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Friday, June 20, 2008

video: Inside the credit crisis

economyToday we're introducing the first in a series of selections from a special report "Inside the Credit Crisis: Why and how it happened— and what's next"; produced by our friends at the Wharton School and writer Jeff Brown. It investigates how the credit crisis was triggered when "Wall Street alchemists, overeager borrowers and aggressive lenders, let their eye for opportunity, trump their nose for risk". As a result, mortgages are harder to get. In the Manhattan real estate market, Wall Street employees are cautiously assessing their future prospects and adopting a wait and see attitude. We'll be posting several videos and transcripts in the coming days, so stop by again soon, or better yet, subscribe to our RSS feed to stay connected with the latest postings on Your comments are always welcome too.

whartonrelated entries:
video: Todd Sinai on home values
How risky mortgages and exotic securities, brought us to brink of recession, while no one looked too closely
Its a real estate market
(includes the Q2 2008 corcoran report download)
Mortgage crisis bailout: relief for some, risk for others

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Manhattan Green Buildings List

green designIn the vernacular of New York City, real estate agents often describe apartments as "pre-war" or "post-war", indicating that they were built before or after World War II. It is a distinction that refers to the changes in popular need, design, and the construction techniques of those apartments. The former being larger, more ornate homes inside and out, while the latter are more plain vanilla housing, like the white brick buildings of the Upper East Side. They respectively reflect the opulence of 1920s America, and the need for affordable, mass-produced housing, for the booming population of GIs returning from the war. They are the results of social forces and technologies, working to iterate the basic need of shelter, in ways which were designed authentically to their times.

Today we see a similar shift evolving, in a way which may cause brokers to eventually describe the city's buildings as "pre-green" or "post-green". Rising awareness of factors such as global warming, rising fuel costs, and conservation, are reshaping the marketplace. The environmental concerns may range on a personal level, from the gases released from building materials, to deforestation on a more global level. Architects, builders, consumers, and governments are rethinking what they need, want, and how to have it; in ways which will greatly impact dwellings, urban planning and national agendas. Green developments are redefining design quality as responsible to the health of its inhabitants, and to that of the larger community too.

In New York City we are seeing development of the first wave of LEED certified apartment houses. My colleague Tony Oakley compiled a list recently of Manhattan green buildings, with the help of Corcoran's Susan Singer and our other agents, which they have kindly let me publish here. I've added a couple more, including the first LEED-H development in the Bronx; because of its significance as the first affordable housing to receive this designation. Some additional resources are noted as well. I've sold and shown in many of these. They are both green, and aesthetically, some of the best buildings in NYC. Anything residential in Manhattan that we've missed? Feel free to leave a comment and I'll update the list as we go; and please take a moment to answer today's poll.

Manhattan residential LEED certified
  • 1400 Fifth Avenue
  • Riverhouse— 1 Rockefeller Park
  • Solaire (rental)— 20 River Terrace
  • The Laurel— 400 E 67th Street
  • The Lucida— 151 E 85th Street
  • The Helena— 601 W 57th Street
  • The Visionaire— 70 Little West Street
  • One Jackson Square— 122 Greenwich Street
  • The Kalahari— 40 West 116th Street
  • Verdisian (rental)— 211 North End Avenue
Manhattan LEED registered
  • Epic (rental)— 124 West 31st Street (anticipating Silver LEED certification)
  • Harsen House— 120 W 72nd Street
  • HL23— 515 W 23rd Street (anticipating Gold LEED certification)
  • Superior Ink— 400 West 12th Street (anticipating Silver LEED certification)
  • The Harrison— 205 West 76th Street (anticipating Silver LEED certification)
Green elements
  • 28 Bedford Street—14kW photovoltaic system
  • 228 East Third Street— 4 buildings: passive solar, water conservation system, green finishes
  • 88 Laight Street— “SolaRail” photovoltic glass balcony railing that converts energy to electricity
  • 40 Mercer Street— features energy efficient mechanicals, filtered air and roof landscaping
  • 179 Rivington Street— photovoltaics, passive solar, net-metered, low VOC paints adhesives, low flow fixtures, dual flush toilets, radiant heating
  • 101 Warren Street— pine forest green roof
  • 140-142 West 4th Street— solar thermal system
  • Tribeca Green— 325 North End Avenue
  • 123 West 15th Street— natural gas power generation & geothermic climate control
Green web sites & resources

related posts on
Architect Norman Foster: Building on the green agenda
A green tale of urban renewal
The 'green city' topic index

