Nets will be all-Brooklyn by 2015-16: Team unveils $50M Industry City training center

Published on Thursday, June 26, 2014 by Stefan Bondy

A 70,000-square foot Sunset Park warehouse will undergo a major renovation, beginning this summer, to create a ‘spa-like environment’ for the players and, they hope, act as a selling point to potential free agents.

On the Sunset Park waterfront with a beautiful view of the city skyline, standing adjacent to its nearest place of business — a strip club called Peyton’s Playpen — is an empty warehouse that represents the Nets’ transformation to full-fledged Brooklynnites.

In about a year, they’re cutting their last significant tie to New Jersey.

Representatives of the team’s ownership, minus the overseas-stationed Mikhail Prokhorov, unveiled the plans Thursday for a new practice facility set to open for the 2015-16 season. The cost is roughly $50 million, according to sources, and the facility — including the basketball courts and amenities — will be built on the roof of the warehouse, occupying 70,000 square feet.

Construction is set to begin this summer, and the Nets are touting the finished product as a “harmonious, spa-like environment.” The Nets have come a long way since practicing at a truck stop in North Bergen, with Derrick Coleman and Kenny Anderson having to shower and share a locker room with the truckers.

New York Nets

The theme of Thursday’s press conference was the location in Industrial City, and GM Billy King worked in a dig at the Knicks by noting that the Nets will be the only team to have its practice facility within the city limits (the Knicks practice in Greenburgh). Coach Jason Kidd cracked that he won’t spill any sodas when it opens, before turning serious about the advantage in attracting free agents.

“You look at the tools that can help (in free agency),” Kidd said. “You look at the practice facility, you look at Barclays Center and what the franchise stands for — which is first class.”

The hope is that the location of the facility, which is just three miles from Barclays Center, will be more convenient for players and staff who are commuting over a tunnel and bridge to get from the current facility in East Rutherford to the home arena.

Brooklyn Nets Training Center

In the franchise’s first two seasons in Brooklyn, not one player lived in the outer borough. Most rented in New Jersey. The others resided in Manhattan.

“Absolutely, I think they will (start living in Brooklyn),” Pavlova said. “As I rule, I think players tend to live where they practice because it’s convenient.”

Second-year center Mason Plumlee is on board.

“I’m looking to move into Brooklyn once the facility is done,” he said. “I don’t see any reason to live in Manhattan.”

The Nets will remain practicing this season at the PNY Center in East Rutherford, which opened in 1998 and was briefly closed in 2012 because of flooding caused by Hurricane Sandy.

The Rent Freeze That Wasn’t

The other day a critic of mine said, “Why don’t you write about affordable housing?” I said, “I don’t want to offend anyone.” Oh well… Here goes:

We don’t deal with anyone who lives in a rent stabilized apartment as part of our daily business, with some notable exceptions. Oftentimes people who own rent stabilized apartments want to sell them, and in doing so we interact, or sometimes a neighbor in a coop will be rent controlled, or an adjacent building with existing air rights. This is the rule of thumb: people with rent stabilized and rent controlled apartments don’t leave. They survive death as their heirs can inherit their apartments. Sometimes some of my very lovely friends who may have been raised in Manhattan are even lucky enough to negotiate buy outs, which can act as seed money to stake a family to buy their first home.

So on NY 1 News they had people calling in after the City Council adopted a plan that raised rent stabilized rents 1% over the next year and 2.75% for 2 year leases. The crowd wanted a rent freeze. The modest increase was in fact the slightest increase, as in the smallest, of the last 50 years. However, despite it being the best deal tenants have gotten from the City in most of their living memories, few were pleased.


Tenants were DISGUSTED, disappointed, irate, aghast. They wanted to know, “how do they expect us to pay more rent without an increase in real wages?”

Landlords were pissed! How can we only get a 1% increase when property taxes have tripled in the last 5 years?! Utility prices have gone up?! Maintenance for my building is subject to inflation and I can’t afford it!

However, ironically, no one was more upset than the bystander. The bystander is the market rate tenant. One caller said “Rent stabilization only exists in 2 cities in the country and the free market tenants are subsidizing the rent controlled tenants. It should be eliminated. It’s an entitlement.”

