That lovable whack job Bill Effros has gone and gotten himself arrested for trespassing at Greenwich High. Effros lives on Old Church Road, far above the school and has sued and threatened to sue the town repeatedly over anything and everything done at the school: lights in the stadium, artificial turf, noisy cooling towers and now, the proposed auditorium. My personal experience, back when I lawyered, was that litigious people like this had a screw loose somewhere but I’ve never met the man so heck, perhaps he’s just sensitive.
But what I love about this story is that Effros, who’s been screaming about the high school for years and years and obviously is not happy being its neighbor, is the author of the book How to sell your house in Five days. I guess he’s never read it.
Last week Chavez announced electricity rationing because his nationalized electrical industry can no longer supply power. Today he’s devalued the currency 50%. What’s interesting to me is that neither Chavez nor his liberal friends in this country can understand why this is the necessary and logical result of his policies. Oh well, who is John Galt?
40 Zaccheus mead Lane
Interesting snippet from the Wall Street Journal on the identity of the buyer of 40 Zaccheus Mead last fall.
Fannie Mae’s Former Chief Buys in Greenwich, Conn.
Daniel Mudd, who lost his job as chief executive of Fannie Mae when the government took over the mortgage giant in 2008, has bought a 15,000-square-foot home in Greenwich, Conn., for $6.45 million.
The stone-and-shingle home purchased by Mr. Mudd and his wife, Maura, was originally listed for $11.2 million in 2007, when it was built. On about two acres, the house has six bedrooms and three family rooms. Patte Nusbaum of Sotheby’s International Realty had the listing, and Giselle Gibbs of Prudential Brad Hvolbeck Real Estate represented Mr. Mudd. He now heads the Manhattan private-equity and hedge-fund firm Fortress Investment Group.
(hat tip, Mario)
340 Valley Rd
The third of ten of these units in Cos Cob was reported sold today for $1.9 million. Two other units have sold since 2008, each for $2.3 and this was sold via an out-of-town agent, but I still find it hard to believe someone would buy into this complex that remains 70% unsold after three years, or that they would pay $1.9 when the last sale was exactly a year ago. Don’t these buyers believe in negotiating?
Speaking of lagging condo projects, I see that the last contract for a unit in that Havemeyer Lane Stamford complex was September, 2009 and still hasn’t closed. The records show that seven units sold since inception (remember that press release talking about 50 signed contracts?) and six of those were “sold direct”. I’ll admit that I’m making no effort to sell these but surely, 1,000 agents in Greenwich, the force could be expected to sell some of them. I forget how many units are planned for this land but seven sold is not encouraging.
Bloomberg: shrinking labor force keeps official unemployment rate steady at 10%.
About 1.7 million Americans opted out of the workforce from July through December, representing a 1.1 percent drop that marks the biggest six-month decrease since 1961, figures from the Labor Department showed today in Washington. The share of the population in the labor force last month fell to the lowest level in 24 years.
December’s 10 percent unemployment rate was unchanged from the previous month, matching the median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg News. It was shy of the 26-year high of 10.1 percent reached two months earlier.
The so-called underemployment rate — which includes part- time workers who’d prefer a full-time position and people who want work but have given up looking — rose to 17.3 percent in December from 17.2 percent, today’s report showed.
The number of discouraged workers, those not looking for work because they believe none is available, climbed to 929,000 last month, the most since records began in 1994.
59 Old Mill Road
Here’s an old listing I mine I was unable to sell back in 2005. The house had problems: it is literally right on the northbound entrance to the Merritt and the deceased owner had kept something like twenty dogs in the place for a looong time – the smell was so bad I had to stay on the porch when I conducted a brokers open house. At the estate’s insistence we listed it for $1.599 because two separate appraisers valued it there. They were wrong, obviously, and it eventually sold in a private sale to the owner in front for, I think, $1.3 (I could be wrong about this sum).
That man completely re-did the place, finishing the upstairs, putting in a new kitchen, mechanicals and baths, and put it back ion the market for $2.578 million back in 2008 and had the same luck I had.
