As 2008 comes to a close, here's a look (and in some cases, an update) to the more compelling and fantastic stories that stood out this year. The first category: Real Estate.
Audacious Real Estate Listing: There were many, many listings that raised eyebrows, but nothing topped Chicago investors listing 139 acres near the Hollywood sign (right near the "H"). Oh, and they asked $22 million for the land, which they’d purchased back in 2002 for a mere $1.675 million. UPDATE: The land is still listed at $22 million, but sellers are willing to negotiate, writes listing agent, Ernie Carswell, in an email to Curbed. He also notes that there been two potential purchasers, both from East Coast bases, who have come out and walked the land. At one point--and prior to the February announcement of the listing--the city had been trying to negotiate to buy the land, which was valued in late 2007/early 2008 at about $6 million. UPDATE, II: Carolyn Ramsay, spokesperson for Councillman Tom LaBonge's office, tells us LaBonge has raised $4.3 million so far. PDF of funding sources is here.
Popping the Bubble Story: On March 13, LA Times reporter Peter Y. Hong wrote a story that questioned whether downtown’s revival was really all that it was cracked up to be, and cited statistics that indicated that the downtown downturn was occurring at a faster rate than the national average. The story set off a firestorm: Angelenic's headline: "la times takes ignorant stance on downtown market", while Blogdowntown questioned using quotes from Stephen May, who constantly has been "preaching gloom and doom" for years, according to the blog. Also, the Downtown Real Estate Association members drafted a letter to the paper, complaining about the sources used. UPDATE: We went back and read the story this week. Eh, Hong doesn't seem too far off, although it doesn't seem that Downtown is de-appreciating at a faster rate than the rest of the country. Back in March, Hong cited statistics (and this info was disputed by that downtown real estate group) that indicated that the median sales price for a downtown condo was $497,360. Where we are now: According to Redfin (one of many sources to use), the median price for condos sold or taken off the market in downtown in the last 90 days is $318,000.