Now what does the Sauce have to say?

Dear tenants, you are a lucky mofo. Stop bitching. Say Thank You. It’s not everyone else trying to rob you. I would be sorry that the world is a mean cruel place, but luckily for you, you have a safety net. If I had a Mayor who promised a rent freeze and reneged, I might wonder why the Mayor keeps writing checks with his mouth his ass can’t cash, but I wouldn’t blame just him. I think the Mayor understands holistically that the cost of living is astronomical and that the City is organized chaos. 1% is equivalent to the US Soccer team getting to the World Cup finals. It’s a pleasant surprise.

Dear landlords, you are likely not all that sharp. And if society was left in your hands this island would resemble Lord of the Flies. Let’s look at this. If you inherited your buildings, well, sorry Mommy bought you a Toyota not a Lexus. If you bought your building – look, see the first paragraph. Rent controlled tenants don’t leave. You bought the building subject to their leases. The reason a landlord would want a rent controlled tenant is because the City (read the taxpayers) discount their property taxes in exchange. Landlords complain the rent controlled tenants are all sorts of bad things. Know what they really are though? Less fortunate than you! Count your blessings. Stop being such a pig. Learn how to share.

Dear bystander, you have no idea what you are talking about. Let’s look at the stats. NYC has mass transit so the public can efficiently get from point A to point B without owning a car. NYC has the best food in the world, great artists, some of the best schools in the country, and is the most in demand tourist location in the USA. Better than Los Angeles. Better than Miami, Chicago, and the town you grew up in. NYC has the most valuable real estate in the country. NYC saw the lowest decline during the crash. NYC has the least leveraged real estate. Why? It’s called infrastructure.

However, none of the parties are thinking of the big picture. All of this becomes like sports. No matter what your personal interests are, as a professional negotiator, you can’t hate a negotiated settlement. All of life is a negotiation. Your very DNA is a negotiation between your father and your mother. A successful negotiation is an enduring love. Without challenges we can’t have victories. A world without disagreements isn’t ideal, in fact it’s not our world at all.

Rent control is social infrastructure, and while staring at the details might distort your perspective, the bigger picture is that informed and wise urban planning have made this world city resemble other great global cities, places like Paris and Berlin, where government subsidy similar to rent control are the nutrients that keep an honest, active, and healthy labor force proximate to the goods and services they help deliver to the more affluent classes. In fact the wealth and affluence of the City society is a result of the infrastructure, not a vestige. Informed analysis shows that without social support you have bankrupt cities like Detroit, filled with crime. A city that doesn’t maintain all of its infrastructure actually can die. The clinical analyst who sees things in a vacuum would be wise to take a deep breath. For that matter, we all should.

Carmelo Vs. Carmela

So I caught the Colbert Report the other night and Edie Falco is being interviewed by Stephen Colbert, and not having the best time. Clearly not a match made in heaven. Stephen’s dry and ironic sarcasm is not penetrating Edie’s mind. She is a serious gal.

I flick over to Sports Center and amongst soccer players biting each other and LeBron James, the story us New Yorkers want to know about – where will leading scorer Carmelo Anthony go next year, is discussed. The consensus is the Chicago Bulls, who have great defense and coaching and check the ‘Big City’ box that’s apparently vital to the Knicks All-Star.

Wow, wow, wow. Carmelo and Carmela. Actually, they have a lot in common, though they handle their situations very differently. And while some of you might say Carmela is a fictitious person and Carmelo is real, eh, details.

On Commitment:

Carmela was the materfamilias of the leading syndicate family. Blood in, blood out. The closest thing she got to being disloyal was a sleepover with her Priest, Father Phil, and that was amongst a cacophony of cheating that Tony had put her through, and it was a rainy night, and nothing happened. Tony was cheating on his mistresses, let alone his wife. Carmela and Tony did have a trial separation, and she went out to dinner with one of her son Anthony’s teachers, but even then, she never lost her identity as Tony’s wife and Anthony and Meadow’s Mom.

