Even for low-key Inwood, the 950-square-foot co-op at 117 Seaman Avenue is a steal. (Go to the Barak Realty site and enter Web ID 300191.) It's got two bedrooms, a kitchen large enough to eat in, and a dining area that could easily be closed off to create a third bedroom — all for only $395,000. It's a little tired, but original details that prewar fans drool over — moldings, paneled walls, and the like — are intact. Plus, the seller's willing to pony up a year's maintenance (about $670 a month) just to get someone to take the apartment off his hands, says listing agent William Vilkelis of Barak Realty. Why so eager? Renters were in place, which made the property inconvenient to show. Brokers had to work around their schedules, and their moving boxes cluttered up the space. Now they're gone, and the owner, who lives all the way in Pennsylvania, doesn't feel like playing landlord anymore.
— S. Jhoanna Robledo
Atlantic Yards: IRS set to make thing more expensive for Bruce Ratner. [Brooklyn Papers]
Brownstone Brooklyn: In fancy-pants gentrified neighborhoods, people binge-drink more and die more often of heart disease. [Brooklyn Papers]
Carroll Gardens: Is a biodiesel plant coming? [Carroll Gardens Courier]
Downtown Brooklyn: Developer wants to "Botox" Fulton Street Mall, adding maybe a Cheesecake Factory and an Equinox. Existing shoppers ain't thrilled. [Brooklyn Record]
East Village: Crappy scaffolding gets a scolding. [Neither More Nor Less]
Flatlands: The Aviator Sports complex, opening soon at Brooklyn's Floyd Bennett Field, will be joined by high-end and highly caloric eateries like Junior's, Grimaldi's, and Jacques Torres. [Brooklyn Record]
Fort Greene: Residents fight to save a big rock. [NYDN]
Hell's Kitchen: Pier 76, behind the Javits Center, would be a good place for a recycling transfer station. But then what to do with the tow pound? [Villager]
West Village: Locals still don't think enough is being done about the queer kids who hang out at the Christopher Street Pier. [Villager]
Williamsburg: Northsix to close for renovations, plans are in the works for a new version of the club with a really lame name. [Brooklyn Record]
The opposition to our city's vertical growth spurt is getting louder and more concerted. Today brings news from two fronts: Williamsburg and the Lower East Side.
The Times takes a look at recently rezoned Williamsburg and Greenpoint, where almost every vacant lot is coming up steel and glass, and the North Brooklyn Development Corporation, a social-services group, is worried that the construction frenzy is sprinting far ahead of government oversight. The bait-and-switch they allege is so familiar and basic it hurts us to retype it.
Bed-Stuy: A new wave of Bed-Stuy condos go where no condos have gone before. (East, of course). [Brownstoner]
Boerum Hill: Mmmm, beer: Cask Ale Festival kicks off at the Brazen Head on Atlantic Avenue. [Brooklyn Record]
Soho: Bedbugs chase Maya Rudolph and Paul Thomas Anderson from Greene Street. [NYP]
Financial District: A 24-hour diner will invade Gold Street in January. As if bankers don't just order in, anyway. [MetroNY]
East Village: "Loanshark Bob" Marion returns to Avenue A after years of absence. Hooray. [Neither More Nor Less]
• More reasons to avoid Newark Airport: First a plane plops down on a narrow taxiway instead of a landing strip. Now two jets clip each other's wings on a runway while one is taxiing and another is being towed. No injuries, but what the hell? [amNY]
• A teenage trick-or-treater was killed in a hit-and-run after being chased onto Harlem River Drive by a knife-brandishing attacker. In a moment of discord, the Times puts the victim's age at 13, the AP at 15, and the Daily News at 16. [NYT, AP via amNY, NYDN]
• In other Halloween news: Two million took to Sixth Avenue to gape at 50,000 costumed marchers, one reveler got stabbed after catching his girlfriend parading with another man, and, of course, someone had to come to school in a Hitler costume, which he's now defending as "satire." Lovely. [NYDN, NYP]
• George Steinbrenner was rushed to the hospital after reportedly fainting while watching his granddaughter perform in a college play. He's fine, but the performance got canceled amid the ruckus. It may be worth noting the granddaughter was playing Sally Bowles in Cabaret. [WNBC]
• Historical, yes; preservationist, not so much. The New-York Historical Society wants to build a glassy 23-story tower behind its palatial HQ as part of a renovation. The haughty neighbors are predictably up in arms over blocked park views. Perhaps they could drop that annoying hyphen as a compromise? [NYT]
Other two-bedrooms in Brooklyn Heights are asking for much more, but at 155 Henry Street, there's a 1,250-square-foot co-op listed for a mere $759,000. Why so cheap? The sellers know their apartment is "bathroom-challenged" (i.e., there's only one), says their broker, Corcoran's Diane Young. After just two weeks on the market, they reduced it from $795,000 to $759,000. (Monthly maintenance is $1,379.) On a per-square-foot basis, it deserves a second look in a neighborhood so precious it's grown as expensive — if not more so — than many sought-after parts of Manhattan. Especially if you consider other pluses: The layout is flexible, the kitchen was built from scratch just two years ago, and the co-op allows for a 10 percent down payment. And though the apartment was formerly a doctor's office, it doesn't open out to the street. (It's perched a few steps above ground level.) Even better: Even though the building is situated in the heart of a historic district, the Landmarks Preservation Commission has already approved an additional commode, should you decide to add one. So you'd just need the co-op board's signoff.
