Buffalo’s Construction Boom Instills Hope

Downtown Buffalo is seeing huge revitilization projects– a total of 11 projects are planned or have been completed.  The most attention has been paid to the beautiful waterfront and the medical campus, both of which aim to make Buffalo a major destination for summer trips and medical treatment, respectively.  This kind of activity hasn’t been seen in decades, and show that the city’s economy is moving away from manufacturing.

Why is all of this happening now?  A huge part comes from increased government investment, which has allowed the University at Buffalo to expand its campus reach.  Private investment and low interest rates are also playing a role, as downtown is being seen as a great place to live and work.  The increased demand for commercial and residential space means that projects that had once been left hanging are being completed and new projects are being dreamed up.

What are some of the projects going on downtown?  Here’s a few:

• The former Memorial Auditorium site is being transformed into replica canals, including a winter outdoor ice rink, retail, office and restaurant space.

• At the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, plans are moving forward on a new $375 million University at Buffalo medical school to be built above the metro station on Main Street at Allen Street.

• Roswell Park Cancer Institute is building a $50 million, 11-story clinical sciences center planned on the northwest corner of Michigan Avenue and Carlton Street, abutting the cancer center’s main hospital building.

• Kaleida Health has consolidated its skilled nursing facilities into the new Highpointe on Michigan facility.

Video: Wayne Gretzky’s Estate

Wayne Gretzky’s custom estate, which is currently listed for sale, is situated in Thousand Oaks on 6.5 acres within the gated Sherwood Country Club in California. The home was built by Wayne Gretzky and architect Richard Landry. Gretzky’s home measures 10,815 square feet, but that doesn’t include square footage of the two detached guest houses, one of which has a full gym. A circular motor court leads to the front entrance of the home, where the grand entry opens to dark wood floors and white walls with intricate plaster detailing. An open floor plan connects the gourmet kitchen with the family room. The home has 6 bedrooms, 7.5 bathrooms, as well as a home theater room, state-of-the-art surveillance and security systems, a wood-burning pizza oven, pool and sunken tennis court.

Built in 2002, the home has already had a large renovation, in which the master his-and-her baths were completely redone and the kitchen was expanded and remodeled and opened up to the family room. New floors, landscaping, new brick patios were added and the pool and tennis courts were both resurfaced.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VqKkes4bI5g&w=560&h=315]

Predictions: Ten Healthiest Housing Markets in 2013

Economist John Kolko recently put together a list of what he expects to be the strongest housing markets in the new year. Kolko says that “The healthy markets that made the list have strong job growth (Bureau of Labor Statistics), which bodes well for housing demand; low vacancy rates (U.S. Postal Service)–low enough to encourage new construction, but not so low that inventory and sales are restrained; and low foreclosure inventory (RealtyTrac), since foreclosures tend to hold back recovery.”

1. Houston, TX
2. San Francisco, CA
3. Bethesda, MD
4. San Antonio, TX
5. Austin, TX
6. Seattle, WA
7. Omaha, NE
8. Peabody, MA
9. Fort Worth, TX
10. Louisville, KY

Of his top ten, some four are in Texas

One Third of American Homeowners Are Mortgage Free

In a study published by Zillow, which can be found here, some 29.1 percent of homeowners own their home outright, with no debt or mortgage remaining. So who isn’t underwater? The study found that areas with lower overall home values primarily housed those who don’t have mortgage debt.

Mortgage debt is accrued when home values rise, so it makes sense that areas with rising values see more underwater homeowners. Additionally, older homeowners (primarily seniors over the age of 75) tended to be free and clear of mortgage payments– these homeowners have had years to pay off their homes, unlike younger owners. Still, some 35% of 20 to 24 year olds were free of mortgage payments.

Check out the article for an interactive map of the US, which features county-by-county percentages of free and clear homes.

35 Acts of Kindness for Your Neighbor

Studies show that acts of kindness can help lower blood pressure and stress, and are therefore good for your heart. Being the city of good neighbors, check out these acts of kindness you can do for neighborhood friends. What acts of kindness have you done that aren’t on this list?

1. Decorate a neighbor’s door or fence with a wreath.
2. Rake someone’s leaves.
3. Pick up trash that’s blown along the street or gutters.
4. Shovel a stranger’s sidewalk or driveway.
5. Ask someone you see on the street “How are you?” – and mean it.
6. Bake some cookies for your neighbor.
7. Call a neighbor you haven’t talked to in a while.
8. Give someone a flower – or a dozen.
9. Leave a kind note on a neighbor’s car windshield.
10. Hold the elevator.
11. Invite someone who lives alone over for dinner.
12. Introduce yourself to someone you always see around.
13. Hold the door open for someone.
14. Clean up graffiti.
15. Send a thank-you note to the staff at your local police or fire station.
16. Help someone unload their groceries.
17. Greet your mail carrier with hot chocolate on a snowy day or a cold water bottle on a warm day.
18. Share fresh produce with your neighbors.
19. Someone new moving into the neighborhood? Help them carry in a few boxes.
20. Give directions to someone who’s lost.
21. Mow a neighbor’s lawn.
22. Pick up groceries for someone who has difficulties getting out.
23. Bring in your neighbor’s trashcans.
24. Help change a tire.
25. Buy coffee for the person waiting behind you at the local coffee shop.
26. Improve a struggling family’s summer by buying them a season pass to the local swimming pool.
27. Leave your neighbors a note that tells them how much you admire their flowers.
28. Deliver a bouquet of flowers to a nearby nursing home.
29. Leave a copy of a book you love, with a note for the next reader, at your neighborhood cafe.
30. Write kind but anonymous notes; discreetly distribute them in public places, for strangers to find.
31. Go to your local library and ask if you can pay someone’s fines.
32. Buy a dozen bottles of bubbles and attach a fun note to each one. Leave the bottles at homes along your street.
33. Buy inexpensive shovels and buckets and leave them in the sandbox in a local park.
34. Help a neighbor water or weed his garden.
35. Launch a neighborhood campaign to collect food for a nearby shelter.