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Archive for April, 2014

Why People Dislike Lawyers

Today’s Times had a good example, in the form of a re-enacted deposition from Ohio, concerning the precise meaning of the term “photocopy machine.”

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Spring: Madison Square Park

photo 3a

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New Jersey now has the highest percentage of mortgaged homes in foreclosure, out of all the states. NJ Spotlight has all of the dismal details. Here in West Orange, there are still quite a few large properties — some with incredible architectural details, or panoramic views of the Manhattan skyline — that remain entirely abandoned, six years after 2008.

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A Phoenix NPR station, KJZZ, has an interesting conversation with Armando Carbonell of the Lincoln Institute’s Department of Planning and Urban Form. The questions revolve around how American cities are attracting – or repelling – the next generation. It includes some interesting discussion about how housing costs and cultural perceptions may be affecting migration trends; why Austin and Portland are unique among non-major cities; and how the expense and commercialization of New York City and San Francisco are apparently driving young people to more affordable regions.

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Source: USGS.

Source: USGS.

Tech Crunch has a very thorough article by Kim-Mai Cutler, focusing on the culprits behind stratospheric housing costs in the San Francisco Bay area and elsewhere: outdated and excessive land use regulations. The sad part of this entire phenomenon, which LT has covered extensively, is that many of the regulations that have become problematic were enacted for well-intentioned reasons, but have evolved and aggregated into political roadblocks that are displacing middle-class residents, foreclosing on people’s opportunities, and entrenching the advantages of those who got there first — wherever there is — versus those who might have something new to offer. Cutler’s piece is good reading, and has nice visuals. So let’s keep belaboring this point until it becomes conventional wisdom: Bad zoning, and its myopic politics, are strangling us. We need to dismantle the antiquated frameworks, and replace them with flexible new approaches that are both more equitable and much more pro-development.

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Why Have a Ground Lease?

Ira Meislik, a New Jersey lawyer who  specializes in retail real estate, provides an excellent tutorial on ground leases, and why people might choose to arrange one, rather than simply purchasing/selling the property.

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ShakespeareAndersonAvesNYC

Shakespeare / Anderson avenues, New York 52, N.Y. Image: Google.

Crain’s New York Business has some recent rent data showing that the West Bronx continues to heat up — albeit slowly and maybe inequitably. What’s really interesting about this report is that it doesn’t seem to find outright gentrification so much as the solidifying of a moderate-income housing market, which is beginning to displace the neighborhood’s poor.

Much of the West Bronx was developed in the early 20th century for market-rate, middle-class urban housing; now, the housing stock seems to be aligning with that market sector, again. Here’s an old image of the early phase of Bronx and upper Manhattan development at the end of the 19th century, as the large lots of detached houses were being replaced by mid-scale apartment buildings:

South Bronx

Notably, the patterns of the West Bronx (between Manhattan and the Bronx River), including street layout, lot sizes, and early architecture, were built, simply, as a natural extension of New York City, which could no longer be contained in Manhattan. Unlike the other boroughs, which were developed independently of New York City, there was no distinction between Manhattan and the Bronx (other than the Harlem River) until the five boroughs were established in 1898.

This is why street numbering and house numbering in the Bronx are continuations of the same in Manhattan; and why you will never find the same two digits at the end of a Manhattan ZIP code as you will at the end of a Bronx one. The latter fact is because, in the days of postal codes, the post office treated both boroughs as, simply, “New York,” due to their shared history. Thus, a building in the Gramercy Park section of Manhattan would have had the address, “New York 10, N.Y.,” while a house in the Kingsbridge section of the Bronx would have been, “New York 63, N.Y.”

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