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Five homes with outdoor kitchens

Brick UndergroundMay 26, 2017

There’s nothing like a barbecue to kick-start the summer season. Here, in celebration of Memorial Day weekend, we bring you five homes with really excellent kitchen/grilling/cocktail-making facilities. Move into one of these spaces and get cooking!

 

Off the upper-floor living/dining room of this three-bedroom duplex penthouse condo at 60 White Street in Tribeca (yours for $9.275 million) lies this south-facing terrace with a bluestone counter bar and refrigerator, not to mention two outdoor showers in which to cool off after an evening spent sipping and supping.

How mentors can make or break a real estate career

The Real DealMay 23, 2017

In fall 2014, Jordan Caruso and four other aspiring brokers joined Douglas Elliman’s new agent training program at the West 17th Street office. Two-and-a-half years later, Caruso said he and just one other agent remain in the business. “It was like someone put me in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean with a paddle and no map and said, ‘Get to New York,’” he said of his first few months on the job. “My growth was slow, and a lot of times I’d sit there and be like, ‘What’s next?’”

 

But 18 months after starting, Caruso joined Vickey Barron’s team, and things began to change. There were the obvious benefits of working with others and tapping an established client base. But the real difference was Barron’s willingness to break down deals, explain the nuances of client relationships and negotiations, and also offer career counsel. She took a mentoring role, Caruso said, that helped him get an early footing that was out of reach for many his peers.

 

New York City’s residential real estate industry is often characterized as ruthless, replete with sharks who’ll do anything to come out on top in a deal. But industry players told The Real Deal that, increasingly, agents are willing to spend time mentoring and supporting their peers — in order to foster a collaborative environment in an aggressive, inherently competitive field.

 

“Agents are really hungry for a helping hand,” said Barron, who believes increased transparency, and the fact the industry is becoming more professional, means brokers are now more likely to help each other out. “It’s a tough business and if you approach it the opposite way, it not only gives the industry a bad name — getting up every day is going to be a little more difficult.”

 

Insiders pointed to formal mentoring programs at brokerages, industry associations and continuing education programs as ways to seek out support. Others said the best type of mentoring is informal, and comes from developing close relationships with peers. But there was also consensus that in an industry like real estate, spending time mentoring and supporting others would not be universally embraced. “[Some people think] ‘weIl, if I make you great, today you are my apprentice. But tomorrow — you’re my competition,” said Elizabeth Kee, who mentors members of her team at CORE. “If you do a good job mentoring somebody, then they are going to take everything good out of you … and try to make it a little bit better.”

 

Still, many brokers said, mentoring is a way to “pay it forward,” and even those with several decades in the business clearly remember people who showed them guidance or support. The industry is not actually as merciless as people believe, some brokers claimed, and the “trust no one” mentality is fast receding. Others said because inexperienced agents without guidance can cause major problems — namely by overpricing apartments and undercutting commissions — guiding them is worthwhile for everyone.

 

Most experienced brokers said the early days in residential real estate are grueling, and often those who get licensed are woefully underprepared. “A lot of people think, ‘I can just get into the business and two minutes later be selling,’” said Tony Sargent, also of CORE, who took eight months to actually close a deal when he first started as a broker in 1999. “We look at all the TV shows … where you walk into Balthazar, you talk to the owner for four minutes, you come up with a deal, you’re paid $300,000 and everything is great.”

 

Sargent mentored two agents on his team last year, and said most of his energy was spent motivating them, helping them recover from the crushing feeling when deals go south or sellers go cold. “You wake up every single day with no salary, and you have to be willing to deal with that,” he said.

 

Even those who had lengthy careers before entering real estate said the mentoring they received was invaluable. “I learnt the right way to do business in a very unprofessional environment,” said Brown Harris Stevens’ Bess Freedman, a former attorney who still consults her mentor and colleague Hall Wilkie. “It’s so competitive and you see agents treating each other very poorly,” she said, adding that successful mentoring programs can improve industry standards overall. “You see how much better it is when you are honest, you can communicate and you have good relationships. … It opens doors for everyone,” she said.

 

Some said mentors are mostly needed when brokers are a few years into their career, and are trying to step up into doing bigger and more frequent deals.

 

“There are people who make $35,000 in a year,” said Elliman’s Barron, who also teaches classes at the Real Estate Board of New York. “They show up every day and they go in. They need a mentor or they need to get out of the business.”

 

Others said having formal structures in place to support mid-career agents continues to be a major challenge for brokerages. “What a lot of firms struggle with is how to take a new agent and help them grow,” said Zach Ehrlich, CEO of Mdrn. It’s down to the broker to seek out a team, according to Ehrlich, but many team leaders are cautious. “Often the team leaders will train them for a year or two, the agent will absorb all that knowledge and then leave, sometimes to compete against them. … There isn’t an example of a large firm that’s been able to make sure that everyone gets the same experience.”

 

The level of formal mentoring varies from firm to firm. At Douglas Elliman, for example, new agents start with a six-week training intensive that includes some mentoring and coaching. The Corcoran Group matches brand new agents with no contacts with senior agents to act as a “sounding board.” The brokerage’s formal mentoring program is reserved for people who already have listings, and has junior and senior agents working together on between three and five deals. At Citi Habitats, there’s no set mentoring program, only training. And while Stribling & Associates is considering rolling out a program, it’s still in the “exploratory” phase.

 

At Brown Harris Stevens, the mentoring program is only open to new agents who are coming into real estate from previous careers, and places baby brokers with experienced agents for a period of six months. They work on all deals, but only financially benefit from the ones they’ve brought to the table. The mentor, in return, gets access to untapped pool of clients, extra help and potentially a strong relationship with the junior broker for the future. “A senior broker won’t take on a mentor unless they think they can bring contacts,” said Hall Willkie. “Some people would never want to do it, they’re not interested in teaching somebody the business … [but] there’s nothing more satisfying than bringing someone along.”

 

Tim Schneider of BHS first started working with Brian Manning as an apprentice, before the relationship developed into a formal partnership. “You could jump into the business and start grinding away, start trying to make a name for yourself. But you’d be off on your own a lot,” said Schneider, who added that he had to prove himself before Manning would bring him on as a full-fledged team member.

 

But not everyone is so lucky. “Certain friends of mine, they went to different firms, and they say ‘all this agent wants from me is to do showings – and they don’t even teach me how the deal works,’” said Andrea Wells, who is mentored by Elizabeth Kee and works on Kee’s team at CORE, receiving 1 percent profit on all deals, like the rest of the team, even if she’s not directly involved.

 

Many agents are promised mentoring and handholding by some firms, according to Wells, only to be used as a glorified assistant, stuck doing open houses on Sundays and never able to learn or advance. Wells considers herself fortunate to be working with Kee, because she knows “sometimes certain agents keep knowledge close to their chest, [thinking] why create another them.” That was the case for Francesco Pignataro, who worked for Douglas Elliman for several months in 2015. Pignataro said that while the company training was helpful, he received little support when he went on to join a team. “They didn’t guide me at all,” he said. “They were just telling me to make cold calls…. basically I worked for free for eight months.”

