Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Another Record Month, Quarter For A. Fine Blog

Another hearty thanks for all of those following A. Fine Blog. Despite a lousy real estate market, and declining views for almost all real estate blogs, I am happy to announce that March 2009 was our best month yet, and our 2nd quarter was our best ever, with unique users and page views more than doubling vs. last year (+108%). This month we will be celebrating the beginning of our 3rd year of blogging.
A reminder, for an RSS feed, or email update, just scroll to the bottom of the page.

Tuesday Morning Links

Good morning all! Sorry for the lack of original content over the past week, but it sure has picked up on the sales front. On a volume basis, I think the first or second quarter will be the bottom. Prices have fallen in the sales market fairly significantly, which is, in combination with low rates, stimulating demand. Prices usually turn up after volume has increased and that increase is reliable. We are not there yet, but there seem to be more people willing to go to contract now than any time since this time last year. I think that there is still a serious lack of pricing power for sellers and that is likely to continue for some time.
As I have been running around, I have been collecting content for the blog along the way, which I will be getting up over the next few days. In the meantime, here are the morning links:
Big Penthouse At Time Warner Takes Big Price Chop (Observer)
Commercial Real Estate Auctions Hit The Net (Observer)
Families Of Crane Victims Sue NYC (Crain's)
Central Park Concession Could Be Wind Powered (Eater)
311 East 11th To Be Named "Village Green", Shoots For LEED Gold (Curbed)
Morgan Stanley Raises $6 Billion For Real Estate Fund (Reuters)
17 City Bridges To See Stimulus Cash (NYDN)
59 Street Bridge Turns 100 (Examiner)

Monday, March 30, 2009

Monday Morning Links

Renters Are All Sorts Of Happy Right Now (NY Times)
First Quarter Numbers Should Point To A Frozen Market (Barbanel/ NY Times)
Signs Of Life In The Jersey Coastal Market (NY Times)
What $300k Buys You In NYC (NY1)
In Beantown: 50% off John Hancock's 2006 Price? (Bloomberg)
Madoff's Citi Field Seats To Be Sold Soon (AP via Luxist)
National Luxury Real Estate Wrap (Luxist)
Queensboro Bridge Turns 100, But No Cash For Fireworks (NYDN)

Friday, March 27, 2009

Exclusive: 139 East 18th, Prewar Parlor/Garden Duplex That Has It All!

Exclusive! Unparalleled prewar townhouse parlor/garden duplex off 18th and Irving - prime Gramercy Park location close to Union Square Park.
Here is how this meticulously renovated and charming home is laid out:
Parlor floor - Formal sitting room, full marble bath, large bedroom overlooking garden. 11' ceilings. Staircase to garden floor....
Large and bright living room looks out to your private greenhouse/solarium and private garden. Of course you can stay inside your living room and snuggle up in front of your working wood-burning stove. Sociable and spacious chef's kitchen, full bath and 2nd bedroom (or formal dining room depending on your preference). And, my personal favorite your personal ancient vault/wine cellar underneath 18th Street, with full-sized washer/dryer. This private oasis has been been painstakingly renovated, and preserved. Enjoy every season! $5600/Mo.. Call 646-237-4170.

Union Square Park Passes Midway Point, Potty Topped, More Crooks Coming

Pavers approaching 15th

Potty Topped (L), Playground (R)

Bishop's Crook (L), Crook Base(C), Pavillion(R)

The Union Square Park renovation has passed its midway point, and more crooks are coming to the square. No, not those kind of crooks! Specifically, Bishop's Crook street lighting. There are three or four already up, but they will total 12 on the north end of the park. They add a nice pre-Panic-of-1907 feel to the place. But that's not all!

All of the tree pits have been dug and more of those Japanese Pagoda trees are on the way. The entire north end has been paved, and work is progressing quickly down the west side of the park with the new pavers nearly reaching 15th Street. The Farmer's Market is due to move from the south end back to its home on the north end Saturday April 4th. For the first time, the farmer will have access to electricity as well as water (although I have no idea where they are hiding the spigots or outlets).

They have done some work on the pavilion to accommodate park staff offices in the future (and of course the restaurant that they never talk about). Finally, there is some action in the playground area with concrete being pour, and yes, the new potty has been topped!

