Free and clear: Vornado pays off debt at 220 CPS

first_imgVornado’s Steve Roth and 220 Central Park South (Credit: Getty Images, iStock)Steve Roth has called 220 Central Park South the “most successful” condo project anywhere, and now Vornado Realty Trust’s uber-luxe development is debt free.The real estate investment trust said Tuesday that it’s paid off the remainder of a $950 million loan it got from Bank of China to construct the $1.4 billion tower, which cost a hefty $5,000 per foot to build. With a projected sellout of $3.25 billion, and more than $1 billion in sales to date, you can do the math.“There is two-odd billion dollars coming out… with no debt requirements,” Michael Franco, Vornado’s chief investment officer, said during a quarterly earnings call on Tuesday. “That all comes into our treasury.”Vornado has said it plans to reinvest proceeds from the Robert A.M. Stern-designed condo tower into its Penn Plaza area development, eliminating the need to take on additional debt.ADVERTISEMENTThe REIT is planning to overhaul two adjacent properties, One and Two Penn Plaza, by combining them into a 4.4 million-square-foot megacampus that Roth has called the company’s “big Kahuna.”Despite a soft luxury market, the REIT sold 23 units for $690.8 million since January, the company reported Tuesday. In total, it’s closed 38 units for $1.03 billion.The deal that’s generated the most ink? Citadel founder Ken Griffin’s record-breaking, $238 million penthouse buy, which closed in January. This month, British musician Sting closed on a $65.7 million penthouse in the “villa” portion of the building.Other buyers include Paramount Group CEO Albert Behler, Brazilian billionaire Renata de Camargo and hedge funder Daniel Och.Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly identified the construction lender on 220 Central Park South. It’s Bank of China, not Bank of America.  This content is for subscribers only.Subscribe Nowlast_img read more

Making music and keeping the faith

first_imgA blossoming musical career and a career dedicated to exploring religion go hand in hand for one talented Harvard Divinity School (HDS) professor.The father of two young children and an amateur musician, Matthew Myer Boulton, HDS associate professor of ministry studies, is investigating the spiritual dimension of human experience through the use of song with his newly formed band Butterflyfish.“As I understand theology, you are trying to make ideas clear and accessible; and for me one way to do that is by writing a book or an article. But a just as powerful – and arguably more powerful – way to do it is to write a song,” he said.Boulton’s quest began two years ago while searching for spiritually engaging tunes for his kids. Discussing the subject over watermelon at a backyard picnic one afternoon, he and his friends agreed the musical landscape for such songs, ones that weren’t “drenched in synthesizers or theologically flat,” was bleak.“We really wanted to find music that – in an interesting and intellectually vibrant way – was engaging spiritual life. And we couldn’t find much out there.”With few viable alternatives, Boulton, his wife Elizabeth, and their close friend Zoë Khrone decided to make the music themselves. Together they created the trio Butterflyfish, which blends American folk, blues, gospel, country, and bluegrass styles with lyrics that explore “the simple, big, and beautiful ideas in the Christian tradition, but with a twist.” “Our music is sort of an ‘O Brother, Where Art Thou?’ for all ages,” Boulton explained.On a rare sunny Saturday afternoon in June, Boulton and his group had their debut performance at the historic Old South Church in Boston’s Back Bay. They transformed the church’s Gordon Chapel into the scene of an old-fashioned jam session that featured rich vocals and songs arranged for guitar, pipe organ, and harmonica. The concert also celebrated a preview of the group’s first album, “Ladybug.”“One way to think about it is that it’s kids’ music,” Boulton said. “But I really try to steer away from that, even though some of the songs are childlike in their simplicity. As so often happens in religion generally, and certainly in Christianity, if you’re appealing to kids, you are often appealing to all ages.”The new CD includes songs such as “What Jonah Learned Inside the Whale,” “Jesus Loves Me,” and “Old Hundredth,” which offer fresh takes on some familiar Christian themes and tunes. As well as its three founding members, Butterflyfish also draws from a stable of professional musicians, including bassist Zach Hickman, who also helped arrange and produce the group’s freshman album.The son of a religion professor, Boulton shied away from religious studies in college, graduating from Northwestern with a degree in history and film. But an interest in anthropology, ritual studies, and theology eventually drew him to the Divinity School, where he received his master’s of divinity degree. (Boulton received his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago.)At HDS, Boulton’s teaching and research revolves around the ways Christian worship founds and forms Christian life. Fascinated with the intersection of ideas and traditions, his work combines his interests in the history and practices of Christian liturgy, theology and public life, biblical interpretation and proclamation, as well as the performing arts, including theater, film, and music.When it comes to his music, Boulton’s goal is to create songs that are memorable, easy to learn, thought provoking, and fun. His compositions involve a variety of instruments including the guitar, the banjo, the upright bass, and even the glockenspiel, and frequently impart an important message.“Great songs have great ideas in them, too,” said Boulton. “They are simple but they are not simplistic.”Though he is quick to refer to himself as an amateur musician – he admits his skill level with the guitar peaked sometime in junior high school ¬– Boulton’s lifelong relationship to music is a profound one.“I like to say I am an amateur in every sense. The word ‘amateur’ comes from the Latin amare, ‘to love,’ so I am really an amateur musician through and through.”Boulton will next perform with Butterflyfish on Sept. 13, at 10 a.m. as part of an intergenerational worship service at the Wellesley Village Church, located at 2 Central St. in Wellesley, Mass.— Jonathan Beasley, Harvard Divinity School communications officer, contributed to this article.last_img read more

