Articles

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

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.

A Tough Time for Self-Employed Borrowers

By BOB TEDESCHI

MOST borrowers are facing a much tougher mortgage environment than a few years ago, but for those who are self-employed or own small businesses, maneuvering through a loan application can be even more arduous.

Before 2008 these borrowers, many of whom have difficulty documenting their income, often used what are known as stated-income loans. Lenders focused on credit histories and earnings estimates, circumventing the need for pay stubs or W-2s.

But during the mortgage crisis, stated-income loans became known as “liar’s loans,” because some borrowers falsely inflated their incomes, and qualified for more than they could afford.

Today, stated-income loans have nearly disappeared. Those still available through regional lenders like Hudson City Savings Bank come at a cost: interest rates around a quarter of a percentage point higher than conventional loans and down payments of at least 30 percent.

The self-employed borrower’s only choice, mortgage brokers say, is to submit two years’ tax returns and hope that they qualify for a conventional loan.

Full Article via NYTs

INCENTIVES TO SEDUCE BUYERS !!!

Getting Inventive to Seduce Buyers

  

THESE are nerve-racking times for NYC Real Estate brokers. Although prices are higher this year than last, the average sales price for luxuryManhattan apartments slipped 17 percent, to $6.4 million, from the first quarter of the year to the second, according to Prudential Douglas Elliman. Though many brokers and developers insist they feel no serious qualms yet — they are counting on the weak dollar to keep attracting foreign buyers — some are unveiling new stratagems for luring higher-end clients and the brokers who know them.

Click the link to read the full article:

 http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/28/realestate/28cov.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

NYLS Commentary:

Incentives to buyers are not new to the NYC residential real estate market. With residential rental apartments we tend to see a cyclical cycle in the overall volume of rental transactions. The Summer months (April – September) tend to be very active with a large number of out of town renters coming to New York City many for the first time. Generally in the summertime Landlords have the leverage and rent prices go up. The Winter months (October – March) are notoriously slower and the volume of transactions is almost cut in half. It is during this time when Landlords offer incentives to Brokers and tenants alike. 

Right now in the Financial District, The type of incentives being offered have not been seen since after 9/11 when many residents of Lower Manhattan were offered a 2 year grant by the Government as incentive not to abandon the area. Examples of Incentives downtown include 1 – 3 Months of FREE Rent, 1 Month Paid Broker Fee, Free I-Pod, etc…

In the Sales Market we have not seen a tremendous decrease in prices, Instead Developers have chosen to increase the incentives to Brokers raising commissions from 3% in some cases all the way to 6%. Incentives are also being given to potential buyers such as increased negotiating power, Developer picking up transfer tax, Free Vacation, etc…

Experts weigh in on how to fix industry crises…

The biggest problems in New York City real estate

Following criticism, Attorney General Andrew Cuomo has vowed to crack down on shoddy construction and is instituting greater scrutiny of developers who break the rules. He is also trying to speed up the new condo approval process, and has introduced reforms targeting the appraisal industry.
By Dorn Townsend

In the wake of the subprime and credit crises, problems are becoming apparent even in New York City’s usually buoyant real estate market. Although real estate in New York City has escaped some of the ravages the rest of the country has suffered, cracks in the façade are starting to show. 

For this supplement, The Real Deal has chosen to bring some plaster: First, we home in on macro difficulties, as well as some less-discussed problems. We then weigh in with the advice of experts on ways to solve these issues. 

We take a look at the problem of the liquidity crisis. In the article Crisis or Correction, financial whizzes contemplate how they think the financial markets can ultimately return to a state of normalcy. For example, experts say the only way for the broader housing market to recover is by restoring confidence in lenders’ processes to securitize their mortgages. 

At the heart of the matter is the role of independent appraisers. Without appraisers capable of standing up to pressure from mortgage brokers to price unrealistically, it will be hard to restore confidence. Insiders consider how to make this happen in Restoring credibility to appraisers

Besides impacting banks and their ability to make informed investments, the present crisis is triggering fear among homeowners that they may lose their homes. In How New Yorkers spell foreclosure relief, we probe what’s being done to control the growing number of foreclosures — and experts share their views on whether the present actions are sufficient. 

