New York City Real Estate

15 Park Row

Skyline1902

Manhattan skyline 1902 – Park Row building at center

by Alon Gibely Jex

15 Park Row! For those of you unfamiliar with this building I need to ask where you’ve been for the past 118 years??? That’s right, completed in 1899, for more than a century 15 Park Row has been an integral part of New York City’s skyline and today it’s still going strong! While presently its impressive twenty-nine stories may seem less so with the proximity to the Financial District and its mammoth skyscrapers, but for nine years after the completion of The Park Row Building (as it was known then) it was the tallest building in the world! That’s right, not just in the Financial District, or Tribeca (neither terms being applicable at the time of course), or Lower Manhattan, or the entire island of Manhattan, or the entire City of New York, or the… well you see where this is going.

Sadly, in 1908 the completed construction of the nearby Singer Building, at 47 stories, took the title of the world’s tallest. If you’re looking for the Singer Building these days though you won’t find it, as it was demolished in 1968 (take that Singer Building!), and these days that space is occupied by One Liberty Plaza.

In the early twentieth century 15 Park Row occupied a portion of Park Row that was then known as Newspaper Row, it being the center of the New York City newspaper industry at the time, and the building even housed one of the first offices of the Associated Press. Other notable tenants over the years include the headquarters of the IRT (Interborough Rapid Transit), the original operator of the New York City subway system, as well as most recently the offices and retail space of J&R Music World, the famed New York City music and electronics retailer.

These days the building has been converted to a luxury residential building. In 2001 the top half of the building was converted into residential units, and since 2014, the bottom half, from floors 3 to 8 were converted to residential units as well. Currently there are over 300 apartments at 15 Park Row, and the building is presently working on restoring the lobby to its former early-twentieth century glory, as well as adding some more modern touches like a large gym, yoga studio, a residents lounge and children’s playroom, bike storage, cold storage, and an immaculate roof deck as well. For over 100 years 15 Park Row has and continues to prove itself as a bastion of the neighborhood that surrounds it, whether that’s Tribeca, the Financial District, or whatever they may call it in the future.

This certainly won’t be the only blog about 15 Park Row that NY Living Solutions will bring you, but if you’re interested to learn more about the architecture and history of 15 Park Row then check out the link below to the Wikipedia article:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Park_Row_Building

Will Britain’s impending exit from the European Union affect the New York luxury real estate market?

It appears that both luxury buyers and institutional-sized investors may soon be choosing NYC as an alternative to London. 


Britain’s economic and political turmoil may prove to be good news for New York’s real estate market as the value of the pound dropped to its lowest since 1985 after the U.K. officially voted on June 23rdto leave the European Union. Sorting through 43 years of treaties and agreements is no easy task, and it may take a full two years for the country to negotiate its withdrawal and officially cease being a member. 

According to Manhattan-based international real estate attorney Ed Mermelstein in a June 2016 article featured on Brick Underground, he’s observed an influx of investors over the last six to eight months choosing New York over London to do business and invest in the luxury real estate market. This may be an indicator that real estate investments were slowing across England even before the “Brexit” issue. New capital gains tax for foreign investors implemented in 2015 and more stringent visa requirements seem to have already created issues for foreign investors looking to live in England.  
 
What could the Brexit vote mean for prospective buyers in the New York market for properties in the million-dollar range? Probably not much as the vast majority of foreign buyers are typically in the market for condos over $5 million. Additionally, foreign investors purchasing in New York typically do not consider co-op’s. 
 
New York Living Solutions, a boutique real estate firm located in Lower Manhattan has access to a multitude of preeminent luxury properties in Manhattan. Our devotion to highly personalized service has resulted in many pleased clients. We look forward to working with you on a time-efficient and cost effective search for your perfect property.  

Rental Incentives during peak summer months in NYC? Sounds too good to be true but it’s not.

