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The Ryugyong Hotel in North Korea’s capital, Pyongyang, closely resembles Kim Yong Il’s unstable, goliath-like, hollow regime.

Even though construction of the hotel began in 1987, the government’s financial difficulties meant that building ceased in 1992, leaving the building with no windows, fixtures or fittings.

This state remained for the next 16 years, until Orascom Group resumed construction in April 2008.

Currently the world’s 24th tallest building – and at one time would have been the world’s tallest hotel – there are 105 stories reaching 330m (1083ft).

The refurbishment of the hotel is estimated to be completed by 2012, marking the 100th anniversary of the birth of Kim Il Sung (the Great Leader).

Then there is just one more hurdle to overcome – finding guests that will actually pay for the “luxury” of staying in the hermit kingdom’s monolithic masterpiece.

Simon Turner

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The first skyscraper to be erected in Paris in 30 years has been unveiled by Mayor Bertrand Delanoe. Designed by Swiss architecture agency Herzog & De Meuron, the 50-storey pyramid-like tower rising 180 meters will be built at the Porte de Versailles in Paris.

The building is expected to include offices, a luxury hotel, luxury boutiques, a panoramic restaurant, a swimming pool, hanging gardens and a Babel-like “museum of languages of the world”.  Completion date is scheduled for 2012.

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Returning to his former home of Hawaii as President-elect, Barack Obama and his family are enjoying a 13-day vacation.

Obama is secluded at a compound of oceanfront estates, guarded by seven-foot walls made of stone and lava rock and situated along a quiet sliver of snow-white-sandy beach.

The Kailua Estate seems is ideal for a Presidential retreat, sitting neatly on a peninsula, with only a single narrow road leading to it, thus offering plenty of privacy.

Behind the walls, the Obamas can enjoy picturesque beach and ocean views from the master bedroom, heavy granite in the kitchen and detailed woodwork throughout. There are Tiki torches dotting the manicured gardens, and the interior features stone imported from Peru, Jerusalem and Italy.

The entire Kailua neighborhood once was the private estate of Samuel Castle, a sugar magnate whose Castle & Cooke company was one of the Big Five firms that dominated Hawaiian politics for decades. The Obamas’ current retreat is situated close to land that was once Castle’s horse pasture and skeet ranch.

Simon Turner

FYI: Read related articles on Barack Obama; and Luxury Homes

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Marquette Turner Luxury Homes were awarded the World’s Most Outstanding Luxury Agency Under 2 Years Old in 2008 by the Who’s Who in Luxury Real Estate, and we would like a design to use on our marketing material.

Any one from anywhere can enter this competition via the award winning 99designs website.

Read the DESIGN BRIEF to find out more details of the competition and enter.

Good luck, and stay tuned for more future competitions, or email us (info@marquetteturner.com.au) if you’d like to be informed of new competitions.

Simon Turner

You can soon own a notorious piece of history from Chicago, Illinois, according to the Chicago Tribune.

No, this story isn’t related to Governor Blagojevich, as timely as this might be.

The modest, red-brick home once owned by prohibition gangster, Al Capone, will go on the market in early 2009  for approximately $450,000 USD.

The South Side, two-flat property, which has had just  two owners since the death of Capone’s mother in 1952, is now over a century old.  It stands near the corner of 72nd Street and South Prairie Avenue in the working-class Park Manor neighborhood.

Cook County records show the Capones bought the home for $5,500 USD in August 1923,  the Prohibition era, with his mother, Teresa, and wife, Mae, signing their names to the original deed.

Al Capone was in his early 20s when his family moved from Brooklyn to Chicago, but he was already building his legend. His bootlegging, gambling and prostitution enterprises were famously headquartered in Cicero and later moved to a suite in the old Lexington Hotel at Cermak Road and Michigan Avenue in Chicago.

Capone died in 1947, but his mother remained in the home until her death five years later, at which point the property was taken over by a local bank.

The current owner purchased the home for $29,500 USD in 1963, with little interest in the property’s notoriety.

The exterior of the six-bedroom, split-level property remains pretty much unchanged to Capone’s time, and indeed much of the interior is also original, with detailed green and white tiles in the front entrance, dark hardwood floors and narrow hallways. The home also features a large basement with a crumbling wine cellar

At an estimated $450,000, the Capone home would be on the upper end of homes for sale in the neighborhood. Typical listings for large, split-levels of that vintage are $250,000 to $400,000.

