Friday, November 21, 2014

Did Bono Really Crash A Bike In Central Park?

(Bono on Bike, Courtesy iRadio)
"It looks like we will have to do our Tonight Show residency another time - we're one man down," said a statement released by mega rock star Bono's band U-2 on Sunday night. It explained that "Bono has injured his arm in a cycling spill in Central Park and requires some surgery". That succinct explanation left out virtually every detail and left much to be desired.. Then, on Wednesday night we learned that the rock star's injuries were far more grave than we expected. Bono actually broke his arm in 8 places, the bone broke the skin, he broke his eye socket and a finger as well. Yet, the only other detail on the accident came with the injury report: he was involved in a "high energy bike accident to avoid another rider."

The lack of detail seems fishy, and reeks of a potential cover up. There are so many unanswered questions:

When did it happen?

Where exactly did it happen?

How fast was he going?

Was he going the right way? In the Central Park, that is counter-clockwise.

Sunday is a big day in Central Park. It is crowded with bikers and joggers. I spent 2 hours on the loop that day doing distance work, and it didn't happen when I was there. In this day of social media and cell phone pics and video, wouldn't a couple pictures surface somewhere on the internet? Even if nobody recognized Bono, a crash that horrific would certainly attract attention. Not one person has come forward, not a soul. It just seems improbable that Bono could go down like the proverbial "tree in the forest" and nobody would hear it.

I reached out to the 22nd Precinct yesterday. The officer on the desk said that he has 'just read about the mishap in the paper today, but he hadn't heard anything about it around the station.' He encouraged me to reach out to the Deputy Commissioner of Public Information to see if there were any police or ambulance reports from that day in the park to corroborate Bono's story. So far, I haven't received a response.

I also reached out to various bikers, messengers, and city cycling advocates on Twitter and in person. These folks have quite a grapevine and love sharing whatever they know. That also has been a dead end.

Could the bike crash story be a cover up for something more embarrassing or nefarious? It has been a wicked week for Bono with his jet door flying off, in flight, just 3 days before the park mishap. Gawker has liberally joked that perhaps someone is trying to kill Bono. Maybe, just maybe, that is happening! Or, maybe he took a tumble down the steps of his San Remo duplex and didn't want to admit it is an old-manny way to get so banged up. Odds are, recklessness was likely involved on the part of Bono or others. The possibilities are endless!

We, being me, at A Fine Blog wish Bono the speediest of recoveries and wish him well. At the same time, we, being the pedestrians, joggers and cyclists that use Central Park and our streets in general want information. Information is how we make decisions to protect ourselves, it is also how we advocate to make our community safer for all. Until there is actual evidence or corroboration of the crash story, I say it is improbable, it never happened, and it is a cover for up for something. I would be happy to be proven wrong. Give us the facts, rather than ample room for conspiracy theories!

(I will update this story as needed)

Friday, May 2, 2014

Digging Dirt And Having A Blast At 217 West 57th

May 1st, 2014 (A. Fine)

May 1st, 2014 (A. Fine)

The Future!

And so starts our installment series on 217 West 57th Street, what will soon assume the crown of tallest residential building in North America, and in my book, the tallest tower in NYC. Yep, guess I am one of those that don't count spires! Sorry World Trade. At 1550 feet tall, 217 will take the title from 432 Park Avenue which will have held the title for the blink of an eye.
Extell has cleared the lot and begun to dig, dig, dig. In spots they have managed to dig approximately 60 feet down. According to a construction worker on the site, for those peskier spots, blasting starts today! Let's get ready to ruuummmbbllle!
Behold the wide gap between 57th Street and CPS created by both 217 and the future 940 foot condo at 220 CPS. This pedestrian view of Central Park from 57th Street is to disappear soon, so, if you don't have the big money to buy the view, have a look at it now while it is free!
217 West 57th, The Skyscraper City Super Thread (Skyscraper City)
Curbed File on 217 East 57th (Curbed)

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

A Peak at 1110 Park Ave Under Wraps, Carnegie Hill Commanding $4000++ per square foot?

