Author Topic: Washington Plaza  (Read 130340 times)

Offline Simka

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Re: Washington Plaza
« Reply #240 on: June 13, 2016, 01:10:53 AM »
An article in the NY Times on Washington Plaza:

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/12/realestate/a-jackson-heights-co-op-that-aims-to-preserve.html?_r=0

Thanks for the link. It's such a fawning puff piece, it makes me gag. Plus the quotes about the architectural approach are contradictory:

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“Conventional wisdom in this day and age is to take 900 square feet and chop it up into a two-bedroom.” But after much “back and forth,” [Marilyn Sollar] said, “we resisted the temptation to cut them up and increase the room counts.”

As a result, the apartments largely retain their gracious dimensions. The average size of a one-bedroom is 900 square feet, according to Ms. Sollar. Dining rooms in just one of the 36 apartment lines are being turned into second bedrooms.

Many original details like high ceilings, archways, handcrafted crown moldings and raised kitchens and dining areas were left intact or replicated, said Jim Low, the project architect at Freyer Collaborative Architects, which renovated the buildings.

The goal was “to respect the space, preserve the grandeur, preserve the spaciousness,” Mr. Low said. At the same time, he added, “We were very adamant about making it a livable space” for today’s buyer.

Kitchens were opened to living and dining rooms....Curved dining alcoves were removed in all but one line to create larger, more open dining spaces....And, where possible, space was taken from extra-large rooms and halls to expand closets, without sacrificing the grand scale of the apartments.

My head is spinning from all the double-talk. They want to "respect the space" and "preserve the grandeur" of the original...but they're opening up the kitchens to living and dining areas and getting rid of most of the dining alcoves to create more open (i.e., modern) dining areas? And they deemed some rooms "extra-large" and whittled them down to add more closet space—even though the original closets were already quite generous in size. And I'm surprised to see Sollar say that the dining areas are only being turned into bedrooms in one line. It didn't look that way in the black book.

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Tenants of Washington Plaza have been offered a 10 percent discount, though they can remain renters as long as they choose. The building will market more apartments as they become available through attrition.

Of course, there's no mention of how the hefty rent increases given to the numerous tenants paying preferential rents might be giving a boost to that attrition.
« Last Edit: June 13, 2016, 01:25:13 AM by Simka »

Offline Simka

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Re: Washington Plaza
« Reply #241 on: June 13, 2016, 01:23:41 AM »
Oh my god Simka, that was so crazy!  I live in D and they fight constantly - one of the women lives below the other one's family and she gets over the top about their noise.  They are pretty loud but her reactions are extreme.  The argument started because she was filming the family and yelling at them as they walked out of the building (for no reason; they weren't doing anything). 

She is now trying to get some sort of petition together to try to get the family evicted. Which will never happen.  She only has the support of one other person in the building.

Ugh. I did pick up on the noise-complaint aspect, from what I heard them yelling. I sympathize with the people downstairs, because noise carries through floors so much. I wonder if they've ever tried to get the super or management involved? (Not that I think it would solve the problem—I'm really just curious!)

Speaking of noise, I've heard from some people that after apartments next door to them were renovated, the sounds coming through the wall became noticeably louder. It has something to do with plaster being taken down and replaced by drywall. I'm so glad the people next to me haven't moved out!

Offline Cassat

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Re: Washington Plaza
« Reply #242 on: June 13, 2016, 10:35:41 AM »
It's such a fawning puff piece, it makes me gag. Plus the quotes about the architectural approach are contradictory:

. . .
Of course, there's no mention of how the hefty rent increases given to the numerous tenants paying preferential rents might be giving a boost to that attrition.

Simka, I couldn't agree with you more.

Offline eddie

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Re: Washington Plaza
« Reply #243 on: June 13, 2016, 11:00:13 AM »

The goal was “to respect the space, preserve the grandeur, preserve the spaciousness,” Mr. Low said. At the same time, he added, “We were very adamant about making it a livable space” for today’s buyer.