 

Rick Lechtman, a Marcus & Millichap broker and a New York University Schack Institute alumnus who has mentored NYU and Tulane Business School graduates through industry associations, said mentoring is a way to expand a “sphere of influence.” Regardless of whether you are a “broker, an owner, a developer, a finance person — it’s a big world and you need others,” he said. According Lechtman, the “senior statesmen” of the commercial world give their time mentoring and coaching younger players, not just for altruistic reasons, but because its helps them stay relevant. “Talent sees others who have talent, and they kind of let them rise,” he said, referring specifically to examples like SL Green Realty’s Stephen Green handing the reins to Marc Holliday and Related Companies’ Stephen Ross selecting Jeff Blau to succeed him as CEO in 2012.“People aren’t killing everybody every day, trying to take them down. People are generally trying to help them move up because it helps everybody.”

 

The business is about the successful management of relationships, experienced brokers agreed. And while there are still many in the industry who try hold their cards close to their chest, hoard information and refuse to help others — most realize there’s no reason to cut others down. “If we move people from a fear-based mentality, looking over your shoulder, how does that not benefit all of us?” said CORE’s Sargent. “Because in the end, if you’re smart and you know what you’re doing, there’s enough business to go around.”

Five homes with small private spaces to call one’s own

Brick UndergroundMay 19, 2017

In a city as crowded and congested as New York City, having a small, private nook of one’s own is as much a necessity as a nicety. With free space in short supply in so many New York City apartments, carving out such a nook or niche can be a challenge. Here, five homes that, nonetheless, make it happen.

 

This four bedrooms, three-and-a-half-bath, single-family townhouse at 257 Berry Street in Williamsburg (yours for $4.5 million) boasts a mezzanine overlooking the living room that makes a perfect spot for reading, watching TV, or catching up on work at home.

Coworking Spaces: The Office Trend Every Entrepreneur Needs to Consider

All BusinessMay 19, 2017

Working in one of these spaces may also light a creative spark, says Bryan Koontz, CEO of Guidefitter.com; he has worked in several coworking spaces in his entrepreneurial journey. “Free to pursue entrepreneurial ventures that commonly stem from a passion or hobby, many people benefit from added meaning and significance to their work,” he says. “When people are in control and free to work on meaningful tasks, happiness and productivity can flourish.”

 

Financial Flexibility

 

Many coworking spaces offer a variety of options at different price points. You can rent a space for a few hours a week very inexpensively, or you can spend more for unlimited access and/or private office space or conference rooms. Different options can provide entrepreneurs with a great deal of financial flexibility. Some people even choose to bring employees into their coworking space as their companies grow.

 

According to Alex Cohen, Lead Commercial Specialist with brokerage CORE, “Coworking spaces are also typically fully built-out (in flexible configurations) and don’t require a tenant to expend capital on fit-out, furniture, or voice/date wiring—all of which are potential expenses when a company leases dedicated office space.”

 

The money you save may be used to grow your business. Tight cash flow is one of the top problems new businesses face. It can prevent you from hiring new employees, taking on new projects, and buying new supplies. Plus, it’s often one of the things lenders look at when deciding whether to give you a business loan (along with your personal and business credit scores). Keeping an expense like office space variable instead of fixed can keep your books flexible and help you grow your business at the right time.

 

Choose Wisely

 

Coworking isn’t for everyone, of course; there are pros and cons to coworking spaces. One entrepreneur told me the walls in the private offices in his coworking space didn’t extend to the ceiling. Not only were phone conversations not as private as he’d hoped, but the entire space would get very noisy at times. William Gadea says, “The biggest downside is the acoustics, especially if the offices are all glass—it makes it really hard to have two people on the phone at the same time.”

 

Make sure the space is a good fit for your workstyle. “Certain floor plan components will help you maximize productivity in coworking spaces,” explains Maura Thomas, founder of RegainYourTime.com. “Knowledge work requires quiet, thinking space for flow. However, you can still build in opportunities for collaboration in an open work space.”

 

Noise-canceling headphones may help, but you don’t want to be so distracted that you can’t get any real work done. Consider renting space for a few hours to try it out before you commit.

 

Overall, though, many entrepreneurs are enthusiastic about coworking benefits that can help their businesses grow. As Michael Zimmerlich, founder of 80/20 Records, who works out of CO+HOOTS in Phoenix, says, “The real-time education that I’ve learned from my [coworking] peers is invaluable in keeping my business current and relevant in today’s society.”

5 features that make a ground-floor apartment desirable—and not a dealbreaker

Brick UndergroundMay 18, 2017

Ground-floor apartments tend to get a bad rap in the city, and not without good reason—often, living on the lower level of a building means less privacy (if your windows are facing the street), closer proximity to noises and smells, potential pest problems, security concerns, and a lack of all-important natural light. (There's a reason you'll usually see ground-floor units listed at a lower price than comparable apartments on higher floors).

 

Of course, there are perennial reasons why residents might be more interested in a lower level unit—they're much easier if you're elderly, have small children, or walk a dog multiple times a day—and landlords often will go the extra mile to make them more appealing, planting greenery in front of the windows to add extra privacy, installing reverse blinds for the same purpose, and in some cases, beefing up the unit's security system.

 

Still, not all first-floor apartments are created equal, and some come with features that not only override the stigma, but make them more preferable than one a few floors above.

 

Below, five reasons a ground-floor apartment isn't just livable, but downright luxurious:

 

Location, location, location

 

Given that some of the chief complaints of ground-floor apartments have to do with their proximity to the street (and all its attendant fracas and stench), an apartment's actual location in the buildng can make a world of difference. If you're situated toward the back of the building, for instance, you'll have much more peace and quiet (and maybe even a backyard—more on that later). A more secluded location can also protect you from the noise of the building's lobby, stairwell, or elevator, as the case may be.

 

"I saw a ground floor apartment recently that was at the end of the hallway all the way at the back, so nobody actually passes in front of it," says Kobi Lahav of Mdrn Residential. "And in that case, the back part of the building was a little elevated, so you feel like you're on a higher floor...so nobody's bothering you."

 

For this reason, in new developments or recent renovations, you'll often see developers make an effort to put ground-floor units toward the rear, or at least ensure that the bedrooms aren't facing the street, the better to maintain some relative quiet. "Any smart developer is going to put the living room in the front and the bedroom in the back," adds Mdrn's Nick Sanni.

 

Similarly, many of these apartments are oriented so that the main entertaining spaces (think kitchens and living rooms) are facing large back windows into the backyards, the better to avoid street noise and let in more natural light.

 

Bottom line: You may still not get all the light you want, but if noise is your primary concern, don't necessarily rule out a lower-level unit—the right location could mitigate those concerns almost entirely.

 

You'll have a backyard to call your own

 

One of the most common perks to offset a ground-floor apartment is the all-important backyard, a coveted amenity in a city with precious little outdoor space. "Especially in Brooklyn, I feel like everybody with a dog is coming to see that apartment right away if it has a backyard," says Win Brown of CORE.

 

In some cases, landlords may be inclined to renovate the space to make it more enticing (though if not, we've got tips here). "I'm working with a developer who's going to have a ground-floor unit for sale, and I told him to put an outdoor kitchen in the backyard," says Sanni. "And landlords can have the outdoor space landscaped to add value. It's something so rare and it's not that expensive to add on."

