Tuesday, March 16, 2010

A Room with a View

My father says that there is only one perfect view, that of the sky over our heads.
George Emerson in E. M. Forster's "A Room with a View"

The sky WASN'T overhead but you could sure to see a lot of it.

My friend (C) and I stared straight ahead. We were standing in a bare living-room. Nothing obstructed our vision.

We were looking at a front-on view of the east side of Manhattan from a room in the apartment building aptly named "The View".

Imagine getting up in the morning and seeing that view!

It helped that it was a sunny almost-spring day. But still. It WAS spectacular.

T. S. Cornerstone - a family-owned real estate firm - has apparently bought up the only waterfront acres in Long Island City, New York, which is just across the East River from mid-town Manhattan.

They are developing a complex of apartment buildings, parks, sporting grounds, entertainment areas, and a pre-school on those acres and C and I were being given a guided tour.

I was looking to buy an investment property.

But not that one. Though I'd like to. I think.

We were looking at one of the apartments that looks directly over the river. Its terrace along was about the size of my living room in Manhattan.

But it was a bit above my price range ...

However there ARE other apartments in the building with views and balconies. Just not as good. City views aren't 275 degrees and balconies (although of reasonable size) are balconies rather than terraces.

The "owners" of the development have an interesting concept and I wonder if it'll work. It has a lot going for it. The area looks like going ahead.

SilverCup Studios has plans on developing the largest movie studio outside of Los Angeles and plans on pumping over a billion dollars into the area; CitiBank is building their 2nd tower across the street from their original one in Long Island City. The City of New York has allocated $46 million dollars to develop parks, public spaces, a new public school, police precinct, library ...

But meanwhile, the area where The View is situated is in what was once a poor area - an area where old clapped-out residences shelter next to commercial establishments that have gone to seed. There are a few interesting stores and a scattering of restaurants, but not a lot.

A Sitting Room at The View
And I didn't fall in love with the owners' concept. It's all very nice having basketball courts, parks, gyms, home theater rooms, swimming pool, billiard rooms etc located in the buildings, but I don't like the self-contained-ness of it.

There was an institutional feel. Long corridors with many many apartments on each level. A bit like a large hotel. A feeling of anonymity.

I have to do my math. Property tax is only $9 per month for the next fifty years - or something LIKE that. I need to understand why. It'd normally be over $300 per month. Maintenance fees are OK - around $600 per month and that includes gas, central heating AND cooling as well as 24 hour doorman, the pool, the gym ...

Hey it's starting to sound better already.

Each apartment is equipped with high-end appliances - dish washer, microwave, huge fridge, washer, dryer. Oh and did I say there are 14' ceilings ... And it's all brand spanking new.

Most of the apartments are cheap by Manhattan standards. The cheapest ones are around $600,000 and bring in $2,400 per month rent. Interest rates here are around 4.25%.

As I say, I have to do the math.

And remember the area. Poor. Not many restaurants. NO clothes shops.

And what if it wasn't a sunny day? Would the view have been so fantastic?

Yes, there WERE wonderful views of Manhattan, and Grand Central Station is only 3 minutes away by subway.

But then, as my friend C remarked,

It's NOT Manhattan.

And hey! I don't have to LIVE there!

Stay tuned.

P.S. If you want to see more of The View, you can visit the website, HERE.


Terry said...

Go for it Kate, it sounds like it is promising for the future, and as you say, you don't hve to live there. Mayb, once developed yopu will want to take it back for yourself.

nautiaussie said...

It looks good, numbers are sound, and the property will go up. BUT.........it's not Manhatten and it never will be. Why is the property tax so cheap?? Now I'm going to have to go and think about it!! Remember, always buy the shabbiest house on the best street in the best suburb, not the nicest house in the shabbiest neighborhood (not that this is). So, my comment is a big "I don't know........".

Anonymous said...

Yairs, it's not Manhattan AND it's not your old neighborhood with its neat shops and bistros. BUT, it sure looks comfortable. And new! Sometimes new is good. But who will your neighbors be and do you care? Does the builder have a good track record? Condos do leak and have teething problems - windows, fittings etc. Who will be doing the punch list and fix-up? Is the builder still around?
And, how is the commute?
Ah, I'm just envious!

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