New York’s prime leasing season is well under way and there are more choices then ever for prospective renters. Typically, from May through August property owners across New York City have the upper hand as college graduates flock to the city in preparation for their new jobs as well as families gearing up to secure a residence before the new school year. Renters in NYC know all too well to expect higher rents during these summer months, and those that find themselves in the cycle of leasing during the summer are usually prepare for sticker shock.
For the first time in almost four years of growth in the NYC real estate market property owners are having to get creative with incentives like paying the broker fee and offering free rent to attract more interested renters. There are more choices in the market now more than previous years because prices are beyond what most people can or will pay for a rental. Renters looking for a new place to call home this summer have a competitive advantage as they can be more choosy in what they put an application in for. People who may not have ideal credit are getting approved much faster than in past as landlords appear to be more willing to work tenants. While incentives are typically neighborhood specific, certain older rental buildings are also competing by offering their own incentives.
As one of the leading boutique firms in the New York Metropolitan Area, NY Living Solutions specializes in helping renters and buyers navigate the Financial District. NY Living Solutions has access to many no-fee apartment rentals all throughout Manhattan including luxury condominiums as well as new grand opening properties with incredible amenities.

Exclusive Coop for Sale Located in the Trendy Columbia University neighborhood

200 West 108th Street, #14a

$1,250,000 FOR SALE
2 beds 2 baths
Property Type: Coop
Maintenance: $1,827
Pet Policy: Case By Case

Located in the Columbia University neighborhood, Pre-war apartment in excellent condition and a spacious layout.(Approx 1250 sf) high-floor with open eastern and northern exposures. Views overlooking Central Park.

Apartment features pre-war details, a windowed kitchen, Large living room, corner master suite, Spacious 2nd bedroom, 2 full windowed bathrooms, high beamed ceilings and great closet space. This coop has a renovated marble lobby, P/T doorman, new elevators, central laundry, and a live-in super

Just a couple of blocks from Central Park and its many attractions,
Located Close to several subway lines (1/2/3/B/C).

Domino developer promises bikes, yoga, veggies, books

By Danielle Furfaro via The Brooklyn Paper
Courtesy of Two Trees Management Company
This is what Jed Walentas wants to build on the Domino Sugar factory site.

Here’s one way for a developer to ingratiate himself with the new neighbors.

Jed Walentas, the new owner of the Domino Sugar factory, will temporarily hand over a football-field-sized lot on his massive Williamsburg site for use as an urban farm, bike course, yoga studio, and reading room until the builder gets around to developing the property.

The east end of the Kent Avenue lot between S. Third and S. Fourth streets will be run by community space guru Bobby Redd and will include an all-weather reading room, a community farm headed by North Brooklyn Farms and a green space that will be used for activities including yoga, aerobics, and public events.

“We plan to establish a community green space where all are welcome,” said Redd. “We have had immense success working with the Bushwick community over the past 14 months and we look forward to working together with our new neighbors in South Williamsburg.”

The west side of the lot, which will be run by Jessica Kocher of Ride Brooklyn, will include a practice cycling space for young riders, beginner and intermediate bike tracks, and a pump track, which is a small course set up with bumps, jumps, and berms.

Volunteers from the New York City Mountain Bike Association will oversee the courses, and Kocher said she hopes to get a handful of loaner bikes for children and possibly adults.

“The purpose of this is to have a place to mountain bike in Brooklyn,” said Kocher, who lamented the fact that Brooklyn is the only borough without mountain bike trails. “Personally, we wanted a place to ride.”

Redd and Kocher submitted separate proposals, but Walentas’s company, Two Trees Management Co., merged them together, creating an urban utopia for the fixed-gear, organic-dining set.

“We married them,” said Dave Lombino, director of special projects at Two Trees.

Two months ago, Two Trees announced it was searching for operators to take over the space across the street from the main refinery building while it pushed its new plans through the city’s land-use review process.

Two Trees will not charge the interim operators rent, said Lombino, but they will pay utilities.

The initial agreement with the operators is for one year, and it could be extended, depending on how long it takes Two Trees to get approval and finish the site design.

Walentas has said the company wants to build on the Kent Street lot first, but Lombino said ground will not be broken until late 2014 at the earliest.

