Treehouse Envy

August 30, 2010

People complain about their neighbors for a number of reasons from noisy pets to loud music or crying children, but this is the first time that I have heard of someone complaining because their neighbor has a really awesome treehouse.

Melinda Hackett already had a few strikes against her with one of her neighbors, and those strikes were her three daughters and two dogs. When she asked Nick Cohen and Ashley Koral to build her a round treehouse, she ran into trouble. The police were called, and they asked if she had a permit for the treehouse. Luckily, Hackett knew an architect who got the treehouse land marked by the city.

As someone who grew up with a beautiful playhouse, I think it is great that Hackett’s kids have a new place to hide out and play. As a New Yorker, I love the quirky design of the treehouse, and I am glad that a cranky neighbor wasn’t able to shut down something this wonderfully creative.

To read more about the treehouse and see more pictures, go to To read about residential buildings all around Manhattan, check out Neighborhood NYC at


Yesterday, Benjamin James Real Estates’ informational website Neighborhood NYC posted a blog about stopping the spread of bedbugs. The article was picked up by The Real Deal, a major source of real estate news in New York City.

We were shocked to see Neighborhood NYC mentioned alongside articles by the New York Times and the New York Post, so we want to thank The Real Deal for noticing Neighborhood NYC. We put a lot of hard work into the website, and we appreciate the recognition.

To see our shout-out, go to, and check out Neighborhood NYC at!

The New York City Council voted to approve a new building project named 15 Penn Plaza after rejecting arguments by Anthony Malkin, the owner of the Empire State Building.

Developers of 15 Penn Plaza say that the building will be 67 stories and stand at 1,190 feet tall. Malkin argued that 15 Penn Plaza will change the New York skyline for the worse and hurt the view of the Empire State Building, but the council was unconvinced, voting overwhelmingly in favor of the project.

Mayor Bloomberg was also unconvinced by Malkin’s argument saying, “Anybody that builds a building in New York City changes its skyline – we don’t have to run around to every other owner and apologize. One guy owns a building, he’d liked to have it be the only tall building – I’m sorry, that’s not the real world.”

To see rendered pictures of 15 Penn Plaza and read more about the project, go to

Rented Spaces’ columnist Apartment Guru is a favorite at Benjamin James Real Estate. She gives consistently good advice about difficult situations, and this week was no different. Girl Living Alone wrote in asking for advice for her creepy predicament. She has suspected for a while that her building manager has been letting himself into her apartment with his spare key so he can eat her food and watch her television while she is at work.

Should she buy a nanny cam to catch the building manager in her apartment? What are her rights as a tenant? Is the building manager ever allowed to enter her apartment without her expressed consent? You can find out by reading Apartment Guru at

Looking for a new apartment? Check out our informational website Neighborhood NYC at

New Yorkers often complain about the size of their bathroom, but after this week, Mark Malkoff will have a good reason to complain. Malkoff will be spending five full days in his apartment bathroom.

Malkoff went into his bathroom on Monday at 11:30 AM and won’t be coming out until Saturday morning. He left his phone and computer with his wife, so he will be disconnected from the internet and forced to work on projects he has been procrastinating on. Among his goals for the week, he wants to memorize the names of all U.S. presidents in chronological order, learn to sew on a button, write letters to friends and family, memorize the Sermon on the Mount, and if that weren’t enough, learn how to play “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” on guitar.

If his wife feels neglected during this week, he can cheer her up when he emerges with his list entitled “99 Reasons Why I Love My Wife.” I suggest that if he gets stuck on the last few reasons, Malkoff should include, “Because she let me lock myself in a bathroom for a week.”

To read the Gothamist’s full coverage of Malkoff’s challenge, go to

Are you looking for an apartment with a few more bathrooms? Check out Benjamin James’ informational website Neighborhood NYC at

The summer of 2010 has been a hot summer for New Yorkers, and for those who don’t have air conditioning, it has been downright miserable. Even Central Park was a sweltering 103 degrees. This week, Rented Spaces’ Apartment Guru gives advice to Cold Cold Heart, Hot Hot Apartment who is broke and has a broken air conditioner. Apartment Guru suggests a number of solutions including spicy foods, cold soups, bags of frozen vegetables, and nudity.

