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February 2015
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April 2015

The Renovation of Paris: 5 Luxury Hotels

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Plaza Athénée (c)Eric Laignel

Recent news from Paris has moved people all over the world. Even as the impact on tourism is debated, hotels are opening in the world’s most visited country. And oh-la-la what hotels they are.

Not so long ago, things looked different. In the 1990’s, says Richard Martinet, principal architect at the local Affine Design which specializes in high-end transformations, European palaces lived their last moments of glory. Lacking sufficient investments to bring them back to their original standards and revive their souls, Parisian palaces were withering too.

Yet even as the recession that dominated most of the last decade was felt worldwide, investments were made by luxury hotel operators. The returns are coming in now. It’s stunning to consider how the money was spent. These aren’t new builds with absolute freedom of structure and design. These are historic renovations, spectacular century-old buildings with many rules and laws, unexpected accidents (some happy), and thoughtful methodology.

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Downtown Developers Are Keeping an Eye On the Water

A few days after Superstorm Sandy in 2012 Jonathan Resnick was at 199 Water Street, assessing. “It was the Wild West down there,” he recalled. Eight-million gallons of water; disaster recovery experts randomly handing out cards; building owners and tenants trying to make sense of it all. “There was a real feeling of helplessness. There was nothing to do but stand, arms crossed, watching the water flow.”

New federal flood maps, expected to take effect in 2016, will place some 71,500 New York City buildings—532 million square feet of interior space—in the 1 percent annual chance floodplain, the majority of which are in Zone A, where waves above three feet are not expected.

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The British Are Coming! Inside the English Invasion of Gotham

image from the New York City-born mayor of London, Boris Johnson, threatens (again) to renounce his U.S. passport, United Kingdom-born businesses are moving in the opposite direction, signing leases all over town.

Attracted by a common language, similar retail opportunities, a large national playing field with essentially one set of laws and great freight system (expansion to other states can be easier than, say, European expansion) and a favorable exchange rate, British investment and leasing activity are growing.

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Valrhona Hits Sweet Spot in Dumbo

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Valrhona, the chocolate producer whose name is a nod to its head office location in France’s Rhône valley, relocated its U.S. office and next month officially opens l’École du Grand Chocolat, a school for professionals and enthusiasts, at 222 Water Street in Dumbo.

The 93-year-old company opened a local office in 2008 at 45 Main Street in Dumbo. But the 1,200-square-foot space had one significant deficit: no kitchen. Valrhona is well known for supporting customers with instruction and inspiration; it has training facilities at its headquarters, as well as in Tokyo and Versailles, France.

The two U.S.-based corporate chefs, however, had to rely on temporary locations, often lacking necessary equipment. “You can’t do an ice cream class without a blast freezer or proper storage,” said Sarah Kosikowski, pastry chef.

check out the excellent custom signage

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Ask For Janice: Cushman & Wakefield’s International Woman of Mystery

image from 2:00 a.m. online grocery shopping; 3:00 a.m. unexpected call from India; 4:30 a.m. board meeting call; 5:30 a.m. wake up; 6:00 a.m. family yoga; breakfast; school drop-off; arrive at office.

Just another day in the life of global real estate investment market advisor Janice Stanton, when she’s not traveling to Asia, the Middle East or some world capital.

These off-hour events may not all happen daily, but after 25 years in the real estate business, Ms. Stanton is ready for anything. Especially the new world order: “Capital doesn’t sleep now,” said the newly promoted executive managing director of capital markets at Cushman & Wakefield in a meeting at the firm’s 1290 Avenue of the Americas headquarters. “Investment strategy plans used to be three or four years out, now they could be adjusted later in the week. Capital turns rapidly.”

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