NYC

7-Eleven Goes High-Tech – FiDi

 7-Eleven has gone high-tech.

New Lower Manhattan 7-Eleven

The chain’s expansive new Financial District outpost, which sits at the corner of John and Pearl streets, boasts touch-screen ordering, free Wi-Fi, a huge flat-screen TV and even an Amazon Locker — a kiosk where Amazon customers can pick up their online-ordered goods.

The new 7-Eleven opened last week —  just in time to celebrate the chain’s annual “Free Slurpee Day” on July 11 — and looks more like a cafe than a convenience store, with enough space to seat about 25 people.

The Stack: NYC First Prefabricated Building

INWOOD — One of the city’s first prefabricated residential building to come to Inwood is near completion.

The Stack, a 38,000-square-foot, seven-story concrete and steel building, was shipped to 4857 Broadway in 56 separate modules. Placement of the modules started in late June and will be completed Wednesday by an eight-person crew and one crane.

Full Article Here:

Via DNAinfo New York

Introducing Wired City, a New Channel Where Commercial Real Estate and Broadband Come Together

wiredcity logo copy

New York City is inching ever closer to rival Silicon Valley as the epicenter of the tech world—and commercial real estate has to match its pace. With more tech start-ups moving to New York, and requiring high-speed Internet to do their jobs—or at least watch cat videos with minimal buffering—the presence of a broadband Internet connection can transform a pedestrian property into a hot commodity.

That’s why fellow Observer Media property The Commercial Observer has launched Wired City, a savvy new channel that explores the intersection of infrastructure, real estate, and broadband Internet. If you enjoy Betabeat’s coverage of New York’s quest for world domination, we think Wired City will be right up your alley.

Put simply, broadband Internet means high-speed Internet—in other words, anything that’s not that annoying dial-up connection you had around the dawn of the interwebs. It encompasses everything from DSL—which transmits information at a relatively slow six Mbps—to the much-desired fiber broadband, which transmits information at speeds up to 150 Mbps.

Full Article Here:

Via BetaBeat – The Lowdown on High Tech

City Council approves Hudson Square rezoning

Hudson Square

The City Council voted Wednesday to approve the rezoning of Hudson Square in Lower Manhattan. The rezoning will allow developers — including the area’s dominant player Trinity Real Estate — to move forward with several large-scale hotel and residential projects.

As part of the approval process, Speaker Christine Quinn secured a commitment for a vote on landmark status for the adjacent South Village Historic District, according to a statement from Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, a preservation group. But community activists were concerned that the city did not discuss any landmark designations for sites south of Houston Street, which is home to nearly half of the proposed district.

“The landmarking commitment only covers about half the endangered area and won’t take effect until nine months after the rezoning, allowing developers ample time to knock down historic buildings,” Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village group, said in a statement.

Earlier this month, two key council committees approved a controversial part of the proposal, which would let developers build 2,000 to 3,000 new apartments — many of them affordable — in the neighborhood. —Hiten Samtani

Architecture review: Tootsie Roll conversion brings welcome change to Soho

DDG’s 325 West Broadway will bring condos to former chocolate factory

March 21, 2013 03:30PM
By James Gardner

325 West Broadway project rendering

A particularly ugly part of West Broadway in Soho will soon become unimaginably better. The best thing that can be said for the existing structure at 325 West Broadway, at Grand Street, is that in the days when things were still manufactured in New York City it used to be a factory that produced Tootsie Rolls — those delicious, caramelized confections that we all remember from our younger days.

Now I yield to no one in my reverence for Tootsie Rolls, but that does not obscure the fact that the drab and unadorned building from which so much joy once issued is itself an eyesore, confected out of bare, albeit vaguely caramel-colored, brick.

All of that is about to change: the development firm of DDG has gotten the go-ahead from the Landmarks Preservation Commission to tear down the factory and put up a luxury condominium. DDG revealed new renderings for the project earlier this month. Standing nine stories plus a rooftop penthouse level, the building will have seven units ranging from 3,000 to 6,000 square feet.

The planned building, designed by DDG’s in-house architect Peter Guthrie, consists of a cubic structure clad in a pristine glass curtain wall, covered in a cast aluminum façade screen, with an elegant glass façade at street level, given over to retail and to the building’s lobby, the renderings show. (Beyhan Karahan Architects & Associates designed an earlier plan for the project.)