1110 Park Avenue (A. Fine)

Palace atop 1110 Park Avenue (A. Fine)

Peak at limestone (A. Fine)
Rendering (grifted from
While previously the subject of much NIMBYism, lot line follies with neighbors 1100 Park and 1112 Park, Toll Brother's 1110 Park Avenue has risen! The 47,000sf plus condo will feature 11 apartments over 16 floors- a ground level triplex, 7 full floor residences (floors 3-9), 2 duplexes (floors10-13), and a palatial triplex with POOL on floors 14-16. The building will be clad in limestone, and much like Toll Brother's exceptional effort, the Touraine on East 65th Street, the building will take on a prewar look with a Parisian flair of sorts. Plans filed with the city indicate a gym, wine cellar, and bike room will also be included.

How about pricing? Word on the street, and it is just that, nothing else, is that prices will start at $10 Million and rise to $35 Million plus. Just doing the math, the smallest apartments should be the full floor residences with approximately 2860 gross square footage (lot size of 4146 x .69 coverage). Figuring loss factor for common space, stairs, etc.. it would appear that the least expensive apartment will be asking close to $3900 per square foot. You would have to figure that number will only rise with floor, and lord only knows what the will ask for the palace with the pool! Can Carnegie Hill above 86th Street, even on Park Avenue support such pricing? If condo sales in the area at buildings like 135 East 79th are any indication, the answer is a resounding yes! Sales are slated to start any time now, so we will soon find out.

Schedule A, (NYC DOB)
Toll Brothers Aspires To Unity On Park (The Real Deal)
All Things 1110 Park Avenue (Curbed)

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Clocking In At Union Square, A Clock Face Over Pie Face!

Clock face over Pie Face (A. Fine)

Clock face (A. Fine)
I was surprised to see this 10' clock suddenly sprout at the corner of 13th and Fourth Avenue, a block from Union Square. There are new terraces that were recently added to 127 Fourth Avenue over the past year, but the clock, who would have expected that? A clock face over Pie Face! It appears to be part of the re-branding of Pan Am Equities' 4000 unit apartment portfolio by Mirador Properties, which is now in charge of marketing and leasing. Mirador is overseeing the upscaling the properties with Restoration Hardware fixtures, high end appliances, and sleek lobbies. It is being branded as "True North", dedicated to combining "Old New York design" with "modern technology and amenities". Ok, whatever. But, I can say that I do like the clock, and thanks, it sure is more attractive than the 15 digit "Metronome" around the corner at 14th Street!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Mapping The Benefits Of Second Avenue Subway, And A Fine Double Bonus Zone!

(Graphics: Khan Belmond, Concept: Andrew Fine)

As the blasting on NYC's Second Avenue Subway has subsided, the buzz is just starting to begin! The cavernous stations have been blasted, the tunnels dug, and residents of the area are relieved that the shaking has ceased. Yes, the shits show continues on 2nd Avenue with the traffic disruption, platform streets, mini-sidewalks, cement trucks a plenty, and trailers stacked high. But, there is something other than dust and truck exhaust that people are smelling, and that is opportunity!

The Second Avenue Subway, by the MTA's (ever moving) target is just 33 months away! Sure, that target is likely to move, but with the area relentlessly beaten over the past several years, there is light at the end of the, err, tunnel. Savvy New Yorkers, priced out of much of Manhattan, are finding pay dirt in the much-maligned but ultimately livable Upper East Side. I have been preaching it for the last couple of years, but the pain vs. gain equation has proven too much for many until recently. But now, with articles springing up in places like The New York Times, Crain's, in the past few weeks, the trend seems to be set.

