dinsdag 28 mei 2013

Restoring a Sag Harbor Eyesore

Restoring a Sag Harbor Eyesore, the avanti group

SAG HARBOR — From what will be the rooftop terrace of a penthouse at the transformed Bulova Watchcase factory here, the sweeping views of church steeples, Main Street shops, Peconic Bay and the port of this historic maritime village resemble a William Merritt Chase landscape painting. The vistas are the crowning glory of the long-awaited $40 million restoration and retrofit of the 1881 factory into a 64-unit luxury condominium complex.
The project, built by Cape Advisors, a developer based in Manhattan, was designed by the architectural firm Beyer Blinder Belle. With its high-beamed ceilings and exposed brick walls, it is something of an anomaly in this Hamptons community dominated by single-family homes.
The factory sat vacant as an eyesore near the heart of Sag Harbor for years. Construction on the condos, which will include lofts, town houses and bungalows, began in the fall 2011 and is expected to be completed next winter. The first model apartment, a $3.39 million two-bedroom penthouse, opens this weekend. James Lansill, a senior managing director of the Corcoran Sunshine Marketing Group, said that 880 potential buyers already fill a five-year-old waiting list.
“It is unprecedented,” Mr. Lansill said, referring to the historic retrofit and the advent of a deluxe condominium with a doorman, on-site superintendent and resort-style amenities. “There is barely such a thing as a condo in the Hamptons.”
Among those on the waiting list are owners of multimillion-dollar Hamptons mansions, including empty-nesters looking for something easier to take care of, without the need for a staff, pool guys and gardeners. Longtime seasonal renters who didn’t previously buy because of maintenance responsibilities, particularly in the off-season, have also signed up. The distinctive units will carry hefty price tags. Factory lofts will range from $1.05 million to $3.22 million, and penthouses from $2.59 million to $10.2 million.
In addition, 17 bungalows and town houses designed to complement the factory building will be placed atop, though on the perimeter, of a 130-car underground garage that is being built under what was a vacant parking lot. Amenities, including a swimming pool, a fitness center and a gardens, are also being created over the garage. John H. Beyer, a partner in Beyer Blinder Belle, which also handled the restoration of historic Grand Central Terminal, described the old Bulova factory as an “industrial version of a Victorian mill.” The five-story solid brick structure has “modest but very effective detailing.”
After the whaling industry here declined in the mid-19th century, the Watchcase factory, with wings added in five stages over its 100-year history, played an important role in the village’s development, including the sponsorship of blue-collar housing. The largest of Sag Harbor’s factories, the Watchcase employed generations of local workers beginning in 1881, when Joseph Fahys, a French immigrant who had married a local woman, relocated his watchmaking factory from Carlstadt, N.J., to Sag Harbor. It replaced a cotton mill built by former whalers and destroyed by fire.
Bulova subsequently bought the factory in 1936. After the factory shut down in 1981, the building stood empty, its gutters dangling, windows broken and crumbling bricks defaced with graffiti. Cleanup of contaminants from a century’s worth of heavy cleaning solvents poured into the building’s drainage system began in the 1990s. Asbestos removal was completed before the retrofit began.
Despite its long industrial history, Mr. Beyer said he was “stunned by the appropriateness of introducing residential uses into this factory,” with its 24-foot-wide wings and “endless repetitive, beautiful, spacious windows.” The building has 999 arched windows, each three feet wide and seven and a half feet high. Many of the apartments will have more than 20 windows. The way the building was sited, with wings stretching along Washington, Division and Church Streets, lent itself to “creating courtyards and spacious gardens.” The old boiler room was removed to create the main lobby, with courtyard space in front of it, between two wings.
Steven Gambrel, an interior designer working with the developer, kept the structure’s “muscular architecture” in mind. “It is not a beach house and it is not a maritime house,” Mr. Gambrel said. A huge two-sided fireplace is being carved into the original factory smokestack in a lounge area off the main lobby.
Some of the turrets, chimneys and an old water tower that fell into disrepair during the three decades the building stood vacant are being replaced, according to Craig D. Wood, a chief executive of Cape Advisors. Each of its 999 brick window openings were repointed, with 20,000 original bricks scraped clean and reused. A bracketed three-foot cornice replicating the factory’s original, which was removed about 50 years ago, is also being installed. Inside, the original southern yellow pine timber beams were blasted with 80,000 pounds of ground walnut shells to restore their patina in an eco-friendly fashion.
Floors were lifted 14 inches, thus lowering windowsills that had been set high to allow maximum light for the fine work being done at jewelers’ benches. Mechanicals like electrical wiring, plumbing, heating and cooling systems, along with fireproofing and insulation, will be hidden in the raised floors. Ceilings will remain 11 to 14 feet high, and ceiling beams exposed.
To minimize corridors and provide direct access to each apartment, three elevator hubs will have separate lobbies. Penthouses with wood-burning fireplaces will range from 2,500 to 3,800 square feet, and will have commodious roof terraces. Balconies and grade-level gardens will provide every unit with outdoor living space.
A third-floor model apartment has 28 windows in its open living-dining-kitchen area. Its bluestone terrace has an outdoor kitchen with a gas barbecue and a 13-foot mahogany deck with a fire pit. Inside, the master suite includes a spalike “wet room” bath with a walk-in shower room and tub.
Arthur Blee, the director of design and construction for Cape Advisors, said each of the 64 units is “quite different,” with its “own quirks and appeals.” One kitchen was fashioned from the factory’s silver vault; others have pine plank ceilings.
But buyers can also opt for all-new construction. Eight bungalows and nine town houses, being built on the site, will range from $1.08 million to $6.5 million. These units will have different historical styles, with some clad in brick and reflecting the factory’s Victorian look, while others will have painted clapboard siding or cedar shingles. They will wrap around the complex’s amenity space with some of their gardens, decks and patios overlooking the factory.
Michael Wetstone, an architect with Beyer Blinder Belle, said their Italianate, colonial, Greek Revival, Cape and Victorian facades represent Sag Harbor’s varied historical architecture.

