Wednesday, September 30, 2009

LIC's "Murano" A Glass Act

Ventured out to ol' LIC this morning for some pics and updates. A pleasant surprise was how the glass was coming out at "The Murano" condo. The building formerly named "Prism" sure had a heck of a reflective surface. Just check out the clouds in the first shot. Pretty impressive Canti too!

On pricing, etc.. from broker email:
11 stories, 76 units in Long Island City , Queens .
There are 32 one-bedrooms that range from 685-840 sqft.
There are 40 two-bedrooms that range from 1050-1195 sqft.
There are 4 three-bedrooms that are 1505 sqft.
There are private balconies/terraces in select units that range from 28-1380 sqft.
Amenities include: indoor parking, gym, lounge, eligible for 15 year 421-A tax abatement and high-end finishes Pricing starts at $450,000 for One Bedrooms, $595,000 for Two Bedrooms, and $1,543,000 for Three Bedroom apartments.

UPDATE: Pricing as per broker email this afternoon:

one-bedrooms– 675-807 sq ft - $450,000 - $525,000

two-bedrooms 890-1313 sq ft - $595,000 – $945,000

three-bedroom - 1547-1558 sq ft - $1,075,000 - $1,100,000

Outdoor space: Private balconies/ terraces in select units 24-1,532 sq ft

Wednesday Morning Links

Going Green: Next Up "Green" Supers (Environment News Service)
Rockrose Brothers Finalize Split (The Real Deal)
College Grads Still Moving To NYC (The Real Deal)
NYC Home Prices Up 3rd Month In A Row (NYDN)
Renderings Of FiDi's Fantasy Towers And More (Curbed)
Neighbor To LIC's Casa Vizcaya Still Making Waves (NYDN)
40 Mercer Sees First Flip For A Loss (Observer)
Knakel Tackles Landlord Myths (Observer)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Breaking: Liu, de Blasio Clean Up In Run-Off Races

It was a blowout for Bill de Blasio in the race for public advocate, with a 25% margin of trouncing over long time NYC political hack, Mark Green. John Liu was an 11 point winner in the democratic race for Comptroller, over David Yassky. Should Liu prevail, which in this town is a virtual certainty, he would be NYC's first Asian-American to be elected to citywide office.

de Blasio, Liu Win (WNBC)

Tuesday Morning Links

Photo Via NYT, Downtown Alliance,LTL Architects, Transsolar Engineering

Putting Greenwich Street Back Together, This Time Green (CityRoom/NYT)
Case/Shiller Report Shows Uptick Despite 13% Drop In Values Over 12 Months (Bloomberg)
Soho Mews Sees Price Cuts (Curbed)
As The Apthorp Turns, Somehow We Are Even More Baffled (Curbed)
Fed Says NY And NJ May Lag On Recovery Trend (Bloomberg)
Haunted House Opens In NoHo (Observer)
Scammer, Dreier Driven To Fraud By Desire For Hamptons Beach House (NY Post)

Monday, September 28, 2009

What Recession? Union Square Thriving!

A nice piece in NY Mag published on the web today points out the incredible resilience of our micro-hood, Union Square. Sure, when big boxes Virgin and Circuit City went out earlier this year, there was much to fear, but with the quick substitution of Nordstrom's Rack and Best Buy, the blight is still out of sight. Not to say it's all peaches and cream, there are still the fights between Parks and the artists and those who oppose a concession in Union Square Park, but one this is certain, plenty of cash trading hands in these parts!
The Micro Economy Of Union Square (NY Mag)

Monday Morning Links

Thom Mayne's Cooper Union Building (A. Fine)

Second Ave Subway, Lot Line Windows Will Plunge 28 Apartments Into Darkness (NY Post)
Second Ave Subway On Snail Rail (NY Post)
Bidding Soon On Union Square Park Concession (NY Post)
Weekly, National, Luxury Real Estate Round-Up (Luxist)
Not-For-Profit Real Estate Sector Booming (NY1)
Knakal: Foreign Investment Surging (The Real Estate Channel)
NYC Appraisals Getting Shortchanged (NY Times)
"Cash" Buyer Does Not Mean Cash, Literally (NY Times)
Broker Anoint New Hood: North TriBeCa (NY Times)

