Daily Archives: July 24, 2009

Here’s a boost for open immigration

Eight-year-old girl raped by four boys. Her father blames her, doesn’t want her back. Fresh from Liberia, it seems, where this is the controlling ethos, but why are they here?

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Newspapers fight back

The Associated Press, owned by 1400 newspapers in this country, wants bloggers (and Google) to  stop doing this. If you link to their content they want payment. The counter argument, that links drive readers to their member papers, doesn’t seem to mollify them because they can’t seem to make money from readers. Well if it happens, my guess is that bloggers will work around it. Blogging became a worldwide phenomenon on September 11 and the days and weeks after that tragedy, as readers wanted the latest news and scoured the world internet to find it. Individual papers never understood that desire or responded to it: for example, Greenwich Time updates its web site once a day, after the print version has been set. That’s typical, and readers are no longer content to wait 24 hours for updates. So I think this is just one more losing battle in conventional journalism’s doomed battle to survive.

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President Obama apologizes

The Prez called the Cambridge officer and apologized. That was good enough for the officer, it ought to be good enough for all of us. There are enough problems facing our country. Besides, it’s a class act for the powerful to admit they’re wrong. Good for Obama.

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The shape of things to stay

Greenwich YMCA circa 2020

Greenwich YMCA circa 2020

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Here’s one to watch

26 Mohawk Lane

26 Mohawk Lane

This huge (13,000 sq.ft.) house was listed at $8 million in 2006 and I never thought it would sell for anywhere like that amount – not on Mohawk Lane, off of Stag Lane, off of Stanwich and in one of the less convenient areas of town. It took years but it did sell, and for $7.5 million. Shows what I know.

And now I may be about to be shown up again because it’s back on the market for even more, $7.850 million and I still don’t think anyone will pay that much, four-car garage and elevator notwithstanding. I mean, couldn’t I at least get a pool for that kind of money?

But we’ll see. Someone liked it enough to pay through the nose for it last year and maybe there’s another ..er, “buyer” waiting in the wings now, too.

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land values sinking

I haven’t seen 109 Dingletown Road yet because it just came on today but it’s 1 1973 builder’s special with a weird layout (just 2 bedrooms upstairs, for instance), no updates and those magic code words “not a drive by” which of course means, it is a drive by – keep going. But it’s on 2.3 acres of land so it must be worth something as a building lot. Its assessed value is $1.9 million so someone in the assessor’s office thought it was worth a fair bit of change a few years ago. Its opening price today is just $1.649 – significantly down from where it would have started in 2005. And where it ends up ….

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Obama channels Nixon: it’s the media’s fault!

Obama now says that the press is to blame for him calling that Cambridge cop stupid. Too bad that newsconference was televised.

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Price cuts today but no contracts

4 Druid

4 Druid

This house on Druid in Riverside sold via bidding war for $2,000,010 in 2004. It came back on a few months ago for $2.295 and today dropped to $1.900. Assessed value is $1.3 million. I remember looking at this house back when I was in Mrs. Wilson’s First Grade classroom across the street and wondering why someone didn’t yank off those columns. No one ever has in the fifty years since but an architect critic was born.

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Like water running out of a tub

63 Maple

63 Maple

This spec job, a Patriot Bank project, has a number of issues, including a busy street, a siting below grade and not much of a yard. None of these issues dissuaded the builder from trying to get $5.1 for the house and she stuck to that price longer than I might have advised. But she’s making u[p for lost time now, beginning with a price cut to $4.995 June 17, $4.775 July 20 and $4.595 today. By the end of the weekend, this may be quite a bargain.

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Another builder dodges a bullet

30 Nearwater

30 Nearwater

This spec house in the PELINOPOR* district of Riverside was originally listed for $3.195 million but even with price cuts, I didn’t think the developer was going to walk away with his shirt intact. Nothing in this area had sold for even close to $2 million and I doubted that this was the house to break that record. But then a few weeks ago 8 Loading Rock, just down the street and hugely discounted from it’s own stupid price of $3.695, sold for $2.350. That must have inspired the Gods because they sent a buyer to this one and it has now sold for $2.415. Wow. Out of town broker, or need I point that out?

*people living north of Post Road

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What do you do with a project no one wants?

340 Valley Rd

340 Valley Rd

The developer who put up ten condominium units at 340 Valley Rd in Cos Cob probably thought he’d achieved a coup when he fought the town and forced them to permit such a large development. That was the last thing he won, though. The units have been completed since 2007 yet only two have sold: #3, for $2.3 million in July, 2008 and #5, for $2.360 in January, 09. Unit 8 rented a year ago April for the astonishing rent of $11,000 per month but that may have terminated by now. In any event, at least seven of these sit empty. Sp how do you sell them? They’re perfectly nice free-standing houses which should appeal to weekenders and empty-nesters, but I can’t even begin to give price guidance on these. They obviously aren’t worth their asking price but what is the value of one unit in a faltering complex? The only advice I can give is to wait for the foreclosure, if there ever is one, and buy then after several others have  sold.

In all this time the developer has barely budged the price – down about $200,000, with most units once priced at $2.1 million and now asking $1.9 million. The developer could just be obstinate and well-funded enough to wait a decade until he gets his price but more likely is his lender being shortsighted and refusing to adjust the “release price” – the dollar amount that must be paid before a lender releases a particular unit from its lien. Whoever is the stubborn one here, it’s killing all possibility of sales. Clearly, the original pricing for these has failed, and they won’t sell until they come down: I’m guessing $1.3, but that could be way too pessimistic. Or not, but unless a significant price cut is taken, these aren’t going anywhere. And I’m sure that makes the buyers of #3 and 5 delirious with joy. I wonder if they’ve asked their agent yet what exactly it was about these units that caused her to recommend them in the first place?

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Who wants a McMansion? Fewer of us, it seems

So says the Wall Street Journal, citing a recent survey of architects about thier clients’ desires. Of course, everything is relative: what the Journal describes as a “mansion” – over 3,000 sq. ft., passes as a starter home here in Greenwich. And the article points out that as the economy improves people demand larger houses so don’t sigh in relief quite yet.

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We need this like we need a hole in the ground

Just as the town seems to be getting around to filling the cavern on West Putnam Avenue where the BMW dealership never went, we have the YMCA, draped in FEMA blue tarps and scaffolding, sitting idle for what looks like will be years. These guys had quite the business plan: alienate your older members, push out the men and turn the whole operation into some kind of feel-good, New Age “Family Center”, with colored sheets, soft guitars and meditation music. Hard to believe it didn’t work. Harder still to believe that the Y brought this on itself by hiring a director whose sole previous accomplishment had been to bankrupt a Y in California. Now he’s two for two and gone, and we’re left looking like St. Croix after Hurricane Hugo. Nice job, gentlemen (and ladies).

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Old Greenwich new construction – a sale!

127 Shore Road

127 Shore Road

This was a nice house, good construction, on a fairly busy street and a smallish yard (0.3 acre) even for Old Greenwich. Its builder originally priced it at $4.2 million which might have proved to aggressive even during boom times but he had the unfortunate timing to finish it last year, wheh the market had already started dying. Nonetheless, it sold yesterday for $3.3, which is a good price for the builder, in this market. I’m just grateful it sold, at any price, because I now have a couple of recent comps: Ford Lane, Sylvan and this to help evaluate land values down there. That’s been tough to do recently.

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GreenwichTime – give it time, it’ll get the story

A week after you read it here, Greenwich Time has discovered that the contractors for the YMCA disaster have walked off the job and liened it. I won’t gloat; I have the advantage in living and working from town instead of trying to run a local paper from Bridgeport.

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