This is the conclusion of the Third and Bond blog, which has run on Brownstoner since 2007. It’s been a great run!
The day has come and gone. Every unit at Third + Bond is sold and closed. It’s been such a long time coming that you probably forgot about our weekly blog detailing the ins-and-outs of real estate development. Our first post was in August of 2007. Since then we have subjected you to the project minutiae in 154 posts over 200-plus weeks, including this one. Well, friends, we promised to show you the development process, warts and all, and this was a doozy. We bought the property during the boom, and five years later we are glad the roller coaster is slowing to a stop.
In the time since we broke ground, we have witnessed the most severe economic bust in 80 years and the explosion of Brooklyn’s popularity. There is now a neighborhood Superfund. Although the Gowanus rose to be six inches against the corner of the building, we did not have water infiltration from Sandy. No emergency pumping, no loss of electricity, nothing.
And, Whole Foods is actually on site at Third and Third, building a grocery store! Like, right now. Seeing bulldozers there brings us to tears. We bought at Third and Bond specifically to follow Whole Foods, the neighborhood changer, and we (jokingly) called our project Aisle 11. (more…)
This is one of the last updates the Third + Bond bloggers will have for us.
Every condominium offering plan requires the Sponsor to schedule the first annual owner’s meeting at some point after the first closing to elect a condo board and review the issues of the building. In the good old days when prices were high in a seller’s market, buyers felt taken advantage of, the annual meeting was their first cathartic opportunity to rant and rave at the Sponsor for all sorts of indignities. We’ve had stressful first meetings and we’re-all-drinking-the-kool-aid first meetings. As we prepared for the Third + Bond owner’s meeting, we wondered, would they come bearing gifts of thanks for their beautiful homes? Would they come with pitchforks, angry that a light switch didn’t work?
We held the meeting in our largest unsold unit, thinking that you can’t beat it for location. The open living room/kitchen/foyer was perfect for fitting the 40 or so people in attendance. Over half of the units sent a representative. We’ll see what attendance is like a few years from now… and we’ll see how well the occupants like each other!
We started the meeting with the President of Lisa Management giving an introduction to the agenda, his staff, and his thoughts on the peculiarities of starting up a new building. For example: We’ve had some problems with doors that don’t shut well or shut too hard and he pointed out that these problems were unlikely to come to light before owners move in and actually use the doors day in and day out. Construction workers just prop doors open so they aren’t truly tested. It was true and well said, but did it come off as an excuse? There were no comments from the owners. (more…)
The Third + Bond bloggers are winding down, with only a few posts left to go…
Last month we prepared for the worst. Hurricane Irene looked to have a direct path to our front door and we were scared. We poured over the weather maps, reviewed our stormwater system, and pumped out our detention tank. We talked with residents about putting away or weighing down their outdoor furniture. We crossed our fingers. And then… not much happened.
Our plan was to start pumping out our detention tank before the storm and continue throughout as necessary. We also bought some pumps in case the cellars took on water. The management company, Lisa, and our Director of Construction put together a game plan that started well in advance of the storm. Hey, we didn’t come this far to have Mother Nature give us a hard time!
You might be wondering, what is this thing you call a detention tank and why do you have it? Is it because you are in the Gowanus flood zone? (more…)
While NYC sweltered under the summer sun, we’ve been slowly but surely tidying up punch lists and ushering new owners through the doors. There’s nothing like a 100-degree heat wave to ensure the a/c will go out just before an open house. But it isn’t all sweat and bear it, we have good news, too: we received our official LEED rating from the US Green Building Council: Platinum! We are the first building in Brooklyn to be LEED Platinum through the LEED for Homes program. We are only about the fifth in all of New York City – the others are affordable projects in the Bronx. Finally we see the pay-off for all of that tedious foam sealing of cracks and crevices!
Platinum is the highest level achievable in LEED. Many of the buildings that reach that level have all kinds of bells and whistles that are not realistic on a mass-scale. (An in-house sewage treatment plant?!) So we are especially psyched to have demonstrated that you can be super energy efficient and super green by making sensible choices.
We made it to LEED-Platinum and (waiting for the official word) ENERGY STAR (R) by using a pre-fabricated steel structural system with concrete floors; individual ducted central air conditioning; energy recovery ventilators for tempering and filtering fresh air continuously; locally sourced brick and recycled aluminum panels for the façade; water conservation measures such as dual flush toilets, super low-flow lavatories and drought-tolerant landscaping; low-VOC paints; and Forest Stewardship Council certified solid hardwood flooring.
