Monday, December 31, 2007

Heading to the Burbs for Bargains

Sunday's New York Times featured an article on the growing number of city residents who are heading to the suburbs for the relatively low prices. While a steady stream of New Yorkers have always left the city for more space, better public schools, and other quality of life issues, a new group of people are leaving due to housing prices. As prices in Manhattan have continued to soar, those in most suburbs have been declining. According to the Times, many people who would otherwise stay in the city are finding the relative bargains too good to pass up. That is certainly true in northern Westchester, where a nice house in a good school district can be had for the cost of a small one bedroom apartment.

Of course, as an area resident who loves where I live, I hate to think of anyone moving here just for financial reasons. Like most of my neighbors, I left the city for a mix of reasons and I have found that northern Westchester's mix of 'urban' amenities, rural beauty, and easy access to the city offers the perfect balance for a happy life. I certainly hope that anyone coming here for the bargains finds that the area offers a whole lot more than just that.
SOURCE: The New York Times: Cashing Out of New York City

Back on Track

Between the holidays and a nasty stomach virus, I haven't been keeping the site going for the last week. But now things should be getting back to normal. My apologies for the unexplained lapse.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Tiny, Cool, and Cheap

It isn't every day that a house on a third of an acre comes on the market for under $150,000--even if it is really small and in need of major work. This new listing is all that and more. The 1930 stone and stucco 1 bedroom has just 980 square feet and is being sold "as is." But what it is is full of interesting details such as corner casement windows, a brick and stone fireplace, and a curved entry. Located in Cortlandt Manor, north of Peekskill and with Lakeland schools, the house needs major renovations but is brimming with potential. A big con is the rather shocking $8,000 tax bill (which is partially offset by a reported $2,400 STAR reimbursement). A big question is how feasible and legal it is to expand, since there is plenty of land to do so. All in all, this is one of the more intriguing listings out there. $135,500
RE/MAX Classic Realty, Google Map

Friday, December 21, 2007

Holiday Happenings

I'll be busy shopping this weekend, but the more organized out there might enjoy something less stressful:

Holiday Double Feature The children's classic The Red Balloon tells the story of a child who is followed through Paris by a balloon. Another wordless movie, White Mane, is about a boy and a horse. Saturday and Sunday, 2:30. Jacob Burns Film Center

Sand Candles Children can make molds out of sand to create one-of-a-kind candles. Saturday, 1:00. Westmoreland Sanctuary

Gingerbread Farm Animals Decorate edible animals to give or to munch. Saturday. 1:00 and 3:00. Stone Barns Center

Polar Express Celebration This holiday celebration features the only team of reindeer to visit northern Westchester this season. Saturday. Country Childrens Center

Evening Candlelight Tours The manor is bedecked in 18th century decorations and alight with candles. Live music, candlelit paths, and ongoing festivities inside and out complete the experience of Christmases past. Saturday and Sunday, 4:00. Van Cortlandt Manor

Fairy Tale Evenings at Lyndhurst Visit the mansion at night to discover its wintry beauty. Live music, mulled cider, and decorated rooms add to the holiday spirit. Saturday and Sunday. Reservations required. Lyndhurst

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Ah, New England

If only this were a new listing the exterior photos would be in the snow and it would be the perfect holiday house. Snow or no, this Katonah 1936 colonial certainly hits the homey spot--in an upscale, classy way. The 3,000 square foot, 4 bedroom house has plenty of charm, high-end kitchen and baths, and loads of windows. Set on 4 acres on the Beaver Dam River, the property is stunning. And so are the taxes--$33,943. Also on the con side is the closeness to 684 and the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility, both of which are down the road. But this sure would be a nice place to roast chestnuts, or whatever. $1,950,000.
Houlihan Lawrence, Google Map

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Worthwhile in Peekskill

A dearth of new listings has once again sent me looking for worthy houses that have been on the market for a while. This 1890 front porch colonial is located steps from Depew Park and close to the Artist's District. The home retains some original details and looks to be in good shape (though the kitchen is not shown--always a bad sign). With 1,700 square feet, the house has 3 bedrooms and 2 baths. There's a nice backyard, too. To be honest, the house is hard to get too excited about. But there's certainly potential here--and the price is right. $359,000
River Towns GMAC, Google Map

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Designing Green Cars, at School

Students at Brookside Elementary School in Yorktown Heights have been developing creative solutions to the problem of making cars more environmentally sound. Sunday's New York Times featured an innovative program in which 48 students developed plans for green cars for the future. The program was the brainstorm of a few teachers at the school, who pitched the idea to the Ford Motor Company. The car company sponsored the program and the recent event where the plans were presented. Winning proposals included the ENVI, a car powered by a combination of wind, solar, and hydrogen fuel cell, with a backup battery. Some cars came loaded with extras, such as iPod docks, wireless Internet access, and even an ice-cream cooler, according to the Times.
SOURCE: The New York Times: Getting an Early start on Drawing the Future
Photo: The New York Times

