John Delach

On The Outside Looking In

Month: July, 2015

Selling the Top of the Big Apple

Late in May, the One World Trade Center (WTC) observatory opened to the public, 1,250 feet above West Street. For $32 an adult can whiz up to the 100th Floor in 47 seconds while looking at a virtual presentation of how the view from the top changed during the last 500 years. One WTC joins the Empire State Building (also $32) and the Top of the Rock ($30) observatories as the highest in New York.


But these towers are for common people, you and me, Aunt Sally from Indiana, tourists from Birmingham, Alabama or Birmingham, England – Paris, France or Paris, Texas and  any other place on the planet considered to be friendly to our nation. Their special views are open to anyone who can afford to buy a ticket.


These towers though, high as they may be are not the truly exclusive top of the Big Apple. That distinction belongs to the new “supertalls,” new mega-tower residential buildings that cater to the incredibly rich who already occupy the very top of the food chain. These insanely wealthy domestic and international messieurs and madams have demonstrated an insatiable appetite to fork over millions of dollars as investments in absurd structures that boggle the mind with their heights, views and the cost of admission.


One57, a 1,094-foot tower completed last year on West 57th Street was the first of the supertalls . It set an all-time ceiling for the cost of single residence this past January, “…when a duplex penthouse there closed for $100.4 million.”


As scandalous as One57 may seem, for now the reigning king of the supertalls is 432 Park Avenue. Naturally, located between 56th and 57th streets, It stands 1,396 feet tall, has 104 units with more than half under contract, “…for roughly $1 billion in potential sales, including a $95 million penthouse.” Those still available range from $16.95 to $82.5 million.


But wait, as the carnival barker would call out to hustle the crowd, “You ain’t seen nothing yet!”


The developer of One57, Extell Development Company, has plans to build “the tallest residential structure in the Western Hemisphere between 57th and 58th Street east of Broadway rising to at least 1,500 feet if not higher.”


How much higher? According to The New York Times, “A spokeswoman for the developer denied reports speculating that the building might top the 1,776-foot pinnacle of One WTC!” The projection is that the building will “generate some $4.4 billion in total sales proceeds.” That’s $4,400,000,000 in cash money.


Across the street construction on a 950-footer containing 118 units has reached street level. Designated as 220 Central Park South reports are “…buyers have already snapped up about a third of the units representing $1.1 billion in commitment.”


“The least expensive apartment, a 2,394-square-foot two-bedroom apartment on the 22nd floor, is listing at $12.25 million.” The 9,500-foot penthouse can be gained for $100 million.


Foundation work has started on a third tower at 111 West 57th Street scheduled to reach 1,421 feet. Designed for 46 apartments in the tower and 14 in an adjoining building, prices begin at $14 million.


Insanity personified, simply mind-numbing just to contemplate these figures. How can it be that there is so much disposable wealth available to fuel such expansive uber-luxury development in mid-Manhattan?


Come the revolution, ground zero will definitely be 57th Street. Forget the Wall Street “One Percenters” with their $343,000 in annual income. No, no, we’re talking here about 1/4 or even 1/8 Percenters. When the time comes to put these interlopers up against the wall; at least we’ll know where to find them. That is, if they are home. Since much of this development is driven by Russian, Chinese, Indian, etc. investors seeking a safe haven to part their ill gotten gain, they will not be in residence often. Timing is vital.


Autumn in New York, why does it feel so inviting…


Pass the word; the revolution begins in the October after the last of these towers is finished. Start collecting cobblestones and Belgian blocks and prepare to man the barricades; to arms, to arms.



The Donald

During the early 1980’s when New York City was in the middle of enduring those bad times and crime was rampant, I was tasked to meet a valuable client in the lobby of the Dorset Hotel on Fifty- Fourth Street. The Dorset was a throw-back to a more gentile era, a favorite for old-school British businessmen. My purpose; to escort him to Giambelli’s, then one of the city’s more upscale and popular Italian eateries. I was so assigned to keep creeps at bay based on my size and girth that gave me the same profile of Popeye Doyle from the French Connection.


This profile didn’t offend me, I considered this assignment a privilege to have the opportunity to spend some time alone with an amazing man. He was a fellow with the dryest sense of humor of any person I’ve ever had the privilege to know and beyond that, he was a RAF war hero and old enough to be my father.


