Daily Archives: April 26, 2012

Another part of my life slips away

Pete Fornatale

Pete Fornatale has died after a brief illness. If you grew up around here in the late 60’s, early 70’s, you probably heard him on WNEW – he was one of the pioneers in that early FM period when advertisers were few, corporate suits hadn’t appeared and a few brave souls like Pete could play what they liked, when they liked it, all without playlists, top-40 formats and accountants.

I lost track of the man after I left town and drifted more into classical music, but I rediscovered him in the late 90s when I also discovered 90.7 WFUV, and its own free form radio. Pete had gone full circle, from his “Campus Caravan” show at Fordham when he was a student there in 1967 to now, where he put on a four-hour show, “Mixed Bag” on Saturdays from 4-8. He enriched my life. He always had a theme to his show – obviously he spent many hours before Saturday preparing – and between old artists, new ones and tapes of interviews with people like Paul Simon, John Lennon, James Taylor, et als I relived that portion of my misspent youth and was made glad. We established an email friendship over the years but like so many relationships in this age of the Internet we never got together, never even met.

Fornatale aired his last show two weeks ago Saturday; this past Saturday his show was cancelled because he’d suddenly entered the hospital. And now he’s dead. That’s a merciful ending, but his loss saddens me. Damn.

UPDATE: Obituary/bio here


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Contract reported

19 Boulder Brook, $3.275 million. I thought this was a good house when I saw it at an open house at the end of March and said so at the time. Just under a month to sell which in this market is pretty good. You can sell your house, at least in the under $5 range, if you’ll price it so that buyers can see value. This is obviously not a fire sale price, just a good one.


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Stirrings in the elephant graveyard

They move slowly, if at all, but we’re seeing a little price movement in the uber-priced listings that otherwise just won’t sell. Here are three just from today:

25 Grahampton

25 Grahampton Lane down to $15.2 million from May ’11’s price of $17.4. Gracious old (1931) “Greenwich” mansion on eight acres, a marvelous piece of property. But 13,000 + square feet at this price is proving a hard sell.

12 Baldwin Farms South, marked down to $6.150 after starting at $12.495 back in 2007. Foreclosure brought a little sanity to the situation and it reappeared in September, 2011 at $7.499, dropped a cool million in November and now this. One of the stranger houses I’ve seen, combining a pseudo-French Villa exterior with some kind of provincial farm house thing going on inside. Still, at the right price …

And there’s 94 Meadow Wood, down in Belle Haven. Asked $7.150 in 2008 and eventually dropped to $5.195. Last year, when it was asking $5.295 it reported an accepted offer. That fell through and the disappointed sellers punished the rest of us by raising the price to $5.895. Today’s price cut shows how that worked out.


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Another tragedy for the Green movement

Sunshine on my shoulder makes me sappy

Swiss woman declares that she’ll live solely on sunshine, dies. Between Al Gore being named to its Internet Hall of Fame and now this,  I’m really having to rethink my opinion that those Alpine cheese-eaters lack a sense of humor.

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Deep fried flour arrives in Old Greenwich

Dunkin Donuts has opened. No line outside, so I guess it’s not an Apple store. The town did keep them from putting up a purple awning, which is nice – wonder why Cos Cob didn’t get the same relief?


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But will they notice the difference?

Egypt to permit husbands to have sex with their dead wives


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So when did they become forecasters?


Computer Model

Models call for less rain than expected


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Open house results

41 Wesskum Wood

And we’re back. I really liked 41 Wesskum Wood Road in Riverside, asking $2.745 million. I was dubious about that price when it came on yesterday and perhaps I still am, a little, but once inside I discovered that its been totally renovated and expanded – it even has a complete set of new double-pane windows (!) my favorite feature in a house because they’re expensive, don’t do much to help resale value because buyers ignore them yet save fuel and make a house so much more comfortable. To me, new windows in a renovation are a sign that the homeowner was going for quality and not just flash that would add to the bottom line.

The yard’s been mostly sacrificed to accommodate the new addition out back but it’s serviceable and Riverside school’s playground is just up the street if the kiddies need exercise. Besides, these days they’ll either be inside playing on-line poker or off playing organized travel sports but certainly not playing ball with their friends in the back yard. Their loss.

49 Shore Rd

I also went to see 49 A Shore Road, which I thought was brave of me after sticking it to it just yesterday for seeking $3.795 a year after paying $2.650. Listing Agent Ann Simpson, a friend for almost thirty years, which explains my bravery, was there to give me a list of what they’d done in that year and some history: it was bought in a short sale last year but the builders had made a complete botch of things. The new owners had to completely dig up the yard to waterproof the basement, remove space on the third floor to comply with FAR and get a CO which the builders had neglected to do, move walls, redo bathrooms, and so on. It’s understandable that these builders lost all three of their Greenwich projects to foreclosure – like many out-of-town contractors, they hear “Greenwich” and think they can put up any old piece of crap, price it in the stratosphere and get rich. Well they can’t – only native Greenwich builders can get away with that.