“For us, it’s silly to have this site fenced off from the community,” said Lombino. “We want to signal to the community that we are creative and ambitious.”

Loans for a Niche Market

The New York Times By LISA PREVOST

If interest-only loans were issued too freely before the foreclosure crisis, their availability now is restricted to a privileged few.

A staple of the jumbo market, interest-only loans continue to be used by affluent borrowers to help them manage irregular cash flow, reap a tax benefit, or free up cash for investment elsewhere.

In particular, people in the financial services industry who derive most of their compensation from yearly bonuses commonly rely on interest-only loans to keep their mortgage payments manageable the rest of the year. “Then they take some of that bonus and pay down their mortgage each year,” said David Adamo, the chief executive of Luxury Mortgage in Stamford, Conn. “And their monthly payment then also goes down.”

Thus, interest-only loans have evolved into a financial tool, and no longer a means to affordability.

Freddie Mac stopped backing the loans in 2010 after suffering big losses; as a result, fewer lenders offer them. Those that do have strict qualifying standards. Lenders generally require that the borrower have at least 30 percent equity in a property, and a minimum FICO score of 720. Determination of ability to pay back the loan is based on the fully amortized payment, not the interest-only payment.

Additionally, “a lot of lenders will want to see assets to cover as many as 24 months’ worth of principal, taxes and insurance payments,” said Richard Pisnoy, a principal of Silver Fin Capital, a brokerage in Great Neck, N.Y.

Interest-only loans are primarily adjustable-rate products with an initial fixed period when only interest is due. Available in 5-, 7- or 10-year terms, they “are generally done for 10 years so there’s no payment shock in the near term,” said Tom Wind, the executive vice president for residential and consumer lending at EverBank, a national lender based in Jacksonville, Fla.

Interest rates are usually an eighth- to a half-percentage point higher than on fully amortized jumbo loans. After the fixed term is up, the mortgage re-amortizes, and both principal and interest are due.

Full Article Here:

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

Lowest stabilized rent increase in decade infuriates landlords, tenants

Rent Guidelines Board Chairman Jonathan Kimmel (credit: DNAinfo)

The Rent Guidelines Board voted last night on the lowest rent increases for the city’s 1 million-plus stabilized rent units since 2002, the New York Daily News reported, and no one’s happy. Landlords claimed the increase, totaling 2 percent for one-year leases and 4 percent for two-year leases, wouldn’t cover rising costs and property taxes. But tenants advocates argued that any increase was unaffordable considering the current economic climate.

Landlord representatives wanted 5 percent and 9 percent increases as property taxes rose 7.5 percent in the last year. Joe Strasburg, president of the landlord’s Rent Stabilization Association group, said the inadequate increases would hurt small property owners, in particular, as many of those buildings are exclusively rented to stabilized renters that already pay well below market rate.

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

Making Architecture Accessible, Pretense and All

 

Is this architecture? (Getty)

To the general public, architecture simply means buildings, maybe the occasional shiny rendering displayed on a blog such as this one or inside the sales pamphlet for an as-yet-unbuilt condo. It might be some Frank Lloyd Wrigh models lining the rotunda of his Guggenheim Museum. For Tina DiCarlo, architecture is so much more.

“The fact of the matter is the general public equates architecture with buildings, so if you talk to them about an architect, let’s say Rem’s Exodus drawings from 1972, if you say that’s architecture, somebody would say, “Well, how, it’s on paper? It doesn’t make sense.” How is a book architecture? How is text architecture? How are Tschumi’s Manhattan Transcripts architecture? It’s just a drawing.”

Ms. DiCarlo hopes to broaden the public’s understanding of What Is Architecture through the creation of The Archive of Spatial Aesthetics and Praxis, or ASAP. Built out of a collection of different architectural materials, from models to manifestos, blueprints to blog posts, she and co-curator Danielle Rago hope to transform the dialogue not only about what constitutes architecture but where it fits into the greater realm of society and culture.

