Chocolate in the City: Upper West Side & Harlem Apartments near NYC's Levaine Bakery!

August 11, 2011

I finally get to combine my love of chocolate and food with the love of apartment hunting! Weekly I will share with you my top sweets and restaurants in the city and how to live only blocks away from them...

Best Cookies in the City: Levain Bakery, hands down.

Levain has several locations. The one I have repeatedly been too is in the Upper West Side  at 167 West 74th street. They have other spots in the Hamptons and in Harlem at 2167 Frederick Douglass Blvd. When I was a broker I would always convince my clients to make a drive-by there. Their chocolate chip cookies are insanely satisfying... I would forgo lunch and have two of these and be on my merry way.

Tip: My favorite is the dark chocolate chocolate chip cookies. A true choco-holic understands why. I mean look at them..

Now if you want to live within walking distance to the best cookies in the city, here are some recommended no-fee NYC apartment buildings for you:

Upper West Side, NYC No-Fee Apartments:

DEAL OF THE DAY: 204 West 81st Street: Large 3 bedroom for $3800! AddressReport Score: 66 (Good!!)

Distance to bakery: ONLY 0.4 MILES!!!! WINNER!

  • Elevator
  • Laundry

 

 

 

 

200 West 84th Street: Large 1 bedroom for $2000. AddressReport Score: 62 (Good!)

Distance to bakery: 1/2 a mile!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

GreyStone at 212 West 91st Street:  Luxury large studios for $2100! AddressReport Score: 86 (excellent!)

  • Concierge
  • Elevator
  • Fitness Center
  • Full-time Doorman
  • Laundry in Building
  • Live-in Super
  • Residents Lounge
  • Rooftop Deck
  • Valet
  • WiFi Access

Distance to bakery: 1 mile!

 


Harlem, NYC No-Fee Apartments:

15 West 139th street: Luxury studio for only $1200. AddressReport Score: 74 (Very Good!)

  • Full-time Doorman
  • Laundry in Building
  • Elevator
  • On-site Parking Lot

Distance to bakery: 1.5 miles, take a 20 minute walk and feel less guilt eating them!

 

245 East 124th Street: Large luxury 1 bedroom for $2280 and convertible 3 bedroom/2 bath for $3300.            AddressReport Score: 64 (Good!)

  • Elevator
  • Fitness Center
  • Full-time Doorman
  • Laundry in Building
  • On-site Garage
  • Rooftop Deck
  • Valet Parking

Distance to bakery: 1.4 Miles!

Lenox Terrace at 470-484 Lenox Avenue: Large luxury 1 bedroom for only $1700. AddressReport Score: 63 (Good!)

  • Concierge
  • Elevator
  • Full-time Doorman
  • Laundry in Building
  • On-site Parking Lot

Distance to bakery: 1 mile!!!

 

 

Top Rentenna Apartment Reviews of the Week: “Elevator is a little suspect - you were warned."

August 08, 2011

Our goal at Rentenna is to develop a community of renters who can share their personal apartment experiences with each other as well as giving you objective criteria to know what an apartment is really like in our Rentenna Score.  Find below our picks for top rental reviews of the week based on a 1-5 score. (1-Worst, 5-Best)

Do you have a rental experience you would like to share? Add your review now by searching for your building here. If you can’t find your building on our site email us at hello@rentenna.com and we will add it within 24 hours.

Property: Delancey Crossing at 35 Essex Street, Rating: 4

Pros: I love the roof deck, my balcony, and the neighborhood. Landlord is very reasonable and responsive. Having public basketball courts, tennis courts, and a track across the street is great, even if we basically never use them. Live-in super (usually) accepts packages.

Cons: Utilities aren't included, which REALLY adds up when you're trying to stay warm in winter or cool in summer. Elevator is a little suspect - you were warned.

Property: New York by Gehry at 8 Spruce Street, Rating: 3

Pros: Right next to the 6 train. The amenities are better than pretty much anything I have ever seen. Doorman are super friendly They have a service called Luxury Atache that is basically a personal concierge. A nice perk but might be a bit unnecessary. Elevator is crazy fast

Cons: Obviously the neighborhood is pretty blah, but you know that going in. Biggest issues I've had are: 1. To fit the Gehry design the units are very oddly shaped leading to too much wasted space 2. In the unit, not a lot of thought was put into practicality and storage. Almost no cabinet space in the kitch and in the bathroom. 3. The marble surface used in the bathroom and kitchen lead to a fair amount of water staining. Not a huge deal but just makes things look dirty at all times. 4. Lots of construction still on the entrance area

Property: New York by Gehry at 8 Spruce Street, Rating: 3

Pros: Gehry is an amazing looking structure. It's fun to gaze out the enormous windows and realize how well you tower above all the mere mortals living around you.

