Content posted by D. Clark Macpherson

First, came the printing factories, warehouses and commercial loft buildings. Before it was “SoHo” it was really just a place where you could pick up cartons of commercial paper arrange to store goods, or get floor tickets printed and bound for use on the Stock Exchange. Then, after World War ll, use of large spaces for painting began to transform the lofts into ad hoc living spaces. “Fixture fee” was the financial term used for evaluating what to pay an artist for his improved space. Of course, what arrived after the arts assault and cultural infiltration that followed the post-Warhol era was the immense real estate development wave.

As previously reported in “Double-Dipping” (January 22nd, 2010), there is renewed interest in what we have been writing about. Actually, what has currently been written about is tame by comparison to what is going to happen. The median drop in housing prices across the country is roughly 30% off the peak. In reality, many areas have experienced reductions in housing prices of nearly 60%.

T’was the night after Community Board in SoHo. Nothing was stirring, not even a rat. Nor, even a re-elected downtown politician.

Few people who "suddenly" arrive on the political scene provide as much promise for SoHo and Downtown as the new President of Downtown Independent Democrats, Jeanne Wilcke.

More “irregularities” have been uncovered this week about the manner in which big banks offered, processed and defaulted loans and then foreclosed against borrowers. Of course, it is rarely labeled fraud. That’s saved for borrowers who can’t afford a good defense lawyer. “Irregularities” is the favored term used against banks, as in the Washington Mutual investigation that uncovered documents created by the brokers to push loans through for borrowers without their knowledge.

The economy has been reeling from the massive problems caused by the Wall Street creation of securitized bonds— CDO’s and synthetic CDO’s, which fueled the housing boom. While these securitized mortgage bonds were being sold off across the world, the banks were busy buying credit default swaps to protect that phony bet. We are now seeing how this was engineered and how it is being addressed as the foreclosures come to market. Almost daily, fresh disclosures appear in the media.

In this best of all possible economies, a number of companies have come out from under a rock to feed on the disaster caused by Wall Street. Recent news pieces have described the “notary abuse” by major banks, which for most of us is simply a matter of fraud, reports of drug use and the falsifying of documents by others. And for the ultimate kick in the ass, former homeowners owe IRS obligations after losing their homes due to “phantom gains” once the foreclosures have taken property away.    

Guilt by association is less than fair. However, it should be pointed out that the community was sold out from the very beginning on the Trump SoHo hotel-condo deal. First, the air rights were sold off by Peter Moore, an associate and partner on various real estate deals with Villager publisher John Sutter, then Christine Quinn enabled the deal through various open and closed door hearings, and finally, despite lawsuits by Sean Sweeney’s SoHo Alliance, the fix was in. The results have been smarmy from beginning to end. Not to mention an economy and real estate environment that makes Sarah Palin look good compared to Donald Trump and his current presidential aspirations.

For years we have been ruminating about an economy that is doing exactly as predicted. There should have been no surprises for local politicians or the populace – it has been heading straight down since 2007. Only the major financial media have been able to temporarily fool people, due either to wishful thinking or a not-so-hidden agenda that promotes Wall Street.

Lead paint is high on the list of dangerous substances in New York City apartments. When a kid shows up in school with signs of having ingested this prevalent material in older buildings, the damage has already been done. Skin damage may be tolerable but brain damage is not.  Of course that depends upon whether you are a tenant, parent or doctor – or, whether you are a landlord or its law firm.