You Decide: President to Address Nation
Proposing $54 Billion Defense Budget Increase - Why?
Tonight President Trump will address the nation regarding his plans for the U.S. One of the notable previews given by sources within the Administration is that Trump plans to increase Defense spending by $54 billion. I decided to take a quick look at some of the economic statistics to see if that appears warranted, especially vis a vis other priorities.
U.S. Government Deficits
The first chart [Congressional Budget Office] shows that the U.S. government has been spending more than it has been taking in. The gap widened in the wake of the September 2008 near financial meltdown, as tax receipts fell and fiscal stimulus [government spending] was needed to keep the economy going.
The higher levels of debt continued through the first term of the Obama Administration and then fell sharply back to Bush II era levels during the second term of the Obama Administration.
The net result is that near financial meltdown resulted in higher government deficits, which added to the overall U.S. government debt.
U.S. Government Debt
The second chart [Wikipedia] shows U.S. government debt relative to U.S. GDP. GDP is the acronym for Gross Domestic Product, which is a measure of the nation's economic output in goods and services.
The chart shows that the overall U.S. government debt relative to GDP rose significantly in the wake of the 2008 near financial meltdown. Currently the U.S. debt level is equal to about an entire year of U.S. economic output.
Many economists think that the U.S. has an unhealthy level of debt as it doesn't provide much slack for unforseen circumstances, like the 2008 near financial meltdown or prolonged involvement addressing international crises.
U.S. Defense Spending One Third of Global Total
About Equal to the Next 8 Nations Combined
Currently the U.S. appears to overspend on military operations vis a vis the rest of the world. The U.S. military accounts for one third of defense spending in the world and its budget is roughly equal to the military budgets of the next EIGHT leading defense spenders in the world.
You can see this in the chart at right which was created by the Institute for Strategic Studies and published in the Washington Post.
Click here to read the rest of our report on how out of balance U.S. Defense Spending in America is compromising the nation's economic future.
CCM Ben Kallos Hosts Superscraper Zoning Forum
July 23, 2015 / Manhattan / NYC Real Estate / Gotham Buzz NYC.
I attended a ‘Superscraper Forum’ hosted by NYC Councilmember Ben Kallos of the Upper East Side neighborhood on a comfortable Thursday evening at the Lenox Hill Neighborhood House. It was to begin at 6.30 pm and 250 people had reserved seats for an auditorium that held 140 seats and had space for about 40 standing.
To be sure the auditorium was full when I arrived and I caught only the tail end of what the first speaker had to say. There were over a half dozen speakers, including NYC Councilmember Ben Kallos who organized the meeting which was attended by Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer who arrived near the end of it.
The other speakers included the first speaker who was from the NYC Department of Housing & Planning, who I missed, as well as the following: Emma Marconi Bologna of Civitas NYC, Tara Kelly of the Friends of the Upper East Side, Margaret Newman of the Municipal Art Society, and three other people whose names and associations I did not catch. One may have been an architect, one may have been a representative of the East 50’s Association which is a group dedicated to reining in Superscrapers, and there might have been one from the Sutton Area Community neighborhood association.
Click here to read the rest of our report about NYC Zoning Laws: Superscraper Zoning for the Upper East Side & Sutton Place.
Sterling Equities & Related Companies Lose A Court Battle
Plans to Build Shopping Mall on Flushing Meadows Corona Park Land Reversed on Appeal, but Legal Wrangling will Continue
This report is based on an Associated Press report dated July 2, 2015 and a Queens Tribune story dated August 28, 2014.
In August of 2014, New York State Supreme Court Judge Manuel Mendez decided in favor of Related Companies / Sterling Equities by throwing out a lawsuit filed by the City Club of New York and NYS Senator Tony Avella.
The plaintiffs alleged that billionaire Stephen Ross's Related Companies, the real estate developers of Hunters Point South and the Hudson Yards, and the Sterling Equities which was co-founded by the NY Mets owners, mega-millionaires Saul B. Katz and Fred Wilpon, had not gone through the NYS legislature for the approval of the transfer of the parkland as required by law.
The lawsuit, filed in February 2014, alleged that the transfer of 47 acres of Flushing Meadows Corona Park land that currently represents the western part of the Mets parking lot, was done without following the procedure for a proper public review [see photo above right]. The City had proposed transferring the 47 acres to Related Companies / Sterling Equities who had planned to build a 1.4 million square foot shopping mall next to Citifield.