In addition to these sweeping problems, the city’s real estate industry is facing some more local conundrums. One lingering difficulty is the manner in which different real estate firms arrive at different outcomes in their market reports. In Making sense of market reports, analysts reflect on whether the city needs a comparison-providing multiple listing service. Another growing difficulty emanates from spiraling energy costs, and the responses of commercial landlords to those costs. When it comes to energy costs, landlords over a barrel shows that many are turning to alternative energy sources and long-term fixed contracts as solutions. 

Finally, no problem has had a more tragic impact and received more recent coverage than accidents at construction sites stemming from crane malfunctions. In Shoring up construction safety, we review suggestions for reforming the city’s Department of Buildings and creating a culture of safety and accountability.

Two other stories discuss the mysterious flexibility of offices’ floor area over time and the new wave of scrutiny shoddy developers could soon see from the Attorney General’s office and the Department of Buildings.

 

RELATED LINKS:

http://ny.therealdeal.com/articles/making-sense-of-market-reports

http://ny.therealdeal.com/articles/crisis-or-correction

http://ny.therealdeal.com/articles/restoring-credibility-to-appraisers

http://ny.therealdeal.com/articles/how-new-yorkers-spell-foreclosure-relief

http://ny.therealdeal.com/articles/when-it-comes-to-energy-costs-landlords-over-a-barrel

http://ny.therealdeal.com/articles/shoring-up-construction-safety

http://ny.therealdeal.com/articles/cracking-down-on-shoddy-condos

NYLS Commentary:

This countries economic crises and the  government “recovery” plan (aka. the bailout) has rocked Wall Street this month and will undoubtedly affect NYC’s residential real estate market. As banks continue to fail and confidence continues to waiver, real estate in NYC remains as good an investemnt option as any for those who deposit more than the $100,000 limit in FDIC insured banks. Real Estate remains a great way to preserve money over time.

There are some great examples of this over time. During the most severe recession post WW2 (1975 to 1981) Markets slowed dow with interest rates reaching highs of 18% and declining home values of close to 30%. The market rebounded nicely during the 1980’s with home prices rebounded by as much as 400% and interest rates declined to around 8%. The best way to preserve money over time and hedge against inflation remains Real Estate. Again after the attacks of 9/11 real estate declined slightly (10%-15%) in Lower Manhattan yet over the past 7 years those who bought in Lower Manhattan neighborhoods (FiDi, TriBeCa, Battery Park) have seen their investments triple in value.

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.

And the Winner is ???

A reader writes, “It would be interesting if you guys did a reader survey on which NYC apartments have the most attractive women. I know it sounds silly, but somehow my friends and I had this discussion, and consensus seems to be that 2 Gold and Rivergate have tons of eye candy. I was also impressed with the quality of women at luxury condos like the Millennium in Battery Park City, 15 Broad, and Trump World Tower.” Great idea! But no love for the fellas? Folks, your suggestions for buildings with the hottest tenants (male and/or female) in the comments, please. Perhaps we can set up some sort of pageant. [CurbedWire Inbox]

Congrats to Financial District luxury-rental megatower 2 Gold Street for being named by the Curbed readership as the Manhattan building with the best-looking tenants. Rockrose’s gift to sunbathing 20somethings (and the dudes/dude-ettes who love them) beat out strong challenges from rental buildings like Soho Court, 88 Leonard Street, and Rivergate, and condo buildings such as The Orion and 15 Broad Street. See you on the roof deck, brahs!

20 Exchange Place

Streetscapes | Exchange Place

An Early Tower That Aspired to Greatness

Architectural Forum/Library of Congress; G. Paul Burnett/NYT

SURPRISING FIND The City Bank-Farmers Trust building, at left and above in 1931, has a plain facade except for 14 hooded figures at the 19th floor. The building’s two lavish lobbies were fashioned from 45 different kinds of marble. Today, the tower is being renovated for rental apartments and retail space.

By CHRISTOPHER GRAY

 Published: July 20, 2008

FIFTY-NINE stories does not seem like much now, but when planned in 1929, the City Bank-Farmers Trust Building was to be the tallest skyscraper in the world after the Empire State Building. With its sheer limestone facade, haunting sculptural treatment and rich marble halls, the building — which is being converted to residential use — is a surprising find on its cramped, odd-shaped block at Exchange Place, at the conjunction of Beaver, Hanover and William Streets.
Underhill/Library of Congress 

In 1929, the financial district was booming. The architects Cross & Cross were at work on a 50-story office building for Continental Bank at Broad Street and Exchange Place, which ultimately wasn’t built.

