In a surprising move, town leaders are well on their way to approving a 100-story affordable housing development to be located on the former athletic fields behind Town Hall. Floors 5 – 35 will be will be affordable units conforming to the state guidelines of 85% and 50% of the state standards. As a result, the market rate units will have 14’ ceilings, while the 85% units will have 12’ ceilings and thus the 50% units will only have 7’ high ceilings.
The new development will be called the Berg GreenKhaLeafa in honor of Greenwich and the sovereign investment firm funding this development. Each floor is expected to have 10 units, so the 30 stories of affordable housing will add 300 affordable units to Greenwich, leaving Greenwich only 700 affordable units short of reaching Section 8-30g’s requirement of 10% affordable housing. Except that, the additional 700 market rate units on the other 70 floors mean that we will need an additional 70 affordable units to reach that 10% requirement.
The GreenKhaLeafa developers did an excellent job of mollifying what had originally been expected to be a buzzsaw of local opposition. They added several features that were attractive to elected officials, neighborhood groups and not-for-profits. For example, the whole second floor will be a dog kennel and canine day care center getting the support of our biggest dog loving official in Town Hall.
Floors 3-5 will be reserved for local businesses, garnering major business support. The piece de resistance for the business community, however, were floors -1 to -5. These first five floors underground will be devoted to local parking, once and for all solving the parking problems on lower Greenwich Avenue. (The developers assured state officials that the Berg GreenKhaLeafa was a transit-oriented facility. Since it is near a train station and a bus stop that no one of the residents will need a car, thus freeing up all spaces for local businesses.)
Floors -6 and -7 will actually be below the water table and unlike the high school auditorium, which is also below the water table and has never leaked, these two lowest underground floors will be designed to leak. The -6 floor will be a public freshwater pool, which garnered support from the BOE and parents’ groups. The -7 floor will be below the coastal saltwater table. This lowest level will be the world’s biggest live well for both local fisher people and restaurants to keep live fish, lobsters, crabs and oysters. The restaurant support was particularly strong, from the Elm Street Oyster House and our sushi restaurants since they get both fresh fish and lower refrigeration bills.
Environmental groups appreciated the reduction in pressure on Long Island Sound’s fish population, the lower greenhouse emissions and the increase in town wetlands. They also strongly supported the rooftop hawk watch location, since at 1,250 feet high, it is 800 feet higher than the present hawk watch site in back Greenwich.
Some neighbors and real estate agents were concerned about the impact on local real estate values, but this opposition changed to support, when they were given the first choice on affordable units. For local residents, affordability would be determined by looking at the income of their children or grandchildren. For families with penurious boomerang kids this was a major benefit, supported by both parents and their adult children. Local real estate agent concerns turned to support, when the developer agreed to give each of the 1,000 agents in town one of the units to list for sale.
Groundbreaking is planned for this Saturday, April 1st.
Hamill Hockey Rink Redevelopment
In another surprise move, the New York Rangers announced that they had bought the Dorothy Hamill rink and adjacent baseball field from the town for the development of a 30,000-seat hockey rink. Given the number of Rangers that lived in the area, this was looked at as a way to control salary costs. (The sotto voce reason they whispered was that they couldn’t stand the Islanders have a better arena, than they had.)
The rink will be renamed the Hamill/Merz/Maloney/Richter/Messier/StLouis Rink. Thirty luxury apartments will be available for players and their families above the rink, further cutting down on salary costs, commute times, and greenhouse emissions.
This proposal received strong support from backcountry, when it was announced that the new Hamill/Merz/Maloney/Richter/Messier/StLouis Rink would also have a heliport on the roof and all helicopter landings would be switched from the Westchester Airport to the Hamill/Merz/Maloney/Richter/Messier/StLouis Rink and Heliport.
Private/Public/Private School Partnerships
The controversial cost of public school improvements were solved when the BET Republicans agreed to support corporate naming rights for local schools. Parkway School is to become Priceline.com Elementary while one of our more modest residents opted for North Street School to be renamed Greenwich Town Party Elementary. A highly successful football player agreed to renaming Old Greenwich School to Young Elementary.
Democrats were upset with the commercialism of these proposals and enlisted the Ivy League and Seven Sister colleges to open satellite campuses at our local schools. So, what was formerly Parkway School will be known as the Greenwich Campus of Dartmouth College sponsored by Priceline.com. Republican complained that it would cost too much put all that on a school sign. So hence forth, the former Parkway School will be known as GCoDCsbP.com and Old Greenwich School will be known as GCoYUsbY.
