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Rent-Stabilized Tenants Start to Buy, Keeping New Condos Quiet

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1) The latest addition to the ranks of first-time homebuyers spurred on by the fall of Manhattan real estate? Rent-stabilized tenants. The Times' lead-off anecdote is a retired school teacher who is trading a $725/month East Village studio for a $305,000 studio in a doorman building on the Upper West Side. Even though he and other buyers making the transition from stabilized renting to owning will end up paying more than they do now, most are certain it beats renting at market-rate. ['Buying? You?']

2) Done with graduate school and ready to put their money toward buying a home, a culinary couple looked for an apartment in the $400,000s on the Upper West Side. But all they found were small, dark apartments with kitchens fit only for takeout. So they ventured further uptown, first to Inwood and then back to Harlem, finally settling for a place at the Fitzgerald on West 117th Street. One apartment-hunting lesson learned: don't allow too many cooks. They gave up on one place after being overwhelmed by opinions from family members. [The Hunt/'Now They're Cooking']

3) One reason to read this week's "Habitats" column is the description of the Ikea green glass wardrobe the homeowners -- who live on the ground floor of a converted factory in the Columbia Street Waterfront District -- installed in their apartment. It's "reminiscent of what Darth Vader would have looked like had he been a piece of modular furniture" and cost $2,400. Plus, it has interior lighting! [Habitats/'Post-Industrial Order']
4) Back in wealthier times (i.e. 1997), museums everywhere seized on the "Bilbao effect," or the idea, courtesy of Frank Gehry's Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, that flashy buildings would be a way to snare money and visitors. Now that financing such projects is harder, cultural institutions are stepping back and asking themselves whether massive redesign projects are worth it at all. The Museum of Modern Art and the revamped Alice Tully Hall represent as local examples of the "frenzy of building" of the past 10+ years. ['In the Arts, Bigger Buildings May Not Be Better']

5) In industrial neighborhoods, residential developers are spending extra money to keep the sounds of machinery and trains out of their apartments. The soundproofing materials they're using can cost three times as much as regular drywall. But the developers hope they can recoup the cost in sales. At Dumbo's 37 Bridge Street, soundproofed one-bedrooms will likely list for $700,000. Though it has not made much of an appearance in the sales materials, soundproofing is also a feature at Williamsburg's 80 Metropolitan. "More stuff. More Williamsburg. Less noise?" [Posting/'Getting a Hush for the Money']