Full Article Here

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

NJ State Leads Nation in Down-Payment Size

BUYERS in New Jersey have the highest down-payment rate in the country, putting down an average 13.71 percent of the purchase price, according to a new report from LendingTree. That surpasses percentages in cities like Washington, and states like New York, Hawaii and California, though only by tenths of a point. In New York, the average down payment works out to 13.47 percent. The national average is 12.24 percent, for the year ending in November.

Of course, very few borrowers pay the average percentage, which is computed by figuring out the average down payment on conventional loans made by banks and government-insured Federal Housing Administration or Department of Veterans Affairs loans, which have down payment minimums of 3.5 percent.

Countrywide, about a quarter of all mortgage loans are government-backed, according to lending specialists.

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:

Loan limits on the rise for FHA, but not for Fannie and Freddie

FHA loans could become the go-to financing option for homebuyers in New York and New Jersey, but with higher fees.  By Kenneth R. Harney

After a year characterized by grumpy partisan gridlock, Congress came up with a Thanksgiving compromise that could change the mortgage choices of buyers and refinancers in more than 660 markets across the country: It raised maximum loan limits for the Federal Housing Administration while leaving loan ceilings untouched for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

In effect, this may make FHA the go-to financing option for borrowers needing loans up to $729,750 — with down payments as low as 3.5 percent — in New York, New Jersey, high-cost areas of California, metropolitan Washington, D.C., and scattered counties in other states, including Massachusetts, Florida and North Carolina. Fannie Mae- and Freddie Mac-eligible loans in those areas, meanwhile, stay capped at $625,500.

Equally important, the new plan raises the FHA ceilings for purchasers in hundreds of more moderately priced markets. In Hartford, Conn., the limit for FHA is now $440,000 — up from $320,850; Fannie and Freddie remain capped at $417,000. Seattle-area buyers’ maximum FHA loan amount jumped to $567,500, while the Fannie Mae-Freddie Mac ceiling remains at $506,000.

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:

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:

Art Groups Preserve Chelsea by Buying, Not Renting

It is an all-too-familiar pattern in many communities: artists discover an inexpensive, underdeveloped neighborhood and move in, only to be ousted from the area by soaring retail rents once it catches on in popularity.

Chester Higgins Jr./The New York Times

About half of the units in the Chelsea Arts Tower on West 25th Street are art galleries. The rest of the building’s units are devoted to fashion- and arts-related businesses.

Many argue that it happened in Greenwich Village, and most point to SoHo as the quintessential example of the phenomenon. Now, the same pattern may be occurring in Chelsea, where an explosion of residential development along the High Line is attracting retailers serving new residents — retailers who are now competing for space with the hundreds of art galleries that are the backbone of the neighborhood.

But some real estate experts say Chelsea’s fate may be different, because a healthy number of the neighborhood’s arts businesses had the foresight to buy their gallery and studio spaces, rather than lease them.

“The difference between SoHo and Chelsea is that so many artists, or even art companies or art investors, bought condos in Chelsea, so they actually made investments as opposed to leasing,” said Barbara Byrne Denham, the chief economist at Eastern Consolidated, a commercial real estate brokerage.

“I think that will preserve their spaces, and the flavor of Chelsea as kind of an art mecca,” she said.

Ms. Byrne Denham said there could be as many as 350 art galleries in Chelsea. Enough of them own their space that in a recent report on the commercial property sales market in Chelsea, Ms. Byrne Denham said, “we had to separate them as their own property type.”

“I said, ‘There’s something in this that really stands out: the fact that so many properties sold as art studios, art condos and art buildings,’ ” she said.

Full Article Here:

Chelsea community board approves rezoning around FIT

By Jill Colvin  DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

MIDTOWN — Members of Midtown’s Community Board 5 endorsed a plan to re-zone the blocks surrounding FIT Wednesday night, despite concerns the new rules would eat up existing commercial and office space in the zone.

The Department of City Planning is hoping to spur development on the blocks south of Penn Station, which was once known as Manhattan’s “Fur District.” Today, the former manufacturing hub is home to a few remaining fur wholesalers, a smattering of small warehouses, and numerous parking lots, with little street life after hours.