The NY City Council and the billionaire former Mayor Bloomberg approved the project in October 2013, but the proposal never went to Albany for a vote. According to the Queens Tribune report one of the plaintiffs said that the Judge Manuel Mendez's ruling goes against the Public Trust Doctrine, ignores longstanding case law history, and bestows too much power that was formerly the purview of the Board of Estimate in one person: the NYC Mayor.
On Thursday, July 2nd, 2015, the four-judge Appellate Court overturned Judge Mendez's decision and ruled that the Willets West Mall Project was illegal because the land is a part of Flushing Meadows Corona Park, in spite of its current paved over status as a parking lot [see 2009 photo above].
And because it is a part of the public parkland of the people, it may not be turned over to the real estate developers without approval of the NY State Legislature. The judges rejected the ruling in favor of the mall development made by Judge Manuel Mendez, wherein Mendez sided with the wealthy real estate developers who argued that the 54 year old, 1961 law authorizing the construction of Shea Stadium, also included a mall.
The photo above shows the Citifield parking lot in 2009, as it was being paved over following the demolition of Shea Stadium which was authorized in 1961. The new Citifield stadium built to replace Shea, is smaller.
According to the Associated Press report, a spokesman for the real estate developers said that they would appeal the decision.
BALCONY - Business And Labor Coalition NY
Forum Discusses Challenges & Opportunities Of De Blasio's Affordable Housing Plan
One day after Mayor de Blasio gave his State of the City Address, the Business And Labor Coalition of New York [aka BALCONY] met to discuss affordable housing and their role in it.
A high quality panel of speakers had been enlisted to help stimulate the discussion which happened on an early Wednesday morning in February. The panelists included a real estate lobbyist, a unionized labor representative who oversees the management of labor pension investments, Public Advocate Letitia James, a representative from the Governor's Office and others. The BALCONY forum attracted a full house of real estate, financial and labor professionals, as well as government officials.
By the end of the morning I had heard how a number of large and important participant groups were processing Mayor de Blasio's plan to address NYC's affordable housing shortage. We'll have more a bit later this week about this informative housing forum.
New York Boat Show @ Javits Center
Full Steam Ahead For Boat & Yacht Dealers & Manufacturers
For the price of a small apartment in Manhattan you can buy yourself a floating power palace with about the same amount of space, and water views on all sides.
It was my first venture into the New York Boat Show on Sunday at the Jacob Javits Center in Midtown West. There were about 400 boats and yachts on display [364 was the unoffical count] for those looking to buy, trade or just look at the state of the art in boating technology and comfort.
Again unofficially - using one of the dealer's gate count numbers - it seems attendance was up a bit this year versus last year. They surmised that the lower gas prices, the better economy and apparently a few folks were looking to replace what had been damaged or that they'd lost to Hurricane Sandy. And so it was ... show on.
Later this week I'll post a photo slide show of the event and take you onto a few of the boats and yachts so you can see what owning or riding on one of these floating palaces would look like. Ship Ahoy.
Hudson Yards Real Estate Development NYC
Manhattan Real Estate: West Midtown Undergoing Massive Transformation
I spent a fair bit of time surveying the construction projects underway in west Midtown Manhattan this weekend. I went to see for myself what was going on in the area just adjacent [kiddy corner south and east] to the Jacob Javits Center which is located on 11th Avenue and 31st Street.
The deals were cut during the Bloomberg Administration with two real estate development companies - the Related Companies of NYC and Canadian partner Oxford Properties of Toronto, Ontario. The negotations took about five years and involved the MTA leasing the airspace above their track space - the Hudson Yards.
Most of the development will reside atop a huge platform covering the yards, but the building in the photo to your right - the first of the development to come online - has been erected ajacent to the yards on terra firma.
Click here later this week to read more about the Hudson Yards real estate development in NYC, including numerous photos in a slide show.
New York Market Expo
Marketing Your NYC Business In The 21st Century
On May 29th I attended the New York Market Expo at the Metropolitan Pavilion at 125 West 18th Street in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan. There were dozens of vendors there to help small businesses with their sales and marketing efforts.
It seems the online media has moved front and center at this expo with a multitude of vendors generally representing national firms offering a variety of online services. Many of the large social media firms sponsored slide show presentations showing how their offerings differed from the others.
There were also a number of other organizations there, including the traditional media, as well as a number of government and non-profit business organizations whose missions are to help businesses in their endeavors. The Manhattan Chamber of Commerce is shown in the photo to your right. The Manhattan Chamber of Commerce is a very active sponsor of networking events, seminars and workshops in NYC.
We'll post more including a photo slide show of the New York Market Expo of 2014.
