How to Work Around Subway Delays (Until the MTA Fixes Them)

How to Work Around Subway Delays (Until the MTA Fixes Them)

As noted by anyone who’s attempted to use public transportation in New York these past months, the subway situation is problematic, to say the least.

Especially frustrating, challenging, and persistent are the train delays. According to the New York Times, the delays are due to overcrowding and are worse at rush hour, and in Midtown (no surprises there).

But New Yorkers are nothing if not persistent, and creative, which means there are ways to work around the subway delays. Until a concrete solution to overcrowding is implemented, there are several ways commuters can take the matter into their own hands — and smartphones, as it were.  

First, try the basics. Use a trip planner.

Despite its faults, the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) is trying to help. There is a trip planner available on its website as well as a (clunky, alas, and bug-filled) mobile trip planner.

It’s fairly simple to use, and once a commuter enters starting and ending point multiple routes are presented as options.

While every New Yorker who’s a regular rider thinks they know all the options and routes, in today’s packed-cars and station-under-repair world it’s good to check with the Authority.

Stay on top of delays.

Fortunately, there’s an app for that. There are, in fact, multiple apps, but Transit is well-reviewed and seems to have a particular drive to help New York subway riders.

The team at Transit recently began to translate the M.T.A.’s “The Weekender” (a list of all the trains and stations undergoing weekend service changes) into data that their app can use, so weekend trips can be as hassle-free as possible.

At the very least, travelers should check with Google Maps or similar. While the real-time information isn’t always as up-to-the-minute as desirable, some information is better than no information.

There’s also the old-school but still effective local news option. In an era of 24/7 coverage, serious problems or delays will be broadcast as soon as a reporter can make the announcement and get a quote from an official or an irritated rider.

Get seriously creative.

Given that the delays are worse during standard rush hour times, it might be time to renegotiate job and work parameters. For instance, does the possibility of telecommuting several days a week exist? It also might be possible to change schedules, maybe working a 4/10 (ten hours a day, four days a week), or even changing “standard” work hours from, say, 9 to 5 to 7 to 3, or 10 to 6?

Ride sharing is another option. As problematic as Uber has been at the top, the ability to coordinate with neighbors, or colleagues on your route, and schedule a shared vehicle can be cost effective and relatively convenient. Savvy Manhattanites are also turning to Via, a relatively cheap subway alternative that zips along the avenues for as little as $5 a ride.

For a longer-term ride sharing options, check out companies like Skedaddle. While it promotes itself as a service that gets groups of people to parties, concerts, beaches and tourist destinations, creating a “regular route” is do-able. According to the website, anyone can create a public route, from the Upper West Side to Wall Street, for instance. As long as there are at least 10 reservations for that route, it’s a go. Because Skedaddle users can view public routes, the need to coordinate a group is eliminated.

Finally, if the frustration and anger all become too much, there’s always the option of joining the group Buddhist Insights which suggests that a meditative “street retreat” is possible anywhere—even a crowded subway platform.

The Best Chefs You’ve Never Heard of in New York City

The Best Chefs You’ve Never Heard of in New York City

You probably wouldn’t be wrong if you said we’re living in the golden age of restaurants in New York City. Every week there’s seemingly another new must-try place with an intriguing gimmick or back story. Celebrity chefs are popping up faster than we can keep track of them. To be a serious eater in New York means keeping up with all the latest comings and goings in the industry.

Despite all this, there are still some hidden gems around Manhattan and Brooklyn. These 6 chefs might not have their names in the marquee blogs and magazines, but they undoubtedly will be before long. If you want to be ahead of the curve, here are the names (and the restaurants) you’ll need to know.

Emily Yuen – Bessou

Emily’s Bessou on Bleecker Street serves up the comfort food of her mother’s native Japan with a modern aesthetic. Growing up in Vancouver, she started her career early, pounding rice alongside her sister for their mother’s sumptuous dumplings. After perfecting her craft worldwide, from London’s Le Gavroche to Vue de Monde in the heart of Melbourne, Emily has come back stateside to bring the home cooked meals of her family kitchen to NoHo.