Then the National City Bank of New York merged with the Farmers’ Loan and Trust Company, and entered the skyscraper sweepstakes. When their architects, also Cross & Cross, filed plans at the Bureau of Buildings on Oct. 2, The New York Times described the new structure, at 71 stories and 846 feet, as the highest ever officially proposed.

The design for the City Bank-Farmers Trust tower called for an illuminated globe on top, but the stock market crash a few weeks after filing brought the project up short, and it was reduced to 59 stories.

Research by the Landmarks Preservation Commission gives the height as 685 feet, although just before completion The Times reported it as 750 feet. A partial set of engineering drawings from 1930 by the firm of Purdy & Henderson shows the 54th floor — several levels below the roof — as 670 feet high.

The exact height of the building remains unclear. But it is safe to say that, when completed, it trailed the Empire State Building (1,250 feet), the Chrysler Building (1,046 feet) and the Bank of the Manhattan (927 feet).

In August 1930, The Times reported that Gilbert Nicoll, a 20-year-old messenger, was near death after being hit by an iron bolt dropped from the 57th floor. He had been unemployed for months, according to the article, and the accident happened on his first day as a bank messenger.

The building was completed the next year. The outside is plain, even ho-hum, except for 14 moody hooded figures at the 19th floor. The magazine Through the Ages said in 1931 that they represented “giants of finance, seven smiling, seven scowling.” Figures of coins on the ground floor represented countries in which the bank had its main branches. The Times called the building “conservative modern.”

According to a 1931 article in Architecture and Building, the two lavish lobbies were fashioned from 45 different kinds of marble, quarried in Germany, Italy, Czechoslovakia, France, Spain, Belgium and elsewhere.

The brothers Eliot and John Walter Cross formed a talented and versatile partnership. Well born, well educated and socially connected, they did in-town mansions and country estates, banks and garages, lofts and skyscrapers — like the 1931 General Electric building at 51st Street and Lexington Avenue, with its Art Deco radio-wave imagery.

The architects’ niece Sarnia Marquand told a reporter in a 1980 interview that John Cross was the designer in the firm and Eliot handled the business side. Their most recognizable design is probably the sumptuously plain Tiffany & Company store at 57th Street and Fifth Avenue, which dates to 1940.

According to the 1996 Landmark designation report, City Bank-Farmers Trust went through several changes, evolving into First National City Bank, and then, in 1976, Citibank. Its move out of the skyscraper happened in stages, the last one in 1989.

The tower is easy to see from a distance but hard to find on the ground in the maze of irregular downtown streets. The City Bank-Farmers Trust banking hall runs along William Street. It is a high, columned space in English oak with polished marble and nickel trim, all handled in the Art Deco classicism that had become a safe alternative to radical European modernism.

At Exchange and William, the main entrance to the banking hall is a high rotunda, flush with varying marbles, the most striking a golden travertine from Czechoslovakia, quite different from the pallid ivory-colored stone popular in the 1960s. From the tower there are wide views to the harbor and around to old skyscrapers on the land side.

Today, a real estate firm, Metro Loft Management, is renovating the tower for rental apartments, and has 350 units ready on the floors from 16 to the top.

A second phase, lower down, will involve office tenants; the company that takes the high banking hall will have a most spectacular retail space.

State of the Market: Hoboken vs. Jersey City

Grove Street (Jersey City) published a new entry entitled “Hoboken / Downtown Jersey City” on 6/17/2008 5:19:32 PM, written by Grove Street JC.


Hoboken / Downtown Jersey City

In response to a JCList.com thread on “The State of the Hoboken (Real Estate) Market.”