 

If you're hoping for outdoor space but don't want to overspend, you may be able to score a deal by looking in the colder months. "We just closed on a condo conversion with a backyard, it was on the market for almost six months, and then spring came along, and by the end of March a client said, 'I have to have it'," says Brown. "The same thing happened with a listing in Williamsburg. It was facing the street, which would be considered a drawback, but had an eight-foot set back, so it had a deep terrace facing the sidewalk, elevated by a few feet. That one was on the market for four or five months over the winter, but as soon as the nicer weather hit and we had an open house when it was 65 degrees, it sold immediately."

 

Bottom line: A terrace or backyard might not seem especially enticing in the doldrums of February, but if you snap it up ahead of time, you've got a good chance at avoiding more stiff competition.


Similarly, many of these apartments are oriented so that the main entertaining spaces (think kitchens and living rooms) are facing large back windows into the backyards, the better to avoid street noise and let in more natural light.

 

The lower level comes with extra space—and storage

 

Particularly in apartments that are located on the ground floor of a townhouse or brownstone, there's a good chance you'll get access to the building's basement, which could mean extra storage and even your own laundry room.

 

"You have your own private entrance, under the stoop, and get a sort of mudroom via that common hallway that leads down to the basement, but that nobody really uses," says Brown. "And besides the backyard, owners will usually give tenant access to the basement for laundry and extra storage, which means more space overall."

 

Even in newer developments, you may expect to see the space below-grade (in other words, below the sidewalk) re-jiggered as amenity space, rather than a glorified darkroom. "With one property we're working with, on the lower level, we created a wet bar down there, and a full laundry room—it feels like a house," says CORE's Emily Beare. "That also comes with tons of storage, and huge closets."

 

Bottom line: Pack rats, consider this a potential solution if you don't feel like springing for a storage unit.

 

An example of a new development maisonette, this $5.95 million condo in Tribeca features a main "great room" with 17-foot high ceilings, as well as grand cast-iron columns, and multiple private entrances.

 

It's a maisonette with multiple floors (and a private entrance)

 

If you've got a bigger budget to play around with, developers are increasingly turning ground-floor units into elaborate, townhouse-style maisonette duplexes or triplexes, with high ceilings, multiple floors, and luxury finishes. (Indeed, this trend has been on the rise for a few years now.)

 

"[These are ideal] for the buyer who wants a townhouse lifestyle and more square feet, but doesn't necessarily want to be responsible for shoveling snow," says Beare. "You have the townhouse feel, but the beauty and convenience of being part of a building—you have a doorman, your own private entrance from the street, [and an entrance from the lobby]."

 

The high ceilings in these newer maisonettes also generally come with tall windows, solving the problem of natural light. In a recent development on West 82nd Street, says developer Miki Naftali of the Naftali Group, each maisonette unit was a triplex with high ceilings. "There was space in the back, and an entry from the street as well as a private entrance through the building," Naftali explains. "It's a nice setup for potential buyers who are looking to maybe buy a townhouse but would like to have the security and amenities of a full-service building."

 

Bottom line: Architecture is everything. Just because it's on the ground floor of a building doesn't mean it can't feel like a house.

 

The price is right

 

High-design maisonettes are all well and good, but if your budget is more down-to-earth, then consider first-floor apartments an opportunity for savings—or haggling.

 

"I recently had two listings in the same building that were both two-bedrooms, one on the first floor, and one on the second floor," says Sanni. "We valued the one on the ground floor at $3,200/month, and the one on the 2nd floor at $3,400/month, for two identical apartments."

 

There's no rule of thumb for how much you might save on a ground floor—it will depend on a variety of factors including light, location, and outdoor space. That said, Lahav notes that a first-floor unit can be, on average, 15 percent cheaper than something comparable on a higher floor—more if the apartment's less than ideal. "If it's really close to the lobby and facing the front, that could be 20 percent less," says Lahav. "If it's facing the back and quiet but there's no light, maybe 10 or 15 percent less."

 

"I just saw an apartment on the Upper West Side, where the exact same apartment sold for $1.55 million on the second floor, and on the ground floor facing the back, that apartment sold for $1.35 million," adds Lahav. If the ground-floor unit had been facing the front, he says, the price may well have been knocked down further to $1.2 or $1.25 million. "The front is really a dealbreaker for a lot of people," he tells us. "And if it's something where the window is directly facing a bus station or something, that's going to be a 25 percent discount."

 

Ultimately, it's all about sussing out the units with potential, and knowing what your dealbreakers are, as in the rest of the apartment hunt. "There are things to watch out for, but if the landlord is smart and makes certain upgrades, garden apartments can work great for a lot of people," adds Sanni.

 

Bottom line: You get more for less money—and that, for many, is definitely luxurious.

Christopher Meloni on Living in the Space Between Comedy and Drama

ObserverMay 15, 2017

Christopher Meloni would like to say he’s sorry. Not to me, per se, sitting across from him in an airy loft above NoHo’s cobblestoned Bond Street, but to his 233,000 Twitter followers, mostly. Maybe a little bit to 20th Century Fox, the studio behind Snatched, in which the actor appears briefly but memorably. Possibly, in a more roundabout, elliptical sort of way, he’s even saying sorry to Snatched co-stars Amy Schumer and Goldie Hawn. “I find it very difficult to stay on point with all the promotion that I should be doing,” Meloni says. “I want to sit here right now and say I do apologize for being distracted at times with the magnitude of the horror that is this administration.”

 

That’s the Trump Administration, by the way, as in comma Donald. As in current President of the United States / former host of The Apprentice. As in the man who fired FBI Director James Comey just 24 hours after Meloni and I met to discuss a funny little comedy in which he plays a wannabe Indiana Jones-type named Roger. But if you want your “celebrities, they’re just like us!” moment, understand that Chris Meloni is having that relatable issue focusing on his work, on his art, on the comedy of it all when he feels that every refresh of the Twitter page brings Mad Max: Fury Road one step closer to becoming a documentary.

 

“I’ve found this administration, and their stance not only on institutions but facts and numbers, is an outright attack on truth. Which, with every autocrat and in any dystopian novel, that’s rule number one,” Meloni tells me. “That there are still followers, I find that very dangerous. And that the attack from people who agree with the administration is to paint it as an ‘us vs them’ situation. Especially us, the libtards, the Hollywood libtards.”

 

From the moment Meloni noted that he “woke up in a George Orwell novel today,” the actor has been an active, outspoken and occasionally shirtless voice of #resistance. “The message—which I’m very poor at conveying, I’ll be the first to admit—is that the fight is not ‘us vs them,’” he says. “The fight is not against anything. It’s for truth. And you have to agree on the truth. You can have debates on it, but you can’t just…”

 

He trails off, gazing at his hands. After all, he is here to promote Snatched, not a revolution. Finally, he looks up. “At the end of the day, you can’t deny the science of something like climate change,” he says. “You just can’t.”

 

Meloni’s eyes, more like two storm clouds somehow bored into a rock face, have a way of making simple phrases like “you just can’t” sound very much like a universally acknowledged fact taught in schools across the nation. Of course I’m not going to argue. If any actor has to keep an eye (or two) on our politicians, maybe it should be Chris Meloni.