Florian Hugo – Maison Hugo

Another young up-and-comer with a wealth of experience, Florian cut his teeth in the bistros and brasseries of Manhattan before opening his own classic French eatery Maison Hugo on the Upper East Side. A protege of the legendary Alain Ducasse, Florian’s expertise in French cuisine comes through in must-try dishes such as his pork chops cooked on the plancha and his homemade pasta with braised artichokes. Book a table now, before midtown finds out.

Roxanne Spruance – Kingsley

She might be young, but Roxanne is far from a newcomer. After becoming a restaurateur at the ripe age of 22, Roxanne has moved on from her resort town Wisconsin bistro Sopra to bring her expertise to Alphabet City. Kingsley serves up locally sourced French-American fare and craft cocktails that have earned the out-of-the-way joint a robust local reputation. If you’re into fine dining without the pretension,  Kingsley is sure to become an instant favorite.

Olivier Palazzo – Loosie’s Kitchen

Born in the Ivory Coast, Olivier cut his culinary teeth in Paris under the legendary Cyril Lignac at his le Quinzieme before setting off around the globe. After stops in St. Tropez, Abu Dhabi, and Marrakesh, Olivier landed in the Big Apple. Working for Jean Georges at ABC Kitchen was all the local education he needed, and his Loosie’s Kitchen on the southside of Williamsburg shows the breadth of his experience without losing his unique personality. Casual but exceptional, Loosie’s is far enough from the hoity-toity crowd that you can enjoy Olivier’s creole fare without elbowing your way past a crowd (for now).

Jaime Young – Sunday in Brooklyn

Another Williamsburg favorite, Sunday in Brooklyn’s New American menu and attached market make the place a must-see, worth the trip from anywhere in Manhattan. A veteran of TriBeCa’s high-end Atera, Executive chef Jaime has curated a more relaxed space where one can take in an unpretentious meal of old favorites just a stone’s throw from the Williamsburg Bridge. Once you’re done enjoying the food, you can pick up some of Jamie’s ingredients in the downstairs market and try your best at home.

Angie Mar – The Beatrice Inn

Angie might not be a big name yet, but she’s got the pedigree for it. The niece of Seattle legend and restaurateur Ruby Chow, she has made her own name after leaving her corporate job and apprenticing under Yves-Marie Le Bourdonnec, perfecting her take on the art of butchery. Incorporating her European and Asian influences without overwhelming the meat, Angie runs the kitchen at The Beatrice Inn in Greenwich Village with an undeniable flair. Angie has already garnered some acclaim, so get the “the Bea” soon if you want to be the first on your block to take in her masterfully prepared steaks and duck dishes.

Is AI the Next Frontier for Property Management?

Is AI the Next Frontier for Property Management?

Own, or rent? If you live in a big city, odds are you do the latter. In the last decade, we’ve seen the largest gain in housing history as nine million households have become renters, with 60% of residents in cities like New York and San Francisco choosing to rent instead of buy.  

But with more rentals comes more multi-home property management, and with demand comes innovation. Artificial intelligence is one technology that appears on track to disrupt property management, and the outlook seems positive both for industry insiders and tenants.

The real estate industry is an old one ripe for reinvention, and a variety of new startups are providing the software to do just that. Artificial intelligence, in theory, could streamline communication between tenants and property managers, using smart software for rent payment, issue reporting, lease negotiations and more.

Zenplace is a prime example of this theory in action. The company, according to Forbes, “features an AI-powered service that works using chatbots and through devices like Amazon Alexa and Google Home, which makes it effortless and convenient for tenants to pay rent easily, extend their lease and report issues with the property 24/7.”

Though only a human plumber can fix a leaky pipe, reporting the issue to AI when management office is closed could save everyone time, trouble, and even money. Since Zenplace is marketed toward owners who live away from the properties they manage, this convenience makes perfect sense.

Zenplace uses machine learning technology to let property managers find new tenants, locate cost-efficient vendors, and proactively recommend maintenance and management tasks. As Engadget details: “Using machine learning, Zenplace gives a heads-up to the owner that 47% of tenants typically will have an issue with the garbage disposal, and including a $5 wrench could avoid the otherwise inevitable $100 service call. Not only does that mean ease and simplicity for owners, it also means higher returns for owners and better maintenance of the property.”

The deal appears to be just as sweet for tenants, who, aside from paying rent and reporting problems, can manage bills (including TV and the Internet), manage security, and solve other property-related issues. The software is simple to use on both ends through a sleek app with a modern and intuitive design.

