Monday, 31 October 2016

NYU's 23-story Greenwich Village sports center is officially a go

The 23-story facility will span 588,000-square-feet

It’s official: New York University’s new sports center is finally moving forward. The university filed plans for a 23-story building set to rise at 181 Mercer Street, The Real Deal reports. The project had been stalled for years since the City Council gave its approval in 2012. Many local residents were opposed to the overall Greenwich Village expansion of the university and said the land the university was proposing to build on was intended for parks

The New York State Court of Appeals ruled in NYU’s favor last summer, and the university has agreed to carry out the overall expansion one building at a time to minimize the impact on local residents.

Designed by Davis Brody Bond along with KieranTimberlake, the structure will span 588,000-square-feet, and also be home to a performing arts facility. From what we know so far, the building will be divided into two towers and replace the existing Coles Sports Center.

The facility will come with an Olympic-sized pool, an indoor track, and multiple exercise rooms. On the performing arts side, the building will have a theater with an orchestral pit, balcony and mezzanine seating that will seat up to 556 people. There also plans for studios, a cafe, and study rooms at this new building.

Demolition on the existing sports center got underway in August and the new project is expected to be complete in 2021.


Amy Schumer may have snagged a $12M Upper West Side penthouse

This year’s Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree is a huge Norway spruce

Yes, it’s already time to start thinking about Christmas in New York

Today may be Halloween, but signs of the impending Christmas season are already popping up around New York City. Decorations are for sale in some stores, ice-skating rinks are already open for business, and as of today, Rockefeller Center has chosen the enormous evergreen that will be the center of its holiday festivities.

According to NBC New York, which first reported the news, the massive tree is a Norway spruce that’s currently sitting in someone’s backyard in Oneonta, New York. To get to Rockefeller Center, it’ll first be cut down on November 10 and then trucked into the city, finally arriving on November 12. It’ll then spend a few weeks getting spruced up (ha ha) with thousands of tiny LED lights before the grand unveiling on November 30.

This year marks the 84th anniversary of the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree lighting, a spectacle that first began during the office complex’s construction in 1933; the first tree was a 20-foot tall affair that was decorated with tin foil, garland paper, and metal cans. How things have changed.


Lower East Side condos inspired by 'art and zoning' launch sales

Bushwick gets a rental building inspired by the NYC subway

For $595,000, a cheerful one-bedroom on Central Park West

Transforming a small Upper West Side apartment into a 'light and airy' home

When Meisha Hunter first saw the small Upper West Side apartment that would eventually become her home, it wasn't in the best condition. "It looked like someone hadn't lived there for a while," she explains, noting that the walls were spray painted gray, and the only source of light came from opening the dilapidated refrigerator door. But still, there was something about the apartment, located in a co-op that was built in the 1920s, that she found appealing. “This place has got good bones," she recalls thinking at the time. "I can work with this."

And work she did: Over a period of a few months, Hunter, a senior preservationist with Li/Saltzman Architects, transformed the dated, run-down apartment into a tranquil sanctuary, one that she's filled with plenty of personal touches—gifts from friends, or souvenirs and photos from her many travels across the globe, including a nearly year-long stint living in Italy—as well as space-saving items.

It's not a micro apartment, but it's close, and when she moved into the place, a friend told her that to make it work, "everything has to have two purposes." So the couch in the living room is also a futon where guests can sleep; the island in the small kitchen is a not just an extra surface, but also a place to store appliances. Even the litter box used by Hunter's 15-year-old Devon Rex cat, Percy, isn't simply a litter box; it's in a console that also functions as a side table.

Before this, Hunter lived in an apartment in New Jersey that was perhaps twice the size, but found the commute from there to Manhattan to be untenable. But for her, downsizing to a cozy one-bedroom wasn't that difficult of a transition. "For a couple of months I lived out of two suitcases, and when you start doing that, it’s like, oh, this is pretty Zen," she explains. "You don’t need that much stuff."

The larger task was figuring out how, exactly, to make the most of that small space. Hunter says she consulted her friend Roxanne Ryce-Paul, an architect who also has experience with micro-living, who explained that creating a home from a small space "is like a puzzle, and you try to put the pieces together." Hunter enlisted the help of Michael Daryani, a general contractor from S.M. Zako, and together they worked to assemble the puzzle that is her 475-square-foot apartment.

The kitchen, for example, is wee but functional, with smaller appliances—a two-burner cooktop, and a combination microwave-convection oven—that are better-performing than the ones that typically come standard with a New York apartment. "My husband and I cook at home a lot, so the kitchen was really important to us," Hunter explains, and the care they've put into it shines through.

Similarly, the bedroom was just as important to Hunter, who says that the space is her favorite part of the apartment. "I wanted it to feel like a little suite," she explains, calling the vibe there "peaceful." Much of the storage in the bedroom—save for an Ikea shelving system that's all but ubiquitous in New York apartments—is hidden, either under the bed or in the closet; custom curtains and a traditional bed set, all in soothing neutral shades, add to the tranquil feeling.

When it came to decorating the space, Hunter says there isn't necessarily a guiding aesthetic that ties the whole place together. "My taste is not so modern," she explains. "Part of [my style] is traditional, part of it is eclectic." But one consistent theme throughout is the inclusion of mementos—photographs, prints, or tchotchkes—that were either gifts from friends or come from Hunter's years of traveling to locales as varied as Venice, Marrakesh, and Saskatchewan (she's originally from Canada). The Flatiron Building also makes several appearances, thanks in part to Hunter's years on the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission, where that particular landmark was one of her pet projects.

But the defining feature, if there is one, is a sense of coziness throughout—something that's hard to come by in tiny New York apartments. "I wanted it to feel light and airy," Hunter says.

Consider that mission accomplished. And even though she was slightly skeptical about the place at first, in the nearly seven years she's lived in the apartment—during which time she met and married her husband, who moved into the space alongside Hunter and Percy—it's become home. And now, Hunter says, "I'm a huge advocate for small."