Actually, we should probably talk about the eyes. Have you ever had Chris Meloni squint at you? It’s terrifying, it really is. It’s the squint that served him so well over 12 seasons and 273 episodes of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit as Detective Elliot Stabler. It’s the gaze that—and this is a compliment—makes his August Pullman such an effectively enigmatic bounty hunter on WGN America’s slave-era drama, Underground. Hell, it’s the haunted stare of Meloni’s psychotic yet oddly tender Chris Keller I still remember most from HBO’s groundbreaking prison piece, Oz.

 

“I’ve had that since I was a child,” Meloni tells me. “I’ve always had a look, a certain stare. It’s not cultivated, it just is.”

 

Funny enough, it’s that look, the certain stare that allows Meloni to move so fluidly, and so often between drama and comedy. Keep his simmering intensity and simply change the context, and suddenly he’s Roger in Snatched, exuding the confidence of Indiana Jones while displaying the skill-set of your local Sports Authority’s junior manager. Or, if you will, suddenly he’s Gene in 2001’s summer-camp comedy Wet Hot American Summer—David Wain’s veritable who’s who of comedy icons, A-listers and award-winners while they were all anything but—the PTSD-ridden Vietnam veteran who also just so happens to be sexually attracted to refrigerators and prone to conversations with a talking can of vegetables (voiced by Archer‘s H. Jon Benjamin to boot).

 

In person, Meloni occupies that unique space between comedy and drama near-constantly. He lives in it, probably pays rent. I wondered for a while before this interview what kind of person I’d be speaking to; intense or silly? The slave-catcher or the faux-adventurer? The horror show that was his Oz character, or the freak show that was, well, his Freakshow from Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle? The simplest answer is that he’s both, simultaneously. He jokes, loud and often; when a member of his team requests some tunes, the actor puts on Manchester-based pop-rock band The 1975, a suggestion from his 16-year-old daughter. And yet whenever these endearing moments of levity do come up, Meloni’s smile never quite un-arches those interrogation room eyebrows. It’s not a surprise, then, that the method he describes for choosing his next project is an internal one, almost a zen process.

 

“Well, the spirit moves you,” he explains. “The soul starts to need a different way to express itself. Whether you’re immersed in comedy and suddenly you want to check out a drama, or if you’ve been living in drama you might need a release valve. I’m led by how I feel.”

 

Recently, the spirit led Meloni into the director’s chair for only the second time in his career, when he helmed the season 2 episode of Underground, “Auld Acquaintances.” It was a far cry from his first effort—a co-directing credit on National Lampoon’s Dirty Movie in 2011—that required, but was not limited to, blowing up a house, working around lead actress Jurnee Smollett-Bell’s real-life pregnancy, and a lengthy, half-drunk monologue from his own character. “As an actor I’m just concerned about me, my point of view vis-a-vi all the other actors and the moment,” he says, then leans forward as if sharing a secret. “As a director, you have to be aware of everything.”

 

“You’re aware of the scene that happened before, while envisioning the scene after, and where this particular moment resonates, plus where each character’s journey goes from here,” he continues. “Then you have to negotiate that, because maybe your idea doesn’t sit with their idea. You have to make decisions on everything. How big do you want the bottle to be, what’s the gun size? Is there a rug or isn’t there a rug? You have to make sure everyone’s on the same page, and the page is your vision. Where to set up the camera, when that camera moves, how that camera moves.”

 

Why the expansion into directing? “Well,” he says, “there’s always that thought of ‘Once I’m done with this project, I’m technically unemployed.’”

 

Classic case of actor’s dilemma, yes, but Meloni is set for the near-future at least. As part of the latest of what seems like many brand reboots, the SyFy network ordered a pilot for Happy!, adapted from Grant Morrison’s graphic novel. Meloni will star as ex-cop turned mafia hitman Nick Sax, who gets his life back on track with the help of a tiny, blue winged horse voiced by Saturday Night Live‘s Bobby Moynihan.

 

Which is great news for fans of a dead-eyed Chris Meloni speaking to imaginary friends. In June, the actor also reprises his Wet Hot role for Netflix’s Wet Hot American Summer: 10 Years Later (set a decade after the 2001 original, and acting as a follow-up to Netflix’s surprisingly ingenious First Day of Camp). “It’s all set. All in the can. Ready to roll,” Meloni says on the status of the Wet Hot sequel, but is genuinely tight-lipped about where we will find the appliance-loving Gene.

 

The actor takes a long pause, then finally tells me “Gene is a solitary figure leading a life of mystery. He’s trying to get his act together. He’s finding a purpose.”

 

But it wasn’t plot-points that brought Meloni back to Camp Firewood in the first place. 10 Years Later reunites the cast—loaded with names like Amy Poehler, Bradley Cooper and Paul Rudd—as well as original creators David Wain and Michael Showalter.

 

“I know those guys. I trust their sensibilities so much, know their work ethic,” Meloni says. “They have such a command of the material that it’s really a no-brainer for me. I tell people all the time, it’s like going home again.”

 

He sits up straight then, coming to a much, much more appropriate analogy. “It’s like going to camp,” he says. “You get to play with all your old friends.”

 

At that, I swear, his eyes almost soften. Almost.

 

Six luxe bathrooms any mom would love

Brick UndergroundMay 12, 2017

Most moms would be thrilled to receive a gift certificate to the neighborhood spa this Mother’s Day. (For the record, that’s this Sunday, May 14th!) For those aiming to up the ante, how about treating her to a spa-like experience 365 days of the year in a home with a bathroom built for serious pampering? Here, six fab finds. 

 

As if a 7,000-square-foot apartment wasn't enough, this duplex condo at 213 West 23rd Street in Chelsea (yours for $12.950 million) features a luxe five-piece bathroom with a walk-in shower, soaking tub, and double sink with teak countertops.

New York's most iconic Art Deco buildings

CurbedMay 11, 2017

New York City is by no means a place with a unified architectural style, and that’s one of the things that makes it so darn beautiful. But some of the city’s most iconic structures do share a common theme: Art Deco design, found in the Chrysler and Empire State Buildings, to name just two.

 

In his book New York Art Deco: A Guide to Gotham’s Jazz Age Architecture, forthcoming from SUNY Press on June 1, Anthony W. Robins defines the fluid style that’s given character to some of the city’s most beloved structures: “It is flowery and it is zigzag; it is intimate and it is monolithic; it is abstract and it is figurative; it is Roaring Twenties Extravagant and it is Depression-era cheap.”

 

What all does that boil down to? Below, we’ve mapped some of the city’s most notable buildings exemplifying the architectural style. Did we miss your favorite here, or on our map of less lauded Art Deco gems? As always, let us know in the comments.

 

1. 1 Wall Street
Ralph Walker's limestone-clad 1 Wall Street is an Art Deco beauty inside and out. The 50-story building was constructed during the same years as the Empire State and Chrysler buildings, and it was originally occupied by the Irving Trust Company. It features setbacks characteristic of Art Deco, as well as vertical designs etched along the faceted facade, but the interiors are what truly make 1 Wall Street special. The building's soaring double-height lobby on Wall Street, the bank's original reception room, is a stunning space designed by Hildreth Meiere. Known as the Red Room, it's covered with a mosaic of red, gold, and orange tiles that were made in Berlin. On the 49th floor, an observation room occupies "a gaspingly high space," as the Times says, with vaulted ceilings covered with shells from the Philippines. The building is currently undergoing a residential conversion at the hands of developer Harry Macklowe.

