Real Estate News from April 2012

  • Revised NYU Expansion Plans Still Garner Controversy, Opposition By Daniel Muhlenberg | April 26, 2012

    Earlier this month, New York University revised their massive 2031 core campus expansion plan – an initiative that originally planned to build 2 million square feet of newly constructed buildings in Greenwich Village - and they reigned it in enough to win the conditional approval of Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer. He gave their project the green light assuming that they follow through on their promises to reduce the total building density by 377,000 square feet, preserve public strips of parkland and two community playgrounds near Washington Square Village, eliminate the Bleecker Building dormitories, and set strict guidelines for construction hours. Nonetheless, these concessions to community opposition have done little to quell that opposition, because many claim that the size and scope of the university’s expansion plan will overwhelm the surrounding downtown Manhattan neighborhood.

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  • Examining Some Exciting Ideas For the East River Esplanade By Daniel Muhlenberg | April 25, 2012

    “Reimagining the Waterfront.” That was the title of Civitas’ design competition to redesign Manhattan’s East River Esplanade, and the three winners of their contest did just that. Three young architects responded to the challenge by conceiving inland canals on Manhattan’s cross-streets, below-water ecosystems, and interlocking webs of boardwalks along the waterfront that would completely transform the lives of residents of East Harlem and Upper East Side apartments forever. Sound farfetched? These futuristic ideas might be hard to imagine, but they could be done. And given that we have a Mayor who loves innovations that raise property values of Manhattan condos and attract tourists, it’s certainly not outside the realm of possibility that these renderings will one day become a reality.

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  • U.S. Supreme Court Rejects NYC Rent Regulation Lawsuit By Daniel Muhlenberg | April 24, 2012

    Manhattan apartment renters with rent stabilized or rent controled apartments can finally exhale, because rent regulations in New York City aren't going anywhere. After considering hearing Upper West Side apartment owner James Harmon’s lawsuit which characterized rent regulation as unconstitutional, the U.S. Supreme Court decided on Monday not to hear the case. Harmon, who owns a Beaux-Arts style Brownstone on West 76th Street near Central Park, sued the city over rent stabilization laws that required him to renew the leases of existing tenants or their family members and restricted him from raising their rents above the increments determined by the city's Rent Guidelines Board. Harmon claimed that his tenants, including a women who owns a house in Long Island, pay $1,000 a month for their Upper West Side apartments, far below the market rate for that Manhattan neighborhood.

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  • Buying Gaining Favor Over Leasing By Frances Gonzalez | April 19, 2012

    Rents for New York City apartments have reached record highs this spring, with the average rent in March peaking at $3,418 per month and breaking the previous all-time high set in May 2007 by $24. Rents are rising thanks to a number of factors, including high demand and low inventory. But savvy New York residents have found a silver lining to these record-breaking numbers. Many New York renters are turning into first-time homebuyers, avoiding high rents and taking advantage of low interest rates and increasing buyer confidence.

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  • Over One Hundred 7-Elevens in Manhattan On the Way By Daniel Muhlenberg | April 19, 2012

    Joseph Depinto, the President and CEO of 7-Eleven, wants his stores to be fixtures in Manhattan. While residents of Manhattan apartments might not share his vision, they will have to get used to it: 7-Eleven plans on opening at least 114 more stores in Manhattan in the next 5 years. This is pretty ambitious considering that there were no 7-Elevens in New York City until 2005. While most Manhattan neighborhoods now have one or two – the chain currently has 18 stores in the borough – they are still something of a foreign presence, something associated with the suburbs. In 5 years time, however, that perception might be turned on its head. And if everything goes according to plan, this development might seriously alter Manhattan’s small business diversity.

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  • Internet Access Looking to Remain in Central Park By Gabrielle Hughes | April 18, 2012

    Sending e-mails and streaming your favorite shows within New York City’s most historic park could soon become a permanent convenience, as the Parks Department is applying to have once-temporary Wi-Fi hotspots remain in Central Park. The free service is powerful enough to download a book or movie, making park time even more enjoyable for many of the Manhattan neighborhood's frequenters.

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  • Bloomberg Fast-Tracks Rezoning Plan for Grand Central By Daniel Muhlenberg | April 17, 2012

    In an attempt to stay competitive on an international level, Mayor Bloomberg’s administration is fast-tracking a transformative rezoning plan for the area around Grand Central Terminal. The proposed changes would apply to the area between Fifth and Third Avenues from East 39th Street all the way up to East 59th Street, and the plan would open the door to replacing older buildings with large, ultra-modern high-rises in Midtown Manhattan. Bloomberg feels that the area has become outdated – office buildings in the area are 68-years-old on average – and wants to encourage new construction projects that would fully modernize the district.

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  • Controversy Surrounds NYPD's Security Plans for WTC By Daniel Muhlenberg | April 13, 2012

    How do you strike a balance between security and community? That’s the question on the minds of apartment residents in the Financial District who are about to see their neighborhood shut down to traffic. The NYPD’s proposed security plan for the World Trade Center site will create a superblock around the complex with multiple vehicle checkpoints and barricaded secure zones on all four sides. If implemented as it stands right now, the plan would lock down sections of Liberty Street, Vesey Street, Church Street, Washington Street, Greenwich Street, and West Broadway. Residents and local businesses looking at the prospect of having to pass through security checkpoints every time they go home or go to work are not happy about it. Moreover, they're not happy because they haven't had a voice.

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  • The Uncertain Legacy of Mayor Bloomberg, Part 2 By Daniel Muhlenberg | April 11, 2012

    As we mentioned in the previous part of this series, Mayor Bloomberg deserves a lot of praise. Our economy hasn’t missed a beat mainly because his policies accounted for the decline of Wall Street by expanding the range of businesses in Manhattan; in media, fashion, the arts, and technology, business owners look at Manhattan neighborhoods as attractive places to conduct business. He invested in the right places. But, in the long run, none of this may matter if Wall Street isn’t fully restored to its former self. And if it isn’t, Bloomberg will be partly to blame. His lack of political foresight, particularly in regards to what is becoming the biggest issue of our time, may prove to be his undoing.

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  • School Overcrowding Crisis Looms Large For UWS Parents By Daniel Muhlenberg | April 11, 2012

    For parents on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, waitlists for public schools are a fact of life. While some have responded by enrolling their kids in private schools or moving to the suburbs, many more have dealt with this problem by simply holding out and hoping for the best. After all, the city built P.S. 452 last year to handle overflow from P.S. 87, which reduced the waitlist for the latter from more than 100 students a few years ago to just 30 as of April 7th. Nonetheless, with a glut of new construction projects on the way, the city is woefully underprepared to handle this population influx. There simply aren’t enough Manhattan schools in this neighborhood, and in the long run this could hurt the property values and popularity of luxury apartments and condos in the area.

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