The one thing I love about NYC and why I enjoy practicing as a real estate attorney there is the way the city reinvents and re-purposes itself. Multiple family and commercial buildings are commonly converted into condominiums. This can be viewed as a blessing and a curse. The blessing is that the development of these large single purpose properties into multiple single family dwellings saves many a commercial and industrial building from sitting unused or the wrecking ball. It also fills a need. It allows people a relatively affordable way to own a home of their own and still be within 30 minutes from work or or any place else in the city. It allows purchasers certain tax benefits available to homeowners and the ability to build equity over a period of time through appreciation and repayment of loans financing a purchase. The industries associated with the purchase, sale, development and financing of real estate provide jobs and financial stability to people that work and live in or near one of the greatest cities in the world (in my opinion).
Some view redevelopment and the gentrification of parts of NYC not as a blessing but a curse. The conversion of multiple family buildings into condominiums tends to reduce affordable rental housing in certain areas to people who cannot afford to purchase apartments at $500-$1000 a square foot. This is not to say people are automatically ejected from their homes. Tenants are protected by rent stabilization laws and cannot be kicked out if they are in a building that is being converted to condominiums. In some instances tenants are handsomely compensated for moving from an apartment in a converted building. Although not always comfortable or convenient, change is sometimes good. Similar to the laws of supply and demand that drive development of condominium buildings, the demand for rental buildings is prompting development of areas that previously were subject to blight. In the last 10 -15 years I have witnessed remarkable development down the Atlantic Avenue corridor from East New York to the Atlantic Avenue hub where the LIRR station resides. Former vacant lots dotted by rusting cars and abandoned boarded up buildings have given way to schools, brand new apartment buildings and hotels. Don’t get me wrong. there is still a lot that needs to get done but just like more affluent areas, a need that exists is being met making what was once stagnant and unusable into a productive part of society.
Fort Greene, Brooklyn where my office is located,is a prime example of an area that has undergone great changes in response to the people that live and work there. Now I have never lived there but I have had the privilege of working at Marcus Attorneys located in Fort Greene since 2000 (really my second home). In speaking with long time residents of the area, living in Fort Greene was no picnic. Gunfire and crime were common occurrences in the 1970’s and 1980’s. Mortgages were not given by banks in the area. The only way a mortgage was given in Fort Greene was securing a loan provided by a Seller. Single cigarettes were sold from behind Plexiglas windows at the corner bodega. Things sure have changed. Fort Greene is now one of the most sought after areas in Brooklyn to live. Housing prices have more than quadrupled in the last 15 years. The corner bodega is now is a Asian fusion restaurant selling a really good $15.00 hamburger. Yes I tried it. The long time fix a flat now sells coffee at a cost that rivals Starbucks in price. The hardware store across the street is now a German beer garden and the check cashing place is now a veterinarian clinic. The building where my law practice is located has worn many hats and gone through different changes before becoming the official site of Marcus Attorneys. Going back to the 1890’s, it has been the home of dentists, doctors, a millinery (hat maker), a restaurant and a bar. Coincidentally, the father of one of my clients was a long time local attorney who operated his office where I do now. That’s what makes NYC great. As one of the world’s financial focal points, everyone wants or needs to work in or near New York City. This drives the revitalization of different areas which, in turn, brings new families and businesses to serve them. You don’t always see it and you may not like it but people, places and things will and do change. Always have and always will.