Van Leeuwen Ice Cream founder lists his sweet Greenpoint condo for $1.075M

10 market-rate Bushwick properties that are actually affordable

Somehow, the cheapest one is asking more than a similar Manhattan pad

Let’s face it: Bushwick’s days as an affordable alternative to Williamsburg are numbered, and real estate research site NeighborhoodX is here to prove it. As a part of their new series that sniffs out the most affordable apartments in different areas of New York City, the site has landed on the pseudo-industrial swath of northern Brooklyn.

Stats for Bushwick follow those for Manhattan, where last week the mini borough’s most affordable market-rate apartment was a $229,000 studio in Inwood. Not even Bushwick has such an obtainable offering; the least-pricey market-rate property up for grabs in Bushwick is a $399,000 one-bedroom at 116 Covert Street. Granted, it’s a nicely-outfitted apartment in a brand new building whereas the Inwood studio is, well, not.

The priciest of the ten most affordable properties in Bushwick—contradiction much?— is a modern two-bedroom, two-bathroom condo at 137 Eldlert Street that’s on the market for $679,000, down from $699,000.

The price-per-square-foot basis for the properties ranged from $439 for a 1,307-square-foot one-bedroom at 309 Cooper Street to $908 for a 743-square-foot one-bedroom at 318 Knickerbocker Avenue. That fact in its own isn’t all that enlightening, but what the price-per-sqaure-foot guides for the properties turn out is that the least expensive property overall, the $399,000 one-bedroom at 116 Covert Square, is actually among the most expensive in terms of price per square foot.

While the price ranges for Bushwick’s most affordable market-rate properties are higher than the range for Manhattan’s, the price per square foot for Manhattan’s most affordable apartments goes far beyond Bushwick’s to $1,118. Is that, then, a better demarcator of value?

NeighborhoodX principal Constantine Valhouli offers a little insight into the group's process, "We've always held that no single metric tells the complete story. Looking at several metrics in tandem can offer a more complete picture of the hyperlocal real estate market."


Luxe Greenpoint condo has a serious mold problem, owners say

Owners at 48 Box Street contest less-than-perfect living conditions

Back when sales launched at 48 Box Street in 2013, Curbed commenters lambasted the six-unit Greenpoint development for its (then) out-there location. Of course, the $600,000 to $1 million apartments sold out almost immediately anyway. But it now seems like the early skeptics of the building may have been onto something.

According to a report from The Post, residents of the (theoretically) high-end condos say “the developer is refusing to fix their drafty, leaking units—forcing them to wear hats and coats indoors while battling black mold.” And they’re not going to take it sitting down and shivering: the building’s residents have filed a lawsuit against the developers—HM Ventures Group LLC and ASH NYC—as well as the project’s architect, Jung Wor Chin, for breach of contract, fraud, and professional malpractice.

“It’s hard to feel comfortable in your own home after three years when, in the wintertime, you have to wear a winter coat and scarf and go to bed in fleeces and layer up the blankets because the building is just leaking air and the cold air is seeping in,” one resident told the Post. Another owner in the building, who lives there with her three children, told the paper her place “dips to as low as 30 degrees on the coldest days.”

Meanwhile, residents say the building was never properly waterproofed, causing leaks and mold, which has now spread throughout the building. The issues really undercut the glamor of those granite countertops in the kitchen.

The developers, however, remain unconvinced. “If those conditions exist, which we do not believe they do, we’re not the cause of those conditions,” said Ryan Miller, a lawyer for HM Ventures and ASH.

ASH purchased the building from the bank after the former developer had fallen behind on payments. The building was “95 percent complete” when ASH came in, a broker for the project told Curbed in 2013. At the time, Ari Heckman of ASH told Curbed that he “kind of undid” all that the former owner had done, replacing interior finishes and reworking the facade to better tie in with the neighborhood. No mention was made of the building’s critical facilities.


Jehovah’s Witnesses look to unload another prime Brooklyn property

It’s one of three buildings the Witnesses are currently offering on sale

As the Jehovah’s Witnesses continue to decamp from Brooklyn Heights and make their way to their new headquarters in Warwick, New York, the group has listed another valuable property for sale. This time it’s one of the religious organization’s residential buildings at 97 Columbia Heights, the Brooklyn Eagle first reported.

The 11-story building currently comes with 97 apartments and could fetch anywhere between $60 million-$88 million, real estate experts told the Commercial Observer. And it’s most likely primed for a condo conversion, those experts told the CO.

The site was once home to the tallest building in Brooklyn, Hotel Margaret, but that building was destroyed in a fire in 1980. The Witnesses purchased it in 1986 and housed many of their headquarters staff there in subsequent years.

The organization new headquarters began operating in Warwick on September 1 this year, and the property at 97 Columbia Heights marks one of the last few properties the organization owns in the neighborhood. The tower has a rooftop terrace, 30 parking spots, and private outdoor terraces in many of its apartments, and many of those units boast views of the East River and the Manhattan skyline.

The organization has sold about $1.25 billion in assets between 2004 and now, an analysis by the CO this past September revealed. One of the biggest deals relating to that portfolio was the sale of their iconic watchtower building for $340 million in August this year. Jared Kushner was one of the buyers, along with LIVWRK and the CIM Group. Kushner and LIVWRK had previously shelled out $345 million for five buildings owned by the Witnesses in Dumbo.

The Witnesses are currently selling two other buildings, a residential tower at 107 Columbia Heights, and a mixed-use building at 74 Adams Street in Dumbo.


Bobby Flay finally rents his $22,500/month Chelsea duplex

The celebrity chef has been looking to sell or rent his pad since last year

Bobby Flay has finally found a renter for his duplex in the celeb-studded Chelsea Mercantile building, the Post reports. The celebrity chef put the 3,256-square-foot digs on the market in October following a split with now ex-wife actress Stephanie March of Law & Order fame.

In addition to listing the 8th- and 9th-floor duplex as a $22,500/month rental, Flay listed the apartment on the sales market for just shy of $8 million in October 2015. Although the listing didn’t shy away from calling out its "PROFESSIONAL CHEF" owner, the apartment’s ask still hit the chopping block in May when it was reduced by $1 million to $6.95 million.

The duplex was created by combining two apartments at 252 Seventh Avenue, and includes a billiards room, built-in bookshelves, industrial details like exposed beams and a tin ceiling, and a showy kitchen meriting a celebrity chef owner. The apartment’s interiors were designed by MG & Company, who have teamed up with Flay on a few of his restaurants.