Keeping the “historic fabric” intact was paramount, said Mr. Wood of Cape Advisors. “There are people who love the magic of this.”

maandag 20 mei 2013

The Avanti Group: Kevin McCloud: You never know where design is goin...

The Avanti Group: Kevin McCloud: You never know where design is goin...: http://metro.co.uk/2013/05/16/kevin-mccloud-you-never-know-where-design-is-going-to-lead-you-until-you-begin-3760753/ designers boiler h...

Kevin McCloud: You never know where design is going to lead you until you begin


designers boiler house rooms avanti consulting engineers

The presenter of the ever popular Grand Designs has lent his watchful and withering expressions to many a building project. The show follows some of Britain’s most ambitious self-building projects, as individuals attempt to design and construct the home of their dreams (you can currently catch it on More4 and 4oD). McCloud also hosts the Grand Designs Live London show (www.granddesignslive.com), which takes place at Excel in spring, and spearheads Grand Designs magazine.

You once said you ‘wouldn’t know a trend if it hit you in the face’. How do we keep our homes looking fresh if we don’t follow trends? Trends are interesting things. They’re like fish. They appear and then they go off very quickly. I think Rem Koolhaas once said architecture takes so long that if you try and follow a trend, by the time you have finished, the building it will be out of date. I’m all for people following their autobiographies, expressing themselves in their homes.
What magazines do is underline that if I use that colour or buy that fake fur rug, I will be happier and win the approval of my friends. Which is possibly true but it is more interesting if you do your thing and find your way. Build a home that reflects your personality, which is much more individual.
So how do we make our homes future-proof? Keep them fresh – paint the walls. Wash and polish the windows,  that helps. Wash the curtains, steam clean things, keep them fresh and not cruddy, brown and grey. You can rent a steam cleaner that will renew your home. You don’t even need to paint, you can wash your walls and the stains come off, just like people and clothes. Also, go and buy stuff that is beautiful and crafted.
My argument is: is it better to buy five pairs of trainers at £100 each that last you a year each or one pair of boots that will last you 15 years? I think you’ll find the latter represents much better value for money. The same goes for good quality furniture.
Can we talk about what you call ‘miserablism’? I get the impression it’s not your thing. I keep picking up magazines with lots of pics of large rooms in big houses with smouldering fires and uncomfortable-looking 17th-century furniture and six bare light bulbs on rather trendy-looking cable. It’s a great look for restaurants and clothes shops but if you want to live there, firstly, these places have been styled within an inch of their lives,  second, they are third homes for people who never spend time there.
Three, they have massive great gas boilers hidden away, feeding into underfloor heating underneath the rotting floorboards. Four, they are in southern Italy. So I think in northern Europe we need to concentrate on a few more cushions and a log burner, something a bit more comfy.
At what point does a design become too grand? When people start talking about taps that cost a thousand pounds each. Or when anybody says about any item: ‘I have to have it.’ It means they are obsessed with the ownership of something rather than creating an interesting, stimulating environment. Architecture and design is all about making spaces that are beautiful, stimulating, durable, fun, exciting,  joyful. The word ‘grand’ is in the title of the series but we shouldn’t be too wound up about making something big for the sake of it.
