NYPD’s new $750M academy faces water contamination problem

The new NYPD Police Academy in Queens

The new NYPD Police Academy in Queens

The NYPD’s brand-new, $750 million Police Academy in Queens has already sprung a leak.

Just months after the building’s high-tech gym floor buckled and needed to be replaced, the building is now facing a water contamination problem, according to the New York Post.

Officials handed out water bottles last week after they deemed the building’s water unsafe to drink, according to documents obtained by the Post.

“They seemed to think there’s E. coli in the water,” Sergeants Benevolent Association President Ed Mullins told the Post. “People are in a panic there, because they don’t know what’s going on.”

Staff are flushing out the building’s water system over the weekend so that it can be retested on Tuesday.

“In a state-of-the-art facility, this shouldn’t be happening,” Mullins said. [NYP]Christopher Cameron

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J. Lo asks $17M for her California home

Jennifer Lopez's home in Hidden Hills, Calif.

Jennifer Lopez’s home in Hidden Hills, Calif.

After picking up a penthouse at the Whitman on Madison Square Park for $22 million back in October, Jennifer Lopez is putting her sprawling Hidden Hills, Calif. estate on the market for $17 million.

In 2010, Lopez purchased the 17,129 square-foot, nine-bedroom home with then-husband Marc Anthony for $8.2 million, according to Curbed.

The home features a massive dance studio and gym, 20-seat theater, coffer-ceilinged den, eight wood-burning fireplaces and a professional recording studio.

Outside, the grounds include a “manicured gardens,” a pool and an outdoor barbecue area, according to Curbed.

Oh, and don’t forget the eight-car garage, with an additional motor court that holds another 20 vehicles. [Curbed]Christopher Cameron

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From the archives: Trump Jr. at the Delmonico Project

Trump Jr.

Trump Jr.

Will we soon see buildings around the city marked with gold foot-high letters declaring “Trump Jr.”? Two Trumps the Donald himself and his, son, Donald Trump Jr. played host to a crowd of brokers and others during an open house recently at the nearly completed Trump Park Avenue, formerly the Delmonico Hotel. Trump s latest project, at 502 Park Ave. and 59th Street, also the marks the first development in which Don, 25, has been a major part. Click here to read the full story from the November 2003 issue.

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Robert Durst, the epitome of the macabre: dispatch

A slice of the promo poster for “The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst”  (Credit: HBO)

A slice of the promo poster for “The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst” (Credit: HBO)

“Serial” podcast junkies jonesing for a new true-crime fix are in for quite the treat on Feb. 8, when HBO premieres “The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst,” a six-part docu-series on real estate scion-cum-dismemberer Robert Durst. This series, created by Andrew Jarecki and Marc Smerling of “Capturing the Friedmans” fame, is a cornucopia of strangeness: a triple murder spanning three states and nearly three decades, cross-dressing, disappearances, multiple identities and a whole lot of darkly comedic zings.

But the real hook here is the ghoulish Durst himself – who after seeing a screening of “All Good Things,” the fictional film version of the Durst story also created by Jarecki – suggested to the director that he do a more in-depth version with his participation.

Durst’s unique vocal affectation – mimicked by several others in the series – makes him fascinating to listen to, and his twitches, obsessive eye blinking and bizarre facial expressions magnify his sinister on-screen presence. With lines like, “I didn’t kill my best friend, but I did dismember him,” and describing his younger brother and real estate titan Douglas as “a pussy,” Durst is the biggest hate-watching draw HBO has offered since Lena Dunham in “Girls.”

Jarecki said last night at an advanced screening of the first two chapters that the series took a whopping eight years to create and produce. It pre-dated the “Serial” phenomenon, but will definitely appeal to the same audience, he said. Unlike “Serial,” however, this show will have a resolution: “At the end of episode six,” Jarecki said, “you will know what happened.”

Durst was investigated but remains uncharged in the disappearance of his first wife Kathleen McCormack Durst in 1982 in New York, and also for the murder of his best friend Susan Berman in Los Angeles in 2000. He did see jail time for beheading his neighbor Morris Black in Galveston, Texas, where Durst lived in 2000 under the guise of a woman. He jumped bail and was rearrested while stealing a sandwich from a local supermarket, even though he had hundreds of dollars in cash in his pocket at the time. He was acquitted of the murder charges, but served five years for bond jumping and related offenses.

At the post-screening Q-and-A, homicide detective Cody Cazalas described Durst as a “creepy little bastard” and said that even though he would not believe 99 percent of what comes out of Durst’s mouth, he marveled at the fact that Durst admitted to lying to the NYPD about McCormack – despite the fact that the investigation into her disappearance is still open.

Four days after McCormack disappeared, Durst alerted the police he had not heard from her after he supposedly drove her to the Katonah train station late Sunday night. Durst originally claimed he stopped at a neighbor’s house for a drink and then called his wife from a payphone to make sure she was safely in their Manhattan apartment. However, on camera in “The Jinx,” he admits he did neither of those things, chalking his lies up to his desire to “make everything go away.”

There is no word on what will transpire in regards to that open investigation. As for future episodes, Jarecki remains mum except to say, “It is the beginning of a journey that is intensely emotional.” While it’s impossible to accurately predict anything when it comes to Robert Durst, the first two chapters of this saga clearly show that we’re in for a very wild ride.

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Judge tosses prenup protecting a German castle

Nathalie Karg and Anton Kern, and Kerg’s family home in Germany

Nathalie Karg and Anton Kern, and Kerg’s family home in Germany

A messy Manhattan divorce has called the fate of the medieval Castle Derneburg, outside Hanover, Germany, into question.