When Uncle Junior shot Tony and he was lying in the netherworld between here and Kevin Finnerty (the pearly gates or something,) Carmela even stepped it up and made sure the family made its collections. She didn’t deviate or try to align herself with another star.

When Tony’s people killed her daughter’s boyfriend and best friend’s son for robbing a poker game, she never told. When the FBI came she never blinked. When Furio flirted with her, she sent his ass back to Italy.

Carmelo went to Syracuse University. I know a girl who went there too. She told me a story. She said she had a friend who had consensual relations with Carmelo. At the conclusion, he jumped up fist pumped and yelled “100! You’re the hundredth bitch!” Just gossip. I don’t know if he had a girlfriend at the time and am not accusing him of, ahem, infidelity. At Syracuse, with one other marginal NBA player, he chucked his way to the NCAA championship. This was no small feat, as his draft class was the second best of the last 25 years, his competition was also elite.


Carmelo was drafted by the Nuggets, and paired with Allen Iverson, they were competitive in the uber-competitive Western Conference. Allen Iverson has since retired and is a known cocaine addict (fact check me.) One of those teams they were on won one playoff series. AI got a lot of the blame, not for the blow, just for being a chucking scrub, and so they got other guys in to replace him. Unfortunately the other guys, guys like Chris Birdman Anderson (suspended for drug use,) JR Smith (suspended for drug use) and Chauncey Billups, weren’t enough to take the Nuggets to the next level. At least not on the court.

Carmelo wanted out of Denver. He wanted out ASAP. He did not want to wait for Denver, or his contract to “finish.” So instead of playing out the last year of his contract, he forced a trade to the Knicks. He would only go to the Knicks. The reason he wanted to force a trade, instead of signing as a free agent, is so he could have a guaranteed 5th year on his contract. It was not to win a ring. It was not to help the Knicks advance in the playoffs. It was not to help the Knicks. It was 3 years ago when he signed his 5 year guaranteed max deal. Now he has opted out again. All it cost the Knicks was a decade of development.

Commitment Advantage: Carmela

On Leadership:

When Carmela knew that Adrianna was missing, and the story didn’t really add up, what did she do? She didn’t rat. When Tony left the house and AJ was being a brat, underperforming in school, etc, and Tony, super guilty as an absentee father (and taking the easy way out at every possible fork when it came to his family, except the time he took Meadow to see colleges) bought AJ a yellow Nissan Xterra, Carmela made Tony take the car away until AJ improved his grades. This made her unpopular with everyone (except AJ’s teacher who liked her and she rebuffed after one date) but she had principles and she stuck to them.

When Carmela’s Mom was nervous that their elitist friends would be embarrassed by Tony and his family, Carmela stood up to her Mother. When Meadow was embarrassed when she saw Tony out at a club, she confronted her husband, and made him reflect on the example he was leading by with his children.

When Carmelo played the Celtics in the playoffs, he got into an altercation with Kevin Garnett, who informed him his wife Lala, tastes like Honey Nut Cheerios. That was a surprise to Carmelo, who apparently hasn’t tasted Lala in years, as it came out that despite their public marriage, they are estranged. So while Carmelo is looking for a new team, Lala had previously said that Melo would stay in NYC. Melo responded that he loves and respects his wife, and those weren’t his words.

When Melo came to New York, he did his best to get along with the team and forge a winning attitude. In doing so he took a team that won 50 wins (a stellar benchmark) the year he arrived, with 2 co-stars, Amare Stoudemire and Jeremy Lin, and led them to being swept in the first round of the playoffs by Garnett’s Celtics. The next year, he led them to firing their coach, Mike D’Antoni, shipping Lin to Houston, and marginalizing Amare, with the hopes he would retire. Amare’s injuries aside, neither he nor Melo play D, and their redundancy didn’t directly translate into wins. Over 3 seasons in blue and orange, he leaves New York with a completely depleted roster, on the 3rd coach since he “came home,” and failed to make the playoffs for the first time in his career. While he may have done the opposite of elevating everyone around him, he did find a way to abdicate any responsibility for his folly and blame the Knicks for not supporting him.