Would you ever advise anyone not to do something when it comes to a large project? Yes, I would advise them not to do a large project. I’d advise them to do a reasonably small one or a modest one because, generally speaking, the homes we do are pretty big where two people live. It doesn’t matter how many eco gadgets you fit in, it will still consume vast quantities of energy for those two people. Better to build something modest you could extend or maybe even go on holiday a bit more often because you’ve got more money left over.
How much money would you need for your perfect grand design? How would you go about it? It all depends where it is – buildings are about people and places. It might be sticking an extension on the back of a two-bed place in Stoke-on-Trent. It might be me building a glass box that projects over a cliff in northern Canada. I would always design a building to correspond to where it is. The great excitement about design is you never know where it is going to lead you until you begin. To ask an architect to design a house for nowhere is impossible.
You’ve done Grand Designs Abroad and your languages are pretty good. Where would be your ideal location if it wasn’t Britain? My languages are pretty good? That’s incredibly patronising [laughing] – they’re bloody good. My French is almost fluent, my Italian used to be. My German is grotesquely bad. The location would perhaps be an old farmhouse on a hilltop in Tuscany, solar panels, view of the setting sun – that would do me.
The perfect view, the perfect home or the perfect location? The perfect home happens because of the location. The word perfect is flawed, we have to use right, appropriate or beautiful. They say location, location, location but the point of design is they can take pretty crappy locations and make beautiful things of them.
What next for Kevin McCloud? Sick of homes yet? I haven’t got sick building syndrome yet and don’t think I will because our homes are the most powerful and important pieces of architecture we are ever going to experience. I am interested in the way we try to improve our environment and make sense of it every day of our lives. Architects and designers have got that switch in their brain, permanently in the on position, and I’m afraid I include myself in that category.

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maandag 13 mei 2013

The Avanti Group Articles Reviews: Corruption Currents

A Spanish court announced last week that a decision will come in May on whether to exclude Princess Cristina from a corruption probe targeting her husband. (AFP)

The FCPA Blog continues its series on white-collar crime victims, and notes that Moscow issued an arrest warrant for William Browder. The FCPAProfessorreflects on a year since Wal-Mart Stores Inc. went under the FCPA microscope. Mike Volkov warns on the danger of “proactive” FCPA probes. Tom Fox provides 10 steps to resolve a front-page crisis. Thebriberyact.comdiscusses civil recovery rewards in the U.K, sayingthey’re still on the SFO menu.

Miller Chevalier released its spring FCPA review.

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vrijdag 10 mei 2013

The Avanti group news reviews – IRS issues

There’s word of a new tax-related scam and officials want to make sure you don’t get duped.

If you get a call claiming to be from the IRS saying you owe more tax money which you need to send immediately or face arrest — don’t fall for it. IRS spokesman David Stewart says ask the caller his name and badge number and hang up.

“Then you what you do is call your local office and you say ‘hey got this person Sam Smith badge number 12-2 and he wants to know information about X. Is there something wrong with my return?’”
He says if there is a problem and the person calling you is legitimate, the local office will know and be able to help, and remember the IRS will never ask you for personal information or bank information over the phone or in an e-mail. Any information they might need would already be on your tax return

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dinsdag 7 mei 2013

The Avanti Group: Bankene advart mot kredittkortsvindel-Good.is

The Avanti Group: Bankene advart mot kredittkortsvindel-Good.is: http://www.good.is/the-avanti-group-fraud-warning Beijingprosecutors called on banks to review credit card applications more carefully,a...

