Daily Archives: March 11, 2016

Oh! Well, never mind


Who ya gonna believe, me or your own lying’ eyes?

Connecticut’s estimated new job creation numbers for 2015 have smashed into reality, and have now been cut by half: 12,000 jobs, not 25.

Economists say the new data shows the state’s economy was significantly weaker last year than previously thought, with a new annual growth rate of just 0.6 percent as opposed to the 1.6 percent growth rate reported in December. The total number of jobs recovered since the Great Recession also dropped considerably, to 72.8 percent.

Experts said the revisions were dire. “The Connecticut economy is facing major obstacles to growth heading into 2016 and growing weakness in key metrics is becoming readily available,” said Don Klepper-Smith, founder of New Haven-based DataCore Partners and a consultant to Webster Bank.

While he had predicted Connecticut would complete full job recovery this year, Klepper-Smith said that is no longer the case given the new picture of the economy painted by the revised figures.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, who just recently touted the state’s job growth in recent years, said the latest report, while demonstrating progress, [WTF?] is “also emblematic of our new economic reality.”

“We have been positioning the state to support long-term growth to meet our new reality as we work to make changes that will lead to even greater gains in both total job growth and overall wages,” he said. “I won’t be satisfied until everyone who wants a job has one.”

Condon said a revision of this size from benchmarking is extremely rare, and that he’s only seen something similar once before in his career while working in another state. Benchmarking, he explained, is the process by which the estimated numbers are revised using more realistic data that’s only available on a bi-annual basis.

“It’s rare but it does happen,” he said. “A significant downward revision has changed the picture from a good, healthy annual growth to a growth that could only be described as modest.”

The significant revision also poses problems for those who rely on the data to make assessments on the economy, he said.

Raise taxes on the rich – that’ll fix this.


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The champion of the little people goes to Cuba

Cuban torture

No hope, no change

And he’s bringing with him three big businesses to celebrate 

With just over a week until Mr. Obama’s March 20 visit, at least three companies— AT&T Inc., Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide, Inc. and Marriott International—are expected to announce agreements with Cuban government-run entities, according to company and U.S. officials.

They will be among the high-profile first deals notched since Mr. Obama said in December 2014 that the U.S. would move to restore ties with Cuba after more than 50 years of Cold War enmity. Since then, the Obama administration has loosened travel and trade restrictions for a variety of industries, betting that closer business ties between the U.S. and Cuba will cement the administration’s policy of normalization.

That’s the big news – catering to huge corporations, but no detail is too small for Obama to neglect if it involves a new way to exploit the subjugated and glorify a communist dictator.

The White House has also been in touch with Major League Baseball and several cruise lines about completing agreements while Mr. Obama is in Havana. Mr. Obama is scheduled to attend an exhibition game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Cuban National Team on March 22.

His attendance there will come amid discussions among the U.S., Cuba and MLB about allowing Cuban players to come to the U.S. to play legally in the U.S.

Cuba would love to monetize its baseball talent, just as it has its doctors by shipping them off to other countries for cash. If he has time to, it wouldn’t surprise me if our Dear Leader works a real to bring those doctors here, too, just to give the Castros a helping hand.


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And one more price cut, just in time for weekend shoppers

474 North Street

474 North Street

474 North Street drops from $3.595 million to $3.495, though I’m not sure why they bothered; go big or the shoppers will stay home, in my experience. And speaking of experience, this house has a lot of it in terms of market exposure, having started at $5.495 million back in 2006 and returning, again and again, to test the still-hostile waters. I showed it to clients in, I think, 2012 or 2013, when it had dropped to the low $4s, but they weren’t inclined to pay more than low $3s, given a few of its quirks, its rather tired condition after being rented out, and its immediate proximity to the road. The owners did not invite any bid that wasn’t close to their ask, so we passed. Sellers like this like to say, “no one’s going to steal my house!”, and they’re right. Problem is, no one is going to buy it either.

All that said, you can fix everything except the location here, and it’s, all in all, a decent house. After 10 years, its price seems to be approaching a reasonable level. Who knows? Maybe the owners won’t still own this in 2026.


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Price cut

42 Mooreland Rd

42 Mooreland Road

42 Moreland Road, which started off at $26,080 in 2012 and has been looking for a buyer ever since, has dropped again and now asks $19.8 million. Built by Joe Beninati, of Antares infamy, for himself and his family, it’s completely over the top. That may appeal to someone, but Beninati’s gone from Greenwich, his company collapsed, and his residential business never got off the ground, so the judgment of the market seems to be that no one shares his taste.

But at some price ….


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One sale reported today (so far)

19 Dingletown

19 Dingletown Road

19 Dingletown Road. Started at $2.395 million, closed at $2.070. I liked it, and liked its price. Obviously, someone else agreed and, unlike my meaningless opinion, put his money behind his.