Hunters Point South Opens Spring 2015
'Affordable' Housing Applications Set To Begin Mid October
On Monday evening I headed over to Sunnyside Community Services Center to attend the Hunters Point South Affordable Housing meeting. Several years ago the Hunters Point South development was approved by Community Board 2 and subsequently approved by the New York City Council and former Mayor Bloomberg. Click the link above to read the earlier report.
The site has been under construction for years, and according to a Related Companies spokesperson at the meeting, the two towers containing affordable housing are to open to residents in the Spring of 2015. Naturally this assumes that all goes according to plan.
Hence on Monday evening, Related Companies representatives in tandem with Community Board Chairman Joe Conley, NY CCM Jimmy Van Bramer, NYS Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan [and NYS Senator Michael Gianaris was scheduled to appear but did not make it] - began the outreach to the community regarding the application process for the low income and affordable housing units in the two buildings.
Attendance and interest by the community was very high and folks who arrived late were turned away as the Sunnyside Community Service Center was filled to capacity. That said there are two more of these outreach programs scheduled, the details of which you can find in our Things To Do calendar in the Business section. Click these links to gain a broader perspective of the Long Island City Neighborhood in which these units reside, as well as of the LIC real estate market for apts and condos or the Long Island City real estate market in general.
Full Report Contains Slides & Info On Qualification & Application Process For Hunters Point South Affordable Housing Units In LIC & Evaluation Of Affordability Versus Income & Apt Rents In LIC
Click here to read the rest of our report, including a photo slide show of the presentation of Affordable Housing in Hunters Point South in LIC Queens. I left out most of the presentation that dealt with how to set up a Housing Connect Profile and how to fill out the online application as it seemed pretty straightforward and you can also call the NYC Housing Authority [aka NYCHA] if you need help.
Real Estate Loans - Manhattan Mortgage Market Condition
Expo Highlights Opportunities, Risks & Other Considerations
May 28, 2014 / Manhattan / NYC Real Estate NYC / Gotham Buzz.
I attended the 2014 NYC Finance Expo at the Roosevelt Hotel on May 14th. The expo was well attended by Manhattan real estate professionals and financiers of Manhattan real estate including banks and other lenders.
The organizers had three or more seminars running simultaneously throughout the morning, with most sessions running between 20 minutes and an hour. About every 15 minutes a new session started, so there were plenty of ways to spend one's time productively.
The topics of the seminars covered a cross section of interests of those in the Manhattan real estate financial industry, from social marketing to real estate finance to real estate planning. I sat through a couple of sessions where I listened to Manhattan real estate and financial executives talk about where we are in the current cycle in the Manhattan real estate market, with an eye toward Manhattan real esate prices and valuations from a lender's point of view.
Billionaire businessman John Catsimatidis is shown in the photo at right at the NYC Finance Expo in Manhattan.
Click here to read the rest of our story about NYC real estate mortgage market conditions & the NYC Finance Expo.
NYC Manhattan Real Estate & Realtors
Manhattan Real Estate & Realtors
December 28, 2013 /Manhattan Real Estate / Gotham Buzz NYC _ D.
Real estate in Manhattan was been 'on the rise again' in 2013 with prices rising as the economy gained ground and the super low interest rates made payments on high priced properties possible.
Interest rates began to rise in 2013 as the year wore on and are expected to continue rising in 2014 and beyond. But not too fast say the pundits as the U.S. and world economies are fragile and the central bankers do not want to upend the recovery.
This section will begin to be populated with stories about condos and co-ops in Manhattan NYC, as well as stories about apartment rentals in NYC.
How The Other Half Lives
I attended a reception hosted by TF Cornerstone in late September to celebrate the official opening of their fifth property. The building had been completed earlier this year and the first tenants had moved in sometime in May. I understand they've rented about 70% of the units, so they've been moving briskly.
I visited a couple of the units for rent, including a studio that started at about $2,300 per month and a two bedroom corner that likely rented for something like $5,000 per month [give or take several hundred]. To those of us who live in Queens, these are expensive units, but to those who live in Manhattan - given the views and amenities - these are good value. Like the headline says : )
The photo to your right shows a view of one of the new properties currently lining the LIC waterfront, with a northward looking view of Manhattan.
LIC Real Estate: New Face of a Changing Borough
LIC Real Estate Development Continues - Just Across From Midtown
October 1, 2013 / NYC Real Estate / Gotham Buzz NYC.
I, like many in the borough, have been watching in near amazement at the rapid pace of real estate development in Long Island City. On September 18th of 2013, I attended the Grand Opening of 4545 Center Blvd, the fifth of the six TF Cornerstone buildings to go up along the Long Island City waterfront.