So one poster posited that Hoboken real estate isn’t selling well, and another post stated that “all of the buyers are over in Jersey City.”  Is this true?  Our view, is yes, it is true. Let us examine:

Hoboken real estate, particularly in the areas more than a 10 min walk, is not selling well.  The only desirable locations are really the places that are close to the PATH.  Of course there are nice condos/apartments way out from the PATH, but typically it requires a shuttle bus or lightrail.  While not terrible, your typical first-time homebuyer is looking for proximity to mass transportation.  Especially if they work in Manhattan and would be taking the PATH or Ferry.  Areas closer to the Hoboken PATH surely may be in higher demand, but there isn’t as much new construction (which is what homeowners are looking for

On the other hand,Jersey City is developing rapidly, and 95% of all the new developments/construction are located within a 5 minute walk to either the Grove Street, Exchange Place, or Newport PATH trains (depending on which neighborhood you are in, Paulus Hook, Powerhouse, Liberty Harbor, Hamilton Park, Newport, etc).  Putting yourself in the shoes of a first-time homebuyer (most likely a NYC transplant looking for more space), why would anyone desire to live in a condo where a shuttle bus is required?  In Hoboken, when RE was booming and before JC started to develop, homebuyers accepted the shuttle bus as they may have been priced out of waterfront Hoboken property (lack of supply as well).  Now that Jersey City has started to revitalize (in the Grove Street area particularly), first-time homebuyers are flocking to downtown JC – because of its excellent proximity to PATH trains and also brand-new luxury construction/amenities.  So, when faced with the choice of living in a brand-new apt 3 minutes from the PATH, or an older Hoboken apartment with the shuttle bus — obviously homebuyers are leaning toward downtown Jersey City.

Currently, in terms of neighborhood, Hoboken offers much more currently in the way of cafes, restaurants, nightlife, shopping.  But for a first-time homebuyer, looking to invest in an area – JC is certainly a better value because much of the new construction is located near the waterfront and the PATH train.  Add in the fact that you’re part of an exciting, growing neighborhood, and JC is the better option over (established) Hoboken.  Already there are a number of excellent restaurants, cafes, and boutiqe shops lining the streets of Grove Street.  To be fair, it’s nothing like (established) Hoboken, but it’s definitely a different feel — a type of urban, dynamic vibe that permeates through the streets, shops, and people. 

Our view is that Hoboken real estate has seen a ceiling, while JC still has room to grow (once the US economy recovers, JC should soon exceed Hoboken RE growth). 

Permalink: grovestreetjc.com/2008/06/17/hoboken–downtown-jersey-city.aspx

Hoboken Weathers the Market

Published: June 22, 2008
HOBOKEN was often held up as the prime example of the booming real estate market, and now it appears that the city is showing that it can hold its own in a down market, too.

A rendering of 800 Madison, part of the Upper Grand development.

Average sales prices are still increasing for downtown condominiums in Hoboken, although most asking prices are open to negotiation these days, as several developers acknowledged in interviews.

Developers say that their new buildings are still selling out, if somewhat slower than in the past. (One that didn’t, the Velocity, suffered from construction delays and questions about its site near city housing projects, and switched to a rental building late last year.)

The Web service Streeteasy.com reports that waterfront properties continue to command premium prices about 30 to 35 percent above those on Hoboken’s west side, a former industrial area that was nearly unimaginable as a neighborhood only five or six years ago.

But development on the west side is continuing, fueled by interest from buyers and renters, developers say.

The Tarragon Corporation is completing its sixth residential building in the neighborhood at its eight-square-block Upper Grand development. The company now has four condominiums and two rental buildings there, and will soon break ground on the west side’s first high-rise condo.

William Rosato, Tarragon’s president, acknowledges that the market on the west side has cooled over the last two years. “It used to be that if we asked $500,000 for a condo, five buyers were standing in line to buy,” he said. “Now, if you ask $500,000, people wait to come in and begin a negotiation.”

Nevertheless, Mr. Rosato added, “Prices are holding pretty strong, as is the pace at which we sell.”

Benjamin D. Jogodnik, a vice president of Toll Brothers who runs its City Living division, said the company had sold more than 400 high-end condominiums at three Hoboken developments since late 2005, when the statewide residential market began to deflate.

There are only a handful of units left at one of those developments, Harborside Lofts, a 116-unit building with balconies and rooftop terraces. The terraces were sold separately, at prices that reached $225,000.

Mr. Jogodnik said the second buildings at both the Hudson Tea and Maxwell Place complexes are approaching completion. Both developments have had steady sales, with Maxwell Place now about 95 percent sold.