Cons: Who designed this place?? Ok, yes, Frank Gehry did the exterior, but the layout of the actual apartments (I assume and hope) was done by someone else - someone who apparently failed to grasp that elevators opening directly into kitchens and oddly shaped rooms do not make for a practical living experience.

Property: Hudson Crossing at 400 West 37th , Rating: 4

Pros: The building looks great and the units are clean, modern, and comfortable. Staff are friendly.

Cons: Rents are jumping close to 25% since I signed my lease a year ago. I understand market forces drive rental prices, but I feel the leasing agent was less than clear that such an increase could be in the cards (the moral: read your lease VERY carefully and preferably with the help of a real estate lawyer before you sign a contract here, or really anywhere). Oh, and if you're a fitful sleeper, I highly recommend you visit the building during a weekend night to make sure the traffic noise from the tunnel won't keep you up nights.

Property: Avalon Chrystie Place at 229 Chrystie Street, Rating: 1

Pros: good location

Cons: drab. dreary. standard. kinda dirty.

Property: London Terrace at 435 west 23rd street, Rating: 4

Pros: Has almost every creature comfort you could want - and many that you'll probably never use. Historic landmark. Beautiful neighborhood. Staff are great. Random benefit: all residents get a discount on their cable bill because London Terrace is so huge we get bulk pricing.

Cons: The structure can feel like a monolithic luxury compound of a bygone era. The complex is basically a full city block of apartments. I can see how living in a humongous bubble like this could get to some people.

RENTAL SCAM ALERT! Affordable Equity Project & Super Low Rentals.com

July 27, 2011

YOU SHOULD NEVER GIVE ANY MONIES WITHOUT SEEING THE APARTMENT  IN PERSON. IF IT IS TO GOOD TO BE TRUE, IT IS!

I originally wrote the article posted below two years ago regarding "The Affordable Equity Project." They are a fake company that preys on desperate renters to submit $40.00-$50.00 as a general application fee or credit check and then they never have any intention of showing or renting you the apartment.

This website has been complained about many times with the Better Business Bureau so now they have started a new website called SuperLowRentals.com. Please, please read below before you ever considering giving money to a company before you have seen the apartment.

ORIGINAL ARTICLE:

I have been emailed and contacted more about the Affordable Equity Project (AEP) than any other topic as the director of HowToRentInNYC.com. The Affordable Equity Project lists several very below market priced apartments on their website and then instructs users to send $40.00 for a processing fee and that credit scores and income do not matter.

From the AEP Website:  "The Affordable Equity Project is a company that was founded with one goal in mind, to connect affordable housing with the responsible people who need it most.  We believe every person on earth who needs and wants housing should be able to get it at an affordable rental price.  Affordable Housing should not be a privilege, it should be a right."

Many people have contacted me letting me know they think it is a straight scam charging people $40.00 for application fees for apartments they think never existed. I allow people to write reviews of their experiences with landlords on my website and there have been exactly 35 negative reviews of their service and 3 positive for an average rating of 1.4 out of 5. Many people claim the three positive reviews were in fact "planted" by AEP themselves and found errors within their messages.

Most recently I was contacted by a Columbia journalism student and a person who used the service (who will remain anonymous) with detailed information on their experiences. I feel it is my duty to report this to the general New York City rental community because of this information that has been brought to me.  I have been contacted as well by the Affordable Equity Project with requests to take down all the negative reviews, but when I asked for legitimate referrals or information I never heard back from them.  I still welcome the Affordable Equity Project to contact me with concrete information about people they have helped as well as directly respond to the postings from the people below.

MY BOTTOM LINE: With over 30 negative, detailed reviews, negative standing with the Better Business Bureau and their lack of response to my own requests, I do believe the Affordable Equity Project is a well run scam. For the sake of argument even if an apartment exists for $1000.00 in Union Square- companies should NEVER accept an application unless the apartment is genuinely vacant. Reading through the reviews there were at least five applicants for one apartment. This should never be the case unless each one of them was contacted with reasons for being rejected and then they can accept the next applicants $40.00 for processing.  A company cannot collect 5 or my guess about 50 applicants and $40.00 per application - process all of them and then "pick" the best applicant.  Regardless, I do not believe these units exist. Please read below for further information.

