Posted by Jonathan J. Miller -Friday, March 17, 2006, 1:20 PM
[Still on vacation: when asking my wife if she would watch the NCAA basketball tournament with me, she responded she would rather watch me blog. -sigh]
Here’s a discussion on various environmental influences on the housing market…
Chicago is also famous for a somewhat peculiar annual event: dyeing the Chicago River green. The tradition started in 1962, when city pollution-control workers used dyes to trace illegal sewage discharges and realized that the green dye might provide a unique way to celebrate the holiday. more info: History Channel
Today they use 40 pounds of dye instead of 100 pounds, to minimize the environmental damage.
but I digress…
(inspired by Rick Moranis [NYT])
Posted by Jonathan J. Miller -Friday, March 10, 2006, 12:46 PM
A few weeks ago, I submitted a post about the release of Larry Sicular’s Stamford Review and the two articles I had contributed [Matrix]. The Gothamist posed a series of questions to us:
- New York is already Overcrowded– in this issue of the Stamford Review one of the authors writes that Flushing is more dense than San Francisco, and Staten Island is as dense as Seattle. What’s the most overcrowded part of the city?
- The article also says that developable land is running out. Since new building starts are accelerating, and new people are immigrating to the city every day, what happens when the land runs out?
- Rich people will obviously be able to afford apartments no matter how expensive they get– but where will all the poor people go? And should NYC be doing anything to protect them?
- What neighborhoods are going to be targets for this massive redevelopment?
- In many neighborhoods, like Red Hook, we’re seeing historic buildings get torn down and replaced by big box stores and ugly new residential developments. Is that an inevitable consequence of the city’s growth?
- What’s the deal with Governor’s Island? Should the city be using that for housing?
- People in their late 20s and early 30s are facing a pretty tough situation with very high housing prices– do they have a prayer of seeing things improve, or are we going to soon face a situation like Tokyo’s, where middle-class families of four live in 500 sqft or less?
- If you had to pick three neighborhoods that offered the best value for a new couple purchasing their first home, what would they be?
- What are the biggest misnomers and bad ideas about today’s housing market?
Here’s a brief overview, links and answers to these questions posed by the Gothamist.
Reconfiguring New York City [Matrix]
Download the report for free [Stamford Review]
On the Reconfiguration of New York City [Curbed]
That Toll Plaza Feeling at 109th and Broadway [Curbed]
Posted by Jonathan J. Miller -Wednesday, March 1, 2006, 12:01 AM
I stumbled across the latest issue of the National Catholic Reporter (ed. note- its an independent weekly established in 1964) with the front page headline: Catholic real estate bonanza: Firm touts ties with Vatican in bid for U.S. church property [NCR]. The article was about An Italian-owned Manhattan real estate development company claiming ties to high-ranking Vatican officials is bidding on properties owned by dozens of U.S. dioceses and religious orders.
Why is the Catholic church under contract to sell $100M in assets in three US cities and taking bids on $250M more?
Changing demographics – The church was experiencing a shift from North and East to West and South and from city to suburb.
Payouts from sexual abuse scandals – The church has paid off a $1B in lawsuits to date with more expected.
In Boston, the church has sold more than $200M in real estate since 2003 [Boston Globe].
Its not clear why the purchaser would announce the deal if they are still bidding on other properties with the church. The municipalities would benefit as these properties presumably would enter the tax roles as their ownership and use changes.
Posted by Jonathan J. Miller -Wednesday, February 22, 2006, 10:25 PM
The Stamford Review, Spring/Summer 2006 is the third issue and was just released. It can be downloaded for free on their web site after a simple registration or hard copies can be purchased for a nominal fee. The intention of the publication was to bring together a diverse group of writers who are passionate about their topics to write about issues that affect New York City real estate, land use, architecture, and urban affairs.
See the author list below.
Shameless plug: I wrote two articles for this publication The Gentrification of Manhattan and Manhattan’s Housing Market and the Media
I hope you enjoy them.
Larry Sicular is the editor and has been a professional colleague of mine for 20 years. The journal, which is a labor of love for him, takes a monumental effort to coordinate, edit and publish and I truly appreciated the opportunity to be in it.
In the introduction of the publication, Larry describes the current issue as being:
…about the reconfiguration of New York City, a physical transformation that has been fueled by a mixture of population growth, increased affluence, and an unusually strong housing market. What is happening here is mirrored to varying degrees in successful cities elsewhere in this nation and across the globe.
Here, nine experts praise and critique city governmentâ€™s efforts to guide this transformation, to meet and balance growing demands for market housing, affordable housing, open space, industrial space, and historic preservation. Even as the housing market softens, these policies will have long-term effects and will continue to be debated.