We are enjoying another big moment in a journey of moments at Third + Bond: reaching 51% units in contract. Now all of our buyers with FannieMae and SONYMA loans can close. A half dozen buyers have been waiting for 51% so that they could fire up their lenders and attorneys. Closing these units means the buildings will be half full. The current occupants will have to stop wandering the halls in their pajamas.
When we broke ground on Third + Bond, we expected to make this announcement, well, long before now. Given the economy, we’ve revised our outlook to think this is still pretty good. In the three months since getting TCOs, we reached 51% sales. And we raised prices. We’ve sold from every floor plan studio, 1 beds, 2 beds, 3+ beds. As usual, we weren’t quite right in our betting on which unit would go first versus last. Hey, it doesn’t matter so long as there are buyers for each one.
The back half of sales is always easier than the first half. It’s like buyers need to have the comfort that someone else thought living there was a good idea. Spring has sprung for our buyers, as surely as the street trees have blossomed.
Facebook: Third + Bond Twitter: Thirdbond
Our legal fine print: The complete offering terms are in an Offering Plan available from Sponsor. File No. CD080490. Sponsor: Hudson Third LLC, 826 Broadway, New York, NY 10003.
With closings and move-ins occurring every week, we thought we’d check in with one of the first buyers to move into Third + Bond, Monica S.
When did you first see Third + Bond, and when did you know it was the place for you?
I saw it for the first time on StreetEasy and scheduled an appointment immediately. It was love at first sight with my unit. Of course I went to see other places after but ended up coming back!
What other places did you look at before settling on Third + Bond?
Many brownstones in the area and a few new construction projects in Williamsburg.
Where did you live before Third + Bond? Where are you from originally?
I used to live in a hi-rise condo “75 Wall” in the Financial District (Manhattan). I was born and raised in Venezuela but lived in Europe for several years before moving to NYC. (more…)
Today the Third & Bond bloggers emerge from a long winter’s nap…Howdy friends, fans, and foes of Third + Bond. For the last couple of months, we’ve been mum on Brownstoner because we’ve been occupied with punch lists, sales, and getting temporary certificates of occupancy (TCOs). But for those of you wanting to see this behind the scenes real estate development through to the finish line, as we do, we wanted to bring you an update. We’ll continue with updates, although irregularly no posts about paint drying up to the end. Before we close the book on â€˜Inside Third + Bond’ we’ll post about coordinating move-ins (started last week!), transitioning the building over to the property manager, procuring end loans, and getting to the magic 51% pre-sold, as well as lessons learned. Maybe we’ll even let you know about our next Brooklyn project… (more…)
We are delighted to be an anchor for this free, fun-filled event. We love opportunities to bring people to our front door even if they don’t step foot inside. Bonus if they like green buildings and are likely to already live in brownstone Brooklyn! They’ll see how easy it is to get here and how gorgeous the building looks. Looks so gorgeous in fact that after riding her bicycle past, Gita Nandan, spearhead of the event and GreenHomeNYC board member, approached us about hosting. She had been looking at sites in Manhattan for the event but it was difficult to find one that worked. It was critical to be in the street, rather than a park, and to have nearby green buildings to feature. Third Street between Bond and Hoyt worked on every level. Even better, Alison is a GreenHomeNYC board member so Gita knew she had an advocate on the inside.
So, whether you’ve strolled by to check out our faÃ§ade in person, sniffed around during an open house, or haven’t been by at all, you should come on over on Saturday. The weather forecast is mostly sunny with highs in the 60s. What better to do than hang around outside learning how to install and plant a green roof, tagging-along on an energy audit of a 100+ year old building, learning how to harvest rainwater, and even tour, that’s right, Third + Bond with a talk on sustainable furnishing by Pratt designers! There will be kid-friendly activities like solar car building and racing with SolarOne and crafting from old bike parts with Recycle-A-Bicycle which is also providing free bike valet.
There won’t be any tube socks or tie-dyed garments for sale but you can learn about NYC-based Green Depot’s new green cleaning products recently launched at Target stores, or talk to the guys at Foro Marble who provided the countertops for Third + Bond.