Considering its history, the home is a marvel of inconspicuous understatement.

Simon Turner

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When purchasing an older home, there are many things of course to consider. Asbestos is certainly one of them.

Used for more than a century as a form of building insulation and piping, homes more than approximately 30 years old have the potential to harbor asbestos. Exposure to asbestos fibers becomes a health concern when high levels are inhaled over a long period of time.

This doesn’t have to scare you off the purchase, as with increasing awareness and technology there are numerous alternatives and building materials which easily replace the need for asbestos.

THE RISKS


Used in millions of homes, asbestos insulation can be a real problem for homeowners due to causing a variety of lung ailments, such as mesothelioma. Recent studies indicate that over 2,000 to 3,000 cases are diagnosed every year in the United States alone. With no mesothelioma cure, precautions are the best assurance.

Once the removal is complete, green insulation options should be given serious consideration, such as: Cellulose, Cotton Fiber and Lcynene. The United Nations Environmental Program states that the use of recycled building materials such as cotton fiber insulation can reduce energy use by 25 to 35 percent. The numbers continue to improve as more eco-friendly options become available. These asbestos alternatives allow for a clean, healthy home, free of health damaging materials.

Simon Turner

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A $80 million AUD luxury development in Point Piper, Sydney, has been handed over to the banks after two of the companies for which property tycoon Michael Bezzina was associated, Caprice Pty Ltd and Pyoanee Pty Ltd, were place in receivership.

Located in Point Piper, Mr Bezzine was expecting to achieve $14 million AUD for the penthouse-style apartments, however, three of the apartments have allegedly exchanged for $10 million AUD each.

The development comprises waterfront apartments, each occupying an entire floor with balconies looking out to the Harbour Bridge and Opera House. They have four bedrooms, four bathrooms and a guestroom, as well as a jetty.

In September, one of Michael Bezzina’s company’s that developed the $100 million AUD Jade complex in Surfers Paradise, was put into liquidation. The company reportedly paid $17 million for the site six years ago, of which six out of the nine apartments have sold, one of which sold for almost $20 million, while the penthouse at the complex remains on the market for $22 million.

It is worth noting that the quality of Bezzina’s developments is outstanding, and his financial troubles should not be allowed to cloud the stunning properties that he has been involved in creating.

Simon Turner

FYI: Read related articles on Sydney Property; or Luxury Homes; or Sydney Harbour

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Here are the auction clearance rates for Australia’s capital cities for the week ending December 14, 2008.

Source: RP Data

Simon Turner

FYI: Read related articles on Auctions; Clearance Rates; Buying property

THIS WEEK’S ARTICLES: Rainforest Living in Queensland; Raffles Residences Manila; Swarovski Bathroom Faucets; Chinese Property Taxes; US interest rates; Australian Banks on the Assault; The Malibu Home of Sting; The Rotating Bath Tub; The W New York…

We bring you the last installment for 2008 of our look at luxury property, design and concepts from Australia and around the world.  Your support throughout the year has made the MTLH blog the most viewed of its kind in Australia and contributed to Marquette Turner Luxury Homes being named as The World’s Most Outstanding Luxury Agency Under 2 Years Old.  Not bad in just a year, and 2009 promises to be even bigger and better.  Thank you!

Please enjoy this week’s articles, or as always you can stay here and read the MTLH blog.

We wish you a fantastic & safe festive period.

Michael Marquette & Simon Turner

Subscribe to the MTLH e-magazine.


LUXURY HOMES
See our luxury homes showcased in Australia & Around The World


FINAL THOUGHT

“Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right.” Oprah Winfrey

Contemporary, State of the Art, Rainforest Living

Setting a benchmark in state of the art living ‘Samara’ is without doubt one of the finest acreage properties in Queensland.

Strategically positioned amidst a previous wildlife sanctuary, ‘Samara’ is constructed seamlessly around two lakes and canter levered amidst a stunning rainforest back drop. This property is the epitome of designer living, offering only the finest in schedule of finish.