A judge has thrown out a prenup that forfeited Manhattan art gallery owner Nathalie Karg’s claim to her husband Anton Kern’s fortune, according to the New York Post. Kern is the son of famed painter Georg Kern Baselitz, whose work is exhibited at MoMA and the Guggenheim, and his wife, Elke. They [WHO??] reside in the castle.

The judge ruled that the prenup signed by Karg was invalid because it was written in German and Karg didn’t understand what she was agreeing to. Karg claims that she was told that the papers only protected assets, such as the castle, not realizing that she was signing away her claim to everything.

“My parents are excited [about the marriage], but you are not getting the castle,” Kern allegedly joked before she signed the papers.

“While it is clear plaintiff is a savvy business woman, independent and strong-willed, it does not contradict the fact that she trusted, relied on and believed her fiancé when he translated the meaning of the agreement as being, ‘You are waiving all rights to his father’s wealth,’” Manhattan Supreme Court Special Referee Sue Ann Hoahng wrote. “She had no reason not to believe him. According to both [parties], they were in love.”

Whether Karg, who now runs a gallery on Great Jones Street, will actually get a share of her hubby’s inheritance – meaning a piece of the castle – will be decided at an upcoming divorce trial. [NYP]Christopher Cameron

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Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater up for World Heritage status

Frank Lloyd Wright and Fallingwater

Frank Lloyd Wright and Fallingwater

Frank Lloyd Wright’s architectural icon, Fallingwater, in Pennsylvania’s Laurel Highlands, is one of 10 structures nominated for inclusion on the World Heritage List.

The World Heritage List recognizes the most significant natural and cultural sites on Earth and were announced by U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, according to the Pittsburg Post-Gazette.

If approved by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee in the summer of 2016, Fallingwater would be the first World Heritage Site listing in the field of modern architecture in the U.S.

Other architectural landmarks already on the listing include the Sydney Opera House in Australia, the city of Brasilia in Brazil and the Bauhaus School in Germany.

“Through its World Heritage Sites the United States can share with the world the remarkable diversity of our cultural heritage as well as the beauty of our land,” Secretary Jewell announced in Washington, D.C. “Frank Lloyd Wright is widely considered to be the greatest American architect of the 20th century and his works are a highly valued and uniquely American contribution to the world’s architectural heritage.” [Pittsburg Post-Gazette] Christopher Cameron

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Fire engulfs Williamsburg warehouse

North 11th Street in Williamsburg (via Vic Nicastro)

North 11th Street in Williamsburg (via Vic Nicastro)

Firefighters battled a four-alarm fire that engulfed a Brooklyn warehouse Saturday morning.

The storage warehouse on North 11th Street by the East River in Williamsburg started at about 6:25 a.m., according to the New York Daily News. The property is owned by New 10th Street LLC and CitiStorage, which operates a records management and storage business.

No injuries were reported, but the nearby Star Energy oil refinery was evacuated as a precaution.

The warehouse has been at the center of a community lobbying effort that hopes to turn the site into a park, according to the Greenpoint Waterfront Association for Parks and Planning. Locals have asked the city to purchase the warehouse and finance the relocation of CitiStorage so that the park can move forward.

In March of last year, a four-alarm fire tore through a Greenpoint recycling plant at 860 Humboldt Street. And back in 2006, a 10-alarm fire broke out at Greenpoint Terminal Market, gutting 15 buildings. [NYDN]Christopher Cameron

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Lower East Side’s gallery scene pushes southward

The Urs Fischer show at a Gagosian Gallery pop-up on Delancey Street

The Urs Fischer show at a Gagosian Gallery pop-up on Delancey Street

From Luxury Listings NYC: For years, gallery owners have seen the Lower East Side as an affordable and hip alternative to pricey, art-centric neighborhoods like Soho and Chelsea. But now a new wave of art tenants are flocking to the Lower East Side, speeding up the ongoing transformation of the neighborhood, known for its nightlife and smoked pastrami, into one of Manhattan’s hottest gallery hubs. [more]

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Brooklyn is the U.S.’s most unaffordable housing market: REPORT

brooklyn-18When you hear the word “Brooklyn,” you probably think “hipster.” But you should really think “staggeringly unaffordable housing.” As New York Magazine and Bloomberg report, the borough has become the least-affordable housing market, relative to income, in the US.\

In Brooklyn “a resident would need to devote 98 percent of the median income to afford the payment on a median-priced home of $615,000,” Bloomberg reports.

That’s higher than between 2005 and 2008, at the height of the housing bubble.

The data comes from RealtyTrac, the real-estate-information company. San Francisco and Manhattan are the second- and third-least affordable, according to that data.

Brooklyn’s wallet-destroying real-estate surge comes thanks to a few factors, but the biggest one is the saturation of Manhattan.

The world’s super rich have started to use Manhattan as the new Swiss Bank Account — since 2008, a reported 30% of condo sales in large Manhattan developments have come from overseas. This is pushing the slightly-less-super-rich to Brooklyn.

And they are ready to buy.

Ninety-eight townhouses in Brooklyn sold for over $3 million in 2014, most of which were in the swanky neighborhoods of Brooklyn Heights, Cobble Hill, and Park Slope, where a historic brownstone went for a record-breaking $10.78 million.

Other trickle-down effects are more socially devastating.

“What’s a frustration for ­middle-class buyers amounts to a desperate crisis for poor renters,” reports Andrew Rice in a New York Magazine feature on gentrification in East New York.

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