Leadership Advantage: Carmela

On Charisma:

Carmela really has a disadvantage here. She was always so focused on the chaos of her family, she really only had eyes for one man, and did NOT go out of her way to charm anyone (even her husband.) While she apparently made a delicious Manicotta, her biggest charm points seem to have been gained on movie nights with Rosalie Aprile and Silvio’s wife Gab.

Carmelo has a sneaker. Have you seen anyone wearing it? No. Because Carmelo is an asshole. His closest friend on the team when he arrived – Chauncey Billups, was immediately cut with his championship career unceremoniously caught up in the collateral damage of Carmelo’s whims. His next bestie, JR Smith, forced the Knicks to sign his kid brother Chris Smith, which caused a huge locker room divide. So basically Carmelo isn’t big on things like, “friends,” “teammates,” though now we are supposed to believe he is really big on winning? I don’t think so. Because I don’t really like him.

The Power Broker

I am selling 2 apartments on Second Avenue, and while they are really great apartments in a wonderful doorman building, one of the obstacles I have had is that they are constructing the Second Ave Subway outside the property. The Subway is a spectacular and much needed public works. Every New Yorker, Republican, Democrat, Rich, Poor, Vegan, Sports Fan, Ludite, Undocumented Alien, Homeless, Pierced, Parent, Pet Owner, Pastry Chef, Painter, please! Please support this venture. It’s good for all of us.

It’s been going a little slow. And the later phases (the downtown parts) have not really been funded yet. One thing that is interesting is that I have been reading a very famous book called The Power Broker. It’s about Robert Moses. He, like me, had no middle initial. Mr. Moses had an amazing career. You can’t understate his accomplishments in his early career.

Robert Moses

He came up in a time where New York City had almost 200 separate City government departments. The reason for all of these separate departments was to provide jobs for poor immigrant families, and the reason departments and jobs were needed was that this was the currency of the City’s old masters, Tammany Hall. Tammany Hall was the name given for the working class political organization that put Mayor’s and, later, Governors, in power in New York. The power of an effective “Get out the vote” machine remains vital to winning an election. Ask Eric Cantor.

Well the moral and conscious, and wealthier taxpayers, thought wasting all of the city’s tax base on jobs for people basically given as bribes to ensure votes at the ballot was a pretty ruinous way to run a city. The City’s aristocracy developed something called a Good Government Movement. One of the darlings of this Movement was Bob Moses. And his first achievement was helping reform the City Government. The Mayor at that time, Alfred Smith (a Tammany chieftan) took a liking to Bob Moses.


And so Mr. Moses, in the name of doing good, cutting waste, reducing bureaucracy, was able to elevate himself, over the next 40 years, into the most powerful man in the State, and amongst the most in the Country. During the Great Depression, he was able to steer 1 in 7 of all of the Federal New Deal funds towards his own building projects (of which he controlled a no-bid awarding of construction contracts).

He was able to build an island – Roosevelt Island (used to be 2 islands, he literally built it) and put on top of it a bridge – the Triborough, and wrote the laws so that he controlled all the money that came from the tolls, and in doing so had more money available to him at any time than any politician to use to fund public works.

His successes were great and helped New Yorkers in the City and State tremendously. Every park in the City other than Central Park and Prospect Park (so parks like Marine Park, Riverside Park, and Jones Beach) were built by Moses. Many highways – the Belt, the BQE, etc… Built by Moses.

If his career’s later stages were corrupt and power hungry, his early stages were callous, bigoted and selfish, but his results were real. His philosophies were imperfect (it turns out building more roads doesn’t decrease traffic, it actually can increase the use of cars which increases traffic,) but his focus on GETTING THINGS DONE was admirable. Anyone who wants to know how the City of New York developed should read The Power Broker.

Game Of Homes

If you haven’t been following the much hyped Game of Thrones on HBO, because, well, you have a life, let me bring you up to speed. This is a television show about warring factions who are vying for the throne of a fictitious world where they are protected by a big wall that keeps out cannibal zombies, giants, and other baddies.

