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  • Almost 12 years ago, former Mayor Michael Bloomberg promised Williamsburg a 28-acre park at the Bushwick Inlet. That was in a 2005 rezoning which allowed for the explosion of luxury apartment towers along the waterfront. Finally, a deal has been made for $160 million. The deal includes the City’s purchase of the last piece of property it needed to complete the sprawling waterfront Bushwick Inlet Park. Mayor de Blasio is using the opportunity as proof that the mayor’s office sticks to its word (it is getting close to election time, we might add). The last holdout was a CitiStorage site, which the city will purchase from Norman Brodsky for $160 million, after offering him a mere $100 million earlier this year. Although the City previously offered Bordsky $100 million for his property, after months of backroom discussions and pressure from community advocates and local politicians, the City finally reached a verbal agreement with Brodsky for $160 million in November, $60 million more than it had publicly offered in June. As people living in the area know, since 2005 condo towers were built and expanded in the area but the progress at the park dragged behind. This is because the City was missing Brodsky’s 11-acre parcel-which was necessary for the future of the park. Brodsky originally wanted a whopping $325 million. The story is that Brodsky had two buyers who wanted to build commercial buildings that were each willing to pay around $170 million. Brodsky credits the work of North Brooklyn residents for making the deal happen. He said they were the ones to pressure the city to make good on the 2005 promise of a park. Credit was given to Assemblyman Joe Lentol (D–Greenpoint), Councilman Steve Levin (D–Williamsbu­rg), and Steve Chesler, of activist group Friends of Bushwick Inlet Park who fought for the space. The local group came up with creative ways to keep their cause in the news with events such as holding a rally on a flotilla of kayaks, projecting messages onto the warehouses, creating a pop-up park on the land, and camping out in front of the site. Assemblyman Lentol was pursuing state legislation to seize the property via eminent domain, while Levin had vowed to withhold his crucial support for ever rezoning the CitiStorage lot for residential use, which greatly reduced its value. Beyond the $160 million, the city has already allotted $225 million towards the park that has gone towards building out the first section, buying another piece of property, and remediation and demolition at that site, according to the Parks Department. Planning a picnic to the park? You’ll have to wait. It will be a while before Bushwick Inlet Park is completed. The city needs to demolish the warehouses and old oil refineries currently occupying the space, then scrub the soil of toxic waste. People are patient when expectations are set. Locals say they’re just happy to know the land is secure.  

    24 Apr
    24 Apr
  • You come to our blog for the weird and wacky, and this item will not disappoint. We promise. It’s not about eminent domain or real estate, but it is about a legal case like non other. There are articles where one can become more informed about the case, but in a nutshell, His Holiness Shri Ashutosh Maharaj Ji has been either dead or meditating for several years, depending on who you ask. Let’s explain further. Members of His Holiness’s biological family say he died of a heart attack. Others, such as members of the religious order he founded, say he is just in deep meditation. We read that those who claim deep meditation would also like to be in charge of his extensive assets. Apparently, in order to stay in such a deep meditation, you also need a really big freezer. For example, the one the members of his religious order have been keeping His Holiness in since January 2014. Now for the legal blog part: A judge ruled in December 2014 that he was, in fact, dead, and should be cremated within 15 days. Seems that the legal proceedings are also in a state of meditation… The appeals from that order are still pending. The court where everything is pending has put off the hearing and decision dates. No one knows for sure why, but it’s either for its own reasons or because the parties involved have asked it to be this way. Also holding things up is a request from the state for a medical opinion as to whether it was even possible to preserve a clinically dead body by freezing. Interesting! This article published by the Indian Express in November says that Ashutosh Maharaj is currently residing in a building at this ashram. The ashram is in a rural area of Punjab, India. This is all being protected by extensive security including metal detectors and more than 50 police officers. Perhaps meditation is dangerous. According to the article: The judge who held Ashutosh should be cremated held that the “deep meditation” belief was not integral to Hinduism and so not entitled to protection, or at least that (as Sanjeev the wiseass put it) “preserving his body in a refrigerator appeared not to be in consonance with any Hindu ritual or tradition.” The High Court and/or the state has been putting off a final decision for years now. The court has adjourned the matter several times and we haven’t found a date where it will be revisited. Sounds like we may need another update soon!  

    17 Apr
    17 Apr
  • Just like you, we are suckers for celebrity news with a touch of real estate. Adding to the interest of the story is that it is about celebrity Justin Timberlake and his beautiful wife, Jessica Biel. Star spotters report that Timberlake was seen looking at a Greenwich Village penthouse last month. If you are interested, the New York Post reported that the triplex penthouse at 12 E. 13th St. was nearly half off its original asking price. It includes direct elevator access, is a four-bedroom, 4½-bathroom unit designed in part by CetraRuddy. There’s also an eat-in chef’s kitchen, a master suite with a spa-like bathroom and a media room/study with a guest bedroom suite on the third floor. The 5,704-square-foot Greenwich Village home was on the market for $30.5 million in 2013 under a different brokerage, is still on the market for $18.5 million. Let’s move on since the Timberlake’s didn’t take that one. But the real news is that he and his family selected the Tribeca neighborhood of Manhattan to call home. Maybe they liked the school selection and kid friendly neighborhood that they thought would be great for their two-year-old son, Silas. According to the site Luxury Building Developments, the power couple signed a deal for a penthouse at 443 Greenwich Street. Built in 1882 and recently restored by CetraRuddy Architects. The building includes an interior courtyard, underground garage, 71-foot indoor swimming pool and landscaped roof terrace. This seems to be a major draw for celebrities that include (at one time or another) Mike Myers, Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively, Jennifer Lawrence, and Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton. No one knows (yet) how much the exact unit costs, Penthouse G is currently under contract for $27.5 million. What do you get for $27+ million? Amenities such as a 24-hour doorman, valet and live-in manager, children’s playroom, and a fitness center with a Turkish steam bath. There is also access to private storage rooms and a temperature-controlled wine cellar. For those who are environmentally conscious, the building is LEED certified. Not included are a few parking spaces, which will be available for purchase, that come with an electric charging station.

