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  1. Mort Zuckerman Who: Real estate developer Mortimer B. Zuckerman is the chairman of Boston Properties, one of the largest real estate developers in the United States, and the owner of U.S. News & World Report and the New York Daily News. Backstory: The son of a Montreal tobacco and candy wholesaler who passed away when Zuckerman was 17, the future real estate mogul headed off to college at McGill at age 16, then moved to the U.S. in the late '50s to attend business school at Wharton and law school at Harvard. After briefly enrolling in a PhD program, he turned to real estate, taking a job at a Boston-based development firm called Cabot, Cabot & Forbes at a starting salary $8,750. Zuckerman soon became one of the firm's young stars; he proved himself to be a pretty brash operator a few years later when he struck out on his own and teamed up with Ed Linde to form Boston Properties: Zuckerman immediately filed suit against his former employer over his ownership interest in a property he developed and ended up collecting a $5 million, which he used to make some of his first real estate deals. In the early '70s, Zuckerman and Linde began developing office buildings on the outskirts of Boston; they later moved into Boston proper and expanded to other cities during the '80s. By the middle part of the decade, Boston Properties had assembled 50 properties in its portfolio, 10 million square feet of real estate in Washington, Boston, New York, and San Francisco. It was during the company's growth spurt that Zuckerman started making his first investments in media, acquiring a small local newspaper chain in New England in the mid-'70s, The Atlantic in 1980, and U.S. News & World Report four years later. He purchased the Daily News in 1992. Of note: Zuckerman continues to serve as chairman of Boston Properties, and today the publicly-traded real-estate investment trust controls more than 100 commercial properties across the country. In New York, Boston Property's portfolio includes 599 Lexington (where Zuckerman's own 18th floor office is located) and 7 Times Square, which was built in 2004. But while there's little question Zuckerman has been enormously successful in the real estate game, his media track record is mixed. The Daily News squeezes out a small profit, but its battle with the Post has been bloody and painful, and U.S. News has been losing money for years and never managed to close the gap with larger rivals like Time and Newsweek. Zuckerman did extraordinarily well with his purchase of Fast Company—he unloaded it at the height of the dotcom boom for $350 million—but other media forays haven't panned out. In 2003, Zuckerman put in a bid for New York, ultimately losing out to Bruce Wasserstein; his investment in Radar lost him a good sum of money; and more recently, his effort to purchase Newsday never came to fruition when Cablevision's Jim Dolan snagged it instead. Keeping score: Zuckerman is worth $2.8 billion according to Forbes. On the job: Zuckerman isn't the sort of developer who spends his days on construction sites wearing a hard hat. Owning media outlets generates the sort of political and social currency that gives him entrée to the Washington political establishment and lands him an occasional seat on Sunday morning political talk shows. And he actively exercises his political influence as the "editor-in-chief" of U.S. News and owner of the News. While he isn't exactly sitting at his desk proofreading copy, he has a hand in the editorial direction of the magazine, which, most recently, he's used to take a series of (often cheap) shots at President Obama. Grudge: With the Daily News and the Post at each other's throats, Zuckerman has been a bitter rival of Rupert Murdoch for years. The Daily News questions the Post's circulation numbers. The Post chides "the Daily Snooze" for every misspelling and factual error. The News refers to Page Six as "Page Fix." The Post questions the methodology used to generate U.S. News's college rankings. And on and on. (The one thing they don't do is go after each other personally. Several years ago, PR guru Howard Rubenstein negotiated a pact between the two moguls to keep their private lives out of their respective papers.) He also isn't a fan of Bernie Madoff. After the Ponzi schemer was busted in 2009, Zuckerman revealed his personal foundation lost $25 million that had been entrusted to Madoff. Pet causes: Zuckerman gives to a variety of medical causes and Jewish charitable groups. In 2006, he announced his largest gift yet when he handed a $100 million check to Memorial Sloan-Kettering. His connection to the institution is personal: His daughter, Abigail, suffered from a childhood cancer that was treated at MSK. Personal: A notorious bachelor—the Washington Post once described him as having "dated more women than Italy has had governments"—Zuckerman's been connected to Nora Ephron, Gloria Steinem, Arianna Huffington, Diane von Furstenberg, Patricia Duff, and Marisa Berenson. In 1996, he tied the knot with art curator Marla Prather. (Justice Stephen Breyer officiated.) In 1997, they had a daughter, Abigail, before separating in 2000 and divorcing in 2001. In December of 2008, Zuckerman had a second daughter named Renee Esther. The identity of the mother, though, was not announced. It's believed the child was conceived via a surrogate. Habitat: Zuckerman resides in a triplex penthouse apartment at 950 Fifth Avenue decorated with paintings by Picasso, Rothko, and Matisse and sculptures by Frank Stella. (His neighbor back in the day was disgraced Tyco CEO Dennis Kozlowski.) Zuckerman also has a four-acre spread on Lily Pond Lane in East Hampton and a home in Aspen. Zuckerman has a helicopter to ferry him to the Hamptons. For longer trips, he relies on a $60 million, 18-seat Gulfstream G550 or a $35 million Falcon 900 that seats 14 people. True story: A film director pal, Irwin Winkler, cast him in the 1999 film, At First Sight. The role? Billionaire mogul Zuckerman played a homeless man. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Vital Stats Full Name: Mortimer Benjamin Zuckerman Date of Birth: 06/04/1937 Place of Birth: High School: Undergrad: McGill University Graduate: McGill University Law School, Wharton, Harvard Law School Residence(s): Upper East Side, Aspen, CO East Hampton, NY Filed Under: Business, Media, Real Estate http://gawker.com/5646808/
