• "666 Park Avenue" producer speaks: Diabolical building owner is "like Trump, but smart"

    Sunday, Sept. 30th at 10 p.m. marks the premiere of supernatural real-estate-horror-drama 666 Park Avenue, a new ABC series featuring former "Lost" co-star Terry "Locke" O'Quinn.

    In "666," O'Quinn plays Gavin Doran, the manipulative, diabolical owner of an iconic Upper East Side prewar rental building, The Drake. Doran -- with his wife Olivia (Vanessa Williams) by his side -- lures in residents and then coerces and seduces them into doing his dirty work. 

    Jane, a naive and new-to-New York property manager who moves to the building with her boyfriend Henry, takes it all in.

    Though the series involves demonic landlords, creepy Peeping Toms, scary basements, thieving tenants, and elevators with minds of their own--elements of everyday living for many New Yorkers--it is not a reality show.  

    After previewing the first episode (favorite quote: "It's New York. Not everyone gets to make it."), we marked our calendar to catch the rest when it airs and asked executive producer David Wilcox ("Fringe," "Life on Mars," "Law & Order") to answer some nagging questions....

  • Your Celebrity Neighbor

    Your Celebrity Neighbor: Chelsea Clinton

    WHO: Who doesn’t have good money on the fact that first daughter Chelsea Clinton will be president one day? After her mother, that is. 

    WHERE:  The only daughter of former First Couple Bill and Hillary Clinton lives with her husband in the Flatiron district, where the median sales price is $1.795 million and the median rental price is $4,792, according to StreetEasy.

    Your Celebrity Neighbor is a weekly heads-up on the A-listers who call your neighborhood home and (in theory) shop the same Duane Reade as you.

  • Board life, after the interview

    We've already coached you on how to pass your co-op board interview, but there's more to interacting with the board than getting past the interview stage. For this week's SurvivalList roundup, we'll focus on life beyond the very beginning, and how best to live with a board.

    Those who live with a co-op board probably have questions about how much power that board has --like whether a double-digit maintenance increase is legal or, on the flip side, the board might offer you a break on maintenance in case of divorce -- and we've got answers.

    You may also want to know how to get your board to do certain things for you -- like, say, approve your refinancing or pre-approve a washer-dryer.

    Through the years we've also covered some difficult cases, like the true story of a corrupt condo board, and have offered our readers advice on curing a dysfunctional co-op (even, in the worst case scenario, ways to use an investigative lawyer in a co-op or condo).

    And if you're thinking about switching over to the other side and joining the co-op or condo board, you may want to peruse posts from one of our expert sponsors, like "The 7 biggest surprises for rookie board members,"How to run for the board and win" and "5 secrets of successful boards."

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    Jerome Strelov, Esq., on air rights and wrongs

    Problem-solving New York City real estate attorney Jerry Strelov is the subject of our Real.Est. List Spotlight this week.

    In addition to knowing his way around air rights, Strelov specializes in high-end rentals and co-op and condo purchases; he loves to negotiate and review leases and contracts as much as he enjoys sleuthing for information some might prefer remain hidden during due diligence.

    Air-rights-wise, says Strelov, there are a few key points to keep in mind:

    • “Air rights are complex creatures, but in their simplest form they are the rights to erect a building up to a certain height,” says Strelov, who sits on the Co-op and Condo Law Committee of the NYC Bar Association. "Buildings that are lower than their maximum allowed height can sell their air rights to neighboring buildings."
    • The sky may or may not be the limit when it comes pricing air rights: "It really depends on the bargaining power of the parties," says Strelov. "A good place to start is the square foot selling price in the particular neighborhood--i.e., what the developer can get--then subtract building costs and work from there."
  • Confessions of a Neighborhood Blogger

    "Have you ever noticed that Tribeca has very few 20-somethings?"

    Tribeca Citizen founder and editor Erik Torkells with his dog, Howard. It was out on neighborhood walks with his dog that he decided to launch the site.

    In this installment of Confessions of a Neighborhood Blogger, we caught up with Erik Torkells of Tribeca Citizen.

    After leaving his job as editor-in-chief at Budget Travel in 2008, Torkells started the neighborhood site for news, photos, shopping, tips, and as a general directory for life in Tribeca.

    With all of his extra free time (post-Budget Travel) he took his dog, Howard, on long walks in Tribeca, leaving him with some questions: What are the plans for this building? When will the construction on that building finish? Since he couldn’t find answers on any website, he decided to build his own, and Tribeca Citizen was born.