— S. Jhoanna RobledoCORRECTION, Nov. 1: An earlier version of this item incorrectly stated that Landmarks permission would be needed to add a bathroom.
Think you can't own a house — not a townhouse but a house house, with a yard and a garage and a front porch — in the city for less than $3 million? Wrong. If you didn't know any better, you'd never think you were in the Big Apple when you walk through the leafy streets — and past the gracious, detached houses — of Ditmas Park and neighboring Midwood Park. Co-op apartments exist here, too, but the neighborhoods are really better known for their enviable assortment of large houses with equally impressive gardens out back. (Ditmas Park, after all, was a former Guggenheim stomping grounds.) Prices run the gamut from $150,000 for a one-bedroom in a prewar building to $1 million-plus for charming Victorians with modernized plumbing and electrical systems and thankfully intact details like gables and fretwork. It's not every weekend, after all, you can go to an actual open house.
It's not like Park Slope needs its real-estate ego inflated any further. (Richard Meier's On Prospect Park is nearing completion; Hollywood A-listers on Carroll Street and Sterling Place.) But scoring its first six-million-plus townhouse sale certainly doesn't hurt. As Brownstoner is reporting, the grand 31-footer at 45 Montgomery Place was seemingly sold — oval rooms, Gone With A Wind–ish staircase, and all. The building, which lingered on the market for almost a year, didn't quite fetch the asking price ($7.5 million), but the buyer still appears to have beaten the nabe's one-family record. That record, incidentally, is held by Jonathan Safran Foer and his wife, Nicole Krauss, that extremely young and incredibly rich couple at 646 2nd Street. (They bought their place for $5.75 million.) Daily Intel would appreciate any info about who might be moving into the Montgomery mansion.
Please, let it be Marisha Pessl.
45 Montgomery Sets One-Family Record For Slope [Brownstoner]
When the Landmarks Preservation Commission met yesterday afternoon to be told officially just how much Upper East Siders dislike Lord Norman Foster's proposed glass tower for 980 Madison Avenue, the forum had to be moved to a larger room at 31 Chambers Street, not just to accommodate four scale models and WNBC's camera but also to fit all the tweedy outrage that had assembled. There was a jam of pinstripes and pearls at the metal detector downstairs, so the hearing started late.
Another day in New York, another presumably doomed campaign against Bloombergian gentrification. This time it's in Red Hook, where residents, business owners, and local electeds say Mayor Mike is "pimping" their waterfront. Seems there's a plan to turn the local piers into a fenced-off world of restaurants, condos, and family-friendly attractions, including, possibly, two salvaged historic ships for tourists to visit — what the Brooklyn Papers is calling a "Disneyesque theme park." Right now those piers host the city's last operational cargo port, run by American Stevedoring, whose director of operations theorizes that the plan — which would evict the company from the city-owned property is just part of a scheme to get union jobs out of New York City. But we most like this quote from a Red Hook resident: "The history of maritime trade is as old as prostitution," he told the Papers, "and it looks like the maritime trades are about to be prostituted." Of course, given the new Fairway, at least they're high-priced whores.