Friday Morning Links

Hmm...The Chinese are named as the first to lease at "Freedom Tower". Two days later, it's announced that it will now be named WTC 1. Coincidence?
"Freedom Tower" Renamed 1 WTC (Observer)
Pricey Mansion On East 74th Gets Big Price Chop, All Invovled Cranky (Observer)
More Pics Of The High Line Progressing And Looking Good! (Curbed)
NYC Unemployment Rate Spikes To 8.1% (NY Times)
Seagram Heir's Westchester Digs Up For Rent- Live Like A Bronfman For $28,500/Mo. (National Post)
Two Big Movies Film Overnight On The UES (Examiner)
Stars Add Glitz To Spring Street Sanitation Protest (Villager via TRD)
Looks Like A Great Time To Buy In Salzburg (The Real Deal)

Thursday, March 26, 2009

A Look At 57 Irving

The mega-lux 57 Irving continues to progress. Topped off last fall, the 11 story structure now has windows- ok, they are plastic windows for now, but it is progressing. It was reported last fall that three of the nine Units were spoken for, and one more may have been sold as only 5 are currently listed. Prices range from $6.375 Mil for a full floor 2872 sf home to $18 Mil. for the nearly 6800sf penthouse. The concept of full floor residences on a boutique scale remind me of "The Legacy" up on East 84th Street between Third and Lex. Those too were quite expense, but there was no shortage of baseball players knocking on the door to give it a look.

Thursday Morning Links

New Home Sales Rise In February (WSJ)
MTA Approves Much Higher Fares, Less Service (Bloomberg)
Giants Stadium About To Get Cemented (Curbed)
Setai Rises To Eight Stories (Curbed)
For Sale: 2.5 Acre, Rocky "Rat Island", Off City Island, Only $300G (NYDN)
First Tenant At Freedom Tower, A Chinese Company (Herald Tribune)
Vacation Homes Still Available This Summer- Cheap! (Forbes)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Wednesday Morning Links

Travel Piece Has Union Square With Palm Trees And Macy's (EV Grieve)
Equity Residential Says Rents Down 13% In February Alone (Crain's)
Bankers, Bonuses Now Face Negative Reaction From Co-Op Boards (NY Mag)
Looks Like The Foreigners Are Back For More Property (ABC News)
The Next Amenity To Go? The Doorman (Observer)
Rental Deals Just Keep Getting Better (WABC)
Peds vs. Bikes On Pulaski Bridge (NYDN)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Tuesday Midday Update

Things are picking up here in the real estate market (knock wood), so much so that it's been hard to get much blogging off so far this week. In the meantime though, 2 articles that peaked my interest this morning:

Children Face Rejection By Neighborhood (Public) Schools In Manhattan (NY Times) I almost wrote this story myself yesterday. I am zoned for P.S. 290 and my 5 year old was accepted (by lottery). 163 Parents received acceptance letters, and 50 received wait list letters, including a friend in my building. According to the parent coordinator of the school, the amount of pre-registrations was unprecedented. This makes a stressful period for a parent even more stressful. The friend of mine moved to the area specifically for the school. All hope is not lost. Many parent, myself included pre-registered as a contingency which will not be exercised. However, word has it that many other Manhattan schools are having serious issues.

Mortgage Fees Highest In Years (Bloomberg) The banks are lining their pockets by increasing the spread between 10 year T and 30 year mortgage rate. Fees increasing too. Given the sorry state of the banks, perhaps this helps them and costs the taxpayer less, but we pay more on the loans- arrgghh!

More later...

Tuesday Morning Links

Just What Geithner Needed- Bank Plan Leads To 500 Point Dow Rally (NY Times)
.....Rise In Existing Home Sales Didn't Hurt Either (CNN Money)
BlackRock, Carlyle Hungry For Some Toxic Assets (Bloomberg)
FiDi's 2 Gold Street Finally Shows Off It's Wares (Curbed)
High Line Construction Update With Plenty Of Pics (Curbed)
Mayor Says Silverstein Has Little To Lose At WTC (NYO)
Jersey Pol Tries To Disrupt Atlantic Yards Plan In The Name Of NJ Nets Fans (NYO)
AIG Building Changes Name (Cityfile)
Elliman Grows, Warburg Shrinks Again (The Real Deal)
Original Developer Of "The Ivy" Pleads Guilty To $27 Mil Fraud, Faces 20 Years (WSJ)
City Brokers Turning To Twitter, Having Trouble Keeping Up With A. Fine Co., A. Fine Blog (TRD)

Monday, March 23, 2009

Monday Morning Links

WABC Anchor, A Brooklyn Blogger Found Slain In Carroll Gardens Apartment (WABC)
Up In Smoke- The Deposit Vanishes (NY Times)
Slim Towers In The 20's East (NY Times)
National Luxury Real Estate Wrap (Luxist)
Corcoran's After Party Includes East End Office Closings (The Real Deal)
Schools Playing Larger Role In Real Estate Sales (NY1)

Friday, March 20, 2009

Actual Action And A Glimmer Of Light At Fulton Transit Hub

(L) Fulton & Broadway From the NW, (R) Actual Activity

(L) More Actual Activity, (R) Light Emanating From The Crater Onto The 4 Platform

I've passed the intersection of Fulton Street and Broadway several times this winter and haven't seen any activity until this week. The large crater like pit on the corner, the home of the Fulton Street Transit Center, now thanks to federal stimulus money may actually have a lid! A fancy Oculus lid at that pictured on Curbed.com (assuming the MTA doesn't find away to lose the current batch of cash, a real risk factor).