  2. The American Institute of Architects recently turned 150 and to celebrate they decided to put together a list of 150 favorite American buildings (do they know how to party or what?). Click forward to see which buildings made the top ten (you can see if any of your other personal favorites made the list here: http://www.favoritearchitecture.org/afa150.php
  3. Montreal eyeing new tax on personal vehicles Under bill 22. Private swimming pools could also provide sources of revenue DAVID JOHNSTON, The Gazette Published: 7 hours ago City of Montreal residents probably will have to pay a new municipal tax on personal vehicles of about $75 annually under new tax powers the Charest government wants to give to the city. Senior government officials who spoke to journalists this week said a new "PVT" is the most likely new municipal revenue source to arise from the menu of options that Bill 22 would give Montreal. Bill 22 is the draft legislation tabled last fall to give Montreal new tax powers and make governance changes in the Montreal agglomeration. Email to a friendEmail to a friendPrinter friendlyPrinter friendly Amendments unveiled Thursday at city hall scrapped the idea of a new food and beverage tax or a return of the old Montreal amusement tax. But the amendments are now calling for open-ended, royalty-type levies in their place. Although Mayor Gérald Tremblay has refused to be specific about the new taxes he has in mind, bureaucrats did bring up the possibility of a new tax on backyard swimming pools. And Tremblay conceded that many of the new taxes he is considering are inspired by some of the new taxing powers the city of Toronto won from the Ontario government in 2006. Royalties are traditionally applied to the use of a natural resource, like oil or water, but Toronto has taken the idea one step further and is considering a new tax on billboards, for the use of public space. The Bill 22 amendments are said to have sufficient opposition-party support to be approved before the legislature recesses next Friday. If that happens, Montreal will get the power to tax movables and immovables, but sales and inheritance taxes won't be allowed. Neither will taxes on gasoline, income, payrolls or energy. The new tax powers would be given only to the city of Mont- real, not to the 15 demerged island suburbs. Any new personal vehicle tax in Montreal would apply only to residents of city of Montreal boroughs. The most notable difference between Bill 22 and the city of Toronto Act is that Bill 22 stops short of allowing Montreal to tax alcohol and tobacco. "We're going to take time to look at our options," said Renée Sauriol, an aide to Tremblay. No new taxes would be introduced before 2010, Sauriol said. [email protected] thegazette.canwest.com - - - New municipal taxes Mayor Gérald Tremblay says the new tax powers that the provincial government is proposing to give Montreal are inspired by the new powers accorded in 2006 by the Ontario government to Toronto. Some highlights: In September, residents of the city of Toronto will begin paying a $60 annual municipal personal-vehicle tax. Only one car per household will be subject to the tax. A $75 tax for Montreal residents was mentioned this week by senior provincial and municipal bureaucrats as a possibility. Toronto hasn't yet determined what kind of new parking-lot tax it wants to introduce. The Tremblay administration is said to be leaning toward a new property surtax tied to the number of parking spots on a property. In February, Toronto approved new tax brackets for land-transfer taxes. The new regime has resulted in higher "welcome taxes" on properties worth $400,000 or more. The Quebec government has said it is prepared to let Montreal set its own new welcome-tax rates on properties worth more than $500,000. Below this value, provincially set rates would continue to apply. Toronto is still considering a new tax on billboards, justified as a royalty on the use of public space. This idea of expanding the notion of royalties to the municipal level is something that Montreal finds intriguing. Quebec is proposing to give Montreal a lot of leeway to come up with inventive new royalty schemes. In February, Toronto Mayor David Miller proposed a new toll on all provincial highways within the Greater Toronto area. The proposal hasn't been received well by suburbanites and nothing has happened yet. In Montreal, the Tremblay administration has similarly begun to regionalize its own original proposal for new island bridge tolls. Tremblay is now saying he wants to share any new toll revenues with off-island suburbs to help expand public transit. http://www.canada.com/montrealgazette/news/story.html?id=508d2256-8e5d-4700-8815-fac8e5f43c1f&p=2
  4. Flat tax would make today's tax-filing ordeal simpler and more fair NIELS VELDHUISThe Gazette Wednesday, April 30, 2008 Today is the tax-filing deadline. As we hunkered down over our computers and waded through piles of receipts and pages of complicated forms this month, many of us rightly questioned the complexity of Canada's tax system. The total costs associated with paying personal income taxes and the cost of tax software and accounting services amount to upward of $3.9 billion a year. It need not be this way. If Canada adopted a flat tax, taxpayers could complete and file their taxes in about five minutes on a postcard-size tax form. A recent study, A Flat Tax for Canada, by tax expert and University of Stanford Professor Alvin Rabushka, proposes just that: a 15-per-cent flat tax and postcard-size tax returns for both individuals and businesses. The 15-per- cent flat tax would collect the same amount of revenue as the federal government currently collects but do so in a manner that is much less damaging and distorting. The flat tax would simplify Canada's tax code through the elimination of nearly all deductions, exemptions and credits that complicate the current tax system. For individuals, only a few basic calculations would be needed to determine the amount of tax owing or refund due. Simply add up one's income from wages, salaries, and retirement benefits; subtract the basic personal exemption (the amount of income individuals can earn tax free); and multiply the remainder by 15 per cent. Gone are the numerous and interlinked tax forms of the present personal-income-tax system; gone are the myriad of tax credits and deductions; and gone is the complicated and time-consuming paperwork. Individuals would no longer need to report income derived from such sources as dividends, capital gains, or interest, as these types of income would be taxed at their source - the business level. This means businesses would pay tax on all the income they generate except the income earned by workers. For approximately 85 per cent of Canadian taxpayers, filling out a postcard tax return would be all that is required to pay their income taxes. The self-employed and a few others would need to fill out an equally simple business tax form. For businesses, all income from the sale of goods and services would be subject to the flat tax. Deductions would be limited to the cost of materials, wages and salaries, and capital investments (buildings, equipment and land). Other income would be taxed at the same rate as individual income. Not only would a flat tax dramatically simplify the tax system, it would also have a significant impact on the Canadian economy. First, a flat tax would replace the existing four federal income-tax rates with one low rate thereby eliminating the barrier that discourages Canadians from saving, investing or working harder to earn more money. Research clearly shows that tax rates that increase as individuals earn more money through hard work act as a disincentive for such work. A flat tax would also have a significant impact on investment in Canada. Since businesses are permitted to deduct the full value of capital investments (buildings, equipment and land) in the year of purchase, the tax burden on investments would be significantly reduced and would increase the amount of investment undertaken by businesses. International evidence clearly shows that Canada would benefit greatly from a flat tax. In fact, more than 20 jurisdictions around the world, most notably Hong Kong and more recently a number of former Soviet republics, have implemented flat taxes. Hong Kong built itself into an economic giant using the flat tax as its fiscal anchor. Similarly, Slovakia, which adopted a flat tax in 2004, has since become Europe's fastest growing economy and a beacon for foreign investment. At this time of year most Canadians become frustrated at just how unwieldy, complicated, and littered with exemptions for special interests our tax code has become. Replacing Canada's personal and business income-tax system with a flat tax will save money, make everyone's taxes easier to calculate, and strengthen the Canadian economy. A few key strokes on a calculator, a minute or two to fill out a postcard return, and voilà, off to Ottawa, with love. Niels Veldhuis is director of fiscal studies at the Fraser Institute. http://www.canada.com/montrealgazette/news/editorial/story.html?id=1bf2b616-0b3e-456d-9a44-5d51eeeb04b0
  5. Ottawa pledges tax cuts as surplus soars STEVEN CHASE Globe and Mail Update September 27, 2007 at 1:02 PM EDT The Canadian government racked up a monster surplus of about $14-billion for the last fiscal year, Ottawa reported Thursday. It said it has used the surplus to retire national debt and will funnel the $725-million interest saved as a result to Canadian taxpayers through tax cuts. That is a break of about $30 to $40 per tax filer in annual savings, depending on how it is allocated. That surplus far exceeds the $9.2 billion forecast in the last budget. Prime Minister Stephen Harper congratulates Finance Minister Jim Flaherty on March 19 after the government's budget speech. It is an embarrassment of riches for the Conservative government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, which said Canadians were overtaxed when it took office and vowed that there would be no more surplus surprises. Ottawa's coffers are swollen by extra personal and corporate income-tax revenue generated by richer profits from a commodity boom. By law, all this excess cash – $14.2 billion – has been used to pay down Canada's debt and is not available for spending. However, the interest savings generated by the debt paydown – a fraction of the overall surplus – will be used to fund tax reductions, as promised by the Harper government. The surplus hit $13.8-billion and Ottawa ultimately reduced its debt by $14.2-billion last year, the government announced.
  6. http://www.montrealgazette.com/business/Obituary+David+Azrieli+touched+many+parts+society/10014707/story.html By Paul Delean, THE GAZETTE European-born David Azrieli, who fled the Nazis as a teenager, fought in the 1948 Arab-Israeli war and then found fortune in Canada, died Wednesday at age 92. According to Forbes magazine, the Montreal-based real-estate developer and businessman was one of the richest Canadians with an estimated worth of $3.1 billion. He also was one of the most generous, contributing more than $100 million to philanthropic causes around the world, many of them in the fields of medical research, education and the arts. “It’s a great loss,” said Susan Laxer, president of local Jewish organization Federation CJA. “He literally changed the landscape in Israel with his office towers and architecture, and with his philanthropy, he touched many parts of our society and community. Through his legacy, he’ll continue to touch the lives of many people.” Norma Joseph, professor of religion and associate-director of the Azrieli Institute of Israel Studies at Concordia University, described him as “a formidable person, very strong-minded. And he used his mind for a wonderful vision of community and building.” The institute got its start in 2011 with funding provided by the family foundation, “but he did more than give money. He also gave his personal time and effort,” Joseph said. Born into a Jewish family in Poland, Azrieli escaped ahead of the Nazi occupation and kept moving, winding up in British Mandate Palestine in 1942. He studied architecture at Technion-Israel Institute of Technology and fought in Israel’s war of independence before settling in Canada in 1954. In a rare 1973 interview with the Montreal Star, he said he arrived here with no family connections and “literally, penniless.” “Nobody gave me anything,” he said. After earning a Bachelor of Arts degree from the Université de Montréal and working at a number of jobs, he had enough saved for his first solo project in 1957, construction of four duplexes on vacant lots he purchased in Ville D’Anjou. It was the start of a real-estate juggernaut that would eventually include thousands of apartment units, office buildings and shopping centres in Canada, the U.S. and Israel. Among his local holdings is the downtown Dominion Square Building housing The Gazette, acquired for $78.25 million in 2005, and the Sofitel Hotel. The Azrieli Group also held interests in companies active in the fields of energy, water and finance. He remained its chairman until last week when daughter Danna succeeded him, a move prompted by his medical condition. A sometimes controversial figure, Azrieli made headlines in the 1970s when he razed the former Van Horne Mansion on Sherbrooke St. and erected a 17-storey office tower on the site. In 1984, he sued The Gazette for libel over an editorial about a local development, but lost. “From the times of the pyramids to those of the skyscrapers, the works of architects and builders have been monuments to their glory or to their shame,” Superior Court Judge Paul Reeves said. “They build before the public eye and the public rightfully says whether it likes or dislikes what it sees.” In his later years, Azrieli split his residency between Israel and Westmount. “I have two homelands,” he once said, “two places that I love and where I have been blessed to do what I love best.” Active in and supportive of Jewish causes throughout his lifetime, he served as president of the Canadian Zionist Federation and in 2008 authored a book called Rekindling the Torch: The Story of Canadian Zionism, which told the story of the contribution of Canadian Jews and non-Jews to establishment of the state of Israel and their continuing support for the country. He also made Holocaust remembrance a personal crusade after it took from him two siblings and both parents. “This is my vision, to be able to use the tangible rewards of my career in building and construction to create a legacy for education and educational institutions in both of my homelands,” he said. A recipient of the Order of Canada, Azrieli also was a “chevalier” of the Ordre National du Québec. Married for 57 years to Stephanie Lefcort, he had four children: Rafael, Sharon, Naomi and Danna. He died surrounded by family at his country home in Ivry-sur-le-Lac, Que. [email protected]
  7. I'm doing this because someone suggested it to me. If you or any of your friends or family members happens to buy or see a used 13'' MacBook pro with serial number ending in V66D (the serial number is on the back in tiny fonts), I will be happy to buy it back for a much higher price (or give you a nice negotiable cash reward, if you show me where I can buy it). Just let me know the rest of the serial number. It was stolen for me and it will probably soon end up in one of the many used computer shops or pawn shops in town. I have some important school papers and very important personal media which I will try to recover if the hard drive has been cleared. Thanks in advance!