Carter's View

Great Vestibules: Decompression chambers

November 13, 2012

At 785 Fifth Avenue, the vestibule serves as a holding area for mobile brassy luggage racks.

Next door at 781 Fifth Avenue, the Sherry Netherland Hotel, the vestibule serve the dual jobs of exhibiting the wall reliefs of singing putti from an old Vanderbilt mansion while hotel patrons and disco dancers at Doubles negotiate the hotel's very impressive revolving door under the gaze of the doormen.

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Major brokerages release Third Quarter 2012 Manhattan market reports

October 3, 2012

Manhattan luxury apartment sales in the Third Quarter of 2012 were the highest since 2007 while inventory is the lowest level ever, according to Pamela Liebman, chief operating officer of The Corcoran Group, which released its report yesterday.

The study reported 3,832 apartment sales in the Third Quarter, 17 percent more than the same quarter in 2011, and it found that market-wide inventory fell 22 percent in the third quarter from the previous year to 7,041 available listings.

"Consumer confidence is clear with a 125 percent increase in sales since market's lowest point in the First Quarter of 2009," Ms. Liebman continued, adding that "Manhattan's reputation has solidified as a safe haven for investment amidst global economic uncertainty." "Low mortgage rates, combined with record high rental rates are both contributing to buyer and investor interest," the study maintained.

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Great Parks: Cozy and Cute Duane Park Sits Between Duane Street and Duane Street

August 27, 2012

The small, triangular Duane Park between Greenwich and Hudson streets in TriBeCa was the first open space acquired by the city for use as a public park in 1797.

It is bounded by Duane Street on the south and Duane Street on the north. The north one ends at Hudson Street where it gets a street sign a few feet short of the next cross street, Thomas Street.

Perhaps more importantly, the asymmetrical park is considerably smaller than the available street space.

Such eccentricity and history, of course, would not necessarily qualify Duane Park as a "great park."

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Great Rooflines: Broadway and 90th Street

August 13, 2012

One of the great things about Broadway that is generally underappreciated are the seating areas in the center islands that permit one to gaze up and compare rooflines diagonally across from one another.

Normally, of course, this is not too fruitful a pursuit, especially since the perspective is often difficult and the rooflines not always inspiring.

But occasionally it can be surprising and quite interesting.

Nowhere else can this be found so dramatically as at 90th Street where the Art Nouveau "vinery" atop The Cornwall apartment building on the northwest corner makes one rethink love affairs with really large cornice overhangs as can be found at the Astor Court on the southeast corner.

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Great Intersections: West End Avenue and 86th Street

August 2, 2012

A few intersections are great because all of their corners are filled with extraordinary architecture that is uniform.

Some intersections are great because the wonderful architecture of its buildings contrasts boldly and memorably.

Other intersections become great when an eyesore is removed and replaced with a well-designed building that heals the urbanistic wound and thus gives new "life" to the surrounding buildings.

That is the case at West End Avenue and 86th Street where a large, new luxury residential condominium building has replaced a 5-story, orange-brick building of little distinction on the southwest corner. The now elegant and quite visible intersection is only a block from a subway station and a cross-town bus stop 86th Street and Broadway.

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Great Intersections: Claremont Avenue and Riverside Drive at 116th Street

July 25, 2012

Two of the city's grandest, curved, pre-war apartment buildings are at the foot of 116th Street and Riverside Drive at the intersection with Claremont Avenue.

They form an impressive pre-"gateway" to Columbia University from the west up the hill to Broadway at 116th Street.

The university's actual "gateway" is very handsome and quite conventional, like the gateway to Rockefeller University on York Avenue.

The neighborhood's gateway, however, is elegant but discombobulating: two great curved buildings face away from one another rather than open together. It's a bit weird and confusing. It's akin to doing the tango. You know, the high-stepping, cross-over, drama and since the intersection here is quite sloped, there is the danger of accelerating, or tripping.

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Great Blocks: 62nd Street Between Fifth and Madison Avenues

July 12, 2012

There are many blocks off Madison Avenue on the Upper East Side that are very impressive, but very, very few of them are without blemish.

One such block is 62nd Street between Fifth and Madison avenues.

It may well be the city's greatest residential block, not on the basis of friendly neighbors, nor bargain basement values, but mere "bricks and mortar."

A great block need not have all its buildings in the same style, or size, or type, but it should have a uniform level of quality, and care, with no glaring, "look-at-me," exceptions. Delightful surprises, of course, are to be encouraged.

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Second Quarter Reports indicated stability in luxury apartment markets in Manhattan

July 3, 2012

The city's inventory of for-sale "luxury" apartments continued to dwindle in the Second Quarter, according to a Corcoran Report issued today. Market-wide, available listings declined 12 percent from a year ago to 8,060 units and 4 percent lower than in the First Quarter, the report said, adding that "with limited new development properties available, condominium inventory is eroding at a steeper rate than co-op inventory compared with a year ago": "condo inventory declined 14 percent while co-op inventory declined 9 percent."

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McCarren Pool in Greenpoint reopens for first time since 1983

June 27, 2012

One often hears that the creation of Central Park was a very momentous occasion in New York City's real estate history.

Tomorrow, the McCarren Pool in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, reopens for the first time since 1983 and it is proof that parks are very significant factors in real estate development as about a dozen or so new residential condominium projects have sprouted in recent years around McCarren Park. It's almost as if Fifth Avenue, Central Park South, Central Park West and Central Park North were created overnight.

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Great Blocks: 64th Street between Park and Lexington avenues

June 21, 2012

There are very few great blocks in Manhattan where almost all the buildings are at least handsome and there are no major visual blights.

East 64th Street between Park and Lexington avenues is one.

There are other blocks on the Upper East Side with more palatial townhouses but none with as nice a collection of very attractive buildings on both sides of the street including several that are quite spectacular.

The tree-lined block is also fortunate in having very handsome, low-rise buildings at its Park Avenue corner, which lets in more "light and air" than most blocks.

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