4. The Walker Tower
Before it was Walker Tower, home to many a celebrity and high net worth individual, this glorious 23-story building was a central hub for Verizon, storing copper wire that made the telecommunications company run. The building was constructed in 1929 and designed by Ralph Walker, named architect of the century by the New York Times in 1957. No surprise here, JDS and Property Markets Group’s condo conversion takes its name from the lauded architect.

What is the EB-5 visa program?

Brick UndergroundMay 10, 2017

Over the weekend, the Washington Post reported on a real estate event held in China, at which Jared Kushner's sister touted a program that would allow investors who spent $500,000 or more to acquire a U.S. visa. The incident has rightly stirred up concerns over Kushner's family using government ties to enrich their real estate business, with former White House ethics lawyer Richard Painter saying it was "an abuse of power and should not be allowed. We can't have a situation where public officials and their families are using those programs to enrich themselves."

 

While the idea of essentially buying a U.S. visa for hundreds of thousands of dollars might sound shocking (particularly amid a burgeoning global refugee crisis), the program that allows for this transaction—known as EB-5—has been around for years. (You can see the full list of requirements and the application process here.) Also sometimes nicknamed the "Golden Visa" program, EB-5 was initially created as part of the 1990 Immigration Act, in hopes of spurring investment and job growth. As MNBC has reported, the program provides U.S. visas to foreign buyers who invest $500,000 or more in certain qualified projects (generally ones that are considered to be significant job-creators).

 

Since the 2008 housing crash, EB-5 been a popular means for developers looking to meet funding gaps for projects. "From a developer's perspective, the interest rate is quite favorable for EB-5 financing compared to hard money rates," says One & One Realty attorney Edward Mermelstein, who has advised numerous clients on EB-5 purchases. "The New York market today is extremely active with EB-5—you'll find financing opportunities in practically any major development."

 

The reason EB-5 funding is considered "cheap money" is that these projects can only pay back an inflation-adjusted rate (less than two percent) to investors, says Sam Lin, founder and CEO of utofun.com, a site that connects Chinese buyers to EB-5 investment opportunities. "Thus, this is almost free capital for project owners, compared to the traditional financing system," he explains.

 

The program also became quite popular with foreign buyers hoping to get a foothold (and stash their cash) in the American economy, hence the launch of sites like Utofun that specifically exist to connect prospective investors with EB-5 opportunities.

 

"Investors in EB-5 aren't buying an apartment per se, they're investing in a project," explains Craig DeCecchis of CORE NYC. Therefore, says DeCecchis, it doesn't necessarily affect buyers' decisions one way or the other if a development happened to be funded by EB-5 investment.

 

"Those participating in the EB-5 program are not purchasing a specific apartment—they are essentially lending money, at their own risk, to a developer," adds Sam Lin, founder and CEO of utofun.com. What's more, EB-5 investments cannot come with guaranteed returns in exchange for green card approval, says Lin, which means that they don't allow for a guaranteed property purchase as a return on investment.

 

Critics have raised concerns over lack of accountability in the program, and fuzzy numbers on how many jobs are truly being created, as City Limits has reported on extensively. The program also originated as a way to spur job growth in low-income areas, a far cry from its current status as a cash cow for luxury development.

 

The timing of the Kushners' promotion is also sticky with EB-5 currently in limbo. Congress recently extended the program through September after it was set to expire, and though some developers and buyers have been concerned that the Trump administration's crackdown on immigration might spell trouble for EB-5, it seems likely to be continued indefinitely, which is a source of concern for anyone eyeing the Trump and Kushner families' respective uses of the government program to bolster cash flow into their real estate projects.

 

"It very much is likely to be extended," says Mermelstein. For now, for would-be investors hoping for a fast track to U.S. citizenship, the answer is simple: Pay up.

A Manhattan Loft That’s a Slam Dunk

Wall Street JournalMay 09, 2017

Location: Manhattan, NY   Price: $12,950,000

 

Architect Annabelle Selldorf helped create this industrial-style home in what was once the basketball court of a YMCA—Sarah Tilton

The snazziest pads to depart from the market this week

Luxury Listings NYCMay 08, 2017

This week, a handful of highly priced pads left the market, and here are the ones we’re saddest to see go — although, we rather suspect we’ll see some of them again soon, perhaps with a spanking new price tag.

 

100 Eleventh Avenue 19th Floor 

 

A combination opportunity on the 19th floor of the Jean Nouvel-designed 100 Eleventh Avenue has bid farewell to the market too.

 

Last asking $17.8 million, the two units were owned by actor Kelsey Grammer, and his next door neighbor, tech CEO Larry Mueller. The duo teamed up to sell their pads.

 

Both units were also available separately, and Grammer’s recently went into contract.

On the Market in New York City

The New York TimesMay 05, 2017

Harlem Duplex Condo • $2,195,000 • MANHATTAN • 264 West 124th Street, No. 2/3

 

A duplex with three bedrooms and two and a half baths with a fireplace and a washer/dryer in the Carriage House Condominium. Matthew Cohen, CORE, 201-410-5496; corenyc.com

A home with a spotless—and space-enhancing—stainless steel kitchen

Brick UndergroundMay 05, 2017

Besides looking stylishly industrial, a stainless steel kitchen is easier to clean (thanks to its—duh!—stain-proof finish), more hygienic (since non-porous steel resists germs and bacteria), and has the added benefit of making a space appear bigger and brighter than it may actually be due to the reflective nature of the material. Here, some prime examples.

 

At 135 West 70th Street, a four-bedroom, three-and-a-half-bath condo (on the market for $3.950 million) has an eat-in chef's kitchen with top-of-the-line appliances, including a stainless steel pantry with an extra freezer drawer and wine cooler.

 

A three-bedroom, three-bath condo at 42 Crosby Street (priced at $8.4 million) features a custom stainless steel kitchen courtesy of Italian brand, Boffi.

60 White Street / Bostudio Architecture

ArchDailyMay 05, 2017

60 White, located in the heart of TriBeCa, boasts 8 residential lofts that fuse high-end design with sustainability and energy efficiency. Exclusively represented by Shaun Osher and Emily Beare of Core Group Marketing, the building offers 2 and 3 bedroom residences ranging in size from 1,943 to 3,129 square feet. Pricing for available units starts at $4,625,000. At 60 White Street, residents enjoy a discreet keyed-elevator entry, individualized virtual security systems, on-site fitness center and storage, private residential lounge with green landscape features and a planted eco-wall in the entrance gallery. With careful selection of materials and inspired interior design, all the charm, character and history of a landmark edifice are preserved and celebrated, while creating the perfect modern loft experience.

 

60 White lofts boast large and gracious rooms with ample lighting making for a modern and luxurious space. Spanning three panes, Zola’s American Heritage SDH (Simulated Double Hung) window provides abundant daylight and increased ventilation, while creating a well-insulated, draft free building envelope.

 

Approximately 80% of the project’s materials were reused or maintained from the existing structure. The rest of the finishes were sourced locally, helping to breathe new life into the wondrous souls of these stunning buildings. Some of these locally sourced materials include Vermont Danby Marble from Vermont Quarries – home to the world’s largest underground quarry – and 300 year-old reclaimed oak from The Hudson Company, an undeniable leader of the reclaimed wood industry. The marble embodies the outstanding performance and durability of the project, while the reclaimed wood speaks to the natural and historic quality. Another striking component of the project is the Biophilia and the use of nature to improve the building’s living conditions. Featuring a planted living green wall in the lobby, which offers aesthetic charm while contributing to a healthy and natural ventilation system. These materials help execute the vision of excellence, sustainability, and historic preservation – choosing to honor the past while building for the future.  

