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  1. Lawyer exodus shutters Desjardins 35 Lawyers Join Rival Lavery Firm; Quebec's Spun Off Jim Middlemiss, Financial Post Published: Saturday, August 18, 2007 An era will end for the 100-lawyer law firm Desjardins Ducharme LLP in September. The once-esteemed law firm will close after more than 50 years in business. Thirty-five of its key Montreal business lawyers will leave the firm to join rival Lavery, de Billy LLP at the end of next month. Concurrently, the Quebec City office of Desjardins, which comprises 50 lawyers and merged into the firm in 1992, has spun out and will operate under its old name Stein Monast LLP. [/url] Another seven litigators from the Montreal office will join litigation specialist Donati Maisonneuve LLP. The final eight lawyers will either retire or have said they are moving to other firms or into corporations. "We have accounted for everyone," said Gerard Coulombe, chairman of Desjardins, who explained that "Quebec City couldn't join the Lavery deal because it would have created too big a firm[for that region.]" Jean Brunet, managing partner of the Quebec City office, agreed: "You can't have a law firm of 100 lawyers in the area. "We're putting down the principles of how it will work in Quebec City," he said of the new firm, adding that he does not rule out opening a smaller Montreal office. The addition of 35 lawyers to Lavery creates a 180-lawyer firm, making it the largest independent provincial firm. The split is no surprise and has been rumoured for weeks once Desjardins started bleeding lawyers to other firms. "We took a good hard look at the various practices and groups lawyers," said Richard Dolan, managing partner at Lavery, said. "We settled on some very strong, solid business lawyers and bankruptcy and insolvency lawyers who had complementary practices to our practice mix. This is a really exciting business opportunity for us." Lavery has always had strong business in insurance, said Mr. Dolan, "The lawyers are going to bring additional bench strength to our corporate merger and acquisitions practice and the insolvency group." Of late it has been a tough go for some independent law firms, squeezed by the creation of large national firms, especially in Montreal, where several Toronto-based firms have opened offices or merged with local firms. In the spring, Goodman and Carr LLP, a 90-lawyer Toronto firm, said it was dissolving its practice. Kip Cobbett, a lawyer with Stikeman Elliott LLP in Montreal, said it is "very sad" to see Desjardins' demise. "It was a wonderful firm. It will certainly change the landscape." The agreement is subject to a vote by the Lavery partners expected later this month. [email protected]
  2. Don’t tell anyone, but it’s a myth that millennials hate the suburbs It might not be as cool as living downtown, but a new survey suggests millennials might not hate suburbia all that much. Altus Group, citing its 2015 fall FIRM survey, says 35 per cent of those 35 and under disagree with the statement that they prefer to live in a smaller home in a central area than a larger home in the suburbs. The same survey found 40 per cent do agree with the statement, with everybody else neither agreeing or disagreeing. “We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again — it’s a myth that all so-called millennials are homogeneous in their desires, attitudes and behaviour,” says the report from Toronto-based Altus Group. “While there may be some tendencies that are more pronounced among today’s younger generation, when it comes to the housing sector, segmentation analysis is critical.” The survey, which only considered respondents in centres with populations of more than one million or more, found in almost every age group there was a willingness to trade off the bigger house in the suburbs for a smaller home in a central area. Among those 35-49, like millennials, 40 per cent said they would make the trade-off. <iframe name="fsk_frame_splitbox" id="fsk_frame_splitbox" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="" webkitallowfullscreen="" mozallowfullscreen="" style="padding: 0px; margin: 0px; width: 620px; height: 0px; border-style: none; border-width: initial;"></iframe> Broken into sub categories, 19 per cent of millennials agree completely they are willing to live in that smaller home in a central area versus the larger one in the suburbs. Another 21 per cent somewhat agree. Millennials actually ranked behind those 70 years or older when it comes to strong feelings on the matter. Among those seniors, 22 per cent agreed completely with going for the tinier downtown home. “There is a prevailing view that all millennials in larger markets want to live downtown — even if it means having to settle for a smaller residence to make the affordability equation work. Our research busts that myth,” said Altus Group. The same report finds all those downtown dwellers, many of whom will be settling in high-rise condominiums, are going to need parking sports because they are not ready to ditch their cars. The FIRM survey found that in the country’s six largest markets, defined as Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto, Ottawa-Gatineau and Montreal, only about one in 10 owner occupants of condominiums built in the last six years does not have a vehicle. That’s close to the average of all households, but condo dwellers are far less likely to have two vehicles. twitter.com/dustywallet [email protected] http://business.financialpost.com/personal-finance/mortgages-real-estate/dont-tell-anyone-but-its-a-myth-that-millennials-hate-the-suburbs Contrepoids à la discussion: http://mtlurb.com/forums/showthread.php/23922-Bye-bye-banlieue%21
  3. Regarder vers devant nous fait du bien. En voici un premier exemple. Trouvé sur le blog de Marc Gauthier http://www.marcgauthier.com/blog_en/category/architecture/ In January of 2008, the History Channel proposed a contest to architects based in Washington, D.C., Atlanta and San Francisco. The purpose: to imagine what their metropolis might look like in 100 years. They had a week to come up with a concept and three hours to build a scale model. San Francisco firm IwamotoScott Architecture won the $10,000 grand prize for its entry. Their concept buried the network of infrastructures to create more surface for buildings. Furthermore, the city’s energy came from algae fields that generate hydrogen. The site of the tv channel has all the information on the contest. The winning firm posted their images on their Flickr account. http://www.history.com/minisites/cityofthefuture
  4. http://www.ottawacitizen.com/opinion/op-ed/Economics+lefties/1633305/story.html
  5. (Courtesy of The Financial Post) :eek: I wish I knew about these people a little sooner. Man I need money now to buy some shares. I just hope its not to late.
