CategoriesReal Estate

WHERE I DIDN’T SPEND MY $350

New York City is visited by thousands of people daily, and the streets are consistently flooded with vehicles of all kinds. It’s a magnificent place, yet there are some tricky parking rules. There are multiple signs within the city that dictate whether or not people can park in certain areas, and these signs have confused countless visitors through the years.

Let me give you a personal example. One breezy Saturday afternoon, I decided to make a trip to New York City with my wife. It was a wonderful day, and we wanted to explore Hell’s Kitchen market as well as enjoy a tasty meal from the Hell’s Kitchen restaurant, which is located on 9th avenue between 38 and 39th streets. Once we arrived in the city and found a nice parking spot, I used my credit card to pay the $22 meter fee, which would ensure us ample time to do what we wanted to do.

The day was going well until I returned to the car. A boot had been placed on one of the wheels, and stickers were pasted all over the windshield. I was now faced with parking tickets and a warning. If I did not pay the ticket within two hours, I was to face further consequences. I had to stop everything I was doing and rush to Pier 76 to pay the $185 ticket. To make matters worse, there was an additional ticket in the amount of $115. Though I was able to pay the first ticket, I did not have the chance to pay for the second one. I had to mail it. This immediately became a burden, and the blissful day in NYC came to a screeching halt.

The government has placed its boot on my throat, and hung the sword of Damocles over my head. The fun-filled day we had planned suddenly became an exhausting and unpleasant one. This turn of events was solely due to the baffling road signs. It was only after we had paid and waited two hours that the boot was removed from our car. Before we could spend anything, we lost $350. This was an unexpected expenditure, and we were flummoxed by this incident.
Even though we tried to forget the incident had occurred and resume our day, we were not able to get past what, in our minds, was an unjust event. We had an original budget of $2000 to spend in NYC, and the incident stripped us of a good portion of that allowance. We didn’t spend our money at Fish on Bleecker Street, nor Goorin Bros. Hats, or Frye shoes. We passed on Chelsea Market as well, and even avoided Macy’s. Instead we decided to keep our money and spend it all in the local market.
There was a great lesson to be learned in all of this. The city allows any commercially licensed vehicle to park anywhere on the streets. This is quite bizarre. Tourism fuels the economy in NYC, and motorists often don’t stand a chance of parking easily with all the restrictions placed upon them. Incidents like the one I had occur frequently. Even though the city infrastructure is not conducive to the well-being of any vehicle, if you’re going to NYC, it would behoove you to drive a commercially licensed vehicle; you will definitely save a large sum of money at the end of the day. If not, you may find yourself facing the same fate I did.

It is true that all citizens must obey the rules of any city or town, especially the rules of the road. This ensures the safety of both the passengers in the vehicle and the pedestrians, but the road rules have to be communicated properly to the community. Signs are often misleading, and people constantly get confused.
On the other hand, it is necessary to allocate some parking spaces on either side of the street for passenger cars, especially in a city like New York. Commercial vehicles should have priority, but passenger cars have significance as well. It would be ideal if each side of the street was separately allocated. This would enable passenger cars to park without any inconveniences.
Incidents like mine create losses for the businesses in New York City. When visitors from other states or local areas face similar situations, I predict they’ll start moving away from the city due to displeasure. Being one of the largest business cities in the world, it is not good for the reputation of the city. Road rules are incredibly important, but they should not be puzzling. The messages should be conveyed clearly to drivers, with little to no room for questions.
If you are planning to visit NYC anytime soon, remember this: Don’t park your car and quickly leave the area. Before you leave, recheck several times to see if the spot is legally available. As I mentioned before, the best thing to do is visit the city with your commercially licensed vehicle. If not, you may unexpectedly lose money, as I did. I still can’t believe I lost $350. I don’t want others to experience the same misfortune, so make sure you understand the exact meaning of any and all road signs before you leave your car.

CategoriesReal Estate

HOW TO FIND A GOOD COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE ATTORNEY

Real Estate, unlike most other businesses, is littered with a myriad of risks, complexities, sensitive legal processes and of course, lots of dicey negotiations. These, however, do not nullify the presence of the huge goldmine buried just underneath what you might want to describe as the ‘obvious’. The old English proverb that says, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way”, holds sway in commercial realty.