The results, to be completed in 2015, will look especially good when viewed beside the drab 19th century pile to its left, which could also profit from the strenuous ministrations of a developer.

Manhattan the “New” Brooklyn (Again)?

By
 NEW YORK, NY - MAY 5: A group of musicians play their instruments in a Williamsburg subway station on May 5, 2012 in New York City. Over the past five years, Williamsburg has become a magnet for youthful artists, musicians, chefs, mixologists and fashion designers. (Photo by George Rose/Getty Images)

“It’s exploding with young people and tattoos,” a woman tells the Wall Street Journal today about the Upper East Side.”These hipsters were moving in — you could tell they were hipsters because I used to be one too, so they stand out — and they were moving a mounted moose head into their apartment.” Manhattan, she says, “has the charm that you would want in Brooklyn that is quickly disappearing.” Oh, Lord. The larger point she’s speaking to, supposedly, is that rents in Brooklyn (by which the Journal mostly means Williamsburg) are now high enough to drive young people back to Manhattan. It’s a renaissance or something! We’ve heard this one before.

Full Article Here via The New Yorker

New York Restores Apparel Sales-Tax Break on Items Under $110

By Elizabeth Ody – Mar 28, 2012 2:04 PM ET

Those shoes you’ve been eyeing at DSW Inc. (DSW) will cost you less starting April 1 when New York state raises the sales-tax exemption to $110 for clothing and footwear purchases.

Shoppers will get a break from the 4 percent state sales tax as well as a 0.375 percent Metropolitan Commuter Transportation District tax. In New York City, purchases under $110 have already been exempt from the city’s own 4.5 percent sales tax which makes a total of 8.875 percent or about $8.88 in savings on a $100 item.

“You can’t split a suit in half,” to meet the exemption, said Wayne Berkowitz, a partner and head of the State and Local Tax Group with Berdon LLP in New York. “If you’re buying five items and they’re all under-$110 items, you’re good.”

The full tax exemption returns after a more than one-year hiatus when it was amended to help close a state budget shortfall. From October 2010 to March 2011 there was no relief from the state sales tax or the commuter surcharge. Those breaks returned for items of less than $55 in price from April 2011 through March.

Full Article Here:

Co-op / Condo Group Sets Rally to Support Tax-Fairness Bill

Tax Revolt 2012:  By Frank Lovece

It’s a rite of spring, but this year the composer is Stavisky, not Stravinsky. With the New York City Department of Finance issuing its annual property-tax assessments, State Senator Toby Anne Stavisky is again attempting to level the playing field for co-ops and condos. A Queens activist group has thrown its weight behind the measure — urging board members from all boroughs to join in supporting a law to treat co-ops and condos like residential property, and not, as now, higher-taxed commercial real estate.
March 30, 2012 — The value of your co-op or condo is flat compared to last year. It might even be down. In fact, unless yours is one of those multimillion-dollar apartments that always seem to flip for millions more, your place almost certainly hasn’t seen any great increase in its value.Which makes 20- to 50-percent increases, which Bob Friedrich of the Presidents Co-op & Condo Council (PCCC) says the New York City tax department is assessing several Queens co-ops / condos this year, all the more difficult to understand.Except, not really. But whether it’s fair or not is another story.

“It’s counterintuitive that a condo unit you bought for 10 percent more than you could sell it for today has gone up in value,” admits Dept. of Finance spokesman Owen Stone. “But if the rental market is moving up, you’re still going see an increase in the value of your home.”

When a Home Is Not a Home

By “home” he means “co-op or condo,” not single- and two-family homes and townhouses. That’s because under New York State’s Real Property Tax Law Section 581, co-ops and condos are assessed as if they were “comparable” income-producing commercial properties — i.e., rental buildings. And rents generally tend to go up, regardless of what the sales market does.

Full Article Here:

Whole Foods, Brooklyn – City Council voting starts soon..

Whole Foods Market Inc. faces a series of City Council votes starting next week to win final approval for construction of a 52,000-square-foot supermarket next to a 140-year-old landmark in Gowanus, Brooklyn.

COIGNET

Eric Haugesag for The Wall Street JournalThe Coignet building today next to the planned Whole Foods grocery site

The new store is planned to wrap around two sides of the vacant Coignet building, the city’s earliest known concrete building, at the corner of Third Avenue and Third Street. After expected council approvals, the grocery chain would be allowed within five feet of the old building and wants to have its first Brooklyn store open in 2013.

