The Night Before Christmas

Tis the season to honor a great scholar and former West Chelsea Resident, Clement Clarke Moore, author of the very well known poem, “Twas The Night Before Christmas”. In the historic area of West Chelsea, a New York City Park is named after Moore, a renowned professor of literature at Columbia University in the 1800’s.

In the historic district of West Chelsea, one can find beautiful townhouses and brownstones many having been restored to their original grandeur.  This lovely neighborhood, spans blocks which are home to countless artists, galleries, art dealers, and restaurants. West Chelsea continues to be one of the most desirable areas to live in Manhattan.

Another point of interest in West Chelsea; The High Line, which runs the length of West Chelsea is not only unique, but is also one of the loveliest parks in Manhattan and an enjoyable way to see this great neighborhood. Strolling above Tenth Avenue on the High Line, enjoy a birds’ eye view of West Chelsea, the surrounding Manhattan skyline and beautiful views of the Hudson River. Stroll through this historic district, visit art galleries such as Gagosian, Matthew Marks, and Sonnabend, or walk a few minutes south to the Meatpacking District for a wonderful assortment of designer fashion boutiques such as Stella McCartney, Christian Louboutin, Micheal Kors and many others.
Happy holidays to all and to all a joyful new year!
Catherine Adams


Denny Heller, a real estate agent here at Benjamin James had a little “gossip” today:

Hope to shop you soon!

Have I got some scoop! I heard from a reliable source that Trader Joe was in talks to open a store at 675 Sixth Ave at 21st street. This would be so great because the only grocery store in Chelsea is on 7th and 8th ave in the 20’s and nothing in central Chelsea. Not only would it be good for the residents but great for Benjamin James traffic as well as residents in 21Chelsea. (building where Benjamin James office is located)

***UPDATE*** 12/4/09: Here is the article released in The Real Deal that was referenced below


Here is James Ferrari’s response to an article in The Real Deal.

Yesterday I had a spontaneous conversation with Candace from The Real Deal. I am looking forward to reading some of what Candace and I covered. In the meantime, I wanted to convey my thoughts on Douglas’ departure and the firms’ future.  I respect Douglas’ life decision and wish him luck in his new venture, he is my bro! I also want to make clear that Benjamin James is still open and it is business as usual, actually its mission statement and mandate has entirely changed and all shall see this. Just like Douglas made a life choice, I decided 5 years ago to build a career in, social enterprise, films, music, art, etc; and now I am quite excited to be in the real estate chairman role at Benjamin James again.

I do have some clear cut business plans which I am initiating and look forward to the future of Benjamin James Real Estate as a formidable player in the New York rental market.  If you take our current agents/staff, Chelsea location, generous advertising dollars, solid landlord relationships, internet marketing with our online marketing specialist, 16 year old brand name and couple that with my future growth model (philanthropy, re-opening of SoHo, etc…) we are sure to rise above and become the quintessential “come-back kids”.

Please stay tuned for future updates and you can follow our growth via Facebook, Twitter or our Blog.

We would like to thank Candace Taylor and The Real Deal for their time.

James Ferrari

BLEECKER STREET: The New “Champs-Elysees & Via Veneto”

Suzanne Belmont is a veteran agent with Benjamin James Real Estate and has watched the transformation of Bleecker Street over the years and here is her take on Bleecker Street; circa today!


Ralph Lauren

Bleecker Street has emerged as New York’s newest retail hot spot.  If it’s shopping you crave: look no further! An array of trendy and independent retailers has taken up residence on this Greenwich Village street west of Seventh Avenue.  Arguably New York’s most charming neighborhood, the area is also host to some of the best independent women’s clothing stores in the city, most of which are located in cozy townhouses. Formerly a stretch of offbeat boutiques, the narrow tree-lined street has evolved into a major shopping destination which in my opinion rivals Madison Avenue.  Along this five block stretch you’ll find five different Marc Jacobs boutiques, four Ralph Lauren stores, Tommy Hilfiger outpost, cutting-edge fashion at Intermix or Olive + Bette’s, and savvy shoes and accessories at Verve.  The Only Lulu Guinness and Cynthia Rowley boutiques in the United States are here, as well as the Coach Legend store.

On weekends Bleecker Street is flooded with tourists on foot from around the country and across the pond.  Delightful and charming restaurants, cafes and shops are scattered throughout the blocks with the best that the West Village offers; The Spotted Pig, Tartine, Extra Virgin, Chow Bar, Pastis, John’s Pizza, Murray’s Cheese, Matt Umanov Guitars, Biography Bookshop, Robert Marc and the yummy Magnolia Bakery famous for their mouth watering cupcakes.