5 things we learned from getting scammed by short-term renters

St. Paul’s Chapel, NYC’s longest standing church, celebrates its 250th birthday

Brooklyn's tallest tower, Hub, unveils its swanky interiors

Video: See inside a Second Avenue Subway station as the MTA runs test trains

Operators are learning how to run trains ahead of the line’s projected December opening

Assuming the MTA can actually make good on its promise that the Second Avenue Subway (or portions of it, at least) will be up and running by the end of December, we’re now just about two months from service finally beginning on the long-delayed line.

And now, thanks to a YouTube clip, you can actually get a peek inside one of the new stations at 86th Street (h/t Stephen Miller)—there’s a platform and stairs and signage and everything! (It looks similar to the new Hudson Yards station, unsurprisingly.)

According to YouTube user Bryan M. Wade, who uploaded the video, the clip shows the following:

This northbound test-train entered 86th Street on the uptown track, paused and then proceeded north past 96th Street into the layups. Mayor Lindsay broke ground on that section in 1972. The test-train then headed back from the layups southbound on the uptown track, crossed over to the downtown track south of 96th and then proceeded south into 86th Street. After a short pause at 86th it continued south towards 72nd Street.

So this must mean it’s becoming a reality, right? Well, not so fast: there are a battery of tests that the transit authority must perform before service can start, and the independent engineer who’s reviewing the line’s progress has repeatedly expressed concern about timing. At a recent MTA board meeting, the engineer, Kent Haggas, said that the 86th and 72nd Street stations may not be ready to open by December.

But still, it’s hard not to get a thrill seeing one of these stations finally look like, well, a station after so long. Check out the clip below:

Sunday, 30 October 2016

One-time ‘Sex and the City’ filming site in Murray Hill wants $2M

15 photos of New York City’s best Halloween-decorated houses

Upper East Side condo conversion reveals model units and luxe amenities

Loft-like Boerum Hill townhouse with period details, modern updates wants $7M

This week we're looking at stunning homes in Bed-Stuy, Park Slope, and Boerum Hill, asking from $1.975 to $7 million

Welcome to the Brooklyn Townhouse Roundup, where we—you guessed it—take a look at the most notable Brooklyn townhouses on the market. Got tips? Send 'em here.

↑In Boerum Hill, an elegant Greek Revival home sporting redesigned interiors is asking $6.995 million. The six-bedroom, five-bathroom house receives a plethora of sunlight throughout and is accented by high ceilings, exposed beams, arched entryways, restored mantles, huge floor-to-ceiling windows, and much more.

↑This modern six-bedroom Bed-Stuy brownstone along Gates Avenue features lots of light and space. Encompassing 5,100 square feet, it offers five-and-a-half bathrooms, high ceilings, a sweeping chef’s kitchen, skylights, and a spacious backyard. It’s asking $2.499 million.

↑ A charming Park Slope three-bedroom wants $1.975 million. The inviting space features a simple design across the open floorplan along with a contemporary kitchen and renovated bathrooms. It’s also nice that Prospect Park is located just two blocks away.

↑After receiving a gut renovation, a five-bedroom, four-bathroom Bed-Stuy townhouse is going for $2.9 million. The redesigned Neo-Grec style home has maintained some of its classic details like a skylight, exposed brick, and decorative marble fireplaces while welcoming modern amenities that include two open kitchens, subway-tiled bathrooms, and central heating/air conditioning.


Saturday, 29 October 2016

Jimmy Choo co-founder cuts posh Upper East Side penthouse price again

Derek Jeter’s onetime West Village townhouse rental wants $7.5M

Prettiest NYC homes that hit the market this week

5 apartments to check out in Greenwich Village this Sunday

Plan a trip to see these Greenwich Village homes, asking from $410,000 to $2.8M

Welcome to the weekly Open House Tour, because who doesn't love a little real estate gawking? This weekend, we're seeing what's on the market in Greenwich Village.

↑Even with its peculiar floorplan, this huge one-bedroom duplex is stunning. Encompassing 900 square feet, the pre-war loft offers 16-foot ceilings, bold columns, 13-foot high windows, a renovated kitchen, and marble-tiled bathroom. It’s asking $875,000.

When: Sunday, October 30th (12 p.m. to 2 p.m.)

↑Another one-bedroom duplex loft is going for much less on East 10th Street. This unit, asking $759,000, appears to be much smaller than the previous featured listing but it does have a modern kitchen and bathroom, as well as custom closets.

When: Sunday, October 30th (1:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.)

↑A no-frills studio along East 8th Street wants a mere $410,000. The space offers 450 square feet, three large closets, a dated but functioning bathroom, and a mini kitchen.

When: Sunday, October 30th (11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.)

↑This spacious two-bedroom is back on our open house roundup, this time with a $200,000 price cut. Now asking $1.6 million, the "rarely available" duplex has two bathrooms, large 15-foot windows, double height ceilings, and access to a private courtyard.

When: Sunday, October 30th (12 p.m. to 1 p.m.)

↑For $2.8 million, live in this two-bedroom co-op located on the top floor of a pre-war walkup. The sunlit apartment comes with an original fireplace mantle, plenty of shelves for the avid book reader to enjoy, and views of Washington Square Park.

When: Sunday, October 30th (12:30 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.)


Friday, 28 October 2016

Waldorf Astoria Hotel’s interiors could become a NYC landmark

The LPC will vote on Tuesday on whether to calendar the iconic hotel’s interiors

The Landmarks Preservation Commission will decide on Tuesday whether to calendar the Waldorf Astoria Hotel’s interiors for consideration as a New York City landmark. The decision comes after an October 25 open appeal to the commission from the New York City Landmarks Conservancy.

The vaunted hotel was purchased by China’s Anbang Insurance Group Co. for $1.95 billion from Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc. in October 2014. The following February Anbang announced that the hotel would undergo a partial condo conversion, where 1,100 of its 1,413 rooms are expected to go residential. The announcement worried many for many reasons, not the least of which is the treatment of the historic hotel’s Classical Modernist and Art Deco interiors.

