Daily Archives: October 29, 2008


Howard Dean, now and then:

Howard Dean, 2008:

Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean said Monday that he’s looking forward to one party controlling all aspects of government, despite GOP charges that it would be a disastrous Nov. 4 outcome. “Republicans had a chance to rule. They failed miserably. I think it’s time to give the other party a chance,” Dean said on MSNBC.

Howard Dean, 2005:

We need more than one party in charge. And the vote on Tuesday is going to be critical to decide whether American democracy still allows those of us who didn’t vote for the president to have any say in running the country whatsoever.
[…]
Someday, the Democrats will be back in charge again. Do we want a Democratic Party that’s in charge of everything? Well, you know, I suppose it’s my job to say yes. But the truth is, as an American, it’s better when parties share power. It’s better when even those people who didn’t win the election have something to say.
[…]
[There] is a culture of corruption and abuse of power in Washington. This is what happens when one party is in charge of everything.

Politics for a change!

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Stock Market: These days, that last five minutes is a bitch!

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“Built Date”?
A reader asked why 396 Round Hill Road was listed as having been built in 2006 when it had been on the market since January 2005. The best I can determine from checking its listing history is that, maybe, it didn’t receive a certificate of occupancy until 2006. Here’s what it looked like in the beginning of January 2005, when its built date was shown as “2005 – u/c” [under construction]:
Clearly, this structure was not ready to receive a final c/o at the time this picture was taken. So, if construction lingered for another year, then 2006 would be the right date. In any case, it never hurts to have your attorney examine all relevant building documents before you buy.

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A happy reader asks,

Funny topic…A friend once bragged to me she was building an “authentic Georgian” house…it’s been on the market until recently (MLS# 68755) but I think it was taken off. It’s a gorgeous home but I am not sure how “authentic” it is.
Doesn’t Georgian usually connote a red brick house? What’s with all these faux Georgian’s?

Good question, reader. First, the house your friend said she was building is pictured above. It does have the requisite red brick but it was built in 1989, long before she bought it (for $11.2 million in 2005), so perhaps her claim of authorship is a bit overstated. It was put back on the market in February this year for $12.5 million but found no takers and was withdrawn in August.

But what about the faux Georgians you mention? In the real estate world, we build, and sell, “in the style of” which means, of course, that there’s nothing at all in common between the real thing and whatever pile of bricks we’re unloading on the newly-rich. Here’s a definition of Georgian from the Wikipedia article cited in the post below:

“Georgian architecture is characterized by its proportion and balance; simple mathematical ratios were used to determine the height of a window in relation to its width or the shape of a room as a double cube. ‘Regular’ was a term of approval, implying symmetry and adherence to classical rules: the lack of symmetry, where Georgian additions were added to earlier structures, was deeply felt as a flaw.”

If a house like that ever existed in Greenwich, it was razed long ago – we’re into eclectic!

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“How can I enjoy this when polar bears can’t afford to attend school?”

College costs soar above inflation rate so the natural response is to increase student aid!
Here’s another idea – cut college aid and see how schools respond to fewer applicants. Sounds crazy, I know, but shoveling ever-increasing piles of money onto school administrators or, worse, bailing out the student loan shysters hasn’t seemed to encourage a sense of thrift – maybe trying the opposite will help.

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Wisdom via the Catskills:

The media is regarding the election of Barack Obama to the presidency as a foregone conclusion and the pollsters seem to back up that conclusion. If that is indeed the case, so be it. As Ed Koch, the former mayor of New York, put it with superb prescience after losing in the primaries to his eventual successor, David Dinkens: “The people have spoken. It is now time for the people to be punished.” Dinkens’ spectacular ineptitude led to his being soundly defeated for re-election after only one term by a Republican(!), Rudy Giuliani (Dinkens, the mayoral equivalent of Jimmy Carter, has been bitter about it ever since). New York City flourished during Giuliani’s administration. Similarly, our nation will survive an Obama administration and will surely flourish anew in time.

Of course, the blogger quoted believes in the Resurrection, life after death and all that, so his sense of “in time” may be larger in scope than it is for some of us.

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Where is the left’s outrage?

