Monthly Archives: April 2009

Where will we go? What will we do?

Moving on

Moving on

Word around town is that the Fabulous Noel Girls are bemoaning their fate and weeping that “we’re going to get sued and lose all our money”. The Observer reports that Marisa’s town house, purchased for $13.5 million and carrying a $9 million mortgage, is up for sale, gutted, for $11 million. Good luck with that, girl.

Says one agent:

“I’m trying to get one of my clients to buy it. They apparently did all the demolition but can’t fix it up, or don’t want to,” the broker said. “I told my guy he should offer them $8 million—because it’s still a million dollars to fix this up.” An $8 million sale would mean the couple would lose at least $5.5 million on the house. “It’s literally the kind of thing that inspired me to call people who aren’t in the market for real estate, because people say, ‘If you hear of a really desperate situation, call me.’”

That guy sounds like someone who should be working with Frankie and me.

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Realtor speak

A client now working with me tells the story of viewing property with another agent some time ago when they pulled up to a listing. “Is that the Merritt Parkway?” asks the buyer. “Oh, I don’t think so,”says the highly-trained professional. “We’re nowhere close to it.”

“So what is that traffic I see through the woods, going 60 Miles per hour?’

The realtor pauses, screwing her pretty face into a thoughtful expression and then says, “you know what I love about houses near the Merritt? The traffic noise becomes just like a babbling brook after a little while.”

As I said, that buyer now works with me. Hell, I just pass out ear plugs and tell my people they should be grateful to be in Greenwich. Works every time.

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A timeless house (with a price) from another era

293 Stanwich

293 Stanwich

This spec house has four bedrooms, 5,000 sq. ft. (maybe 8, if you include basement space – I don’t, even if it’s finished with a pool hall) and is asking $4.5 million. I don’t think it’s going to fetch nearly $1,000 sq. ft. but if spec builders didn’t dream, bankruptcy lawyers would starve. Love those plantings.

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Unconfirmed rumor but just dumb enough to be true

I hear from a reader that a property that sold in the $4s a few years ago and saw a $9 million house erected on the land is now “quietly” on the market for $18,000,000. If I were so silly as to try for a profit in this market I’d want to keep quiet too – the scorn and ridcule heaped on my shoulders would just be too much to bear.

UPDATE: Confirmed. I’m told it’s a beautiful house and I’m sure it is. Riverside waterfront, with the babbling brook/white noise machine of I-95 to soothe you off to slumberland. Okay by me.

UPDATE II: $19.5 asking, but that includes his and her pairs of top-of-the-line Bose noise cancelling earmuffs.

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We finally break the $8 million barrier

Until yesterday, nothing had sold in the $8 millions this year. But now 36 Andrews Farm, new construction listed at $9.250, is reported sold for $8.325. Gorgeous construction, so it’s understandable that it fetched so much, but its sale must be a relief for sellers, who all think their own offering is the same quality. It probably isn’t, but that’s another matter. Sellers will have sweet dreams for the next couple of weeks. Until the next spec house falls.

UPDATE: there are about 38 houses for sale priced between $7.5 and 410 million (in answer to a previous question, there are 384 priced between $1 and $10 million). I ran an eye over those listings and with only a few – 3 or 4 exceptions, none are either the quality or have the same value location as 37 Andrews. So if Andrews fetched $8.3 million, it suggests to me that a lot of sellers owe themselves a  serious look at their own price.

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Old Greenwich steps into the spotlight

I expressed my disappointment yesterday that Thomas Athan, A.I.G. executive now being investigated for fraud, didn’t show up on the property rolls, because I’d been hoping that we would see a Round Hill Road Trifecta, with Walt, Bourke (did I get the spelling right, Walt?) and then an Athan.

It was not to be, but a reader says he lives in Old Greenwich. Good enough – same town, and we’re keeping up appearance, so that’s alright.

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BLT eats Antares’ lunch

Last remnants of the Cabrera / Beninati empire ceded to BLT, who has vacuumed up everything the boys once claimed ownership interests in, for pennies on the dollar.

Norwalk-based developer Building and Land Technology on Tuesday took over management, leasing and construction services of the last set of Stamford office buildings that belonged to Antares Investment Partners.

