(May 19th, 2015) The developers who recently purchased the former state owned SUNY Long Island College Hospital in Cobble Hill unveiled plans for the site on Monday, according to the Real Deal. The Fortis Property Group purchased the development site last fall after the state spent years trying to find a new owner. State officials eventually signed off on the sale of the former SUNY Hospital to the Fortis Property Group for $240 million in October of 2014.
The developer is now planning to convert the site to residential, with four towers and 820 total apartments. The plan includes seven new townhouses to be built on Amity Street. Also part of the proposed plan to is create new park space, retail space, and a medical space which would be managed by the NYU Langone Medical Center and the Lutheran Medical Center. 600 of the new residential units would be market-rate housing while 220 of the units would be set aside for affordable housing. The architect selected to design the site is FXFOWLE.
RISMEDIA (May 18, 2015) - New research sponsored by UDR, Inc. and published by the Urban Land Institute (ULI) shows that contrary to popular belief, most millennials are not living the high life in the downtowns of large cities, but rather, are living in less centrally located but more affordable neighborhoods, making ends meet with jobs for which many feel overqualified, and living with parents or roommates to save money. Still, despite their current lifestyle constraints, most are optimistic about the odds for improving their housing and financial circumstances in the years ahead.
Gen Y and Housing: What They Want and Where They Want It looks at the behavior of Generation Y now that many have entered the housing and job market. It also examines the lingering effects of the Great Recession on Gen Y’s ability to get ahead, and the impact this is having on where they are living, either by choice or necessity. The report, written by ULI Trustee M. Leanne Lachman, president of Lachman Associates LLC in New York City; and Deborah L. Brett, founder of Deborah L. Brett and Associates in Plainsboro, N.J., is based on a nationwide survey conducted in November 2014 of 1,270 members of Gen Y (millennials), aged 19 to 36. It is a follow-up to a 2010 report they produced for ULI that also examined the housing choices of this generation, which, at nearly 79 million, is the largest generation to date in U.S. history, eclipsing the baby boomers.
The report was released at ULI’s 2015 Spring Meeting in Houston. Among the key findings based on the survey sample:
Despite the trade-offs they are making for affordable housing, millennials remain steadfast in their preferences for neighborhoods with urban characteristics, such as a high degree of walkability, transportation alternatives, and easy access to shopping, entertainment and places to “hang out,” Lachman notes. “Gen Yers want to live where it’s easy to have fun with friends and family, whether in the suburbs or closer in,” she says. “Their desire for an urban lifestyle suggests that the current trend of urbanizing suburbs will present lucrative opportunities for the development community for decades to come. This is a generation that places a high value on work-life balance and flexibility. They will switch housing and jobs as frequently as necessary to improve their quality of life.”
Gen Y and Housing found that 45 percent of millennials moved at least twice in the past three years, which reflects the high mobility of the generation. Despite their long-term aspirations for homeownership, the top reasons they are drawn to renting are that they do not have to shoulder the responsibility for maintenance and repairs; they have more flexibility in being able to stay or move; and there is no long-term commitment to either the housing unit or location. Among the Gen Yers who rent apartments, two-thirds live in low-rise garden-style units that tend to offer fewer amenities, but are more affordable than high-rise, amenity-rich developments.
In addition to those renting apartments or condos, 38 percent rent single-family homes—a substantial number that reflects the impact of the Great Recession and the housing collapse on the single-family sector. With large numbers of foreclosed houses acquired by investors in urban regions across the nation, single-family home rentals—including those rented by unrelated people as well as families—will continue to make up an important part of the rental market in the years ahead, the report predicts. Millennials who rent single-family homes say they are drawn to the privacy, backyards and greater interior space and storage space.
Overall, 26 percent of Gen Yers currently own homes; of that percentage, 47 percent are 31 to 36 years of age. Eight out of 10 owners live in single-family homes; 11 percent, in attached units; and 7 percent, in condominiums. Nearly half have owned for more than three years. Of those who own, 46 percent—less than half—say they bought because they believe that owning is a good long-term investment; 41 percent say it offers stability; and 40 percent say they wanted more privacy and space. Sixty-two percent are very satisfied with homeownership in general, and 64 percent listed the stability and safety of their neighborhood as the most positive feature of their location. However, a third of the owners list drawbacks such as the inability to do their own maintenance or repairs and lack of time for chores. Twenty-six percent worry about losing their homes if they lose their jobs.
Seventy percent of millennials who do not yet own a home expect to be homeowners by 2020; and most expect to use money they have saved for a down payment. Yet, similar to those who already own, less than half feel that home-ownership is a good investment—suggesting that Gen Y, after witnessing the housing collapse, does not necessarily equate owning a home with being financially savvy. The cost of housing is by far their highest priority in choosing where to purchase, although neighborhood safety, proximity to work, community character, proximity to family and friends, and proximity to shopping, dining and entertainment are also top priorities.
“In general, millennials are an intriguing combination of optimism and realism,” Lachman says. “They have high hopes for themselves in the long-term, despite having to temper their short-term expectations. They are proving adept at making the environment in which they currently live fit how they want to live, while not losing sight of how they see themselves living in the future. The choices they make will be hugely influential in how our urban regions grow throughout the 21st century.”
