Archive for July, 2012

New York City penthouse listed for $100M

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012

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(AP) NEW YORK – What will $100 million buy you in New York City’s real estate market? Apparently, a really good view.

An exclusive listing is offering an octagon-shaped penthouse in midtown-Manhattan that boasts three floors of living space, panoramic views of the city, six bedrooms, nine bathrooms and a wine room for 1,000 bottles.

And that’s not all.

The 8,000-square-foot apartment on West 56th Street has its own elevator and wraparound terraces on three floors. It is possible to see nearly all of the city’s bridges from its 135 windows.

The penthouse is being sold by Long Island real estate developer Steven Klar, who purchased it for 4.5 million in 1993 and spent at least as much renovating it.

Klar told The New York Times he has decided to sell it because his 5-year-old son “could potentially get out on the terraces.”

The triplex, occupying the 73rd through the 75th floors, is the exclusive listing of Raphael De Niro, a broker with Prudential Douglas Elliman and the son of actor Robert de Niro. He said the terraces offer the highest outdoor residential space in the city.

It is located in CitySpire, a tower that created controversy when it went up in 1988 because the developer built it higher than zoning codes allowed. The city reached a settlement with the developer. There also were complaints from area residents of loud whistling emanating from the tower. Louvers on the top of the building had to be adjusted to reduce the noise.

During the downturn in the housing market in the early 1990s, lenders took away the building from the developer. Klar purchased his penthouse after his company, Klar Organization, was brought in to sell the unsold apartments.

The asking price reportedly is the highest for any New York City apartment currently on the market. A six-bedroom penthouse at One57, a tower currently going up nearby, is under contract for $90 million.

© 2012 The Associated Press.

Is a reverse mortgage right for you

Thursday, July 26th, 2012

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Family time at the Cotages at Cultus Lake

Thursday, July 26th, 2012

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Vancouver prepares plan to renew ailing Chinatown

Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

Business leader says neighbourhood’s troubles not unique, points to new developments

Mike Howell
Van. Courier

A high number of vacant storefronts in run-down buildings, struggling businesses and a negative public image as unsafe and out of date.

That is a description of Chinatown, as written by a senior city planner, who will present a report to city council Wednesday that details the urgency of turning the historic neighbourhood around.

“This is an important moment in the evolution of Chinatown to ensure revitalization continues, renews the cultural and heritage fabric of the neighbourhood and is socially and economically sustainable,” wrote Kevin McNaney, the city’s assistant director of central area planning.

The report includes an ambitious revitalization strategy that calls for a variety of changes to Chinatown, including:

- The need for old-line retailers and restaurateurs to modernize and broaden their offerings.

- Improving neighbourhood public places, cleanliness and safety to attract locals and visitors, especially evening and weekend customers.

- Increasing the number of younger community members in decision-making roles and planning.

- Renovating heritage buildings.

The report comes a decade after city council approved a plan to help guide policy decisions, priorities, budgets and capital plans in Chinatown.

Since 2002, Chinatown has seen upgrades in public realm projects such as Shanghai Alley, the addition of some new restaurants including the popular Bao Bei on Keefer Street and a merchant-led “We speak English” campaign to attract customers.

Businesses, however, are still struggling, according to research conducted by economic development planners from San Francisco hired by the city to conduct research, community consultation and provide recommendations to revitalize Chinatown.

The planners surveyed 77 businesses and learned 64 per cent reported a decrease in revenue between 2008 and 2011. They also discovered 43 per cent of businesses operated for more than 15 years and 23 per cent opened their doors less than five years ago.

The majority of customers – 58 per cent – are local residents, with an additional 21 per cent from the Lower Mainland while tourists make up about 12 per cent of visits.

Albert Fok, president of the Vancouver Chinatown Business Improvement Area Society, said the downturn in business since 2008 can be attributed to the struggling global economic climate.

“It’s not something that’s unique to Chinatown,” Fok said. “I think downtown experienced the same thing, and we talk to our Gastown and Strathcona counterparts who say the same thing.”

But Fok acknowledged there is a need to attract more people to Chinatown to keep it viable for merchants. That is a concern Fok mentioned to the Courier 10 years ago when interviewed for a feature story on the struggles in Chinatown.

The recent approval of a nine-storey residential tower at Main and Keefer streets and the potential for a 15-storey building on the same corner is good news for the community, he said.

“I would say it looks positive,” he said. “Any community needs a critical mass to support its viability. We have a dwindling residential population and hopefully this will re-inject a crowd. Regardless of income, you need to eat and buy groceries.”

Fok believes Chinatown has lost some customers to Richmond and Burnaby, where those cities have seen the emergence of Chinese malls, restaurants and shops.

But, he said, “they’re not heritage Chinatowns and we have something that cannot be mimicked.”

Its history is significant but it’s proximity to the East Hastings strip, where drug use and dealing is witnessed daily, has translated to break-ins to businesses and vehicles over the years.

But Fok says there has been a decrease in crime in Chinatown.

“Most of it now is perception,” he said.

He encouraged people to visit Chinatown, noting the community now offers pedi-cab tours during the summer and is preparing for its annual festival Aug. 11 and 12.

“Seeing is believing,” he said.

© Copyright (c) Vancouver Courier

Report may seal viaducts’ fate – Potential plans include elevated parkway

Friday, July 20th, 2012

Bob MacKin
Van. Courier

Is the end near for the Georgia and Dunsmuir viaducts?