Antares, a real estate firm founded in Greenwich, once controlled more than a million square feet of office space in the Stamford.

The eight buildings are Stamford Harbor Park at 333 Ludlow St., Clearwater House at 2187 Atlantic St., the four-building Stamford Harbour Square on Canal Street, One Dock Street and Holly Pond Plaza at 1281 East Main St. The largest is the 393,000-square-foot Stamford Harbor Park.

This month, BLT also took over management of office buildings at 600 Summer St. in downtown Stamford and Stamford Landing on Southfield Avenue from Antares. The four-building Stamford Landing complex also includes the Crab Shell and Paradise restaurants.

Antares, which has [had, actually - Ed] offices in Stamford and Greenwich, could not be reached Tuesday.

Last year, BLT took control of the 80-acre Harbor Point project in Stamford’s South End from Antares. The 6-million-square-foot project is slated to contain office buildings, a Fairway supermarket, hotel, condominiums, park, rental apartments, retail buildings and a private school.

BLT controls another former Antares project in the South End, the proposed 323,000-square-foot Gateway office complex across Washington Boulevard from the Stamford train station. That empty parcel on the Mill River contained the former Manger Electronics, another old factory building and multifamily houses.

Antares, which is run by James Cabrera and Joseph Beninati, hit snags in its quest to redevelop the old industrial areas of the South End, said Jim Fagan, senior managing director of the Connecticut and Westchester County, N.Y., operations of New York City-based Cushman & Wakefield Inc. commercial real estate.

“The Antares guys are good real estate professionals,” Fagan said. “They certainly grew very quickly and were, unfortunately, caught in the downturns in the economy and the office market. They are very smart people, and I am sure that their futures will be bright once again.”

Bright as a funeral pyre.

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Price war bite back

23 Stanwich Road was listed for $1.995 million in 2005 and sold via bidding war for $2.275. Ah, for the good old days. The “winner” of that bidding war has been trying to unload the house for some time now and today dropped its price again, to $1.799. I’m not gloating or calling the buyer foolish – those were the market conditions then. Those same conditions now dictate that the price is worth $475,000 less. Ow.

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Spec House bites the dust

477 Riversville Road, a 12,000 sq. ft. bit of new construction on 6 acres was listed today for $4.795 and already hqas a buyer, according to the broker, so she’s just posting it for the record. Or she’s setting up a short sale,by listing it at that price, scaring away buyers by telling them it’s sold and then selling it far cheaper herself. But that would be unethical, so lets assume it came on and is gone.

$4.795 is a daunting price for this house, originally projected to list for $9 million, but I’ll let you in on a secret: we (Farricker and Fountain) had a deal on if for much less. This sale is just one more in a series of spec houses hitting earth with a thud. As that movie would have it, “there will be blood”.

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Arlen specter switches parties

Who will notice the difference? I suppose this helps the Democrats with their bullet-proof majority but they already have that. Better they get a crook like Specter on their side and the Republicans further remove themselves from the debacle to come. Good riddance, Arlen.

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Fair weather fiance

Craig’s List murderer’s wedding cancelled.

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Who is John Galt?

Bankers set to leave England as tax raised to 50%. Fifty percent is just a start, of course, just as it will be here. The politicos have declared class warfare and the mob loves it:

The proposal, part of the 2010 budget, is likely to go ahead after Conservative Party leader David Cameron said April 24 that reversing the 50 percent rate wasn’t a priority. About 57 percent of Britons have a “positive view” of the plan.

My own end of world scenario suggests that the mob will pull down western civilization long before it runs out of successful people to feed on, but it would be nice if the wealthy left now and forced the mob to turn on itself sooner, rather than later.

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What does it mean to “take responsibility”?

It’s clear that President Obama was as ignorant as Mayor Bloomberg about what the Air Force One guys had in store for New York this morning and it’s not his fault that bozos took control. But I was struck by this bit of coverage of the event:

The White House Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel, conveyed the president’s anger in a meeting with the director of the White House Military Office, Louis Caldera, who issued the apology “Last week, I approved a mission over New York. I take responsibility for that decision,” Mr. Caldera said. “While federal authorities took the proper steps to notify state and local authorities in New York and New Jersey, it’s clear that the mission created confusion and disruption. I apologize and take responsibility for any distress that flight caused.”