For renters that have historically had to deal with distant, over-worked landlords, adding some AI into the equation could be just the ticket to blissful living in big cities and beyond. And as tech-driven startups continue to change the game, competition in this department could be afoot sooner rather than later. 

How Refugees Help Revitalize New York Communities

How Refugees Help Revitalize New York Communities

Much ado has been made about the global refugee crisis, as well as the policies aimed to either help or bar refugees from resettlement. While the Trump Administration has done its best to limit refugee resettlement in the US, there are some regions of this country that remain hospitable— and given they have the real estate to fill, and benefits to reap, why not?

According to the New York Times, regions in New York state have reported that in influx of refugees have helped to revitalize communities by filling empty homes and storefronts and stimulating suffering economies. Of the 5,000 refugees New York accepted last fiscal year, 95 percent settled in upstate communities. Their gravitation to these areas was fortuitous for the refugees, who found low prices and jobs waiting; at the same time, their relocation has been a salve for cities suffering from population crises.

Buffalo, which has placed 100,000 refugees, has lived up to its nickname “The City of Good Neighbors” for this very reason. Burdened by an exodus of residents after losing keystone businesses, cities like Buffalo have been revitalized by newcomers, who make up a strong and stable immigrant population.

It’s true that an influx of refugees, some up-front costs follow in terms of government spending on immediate assistance. But economists estimate that the long-term gains make up for this quickly, as refugees are likely to stay rooted and contribute to the economy. For places facing population decline, the facts are clear: refugees are more of a boon to economic development than a burden.

Of course, in bigger metropolises like New York City population decline is not an issue. But NYC is not a stranger to immigrants or refugees. In 2015, Mayor De Blasio pledged to work with local institutions to place incoming refugees. Since the 2016 election, companies like Airbnb are filling empty real estate with refugees in need in NYC and beyond—once again, to mutual benefit, in this case to the company’s PR.

It seems clear that refugees are not only in need, but have value to provide, especially in areas with real estate to fill and jobs to spare. But if the new administration’s agenda proceeds as planned, it may be that cities like Buffalo continue to stagnate or decline.

The Next Generation of Property Management: Emerging Trends

The Next Generation of Property Management: Emerging Trends

Like just about every other industry in our rapidly-changing world, property management is in a constant state of evolution—so long as those in the industry are willing to stay in sync with the latest trends. At a recent event hosted by CRE Tech (Commercial Real Estate Technology) at the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) in Manhattan, industry thought leaders discussed how technology is transforming property management, and what these trends mean for the future of real estate.

Though CRE primarily focuses on commercial real estate management, the same trends influencing commercial real estate are gaining prominence in residential. Here are some of the trends they discussed, and how they are transforming all forms of property management in America.

AR & VR for Space Planning & Marketing

Augmented and virtual reality may bring gaming to mind first and foremost, but for real estate, they have pretty big implications. At the event, Marc Rehberger of Matterport led a session about how 2D representations of flat data are being transformed into 3D renderings of complex datasets, providing more insight on physical spaces than ever.

Matterport creates virtual tours for buyers and renters to provide immersive, online viewing experiences of real-world spaces. As technologies like theirs gain prominence, virtual tours of commercial and residential real estate will become commonplace. This capability is one that property management companies should take note of, or even adopt, to stay ahead of the curve.  

Cloud Services for Real Estate Management

Another educational session was led by Peter Boritz of Real Data Management (RDM), who discussed the potential of the cloud as a platform for innovation in the real estate industry. Smart property managers, Boritz explained, will adopt cloud technology to manage properties and entire business ecosystems on-demand with great efficiency.

RDM’s software and solutions are tailor-made for the commercial real estate industry, and their flagship software RealAccess is designed to help real estate professionals market, manage and lease their entire portfolio with ease.

Cybersecurity for Smart Properties

Buildings are becoming more and more connected to the Internet of Things, making cybersecurity is a growing concern. As real estate takes on this extra virtual layer, the protection of its digital property becomes as critical as its physical one; in many cases, the two are linked.

At CRE Tech’s event, Michael Mullin of Integrated Business Systems (IBS) explained why this is a growing concern for the real estate industry, and a potential liability as well.