To aid my clients and friends (yeah, you too), I have devised a graphic that depicts which areas should benefit the most from the new Second Avenue Subway line. Each circle represents areas that are currently, or will be within the equivalent of a two avenue block walk from a train station. The green circles are for current 4, 5, and/or 6 train stations, and the blue circles represent the future Q train stops. You will notice that there are twice as many Q train circles, as the station entrances are staggered. For instance, the 72nd Street stop has entrances at 72nd, as well as 69th Street. The graphic is far from perfect, so use at your own discretion, and double check my info.

A Fine Double Bonus Zone!

As I developed the map, first by hand, and then by bribing an imperfect co-worker, one observation stood out to me. Yes, there is no doubt that much of the far East portion of the UES should benefit, but what about those areas where these coverage circles overlap (shaded red on the map)? If you lived on 85th and Third Avenue for instance, you will have something that the East Side hasn't seen for generations- choice! How nice will it be to choose between the East Side line, and a line that circles through Midtown, Downtown, and into Brooklyn based on where you want to go, and vice-versa? Not to mention the choice when one of these venerable lines of transportation goes down! A Fine Double Bonus Zone, is what I'll call it! Perhaps, in the future, a premium will be had not for living "West of Lex", but "West of Second", or perhaps "between the lines." Well, that is the future, but if you are shopping with the benefit of the Second Avenue Subway in mind, it is something you should be considering now.

Second Avenue Subway (MTA)
Higher Prices Migrate To The Far Upper East Side (NY Times, 3/8/14)
Landlords Dig Second Avenue Subway (Crain's, 2/24/14)
Upper East Sees Boost From Second Avenue Subway Progress (3/1/14)

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Wraps Are Off! Lascoff Pharmacy Resurrected As Warby Parker Store.

E 82nd (credit: Ayesha Fine)
The Sign (credit: Ayesha Fine)
Wide View (credit: Ayesha Fine)
What Once Was (Credit: Forgotten NY)
There was almost certain doom in July of 2012 when iconic Lascoff Pharmacy departed their longtime home at the corner of 82nd Street and Lexington Avenue. The Pharmacy/Apothecary had stood on the corner since 1915, and was in business since 1899. What would become of the famous sign, and the wonderful architecture? Another preservation tragedy would surely ensue!
Fast forward to this week, and I was pleasantly surprised to see that Warby Parker has taken the old space and modified it to their needs. While nothing can match the bronze arched windows stuffed with rare products and concoctions from around the world, nor the hat-like brass awning, much was saved. The sign is still there although the name will change. The diamond tile floors remain, as does the spiral staircase and mezzanine. The building itself retains the same arched windows and architecture while the building has gone from decaying brownstone to a color that resembles a chalkboard. I am not sure if the cornice is coming back as the top 2 floors have been gutted and continue under construction. Eh, it's not everything that I wanted, but it sure could have been much, much worse, and for this I am happy.
Great Links-
Tour Warby Parker's Historic UES Store (Racked 3/19/2014)
Lascoff Drugs Vanishing (Jeremiah's Vanishing New York 7/2012)
Lascoff Pharmacy (Forgotten NY, date unknown)

Monday, January 6, 2014

Why Mayor de Blasio Won't Doom NYC's Real Estate Prosperity

Chirlan, Bill, A Fine Blogger
There has been wild conjecture and speculation on the implications of the de Blasio administration's impact on NYC real estate. Despite the painting of our new mayor as a radical, a Sandanista sympathizer, Socialist, what have you, I am here to spell out why Mayor de Blasio is not the end of our real estate prosperity.


While no transition is easy, and many have criticized the pace of de Blasio's appointments, one thing is clear- while there was ample campaign rhetoric opposing the "Bloomberg way", what we have seen so far is a desire in many ways to carry on with the improvements that occurred during Bloomberg's tenure. The choice of Bill Bratton as Police Commissioner is just the highest profile example. While there was ample discussion of "stop and frisk", Bratton believes in a more judicious use, rather than doing away with it altogether. This is telling. It is clear that the new Mayor wants to continue improvements, but the changes will be more in subtle nuances and communication rather than wholesale changes.