  6. The French election and business The terror The 75% tax and other alarming campaign promises Apr 7th 2012 | PARIS | from the print edition EUROFINS SCIENTIFIC, a bio-analytics firm, is the sort of enterprise that France boasts about. It is fast-growing, international and hungry to buy rivals. So people noticed when in March it decamped to Luxembourg. Observers reckon it was fleeing France’s high taxes. It will soon be joined by Sword Group, a successful software firm, which voted to move to Luxembourg last month. As France enters the final weeks of its presidential campaign, candidates are competing to promise new measures that would hurt business. François Hollande, the Socialist candidate, and the current favourite to win the second and final round on May 6th, has promised a top marginal income-tax rate of 75% for those earning over €1m ($1.3m). He has declared war on finance. If the Socialists win, he pledges, corporate taxes will rise and stock options will be outlawed. Other countries welcome global firms. “France seems to want to keep them out,” sighs Denis Kessler, the boss of SCOR, a reinsurer. Jean-Luc Mélenchon, an even leftier candidate than Mr Hollande, has been gaining ground. Communists marched to the Bastille on March 18th to support him. The right offers little solace. Nicolas Sarkozy, the incumbent, is unpopular partly because of his perceived closeness to fat cats. To distance himself, he has promised a new tax on French multinationals’ foreign sales. If Mr Hollande wins, he may water down his 75% income-tax rate. But it would be difficult to back away from such a bold, public pledge. And doing business in France is hard enough without such uncertainty. Companies must cope with heavy social charges, intransigent unions and political meddling. The 35-hour work week, introduced in 2000, makes it hard to get things done. Mr Hollande says he will reverse a measure Mr Sarkozy introduced to dilute its impact by exempting overtime pay from income tax and social charges. The 75% income-tax rate is dottier than a pointilliste painting. When other levies are added, the marginal rate would top 90%. In parts of nearby Switzerland, the top rate is around 20%. French firms are already struggling to hire foreign talent. More firms may leave. Armand Grumberg, an expert in corporate relocation at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, a law firm, says that several big companies and rich families are looking at ways to leave France. At a recent lunch for bosses of the largest listed firms, the main topic was how to get out. Investment banks and international law firms would probably be the first to go, as they are highly mobile. Already, the two main listed banks, BNP Paribas and Société Générale, are facing queries from investors about Mr Hollande’s plan to separate their retail arms from investment banking. He has also vowed to hike the corporate tax on banks from 33% to nearly 50%. In January Paris launched a new €120m ($160m) “seed” fund to attract hedge funds. Good luck with that. Last month Britain promised to cut its top tax rate from 50% to 45%. No financial centre comes close to Mr Hollande’s 75% rate (see chart). Large firms will initially find it hard to skedaddle. Those with the status ofsociété anonyme, the most common, need a unanimous vote from shareholders. But the European Union’s cross-border merger directive offers an indirect route: French firms can merge with a foreign company. Big groups also have the option of moving away the substance of their operations, meaning decision-making and research and development. Last year, Jean-Pascal Tricoire, the boss of Schneider Electric, an energy-services company, moved with his top managers to run the firm from Hong Kong (where the top tax rate is 15%). For now, the firm’s headquarters and tax domicile remain in France. But for how long? Pressure to leave could come from foreign shareholders, says Serge Weinberg, the chairman of Sanofi, a drugmaker. “American, German or Middle Eastern shareholders will not tolerate not being able to get the best management because of France’s tax regime,” he says. At the end of 2010, foreign shareholders held 42% of the total value of the firms in the CAC 40, the premier French stock index. That is higher than in many other countries. It is not clear whether the 75% tax rate would apply to capital gains as well as income. As with most of the election campaign’s anti-business pledges, the detail has been left vague. Mr Sarkozy has offered various definitions of what he means by “big companies”, which would have to pay his promised new tax. Some businessfolk therefore hope that the most onerous pledges will be quietly ditched once the election is over. But many nonetheless find the campaign alarming. French politicians not only seem to hate business; they also seem to have little idea how it actually works. The most debilitating effects of all this may be long-term. Brainy youngsters have choices. They can find jobs or set up companies more or less anywhere. The ambitious will risk their savings, borrow money and toil punishing hours to create new businesses that will, in turn, create jobs and new products. But they will not do this for 25% (or less) of the fruits of their labour. Zurich is only an hour away; French politics seem stuck in another century. http://www.economist.com/node/21552219
  7. Bronfman’s famous relatives fled the city long ago Macleans : Martin Patriquin There are a couple of reasons why Stephen Bronfman seems to be smiling more than usual these days. Having failed in his bid to purchase the Montreal Canadiens last year, the eldest child of billionaire Charles Bronfman got quite a consolation prize by luring the Habs’ former president Pierre Boivin to Claridge Inc., the private investment firm the 47-year-old has run for 15 years. Scoring Boivin, who will serve as Claridge’s president and CEO, is a coup for the small investment house: as one of Quebec’s most respected business minds, he was reportedly courted by some of the biggest companies in the province. Mostly, though, Stephen Bronfman is decidedly optimistic about the future of Montreal—which, coming from a Bronfman, is good news for the city. Though the family made their name and much of their fortune in Quebec through liquor behemoth Seagram’s, practically all of the members of the sprawling Bronfman family tree have left. The reason represents a familiar narrative in Quebec’s history: the province’s political upheaval, beginning with the election of the Parti Québécois in 1976, caused a monumental flight of capital, mostly to Toronto. This included Stephen’s cousins Peter and Edward, who departed shortly after selling off their ownership of les Canadiens in 1978. Stephen’s father Charles debarked for New York, while American cousin Edgar Jr.’s disastrous reign as head of Seagram’s is the stuff of dubious legend. Throughout it all, Stephen Bronfman has mostly stayed put in Montreal. “I guess I’m a bit more of a traditionalist, and very proud to be the last man standing, so to speak,” he says from his downtown office. “There’s a sense of history, tradition, pride of being third-generation Bronfman in Montreal.” Bronfman joined Claridge, the boutique investment firm started by his father, in 1991; four years later he negotiated a deal to buy Labatt’s broadcast assets; the ensuing company was sold to CTV in 1999, nearly doubling Claridge’s initial $45-million investment. That same year, Bronfman joined a group of investors attempting to keep the Expos in Montreal. One of Claridge’s recent successes was investing in SunOpta, an Ontario-based and publicly traded purveyor of organic foods. Claridge’s initial investment was $2 million in 2001; SunOpta’s sales have since grown sixfold to nearly $900 million in 2010. Canadian Business magazine deemed SunOpta stock to be the best cash-flow generator of 2010. Claridge has two new major construction projects in Montreal—Les Bassins du Nouveau Havre, a 2,000-unit housing development on 23 acres bordering the Lachine Canal, and Le Seville, a $120-million housing and retail development plunked down into what has been a decrepit void of western Ste. Catherine Street. The 450-unit development wasn’t without its hiccups: namely, a plan to bring organic grocer Whole Foods to the site fell through. “I think they got nervous about the climate, about doing business in a predominantly French market,” Bronfman says. These investments aren’t happenstance; as Bronfman notes, Montreal’s real estate market is doing quite well. Last year saw a nine per cent increase in housing sales volume, according to the Greater Montreal Real Estate Board. The city’s GDP, meanwhile, has increased by roughly 20 per cent since 2000—nothing flashy, but without the drastic dips faced by many North American cities recently. Bronfman’s decision to stay in Montreal through thick and thin has had a positive effect on the city’s anglophone community in particular, says McGill business professor Karl Moore. “The Bronfmans have a storied history here, and it’s encouraging to Anglo Montrealers that he’s stayed close to his roots here,” he says. “It’s good for the community, and suggests we should do the same.” As a smaller and private investment firm, Bronfman says Claridge is well-positioned to reap the benefits of Quebec’s peculiar business climate: the wariness to search out funding from big, out-of-province firms. “There’s always a bit of trepidation with local business people,” he says. “They’ve invested their life and their emotion into their business and they don’t want to have someone strip out their management just for the almighty dollar. We’ve won out a few deals where we’ve beaten multinationals by buying, say, a food business, maybe paid a little less, but the entrepreneur is much happier to do business with a local family office than a large corporation.” But what of Quebec’s old (but ever-present) political ghosts? After all, unpopular as it may be right now, the question of Quebec sovereignty remains a stubborn constant. Regardless, Bronfman is staying put. “That’s the nature of the beast,” he says of Montreal. “There’s always going to be ups and downs. It’s what makes Quebec an exciting place to live.”
