Recovery from Hurricane Sandy prompts new projects and fresh customers in New Jersey’s waterfront cities

Two days after Superstorm Sandy slammed the New York region, the developer of the Madox, a new rental building in downtown Jersey City, was scheduled to have its final construction inspection. Four feet of rainwater had flooded the building, and the owner, Fields Development Group, would later realize that ice makers in the apartments were leaking, warping hardwood floors. The building lost power for about a week and a half. James Caulfield, a partner at Fields Development Group, remembers pushing back the inspection date by 45 days. The 12 renters who had already signed leases were thrown into disarray. Half would relocate to other buildings, and the other half would scrap their commitments in the wake of the storm. Fields Development regrouped, discounting rents as much as 4%. The company spent around $45,000 for a new generator to prevent another disaster. But almost a year after the storm, the 122-unit Madox is more than 95% occupied. Rents have climbed back up, with studios starting at $1,700 and three-bedrooms going as high as $4,900 per month. Fields Development is now planning for the second phase of the Madox across the street, on a brownfield about to undergo an environmental cleanup. Fields is also at work on a 59-unit rental in northwest Hoboken. Sandy inundated Jersey City and Hoboken as bad as anywhere. The surge crested at 6 feet, soaking thousands of properties. But not long after the waters receded, real estate hunters began flooding back into Jersey’s Gold Coast. The only thing rising now are home prices and rents. “The way these cities have bounced back, it’s given customers we’ve seen assurances that we’ll be prepared for the next storm,” Caulfield said. “Anything that’s decently priced is moving.” The market froze for about 30 days after the storm, but by the end of 2012, renters and buyers began clamoring to get into new Continue Reading

It’s playtime for Owen Wilson: He’s staying close with son, 2, while expecting another child with new girlfriend Caroline Lindqvist

Having a second child on the way hasn’t clipped Owen Wilson’s wings. Wilson had a big grin at a very kid-friendly party for his new film, “Free Birds,” and was the apple of his 2-year-old son Robert’s eye, amid a frenzy of distracting video games and kids’ rides. “Owen and Robert have a really strong father-son bond,” said one partygoer in West Hollywood, who was taken aback by Wilson’s connection with the son he shares with ex-girlfriend Jade Duell, whom the “Little Fockers” star stopped dating in June 2011. Wilson, 44, is expecting a second love child with personal trainer Caroline Lindqvist, 41, in early 2014. The pair reportedly met in 2007, soon after Wilson’s highly publicized suicide attempt, which closely followed his split from Kate Hudson. Wilson said at the “Free Birds” premiere that doing voice-over work with co-star Woody Harrelson on the animated film brought out his inner child, which led director Jimmy Hayward to play the role of strict papa. “We made the argument we can bounce [ideas] off each other,” said Wilson. “There were two sessions, and Jimmy Hayward didn’t feel they were productive. Jimmy ended up separating us, and that was more efficient.” Co-star Harrelson cut in, helping Wilson plead his case. “We thought we were good,” declared Harrelson. “But Jimmy separated us as we were not getting enough done.” In “Free Birds,” due out Nov. 1, Wilson and Harrelson play a pair of time-traveling turkeys who join forces to turn back the clock and change history so that eating their species won’t become a Thanksgiving tradition. When Wilson recalled Thanksgiving pasts in his family, they sounded more like a scene from his 2005 film “Wedding Crashers,” in which he and co-star Vince Vaughn get roughed up while tossing the pigskin around with Bradley Cooper and Continue Reading