More to my original point, two other appointments point to continuity and growth in our industry.

For Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development, de Blasio tapped Alicia Glen, a veteran from Goldman Sachs. While Glen has been instrumental with Goldman in securing financing for low income housing and championing CitiBike, let's face it, when it comes to talk of "Two Cities", Glen comes from the City that de Blasio railed against during the campaign.

Speaking of Goldman Alums, Mayor de Blasio came up with a shocker in retaining Kyle Kimball as the President of the Economic Development Corporation. So much for a big break from the past! The new Mayor was defensive of his choice and has assured his progressive supporters that Mr. Kimball shares his values, and would support requiring a "living wage" on city projects. But again, wouldn't you think, given these appointments, that the differences would, in fact, be subtle?

80/20 or 75/25?

When defending Kimball, deBlasio made a point of saying that every project that comes along is an "opportunity to right some wrongs" and that he expects private developers to "do a little more." So, what is a little more? If you ask me, we will probably be looking at tax breaks and zoning exemptions for projects that in fact, do a "little more." To me that equates to a change from reserving 20% of a project for "affordable housing" to 25%, if that. It might even be possible that 80/20 remains, and additional concessions are plied from developers for additional green space, bike parking, renewable energy use, or community facilities.

Track Record

Can anyone name a major development that Mayor de Blasio opposed during his time in the City Council, or as Public Advocate? Sure, he was a posthumous critic of Rudin's unpopular conversion of St. Vincent's to a luxury condo, but how bout the biggies in his neck of the woods like Atlantic Yards or Domino Sugar? Nada. In fact, you could argue from his track record that de Blasio likes big development so long as it includes affordable housing. Will he demand a greater pound of flesh for such developments to moving forward? Perhaps, but despite all of the labeling and his own campaign rhetoric, de Blasio hasn't proven to be anti-business or anti-development over the course of his career of public service.


By his own definition, de Blasio is a progressive. He has progressive initiatives- the tax on the (relatively) rich for pre-k for 4 year olds, the living wage, preservation of hospitals, and paid sick leave. Assume that the Mayor is successful on all four issues, will that ruin the city? Will educating 4 year olds while giving their parents an opportunity to work or be relieved of child care costs "damage" the city? Will taxing income an extra (on average) $930/year for those making between $500k-$1M/year chase all of the wealthy from the greatest city in the world? If we end up paying an extra 20 cents for a cheeseburger so the person serving it doesn't have to rely on public assistance, is that really so bad? Would it be so bad to actually keep your local hospital or keep your job if you got sick? I guess the point is, none of these initiatives will ruin a great city, and they have the possibility of making it a more livable city for all.

Finally, Supply

Oh yes, supply...When you hear of the fear and loathing of de Blasio in regards to real estate, it is coming from the real estate industry, not the 74% of New Yorkers who gave him a resounding election victory. Yes, there is the unknown, which naturally instills a bit of fear into anyone, and it makes sense that the industry, particularly developers, are concerned. After all, it is the developers that will have to haggle with the city and make projects work financially under an as yet to be redefined set of rules. While I doubt that new rules will prevent development, as I believe the new mayor to be thoroughly pragmatic, and development to be in strong demand, one thing is not changing, and that is supply! Supply in the city near historic lows and for property owners in NYC that is a very good thing. Prices continue to rise, and demand continues to outstrip supply. With the stall in development post-2008, even if every project that went moribund came back to life all at once, it probably would have minimal impact as the demand is so strong.

From a strictly personal, narrowly empirical view, the market has only accelerated after the Mayoral election. Plenty of factors are still at work, not to mention global and macroeconomic considerations. But, a mildly progressive mayor with a pro-development history and a pragmatic thought process will not, in my opinion, do us in!

(Note: I know this post will stir debate, disagreement, and hopefully thoughtful discussion. As a disclaimer, I have know the Mayor since he participated on A. Fine Blog back in 2007. I have always found him thoughtful and honest, yep rare for a politician, and I have supported him since.)