Magnolia Bakery


95 The Gansvoort, aka 95 Christopher Street

The Gansvoort; aka 95 Christoper Street

This full service, luxury, Pre-war Doorman Building boats a beautiful marble lobby and is owned and operated by BLDG Management.  BLDG has an excellent reputation for maintaining its properties. The staff is highly responsive with a full-time doorman and a team that devotes its time to meticulously cleaning and updating the property. The building maintains its pre-war charm with the arched hallways, intricate moldings, and high ceilings, yet it is modernized with granite countertops and stainless steel appliances.  There is a live-in super, laundry facilities and this is a pet friendly building so furry friends are welcomed.

To view available apartments in this building please contact Suzanne Belmont by
P:  212 645 4477 ext 221 
C: 917-885-7020
E: suzanne[at]benjaminjames[dot]com

This question has a lot of different answers, depending upon who you ask, here’s what the New York City Rent Guidelines Board (NYCRGB) has to say:

Ask Why!

Ask Why!

New York City has a system of rent regulation known as “rent stabilization.” The system was enacted in 1969 when rents were rising sharply in many post-war buildings. The system has been extended and amended frequently, and now about 1 million apartments in the City are covered by rent stabilization. Rent stabilized tenants are protected from sharp increases in rent and have the right to renew their leases.

In NYC, rent stabilized apartments are those apartments in buildings of six or more units built between February 1, 1947 and January 1, 1974.
Tenants in buildings of six or more units built before February 1, 1947 and who moved in after June 30, 1971 are also covered by rent stabilization.
A third category of rent stabilized apartments covers buildings with three or more apartments constructed or extensively renovated since 1974 with special tax benefits. Generally, these buildings are stabilized only while the tax benefits continue.

Can my landlord evict me and use my stabilized apartment for his family, and how many apartments in the building can the landlord take?

One of the advantages of being a rent stabilized tenant is the right to renew your lease. This right holds with few exceptions, and eviction for owner occupancy by the landlord or a family member is one of the exceptions.
The rent regulation laws allow the landlord of a rent stabilized building to take over one or more apartments for family use. However, he/she must give you 90 to 150 days notice before your existing lease expires that it will not be renewed. In addition, he/she must be able to prove that the apartment will be for family use. Note that if you are 62 or older or disabled you have additional protections. If you do wish to stay in the apartment, you could simply stay put and wait for the landlord to serve you with eviction papers. The landlord will then have to prove in court that he needs the apartment for family use. The court may or may not agree with his assessment.

Regarding the number of apartments an owner can take: The Rent Stabilization Law and Code is a little vague about the number of apartments that an owner may occupy: “…only one of the individual owners of any building, whether such ownership is by joint tenancy, tenancy in common, or tenancy by the entirety to recover possession of one or more dwelling units for personal use and occupancy.” However, the DHCR informs us that an owner can take more than one unit for his or his relative’s occupancy.



Why is it getting so hard to find Rent Stabilized Apartments?

When a tenant moves out of a Rent Stabilized Apartment, the Landlord of this apartment has two options.
1) Rent the apartment as a rent stabilized apartment to the next tenant
2) Renovate the apartment and get 1/40th of the renovation cost added to the monthly rent, and if it goes over $2000 a month, he can then De-regulate the apartment!

Here is the Example for Renovation:
The tenant moves out of a rent stabilized apartment in which the rent was $1000.00 a month. The landlord legally can increase the rent 20% for change of tenancy, bringing the monthly up to $1200.00. Now the magic number for a landlord is $2000.00, so he’s $800 away from De-regulation. If the landlord Renovates the Apartment, he/she is entitled to add 1/40th of the renovation cost to the monthly rent, in this example the landlord needs to put at least $32,000 worth of renovations into the apartment to hit $2000.00. If the example apartment was a 2 bedroom, the landlord would probably demand an average rent of $4500 a month! Don’t be fooled, Landlords want to De-regulate their Stabilized units as fast as possible, it increases their rent rolls, and makes the whole building more valuable!

Rent Stabilized Apartments are really hard to find, and if you have one, Lucky You! If you would like more information on Rent Stabilization, or have any real estate questions, give us a call

stone glass towerAt a rental industry event today in Midtown Manhattan, executives from a major landlord with over 2000 residential rental units in Manhattan acknowledged a market recovery in its early stages. They talked about how they are responding to higher occupancy rates, more consumer traffic, and rental incentives that have fueled the declined rental market over the past year.  In the most prime locations, owner-paid broker commissions (also known as OPs) and free rent incentives are being taken back, leaving tenants to pay today’s market prices without the benefit of “net effective” rents.  This also puts the responsibility for the broker fee back in the tenant’s court.