National Association of Realtors (April 29th, 2015) - Pending home sales in March continued their recent momentum, rising for the third straight month and remaining at their highest level since June 2013, according to the National Association of Realtors®.
The Pending Home Sales Index,* a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, climbed 1.1 percent to 108.6 in March from an upward revision of 107.4 in February and is now 11.1 percent above March 2014 (97.7). The index has now increased year-over-year for seven consecutive months and is at its highest level since June 2013 (109.4).
Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says contract signings picked up in March as more buyers than usual entered this year's competitive spring market. "Demand appears to be stronger in several parts of the country, especially in metro areas that have seen solid job gains and firmer economic growth over the past year," he said. "While contract activity being up convincingly compared to a year ago is certainly good news, the increased number of traditional buyers who appear to be replacing investors paying in cash is even better news1. It indicates this year's activity is being driven by more long-term homeowners."
Yun expects a gradual improvement in home sales in the months ahead but says insufficient supply and accelerating prices could be a drawback to sales reaching their full potential. "Demand in many markets is far exceeding supply, and properties in March sold at a faster rate than any month since last summer2," he said. "This in turn has pushed home prices to unhealthy levels — nearly four or more times above the pace of wage growth in some parts of the country. Simply put, housing inventory for new and existing homes needs to improve measurably to improve affordability."
The PHSI in the Northeast fell (1.5 percent) for the fourth straight month to 80.2 in March, but is still 0.6 percent above a year ago. In the Midwest the index declined 2.5 percent to 107.5 in March, but is 11.3 percent above March 2014.
Pending home sales in the South increased 4.0 percent to an index of 126.5 in March and are 12.4 percent above last March. The index in the West rose 1.7 percent in March to 103.7, and is now 15.6 percent above a year ago.
Via Zillow (May 5th) - It’s no secret that Detroit’s population is shrinking rapidly. But as residents leave, they also leave behind rapidly aging homes that may – or may not – be attractive to those few residents deciding to move in.
Detroit’s population boomed during the first half of the twentieth century, peaking at 1.8 million in 1950. Since then, the city’s population has steadily declined, falling to 689,000 in 2013 – the lowest number of residents since 1910, the eve of the automobile manufacturing boom that revolutionized Detroit’s economy.
This decline in urban population is not unique to Detroit – cities nationwide experienced contracting populations as residents flocked to the suburbs during the early Baby Boom years, and later with the urban decay of the 1970s and 1980s. But since 1950, Detroit has also lost ground in relative terms.
Compared to the overall U.S. population, Detroit has gradually become less prominent. In 1950, 1.22 percent of the U.S. population – about one in every 82 Americans – lived in the city of Detroit. By 2013, 0.22 percent of the U.S. population – roughly one in every 450 Americans – lived in the city of Detroit, the lowest share since 1870.
As Detroit’s population declined, so too did its housing stock, though at a much slower rate. Between 1950 and 2013, Detroit’s population fell by more than 60 percent. But the number of homes within the city fell by only 30 percent.
In other words, the number of people living in Detroit has declined twice as quickly as the number of homes within city limits. Detroit lost about 250,000 residents between 2000 and 2013, while the number of existing homes fell by just 6,600, according to Census data.
Populations shift much more rapidly than structures – houses cannot just get up and move to the suburbs. And the legacy of Detroit’s early-twentieth-century population boom is still visible in the city’s now aging housing stock. Almost all (94 percent) of Detroit’s existing housing stock was built during the boom years between 1910 and 1960, according to a Zillow analysis of public records data. Currently, the city has more homes built before 1910 than homes built since 1960.
Still, even as hundreds of thousands of residents have left Detroit, a small number of people are moving in, potentially soaking up some of that excess housing supply and gradually changing the racial composition of the city (however slightly). Roughly 10,000 new residents have moved to Detroit annually from out of state in recent years.
Almost half (46 percent) of these recent migrants to Detroit identify as white, Hispanic or Asian, compared to just 17 percent of those living in Detroit before 2011.
Detroit’s population is changing, largely driven by a 60-year-old urban flight trend that is, in some respects, not so different from dynamics confronting cities across the United States. On a much smaller scale, it is also driven by new and different population inflows.
In either case, the city’s supply of housing has been slow to respond.
By Colin O'Leary
May 5th, 2015
Construction has begun in Saudi Arabia to build the world’s tallest skyscraper. The Kingdom Tower will soar 1km or 3,280 feet high into the sky, or nearly double the size of 1 World Trade Center. The property is located in the coastal city of Jeddah. When completed it will measure 568 feet taller than the current record holder, Dubai’s Burj Khalifa.
The tower, which overlooks the Red Sea, will feature a five-star Four Seasons hotel, apartments, office space, and an observatory like the world has never seen before. Constructing a skyscraper of this magnitude naturally comes with challenges. The skyscraper's structure will need to be able to withstand the heavy saltwater coming from the nearby ocean. Secondly, building a tower that is able to withstand the wind at such high elevations will be another monumental task. As the tower rises it will change shape regularly to counter the shifting wind directions. It's expected to be completed in 2018.
