National News

New York developers are mad for super lux apartments

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-01-05 02:00

There’s lots of scaffolding, cranes, and hammering in New York City these days. Construction spending has nearly returned to pre-recession highs when accounting for inflation, with nearly $11 billion spent on residential construction this past year.

However, these buildings aren’t for just anyone

“They’re usually very tall, very large, and in the tens of millions of dollars in asking prices,” says Richard Anderson, president of the New York Building Congress. He says the construction here is now dominated by ultra luxury apartment buildings; a big change from 5 or 10 years ago. “Then it was more a range of housing, more outer borough housing, more affordable housing. Now, we’re spending more money but getting less housing units.”

There’s even something now referred to as Billionaire’s Row in midtown.

“This apartment is over four thousand square feet,” Jeannie Woodbrey says casually, entering a half-floor apartment on the 58th floor of One57, a residential tower in Manhattan where she’s a senior sales executive. Central Park stretches out before the windows like a private runway.

“This one starts at 27, up to about 29, depending on the floor,” she explains, referring to the price tag (in millions).

All those millions buy three bedrooms, a big open living room, and a slew of amenities, including access to a pool which has music from Carnegie Hall piped in underwater.

“I describe this phenomenon as, 'We’re building the world’s most expensive bank safety deposit boxes,'” says Jonathan Miller, president of Miller Samuel Real Estate Appraisers. “Essentially, the consumer buys one of these units, puts their valuables in it and then rarely visits. And it’s not unique to New York. Miami is seeing this, San Francisco, Los Angeles.”

Miller says the uber wealthy, many of them foreign, are looking for a place to park their money — Many recent luxury sales have been all-cash deals.

High demand and high prices have encouraged developers to build lots of these super-lux buildings — perhaps too many.

“The Manhattan development market has a problem,” Miller says. “It’s facing too much supply with a steady demand. So when people say the market’s been softening, what they’re really saying is we’ve been building too much. The demand hasn’t really changed.”

He doesn’t believe it’s a bubble, but says the pace of sales is slowing and that may leave some planned projects on the drawing board. 

The euro drops to a nine-year low

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-01-05 01:30

The Euro fell to a nine-year low Monday morning, sinking to $1.1861 against the dollar before recovering to $1.1918. As the WSJ reports, the drop in value has a lot to do with Greek politics and expectations that the European Central Bank will amp up its stimulus program.

50 percent

Perspective employers were that much more likely to call back applicants with stereotypically white names than black names, even if their resumes were statistically identical. The author of that study, writing in the Upshot, cites other similar experiments and blames a subliminal, knee-jerk racial bias that contradicts conscious efforts to be more inclusive.

7 weeks

That's how long polar bear season lasts in Churchill, Manitoba. It's an important annual tourist attraction for the small town of 800 — many residents make a large portion of their income off of visitors coming to see the polar bears. But with global warming endangering the polar bear population, many Manitobans worry that their main source of revenue will disappear with the animals.

71 percent

The portion of New Years resolutions that are abandoned after two weeks, FiveThirtyEight reported. The site breaks down that sobering statistic for the most common resolutions.

$11 billion

That's how much was spent last year on residential construction in New York City, an amount which nearly returns to pre-recession highs when accounting for inflation. But that doesn't necessarily translate to cheaper housing, as a lot of that spending is going into lux apartment buildings meant for the super rich.

January 2000

The month AOL made its disastrous purchase of Time Warner, sealing its fate for good. Facebook is on a remarkably similar course as AOL, the Verge notes, in a tech landscape that looks remarkably similar to the 1990s.

Jury Selection To Begin Monday In Boston Marathon Bombing Trial

NPR News - Sun, 2015-01-04 23:35

The surviving suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 21, is charged with 30 counts of murder and terrorism. He faces the death penalty if convicted. An appeals court rejected an emergency bid to move the trial.

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Lacking Internet, Cubans Rely On 'The Package' For Entertainment

NPR News - Sun, 2015-01-04 23:34

The so-called weekly "package" allows Cubans to watch every current TV show and series available to the world at a fraction of the cost and without government censors.

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Lacking Internet, Cubans Rely On 'The Package' For Entertainment

NPR News - Sun, 2015-01-04 23:34

The so-called weekly "package," allows Cubans to watch every current TV show and series available to the world at a fraction of the cost and without government censors.

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The Theater Company Is 1927, The Technology Is Cutting Edge

NPR News - Sun, 2015-01-04 23:33

The British troupe 1927 has used vintage style and distinctive animation to make a name for itself in London and beyond. Its latest play is Golem.

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What Heroin Addiction Tells Us About Changing Bad Habits

NPR News - Sun, 2015-01-04 23:33

Sure, you resolve to exercise more, but somehow it never happens. It could be that your environment is sabotaging you, psychologists say. A famous study about heroin and the Vietnam War explains how.

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How Driver's License Suspensions Unfairly Target The Poor

NPR News - Sun, 2015-01-04 23:30

Losing your driver's license is a serious penalty, but often it's for nothing to do with unsafe driving. Without one, many who can't afford to pay the fines, have a hard time finding or keeping a job.

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Hedge Fund Founder Thomas Gilbert Slain, Gunman Sought

NPR News - Sun, 2015-01-04 20:52

Police say Thomas Gilbert, 70, was shot in the head in his Manhattan apartment. He founded Wainscott Capital Partners Fund which focuses on the biotech and health care industries.

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She Left The Nightlife Behind To Become A Life Coach

NPR News - Sun, 2015-01-04 13:05

A former exotic dancer and dominatrix, Mira Johnson now coaches others on reinventing themselves. Her clients know she won't judge them, she says, no matter what choices they've made in life.

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