Built in 1872 for the New York & Long Island Coignet Stone Co., the 2½-story building is the sole survivor of a five-acre industrial park built along the Gowanus Canal in the early 1870s.

The elegant Italianite mansion provided office space for Coignet and subsequent companies, including its longest-running tenant, the Brooklyn Improvement Co., from which Coignet leased the land for its stone works.

“It’s a lonely little building,” said Jennifer Gardner, a researcher at the Gowanus Institute, a local think tank. “To some degree, the plans for that site will limit the opportunity for the [Coignet] building, but also provides a potential draw for people to see it and appreciate it in a different way.”

The building received city landmark status in 2006. Two City Council panels overseeing landmarks and planning will vote next week on whether to reduce the Coignet building’s lot size to about 1,720 square feet from 6,250 square feet, a measure that’s already been passed by the Landmarks Preservation Commission. If approved, a full City Council vote on the measure is slated for April 18.

Full Article Here:

CIM, Macklowe submit plans for city’s tallest residential tower

March 29, 2012 06:30PM

Charles Garner, principal at CIM, and the proposed tower at 440 Park Avenue (center)

CIM Group and New York developer Harry Macklowe are making strides toward building the tallest residential building in New York City at the Drake Hotel site at 440 Park Avenue. They filed a plan examination request for the building, one of the first steps towards getting a development off the ground, with the Department of Buildings, according to a DOB filing dated March 26.

The California-based real estate investment trust filed its plans for an 82-story condominium tower for review to DOB, which will check if its plans are in compliance with building code, a DOB spokesperson confirmed, saying an examiner had not yet reviewed the filing. The filing cites the height of the building as 1,397 feet in total, which would make it the tallest residential building in the city; for comparison’s sake, One57, Extell Development’s planned condo tower on 57th Street will be 1,004 feet tall upon completion in 2013 and the Empire State Building, the tallest structure in the city, is 1,453 feet in height.

As previously reported, CIM, (which acquired the site for $305 million last year), and Macklowe plan to erect a slim condo and retail complex designed by Uruguayan-born architect Rafael Vinoly at the site. It is slated to have 128 units and 12-foot high ceilings. The $1 billion project will include a 5,000-square-foot driveway, golf training facilities and private dining and screening rooms, according to previous reports.

Neither CIM nor Macklowe immediately responded to requests for comment.
— Katherine Clarke

Landmarked Pier A in Worse Shape Than Originally Thought

By Julie Shapiro, DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

BATTERY PARK CITY — The cost of the massive redevelopment of Pier A has ballooned and the project is slated to run behind schedule, as officials have discovered that the rotting landmark is in worse shape than initially believed, they revealed this week.

The overhaul of the 126-year-old landmarked building will now cost taxpayers $36 million, up from $30 million, and the pier will not reopen to the public until at least the middle of 2013, Battery Park City Authority officials said.

“There was a great deal more rot … than we had anticipated when the project started,” said Gwen Dawson, senior vice president of asset management for the authority, at a Community Board 1 meeting Tuesday night.

“There was a significant amount of water damage, rot and structural deterioration,” she said.

Crews working on Pier A are still continuing to find rot, Dawson said, which means that the work could be delayed even further.

Full Article Here: Via DNAinfo

LaGuardia Terminal Update Sought

By ANDREW GROSSMAN (WSJ)

[010612laguardia] Bloomberg NewsTravelers wait to check in at the Central Terminal at LaGuardia Airport in 2010. The Port Authority is planning to begin construction on a new terminal in 2014.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is eyeing a 2014 start to construction of a replacement for the cramped, outdated Central Terminal Building at La Guardia Airport.

The authority is seeking proposals from private terminal operators, bankers and consultants to finance, design and build a replacement terminal, according to a request for information issued quietly last month.

NYLAGUARDIAmap

Plans are still tentative, and construction might not start by 2014. But the request for information is one of the most concrete steps yet toward replacing the terminal.

“I think the schedule is our best estimate to how the transaction or transactions could fall into place,” said Patrick Foye, the Port Authority’s executive director. “Obviously we’re going to be driven by the suggestions that come in from industry partners.”

The schedule calls for construction to be completed by the end of 2021 at a cost of about $3.6 billion.

Full Article Here: Via WSJ

New York Fracking Rules

By Jim Efstathiou Jr. 

