The Big Apple: Luxury sales surge along with wages

COLUMNIST RAILS AGAINST HOUSING DISCRIMINATION BY RACE

Mayor Bloomberg’s Commission on Human Rights is a “nearly invisible joke,” contends Errol Louis in the New York Daily News. Says he:

The agency’s 2009 annual report included a single paragraph on housing discrimination with no information on testing or enforcement actions – and Betsy Herzog, the Commission’s spokeswoman, could not tell me how many tests Joshad been done.

Decent men and women of the Commission, including Rabbi Joseph Potasnik and Rev. Calvin Butts, should demand better from an agency tasked with enforcing civil rights laws. And they should demand that Bloomberg drop his resistance to desegregating the 92%-white Fire Department by using any of the possible methods given to him by a properly furious federal judge.

Referring to the “re-segregation” of New York City, Louis discloses that he has received a “fat stack of hate mail” over the years.  It is proof, he declares, “that many people are lost in denial or happily wedded to racism.”

RETAILERS ON COLUMBUS AVENUE SAY NEW BIKES LANES HAVE HURT BUSINESS

Angry business owners delivered a truckload of complaints about Columbus Avenue’s new bike lanes to Community Board 7, saying the lanes are driving down their bottom lines.

During a heated meeting that had both sides of the bike lane debate trading verbal barbs, merchants told Community Board 7’s transportation committee that trucks can’t make deliveries because the new bike lanes have gobbled up too many parking spaces.

The new lanes have removed 67 parking spaces from Columbus Avenue, a Department of Transportation official acknowledged, though the department originally told Community Board 7 that the new lanes would eat up only 55 spots.

Bob Schweitzer, owner of Schweitzer Linen on Columbus Avenue between West 81st and West 82nd streets, said even a five-minute delay in deliveries hurts him and other business owners.

10 CLUES FOR BUYERS TO ASSESS HOW LIBERAL A CO-OP BOARD WILL BE

If you’re on the prowl for a co-op board that embraces a dictionary versus despotic interpretation of the word “cooperative,” you can find a multitude of clues from the listing itself and from the answers to a few strategic questions lobbed at the seller’s broker, notes BrickUnderground.com.
Among the 10 tipoffs of a liberal co-op board are whether the building allows apartments to be purchased as pied-a-terres, pets are permitted and owners are allowed to renovate, with approval, at any time during the year–not just the three months when most of the residents are spending their quality time in the Hamptons.

NEW ELEVATORS AT 96TH STREET AND BROADWAY GET A WORKOUT ON THEIR FIRST DAY

After months of waiting, straphangers got a welcome surprise at the 96th Street subway station Tuesday: The elevators were running.

Among the first few riders was 75-year-old Erma Blount, who was making her way to a doctor’s appointment using a cane for support.

“I didn’t know whether it would be working today,” Blount said. “I was praying it would be.”

The new elevators are the last major portion of a $65 million, three-year renovation at the 96th Street subway station.  The station, which serves the Nos. 1, 2 and 3 lines, opened in 1904 as part of the city’s first subway line.

WAGES IN MANHATTAN ROSE 12 PERCENT IN THE FIRST QUARTER FROM THE SAME THREE MONTHS OF 2009

The federal Department of Labor report that wages rose by nearly 12 percent in Manhattan at the beginning of the year, even as they fell in every other borough.

According to a report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average weekly wage in Manhattan was $2,404, up 11.9 percent from the first three months of 2009. That was the biggest increase in any county in the country. The second largest gain, 10.6 percent, came just across the Hudson River in New Jersey’s Hudson County.

The prime beneficiaries in Manhattan worked in financial services, where the average wage was $7,709 a week, up approximately 23 percent from the first quarter of 2009. Most of that big increase reflects how much larger were year-end bonuses for 2009.

STREETEASY.COM OFFERS NEW FREE FEATURE TO SIMPLIFY COMMUNICATION AMONG BROKERS AND THEIR CLIENTS

Streeteasy.com has unveiled a new feature that it says will help brokers leverage the site’s power to assist clients. The popular real estate listings website has introduced a system of “folders” to help users organize their search, explains Streeteasy’s Jared Kleinstein.

Whether they’re home-seekers or brokers picking out listings for clients, users can create a folder for properties they’re interested in. Users can share the folder–along with their ratings and comments on each listing–with their clients, roommates or spouses, who can in turn make their own comments. Streeteasy.com sends updates about all of the properties simultaneously to everyone who shares the folder, Kleinstein says.