In recent years it has been easy to forget Jonathan Millerâ€™s reminder that twenty years ago Manhattanâ€™s housing market relied on government tax policy to stimulate demand. Julia Vitullo-Martin applauds the results of public and institutional investment in the Bronx, but she notes that destructive government policies helped depress the borough in the first place.
Much of our attention is drawn to the cityâ€™s extensive rezoning of former industrial areas on the Brooklyn waterfront and the west side of Manhattan. Frank Braconi questions whether these initiatives are sufficient to meet the needs of our growing population, while Kimberly Miller and Mark Alexander address what will be required to make the rezonings a success. Peter Beck shows us that limited public resources, directed to these areas for affordable housing, could perhaps be more effectively spent, while Lisa Kersavage shows us how rezoning need not have cost us valuable historic resources. Pamela Hannigan praises the city policy that is creating new industrial business zones in order to preserve and stimulate the valuable manufacturing resources that remain.
And then there is Governors Island. Is there a greater possibility for adding a jewel in our crown than the history and open spaces that this island offers and represents? Our third issue is dedicated to the possibilities of Governors Island.
Posted by Jonathan J. Miller -Wednesday, February 8, 2006, 12:01 AM
National Geographic has a really cool image gallery that compares New Urbanist and Sprawl suburbs [NG]. Wait a sec…National Geographic? Here’s a cheesy interactive page of the same info [NG].
Here’s more discussion from the City of Austin:
-Residences far removed from stores, parks, and other activity centers
-Scattered or â€œleapfrogâ€ development that leaves large tracts of undeveloped land between developments
-Commercial strip development along major streets
-Large expanses of low-density or single use development such as commercial centers with no office or residential uses, or residential areas with no nearby commercial centers
-Major form of transportation is the automobile
Uninterrupted and contiguous low- to medium-density (one to six du/ac) urban development
-Walled residential subdivisions that do not connect to adjacent residential development.
I was specifically interested in National Geographics definition of the residential components and how they differ between the two types of suburban growth:
Different housing typesâ€”apartments, row houses, detached homesâ€”occupy the same neighborhood, sometimes the same block.
People of different income levels mingle and may come to better understand each other.
A family can â€œmove upâ€ without moving awayâ€”say, from a row house to a single-family home.
Property values donâ€™t necessarily suffer when housing types are mixed. New-urbanist neighborhoods are generally outselling neighboring subdivisions, and some of the United Statesâ€™ most expensive older neighborhoodsâ€”Washington, D.C.â€™s Georgetown, Bostonâ€™s Beacon Hill, for exampleâ€”are marvels of mixed housing.
Developers often fill whole subdivisions with one type of residenceâ€”say, $300,000 ranch houses.
Zoning often outlaws apartments and houses in the same development.
Sequestered in a narrow sliver of society, people may develop or maintain intolerance of those outside their ilk.
It seems logical that New Urbanism is more appealing (to me on first glance anyway) based on the points made above, but look at the discussions raised Suburban Dystopia[Polis]. Suburbs are experiencing a renaissance [LA Times]. Actually I think nearly every fad or movement in housing is being seen now. When the market is as strong as it has been, more expensive alternatives gain in popularity. Here’s another California pro-Suburb article that came out on the same day. [SF Chron]
The correction of a 50 year old housing pattern is not so easy. In addition, restrictions on use, such as zoning, transportation, building codes, etc. tend to drive the prices up. The move toward New Urbanism means a potentially better living experience but at higher prices.
Posted by Jonathan J. Miller -Thursday, February 2, 2006, 12:01 AM
The housing boom has forced many organizations with valuable real estate assets, to consider what was once unthinkable. In a page one story in the WSJ Boy Scouts Weigh Merits of Unloading Hot Real Estate: Thinning Ranks, High Prices Tempt Them to Sell Camps, But Locals Put Up a Fight
Fights like this are playing out across the country, as scouting groups face lean coffers and declining membership. Many councils, especially those in hot real-estate markets, are debating whether to cash in on skyrocketing property values. As a result, struggles — over camp land and all it symbolizes to local residents — have erupted in such states as Michigan, Texas, Arizona and Washington. Mere rumors of a possible sale often spur action by community members. Some try to buy the camps themselves or align themselves with nonprofit organizations to bolster their chances in a bidding war. Others file lawsuits or wage zoning battles.
Boy Scout and Cub Scout participation was about 6.5 million in 1972, but totals about 4.2 million today, excluding new programs. That decline has caused some councils to merge, sometimes creating organizations with multiple camps and not enough money to maintain them. Each Boy Scout council is a corporation, beholden to the policies of the national organization, based in Irving, Texas, but they raise their own funds, manage their finances and make decisions about property and programs.
