Daily Archives: July 23, 2008



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Mea Culpa
There’s a nice post in the comments section from Pam, who gently reminds me that I used to defend the strength of the Greenwich market. It’s true, I did: I did point out what I thought were over-priced houses, and cautioned that, obviously, prices couldn’t keep increasing 20% per year, every year, but I was fond of saying that, so long as NYC continued to attract the best, brightest and most ambitious young people from around the world, they’d continue to meet, fall in love, have babies and look toward the suburbs to raise those babies. Because Greenwich is one of the best of those suburbs, I was pretty confident that we’d continue to get our share of new blood, and buyers. But “No one expects the Spanish Inquisition” and I didn’t expect the collapse of the credit market and the subsequent downturn on Wall Street. Greenwich never had many sub-prime mortgages or large spec developments to begin with so when the sub-prime lenders and real estate speculators started to topple I thought the disaster would be limited to places like California and Florida. Wrong.

But, long term, I still like our position. There will always be money to be made lending to millionaires, and we’re still not adding any new land, so I expect to see a recovery not too long in the future (unless Wall Street and its bankers disappear and the financial world shifts to Dubai, a not entirely impossible scenario). If you own a house that you want to sell, hang on and hope. If you’re thinking of buying, I’d look silly suggesting that prices won’t continue falling, but as interest and construction costs keep rising, you might want to grab a good deal now – if you don’t have to resell in the next few years, I think you’ll do just fine.

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Pricing
There were 26 price reductions reported yesterday, compared with 2 contracts. Not an encouraging ratio. One reduction that caught my eye was for 4 Old Round Hill, a big, almost new mansion just off of Round Hill itself. This place was originally priced in May ’06 at $14,500,000 and slowly dropped to $12.5M a year later. Still unsold, the seller increased its price to $13.995M the next day; not a tactic I’d ordinarily recommend. It’s been dropping ever since and yesterday took another hit, coming down another million to $10.9. So two years after first being offered for sale, it’s still unsold and is now $3.5M less. The first price was obviously (in retrospect) too aggressive, even for the 2006 market. In today’s market, the new price may still be too high. Somewhere in the past two years, I suspect, a realistic price would have moved this house but now, who knows? It’s a very nice house with a great location and yard, but is anyone buying?

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HoJo’s
Thanks to two intrepid readers, Pam, who remembered what letter the place would start with, and Jess, who actually tracked down the article, we learn the following:

“From the Greenwich Post:

Jun 5, 2008
Going up in Blue Smoke
Howard Johnson to house new restaurant; plans for hotel
By Sonia Fernandez, Staff Reporter

The Howard Johnson will be renovated as the Delmar opens a new hotel at that location and Blue Smoke takes the place of Tandoori restaurant
Blue Smoke will be sweeping through Greenwich as Union Square Hospitality Group prepares to open its first restaurant outside New York City.

Named after its predecessor on 27th Street and Park Avenue, Blue Smoke Chophouse will move into the space that was occupied by the Howard Johnson in Riverside, along with a new hotel operated by the same group that operates the Delamar Greenwich Harbor hotel….

The Union Square Hospitality Group has enhanced the ambiance of the restaurant by focusing on wood-fired cooking. Not only will the meats be wood-smoked, but the grills and ovens will also be wood-fired….

Plans to renovate the Howard Johnson and the attached Tandoori restaurant were submitted to the Planning and Zoning Commission on March 19, but have been dropped as both the hotel and restaurant are being gutted to make room for the new plans.

While the new hotel has yet to start the planning and zoning process, Mr. Swinghamer said he hopes the restaurant will be ready by next summer . . . .

[end of article]

I love both Cajun and barbeque, so I’ll probably give this a try – if the estimated completion date is accurate, I’ll have a year to save up for the experience.

Funny thing – when I Googled HoJo’s Riverside to see if there were any stories about its future I found lots of information on the old place with no hint that you won’t be staying there again – surprise! and a map locating the motel just over the Stamford border. I suppose that, since it’s closed anyway, a little misdirection won’t harm anyone but how many other Google maps are this far off? Makes me want to rethink tossing out my old paper maps.

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