To read the full column, go to, and give us your best suggestions for staying cool in the New York summer heat!

Sometimes it is difficult for real estate agents to write a glowing ad for an apartment. Words like “tiny” and “cramped” are substituted for words like “intimate.” NY1 real estate reporter Jill Urban recently wrote about the truth behind real estate ads and how the average apartment hunter can save time  by eliminating certain apartment listings altogether. Her trick? Apartment hunters just need to know what adjectives to look for.

“Cozy,” “interesting,”and “potential” are red flags that an apartment might have problems. “Cozy” usually means undersized while “interesting” means that this apartment isn’t to everyone’s tastes. “Potential” is almost always the realtor’s way of saying that the apartment will need work. Even if the place is marked down considerably, apartment hunters should move along. A discount is not as much of a discount after sinking lots of money into fixing up an apartment with “potential.”

To read the full article, go to, and find out the right and wrong words to look for in a real estate ad.

Check out residential buildings all over Manhattan at our informational website Neighborhood NYC at

This story isn’t in Manhattan, but it was so ridiculous that we felt compelled to share it. Enjoy the idiocy, and happy Friday the 13th!

Ira Rennert’s Sagaponack mansion is the biggest house in the United States. The house, referred to as Fair Field by Rennert, has 29 bedrooms, a synagogue, a play house, 2 tennis courts, and a basketball court. Somehow, however, this is not enough. Fair Field has 39 bathrooms, but Rennert would like to make it an even 40 by adding an outdoor bathroom. Unfortunately, Southampton residents don’t think that they need yet another bathroom.

I am fortunate to have a decent-sized bathroom in my apartment. I have absolutely no reason to complain, but for the many New Yorkers who have to squeeze into an undersized bathroom, Rennert is getting no sympathy from me. If someone cannot make it to one of the 39 bathrooms, then perhaps they should get checked out by a doctor to make sure that their bladder is working as it should. 39 bathrooms is already excessive, so I would like to suggest to Rennert that maybe the money used to build another bathroom could be better used elsewhere. He could surprise a friend or family member with a gift or take a night out on the town. Better yet, he could donate the money towards the Bladder & Bowel Foundation ( if he still wants that money to help a full bladder in need.

To read the full story, go to

Check out residential buildings around the city at our informational website Neighborhood NYC at

New York real estate agent Matthew Lenahan has been chosen for the next season of CBS’ hit reality series “Survivor.”

Lenahan will be joining former Dallas Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson and 18 other contestants in “Survivor: Nicaragua.” Lenahan works mainly in Harlem selling high-end penthouses, and he claims to be one of the fastest distance runners in the country.

Lenahan, also known as “Sash,” has already made it known that his background in real estate sales will help him win over the competition, particularly the women. He claims to be quite the ladies’ man and says that he enjoys “extreme adventures, running, and dating beautiful women.”

To read more about Lenahan, check out the full article at, and watch “Sash” on the premiere of “Survivor: Nicaragua” Wednesday, September 15 at 8 PM, 7 Central Time.

Check out our informational website Neighborhood NYC at to view residential buildings around Manhattan!

Between the Benjamin James Real Estate blog and Neighborhood NYC, we have done a lot of articles about how to deal with co-op boards from discovering your online reputation to prepping your dog for a board interview and making sure your kids aren’t members of any hate groups on Facebook.

One part of the process that we have yet to cover, however, is submitting letters of recommendation. Placing your reputation in the hands of a friend or colleague can be nerve-wracking, but at the same time if you get back an overly glowing letter, don’t be too quick to gloat. BrickUnderground did a fantastic semi-humorous piece on “what [letters of recommendation] say…and what they mean.”

This gem is my favorite of bunch:

“Mr. L’s finances are impeccable and he would make an excellent coop board treasurer.”
Translation: Mark always holds our cash when we go to Vegas on a junket.

To read the full article, go to

Looking for a new home? Check out our informational website Neighborhood NYC at