Today it’s back on at just $1.399 which, despite the Merritt, looks like an excellent price. The house is nice, the 2 1/2 acres around it give it privacy and you’re getting quite a discount for the highway noise which is not, in fact, intolerable at all. Assessment, 70% of estimated value, is $1.3ish, so the price seems to me to be in the ballpark. If he did pay $1.3 for it back then, all the work poured into this place is yours, free (sort of). If I were looking in this price range, I’d check this out.
Greenwich Citizen has an interview up today of my friend and former Weston Hill Road resident Zaid Siddig. Zaid’s view on his country and conditions there is probably the most accurate reporting you’ll find anywhere. Interesting read, but discouraging.
According to officials trying to tackle it, the crime is directly linked to rising levels of development and prosperity – and an increasing belief that witchcraft can help people get rich quickly.
Tastes like chicken!
6 Guinea Road
A reader yesterday said that 6 Guinea Road finally had a deal and sure enough, it was reported as pending just now. This is actually a very nice house, but it’s set on a long driveway that makes its way through a swamp and most of its 2.5 acres are pretty soggy. As a weekend house for a couple uninterested in yard maintenance, perfect.
It was originally priced at $3.6 million in 2007 and fell from there, finally reaching just $2.050, below its assessment of $2.261.
Britain is embarking on a $160 billion project intended to produce 15% of its energy from offshore wind power by 2020. It has all the earmarks of a government boondoggle but it will be an incredible engineering feat if the companies involved can pull it off.
Despite the fanfare, the reality of the sea is sobering.
Bringing the plan to fruition will require resolving the technological complexities of building and maintaining wind turbines in waters that are deeper (more than 30 meters, or 100 feet, in most cases), rougher and farther offshore (in one case nearly 300 kilometers, or 180 miles) than ever attempted. It will require a massive ratcheting up of the offshore wind industry by existing onshore wind behemoths like Siemens of Germany and Vestas of Denmark (only 1 percent of the world’s 150 gigawatts of wind capacity is offshore.)
By the peak years of building, the plan will require about 2.5 of the 220 meter-high turbines to be built per day to reach the goal of about 1,000 turbines in total, according to Carbon Trust Investments, a group funded by the British government.
The strategy will also be tested by the need for better offshore and onshore grid infrastructure.
“There is no understating the scale of the challenge of this scheme,” said Benj Sykes, who develops renewable energy technology at the Carbon Trust. Referring to the underwater tunnel linking Britain and France, he said, “It’s like building nearly a Chunnel a year for the next 10 years.”
The Chunnel was an economic bust, so ten projects that size sounds dubious.
In addition to major corporations uprooting themselves from their home states and moving to Washington to be closer to the government teat, everyone else is too. The WSJ reports today that “[t] he office market in Washington, D.C., is poised to topple New York as the nation’s most expensive, reflecting the declining fortunes of the nation’s financial center and the government expansion under way in the U.S. capital.”
As of yesterday, 14 properties were reported this week as either under contract (9) or pending (5). Of these five were what I think will be purchases made for the purpose of building new homes: 121 Cat Rock (asking $995), 228 Round Hill Road (asking $4.450 million),84 Butternut Hollow Road ($1.789), 638 North Street ($995,000) and 15 Quaker Lane, asking $1.7 million). I don’t know, of course, what these buyers’ intentions are, but the houses on the properties are all prime candidates for replacement. In addition, I am aware of at least one more large, expensive piece of land that has had several return visits by buyers with their architects and builders.
I don’t think these are spec builders – there’s still no loan money available for that. What I think is going on is what I experienced with one of my own clients this past summer: after a year of trying to find the right new house at a price he liked he gave up and, taking advantage of the lower costs of building these days, selected a site he liked and is building his own. If I’m right, that’s not good news for builders with unsold-spec homes – those houses have been inspected by the market and found wanting, at least at their present price, but it is an encouraging sign for builders with time on their hands and nothing better to do than go back to work.