This landlord, who graciously sent three of its top brass to discuss the marketplace with rental managers and principal brokers from the most notable brokerage companies in Manhattan, noted that the one sweet spot in the city for consumers to capture bargains is Midtown West.  They, along with Silverstein, Rockrose and Glenwood, have added hundreds of new residential units in the Hudson Yards district – with more now under construction.  Consumers can continue to expect the big discounts, bargain prices, free rent incentives and owner paid fees in this neighborhood for the foreseeable future.

It is interesting that since October 1, our listings department has identified major landlords such as Rockrose/TF Cornerstone, Archstone, Related Management, and Equity Residential, who have removed owner paid commissions and free rent incentives in prime neighborhoods such as Chelsea, Greenwich Village, TriBeCa and even the Financial District (in some cases).  Other major landlords continue to pay brokers and give discounts; however, the four landlords mentioned here account for more than 10,000 residential rental units in Manhattan.  It is clear that a change is underway.street lamps and beaux arts building

This new disparity in the changing market makes it more important than ever for consumers to identify a good broker / agent and stick with them.  We offer a unique perspective on the marketplace, as we keep up with which landlords are offering the best values, and where the definitions of value are changing.  While it might seem like a good use of time for a consumer to canvas each of the major landlord portfolios in search of bargains and discounts, a simple phone call to a reputable broker could yield the same information in a single conversation thus saving you time and we all know “time is money”.

The Numbers Don’t Lie?!?!

Don’t be fooled, It’s is impossible to gauge any real estate market in real time, especially Manhattan 2009 Rentals! I was reading an article today on the number 1 subway (the red line) about how the national apartment vacancy rate was at 7.8%, a pretty big number. What relevance does this average have on the Manhattan market?  Not much!  The Manhattan vacancy rate is 2.7 %, almost two thirds less than the national number. If you are going into negotiations with a 7.8% vacancy rate as your ammunition, you might be talking your way out of a sweet deal!

There is no question that there are some great values in today’s New York City rental market.  This market has been in a down slide since October, 2008! Apartments have already been discounted, owner paid commissions are the norm in big buildings, and there is SOME room to negotiate — but be smart! If you’re looking at numbers that include some rental complex in Connecticut or New Jersey, they’re blurring your vision.

Here are a couple of tips on how to save money:

Know the History of the building

This is a huge factor!! If a building is offering concessions like two months free, free gym membership, etc, the very best thing you can do is contact your broker and find the rental history of the building. Landlords will offer concessions to get you into the building for a number of reasons; the most major reason is that the building owes their investors so much money that the banks won’t let them reduce rents.  This is why things like free rent and owner-paid broker fees work to reduce a tenant’s overall annual cost of living.  Be warned:  at the end of lease, your free market apartment most likely increases from the discounted, incentive-based rent to a real time market rate rent one or two years down the line. Tenants might ultimately pay twice as much for these apartments.

Take the Fee Out of the Equation

There is a ton of great inventory that you will never see because you want a “no fee” rental! Think about it… why would a landlord want to pay a fee?  Because they are so nice, or maybe because your so qualified?  Sorry to break it to you, landlords are in this business to make money, and most renters in NYC are qualified! Fee apartments amortized are always less than No Fee apartments. The fee is a one time charge, which over the lifespan of your tenancy, could ultimately save you thousands!!!

Get a Pro On Your Side 

Any renter needs a professional to guide them through all of the great values that are available in today’s Manhattan rental market.  A good broker should have a bird’s-eye view of the entire market landscape:  they can help you determine not only where the landlords are offering the best incentives, but they can demonstrate how you might do better to pay the broker fee and achieve a better cost benefit for the life of your lease!
Whether the vacancy rate drops more, or it remains stable as the economy starts to recover, I will be on the front lines ready with all the information and access it takes to help you secure the best deal!

Neil Nerich can be contacted via phone 212-645-4477 or email neil[at]benjaminjames[dot]com

I’m currently showing this gorgeous prewar apartment in the East Village and I want to make my case for living on a first floor. I get a lot of phone calls about well priced East Village apartments, but often callers hang up when I tell them it’s located on the fourth or fifth floor. I tell them, “Well that’s why it’s so well priced!” Walking up three to five flights of stairs will usually get you a bigger, better space.