Friday, September 25, 2009

Ace Hotel: Brilliantly Hip And Homey At Once

The unbridled passion with which hotelier Alex Calderwood operates is evident throughout his captivating and hip Ace Hotel. I was lucky enough to land a personal tour with Alex last week at the hotel on 29th and Broadway, which, in previous incarnation was the former SRO Hotel Breslin. All but 30 Breslin residents have moved and/or been bought out and most have them have been consolidated on the top floor with a separate entrance which is now being renovated. Although Alex doesn't like to comment much on that he says that they process has actually gone "pretty fine". What has taken place of the former Breslin is nothing short of remarkable.
You enter the hotel through a festive, classic marquee and into a large lobby with 18' ceilings. The space is open and intriguing. There is a creative use of materials throughout. Ordinary materials are used in extraordinary ways, like the metal piping that hold light fixtures in the lobby lounge. Concurrently, good bones, like the old tile mosaic floors have been cleaned up and re-used. When asked what motif you would call such a look, Calderwood answered "Spare Bohemia"(a term he used for the first time and likes), as well as "utilitarian, but celebrated". The effect, to me at least, is a visually stimulating fusion of modern, industrial, and pre-war. It also has a very "hip" feel. If you know me, I am the antithesis of hip, but the hipness is not intimidating, but warm and welcoming.
The rooms were equally interesting. I took a look at rooms that ranged in price from $219 for a standard room, all the way up to $979 for a herringbone hardwood floored corner loft. While there are standard features in each room like a signature bed-bug repelling eco-friendly mattress with original custom Scottish blankets, every single room is different. Unique furnishings included items like working turntables and Gibson guitars, and no standard furniture aside from the bed and Smeg fridge. Oh yeah, the fridge, what a mini-bar indeed! Aside from the assorted and ample usual product, was a Heineken Mini-keg! Gotta love that and priced at $30 who would think twice? The feel is much more like you getting the keys to a friends place than to staying at a hotel. It's downright homey!
And how about this Alex Calderwood fella? As Alex and I went from room to room, it was evident that this was someone who has an incredible passion about this project as well as an encyclopedic memory of where each individual piece in each room came from. He had an exceptional amount of energy, especially considering that he doesn't drink coffee (although the quality of the "Stumptown Coffee" off the lobby may make him want to reconsider). I asked him where he lives, and ironically, he answered "a soulless glass tower in Chelsea". He moved there out of convenience to be close to The Ace, but is planning another move soon. If there was a neighborhood that best reflected his personality? At first he answered "East Village" but then quickly amended his answer to "downtown". His goal with The Ace Hotel? He'd like it to be "an instant classic" and more importantly fit in as "a thread in the fabric of the city". To that I say, well done!
For more on Ace: Ace Hotel Website

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Thursday Morning Links

No too much in the news today, but one big benefit tonight, the "Harvest In The Square" benefiting the Union Square Partnership. The sumptuous feast begins at 6pm for VIPs and 7:30 for regular folk. Tickets are available at the door. For more info, check:
Heilberger Cuts Price Of His Swanky UES Townhouse (Style Crave)
Khadafy Trump Tent Trumped, Sleeps In Midtown Embassy (NY Post)
440 West 42nd, The "Monster Of Midtown Revealed (Curbed)
Residential market Picking Up Say Experts (The Real Deal)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Wednesday Morning Links

IRS Relaxes Rules To Help Contain CMBS Defaults (Retail Traffic)
CBS Television Launches Real Estate Website (Crains)
Swig Warns Of Possible Personal Bankruptcy Related To Sheffield Judgement (The Real Deal)
Moinian's W Tops Off (The Real Deal)
Converting Pavement To Parks (NY Times)
Colleges Feast On Cheap Real Estate (NY Times)
Khadafy Unuable To Set Up Tent At Camp Trump (NY Post)
Related's Ross Wants Reform (Observer)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Tuesday Morning Links

Things Getting Real Messy At Fail Conversion Park Columbus (The Real Deal)
Tishman Sweating Big Mortgages Coming Due In The Commercial Sector (The Real Deal)
Cute Kids Used To Battle Battery Park Park Plan (Curbed)
A Look Inside 200 Eleventh Ave- The One With The Parking In The Apts (Curbed)
State Applies For Stimulus Funds For Moynihan (Observer)
Broker Turns Down Qaddafi (Fox News)
National Transit Terror Alert (KCBS)

Monday, September 21, 2009

Union Square Park Update: Graffiti, Column Keep Us 8 Weeks Away!