Kitchens were opened to living and dining rooms....Curved dining alcoves were removed in all but one line to create larger, more open dining spaces....And, where possible, space was taken from extra-large rooms and halls to expand closets, without sacrificing the grand scale of the apartments.[/b]

My head is spinning from all the double-talk. They want to "respect the space" and "preserve the grandeur" of the original...but they're opening up the kitchens to living and dining areas and getting rid of most of the dining alcoves to create more open (i.e., modern) dining areas? And they deemed some rooms "extra-large" and whittled them down to add more closet space—even though the original closets were already quite generous in size. And I'm surprised to see Sollar say that the dining areas are only being turned into bedrooms in one line. It didn't look that way in the black book.
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there's a balance, no one, or at least very few people want closed off kitchens and dining areas anymore so why would they leave them closed off?

The closet thing, well I think most people would trade say an 18x12 bedroom for a 16x12 bedroom with a walk in closet. I know I would. People own a lot more stuff these days. I think it was a good move. Generally people don't need that much space in a bedroom for furniture, a 12x12 bedroom can accommodate a queen bedroom set. but closet space is always at a premium.

But they refrained from chopping up the apartments into extra bedrooms and making dining rooms bedrooms. So it's a good compromise.

Offline Lilybell

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Re: Washington Plaza
« Reply #244 on: June 13, 2016, 11:05:11 AM »
The super mentioned that quite a few tenants disappeared in the middle of the night after not being able to pay rent when they were taken out of preferential rent. The guy next to me was one of them.

The owner is going to hit her numbers any day now - they are up to 17 in contract and 8 or 9 more are about to be signed. 

simka, are you sure about the drywall/plaster?  Aren't they only re-framing internal walls that are moving?  The apartment next to me was renovated and I did an experiment - I blasted my tv and then snuck into the apartment next door and put my ear up next to the wall near my tv on the other side and I could barely hear it. And I had it on really loud; much louder than I would ever play it normally.

edited: I live in one of the lines where the dining area is becoming a second bedroom (I think there are at least two lines doing it, not just one like mentioned in the article).  It makes sense for my apartment because it's a one-bedroom that is over 1100 square feet.  The rooms are ridiculously large - I can fit three 9x12 rugs in my living room/foyer.  The bedroom was only made a tiny bit smaller in order to enlarge the bathroom a bit. I've seen the new floor plan in person and it's still pretty spacious as a two-bedroom. 

I thought when they wrote about preserving the space and original grandeur that they meant things like the moldings and archways, which they've pretty much kept in all of the renovations.  I'm glad they didn't chop the 1-bedrooms into 2-bedrooms.  If you look in Brooklyn, you see tons of "two-bedrooms" for sale that are 700 sf converted 1-bedrooms and I'm grateful they didn't go in that direction.

The courtyard is looking so pretty lately!
« Last Edit: June 13, 2016, 11:15:41 AM by Lilybell »

Offline Dodger

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Re: Washington Plaza
« Reply #245 on: June 13, 2016, 12:04:20 PM »
I wish the NY Times had enabled comments on this piece so some of the insider knowledge here could be shared there, and complicate what looks like a developer's press release.

Offline CaptainFlannel

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Re: Washington Plaza
« Reply #246 on: June 13, 2016, 05:24:47 PM »
You can count on pretty much anything in the Real Estate section to be a puff piece. It's all articles featuring NYTimes advertisers, so you'll never see them point out things like high maintenance fees.

Admittedly, for the Manhattan-centric readership, the fees might not seem like a big deal, but if it were a section that weren't so obviously beholden to advertisers, the writers would probably be more inclined to take a look at what other pre-war buildings with similar amenities maintenance fees are.

Offline Shelby2

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Re: Washington Plaza
« Reply #247 on: June 13, 2016, 10:19:54 PM »
I wish the NY Times had enabled comments on this piece so some of the insider knowledge here could be shared there, and complicate what looks like a developer's press release.

If you're on Facebook, you can make comments on the "New York Today" page where the NYTimes posts its links.  https://www.facebook.com/NewYorkTodayNYT/?fref=nf

Offline Simka

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Re: Washington Plaza
« Reply #248 on: June 14, 2016, 01:50:07 AM »
there's a balance, no one, or at least very few people want closed off kitchens and dining areas anymore so why would they leave them closed off?

The closet thing, well I think most people would trade say an 18x12 bedroom for a 16x12 bedroom with a walk in closet. I know I would. People own a lot more stuff these days. I think it was a good move. Generally people don't need that much space in a bedroom for furniture, a 12x12 bedroom can accommodate a queen bedroom set. but closet space is always at a premium.