 

 

Where Life Meets Art

Wall Street JournalMay 05, 2017

Top artists' homes often boast high ceilings and lots of light. But selling a place with no living room can be a challenge.

The Iconoclastic Homes of Top Artists

Wall Street JournalMay 04, 2017

When New York painter and sculptor Will Cotton and his girlfriend, art researcher Rose Dergan, bought a 3,200-square-foot Tribeca loft in 2010, they spent about $150,000 on renovations. They ripped out bedroom walls and tore off drywall to expose steel and wood ceiling beams. Then they devoted a chunk of the budget to installing a commercial grade vent fan on a chimney, to suck out fumes caused by oil paint, turpentine and varnishes.

 

“I wanted to empty it out and make it pretty much as it had been in the 19th century,” said Mr. Cotton, 52, whose work is in museums including the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. Today, the couple lives in one large, open space with various corners devoted to painting, art-supply storage, dining, and sleeping.

 

Artists as a group can have a salubrious impact on real-estate markets, pioneering gentrification and turning gritty urban landscapes into creative neighborhoods. But on an individual level, they often design their homes in direct opposition to what the rest of the real-estate market craves. Instead of giant kitchens and master bedrooms, they devote square footage to ample space for making art. Rather than high-end hardwood flooring, they favor practical surfaces like concrete that can be spattered with paint or shock-absorbing floors that provide back support while they sculpt for long hours. Many artists dedicate what might have been a cozy family living room to private galleries and event spaces.

 

Once a home has been modified by an artist, it can become more difficult to market. Even in Santa Fe, N.M., where approximately 20% of buyers have “artist studio” on their wish list, some professional studios are resale liabilities, said Chuck McKinley, sales manager for Santa Fe Properties. Mr. McKinley said the company tried—and failed—to sell a $1.5 million property with a 2,200-square-foot main house and a 1,000-square-foot detached studio with 30 foot ceilings.

 

“Buyers couldn’t make it into a guesthouse because of the massive ceilings, which wouldn’t have been cozy,” Mr. McKinley said. “It was going to take an artist, and there are a lot of artists who don’t have that kind of money.” The property, which has been on and off the market for about two years, remains unsold, Mr. McKinley said.

 

Abstract painter Joe Goode said his roughly 2,000-square-foot studio behind his home in Mar Vista, a Westside Los Angeles neighborhood, is his ideal workspace. Mr. Goode, 80, is considered ”the quintessential West Coast artist of the late 20th century,” said Michael Kohn, owner of an eponymous Los Angeles gallery where Mr. Goode shows his work.

 

Soaring 20-foot-high ceilings with numerous large windows pour natural light onto his work—“so you can really see it,” Mr. Goode said. On the ground floor, he has a workspace, where he splatters paint on the concrete floors and tables, and a gallery-like space where he receives guests and hosts events. Upstairs, there is an office for his studio manager and her assistant, and a mezzanine from which he can look down on paintings in progress—“so I can see how they’ll look when they’re dry,” Mr. Goode said.

 

Having his studio steps away from his home is useful because “if I get an idea at 11 o’clock at night, I can go work on it,” he said.

 

Mr. Goode’s perfect space came at a high personal cost. In 2005, he sensed something was wrong when his dog, an Australian Shepherd-Akita mix named Pollock, wouldn’t stop barking in the middle of the night. Mr. Goode and his wife got up to discover his previous studio on fire. Mr. Goode lost 200 works of art and spent about $250,000 to rebuild the studio in 2007.

 

The fire was caused when rags covered in linseed oil, used for oil painting, spontaneously combusted, Mr. Goode said. Because of the hazard, he switched to acrylic paint. He also distributes his work among various spaces today, so that he can never again lose everything in the event of a disaster, he said.

 

Mr. Goode’s studio adds some value to the home, but not enough to cover the construction costs. Tami Pardee, founder of Halton Pardee + Partners, a Los Angeles brokerage, estimated the value of Mr. Goode’s property at $1.8 to $1.9 million, saying the studio likely adds 5% to 7% to the value.

 

Mr. Cotton and Ms. Dergan’s loft, which they purchased for $2.14 million, according to public records, would likely sell today for roughly $4.5 million to $5 million, said Jim St. André, a Tribeca and downtown specialist at CORE. If it were made into a conventional home, with bedroom walls and top-of-the-line finishes that would appeal to the typical “financial guy” buyers in the area, it would sell closer to $6.5 million, Mr. St. André said.

 

It is increasingly difficult to find studio space in some of the cities that have attracted artists for generations, including New York and San Francisco. Amid soaring real-estate values, artists also face competition from non-artists who have come to embrace loft living and industrial style—as long as it is renovated to provide traditional comforts.

 

“The conversion of industrial spaces to great residences has never been more popular,” said Mr. St. André. In New York’s Tribeca neighborhood, one building that for many years consisted mainly of commercial lofts used by artists, photographers and architects is now mostly condos; a penthouse is currently on the market for $45 million, Mr. St. André said. The loss of workspace in cities around the country has given rise to a number of activist groups, such as the Artist Studio Affordability Project in New York, that protest real-estate developments that compete with artists’ needs.

 

In San Francisco, Sotheby’s International Realty agent Wendy Storch is marketing a $4.5 million, 4,800-square-foot house in the Mission District that has primarily been used as a live/workspace for artists since the 1960s. To prepare it for sale, the current owners added a driveway, roof deck and garage door to the studio space and staged it with lounge furniture and motorcycles.

 

The buyer “could have classic cars, motorcycles or a fantastic rumpus room, but with a rustic, industrial feel,” Ms. Storch suggested.

 

Colin and Kristine Poole, a married couple of sculptors in Santa Fe, dispensed with nearly every convention when renovating their 2,700-square foot house. They devoted 700 square feet to a work studio, where they regularly receive nude models, work on life-size clay figures, create molds, pour wax and assemble bronze sculpture. Mr. Poole, 52, also paints. Another 1,200-square-foot area of the house serves as a gallery space, where they receive clients and host art-oriented events. Because they work seven days a week, often for 14 hours a day, they decided to forgo a living room. Instead, non-art space is limited to a small kitchen and bedroom.

 

Mr. Poole bought the house in 1997 for $200,000 from a cousin who had inherited it from their grandmother Una Hanbury, also a well-known sculptor, Mr. Poole said. Ms. Poole, 47, moved in nine years ago and the couple spent more than $200,000 renovating, doing most of the work themselves.

 

They prioritized features that would serve their work. They laid the studio with a floating hardwood floor, typically used for dance floors, so that standing on the surface for many hours a day wouldn’t cause back pain. Four large skylights provide natural light; at night, tract lighting fitted with full spectrum bulbs from Germany imitates day light, Mr. Poole said.

 

Living amid their output isn’t stressful, the artists said; instead, Mr. Cotton, Mr. Goode and the Pooles said they don’t want a clear line between life and art.