There are some key themes that translate to the life of New Yorkers. I was really sickened to read that someone was killed on the 6 train recently. I have a confession (It wasn’t me!) but I have definitely wanted to punch a fellow straphanger once upon a time. And especially on the 4, 5 trains. You know there is a certain etiquette to riding the train – you let someone off before you get on, give up a seat for an older person or a pregnant woman, and don’t blast your music please. All of that is basically often violated on a regular basis on the east side train.


As a result the City, in its infinite wisdom, decided to make a train on the Second Ave subway. And I support that idea. I am very grateful to all who have sacrificed in creating this vision. Then I read that the new Mayor Mountain had agreed to let one of the high density buildings that the old King Lannister Mayor Bloomberg had rezoned for politically active Petyr Baelish Mark Green.

In exchange for being able to build a huge skyscraper, the developer is going to give the city the following: they are agreeing to build an underground passageway from Grand Central for their commercial tenants to access the existing train station. Hey, Mayor, here’s a hint: if you are going to let these guys build their new trophy buildings, please make them, in exchange, finance the later phases of the Second Ave subway.

Even if the counterpoint is that the amounts needed are large and the amounts given are small, every little bit helps.

A Quiet War On The Water

I am leaving The Domino Sugar Factory. I have just been observing something so striking that once you witness it, you will never unwitness it.

As I drive myself urgently to the Upper East Side to show a listing, I marvel while sitting in traffic on the Pulaski Bridge of the amazing scope of monuments that New York Real Estate presents. Each skyscraping building is a singular masterpiece of finance, labor, architecture, technology, and a body politic that nurtures and preserves the presence of each one. However, the City isn’t about its buildings, the Apple is made sweet by its soul.

A hilarious stand-up comic friend, Drew Dowdy, who I grew up with in Park Slope, wrote on Facebook the other day “You Are Not From The Same Brooklyn I Am.” There is and has been among the City’s middle class a feeling the City has lost something almost irretrievable in the past 10 years. What has eroded are the artisans and artists, and blue collar workers, who used to have some legal protections.

I don’t mean to get heavy on you, BUT THE 50 TON AFRICAN AMERICAN SPHINX MADE OUT OF SUGAR. I just checked out makes no sense without making these specific background points. The art work was just presented to us by two persons, one from the team at Creative Time (an amazing not-for-profit Arts Organization that IS the needle in the City,) and one of the fabricators of the project, an alum of the NYU Museum Studies Department where my Stepmother Josephine Gear teaches.


The artwork on its own is one of a kind. I have travelled the world seeing art and architecture. This is a local wonder of the world. It’s the only must-see I have ever known about in the history of New York City. Go see it.
The artist, Kara Walker, along with Creative Time and the team that have created the installation sure have their finger on the pulse. Kara is a 2D artist primarily, and worked from inspirations that included stereotypical depictions of sugar worker dolls and other imagery (on the site) to create the Sphinx and her processional (out of actual sugar, with foam and resin) as a statement of strength in the face of persecution.

Our host makes the point that the Sphinx was not only a guardian, but also a huntress. Of course, most people don’t need an Art History course as to why Ms. Walker created this symbol of strength at Williamsburg’s Domino Sugar Factory. It is a beautiful historical building being torn down.

Once the sight of local industry, it is now the site of private development, obscuring the river view (owned by the public) for the enjoyment of the few who will rent there. The building will be a high priced rental developed and managed by Two Trees. No one else will be able to live there without Two Tree’s permission, at the rents they set, etc… The public won’t get to trade them as condos, the City won’t get to preserve the site as a school or as affordable public housing, or a museum or Park. The mill of progress will grind away history to make way for a singular, narrow, and precariously high priced inflated vision for the benefit of one incredibly lucky landlord.

As I am leaving the Domino Sugar Factory, Hannah from Creative Time is walking me to the locked gate to let me off the property. I am gushing over the Sphinx, Creative Time, etc.. In the distance the soulless glass golems of 440 Kent St tower. Hannah says to me, “What do you do?” “I’m a real estate agent.” “Ah…”

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Club Med NYC

I have a confession. When I was 6 years old I flew over Shea Stadium during the 1986 World Series. Sometime a year later I went to a Mets Game.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is about how much I knew about Queens until I turned 30.