The drinking-water supply for 9 million people in New York City won’t be protected by New York state’s proposed rules on hydraulic fracturing for natural gas, residents and politicians said.

“There is no possible regulation strong enough that you could come up with to prevent that one accident,” State Senator Tony Avella, a Democrat who has introduced a bill to prohibit fracturing, or fracking, said at a hearing yesterday at the Borough of Manhattan Community College. “New York state should never consider this process.”

The state has banned high-volume fracking while the Department of Environmental Conservation weighs rules that would let companies extract gas from shale with the technique. The agency has said it plans to bar the technology within 4,000 feet (1,219 meters) of unfiltered watersheds that provide drinking water for New York City and Syracuse. Final rules may be issued next year, spokeswoman Emily DeSantis said in an interview.

Energy producers use fracking, which forces millions of gallons of water, chemicals and sand underground, to break up rock and liberate trapped gas. Environmental groups have said the process has tainted drinking water in states such as Pennsylvania, where almost 4,000 wells have been drilled. While New York delays, its neighboring state has enjoyed new hiring and tax revenue, advocates of the process say.

Full Article Here

 

Maintaining Elevator Safety

By Raanan Geberer

If you’re a board member, a manager or just a unit owner of a typical New York City-area co-op or condo, chances are you use an elevator every day, except if you live in a “garden apartment” complex in one of the outer boroughs or the suburbs. We’ve all seen those elevator inspection reports, but chances are that we don’t think about the inner workings of elevators very much. And it seems like the only times that elevators make the news is when something goes wrong, like the time a Chinese-food deliveryman was stuck for three days inside an elevator in a Bronx high-rise.

But if you look at the elevator, it’s a technological marvel, something we couldn’t do without. Like the automobile, it’s a fairly recent development. There have been elevator-like hoist devices throughout history, but in 1853, American inventor Elisha Otis invented a freight elevator equipped with a safety device to prevent the elevator from falling in case a cable broke. This increased the use of elevators. And when, around 1920, New York City finally allowed the use of self-service elevators in apartment buildings, as opposed to those operated by elevator operators, the number of apartment houses built with elevators grew dramatically.

Full Article Here:

Planning NYC’s next 50 years: Zoning

New York’s real estate planning gurus tackle the next 50 years of zoning By Leigh Kamping-Carder


Planning Commissioner Amanda Burden

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the city’s comprehensive “Zoning Resolution,” which dictated what types of development could go where.

The rules have undergone changes since taking effect in 1961, but in many ways, they continue to reflect the concerns of a prior era — when the automobile was king, manufacturing a steady source of employment and the Internet a far-off dream.

“We are occupying a social realm that’s different than [what] we constructed 50 years ago,” developer Jonathan Rose, founder of the eponymous real estate firm, said at a conference last month organized by the Department of City Planning, the Harvard University Graduate School of Design and the Steven L. Newman Real Estate Institute of Baruch College.

As the Zoning Resolution passes the half-century mark, the kind of radical revamp that took place in the 1950s is not in the works. But city planners, academics and real estate professionals are crafting proposals that will shape the way developers build in the coming years: unlocking underused land, updating Midtown’s aging office stock, incorporating sustainability, and redefining “mixed-use” in ways that blur residential and commercial districts.

Full Article Here:

New York City’s Bike Share Will Be 10,000 Strong, Stretch from UWS to Crown Heights

The city has been in the thrall of a bicycle backlash for the past year, after the city’s Department of Transportation ran lanes through the East Village, Upper West Side and, most controversially, along Prospect Park West, which led to a lawsuit filed by neighbors living on the thoroughfare.

Things seem to be finally calming down—the lane lawsuit was defeated, recent polls have put bike lane support north of 60 percent—but how will the city react when the Department of Transportation and its love-her-or-hate-her Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan roll out a massive bike sharing program across Manhattan and Brooklyn next summer?

Comprising roughly 600 stations with 10,000 bikes, the scheme will, according to two people briefed on the plans, stretch from the Upper East and Upper West sides down to the tip of Manhattan and over the bridges into Brownstone Brooklyn, reaching as far as Greenpoint and Crown Heights. “The whole point is it needs to be dense,” a city official told The Observer. “It needs to serve a lot of different trips in order to be viable.”

