Daily Archives: February 13, 2012

Why a pool in Byram at all?

Existing Byram pool, to be replaced

If the Junior League wants to pay to build one for the local residents I don’t suppose it’s anyone else’s business, but there’s no reason Greenwich taxpayer funds should be spent on this project. There’s a beach in Byram, just as there is at Tod’s. So why a pool?

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Another flop

Amyris gives up on biofuels, will make cosmetics instead.

I feel sad for all the investors in this failure, particularly Senator Diane Feinstein, who put a million of her husband’s’ money into it just weeks before Obummer came along with $24 million of his own. Oh wait a minute, that wasn’t his money, it was yours. Hope you can afford the loss.

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An old chestnut returns

27 Vineyard Lane is back, this time at $2.995 million instead of last month’s $2.8. Unless they drained the surrounding swamp, I see no reason why this property should have gone up rather than down but then, I’m not the listing broker. The records show that this house sold for $3.1 million in 2007 but Dominick Devito was involved here (and he may still be, if they permit him to conduct real estate transactions out there in Texas’s La Tuna medium security prison) so I wouldn’t necessarily trust the reported price. A teardown selling for $1,463.00 per sq. ft. seems steep, even in 2007. Not as steep as the $4.995 that Dom and his partner tried getting a year or so later but then, we know how that, and Dom, turned out.

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Getting better – in fact, maybe there

5 Bridal Path

Five Bridal Path Lane (Pilot Rock area at the end of Indian Head) dropped a cool million off its price today to $6.950 million, down from $7.995 and way down from its first price (different broker) of $12 million back in 2010. The house is a 50′s structure on an acre, but what an acre – direct waterfront, fantastic views of Long Island Sound and the NYC skyline. I had to rummage around the old listing to  find a single picture of the house itself and when a listing devotes all ten, or twenty pictures to the views and not the interior or even exterior of the house, you should start calculating the cost of a bulldozer and a dumpster.

But nonetheless, lesser waterfront has sold for $5 million in the recent past so this acre, with better views and an excellent location is probably now asking close to what it’s worth. Odd selling strategy: wait two years, then drop your price 40% but hey, maybe the sellers were in no hurry to move.

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FWIW’s first ad

My daughter Kat’s string band needs a new (new to them) van and is trying a fund raiser. They’re quite good – played at Sundance a couple of weeks ago to a packed house – but like philosophy, the arts aren’t exactly a real money-maker. Not for string bands at any rate.

So yeah, they’re panhandling, sort of, but I like to think of it as on-line busking. You like the music, toss a buck in the guitar case. If not, well, walk on past.

But what kind of father wouldn’t at least leave that guitar case open on the sidewalk for his kid?

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Gentlemen, start your Hummers!

Save-a-Tree: FWIW's new staff car

Electric cars cause more pollution than gasoline – powered vehicles. We don’t call them coal-powered cars for nothing. Now if we had nukes ….

KNOXVILLE—Electric cars have been heralded as environmentally friendly, but findings from University of Tennessee, Knoxville, researchers show that electric cars in China have an overall impact on pollution that could be more harmful to health than gasoline vehicles.

Chris Cherry, assistant professor in civil and environmental engineering, and graduate student Shuguang Ji, analyzed the emissions and environmental health impacts of five vehicle technologies in 34 major Chinese cities, focusing on dangerous fine particles. What Cherry and his team found defies conventional logic: electric cars cause much more overall harmful particulate matter pollution than gasoline cars.

“An implicit assumption has been that air quality and health impacts are lower for electric vehicles than for conventional vehicles,” Cherry said. “Our findings challenge that by comparing what is emitted by vehicle use to what people are actually exposed to. Prior studies have only examined environmental impacts by comparing emission factors or greenhouse gas emissions.”

Particulate matter includes acids, organic chemicals, metals, and soil or dust particles. It is also generated through the combustion of fossil fuels.