Experience Management & Community Building

The event also delved into the idea that property management must take on “experience management” and community building to adapt to the changing nature of life and work. Building Engine’s Scott Sidman led a session on this concept and the necessity of a shift in approach to management.

Building Engines provides software that helps property managers set service delivery priorities, alert and notify tenants, vendors, and staff, and track performance against goals. Their software was designed “from the ground up,” first gleaning insight from industry thought leaders and customer feedback, then building a unified platform with their needs in mind. This people-oriented approach is one reason Sidman believes property managers need to view their duties more holistically moving forward.

Tech Improving Operations & Efficiency

Lastly, a distinguished panel of industry experts addressed the more general idea that technology can help improve the overall operations and efficiency of property management. The panel discussed smart buildings, technology adoption by tenants and property managers, data transparency and sustainability, among other pertinent topics.

The overall theme is that technology is—and will continue—shaping property management’s advancement. Embracing these trends will help tenants and industry insiders alike move more seamlessly, and harmoniously, into the future of real estate.

The Many Stories of New York’s Skyscraper Museum

The Many Stories of New York’s Skyscraper Museum

New York city’s iconic skyline doesn’t just attract tourists: it frames the lives of millions of New Yorkers.

It is difficult to imagine such a familiar fixture changing or evolving, especially when that silhouette is synonymous with the Big Apple. But what forces shaped, defined, and etched that skyline into the minds of people around the world?

The Skyscraper Museum located in downtown Manhattan–Battery Park–attempts to answer that often-unasked question. A skyscraper–particularly in a city with some of the most expensive real estate in the world–represents many different things to many people: investment, design, technology, and destination. How and why were skyscrapers first conceived? And once built, what do they become?

The museum’s permanent collection features handmade models of downtown and midtown, as well as models of some of the world’s tallest buildings. The evolution of skyscrapers and the race for the title of tallest building has led to constant iteration worldwide, particularly in newer cities such as Dubai. And with the additional stories come amazing feats of engineering and technology, to allow a structure to safely ascend vertically.

Juxtaposing the skyscrapers of today with the monoliths of the past, like Notre Dame and the pyramids, paints a picture of humans reaching for new heights over centuries and millennia. The past century has certainly seen the fastest advancement of that goal, particularly in urban development.

The museum’s current exhibit Ten & Taller charts the history of ‘skyscrapers’ by mapping buildings from the past 150 years that reached at least ten stories: quite an achievement in terms of the technology available during the late nineteenth century! Many of these contemporary ‘skyscrapers’ are no longer standing.

The exhibit was built on the work of structural engineer Donald Friedman, who spent years researching the shift from masonry to steel architecture. The museum obtained information about and photos of skyscrapers that had been demolished. For this exhibit, the museum indexed, organized, and shared the information online in grid, map, and timeline views.

From these resources, one gets the sense that the city not only looked different back in the day, but felt different. When ten stories is considered tall, the city probably felt a lot less towering and sprawling than it does presently. Although, at the time, buildings ten stories high may have been considered an unsettling novelty.

The skyscrapers of old that have since been demolished were sometimes historic fixtures, like the 1875 Tribune building. But equally as interesting as the buildings that were torn down are the buildings that remain standing–well over a hundred. Many of these structures would be impossible to greenlight today, based on the city’s current (convoluted) building codes. Although buildings are not as often dismantled in a dense city like New York, they are almost constantly renovated, which adds another dimension to the urban facade.

Previous exhibitions at the Skyscraper Museum have explored the implications of skyscrapers and their expanding role in urban development. Times Square, 1984 chronicled a crucial juncture for the development of this infamously busy hub and popular tourist destination. The Woolworth Building @ 100 tells the story of the iconic Woolworth Building a century after it was built. Frank Lloyd Wright: The Vertical Dimension explores the famous architect’s fascination with skyscrapers, although of his many designs, only two were ever built, and neither in New York. THE RISE OF WALL STREET traces the increasingly vertical growth of one prosperous New York neighborhood. GARDEN CITY | MEGA CITY highlights an architectural firm building in urban South and Southeast Asia with an emphasis on integrated green space. And SUPERTALL! surveys ambitious 21st century skyscraper projects.

Skyscrapers will only grow taller, slimmer, and smarter in the coming century, as more and more are built in growing urban areas. So pay a visit to the Skyscraper Museum today, to see what the race for air space is all about!