Monday, April 27th, 2009

Richard Cook and Bob Fox are  two of the most innovative architects of our era. They have been at the forefront of designing energy efficient homes and spaces before it became fashionable.

I received an email today from them which brought a new endeavor of theirs to my attention. It mentioned ….. Today’s Wall Street Journal includes a special report on energy: a look ahead at technology, design, policy, and economics. Its cover story, “The Green House of the Future”, asked four architectural firms to imagine an energy efficient, environmentally-sustainable home without worrying about the usual realities of costs and building technologies.

Their answer is a conceptual design for an environmentally-responsive, “biomorphic” house that adapts to its occupants’ needs, as well as changing weather and other environmental factors. The design is an evolution of their proposal for the Live Work Home, a winner of Syracuse University’s recent “From the Ground Up” competition.

The article from yesterday’s Wall Street Journal shows many creative and provocative ideas from four different architectural firms.



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Thursday, April 23rd, 2009
Breakfast anyone?

Breakfast anyone?

There are more similarities in these two names than one might think. If you’re into numerology, you’d notice that both names are spelled with an unusual combination of a consonant, followed by a vowel, followed by two consonants….you get the idea.

“Be fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful.” said Buffett. Historically, this has proven to work wonders for him (for the most part). He ranks number 2 in the United States with an estimated net worth of $50 billion.

During the depression, Kelloggs and Post (the cereal companies) took two different paths. James Surowiecki eloquently wrote a piece in this past week’s New Yorker about this. Kelloggs, with their contrarian business model proved to be more successful. As we continue to grow our company organically in this market, I find myself asking mentors about this philosophy. They all overwhelmingly agree with Buffett and Kellogg, although it’s always easier to give this type of advice from the outside looking in.

We are clearly in a buyers market which means that those who are brave (and smart) enough to take advantage of this historic moment, should come out long term winners. My advice, from the inside looking out, is to seize this moment and embrace the opportunites this market brings. I know there will be some echo’s of 1998 to 2006 where the bears were saying “I could have, should have, would have…” 

Don’t be a foolish bear. Be sly like a fox!



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Sunday, April 12th, 2009
Empty your mailbox....save a tree

Empty your mailbox

 

I was surfing one of my favorite sites (www.nrdc.org) and stumbled upon something incredibly useful. You see, my mailbox has fallen victim to all of the mass marketing gorillas out there.  Barneys, Gucci, Costco, Bloomingdales, Burberry….you get the picture….and the site gave me a simple step to cut down on the catalog clutter. What’s astounding to me is that each year, over 19 billion catalogs are mailed and over 52 million trees are cut down to make these catalogs. There are more far reaching effects than just this.  Go to www.catalogchoice.org and select what you wish to receive, and what you wish to have removed. The whole process took me less than five minutes. It feels good to have a little control over what is being sent to me.



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Friday, April 10th, 2009
H.G. Wells Novel?

H.G. Wells Novel?

We might emulate the Netherlands first by our windmills, and not our bicycle lanes. Yesterday, our Mayor, Mike Bloomberg unveiled a first of its kind building with mounted wind turbines to be built in the Brooklyn Navy Yards. It will supposedly create 2,500 jobs and be the nations first multistory “green” industrial facility. (It wasn’t too long ago, one would have thought that term was contradictory). The design looks like something we read about in an H.G. Wells novel. Let’s hope the cost of construction will be far less than the energy it will create and the money it will save. If so, I applaud our Mayor for the creativity and finally identifying the highest and best use for the site.



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Monday, April 6th, 2009

This past fall, amidst this downturn in our economy, I happened to find myself in the middle of a full frontal restoration of one of my townhouse properties in Brooklyn. This was not the easiest of times to be involved with an expensive undertaking , especially as the very business in which I earn my living was basically, ”Looking from the end of the diving board at a pool with no water.”

The job entailed numerous trades. There was stripping the 1906 brick building back to the original brick, full re-pointing, ripping off the large front stoop and having it rebuilt all the way to finish brownstone veneer coat, painting all the ornate cast iron details (lintels and sills) of the doors and windows, reworking below the stoop entry and door, and rebuilding the parapet wall and steps to the small gated area below that costly front stoop (also brownstone). Also needed, was painting to match that beautiful cast detailing, the main door entry and its enclosure, the intricately detailed wood cornice at the top of the façade, and the entire fire escape.  Lastly, after coordinating with the parks department for the recommended size of the tree-enclosure for the sidewalk (the old one was completely blown apart by the tree roots over the years), an entire new sidewalk was poured on this steeply sloped street in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn. (more…)



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The Monthly CORE Real Time Report is the only one of its kind in the Manhattan residential market.

As the fourth quarter of 2008 brought unsettling news we looked to the first quarter of 2009 to provide an indication of what to expect for the coming year and beyond. Although uncertainties in many aspects of the entire economic picture remain, there are some reassuring indicators to grasp at this point. Our new president has been a strong proponent of economic policies that will shore up badly damaged sectors of the economy and will no doubt continue to implement much needed regulation. As the financing needed to allow homebuyers to purchase property is loosened we will certainly see rises in numerous measures of consumer confidence. At this time, we are seeing a steady increase in sales volume, albeit down from this period last year, as sellers become more comfortable with realistic pricing in this cooled market.



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