And now, I have photographic proof that actual construction workers are actually doing something on site. Wonder why this project is costing so much, is so over budget, and so far behind schedule? It seems like, unless I am missing an army of moles, that there are only a few people working on it at a time. Well, at least from the 4 train platform you can finally see the light, literally.

Action O' Plenty At Ground Zero

(L) Freedom Tower from the N, (R) Freedom Tower from the NE

(Above) Cranes everywhere, Ground Zero overview fromNW

Just looking at the chaotic orgy of construction at Ground Zero is enough to make any American proud! Aside from some massive public works project, like, say The Hoover Dam, it's hard to imagine more construction happening simultaneously in one spot. Things are finally progressing nicely as several WTC buildings are being built simultaneously.

Friday Morning Links

CB Richard Ellis Lands AIG Listing (Fox News)
NY Architects Look Abroad For Work (The Real Deal)
GE Warns Default Rate Could Reach 10% On It's Real Estate Portfolio Under "Stress Test Scenario (Marketwatch)
Hamptons Realtors Set Up Online Auctions (ABC News)
Dubai's "Palm Islands" Prices Drop Like A Coconut (NYDN)
Citi Spending Millions On Office Renovations (GoogleNews)
Broker, Radio Talk Show Host From Briarcliff Manor Arrested For Mortgage Fraud (LoHud)
Korean Government Buys Lot On 32nd Street For Cultural Center (Observer)
Bernie's Super Max Isolation "Hellhole" (NYDN)
Dan Loeb, Billionaire, Unloads MacDougal Alley Pad (Cityfile)
Fighting On Many Fronts To Save The East Village, Michael Rosen (EV Grieve, Video)

Thursday, March 19, 2009

BPC Gets Filled In: Millstein's Liberty Luxe Quietly Rises

(L) "Liberty Luxe", (R) Goldman Sachs Tower

There is plenty of construction action all over lower Manhattan, punctuated by the massive undertaking at Ground Zero. But, there is one development in BPC (at North End Avenue between Murray and Warren) that has largely slipped below the radar.

The project is no pip squeak. "Liberty Luxe", owned by Millstein, is just peaking above ground filling the final 2 sites (23 and 24) in Battery Park City, and will total 760,000 square feet. It will consist of 2 towers, 22 and 33 stories, that are designed by Costa Kondylis & Partners. Included will be 40,000 square feet of community space. The smaller building is slated for end of 2010 completion, while the larger tower will be done a few months later. The lot is just North of the Goldman Sachs Tower (pictured above), and just West of the Battery Park ball fields. All signs at this point lead you to believe that they will be rentals.

While the timing for such towers might not be ideal, it is heartening to see so much construction going on in such a small area. In this corner of Manhattan, if you didn't know any better, you'd think we were in boom times.

Thursday Morning Links

Picture Courtesy Curbed.com

Tribeca's Glass Atelier Not Entirely See Through (Curbed)
Mortgage Rates May Fall to 4.5% on Fed Moves, Lowest Since 1940's (Bloomberg)
AIG Selling 70 Pine Headquarters (NY Post via TRD)
Sitcom Map (Odd Couple Placed Incorrectly Below The Jeffersons) (Curbed)
Construction Worker Falls 10 Stories, Dies, At Site Of Gansevoort Park Hotel (NY Times)
Bonus Drop Means Manhattan Will Drop 24% From Peak, Says Economist (Bloomberg via TRD)
What Recovers First In The Housing Market? (Forbes)
No Proof That Higher Taxes Cause Rich To Flee (But Why Chance It?) (NY Times)
Even Spitzer Comes Out Of Woodwork To Criticize AIG (NY Times)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

I Hope This Is Not A Trend: Empty Storefront Turns Into Billboard

I hope this is not a trend, but I have the sneaking suspicion that it is. This empty store, at 113-115 University, has been converted into a de facto billboard. I think it is one thing to advertise the product you are selling in your store, and if it's vacant, it's fair to have a sign (even a huge one) to advertise that the space is for rent, but just plain advertising plastering store windows is unsightly and distasteful. I much prefer Thor Equities' Gordon Novelty Cover-Up.

