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Trading the Eiffel for the Empire

Going to New York wasn’t what I had in mind, with the weather in Paris picture perfect and an abundance of things to do in the city that are tough to miss (such as the Shakespeare and Company Literary Festival that took place this past weekend), but I really had no choice.

The zany story (if you haven’t followed it) began with the idea of buying an apartment for my daughter in New York while the rate of exchange was favorable from the euro point of view. Last November, we found a small, but great apartment in a “co-op” in the West Village and long standing associate lender Banque Patrimoine et Immobilier (BPI) granted us an equity release mortgage to purchase it. To comply with the co-op board application, the mortgage money was transferred into a U.S. dollar account (thanks to Moneycorp Global Money Services at a rate of exchange which then was far less than it is now. To apply to the co-op board for approval was an arduous task taking many hours and many months, including one visit to New York to hand deliver the nine copies, that cost over $300 just to make at Kinko’s. Then, without disclosure of ‘why,’ were denied! (No, they don’t have to disclose why they didn’t want us living in their ‘precious’ building on Jane Street.)

If the rate of exchange had been better, I would have transferred the mortgage back into euros and more happily and safely invested it into a property in Paris, but the loss would have been too healthy a sum to even consider. Instead, the mortgage money is sitting in an interest bearing account, while the interest payments have been deferred (thanks to BPI) until we could find a suitable property that would surely reap greater rewards.

Erica started to re-hunt on her own with able agents Klara Madlin and Maryann Johnson and found an apartment in SOHO (“South of Houston”) we both felt ‘had our names on it.’ We quickly made an offer 10% HIGHER than the asking price, but lost it to one of the 15 other bidders! (In France, the seller is MORALLY obligated to accept asking price, but not in New York! One could see how if a property sells for much higher than the normal market value, it would naturally create the “bubble” we all fear.)

So, seeing how another one ‘bit the dust,’ last Wednesday I ‘hopped’ the big pond heading west and told myself six days in my daughter’s shared loft in Chelsea wouldn’t be too bad as long as she had air conditioning (New York has been sweltering and the portable unit was cheaper than six days in The Hampton Hotel across the street at $250-plus a night).

Reversing roles from “Property Consultant” to “Client,” Maryann showed us six apartments in Lower Manhattan on Thursday afternoon. Like Paris, there is little on the market in prime areas, and what is, sells quickly. One particular apartment in the heart of Greenwich Village fit our requirements perfectly and so we wasted no time in making an offer. They wasted no time in accepting it!

Like finding a “pied-à-terre” in Paris with a view of the Eiffel Tower, this little 525 square feet studio with high ceilings in an old converted factory built in 1897 on Barrow Street just at Sheridan Place, has a straight-shot view of what is once again the tallest building in the world — the Empire State Building!

The Empire State Building WAS the world’s tallest building from 1931 until 1972 with 102 stories (1250 feet) when it was surpassed by the World Trade Center with 110 stories. With the WTC sadly gone, it has regained its status, surpassing the Eiffel Tower by 336 feet. It was named by the American Society of Civil Engineers as one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World, designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1986, ranked number one on the List of America’s Favorite Architecture and is without a doubt, every bit as symbolic of New York City as is the Eiffel Tower symbolic of Paris.

So, if one has to trade Paris for New York, then this clearly makes the best of it. N’est-ce pas?

Adrian Leeds in New YorkA la prochaine…

Adrian Leeds
Editor, Parler Paris

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P.S. Be sure to read all about last week’s Parler Paris Après Midi gathering — with lots of newcomers and regulars who came to share their fascinating stories. Visit /parlerparis/apresmidi.html

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