Anbang has been in conversation with the Landmarks Preservation Commission about its treatment of the hotel’s beloved common spaces, like its lobbies, Peacock Alley, Grand Ballroom, and John Jacob Astor Salon. The hotel’s exterior is already a New York City landmark.

Leading up to Tuesday’s hearing, Anbang issued the following statement

Anbang knows the Waldorf’s history is a large part of what makes this hotel so special. That’s why we fully support the LPC’s recommendation for what would be one of the most extensive interior landmark designations of any privately owned building in New York. These designations are consistent with our vision and will protect the Waldorf’s significant public spaces. We are now finalizing renovation plans for the Waldorf that preserve these spaces and will ensure that the Waldorf will provide memorable experiences for generations to come. We look forward to sharing our plans publicly when they are complete.

Per the Landmarks Preservation Commission, the following interior spaces at the Waldorf Astoria are up for calendar consideration:

  • Park Avenue vestibules and foyer
  • Lexington Avenue vestibules and foyer
  • first floor interior consisting of the Park Avenue Lobby and colonnade
  • West Lounge (formerly Peacock Alley)
  • West Elevator Lobby, Main Lobby, Main Lobby Hall
  • East Arcade
  • Lexington Avenue stairs and landing on second and third floors
  • Grand Ballroom and balconies, Ballroom Entrance Hall (formerly Silver Gallery), Ballroom Foyer
  • Basildon Room, Jade Room, Astor Gallery, foyer connecting the Jade Gallery and Astor Gallery with Lexington Avenue stairs
  • Fixtures and interior components of these spaces, including but not limited to the wall surfaces, ceiling surfaces and floor surfaces, murals, mirrors, chandeliers, lighting fixtures, attached furnishings, doors, exterior elevator doors and grilles, railings and balustrades, decorative metalwork and attached decorative elements
  • Waldorf Astoria owner pledges to save hotel’s Art Deco interiors [Curbed]
  • Waldorf Astoria Jumps on Bandwagon, Plans Condo Conversion [Curbed]
  • All coverage of NYC hotels [Curbed]


Shigeru Ban’s Cast Iron House unveils its austere model apartment

Halloween in New York: Events, haunted places, NYC traditions, and more

Your guide to New York City's Halloween season

Thanks to the perfect storm of factors—lots of iconic landmarks to mess up, plethora of old buildings, creepy network of underground tunnels—New York City has always been a go-to for filmmakers looking to scare the bejesus out of the general public. Plenty of terrifying movies have taken place in the five boroughs, from creepy psychological thrillers to straight-up disgusting gore fests and everything in between—and many of those actually filmed here, too. Here, take a tour through some of the locations of great scary flicks that were filmed in NYC, and be prepared to be scared—and possibly fill up your Netflix (or Amazon or whathaveyou) queue this weekend.


NYC Halloween Parade 2016: Route, street closures, and more

Everything you need to know about New York’s biggest Halloween bash

The Village Halloween Parade has been a New York City tradition for more than 40 years now, and it’s coming back for another go-round on Monday. Whether you’re a fan of the pageantry and the costumes, or steadfastly hate the crowds and drunken revelry (and really, who’s to say who is right?), you’ll probably want to know where to go—or avoid—on Monday night, and we’re here to help. Read on for more information about the parade route, street closures, and other things you need to know about the festive, frightful event.

The route:

The parade travels along Sixth Avenue, beginning at Spring Street at 7 p.m. and ending at 16th Street around 11 p.m. According to the parade’s organizers, “the streets are most crowded between Bleecker and 14th Street,” so unless you feel like being smushed between lots of costumed revelers, you may be better off finding another spot to stand. (Or, as the organizers put it, “better yet, join the Parade!”)

I want to join!

Godspeed! Everything you need to know about participating is right here, but the gist: wear a costume, get to the starting point (Canal Street at Sixth Avenue) between 7 and 9 p.m., don’t show up drunk, and prepare for crowds. (And they’re serious about the costume thing—if you don’t have one, you can’t join.)

What about the weather?

Right now, it’s looking like Monday will be nice—high of 55, low of 44 (prepare for it to be on the low side at night), and clear. That’s subject to change, of course, but it probably won’t be a bad day to be outside and in costume.

I don’t want to be anywhere near it. What streets do I need to avoid?

The DOT will release that information closer to the day of the parade, but common sense dictates that most of Greenwich Village will be a mess. Prepare accordingly, and we’ll update when a list of street closures is available.


New batch of affordable Greenpoint Landing apartments available from $393

The apartments at 5 Blue Slip are intended for extremely low to low-income New Yorkers

A little more than a year after construction began, the housing lottery for 5 Blue Slip, one of Greenpoint Landing’s affordable rentals, is finally open. The Handel Architects-designed building’s 102 apartments will be open to those making between 30 and 60 percent of the area median income (AMI), and residents of Community Board 1 who apply will be given priority over other applicants.

The units in the six-story building are broken down thusly: There are 22 studios, 29 one-bedrooms, and 51 two-bedrooms. (The application from NYC Housing Connect has a more thorough breakdown of the unit mix.) A person making as little as $13,393 per year could apply for a $393 studio apartment. The maximum income accepted for a family of four, meanwhile, is $54,360, making them eligible for a $1,065 two-bedroom.

And while many of New York City’s so-called “affordable” housing developments are criticized for not actually being all that affordable, HPD representatives say that 5 Blue Slip’s 102 apartments are truly intended for “extremely low-, very low- and low-income households.” In a statement, HPD commissioner Vicki Been said that, “every New Yorker deserves the opportunity to live in an affordable home. This new development represents the chance for a new start for 102 families, and will serve to ensure that the neighborhood remains a diverse community.”

5 Blue Slip joins two other affordable buildings, 21 Commercial Street and 33 Eagle Street, in the Greenpoint Landing megaproject; the whole shebang will bring more than 5,000 apartments (more than 1,000 are due to be affordable) to North Brooklyn.