There will be food vendors like the Red Hook Lobster Pound, Rice and Blue Bottle. You can even drop off your old electronics, clothing or bikes for donation.
And you won’t want to miss the triumphant return of â€˜The Jerko, the Gowanus Water Vacuum’ super-eco houseboat as it pulls into port at 2nd St after its maiden voyage on the canal. The Jerko’s captain will phone his personal brass band as he approaches the Third Street bridge so it can march down to greet him. Seriously.
It’ll be hard to top this event, marketing-wise. C’mon, a houseboat, brass band, and bike valet?? We might need to scale back to something a little simpler. Like shaving our logo into the neighborhood dogs. Here Fido!
Facebook: Third + Bond Twitter: Thirdbond
Our legal fine print: The complete offering terms are in an Offering Plan available from Sponsor. File No. CD080490. Sponsor: Hudson Third LLC, 826 Broadway, New York, NY 10003.
The latest missive from our friendly developer bloggers…When will Third + Bond be finished? We are asked this question at least as many times a week as there are Tea Party rallies. Our answer depends on who’s asking. If it’s the construction manager then we say, â€˜When we have certificates of occupancy, temporary or permanent, the project will be substantially complete.
Completion at C of O doesn’t satisfy Kiska. They want to consider the project complete, or more specifically substantially complete today. They look around the site and say, Everything’s finished except for the punch list and some inspections. Why are they so eager? A certificate of Substantial Completion is typically signed by the architect and handed over to the construction lender. The lender uses this form, as well as a big pile of other paperwork like final lien waivers, to justify releasing the remaining funds held in retention until job completion (aside from some amount held for punch list). Often Substantial Completion is also used to demarcate the end of the contractor’s responsibility for general conditions which includes security, utilities, daily project manager oversight, insurance, etc. Putting the brakes on overhead costs for the construction manager is highly desirable, especially when they have new projects where they want to move personnel.
Substantial Completion is defined as… (more…)
When Buyer B came along looking for at least three bedrooms and enough space to give the grown-ups and their three kids room to play, we thought they were perfect candidates for one of our garden duplexes. With private rear yards and plenty of space, our garden duplexes are house-like and the most family-friendly units at Third + Bond. But Buyer B envisioned something a little different. They were more excited about gardening on a roof terrace than in a rear yard, and they liked the views from our higher-floor units. Their idea: buy two two-bedroom apartments in one building and combine them into a four-bedroom duplex.
We love signing contracts, but customization is a tricky business. Over the course of our negotiations, we had to consider the costs of the additional construction and design work, as well as the impacts on the construction timeline and TCO sign-offs for the rest of the project. In the end it was fairly easy to decide that the benefit of selling two apartments with one stone more than outweighed the complications involved in combining them, and we now we have a signed contract for a second floor and a third floor two-bedroom as one combined duplex unit.
As detailed by a construction rider to the purchase contract, Hudson will customize the units by installing an internal staircase and demolishing one kitchen. The new unit will… (more…)
The Third & Bond blogger/developers give an update on their streetscape enhancements…When we took over the parcels that have become Third + Bond, they housed either vacant lots or industrial buildings. The sidewalk along the property was wide and treeless. It was more akin to the industrial sidewalks of Gowanus than the residential sidewalks of Carroll Gardens. Our plans to transform the sidewalk were long ago put to paper but only in the last few months put to pavement. We introduced four street trees and eight landscaped front yards. We’ll save the yards for another posting since street trees are a curious enough part of the regulation process.
The guidelines for street trees are put out by the City Department of Parks and Recreation but our plan is first reviewed by the Department of Transportation when we submit our Builder’s Pavement Plan. (See Week 85.) We are required to plant 1 tree per 25′ or so of building frontage. But then there are distance limitations constraining how many of those trees can actually go into the ground. Each tree has to be 25′ from a streetlight, 30′ from a stop sign, 6′ from other traffic signs, 20′-40′ from other trees depending species, 5′ from a hydrant to edge of a tree pit, no where within a bus stop, etc. So while we were required to plant 10 trees, we could only fit in 4. What happens to the other 6?