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Contingent contracts reported

10 Cobb Island Drive

10 Cobb Island Drive $3.695 million

10 Cobb Island Drive, asking $3.695 million, reports a contract just 56 days after listing. Very nicely renovated, but not on the waterside (maybe that’s a plus these days), and still hammered by Thruway noise, at least to my ears.

Regardless, news of the deal must be annoying to the owners of 20 Cobb Island, right next door – their house, priced at $2.295, same 1993 development, same basic design, has been languishing since 2013.


20 Cobb

20 Cobb Island Drive

Next harbor over, in Greenwich, 215 Shore Road, also $2.295, has a contract too. Good house, nicely and recently renovated, but I’m a little skeptical of the “water views” shown – how’d they position the camera?

215 Shore Road

215 Shore Road, Greenwich


sewage plant, greenwich

Grass Island sewage plant, looking toward Shore Road


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Saying what we all know is politically incorrect, and also why he’s leading

Death to America

Barry O’Bama leads his fellows in a demonstration on the White House lawn

Trump refuses to back down on assertion that Muslims hate America.

There is a ‘serious, serious problem of hate,’ Trump said during a GOP debate tonight in Miami, Florida.

He added: ‘There is tremendous hate, there is tremendous hate.’

Trump originally made the assertion yesterday during an CNN interview.

While not going as far as to say all 1.6 billion Muslims despise America, the Republican presidential candidate did not separate radical Islamic terrorism and the Islam as a faith.

At tonight’s debate, coincidentally hosted by CNN, network anchor Jake Tapper asked Trump the question again.

‘I mean a lot of them, I mean a lot of them,’ Trump said.

The businessman declined an opportunity to ‘clarify’ his remarks.

Marco Rubio countered Trump and said, ‘I know that a lot of people find appeal in the things Donald says cause he says what people wish they could say.

‘The problem is, presidents can’t just say anything they want. It has consequences, here and around the world.’

Trump replied, ‘Marco talks about consequences. Well, we’ve had a lot of consequences, including airplanes flying into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and could have been the White House.

… ‘You can say what you want, and you can be politically correct if you want. I don’t want to be so politically correct. I like to solve problems. We have a serious, serious problem of hate. ‘

At this point, it seems many Americans are willing to overlook the fact that The Donald didn’t offer a suggestion on how he would solve the problem; they just are ready for a politician who acknowledges one.

Islam is a political movement that uses a quasi-religion to further its goals, and if some group of adherents doesn’t approve of rape, beheading, child executions and mass hangings of homosexuals, there’s still a body of people out there, a billion strong, who do. And The Donald’s right: they hate America and wish to do us harm. Americans know that, and want to hear someone who hopes to lead this country say it. Trump obliges, the rest won’t.


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Greenwich P&Z – these are the people running your town and controlling your property values

A reader sends along the following article on the conduct of the P&Z , along with this commentary:

if you have nothing to get angry about, here’s a thought:  read this description of a hearing in greenwich about a proposal to build a rowing club on a river.  might make sense in any normal community.  but here, the approval process requires a proponent of anything to go before a group of no-nothings with huge egos and unlimited time.  you’d have to be crazy to want to do business in  greenwich, imo

Here’s most of the article, from Greenwich Free Press. I include so much of it so that the full flavor of the evening can be appreciated. Our P&Z has made almost any application to do anything to a residence an exercise in torture; what they do to businesses, even one that, like this, has a plan to clear up the blight along this side of River Road with exactly the “water dependent use” demanded in this zone, is just awful. Next up for this applicant is an appearance before our Architectural Review Board – whoo boy.

At Tuesday’s Planning & Zoning commission meeting, Howard Winklevoss, whose famous identical twin sons Tyler and Cameron rowed in the Olympics, did not get the green light he hoped for his new Row America Club.

The club is planned on the former Fjord Fisheries site at 89 River Road, the familiar red building having recently been demolished. Back in August, three properties – 89, 143 and 137 River Rd – were sold to Mr. Winklevoss’s River Road Development, LLC for a sum of $6 million.

Row America, which also operates clubs in Westport and Rye, seeks to build a facility to include a retail store for safety equipment, merchandise and boats; offices for coaches; lockers; lavatory facilities; exercise area and a conference room and a multi-purpose room for meetings.

When Mr. Winkelvoss, represented by attorney Thomas Heagney, made a comparison of parking patterns at his Westport Club, with the proposed parking in Greenwich for 66 cars plus 3 handicapped spots, that’s when the trouble began.

Commissioner Nancy Ramer said the Westport Row America includes a gym and restaurant, and the Greenwich location will not. “You have apples and oranges here, where parking is concerned,” she said.

As for the inclusion of offices, Mr. Winkelvoss said, “These are for our people, coaches and Row America club officials – they’re not corporate offices.”

Commissioner Richard Maitland said he was concerned that 16 machines in the training room would result in more than 16 people in that room at any one time. “It all comes down to parking,” he said.