Sony announces Vaio Duo 13 and Pro line of laptops

The art of crafting a laptop that takes advantage of Windows 8’s unique feature set remains elusive, and perhaps it will stay that way for awhile. But Sony’s back taking another crack at it this year. Among the myriad laptop announcements at Computex in Taipei on Tuesday, Sony delivered a pair of new Vaios to the public, showing off the long-rumored Duo 13, as well as a new Pro line of ultrabooks. Both announcements showcased plenty of promise, even in a crowded market that included several intriguing ideas. The Vaios, however, remain intriguing. Last year’s Duo 11 brought a different take to the fledgling Windows 8 laptop market, delivering tablet-like device that slid open to reveal a keyboard. The main idea was solid, but several issues – the absence of a trackpad and the lack of keyboard space among them – held the unit back. The Duo 11 experience, while convenient and backed by a beautiful screen, became an acquired taste in a laptop market full of acquired tastes, and a hefty price tag held that unit back. The Duo 13, however, seeks to fix last year’s flaws, with a larger footprint. It’s a 13-inch device with (finally) a small trackpad, and a far more typing-friendly keyboard. Sony also shrunk the extra-large, somewhat industrial-style sliding mechanism that made last year’s unit run, replacing it with a far less bulky, far more elegant mechanism in the center of the unit. Another issue with last year’s unit – the lack of a spot to place the unique stylus that was supposed to add even more value to the Duo last year – has also been rectified, with a tiny holder. It’s all the foundation of an intriguing hybrid laptop that could finally pick up traction in 2013. Most of last year’s Windows 8 hybrids had flaws here and there, and Sony’s being very proactive in fixing its issues. The guts of the laptop are impressive as well, starting with the new Haswell processors Continue Reading

SYSTEM UPDATE: Sony’s Tap 20 and Duo 11 showcase the changing face of the PC

Windows 8 is hardly perfect. But boy, is the tablification of the PC going to be fun. When Windows 8 hit stores a few months ago, it was as ambitious as any operating system in recent memory, radically altering the PC by aggressively promoting touch features, a stronger multiplatform entertainment experience, and interface consistency across tablets, computers and mobile phones. It’s dealt with plenty of issues, since then, though, struggling to be user-friendly to gamers and minimizing that old Windows mainstay, the desktop.   But while the software has been plagued by issues – and continues to be imperfect, even if it does have great potential – Windows 8 hardware is a breeding ground for tremendous innovation. And a pair of Sony devices – the Duo 11 laptop and the Tap 20 desktop – showcase that quite effectively.   Windows 8 welcomes innovation, seeking to blur the line between tablet and PC, and for better or worse, Sony has embraced those ideas wholeheartedly. The result is a pair of devices that are laptop and desktop in name only; really, they’re unique pieces of hardware with usage patterns that should be revealed in the coming months.   The Duo 11 is an 11-inch laptop, one of many so-called “hybrid” laptops. Essentially, it has a tablet “mode,” but a quick and smooth slide reveals a keyboard, transforming into a teeny 11-inch laptop. As a tablet, it’s a tad heavy, with inconsistent weight distribution, and as a laptop, it’s an acquired taste. But it’s tremendously easy to fall in love with the machine’s 1080p display, which produces deep blacks and strong overall colors, and the touch functionality is incredibly responsive.   The Tap 20, Sony’s “desktop” entry into the Windows 8 pantheon, is similarly impressive, and even more Continue Reading

‘Dynasty’ star Joan Collins’ E. 57th St. three-bedroom home priced at $2.2 million

For the third time in a year, Hollywood icon Joan Collins’ E. 57th St. three-bedroom home hit the market with different brokers. Priced at $2.2 million, the 2,200 square-foot Dorchester apartment at 110 E. 57th St. originally listed 12 months ago for $2.9 million. This time, Collins went with fellow television stars, CORE’s Tom Postilio and Mickey Conlon of HGTV’s “Selling New York” to sell her digs. Priced at $2.2 million, Joan Collins' 2,200 square-foot upper East Side apartment hit the market for the third time in a year. (Jeanne Noonan for the New York Daily News) The duo met Collins at a Malibu party held by “Three’s Company” star Suzanne Somers. “Joan has homes in Los Angeles, London, South of France and New York,” Conlon said. “That's a heavy carrying load. She wanted to sell one. The previous brokers didn’t have a focused strategy." Jeanne Noonan for New York Daily News   PHOTOS: Inside celebrity homes Full of mirrors, paintings of Collins and photographs of actors such as Cary Grant and Laurence Olivier, the apartment is a 1980s time capsule, with a zebra-covered settee, parquet floors and a toile bedspread that matches the walls. Jeanne Noonan for New York Daily News   “The first thing Joan said when we walked in was, ‘I bet you’ll want me to take down all the pictures of me, ’” said Postilio. “Absolutely not. We’re going to glam it up even more.” Collins tapped Tom Postilio and Mickey Conlon to sell her E. 57th St. digs. (Jeanne Noonan for the New York Daily News) The apartment next door is on the market for $1.995 million, meaning a buyer could combine units for a 4,000-square-foot home fronting 57th St. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Mom’s the bomb! Being a human cannonball is all in the family for ‘The Cannon Lady’