THE LUXURY MARKET SEEMS TO BE SURGING

By offering $15 million, a Ukrainian businessman won a bidding war for an East Side luxury condo, the latest sign that the top end of the Manhattan residential market is ending the year on a tear, says the Wall Street Journal.

The 44th-floor unit at One Beacon Court, a building famous for housing celebrities such as Beyonce and Jack Welch, was sold above the $14.75 million asking price after the seller got to pick between two signed contracts within two weeks.

The transaction continued a recent trend: The top 1 percent of the Manhattan market–condos priced at $10 million or more–is defying the economic uncertainty that has kept other parts of the property market in check.

CO-OP BOARD LOSES THREE YEAR ATTEMPT–AND $100,000–TRYING TO EVICT A LOVABLE LITTLE DOG

A Queens condo board spent a whopping $100,000 during an unsuccessful three-year court battle to evict a cute 3.5-pound pooch named Charlie–and in a stunning upset, the underdog scored a knockout. That comes to nearly $28,600 per pound of pup.

The teacup Yorkshire terrier is owned by Donna Forman, a 10-year resident of the Village View Condos–a 24-unit development in Middle Village.

She got the great news from an appeals court about her best friend earlier this week.

“I picked up Charlie and said, ‘Yes, Charlie you’re staying right here!’” the 52-year-old mail carrier said. “Everyone loves this dog. He makes everyone smile in this building–except the board.”

FORECLOSURE ACTIVITY NOSEDIVES IN CITY AND STATE

Foreclosure tracking firm RealtyTrac says that the number of New York City homes on which lenders scheduled foreclosure auctions declined by 35 percent from the month before. That trend was replicated statewide, where scheduled auctions dropped by 31 percent month-over-month.

Bank repossessions, or REOs, also declined by 24 percent in New York City and by 2 percent in the state over the same period.

CAN’T SLEEP? JOIN ALL THE OTHER FOLKS COMPLAINING TO 311 ABOUT NOISE, TAXES, PLUMBING AND RODENTS

Launched in March 2003, 311 now fields on average more than 50,000 calls a day, offering information about more than 3,600 topics: school closings, recycling rules, homeless shelters, park events, pothole repairs.

Wired.com reports that the service has translators on call to handle some 180 different languages. City officials tout a 2008 customer satisfaction survey, conducted by an outside firm, that compared 311’s popularity to other call centers in both the public and private sectors. 311 finished first, barely edging out hotel and retail performance but beating by a mile other government call centers such as the IRS’s.

Executive director Joseph Morrisroe attributes 311’s stellar scores to its advanced technology, relentless focus on metrics and employee training, which ensures that “customers will speak with a polite, professional, and knowledgeable New Yorker when they need assistance.”

There’s a great chart showing when calls were made about what in a single week in September that logged 34,522 complaints.

COMPLAINTS CLIMB ABOUT BEDBUG-SNIFFING DOGS THAT DON’T KNOW WHAT THEY’RE DOING

As the number of reported infestations rises and the demand for the dogs soars, complaints from people who say dogs have inaccurately detected bedbugs are also climbing.

And in the bedbug industry, where some dog trainers and sellers have back orders until spring despite the dogs’ $11,000 price tag, there are fears that a rise in so-called false positives by dogs will harm their credibility and business.

“Many pest control companies have the same frustration,” said Michael F. Potter, an entomology professor at the University of Kentucky, “that they often follow behind dogs that are indicating bedbugs, and they can’t find anything.”

OLD RULE LIMITING SOHO LOFTS TO ARTISTS IS DESTABILIZING SALES IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD

As SoHo’s iron-boned, sprawling lofts became gold mines over the past two decades, co-op boards, banks, brokers and the city itself winked at a rule requiring that they be reserved for working artists.

But over the last year or so, something odd began to occur: people started paying attention to the rule.

Apartments, even those in buildings with the prestige of famous residents, have languished on the market. Banks began withholding mortgages. Co-op boards began ordering residents to apply to the city for certification as artists.

And last year, for the first time anyone could remember, the city rejected as many applications as it approved, in a cryptic process that mystifies those who have gone through it.

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Malcolm Carter
Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker
Senior Vice President
Charles Rutenberg Realty
127 E. 56th Street
New York, NY 10022

M: 347-886-0248
F: 347-438-3201

Malcolm@ServiceYouCanTrust.com
Service You Can Trust

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