 

“If something is giving me a lot of trouble, I just turn it to face the wall,” to get a break, said Mr. Cotton, who is known for his images of costumes and landscapes made of sweets. Still, it is surprisingly hard to escape his subject matter. Soon after moving in to his loft, he noticed a faint, hand-painted sign from the 19th century on the exterior of the building, reading “Almond Paste—H. Heide—Confectionery.”

 

“How crazy is that? It turns out I live in a converted candy factory,” Mr. Cotton said.

The Iconoclastic Homes of Top Artists

Mansion GlobalMay 04, 2017

When New York painter and sculptor Will Cotton and his girlfriend, art researcher Rose Dergan, bought a 3,200-square-foot Tribeca loft in 2010, they spent about $150,000 on renovations. They ripped out bedroom walls and tore off drywall to expose steel and wood ceiling beams. Then they devoted a chunk of the budget to installing a commercial grade vent fan on a chimney, to suck out fumes caused by oil paint, turpentine and varnishes.

 

“I wanted to empty it out and make it pretty much as it had been in the 19th century,” said Mr. Cotton, 52, whose work is in museums including the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. Today, the couple lives in one large, open space with various corners devoted to painting, art-supply storage, dining, and sleeping.

 

Artists as a group can have a salubrious impact on real-estate markets, pioneering gentrification and turning gritty urban landscapes into creative neighborhoods. But on an individual level, they often design their homes in direct opposition to what the rest of the real-estate market craves. Instead of giant kitchens and master bedrooms, they devote square footage to ample space for making art. Rather than high-end hardwood flooring, they favor practical surfaces like concrete that can be spattered with paint or shock-absorbing floors that provide back support while they sculpt for long hours. Many artists dedicate what might have been a cozy family living room to private galleries and event spaces.

 

Once a home has been modified by an artist, it can become more difficult to market. Even in Santa Fe, N.M., where approximately 20% of buyers have “artist studio” on their wish list, some professional studios are resale liabilities, said Chuck McKinley, sales manager for Santa Fe Properties. Mr. McKinley said the company tried—and failed—to sell a $1.5 million property with a 2,200-square-foot main house and a 1,000-square-foot detached studio with 30 foot ceilings.

 

“Buyers couldn’t make it into a guesthouse because of the massive ceilings, which wouldn’t have been cozy,” Mr. McKinley said. “It was going to take an artist, and there are a lot of artists who don’t have that kind of money.” The property, which has been on and off the market for about two years, remains unsold, Mr. McKinley said.

 

Abstract painter Joe Goode said his roughly 2,000-square-foot studio behind his home in Mar Vista, a Westside Los Angeles neighborhood, is his ideal workspace. Mr. Goode, 80, is considered “the quintessential West Coast artist of the late 20th century,” said Michael Kohn, owner of an eponymous Los Angeles gallery where Mr. Goode shows his work.

 

Soaring 20-foot-high ceilings with numerous large windows pour natural light onto his work—"so you can really see it,“ Mr. Goode said. On the ground floor, he has a workspace, where he splatters paint on the concrete floors and tables, and a gallery-like space where he receives guests and hosts events. Upstairs, there is an office for his studio manager and her assistant, and a mezzanine from which he can look down on paintings in progress—"so I can see how they’ll look when they’re dry,” Mr. Goode said.

 

Having his studio steps away from his home is useful because “if I get an idea at 11 o’clock at night, I can go work on it,” he said.

 

Mr. Goode’s perfect space came at a high personal cost. In 2005, he sensed something was wrong when his dog, an Australian Shepherd-Akita mix named Pollock, wouldn’t stop barking in the middle of the night. Mr. Goode and his wife got up to discover his previous studio on fire. Mr. Goode lost 200 works of art and spent about $250,000 to rebuild the studio in 2007.

 

The fire was caused when rags covered in linseed oil, used for oil painting, spontaneously combusted, Mr. Goode said. Because of the hazard, he switched to acrylic paint. He also distributes his work among various spaces today, so that he can never again lose everything in the event of a disaster, he said.

 

Mr. Goode’s studio adds some value to the home, but not enough to cover the construction costs. Tami Pardee, founder of Halton Pardee + Partners, a Los Angeles brokerage, estimated the value of Mr. Goode’s property at $1.8 to $1.9 million, saying the studio likely adds 5% to 7% to the value.

 

Mr. Cotton and Ms. Dergan’s loft, which they purchased for $2.14 million, according to public records, would likely sell today for roughly $4.5 million to $5 million, said Jim St. Andre, a Tribeca and downtown specialist at CORE. If it were made into a conventional home, with bedroom walls and top-of-the-line finishes that would appeal to the typical “financial guy” buyers in the area, it would sell closer to $6.5 million, Mr. St. Andre said.

 

It is increasingly difficult to find studio space in some of the cities that have attracted artists for generations, including New York and San Francisco. Amid soaring real-estate values, artists also face competition from non-artists who have come to embrace loft living and industrial style—as long as it is renovated to provide traditional comforts.

 

“The conversion of industrial spaces to great residences has never been more popular,” said Mr. St. Andre. In New York’s Tribeca neighborhood, one building that for many years consisted mainly of commercial lofts used by artists, photographers and architects is now mostly condos; a penthouse is currently on the market for $45 million, Mr. St. Andre said. The loss of workspace in cities around the country has given rise to a number of activist groups, such as the Artist Studio Affordability Project in New York, that protest real-estate developments that compete with artists’ needs.

 

In San Francisco, Sotheby’s International Realty agent Wendy Storch is marketing a $4.5 million, 4,800-square-foot house in the Mission District that has primarily been used as a live/workspace for artists since the 1960s. To prepare it for sale, the current owners added a driveway, roof deck and garage door to the studio space and staged it with lounge furniture and motorcycles.

 

The buyer “could have classic cars, motorcycles or a fantastic rumpus room, but with a rustic, industrial feel,” Ms. Storch suggested.

 

Colin and Kristine Poole, a married couple of sculptors in Santa Fe, dispensed with nearly every convention when renovating their 2,700-square foot house. They devoted 700 square feet to a work studio, where they regularly receive nude models, work on life-size clay figures, create molds, pour wax and assemble bronze sculpture. Mr. Poole, 52, also paints. Another 1,200-square-foot area of the house serves as a gallery space, where they receive clients and host art-oriented events. Because they work seven days a week, often for 14 hours a day, they decided to forgo a living room. Instead, non-art space is limited to a small kitchen and bedroom.

 

Mr. Poole bought the house in 1997 for $200,000 from a cousin who had inherited it from their grandmother Una Hanbury, also a well-known sculptor, Mr. Poole said. Ms. Poole, 47, moved in nine years ago and the couple spent more than $200,000 renovating, doing most of the work themselves.

 

They prioritized features that would serve their work. They laid the studio with a floating hardwood floor, typically used for dance floors, so thatstanding on the surface for many hours a day wouldn’t cause back pain. Four large skylights provide natural light; at night, tract lighting fitted with full spectrum bulbs from Germany imitates day light, Mr. Poole said.

 

Living amid their output isn’t stressful, the artists said; instead, Mr. Cotton, Mr. Goode and the Pooles said they don’t want a clear line between life and art.