Toll Brothers is also building 10 “maisonette” town houses at Maxwell Place. The town houses have the Hudson River outside their doors, and lots of glass facing the view.

The town houses are priced about $1 million above other high-end apartments in Hoboken. The asking prices range from $2.5 million to $3.8 million, for houses that range from 2,300 to 3,800 square feet of space.

No marketing has been done since the town houses became available last fall, and work on the pier outside the windows still obstructs the view of the river from most of the unfinished condos.

“But we have sold four,” said Mr. Jogodnik. “Four in six months, at these kinds of price points, in this market? I’m O.K. with that.”

Bargaining is taking place at all price points for condos old and new, according to statistics from Streeteasy.com. While the average price of a two-bedroom apartment in Hoboken has increased 9.4 percent since the beginning of the year — to $634,917 — more than half of the two-bedrooms currently on the market have had their original asking prices reduced, by an average of 5.3 percent.

Meanwhile, the average price for a one-bedroom unit has dropped 9.3 percent since January — to $420,797 — and 40 percent of those units now on the market have had their asking prices reduced, by an average of 3.3 percent.

There are relatively few three-bedroom units in Hoboken, most of them penthouses, but the average price is up by 3.3 percent, Streeteasy.com reported, to $882,943.

More of the negotiating is occurring on the west side than on the waterfront, Streeteasy.com indicated. About 88 percent of the two-bedroom units listed on the inland side have reduced prices, taken down by an average 7.4 percent.

Still, new high-end developments keep springing up.

The Vesta Group, a developer of boutique condo buildings in TriBeCa and Chelsea in Manhattan, has just begun marketing a 16-unit project on Observer Highway on Hoboken’s south side.

Vesta is promoting the building as Hoboken’s first with video doorman technology, which allows deliveries of groceries and packages while the apartment dweller is out. Vesta is selling two- to four-bedroom units for $690,000 to $1.47 million.

Marketers of this building and others are stressing Hoboken’s walkability, and the fact that schools, shops and retailing are close at hand.

There is one residential amenity that Hoboken has been conspicuously lacking, however, ever since the last movie theater closed in 2005.

But last week, Tarragon, in partnership with Clearview Cinemas, broke ground on a five-screen theater.

Frequently Asked Questions…

When a Landlord Won’t Return a Security Deposit

Q

I moved into an apartment on a one-year lease. Thirty days before the end of my lease, I gave notice to vacate and requested, in writing, the return of my security deposit and interest.

I moved out on March 2 and have yet to receive a check or a notice stating that the landlord was keeping the deposit. There was no damage to the apartment, so I expect the full deposit to be returned. They are not returning my calls.

What should I do? 

A

Dov Treiman, a Manhattan real estate lawyer, said the tenant had two possible paths to pursue. “First, the tenant may bring a case in small claims court or, for very large security deposits, in the regular part of the New York City Civil Court,” he said.

“Second, the tenant may file a complaint with the Bureau of Consumer Frauds and Protection of the New York State Attorney General’s Office.”

Mr. Treiman said that pressing the case in small claims court or Civil Court could prove very frustrating, because it could entail several appearances in court.

Also, the landlord will frequently be represented by a lawyer, and the tenant typically will not be. While not always the case, the lawyer could use various tactics to delay the case or to wear the tenant down in hopes of forcing him or her to give up.

Even if the tenant wins in court, Mr. Treiman added, he or she would then have to turn over the judgment to a city marshal to have it enforced, a process that can also be time consuming and somewhat expensive.

On the other hand, the consumer fraud bureau of the Attorney General’s Office is very interested in these cases and in getting them resolved quickly. “They have tremendous power to coerce landlords to return the security deposit, but will only do so if the deposit has not been returned for more than 30 days after the tenant moves out,” Mr. Treiman said.