  8. Couillard pushed Quebec City project to Tories after firm lost Montreal bid DANIEL LEBLANC AND INGRID PERITZ With reports from Tu Thanh Ha in Toronto and Rhéal Seguin in Quebec City June 13, 2008 OTTAWA AND MONTREAL -- The Kevlar Group was losing out on a major federal contract in Montreal in early 2007 at the same time as Julie Couillard started lobbying two senior Conservative officials in favour of another one of the company's projects in Quebec City, according to government records and sources. Kevlar wanted to spend up to $25-million to develop a large swath of land that belonged to Canada Post on the Montreal harbourfront. However, another Crown corporation, Canada Lands, used its right of first refusal and snagged the 60,000-square-metre property in a deal that was officially announced on May 2, 2007, a spokesman for Canada Lands confirmed. Kevlar was believed to be unhappy in Montreal when its postal-site bid was rejected, according to a real-estate consultant. "They [Kevlar] probably invested a lot of time, money and energy in their building proposal, which they thought was the best," said a source familiar with the project. "Then Canada Lands turned around and said, 'We'll develop the site.' " Print Edition - Section Front Enlarge Image More Front Page Stories Couillard pushed Quebec City project to Tories after firm lost Montreal bid About the same time, Kevlar was bidding on another federal project worth about $30-million for a building in Quebec City to house 750 bureaucrats. In the House yesterday, the Opposition expressed clear concerns that the company used Ms. Couillard to infiltrate the government in an attempt to ensure it would win that contract. Ms. Couillard was finishing her training as a real-estate agent at the time, and had obtained an affiliation with the firm's real-estate branch. In the spring of 2007, she started dating, in succession, two senior Conservative officials: Public Works adviser Bernard Côté and industry minister Maxime Bernier. According to senior federal officials, Ms. Couillard directly discussed Kevlar's bid in Quebec City with Mr. Bernier and Mr. Côté. Mr. Bernier has since resigned after classified documents were left in April at the home of Ms. Couillard, who had lived with two men with ties to the Hells Angels in the 1990s. Mr. Côté resigned this week after telling his superiors about Ms. Couillard's lobbying efforts and acknowledging he should have recused himself from the file to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest. As The Globe and Mail reported yesterday, Kevlar co-chair Philippe Morin introduced Ms. Couillard and Mr. Bernier to one another in April in a restaurant in Montreal. A source added yesterday that Mr. Bernier and Mr. Morin might have known one another through their respective involvement in a group called the Young Presidents' Organization. Mr. Morin is the son of a well-known book publisher in Quebec. Kevlar officials refused repeated requests for comment yesterday, and did not expand on their previous statement that their link to Ms. Couillard was simply related to her real-estate licence. In the House of Commons, the Liberals accused Ms. Couillard of attempting to "infiltrate the Conservative government." "She tried to influence real-estate contracts at Public Works," said Montreal Liberal MP Marlene Jennings. According to news reports, Kevlar was founded by president René Bellerive in 1996, with Mr. Morin becoming a partner in 1999. The firm has acquired and built a number of commercial buildings and condominiums in Montreal and Quebec City, often with other financial partners. Kevlar and its owners have also donated thousands of dollars to federalist and separatist parties, in Ottawa and Quebec City, with the first recorded pledge to the Conservative Party, for $1,000, coming in the months after the Tories were elected to office. The government did not directly address the opposition's concerns in the House yesterday, except to say there has been no decision on the Quebec City project, on which Kevlar is one of about two dozen bidders. Conservative House Leader Peter Van Loan accused the opposition of wasting time by holding a parliamentary inquiry into the matter. "It is about finding sordid stories that can make for good news for those who are into gossip and that sort of stuff, but it is not about the important questions of public policy," he said. Regarding the Montreal project, Kevlar submitted an initial $25-million bid for the site in 2006. After several extensions to conduct due diligence, the firm submitted a lowered offer for the property on Feb. 28 of last year. Kevlar's deal fell through when Canada Lands matched its $18-million offer. "The company that bid on the site put in an offer, and we matched it," said Gordon McIvor, vice-president of Canada Lands.
  9. Could the Miami skyline one day resemble Manhattan’s? Apr 5th 2014 | MIAMI | From the print edition A mirror of prosperity ICON BRICKELL, a three-tower complex in Miami’s financial district, was supposed to be a flagship project for the Related Group, the city’s top condominium developer. It would boast 1,646 luxury condos, a 91-metre-long pool, and a hundred 22-foot columns in its entryway. By 2010, however, it had become a symbol of the excesses of the city’s building boom, and Related was forced to hand two of the towers to its banks. Miami condo prices plunged to 60% below their peak. The vacancy rate jumped to 60%. Predictions flew that the market, the epicentre of America’s property crash, would take ten years to come back, or even longer. The speed of the recovery has surprised everyone. Condo prices are already back near peak levels in Miami’s most desirable areas, and at 75-80% elsewhere. The available supply of units has fallen back to within the six-to-nine-months-of-sales range considered normal, from a stomach-churning 40 in 2008. Only 3% of condos are unoccupied. Sales of condos and single-family homes are above pre-crisis levels across Miami-Dade County. Commercial property, too, has rebounded, with demand outstripping supply. Developers are once again relaxed enough to crack jokes. “I call the current expansion the Viagra cycle,” jokes Carlos Rosso, Related’s president of condominium development. “We just want it to last a little longer.” The recovery has been partly driven by low interest rates and bottom-fishing by private equity, which helped to clear excess inventory. But the biggest factor is that the city nicknamed the “Capital of Latin America” has attracted a flood of capital from Latin America. Rich people in turbulent spots such as Venezuela and Argentina are seeking a safe haven for their savings. Estate agents are also seeing capital flight from within the United States. Individuals pay no state or city income tax in Miami, unlike, say, New York, whose mayor wants to hike taxes on the rich further. “Somebody said to me, ‘Give me three reasons why this will continue.’ My answer was: Maduro, Kirchner and De Blasio,” chuckles Marc Sarnoff, a Miami city commissioner, referring to the leaders of the capitalist-bashing regimes in Venezuela, Argentina and New York. Another attraction is the 40% rise in Miami condo rents since 2009, buoying the income of owners who choose not to live in the tropical hurly-burly that Dave Barry, a local author, calls “Insane City”. Brokers report increased business from Eastern Europe and the Middle East (Qatar Airways will fly direct to Miami from June), and an uptick in inquiries from Chinese buyers. Is another bubble forming already? Developers say this time is different, and in some ways it is. In a few years Miami has gone from the most- to the least-leveraged property market in America. Buyers of new condos typically have to put 50% down, half of that before building starts. Banks are loth to extend construction loans unless 60-75% of the units are already sold. In both residential and commercial projects, they require developers to put in much more equity than before. Mr Rosso says Related now puts in three times as much, which limits its ambition. The firm now has 2,000 condos in the works, a tenth of what it was building in 2007. Still, a supply glut is possible. With developers gung-ho again, around 50 towers are under construction or planned in downtown Miami (including the Porsche Design Tower, whose well-heeled inhabitants will be able to take their cars up to the level on which they live in a special lift—this is useful if you really love your car). More were added last month when Oleg Baybakov, a Russian mining-to-property oligarch, bought a trio of condo-development sites for $30m, more than triple their assessed market value in 2013. Miami’s developers are adept at using “smoke and mirrors” to hide the true number of pre-sold units, says Peter Zalewski of Condo Vultures, a property-intelligence firm. Some see the first signs of trouble. The stock of unsold condos and houses has crept up slightly since last summer. A local broker says that Blackstone, a private-equity firm with a taste for bricks and mortar, bought $120m of properties with his firm’s help in 2013 but “won’t do anything like that this year”. Mr Zalewski says banks are competing harder to finance certain projects, but this may not be a sign of unadulterated bullishness. They may simply be betting that many of the 134 towers proposed but not yet under construction in South Florida won’t get built—meaning the 57 that have already broken ground will do better than forecast. Much will depend on whether Latin Americans remain addicted to Miami property and, should their ardour cool, whether Americans and others would take up the slack. Few domestic buyers are comfortable putting 50% down, especially when most of it is at risk if the project fails. One or two developers have begun to accept 30% down, a possible sign of increased reliance on home-grown buyers. The market should get a fillip from the current and planned redevelopment of several chunks of downtown Miami. One of the most ambitious projects is Miami Worldcenter, a 30-acre retail, hotel and convention-centre complex that will feature Bloomingdale’s, Macy’s and a giant Marriott hotel. A science museum will soon join the art museum . These projects build on progress made over the past decade towards becoming a world-class city, from the opening of dozens of top-notch restaurants to Art Basel picking Miami as one of the three venues for its shows (“the Super Bowl of the Art World”, as Tom Wolfe called it in his Miami novel, “Back to Blood”). Tourism is at record levels. Miami is the only American city besides New York in the top ten of Knight Frank’s 2014 global-cities index, which ranks cities by their attractiveness to the ultra-wealthy. (It comes seventh, ahead of Paris.) Property is still far cheaper than in most other cities on the list (see chart). Miami’s Downtown Development Authority (DDA) is dangling the city’s low taxes and lovely weather in front of companies to persuade them to move there. This is starting to bear fruit, especially in finance: Universa, a $6 billion hedge fund in California, recently agreed to relocate, following part of Eddie Lampert’s ESL. SABMiller, a giant brewer, has moved its Latin American head office from Colombia. . “I lived a long time in New York, but here [in Miami] it’s easier to make something from nothing,” enthuses Nitin Motwani, a DDA board member, who talks of the city’s skyline one day resembling Manhattan’s. Mr Zalewski is more cautious. Miami’s property market is “a great game”, he says, but “all it would take to send a chill through the entire market is one big project to go sideways.” Developers who joke about Viagra should keep some aspirin within reach, just in case.
