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Abandoned Poconos

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The Heart-Shaped Bar

There have been plenty of abandoned Catskills photos posted here, but what’s going on in The Poconos? A Huffington Post article recently looked at a forgotten Poconos resort called “White Pines”. So intriguing that we had to see what other photos are out there. Here are some images from various Flickr sets.

Inn at Buck Hill Pool

Poconos Heart Shaped Tub

Interior Design

paradise valley

The House on Macon Street

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The house had been sitting empty since the fire in 2003. It always seemed so crazy that a once majestic home was allowed to deteriorate while real estate in this pocket of Bed Stuy has remained tight.

I heard that it was going up for auction. First I saw the “suits” meeting out front. Then came the rubbish removal truck. I knew something was going down.

Today I weaseled my way into 91 Macon while my neighbor was waiting to let the water company in. He was put in charge for the day, flashlight and all. Since I’m a licensed real estate agent and it IS officially on the market, it wasn’t verboten even though I felt like I was trespassing.

So here’s how crazy real estate in Brooklyn is. They are asking $900k as is. Word on the street is that they intend to renovate but leave any detail that’s there (Praise God) and that price will be $1.5m. Public record shows that they purchased it at auction for $600k a few months ago. That’s a hefty profit although not quite the $300k it may look like. Perhaps there were other liens and taxes, clean up costs, legalizing “stuff”, getting rid of squatters or dead bodies…

In any case, high for Bed Stuy? Homes in the area have been hitting over a million. Although $900k seems steep, $800’s seems almost fair. It’s 4000 square feet. I’m gonna predict they either get $850k as is, $1.1 on a crappy flip or $1.3 on a nice restoration.





Forgotten Catskills

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Even though The Catskills were severely damaged by Hurricane Irene last year, some parts will bounce back. Areas like Woodstock and Phoenicia are year round vibrant communities that have always remained popular destinations for tourists. But exploring Sullivan County this week was rather shocking.

The Borscht Belt towns have seen more financial devastation and decay than any hurricane could have caused. This isn’t news. I’ve blogged numerous times on photographers capturing images of the old resorts and bungalows, but I had to see it with my own eyes to consider the scope of it.

Main Streets died out with the advent of the malls and the resorts and colonies started losing popularity with the arrival of air travel. The Catskills as my generation knew it still existed well into the 1980’s, but it’s a shell of it’s former self these days.


There may be hope of a revitalization. Post baby boomers like myself have been very excited about the opening of Kutsher’s Restaurant in Tribeca and the preview of the Kutsher’s documentary film was sold out almost instantly. The newish Upstater blog is waxing nostalgic about the area and they’ve proven to be quite popular.

Does this mean The Catskills are coming back? Not quite. It just means there is hope. I’m not the only one whom has had the idea to bring back a modern day bungalow colony for this generation.

Kutsher’s still exists, although it was closed the day we were there. I heard rumors that it’s for sale, but cannot find any news on the current status.

I’ll be posting some colonies that are on the market in the upcoming weeks. They are in bad disrepair, but prices are negotiable. Come on. Let’s do it. Let’s bring back The Catskills!


Public Real Estate Auctions

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Hubby and I hit our first real estate auction in the County of Kings earlier this week. We know folks who’ve bought at auction before, but we were always suckers for paying market value.

So, here’s the rundown. The auctions of real property are run by the Public Administrator of Kings County. Go to the government website to see when the next auction is and which properties are listed. There’s a preview the weekend prior to bidding, or at least that was the case with the June auction.

If you want to bid you’ll need a certified or bank check for 10% of the opening bid. Bring a blank check to pay the rest of the deposit because chances are the opening bid is not the final price. If you win the bidding that means you go into contract immediately. This is NOT contingent upon inspection or mortgage. You must have all of your little ducks in a row before bidding or else you stand to lose your deposit. No joke.

Auctions are not for the faint of heart. It’s a risky business and you may be bidding against investors and developers whom have been around the corner before. Know what you’re getting yourself into….

You may inherit tenants. The property may even be an SRO. The two places we looked at in Bed Stuy had senior women living there for 30-40 years. Who wants to kick them out? Not me!

Who knows what’s up with the previous owner? Some of these are estate sales of folks who didn’t have wills. Family members sometimes expect something. I’m sure they chill once the property is sold, but I’ve heard some crazy stories about what happens leading up to the auction.

Take your time with the previews because you don’t get an inspection. If you don’t know what you’re looking at, it might be a wise choice to hire an inspector for the day of previews. Or a contractor or architect. Or a friend who knows something about houses. This will cost a good few hundred bucks (not the friend-buy them pizza) so be sure you’re serious about bidding.

If you end up buying at auction, don’t expect the place to be broom swept. The city and the tenants will probably leave a bunch of crap behind. I’d also imagine it’s a safe bet to go the legal renovation route by filing with the DOB as the city will know you just purchased a fixer upper. Am I being paranoid? I dunno.

So, why do it? Here’s a partial list of properties and what they sold for.

582 Bainbridge St. Sort of east Bed Stuy/Ocean Hill/Bushwick. Opening bid: $290k. Sold: $300k

163A Halsey St. Bed Stuy, right around the corner from moi! House needed updating and restoration but had some fabulous detail! Partial SRO status was a bit off putting. Opening bid: $325k. Sold: $400k.