New York City’s best scary movie filming locations

Take a spooktacular walking tour through NYC

Thanks to the perfect storm of factors—lots of iconic landmarks to mess up, plethora of old buildings, creepy network of underground tunnels—New York City has always been a go-to for filmmakers looking to scare the bejesus out of the general public. Plenty of terrifying movies have taken place in the five boroughs, from creepy psychological thrillers to straight-up disgusting gore fests and everything in between—and many of those actually filmed here, too. Here, take a tour through some of the locations of great scary flicks that were filmed in NYC, and be prepared to be scared—and possibly fill up your Netflix (or Amazon or whathaveyou) queue this weekend.


Williamsburg’s Austin Nichols House reveals amenities including jam rooms, movie theater

Red Hook community proposes alternative to enormous megaproject

This proposal focuses more on making the neighborhood resilient to floods

Just over a month after AECOM presented a proposal to transform Red Hook with a project that would be twice the size of Hudson Yards, local residents have come forward with a more focused, comparatively conservative proposition, DNAinfo reports.

Part of a report created by German chemical company BASF, looking at solutions to improve the quality of life in neighborhoods like Red Hook, this proposal focuses more on fortifying the neighborhood against future Sandy-like storms, and for revitalizing the existing landscape of the neighborhood. AECOM’s proposal, in contrast, includes skyscrapers with apartments and between 25 to 45 million square feet of development overall.

This community-driven proposal, which was created after workshops and meetings attended by Red Hook residents, focuses on four keys goals: creating green corridors that would come with bike paths, community gardens, and bioswales; parks on the coast that would be fitted with temporary and permanent barriers to protect the neighborhood from storms; renovations to make the Red Hook Houses more flood resistant and energy efficient; and creating a job training center.

They call it the "model block" approach and one of the key players in pushing this forward is local resident Alexandros Washburn, who currently teaches urban design at the Stevens Institute of Technology, and served as the chief urban designer of NYC under Mayor Bloomberg.

He told DNAinfo that this approach took more of the community’s wishes into account as opposed to AECOM’s proposal. The new buildings that would be created through this plan will focus on affordable housing and will offer light manufacturing and green space as well. The residences will be located on higher floors to protect them from flooding.

This proposal is in the early planning stages, and Washburn told DNAinfo that he hopes to continue working with the Red Hook community in the coming months to create a more concrete plan. The city on its part presented three tentative plans last month to secure Red Hook from future floods.


Charming Midtown carriage house with indoor parking asks $8.35M

Williamsburg’s Oosten condo shows off its huge interior courtyard

Revamp of Bronx low-income housing will include 1,665 new apartments

Phipps Houses is moving forward with its revamp of the Lambert Houses near the Bronx Zoo

Last year affordable housing developer Phipps Houses announced a major overhaul of the low-income housing complex, Lambert Houses, in the Bronx, and that ambitious undertaking is now moving forward, the New York Times reports. Phipps will take the 14-building campus and convert it into taller towers, which in turn will add 1,665 apartments to the area.

Built in the 1970s, the apartment complex was praised for its design at the time, but subsequently the buildings have deteriorated with a backed up sewage system that often floods the first floor hallways.

The complex overall, due to its open design, also poses a security risk, and the new design will significantly reduce access to the campus by adding ground floor retail and maisonette-style apartments on the lower levels.

The current residents at the complex will be moved to a temporary apartment facility while the $600 million overhaul takes place, which will see the demolition of the existing buildings. The number of apartments will double from the existing amount when construction wraps up.

Once complete, all the units will count towards Mayor Bill de Blasio’s goal of creating and preserving 200,000 units of affordable housing in the city over a 10-year period. Already, 28 percent of the units that were created since de Blasio took office are located in the Bronx.

Unlike Phipps’s plans to convert (that were since scrapped) a parking lot in Queens into affordable housing, the Bronx project has received overwhelming support from the residents and the local elected officials, according to the Times.


The Trump brand name is losing prestige among buyers

Sales in Trump’s buildings are down over this time last year

Here’s a shocker: the value of the Trump real estate brand has been diminished among certain circles—fraudsters and socialites not included—throughout this election cycle, and the New York Times has pulled the numbers from StreetEasy to prove it.

According to the stats, apartments in the Republican presidential nominee’s New York City holdings have been moving more slowly than they had just a year ago. “Where that brand used to enhance value, it is now being perceived as a detraction to value,” Michael Vargas of Vanderbilt Appraisal Company told the Times, “It’s a slowdown in the real estate market combined with a negative view of the brand.”

From October 2014 to October 2015, 159 apartments sold at 10 Trump condos in the city. According to StreetEasy stats, that number fell to 117 sales between November 2015 to October 2016, when Trump hit peak shenanigans/campaigning. That’s a not-insignificant 26-percent decrease in sales, especially given the Manhattan resale market’s increase in sales of 3.8 percent in the same time.

At Trump Park Avenue, six apartments were sold and 18 were delisted this year. Last year, ten apartments sold and eight were delisted in the building. Trump’s stretch of condos along Riverside Boulevard performed similarly, with the number of listings taken off the market rising from 67 to 82. At Trump International along Columbus Circle, six of 14 listed apartments sold this year compared with 14 of 20 last year.

Meanwhile, some residents of Trump’s Riverside Boulevard building are petitioning to have his name removed from the property. “It's embarrassing to live in the building,” a resident of Trump Place told Brick Underground, “I've had lots of friends make comments about it. My kids are so disgusted with Donald Trump that they find it viscerally uncomfortable to live in a building that has his name on it.”

“I can’t see any good near-term or long-term effect for this campaign on Trump’s real estate brand,” said Robert Dankner, the president of Prime Manhattan Residential, told the Times, “Does the election bring attention to Donald Trump’s brand? Yes. Does it increase the good will toward his brand? No. He’s turning a lot of people off, with his divisive statements that are directed toward specific nationalities and religions.”


$16M Soho loft appears simple but is full of high-tech gadgets

At first glance, you wouldn’t think this apartment has a color-changing LED mood wall

In a city where it’s become common to rely on fancy amenities to bring a home to life, a three-bedroom Soho loft where "the space is the art" embraces a minimalist effect throughout its 4,800 square feet. The result is an apartment that's subtly detailed with modern conveniences and a not-so-subtle $15.95 million price tag.