  10. MONTREAL — Monday’s CBC-Ekos poll found that 42 per cent of 1,001 Quebec anglophone respondents have considered leaving the province following last September’s Parti Québécois election victory. Promising them anonymity, I asked two anglos who are exceptionally familiar with this attitude for their thoughts. One of them, a natural-resources executive, is himself leaving Quebec this month. This born-and-bread Montrealer earns $300,000 to $500,000 most years, which puts him in top one per cent of income earners. He’s the sort of person whom students wearing the red square regard with suspicion while demanding that he pay higher taxes to help finance their entitlements. But they won’t get his help any more. His furniture is being shipped next week. Several months ago — after the PQ victory — he turned down an offer to become president of a natural-resources company working in Labrador. The reason: “The owners wanted me to live in Montreal.” What’s wrong with that? Primarily the taxes, he says. The fiscal crunch was bad enough when the Liberals were in power — Quebec in 2012 ranked second in Canada (after Newfoundland and Labrador) for combined local, provincial and federal taxes. When he earned half a million dollars in stock options several years ago, Quebec took 39 per cent in taxes. Ontario would have taken 30 per cent. So that’s where he’s moving — eastern Ontario. He’ll wave goodbye to the sovereignty threat and the income-tax hike that the Marois government imposed on Jan. 1. (It brings the rate for people earning $100,000 or more to 25.75 per cent from 24 per cent.) Was language also factor? No and yes, he says. No because he’s fluently bilingual — he’s a fan of French TV. “The anglos who left Quebec for language left a generation ago,” he says. “The rest of us learned French.” But, yes, the linguistic climate is still aggravating. The vigorous 60-year-old owns a modest natural-resources firm in Africa, and hates having to communicate to the Quebec government on corporate matters in French. What also rankles is how ordinary people — a cable technician visiting his West Island home, for example, or a security scanner at Trudeau — sometimes refuse to speak in English. “I feel like a foreigner in my own country.” Also weighing in his decision to leave is the PQ’s hesitation to push forward quickly with Plan Nord. His company’s employees are in Africa, not here, so no one is losing a job. But this most indebted of provinces is losing his considerable tax revenue — and that of others whom, he says, are likewise trickling into Ontario or into northern New York State. His parting thoughts. “The government needs to cut expenditures, cut tax rates and mean it when it says it is open for business.” It also has to grasp that the Internet makes for mobility. “Members of my board of directors live on different continents, and I hold board meeting from my home on Skype. Nothing keeps me in Quebec.” Moral: “The government has to make people want to live here.” Now there’s a radical thought. Sharing it is my second interviewee. He’s a partner in the Montreal office of a headhunting firm with operations in dozens of countries. This veteran recruiter of executive talent for local companies says, “Montreal has a shallow talent pool, and it’s become shallower since the PQ’s election. “The problem is not just that anglos are leaving Quebec — they’ve been leaving for years and years. The problem is also that we’ve built a great big fence around Quebec that effectively keeps outside talent out. Any dynamic economy has to cross-fertilize with other cities and bring in new talent.” The election has made that tougher. He estimates that 20 to 30 per cent of Americans whom his firm approaches now consider the city, at least at first view. Yet only 10 per cent of Canadians from other provinces do. Why the difference? “Canadians are more aware of conditions here.” He sighs: “I try to put a positive spin on coming here — I talk about the opportunity to learn French and the joie de vivre.” But the barriers to entry are imposing. Like the Ontario-bound executive, he says that, despite the low cost of living here, taxes are the No. 1 deterrent. No. 2 is Bill 101’s restriction on access to English schools. Other handicaps: the difficulty in obtaining social services in English, the shrinking size of the English community (which reduces the options on where some newcomers want to live) and, not least, the problems that two-income families encounter. Many executives’ spouses are lawyers, doctors, accountants or dentists, for example, and they cannot pursue their careers without passing French-proficiency tests. To be sure, these problems existed before the election. “But,” he says, “before the vote we had a government that at least was pro-business and sought political stability. Now we have a government that’s pro-socialism and is in effect pro-instability.” The bottom line: “Quebec is being starved for intellectual capital.” It’s a vicious circle: As Quebec loses talent it becomes more difficult to attract talent, and so more businesses leave and there is less demand for talent. It’s déjà vu: We saw far more intense versions of this scenario after the 1976 election of the PQ and the 1995 referendum. And if that history is any guide, we know that PQ sees the starvation of that capital as a worthwhile price to pay when pushing for sovereignty. Expect no relief. Read more: http://www.montrealgazette.com/news/Henry+Aubin+Taxes+Bill+drive+people+away/7981947/story.html#ixzz2LMmH4Xdi
  11. May 22, 2009 By IAN AUSTEN OTTAWA — Arthur Erickson, who was widely viewed as Canada’s pre-eminent Modernist architect, died in Vancouver, British Columbia, on Wednesday. He was 84. Phyllis Lambert, the chairwoman of the Canadian Center for Architecture in Montreal, said Mr. Erickson, a friend, had been suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. Mr. Erickson established an international reputation for designing innovative complexes and buildings, often to critical acclaim. Among them are the San Diego Convention Center; Napp Laboratories in Cambridge, England; the Kuwait Oil Sector Complex in Kuwait City; and Kunlun Apartment Hotel Development in Beijing. He designed the Canadian pavilion, an inverted pyramid, at Expo 67, the world’s fair in Montreal; Canada’s embassy in Washington; and, with the firm of Mathers and Haldenby, the Roy Thomson Hall, Toronto’s main concert hall, a circular, futuristic building that tapers to a flat top. But Mr. Erickson is perhaps best known for providing Vancouver, his hometown, with many of its architectural signatures, the most successful of which he integrated with their surrounding landscapes, avoiding ornamentation and favoring concrete (which he called “the marble of our time”). Among his notable buildings there is the Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia. “His work always came out of the earth,” Ms. Lambert said. “He didn’t start the way most architects started. He actually started off with the earth, the landscape, and made something that inhabited the land.” Mr. Erickson also campaigned for buildings that strove to maintain a human scale. In 1972 he persuaded the province of British Columbia to abandon plans for a 55-story office and court complex in downtown Vancouver. Mr. Erickson’s replacement design effectively turned the tower on its side. He created a relatively low, three-block-long complex with a steel and glass truss roof and a complex concrete structure softened with trees, gardens and waterfalls. It was another Vancouver commission, however, that first brought Mr. Erickson fame. Much to his surprise, he and his architectural partner at the time, Geoffrey Massey, won a competition in 1965 to design the campus of Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, a suburb of Vancouver. Its wide, low buildings mirror the mountains surrounding the city. Arthur Charles Erickson was born on June 14, 1924. His parents were influential promoters of the arts in Vancouver as the city began to grow rapidly in the early 20th century, and they encouraged