From left: 275 West 10th Street, 250 West 81st Street and 320 West 101st StreetOver the past week, New York City’s residential world saw developer Steven Witkoff part with his penthouse for $33 million and another full-floor penthouse at 50 United Nations Plaza sell for $16 million to a retail executive. Here are the details on some other eye-catching deals.Source: A TRD analysis of public property records filed with the New York City Department of Finance from June 17 to June 21.1.) A penthouse at Alchemy Properties’ 250 West 81st Street in the Upper West Side sold for just under $27.5 million. The buyer was Blue Village LLC, which property records list Shikha Bhakoo as manager. The18-story-tall, Robert A.M. Stern-designed building has a slew of amenities, including a sports court and music recording studio.2.) The founder of vodka brand Svedka, Guillaume Cuvelier, and Andrea Rizzo Cuvelier picked up a sponsor unit at Naftali Group’s the Shephard in the West Village for $11 million, or about $2,900 per square foot. Stribling Marketing Associates’ Alexa Lambert and Alison Black had the listing for the 3,765-square-foot, four-bedroom home. The unit first hit the market last year, asking $11.75 million. In January 2018, a penthouse at the building, also known as 275 West 10th Street, sold for $35 million.3.) Financier Jeremy Mindich and Amy Smith sold their Upper West Side townhouse at 320 West 101st Street for $7.1 million. The couple acquired the home for $6.25 million in 2014. Mindich co-founded hedge fund Scopia Capital Management in 2001 and is on the board of Root Capital, which invests in agricultural businesses around the world. The buyer was Ananas Comosus LLC. The 7,200-square-foot home first hit the market in 2017, when it was listed for $10.5 million, according to StreetEasy. The renovated property sits between Riverside Drive and West End Avenue and comes with 1,400 square feet of outdoor space. Douglas Elliman’s George Vanderploeg and Steffen Kral had the listing. This content is for subscribers only.Subscribe Now
Many of these were aired at a hearing held last April by the Parliament’s legal affairs committee, and were repeated at a seminar organized last month by the European Credit Research Institute and Centre for European Policy Studies.Credit suppliers complained of bureaucracy and maintained that undue restrictions reduce flexibility and disadvantage the consumer. One of the more severe critics is Aad Weening, secretary-general of the European Mail Order and Distance Selling Trade Association (EMOTA). He pointed out that the average amount of credit involved in distance selling was no more than €100 to €150, saying: “The excessive information requirements and other provisions will lead to much higher costs directly on these small amounts of credit. Not only will the sector’s competitive position be endangered, but the proposal will compromise consumers’ access to small credits.”This approach is not shared by the European Consumers’ Organization (BEUC). Yet Jim Murray, its director, put forward a number of weighty objections when he appeared at the hearing. Most fundamentally, he challenged the doctrine of maximum harmonization, saying that it would not achieve a high level of protection, “leaving us with maximum harmonization at a low level of protection”.Member states should remain free, he said, to provide a higher level than that laid down in the directive: otherwise they would, in several cases, reduce the rights their consumers enjoyed. He cited the cases of the United Kingdom, regarding credit cards; France, on provisions for early repayment; Belgium, on best advice and the display of interest rates in advertisements; and Spain, which requires examples to be given to illustrate the real annual interest rate. BEUC also wants penalties to be imposed to discourage irresponsible lending. In the face of all these criticisms, the Commission decided that a wholesale restructuring of the proposed directive would be necessary. The Parliament’s legal affairs committee had not got far into its own consideration of the draft, when it received a letter from the Commission saying that the proposal needed modification on 13 points.These included practically every issue on which changes were proposed to the existing directive of 1986. The Commission was apparently considering a completely new regime for small loans, the inclusion of an entirely new field of business in the form of mortgage loans, the inclusion of provisions on advertising, abolition of the rules on door-to-door selling, a complete reworking of the provisions on databanks, and the inclusion of obligations for the consumer. The committee exploded in anger when it considered the letter. Its rapporteur, Joachim WŸrmerling, of the European People’s Party, reported to the Parliament as a whole that the Commission proposal would be “completely redrafted in detail from the bottom up”. In the committee’s view, “it will be impossible for Parliament to give its opinion on all this if it is able to make amendments only to the old text. “It is unreasonable to expect Parliament to make amendments to a text which has already become obsolete”.The committee approved, by 19 votes to 0, a motion to reject the draft directive, but calling on the Commission to prepare a new draft on which the Parliament could give its opinion. This recommendation was approved by the November plenary, with the assumption that no further action was required until the Commission had tabled a new draft. Its purpose is to harmonize the laws, regulations and administrative provisions of the member states concerning credit for consumers. Designed to cover transactions in all fields except home loans, it lays down eight guidelines which aim to secure maximum protection for the consumer, while fostering the development of cross-border trade in financial services. This has not made the progress expected, despite the removal of internal EU frontiers and the adoption by 12 member states of a single currency.The directive is intended to replace an earlier measure agreed as long ago as 1986. This has been twice amended – in 1990 and 1998 – but has totally failed to catch up with the vastly changed market conditions of post-euro Europe and the growth of consumer lending to more than a trillion euros.The new draft directive, tabled in September 2002, was cautiously welcomed both by the consumer credit industry, and by consumer organizations, but each had a large number of specific criticisms. MEPs were astonished when David Byrne, the commissioner for health and consumer protection, declined to do so, and instead suggested that the redrafting should be done by a committee of the Parliament. It seems unlikely that the assembly will agree to this, and in the meantime the timetable is slipping, and it seems increasingly unlikely that the new measure could pass through all its Parliamentary stages before the European elections next June.The longer the delay, the more difficult it will be to harmonize the legislation of the member states. On Monday (8 December), for example, the UK government published a White Paper trailing radical new legislation in the field of consumer lending. The issues involved are too important and too urgent to be held up by a protracted procedural wrangle between two of the EU’s main institutions. It is time their respective heads, Romano Prodi and Pat Cox, got together to seek a way out of the impasse. Dick Leonard is former assistant editor of The Economist and writes on Belgian affairs for The Bulletin. He is a former UK Labour MP and the author of many books.