But they refrained from chopping up the apartments into extra bedrooms and making dining rooms bedrooms. So it's a good compromise.

To each his own. I would prefer to have a large bedroom, but then, I live here and I know the closets are very roomy. The two in my bedroom aren't walk-ins, but seriously, I don't need to actually step into them to use them. And I have two other very deep closets and one that's smaller.

And about the kitchens and dining areas, if a property developer wants to follow the modern preference for open floor plans, fine, but just say that and don't pretend you're honoring the original design. What they're doing is taking down walls and opening up hallways while actually making the kitchens themselves smaller. But if they put it that way it won't sound anywhere near as lofty as "respecting the space" and "preserving the grandeur." (And sure, Lilybell, preserving the moldings and arched doors is part of that, but I still feel like it's mostly RE bull when they take a prewar apartment and make dramatic changes to the floor plan but still try to trade on the prewar charm.)

Offline Simka

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Re: Washington Plaza
« Reply #249 on: June 14, 2016, 02:39:44 AM »
The super mentioned that quite a few tenants disappeared in the middle of the night after not being able to pay rent when they were taken out of preferential rent. The guy next to me was one of them.

Not surprising at all. I've been lucky enough to be able to afford the large rent hikes I've gotten so far (that is, significantly larger than the RS guideline allowances), but I figure there must be a number of people who couldn't.

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simka, are you sure about the drywall/plaster?  Aren't they only re-framing internal walls that are moving?  The apartment next to me was renovated and I did an experiment - I blasted my tv and then snuck into the apartment next door and put my ear up next to the wall near my tv on the other side and I could barely hear it. And I had it on really loud; much louder than I would ever play it normally.

I'm not personally sure; I'm just reporting what three or four other people have said. One of them mentioned it at the last tenants association meeting, and the others have confirmed it to me since then. But I did get the impression that it's not happening in every case. It seems to have something to do with what kind of work needed to be done in the room on the other side of the wall.

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edited: I live in one of the lines where the dining area is becoming a second bedroom (I think there are at least two lines doing it, not just one like mentioned in the article).  It makes sense for my apartment because it's a one-bedroom that is over 1100 square feet.  The rooms are ridiculously large - I can fit three 9x12 rugs in my living room/foyer.  The bedroom was only made a tiny bit smaller in order to enlarge the bathroom a bit. I've seen the new floor plan in person and it's still pretty spacious as a two-bedroom.


I just looked at the floor plans in the black book, and according to those, there are definitely more than two lines in which they're changing the dining areas to bedrooms. I wonder which line she's talking about when she says they're only doing it in one? From what I can see, there are rooms that were originally called "dining rooms" but over the years had come to be considered bedrooms. Those always had closets. So I'm not counting those. The rooms called "dining alcoves" on the building's original floor plans did not have closets. According to the black book floor plans, those are being turned into bedrooms in these lines: B1, C5, D1, D2, E5, and F1. They tend to be smaller than the bedrooms that started out as dining rooms.

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The courtyard is looking so pretty lately!

Yes, it is! I have always thought it was pretty, especially this time of year, when they start working on the bushes and flowers. But the change of paint color in the fountains, the new fountain spout, and the benches are all nice improvements. The benches really look like they belong there.

Offline Simka

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Re: Washington Plaza
« Reply #250 on: June 14, 2016, 02:43:38 AM »
You can count on pretty much anything in the Real Estate section to be a puff piece. It's all articles featuring NYTimes advertisers, so you'll never see them point out things like high maintenance fees.

Admittedly, for the Manhattan-centric readership, the fees might not seem like a big deal, but if it were a section that weren't so obviously beholden to advertisers, the writers would probably be more inclined to take a look at what other pre-war buildings with similar amenities maintenance fees are.

I suppose you're right about that. I have to admit, I don't read as many NYT real estate articles as I used to years ago, when I always bought the print edition.

P.S. I just noticed that even the Times is calling it an "Art Deco" building.  ::)

Offline Lilybell

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Re: Washington Plaza
« Reply #251 on: June 14, 2016, 09:28:45 AM »
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I just looked at the floor plans in the black book, and according to those, there are definitely more than two lines in which they're changing the dining areas to bedrooms. I wonder which line she's talking about when she says they're only doing it in one?