Full Article Here:

Insuring Your Board’s Decisions

The ABC’s of D&O

By Lisa Iannucci

Good afternoon—and welcome to the board. Your mission should you choose to accept it is to make decisions to better your building. The residents may not like you and, more importantly, may not like those decisions. Nevertheless, keep doing the job you’re doing. In a worst-case scenario, you will be sued. Perhaps more than once. Should anything go wrong, don’t worry; you’re protected by the board’s D&O insurance. Good luck.”

On-the-Job Protection

You volunteer to be on your co-op or condo association’s board. You do your best to help make the right decisions and make your building a great place to live. Unfortunately, one of your fellow residents doesn’t like a decision you made and takes you and the rest of the board to court. They are suing for thousands of dollars—maybe even millions. Your home, life savings and other assets are at risk if you lose.

With stakes like that, it would be virtually impossible for co-op and condo boards to find volunteers if there wasn’t some form of protection from lawsuits resulting from the decisions made by board members in the course of doing their job. Fortunately, that protection exists, in the form of Directors and Officers, or D&O insurance.

Full Article Here:

Port Authority gets LED makeover

The new lighting design as seen from 42nd and 8th Ave. Courtesy GKD-USA/A2aMEDIA

By the end of June, the Port Authority Bus Terminal will be awash in graphics and light when a 6, 000 square foot stainless steel fabric embedded with LED lights wraps its way around the corner of 42nd Street and Eighth Avenue.  The technology, known as Mediamesh, was developed by GKD-USA, a collaboration between a German light engineer firm and an American metal fabric manufacturer. The product is only four years old and allows LED imagery to wrap around buildings without disrupting interior views to the outside. But in the case of the Port Authority, the mesh allows exhaust fumes to escape while masking several giant X-trusses, a facade hasn’t exactly endeared itself to New Yorkers.

Full Article Here:

Message From a Stranger

 

Tony Cenicola/The New York Times

Mementos of previous tenants.

By CONSTANCE ROSENBLUM
Published: April 8, 2011

FOR New Yorkers drawn to old houses and apartments, the reminders that they are hardly the first to inhabit their rooms can be thrilling. If those people had their way, no one would ever empty a cellar or clear out an attic.

“It’s the dream of someone who buys an old house to find things other owners had left behind,” said Chris Kreussling, a computer programmer who, in the basement of his Victorian home in Flatbush, Brooklyn, unearthed a trove of brochures, tickets and newspaper clippings from the 1939 World’s Fair.

From the tenements of the Bronx to the prewar apartments of Manhattan and the frame cottages of Staten Island, signs of earlier generations lurk in unexpected corners, “like cave drawings providing traces of previous habitations,” said Richard Rabinowitz, president of the American History Workshop. “And these finds are especially meaningful in a city like New York, where we always have the sense that we’re walking in the footsteps of those who came before us.”

New York City, home to a disproportionately large number of people living in buildings constructed decades ago, is especially rich in reminders of those who occupied our houses and apartments long before we did. According to the 2008 Census housing survey, 85 percent of New Yorkers live in buildings erected before 1970, compared with 42 percent of Americans generally. More remarkably, 39 percent of New Yorkers live in buildings predating 1930 and 17 percent in buildings predating 1920. Luckily for New Yorkers with a taste for past lives, many of these dwellings function as palimpsests of the city’s history.

As a place where the friendly ghosts of the past refuse to depart, it would be hard to top the blue frame house on City Island in the Bronx where John and Linda Nealon Woods have lived for 33 years.

Click Here for Full Article

City, real estate sector post January job gains

alternate text
(source: Eastern Consolidated)

New York City lost fewer jobs than previously estimated as it emerged from the recession, shedding 141,300 jobs between April 2008 and September 2009, instead of the 179,000 previously reported, according to the January 2011 employment report from Eastern Consolidated. Since that September 2009 low, the city has experienced a net gain of 50,700 jobs — 18,000 of which were added in January 2011 — putting city employment levels at 2.4 percent below the April 2008 peak. The city’s real estate industry gained 600 jobs in January, putting employment in the sector at 5.4 percent, or 6,600 jobs, below peak levels from April 2008. Nationwide, employment across all industry is also 5.4 percent below its January 2008 peak, having shed 7.48 million jobs since then.

via TRD

Cuomo taps Kenneth Adams to lead ESDC

The president and chief executive of The Business Council of New York State Inc. will leave to take on the same title at the Empire State Development Corp.

By Daniel Massey

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Thursday nominated Kenneth Adams, who has headed the state’s top business organization for the past five-plus years, to lead a restructured Empire State Development Corp.

