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Thursday, January 17, 2008

Frank Gehry: Nice building. Then what?

designThis TED conference video of architect Frank Gehry being interviewed by TED's founder, Richard Saul Wurman, was shot in 2002 in Monterey, but just released. Mr. Ghery speaks about his work from the time, and gives us insight into what is important to him, in a way that only a man of incredible talent, working at the pinnacle of his career may— with some lighter moments thrown in too. From the TED Web site: "Frank Gehry wanted to be a scientist when he grew up. But after blowing up a part of his house, at age 14, he decided against it. He's gone on to create some mind blowing buildings, including the Guggenheim at Bilbao and LA's Walt Disney Concert Hall. This wildly entertaining conversation...touches on many topics, including the power of failure, the importance of collaboration, and the need for architects to bring personal expression to the table."

continued+

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Why build green properties?

I get to sit in the editor's chair as we welcome Lexington Blood posting his debut entry here on comitini.com. Lex gives us some insight into why real estate development is going green. I had a customer ask to see only green buildings for the first time this week, a sign to me that consumer sentiment may be transforming right now. Better understanding of sustainable design will lead to greater demand, and change that's sustainable in the marketplace too. The benefits of green development are something that we'll be looking at on comitini.com even more so in the future. There is a lot to gain for everyone. —Peter

will sustainable development mean more sustainable profitability too?
green buildinggreen city Fast forward to the year 2030. Now picture yourself with a building in downtown New York City. It a beautiful mixed-use building with an A-list restaurant on the main floor, office space above and stylish luxury apartments. When you bought this property back in 2008, it was still considered a trophy, but not anymore. You’re in the cross-hairs of New York City’s environmental agencies, because your building is not energy efficient or environmentally friendly. In fact its exactly the opposite, it has high quality imported finishes and materials that are high in ‘off gases’. It has incandescent light bulbs throughout the entire building, an energy wasting HVAC system, poor air quality because of out dated ventilation system, underrated insulation, and your building doesn’t have solar power or any other proactive carbon offsetting systems. The writing is on the wall. If you don’t begin with a sustainable approach when developing, buying or selling any property, be it residential, retail, industrial or commercial, you will be facing costly liabilities. Because of high-energy costs, buildings are becoming increasingly expensive to operate. With this in mind, developers, owners, and property managers can benefit from the slightly higher initial cost to go green because future cost increases will be limited and tenants will be happier because of it. We’ve heard that green development makes sense socially and environmentally, but does it make sense economically?

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Wednesday, January 9, 2008

80-20 is out. What will co-ops gain from the new rules?

"I am extremely pleased that the tax code will treat people who live in co-operative housing the same way as homeowners and condo owners are treated when it comes to their renting out part of their property"
Congressman Charles Rangel (D-NY)

80-20_man.jpgThe Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007 passed in December, contains a provision pushed through by House Ways and Means Chairperson Charles Rangle, which specifically affects co-operative housing by changing the criteria to qualify for co-op status known as the "80/20 rule". The rule meant that co-operative buildings were required to get 80% of their income from tenant-shareholders, and could not show revenue of more than 20% from other sources, like collecting commercial rents on retail or office space in the same building. That's now changed. Broadening the rules may help the Boards of cooperative buildings have greater confidence about compliance, and simplify everyones lives. It is unlikely however, to create any real windfall in commercial income for the co-ops in most cases. Under the new law almost all NYC co-ops look like they will qualify under one of these new criteria:

  1. If 80% or more of the co-op's gross income is from the tenant stockholders
  2. If 80% of the total square footage of the building is used or for residential purposes.
  3. If 90% of the costs of operating the building are for the benefit of the tenant stockholders.

what do the changes mean for shareholders?

If the building did not meet the old 80/20 threshold, the shareholders were in danger of loosing their tax benefits. Real estate attorney Michael Dym explains, "Shareholders lose the ability to deduct the interest portion of their mortgage payment and a portion of maintenance attributable to paying the underlying mortgage and real estate taxes on the co-op's building. In short, assuming the co-op ran afoul of 80/20, under the old rules, they would loose the principal tax benefits of homeownership." It was similar to the way other corporations work where the tax benefits of owned real estate, cannot be passed along to shareholders. This however, differs greatly from a how rental income is utilized by an owner of mixed-use real property, where collecting market rent from a retail store or medical office, can greatly offset the costs of operation and ownership of the property. The new, broadened, criteria for co-ops, will make it easier for co-ops to collect market rents and still permit the pass-through of those tax benefits to shareholders, who's buildings might have been in violation under the old law.

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Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Capital gains exemptions on a primary home sale

Happy New Year! Please welcome Barbara Corcoran today, answering questions about avoiding capital gains on the sale of a home and more, in an excerpt from 'Ask Barbara' in the New York Daily News.

Barbara CorcoranQ&AQ. My wife and I are selling our home and relocating to another area. Can we roll the money over into the next house without paying capital gains?

A. Get a load of this: I checked with tax expert Robert Hoberman of Hoberman, Miller, Goldstein & Lesser, P.C. in New York City. He advised that if you own the home jointly and you’ve lived there for two of the past five years, you can exclude up to $500,000 of your gain when you sell (for singles, the exclusion is $250,000) and you don’t have to roll the money into another house to enjoy the tax benefit.

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