In East Harlem, ‘Keep Out’ Signs Apply to Renters [NYT.com] – When in a large city I often look at the residential spaces above dense commercial/retail and wonder who lives there and what it’s like (I once lived above a real estate office of some type – we never really knew what they did down there – and was constantly pestered by couriers and other delivery people) – but the answer may very well be that nobody lives up there. Naively, it doesn’t make economic sense, but the situation appears to more complex than that.
East Harlem has been undergoing a resurgence for two decades, yet the neighborhood is still pockmarked with four- or five-story walk-ups where the ground-floor stores are bustling and the apartments above are devoid of life. Their windows are boarded up, blocked up or just drearily empty, torn curtains testifying to no one’s having lived there for years. Although the vacancy rate in Manhattan hovers at 1 percent, at least some of the landlords of these sealed-up buildings are deliberately keeping their buildings mostly vacant, content to earn income from first-floor commercial tenants rather than deal with the trouble of residents. …At the corner of 106th Street and Third Avenue, the boarded-up windows and the remainder of the five-story building have been sleekly painted a rich taupe, allowing the Chase Bank branch below to escape looking as if it were in a forsaken slum. Still, no one lives in the apartments.
Reinventing Post Offices in a Digital World [NYT.com] – Digital, and all that it encompasses, is remaking every industry. We straddle the opposites of welcoming new services and holding onto traditional ways of receiving familiar services. Nice to see the German post office reframe this away from loss, towards reinvention. The article doesn’t characterize the pain that must have been felt by the organization and the customers but you can imagine it must have been tremendous.
With mail volumes decreasing 1 to 2 percent annually in many countries, European postal services from Germany to Sweden to Switzerland have reinvented themselves over the past decade as multifaceted delivery and information companies tailored to the virtual age. Though Deutsche Post by law still delivers to every address six days a week, it has jettisoned tens of thousands of buildings, 100,000 positions and its traditional focus on paper mail. “We realized that being a national postal provider was an endangered business, that we had to redefine the role of postal providers in a digital world,” said Clemens Beckmann, executive vice president of innovation of the German post office’s mail division. After selling off all but 24 of 29,000 post office buildings in the past 15 years, the German postal service is now housed mostly within other business “partners,” including banks, convenience stores and even private homes. In rural areas, a shopkeeper or even a centrally located homeowner is given a sign and deputized as a part-time postmaster. At the same time, many European postal services, including the one here, have developed a host of electronic services that are increasingly making traditional post offices and mailboxes obsolete. Bills and catalogs can go first to digital mailboxes run by the post office on customers’ computers, and the customers can tell the post office what they want it to print and deliver
Ford reintroduces the 1965 Mustang [Yahoo! Autos] – First I’m hearing that Ford has its own business supporting the classic car market. There are obviously design, performance and legal/safety issues why they won’t sell you an actual 1965 Mustang, but the idea of having someone make you a new version of an old car is very compelling. Who will make me one?
As part of its Ford Reproduction business, Ford revealed today it had approved a new stamping of the steel bodies for first-generation Mustang that buyers could then build into their own 1964 1/2 through 1966 Mustang, using whatever engine, axles, interior and other parts they can find on their own. The first-generation Mustangs rank as America’s most-restored vehicle, and the cottage industry of reproduction parts has grown to where it’s possible to build a Mustang just as it would have appeared on the showroom floor in the mid-1960s, down to the pushbutton AM/FM radio.