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Haunted Woolworth mansion goes up for auction for $7M after featuring in Taylor Swift’s music video

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A ‘haunted’ New York mansion that featured in Taylor Swift’s Blank Space music video and comes complete with its very own clock tower is now headed to auction – at a discounted price.

The historic property, which was once owned by entrepreneur Frank Winfield Woolworth, is located in Long Island and will be available to bid on later this month.

Having failed to sell for its initial asking price of $19.95 million, the sprawling house will now go up on the block, with bids starting at $7 million – meaning that it could well prove an impressive real estate bargain for one lucky buyer. 

Known as Winfield Hall – but also sometimes called Woolworth Mansion – it was designed by famous architect C. P. H. Gilbert. The property was built in 1917 for Woolworth, founder of the original US-based Woolworth store, who also worked with the architect on the design and construction of the famous Woolworth Building in New York City.

Own a piece of history: The iconic Woolworth mansion in Long Island, New York, is going up for auction on July 12, with a starting bid of $7 million - having previously been put up for sale with an asking price of $19.95 million

Own a piece of history: The iconic Woolworth mansion in Long Island, New York, is going up for auction on July 12, with a starting bid of $7 million – having previously been put up for sale with an asking price of $19.95 million 

Proceed with caution: The sprawling estate is one of the few remaining privately-owned estates from the Gilded Age, however it has also been the subject of much paranormal speculation

Proceed with caution: The sprawling estate is one of the few remaining privately-owned estates from the Gilded Age, however it has also been the subject of much paranormal speculation 

Spacious: Construction on the property - which boasts a clock tower building-turned-11-car garage (pictured), began in 1916 and was completed one year later, having been designed by famed architect C. P. H. Gilbert

Spacious: Construction on the property – which boasts a clock tower building-turned-11-car garage (pictured), began in 1916 and was completed one year later, having been designed by famed architect C. P. H. Gilbert

Unique: Many of the estate's original architecture remains, including plenty of marble statues and buildings that are located throughout the 16.4-acre property and grounds

Unique: Many of the estate’s original architecture remains, including plenty of marble statues and buildings that are located throughout the 16.4-acre property and grounds  

Claim to fame: When it was first built, the mansion, which boasts 56 rooms, including 12 bedrooms and 9.5 bathrooms, was said to have been the biggest home in the whole US

Claim to fame: When it was first built, the mansion, which boasts 56 rooms, including 12 bedrooms and 9.5 bathrooms, was said to have been the biggest home in the whole US 

When it was first built, the mansion was said to be the largest home in the whole of the US, and while it no longer holds that title, it still boasts an impressive array of rooms, amenities, and unique interior touches. 

The impressive 32,000 sq ft building has a total of 56 rooms, including 12 bedrooms, 9.5 bathrooms and 16 fireplaces.

There is also a butterfly marble staircase that would have cost approximately $2 million when it was first built.

History and property buffs will also be thrilled by the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to rescue a Gilded Age Mansion, one of a number of properties in the United States built by the wealthiest families between 1870 and the early 1900s.

Included in the sale is 16.4 acres of grounds including sweeping lawns with classical-style features.

There is also a 15,000 sq ft clock tower building with enough space to store 11 cars, which has previously been used as staff residences and office space. 

However, for for many music fans, the space is likely most easily recognized for having featured in Taylor Swift’s MTV award-winning music video. 

Familiar? The property earned further notoriety in 2014 when it featured in Swift's Blank Space music video

Familiar? The property earned further notoriety in 2014 when it featured in Swift’s Blank Space music video 

Spot the difference! The popstar filmed several scenes in the mansion, making full use of the property's stunning interior

Spot the difference! The popstar filmed several scenes in the mansion, making full use of the property’s stunning interior 

Cheers! One scene saw Taylor enjoying a feast in the mansion's dining room, where she set up a lengthy table filled with food

Cheers! One scene saw Taylor enjoying a feast in the mansion’s dining room, where she set up a lengthy table filled with food

Film set: This front entryway was also used in the filming of the music video

Film set: This front entryway was also used in the filming of the music video 

Upset: The popstar recorded a particularly emotional moment in the marble-filled space, leaning against one of the mansion's many fireplaces while she sobbed on the floor

Upset: The popstar recorded a particularly emotional moment in the marble-filled space, leaning against one of the mansion’s many fireplaces while she sobbed on the floor 

Strike a pose: It is also thought that this scene was shot in the mansion, although images of this area have not been released ahead of the July 12 auction

Strike a pose: It is also thought that this scene was shot in the mansion, although images of this area have not been released ahead of the July 12 auction 

In the video, the star can be seen living in an opulent mansion and playing house with model Sean O’Pry.