As you will see from the photos in the slide show at the end of the story, the apartments are beautiful. The new high rise is an airy, modern building with amenities, and apartments that have breathtaking views of the Manhattan skyline and the Queensboro Bridge. I saw a studio and corner two-bedroom apartment, which rent for about $2,300 and $5,500 per month respectively – so it’s not only the views that are breathtaking, but the rents as well. Five of the six TF Cornerstone buildings along Center Blvd in LIC are rentals, and only the condominiums in The View [the only building TF Cornerstone named] were for sale.
Click here for a story about apts for sale / apartments for rent near Midtown Manhattan NYC, including a bit of the history of TF Cornerstone, Rockrose Real Estate and real estate development in the LIC neighborhood of Queens.
Stringer Conditionally Approves Midtown East Development
September 12, 2013 / Manhattan Real Estate / Gotham Buzz NYC _ D.
We attended the Community Board 6 Meeting in Manhattan on Wednesday following the election and heard the announcement that outgoing Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer had conditionally approved the large scale development in the eastern section of Midtown Manhattan.
Stringer noted that the new developments would put significant stress on existing infrastructure and must be addressed as part of the plan.
Roosevelt Island To Become Techno Queens
Borough of the Arts, will one day become Borough of the Applied Sciences
Updated Summer 2016 / March 7, 2012 / Queens / NYC Real Estate / Gotham Buzz NYC.
I just returned from a breakfast where the NYC Deputy Mayor of Economic Development presented the NYC plan to develop an eleven acre campus on the southern end of Roosevelt Island, into an applied sciences academic institution.
Development of the new facility will take place over the course of the next thirty years, but the first classroom will open [somewhere in a leased facility] in the fall of 2012. When the applied sciences campus is done, the facility is expected to include about 2 million square feet of new construction and a half million feet of open space. Over the course of the next few decades, the institution is expected to become the academic home to 280 faculty members, a student body of 2,500, and to provide ongoing employment for about 8,000 people.
Click here to read the rest of our report on the presentation given by Robert K. Steel at the LIC Partnership breakfast about the new applied sciences development on Roosevelt Island, which legally is considered Midtown Manhattan real estate.
Real Estate In Flushing - Willets Point
April 14, 2011 / Flushing Neighborhood / Queens Buzz / Gotham Buzz NYC.
This winter I attended the State of the Borough Address given by Queens Borough president Helen Marshall and a month later I attended a speech given by NYC deputy mayor of economic development, Robert K. Steel. This report captures their brief comments about Willets Point condominium and retail development project, as well as a considerable amount of research I did following those two presentations.
In the following report we provide you with a history of the effort to transform the Willets Point area and an outline of the proposed plans and including a detailing of some of the issues associated with the proposed development. A graphical depiction of the Willets Point development is shown above.
Click here to read more about Sterling Equities, Saul Katz & Fred Wilpon, Stephen Ross, Related Companies, Mayor Bloomberg use eminent domain on Willets Point real estate development project - controversy in Flushing Queens.
Sunnyside & Woodside Zoning Plan
Proposal Moving Through The Process – Timetable Set
Queens Borough president Helen Marshall highlighted the effort to re-zone Sunnyside and Woodside in her State of the Borough Address this winter. Following the release of the proposed zoning changes on February 28th, I spent time studying the proposal to re-zone the Sunnyside and Woodside neighborhoods and followed up with a representative of the NYC Department of City Planning to be sure I properly understood the proposed changes. It's worth mentioning that the rezoning changes were recently approved by Community Board 2, about two weeks ahead of deadline.
The thrust of the Sunnyside Woodside rezoning effort appears to be to standardize construction regulations within these neighborhoods in order to prevent out-of-character development, reduce commercial overlays, enhance street life through the allowance of sidewalk cafes and to set height limits on new buildings which is not specified in the existing zoning. Current Sunnyside and Woodside zoning only specifies how much you can build by way of limiting the Floor Area Ratio [FAR] – and doesn’t set limits on specific building dimensions, most notably building height.
Click here to view the timetable of the Sunnyside & Woodside Re-zoning proposal and to read the rest of our report, which includes a brief zoning history, and a summary of existing and proposed zoning changes including diagrams and photos. NYC zoning laws for commercial, residential and zoning categories & rezoning in NYC.
Forum - Condos & Co-ops Governance
Updated Summer 2016 / December 7, 2010 / Queens / NYC Real Estate / Gotham Buzz NYC.