Cold War Era Graffiti

Column issue

Very green toddler's area (L), and "magic mountain" shiny climbing orb for those a bit older.

(L) Terra cota roofers, (C) Potty under wraps, (R) 16th Street transverse

We are close, so close, to the completion of the Union Square Park renovation project! Originally slated for a Fall 2009 completion, it looks like they will be pretty close, if not right on time.

According to The Union Square Partnership, it looks like kids and parents from all over the area will be thankful come Thanksgiving Day! The project that I have previously described as a well-oiled machine, has had a couple of challenges in the final stages. First, a rotting column on the south side of the pavilion had to be supported so that roof work could continue (that caused a delay of a few weeks in that part of the project), and will be re-rebarred and recast in the very near future. Perhaps more interesting though is the latest snag -- cold war-era graffiti that just won't come off. Among the various scrawlings: "SUPPORT SOVIET AID TO AFGHANISTAN". Talk about a catch-22! Union Square partners also have a bit of a dilemma -- either a treatment (micro-abrasion) which will keep the ghost of the graffiti, leaving it, or doing something that may require landmarks approval.

Aside from those 2 issues, everything is progressing at a fantastic clip. The massive playground with equipment not seen before in NYC, is just about ready. Among the features, a huge stainless steel orb called "magic mountain" for climbing, fantastic landscaping, and multi-colored rubber foam tiles that keep cool and also direct runoff water to the 25' and 30' trees which are newly planted. The public restrooms, to be attended during daylight hours, are just about finished. Access for men and women will be available from outside the playground, while the playground will have a family bathroom accessible from the inside of the playground. Re-purposing is happening all over. Stones from the original wall that circles the park and terra cotta from the pavilion roof have been cleaned up and reused on-site. Another added benefit to the renovation is that construction unearthed major problems with the 16th Street transverse which, in turn forced the Parks Department to renovate and replace the walkway. The renovated walkway also has lighting for the first time, which matches the aesthetic of the bishops crook lampposts throughout the park. The park looks magical, and the kids are sure to be thrilled. Parents will love the multiple vantage points to watch the kids, ample benches, pleasant and shading landscaping, and yes, the clean potty will make a huge difference.

The Union Square Partnership reminds me that this doesn't come cheap. While it has been a challenging fund-raising environment this year for obvious reasons, the USP is doing pretty well, but every dime counts. So, if you are feeling charitable and have a great appetite, the USP is throwing its annual "Harvest In The Park" bash this Thursday night. With the coupon code "opentable" advance general admission is just $95.00, and you get to sample an exotic array of food and beverage from the restaurants which line the park. It's a nice way of saying thanks for doing a great job on the Park and a great way to enjoy some exceptional culinary treats.

For More Info, check:

Monday Morning Links

Fall Apartment Market Sees Return To Normalcy (NY Times)
Out Of Town Banks Bring Tricky Appraisals (NY1/video)
Boomlet Has Some Toying With Higher Prices (NY Times)
The History Of Bernie Madoff's (Former) Building (NY Times)
National Luxury Real Estate Round Up (Luxist)
Head Of Housekeeping Arrested For Killing Guest, A Dubai RE Agent, At Essex House (NYDN)

Friday, September 18, 2009

Friday Update

I've had a bad case of "board package interuptus" the past couple of days. Gotta love those co-op boards! Arrgghh!
I did manage to interview and try to keep up with hotelier Alex Calderwood, at the Ace Hotel this morning, and should have this posted soon.
14 West 14th Condo Goes Cash Only! (The Real Deal)
Development Du Jour: Harlem's PS 90 Condos (Curbed)
Tax Fraud Charged In Riverside South Deal (The Real Deal)
Hill and Bill Looking To Go Big In Westchester (NY Post)
Bullish: Madoff's Montauk Digs Sell Quickly, Above Offer, In Cash Deal (CNN)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Tuesday Morning Links