The living room, or "great room" as the brokerbabble calls it, immediately calls attention to the arched floor-to-ceiling windows that fill the space with sunlight. Industrial wooden beams and columns are in place throughout the space and a huge curved bookshelf sits in a corner off of the sleek open kitchen. The kitchen appears simple but is actually equipped with Miele appliances and custom-designed drawer pulls.

Things get high-tech in the master bedroom. There’s an "eco-smart fireplace" and motorized shades, and a headboard that swivels at the touch of a button. The powder room contains an LED color-changing mood wall and several 4K televisions are built in throughout the apartment.

Other features included in this unconventional space are custom lighting by Herv Descottes, heated flooring, adjustable floor-to-ceiling shelves within the dressing area, Sonos surround sound, and even a built-in humidifier.


Historic Midtown church conversion may be foiled by city

Existing zoning laws may prevent the historic church from being incorporated into the hotel

For once it’s not a developer getting in the way of historic preservation. After prolific hotel developer Sam Chang agreed to preserve the facade of the 111-year-old Christ Church Memorial Building in Midtown, the city has now essentially made it impossible for the restoration to move forward, the New York Post reports.

Chang purchased the property at 344 West 36th Street for $50.75 million in 2014, and had initially planned to demolish the historic structure and replace it with a 20-story, 406-room hotel. However after pushback from the local community, the developer agreed to incorporate the facade of the church into the hotel, and also rebuild the church’s parish house, which had to be demolished for construction.

The city however has now told the developer that the project is not up to code. The problem is the second floor facade of the existing building. It’s slightly set back from the ground floor, and the current zoning rules require that buildings not have setbacks till at least 80-feet above the sidewalk.

While the church itself is over a hundred years old, the city is taking the whole structure into account as part of the hotel project. This means a significant portion of the brick and glass facade will have to be demolished for the hotel to move forward.

The city had approved the project initially in October last year, but rescinded in March this year. They rejected a revised proposal this July as well. Chang has already spent months securing the existing wall for construction, so it remains to be seen how the project will now move forward.


Study of Hudson Yards-style development eyed for Sunnyside delayed

Hotel CEO brags about NYC room rate hikes in wake of Airbnb law

He called the recent bill signed by Governor Cuomo a ‘big boost in the arm’ for prices within their hotels

This should surprise no one: at least one hotel CEO has been caught bragging about his plans to raise prices for the brand’s New York City hotel rooms, following the recent bill signed into effect by Governor Andrew Cuomo that makes it illegal for people to advertise short-term rentals on Airbnb.

In a transcript obtained by the Washington Post, LaSalle Hotel Properties chief executive Mike Barnello told shareholders that the legislation "should be a big boost in the arm for the business, certainly in terms of the pricing." (h/t Gothamist). LaSalle owns and operates New York City hotels that include Gild Hall, WestHouse, Park Central New York, and The Roger.

Of course, this does not sit well with the many people who already refute the bill, arguing that it robs middle-class families of the opportunity to make extra money while allowing big-brand hotels to charge the consumer whatever they want. "They say a gaffe is unintentionally saying what you really believe and the latest gaffe from the hotel cartel makes it clear that the New York bill was all about protecting the hotel industry's bottom line," said Airbnb public affairs director Nick Papas.

On the contrary, state officials say that the law isn’t designed to crack down on middle-class folks looking to make some extra bucks, but more to target those who operate illegal hotel-like operations by posting several properties on Airbnb. Those caught can face fines up to $7,500.

In the meantime, Airbnb has filed a lawsuit against Mayor Bill de Blasio and State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, claiming that the bill is in violation of their First Amendment rights.


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Thursday, 27 October 2016

New looks at Williamsburg’s Domino Sugar Factory’s future as The Refinery

Sutton Square townhouse with distinguished past seeks $20M

Deadline for bid on Bushwick Inlet Park slice looms

The city has until noon on Friday to submit an offer to developer Norman Brodsky

The contested CitiStorage site needed to complete Bushwick Inlet Park may be sold to a private buyer if the city doesn’t make owner Norman Brodsky a better offer by noon on Friday, reports DNAinfo.

Back in June, the city offered Brodsky $100 million for the 11-acre site, the final component needed to make the park a reality, however he rejected that offer, citing that the city was “lowballing” him with such a low amount. In a bold move that followed, Brodsky listed the site up for auction, allowing anyone willing to beat the city’s offer to snatch up the site (apparently that didn’t work out too well).

According to DNAinfo, Brodsky and the city has been in private negotiations since then, and were close to reaching an agreement around $175 million for the property. But the most recent offer put forth by the city is still $15 million less than Brodsky is willing to accept. He claims that the deed will be signed over to a private buyer if the offer isn’t increased by noon Friday, but the city wants proof that he isn’t bluffing and does infact have a buyer willing to offer more.

Park advocates Friends of Bushwick Inlet Park have launched a campaign, urging people to tweet Mayor Bill de Blasio and call 311 and demand that the city makes a deal with Brodsky.


The most famous residents of New York City's cemeteries

Meet the notable actors, musicians, politicians, and other New Yorkers who call its cemeteries home

New York's celebrity contingent doesn't just occupy swanky Upper East Side mansions and cool downtown lofts; if you head to the outer boroughs, you'll find a plethora of famous New Yorkers who have chosen the city as their home…for eternity. A large number of famous folks are buried in NYC's cemeteries, such as Green-Wood in Brooklyn or Woodlawn in the Bronx. And while cemetery-creeping isn't an activity that everyone enjoys, many of these graveyards are open to the public, should you want to make a pilgrimage. Here, then, are 25 of the most famous residents of New York City's cemeteries, including New York City politicos and power brokers (Ed Koch, Fiorello La Guardia, Robert Moses), musicians, artists, socialites, and more. Did we leave your favorite person off? Let us know in the comments or on the tipline.


‘Extraordinarily voluminous’ Soho loft in old New Museum building seeks $12.25M

Calling this five-bedroom loft "grand" is an understatement

Billed as "extraordinarily voluminous"—not an overstatement—this Soho duplex proves that there’s plenty of space in lower Manhattan, just as long as you’ve got $12.25M to pay for it.