City Council Member Daniel Dromm, NYS Senator Peralta in tandem with ACCO [Alliance of Condo & Co-op Owners] organized a forum in Jackson Heights to inform people about their rights and responsibilities as condo and co-op owners.
In addition to the councilman and senator, the panel included two lawyers and the president of ACCO. About two hundred people showed up for the event, packing the Jewish Center of Jackson Heights. See photos in our report of the large crowd that attended this forum.
The panel informed condo and co-op owners in Jackson Heights & Queens about their rights, and discussed new state legislation which has been introduced to more clearly define the processes through which a tenant / owner can assert their rights. Click here to read the rest of our report about the forum about condo / co-ops governance in NYC.
East Side Access Project Moving Along
How Will This Project Affect Manhattan Real Estate?
NYC Real Estate / Updated Summer 2016 / October 4, 2010 / Gotham Buzz NYC.
Progress on the East Side Access Tunnel project has been visible in Queens since early Spring 2010. The MTA has been busy drilling a new tunnel under the East River from LIC / Astoria, using the Sunnyside Railway Yard as its staging grounds. The photo to your left shows the view of the new tunnel being built underneath the East River from an Astoria / LIC perspective. The tunnel connects into Manhattan around 63rd Street.
Meanwhile in the Sunnyside railway yards, many of the buildings that once dotted the landscape have been demolished. Thankfully this doesn't include an old train station which has been around for many years [see photos in rest of story / slide show]. They’ve also cleared away a number of old warehouse and garage like structures along 43rd Street between Northern Blvd and 39th Avenue.
Click here to get an update on the East Side Access Project impact on NYC real estate.
Home Improvement & Construction NYC
Queens Bronx Builders Association Serving NYC
Building Businesses Continue Improving - Builders Cautiously Optimistic
Updated Summer 2016 / October 25, 2012 / Queens / NYC Business & Real Estate / Gotham Buzz NYC.
I attended the Queens Bronx Builders Association Trade Show at the LaGuardia Marriott this evening. The show included between two and three dozen exhibitors showing just about everything and anything you might need to erect and finish a building. I went to get some sense of the mood of the building trades, given the economy has been the focus of many folks’ attention since the financial debacle of 2008.
The sense I got from most of the exhibitors was that, while things are not great like they had been before the bust, they appeared to have ‘hit bottom’, and appear to be steadily improving. Most of the folks I conversed with were cautiously optimistic; saying they had been having some really good days, but also some really slow days. A few of the people I spoke to were downright bullish. Only two people told me that things were still very rough out there.
As you know, this is not a scientific survey, but the generally upbeat mood of the trade fair left me with the sense that things in the construction business were improving.
Click here to read our report about the Queens Bronx Building Association Trade Show in Queens. The QBB Association is comprised building related suppliers and contractors serving Manhattan and NYC including the Upper East Side, Upper West Side, Midtown NYC, the Village & beyond.
NYC Solar Panels & Energy In NYS
LICBDC Seminar - Solar Energy Tax Incentives 2011
I just returned from a seminar detailing government incentives for installing solar on residential and commercial buildings in 2011. Based on what was presented in the seminar, anyone contemplating this sort of investment, might want to think about doing it in 2011.
The federal, state and city government are all offering tax incentives which add up to significant savings and shorten the payback period over which a building owner could recoup their investment in a solar energy system. Solar is a hedge against increases in oil prices, and demand for such systems is likely to grow. Given the tax incentives it’s possible, that as we approach the end of the year, companies selling solar energy systems might become quite busy. The photo to your left shows a roof top solar energy system.
Click here to read our report about the NYC tax incentives for solar energy in NYS in 2011.
NYC Banks & Loans
January 2017 / NYC Business / Gotham Buzz NYC. This section is dedicated to banks and loans in midtown Manhattan, the Upper East Side NYC, the Upper West Side NYC and the West & East Village NYC.
Click here to view reports on banks, loans & mortgages in NYC.
NYC Public Transit Infrastructure
Including Directions for NYC Public Transit To / From LaGuardia Airport & NYC Public Transit To / From JFK Airport
April 2017 / NYC Public Transit / Gotham Buzz NYC. The following section provides reports covering NYC Public Transit infrastructure.
There are also two reports containing instructions on how to: 1 ) get to and from LaGuardia Airport into Manhattan & NYC and 2) information on getting to and from NYC and JFK Airport.
You can also bike around NYC using Citi Bike and we've provided information about NYC Cycling laws / rules.
Click here to view our section about public transit to / from NYC from JFK & LaGuardia airport, including photos and links to maps on our sister website.
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