Having “taken responsibility” for the incident, what does Mr. Caldera intend to do? Hanging himself seems harsh – resigning does not. Hand wringing and saying “sorry”, which is the extent of his contrition so far, doesn’t amount to anything. And, while we’re examining the behavior of appointed officials, can we address the President’s press secretary who dismissed reporters’ questions about a plan attacking New York with a snide, “it might surprise you to learn that I don’t keep track of every movement of Air Force One”? If he’s still alive, Ron Ziegler could step in and replace this dolt to better effect.

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Antares saga continues

Word I have is that Antares files for bankruptcy this week. Another interesting tidbit is that the boys are on the line with some pretty hefty personal guaranties – large enough to take away those side-by-side Mooreland mansions from their wives. Well, it’s a good thing that they evicted all the old folks from Putnam Green before the condo project failed – plenty of empty apartments for Jimmy and Joe to find shelter in at a moderate price. That’s assuming the new landlord doesn’t require a credit check.

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Adios, Country Living

Back in January or so I posted that Country Living Associates was going down. I was flooded with angry emails threatening all sorts of dire punishments if I continued to malign their fine name and business prospects, so I removed the post.

They shut their doors Friday.

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The rockets go up, who cares where they come down?

Old song. Anyway, I see that 204 Lyons Farm West sold today for $855,000, a fair bit lower than its asking price of  $1.175. I remember when Lyons Farm units began breaking the million dollar barrier and being a tad dubious. Seems that we’re seeing them come down closer to earth.

On the other hand, 32 Twin Lakes Drive (really Gilliam Lane) in Riverside is back on the market, still asking $13.5 million. I’m not impressed. It has an acre and a half of yard, which is good, but the water access was sold off years ago so you’re left with just views and, half the day, those views are of mudflats framed by neighboring houses. The house itself is old, old old and, although the listing says it has been “complete renovated” [sic] it looks as tired and beat up when the 12 Fritsche kids were tearing things apart down there in the 1960s. As land, I suppose it would fetch $4.5 million, maybe. If the remaining $9 million is for the house, someone admires old, leaky leaded windows more than I.

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Slow Monday for Greenwich real estate

Not that slow, in fact, because we did see four contracts come in but with the exception of Calhoun at $5 million plus, all were under $1 million. But, as that reader’s dinner companion pointed out, “at least the high end is holding up.” Not selling, mind you, but holding up, and isn’t that a comfort.

One nifty old house came back on the market, 25 Field Point Road, down 20%, to $10,000,000 from its first price of $12.5 million. I love the place – great architecture and an excellent location, though the new listing describes it as “adjoining the Belle Haven Waterfront Association”. The keen legal scholar in me interprets that to mean “not in the Belle Haven Association” – I really don’t know the effect that has on $10 million buyers. Here’s the house, anyway:

25-field-point

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Where’d they go?

Walt complains that he’s having trouble reaching his old pals at Fairfield Greenwich Group and hasn’t a clue where the Antares boys have got to. Last week I published an iPhone shot of Walt’s own reserved, empty parking space at 2 Sound Shore Drive – all the other FGG slots are empty, too and the name’s been taken off the building directory.

As for the boys, if you go to Antares.com, you get this:

ANTARES

WEBSITE WILL BE AVAILABLE SOON

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We’re in the best of hands

Let’s say you’re a federally – protected worker in the White House Military Group and you think it would be kinda neat to send a 747, chased by a flock of military jets, zooming by Wall Street and over the remains of the World Trade Center. Do you: notify NYC?; alert anyone down there that you’ll be showing up?; or do what you damn well please, because you’re with the White House and who the hell can stop you or complain?

The last option was exercised, of course, causing panic and building evacuations throughout the downtown area. Surprise, guys! Just kidding!

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Contracts

24 Calhoun Drive

24 Calhoun Drive

Three reported already today. Two are for houses under a million but this big boy on Calhoun was listed at $5.595 million and went to contract in just 53 days, which I will assume means there was an offer somewhere close to asking.

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