  • An Elevator View of the NYC skyline

    Photo by Stewart Mader, Elevator View


    One WTC, New York by Gehry, Woolworth Building and Manhattan Bridge, 8:19 PM, photographed from the roof of 20 Jay Street, Brooklyn.

    Photographer Stewart Mader has an interesting perspective when it comes to his work. Unlike most camera aficionados who shoot at or below the horizon, Mader captures views from above.

    In January 2011, shortly after he began working as the director of social media for a non-profit on the 22nd floor of a Midtown Manhattan skyscraper, Mader started Elevator View, a photo-blog illustrating some of the most renowned buildings in New York.

    The vantage point from his office offered striking views of Rockefeller Center, the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and the Burberry Building, among others.

    This perspective inspired him to shoot from various points around the city and in turn, he is always on the search for new locations to add to the collection.

    The name “Elevator View” symbolizes the views that he accesses for the project -- above street level, but are not aerial.

  • Ask an Expert

    Ask an Expert: Can I break my lease because my apartment stinks (literally)?

    Q. An Italian restaurant opened up in the ground floor of my building early this summer. Now my apartment is filled with the smell of garlic all night long. Even my clothes and hair smell like garlic.   

    I've called my management company several times; they say they're looking into it but they are beyond unresponsive on most things so I am not very hopeful. 

    What are my rights? Can I get out of my lease because my apartment stinks?

    A. A rent abatement is more likely, say our experts.

    "Odors are the most difficult issues for the courts to handle because they are subjective and transitory and because there is no established standard under New York law for measuring odors," says real estate attorney Steve Wagner of Wagner Davis PC.

    But all is not lost.

    Under New York State's Warranty of Habitability, all rented spaces must be free from conditions dangerous to health, life and safety.

  • StreetEasy Hot Dozen

    The StreetEasy Hot Dozen: 12 rentals that may or may not be available by the time you read this

    Not only is the living room of this 3-bedroom $10k/month spread at 251 Central Park West large and spacious, it has direct views of the park across the street and a washer/dryer hook-up.

    Living within a few blocks on Central Park is a matter of envy to almost all New Yorkers, which may be why several apartments close to Manhattan's verdant heart are at the top of this week's Hot Dozen--the 12 rental apartments Streeteasy.com visitors clicked on most often over the past seven days.

    furnished studio at 340 Amsterdam Avenue and West 76th Street is listed at $1,250/month. Since the apartment can be rented short-term or long-term, it could be perfect for renters just moving to the city and looking to gain a footing, so long as you don't mind sharing a bathroom with one other apartment. (There is a sink, microwave and mini fridge, however.)

    Just one block over is a no-fee sunny, one-bedroom apartment at 144 West 76th Street and Amsterdam Avenue listed at $2,500/month. The apartment is located in an owner-occupied townhouse and boasts a foyer and fireplace.


  • The parent's guide to buying and renting in NYC

    With back-to-school season upon us, we’ve been thinking about all the challenges (and benefits!) of raising kids in this crazy city of ours.

    So we thought we’d put together a list -- culled from our personal experiences as parents -- of what you should  keep in mind when looking to move into a rental, condo or co-op with kids in New York City.

    1. School zone

    For most NYC parents, school zone is the biggest issue and the greatest decider of where you’ll live (unless you plan to send your kids to private school or have kids older than elementary-school age).

    A zoned school is a neighborhood school which is meant to accept all kids within certain boundaries. If you're new to the NYC public school system, your first stop should be Insideschools.org, a superb online source of independent information about zones, specific school profiles, and the application process.

    Once you've narrowed down your ideal school list, pop over to StreetEasy and use their Advanced Search options to search for apartments by school district (which is much broader than a school zone) or school zone. 

  • StreetEasy Open House Scorecard

    The Open House Scorecard: Antebellum NYC, and other prewar apartments

    If you like prewar, pay extra special attention to this Open House Scorecard -- the 10 apartments StreetEasyusers saved to their open-house calendars more often than any others this weekend -- because it showcases prewar apartments, including a pre-Civil War era multi-family home.

    $1.189m five-bedroom pre-Civil War multi-family house on Vanderbilt and Park Avenues in Fort Greene is one of the oldest houses in the Ft. Greene/Clinton Hill historic district of Wallabout. The home was constructed in 1842 and has a front porch and the original wood threshold. The front and back parlors each have a fireplace, one with a marble mantle. The kitchen is modern, but the attic needs work, as it hasn’t been touched for decades. The mechanicals are up-to-date, and there’s a garden in the backyard. The legal two-family house was featured in the 2011 House Tour.