The fairytale building formed the backdrop for several scenes, including Swift’s dining room featuring an enormous chandelier, wood-paneled ceiling and white marble fireplace.

The mansion also featured in a scene where Swift and O’Pry slow danced in black tie.

A separate shot showed Swift singing with tear-stained cheeks in a leopard dress next to an ornate fireplace.

As well as being used as a home and music video set, Winfield Hall also served as a modelling and airline stewardess school for young women in the 1960s.   

But though the property was most recently used as the set of a glamorous music video, it has a much darker history, having been the subject of decades of rumors about paranormal activity and ghost sightings.  

It has long been speculated the the sprawling mansion is ‘haunted’ by the spirit of Woolworth’s late daughter, Edna, who committed suicide on May 2, 1917, shortly after the property’s build was completed. 

Luxurious: When the property was built, no expense was spared, and this butterfly marble staircase is said to have cost a staggering $2 million when it was first installed

Luxurious: When the property was built, no expense was spared, and this butterfly marble staircase is said to have cost a staggering $2 million when it was first installed 

Retro: There are several wood-paneled rooms in the property, which is said to be haunted by the ghost of Woolworth's daughter Edna, who is believed to have killed herself in the home in May 1917

Retro: There are several wood-paneled rooms in the property, which is said to be haunted by the ghost of Woolworth’s daughter Edna, who is believed to have killed herself in the home in May 1917 

Going, going, gone: The home was most recently owned by Martin T. Carey, brother of former New York Governor Hugh Carey, who bought the property in 1978. He died in June 2020, and the mansion is now being auctioned as part of his estate

Going, going, gone: The home was most recently owned by Martin T. Carey, brother of former New York Governor Hugh Carey, who bought the property in 1978. He died in June 2020, and the mansion is now being auctioned as part of his estate 

Rooms on rooms: The mansion boasts 12 bedrooms, 9.5 bathrooms, and 16 fireplaces

Rooms on rooms: The mansion boasts 12 bedrooms, 9.5 bathrooms, and 16 fireplaces

Rooms on rooms: The mansion boasts 12 bedrooms, 9.5 bathrooms, and 16 fireplaces 

Mysterious: The property was seriously damaged by a fire that ripped through several of its rooms in 2015 - in an eerily similar accident to the one that destroyed Woolworth's previous home

Mysterious: The property was seriously damaged by a fire that ripped through several of its rooms in 2015 – in an eerily similar accident to the one that destroyed Woolworth’s previous home  

Potential: Auction house Max Spann Real Estate & Auction Co is offering potential bidders a 'once in a lifetime opportunity to rehabilitate an existing Golden Age mansion', which is one of the 'few remaining privately owned estate homes of this era'

Potential: Auction house Max Spann Real Estate & Auction Co is offering potential bidders a ‘once in a lifetime opportunity to rehabilitate an existing Golden Age mansion’, which is one of the ‘few remaining privately owned estate homes of this era’

Special: The home's ornate interior makes it a particularly intriguing property for anyone with an interest in architecture

Special: The home's ornate interior makes it a particularly intriguing property for anyone with an interest in architecture

Special: The home’s ornate interior makes it a particularly intriguing property for anyone with an interest in architecture

It is claimed she took her own life at New York City’s Plaza Hotel, though many believe the never-unlocked ‘Marie Antoinette’ room in the mansion was in fact the place of Edna’s death, while her father was hosting a party.