A fingerprint controls the gated entrance, and access to the estate. The circular driveway leads to a bold, resort style, port-cochere and a stunning entry with cascading ponds. Designed to embrace the Queensland lifestyle, this signature property highlights what true contemporary living is meant to be. From the commercial glass pane entrance, the property is washed with natural stone tiles, and natural lighting from the soaring ceilings and bi-fold doors.

The heart of the home is styled for entertaining with an open fire and a 50″ plasma screen, complete with 5.1 surround sound furbished by undetectable speakers. The mood of ‘Samara’ is defined by its unique use of lighting, all centrally controlled by the automation system. As you move through the house of an evening, 22 individual sensors monitor and predict movements and prepare the spaces around you, with soft lighting.

More information: Visit our website for more images and details.

Contact: Michael Marquette on +61 433 170 170 or via email michael@marquetteturner.com.au or Christine Watson on +61 414 352 680 or via email christine@marquetteturner.com.au

Marquette Turner Luxury Homes is proud to offer luxury apartments for sale in Manila, bearing the name of the legendary “Raffles”.

Raffles Manila will be superbly located right on Makati Avenue in the very heart of Manila’s bustling commercial and financial district and the Philippines’ leading business destination. Just steps from shops, entertainment and corporate offices.

Makati’s skyline is one of the most impressive sights in Metro Manila, where many of the country’s tallest skyscrapers are located. The 30 suite Raffles Hotel and 220 Residence development will be the first significant luxury branded residence in Makati, offering exceptional views of either Manila or Laguna Bay along with glittering vistas of the city. With its unique branded residence concept, Raffles Manila will be unlike anything else in the city; it is poised to become the premier address in Manila, with the first branded penthouse residences. It will be a showplace of cosmopolitan living.

The real estate condominiums for sale will occupy the top 20 floors of the Raffles Hotel (11th to 30th floor), and the 220 residence development will be the first significant luxury branded residence in Makati, offering exceptional views of either Manila or Laguna Bay along with splendid view of the Metropolis.

Following the historical success of the initial release of the Raffles Residences Makati the developer is now pleased to announce the commencement of Phase Two. With premiere residences yet to be released, now is the time to own part of this legendary offering.

The developer is now accepting fully refundable 400,000 PHP (approximately $10,000 USD) deposits through their Opportunity to Purchase (OTP) program. Furthermore a deal has been struck with HSBC with regards to borrowing.

Selling Prices Start at:
– $763,832 AUD (PhP 24,179,828) – $983,372 AUD (PhP 31,151,384) for 2 Bedrooms with a total floor area 124-164 sqm.
– $1,326,488 AUD (PhP 42,017,712) – $1,844,666 AUD (PhP 58,411,391) for 3 Bedrooms with a total floor area 209-251 sqm.
– 4 Bedroom Penthouses with a total floor area of 383-402 sqm. – Pricing available upon request.

More information: Visit our website for more images and details.

Contact: Michael Marquette on +61 433 170 170 or via email michael@marquetteturner.com.au or Christine Watson on +61 414 352 680 or via email christine@marquetteturner.com.au

There’s the Palm Shaped Island and there’s the Map of the World. And just when we thought planners in Dubai could possibly have run out of new concepts, they’re planning the Universe!

Suddenly buying a tree branch or a country doesn’t look quite the same, when Saturn or Mercury are on offer!

Whilst a couple of decades will probably be required to create the islands (when perhaps real estate throughout the world will have been through a few more cycles), Dubai certainly shows no interest in slowing down their creativity.

Simon Turner

FYI: Read related articles on Dubai; or Palm Island; or real estate

An excess or refined luxury? The X-Sense limited edition faucets from Newform have been produced with Swarovski crystals embedded.

Simon Turner

FYI: Read related articles on bathrooms; or interior design; or luxury furniture

Purchased from Larry Hagman (of JR Ewing of Dallas fame), Sting and his wife Trudie Styler’s home in Malibu, California is 5,549 sq ft and has five bedrooms and bathrooms.

Simon Turner

FYI: See related articles on Homes of the Rich & Famous; or Celebrity Homes; or America

China has unveiled a stimulus package intended to boost its slumping real estate market.