Is it just me, or should there be some sort of law against this?

Update: My friend, Crappy, from Queens Crap (a super prolific blogger), has pointed out that Public Ad Campaign posted a story on the retail shrink rap ads/ de facto billboards last week. Not only that, they reported it to the D.O.B. (http://a810-bisweb.nyc.gov/bisweb/OverviewForComplaintServlet?requestid=2&vlcompdetlkey=0001146238). Unfortunately, the D.OB. inspected and did not issue a violation. So, I guess the answer to my earlier question is "yes, there should be a law against this." Let's nip this in the bud!

Treasuries Soar, Rates Plummet On Fed Announcement

BREAKING- The conclusion of the 2 day Fed meeting today brought an announcement that the Fed would be aggressively buying both Treasuries and Mortgage-Backed securities in an effort to deliberately drive down mortgage rates. The effect is already being felt in the Treasury market where prices have soared and yields plummeted by the biggest margin since the market crash of 1987. With half an hour left of trading on the day, the yield on the 10 year treasury has dropped nearly 1/2 point (16%) on the day to 2.55%. How much of this translates directly to a 30 year mortgage rate is hard to judge, but expect a big drop in mortgage rates over the coming days.
Treasuries Skyrocket On Fed Announcement (Marketwatch)

World Financial Center $91 Million Ferry Terminal Opens

$91 Million for a barge with 5 ferry slips. I don't know where the cost controls were on this project, originally estimated to cost $37.5 Million and to be completed in 2006! Ok, so if I can separate myself from such extreme waste and ineptitude, let's look at the structure.
My first impression was that it has a good look- sleek and modern. It is a combination of Steel, Glass, and canvas-like fabric. Natural light is plentiful. It has a light and airy feel and the materials seem appropriate to the setting. The ferries seem to be coming and going with ease, and the few digital boards are a great help in tracking the boarding to various locations. There are also numerous lamps equally spaced throughout that appear to have heating elements to keep the waiting commuters warm on a tougher weather day. Somehow, I missed the bathrooms. I am guessing that they were behind the ticket booth.

There were two practical flaws that jumped out right away. First, the windscreens are somewhat effective, but you still feel a pretty good breeze inside the terminal. For $90 Million, you would figure that you would at least have a sealed roof. Second, in the middle of the space is a large steel cage, I assume for billboards. The cage is attached to the structure with 2 large steel rings. With winds today at around 10 mph, it was swaying with a gentle groan. If you are standing under it, and notice it for the first time, your instinct is to get out from under it in short order.

Aside from these 2 flaws and the huge cost overrun, I would give it a positive review.

(Editors Note: if anyone knows of a good program to put a photo album on Blogger, please email me at andrew@afinecompany.com. Thanks, Andrew)

Wednesday Morning Links

Housing Starts Surge, Help Wall Street Continue Rally (Forbes)
Cities To Benefit From Obama's Housing Plan (Forbes)
Developers Surrender Contract Deposits On 421-a Certs (The Real Deal)
Brokers See Dramatic Increase In Traffic (Crain's)
Prosecutors Seek To Reclaim More Madoff Assets, Ruthy's Too (NY Times)
Madoff Sons, Who Borrowed $30 Million From Bernie Also Targets (NYDN)
Miami Inspired Rooftop Lounge Coming To LIC (Curbed)
A Look At The MacDougal Lofts (Curbed)
BPC Gets New $50 Million Ferry Terminal (CityRoom/NYT)
Meet A-Rod's Landlord (Observer)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Bowery, Mini-Condo Edition

I had a couple lingering photos from my tour of the renewed Bowery last week and wanted to share pics from down at Bond and Bleecker. First up is 57 Bond Street a modern six story, 32,000 square foot building designed by Meltzer/Mandl Architects. The building is sold out and looks like the closing prices were north of $1600 per square foot. Kenneth Horn, our friend from Alchemy Properties, had a piece of the deal, but sold out before completion. Either way, it is an interesting building, very clean, unusual, yet fitting with the new Bowery.

Second is 316 Bowery, known as Bowery and Bleecker Lofts. Kaish and Taub undertook a major restoration of the landmark former hotel, built in 1866, and it looks great. It is nice to see something of the old Bowery actually preserved. Above the future restaurant and lounge on the ground floor are 3 full floor lofts, priced in the $1600's per square foot. I'm not sure when they went up for sale, but all 3 are listed as available on Elliman's website.