Now I am a total fan of the North Eastern Borough. A year ago I wrote about a restaurant in Astoria called Queens Comfort. That place is cool if you want to see some weird menu items crush the status quo. However, if you really want to eat some G-DDAMNED good food, check out the Greek Captain Restaurant. Don’t read Yelp.

We had the following: Large Greek Salad (to share), Grilled Octopus, Dip Combo (Skordalia, Tzatziki, Taramosalata, Melitzanosalata,) Calamari, Zuchini Croquettes, and some White Wine. They also serve Garlic Bread which is AMAZING. The price was reasonable, we sat outdoors, and we had a lovely time. Others were eating lobster and larger entrees. I must say there were many, shall I say, people who looked like they had many good meals in their lives, dining alongside of us. You know what. Those people are experts in flavor. This is some good eating.


Look, everyone has had the Pita and dip combo somewhere, and this is not an out of this world demonstration of this appetizer. However, the octopus and calamari are just SOOO GOOOOD. SOOOO GOOOD. And the Zuchini Croquettes were just perfect.

This fed 3 people very well (we couldn’t finish.)We spent less than $100.00 (well less in fact including tip.) Across the street from this Greek Restaurant was a Brazillian restaurant, an Irish restaurant, and there are many other cultural opportunities to dine. On the walk to the restaurant we were able to see some dudes in a White Jeep Wrangler blasting music (like the stereotypical neighborhood guys of NYC’s yore, prehipster.)

Astoria isn’t new by any means, but in this time of a red hot Brooklyn market, it’s really nice to still have this refuge where prices haven’t skyrocketed in the same way and people are more down to earth and clearly have a history and a heritage within a neighborhood. I look forward to more cultural occasions in the hood.

Naked Girls Reading NYC Presents Naked Girls Reading SCI-FI V

Published on Sunday, June 16, 2014 by BWW News Desk

New York’s “Best Story Hour” (The Village Voice Best of NY) returns to outer space for more in-the-buff readings of science-fiction classics, as Naked Girls Reading NYC presents NAKED GIRLS READING SCI-FI V: Naked Girls Reading Into Darkness. After four successful missions bringing stripped-down sci-fi to packed houses, the hit nude literary salon launches an all-new evening of time travel, bug-eyed monsters, metal men from beyond the stars, and much much more.

Host Nasty Canasta is joined by Dangrrr Doll, Iris Explosion and brand-spanking-new Naked Girl Charles Stunning, as they explore strange new worlds of literature and boldly go where no Naked Girl has gone before – at NAKED GIRLS READING SCI-FI V: Naked Girls Reading Into Darkness. In space, no one can hear you read.


Naked Girls Reading NYC is the perfect intimate live event: a monthly nude literary salon featuring in-the-buff readings by local burlesque luminaries, professional librarians, authors and other Naked Girls. Past themes have included Banned Books, Science Fiction and Tween Lit, as well as their annual holiday presentation of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Guests to the salon are invited to sip a drink and listen with their eyes wide open as full-frontal literature meets fine art in the intimate theatrical setting of Under St. Marks.

“What did you get up to last Friday night? If you answered anything other than ‘went to Naked Girls Reading,’ you lose.” NBC New York
“Great literature stripped bare” Entertainment Weekly
“It did what a great reading should.”

“After the first thrill of the initial disrobing, the pleasure of seeing beautiful women undressed fades besides the sense of intimacy achieved from someone bearing both their body and their soul at the same time. It was a remarkable experience.”

Readers’ Choice Nominee, “Best NSFW Night 2012″ Time Out New York
Naked Girls Reading NYC is on the third Wednesday of every month at UNDER St. Marks (94 St. Marks Place between 1st Ave and Ave A) at 9pm.

Tickets ($25; 2 for $40) may be purchased online at or by calling Smarttix at 212-868-4444. Seating is limited to 45; advance tickets are strongly recommended.