Correction: 40 Mercer does not have LEED certification as previously reported, but "it was very close to being certified" according to Hines Interests, the developer. It does contain many green features. Epic, Superior Ink and The Kalahari were added to the list from reader's calls and comments.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Woolworth's western facade fully seen for last time

woolworth buildingtribecaThe demolition of the 1951 Moody's building at 99 Church Street has revealed, for the first time in 57 years, this unobstructed view of Cass Gilbert's neo-gothic design for the Woolworth Building's western facade. It is the site for a major new addition to the lower Manhattan skyline— Architect Robert A.M. Stern's design for the new, downtown, Four Seasons Hotel and condominium tower. The new skyscraper will rise on the construction site visible in the foreground and will eclipse this view forever. The new tower will be taller than the Woolworth, which was the world's tallest building when it was completed in 1913. Mr. Stern is working for World Trade Center developer Larry Silverstein on this project. It's scheduled to open in 2011 around the time the World Trade Center Memorial will be completed.

photo note: this image was digitally adjusted to compensate for optical distortion.

related story:
Four Seasons condo tower adds to the downtown skyline

Monday, May 19, 2008

Is it a good time to buy in Tribeca?

tribeca manhattan buyersAs some of you know, I've been a Tribeca local since 1995. Another long-time resident and friend, who's kids go to PS 234 with mine, sold his loft last year, and has been leasing a place in the neighborhood instead. He's one of several people I know who sold and moved into a rental, in part because they believed the sales market had "peaked". These are folks who had built substantial equity over time in their properties. He sent me an email asking about the market. Here's my response, and a more detailed analysis on the downtown landscape for buyers.

Q: How's biz? Is it time for me to start looking yet?

A: It depends on what you want, where you want to be, and why you want to. Its a more balanced market. There is much more inventory overall, but nobody's giving anything away. I personally think we'll be a little flat this year; the number of transactions is down. People are just waiting on the sidelines to see what happens. Real estate markets don't act like commodities. When demand drops, a certain amount of inventory also goes off line as people discover they can't achieve the unrealistic number they had in mind. The dynamics of supply and demand cause less activity until confidence changes— but not necessarily lower prices. If the economy fundamentally changes into a recession, the story might be different; its about confidence right now. That's more emotional than empirical, and it can change on a dime. I personally think it will be a good summer for buyers. Business is actually pretty decent for me. Download the latest Corcoran report here — Peter

selling downtown today

Bear in mind that not everyone's numbers are unrealistic. Tribeca lofts and apartments which are priced correctly, based on recent sales data, still sell well. I always advise my sellers to weigh the most recent transfers in their buildings and the immediate area, more so than the current asking prices of homes on the market; which reflects the actual behavior of people in a real transaction, rather than the hopes of a seller. It seems basic, but it is a conversation I have on almost every interview by a potential seller for my marketing services. Proper pricing and wide marketing are the factors that get the most out of the marketplace. Make sure that you understand what your broker is going to do for you before you hire one. Agents' capabilities can vary greatly, even within the same brokerage organizations.

buying downtown today

So should you buy today? Buyers in the market today are getting a better selection of properties than they have in years. They are being choosier. Making offers below asking and negotiating deals. It's actually a healthy marketplace where motivation counts for much on both sides of the transaction. However bottom feeding buyers and sellers, just trying the market on for size, are walking away from each other disappointed. I think its a great moment to buy a home, perhaps the best in the past couple of years. Do you need more room? Are you ready to move to Chelsea or the Meatpacking district? Do you think that new development might negotiate or offer an incentive? Now more than ever buyers and sellers need up to the minute guidance.


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