Brooklyn Life

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Given our clear preference for the classic when it comes to brownstone architecture, a lot of readers don’t seem to believe that we also have an appreciation for modern design, but this just ain’t the case. Back when we were in business school (collective gasp!), we were a partner in a furniture store some of you may remember called Totem. Located on Franklin Street in Tribeca, Totem was at the forefront of the movement that made modern design fun, fresh and hip again. Unfortunately, Totem was a better artistic concept than business and, alas, it is no more. But the man behind Totem, David Shearer, is still very much involved in the modern design world as the Director of a group called Exhibitions International. Coinciding with next week’s International Contemporary Furniture Fair, David will be co-hosting the Swedish Design & Architecture Symposium on May 13 from 6-8 pm at the Center for Architecture at 536 LaGuardia Place. There will be a panel discussio with the four featured designers–MÃ¥rten Claesson, Eero Koivisto, Ola Rune, and Monica Förster. Space is limited so make sure to RSVP below if interested.
RSVP page [AIA NYC]

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A new Thai place opened two weekends ago on Court Street and blogger A Brooklyn Life is liking what he sees: “The interior is covered in dark wood and lit by atmospheric fixtures. Arty Thai decorations hang on the walls and the pillows strewn across the bench seating adds splashes of color. We only tried two dishes this weekend, but the results were promising. The duck yum, sliced roast duck with red onion, scallion, basil and peanuts in a tangy vinegar based sauce, was one of the best duck dishes we’ve had in the neighborhood.” Anyone else tried it out yet?
Drop us an email to let us know about restaurant openings in your neighborhood.
New Restaurant Alert: 9-D [A Brooklyn Life]

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In the Comments section of yesterday’s post on the alleged cracks in the real estate market, the discussion drifted towards the topic of exclusives and whether they make sense from a seller’s perspective. We know the argument that you’ll hear from brokers: That the seller will get better attention and more consistent service from a broker who knows he/she will ultimately get paid. The danger is that a broker promises the moon in terms of price to get the listing and then the property takes forever to sell. When we sold our first apartment in 1997, we did it ourselves but let brokers bring clients. When we were selling our second apartment in 1999, we gave an exclusive to a broker at Douglas Elliman and had a fairly positive experience. What do people think about this? It would be interesting to hear from both brokers and owners on this, so please identify which you are.

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New York Times, May 4, 2005–Saying that it needed more time to study housing data, the New York City Rent Guidelines Board decided last night, for the second year in a row, not to recommend a specific set of rent increases for the city’s one million rent-stabilized apartments. Instead, the board recommended increases of 2 percent to 4.5 percent for one-year lease renewals and 4 percent to 7 percent for two-year renewals. The nine-member board will vote on specific increases on June 21, after two public hearings. Last night’s vote repeated a tactic that the board used last year when its initial vote was also for increases within a certain range. And while the board chairman, Marvin Markus, told an angry audience at Cooper Union in the East Village that recommendation of an increase range was preferable to a set figure because “it’s early in the process,” landlord and tenant advocates in the crowd dismissed the vote as a sign of indecision and election-year politics.
City Rent Board Opts for Ambiguity [NY Times]
Small Rent Hike Is Lease They Can Do [NY Post]

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Writing in last Thursday’s NY Times, Brent Staples chronicles his ten-year effort to cultivate a passable grass lawn in the back yard of his Brooklyn townhouse. Ultimately, he cries uncle and builds a brick patio. “When I first moved to the neighborhood I was aghast at how many people had given up on grass and paved their yards right over,” he writes. “After a decade of heartbreak, I, too, have taken the path of least resistance. Grass, I have learned, is the cruelest crop of all.” What kind of luck have other brownstone owners out there had? This is particularly relevant to us, as we will be planning our garden this autumn.
Grass is for Experts, Don’t Try It At Home [NY Times]

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If you buy into the subscription-only (argghhh!) article by Julie Satow in yesterday’s NY Sun, cracks are starting to appear in the facade of New York real estate. According to Corcoran broker Carrie Chiang, “There is an overall slowdown in the market. People aren’t rushing into buying something like they did a year ago.” As noted on Curbed, the prose in Douglas Elliman’s most recent missive is notably down-to-earth and lacking in the kind of promotional hucksterism we’ve come to expect from brokers: “Certain asking prices have become excessive, and need to be adjusted: Properties priced within the realm of reason will continue to sell. Un-explainable escalations that we’ve experienced over the past 6 months must cool off sooner or later, and a more normal market could come as a welcome relief for all.” This is all fine and dandy, but we haven’t heard of any props in Brooklyn selling below ask recently. Can anyone offer up any concrete examples of recent sales that suggest a softening market?
Excerpts from the article after the jump…
Bubblewatch: April Showers Bring May Showers [Curbed]
Real Estate Market Finally Cooling Off [NY Sun]
Luxury Letter: May 2005 [luxuryloft.com]

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Coming Home from the Brooklyn Brewery. Photo by Tien Mao
Stepping Stones to Bigger and Better [NY Times]
Residential Sales [NY Times]
Meier Designing Trendy B’klyn Tower [NY Post]
No Subway, No Problem [NY Post]
Just Sold! [NY Post]
Subways to Get Big Makeover [NY Daily News]
Dodgers Exhibition at BHS [NY Daily News]
Dodgers Exhibition at BHS [NY Daily News]
Greenway for Queens RR Tracks? [NY Daily News]
How We Got Our Park Slope Apartment [NY Newsday]
York Street and More ‘Bullshit’ [NY Daily News]