Arthur and his brother to study the arts. Prominent Canadian artists in Vancouver became Mr. Erickson’s mentors, notably the landscape painter Lawren S. Harris. After serving with the Canadian Army in Asia as a commando and intelligence officer during World War II, Mr. Erickson began his university studies with the hope of becoming a diplomat. But in his autobiography, “The Architecture of Arthur Erickson,” he wrote that he changed his mind in 1947 after seeing, in Fortune magazine, photographs of Taliesin West, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Modernist and environmentally sensitive house built in the desert in Scottsdale, Ariz. “Suddenly, it was clear to me,” Mr. Erickson wrote. “If such a magical realm was the province of an architect, I would become one.” He moved to Montreal to study architecture at McGill University. After his success with the Simon Fraser commission, Mr. Erickson was awarded other prestigious projects, including the Canadian Expo pavilion. That work raised his public profile, and Mr. Erickson used it to promote environmentalism and corporate responsibility. Mr. Erickson’s commission to design a new embassy in Washington generated some controversy when Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau, a friend, awarded it to Mr. Erickson without any public process. The building, which opened in 1989, is on Pennsylvania Avenue, near the Capitol. Paul Goldberger, the chief architecture critic of The New York Times at the time, called it one of Mr. Erickson’s less-successful works. Over the years Mr. Erickson’s firm — today it is called the Arthur Erickson Corporation — opened branches in Toronto, Los Angeles, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. Information about his survivors was not available. Il étudie à Montréal, mais aucune oeuvre ici? In 1992, Mr. Erickson, millions of dollars in debt, was forced to declare bankruptcy. But he continued to practice, producing work like the Museum of Glass, in Tacoma, Wash. He also continued to champion Modernism and decried a postmodern trend that emphasized ornamentation and decoration. “After 1980, you never heard reference to space again,” he said in a speech at McGill in 2000. “Surface, the most convincing evidence of the descent into materialism, became the focus of design,” and, he added, “space the essence of architectural expression at its highest level, disappeared.” http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/22/arts/22erickson.html?scp=1&sq=montreal&st=cse
  12. Macklowe’s Worldwide Plaza Successor Wrestles Towering Dilemma By David M. Levitt Oct. 23 (Bloomberg) -- Real estate investor Peter Duncan, who negotiated the nation’s biggest property deal of the year in buying Manhattan’s Worldwide Plaza, is now in charge of a skyscraper that’s 40 percent empty. The Italian marble south lobby of Worldwide Plaza, the gateway to 14 vacant floors, is quiet. It’s one reason Duncan, president of George Comfort & Sons Inc., was able to buy the 49- story building in July for $590 million, two years after it sold for almost three times as much. The purchase price may allow Duncan to undercut the rents competitors charge as he leases his 709,000 square feet. Manhattan has 59 million feet of available offices, according to brokerage Colliers ABR, the most since June 1996, and rents for the best space are down more than 30 percent from their peak last year. Duncan’s outcome may help investors determine whether it’s time to resume buying New York office buildings. “They are one of the first waves of risk-takers here in this asset recovery business,” said Robert Freedman, executive chairman of New York-based brokerage FirstService Williams. “They made a great deal if they can manage this risk.” Pinched by scarce credit and the recession, New York City may hit a record low dollar value for commercial property sales this year. Manhattan office properties have lost almost 47 percent of their value since 2007, more than any other major U.S. city, according to the Concord Group, a consulting firm in Newport Beach, California. Investor Signal If Comfort and its partners lease the space at 825 Eighth Ave. quickly, it will be a “signal for investors” that could increase their appetite for risk, said Jim Frederick, a principal at Colliers ABR, a New York-based commercial broker. Not a single lease for more than 250,000 square feet in Midtown has been signed this year, according to CB Richard Ellis Group Inc., the world’s biggest commercial brokerage. Tenants have plenty to choose from. Just eight blocks south at Eighth Avenue and 42nd Street is 11 Times Square, a new 1.06 million square-foot office tower that’s almost finished and has no tenants. Just up the street is 3 Columbus Circle, the former Newsweek Building, where 417,000 square feet is available, according to Colliers. Six blocks southeast lies the former New York Times building, where all 644,000 square feet is up for lease. Comfort’s advantage may be price. The partnership paid $370 a square foot for Worldwide Plaza, while competitors paid $1,000 a foot or more for similar buildings at the height of the five- year U.S. property boom. Rents Fall “No longer will they have to get $80 or $90 or $100 a square foot” for a lease, Robert Sammons, research director at Colliers, said in an Aug. 20 interview on Bloomberg Television. “They can do deals in the 30s, 40s or 50s now, which is going to help start to move the market.” Rents for so-called Class A Midtown offices averaged $68.38 a square foot at the end of September, according to Colliers data. The law firm Cravath Swaine & Moore LLP agreed to pay almost to $100 a foot when it renewed its 600,000-square-foot lease at Worldwide Plaza in 2007, a person involved in the transaction said at the time. “I look at the vacancy as being an opportunity,” said Duncan, whose company owns or has interests in eight other New York office properties. “The success of any deal is dependent on how well occupied you keep your buildings.” Comfort, a closely held family-owned company, and its partners set aside “in excess of $100 million” to cover leasing costs, including maintenance and a reserve to renovate for new occupants, Duncan said in an interview. He declined to disclose the building’s expected first-year yield, or capitalization rate. Higher Vacancies The vacancy rate for the highest-quality offices in Manhattan was 12 percent in September, near the highest in more than 12 years, Colliers said. Tenants haven’t been in a better position since the mid-1990s, when the market was coming out of a recession, Sammons said. Duncan’s challenge is the latest for a skyscraper that helped gentrify part of the west side in the 1980s. Built on the old 50th Street site of Madison Square Garden, it was the first sizable skyscraper built that far west in Manhattan. A PBS program, “Skyscraper: the Making of a Building,” documented the construction. William Zeckendorf Jr. developed the property. It was the first New York commission for Skidmore Owings & Merrill architect David Childs, who went on to design the nearby Time Warner Center. Macklowe’s Purchase Developer Harry Macklowe purchased Worldwide Plaza and six other Manhattan buildings from Blackstone Group LP in February of 2007, the same day Blackstone bought billionaire Sam Zell’s Equity Office Properties Trust in what was then the biggest leveraged buyout in history. A year later, Macklowe lost all seven properties to lender Deutsche Bank AG when he was unable to refinance almost $7 billion in short-term debt he used to acquire the buildings. Deutsche Bank financed a $470 million loan for Comfort’s group to make the purchase. The partners include RCG Longview, an investment firm whose founders include former Shearson Lehman Brothers Inc. Chief Executive Officer Peter Cohen; and DRA Advisors LLC, a New York-based sponsor of real estate investment funds. “We wanted to put together a group that has been through the wars a little bit,” Duncan said. The partners “are all long-term holders of real estate.” The floors they need to rent make up the second-biggest empty space in the city: 14 stories at the base of the tower vacated in June by the advertising firm Ogilvy & Mather. Empty Space While some floors have been stripped to the fireproofing, traces of the ad agency remain. The walls on the fourth floor are covered with artwork, including a red and black 1960s-style pop-art mural that reads: “Next time there’s a war for sale, it’s alright to say no thank you.” Representatives of accounting firm Deloitte LLP have spoken with Comfort about taking some of the space, according to two people familiar with the discussion. They declined to be identified because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly about the space. Jonathan Gandal, a spokesman for Deloitte, declined to comment. “We’ve had lot of people look at the available space,” Duncan said. “We are actually discussing having active negotiations with certain tenants. And that and $2.25 gets you a ride on the subway.” To contact the reporter on this story: David M. Levitt in New York at [email protected] Last Updated: October 23, 2009 00:01 EDT http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601103&sid=aJG1.l7fPiik
