point In Some New Condos (NY Times)
Citing Economy, Rainbow Room's Rainbow Grill To Close (Luxist)
US Luxury Real Estate Wrap (Luxist)
Stimulus: Katie Holmes Spends $14 Mil. Over 6 Months In NYC (Daily Mail/UK)
More On Dreier's Accomplice (Deal Book/NY Times)

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Long Island City Condo Development-O-Rama: My How We've Grown!

The Powerhouse

L Haus

The View

The Foundry

10-63 Jackson

Hunters View (foreground)

Hunters Point

Casa Vizcaya

10-50 Jackson


Coming Soon: Solarium

Coming Soon: "The Prism" (name may change)

What a difference just a few months makes. Going back to my last review of Long Island City condos back in May (2008) ,many of these buildings were covered in scaffolding and protective shrouds of all varieties. Looking back to my "Development O'Rama" in August 2007, most of these buildings were not even standing yet. Fast forward to today: here we are, and the condos of LIC are standing tall, gleaming, closing or getting ready for closings, near completely sold or completely begging to be sold. One thing is for sure, the next 6 months will see the most dramatic change for this neighborhood since Western Queens was annexed by NYC in 1898.

At least 600 closings should take place over the next four months, by my conservative estimate. This means 600 new households looking for wares, services, and treats up and down Vernon Blvd. and Jackson Avenue in Hunters Point. Unlike the last deluge of new residents, which settled on the water in the Rockrose rental buildings (East Coast 1 and 2), the Avalon rental, and longstanding Citylights Co-op, the new crop are more interspersed in the community from Borden Avenue to 46th Avenue and West from Center Blvd. East to Jackson Avenue. It is also a more affluent group with a direct ownership stake in the community. It will be an interesting dynamic. Long Island City old-timers are generally very welcoming and many of the new arrivals seem acutely interested in the community. So far, there is a feel-good vibe, however, the peak of this influx isn't likely until early spring, and there are an estimated 600 units currently available and potentially available before summer. Nerves may be tested as the stream continues.

Full market report available by request (

Friday, January 2, 2009

The Dream Classic Six Is Back

The August Classic Six, Same layout and detail.

I've had many inquiries to this day regarding a post back in August about the "Dream Classic Six". It was a gorgeous prewar with exceptional detail, a working wood burning fireplace, and a partial Central Park view. Good news, the same apartment on the 10th floor is now available. It has not been priced yet, but it should be right around $6800./mo.. The apartment was just vacated, so it's too early for photos. For a good ideal of what it looks like here is the same layout from August (finishes very similar) click here. 1 Block from Central Park in the upper 50's. Just a heads up.

Friday Morning Links

Extell Plows Ahead With Developments, No Money Issues Here (The Real Deal)
Hotel Pennsylvania Edges Towards Demolition (Observer)
Mortgage Rates Keep Falling (NY Post)
National Real Estate Market Looking For A Bottom (WSJ)
Brokers Turn To Twitter, Facebook For Clients (Newsday)
Long Island City Adds Height To W. Queens (Queens Chronicle)
Bank Robberies Escalating (Gothamist)

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year

(Palm Beach Post)

Happy New Year to all! While predictions abound, many are calling for real estate to bottom in 09' and climb. Let's hope they are right! To close out 08' I thought the first story linked here on Madoff was appropriate (also pictured above).
Madoff Statue Returned With Scathing Message (Palm Beach Post)
A Whole Bunch Of Curbed Awards, HL23 Named Building Of The Year (Curbed)
Tower 111, Near Herald Square Moving Forward (Curbed)
Builders Want Federal 2.99% Mortgages To Spur Market (