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What’s up with the new Hudson Yards?

Becca Schuh

Maybe you’ve been keeping an eye on the booming new development, or maybe you’ve heard about it in the local real estate news. Now’s the time to catch up on the story behind the new Hudson Yards.

The lynchpin of the development is the new high rise, 30 Hudson Yards, which will house the highest outdoor observation deck  in the Western Hemisphere, as well as a bar and restaurant. But 30 Hudson Yards won’t be the only big building—there will be a whopping 16 megatowers within the division.

A subway line extension for the 7 will make transport to Hudson Yards some of the easiest in the city (depending on the neighborhood of origin, of course.) You might end up working in the complex—many companies are relocating or starting new offices in the space, like HBO, Warner Bros, Coach, and more.

Beyond business, Hudson Yards will include all the other hallmarks of a futuristic development: restaurants, retail, a luxury hotel, and even a “center for artistic invention.”

 

The best Manhattan hotels for out of town guests

Becca Schuh

Friends or family coming into town is always a cause for celebration, but helping people figure out where to stay can be a logistical conundrum. Unless you have the rare treasure of a guest room, you’ll want to help your friends find the perfect place to live for a few days while they explore the city. But since you live here yourself, you probably aren’t spending much time in hotels. Here’s our favorites in various parts of the city.

The Whitby

Centrally located on West 56th Street, The Whitby is an excellent choice for guests who want to be close to the classic attractions like Central Park and MoMA. Another reason it’s a great pick for the art-inclined is that The Whitby is designed by Kit Kemp, noted interior artistic decorator. There’s also a lovely restaurant and Drawing Room for lounging.

The High Line Hotel

The High Line is a favorite out of towner attraction, so why not stay at it’s namesake hotel? The Victorian style adds an aesthetic flourish, and the garden restaurant is a perfect option for when your friends want a break from eating out. The hotel aims to model the rooms after a guest house, so it’s a little more homey than the standard issue hotel room.

The Carlyle

For the friend who’s obsessed with old school New York vibes, The Carlyle is the perfect home away from home. Located on the quiet and classy Upper East Side, there’s shopping and dining within the hotel as well as all over the surrounding area.

Crosby Street Hotel 

If Lower Manhattan is more your speed, check out the Crosby Street Hotel. It has a British influence, down to a daily tea time in the bar. Soho is the perfect place to begin an exploration of New York, between excellent shopping, classic restaurants, and easy migration between other Lower Manhattan neighborhoods.

Introducing: The Rhino API

Bryan Woods, CTO

Streamline the leasing process

Over the course of the two years we’ve been building Rhino, we’ve met with numerous listings platforms, brokerage firms, property management system operators, landlords, renters, and software developers, and eventually arrived at a list of what is now 84 product integration requests.

 

While we’ve already built integrations into many of the most popular real estate platforms, people keep coming up with awesome new ways of using Rhino to make their lives easier and to better serve their customers, and we want it to be as simple as possible to build new products on top of our ecosystem.

 

The Rhino API

 

Today, we’re excited to announce that we’re sharing the Rhino platform with the world.

 

Developers will be able to add deposit-free search tools to their listing platforms or agent dashboards, receive inbound leads from prospective renters, track applicants in real-time through the Rhino enrollment process, or view information about their enrolled tenants from the comfort of their existing tools (like Salesforce or Yardi).

 

We’re offering a conventional JSON REST API that will be familiar to any web developer. You can be up and running in minutes.

 

Early Adopters

 

Igluu is a new listing platform which aims to be New York City’s largest set of verified home listings. Since listings are verified, they’re able to allow more powerful search tools than competing platforms. As an early beta user of our API, they were able to quickly add the ability to allow renters to search strictly for deposit free apartments.

 

 

In our early beta program, we’ve also helped brokerage teams and property managers to build tools to search their own inventory for Rhino availability, and to view information about their enrolled tenants’ coverage.

 

Technology

 

Our core web applications are built with Ruby on Rails with React, and are architected as distinct services. As a new member of the Amazon Activate program, we’ve been migrating slices of our infrastructure from Heroku to AWS, which has led to a distributed architecture that made extracting our public APIs straightforward, and which allows us to scale each piece independently.