Mickey Mouse Plan [Brooklyn Papers]
• Searchers found at least 18 more human bones in manholes around ground zero on Sunday, bringing the total of human remains found in the past week to 114. The families of victims are, needless to say, not thrilled. [Newsday]
• Alan Hevesi's challenger for state comptroller — you know, the guy who pointed out Hevesi was using a state employee to chauffeur his wife — lied on a mortgage application in 1993. Dems push the story, voters yawn. [NYDN]
• At a public hearing tomorrow, the debate over whether to allow a 30-story Norman Foster glass tower on the Upper East Side will likely turn even nastier. Nothing like a little out-of-context architecture to get the neighbors all riled up. [NYP]
• Anna Wintour was named editor of the year by Advertising Age, as Vogue is actually growing while rivals are sputtering. [NYP]
• Episcopalians in Connecticut are now okay with gay marriages. Worldwide Anglicans soon not to be okay with Connecticut, one presumes. [NYT]
• The law firm Milberg Weiss, which has been under indictment for allegedly paying off plaintiffs in more than 150 lawsuits over the years, has managed to attract a new senior partner. Someone will have to run the place if the old partners go to jail. [NYT]
The patch of downtown Manhattan from East 14th Street to East 18th Street and between Irving Place and Second Avenue shape-shifts to suit the mood of brokers trying to sell their properties there. If they want to exude refinement, they call it Gramercy; others choose to glom on to the hipster vibe of the East Village or capitalize on the poised-for-luxury rep of Union Square. Whatever its nom de guerre, the nabe's worth a visit, both for the chance to troupe in and out of all sorts of buildings — the housing stock is diverse, including high-rises, low-slung tenement-style buildings, prewars, and townhouses — and for the hope of finding the perfect apartment. Fuel up at the Greenmarket at Union Square when your energy flags. Here are some spaces to check out.
Tower Records — founded in 1960 in L.A. and a fixture on the corner of Lafayette Street and East Fourth since 1984 — announced last week that it had been purchased out of bankruptcy by a liquidator and would soon be closing all its stores. Jada Yuan and Sara Cardace asked New York music people for their memories.
"Keith Richards used to live upstairs, directly above Tower Records, so he was always outside there late at night walking his dog. I knew people who would run into him late at night. There'd be nobody around, and you'd see this guy with his dog and you'd go, 'Isn't that Keith?' And you'd walk up and talk to him, and you wouldn't be able to understand a word he was saying. It was very strange. The store itself, I'm not sure it's going to be missed. It's not like CBGB. It wasn't a cultural phenomenon. It was a store. They sold things."
— Kurt Loder
• Mayor Bloomberg announced the city is buying a 24-acre parcel of land in Long Island City on which to build middle-class housing. Jerry Speyer preemptively bids to buy it in 50 years and turn it into luxury condos. [NYS]
• Con Ed technicians working at the ground-zero site yesterday discovered human remains and two wallets in an underground junction box that was allegedly searched years ago. Families groups, no doubt, are thrilled. [NYDN]
• Now a handwriting expert says Brooke Astor's signature on the 2004 codicil that bequeathed millions to her son was most likely forged. As if Astor family gatherings weren't awkward enough lately. [NYT]
• A job fair intended for Irish immigrants living illegally in the United States is instead drawing mostly Americans interested in working in Ireland, presumably seeking cheaper Guinness. [NYT]
• Jeanine Pirro is trailing Andrew Cuomo by 21 points in attorney-general race, new polls show. Campaign strategists now seeking a scandal that will actually win her sympathy. [NYP]
• Alas poor Mets. Sigh. [NYDN, NYP]
In today's uncertain Manhattan real-estate market, there are bargains to be found. Each week, we show you one.
Listing broker Cynthia Dillon admits she and the seller purposefully priced this one-bedroom, one-bathroom co-op so it'll stand out as a bargain. Some other Hell's Kitchen one-bedrooms are cheaper, but they also offer less space; many others are actually asking more. There's also a slightly smaller unit — this one's 624 square feet — for sale in the same complex but for $60,000 more, though admittedly it's in a bit better shape. (Forget about new construction in the vicinity; you'd easily pay double, or close to it, for a one-bedroom in those.) "There's so much on the market that a property has to be really unique or perfectly done or priced right or it'll sit for a really long time," says Dillon. Apparently, they wanted to avoid that fate. The living room's kind of gloomy — it's in the middle of the apartment — but the bedroom faces south and gets lots of light. Plus the floors have been refinished.
— S. Jhoanna Robledo
The Website for CASA, a rental building on 21st Street in Chelsea, presents it as "a new concept fusing the lavish and the leisure," which apparently means a "spa-inspired European marble bath," along with the stainless-steel appliances and custom closets. What it doesn't include — even at $6,000 per month for a two-bedroom, reportedly — is the right to actually live in the building.
See, as Curbed reported this morning, the building has Certificates of Occupancy from 1935 and 1972 — the latter from when it was a parking lot — but nothing saying the site was fit for human habitation. A little more digging by Curbed readers, meanwhile, revealed that the Department of Buildings Website shows 36 outstanding items and five objections that must be addressed before a C of O can be granted. That's on top of the complaint that the building itself is illegal because, oops, there's no C of O.