Monday, December 17, 2007

6 Months Later

Northern Westchester Home is now in it's sixth month. The site has had just under 3,000 visits and seems to be building a good group of regulars. I've enjoyed creating the site and hope to keep on blogging for a long time. In these 6 months, I've featured 65 properties. Of those, I can verify only 17 sales (that's about 25%). On the other hand, just 10 have had their asking prices reduced since I featured them. And 7 have been taken off the market. As the sample of featured properties below shows, the current market can be hard to read: Most houses sit while others sell for close to--or, in one case, well over--the asking price. What will the next 6 months bring? Stay tuned...

Location: Yorktown
Featured: June 13
Asking Price: $1,100,000
Status: Asking $1,035,000

Location: Ossining
Featured: June 30
Asking Price: $929,000
Status: Asking $829,000

Location: Croton
Featured: July 24
Asking Price: $689,000
Status: Asking $659,00

Location: Peekskill
Featured: August 1
Asking Price: $475,000
Status: Sold for $430,000

Location: Katonah
Featured: August 8
Asking Price: $998,000
Status: Sold for $940,00

Location: Croton
Featured: September 5
Asking Price: $589,000
Status: Asking $589,00

Location: Ossining
Featured: October 12
Asking Price: $785,000
Status: Sold for $995,000

Friday, December 14, 2007

Seasonal Sensations

There's plenty of fun in the area this weekend. A few suggestions:

Vienna Boys Choir The famed choir sings a mix of seasonal and sacred songs. Saturday, 7:30. Paramount Center for the Arts

Man of La Mancha A new production of Cervantes' classic tale of Don Quixote. Friday, Saturday, 8:00; Sunday, 2:00. White Plains Performing Arts Center

Holiday Greening Learn to create eco-friendly decorations, gift cards, and wrapping paper with natural and recycled supplies. Registration required. Saturday, 1:00. Teatown Lake Reservation

Family Hands-On Activities Extend the museum experience by visiting the Education Center for a fun projects for all ages. Saturday and Sunday, 12:00 t0 4:30. The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum

Candle Making Fun for Kids Learn to add your own light to the season. Saturday, 1:00. Croton Point Nature Center, Croton Point Park

The Snow Queen Towering 14-foot Bunraku puppets (above) and masked dancers tell the story of the boy whose heart turns to ice and the friend who sets out to save him. Sunday, 3:00. Reservations required. Paramount Center for the Arts

Glass, Glass, Glass The Katonah Museum of Art takes a field trip to Hudson Beach Glass in Beacon for a private glass-making demonstration. See the studio’s top artists blow, torch, and cast beautiful objects. Sunday, 10:00 to 12:00. Hudson Beach Glass, Katonah Museum of Art

Holiday Concert The Huntersville Association's annual concert features the Jeremy Goldsmith family quartet's performance of classical and seasonal sounds. The concert is held in the stunning old Baptist Church. Proceeds benefit Yorktown Community Help. Sunday, 3:30. Community Church of Yorktown, 1645 Baptist Church Road. For information, call (914) 962-2071.

Magic Show Magician Bob Yorberg enthralls all with his sleight of hand. Sunday. For information, call (914) 962-2970. Yorktown Museum,

Ringing in the Holidays! The Katonah Celebration Ringers present a concert of English hand bell ringing with contemporary and traditional music. Sunday, 2:00. For information, call (914) 232-5651. John Jay Homestead State Historic Site

Decorating Gingerbread Cookies Enjoy the farm in the snow and have fun decorating your own gingerbread cookies. Edible decorations provided. Sunday, 1:00 to 3:00. Muscoot Farm

A Glorious Christmas Concert Musicians including Mary Mancini, Mario Tacca, and The Victor Lionti String Quartet perform holiday classics. Church of the Assumption, First Street, Peekskill. Sunday, 2:00. For information, call (914) 737-2071.


Looking for Tchaikovsky's classic this weekend? Try one of these venues:

Westchester Ballet Company Performances at the Westchester County Center in White Plains. Friday, 10:00; Saturday, 12:30; Sunday, 4:30.

Yorktown Stage Saturday, 12:00 and 4:00; Sunday, 1:00.