 

While Rails continues to serve us well (as it has for me over the past decade using it to build startups), we saw our API as a great opportunity to assess a new technology. We don’t know for sure yet what our normal use case will be, how many developers will integrate with the API, or how many concurrent users we’ll need to service, so we wanted to choose a programming language and framework that would allow us to remain flexible, without needing to think much about performance (or migrate to a new stack years down the line).

 

For that reason we built our API with the Elixir programming language and Phoenix web framework.

 

While the internet is filled with articles about the rock solid performance and reliability of Erlang (the technology Elixir is built on top of) and Phoenix, there is one benefit I’ve come to appreciate I haven’t seen outlined so much elsewhere, which is Elixir’s consistency with regard to response time.

This screenshot from our application performance monitoring system shows what I’m talking about. Yes, Elixir is fast. The endpoints profiled in this screenshot make database queries, call out to external services like Algolia, and still return in a small fraction of their Rails counterparts, but one thing I’ve grown to appreciate is how the mean response and the 99th percentile response are nearly identical in every case. Coming from Rails, where I’m used to the 99th percentile often being several times slower than the median, I’ve been shocked by how predictably our Elixir services perform, even under load. I’d highly recommend giving Elixir a try if you haven’t already.

 

Get Started

If you’d like to give the Rhino API a spin, sign up for early access here: https://www.sayrhino.com/api

 

We can’t wait to see what you build!

3 neighborhoods with (semi) affordable one bedrooms

Becca Schuh

Whether you’re single or living with a partner, the one bedroom is the holy grail of New York apartments. And it’s about as rare to find an affordable one—even in cheaper neighborhoods, landlords know they can charge a lot for a one bedroom, because someone out there will be willing to foot the bill for the private space. It’s certainly an easier feat when splitting between a couple, but it’s still possible to live in a one bedroom as a solo person if you hone and find the right area. These neighborhoods are your best bets.

Bay Ridge

It’s far from Manhattan, there’s no way around that, but if you have a flexible work situation or don’t mind the commute, Bay Ridge is an easier option for the one bedroom hunt than most of it’s more central Brooklyn counterparts. It has more of a suburban neighborhood vibe than many other areas, which can be a huge plus if you miss things like greenery and space.

Jackson Heights

If you’re willing to make the trek northward into Queens, this neighborhood offers a plethora of options for renters with many benefits. It’s a diverse, sprawling area with much to offer when getting involved in the community. Moreso than many New York areas, it’s an eclectic mix of families, couples, singles, and young and old, not pinned down to one social stereotype.

Washington Heights

If you’re committed to Manhattan, you’ll do well to head northwards and check out Washington Heights. Express trains can get you back to Midtown or downtown in a jiffy, and you’re close to the great green space of the Cloisters area. The river views are another perk, as well as the more homey neighborhood vibes.

How to host a dinner party in a small apartment

Becca Schuh

It’s harder to have friends over in New York than in many other major cities or the suburbs. Beyond the small apartment issue, friends often live in disparate neighborhoods and it’s often easier to congregate at a centrally located bar or restaurant. But you don’t always want to be in the company of strangers, spend the money on a big night out, or be limited to the timing of a commercial establishment. Dinner parties are their own unique social pleasure—and there’s no reason to let the size of your apartment stop you from hosting the perfect soiree.

Rearrange your furniture 

Most of the time, our apartments are set up for day to day functionality or aesthetics rather than maximizing people in a space. Move extra items from the living or dining area into the bedroom, or consolidate sitting areas. Strategize with your roommates or partner about how you can switch up the space for a night, they might have ideas you’ve never thought of.

Make it a potluck

If you have a small kitchen and are worried about having enough space to cook a full dinner, see if guests can provide some of the lower maintenance dishes like sides, salads, or appetizers. That frees up space in your kitchen so you can concentrate on main dishes or specialities and you’ll have less cooking overflow into other areas, which means that more space is available for mingling.