“If something is giving me a lot of trouble, I just turn it to face the wall,” to get a break, said Mr. Cotton, who is known for his images of costumes and landscapes made of sweets. Still, it is surprisingly hard to escape his subject matter. Soon after moving in to his loft, he noticed a faint, hand-painted sign from the 19th century on the exterior of the building, reading “Almond Paste—H. Heide—Confectionery.”

“How crazy is that? It turns out I live in a converted candy factory,” Mr. Cotton 

What's a "classic 5" apartment, and where can I find one?

Brick UndergroundMay 03, 2017

In the world of New York real estate, a "classic six" apartment has become shorthand for a certain type of stately, highly desirable prewar apartment. But what gets somewhat less attention is the classic six's slightly smaller (and cheaper) younger sibling, the classic five.

 

So what exactly is this kind of apartment that sits slightly outside of the classic six's spotlight? Quite simply (and rather intuitively), a classic five is a classic six, but minus one of the rooms. "A classic five is a prewar apartment that includes five rooms—two bedrooms, a living room, a formal dining room, and a kitchen," explains Matt Cohen of CORE NYC. "The reason it's different than a classic six is that it doesn't have the smaller maid's room. A classic six is technically a classic five, but with a maid's room."


You may also notice a difference in the number of bathrooms, depending on the apartment. "A classic five in my view is a classic six without the staff room and the extra half-bathroom," says Christine Miller Martin of Engel & Volkers. (There's also an apartment type known as the "Edwardian five," notes Miller Martin, where the second bedroom is smaller, like a staff room. "You sort of think of the well-heeled bachelor who has his valet living with him," she says. "I have a single client who lives in one, and the extra room is a great little guest room or study. But it's not a full two-bedroom.")

 

Given the realities of the New York City real estate market, the smaller extra "maid's room" in a classic six is often used as an extra family bedroom, and thus can make a big difference in price, bedrooms being such covetable square footage. "A staff room can be extremely valuable," says Miller Martin. "I'm from New York, and a lot of kids I knew grew up in 'staff' rooms."

 

As such, she says, the value of the extra staff room in a classic six can add anywhere from an extra $300,000 to $500,000 compared to what its value would be as a classic five. "If you can get a classic five for $1.6 million or $1.7 million, then the prices for a similar classic Six would start in the low $2 million range," Miller Martin adds. Of course, the price differential will depend heavily on the apartments' size, location, quality, and other factors.

 

And while the classic five is also less common than the classic six, you'll generally find them in the same buildings and neighborhoods, usually the Upper West Side and Upper East Side, and other neighborhoods with a good amount of prewar housing stock. "I generally only run into classic fives on the Upper West Side or Upper East Side, sometimes in Sutton Place," says Cohen.

 

If all this talk of prewar apartments has whet your appetite for more, we've got a guide to the city's classic sixes here.

Do a little homework before investing big bucks in those get-rich-quick real estate seminars

Washington PostMay 02, 2017

A few weeks ago, a friend asked me to join her at a seminar being held at a Bethesda hotel about getting rich by owning multifamily buildings. My friend thought that, perhaps, we could learn something.

 

I have been in the real estate business long enough to know how to sniff out a scam. I agreed to go, only because I was curious to know how many other locals were still falling for “get rich quick” schemes, besides my friend.

 

Less than 10 minutes into the seminar, I was so upset that fire must have been shooting out of my ears and eyes. The presenter was promising that attendees would make millions, if they would just sign up for the $3,500 boot camp.

 

When an attendee asked exactly how they would make millions, the presenter moved to the next presentation slide, which showed how much monthly cash flow we should expect in our first year.

 

After two decades as a self-taught real estate investor and a licensed agent, I know that finding investments that generate the kind of money they were promising is slim to none. It pained me to see so many people getting conned out of their hard-earned money.

 

But plenty of people of all ages, races, nationalities, religions and levels of education still fall for these big promises.

 

“I was one of those dummies that bought their boot camp package,” said Navin Goel, a Bethesda resident and aspiring real estate investor who attended a free local seminar four years ago with a friend.

 

“They spent the two days pitching us on their $20,000 package,” Goel said, referring to the boot camp curriculum. “The presenter suggested that we pay with a credit card or put a lien on our homes to pay the fee.”

 

A quick Google search found plenty of websites and YouTube videos promoting “free” seminars, all touting their success at creating millionaires with their unique real estate investment strategies. There were testimonials from individuals — supposedly individuals who had attended their seminars — about their extraordinary financial success.

 

So, exactly what is their system for making us all millionaires?

 

Most of them continue to sell you on more seminars, during which they promise to unveil their proven and exclusive secret to success. Others promise to give you 24/7 direct access to a rich and successful guru, all for a one-time fee of (insert fee here).

 

“They seem to have the same model,” said Goel. “They are in the business of making themselves rich.”

 

Goel said he was promised a money-back guarantee if he was not satisfied. He has yet to see any of his money. He contacted the Maryland Attorney General’s Office after his experience and was told that he would have to pursue a civil case to get his money back.

 

Do real estate gurus need a real estate license to conduct a seminar?

 

“Talking about the industry or offering purported expertise in such a way as you describe would not appear to constitute the practice of real estate — e.g., selling, buying, leasing, renting or negotiating the purchase or exchange — and require a license,” said Mary Broz Vaughan, director of communications of the Virginia Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation, in a recent email.

 

In my opinion, they should be required to have a license. I am required to hold an active real estate license in good standing to conduct business and I am required to meet the continuing education requirements of each jurisdiction, all of which I support and am happy to do. Why shouldn’t they be required to do the same?

 

From what I could uncover, there seems to be no legislative oversight on these types of real estate seminars.

 

Goel says that he just recently purchased a foreclosed property.

 

“I learned everything from my attorney, real estate agent and by Googling for free,” Goel said.
I recommend that, before opening your wallet to attend a real estate boot camp or seminar, search online for reviews. There are plenty of websites warning you of scams.

Interiors with Staircases for Days

New York SpacesMay 02, 2017

This is a rare opportunity to own a landmarked downtown townhouse that has been sensitively transformed by Marvel Architects. Originally the west wing of Old Saint Patrick's School and Convent, the 1826 edifice combines the strong lines of a late Federal house with the stylistic Greek Revival flair of a classic triangular pediment with oculus window. Built 25' x 65', the five story residence with elevator has 8,069 interior square feet with an additional 1,614 square feet in the cellar. The grand parlor floor with its formal living and dining rooms boasts a stunning curved staircase, high ceilings, and a wet bar.

What they're reading now

The Real DealMay 01, 2017

Douglas Heddings

Executive vice president of sales, CORE

 

What are you reading right now, or what did you finish most recently? I just returned from a family vacation where I read Greg McKeown’s “Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less.”

 

What spurred you to read it? Shaun Osher, our founder and chief executive officer, recently read the book and recommended it. As the director of sales, I’m often pulled in so many directions that at the end of a day I lack any real sense of accomplishment. The “doing less but better” mantra in this book appealed to me.

 

Has anything you read in it stuck with you? The book lays out a roadmap of how to eliminate the noise from your life, both business and personal, in an effort to have a more meaningful and mindful existence.

 

Would you recommend it to others? I would absolutely recommend it to anyone who has felt stretched too thinly. I have already begun to implement strategies from the book that have helped me focus on the task at hand, whether it’s a project that needs my attention at the office or a meaningful father-daughter conversation during an evening ride to soccer practice.

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