It has slashed taxes for second-hand apartment sales to help owners selling their homes. This means that anyone who has owned a home for at least two years can now sell it without having to pay a tax on the total sales price, just on any profit made (which remains at five percent). The waiting period previously for a tax-free sale was at least five years.

The policy changes are an interim measure valid for one year, and are the latest in a series of moves made since the government announced a 4 trillion yuan ($586 billion) stimulus package in November intended to create jobs and spur economic growth through higher spending on construction and other projects.

Analysts expect the Chinese economy to expand by approximately nine percent this year, down from nearly 12 percent in 2007.

Simon Turner

FYI: Read related articles on China; or Asia; or Tax

A company in North Texas has come up with a simple, innovative method to maintain houses for sale whilst on the market.

As the real estate market continues to struggle along and properties take longer to sell, Mansion Minders  keeps up the homes whilst at the same time providing plush living quarters at a cut rate.

For example, a resident has to clean the pool like it’s their own, even though it’s not.

“Mansion Minder’s”  are basically live-in house sitters for homes on sale, paying less than they would normally pay for their home, whilst living in a better property.

The rules are that the property must be kept spotless, disappear when required should the property needs to be shown by the broker, and move out in less than one month if it sells.

Mansion Minders are not renters but effectively sub-contractors (and thus without tenant’s rights). Instead, they pay the company what’s called a participation fee, which is about 25 percent of a monthly mortgage. The participation fee is based on the home price.

Simon Turner

FYI:  Read related articles on the real estate market; or tenants or credit crunch

 

Simon Turner

FYI: Read related articles on Auctions; or Luxury Homes; or Buying Real Estate

The US Dollar is gaining strength, however, international real estate buyers are still important, even though their purchasing activity has decreased by 30-50 per cent since June 2008.

So where does the strength still reside? New developments. The W New York is a great example.

The W NY Downtown Hotel & Residence, the has seen 74 percent of buyers, thus far, come from overseas, 41% coming from Korea, 10% from the United Arab Emirates, and eight percent from Italy. This may come as a surprise if you’ve formed the opinion that the market is dominated by British and Russian buyers.

The 56-story building has 223 residential condominium residences, with prices ranging from $1.2 and $2.4 million. It’s hip, it’s dark, it’s cool, and there’s only a few remaining.

Simon Turner

FYI: Read related articles on New York; or Luxury Homes; or Investors

It’s big it’s hard…and this is serious work! “The Lancaster”, a luxury residential project besides Hyde Park in London is being gutted by the developer – all of the interior of a 125-meter long Grade II listed building – whilst seeking to preserve the building’s ornate façade.

Dating back to the mid-19th Century, the façade is now propped up by 500 tons of steel, hiding the masses of rubble now left behind.

Façade retention is unsurprisingly a somewhat delicate engineering operation. The external walls needed to be carefully secured prior to the interior demolition and sensors are continually monitoring the structures stability.

It’s the sheer scale of the project that makes this so daunting. Indeed, to allow for underground parking, crews dug beneath the existing structure to excavate 700 pillars to support a new concrete floor.

The Lancasters, scheduled for completion in 2010, will include 77 apartments, all of which will also offer views of Hyde Park, thanks to the 315 windows preserved from the original building. In addition to the apartments, there will also be two 10,000-square foot homes with private pools and wine cellars.

Simon Turner

FYI: Read related articles on Architects; or Luxury Homes; or London

THIS WEEKS STORIES: Luxury is…Elizabeth Taylor’s Homes; the Great Australian Tax Grab; Phone Box Furniture; The Blind Leading The Blind; London Luxury Home Prices Falling; Loofah Homes; and more…


The 2008 Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to former Finnish President and international peace envoy, Martti Ahtisaari.  He has been instrumental in bringing peace, or at least calmer days, to historically troubled parts of the world such as Aceh and Kosovo.  He has recently brought together parties from all sides in Iraq, giving them “first-hand” contact to individuals they could both relate to and whom appreciate the hurdles, such as former opponents in Northern Island – perhaps proof that anything is possible with hope, hard work and tenacity.  Fortune can always be on your side.

Please enjoy this week’s e-magazine (and SUBSCRIBE if you haven’t already), or as always stay here and read the MTLH blog.

Regards

Michael Marquette & Simon Turner

THOUGHT OF THE WEEK

You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty. Gandhi

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