Tag Archives: Manhattan

USA Today: Trump Biz Linked To Russians With Alleged Ties To Organized Crime

President Donald Trump’s companies have been connected to “at least 10 former Soviet businessmen with alleged ties to criminal organizations or money laundering,” according to a report published Tuesday by USA Today.

Those connections came to light during a review of legal and government documents, court cases and an interview with a former federal prosecutor, per USA Today.

Continue reading USA Today: Trump Biz Linked To Russians With Alleged Ties To Organized Crime

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8 of the most expensive real estate developments in American history

A rendering of Hudson Yards, a new neighborhood planned for Manhattan’s far west side.Related Companies

With an estimated cost of $20 billion , New York City’s Hudson Yards neighborhood is set to become the most expensive private real estate development in American history.

When construction is complete in 2024, it will include all types of buildings, from luxury condos to boutiques to offices.

Elsewhere in the US, there are several similar projects — some of which cost billions.

Take a look at a few below.

City Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.

City Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The City Center in Las Vegas (from left to right: Mandarin Oriental, The Crystals, Aria, the Veer Tower, and Vdara).Wikipedia Commons

Located on the Las Vegas Strip, the City Center features 16.7 million-square-feet of casinos, high-end shops, hotels, and luxury condos.

Construction on the estimated $8.5 billion project (which includes five towers) started in 2006, and the development opened three years later.

Continue reading 8 of the most expensive real estate developments in American history

Richard Branson: Donald Trump told me he wanted ‘to spend the rest of his life’ getting revenge

Billionaire and Virgin Group founder Richard Branson published a blog post on Friday recalling his first interaction with Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, in which Trump reportedly vowed to spend the rest of his life seeking revenge on five people who had refused to help him.

Branson said their encounter took place years ago, when Trump had invited him to a one-on-one lunch in his Manhattan apartment.

Continue reading Richard Branson: Donald Trump told me he wanted ‘to spend the rest of his life’ getting revenge

‘AN INTENTIONAL ACT’: Dozens injured in New York City explosion

  • An explosion in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York City went off around 8:30 p.m. ET Saturday night.
  • At least 29 people were injured, one possibly seriously.
  • A second possible device resembling a pressure cooker was found four blocks from the scene of the explosion.
  • NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio calls the explosion “an intentional act.”
  • Currently no evidence of a terror connection.

Continue reading ‘AN INTENTIONAL ACT’: Dozens injured in New York City explosion

Urban Jungles – Mini Manhattan Garden

At just 1,200 square feet, this is the second smallest house in Manhattan. When two architects, Anne Fairfax and Richard Sammons, bought it, they transformed it to create a bijou interior with a sense of spaciousness that belies its exterior appearance. Leading out of the kitchen is a small enclosed garden with ivy topiary.

The Emerging Bitcoin Civil War

bitcoin civil warA civil war is emerging between Bitcoin’s earliest and most libertarian adopters, and a more commercial wing seeking to embrace regulation as a means of legitimizing Bitcoin businesses.

The divide came into focus this week with two key events events. One was a hearing on Bitcoin regulation by the New York Department Of Financial Services. The other was the arrest of BitInstant CEO Charlie Shrem on money laundering charges.

Until the moment of his arrest, Shrem, 24 had been something of a darling in the Bitcoin venture capital community — the Winklevoss brothers were one of BitInstant’s earliest investors, and Shrem was scheduled to co-headline a Bitcoin conference in Miami this past weekend.

But on the first day of hearings about the future of Bitcoin regulation convened this week by the New York Department of Financial Services, a panel of VCs were quick to disavow Shrem as an example of a more immature wing of Bitcoin. The Winklevoss twins said they were gratified the Department was discussing ways to help legitimize Bitcoin commerce. Their Bitcoin ETF is awaiting regulatory approval from the SEC.

The division is not just about sheer dollar size. Appearing at the Tuesday hearing, Fred Wilson — whose Union Square Ventures spearheaded a $5 million investment round in Bitcoin wallet firm Coinbase warned against anything but the lightest-touch regulations. He compared the dangers Bitcoin startups would face to what happened to early-stage music streaming platforms, which were inundated with lawsuits from record labels. Should Bitcoin startups be subject to similar legal scrutiny from financial regulators, he said, they would be snuffed out before they even had a chance to bloom.

Wilson’s views were countered by no other than Fred Ehrsam, Coinbase’s co-founder. He told DFS regulators Wednesday, “Although I love Fred Wilson, there’s probably some minimal requirements and procedures that should be put in place if you’re facilitating that kind of exchange.”

Perhaps it is not surprising that this ultra-libertarian faction was not represented at this week’s hearings.

But it could be seen at the NYC Bitcoin Center on Broad Street in Manhattan — where a follow-up cocktail party was held Tuesday to discuss “fallout” from the first day’s hearing — and online, where this faction railed from afar against regulators.

bitcoin regulation tweetsThese individuals may seem extreme, but, until recently, they represented the core of Bitcoin evangelism.

But their influence seems to be fading. Barry Silbert’s Bitcoin Investment Trust is now worth 10s of millions of dollars. In an email Wednesday, he said he agreed the crypto-anarchists who dominated the digital currencies earliest incarnations were getting left behind.