Pollinator Pockets: small plots with nectar-rich plants

first_img This June 10, 2015 photo shows a honeybee about to descend on a blackberry blossom growing near Langley, Wash. Hundreds of flowers, shrubs, trees and vines can be used to sustain pollinators. Take a walk around the neighborhood to determine which blooms are the most popular with bees and butterflies and then add similar varieties to your yard. (Dean Fosdick via AP) It doesn’t take massive flowerbeds to make beneficial insects happy — just a few pollen- and nectar-rich plants in a small area, a “pollinator pocket.”Common areas such as roadsides, schoolyards and parks make good candidates for pollinator pockets. So do idled corners of farm fields.“A lot of people think that when you plant things for insects that they won’t be pretty. They’ll look wild,” said Sandra Mason, an extension horticulturist with the University of Illinois in Champaign. “But by selecting certain plants, you can have beauty and help out pollinators as well.”Lack of space need not be a problem.“Four- to 6-foot ovals or 24 square feet are large enough and doable,” Mason said. “They don’t cost a lot of money and they’re easy to maintain.”And although pollinator pockets may be small, they make a big impact when linked.“In the scheme of things, one 4-by-6-foot pocket doesn’t matter,” Mason said. “But it does if the entire neighborhood works together. Communities become acres.” In this Thursday, Aug. 6, 2015 photo, it doesn’t take massive flower beds to make beneficial insects happy – just a few pollen and nectar-rich plants like these sweet peas, growing on a fence line near Langley, Wash. Convert small areas normally given over to pampered lawns or cultivated crops into pollinator pockets. Idled corners of farm fields work well, too. (AP Photo/By Dean Fosdick)center_img Bees, whose numbers have declined dramatically in recent years, need pollen and nectar to survive. Cover and nesting sites also are important, so think four-season and succession gardening while planting.“Select plants that are early, mid-summer and late-season flowering,” Mason said. “Leave the stems up when they quit blooming. Mason bees will use the old stems for laying their eggs and for overwintering. They also provide cover for the birds and the bees.”Leave the plants standing for a couple of months after your spring cleanup, she said. Any insects still in there will have a chance to emerge.Hundreds of flowers, shrubs, trees and vines can be used to sustain pollinators. Check with your county extension office or search the Internet for native varieties. Better yet, wander around and study some blooms, Mason said.“See which ones are popular with bees and butterflies,” she said.The agricultural sector also plays a big role in the pollinator-pocket movement, as do organizations like Pheasants Forever that make wildflower seeds available to farmers.“It’s tough though,” said Ron Babcock, owner of Babcock Farms, a 160-acre spread near Glenvil, Nebraska, that includes three dozen honeybee hives. “Trying to convince people they don’t have to plant fencerow to fencerow and that they should take some profitable ground out of production (for pollinator pockets) is not an easy sell.”Babcock has about half his farm planted with crops and the rest set aside for pollinators. He also holds down a day job to keep the operation going.“I’ve got to make enough off of production to help pay the bills,” he said. “At the same time, I try to encourage people farming like myself to leave a little alfalfa growing along the edges when they harvest. It’s a huge resource for bees.”Restoring a pollinator population that’s been in steep decline over the past decade or so won’t happen overnight, Babcock said.“But I think people are becoming more aware. They aren’t arbitrarily spraying herbicides and insecticides anymore. Many are checking with nearby beekeepers first,” he said.Online:For more, see this University of Illinois fact sheet with a link to flower garden designs: can contact Dean Fosdick at [email protected]last_img read more