There are two options… (more…)
This week, the bloggers from The Hudson Companies hedge some interest rate risk… Third + Bond is entering the homestretch and so is this blog. We’re buttoning up our paperwork with the Department of Buildings. The contractor crews are getting sparse. The paint is dry. The trees are planted. As we sweat our way out of the hottest July on record and many of you pack yourselves off to vacations, we’ve decided to dial down our reports to every other week. We’ll conclude â€˜Inside Third + Bond’ when we get our TCO, which with our crossed fingers and held breath, shouldn’t be too long. With only a few postings left between now and then, we want to know: are there any topics that you, dear reader, are itching to hear about?
This week, itchy or not, you’re getting an update on our construction loan. Back in Week 14 we talked about pursuing a $25 million construction loan and in Week 27 we talked about caps, collars, and swaps. A 100 or so weeks later, we have extended the due date of the loan now held by Wells Fargo. The construction loan originally closed in the hands of Wachovia with a term date this year. But given all of the fun writing this blog, we stretched out construction for as long as possible, thus bypassing the original term date. Now it’s Wells Fargo’s turn to have measured fun with the fees we produced to extend the loan. Their real fun isn’t until we pay back the entirety of the loan which could be as soon as this year or as late as 2012.
As part of the loan extension, Wells Fargo asked that we purchase a cap on our interest rate. A cap for them means… (more…)
We’re always brainstorming about bonuses and incentives in this market to try to excite the brokerage community about Third + Bond. Thus, a few weeks back we hosted the weekly sales meeting for Corcoran’s Brooklyn Heights office. This is the office from which our lead brokers, Jim and Leslie, hail. (Incidentally, it is also the office across the street from the trash can where the pretty Russian spy dropped her newly purchased phone charger and receipt that the FBI picked up as they followed her. We saw it on Dateline!) The weekly sales meetings are theoretically mandatory but we’ve heard that sometimes seasoned brokers skip, especially in the glory days of summer vacation. We were glad then to have about 45 brokers attend, munch our sandwiches, tour the project, and fit in the sales office meeting agenda.
This week we’re hearing from Kelly & Charlie, pictured here in their soon-to-be-own kitchen. They are under contract for a 2-bed 2-bath and roof terrace. Don’t let their charming smiles fool you; they had a lot of tough questions before they signed on the dotted line!
T+B: Tell us a little about yourselves? How big is your family? What are your professions?
Charlie and I met the first week of freshman year of college and started dating about a week later back in 2001. We’ve been engaged since last year but it looks like we will wait on getting married until we can settle into our new home and save a bit more for a wedding. I am a Trusts and Estates attorney and Charlie is an HVAC design engineer. It’s the two of us and our two cats, Benjamin, a 7 year old Himalayan Persian, and Elvis, a 2 year old Ragdoll.
T+B: Benjamin and Elvis are going to love bird-watching out the back windows. What are your favorite things about the unit you have under contract?
There are so many things we love about our unit– the huge windows in the front with the view of the Kentile Floors sign, the open kitchen and vast counter space, the view from the bedrooms of the backyards and how quiet it will be to be away from the street, the central A/C, the quality of the appliances and fixtures, down to the button tiles in the second bathroom. We really think the reason we fell in love with the development and our unit is the attention to detail of the design team and contractors and their refusal to cut corners. We looked at so many places and saw time and again a willingness to sacrifice quality for speed and cost-savings-here you can tell that everyone involved with the project cared about the end result.
It’s punch-list time for the Hudson Companies bloggers today…
You’re in your new kitchen, placing your KitchenAid on the counter just so, flicking on the power to your Keurig, identifying drawers for your Dutch ovens and raclette pans, and then you see itâ€¦a scratch on the stainless steel of the dishwasher. As you frantically try to buff it out with a dishtowel you wonderâ€¦was it always like that?
Chances are: nope. How can we say that? Your home just made the transition from construction zone to residence in the last week and construction zones are dangerous places full of pointy stuff that scratches while homes are full of soft stuff like love and pillows. You certainly didn’t get up in the middle of the night to key your own dishwasher. But then again, you did have a moving company with a bunch of dollies running around the place. And there was that big crash when one of the kids was moving the fondue set and dropped it in the kitchen, fondue forks flying out like daggers. But maybe the Sponsor will just fix itâ€¦the Sponsor wants you to be happy, right?
Right. To that end… (more…)
This week the bloggers from The Hudson Companies discuss the importance of finding the right property manager.
