Archive for the ‘Real Estate’ Category



Slide show here.


Gehry’s Beekman Tower


I just noticed this twisting beauty while zoning out on the subway crossing the Manhattan Bridge. The concrete bunker of the Verizon building really brings the vibrancy of the titanium into relief. I recall hearing about it a few years back, but who knows what actually gets built in Manhattan these days. (It does have similarities to Nouvel’s doomed tower near the MOMA.)

Surprisingly, it will house 900 residential rentals (not condos) in the heart of the financial district. Do that many people want to live in the tundra that is the financial district?  More info here.

Antique Switch Stations


It would be a fun adventure to find one of these old school switch stations.

In 2005, at a kitchen-size relay room in the Chambers Street station in Lower Manhattan, a fire destroyed hundreds of antique switches and circuits, nearly crippling two subway lines for months and disrupting the commutes of 580,000 New Yorkers. It could happen again tomorrow. The subway system has about 480 relay rooms, 25 of which still use technology that was in place when the subway opened in 1904. Only two companies in the world can repair the antiquated signals, which help locate trains in the tunnels. In 2005, it could have been worse: officials said the room that caught fire was one of the least critical in the system.

18th Century Ship Found at Ground Zero


The hull of a ship from the 1700s was discovered at Ground Zero. Archaeologists suspect it was sunk in an effort to expand the land around the south side of Manhattan in the early 19th century. There is indeed beauty under every crevice of the planet and Real Estate always runs this town.

Secret Subway Brownstone


Apparently, there is a secret brownstone in my neighborhood that leads into the subway system. I have found my new life mission. I will not rest until I have opened this Pandora’s box. Tip of the hat to the Legal Situation.

The tidy, three-story brownstone looks like any other on the cobblestone block in Brooklyn, but it isn’t. It’s a fake, leading directly to the belly of the nation’s largest subway system.

The unmarked emergency exit behind the facade is one of many posts protected by beat cops defending the city against bombings or other terror attacks in the city’s intricate underground mass transit network.

Foreclosures and Asymmetrical Morality


Like most Americans, I do not believe that morality has a place in business transactions between a consumer and a business. Business is governed by applicable law and no more. Does Visa show clemency to consumers who can not pay? No, they charge default interest. Accordingly, I am confused as to why so many home owners who are underwater, do not walk away from their homes.

A provocative paper by Brent White, a law professor at the University of Arizona, makes the case that borrowers are actually suffering from a “norm asymmetry.” In other words, they think they are obligated to repay their loans even if it is not in their financial interest to do so, while their lenders are free to do whatever maximizes profits. It’s as if borrowers are playing in a poker game in which they are the only ones who think bluffing is unethical.

Gentrify or Die


New York Magazine addressed a beef that I have had for a long time with the displacement myth, noting that there is no causal relationship between gentrification and displacement. The piece is in reaction to a n+1 essay that reads like an undergrad book report.

Also, the Times notes that blacks are no longer a majority of the population in Harlem. The article notes “Because so much of the community was devastated by demolition for urban renewal, arson and abandonment beginning in the 1960s, many newcomers have not so much dislodged existing residents as succeeded them. In the 1970s alone, the black population of central Harlem declined by more than 30 percent.”

Back in 2003, Lance Freeman, an associate professor of urban planning at Columbia, wanted to find out just how much displacement had occurred in two predominantly black, rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods: Clinton Hill and Harlem (Freeman’s home). But “much to my surprise,” he wrote in his book There Goes the ’Hood, he didn’t find any causal relationship between gentrification and displacement. More surprising, he found that “poor residents and those without a college education were actually less likely to move if they resided in gentrifying neighborhoods.” How does that square with our beliefs about Ikea-hoods?

Foreclosures & the New Carpetbaggers


The Times ran another piece on the foreclosure mess in Florida. What strikes me about the foreclosure era is the special type of entrepreneur who is able to profit off other people’s misery. Reminds me of Goldman Sachs cashing in on the way up and the way down. Who says you can’t get 2 bites from that apple?

Ruins from the Foreclosure Era


The Times has a somber photo essay entitled Ruins of the Second Gilded Age chronicling the fallout from the foreclosure wave.

Foreclosure to Rental


Interesting tact on profiting from the foreclosure waves. 

“Every weekday morning, Lou Jarvis drives the sun-baked suburban streets looking for investment gold: a family that will lose its house in a foreclosure auction within a few hours. When he wins, he offers to let the family stay in the house and rent for much less than their mortgage payment.”