The new “M1-6D” zoning designation, which would span West 28th, 29th and 30th streets between Seventh and Eighth avenues, would loosen regulations for new residential units to create what they hope will become “a more robust mixed-use, ’24/7′ community,” with more restaurants, services and retail, planners said.

The move in being spearheaded by Edison Properties, which wants to build a new 400-unit development between West 28th and West 29th on an existing parking lot. Twenty percent of the space would be reserved for affordable housing.

But members of Community Board 5’s Land Use and Zoning committee, which met to consider the plan Wednesday night, had serious reservations about the proposal, which was first presented to members at their meeting last month.

NYC Gets Key Willets Point Approval

By Jeremy Smerd May 5, 2011 1:25 p.m.

Late Wednesday, the Bloomberg administration took a significant step toward the redevelopment of Willets Point, Queens. The state Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration approved the Economic Development Corp.’s environmental assessment of off-ramps proposed for the Van Wyck Expressway. The city, which has called the ramps essential to the massive Queens project, can now go ahead with a required public review process.

A handful of Willets Point property owners have been trying to halt the 61-acre redevelopment by arguing that the city reneged on a promise not to condemn any land until state and federal officials approved the two ramps. A court hearing next month on that question now appears moot.

“Receiving this approval allows us to overcome a number of procedural hurdles that have threatened to delay this important, job-creating project,” an EDC spokeswoman said in a statement to Crain’s. “Willets Point is now one step closer to becoming a center of economic growth and the site of a historic environmental cleanup.”

Once public comments are received, the city will resubmit its assessment for final state and federal approval.

In the meantime, the city said it will move ahead with the first phase of the project, which does not rely on the ramps. Splitting the project into two phases allowed the city to move ahead without acquiring the holdouts’ private property or getting approval for the ramps, which had dragged on for many months.

Law of Unintended Consequences – Mortgage Shopping

May 06, 2011 11:30AM By Kenneth R. Harney

What if the federal government spent years designing a tool to help consumers shop intelligently for mortgages — comparing lenders’ rates, terms and total settlement costs — but consumers ignored it or didn’t use it?

No need to speculate here; it appears to have already happened. A new survey of 1,000 American consumers suggests that the “good-faith estimate” disclosures that all homebuyers and refinancers receive at loan application to facilitate shopping are not getting the job done.

Federally mandated good-faith estimates spell out the lender’s charges, all anticipated fees for title insurance, escrow and settlement services, plus other key costs. The most recent version of the GFE, released at the beginning of last year, contains space for consumers to take one lender’s estimates and get competing quotes from as many as three others. It also requires lenders to stand behind their estimates — guaranteeing that some of them won’t increase by even a penny at closing, and others won’t increase by more than 10 percent.

Full Article Here: Via Real Deal

Investment sales volume could rise by 50%

April 12, 2011 12:30PM By Adam Pincus

The first quarter of 2011 saw a steep decline in investment sales in New York City compared to the last three months of 2010, but the dollar volume for the whole year is expected to surge over last year, Robert Knakal, chairman of commercial brokerage Massey Knakal Realty Service, said.

He predicted the total volume of investment sales would jump to as much as $22 billion this year from $14.5 billion in 2010.

“We believe the dollar volume will increase by 40 to 50 percent over 2010 levels,” Knakal said at the firm’s quarterly press briefing at its Midtown headquarters this morning. “We are expecting that the total dollar volume is going to be in the $20 [billion] to $22 billion range.”

But that would remain far below the record $62 billion sold in 2007, he said.

In the first quarter of 2010, there were $3.9 billion in sales citywide, down 30 percent from the $5.6 billion sold in the fourth quarter last year.

Knakal blamed some of the decline this year to a surge in sales in the prior quarter by sellers fearing a change in taxes. But even as the first quarter lagged the previous three months, it was far more than the first quarter one year ago, when just $2.03 billion in properties traded hands.

The increase in property sales was led by office buildings purchases, such as William Macklowe Company and ING Clarion Partners together buying 636 Sixth Avenue for $45.23 million.

The development market picked up as well in terms of volume of deals, but fell in the average price per square foot.

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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.

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