2633 Hubbard St. Sheepshead Bay single family. Opening bid: $300k. Sold: $390k.

1130 Brighton Beach Ave. 1 BR coop apartment. I really wanted to preview this one because the opening bid was $65k, but we just couldn’t make it out to Brighton over the weekend. It ended up selling for $130k. A studio coop apartment on Brighton 1st went for $155k. That was a more modern building (1960’s/70’s?). A 1BR in Bay Ridge didn’t sell at $180k. With coops, you have to deal with the board and then there may be flip taxes and transfer fees.

174 Lincoln Place. Opening bid: $1.75. Sold: $ 2.675. The highest priced “sold” property of the day. An Albee Square property that was going for $3.6 did not sell. Oooh, there were lots of bidders on this prime Slope mixed use building! Four ground floor commercial units and up to 6 residential units upstairs with only a single tenant remaining. Property taxes on this baby? $28k. Ouch! Rent roll? A gazillion dollars.

69 Sterling St. I believe this is Prospect Lefferts Gardens. Opening bid: $499k. Sold: $499k. Looks like someone got a sweet deal, although I didn’t see the interior.

4628 Beach 46th St. This place was getting bid up and we were like “Where the F is that?” I thought it was Dyker Heights or somewhere near there. Looking at the map, it seems to be Sea Gate, a gated community at the tip of Coney Island. Interesting. Opening bid: $$320k. Sold: $425k.

331A Stuyvesant Ave. This was the other house we actually previewed. A 2 family with older tenants that kept the house in decent shape. Some details remain, but the house needs updating and restoration. Really, not major work. A friend of a friend wanted this but got outbid. 🙁 Opening bid: $315k. Sold: $350k.

151 Prospect Ave. Interesting, I thought there would be some crazy bidding on this house because people are going gaga for the South Slope these days. (Yeah, I know…it’s really Gowanus over here.) Starting bid: $250k. Sold: $350k. I’m thinking the buyer could probably do NOTHING and turn around and flip it for $500k.

155 Berry St. First photo above. I saved this one for last because had us floored until we figured out just how much Williamsburg property is worth to developers. Opening bid: $695k. There were maaannnnyyy bidders going nuts. This little shack actually went for $1million and change. Surely, it’s a tear down.

Fascinating, no? Oh, and the nicest thing? Everybody applauds each time someone wins a bid.

Government Properties for Sale

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Back when NYC was run down during my youth, I heard stories about abandoned buildings that could be bought for one dollar. I remember thinking that I wanted to do it, but I was like twelve. Well, FYI, there are still abandoned government properties and they are ready to deal!

It’s doubtful these properties are the greatest bargain ever, but there may be a good buy in there somewhere. Plus, purchasing one of these places helps pay off the national debt. The map lists industrial structures, monuments, office buildings and land across the United States. Most of the local properties are in the Gateway National Recreation Area. Seems like a good idea for factories or artist cooperatives.

No prices. You must inquire for more details.


The Ruins of Detroit

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Swain House, Fort Street, Detroit

The Huffington Post ran an article yesterday about Detroit’s decline. Wow, what a sad and beautiful place! It looks like the set from that Will Smith movie “I Am Legend”. Wild packs of dogs roam the streets and foliage has grown where sidewalks used to be. And dogs aren’t the only things roaming around. Real wildlife is claiming parts of the city as well.

As an historic building enthusiast, I’d like to see these structures saved. As an environmentalist, I say  let nature take it back. We’re always tearing down trees and destroying natural habitats. Well, let the city become a forest. It’s been abandoned anyway.

It sure has some nice architecture though.

See also: Detroit Blog

brush park - detroit

Brush Park


North Brother Island

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This must be the place. The place that I see across the water when traveling up the FDR. I’ve always wondered what it was. It looks like some kind of abandoned hospital and that’s exactly what North Brother Island is.

Oh, the history is rich, kids. The General Slocum, a steamship that burned on June 15, 1904 killing over 1,000 people, beached at the island. Typhoid Mary died there in 1938 after 20 years in quarantine.

The Kingston Lounge is displaying some friggin awesome photographs from the site. Be sure to check out their blog for other historic structures in decay.

Via Neatorama




Vanishing Catskills

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A friend turned me on to this fabulous Vanishing Catskills site. Visual artist Raymon Elozua photographed the abandoned bungalow colonies and hotels around Sullivan and Ulster Counties. The site is easily navigated by type of structure or map.

From the site: “The desire for a new improved lifestyle, assimilation into the American melting pot, and the aging of an older immigrant population were underlying factors coupled with a time when air travel became cheaper and newer chic resorts and communities were springing up elsewhere spelled the end of the Catskills by the 70’s.”

That’s when my family started going there. From the mid 70’s to early 80’s, my parents rented a bungalow in a colony where all the other cousins stayed. The destinations changed every few years…there was Greenview in Spring Glen, Jan’s in Ellenville and Rosenblum’s in Spring Glen from what I recall. Some of the places (like Greenview) had already started to decay. But we had fun anyway.

My fascination with abandoned dwellings coupled with my history in the area has put Vanishing Catskills near the top of my obsession list this week. And the memories these photos triggered! OMG, I recognize that Homowack bowling alley! OMG, I helped my Grandma cook in kitchens exactly like that! (And see that pink and white chair? I have that set in yucky brown!)

Too bad my Grandma is rolling over in her grave whenever she sees me “cook” now.


Catskills Past

Borscht Belt. Then and Now





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