We met at the bar and shared a drink. He had a gin and tonic, I probably had something similar but with vodka. The doorman ordered us a taxi and I gave the driver our destination. Correctly, he turned south onto Fifth Avenue. As memory serves me, the taxi was passing St. Patrick’s Cathedral when I proposed a question to my customer:


“There was a chap who worked for your firm. He preceded me on your account. I never met him, never knew him but I’ve heard many things about him, may I ask you, ‘What kindof a man did you find him to be?”


He looked at me, thought about what I had asked, measured his response, paused, then replied, “Like him or dislike him, you have to admit he was basically dishonest.”




Once upon a time a group of sports entrepreneurs created a professional football league to play their games during the spring rather than compete against the NFL in the fall. They called it the United States Football League (USFL.)


The Donald usurped this concept by buying the New York franchise, called the Generals and led the charge to compete against the NFL not on the playing filed but in court. He set out to sue the league on the grounds of antitrust and force his way into the league.


The trial took place in Brooklyn in the Eastern District Court. The Donald and renegade NFL owner, Al Davis, were pivotal witnesses in favor of the plaintiffs. They both accused the NFL of just about everything short of nuclear war.


Here is what happened: In the normal course of events with an urban jury The Donald & Co. would have won and, in fact, they did, or would have had it not been for a single alternate juror.


This juror was a naturalized citizen, a British ex-pat, who prior to coming to America had been a secretary at NATO. She replaced one of the original jurors who pleaded to the judge that he’d just been accepted by the US Post Office as a trainee but, if he didn’t show up the next day, he’d forfeit the job.


Except for this new juror, the USFL’s case was a slam-dunk! Out-numbered and out-voted, she voted with the other five but held her counsel until it was time to award damages. She recommended to her fellow jurors that this was really a bit of a silly case, something the judge should really decide. So she proposed they set the award at one dollar and let the judge amend the amount as he saw fit.


When the jury announced their verdict, the court was stunned. What she had failed to explain to her fellow jurors is that a judge can only reduce a settlement, not increase it.


Brilliant from where I sit, but I guess some of you may consider this the con of the century.


In any event, in this his latest re-incarnation, The Donald running for president of the United States has erased his role as the prime mover in this litigation and professes his loyalty to and love of the NFL.


The Donald is amazing:


Like him or dislike him, you have to admit, he’s basically dishonest.               




The origin of hat-trick according to Wikipedia: The term first appeared in cricket circa 1858 to describe HH Stephenson’s taking three wickets with three consecutive deliveries. Fans held a collection for Stephenson and presented him with a hat bought with the proceeds. The term was used in print for the first time in 1878 and was eventually adopted by many other sports including hockey, association football, water polo and team handball.


On July 5, 2015, the American midfielder, Carli Lloyd, accomplished a hat-trick by scoring three goals against Japan in the team’s 5-2 victory in the finals of the women’s World Cup. She was the first woman to make a hat trick in World Cup competition and the first athlete to make it in a final match. Ms Lloyd scored her third goal in the 16th minute, another record.


While the mostly partisan American crowd went wild in their spontaneous reaction to this amazing feat, their behavior was nowhere near as intense as two other instances that I have witnessed as part of my experience as a sport’s fan.


The first demonstration occurred during the New York Yankees 1978 home opener, but the reason for it actually happened the previous October. In Game 6 of the 1977 World Series, Reggie Jackson, put the Yankees ahead 4-2 with a two-run homer off Burt Hooten in the fourth inning. In the following inning he went yard again hitting a second two-run blast off of Elias Sosa giving the Bronx Bombers a 7-3 lead. Finally in the eighth, Mr. October parked his third round-tripper served up by Charlie Hough to become the first player since Babe Ruth to make a hat-trick in a World Series Game. Celebration of this event was subsumed by the team’s clinching the series that night and the chaos that followed the victory as unruly fans flooded onto the playing field.


Before Jackson came to New York the brash superstar predicted that if he played in the Bronx, “They would name a candy bar after me.”


And so it came to pass; the Reggie Bar was born, a square shaped concoction of chocolate, nuts and raisons wrapped in a bright orange package showing Reggie’s image about to swing at a suspended ball and emblazoned with REGGIE! in blue letters. The long defunct Wayne Bun Company that made this new treat introduced it at the 1978 home opener distributing individual candy bars to the 50,000 faithful in attendance. The Reggie Bar elicited comments reflecting the over-sized ego of its name sake: “It’s the only candy bar that tells you how good it is,” and, “It tastes like a hot dog.”


As luck would have it, Number 44 blasted a home run his first time at bat and most of the fans decided to celebrate the event and his World Series hat-trick by bombarding the field with his candy bars as he circled the field. The cascade of unopened candy continued until we ran out of ammunition covering the most of the field within reach of the stands in a sea of orange.