The agenda for Tuesday’s Vancouver city council meeting, the last scheduled meeting until September, includes an entry for an update on the fate of the remnants of the city’s aborted freeway network. The viaducts have been targeted for razing in a campaign championed by Vision Vancouver Coun. Geoff Meggs. The report was not available as of Thursday morning, but city staff have spent two years considering whether to remove the viaducts in whole or in part and reconfigure ground-level traffic around Northeast False Creek. Closing the viaducts to vehicles and transforming them into an elevated parkway has also been proposed.

Vancouver is not likely to copy Seattle, however, where the Alaskan Way Viaduct is being demolished near the waterfront and replaced by a $2.03 billion tunnel as part of a $3.1 billion project.

The Dunsmuir Viaduct includes a dedicated bike lane and offers the fastest vehicle route to downtown from the city’s East Side, except before B.C. Place Stadium and Rogers Arena events when they are often gridlocked. The Georgia Viaduct offers access from downtown to the East Side, just south of Strathcona where neighbours recently protested to pressure city hall to adopt a solution that keeps commuter cars and trucks out of the historic area.

Part of the reason to remove the viaducts is to free up land for development in Northeast False Creek. A report to the last council meeting before the 2011 summer break showed an aerial photograph of four parcels east of Rogers Arena totalling 11.9 acres that are currently covered by the viaducts. Local developers, mainly Concord Pacific, covet the land.

Aquilini Investment Group is hoping to build three towers around Rogers Arena, ranging from 24 to 32 storeys. Site preparation is already underway on the northwest side of the building, which opened in 1995, squeezed between the viaducts.

Meanwhile, a staff report on street and sidewalk inspection recommends the city not inspect boulevards, trails, roadways, lanes, shoulders and curbs not directly abutting sidewalks and crosswalks. Repairs would happen only after complaints. The city spends $200,000 a year to visually inspect 2,200 kilometres of sidewalks and 2,000 km of lanes and streets.

“When inspectors identify a hazard, maintenance staff are notified and repairs are scheduled to be completed within seven days,” said the report. “In a typical year our current inspection program identifies about 3,000 to 4,000 sidewalk hazards and about 300 to 400 street and lane hazards.”

There were 11,400 work orders last year, more than half for sidewalk troubles that were reported by inspectors. A sidewalk and crosswalk hazard is defined as a sharp vertical difference of more than 2.5 centimetres or where there is a gap of 2.5 cm deep at a crack or joint. A roadway hazard is more than 5 cm high or 5 cm deep.

City council is expected to rubber-stamp the purchase of 10 backhoe loaders for $1.6 million from Parker Pacific and two wheel loaders for $903,418 from Finning International. The city has not purchased construction equipment since 2009. It received six bids on the offered contracts by Nov. 29, 2011. Staff shortlisted two companies to provide five different types of equipment. Council approval is required for purchases worth more than $2 million.

© Copyright (c) Vancouver Courier

Moda 32-storey tower an Metrotown by Polygon

Thursday, July 19th, 2012

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Tips to working with your REALTOR

Thursday, July 19th, 2012

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Wall Financial Corporation’s phase one of Shannon Estates at 57th and Granville

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

Board greenlights sprawling development in Vancouver neighbourhood

Naoibh O’Connor
Van. Courier

The Development Permit Board unanimously approved Wall Financial Corporation’s application for phase one of Shannon Estates Monday night.

This stage of the sprawling development at 57th and Granville features three multi-storey buildings – one will be mixed use with commercial and residential space, underground parking, a public park, the restoration of three designated heritage buildings, landscaping elements and the perimeter walls, and the development of a local energy system. It’s expected to take roughly three years to complete the first stage of the development, designed by Perkins and Will Architects, after which the second and final phase will commence.

Development Permit Board chairwoman Vicki Potter, a non-voting member of the board, said four neighbourhood residents spoke at Monday’s meeting. The board also heard advice from the advisory panel, which unanimously supported the project. No changes were made to the staff recommendations in the report.

“The [Development Permit Board] felt the application met the conditions as set out by council at the rezoning and met the technical aspects of the CD-1 bylaw. The board particularly remarked on the exceptional landscape and public realm that will be very accessible to the public, as well as retention of the significant heritage buildings,” Potter told the Courier in an email. “The speakers raised concerns primarily about traffic and construction impacts.”

Rezoning for the 10-acre site was approved close to a year ago despite opposition. The property had been zoned residential and features a mansion and perimeter wall listed on the Vancouver Heritage Registry, an outdoor swimming pool and 162 units of rental housing, most of them in low-rise apartments built by [Arthur] Erickson Massey Architects in the 1970s.

The developer’s plans include restoring the three heritage-designated buildings on the site and restoring heritage landscape elements, including a portion of a public park and replacing the swimming pool.

Gunther Schrack, a member of the Shannon Mews Neighbours’ Association, which has raised concerns about potential traffic and construction problems and has criticized the development as “spot rezoning” in the past, said he’s not surprised the project was approved.

The group is pleased about plans to restore the heritage buildings, but questions how many people will use the park. When Schrack has stopped by the Italian and rose gardens, few people were around.

“We always felt the park being put there on the request of the city will not be used by many people,” he said. “We would be surprised if indeed it would become popular.”

Schrack’s major concern now is how the city will monitor the site during construction – a question he maintains hasn’t been addressed.

In coming month the developer has to address any conditions outlined in the approved development permit application before seeking a building permit.

A building permit requires another level of detail concerning issues such as the building code, but it doesn’t go out for public consultation.

It’s unclear how long it will take before ground is broken.

A call to Bruno Wall of Wall Financial Corporation was not returned by the Courier’s deadline.

© Copyright (c) Vancouver Courier

Canada housing market a global leader

Thursday, July 12th, 2012

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Bishop Creek townhomes with more

Thursday, July 12th, 2012

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