NAKED GIRLS READING began in Chicago in March 2009 as the creation of international showgirl Michelle L’Amour and Franky Vivid. The idea had rolled around in their heads for a few years in different formats, but with the opening of Studio L’Amour in 2008 it materialized as the perfect intimate live event. Naked Girls Reading now has branches across the country and around the world; the New York chapter, produced by Nasty Canasta, was opened in October 2009 to great acclaim (“Great literature stripped bare” -Entertainment Weekly; “It was a remarkable experience.” and was named “New York’s Best Story Hour” by the Village Voice in 2010.

HORSE TRADE THEATER GROUP is a self-sustaining theater development group; with a focus on new work, it has produced a massive quantity of stimulating downtown theater. Horse Trade’s Resident Artist Program offers a home to a select group of Independent Theater artists, pooling together a great deal of talent and energy. It is also the home of FRIGID New York – the first and only festival of its kind in New York City.

Daily News Scribe Tells Tale Of Uptown Apartment Scam

Published on Monday, June 9, 2014 by Jan Ransom,

This week I stumbled upon the uptown pad of my dreams: a $1,100 one-bedroom on Fifth Ave. near 104th St., across from the glittering green of Central Park. But, the ad seemed to0 good to be true, and it was.

It seemed my apartment hunting days were over.

This week I stumbled upon the uptown pad of my dreams: a posh, $1,100 one-bedroom on Fifth Ave. near 104th St., across from the glittering green of Central Park.

The rent included electricity, wireless Internet, digital TV and a washing machine, the owner, who called herself Eloise Harper and said she was from London, wrote in an email. Photos showcased a cozy, sunny flat equipped with gleaming appliances and hardwood floors.

Everything about the ad smelled fishy.

Harper, who was listing the place on, asked me to pay one month’s rent and said the rent would be paid directly to her bank account.

“I’ve hired a major real estate company specialized in international rentals, to represent me,” she wrote, naming a site called and outlining a procedure for me to visit the apartment after she received my deposit.

Of course, there was the affordable rent. The average one-bedroom flat near Central Park rents for $3,200, according to, and Harper was asking almost 66% less.

Then, there was the address, 1225 Fifth Ave., which did not appear in city records. That’s because it doesn’t exist — I found that out by visiting the block.

Daily News reporter Jan Ransom at the corner of 104th Street and Fifth Avenue

A customer service representative at , a reputable website that lists homes and apartments across the country, told me they do not transfer money or act as an intermediary, and said the ad was a scam. Police caution apartment hunters to beware of bogus brokers.

Two unsuspecting victims were scammed out of thousands of dollars this year in East Harlem, said Capt. Thomas Harnisch, commanding officer of the 25th Precinct.

A 47-year-old woman was cheated out of $2,000 in March after she agreed to rent an apartment on 130th St. near Lenox Ave. that she found on Craigslist, Harnisch said. The phony agent told the woman she could move in May 1, but by then someone was renting the pad, he said.

Similarly, a 24-year-old woman told cops last month she was duped out of $2,410 in February. She was shown a third floor apartment on 116th St. near Lexington Ave. by a man posing as an agent, Harnisch said. The woman agreed to move in on March 12, but someone was already living there.

It’s shouldn’t come as a surprise that such scams are becoming more common, given the scarcity of affordable apartments.

In Brooklyn, Ronald Johnson, 36, was convicted on May 27 after police said he posed as a broker and stole thousands of dollars from naïve apartment hunters. Johnson faces up to 15 years in jail for a litany of felony charges.

As for me, the hunt goes on. I’ll keep pushing until I find my perfect pad. I’m willing to go for broke… but I won’t go for broker.

Here’s what brokers and cops say you need to do to avoid falling prey to a real estate scam:

*Be sure the broker is legit

Ask to see the agent’s license. You can verify the license online with the state Division of Licensing Services and check site like Yelp to see what others are saying about the broker.

*Speak to the building owner or manager to verify that a unit is for rent.

*Protect your pockets.

If an agent or landlord asks for money too soon, it could be a scam.

*Shop Craigslist with extreme caution.

Brokers recommend and

*Beware of geographic distance.

If an owner claims to be out of the country or somewhere far away from the property, proceed with extreme caution.

*If something seems too good to be true, it probably is.

*Report suspicious come-ons to police, the Federal Trade Commission and the Internet Crime Complaint Center,