A couple of years ago, when I first began thinking about IntoTheBox, I knew that the idea was one that would resonate not only with New Yorkers but with people around the country and the world. Everyone has their eye on New York City and the surreal real estate market that exists here. But there was no way for people to actually go inside of each other’s boxes and see and hear from New Yorkers about how they are managing to live in the best city in the world.
Making New York City real estate accessible to the masses was imperative to me - creating informative yet entertaining video is something that is at the core of our business concept.
Little did I know how big this little idea would become - and as the business around IntoTheBox has grown more and more time intensive, my team and I are now busy at work taking IntoTheBox into an entirely new stratosphere.
We will get in touch with you as soon as the new site has been finished. Register on IntoTheBox (the link on top of the home page that says “register”) so that you will be notified instantly when the the new site is officially up. We look forward to seeing you soon and you have no idea how much all of your support means to us.]]>
It was 2005. I was dating a musician in New York the year The Hit Factory shuttered its doors. His continuous ranting about its demise was so voluminous that it still plays in my ears.
“New York is over. This city is dead. I’m going to kill myself,” he stated. Again. And again. And again. I nodded supportingly, not fully-understanding the gravity of his words, while sneaking a peak at a lovely Alberta Ferretti dress in W Magazine.
This videocast was initially geared toward the changes occurring in the neighborhood of Hell’s Kitchen, but as we were filming I was given the opportunity to go into the nearly-completed Hit Factory condominiums.
The experience was somewhat surreal — musical greats like John Lennon, Santana and Stevie Wonder (to name but a mere few) recorded in the space that now holds sub-zero refrigerators and granite kitchen countertops. New York City real estate.
The actual apartments–we saw a few of them–are quite beautiful; light and airy, with a loft-like downtown feel.
When you first walk into the building, there’s a fitness center to the left (I noted the “gym” to my videographer so that he could grab some footage of it) but was quickly told by one of the men on site that this was no gym; this was a “fitness center.”
Yup. That’s how it’s rolling at the Hit Factory these days.]]>
My Ex-New Yorker
I moved to New York more than eight years ago with a king-size bed and this 75-pound golden retriever named Murphy; my Midwestern naiveté about New York City real estate was comical at best, a disaster at worst.
My dog refused to use the pavement as a bathroom. She demanded something soft under her paws, thus making close proximity to Central Park a must-have. Who could blame her? For several years she had squatted on terrific terrain; some of the most sensational soil in the country, really. She was only three months old when I got her in Montana. It was Big Sky country with even bigger bathroom potential. She quickly became accustomed to the vast expanses of the land - Yellowstone Park; Glacier National Forest; the Gallatin Canyon. Murphy was doing business on God’s country.
Suffice it to say, the cement jungle of NYC was tough on her. In the morning, after putting her leash on, she would literally pull me to the park. We raced by city canines happily relieving themselves on the NYC sidewalks, as my poor pup could barely hold it in. She was like a bat out of hell, crazed to be outdoors but unable to find a patch of grass. She would beeline to the West 72nd street entrance of the park and then – joy of all joys – a patch of grass. And just like that, my mild-mannered Murphy reappeared.
The king-size bed went into storage, because 1,700-dollars on Central Park West does not rent one a room that fits a king-size bed. I sold the beast to an Irishman in the West Village who I ended up dating, so it was a win-win as I ultimately didn’t have to say goodbye to the bed until I said goodbye to the relationship. So I happily lingered on my mattress until I was ready to fully embrace my sofa bed.
At night, I would unfold the mattress in the couch and Murphy would hop in. This lasted for about six months. The lack of space had initially been amusing, but by the six month point had become ludicrous. My parents, who live outside of Cleveland, have plenty of space and generously offered to take Murphy until I settled in. They still have her now.
Today, I see all the women and men with dogs in the city and wonder if they just have more space in their apartments than I did when I first arrived here or if it really is about the social connectivity that canines bring to New Yorkers. In a city of 13 million residents, you’d think it wouldn’t be too difficult to meet people. But the pooch is certainly a great way to get that initial conversation going — maybe a story on ‘Pooch Love’ might be worth exploring; New Yorkers who have fallen in love at dog runs….]]>
New York City real estate isn’t so rockin’ these days… well, it is depending on your income bracket.