FROM ANONYMOUS: (a personal story in using the Affordable Equity Project service)
“I was really desperate to find something without paying a brokers's fee, and when I saw their very professional looking website (www.equityproject.net), it gave me hope. I did not immediately send in money, as they only have listings available every few months. But they offer to send you an email once new properties become available, so I signed up.
When an email came in my box one day, and it happened to be in a neighborhood I was looking to live in, I jumped on it without much thought. I did call the office to ask a few questions, but the woman was reassuring and she said that they showed people the apt. based on who got the application in first. So I ran to the bank and got a money order, and sent it in that day. But then, after the first buzz of possibility wore off, I started questioning it further and started researching them online.

Here's what I found:

  • They claim on their website that they are listed "in good standing" with the Better Business Bureau. This is misleading, as it makes it sound like the BBB is holding them to some standard. They are not members, nor are they accredited. Anyone can be listed, but there is no such thing as being listed in good standing. In fact, according to the BBB, out of 24 known complaints, only 2 complaints were resolved to the satisfaction of the consumer, and 6 were partially resolved. That is hardly a track record to brag about, or interpretable as in "good standing".
  • I googled the company again, looking more closely this time, and this time I noticed that all of the "articles" about the company were put forth by the same person, Ron or Ray Subs, and always the same spiel, and on websites where there were no comments allowed.
  • I looked again at their website, and noticed that the FAQ's all sounded kind of false and similar in tone. I also remarked that in the year I have been going to their website, they NEVER have any office space or condo listings, and that it seemed very strange in their FAQs, they say that there is no limit to how much someone makes to qualify for one of their low price apartments. It seemed to go against their mission to provide affordable housing to people who were struggling to find it, esp. since they only offer a few apartments every few months.

So, this was just a day later... I called them and asked them to withdraw my application when it arrived, and that I wanted to be notified when this was done. I got the biggest run-around. For weeks, I called and emailed every day, as I really could not afford to throw away $40. But calling so frequently and so doggedly made me see other things about how they run. Probably most people were not so determined as me, and just gave up their money. But I kept calling every day. One of the things I noticed was that it was always the same two voices. One was a man ("Dusty"), the other a woman. The woman's voice in particular was very distinctive, kind of high pitched and nasal, and she sounded very smooth in a corporate customer service kind of way. Anyway, I always knew it was the same person, and so I started asking, "Who am I speaking with?" And then it became really comical, because each time she responded with a different name. I started writing them down after a while, and got Wendy, Holly, Sue, and Christy, all with the exact same voice. Each time, she had no idea how to answer my questions, but always said she would have someone email me and always with the same friendly voice. I asked to be called and she said okay, but no one ever did. I did get many email form letters, saying that they had received my concern, and would get back to me. I kept calling, and then I got a more personal email asking when I sent in my application. I responded, and then received an email saying he, "John Henderson", would look into the matter. We went through a few rounds/repetitions of this, and then I finally said that I was reporting them as fraudulent and I was really upset about the run-around. To that, I got a final email saying,

"We will look into this for you, if a refund is warranted, then please allow up to 6 to 8 weeks for it to be processed for you.  But please understand that our normal policy is that the processing fee is normally non-refundable.  I hope this helps, if you have any other questions, then feel free to email us back."

When I asked on what criteria they judged if a refund is warranted, there was no response, nor to any subsequent emails or inquiries.

FROM JOURNALISM STUDENT AT COLUMBIA

  • The Affordable Equity project communicates only by email. If you call the number on the website, someone at a call center will answer. He/she will take a message, which will be returned with an email usually from "Jon Henderson." (Come on...)  He/she at the call center doesn't know (or pretends not to know) anything about AEP.
  • The company that designed the web site refused to give me any information about the people they dealt with while building the AEP website. They also answered my calls with emails and used first names only.
  • The people on the testimonials part of the web site do not exist. (That page hasn't been updated in a year and a half by the way.)
  • Another reason for suspicion is that AEP doesn't have a physical location--just a PO box in Long Island City.
  • I know that they bank(ed) with Washington Mutual, which couldn't give me a shred of info because AEP is their customer.
  • Being "listed" with the Better Business Bureau, as AEP advertises, means nothing. The BBB awards accreditation to select businesses that have been reviewed, but will list anyone who provides information. http://search.newyork.bbb.org/reports.aspx?id=98005&pid=44&page=0&FindStr=Affordable+Equity+Project&SearchBy=company&Address=&City=&Phone1=&Phone2=&Phone3=&MembersOnly=False
VIEW COMMENTS FROM PEOPLE WHO HAVE BEEN TAKEN ADVANTAGE OF HERE:
Continue reading on Examiner.com The Affordable Equity Project: New York City Apartment Rental SCAM??? UPDATED 1/9/10 - New York rentals | Examiner.com http://www.examiner.com/rentals-in-new-york/the-affordable-equity-project-new-york-city-apartment-rental-scam-updated-1-9-10#ixzz1TL2oWbQH

Top 5 Apartment Rental Reviews of the Week: "If you like being in 90 degree weather...this place is a must."