A half dozen of the Greenwich private schools were upset with the public schools receiving such enhanced prestige and funding and were exploring other naming and affiliation options. Former Greenwich resident Donald Trump was in serious talks with Greenwich Country Day to rename both campuses to the Donald & Melania Trump MEGA-Education Center. Someone pointed out on Facebook that under the former town resident rule that the more appropriate name would be the Greenwich Campus of Trump University sponsored by Donald and Ivanka Trump or GCoTUsbDaIT. At this point both parties decided to drop the idea.
Improvements in Board of Assessment Appeals Procedures – the Call Option
Greenwich homeowners who proudly boast just how much their houses have appreciated since they purchased them, sing an entirely different tune when it comes to appealing their property’s assessed value to the Board of Assessment Appeals. Glorious houses which were built by top builders to stand the test of time all of sudden, become old hovels, just barely staying up right. Some homeowners even appeal their property assessments while the same home listed for sale for several hundred thousand dollars more than its assessed value.
To more closely, focus homeowners on FMV, the Town Law Department has amended the BAA appeals form so that it is now an appeal form and call option. The owner’s requested reduced assessment will now serve as an offer to sell their home at the requested reduction price. Potential buyer’s who have been frozen out of this market due to the continuing low inventory will be seated behind each appellant during the hearing and have the opportunity to purchase the house at the strike price. The town will also get a cut 2.5% option fee.
The Law Department is awaiting SEC approval for this innovative way to price houses. Some local financial industry residents are also looking at developing put options to sell to the homeowner and butterfly spreads for those properties with better landscaping.
Are tiny backcountry houses actually houses?
Unnoticed since the Great Recession hit, and increasing during Covid period, small “houses” have been developed throughout mid-country and in backcountry. In an aerial survey conducted by the town, upwards of 80 small structures were counted. Several homeowners said that they had thought their spouses had been building a pool houses to surprise them but became curious when no pools were ever built. It now appears that people who enjoy the open spaces have had modular structures dropped into many of the larger lots; in some cases, more than one structure are on the 10-acre plus lots.
Once discovered, many backcountry owners, said they actually appreciated having the company and thought, this unknown movement was a good thing. However, at least one recent escapee from Covidland, said that “I moved out here to get away from Covid and not to be followed by folks where I came from.” The ZEOs said their hands were tied, because the structures were too small to qualify as a house in these larger zones and met all the requirements for an auxiliary structure.
Actual home flipping
Covid has created a new home flipping trend. Covid and the work from home movement has resulted in people spending much more time in their homes resulting in a desire to flip their homes. These upside-down homes, popular on Fire Island and other beach resorts, put the kitchen, living rooms and home offices on the second floor and the bedrooms on the first floor. This results in much better light and better views from the now second floor rooms where the residents are spending most of their time.
Two main flipping processes have developed. One is practiced by traditionalists, where the house is raised 30 feet off the ground by long wooden screws and horses. The screws encircling the house are raised a quarter-inch at the time and then a pivot frame is installed, and the house slowly rotated. This process can take as long as two weeks.
The more modern, and much faster, approach is the SpaceX approach. Here the flip is done with two-story forklifts and large steering rockets. The forklifts raise the house 30 feet and large airbags are then placed in the basement. The rockets on both sides ignite simultaneously, with one side firing up, and the other side firing down. The house flips 180 degrees and lands on the airbags which are then deflated. While the whole process can be done in an hour, they are still working out all the bugs.
Happy April Fool’s Day and Happy Birthday to my brother, Russ, an April Fools baby.
Stay up to date on the latest real estate trends.
Sales Lower as Inventory Lower
Since the end of April this year, we have sold 186 single family homes, but those sales are not evenly distributed by area of town
The Optimist vs. the Pessimist
June was a remarkable month in sales with 77 sales of which 10 were over $5 million including our highest and third-highest sales for this year.
Buying or selling a home on your own is not recommended. Here’s how to choose the right Realtor to guide you.
We are a dedicated group of Greenwich natives. We have a deep passion for our hometown and enjoy everything the town offers its residents from the beach front to the backcountry. That is why we don’t find you just any home, we find you the right home.