  13. New York Times, October 1, 2008 Failed Deals Replace Boom in New York Real Estate By CHARLES V. BAGLI After seven years of nonstop construction, skyrocketing rents and sales prices, and a seemingly endless appetite for luxury housing that transformed gritty and glamorous neighborhoods alike, the credit crisis and the turmoil on Wall Street are bringing New York’s real estate boom to an end. Developers are complaining that lenders are now refusing to finance projects that were all but certain months or even weeks ago. Landlords bewail their inability to refinance skyscrapers with blue-chip tenants. And corporations are afraid to relocate within Manhattan for fear of making the wrong move if rents fall or a flagging economy forces layoffs. “Lenders are now taking a very hard look at each particular project to assess its viability in the context of a softening of demand,” said Scott A. Singer, executive vice president of Singer & Bassuk, a real estate finance and brokerage firm. “There’s no question that there’ll be a significant slowdown in new construction starts, immediately.” Examples of aborted deals and troubled developments abound. Last Friday, HSBC, the big Hong Kong-based bank, quietly tore up an agreement to move its American headquarters to 7 World Trade Center after bids for its existing home at 452 Fifth Avenue, between 39th and 40th Streets, came in 30 percent lower than the $600 million it wanted for the property. A 40-story office tower under construction by SJP Properties at 42nd Street and Eighth Avenue for the past 18 months still does not have a tenant. And the law firm of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe last week suddenly pulled out of what had been an all-but-certain lease of 300,000 square feet of space at Citigroup Center, deciding instead to extend its lease at 666 Fifth Avenue for five years, in part because they hope rents will fall. “Everything’s frozen in place,” said Steven Spinola, president of the Real Estate Board of New York, the industry’s lobbying association, shortly after the stock market closed on Monday. Barry M. Gosin, chief executive of Newmark Knight Frank, a national real estate firm based in New York, said: “Today, the entire financial system needs a lubricant. It’s kind of like driving your car after running out of oil and the engine seizes up. If there’s no liquidity and no financing, everything seizes up.” It is hard to say exactly what the long-term impact will be, but real estate experts, economists and city and state officials say it is likely there will be far fewer new construction projects in the future, as well as tens of thousands of layoffs on Wall Street, fewer construction jobs and a huge loss of tax revenue for both the state and the city. Few trends have defined the city more than the development boom, from the omnipresent tower cranes to the explosion of high-priced condominiums in neighborhoods outside Manhattan, from Bedford-Stuyvesant and Fort Greene to Williamsburg and Long Island City. Some developers who are currently erecting condominiums are trying to convert to rentals, while others are looking to sell the projects. After imposing double-digit rent increases in recent years, landlords say rents are falling somewhat, which could hurt highly leveraged projects, but also slow gentrification in what real estate brokers like to call “emerging neighborhoods” like Harlem, the Lower East Side and Fort Greene. At the same time, some of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s most ambitious large-scale projects — the West Side railyards, Pennsylvania Station, ground zero, Coney Island and Willets Point — are going to take longer than expected to start and to complete, real estate experts say. “Most transactions in commercial real estate are on hold,” said Mary Ann Tighe, regional chief executive for CB Richard Ellis, the real estate brokerage firm, “because nobody can be sure what the economy will look like, not only in the near term, but in the long term.” Although the real estate market in New York is in better shape than in most other major cities, a recent report by Newmark Knight Frank shows that there are “clear signs of weakness,” with the overall vacancy rate at 9 percent, up from 8.2 percent a year ago. Rents are also falling when landlord concessions are taken into account. The real estate boom has been fueled by a robust economy, a steady demand for housing and an abundance of foreign and domestic investors willing to spend tens of billions of dollars on New York real estate. It helped that lenders were only too happy to finance as much as 90 percent of the cost on the assumption that the mortgages could be resold to investors as securities. But that ended with the subprime mortgage crisis, which has since spilled over to all the credit markets, which have come to a standstill. As a result, real estate executives estimate that the value of commercial buildings has fallen by at least 20 percent, though the decline is hard to gauge when there is little mortgage money available to buy the buildings and therefore few sales. Long after the crisis began in 2007, many investors and real estate executives expected a “correction” to the rapid escalation in property values. But after Lehman Brothers, the venerable firm that had provided billions of dollars of loans for New York real estate deals, collapsed two weeks ago, it was clear that something more profound was afoot. And there was an immediate reaction in the real estate world: Tishman Speyer Properties, which controls Rockefeller Center, the Chrysler Building and scores of other properties, abruptly pulled out of a deal to buy the former Mobil Building, a 1.6 million-square-foot tower on 42nd Street, near Grand Central Terminal, for $400 million, two executives involved in the transaction said. Commercial properties are not the only ones facing problems. On Friday, Standard & Poor’s dropped its rating on the bonds used in Tishman’s $5.4 billion purchase of the Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village apartment complexes in 2006, the biggest real estate deal in modern history. Standard & Poor’s said it cut the rating, in part, because of an estimated 10 percent decline in the properties’ value and the rapid depletion of reserve funds. The rating reduction shows the growing nervousness of lenders and investors about such deals, which have often involved aggressive — critics say unrealistic — projections of future income. “Any continued impediment to the credit markets is awful for the national economy, but it’s more awful for New York,” said Richard Lefrak, patriarch of a fourth-generation real estate family that owns office buildings and apartment houses in New York and New Jersey. “This is the company town for money,” he said. “If there’s no liquidity in the system, it exacerbates the problems. It’s going to have a serious effect on the local economy and real estate values.”