Organizations like the Boy Scouts, with thinning ranks, are being forced to consider selling off land that, in the case of Bradenton, Florida, is ripe for development. Speaking as an Eagle Scout, once very active in the organization, and knowing how much land is owned by various Boy Scout Councils, it won’t be an easy road as pragmatists go up against those with strong emotional ties to the properties.
Posted by Jonathan J. Miller -Friday, December 30, 2005, 12:01 AM
Here’s a blog with a whole lof of great pictures from Times Square during the Millenium 2000 celebration.
Wishing all of you a Happy New Year. We’ll be back on Tuesday, January 3, 2006.
Posted by Jonathan J. Miller -Friday, December 23, 2005, 12:01 AM
After a series of threats and legal maneuvers, NYC and the Transit Union are back at the bargaining table. Workers Choose to Come Back and Talk [NYT]. It may take up to 18 hours to get the 24 hour system fully operational.
Mass confusion = mass transit but New Yorkers persevered.
No affect on the real estate market is known. The market was winding down this week anyway. There might be some fallout as brokers report little or no traffic at open houses as a result of the strike.
Webmaster Pontification: An event like this, while incredibly inconvenient, seems to happen once every 1-2 years. In a strange way, New Yorkers get to be nice to each other and get a break from the routine which is not so bad.
Posted by Jonathan J. Miller -Thursday, December 22, 2005, 12:01 AM
In Nicole Gelina’s article for City Journal Theyâ€™re Taking Away Your Property for What? covers the backlash of the controversial Kelo v. City of New London eminent domain [Wikipedia] ruling last summer that rattled the concept of private property.
…what critics havenâ€™t noticed is that the decision
simply expands the Courtâ€™s approval of a practice
that state and local governments have long used
to bring about urban renewal or economic
development. More important, they have also
failed to notice that, over its long history, this
practice has almost never worked. The Courtâ€™s
decision fails not just on moral but also on
“50 years ago the Court replaced the â€œpublic useâ€ rationale for eminent domain with a more nebulous concept of â€œpublic purpose,â€ in order to allow cities to condemn slums to remove urban blight. “
In Kelo, the 5-4 majority went a step further,
ruling that governments donâ€™t need to show
that property they condemn is even nominally
“the vague promise of higher tax revenues and the hope of private-sector jobs through planned development are no less public goods than a road or a water-treatment plant. And so the Court allowed New London, Connecticut, to condemn a middle-class waterfront neighborhood and to parcel it out to private developers who would make more lucrative use of the property, including building luxury condos.”
Big-box retailers to acquire properties [CNN] for development in prime locations.
Limits on Eminent Domain May Go Too Far, Experts Warn [NPR]
In the post Concern over the Kelo case has also inspired a flurry of legislation at the national and local level. [Gotham Gazette]
“In Congress, a bill, dubbed the â€œPrivate Property Rights Protection Act of 2005, has already passed the House and is awaiting a vote in the Senate. It would withhold federal aid from states that Congress believes abuse eminent domain.
In New York, there are several bills being considered in Albany, including a package of legislation drafted by Assemblymember Richard Brodsky which would slow down local eminent domain proceedings, create an ombudsman to oversee the use of the law, and require 150 percent of market value be paid for private property that the government takes over. This week, the New York City Council will hold hearings on the subject.
And recently opponents of eminent domain claimed victory when the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that the city of Port Chester, New York failed to properly alert a businessman of his right to challenge an eminent domain decision before the government seized his four buildings to make way for a convenience store. The courtâ€™s decision, some said, was a warning to local governments who may be tempted to take private property without properly notifying the people who own it.”
Posted by Jonathan J. Miller -Tuesday, December 20, 2005, 8:50 AM
As I was making my way from Grand Central to my offices off Fifth Avenue, I was struck by the surreal feel of the city. The Transit Union finally went on strike [NYT] for the first time in 25 years. I never thought they would strike because it would violate the Taylor laws with fines of two days pay for every day on strike.
Undoubtably the strike by 33,700 subway and bus workers will cause extensive economic damage to tourism and companies who do business here.
Fifth Avenue was nearly empty when I crossed it, except for several skate boarders and bicylcists who ventured out in the 22 degree weather. All the cabs had their available lights on as they picked up to 4 passengers by a zone system. I heard stories in the elevator of people begging others to get in their cars since the police were strictly following the 4 passenger per car rule for cars entering Manhattan.
Here’s an appropriate article from The Numbers Guy How to Split a Shared Cab Ride?
Very Carefully, Say Economists [WSJ]
Whats not to love about New York City!
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