Use your end tables 

End tables can be a great serving station for appetizers and smaller bites so you don’t have to do a full switch up of the dining table between parts of the meal. This also encourages your guests to walk around and chat before the sit down portion of the evening, which is always nice since no matter how large your dinner table, you usually end up talking to the same people through the entire meal.

Create a signature drink

Even at dinner parties in large apartments, guests have a tendency to congregate around the bar area. One way to circumvent this common issue is to pre-make a signature drink and place it in pitchers around the apartment. You can also keep a stockpile of beer and wine in the fridge for when the drink runs out, but either way you won’t have guests constantly waiting to mix drinks at a small bar.

Keep it cool

Especially in the summer months, humidity and stuffiness can be a problem in a small space. Open your windows and throw on the AC a few hours before the party starts to get everything flowing, and consider extra fans or putting your AC in a different window, closer to where everyone is gathering.

 

How to survive without a closet

Becca Schuh

Every lease you sign in New York City will include some compromises. Most of the time you don’t have in unit laundry, many apartments don’t have any outdoor space, and you’re nearly always short on space. Giving up a closet might be what it takes to get other amenities, or maybe that’s just the apartment you ended up with. But it’s also a city of constant apartment innovation, so there are plenty of alternatives if a closet is not among your amenities.

A dress rack 

Of course, it doesn’t have to be for only dresses. Though this alternative is pretty bare bones, it also helps create a simple and pleasing aesthetic if you like your clothes being on a certain level of display. Dress racks are also one of the cheapest options—though of course expensive ones exist, you can easily find them for under $20.

Expandable closets

In the same family as the dress rack, expandable closets take it one step further by including shelves and compartments.

Wall shelves

One version of this product goes by the name “closet system,” the basic principle is using wall shelves as a closet replacement. As long as you keep everything folded, it’s an attractive alternative that frees up space on the floor.

 

How to store your bike indoors

Becca Schuh

Biking is not only one of the best ways to circumvent the ever-failing MTA, it’s also the most environmentally friendly way to get around. Unfortunately, bike theft is an issue not to be ignored: even the strongest locks can fall prey to thieves. Storing your bike indoors is the easiest solution, but as we all know, NYC apartments are tiny: how can you store your bike inside without taking up too much of your precious rental space?

The Bike Shelf

This innovative product functions two ways, and the name says it all: it stores your bike, and is also a shelf. If you have a free wall (and love your bike enough to have it on display,) this attractive wooden shelf is perfect for you. It runs for $325 and comes in walnut or white oak.

Off-the-door rack

If you have a closest with extra space, or a door that doesn’t open immediately into any furniture, consider an off the door rack. It can be moved pretty easily between different spaces, and saves space horizontally. Here’s a link to one option, but many others are available in this general model.

Bike-incorporating furniture

As absurd as that phrase sounds, it is a real thing. Chol1 creates furniture that has built in bike-storing mechanisms. The less expensive options include end tables, for a mid-range there’s a desk and shelves, and you can even get a bike-incorporating couch.

 

What’s the most convenient train line to live off?

Becca Schuh

There’s a lot that goes into picking a neighborhood to live in, and some of that just comes down to what’s available at the given time you’re searching, between your budget and your desired amenities. But making sure you live off a train line that’s at least semi-convenient to your work, friends, and wherever else you have to go on a regular basis is a factor not to be skipped over in your search process. On top of your personal convenience, some trains are simply better: faster, more reliable, and more convenient, than others. Here’s our analysis of the most (and least!) convenient trains.

7

If you live in Brooklyn or lower Manhattan,  you might not take the 7 often, if at all. But, when you’re thinking about moving, it can be a great option—running through Queens, it’s one of the fastest ways to get into upper Midtown. It’s also on record as the cleanest subway line, which you know is a feat if you’ve ever spent more than five minutes on a train.

1/2/3

The 1 train tends to be less crowded than the heavy hitters like the A and F, and with more consistent service. The 2 runs through lots of hot spots: Central Park, Chelsea, Prospect Park, all the way down to Brooklyn College. If you can figure out the express/local routes on any given day, it can get you uptown in no time.