“There are certainly a handful of folks that are hardcore libertarians (some anarchists) that believe that bitcoin should be completely unregulated, but I believe they are in the minority and, as a percentage of bitcoin believers, is shrinking very quickly.  I respect their viewpoint, but unfortunately, don’t see how there vision is viable in today’s society.”

On Wednesday, New York District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. said the greatest concern about digital currencies among law enforcement was anonymity. In a Bitcoin transaction, all transactions are essentially conducted between e-addresses that lack any kind of user identification.

“The difficulty, when criminal activity is involved, is for investigators to identity how the money is moved where and for what purpose.,” he said.

But tinkering with Bitcoin’s anonymity would seem to strike at the heart of another one of Bitcoin’s core elements — as seen in the following Tweet:

bitcoin regulation tweets

But Jeremy Allaire, founder and CEO of Circle, a company that develops digital currency products, showed little concern that regulators could start scraping away at Bitcoin’s anonymity element. Asked Tuesday on the panel whether new regulations affecting Bitcoin’s anonymity would undermine the popularity of the currency, Allaire replied, “That depends on your definition of the essence of Bitcoin.”

As Bitcoin continues to emerge, this fight over Bitcoin’s essence, and how much of a role government should play, will only get more intense.

The Totally Serious Plan to Connect Brooklyn and Manhattan by Gondola

If an imaginative real estate executive gets his way, New Yorkers soon will have a new way of crossing the East River between Manhattan and Brooklyn. Instead of slogging across a traffic-snarled bridge or cramming into a packed subway car, they’d soar over the river in … a gondola.

Dan Levy, head of CityRealty, is totally serious about this. He came up with the idea for the East River Skyway a few years ago while skiing. He thought it could work in New York, given that other cities, including Portland, London, and Rio de Janeiro have similar systems.

This week, Levy published a bold plan for an aerial network connecting Manhattan, Queens, and Brooklyn. He figures it could be built for between $75 million and a $100 million, a fraction of what New York’s spent on recent subway expansion projects. The idea has a lot going for it, but if built as Levy envisions, it would be useful to only a small, affluent subset of the city.

Much of the proposed network includes waterfront stations, which wouldn’t be much help to commuters who need to get inland. There’s also the fact those stations could be put to better use.

“In practicality, I don’t know why we would connect perfectly good boating docks with gondolas,” says Sarah Kaufman, adjunct assistant professor of planning at New York University and digital manager at the NYU Rudin Center for Transportation. “We should be connecting those areas with boats, water taxis, ferries.”

The East River Skyway could connect three boroughs, but Phase 1 has the most appeal for commuters.

Kaufman sees more value in the Skyway’s first phase, which would include a connection between Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood and Manhattan’s Lower East Side.

Installing a gondola there is appealing for several reasons. It could alleviate crowding on the L line, which runs from Brooklyn into Manhattan. The line is always packed at rush hour, and trains run so frequently it’s all but impossible to add more.

Levy’s cost estimates are tricky to verify, but he’s right when he says a gondola would be easier, faster, and cheaper to build than a new subway line. It has taken five years and $2 billion to add a single station to the 7 line.

The new Second Ave subway line for the Upper East Side has been delayed so many times that former Mayor Michael Bloomberg quipped about having “a 50-50 chance of living to see the first person on it.”

In a December 2013 report advocating better bus service in New York, the Pratt Center for Community Development wrote, “there is no realistic prospect of expanding the subway system to serve outlying neighborhoods.”

No new bridges are coming either, so spanning the river with a gondola that requires little digging and minimal acquisition of land rights is tempting.

There’s precedent, too. Not only are other cities trying aerial public transit, New York already has its own system in place, the tram connecting Roosevelt Island and the East Side.

(You may know it from the climactic scene of 2002’s Spider-Man.) If Levy’s right, the gondola could move move 5,000 people an hour over the East River, with a crossing that would take just four minutes.

And then there’s the fact that it just seems like a cool idea, an opportunity to get a new, terrific view of New York City.

Gondola's would provide an unusual, terrific view of the city.

If Levy (or another developer) could acquire land rights to build stations, get approval from a rat’s nest of city and state agencies, and raise the necessary cash, New York could get the gondola system he’s dreaming of.

But don’t expect it to be used by many people who ride the L train. The line is overcrowded because it’s the easiest way for folks in Williamsburg, Bushwick, and Greenpoint—popular and growing neighborhoods—to reach Manhattan.

The proposed location of the Brooklyn gondola station essentially is on the water, nowhere near most of these people. The gondola could, however, be quite handy for those filling the very expensive condos going up on the Williamsburg waterfront. “It would serve new developments along the water,” Levy says.

“This is a real estate project,” Kaufman says. That’s not a bad thing. In fact, it’s quite unusual, in a good way. “It’s not very typical of a real estate developer to consider the bigger picture,” to account for the need for added transportation infrastructure that comes with packing more people into an area.

The residents of those condos may get little sympathy from those struggling to make rent in New York, but they too need good transportation options, and it’s a long walk to the nearest subway station. And, as Levy notes, every person riding the gondola leaves a bit more room for those of us stuck on the train.

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