Located in the old New Museum building, this five-bedroom condo offers more than 7,000 square feet of open space. The elevator opens directly into a foyer, which in turn leads into an "impressively scaled" living area, which spans the entire width of the building and offers an entire wall’s worth of "enormous arched windows." (Are you noticing a theme here?) The kitchen—"massive," obviously—is decked out with all the expected amenities, making it "perfect for catering to a meal for two or a gathering of 100." The upper floor also houses four rather sizable bedrooms, three full bathrooms, and one half bath.

The downstairs is no less grand. A sweeping staircase leads into a great room, which boasts 12-foot ceilings, more huge windows, and a handful of exposed Ionic columns. The master bedroom features "dramatically scaled" closets, and a "large" en suite bathroom, equipped with a soaking tub, twin showers, and dual sinks. There’s also a library (with a Murphy bed), another full bath, a wet bar, a powder room, and an abundance of storage.

Should you be hosting 101 guests, fear not: the building also offers a common roof terrace.


10 market-rate Manhattan apartments that are actually affordable

The cheapest is a $229,000 studio in Inwood

Real estate research site NeighborhoodX has launched a series analyzing the most affordable apartments in different areas of New York, and they’ve begun by looking at Manhattan—better known as New York’s least affordable borough.

For October, they’ve ranked the ten cheapest listings (all from market-rate buildings) based on absolute dollar terms, rather than price per square foot. Apartments range from a $229,000 studio at 70 Park Terrace East, in Inwood, up to a $315,000 micro studio (at 265 square feet!) at 99 Avenue B in the East Village. According to NeighborhoodX, given a conventional lending situation of 20 percent down, these would require a down payment anywhere between $45,000 and $62,000.

Taking price per square foot into context, the numbers range from $482 per square foot (at 70 Park Terrace East) up to $1,188 per square foot (at 99 Avenue B). Through that lens, that Avenue B apartment doesn’t seem like any kind of deal.

Then there’s the matter of maintenance fees, which also make some of these prices a little less appealing. Five Tudor City Place—where there’s a $279,000 studio co-op for sale—is a ground lease building, meaning that it does not own the land on which it is built. And 301 East 63rd Street—which holds a $280,000 studio co-op—was, until recently, a ground lease building. Those units come with disproportionately high monthly maintenance fees to either pay the ground lease, or cover the cost of the building's mortgage to have purchased the underlying land. (The monthly fee at 312 East 63rd is $1,348.) Essentially, the asking price is lower to offset the higher mortgage costs.

Besides those two units, most of the affordable apartments are located in Upper Manhattan: Inwood, Morningside Heights and Hudson Heights. With any properties downtown, you’re either paying crazy high maintenance fees or settling for 265 square feet.


Big reveal: $1.095M for a Williamsburg loft with a studio-sized terrace

NYC’s next exclusive club: a Cobble Hill parking garage

It costs upwards of $185,000 to buy into this amenity

Clubs and rich people are like peas in a pod (see the Knickerbocker Club; Gramercy Park, in so far as you have to own a surrounding property to gain access (or do you?); and Soho House.) Now there’s some good news for the folks out there thinking that there aren’t enough clubs of this variety. There is now a club dedicated to the crappiest of tasks: parking in New York City.

The Parking Club, based out of a Cobble Hill garage at 185 Pacific Street, isn’t a place where weary drivers come together to empathize with each other over the routine and soul-draining task of spot-hunting. Actually, members don’t even have to set foot in this club. Membership for The Parking Club, which starts at $185,000 for a spot, includes on-demand service where valets materialize to deliver or whisk a car away. The garage’s developers, Lonicera Partners, have partnered with parking app Luxe to provide the valet service.

The spaces in the garage sell as deeded condos—and, reminder, are as big as some condos—meaning that buyers own the spots in perpetuity. Belonging to this club has its perks; the Post notes that the valet service also includes fill-ups, charging for electric cars, car washes, monthly car maintenance, and yearly inspections.

Valet service is available within Luxe’s Manhattan and Brooklyn areas of service. In Manhattan, that’s up to 125th Street and in Brooklyn it includes Cobble and Boerum hills, Park Slope, and Brooklyn Heights. The facility also includes a lounge with coffee and papers where folks can wait for their wheels.

While the parking spot is expensive, it’s pocket change compared to the cost of a spot at Annabelle Selldorf’s 42 Crosby Street, where the building’s 10 underground parking spaces go for $1 million a pop.


Four years after Sandy, Staten Island's shoreline is transformed

As the houses came down, the land opened up for the first time in over 100 years. Where human families once lived, fields of wildflowers now stretched out towards the ocean, and other animals began to build their homes. Geese hatched their eggs in empty lots, teaching their goslings to swim in potholes. Deer came out from the woods to feed in overgrown backyards. Feral cats sunned themselves for hours in the middle of empty roads. Possums strolled the crumbling sidewalks.

In the four years since Hurricane Sandy, no neighborhood in New York City has changed as radically as Oakwood Beach in Staten Island. Rows of houses and apartments once lined the streets of this quiet oceanfront neighborhood, but most of those buildings are now gone, either destroyed by the storm or torn down by the government as part of a "managed retreat" from the rising seas.

In total, the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery (GOSR) has acquired 299 homes here at a cost of $122 million, and has now taken down 196 properties, leaving behind a haven for foraging mammals, birds, insects and plants, with no apex predators in sight.

Over the past year, as nature has made its dramatic return to Oakwood Beach, an unrelenting schedule of home demolitions has continued to reshape the waterfront. "So far we’ve done about 160 houses this year, here in Staten Island," says Joseph Giordano, the senior project engineer for NorthStar Demolition and Remediation. "There’s a lot of deer here, a lot of turkeys, geese. Even when we are doing the demolitions, the geese are hanging around. They are not afraid."

After each home demolition, a specially designed mix of wetlands seed is spread out over the empty land, and it is now beginning to take root, transforming empty lots into colorful meadows of shrubs and flowers, populated by bees and butterflies.

This same process will soon repeat itself in nearby Ocean Breeze and Graham Beach, the other two Staten Island neighborhoods that are part of the GOSR buyout program. "We are just preparing for the next round now," says Giordano. "The last few months it’s been seeding and cleaning up, getting ready for the demolitions."