For electric vehicles, combustion emissions occur where electricity is generated rather than where the vehicle is used. In China, 85 percent of electricity production is from fossil fuels, about 90 percent of that is from coal. The authors discovered that the power generated in China to operate electric vehicles emit fine particles at a much higher rate than gasoline vehicles. However, because the emissions related to the electric vehicles often come from power plants located away from population centers, people breathe in the emissions a lower rate than they do emissions from conventional vehicles.

Still, the rate isn’t low enough to level the playing field between the vehicles. In terms of air pollution impacts, electric cars are more harmful to public health per kilometer traveled in China than conventional vehicles.

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Whoops! Or, why I hate the new MLS rule requiring that accepted offers be reported

21 Cat Rock Road, reported as having an A/O just ten days ago, is back up for sale. It’s useful for the rest of us realtors to learn about accepted offers because it helps us keep up with the market and get a sense of what’s moving but for sellers, it sucks. Too much can go wrong between an accepted offer and an actual, fully executed contract (let alone between that contract and final closing). The buyer can get cold feet, the lender may decide it wants more equity, the bank appraisal may come in lower than expected, the building inspector comes up with severe defects, etc. etc. And while that A/O is out there the house is effectively off the market because who wants to show a house that in all likelihood is not available?

These days, I mostly represent buyers so I’m not all that bothered by the new process but back when I had listings (and if the market improves or sellers come to their senses about pricing I’ll do so again) I didn’t report anything about the house until contracts were signed and all contingencies met. To me, premature disclosure did a disservice to the seller who is, after all, the listing broker’s client. Would I give a heads up to another agent who wanted to show it? Sure, because despite what my peers think, I’m a pretty polite guy, but I wouldn’t paste an A/O all over the MLS and scare every potential buyer away while a deal was still tenuous. We no longer have that luxury.

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We’re running out of old folks in Greenwich

The typical 45-year-old Lyon Farm retirees of yesteryear

Or that’s what you might think judging from sales at the Lyon Farm condo project. Take, for example, 123 West Lyon Farm, back on today at $875,000 after two years trying to get $1.1 million. It sold for $895 in 2003, sold again for $1.033 million in 2007 and now it’s in the 2002 range and falling. That mirrors Greenwich real estate pricing in general so maybe there’s nothing special about this condo project’s decline but the units do sem to be lingering, and I wonder whether that’s due to the traditional source of buyers: downsizers, choosing to move out of state rather than our western border. Stick around and find out.

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It’s not only illegal, it threatens your health

"The doctor will see you now"

Medical Schools discriminating against blacks. Well no, actually, they’re doing the exact opposite and letting in unqualified (judging from test scores and GPAs – if you have other criteria you’d like to use to evaluate your doctor, go ahead). This is, as noted, not only illegal, it harms blacks by giving rise to the inescapable conclusion that a black doctor is probably less qualified and dumber than an asian or white one.

I know, I know, this post just proves I’m a racist, blah blah blah. Go ahead – cancel my subscription to the New York Times (too late, actually – hah!). But look at the chart below and you tell me who’s being racist.

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Adding to inventory, subtracting, too

55 Burying Hill

55 Burying Hill Road is back up for sale, asking $7.495 million after failing to sell last year for $8.750. Owners paid $5 million for it in a bidding war (!) back in 2000 and obviously put some additional money into it. Looks like a nice house but that makes 33 houses for sale in Greenwich proper asking between $7 and $9 million; 8 sold in all of last year. Interesting, no house on Burying Hill has ever sold for this much. The highest, in 2002, was new construction that went for $6 million. Maybe things have improved.

On the other hand, 6 Miami Court (no palm trees, I don’t believe) has sold in Cos Cob for $597,500, after starting off in 2009 at $795,000. 0.11 acre, walk to banking.

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You’d think after Whitney’s death he’d be moving on to rehab

I can quit any time I want!

Obama sees recovery one-to-two years away.

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So where is Owlgore?

Searching for global warming

Not in Bulgaria, apparently, where the coldest winter in memory has snowed in the babushkas (do they have babushkas in Bulgaria?)

As soon as the Danube thaws, Gore's out of Mustique and on his way east

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