Jennifer Smith gets fired from her job on a daily basis. Hey, it pays the bills. The tiny mother of two gets shot out of a 27-foot-long cannon 200 days a year at fairs and amusement parks across the globe - including the Quick Chek New Jersey Festival of Ballooning beginning this Friday. "I am a second-generation human cannonball," says the proud projectile, who's following the trajectory of her father, former Guinness World Record holder Dave (Cannonball) Smith, whose unprecedented 185-foot flight was just broken - by her brother - in Rome three months ago. Smith, aka "The Cannon Lady," doesn't bat an eyelash at her unconventional upbringing. "We were traveling with a circus of some kind most of my childhood," she says. "Our friends' parents tamed lions or had elephants or did the flying trapeze, so having my dad shot out of a cannon was no big deal." Once her older sister also started going down the barrel of the gun, naturally Smith, then 13, demanded to do it, too. "I started training on the trampoline, on the flying trapeze, climbing and doing aerial acts, just trying to get my bearing upside down and tumbling," she explains. At 15, she test-fired with the cannon (built by her father, of course). "Really, nothing short of just getting shot can teach you," she says, "just a very short distance into the net, to figure out how to land and what actually happens to your body on the inside of the cannon." Smith being shot from a cannon in front of spectators. (Courtesy Quick Chek NJ Festival) What does happen? Her 5-foot-2-inch frame is hit with the full force of the cannon, propelling her body 60 feet in the air before landing in a 19-foot-by-52-inch net 125 feet away. "In a split second, I go from standing still to flying in the air. It's incredibly violent," says Smith. "You want to use all of your power, squeeze every muscle that you have, to fight the pressure of the cannon. If you land wrong in the net, you can break every bone in Continue Reading

‘WALL-E,’ ‘Wanted’ team up as $100 million duo

LOS ANGELES - A lonely little robot made millions of friends during the weekend — and even outgunned Angelina Jolie. "WALL-E," the Pixar Animation tale of a robot toiling away on a long-abandoned Earth, debuted as the No. 1 movie with $62.5 million in ticket sales, with Jolie's assassin thriller "Wanted" opening in second place with $51.1 million, according to studio estimates Sunday. The two movies combined to keep Hollywood on a roll. The top 12 movies took in $179.2 million, up 22 percent from the same weekend last year, when Pixar's "Ratouille" opened with $47 million. It was the fifth straight weekend that revenues climbed. Revenues for the summer season that began May 2 are up 6 percent over last year's record pace, according to box-office tracker Media By Numbers. The sour economy and high gas prices may be helping to fuel Hollywood's boom, said Paul Dergarabedian, president of Media By Numbers. Movies tend to thrive when times are tough because they are relatively cheap compared to sports events, concerts and other outings. "Audiences are obviously gravitating toward the movies as their first choice for entertainment," Dergarabedian said. "It doesn't take that much gas to get to the local multiplex. That might have a little something to do with this, as well." The previous weekend's No. 1 movie, the Warner Bros. comedy "Get Smart," slipped to third place with $20 million, raising its total to $77.3 million. "WALL-E" maintains the perfect track record of Pixar, the Walt Disney unit that has made nine films, all of them critical and commercial successes, including "Cars," ''Monsters, Inc." and the "Toy Story" flicks. "Finding Nemo" and "The Incredibles" put up the biggest opening-weekend numbers among Pixar movies, both pulling in just over $70 million. Set centuries in the future, "WALL-E" is the story of a rickety, walking trash compactor that humans left running after abandoning the over-polluted planet. The movie overcame a Continue Reading

