Daily Archives: September 1, 2008


Famous Last Words
Joe Beninati, one of two co-founders of Antares Development Group (or whatever they call themselves) is quoted in the New Yorker article I mentioned earlier as being delighted to be renting to hedge fund companies in Greenwich and is remarkably sanguine about his continuing prospects of renting out office space at $150 a foot. Speaking of his tenants he says, “rent is as insignificant to these guys as the lunch bill.”
He may be right but I’ve heard those same rosy sentiments about Greenwichites’ indifference to cost before, usually just before the latest group of pigeons goes broke and no one else is willing to step in to take their place. I’m not accusing Mr. Beninati of being stupid or anything, but I did notice, in reading the New Yorker article, that he and his partner met while each was doing “post-graduate work” at Choate. I thought that sort of educational detour was reserved for football players who flunked their SATs.

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I didn’t say it, Barrons did.
Realogy, parent company of Coldwell Banker and Sotheby’s, continues to scare the financial press. In Barron’s words, Look out Below!

Update 8/02/08
Bloomberg isn’t impressed with their prospects either. “87% chance of default on their bonds” doesn’t sound encouraging.

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7 Dwight Lane
Thanks to research by reader Cos Cobber,this IRS auction property story gets more interesting. The full misadventures of a fallen, crooked hedge funder can be found here.The IRS auction page, linked to below and repeated here shows pictures. Judging from the cluttered interior, the resident wasn’t all that cooperative with the IRS appraiser, and I suspect exterior maintenance has been neglected too – the SEC froze this guy’s assets way back in 2003. If so, it’s more likely to be a land sale rather than the five acres and a live in house that I earlier speculated would be a good buy at $2.5 million. Number 10 Dwight, a pure land sale (plus the cost of removing the existing house, like this sale) didn’t move in 8 years at $2.9 million, and there’s no reason to believe this one is worth $2.5.

The IRS ad states $2.5 million as the minimum price. If no one buys at that price, I assume that the IRS will take title and try to sell it again under its own name. Now that might produce an interesting value.

Update, 8/02/08
Today’s Greenwich Time has an article on the sale (beat them to the punch, eh?). It’s not available on line but if you check your neighbor’s recycling bin ….
One little flaw in the article: it states that the property is worth $4.3 million “according to town tax records”, and leaves it at that. If you pay anything like that sum for this property, you deserve to be the next investor in the soon-to-be-former owner’s hedge fund.

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Hurricane Hype?
Not really. Here’s a thoughtful discussion of the issue. I’m a bit of a storm buff so I tend to read about what’s happening during storms, regardless of their proximity. By early yesterday evening it was pretty certain that Gustav was not going to slam into New Orleans and had not regained the momentum it lost passing over Cuba but televison news never reported that. If I can read current information, why can’t these reporters? Ratings, of course.
Here’s my favorite blogger, law professor Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit.com on the subject:

Better safe than sorry, but watching the TV folks doing the usual standup-in-the-wind routine this morning I just thought how stale that shtick has become. Stay in the studio and just tell us what’s happening. We’ve all seen newscasters with the wind in their hair now.

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One itsy bitsy bit of politics.

Upon returning and checking my email I was struck by the number of missives from my “liberal” friends who have been sent absolutely around the bend by this Palin VP announcement. Greenwich Diva, run by a (black, female) friend of mine, has been forwarding every misogynist, sexist piece of trash she and her Kos friends can dig up – one day it accuses the poor Governor of lying about the parentage of the latest addition to her family and trying to hide her own daughter’s pregnancy, the next it’s accusations that Palin is an unfit mother who caused the poor infant’s Down Syndrome by neglecting prenatal care. I’ve now read attacks on her figure, her hairstyle and even her support of gay rights (the latter, interestingly enough, purports to be from a conservative organization but web sleuthers tracked it back to
defendobama.com).

I love liberals, especially those who are my friends, but why is it that they so readily resort to the very tactics they – inaccurately – accuse conservatives of using? Posting pictures of a 16-year-old girl that “prove” she was pregnant while her mother was not (the picture turned out to have been taken 2 years before the actual birth, but why let that get in the way of a good story?), dismissing a female candidate because of her hairstyle and taste in glasses, calling her a bimbo (see Maureen Dowd – I won’t) and bashing gays, which I assume is supposed to work up conservatives, all just show that sexist, stereotypical hate lies just beneath the surface of these folks. Scratch them slightly and it all wells up. I don’t pretend to know the female mind but if my pals on the left keep this up, they just might drive some women voters away from the Obama camp in disgust

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I’m back from the great fishing expedition and so here are a few items that cropped up while I was gone.
Reader Cos Cobber alerts me to an ad in yesterday’s NYT announcing an IRS foreclosure auction on Dwight Lane. I haven’t dug that issue from the recyling bin so I can’t confirm the address but No. 10 Dwight Lane, 5 + acres with a tired house, was listed for sale for years at $2.95 million. If that’s the property, it would provide a very nice building lot. I wasn’t shocked at its asking price but it didn’t sell for that (it didn’t sell at all) and there might be a bargain available here, depending on how much the IRS wants in taxes. If it’s not #10 we’re talking about, my apologies in advance. UPDATE: found ad – it’s 7 Dwight Lane, not 10. Don’t know the property but will check it out. Auction scheduled for September 28th at noon. Open house September 5 and 6, 11am -3pm.
Another update:
Here’s the IRS Auction Page with photos. Minimum bid $2,500,000. For 5 acres and a live-in house, good deal.

35 Price reductions last week, neatly matching 35 new listings. The only price reduction of note may be 48 Parsonage Road, new construction that’s sat unsold for $7.85 million, now reduced to $7.195. That might do the trick, who knows?

Under “new” we actually have another price reduction, it’s just been brought back on at a lower price. 44 Grahampton didn’t sell at $6.995 million so they’ve chopped $1.0 million and change ($5.950 million) and they’re trying again.

On the other hand, 2 Parsonage didn’t sell at $3.684 (?) million so it’s been relisted with another broker and jacked up its price to $4.425. Go figure.

895 Lake Avenue, a nice contemporary that was once part of that complex a crook (Frankel?) maintained (one of his chippies hanged herself there, he fled to Europe with diamonds, was caught and convicted and that’s about all I recall) sold for $3.1 million, down a bit (quite a bit, when you figure in commissions and taxes) from its 2006 purchase price of $3.187.

Word from agents who did stick around last week is that they were busy showing houses to potential buyers so that’s encouraging, but just 3 houses went to contract last week – if that doesn’t improve in the next two weeks, we’re in trouble.

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What is it about the “Dinnertime Bandit”
that inspires headline writers to go goofy? Greenwich Time had cops “relishing in” the poor guy’s defeat, The Greenwich Citizen crows, “Dinnertime Bandit convicted, those responsible exult”. I suppose I’d exult too if I’d committed a series of crimes and a jury found someone else responsible, but should one of our local papers share in their glee?

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