I thought yesterday’s story in the New York Times titled “You Say Recession, I say Reservations!” was an interesting story you should check out. It basically details how the city’s middle class (there’s a middle class here?) is taking back their right to live in this city due to the recent Bear Stearns implosion and all the layoffs happening on Wall Street. Essentially, the nouveau rich are getting screwed and this elusive middle class The Times speaks of is getting an opportunity to buy into the market.
But then there was that story, also in the Styles section, on the ugly doll and I threw the paper out. Hello? I bought an ugly doll for my godson a bajillion years ago?!? Why is this news now?
Anyway, back to the videocast: I spent days researching the Upper West Side and become obsessed with the history of both The Dakota and The Ansonia. On the day we filmed, we tried to get inside of the basement of the Ansonia—where the parties happened—but the current managers of the building weren’t having any of that business. They offered to let us film the lobby, but I wasn’t so interested in that. My head was in that basement. It still is.]]>
I’ve noticed Ebdel Hebti—the pushcart vendor on 23rd Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues—on a handful of occasions. He’s always yapping with his patrons and tends to light up when he’s got someone around who’s just taken a bite of his eats.
Before the interview, I had no idea he was involved in real estate. I just knew that I wanted to interview a shiskabob guy. When I approached Hebti with my cameraman, he never asked me who I was or where this video would be airing. So he had no information on the fact that I report on real estate — making his connection to the industry particulary random, but a story I figured was meant to be.
Hebti told me that his father is a big developer in Morocco and that he got into building construction because of his family ties. But for personal reasons, he needed to “spread his wings” and come to New York. He’s definitely spreading some good shawarma.
My favorite part of this story was sitting down with writer Patrice Evans. He’s a born and raised New Yorker, and I think that his outlook on segregation is a fascinating one. I’ve always had such a knee-jerk liberal reaction when it comes to the notion (and/or reality of) segregation, and I think his thoughts on the matter shed a fascinating perspective on what’s happening in the city.
Evans and I are now looking at doing a second part to this videocast, one that encompasses dating and segregation and how it pertains to New York City real estate.]]>
So here’s the scoop: Ellen’s been living in the neighborhood for three years. Chuck moved to the South Street Seaport about four months ago, leaving the Upper East Side where he had resided for years.
While they might bicker a bit, one thing they both agree on is that they’re huge fans of the nabe. Chuck kept telling me how great the area is due to it’s really small-town feel and Ellen knows the place like the back of her hand.
How will their saga turn out? We’ll have to stay tuned…]]>
“Are you a real estate broker?” I screamed, with a sign reading just that.
Not so pretty.
The interviews with the brokers had been scheduled, but one of them got trapped underground on the ‘L’ train (big surprise, there) and another ran into a problematic client that made it impossible for him to show up for the interview (yet another big surprise).
So I went into guerilla reporting mode and did what I had to do: humiliate myself. A few minutes after standing on that corner, a pretty woman tapped me on the shoulder and said, “I’m a real estate broker.”
A special thanks to Christine Toes of Citi Habitats, who saved the day.]]>
It had been a hectic day filming New York City real estate and at 5pm I realized I had a little more than an hour before I needed to call it a day. Still, I wanted to get another story on film so I turned to my videographer and said: “We’re gonna get us a story.” Nothing had been scripted; no interviews had been scheduled; we had no story at all. So I went into reporter crisis mode and found myself inside Carlos Chuva’s little shop.
I kinda fell in love — with both Carlos and the Prada heels he was working on. His soft-spoken manner, strong work ethic and dedication to his family were hypnotizing. As I mentioned in the videocast, he’s been working in the shoe business since he was a young boy in Ecuador, and to this day he genuinely gets a kick out of spiffing up a pair of shoes.
I’ve learned over the years that there’s a story everywhere you turn; yes, some might appear more compelling than others but if you dig a little deeper, there’s a goldmine of topics, issues and people just waiting to be uncovered.]]>
This cabbie business was news to me. I first got the taxi tip-off over dinner with friends at the restaurant Peasant while discussing New York City real estate.
I was always befuddled by the cabbie who couldn’t get to Laight Street and was so fascinated to hear that there was, in fact, a method to the cabbie confusion. When I first heard about it that night, I had my reservations — but after doing some research on the subject, I found that the theory held water.
One of the taxi drivers we spoke to (but only used his ID number on the videocast — the one that began with the number five), had only been driving for TWO days. Think that guy knows where Laight street is? I’m not so sure…
Anyway, a special thanks to Ms. Shell for the taxi tip-off.]]>