July 25, 2011

Our goal at AddressReport is to develop a community of renters who can share their personal apartment experiences with each other as well as giving you objective criteria to know what an apartment is really like in our Rentenna Score.  Find below our picks for top rental reviews of the week based on a 1-5 score. (1-Worst, 5-Best)

Do you have a rental experience you would like to share? Add your review now by searching for your building here. If you can't find your building on our site email us at hello@addressreport.com and we will add it within 24 hours.

Property: 50 Murray Street, Rating: 4

Pros: Great building, wonderful staff, and awesome neighborhood for young families. I'd particularly recommend 50 murray st to 30-ish and 40-ish couples with children.

Cons: The building won't make any Manhattan bargain apartment lists, but you know that going in. I wouldn't recommend this building to singles - there's a reason this apartment has a rep for being family-friendly. You should expect a bit of noise (laughing, crying, the usual) in the hallways. I didn't mind but I could see how singles wouldn't want that energy around when they're still in the dating world.

Property: 57 East 3rd Street, Rating: 1

Pros: If you like being in 90 degree weather during the summer, this place is a must

Cons: Comes with a laundry room which seems to have been neglected for months, an A/C wall unit that also doesn't work properly, and a landlord who refuses to pick up calls or keep up with scheduled appointments. Overall, a nightmare. i do NOT recommend living here.

Property: 327 East 108th Street, Rating: 1

Pros: There are none

Cons: There are bedbugs throughout the building and the owner continues to rent infested apartments without telling new renters.

Property: Chelsea Landmark at 55 west 25th street, Rating: 5

Pros: I love the units at Chelsea Landmark. Fixtures and appliances look nice and are of high quality. Building amenities are great. Neighbors are friendly. Staff is super professional and competent. Location is convenient to most parts of NYC.

Cons: Used to be a great value, but rent has jumped a bit this summer (2011), although that seems to be the case across the board for luxury buildings in manhattan right now. Also a con: Chelsea Landmark participates in the trend among luxury buildings of charging a separate fee for the gym (I found the cost worth it).

Property: Stuyvesant Town at 252 First Avenue, Rating: 5

Pros: Stuy Town is awesome! I moved here with my fiance last fall after grad school in Philly. He's from long island but I was brand new to NYC and living and participating in the community at stuy gave me access to a great group of friends. All my friends tell horror stories about nyc apartments being shoeboxes but the units here are large, the pricing is reasonable, and living in E Village / Alphabet City means nights out aren't out of our budget.

Cons: My biggest gripe is that I don't like the lobby in my tower (I'm a lobby snob). Also, the living experience can be very different depending on whether you're on the 1st Ave side or out on Avenue C side of things. I actually prefer the Ave C side but we live closer to 1st Ave, which gets more noise from traffic (but is closer to the subway).

Top NO-FEE Apartments that Accept Insurent Lease Guaranty

July 22, 2011

TOP Insurent Accepted Apartments of the Week!

For those of you knew to learning about Insurent's Guarantor Service, they are the first institutional guarantor that will cosign your lease for less than a broker's fee. Their criteria is far less strict that 99% of landlords in NYC allowing students, retirees, foreigners and recent graduates to get the Manhattan apartment of their dreams. To search for more Insurent accepted apartments, click here.

GRAMERCY:

$3100 Large Doorman convertible 2 bedroom. AddressReport Score:72

UPPER WEST SIDE:

$2925 luxury doorman large 1 bedroom on West 89th. AddressReport Score: 86

MURRAY HILL:

$2200 large one bedroom on East 34th Street. AddressReport Score: 69

MIDTOWN EAST:

$2600 large one bedroom in elevator/laundry building. AddressReport Score: 73

EAST VILLAGE:

$2200 large one bedroom in prime East Village. AddressReport Score: 68

LOWER EAST SIDE:

$2600 real and big 2 bedroom on Orchard Street. AddressReport Score: 64

CHELSEA:

$3100 large 1 bedroom on west 13th & Greenwich Ave. AddressReport Score: 62

UPPER WEST SIDE:

$2200 large 1 bedroom. AddressReport Score: 64 BONUS: 1 FREE MONTHS RENT