“With Ken Adams as president and CEO, the Empire State Development Corp. will fuel New York-based innovation and create jobs at home while helping to transform the state into a world-class center for business and new ideas,” Mr. Cuomo said, in a statement.

Already, Mr. Cuomo had appointed Leecia Eve as senior vice president and counsel to the agency and Paul Francis to the newly created role of director of agency redesign and efficiency. He is still looking for a chairman, who will focus on upstate issues. The governor said the appointment of Mr. Adams is part of his plan to change the leadership structure of the agency that directs the state’s economic development strategy. Mr. Adams succeeds Dennis Mullen.

In his new role, Mr. Adams will work closely with Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy to create 10 Regional Economic Development Councils across the state that will compete for funds. He will also serve as commissioner of the Department of Economic Development.

“Ken knows doing business in New York can be like swimming upstream, but now he is in a position to change the tide,” said Kevin Burke, chief executive of Consolidated Edison and chairman of the board at The Business Council of New York State Inc. “Business leaders know and trust him, and for good reason.”

Full Article Here

Stuyvesant Town Tenants Wins Court Decision-A Resident Speaks

Something For The Wanna Have’s.

The battle between The Tenant’s association and PCVST management company Tishman Speyer ended yesterday with the highest court in New York ruling in favor of the The Tenants.  This was the last possible appeal from Tishman after an Amicus brief was prepared which served to prove Tishman’s double dipping in the form of receiving J-51 tax breaks and market rate rent hikes. The law clearly bars deregulating units “which became or become subject to [stabilization] by virtue of receiving tax benefits” under the city’s J-51 program. This was a huge victory for the lower and middle class. During this time of excessive corporate greed and massive bonus payments justice was served today with a very clear message; You can’t expect to break the law, make a profit while also receiving tax benefits and not be punished. You can’t have it both ways and enjoy a capitalist compensation and a socialist compensation while you screw the people in the community. That’s called exploitation. This was a risk taken to earn a profit and the risk has not paid off. The beauty of which is pure capitalism. There are some commentator’s and journalists out there who see this as an unjust verdict. One of which is Steve Cuozzo in his NY Post article. He suggests that Jerry and Rob Speyer had another interpretation of the law (yeah no kidding) and writes “With so much hanging on the meaning of “by virtue of,” Jerry and Rob Speyer nonetheless rolled the dice. Now the court has made things far worse for them and for the entire decontrol cause, which too briefly offered a way out of the system’s socialist-style deathlock on the rental housing scene.” My answer to that is, Are you friggin serious Steve? So you’re supporting tax theft at the very least? This was a victory for pure capitalism and justice. If you take a profit gamble and you fail due to what is written in law then it’s game over. And the fallout from this can neither be protected or rationalized. If other landlords profit margin were based on the same expectations then that too is their big gamble. For the record I am a resident in Stuyvesant Town making $150,000 a year and I cannot save any money. This is a true victory also for the middle class. We deserve a victory after all our money has been either stolen from us or simply gobbled up by credit card companies and rent.

The final question I have is, now what? What happens from here with the decision. How will the money be parceled up for the victors? I live in a market rate apartment but I signed a lease agreeing to those terms.  While it’s true that 4,352  apartments are now market rate, I signed my lease agreeing to pay that rate.  I have asked employees working for Tishman Speyer whether I will receive a new re-regulated apartment and at this time it is not certain what the costs will be to TS or the re-structuring of the leases. I do not expect pro rated rent payments to be awarded but an apartment rate that could help me save would be nice.

A look at buyers and sellers

A look at buyers and sellers

A snapshot of how buyers and sellers are reacting to the bleak economy — and to each other

 

 By Lauren Elkies

The bleak economy and credit crunch have claimed their share of victims in the New York City real estate world, but under the surface they have also shifted the foundations that buyers and sellers became accustomed to when the market was peaking.

This month, The Real Deal offers a series of stories about how buyers and sellers in the five boroughs and in the surrounding suburbs are dealing with one another and with the new financial terrain a little over a year into the crunch.

While prices have softened in some neighborhoods, first-time buyers are having more trouble than ever securing mortgages and getting a piece of the action (see Amid mortgage woes, first-time buyers seek solutions).

As their purchasing power has decreased, the pace of sales of the smaller units they tend to buy has slowed, creating a pileup of inventory. In Manhattan, there has been a sharp drop in sales of studios and one-bedrooms this year.