We all heard the howls when those two Nazis, Bush and Cheney, eavesdropped on cellphone calls between terrorists. So why, when the Ohio Democrats, state officials all, searched “Joe the Plumber’s” background to dig up dirt , did no one on the left complain? No one. That’s presumably because, unlike terrorists, ol’ Joe doesn’t hate America and probably doesn’t think much of Obama, so he’s got to be destroyed. I don’t think I’m particularly paranoid but I have a dreadful feeling that this is what’s in store for anyone who dares question the Messiah. What’s truly scary is that my friends on the left can hardly wait.

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Twin Lakes Drive, Riverside


Waterfront at the end of Gilliam Lane

“Twin Lakes” was the silly name a would-be developer, Jack Brod, stuck on the this end of the road when he had it in mind to festoon the place with 35 houses. He lost that particular dream and was limited to 5 lots, two of which were carved out of this, the original mansion’s yard. Still 1.82 acres remain, leading down to Cos Cob Harbor and providing tidal access to Long Island Sound. I don’t think I’ve been in the place since the Fritzsches owned it and, with all possible fondness for the Fritzsches and their 7 (? – seemed like that many) kids, the house was a tad run-down. The listing says this was “renovated” – there’s that word again – in 2006 and there’s an open house tomorrow so I’ll go see and report back. $15 million, if you’re wondering.

Oh: the “Twin Lakes” are – you guessed it – a pair of little brackish ponds, but nice enough in their own way. We used to play hockey on the first one, when Muzz Patrick (Patrick Division was named after his grandfather, Muzz was a Rangers player and, later, their manager) lived on its edge. And Dorothy Hamill first skated there, on her way to Innsbruck. Good memories, nice neighborhood.

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Realtorese, continued, courtesy of CEA

Definition and picture of Georgian architecture – moderate size, simple.

What Real Estate Brokers Say Is Georgian – gargantuan, bells & whistles:
Like this,

like this,

and, of course, like this.

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396 Round Hill Road

Great moments in real estate pricing?
This is a really nice house, designed and built by one of my favorite architects, Alex Kali-Nagy. Really – he has a great eye for proportion and each room in every house he’s done seems just right; this house is no exception. But I do wonder at how he’s trying to sell this place.

It was first listed at $8.950 in early 2005 and didn’t move. In November of that year he withdrew that price and replaced it, the same day, with a new one: $10.9 million. That didn’t work so he lopped off a million bucks four months later, eventually dropped it to $9.395 and watched it expire, unsold, in November 2006. In February of this year it returned to the market, four years older and priced at $11.5 million – it still won’t sell. Perhaps raising it to $125 million will do for this house what it didn’t do for Leona’s.

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Mark Mariani, Builder to the Stairs?


Why isn’t this man smiling?
Perhaps it’s because he’s just lowered the prices of two of his unsold projects, 10 Dairy Road (the terminal resting place of Andy Kissel, bound, stabbed and no longer investing in earthly things) from $10,750,000 to $8,450,000 and One Meadowcroft, from $14,500,000 to $13,500,000. The latter reduction is a mere 7% off ask, but a million bucks is still a million bucks, or so I was led to believe.

So how’s this town’s most aggressive spec builder doing? From what I hear, he tells anyone who’ll listen that he’s doing just fine, “no worries, mate”. But he has at least three unsold projects on the market and, if this article’s right, 250 people on his payroll. That’s a lot, eh?

By the way, for an interesting look back at Hedge Fund Greenwich as it was just a year ago, check out this article in Vanity Fair. Things have changed – permanently? I doubt it; we’re all just waiting for the next crop of Masters of the Universe to emerge from the primordial ooze. Though I do worry, sometimes, that we natives are like the Cargo Cultists of Vanuatu who were blessed during World War II by manna falling from heaven when planes were shot down or had to ditch. For years after that conflict ended (and in fact, continuing today) the natives constructed crude replicas of airplanes, hoping to encourage the Gods to return with more largess. Should we be building mock trading floors?

Update: I notice that 10 Dairy Road’s address has been changed back to its original number, 8. Did the Post Office require this or did Mariani decide that the stigma attaching to the property because of Mr. Kissel’s unfortunate demise had passed? Beats me.
A reader asked about the third Mariani spec house on Sabine Farms (actually, 27 Doverton, off of Sabine). That house is a mirror image to the Dairy Road house but, perhaps because of its location off Round Hill Road, was originally priced at $11.750 million. Now it’s down to $8.450 so it’s obvious that, at least as Mariani has come to see things, identical houses should command identical prices, regardless of location (or dead bodies).

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