In January 2005, Curbed noted
an apartment for sale on Water Street being sold on the strength of its fabulous
views – views which, it seemed, were doomed. Last month, the new owner
of the apartment wrote
to The Ethicist:
The sellers’ fast-talking real-estate broker assuaged our fears that new
development might block the spectacular river views. We subsequently learned
that development is planned within two years.
The new development is now going
up for approval by the Landmarks Preservation Commission. The architect
is Morris Adjmi, who specialises in the placement of modern buildings in historic
districts. But the new owner of the Water Street apartment is predictably not
impressed, calling the proposed development a "monolith".
Today, Curbed gave
some advice about whether a view might or might not vanish:
You may be saved if your view overlooks a landmark district. Some people
think landmark status is sort of like garlic to ward off evil blood-sucking
developers. But other people claim to have seen developers blow right through
the Landmarks Commission with a few well-placed political contributions and
a pretentious architect nattering on about contextual green design.
The Seaport development, it’s worth noting, is in a historic district, but
there’s no doubt that something is going to go up on that lot.
The main thing for a prospective buyer to do is never believe anything the
seller’s broker says. In this case, the broker was Jon
Phillips, a guy who lied and lied and lied, saying, among other things,
that a view-blocking development could never be built in the first place because
of the crappiness of the landfill. What Phillips did was extremely sleazy, and
in fact it was illegal.
Have a look at the Real
Estate License Law of New York State. Specifically, have a look at §443:
In dealings with the buyer, a seller’s agent should (a) exercise reasonable
skill and care in performance of the agent’s duties; (b) deal honestly,
fairly and in good faith; and (c) disclose all facts known to the agent materially
affecting the value or desirability of property, except as otherwise provided
Phillips knew that the lot in question had been sold to a developer who was
planning a tall building which would destroy the views which were the main selling
point of the apartment. That’s a fact which certainly materiallly affected the
value and desirability of the property; yet far from disclosing it, he made
it his business to deny that it could be true. Which meant that he was not dealing
honestly, fairly or in good faith.
So maybe the first thing you should do if you’re worried about a vanishing
view isn’t look at Property Shark: it’s look at the broker. If it’s Jon Phillips
of Halstead, run away.