    28 Mar
    28 Mar
  •   Looking for a little luxury in White Plains? You might not have to wait too much loner. The former AT&T office building at 440 Hamilton Ave. has been unanimously approved by the Common Council to become amenity-filled luxury rental residence with 245 units. The vote, which took place on March 6th, is part of the proposal from Long Island-based developer American Equity Partners I, which bought the building from AT&T.   So far, the 350,000-square-foot office building is now mostly vacant. Construction is expected to begin in about eight months. The White Plains Common Council also said it plans promote more activity in a somewhat dull area of the downtown. We can’t help but wonder how good the internet and wifi service will be! LOL. It all sounds pretty exciting. A floor to the 12-story 1960s building and create new facades featuring “cascading glass ribbons” on the North Broadway side and balconies on other faces of the building. American Equity Partners will add include new landscaping and sidewalk improvements will also give some character and appeal to the nondescript 350,000-square foot property. When completed, the building will house 41 studios, 120 one-bedroom and 84 two-bedroom apartments. Drum roll…Those include seven duplex “maisonettes” with private ground floor entrances and five penthouses on the new 13th floor. But wait! There’s more! The new floor will include an outdoor recreation area for all building residents, with a pool, BBQ area and lounge. The building will also feature a gym, game room, theater, bocce court and bike storage. To keep things convenient, a neighborhood market and a cafe are planned for the wide sidewalk area along North Broadway. Lastly, massive parking lot that borders Barker Avenue will be improved with a dog-walking area, new landscaping and four electric vehicle charging stations. As part of the approval, American Equity Partners I will pay a $756,500 fee for a park, playground and other recreational purposes to “mitigate” recreational impact of new development. The landlord will also set aside 10 percent of the units (or 25 apartments) as affordable housing. That is for people earning 80% or less of the county’s area median income. We would say that’s pretty important… The developer will use 298 parking spots already on the site and has a joint-use agreement with AT&T to share additional parking spaces at the company’s 400 Hamilton Avenue building next door. Mayor Thomas Roach praised the project as a way to bring more life to Hamilton Avenue, which he described as sterile, cold and full of concrete. Sounds like an exciting start!

    24 Mar
    24 Mar
  •   Apparently, there is something called Downtown Flushing Condo Fever and it is real. A quickly growing Chinese population is driving the trend, as the Queens neighborhood has seen a boom in luxury condos, retail and office space, and upscale hotels. (Speaking for this blogger and friends, we’ve had a few drinks at some beautiful bards and enjoyed delicious meals from around the world. At a great price too, might we add).  Since 2010, over 2,600 condominium apartments have hit the market, and between 2,400 and 2,800 more are expected to follow by 2021, according to public-records data. Recently, an offering plan filed with the New York state Attorney General’s office from Joel Wiener’s Pinnacle Group is looking to convert a 144-unit rent-stabilized building in Flushing to condominiums. The plans for 142-20 Franklin Avenue, formerly known as the Fairmont, show a total sellout price of $75.5 million. The average unit price of around $524,000 which is actually the least expensive sector of city’s condo market. None if this is going to happen fast and it might take the company some time to get all those units on the market since the building is entirely rent-stabilized. The condo plan is classified as “non-eviction,” and units will have to be converted on a rolling basis as they become vacant. Pinnacle paid $43 million in February 2016 for the Flushing building, now referred to as “Infinity 8 on Franklin” in condo filings. The company picked up another Flushing rental at 136-04 Cherry Avenue for $26 million in November. Based on the recent “fever of activity” we think a condo plan for that building could soon be on the way. This growth has been in the works since the 2000s, when Wiener gained a reputation as one of New York City’s most active buyers of rent-regulated properties. But it didn’t always go smoothly. In 2011 Pinnacle settled a class-action tenant harassment lawsuit for $2.5 million. So the fever might also include a few headaches too.  

    17 Mar
    17 Mar
  •   Back in December of 2016, Joseph T. Brown, regional director of the New York State Department of Transportation, released a letter dated stating that in order to construct the LIRR third track, property owned by the Village of Garden City adjacent to the construction sites could be temporarily or permanently acquired by a Memorandum of Understanding, or eminent domain. The Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) specifically states that three parcels of Garden City land on the south side of the New Hyde Park Rail Road station will be acquired by eminent domain. Potentially, the LIRR/MTA could also acquire additional village properties through eminent domain. According to Assemblyman Ed Ra and state Senator Kemp Hannon new state budget is now being reviewed and the $2 billion for the LIRR Expansion Project, is not in it. Ra and Hannon believe that the governor will somehow try to “shoehorn” the money into the existing MTA Capital Plan. Any changes in the use of funds would require the unanimous approval of the Capital Plan Approval Board. The MTA Capital Plan Approval Board consists of one person from the Assembly, one from the Senate, one appointed by the mayor of New York City and one appointed by the governor. If the governor attempts to do this project using federal money, the federal environmental requirements are far more stringent than those of New York State. The project would then require an entirely new Environmental Impact Study. While the LIRR/MTA and governor’s representatives claim that the $2 billion, nine-mile third track benefits the local communities and boost service for reverse commuters, only one additional train will be added during the eastbound morning rush hour and one during the westbound evening rush hour. According to the Garden City Patch, village residents and environmental counsel prepared a response to Mr. Brown’s letter requesting that Garden City be informed as to which parcels are being considered for either temporary or permanent acquisition.

    10 Mar
    10 Mar
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