Only 26 properties have come down in Ocean Breeze so far, and none have been demolished in Graham Beach, but during the coming year, these two neighborhoods will also be dismantled and returned to a more natural state. "If you take into consideration the seeding and everything else, it’s definitely a year long process," said Giordano. "We demo the property, backfill it, seed it, and turn it back over. We plant the seeds, that’s it."

What is most surprising about this process of strategic retreat is that more waterfront neighborhoods in New York City have not yet joined in. Many communities throughout the city are at risk of serious damage in future storms, and several already flood on a regular basis, including Hamilton Beach and Broad Channel Island.

"Managed retreat is the strategy that most effectively eliminates this risk by restoring land to its natural floodplain functions," says Catie Marshall, a spokesperson for the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery. "This strategy becomes all the more important in the face of imminent sea level rise and the new reality of increasingly frequent storms."

Managed retreat becomes all the more important in the face of imminent sea level rise and increasingly frequent storms.

Instead of embracing this strategy, New York City has actually moved in the opposite direction, and is currently moving tens of thousands of new residents into waterfront areas that were underwater during Hurricane Sandy. These areas, which include the waterfronts of Williamsburg, Greenpoint, Long Island City, and Hallets Point, are all in flood zones with the highest probability of flooding, especially as major storms become more frequent.

"By 2050, if sea-level rise happens as rapidly as many scientists think it will, today’s hundred-year floods will become five times more likely, making mass destruction a once-a-generation occurrence," according to a recent article by Andrew Rice in New York. "Like a stumbling boxer, the city will try to keep its guard up, but the sea will only gain strength."

As global warming continues to raise sea levels around the planet, New York City’s coastline may be inundated even sooner than we think. Antarctica’s ice sheets are now melting more rapidly than researchers have ever seen, and scientists recently discovered that Greenland’s glaciers are disappearing 7.6 percent faster than previously thought, with 270 billion metric tons of ice melting each year.

"Just in the past four years, more than a trillion tons of ice have been lost," wrote Elizabeth Kolbert, in a recent article on Greenland in The New Yorker. "This is four hundred million Olympic swimming pools’ worth of water, or enough to fill a single pool the size of New York State to a depth of twenty-three feet."

As global warming continues to raise sea levels, New York City’s coastline may be inundated even sooner than we think.

Taken in this context, the rewilding of three small neighborhoods along Staten Island’s waterfront seems like just a drop in the bucket. But this new process of planned relocation may soon encompass much larger swaths of land as coastal areas become increasingly uninhabitable and humans are forced to relocate away from densely populated waterways.

Yet even the urban wildlife havens we are now creating are just a temporary landscape. As land and resources become scarcer for all species, what will happen to the animals that we have allowed to return to the water’s edge? Will they be submerged, or will they find another refuge?

As human-induced climate change continues to reshape the planet, a global extinction crisis is also now unfolding, one of the largest such events in the history of the earth. "Right now, in the amazing moment that to us counts as the present, we are deciding, without quite meaning to, which evolutionary pathways will remain open and which will forever be closed," writes Elizabeth Kolbert in her Pulitzer Prize-winning book The Sixth Extinction. "No other creature has managed this, and it will, unfortunately, be our most enduring legacy."

As we reshape New York City’s coastline yet again, we are also radically altering the lives of those who call it home.

In Oakwood Beach, empty roads once lined with homes have now been reclaimed by feral cats, geese, deer, and other species.

While coyotes and bears have greatly expanded their range in New York, they have not yet made it to Staten Island, leaving the streets open to possums and raccoons.

Throughout the year, a series of home demolitions have emptied out the land here, leaving behind open spaces replanted with wetlands seeds.

In areas that were torn down last year, the seeds have begun to take root. "The wetlands mix doesn’t take for a season or two, but we throw a lot of annual rye on there to give it a cover, so there’s no erosion," says Giordano.

"If it’s next to a residence, they usually mow it down and keep it short. But once everybody’s out of here, and you see properties where there are no vacancies around, we will just let it grow back up," says Giordano.

Over the past year, these fields of wildflowers, grasses, and shrubs have become populated by a wide variety of bees, butterflies, and other insects, which would not normally find a home in the fields of invasive phragmites that otherwise cover Staten Island’s coast.

"You can tell the difference between that and the phragmites. But you will see phragmites in there, because you’re not going to get rid of them," says Giordano. "They always take over."

The open land has also been a boon to Staten Island’s deer population, which has grown so large in recent years that the city is now performing vasectomies to keep the herds in check.

Behind empty homes, abandoned backyards have also been left to grow wild, with grape arbors, gardens, and vegetable patches thriving, unpicked.

Along the wide open fields where the homes of Oakwood Beach once stood, a few human holdouts who have declined to participate in the state buyout. The program is voluntary, for now.

In nearby Ocean Breeze, the long process of retreat has also been unfolding slowly in the years since Hurricane Sandy decimated the neighborhood. Empty and overgrown homes here await demolition.

Wild turkeys have thrived in this quiet isolation, raising their families in open spaces around the empty homes, walking through backyards and feeding in empty lots.

A roundup of 100 turkeys earlier this year by the federal government does not appear to have affected the population in Ocean Breeze, which remains quite large.

After several years of buyouts and relocations, the pace of home demolitions in Ocean Breeze will soon speed up. This home was emptied out in 2014, and sat vacant until being demolished in May of this year.

Today, the former home site is an open field, waiting for the wetlands mix to take root. The Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery has offered to buy 107 properties in Ocean Breeze, for a total of $36.6 million. In nearby Graham Beach, they have made 122 offers, totaling $49.4 million.

After these neighborhoods are torn down, few reminders will remain of the painful process that Hurricane Sandy initiated. In the years to come, even these artifacts may disappear into the wetlands.

Nathan Kensinger is a photographer, filmmaker, and curator who has been documenting New York City's abandoned edges, endangered neighborhoods, and post-industrial waterfront for more than a decade. His Camera Obscura photo essays have appeared on Curbed since 2012. "Industrial Twilight," an exhibit of Kensinger’s photographs of Brooklyn’s changing waterfront, is currently being exhibited at the Atlantic Avenue subway station in Brooklyn. "Chance Ecologies: Queens," an exhibit co-curated by Kensinger, is currently being exhibited at the Queens Museum.