One thing is for sure, the Bowery has become the antithesis of what has long been know for. The only drunken bums you'll see around here today are those who are over-celebrating St. Patty's Day.

Tuesday Morning Links

Pricing Flooring? Are Coop Boards Rejecting Deals On Price? (Urban Digs)
Buyers Look To Often Ignored 40 Year Old Law To Get Out Of Contracts (The Real Deal)
Chelsea's Avant Gets The Sky Camouflage Treatment (Curbed)
Tyra Wants To Give Models Another Chance Despite Riot Last Weekend (AMNY)
Madoff Mugshot Oddly Unsatisfying (Gawker)
Upper West Side Condo-O-Rama (NY Post via TRD)
Hamptons: Smaller Realtor Sues Biggies Over Cost Of MLX System (NY Post)
Bob Knakal Talks Bank Nationalization (Knakal Blog)

Monday, March 16, 2009

Park Avenue Sliver Building Gets...Glassed?

It's official folks, where there is no glass for blocks and blocks in either direction, there is glass now! Where? Park Avenue and 87th street, home of a highly unusual "sliver" building at 1055 Park Avenue. The super slim lot at 19' wide x 102' deep abuts 1049 Park Avenue and eliminates 7 floors worth of lot line windows at 1049- man, they must have been pissed! Despite that, and the design, that as neighbors interviewed called "inconsistent with the neighborhood", all it took was a year in court to get the project moving. Talk about a New York miracle! Well, the residents at 1055 Park will have no shortage of windows, that's for sure. The blueish-green glass is reminiscent of 300 East 79th. The Eleven story building will be divided into 5 "unique" residences. Pricing is not yet available.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Finally, Some Pics Of The Carnegie Hill Classic 6 For $4400

(l) fpl in lr, (c) hall, (r) 1st bedroom

Ok, it's a total mess, that's what a gut reno looks like, but many have asked, so here are the dusty shots you have been waiting for. I'll be showing again Monday morning and then, I think it'll be gone. Just a partial view of 3 beds, maids room, eat-in kitchen, fdr and more. I really appreciate the fact that the contractors are making such an effort to preserve everything possible. If you want to see it in person, just shoot an email to andrew@afinecompany.com.

Friday, March 13, 2009

2 Cooper Square Builds A Foundation Looks Towards "Better Days"

More pics from my Cooper Square/Bowery trip yesterday. Today's focus, 2 Cooper Square, a 15 story, 155,000 square foot residential and retail development with 156 units planned.
The foundation is in, rebar is hurtling slowing skyward, and there are actual people receiving paychecks working on the site. The half of the sign which hasn't been ripped off the wall shows a partial rendering and a proclamation of "Coming 2009". Okay, that won't happen, but at least people will have work for a while. Love the LLC listed on the signwith the optimistic name 'To Better Days, LLC". Now that's the spirit!I'm not sure why the contractor calls himself "10th Avenue Freeze Out", but I have to assume that he is a Springsteen fan, from Jersey, or both. At least it's a peppy tune!
All things considered, the rendering looks nice- a good old fashioned (looking) red bricker with double hung windows! As of the last update it was to be a rental building, completion date is anybody's guess.

Friday Morning Links

Madoff Victims Say "Sorry" Doesn't Cut It, People Rejoice As The Villain Is Jailed (LA Times)
ABC Mistakes Penthouse For Townhouse, But Here Is Bernie's Cell (ABC)
A Look At One Madison Park's Pants Dropping Amenities (Curbed)
Willets Point Owners Sue (The Real Deal)
Village, Soho Prices Surge (Villager)
A Lot Of Fun At The Expense Of One LIC Building (New York Shitty)
MTA Armageddon Next On Tap (NYT via Curbed)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Scarano's 52 East 4th Rises, Shines On Cooper Square/Bowery

(L) From Bowery looking East, (R) Rendering From Bowery Looking SE

(L) Looking South, (R) Rendering looking South

Where the Bowery meets Cooper Square there rises an irregular building on an irregular lot. With frontage on both the Bowery and on East 4th Street, the L-shaped lot sports a pencil-slim 15 story tower. The area, a target of the East Village anti-gentrification forces is hot, and if you haven't walked around the Bowery over the past five years you wouldn't recognize it.
The 15 story tower, 52 East 4th, with 15 residences, has been pretty hot too with only 3 units not yet in contract. The architecture is debatable, or in the eye of the beholder. Cooper Square, however, anchored by Thom Mayne's Cooper Union, is where the unusual, and original, and the brilliant have become the norm. And that norm is far removed from the norms just a few years ago. Completion expected in the coming months.