How'd Curbed learn about this? An angry broker — whose client had a lease for October 1 but hasn't been able to move in — e-mailed the site. And you thought broker's fees were worthless: It's not like just anybody can e-mail some blog.
Just Looking for a CASA to call home [Curbed]
So much for the tenants' group: Tishman Speyer, the real-estate behemoth that controls Rockefeller Center, among other things, has won the auction for Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village, agreeing to pay MetLife $5.4 billion for the complex. That works out to $486,769 for each of the complex's 11,232 apartments. Which would take only 243 months — a mere twenty years and change to recoup if each unit rented for the maximum allowable stabilized amount of $2,000 per month. Naturally Tishman will wait that out, right?
110-Building Site in N.Y. Is Sold to Speyer [NYT]
Will Vera Wang become the latest high-end status symbol in the ever-escalating luxury-condo wars? Fresh off her Fashion Week success, and the unexpected death of her father, the designer best known as the patron saint of brides-to-be is taking her first stab at condoland — doing some work for the Onyx, a new development in Chelsea that her pal, Seagram heir turned high-concept-condo investor Matthew Bronfman, is developing. This time, Wang's involvement only goes as far as a cloth sculpture for the lobby — "I wouldn't say I was making art, but it's very artisanal," she says. "I don't even want to call it a tapestry" — but it's possible that this is only the start of her real-estate design career. Bronfman says "there's always an opportunity for [a condo]," though Wang hints at something else. "I've been talking to people," she says. "A Vera Wang hotel, maybe." It better be classy, though. "Fake richness upsets me," she says.
— S. Jhoanna Robledo
• Blackouts, school closings, downed trees and power lines — and that's just on the first day of snow! Bewildered Buffalo registers two feet of the white stuff, making for the snowiest October day on record. An auspicious beginning, that. [AP via NYT]
• Hey, you know what hasn't happened on the Upper East Side in a while, if by "a while" you mean 48 hours? Raging flames and mass evacuations. Behold, then, a three-alarm fire in a historic — and thankfully unoccupied — townhouse on 70th and Park, six blocks from the Lidle crash and eight blocks from the Bartha place. Does God not like UES anymore? [AP via amNY]
• Istithmar, a Dubai-based investment firm, buys the W Hotel in Union Square, paying a per-room rate that beats the prices paid for the Plaza and the Essex House. The company already owns the Knickerbocker and Helmsley hotels and could well be the final bidders for Stuy Town. Cue the eighties-style the-foreigners-are-taking-over-New York hysteria. [NYS]
• Some Muslims are reportedly offended by the new Apple store on Fifth Avenue, finding its architecture too similar to the Ka'ba, the sacred edifice in Mecca. They should see the Rubik's Cube. [ZDNet via Curbed]
• And Con Ed has released a "definitive," 600-page report on the July blackout in Queens. We'll only need six words to capture the gist. It was all someone else's fault. The cited number of affected customers (6,800) also differs wildly from the city estimates (over 100,000). Damage control? On it. [WNBC]
• A 10-month-old girl is newly orphaned, and in critical condition, after an SUV crossed the median in Orange County and rammed her parents' rental. That the father was the founder of Fandango.com and the mother a rising-star neuroscientist may raise the item's profile, but the fact that they were high-school sweethearts makes it completely devastating. [NYDN]
• Affordable housing may be coming to the Lower East Side, Brooklyn Heights, Dumbo, and elsewhere: Bloomberg wants to make his tax break for developers dependent on the low-cost caveat. Ah, how times change: We remember when half of Dumbo's inhabitants lived there for free. [NYT]
• In psycho-killer news, Mark Chapman was denied parole for the fourth time, one day after his victim John Lennon's 66th birthday; and Andrew Goldstein, a schizophrenic who pushed a woman under the N train in 1999, pleaded guilty, saying he knew what he was doing. We guess that's progress? [amNY, NYT]
• In what continues to be Stephen Colbert's week of total media domination, Colbert County in Alabama opens "The Stephen Colbert Museum and Gift Shop." Don't read the linked article too carefully, because the author completely sells out a potentially funny bit from a future show. [Montgomery Adviser via Radar]
• New bike routes are coming to the city. Except that this is New York, not some hippy-dippy Portland, so our bike lanes are actually "shared lanes" and are basically streets with some stenciling on them. We're sure it's just a coincidence that these new-style stencils look like chalk outlines of flattened bikers. Right? [StreetsBlog]