Meanwhile, some buyers fear more foreclosures could result in a growing number of vacant buildings, particularly in fringe areas of the city, which could contribute to an uptick in crime (see Watching for broken windows).

Experts weigh in on whether the so-called “broken windows theory,” which suggests that crime increases in areas of neglect, will play out in places like Crown Heights, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Bushwick and other neighborhoods with high foreclosures rates. Crime, of course, can put a damper on the appeal of a neighborhood and depress prices, driving away potential buyers.

In more prime areas, foreign buyers, who have been capitalizing on the weak dollar and propping up sales activity in the city, are now starting to pull back. As the dollar has started to rebound (at least a little), brokers say those with primary addresses in other countries are finally starting to hesitate and wait for deeper price cuts (see Fewer foreign clients buying).

On the seller side, market conditions and anxiety about the economy are causing some to drop asking prices to increase their chances of a sale, and prompting others to take their listings off the market altogether and wait until the market swings back (see Sellers feeling the pressure).

Even buildings are being put through the wringer. Co-ops have long put potential buyers through a rigorous board approval process. But now, lenders are turning the tables on them and more closely scrutinizing their books.

And, whether at a co-op or condo, gentrification continues to cause tension between existing board members and new residents, especially when the newbies push for expensive cosmetic upgrades for the building (see New buyers clashing with the condo board).

In the Financial District, the credit crunch has translated into fewer buyers at open houses (see Open house traffic hits wall in Financial District). And in the South Bronx, it has put activity on hold. The difficulty in securing cash has made it harder for small investors to buy into the area and stymied new residential development and rehabs there (see South Bronx buzz fizzles).

Beyond New York City, in suburbs like Westchester and Nassau and Fairfield counties, foreclosures on the rise are helping depress the overall market for sellers (see New York City’s suburbs slip).

And in parts of New Jersey and Long Island, there’s a real estate domino effect taking hold for so-called “trade ups” (see Trading up slows down).

Experts told The Real Deal that some sellers looking to unload their “starter homes” are out of luck, in large part because the buyers they need are unable to secure mortgages. And, until they pull their equity out of their homes, they don’t have the money to become buyers themselves.

Real Estate News !!!

Latest Headlines

http://ny.therealdeal.com/

Prices come down to help move new projects

Condos on the chopping block

 

 By Lauren Elkies

As sales have slowed and inventory has grown, developers are clamoring to move new development condo units, many by adjusting prices.

Price cuts are outpacing price increases, and prices appear to be falling on the whole in the two most active boroughs for development, Manhattan and Brooklyn, particularly in Harlem and much of Brooklyn.

The Real Deal compiled a project-by-project and neighborhood-by-neighborhood breakdown of price changes among listings where there were price fluctuations during the past 90 days. Data was provided by StreetEasy, the home listing and data Web site. Listings excluded resales.
The data showed that 54 percent of Manhattan listings that saw a change in price had dropped their prices in the three months, and 64 percent of Brooklyn properties that had fluctuating prices cut theirs.

Although the actual average price changes in Manhattan were about three-and-a-half times more than the changes in Brooklyn, where there are more fringe neighborhoods and sales prices are lower, the average net price change was comparable at -$15,362 in Manhattan and -$14,516 in Brooklyn.
While the data show some price drops, Andrew Gerringer, managing director of Prudential Douglas Elliman’s development marketing group, said that the developers he is working with are negotiating, but not by not slashing prices.

“Developers are offering brokers more commission and paying closing costs,” he told The Real Deal.

Although not all brokers readily acknowledge developers are adjusting prices, and the StreetEasy research is limited, (because it only covers a three-month period and the number of price cuts need to be considered relative to the initial prices), the data provide a glimpse into how market conditions are affecting pricing. The data was also impacted by big price cuts at a single development, which could affect totals for an entire neighborhood.

MANHATTAN

Manhattan held up fairly well over the three months ending May 15 with slightly more condo price decreases than increases. There were 178 increases with an average change of $146,483 and 208 decreases with an average change of $153,864.

Of all submarkets in Manhattan — Downtown, Midtown, Upper West Side, Upper East Side and Upper Manhattan — only the Upper East Side, the most expensive market in terms of the average price per listing ($4.1 million), was in the black in terms of a net price increase ($106,436), meaning that on the whole, developers raised their prices more than they lowered them, StreetEasy determined. Percentage-wise, the Silk Stocking District also had the most price increases (27) relative to decreases (11).

