Monthly Archives: May 2008

Thanks for your comments
lots of you have written in support and I appreciate your words greatly. My poor Internet guru is temporarily out of action due to a motorcycle accident ( I knew I made the right decision to sell mine in 1972) but I hope to have a real web site up and running in 2 weeks. In the meantime, here’s my response to an inquiry about the weight to give to the town’s assessment of a home’s value: it depends. Some of these assessments are spot on; others miss by a mile. Some years ago, my own house was grossly over-assessed because the out-of-town appraisors considered all waterfront, tidal creeks to Belle Haven, to be of equal value. Don’t tell them so, but I think they’ve over corrected and I’m now valued at less than a modest home on Perry Ridge. So use the assessment as one datum, not the sole determinative of value.

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Memorial Day Parade in Old Greenwich
10: 00 am. Last vestige of small town America in this town, and a chance to thank our soldiers. Don’t miss it.

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We’re on Mars!
pretty nifty. I stand in awe of people who can shoot a rocket 400 million miles into space, land it safely and begin exploring.

But as for another use of our tax dollars…
the New York Times reports today that states are chafing at having to spend anti-terrorism funds on, ah, anti-terrorism. Rhode Island, for instance, was outraged that the heavy truck it purchased to pull a horse trailor was initially denied funding (the state prevailed, naturally, after intervention by its pols). We taxpayers are paying $23 billion for this program-if the states don’t need the money, why not end it? Silly question, I know.

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More Market Blues, or, Apples to Apples
1 Brookside Park in Greenwich came on the market in May 2006 asking $4,895,000 and sold in November for $4,250,000. Whether because of buyer’s remorse or a change in circumstances it was returned to the market by the new buyers in February, 2007, for $4,650,000 (nothing having been added or changed), lingered for 408 days and finally sold this past May 12th for $3,800,000. Rumor has it that the owners turned down an offer that would have brought them close to break-even and then ended up sitting on the place for another year. True or not, in this market, it probably pays to keep would-be-buyers talking.

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We’re back!
Just spent time in northern California attending my daughter Kate’s graduation from Humbolt State University. Lots of redwoods, ocean breezes and aging hippies from my generation. Wonderful people, so long as you avoid talking politics, which I did. When I complete my fatherly duties and pay for all my kids’ educations, I may very well retire out there, assuming they’ll accept a Ronald reagan/libertarian – heck, I’m tired of arguing anyway.

State of the market -
Nothing encouraging. 217 Riverside Avenue came on nine months ago for $1,965,000. It closed yesterday for $1,588,000. Now, the owners bought it for a song a long time ago (I believe my daughter Sarah, now 21, was 3 then, and a friend of the owners’ daughter) so no one lost money here, but that’s still a big drop from hoped for to reality. Similarly, 808 North Street, purchased for $11,300,000 in 2000, has been returned to the market and, after a few price reductions,is now asking $11,750,000, 8 years later. We’re in a flat market, folks, or even, God forbid, a declining one. I recently gave a price opinion on a house that I thought should be below $2,000,000, but when I pulled the town tax card, I saw that Greenwich is taxing it as though it’s worth over $2,500,000. Tough to tell an owner that his house is worth half a million less than the town is taxing him, so, coward that I am, I didn’t. But I anticipate a tough sell (and,whether I’m the broker or not, I suspect it will sell for less than $2,000,000).
Column News
I was in negotiations with my former publisher, Greenwich Post, about returning as a paying advertiser, rather than a paid columnist. They wanted far more (5X) what they paid me for my column and, frankly, I couldn’t see why I should invest in what is essentially a dying business. I can pay a smart young college kid I know a fraction of that fee to design and maintain a website, with links, photos, etc, and make this a better column, so that’s what I’ve decided to do. Check back in soon and see what we’ve done.

Simmons Lane
In one of my last printed columns, I mentioned this monstrosity and suggested that it seemed a tad large for the neighborhood. A number of writers told me that I’d understated its size: 35,000 sq.ft above ground, yes, but the Russian owners were also planning an additional 25,000 sq.ft of underground rooms. Considering that these Russians tend to dissappear to Siberia, thanks to Putin, leaving projects half-done, it was gratifying to lean that our P&Z turned the plans down. We’ll see what they come back with, if they come back at all.

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Must it always be Greenwich?
According to this article, a Greenwich man, one Michael Guite, is trying to move a family cemetary on property he’s purchased in Springfield, Vermont so he can build a house. At lease one of the graves holds the remains of a veteran of the War of 1812 and, not surprisingly, the Vermonters aren’t pleased. I’m sure Mr. Guite is a nice man; I just wished he came from some other town.

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Bad times for all newspaper folks
I just heard that Joe Pisani, editor of Greenwich Time, has been fired by that paper’s new owner. Sad, if true- the man did a yeoman’s job producing a cleanly written story of our town, every day, for years. My banishment to the Internet is probably all for the best, and inevitable.
Update
Firing confirmed. New owners wanted more scandalous headlines, Mr. Pisani resisted, so off he went.god bless him, god bless the Internet.

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Linens and Things declares bankruptcy
This was the story that got me fired. Apollo Group, owner of Linens and Things, was reported (by the NYT) to be ready to put the chain into bankruptcy, together with its real estate company, Realogy, which controls Coldwell Banker and Sotheby’s. Friday, Linens and Things went down, confirming that part of the story. This is being posted via iPhone which, while loveable, is lousy for links. Come back later and you’ll have them.

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