My second experience took place at a non-descript Rangers hockey game at Madison Square Garden Unfortunately, I don’t recall the player involved but that night a group of us secured our firm’s corporate box and filled it with a group of insurers who had assisted us in placing a difficult risk. Unbeknownst to any of us, Winston cigarettes was using this venue to showcase their then famous Winston Cup stock car racing series by distributing bright red baseball caps to each arriving fan. You guessed it, that unidentified Ranger scored three goals and the rink was transformed into the frozen Red Sea. Again, a lengthy delay ensued as all of the hats had to be picked up by hand, the Zamboni being useless for this task.


When action resumed, the same player scored a fourth goal bringing on an onslaught of any remaining hats plus packs of Winston cigarettes.


I just wish those fans in Vancouver had the presence of mind to celebrate Ms Lloyd’s achievement in similar fashion. But it can be argued that a jubilant New York City crowd exceeded this wish by showering Ms Lloyd and her teammates with confetti last Friday when the city hosted a parade in their honor up the canyon of heroes on a glorious July day.

New Hampshire Happenings: June / July 2015

We drove up in two cars a necessity of traveling with our daughter, Beth, her two, Marlowe and Cace plus Matt Delach after a stop in Fairfield, CT. Matt’s older brother, Drew, called the next morning asking me to drive back down to Deerfield, MA where his dad would drive him. “Why not,” I thought. Matt wasn’t too pleased to have his big brother intrude on his time here but we bought him off with a double sawbuck.


Sunday was cold and wet when I left the house at 10:30AM to pick up Drew. The rest of the gang drove to Keene where we met for lunch at the Colony Pub known for good food and long waits. All went well until we arrived back in Marlow later that afternoon where we discovered power was out. I had bought a small inverter for such an emergency that I hooked up to my GMC Arcadia to power the freezer and refrigerator.


The bad news: we were without the well with the primary and immediate concern of flushing toilets. The good news: water was available from the hot tub so I established a periodic bucket brigade. By 9 PM what fun remained was fast disappearing with the day’s last light and the Electric Cooperative gave no estimate of when power would be restored. We had enough flashlights for everyone and we all turned in early rather than curse the darkness. A bit after ten my restless sleep was interrupted by the sound of trucks on the road so I rose, put on sweats and a tee shirt and watched two line trucks pass our house. When they came back down ten-minutes later, I stepped out to ask when they thought we’d get power back?


One lineman said, “Soon,” and I started back to the house. It was then that I realized that I had on a Yankee tee. “Great,” I thought. “Soon, my ass,” I thought, “After seeing my shirt it will be a cold day in hell before power returns.”


Fortunately, we had it back ten-minutes later.


Beth took three of the kids to Mount Sunapee’s Aerial Adventure Park on Monday where they were strapped into harnesses and navigated various suspension “bridges” consisting of planks, wires, ladders and tunnels, some as high as 50 feet. One look convinced me that even back in the day when I was younger and more agile, there wasn’t any power on earth that would get me up there other than the army. The army made me climb telephone poles, never again!


Amazingly, Cace, Marlowe and Drew successfully tackled all four levels of the course. Beth also took it on four times but wisely restricted herself to level one, three times and level two, once. The park also featured two rock walls, one that ended with a 15-foot “gravity jump” onto a large air bag. Deliberately falling 15 feet is akin to trying to hurt or kill oneself. Wisely, Beth decided to forgo this plunge, but Drew, Cace and Marlowe chose to jump. Drew made it alright but the others hurt themselves, fortunately not seriously. If all of this is not enough to satisfy your daredevil, there was a two and a half-hour zip line trip; again thanks but no thanks!


On Wednesday it rained so it was off to the movies in Keene. Mary Ann, Beth, Marlowe and Cace saw the animated movie, Inside Out, while the two boys and I saw Jurassic World. Malowe and Cace liked their movie, the two adults, not so much. As for Jurassic World, this was Matt’s third time and Drew’s second. My impression in one sentence: “There goes the neighborhood.”


The boys and I returned to the house first just in time to have a weather cell pass over us and lightning strike really close by. So close that the boys saw a flash and sparks in the front room. Shockingly, we didn’t lose power!


The rest of family arrived Wednesday night and Thursday afternoon together with good weather. Six adults, five children and three Golden Retrievers successfully co-existed (mostly) over the next three days including a pontoon boat rental on Lake Sunapee on July 4th.


Once they all departed on Sunday the quiet was inspirational!