  14. Ça s'est vu avec les autos et la locations d'appartement sur les sites de petites annonces, mais les fraudeurs s'essayent avec la vente de maisons et de condos maintenant. Ils vont jusqu'à monter de faux cabinets d'avocats pour inciter les acheteurs éventuels à leur laisser de grosses sommes d'argent... via CBC Fake real estate ads prey on buyer desire for home deal Police say fraudulent websites targeting potential renters more common than scams to sell homes CBC News Posted: Dec 02, 2013 5:00 AM ET Last Updated: Dec 02, 2013 9:50 AM ET An Ottawa woman says she was shocked to learn the condo she was selling online was also being offered on another website at a deeply discounted price, part of a complicated scam targeting unsuspecting homebuyers. Julie Gutteridge is selling her upscale downtown Ottawa condo for about $260,000, and placed ads with real estate website Grapevine and online classified advertiser Kijiji. She then noticed a nearly identical ad — with the same digital photos she had used on her advertisement — on another real estate website. The one difference: the price. The clone ad listed the condo for $108,000. "I was shocked... because I first heard of it, then I got an email from just a person that had noticed the two listings," said Gutteridge. "They actually used the same description that was on Grapevine. Not only the pictures of my unit, but the same description, address, everything but the unit number ... and of course the contact information," she said. Police investigators have seen a number of fraudulent websites targeting potential home renters, particularly people coming from far-away cities. But for someone to attempt to sell a home that he or she doesn't own is rare and particularly involved. Buyer pressured to close sale quickly "This is fairly elaborate, going to the point of setting up false law firm websites," said Sgt. Mike Noonan with Ottawa police's organized fraud section. "They are duplicating the ad, but drastically reducing the asking price, and that's what seems to jump out at legitimate homebuyers. They see, 'Wow, look at the price of that home and it looks good,'" said Noonan. The key to the confidence game is a reliance on both the desire of a homebuyer to get a good deal, and pressure from the supposed seller to close the deal quickly, says Noonan. CBC Ottawa's Simon Gardner learned this first-hand when he called the number on a duplicate advertisement for a different home — in Orleans, and listed in a duplicate ad for $129,000, or less than half the actual price. Gardner identified himself as "Andrew Gardner" and created a plausible back story after CBC News determined a journalist would be unable to understand how the seller's operation worked if he called and represented himself as such. The man who picked up the phone identified himself as Paul — a name CBC News assumed was fake — and said he couldn't meet Gardner in person because he was in Toronto with clients. He claimed he was selling the home at a discounted price because he was under financial stress and needed money fast, but offered assurances that the home had not been a grow-op. "Actually we do need some money urgently and there is no lien on the house, the house is paid for and it's going really quick. I have a couple of other interested buyers," Paul said. He said in order to close the deal, Gardner would have to deposit $12,000 in a bank account. The man then said his lawyer would contact Gardner with details about the transaction. The man also provided a link to the website of a Toronto law firm specializing in real estate. Law firm not recognized by law society Checks with the Law Society of Ontario reveal the firm doesn't exist, and the phone numbers listed on the website are not active. But nevertheless, Gardner was sent official-looking purchase documents asking him to wire his deposit into a Royal Bank account in Brampton, Ont. The account does exist, but it is unclear whether the account holder is involved or is an unwitting victim in a confidence scam. Noonan said tracking the suspected scammer is difficult, particularly if operating outside Canada. "The internet service providers, we don't seem to be able to track down. Our suspicion is that it's not even originating from within Canada and with a money wire service. Once that money leaves the country, it can be retrieved anywhere in the world," he said. Gardner made repeated efforts to meet with Paul, as well as his lawyer, to try to close the transaction in person, but was met with a series of excuses. After weeks of back-and-forth emails, text messages and phone calls, Gardner identified himself as a reporter and said he was investigating a potential real estate scam. 'How do you sell a house you don't own?' "What scam is that, I don't get you," Paul replied. "Well, let me ask you," said Gardner. "How do you sell a house you don't own?" At that point, the phone went dead, and Gardner received a text a short time later. "Nice try Andrew (Simon) you are a good scam baiter," the text read. "Pls lets drop everything. I am leaving this stupid job. I got forced into this lifestyle." It's not known if anyone has fallen for this kind of fraud, but Gutteridge feels it may already have hurt her chances of selling her place. "They may assume what I have on Grapevine is a scam or [may] not be comfortable moving forward with anything," she said. Noonan said homebuyers should be wary of suspiciously low price homes when the supposed seller never has time to meet. As for home sellers, he said the best you can do is keep an eye on real estate websites to ensure your ad hasn't been duplicated.
  15. Streetscapes | Exchange Place An Early Tower That Aspired to Greatness G. Paul Burnett/NYT By CHRISTOPHER GRAY Published: July 20, 2008 FIFTY-NINE stories does not seem like much now, but when planned in 1929, the City Bank-Farmers Trust Building was to be the tallest skyscraper in the world after the Empire State Building. With its sheer limestone facade, haunting sculptural treatment and rich marble halls, the building — which is being converted to residential use — is a surprising find on its cramped, odd-shaped block at Exchange Place, at the conjunction of Beaver, Hanover and William Streets. In 1929, the financial district was booming. The architects Cross & Cross were at work on a 50-story office building for Continental Bank at Broad Street and Exchange Place, which ultimately wasn’t built. Then the National City Bank of New York merged with the Farmers’ Loan and Trust Company, and entered the skyscraper sweepstakes. When their architects, also Cross & Cross, filed plans at the Bureau of Buildings on Oct. 2, The New York Times described the new structure, at 71 stories and 846 feet, as the highest ever officially proposed. The design for the City Bank-Farmers Trust tower called for an illuminated globe on top, but the stock market crash a few weeks after filing brought the project up short, and it was reduced to 59 stories. Research by the Landmarks Preservation Commission gives the height as 685 feet, although just before completion The Times reported it as 750 feet. A partial set of engineering drawings from 1930 by the firm of Purdy & Henderson shows the 54th floor — several levels below the roof — as 670 feet high. The exact height of the building remains unclear. But it is safe to say that, when completed, it trailed the Empire State Building (1,250 feet), the Chrysler Building (1,046 feet) and the Bank of the Manhattan (927 feet). In August 1930, The Times reported that Gilbert Nicoll, a 20-year-old messenger, was near death after being hit by an iron bolt dropped from the 57th floor. He had been unemployed for months, according to the article, and the accident happened on his first day as a bank messenger. The building was completed the next year. The outside is plain, even ho-hum, except for 14 moody hooded figures at the 19th floor. The magazine Through the Ages said in 1931 that they represented “giants of finance, seven smiling, seven scowling.” Figures of coins on the ground floor represented countries in which the bank had its main branches. The Times called the building “conservative modern.” According to a 1931 article in Architecture and Building, the two lavish lobbies were fashioned from 45 different kinds of marble, quarried in Germany, Italy, Czechoslovakia, France, Spain, Belgium and elsewhere. The brothers Eliot and John Walter Cross formed a talented and versatile partnership. Well born, well educated and socially connected, they did in-town mansions and country estates, banks and garages, lofts and skyscrapers — like the 1931 General Electric building at 51st Street and Lexington Avenue, with its Art Deco radio-wave imagery. The architects’ niece Sarnia Marquand told a reporter in a 1980 interview that John Cross was the designer in the firm and Eliot handled the business side. Their most recognizable design is probably the sumptuously plain Tiffany & Company store at 57th Street and Fifth Avenue, which dates to 1940. According to the 1996 Landmark designation report, City Bank-Farmers Trust went through several changes, evolving into First National City Bank, and then, in 1976, Citibank. Its move out of the skyscraper happened in stages, the last one in 1989. The tower is easy to see from a distance but hard to find on the ground in the maze of irregular downtown streets. The City Bank-Farmers Trust banking hall runs along William Street. It is a high, columned space in English oak with polished marble and nickel trim, all handled in the Art Deco classicism that had become a safe alternative to radical European modernism. At Exchange and William, the main entrance to the banking hall is a high rotunda, flush with varying marbles, the most striking a golden travertine from Czechoslovakia, quite different from the pallid ivory-colored stone popular in the 1960s. From the tower there are wide views to the harbor and around to old skyscrapers on the land side. Today, a real estate firm, Metro Loft Management, is renovating the tower for rental apartments, and has 350 units ready on the floors from 16 to the top. A second phase, lower down, will involve office tenants; the company that takes the high banking hall will have a most spectacular retail space. E-mail: [email protected] http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/20/realestate/20scap.html
  16. jesseps

    Bye Bye Dubai?