FBI, NYPD Hunt Al Qaeda In Queens (WCBS TV)
Fate Of Future 59 Story Scraper At 57th & 2nd Still In Doubt (Observer)
Stuy Town Market Rate Renter Could Reap Windfall (Observer)
Nanny State? City Officials Seeks To Ban Smoking...Outdoors (NY Times)
Stalled Projects Not Depressing To Most (NY Post)
Park Dept Puts Brakes On Brooklyn Amphitheater Plan (Bkln Paper via Brownstoner via The Real Deal)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Six Months Later 2 Cooper Takes Shape

Left: September, 2009. Right, March 2009.

What a difference Six months can make! What was no more than a hole in the ground at East 4th and Bowery, Six months ago, is now a nearly topped 2 Cooper. The 156 unit rental building, owned by "To Better Days LLC" and being built by Bruce inspired "10th Avenue Freeze Out", is further along then I expected when I scoffed at the "Coming In 2009" sign 6 months back.
Well, it may not be done in 2009, but it is coming, so perhaps better days do lie ahead for this developer.

Weekend Wrap

Photo: J.P. Endress

Just a thought- where is the inventory? A look at StreetEasy shows that over both the 3 month and 6 month time frame that inventory is down close to 13%. It is down a slightly greater amount from the May peak. It was a busy Summer, for my company busier than the summer before. One catch though, all the buyers were in the sub- $1 Million category. So, more work for the same amount of commission. Third Quarter reports should be real interesting a few weeks down the road. Don't be surprised to see a sizable pick up in volume.
Side note- turn to The Brompton Ad on Page 12 of Sunday's real estate section in the times. The ad copy reads "opening to rave reviews". The rave review cited- from A. Fine Blog. It's a good thing that I only write about buildings that I genuinely like, and The Brompton is at the top of the list.
Businesses Move Home (NY Times)
After Six Years Of Litigation, Steinbeck Apartment On 72nd Hits Market (NY Times)
Rare Vanderbilt Loss Made Park Avenue What It Is Today (NY Times)
Sunday National Luxury Real Estate Wrap (Luxist)
Afghanistan Buys $4.2 Mil. Trump Condo (NY Observer)
Atlantic Yards: A Design History (NY Observer)
New Yorker Takes To Streets In Jumpsuit, Mask, Goggles And Respirator- Taken In Stride (NY Times)
Feds Using "Madoff Mystique" To Sell Penthouse (NY Post)
Related's Ross Gets Nod For Charter Bank (WSJ)
Curbed Visits WTC Site (Curbed)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Thursday Morning Links

Tiki Barber Closes At Miraval, And More...(Cityfile)
A Look At The East Village (The Cooperator)
In Midtown South, Commercial Bargains (NY Times)
......Lower Manhattan "Office Glut" (WSJ)
StuyTown Risking Default (NY Times)
Reveal: New Barclays Center (The Real Deal)
Average Apt Rents Drop (The Real Deal)
Nouvel's MoMa Tower Chopped By 20 Stories (Curbed)
Tour Bernie's East Side Penthouse (Curbed)

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Tuesday Morning Links

Good morning everyone! Welcome back to reality! Summer is gone for all intents and purposes and so it is back to blogging full time for me. Not only is the blog back, I aspire to make it better than ever. Look for new features, greater content, guest bloggers, and more this season.
NYC Tourism Biz Better Than Expected (Bloomberg)
MTA Having Issues Relocating 2nd Ave Subway Residents (NY Times)
Private Pools Keep Very Few Cool In NYC (NY Times)
Drugs, Bribes, Mob Taint Building Inspectors (NY Post)
Runaway Train: Fulton Transit Center Costs Jump Again (NY Post)

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

On a little break, gearing up for the post Labor Day blast off. The blog will be geared up and ready to rock on a daily!