So anyway, it’s now a nice house and probably not completely out of line with what houses are selling for in Old Greenwich these days.


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Foreign Corrupt Practices Act

Hey, Amigo, keep it under your hat

This is a bullshit piece of legislation that ensnared Greenwich resident Frederick Bourke among countless others. Every single defendant who’s gone to trial under this law has been convicted which ought to tell you something about its wide net and overbroad provisions because prosecutors aren’t so good that they can bat 1,000. If they do, then the law is bad.

My friend Walter Olson discusses the law and WalMart’s Mexican troubles today and details some of the abuses of the Act. Olson describes FCPA as “a feel-good piece of overcriminalization that Congress should never have passed”. Couldn’t agree more. Read his article for more.


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Accepted offer in Mid-Country

4 Dogwood Lane

4 Dogwood Lane (off Parsonage) has an accepted offer after just ten days, so I guess its price of $2.560 was a good one. A 1942 house (must have been one of the last houses built before WWII expanded), 4,369 square feet on 1.16 acres in the 2-acre zone so if you include the garage it’s over the 4,547 sq.ft. FAR limit – thank you, Peter Berg, but how much space do you really need? Nice yard, good location and good-looking house.


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Sale prices reported

Older contracts but sales yesterday so now we know their prices.

18 Byram Dock Street

18 Byram Dock Street, $2.2 million. Not bad for direct waterfront. I like the street and the location, but I’m single and my children have grown up. So who says a house has to meet the needs of every buyer?

19  11 Dorchester Lane, Riverside, $2.055. (check link above and scroll) Plain vanilla with some highway noise but perfectly okay house, good location for Riverside School, Eastern and the train. Seems about right.


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Even Mariani Magic, even a Meadowcroft address can’t save this bubble house

Prepare for takeoff

32 Meadowcroft dropped $950,000 today, down from $11,450 million to $10.5. It started a year ago at $12.575 million. This is a typical Mariani design (I think he has just one) with the addition of a weird bubble – like appendage on its south end. Otherwise, the house looks like his houses on Dairy Road, Doverton and on and on. Same floor plans, same look and feel and always the same skimpy pool with some cheap flagstones scattered on the grass as an ironic suggestion of real stonework. I don’t like the Mariano house much.

But whether I like his model or not doesn’t count – it’s buyers who do, and they’ve spoken: this is a pretentious house that is merely a duplicate of the others. Even marked down $2 million from its original price, it’s still got a ways to go. In my opinion, of course: you’re free to disagree and head up there with your checkbook.

12 Meadowcroft

UPDATE: He’s dropped the price of his other Meadowcroft spec house, number 12, too. $10,950, down from the original 2008 price of $12.825. Same huge size: 13,391 sq. ft., same basic objections.


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The collectivists are swarming


(photo by EOS)

In the future, no one will want a $250,000 suburban home . The author predicts that surging oil prices will force us all back to the cities, which he seems to think is a good thing and of course, he has the solution:

Advantages will accrue, therefore, to US residential real estate near rail  lines. Cities that wish to thrive will need to face up to these realities soon  by halting all investment in roads and highways, diverting transport funding to  rail and BRT (Bus Rapid Transit), and by extending these transport networks  further into residential communities through walking and bike paths.

As noted here before, the left collectivists have always hated pesky people who don’t want to live above or below their neighbors in multi-story apartment buildings or be dependent on a bureaucrat’s determination of when and where they should move about. So single family homes and cars are an anathema and they’ve been trying for decades to shut them both down.

I hope this guy is wrong and the dream of urban planners to reclaim captive families and cram them into eco-friendly beehives where everyone walks to mass meetings to hear Hugo Chavez lecture them for hours, but I fear he may be right – the brave new world approaches.

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30 day decisions on short sales? Don’t hold your breath

New guidelines from the Feds require FHA and certain other lenders (Wells Fargo, Chase and others who participated in the recent settlement) do make a decision, yeah or nay, on short sale offers from buyers within thirty days of receipt. The regulations immediately weaken that with a provision, “not more than thirty but in no event more than sixty”) but even that’s optimistic – the banks simply aren’t staffed to do this. Maybe they’ll add more people but I’m guessing that, just like earlier attempts to address the problem oh lengthy delays in the short sale process, this one will go nowhere.

But it’d be nice if it did.

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These are the people we’re counting on to save our country

Faced with the impending collapse of the US Postal Service, Congress still refuses to let it shut down money-losing branches, curtail Saturday deliveries or slash benefits to its unionized workers, but one Democrat Senator has an even better answer: build wind farms to power the USPS delivery fleet.


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