How to lick higher postage prices

In one week, the price of a stamp will jump a penny to 42 cents, but your computer could help you get around that and other price increases the Postal Service plans.Among the changes coming next Monday: The cost of mailing a flat 9-by-12-inch brown envelope will rise significantly and Express Mail rates will be based on distance.Among the ways to save, Express Mail users will get a 3% discount for using electronic postage. While conventional stamp users will pay $16.50 to ship an Express Mail envelope after May 12, electronic postage users will pay $16. Priority Mail customers will actually get a rate decrease by going to electronic postage. While stamp users will pay 6% more, electronic postage users will receive discounts resulting in rates that are 2.2% lower, according to the postal service.Electronic postage is sold by vendors certified by the Postal Service, including Endicia, Pitney Bowes and All offer software that automatically adjusts to new postal rates and all let you reload your postal accounts online. And all offer postage that qualifies for the discounts.Dymo, a manufacturer of label printers and hand-driven label makers, offers Dymo Stamps, a simple solution for those who just need basic postal services. The service is managed by Endicia which, like Dymo, is owned by Newell Rubbermaid.There's no subscription fee for Dymo Stamps. Users pay for postage and rolls of blank stamps ($14.95 for a roll of 200; $139.95 for 10 rolls). Once you load the software, you can calculate and print First Class, Priority Mail, postcard and International Airmail stamps (for up to one ounce), and generate mailing labels, as well.The service can only be used with one of three compatible Dymo LabelWriter thermal label printers: the 400 Turbo ($139.99), the Twin Turbo ($189.99) or the Duo ($209.99). The LabelWriter Twin Turbo can print two labels at once, allowing you to print address labels and stamps at the same time. offers a single monthly Continue Reading

Summer of ’79: Volkswagen Vanagon v. Mercedes-Benz S-Class

Summer is basically here, and—as we’ve said, time and time again—it’s the prime season for a road trip. Recently, I planned to spend a couple of days in Los Angeles with my friend and colleague, Kevin, much of it behind the wheel of two rental cars from Relay Rides. Much like Airbnb, Relay Rides is a peer-to-peer rental service that allows individuals to share their cars with one another. (Also like Airbnb, Relay Rides is deemed illegal in New York state, deemed a similar threat to the rental car industry as Airbnb is to the hotel industry.) FOLLOW THE DAILY NEWS AUTOS ON FACEBOOK. ‘LIKE’ US HERE. Unlike Hertz or Avis, there are no vehicle categories at set prices, and the rental fleet is as varied as its members allow it to be. You name it, and for a set daily rate, you can generally find it—even from defunct brands like Oldsmobile and Mercury—although many Relay Rides are new cars with low mileage, often belonging to commuters. That means everything from a decade-old Pontiac Sunfire convertible to a showroom-fresh BMW M4 is up for grabs. And grab we did. With a daily budget of $100 each—roughly what you might pay for a Ford Mustang V-6 convertible in peak summer season—we plumbed the depths of Relay Rides’ vast assortment of vehicles available in Los Angeles. Our plan was to meet at a coffee shop in L.A.’s trendy district of Silverlake for an official unveiling of each other’s choices. The result? We outdid even our wildest expectations. After spending several days trying out Mercedes-Benz’s newest van, the Metris, I wanted a classic van experience, so I went for a 1979 Volkswagen Vanagon Type 2. I’ve spent time with plenty of up-to-date, modern vans, but never with the iconic “VW Bus.”From my laptop screen, it looked like a steal: cheeky looks, room for seven, and a classic air-cooled engine with an automatic transmission, with none of the Continue Reading


TWO ALLEGED Manhattan gunrunners were busted yesterday after a months-long investigation that pulled more than 40 illegal weapons off the street, the Daily News has learned. Jamal Horsford, 24, and Marcellus Sorey, 34, both of Manhattan, were charged with multiple counts of illegally selling firearms, weapons possession and drug possession. The duo were the main players in an operation that bought used weapons and resold them, mostly uptown, sources said. "It was, 'Money for your guns,' " a law enforcement source said. The resale price was often twice what the weapon would have cost at a licensed gun dealer, sources said. During the course of a nine-month investigation, cops recovered some 41 weapons - a smorgasbord of assault rifles, 9-mm. handguns and street firearms - sources said. Horsford, who has previous drug charges, and Sorey, released on parole in 2002 after a manslaughter conviction, turned to gun sales because it was less work and less risk than selling drugs, or so they thought, a source said. "You don't make as much money as drugs, but it's safer. You are doing business deals instead of sitting on a corner," the source said. "At least, they thought it was safer." The NYPD and the Manhattan district attorney's office are expected to announce the busts today. [email protected] Join the Conversation: Continue Reading