Daily Archives: August 19, 2005

How to Update an Older Home

Marion Nolan has just listed 23 Meadow Lane (off of Zaccheus Mead). Built in 1930, its present owners have revived it beautifully without losing the features that made this house so appealing in the first place. They replaced the shingles with clapboard painted a light mint and kept, it appears the original trim, painted white. Very nice. Inside, they added a screened porch, new kitchen, and, I think, added an addition to accommodate a master bedroom suite with a huge living room beneath it but that’s about it, so far as my eye could tell. New mechanicals were installed, including central air, and the house is ready for another 75 years. Great big back yard, plus conservation land to the south, and a terrific location close to town. Asking $4,200,000, which seems right in the ballpark.

Record Price in Riverside

I recently wrote about 17 Hendrie Avenue in Riverside, stating how well built and well designed it was. At the time, the house, with an original asking price of $3,500,000 was under contract with buyers who, I was told, “added some extras”. Well I guess they did, because it just hit the land records as selling for $5,300,000. That’s a lot of extras. I am not criticizing the price, or the house – it’s a great one – but if that’s the new price for a half-acre back lot in Riverside, all of us who own teardowns just got richer. And, if builders can now expect to fetch that sort of price, we all own tear downs now. So aberration or new price level? Stay tuned.

Never Mind! The newspaper report as to Hendrie’s selling price was, as it so often is, wrong. Actual price was $3,300,000; a very good price for both builder and buyer, but no record.

Why Haven’t You Sold My House?

That’s a common complaint many builders are demanding of their agents these days so in the hope that I can take some of the heat off my friends, here’s the answer: there are too many new houses out there. There are 27 houses currently for sale in the $6 – 7 million range, of which 5 are new construction. That’s not so bad, but when you bump up past $7 million the fun begins: 64 houses for sale in that bracket, 21 of which are new. A total of 31 houses sold last year (August to August) for more than $7 million and only six of those were new. Is that because the huge supply of mega-priced new houses only showed up this year, or because the market tends to prefer older homes? I don’t know, really, and I’m not quite sure how to massage the data to find out but if you’re the sleepless owner of a large spec project, be patient. And see if you can refinance.

On the Other Hand

200 John Street has gone to contract, something several of us wondered if we’d see in our lifetime. Nothing against the house, mind you, it’s just that the market for $12 million houses in the northwest corner of town is pretty slim. The original house at 200 John Street, built in 1790 by one of the Meads, was put on the market in 2000 for $9,840,000.No go. Two years later a new broker priced it as land for $4,000,000 and got rid of it. That house is, of course, long gone, replaced by much more, if you consider 17,000 sq.ft. and a 10-car garage more.


Our town is now blessed with several new signs in orange plastic steering folks to the YWCA. And in front of that building the same orange plastic proclaims a new mission statement: Eliminating Racism, Empowering Women. I thought it was all about learning how to swim, but what do I know? More important, did they really have to choose orange plastic as their medium for conveying this message? I realize that the signs are no uglier than the building they identify but that’s about the same as pointing out that, for a fat girl, she doesn’t sweat much.

The Mob in Greenwich

While you all were off in Nantucket, the New York Post reported on the Gambino family’s extortion of the owner of Valbella’s, in Riverside. Sent some Albanian thugs (apparently better at this sort of thing than Italians – how standards have slipped) to hang the poor guy by his heels from his restaurant’s ceiling until he saw the wisdom of paying the Albanians $5,000 a month protection money. The Gambino goons who accompanied the muscle were less demanding, asking merely for a reserved table and free meals. With reasoning like this, how long before the Albanians are running the entire show? In any event, all this explains the long running Saturday night show down there, with huge white stretch limos with NY plates parked in front, drivers waiting, and the (male) gold jewelry crowd in the basement. It might also explain, for those with long memories, the fire that gutted the place way back when it was first scheduled to open. I hope the indictment of 32 of these people will end the restaurant owner’s torment. But not, I hope the Saturday Night visits from Brooklyn – best entertainment in town.

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