Rest assured if you have a competent attorney, you’ve little or nothing to worry about. Competence, however, isn’t the only quality you want to look for when choosing a Commercial Real Estate Attorney. There are certain other equally important qualities that you want to keep in mind. Before I tell you how you can find or identify a good attorney, I’d like to give you the definition of what that is. This is by no means an exhaustive definition, but it does help you know where and how to look:

A good commercial real estate attorney is one who has both the expertise and the ability to help identify, negotiate and manage both imminent and potential risks regarding your realty, as well as help handle transactions, give legal advice, and draw up drafts of documents, agreements, and contract disputes, etc. This attorney must be one who has spent about sixty-five percent of his practicing years exclusively in real estate, (particularly commercial realty in the last five years), invests in real estate himself, and has a good number of full-time professional real estate investors as clients.

Now that we’ve established what the ideal qualifications need to be, let us proceed to learn about how to find one.

For some of us, doing a background check on our would-be attorney might help satisfy our curiosities. We want to know what college they attended, how successful there were academically, etc. As important as these things are, I’ve discovered that there are certain facts that speak for themselves, so I’d suggest recognizing an attorney’s due diligence over certain other weightier details.

Your would-be attorney should be on the real estate committee of your local bar association, or be actively involved in the developmental processes of the ever evolving legal educational courses for the county. These are classes taught by lawyers, for lawyers. This invariably means that the class instructors must be in the upper echelon of their field. You might also want to consider finding out if he or she works for themselves, or if they’re a partner in a small firm. Hiring a competent and experienced attorney from a big firm could also work for you, but you have to know that a letterhead from such a firm doesn’t equal or guarantee quality. Besides, they are more likely to charge you more. While having prior experience at a major firm might be an added advantage, it is my observation that attorneys who run their own firms have more of a businessman’s mindset and approach, since they themselves are in business. They are generally more open-minded about business related issues, flexible, and are usually more willing to work with you on price.

A WORD OF CAUTION:
While great attorneys will work with you on price, it’s important that you DO NOT insult them by demanding that they charge you less, in exchange for increased patronage from you. You’d be portraying yourself as someone who isn’t worth working with- at least not on a long-term basis.

When searching for a good commercial real estate attorney, researching their reputation is essential. It is recommended that you not only check with his clients, but his colleagues and peers as well. It would behoove you to obtain facts about how their business relationships have fared. You want to know if they’ve ever visited a client’s site and talked to the construction workers on the frontlines, bought lunch for said workmen, and really listened to (and cared about) their concerns and issues regarding the project at hand. I’m talking about an attorney who is relationship-conscious; one who builds bridges, not walls. If he or she is proactively involved in every aspect of the job, it is sure to yield positive results and create a harmonious atmosphere. Regardless of how proficient and experienced an attorney is, if he or she isn’t fully committed to your projects, he isn’t worth your time or pay. You need someone who understands that you want a long-term business-relationship; someone who genuinely listens to your creative ideas about business, and is willing to work with you to achieve your goals.

Another important quality to look for is depth of understanding, and not just in matters related to commercial realty transactions. The lawyer should be well versed in the various laws and regulations that govern the industry, such as: apartment laws, contract disputes, commercial leasing, and property and risk management. In particular, you’d want find out how they’ve protected or defended their clients’ interests- through legal advice, aggressive and thorough negotiations, contract preparations, and courtroom procedures. It is to your advantage if your would-be attorney excels at deciphering local land use codes. Bear in mind that an attorney’s expertise is always necessary in resolving constructional disputes, dealing with mechanic’s lien, and handling property defect, along with several other issues that could arise.

If you’re wondering whether or not all of these qualities can be found in a single attorney, my answer is yes- an emphatic yes! It all depends on you; how dedicated you are to your business, and how thorough you want to be when deciding to entrust your business to the hands of a competent and dependable attorney. Like I mentioned earlier, a proactive, business-minded attorney is what you want. They should be actively involved in the evolving activities of the commercial real estate world. You wouldn’t want to agree to entrust some very serious business to a rookie who, though hard-working and enthusiastic, wouldn’t have the experience and necessary insight to successfully partner with you.