The Bureau of Consumer Frauds and Protection is at 120 Broadway in Lower Manhattan. The toll-free consumer help line is (800) 771-7755.

http://realestateqa.blogs.nytimes.com/

Sex and the City – The Real Estate Episode

Real estate of Sex and the City

The Sex and the City movie is everywhere! The HBO series included some fabulous shoes, but at Trulia, we’re more interested in the fabulous real estate. Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda each had distinct personalities, and the housing to match. Here’s a look at some great properties listed on Trulia that would surely be approved by the girls of Sex and the City:

• Carrie – When we last left Carrie, she was enjoying the single-girl lifestyle in a brownstone apartment in the Upper East Side. This classic brownstone with modern upgrades priced below $800,000 might make a great first home purchase. The private outdoor patio looks like a great spot for an evening cosmopolitan – or two!
• Samantha – This sleek condo a few blocks up from the Meatpacking District has Samantha all over it. The modern interior with huge windows and great views has the sexy look that would appeal to her uninhibited sensibility. (And the glass shower door doesn’t hurt, either.)
• Charlotte – Nothing but a classic Park Avenue pad for her! This beautiful Park Avenue co-op has the traditional, sophisticated look that Charlotte embodies.
• Miranda – The only one to move outside of Manhattan, Miranda would enjoy the extra space that comes with this Park Slope home. Its backyard is great for a family, and a second unit in the house could either be rented out as an investment or used for overnight visitors from Manhattan.

Fri, Jun 6, 2008

Real Estate News

(http://www.truliablog.com/)

Jersey City vs. Manhattan

Jersey City vs. Manhattan

Median price for a condo in a new development in downtown Jersey City: $579,900

Median price for a condo in a new development in Manhattan: $1,475,000

Average price in Jersey City: $640,864.

1br: $539,304
2br: $656,795
3br: $1,231,666

Average price in Manhattan: $2,184,928.

Studio: $891,441
1br: $1,020,626
2br: $1,992,638
3br: $3,751,874

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.

WEEKEND REAL ESTATE NEWS

What you need to know to get a home loan in today’s more regulated mortgage market. [NY Times]

Living in: Yorkville. [NY Times]

Q & A: When a landlord refuses to return a security deposit. [NY Times]

The new cast of The Real World will live in a $6 million, two-story penthouse at the Belltel Lofts in downtown Brooklyn. [NYDN]

A list of weekend getaways that won’t lighten your wallet or expand your carbon footprint too much. [Time Out New York]

Greatly Exaggerated? By JOSH BARBANEL

April 13, 2008

Big Deal

Greatly Exaggerated?

By JOSH BARBANEL

REPORTS of a decline of the Manhattan real estate market may have been premature.

Since the release of first-quarter sales results on April Fool’s Day, brokers have been ruminating on the extent of a slowdown in the property market. One report prepared for Prudential Douglas Elliman by Jonathan J. Miller, an appraiser, showed a 34 percent drop in quarterly sales, compared with the corresponding period in 2007, the steepest decline in sales in memory.

This finding, however, was called into question by higher sales figures recorded by other brokerage firms. And even one of Elliman’s top-selling brokers, Dolly Lenz, said in an e-mail message to fellow brokers, “Something is very wrong somewhere and I need a plausible response, as will we all.”

In a later e-mail message to a reporter, she said that despite some stress “here and there due to overbuilding,” the “market is really quite good over all.”

Last Wednesday, Gregory Heym, the chief economist for Halstead Property and Brown Harris Stevens, sent an e-mail message of his own to brokers at those firms. He said that while each company’s sales figures were only estimates, the Douglas Elliman report was incorrect and “missing almost 600 sales, which were available for anyone to view” in the city’s online records.

Mr. Miller, the president of Miller Samuel Inc., said he used the same methodology that he has been using for 14 years, based on a variety of public and proprietary sources, and that differences in firms’ reports could be caused by the timing of data collection. “I stand by my numbers and the methodology used to compile them,” he said.

Because there is often a lag of several weeks in reports of property closings, each firm tries to capture closings filed in public records up to a few days before the end of the quarter, as well as additional reports of closings from managing agents and other sources.

But a review of closing documents filed by last Wednesday, nine days after the end of the quarter, showed that the number of sales was roughly flat compared with the same quarter a year ago. They fell, but by less than 1 percent, or a decline of 11 sales out of nearly 3,500 sales reported in April 2007.

Last spring, the number of closings rose to record levels, but with contract signings lagging lately and uncertainty on Wall Street, few brokers are predicting a similar surge this spring. Yet who would have thought that Manhattan apartment prices would hit record highs in the first quarter, while prices fell across the country?