The WTC Observatory

The visual effects displayed on the internal walls of the elevator cabs for their ascent up to the observatory at No. 1 World Trade Center are impossible for me to explain sufficiently to give them justice. When you have a moment please go on the internet and type in: “WTC elevator movie” to see this dramatic presentation.


You will see a virtual image of Lower Manhattan and its environs beginning 500 years ago progressing to the present. The video starts as the elevator begins ascending with visions of the bedrock that support this 1,776 foot-tall tower, the successor to the late Twin Towers. Like all of the other passengers, I was mesmerized by this visual image of the changing architectural landscape of the city that unfolded as the elevator cab ascended to the 102nd floor.


The video lasted forty-eight seconds the time needed to travel 102 floors. Five hundred years condensed into 48 seconds reduces the images of the late twin towers to just 3.84 seconds to account for the 30 years of their existence. Trust me, this is disconcerting and un-nerving.


The observatory opened in May and on June 23, I took my oldest grandsons Drew and Matt downtown to see the Memorial and the Observatory. Neither can recall September 11, 2001, but Drew, who was born in November of 1999, can recollect through family lore that he pleaded with Mike, his dad that fateful morning not to leave Fairfield, Connecticut and go to work. Mike did, thereby witnessing the tragedy that unfolded from a south-facing window from 1166 Avenue of the Americas.


The names of all who died at the Trade Center are cut into the brass surfaces that line the edges of the two square water falls that sit on each of the tower’s footprints. Each morning, memorial staff members place a white rose into the cutouts of those victims who would have celebrated their birthdays that day. I steered my two charges to see one of these roses to explain their significance. As I drew their attention to this honor, I caught my breath as I saw the name of the person set out above one so celebrated. The name I saw was, Pat Cahill, a colleague of mine from Marsh & McLennan.


I said nothing as chills descended. It was another reminder that remembrance and grief from that day is without end. Even though time has softened the edges, each time I venture there I resurrect my sorrow for all those I knew who perished that day.


Our reservations for the observatory were for noon but we were able to start our journey slightly before 11:45. Crowd control and security were totally present but not stifling or rigid. The line to the five express elevators wound its way, Disney style, through faux walls of bedrock displaying historical messages. Drew noted one that stated how old bedrock is. “You know, Grandpa, how you tell us you are older than dirt? Well, I think you should say you are older than bedrock.”


The elevator was smooth and quiet and I didn’t sense movement which was probably aided due to being mesmerized by the video. Upon reaching the top, we were directed into an area called “Theater in the Sky.”


(Because of the unique and dramatic presentation, I will not describe this experience. Write to me if you want to know more about it.)


Surprised by the boys’ excited reaction to their birds’ eye view from 102 floors above the ground, I realized this was their first experience viewing New York City set out below them from an observatory in a skyscraper. Shortly after we arrived the three of us headed to the men’s room. Drew and I exited first. When Matt came out, he was holding a cell phone. “I looked down and saw this on the floor inside the stall next to me.”


Matt gave a good description of the owner and we turned in the phone to the staff, then looked for its owner. Matt spotted the fellow, told him that we found his phone and explained where we turned it in. A short time later, after being re-united with his device, the owner returned to thank us.


The floor below the entrance to observatory complex, the 101st floor, houses a fast food eatery, a bar and restaurant operated by Legends, a co-venture between the Dallas Cowboys and the New York Yankees. The café was suitably mobbed it being lunch time but we didn’t look for a seat as our plan was to head uptown to Foley’s NY for lunch after our visit. This scene was of little interest except I wanted to know the cost of a Jameson’s on the rocks at the bar. The answer: $15-heavy, but surprisingly, not insane by New York prices.


The actual observatory is on the 100th floor and features a wide open view of all of New York City and its suburbs in every direction. Unfortunately, the day of our visit was hot and hazy offering us a view impeded by heavy humidity that proceeded strong thunderstorms destined to strike much of the region later that day. Too bad, but so it goes. In all, we stayed about an hour before we’d seen enough and hunger called us to the elevators.


A different virtual reality unfolded for the descent. The elevator cab popped out of the building acting like a glider that sailed around the tower as we settled back to the ground floor to conclude a rather grand but incomplete experience.


I’ve marked it off on my to-do list, to return to the tower on a clear night next winter to witness once again Gotham’s radiance from that bar on the 101st floor. My plan is to order a double Jameson’s on the rocks raise it in memory of all of the good times I experienced at The Club at the World Trade Center and salute all of the souls lost on that awful day.