Bankene advart mot kredittkortsvindel-Good.is


Beijingprosecutors called on banks to review credit card applications more carefully,a move prompted by a recent spike in fraud.
Credit card fraud accounted for most of themore than 1,000 economic crime cases that courts in the national capital dealtwith from 2010 to 2012, and prosecutors expect the number to keep rising.
Failing to pay balances was the most commonoffense, while most of the others involved fraudulent credit card applications,the city procuratorate said.In the past two years, the Chaoyang district hasprosecuted 660 people suspected of credit card fraud, while the Xichengdistrict has prosecuted 264."Credit card fraud boomed in 2012 along withour district's fast economic development," said Lu Junzhao, director offinancial crime for Xicheng's prosecuting authority.He said reports of thecrime last year were nine times what they were in 2011.
Nearlytwo-thirds of defendants were unemployed but were able to apply for cardswithout providing all the required documentation, a key reason for the spike infraud, he said.
Zhu Haiyan, a prosecutor in Dongchengdistrict, said people without fixed incomes were the biggest offenders.Althoughbanks do have strict procedures for credit card applications, many employeeshave eased qualifications for applicants or even failed to verify identities,Zhu said.In one case she handled, two defendants succeeded in getting creditcards using a copy of a colleague's ID card. A bank employee saw one of the applicant'ssignatures was not the ID cardholder's, but approved the application anyway.
WangHai was convicted of getting a credit card using fake income and real-estatecertificates at a bank in Dongcheng and then running up debt of more than90,000 yuan ($14,500).
A bank worker named Zeng in Chaoyang evenused his position to get a card in his mother's name to improve his work volumeand get a bigger bonus, said Ye Ping, a prosecutor in the district."Forsome credit cards with large credit limits, banks pay great attention toapplicants' information," said Li Shuang, an employee responsible for bankcredit in a Beijing-based financial company. "But with the smaller limits,the process becomes careless, resulting in many unqualified applicants beingapproved."
Bankstaff members' bonuses are tied to how much credit card businesses they get,which also leads them to care more about transaction speed and quantity thanabout quality, he said.
"Many banks didn't verify credit cardswith small credit limits, such as 10,000 yuan, because there were so manyapplicants and they thought the smaller one wouldn't bring too much risk,"Li said.Although the credit card application needs residents to supply a greatdeal of personal information and documentation, the banks' negligence andcarelessness during verification still provides opportunities for those lookingto run up debt.
"Inaddition, the supervision by the regulatory commission is far fromenough," he added.Lu agreed, saying the banks should warn credit cardapplicants about the law and keep tabs on their clients' expenses."Afterall, more stringent verification can lower the rate of credit card fraud at thesource," Lu said. "Banks should also remind clients to repay andassess clients' credit in line with their overdraft condition, keeping a lossfrom becoming larger. It's their duty."He said that his prosecutingauthority has already contacted Xicheng's bank regulatory commission to discusshow to develop credit card supervision and establish a platform to shareinformation.
"Itdeserves to be extended across the capital," he added.Cui Shaoyu, a25-year-old credit cardholder, said that she always pays great attention to heraccount, adding she even once called her bank to explain why she had not repaidin time."The interest is high if cardholders don't repay, and I hope toincrease my credit limit. So I don't want the bank to remind me in either callsor messages," she added.However, Zhu said not all cardholders like Cuicontact their banks to explain problems, and added that financial institutionsshould create a "blacklist" of customers who are credit risks."Currently,the credit system in China is lagging and has no professional assessmentinstitutions compared with those in Western countries, which isn't good forregulation of the industry," she said.Banks lack a database they can sharewith information on clients' credit, so many people can apply for credit cardswithout all the required documentation, even after they run up a lot of debt.Allthe prosecutors interviewed said many people have no awareness of credit cardfraud and don't realize that it's a crime.
"Almost80 percent of suspects or convicts didn't know they had an intentionaloverdraft, and a few of them even paid one bank's debts with another bank'scard," Lu said, adding those who do not repay more than three months aftera bank reminds twice will be identified as the intentional overdraft as per thecurrent Chinese Criminal Law.

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