May 1st, 2015
CHANGSHA, China — A Chinese construction company is claiming to be the world’s fastest builder after erecting a 57-story skyscraper in 19 working days in central China. The Broad Sustainable Building Co. put up the rectangular, glass-and-steel Mini Sky City in the Hunan provincial capital of Changsha using a modular method, assembling three floors per day, company vice president Xiao Changgeng said.
The company, which has ambitions to assemble the world’s tallest skyscraper at 220 floors in only three months, worked on Mini Sky City in two spurts separated by winter weather. Its time-lapse video of the rapid assembly has become popular on Chinese video-sharing sites since it was first uploaded on YouTube.
“With the traditional method, they have to build a skyscraper brick by brick, but with our method, we just need to assemble the blocks,” company engineer Chen Xiangqian said.
Such modular approaches have been used for high-rise apartment blocks elsewhere, including in Britain and the U.S. Some critics say the method could lead to cityscapes with overly uniform architecture.
Liu Peng, associate director of the engineering consulting firm ARUP Beijing, said the method is worth developing because it could become a safe and reliable way to build skyscrapers rapidly. “But it is not perfect, and it does not meet all kinds of personalized demands,” Liu said. “People nowadays want more personalized architecture.”
Mini Sky City, which has 19 atriums, 800 apartments and office space for 4,000 people, goes on sale in May. The structure is safe and can withstand earthquakes, Xiao said.
The Changsha-based company spent 4½ months fabricating the building’s 2,736 modules before construction began. The first 20 floors were completed last year, and the remaining 37 were built from Jan. 31 to Feb. 17 this year, Xiao said. The company has honed its technology to accelerate its construction speed from two floors to three floors a day, he said.
“This is definitely the fastest speed in our industry,” Xiao said.
The company is awaiting approval for its 220-floor Sky City in Changsha.
By Colin O'Leary
April 28th, 2015
The city has put together a development team to construct a brand new 43,200-square-foot development project with affordable housing for seniors and families in the Flushing section of Queens, according to Crain's New York. Bernheimer Architecture was selected to create the design for the site located at 133-45 41st Avenue. Brooklyn-based Monadnock Development has been selected to build the project.
The Flushing project is called One Flushing, and will be built according to the design principles of Feng Shuig, which according to Wikipedia is a Chinese philosophical system of harmonizing everyone with the surrounding environment. The property will modern fixtures such as solar panels and a rooftop farm. The proposal also includes a ground-floor retail space with community center. The new development site with be built on a city-owned municipal parking.
To entice developers to participate in the affordable housing project, the city sold the land to the developers at a price well below market value, making the project financially feasible. The development is part of the cities larger effort to build housing on vacant or underutilized public property. "The One Flushing development plan is an example of a dynamic proposal that encompasses affordable housing, supportive senior housing, and services for the community as a whole,” Vicki Been, commissioner of the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development, said in a statement.
By Colin O'Leary
April 23rd, 2015
Hidrock Realty, a Herald Square-based firm is planning to convert the Park Slope Pavillion Theater into a residential property. The current owners acquired the property located at 188 Prospect Park West back in 2006 for $16 million. The plan is to keep the building's exterior as is but would renovate the interior, which includes adding 24 residential units, according to a permit application filed with the city.
The conversion calls for 8,000 square feet of commercial and 46,000 square feet of residential space. The owner is contemplating reopening a smaller and more modern movie theater to go along with the residential conversion. When the owner acquired the property back in 2006, he said that his firm didn’t have any plans of turning the theater into a residential building, which has disappointed some in the local community.
Not everyone is happy about the owners plans to convert the property. According to The Real Deal, City Councilman Brad Lander is upset about the plans. In a statement, the City Coucilman representing Park Slope's District 39 said that he was “distressed by Hidrock Realty’s plan to close our neighborhood movie theater, the Pavilion, for luxury housing.”
By Colin O'Leary
April 21st, 2015
Rupert Murdoch, the Australian-American business magnate and CEO of Fox, is planning a big move downtown. Murdoch has only been at his current residence for just over a year, a super-luxury penthouse at the top of One Madison in the Flatiron District. He's decided to downsize and head downtown after recently closing on a simple West Village townhouse for $25 million. The pre-war townhouse was used as a bed and breakfast in the past.
Murdoch has chosen to list the super-luxury penthouse on the south side of Madison Square Park with celebrity real estate broker Dolly Lenz, and is asking $72 million. The penthouse has a total of 7,600 square feet of space spread through three floors including five bedrooms, five and a half baths, and a wrap-around terrace with 360 degree views of Manhattan. The new owner will also have access to the celebrity rich buildings 50-foot lap pool, fitness center, yoga room, screening room, and playroom for children.
Murdoch purchased the penthouse in early 2014 for $57.25 million and is seeking a markup of $14.75 million just a year later. If he can get close to this asking price, it would break the record for lower Manhattan's most expensive sale ever.
Colin R. O'Leary
Fillmore Real Estate
75 Lafayette Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11217