by Laura Matiz
A new year represents an opportunity for new adventures. Armed with an umbrella for the rainy Monday after New Year's Day, my husband and I walked to the newly opened 72nd Street stop of the Second Avenue subway. The new line had started running the day before with Governor Cuomo leading the ceremonial first trip.
A first impression one gets is how much deeper underground this line is than the Lexington Avenue trains. It is a long escalator ride down. After a quick turn off the escalators, the upper level of the station is on the other side of the turnstiles. That upper level is a well-lit space with high ceilings. There are stairs and escalators to track level along the center. The upper levels have been the talk of the opening because of the public art installations.
The mosaics on the 72nd Street station are a treat. In fact, many of the people at the station were looping around viewing the mosaics as if at a museum. Vik Muniz, the artist behind the mosaics at 72nd, features New Yorkers in whimsical poses as if waiting or running for the train, including a self-portrait with the artist running after papers spilling from his briefcase.
After stopping at two other stations, 96th Street and 86th Street, we exited with a sense of joy and pride. Like many curious New Yorkers, we took many pictures, some shared here. We congratulated a number of MTA employees that were on hand with information and pamphlets. We felt a need to give someone credit for the undertaking and the accomplishment, for the opening of a new subway line is a once-in-a-lifetime event notwithstanding that it had been in the works for more than a lifetime.
— 12/28/2014: NYC Underground: New Transit Projects
Compiled from the Elliman Reports 3rd Quarter 2016 Highlights
Manhattan Sales: 3QT 2016 Highlights
Higher prices with fewer sales and more inventory.
See full report: 3rd Quarter 2016 Manhattan Sales
Brooklyn Sales: : 3QT 2016 Highlights
Rising prices and sales as well as falling inventory continued to push the market envelope.
See full report: 3rd Quarter 2016 Brooklyn Sales
Categories: Douglas Elliman
by Laura Matiz
About a year ago, I wrote about the 2015 expansion plans for Citi Bike, NYC's bike sharing service. Recently, Citi Bike announced that it is starting another big expansion project – growing from 8,000 to 10,000 bikes in 2016. This most recent expansion will place stations up to 110th street on the Upper East Side & Upper West Side in Manhattan. Stations will also be added to Jersey City and new Brooklyn neighborhoods. See Citi Bike's 2016 expansion page for neighborhood maps with the new stations.
If you are considering signing up with the Citi Bike program, the annual fee is $155, but discounts are often offered and you can always get 10% off if you pay with a Citi Card. If you do join up, make sure you take a look at the Bike Smart pamphlet from the NYC Department of Transportation. It offers many riding tips and summarizes the rules of the road to help you ride safely.
by Laura Matiz
[Original post 1/11/2015: revised May 28, 2016 with updated details and Governors Island info.]
Historic lower Manhattan has so many things to see and do. Knowing how to get around for free makes it even more fun. Many parts of lower Manhattan have transformed from commercial to a heavily residential area. Buildings that once housed large banks and corporations now feature unique apartments that take advantage of the tall ceilings and impressive lobbies. New construction has added units to the market as well, including the Frank Gehry-designed building on the east side of island, one of the tallest residential buildings in the world. Visitors to this area can benefit from knowing about these free transit options — on land and on the water.
Staten Island Ferry
Commuters and tourists know the Staten Island Ferry is one of the best ways to experience the imposing New York City harbor. The 25-minute trip to Staten Island, which has been free since 1997, skirts the Statue of Liberty offering frugal tourists a cheaper and faster alternative for getting a photo of this famous landmark. A round trip from Manhattan does require passengers to disembark on Staten Island before getting on the next ferry back. During this rush maneuver, one can miss the amazing aquarium tanks at the Staten Island terminal featuring exotic fish so mesmerizing that you might miss the next boat back.
Starting in 2017, tourist and visitors might not rush back to Manhattan given the planned opening of the New York Wheel. Like its brethren, the London Eye, the NY Wheel is sure to draw plenty of visitors and offer stunning views of the New York skyline.
The magic is on the return trip as the boat approaches the majestic view of lower Manhattan. Get a good spot on the outdoor decks to get the best photos. Stay on the east side decks to avoid the crush of tourists getting pictures of Lady Liberty. Another hint: take the ferry in the late afternoon when the skyscrapers absorb that warm glow of the sun. The ferries run frequently and on time. On weekends, they run every 30 minutes during the day, but check the schedules to plan your trip. Bicycles can be brought on board, but cars have not been allowed on the ferry since 9/11. Free WiFi service is now available in the terminals and on all the ferries. Both the Manhattan and Staten Island terminals are renovated and clean with lots of security personnel.
IKEA Express Shuttle to Red Hook
The NY Water Taxi's IKEA water taxi shuttle is another great way to see the New York harbor. The 25-minute trip starts on Pier 11, Slip A in the east side of lower Manhattan and cruises along the Brooklyn coastline. The shuttle is free on weekends with reasonable weekday fares. Riders can choose to disembark at one of two stops in Brooklyn, the Red Hook Dock on Van Brundt Street and the IKEA dock. The trip can be quite refreshing in the summer time when New York is sweltering and the marine breeze feels so much cooler. When reaching the Brooklyn stops, the Verrazano Bridge becomes an imposing view as it stands tall at the edge of the bay, a gateway to the Atlantic Ocean. A great photo opportunity.
Of course, riders can immediately take the ferry back, but Red Hook offers many spots worth investigating. Museums, restaurants and bars, art galleries are within walking distance and anchored by the IKEA superstore, which features a large cafeteria-style restaurant featuring – could it be anything else? – Swedish meatballs. For a cheap-eat, try the delicious BBQ baby back ribs with corn bread, when available. For a detailed overview of other places to visit in Red Hook, Michael Hsu's thirteen-part Must-See Red Hook is an excellent guide.