My guess is that she was talking about the C5 line. The photo in the NY Times article showed it as having one of those windows that are sort of like bay windows and C5 is the only line that has dining areas with that type of window. 

The conversion of the D2 line is my least favorite out of the entire complex; I think it should have remained as a one-bedroom.  The 2nd bedroom is tiny and more appropriate for an office than an actual bedroom. The apartment looks so much smaller now because they added a few walls to close off the bedroom and reconfigure the kitchen. The windows in the living room aren't centered because of where they added the wall to close off the new bedroom. That would drive me nuts. The kitchen went from a narrow galley to a square shape with a small opening and it barely has any counter space or bottom cabinets. The kitchens in the one-bedrooms that are going to remain as one-bedrooms are larger and have much better layouts.

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To each his own. I would prefer to have a large bedroom, but then, I live here and I know the closets are very roomy.
 

I know in my line, the bedroom was decreased by only a few inches - I couldn't even tell the difference in size when I visited the converted version of my apartment. The reason they made the closets larger is because they took out two large closets during the construction (they got rid of the dressing area and the two closets that were in it in order to increase the size of the former dining area and add a doorway).  The master bedroom is still very large.
« Last Edit: June 14, 2016, 09:35:12 AM by Lilybell »

Offline CaptainFlannel

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Re: Washington Plaza
« Reply #252 on: June 14, 2016, 03:38:59 PM »
I think developers can honor the original design while also updating for modern tastes. When my dream comes true and I retire upstate to a lovely renovated farmhouse, I certainly want many of the original details and charms of that building type, but I sure would prefer a modern kitchen and closets (something you don't find in a lot of 19th century homes).

Honoring something doesn't mean keeping it exactly as it was.

Offline Simka

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Re: Washington Plaza
« Reply #253 on: June 15, 2016, 10:05:19 AM »
The conversion of the D2 line is my least favorite out of the entire complex; I think it should have remained as a one-bedroom.  The 2nd bedroom is tiny and more appropriate for an office than an actual bedroom. The apartment looks so much smaller now because they added a few walls to close off the bedroom and reconfigure the kitchen. The windows in the living room aren't centered because of where they added the wall to close off the new bedroom. That would drive me nuts. The kitchen went from a narrow galley to a square shape with a small opening and it barely has any counter space or bottom cabinets. The kitchens in the one-bedrooms that are going to remain as one-bedrooms are larger and have much better layouts.

I haven't actually seen the apartment, but I know what you mean about the windows—I have seen that happen in a lot of apartments! And yeah, on the floor plans, a number of kitchens were turned into those small squares and most of the bedrooms created from dining alcoves are tiny.

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I know in my line, the bedroom was decreased by only a few inches - I couldn't even tell the difference in size when I visited the converted version of my apartment. The reason they made the closets larger is because they took out two large closets during the construction (they got rid of the dressing area and the two closets that were in it in order to increase the size of the former dining area and add a doorway).  The master bedroom is still very large.

That's good. :)

Offline Simka

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Re: Washington Plaza
« Reply #254 on: June 15, 2016, 10:16:17 AM »
I think developers can honor the original design while also updating for modern tastes. When my dream comes true and I retire upstate to a lovely renovated farmhouse, I certainly want many of the original details and charms of that building type, but I sure would prefer a modern kitchen and closets (something you don't find in a lot of 19th century homes).

Honoring something doesn't mean keeping it exactly as it was.

Well, it's a matter of taste and opinion whether someone is honoring an original design when they update. There are people who are extreme preservationists, and people who are way more liberal. I'd say I'm pretty reasonable about the need to update appliances, add AC, make a home more energy-efficient, and so on. But (in my opinion), changing the look by pulling down walls and changing the room sizes and proportions, and getting rid of curved walls and arches (or adding them, if they weren't there in the original), or, say, exposing brick when the brick wasn't exposed in the original home (not at WP, but done a lot) is not honoring the original design or "preserving the grandeur." I understand why a realtor or architect would make that claim, since Jackson Heights is known for its lovely, classic prewar buildings. But it rubs me the wrong way.

Jackson Heights Life

Re: Washington Plaza
« Reply #254 on: June 15, 2016, 10:16:17 AM »