As we approach the end of the development phase of Third + Bond, we’re spending more time focusing on the property management piece of the process, and we’re reminded of all the things not to do. There was the developer (well known) who called Hudson’s affiliated management company the week before buyers moved into his project, hoping for a proposal for property management services. There was the developer (also well known) who, having ceded control of management to a company selected by residents, got into a litigious dispute of finger pointing with the condo regarding whether the systems were defective or improperly maintained. Or the developer (really well known) who didn’t hire a property manager for the first 4 months of occupancy. (In case it’s not obvious, we aren’t the developer in any of these instances.)
Our approach is… (more…)
The Temporary Certificate of Occupancy is like the bell at the top of a climbing wall. On the way up you use every bit of strength to grasp whatever minimal hand or footholds are available to you, keeping your eyes on the prize. Sometimes there’s nothing close so you have to let go and leap. Ringing the bell at the top of the first run is a sweet but temporary victory. Then you cast your gaze skyward and there’s another run to the true apex.
The Temporary Certificate of Occupancy (TCO) is necessary to live in the units legally. Few lenders will close on a unit that is not legally inhabitable yet, not to mention that most have pre-sale requirements. We are over 20% sold now, so closing in on 30% sold. Thirty-percent is the magic number for FHA closings to start. Many if not most of our buyers are getting FHA loans. We do have a few buyers paying all cash but expect they’ll want to wait until TCO to close as well.
Having a TCO means… (more…)
The Third & Bond bloggers follow up their star turn in the paper of record with some nuts-and-bolts info…We can’t believe the New York Times went with geraniums on the front of the Real Estate section, burying us in the back. C’mon, a developer being transparent about the real estate process or a bunch of flowers? We’re teasing, well, David might not be but Alison is just thrilled to have been in the paper of record. How can we follow being in the Times? How about a sales update?
As per the Times article, we are 20% sold. The crucial percentage was 15% because that allows us to have the condo plan declared effective. Now we are just waiting on TCO to start closing units for those buyers who are paying all cash or whose lenders don’t have a pre-sale requirement… (more…)
Our own Third & Bond Blog was featured in the New York Times Real Estate section this weekend as an example of how a developer thought out of the box to harness online interest in project. The article touches on the blog’s genesis:
The blog came about after David Kramer, a principal at Hudson, saw a post on Brownstoner about his company’s announcement of plans for Third and Bond in July 2007. He scrolled down to look at the comments, and while some were inquisitive and others were laudatory, a few were not exactly kind. He called Jonathan Butler, who publishes Brownstoner, with a proposal. I said, â€˜So many of your postings are so angry and negative and they all think real estate developers are a bunch of nefarious bad guys making decisions in smoke-filled rooms,’ Mr. Kramer recalled. His idea was to chronicle his new development from start to finish, with the added benefit that those commenting on the site could serve as a kind of focus group for the project. Little did I know what a journey it would be, he said.
The Third & Bond Blog will probably be tapering off in the coming weeks, but it’ll continue to exist in the archives as an unusually candid view into the trials and tribulations of being a developer in this town.
Brooklyn Developer Builds Following on Blog [NY Times]
This week the Third & Bond bloggers discuss their efforts to market their project on a certain social media platform…Week 121 was an historic moment for Hudson: we embraced social media to market a real estate development. The decision to create a Facebook page was made with some ambivalence. Who buys a home based on Facebook? Is it worth the time and effort to run a Facebook page? What’s the point? How many of the 400 million people on Facebook will care?
In the ten or so weeks that Third + Bond has been on Facebook, we’ve gained 183 friends, fans or likes, depending on today’s Facebook nomenclature. That’s about 18 a week, which is not far off from the number of weekly visitors to the physical site. We see upwards of 360 visitors per week to the page. True to our expectations, some of our fans are no-quotes-needed friends of people involved in the project, like Alison’s mom. The majority though are people we don’t know and that’s pretty interesting.
We see the Facebook page as another opportunity to capture and keep the interest of potential buyers or the pals of potential buyers. It’s push marketing in that once you like us, we can pop onto your screen whenever we like and grab your attention. In contrast, while you can bookmark our website, we can’t contact you at will. We can’t remind you to check out our latest news, we can only hope you come back to visit once in awhile.
We’ve also found that Facebook… (more…)