Downtown Connect Bus Service
The Downtown Connect shuttle loops around lower Manhattan making 37 stops in a U-shape route. This services is relatively unknown to most New Yorkers, but offers an excellent way to tour lower Manhattan and all for free. Service is available seven days a week, except Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and New Year's Day starting at at 10 AM and a final run at 7:30 PM. Buses arrive at 10-minute intervals on weekdays and at 15-minute intervals on weekends, but electronic signs provide approximate wait times. Tracking information is also available on the web and mobile devices, such as the live route and bus tracking shown below from Nextbus. This screenshot below shows the route: red dots represent stops and selecting a stop will provide approximate wait times.
Governors Island Ferry
Governors Island is a 172-acre island in the heart of New York Harbor. Minutes away from lower Manhattan and Brooklyn, it's accessible by ferry and open to the public during the summer. The weekend ferry is free in the mornings, other times is costs $2 per round trip. There is no additional charge for bicycles. The island offers many outdoor activities and is fun for the whole family.
I enjoy getting to know this fabulous city and I hope these free public transit services make the exploration of lower Manhattan and the harbor equally enjoyable for you.
by Laura Matiz
There are two infrastructure projects underway on the Upper East Side. One of them is quite obvious on Second Avenue. (See: NYC Underground: New Transit Projects.) There, the new subway line installation requires massive equipment. A high level of street-side disruption is clear. Sidewalks, crosswalks, and businesses along the thoroughfare are greatly affected.
Along Third Avenue is the second infrastructure project. It is so unobtrusive that most people are unaware that it is already active and running. Of course, I am writing about the ambitious LinkNYC Public Wi-Fi program.
The LinkNYC web site explains that in 2014, the mayor's office announced a competitive request-for-proposals to reuse the ubiquitous pay-phone infrastructure to offer New Yorkers free Wi-Fi and phone calls. The city awarded CityBridge, a consortium of technology, media, user experience and connectivity companies, a 12-year franchise. LinkNYC offers super fast Wi-Fi — a hundred times faster than average public Wi-Fi — across New York City connecting about 7,500 kiosks. The free service will be supported with advertising.
LinkNYC has also been rolled out along Eight Avenue and will continue to expand in Manhattan before heading out to the other boroughs. A LinkNYC map provides information on kiosk locations. Connecting is quite simple and anecdotally, speeds have been impressive. See the video below explaining how to connect to LinkNYC. Happy surfing.
by Laura Matiz
Going to an open house can be a hit-or-miss situation, but if you go prepared with the right questions, even an overcrowded affair can be useful to assess the unit with the few minutes you get with the listing agent. It is likely that that agent has done a fair amount of research in preparation to list the apartment. This may be your best opportunity to benefit from that agent's research while in the apartment.
Here are six topics that I want my customers to understand during an open house visit. You are trying to question the agent running the open house for the good and the bad, and possibly the ugly about the property.
While walking around the unit, ask the agent:
Some of these topics may need to be addressed indirectly and subtly, but if you get good responses, by the end of your visit, you will have a better feel for the unit's value. If any of these questions are unanswered after the open house, they should be the basis of follow up research.
by Laura Matiz
The most recent report (February 11. 2016) from Freddie Mac's Primary Mortgage Market Survey shows 30-year-fixed mortgage rates hitting 3.65%, near the 2015 low of 3.59%. Experts expect the rate to continue south, but whether we approach the 2012 historical lows (3.3%) is to be seen.
The lower cost of financing homes along with an improving labor market will offset home price increases expected this spring. Assuming global instability doesn't turn for the worse, I expect a robust spring in the Manhattan and Brooklyn apartment sales, especially in the $1M-5M market.
The best way to shop for a mortgage loan is via a mortgage banker. Please contact me if you need a referral.
Related market outlook reports from Freddie Mac:
by Laura Matiz
How did we search for information before the internet? I have a listing — a great studio — at the Parc Vendome Condominiums on West 56th Street, a building known for its amenities such as a private dining room with a butler's pantry, a music room, a billiards room, and to top it off, an English Garden. What is a butler's pantry you might ask? Well, that's easy. It's a transitional service room between the kitchen and dining room used for storage. The room a butler would have used in the times of butlers. Or you can select the link to butler's pantry to get a fuller definition from the internet. The English Garden at the Parc Vendome is nestled between the four pre-war buildings — two on each side — that make up the condominium complex with over 500 dwellings. This English Garden trades in the traditional lake for a beautiful fountain. I learned about the traditional lake when I looked up English Garden on the internet. And so it goes.
My listing at 353 W 56th is apartment 3G. A potential buyer asked me if I knew about the comic strip, Apartment 3-G. I had not heard of this comic strip. Of course, I went home and did a little research on the internet. And sure enough, I learned that it was a soap opera comic strip created by Nicholas P. Dallis with art by Alex Kotzky that started its run on May 8, 1961. It is about a trio of career women who share the eponymous Apartment 3-G in Manhattan. The three main characters were loosely based on real actors: Tommie is based on Lucille Ball, Margo on Joan Collins and Lu Ann on Tuesday Weld.
Kotzky's artwork is carefully drawn, realistic from a more elegant time. While these characters would have appreciated the 20s and 30s pre-war elegance of the Parc Vendome, my listing is likely a tad too small for all three, even if you converted the large closet — as others have done in this line — to a small alcove.
After the deaths of the original creators of Apartment 3-G, others have taken up the comic strip. It is still running today, but it has none of the sensibilities of the original artwork.
If you want to revisit that elegance, I would be happy to schedule a private showing for apartment 3G at the Parc Vendome.
(A repost from August 2015. Apartment now available with tenant. Perfect for investors.)
Categories: Selected Listings