Ridgefield Conservatory of Dance Performances at the Ridgefield Playhouse. Saturday and Sunday, 2:00.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Mid-Century Modern

I don't usually feature houses in Chappaqua, but this one is too cool to pass up. Located just under two miles south of the Croton Reservoir, and near the Yorktown border, the 1955 home exudes modern flair. Features such as the metal staircase, flat roof, and open layout speak to the house's mid-century provenance, and the many large windows create a great flow between inside and out. The 4 bedroom, 3 bath house is large at 3,500 square feet and the lovely 2 acre property features nice landscaping. For the Chappaqua location, the price seems remarkably reasonable--which is probably due in part to the fact that not everyone loves modern. But for those of us who do, this house looks pretty hot. $949,000
Prudential Holmes and Kennedy, Google Map

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Planning Ahead in Ossining

The North County News reports that Ossining held it's fist public forum to discuss the village's new Comprehensive Plan. Following in the footsteps of Yorktown, which recently finalized a town-wide comprehensive plan outlining the goals and parameters for future growth, Ossining is hoping to lay the groundwork for making the most of what the village offers. Top on the list of Ossining's goals are developing a vital downtown, maximizing the waterfront, and creating more affordable housing. A representative of Phillips Preis Shapiro Associates, which the town hired to create the plan, said that they envisioned the waterfront becoming "like Fulton Park in Brooklyn or the Meat Market in Manhattan,” according to the North County News. Ossining certainly has tremendous potential and lots to work with.
SOURCE: The North County News: Ossining Discusses Blueprint for Village's Future

P.S. Following up on the comment made, here is the link to One Harbor Square, the development on the Ossining waterfront currently under construction by GDC Homes and Cappelli Enterprises. Prices for the units are "estimated" to run from the $400,000's to over $1,000,000.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Small but Sweet

This recently listed 1927 home in Croton village is short on space but long on charm. With just 1,100 square feet, the 2 bedroom house features a lovely living room with stone fireplace, nicely renovated kitchen and bathrooms, and a decent yard. The listing agent claims that the attic can be converted into a master suite (from the photo it is clear that it does have windows). The 0.14 of an acre lot is close to most amenities and convenient to the train station. Do you think the price will fly? $449,000
Houlihan Lawrence, Google Map

Friday, December 7, 2007

Free Arts Day--and More

Ways to spend the weekend:

The Clay of Croton Make pottery from the clay beds at Croton Point Park, just like the local Native Americans did. Saturday, 1:00. Croton Point Nature Center, Croton Point Park

Tracking on Snow Shoes (or Foot) Learn to track animals using their prints and scat. Saturday, 10:00. Teatown Lake Reservation

Gingerbread Farm Animals Decorate some tasty critters to give as gifts--or to eat. Saturday, 1:00. Stone Barns Center

Free Arts Day Sunday is the Westchester Arts Council's Free Arts Day. Some of the many events include:
  • Wrap it Up! Hundreds of works by over 50 artists will be on display--and on sale--at the Arts Exchange in White Plains.
  • Peter and the Wolf The Prokofiev Players present this classic, using the original score. Also at the Arts Exchange.
  • The Wizard of Oz The Sunday showing of the classic is free at the Paramount Center for the Arts.
  • Neuberger Museum of Art Free admission to the museum. Special performances include Sounds of the African Jungle at 2:00.

Thursday, December 6, 2007


Located in Ossining's Sparta Historic District, this 1834 Federal style home is fully renovated and loaded with classic charm. While the house is almost too "designed to sell," it definitely offers a nice blend of up-to-date conveniences and old-world sweetness. At 2,300 square feet, the house has 3 bedrooms, a "great room" with cathedral ceiling, and a remodeled kitchen and bathrooms. The third of an acre property has some nice landscaping and is close to the Scarborough train station. Pretty nice for the price. $749,000
Sotheby's International Realty, Google Map

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Let's Dance

Looking to take in some modern dance--or perhaps learn a few new moves? Sunday's New York Times reported on an addition to the local dance scene, the Evolution Dance Theater in Mt. Kisco. Founded by an area resident, the theater provides a venue for performances by dance companies and offers classes for children and adults. The theater wants to provide space for emerging companies that cannot draw the crowds needed to perform at the much larger Performing Arts Center at Purchase College or the White Plains Performing Arts Center. This coming Sunday, the theater will present MariaColacoDance's Duke in December: Not just a nutcracker.
Evolution Dance Theater
SOURCE: The New York Times: A Place to Learn, and a Chance to Perform

Monday, December 3, 2007

Buy a Bed & Breakfast

This large and lovely 1889 Victorian in the heart of Croton's upper village is currently an operating B&B. With 6,300 square feet, the Alexander Hamilton House has 8 bedrooms, 8 bathrooms, seasonal river views, and a pool. The house has gobs of period charm and is being sold with the "business furnishings." The half-acre property also includes a 4 bedroom house built in 1996 which is currently used by the owners. Theoretically, those not interested in running a B&B could live in one structure and rent out the other (but you'd have to check the zoning to be sure that that is an option). Either way, this is certainly an interesting listing. $1,995,000
Houlihan Lawrence, Google Map