Mr. Winkelvoss said young rowers don’t require parking. “They carpool and are mostly under age and don’t drive,” he said. Besides, he added, “We can’t handle 60 adults because we don’t have enough coaches.”

Row America

The commissioners listed all the uses of the facility that will increase demands on parking. There is a retail showroom. There are two conference rooms. There are offices. There are three kitchens.  There is a laundry area. There will be staff who drive to work in addition to coaches.

“I come up with 75 spaces,” Mr. Maitland said. “That’s plus or minus 43, plus 16 for erg machines, and 14 for the excess space around erg machines for other functional uses I know will happen. We were troubled when a rowing facility appeared before us before.” Mr. Maitland said an important goal of the WB Zone is to increase views of the water for the public ‘Was there any thought of turning the building 90° to increase visibility of the water?”

Mr. Heagney said a key feature of the building design are its expansive windows on both sides, allowing a view through to the water.

“This one gives great views of the water for the rowing club, but the WB zone’s principal goal is visibility of the water for the public,” Maitland replied.

Row America from back

“You’ve got two operations, in Westport and Rye, which we can check. You want your Greenwich location to be a central location for your activity. It’s a different ballgame than what we’re used to,” Mr. Heller said. “I don’t contest any of this. I congratulate you. I think this is a hell of a good thing for the town.”

“We think there’s a lot of Olympians in town, and we just want to bring them forward,” Mr. Winkelvoss said, adding that Mr. D’Andrea had laid out a good, safe traffic pattern. “We would never put the kids at risk. The lanes are clearly marked. Kids aren’t milling around. They’re standing there waiting for their mothers to pick them up.”

“I want to see a layout of where you’re doing your set-up during the switch over,” commissioner Andy Fox said. He also asked why the layout of the walkway was in a semi-circle instead of a straight line, pointing out that the commission would like to see a continuous boardwalk. He also asked why it wasn’t 10 ft wide, noting that the boardwalk is 10 ft wide at Greenwich Water Club.

Mrs. Alban said she was concerned that there was a loss of continuity of the boardwalk, both in its distance from the water, its width and its material, which is not not boards.

“Has there been conversations between the three clubs?” Town Planner Katie DeLuca asked. “How how will the traffic in the narrow channel be coordinated? Who is in charge?”

Mr. Winkelvoss said Jamie Koven is establishing a non-profit Greenwich Rowing Foundation that he hopes will bring together the three rowing clubs for cooperation.

“We reached out to Brunswick and the Greenwich Water Club. We need to work together so our kids will all be safe,”Mr. Winkelvoss said. “We kind of got the cold shoulder from the Greenwich Water Club, but we’ll work that out.”

As for coordinating traffic on the water, Winkelvoss said, “You can’t have a buoy line in a federal channel. We’re working hard to get a separate, dredged channel and piggyback that onto the dredge next fall. We think we have a wonderful wealthy gentlemen who will fund that, or we can fund it together so we get a separate wide channel. If not, we’ll just have to go out on the right and come back on the left.”

Commissioners pointed out that there is no on street parking on River Road, which is well traveled and traffic moves quickly. Specifically, they asked the applicant to return with much more detail on the schedule of classes, and a more detailed and up to date traffic study.

“We’re concerned that the building will be used for non water dependent uses,” Commissioner Alban said, referring to the inclusion of rooms including three kitchens, two conference rooms and a laundry area.

Commissioner Peter Levy said he was concerned about the size of the building. “It towers above the road and it’s a very big building and takes up the site. Maybe it’s as simple as doing more landscaping to soften it,” he said.

Mr. Heagney said the building is designed within its Floor-Area-Ratio.

“It’s a very imposing building, although lovely and very expensive. It’s quite massive,” Mr. Levy said. “If you turn it 90° that would make a tremendous difference in how it’s perceived… This is a neighborhood.”

“We’re looking for something distinctive and architecturally significant,” Mr. Heagney said.

Patrick Larow, from the Planning & Zoning Dept, said Mr. Kral, owner of Greenwich Water Club, sent a letter asking the commission to reconsider the application.

“The trouble is you didn’t talk about anything on the water really,” said Frank Mazza, chair of the Harbor Management Commission. “There are problems out there already. We’ve had complaints about interaction between rowers and power boats. …Also, we just heard about maybe a little more dredging. There is not going to be any more dredging for a long long time.”

Don Conway said that at low tide, sailboats, power boats and rowing skulls all try to keep out of each other’s way. Lastly, he said when I95 backs up, people use River Road as a detour, which makes the parking and traffic study all the more important.

“I would hate to think that the Harbor Management Commission would be in the way of using the harbors,” Mr. Heagney said.

At the end of the night, rather than approving the application, the commission left the application open, requesting that the applicant to come back with a schedule of employees, including who’s going to be there and how long, and an updated traffic study. Also left open was the possibility that the building might be rotated 90° to open up view corridors to the water.



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