“The Upper East Side, on a valuation basis, has not spiked as much as other popular and trendy neighborhoods, so it has a little more headroom for pricing,” said Jorden Tepper, executive director of sales at Century 21 NY Metro Fine Homes & Estates.

Downtown Manhattan, which has a new development inventory that almost matches the size of all the other submarkets combined, saw the most price increases of all submarkets with 88, despite concerns about an inventory oversupply, particularly in the Financial District. A couple of projects contributed to the steep total, including River Ridge condos with 13 increases (and three decreases) and Tribeca Summit, also with 13 increases (and three decreases). As a result of a few large markdowns, the average net change, however, was -$18,128.

Upper Manhattan fared the worst in terms of the number of price reductions with 75, compared to only 14 increases. Harlem had 52 price decreases and six price increases.

“People who wanted to be on the Upper West Side were getting priced out and went farther north,” said Sofia Kim, vice president of research at StreetEasy. So developers started building aggressively to meet demand. At the same time, current market conditions are putting pressure on prices in fringe outlying neighborhoods including Harlem.

“All fringe neighborhoods are suffering,” said Darren Sukenik, an executive vice president at Prudential Douglas Elliman. “These fringe neighborhoods were successful in an inappropriately manic-driven market two years ago.”

Of 29 Manhattan neighborhoods, more than half saw negative net changes.

After Harlem, Chelsea had the most price drops with 18.

“With Tribeca and Soho’s stunning condo lofts coming to market month after month, Chelsea no longer has the allure it once did,” said Jeffrey Tanenbaum, a vice president at Barak Realty. “Not to say Chelsea is passé, but it no longer is the most exciting flavor of the month.” Tribeca saw 19 price increases and five price decreases. Soho was split with four increases and four decreases.

But in a testament to the allure of a good project, there were 22 price increases in Chelsea.

The greatest price cuts Downtown were in the West Village, where three changes brought the average net price change to -$2.2 million. The price decreases included the $2.5 million price slashing of Julian Schnabel’s Palazzo Chupi’s duplex from $32 million to $29.5 million and the $4 million cut in price at Hudson Blue at 423 West Street.

BROOKLYN

The majority of Brooklyn’s 23 neighborhoods saw overall price drops. Prices were slashed at 183 units with an average price decrease of $42,195. There were 103 listing increases averaging $34,660.

In the popular and increasingly saturated new condo market in Williamsburg, where the market varies by area, there are bound to be price changes.

“Williamsburg is definitely a hotbed of activity so you’re going to have more competing developments,” said Kim of StreetEasy.

Williamsburg was home to the greatest number of units with price changes (104). Developers raised prices 64 times and lowered them 40 times. The majority of the price increases were at Northside Piers. Without that project, the area would have done poorly with 40 price decreases and only 11 increases.

Northside Piers, a Toll Brothers project marketed by Halstead Property, had 53 price increases — four units at the project had as many as four price changes — in the three months, with an average price change of $40,302, StreetEasy data indicate. Although increases might seem strange considering Toll Brothers reported its eighth-consecutive quarterly decline in revenue last month and might want to sell units quickly at lower prices, prices were too low from the start, said a broker who has worked on the project.

“Northside was the first tower ever in Williamsburg,” said William Ross, a director in new development marketing at Halstead, and former director of sales for the Brooklyn office. As such, Ross said the team did not how to accurately price the units. “We did the best we could,” he said.

The majority of the 180 units in the building have had price adjustments, Ross said. Last April, Halstead reduced the prices of 35 units in the building, all large units with unimpressive views, by an average of 12 to 15 percent, or $65,000 each. “We found out the larger units that don’t have views didn’t sell until we did the decrease,” Ross said.

The numbers for Clinton Hill (24 price reductions and three increases) and Park Slope (18 decreases and zero increases) were pretty weak, but some brokers attribute the price drops to developers trying to push the neighborhood boundaries.

As the boundaries of Clinton Hill and Park Slope expand farther away from main transportation lines, so do price reductions. Homes in the heart of Park Slope and along brownstone row in Clinton Hill are selling well, said Tom Le, vice president and associate broker at the Corcoran Group in the Williamsburg office. But projects on the outskirts are on shakier ground. Too many developers do not create the right product in the right location, Le said.