In addition to having the lowest breakdown frequency, getting an apartment close to a Q stop can be a godsend—since the stops are relatively far apart compared to other lines, it gets you into Manhattan quicker than almost every other line. You can get from South Prospect Park to Herald Square in 30 minutes if you’re lucky.

Ah the L train, weren’t you great? Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you know that the L line is set to shut down in March of 2019. That will move the L from being one of the most convenient train lines to one of the most challenging. We don’t suggest moving to East Williamsburg or Bushwick at this point, but if you already live in the area, officials claim that measures will be taken to help riders keep their commutes hassle free. (We’ll see…)

A/C

Though routed through high traffic areas of Manhattan and Brooklyn, the A/C consistently ranks low on many fronts: high frequency of breakdowns and delays, and large crowds. Honestly, same goes for the F! Lots of stops, but the slow and crowded factors make it not worth making a priority.

Tricks to free up storage space in your apartment

Becca Schuh

Such is living in consumer society: you usually accumulate stuff faster than you can throw it away. It’s challenging to find places for all the miscellaneous things that one gathers no matter where you live, but it’s especially difficult in New York where apartments are notoriously low on storage space. Use these hacks to free up space for the items of your life.

Bed risers 

Yes, this may bring back memories of dorm rooms in undergrad, but it works—under the bed is one of the most under-utilized possible space solutions. You can get the youth-style bed risers for very cheap, or you can class it up with a wooden set.

Hooks in the hallway

For sweaters, tote bags, things that could theoretically be stored in tote bags—hooks are your friend. Of course you can put them over closet doors, but consider areas that you might not think of first, like the entry hallway or in the kitchen.

Shelves within shelves 

If you have cabinets or closets that have decent space but not a lot of inner structure, consider buying shelves or racks to put within them to maximize vertical space.

Meet the storage ottoman 

The name sounds a little ridiculous, but it’s truly an ingenious piece of furniture. An ottoman provides extra seating for gatherings, and one with inner storage helps you keep track of those pesky items that you need for living but don’t need to be on display at every given moment.

 

The best bars for meeting between North and South Brooklyn

Becca Schuh

About half of my friends live in South Brooklyn, and we find ourselves in a battle nearly every weekend: where can we meet that doesn’t involve half of us paying for pricey Lyfts home at the end of the night? Oftentimes we end up deep in either direction, with half the group angry at the end of the night of the arduous prospect of getting home. I decided to embark on a project: where can we meet in the middle? These bars are convenient for both ends of the BK spectrum, and have transit options for everyone.

Do or Dive

Whenever I ask for advice on a bar in middle Brooklyn, someone begins to enthuse on the perks of Do or Dive. And with good reason! The frozen coffee drink is sublime, the prices are low, the snacks are tasty, and…it’s a dog bar. Make new pet friends while you shoot the breeze with your human ones. Once the weather warms up, the back patio will be ready for all your outdoor-drinking needs. It’s off the G, A/C, shuttle, and several bus lines.

Glorietta Baldy

Glorietta Baldy is a classic—at least for me, it’s the first bar I visited in New York. I’ve never met someone who didn’t like it, so it’s also a crowd pleaser. A strong beer program with both rare and local drafts, plus wine and fun cocktails means everyone’s drinking needs are met.

Tip Top

A Brooklyn favorite dive, settle in with the Obama memorabilia and get ready for a night of intoxication on the cheap. Chips are free! The staff are amazing! Try out the juke box for yourself and have a night to remember.

Basquiat’s Bottle

New to the central Brooklyn area, Basquiat’s Bottle is not to be missed. This female owned bar has great vibes and open mic nights, live music, and of course, incredible art on the walls. Support this new business and help them become a Brooklyn mainstay.

Union Hall

It’s hard to hate a bar with great couches, but Union Hall has much more to offer. Between bocce ball, popular shows, and great food, it’s pretty impressive that the bar manages to pack it all in. Close to the D, N, R, B, Q, and 2/3/4 trains, there’s no excuse for friends from any neighborhood to not come along.