    (Courtesy of Inhabitat) Now thats a hell of a thing, build million dollar buildings just to destroy them
  17. Montreal's BPR buys France's Saunier Engineering firm boosts international presence The Gazette Published: 9 hours ago Montreal's BPR engineering group is boosting its international presence with the acquisition of France's Saunier & Associés, a Paris-based firm specializing in energy and environmental work and building design. The merged company will have annual revenue of about $250 million and a staff of 2,400 in North America, Europe, South Africa and the Caribbean, chief executive Pierre Lavallée said yesterday. "This deal opens up the French and European markets to BPR and allows Saunier to market its specialized engineering services in Quebec, across Canada and in the U.S.," he added. BPR, which began 47 years ago in Quebec City with three engineers, grew steadily into a design, engineering, procurement and construction management firm. It moved its headquarters and main operations to Montreal in 2000, while retaining its offices in Quebec City and the Saguenay and taking on projects in Ontario and the U.S. Lavallée said BPR's focus is on heavy industry, mining, metals and petrochemicals, water, waste management, roads, bridges and other infrastructure, hydro and nuclear energy, and office buildings. "We're involved in the upgrading of Petro-Canada's Montreal refinery and Ultramar Canada's Quebec City refinery to produce the new low-sulphur diesel fuels," he said. "One of our strengths is instrumentation for industry." Saunier will add specialized skills in the energy and environmental sectors, such as the transfer of heat generated from waste processing to serve buildings, and other technologies for industry and municipal infrastructure. It has 19 offices across France. "We got to know each other when we were working on a massive waste water management upgrade in Paris," Lavallée said. "We were responsible for the design and were strangers in France. Now Saunier's technologies, experience and consulting skills can be applied here ... we'll both benefit from the synergies stemming from our alliance." CEO Bernard Saunier said the merger will provide Saunier with access to new markets and new opportunities for its engineers and technicians. "The alliance comes just at the right moment and it will help us accelerate our development, especially in energy."
  18. Je vous conseille de lire l'histoire, très intéressante ! http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=a3uKf5P1lFmg&refer=home Madoff Confessed $50 Billion Fraud Before FBI Arrest (Update1) By David Voreacos and David Glovin Dec. 12 (Bloomberg) -- Bernard Madoff confessed to employees this week that his investment advisory business was “a giant Ponzi scheme” that cost clients $50 billion before two FBI agents showed up yesterday morning at his Manhattan apartment. “We’re here to find out if there’s an innocent explanation,” Agent Theodore Cacioppi told Madoff, who founded Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC and was the former head of the Securities Industry Association’s trading committee. “There is no innocent explanation,” Madoff, 70, told the agents, saying he traded and lost money for institutional clients. He said he “paid investors with money that wasn’t there” and expected to go to jail. With that, agents arrested Madoff, according to an FBI complaint. The 8:30 a.m. arrest capped the downfall of Madoff and businesses bearing his name that specialized in trading securities, making markets, and advising wealthy clients. Many questions remain unanswered, including whether Madoff’s clients actually lost $50 billion. The complaint and a civil lawsuit by regulators describe a man spinning out of control. Madoff appeared in federal court in Manhattan at 6 p.m., wearing a white-striped shirt and dark-colored pants. U.S. Magistrate Judge Douglas Eaton described the securities-fraud charge against him and set a $10 million bond at a hearing where Madoff said nothing. Madoff later posted the bond, secured by his apartment and guaranteed by his wife. Hedge Funds, Banks Madoff’s firm had about $17.1 billion in assets under management as of Nov. 17, according to NASD records. At least half of its clients were hedge funds, and others included banks and wealthy individuals, according to the records. The firm was the 23rd-largest market maker on Nasdaq in October, handling an average of about 50 million shares a day, exchange data show. It took orders from online brokers for some of the largest U.S. companies, including General Electric Co. and Citigroup Inc. Prosecutors joined the Securities and Exchange Commission, which filed a civil lawsuit, in scrambling to unravel the collapse of Madoff’s Investment Securities business. The broker-dealer and investment adviser was housed in a lipstick-shaped building at 885 Third Ave. A rapid series of events in early December preceded the firm’s demise, according to the arrest complaint and SEC lawsuit. In the first week of December, Madoff told a worker identified as Senior Employee No. 2 that clients had requested $7 billion in redemptions, he was struggling to find liquidity, and he thought he could do so, according to the FBI and SEC. ‘Under Great Stress’ Senior employees “previously understood” that the investment advisory business managed between $8 billion and $15 billion in assets, according to the documents. On Dec. 9, Madoff told a colleague identified as Senior Employee No. 1 that he wanted to pay bonuses in December, or two months earlier than usual. The next day, Madoff got a visit at his offices from the employees. They said he appeared “under great stress” in prior weeks, according to the documents. Madoff told the visitors that “he had recently made profits through business operations, and that now was a good time to distribute it,” according to the FBI complaint. When the workers challenged that explanation, Madoff said he “wasn’t sure he would be able to hold it together” at the office and preferred to meet at his apartment, Senior Employee No. 2 told investigators. He ran his investment advisory business from a separate floor of his firm’s offices, keeping financial statements “under lock and key,” prosecutors said. ‘One Big Lie’ At his apartment, Madoff told the employees that his investment advisory business was a “fraud” and he was “finished,” according to the FBI complaint. He said he had “absolutely nothing,” that “it’s all just one big lie,” and that it was “basically, a giant Ponzi scheme,” Agent Cacioppi wrote in the complaint. The senior employees understood Madoff to be saying he had paid investors for years out of principal from other investors, the agent wrote. The business had been insolvent for years, said Madoff, who then estimated losses at more than $50 billion. Madoff said he had $200 million to $300 million left, and he planned to pay employees, family, and friends. Madoff, who had also confessed to a third senior employee, said he planned to surrender to authorities within a week, according to the complaint. Cacioppi and another agent beat Madoff to the punch. After saying he had no “innocent explanation,” Madoff confessed “it was all his fault,” Cacioppi wrote. ‘Broke,’ ‘Insolvent’ “Madoff also said that he was ‘broke’ and ‘insolvent’ and that he had decided that ‘it could not go on,’ and that he expected to go to jail,” the agent wrote. “Madoff also stated that he had recently admitted what he had done to Senior Employee Nos. 1, 2, and 3.” Madoff founded the firm in 1960 after leaving law school at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, according to the company’s Web site. His brother, Peter, joined the firm in 1970 after graduating from law school, it said. Madoff, who owned more than 75 percent of his firm, and his brother Peter, are the only two listed on regulatory records as “direct owners and executive officers.” Madoff was influential with the Nasdaq Stock Market, serving as chairman of the board of directors, according to the FBI complaint. He was chief of the Securities Industry Association’s trading committee in the 1990s and earlier this decade. He represented brokerages in talks with regulators about new stock-market rules as electronic-trading systems and networks grew. Madoff, who founded his firm in 1960, won an assignment to manage a $450,000 stock offering for A.L.S. Steel Corp. of Corona, New York, two years later, according to an SEC news digest. He was an early advocate for electronic trading, joining roundtable discussions with SEC regulators considering trading stocks in penny increments. His firm was among the first to make markets in New York Stock Exchange listed stocks outside of the Big Board, relying instead on Nasdaq. Madoff’s Web site advertises the “high ethical standards” of his firm. “In an era of faceless organizations owned by other equally faceless organizations, Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC harks back to an earlier era in the financial world: The owner’s name is on the door. Clients know that Bernard Madoff has a personal interest in maintaining the unblemished record of value, fair-dealing, and high ethical standards that has always been the firm’s hallmark.” The case is U.S. v. Madoff, 08-MAG-02735, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York (Manhattan).
  19. Avis de la Ville de Montreal http://applicatif.ville.montreal.qc.ca/som-fr/pdf_avis/pdfav10283.pdf The location and picture of the pukey building that will fall to the demo ball!!Yeah go to google maps and put in 1221 Hôtel de Ville, Montreal and see the building that is there now beurk!! The architectural firm is the following: I cannot find any renderings ..the site just seems to run a spool of the same images over and over... http://www.ateliervap.com/1/index.html :goodvibes: