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    Le parc de l'Ile de la Visitation? Probablement le parc le plus sous-estimé de Montréal.


    Sous-estimé peut-être mais très fréquenté et apprécié par les gens du quartier, j'y vais souvent


    Il m'est plaisant de le faire découvrir à mes amis :)

    Edited by Memphis 22
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    pedepy : je suis d'accord avec tout ce que tu as dit. Il est vrai que c'est injuste de vouloir comparer le Washington Square avec ceux qui sont au centre-ville de Montréal. Washington Square déssert toujours un quartier résidentiel alors que ceux de Montréal au centre-ville ont cessé de désservir une clientèle résidentielle depuis des décénnies.


    De plus, la situation du Washington Square dans un quartier résidentiel plus ou moins coincé entre deux centres d'affaires est assez particulier.

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    J'ai bien hâte de fréquenter le Washington Square et de vous faire part de mes observations. Lors de ma dernière visite, ce printemps, il y avait 3 ou 4 excellents musiciens, un trompétiste et 2 ou 3 saxophonistes. Il faisait chaud, des enfants s'amusaient dans la fontaine. Il y avait des travaux majeurs sur le parc. On se serait cru dans un mini quartier des spectacles.

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    August 20, 2010



    THE recession has not been kind to many new condominium developments in New York City. Some have stalled midconstruction; others have shuttered their sales offices because of inactivity; some developers have had to return deposits to buyers as prices took a nosedive.


    But two years after the real estate market seized up, some of the hardest-hit developments have found ways to rise from the ashes. In some cases, the original developers avoided default by renegotiating their construction loans, and in others new developers stepped in and took over.


    In all cases, the need for reinvention has been paramount.


    To adjust to a market strikingly different from the high-flying one that reigned when these projects were conceived, developers have not only created new marketing campaigns but also substantially changed the buildings themselves. Focusing less on trendiness and more on value, they have redesigned lobbies, combined apartments to create more family-sized units, and swapped luxuries like private roof cabanas for shared amenities like common roof decks. The changes all seek to appeal to today’s much more skeptical buyer.


    At be@schermerhorn, a 246-unit condo in downtown Brooklyn that stood unfinished and vacant for most of 2009, a new owner started selling apartments in the building three months ago, after deciding to broaden the target audience of buyers and also creating amenities like storage space and a roof deck.


    “We retooled the project to what we think fits the market today,” said Michael Phillips, the creative director of Jamestown Properties, an original investor that has now taken over both the building and the troubled mortgage of the developer, SDS Procida. The changes that Jamestown made were “less about grand gestures and more about sensitivity to consumer interest,” Mr. Phillips said. “Maybe in the last economy, big, glossy marketing and overpromising was acceptable, but that’s really not relevant for buyers today.”


    In early 2009 the project went over budget, lenders cut off financing, construction stopped and contractors put liens on the property. Curbed.com dubbed it a “zombie building,” and when given the chance most of the 40 buyers took their deposits and ran.


    Jamestown assumed control in late 2009 and decided that the original marketing plan aimed at 20-somethings was too limited. “We wanted to cast a wider net and appeal to young families and empty-nesters and maybe be a little less trendy,” Mr. Phillips said.


    The first brochures had pronounced, “be@ is not just an address, it’s an attitude,” and had shown beautiful young people dining out or shooting pool. New marketing materials promise “clean styling and attractive pricing,” and feature a child reaching for a juice box at a local market and an older gentleman leaving the building with his dog.


    Inside the building, bold design colors were traded for more neutral ones; part of the parking garage was converted to 60 storage units; and six private roof cabanas were turned into a common roof deck. Jamestown also cut prices by 25 percent and obtained approval for loans through the Federal Housing Administration to help buyers get financing. After three months back on the market, they have about 140 accepted offers.


    Tarsha Carvey and her partner, Iris Mulero, stuck with the building, despite being offered three chances to cancel their 2009 contract for a one-bedroom for under $400,000. “I knew that 80 percent of the people were pulling out,” said Ms. Carvey, who works as an executive assistant at Nickelodeon, “but I don’t like to follow the crowd.” The couple now are looking at a larger one-bedroom with a home office for the same price, with the building’s blessing. “The whole energy of the building now is very classy,” she said, “and it’s a lot more high-end than I ever expected it to be.”


    The storage units and the roof deck were big selling points for Andon George and Paula McCreedy, who are nearly empty-nesters, as their son, Alex, is a recent college graduate. They are in contract for a two-bedroom for $542,000, and they also bought a storage unit “for all the records and files that one accumulates over a lifetime,” said Mr. George, who is an architect. The deck, with its expansive harbor and city views, helped them imagine living beyond the walls of their apartment, he added, because “we can have people over for dinner and start with a drink on the roof.”


    A new roof terrace has also figured in recent sales at Warehouse 11, a 120-unit building in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, that was stalled for most of 2009 and was reintroduced early this year. The developer, McCaren Park Mews LLC, defaulted on a $50 million mortgage, filed for bankruptcy and negotiated the loan down to $35.5 million. In the process, about 30 buyers were released from their contracts and real estate blogs had a field day describing the project as a failure that had been exposed to the elements for too long and was most likely falling apart.


    The building first opened for sales in the summer of 2008, right before the market went into free fall. David Maundrell, the president of aptsandlofts.com, which has handled marketing for the building, said the 2008 sales activity provided “an opportunity to look at what didn’t work the first time and change things.”


    The plan had called for a children’s playroom and 60 private roof cabanas. “But there was no interest at all in a playroom because the family market in Williamsburg is still developing,” Mr. Maundrell said. No one was buying cabanas, either. So the playroom was replaced with a billiard/television room, and the cabanas were removed to create a common roof deck. Prices were also dropped, by 25 to 35 percent, and the building is now nearly 80 percent sold.


    Leonardo and Valeria Caputi recently bought a top-floor apartment and a parking space for $590,000. The apartment alone had been priced at $750,000 in 2008. The Caputis moved from Bayside, Queens, and Mr. Caputi said, “I don’t want to be dramatic, but there’s not a morning when we wake up that we’re not excited to be here.” They love being one subway stop from Manhattan and one block from McCarren Park.


    The Caputis were well aware of Warehouse 11’s bad press, but Mr. Caputi, who works in law enforcement, said that Mr. Maundrell “didn’t shy away from any of it, and he kept us apprised of what was being done to deal with any issues.” He added, “So far, we haven’t had any problems with the building.”


    Mr. Caputi said that the roof’s panoramic views of Manhattan, Brooklyn and beyond had helped persuade them to buy. The Caputis have made a point of going up to the roof deck every evening, “even if it’s just for five minutes, just to look at the city and take it all in.”


    But other projects in Williamsburg, which may have the city’s highest concentration of stalled developments, have not been reborn as condos. The 40-unit building at 349 Metropolitan Avenue was planned as a condo but recently opened as a rental. It was nearly 70 percent sold in the summer of 2008, when the developer, 349 Metropolitan Avenue LLC, defaulted on its construction loan and returned buyers’ deposits. While the building sat vacant, vandals tagged the limestone facade with graffiti, and chunks of the first-floor facade were stripped off.


    When another developer, Masada Metropolitan LLC, stepped in about eight months ago and bought the original developer’s $12 million loan for $6.3 million, the first thing it did was replace the facade. “It was ugly,” said Nissim Ben-nun, a principal of Masada. “But the real reason we changed it was it was unsafe.” The new facade is a blend of stone and plate glass. And to bring some of the Williamsburg arts scene into the building, they commissioned R. Nicholas Kuszyk, a local artist, to paint a four-story mural in an interior courtyard.


    In addition to paying off the bank, Mr. Ben-nun said, he also had to spend $3 million to clear contractors’ liens, an additional $2 million to get clear title to the property from the original developer, and $1 million more to replace the facade and finish construction. “Financially I’d be better off selling” the apartments as condos, he said, “but I decided to rent it and own it for a while, maybe leave it to my kids.”


    Mr. Maundrell, who is also marketing the building, said that selling it as condos would have taken seven to eight months but that he felt certain he could rent it more quickly. At the first open house earlier this month, 21 of the 40 apartments were rented at current market rates, with one-bedrooms listed for about $2,200 and two-bedrooms about $2,800.


    Some developers with stalled projects are confident that after a hiatus of a year or longer, now may be a good time to reintroduce their buildings, because prices have stabilized. This is the case for the Lotta condominium, on 118th Street in Harlem, and 1 Rector Park, in Battery Park City. Both buildings were rentals that developers had decided to turn into condos, and both came to market just as the economy started to hit the skids in 2008.


    The Lotta had one out of 34 apartments in contract when the developers, Gal Sela and Eli Idi, decided to take the condos off the market in August 2008 and instead turned the building into a youth hostel. For about $40 a night, travelers could rent a bunk bed in an apartment with stone counters, Kohler bath fixtures and Italian design kitchen cabinets. The cabinets were outfitted with locks so guests could have personal storage space, but the stainless steel kitchen appliances weren’t hooked up.


    Tourists filled rooms that had up to six bunk beds and attended events like pub crawls, rooftop cocktail gatherings and holiday parties in the lounge. But city officials shut down the hostel in April because it had only one stairway exit, which is inadequate for as many as 260 hostel guests, but fine for a typically smaller condo population.


    Gilad Azaria, an agent with Prudential Douglas Elliman who will be the sales director for the Lotta when it reopens in the fall, said the owners had decided to turn the building back into a condominium “because the market looks good right now” and it would have been difficult to meet building requirements to keep it a hostel. Mr. Azaria said the hostel had provided a good way for the owners “to stay afloat, hold the building and get through the recession.” It was enough of a success that the owners are planning a new hostel in Long Island City.


    Before opening the condo, they will refinish the apartments and redesign the building’s public spaces. One-bedrooms will sell for about $350,000 and two-bedrooms for about $550,000, roughly 20 percent less than original asking prices.


    At 1 Rector Park, some prices will be more than 50 percent lower than in 2008. Apartments back then were listed at $957 to $1,585 per square foot, and prices now will range from $417 to $1,304 per square foot. Studios will be available for $300,000; one-bedrooms for $365,000 to $760,000; and two bedrooms from $775,000 to $1.17 million. The developer also created some three- and four-bedroom apartments with price tags upward of $2 million.


    Originally, about 10 percent of the 174 apartments had gone into contract, but by mid-2009, the developer, Buttonwood Real Estate, had failed to hit its sales goals and had to turn the keys over to the lender, iStar Financial, which in late 2009 hired Corcoran Sunshine to help “reposition” the building.


    James Lansill, a senior managing director of Corcoran Sunshine, said many of the original design elements “didn’t seem as relevant to the economy today.” The lobby design, for example, started out with the feel of a night club, with a lot of dark wood, and was replaced with lighter tones and softer furniture.


    Like the new developers of be@schermerhorn, the new developer for 1 Rector Park decided to broaden its target audience. Model apartments originally had a sleek aesthetic meant to lure younger buyers. Mr. Lansill says his marketing team has developed character profiles to reflect a more diverse buying population and has had designers create model apartments accordingly. The characters include a young single man who has just moved from California to be a banker; a couple whose grown children have moved out; a family with two children and a third on the way; a young married couple obsessed with cooking; and a divorced woman.


    Perhaps the most noticeable change is in the building’s Web site and marketing materials, which Mr. Lansill described as “radical” in their simplicity. The home page of the site offers three ways to search for an apartment: by price, size, or view. “There’s no image of the project, no hip-y line about how it’s the most luxurious place where you will live,” he said. “You get pure information instantly, and not at the 17th screen after you’ve been bludgeoned with all this information about lifestyle.”


    The reason for such directness? “We’re in a dramatically changed market from where we were two years ago,” Mr. Lansill said. “Buyers are skeptical now, and they don’t want to be information-starved.”


    He added that since prices had been lowered so much, “we are going to offer one price, no negotiation.” They have done their research and can show buyers that the apartments are priced below the competition in the area, he said. A week after the Web site went up, there were 31 contracts at full price, almost double the number of sales the first time around.


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    • 3 weeks later...

    August 06, 2010 1:32 PM



    One Hanson Place, also known as the Williamsburgh Savings Bank building, has only 18 units left to sell out a total of 179 that hit the market four years ago; bank hall still a white elephant.


    By Carl Gaines


    One Hanson Place, in downtown Brooklyn, may have lost its place as Brooklyn's tallest building (the 51-story Brooklyner apartment building took that title in June of last year), but diminished status or not, the 37-story office-to-residential conversion is finally filling up.




    Of the 179 condominium units in the 1929 landmark building, 161 have closed since they first went on the market in June 2006, according to Michael Chapman, an executive vice president at Stribling Marketing Associates, which handles marketing and sales for One Hanson Place. Prices on those remaining condos range from $275,000 for a studio to $5,875,000 for a four bedroom.


    “We've done very well since last August,” said Mr. Chapman. “About 40 units have sold since then.”


    Harder to fill has been the ornate bank hall of the tower that until the residential conversion was known as the Williamsburgh Savings Bank building. Efforts to lease up that ground floor space with its soaring ceiling, murals and sculptural reliefs, have gone nowhere. Apple was once rumored to be taking over the space, but the hall's landmark status, which makes alterations next to impossible, may have squashed that idea.


    Currently the ground floor is occupied by the Brooklyn Flea, a former street market, on Sundays. The rest of the week the space sits empty. An event management company, the Skylight Group, currently oversees usage of the bank hall, renting the space to the flea market as well as for events like weddings.


    Ervin “Magic” Johnson's Canyon-Johnson Urban Funds is an owner of the building, as part of a joint venture. The fund commits itself to providing equity and capital to ethnically diverse urban neighborhoods. On a recent press junket to New York, Mr. Johnson spoke about the challenge of going from a basketball star to a businessman, with a hand in the development of projects like One Hanson Place.


    “You're an outsider coming in to New York,” he said. “But once they saw that my intentions were good, people jumped on board.”




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    WAN is delighted to bring you these exclusive update images of Frank Gehry’s 1.1million sq ft Beekman Tower. A multi-storey mixed-use facility, the wrinkled stainless steel façade is signature Gehry and towers above its neighbours at 76 storeys high. Our fearless photographer Wade Zimmerman almost managed to get himself banged up on this mission, receiving a stern warning from New York’s finest after trespassing into a restricted area of police headquarters to get the best angles. Luckily the smooth-talking maverick managed to skip out, enabling us to bring you these fantastic images of the shimmering Beekman Tower.




    At 8 Spruce Street in Manhattan, Gehry’s design was brought to life by New York developer Forest City Ratner. It incorporates luxury living accommodation, a public elementary school owned by the Department of Education and an ambulatory care centre. The school itself seats 630 students and takes up approximately 100,000 sq ft over 5 floors, whilst public plazas on the east and west sides of the development provide a touch of outdoor escapism in the city that never sleeps.




    It was only a matter of time until Gehry made his mark on Manhattan. His first residential project in New York, the master of controversial architecture will be joining the legions of architects and designers facing the wrath of outspoken New Yorkers who are not afraid to comment on the ever-changing skyline of their beloved city. Currently under attack are Pelli Clarke Pelli for their highly disputed 15 Penn Plaza project whilst the backlash against the Ground Zero mosque continues to gather momentum despite the fact that an architect has yet to be named. How Gehry’s Beekman Tower will be received is yet to be seen.


    Sian Disson

    News Editor

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    • 4 weeks later...

    October 7, 2010


    Governor of New Jersey Blocks Hudson Tunnel Project



    Gov. Christopher J. Christie of New Jersey said on Thursday that he has decided to terminate the construction of a commuter train tunnel between northern New Jersey and Manhattan because of escalating estimates of the project’s cost.


    Until last month, the project had been estimated to cost $8.7 billion. But after his staff reviewed the project, Governor Christie said they concluded it would cost more than $11 billion, and possibly as much as $14 billion.


    The federal government and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey had pledged $3 billion each toward the tunnel, but Mr. Christie said New Jersey could not afford to pay the balance.


    In early September, Mr. Christie surprised other elected officials and an array of transportation advocates who had supported the tunnel by ordering a temporary halt to spending on the project.


    New Jersey Transit, the state-run operator of commuter trains and buses, had already hired contractors to begin digging the tunnel, and the Port Authority had begun condemning property in Midtown Manhattan that stood in the way of the project.


    All told, about $600 million had been spent. Sen. Frank Lautenberg, a Democrat from New Jersey who supported the project, said that about half of that money came from the federal government and would have to be repaid by New Jersey.


    The move would scuttle a project that has been in the planning for two decades and was supposed to double the capacity on trains into New York City and alleviate congestion on the region’s roads.


    Transportation advocates and officials in Washington said that the federal money would probably be spent on transit projects in other states. They said they expected Mr. Christie to suggest spending the Port Authority’s money on other projects in New Jersey.



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