Having stated my case, I urge everyone to consider life on the first floor in the East Village. Many people are avidly against living on the first floor of an apartment building yet this is a golden opportunity to get a great space at a discount, and you don’t have to climb hundreds of stairs to get there! In fact, you can come and go from long trips or with your laundry/groceries without any hassle.

This particular East Village apartment I am showing is a grand two bedroom, easily converted into three bedrooms. There is tons of prewar charm and original details: high ceilings, crown molding, beautiful herringbone floors, and large rooms. The bedrooms are large, much like the great sized rooms you get in those old prewar buildings on the Upper West Side, but in this case it is situated in the younger, much hipper East Village.

This is the only apartment like it in this building, and do you may wonder why?!?! BECAUSE IT’S ON THE FIRST FLOOR! Yes you got it, First floor apartments usually have higher ceilings and more room, because buildings are often configured with a standard layout that doesn’t apply on the ground floor. First floor apartments are an opportunity to have something different.

Let’s not forget that you get more space for your money. This apartment would easily be $4,000 or more just one flight up. So why pay more to walk up an extra flight of stairs when this first floor apartment is only $3650. That is a rhetorical question considering in this economic climate everyone is looking for a deal, and I say look at an even better deal right here. At least take a look, you might find your aversion to first floor living was imbedded in your brain long ago when you first moved to the city and your parents convinced you that east village crack heads that would come knocking on your door:) Well, to the dismay of many locals who remember when the Musical “RENT” was an accurate depiction of the local fare, the gentrification of the area actually makes the “RENT” scenario more of an anachronism.

You can view this listing here

To Contact Pia Dubitsky you can call her @ (917) 882-6437 or email her @ pia[at]benjaminjames[dot]com

So what do you think, we hit the bottom, and we’re coming back, If so, then I would like to introduce you to 75 Wall Street in the Financial District of Lower Manhattan. This building is offering a very consumer friendly rent to own option that puts a lot of control into the buyers’ hands with very limited to no risk! Here’s how it works.

First you choose and lease a no fee apartment in this top of the line high rise condo conversion.  The deal works like any other hi-rise apartment in NYC and as a incentive you even get two months’ rent free whether or not you buy. At the time of lease signing you enter into a purchase price agreement for the sale of the unit which happens 14 months after  the lease start date! You are not bound to this price, and you don’t even have to close but the owner / building is bound, giving the advantage to the tenant / buyer.  If you agree to move forward and buy the unit, 100% of the rent you paid over the last year goes toward the purchase of the Condo, and you just lived rent free for a year, and lived very well!

This building has many 5 star Hotel amenities, because the first 18 floors of the building is a 5 star Hotel which is Part of Hyatt’s new luxury lifestyle brand named Andaz™. That tends to make me believe it’s not going to have a hard time holding its value. Your Potential “Risk”: the market doesn’t go up in the next year but let’s not forget that you live like a king in these outstanding units at a competitive rent. Your Potential “Reward”: the market comes back, and you have a locked in price from a year prior (when the residential market was reeling in the recession), and enter into a contract with a deep discount.

To Exercise this Option, give me a call @ 201-218-1198 or Email me, Neil Nerich.

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Benjamin James Rental Agent Suzanne Belmont talks about this season’s rental incentive (deals) and a renter’s readiness.

Everybody knows Landlord incentives like free rent and paying broker fees has kept the New York City rental market going during the market decline of the past 16 months.  As fall sets in on Manhattan this year, landlords are getting prepared for a slower season.  The good news is incentives will remain for now, and in some cases they will be increased, just to keep tenants signing new leases as the market once again builds steam.Carrot

Anyone looking to rent in the fourth quarter of 2009 can expect some fair price negotiability, landlord paid broker fees – especially on high rise rental units, flexibility on occupancy dates, and maybe even free time as a motivator to induce new tenants to sign up in the cooler season. 

paperworkA softer marketplace doesn’t mean applicants don’t have to be prepared!  Landlords are acutely aware of people’s credit problems and employment issues, and because of the financial squeeze citywide, it is more important than ever for prospective renters to be ready with employment verification letters, pay stubs, most current bank statements and even landlord references to verify their good tenant history. 

Whether it is doorman buildings, walk ups, elevator apartment buildings, townhouse, brownstone, coop or condo, I can create a stress free and enjoyable experience because I am on the front lines of the residential market each and every day.  I will find you your best deal and your dream home!

To view Suzanne’s inventory please visit or you can call her at 212-645-4477

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