CategoriesReal Estate

The community at work: how to be a good corporate neighbor

By Amanda Roosa

“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” – Annie Dillard

The average person spends a third of their life at work. That’s over 90,000 hours in a lifetime. With so many of our days spent at work, it’s safe to say where we work affects our lives—not just the building itself, but the neighborhood and even the commute. That’s why it’s important that businesses take office design and, increasingly, their relationship to the surrounding community into consideration.

This latter endeavor is what placemaking is all about—it’s a collaborative process meant to shape an environment in a way that strengthens the connection between the people that inhabit and share the space, to maximize value to everyone.

How we think about space, from West to East

The first roadblock to building community is to draw boundaries. Western concepts of space often involve boundaries—we are notorious for categorizing and organizing smaller things within larger things. Here’s an example from Quartz: “An office is in New York City, which is in the United States. The sales team is inside the office, and Jules is a member of the sales team.”

We spend so much time working inside buildings that it becomes dangerously easy to think of where we work as separate from our outside environment.

The East, on the other hand, seems to understand space in a more collaborative manner. For  example: “In Japan, a building can’t be in Tokyo without Tokyo being in the building.” In fact, the Japanese word tokoro is used to describe the location of something as well as a state of being. “The idea of place is indistinguishable from the historical, cultural, social, and other connections contained within it. The idea of tokoro therefore implies the idea of context, as the place is inevitably connected with all the activities around it,” writes Jarrold McGrath.

We spend so much time working inside buildings that it becomes dangerously easy to think of where we work as separate from our outside environment.

No ivory towers

Western businesses could learn from Eastern concepts of space. While placemaking typically involves building community in public spaces, the process can be applied more broadly to any shared space. Millennials and younger generations are calling for businesses to have a positive impact on the wider community and one of the first things a company can do is turn its attention to its immediate surroundings. Understanding space with a more collaborative mindset can help prevent enterprises from colonizing neighborhoods and turning them into gentrified business parks—at least, not without giving something back.

For example, some tech companies like Airbnb, Google, and Facebook have made the news for providing nearly all amenities on site, creating workplaces “where tech workers get their own hermetically-sealed everything, from gyms to restaurants to transit” instead of becoming part of the neighborhood and part of a solution to community issues.

In an effort to get tech giants to engage with the community and boost local restaurants and businesses, Mountain View banned Facebook’s new campus from providing a free cafeteria. Legislation supports this, stipulating that “companies cannot routinely fund more than 50 percent of employees’ meals, but it can fully subsidize meals if they come from open-to-the-public restaurants.”

Understanding space with a more collaborative mindset can help prevent enterprises from colonizing neighborhoods and turning them into gentrified business parks—at least, not without giving something back.

These tech companies give back to the community, but sometimes community-building can begin right out the front door. As Tiffany Apczynski, Zendesk’s director of social responsibility advised in The Guardian, “Don’t lock yourself up in your ivory tower.”

Being a good neighbor pays in dividends

Beyond lunching out, a 2017 Deloitte study found that employees like it when businesses incorporate community involvement into the work day. “Of the 1,000 employees surveyed, the report concluded that 70 percent believe that volunteer opportunities boost morale more than company mixers.” Community engagement helps create a positive work environment inside the office, and it also reduces turnover and positively impacts your bottom line.

Of course, creating shared community both inside and outside the office should also directly benefit external organizations, whether through volunteering or the longer-term impact of helping employees to feel like they have a stake in improving the environment where they spend so much of their time.

So how does one keep the doors to the ivory tower open? Try adopting a tokoro mindset and encourage employees to be responsible for understanding the area where they arguably live and work. As Director of Corporate Responsibility at Zendesk Megan Trotter advises, being a good neighbor is mostly about getting out and meeting the people around you. Try offering small group activities that allow employees to “have a conversation, find a commonality, and build community.” Look for opportunities to lend existing skill sets to nearby nonprofits, schools, health and charity organizations, or maybe even just organize an informal “clean up the neighborhood” day or sponsor small group lunches out at local establishments as a starting point.

When done well, placemaking will and should affect the workplace and by extension, the community and even, ultimately, your life.