go to http://www.gocondo.nyc for a free copy of my book, “How to buy a condo in NYC” in exchange for an honest review on Amazon.
Growing up, my brother, cousins, nephew and I would play Monopoly all night. We would stay up until the wee hours of the morning playing, building our pretend empires, arguing over who was cheating (Dan . . . ).
This past week, I played Monopoly for real. A year in the making, we closed on the sale of a $21,000,000 hotel. One of the more intense projects I’ve been involved with. In the days (really months) leading up to it there were countless things that had to be accounted for, prepared and crossed off huge checklists which seemingly got longer as we got closer to the day we were working towards. Even though the deal was done and we were close to the end there were last-minute side deals that had to be thought out, negotiated and documented as parties jockeyed for position. I found myself up late the night before sitting in my dining room answering emails, proofreading documents and much like the Monopoly marathons I had as a kid, making sure no one was cheating. The morning of the closing was bright, sunny and not as hot as it could have been for an August day on Wall Street. Surely a good sign as we arrived from that far off land called Brooklyn.We came armed with accordion files, computers and cell phone chargers, The room was filled with paper. Lots of paper. Lawyers on phone arguing with other lawyers. Others leaning over laptop spreadsheets mulling over numbers; Title closers running back and forth from a huge copy machine down the hall from this glass cubicle which seemed to hold a hundred people. Everyone in my office worked incredibly hard. It started at 10:00 in the morning and broke up at 5:30 p.m. Business finally concluded 1:00 the next day.
This (The Closing by Jimmy Dyer) is what it looked like:
There is no rest for the weary as we are on to multiple replacement deals spanning from Manhattan to the Hamptons.
As to complexity and magnitude there was a big sense of accomplishment, satisfaction and relief that we got it done. Still not as fun as Monopoly as a kid . . . .
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.
I knew there was a lot of development going on the west side but not to this extent. An article in Curbed (http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2014/09/08/the_definitive_guide_to_the_hudson_yards_development_boom.php) shows 33 projects in the works within the Special Hudson Yards District, which stretches roughly from 30th Street to 41st Street and from Eleventh Avenue to Eighth Avenue.
In articles (the above as well as others), it seems as the area will be served by the 7 subway line, Amtrak and a greenway. I am curious how the city will be able to get access to this area through public transportation unless you are walking, on the 7 subway line or traveling on Amtrak. Will there be shuttle service to Time Square, Penn Station and the Grand Central Terminal? I am assuming there will be bus service into the area and of course taxi cabs but getting into the area from other subway lines may be pretty inconvenient.
I can only assume it will be a long while before the proposed projects are completed and the infrastructure is fully developed. It will be a long walk during the winter months.
I found an article in the New York Times (written by Charles V. Bagli) about Developer, Bruce Ratner, releasing a steel-and-glass design and planning to begin selling bonds despite intense local opposition.
I wonder if I can get discounted Nets tickets if I buy them now.
Anyway, below is the link to the article.
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