Shortly before the incident, a crack appeared in the marble family crest above the fireplace – and there has long been speculation that it was caused by a bolt of lightning, which struck the house and left a representation of her face, according to Newsday

‘Furthermore, one of the most frequently told tales concerning the Woolworth mansion holds that a bolt of lightning struck the house the day before her passing, cracking a representation of Edna’s face in a family crest carved into a stone mantel – an event considered a supernatural omen of her unexpected demise,’ the publication reported in 2018. 

Noises have been heard, ‘spirit sightings’ have been reported, and visitors claimed they heard a woman crying in the Marie Antoinette room. 

It has also been alleged that Woolworth had ‘an obsession with the occult’ and that he incorporated several mythical symbols into the interior design of the property. 

‘Speculation that F.W. Woolworth had an obsession with the occult and that he had mystic symbols placed within the interior design is also part of the legends that have been attached to the house, as well as reports of hidden rooms and tunnels woven throughout the structure,’ Newsday claimed.   

Looking back: Woolworth, who made his fortune by founding a chain of 'five-and-dime' stores, commissioned the property after his former home burned to the ground. It is pictured in 1920, three years after its completion

Looking back: Woolworth, who made his fortune by founding a chain of ‘five-and-dime’ stores, commissioned the property after his former home burned to the ground. It is pictured in 1920, three years after its completion

Remaining true: Much of the original architecture remains in the mansion, including the many fireplaces and the ornate marble interiors

Remaining true: Much of the original architecture remains in the mansion, including the many fireplaces and the ornate marble interiors

Remaining true: Much of the original architecture remains in the mansion, including the many fireplaces and the ornate marble interiors

Plenty of room! The grounds also feature several different structures, including several archways, which are said to have been inspired by Woolworth's fascination with Napoleon

Plenty of room! The grounds also feature several different structures, including several archways, which are said to have been inspired by Woolworth’s fascination with Napoleon  

Famous: The property was designed by the same architect who worked with Woolworth (pictured) on the construction of the iconic Woolworth Building, which was listed as the tallest building in the world from 1913 to 1930

on the construction of the iconic Woolworth Building (pictured), which was listed as the tallest building in the world from 1913 to 1930

Famous: The property was designed by the same architect who worked with Woolworth (left) on the construction of the iconic Woolworth Building (right), which was listed as the tallest building in the world from 1913 to 1930

Then, in January 2015, the lavish home was gutted by a mysterious fire that ripped through several rooms in the property in an eerily similar blaze to the one that destroyed Woolworth’s first home – prompting him to begin work on Winfield Hall.  

The blaze, which erupted at around 11am in a first-floor bedroom, caused millions of dollars worth of damage. However, the mansion has since been returned to its former glory and is now set to be auctioned off on July 12 by Max Spann Real Estate & Auction Co. 

According to the real estate auction site, the property is part of the estate of its late owner Martin T. Carey, brother of former New York Governor Hugh Carey, who bought the mansion in 1978. He passed away in June 2020. 

Although the auction listing for the property offers potential bidders a ‘once in a lifetime opportunity to rehabilitate an existing Golden Age mansion’, which is one of the ‘few remaining privately owned estate homes of this era’, it has also been suggested that the estate could easily be ‘repurposed’ or ‘subdivided’ by any buyer looking to turn it into a more profitable property. 

The property, although certainly impressive, is not the most famous building to bear the Woolworth name. 

That honor goes to the Woolworth Building, the towering skyscraper that was also designed by C. P. H. Gilbert – the same man who created the entrepreneur’s mansion. 

When the 792-foot skyscraper was completed in 1913, it was given the title of tallest building in the world, an honor that it held until 1930. 

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I’m can’t sell my flat due to cladding issues, will Gove’s proposals help me?

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I’m stuck in my leasehold flat due to cladding issues in the block. I can’t sell due to the prospect of a bill for remediation works, which include ‘unsafe cladding, flammable balconies and missing cavity barriers’. 

Will Michael Gove‘s new proposals help me? LB

Leaseholders face fire safety bills of hundreds of thousands of pounds following the cladding scandal (pictured: Cladding victim and campaigner Sophie Bichener)

Leaseholders face fire safety bills of hundreds of thousands of pounds following the cladding scandal (pictured: Cladding victim and campaigner Sophie Bichener)

MailOnline Property expert Myra Butterworth replies: Cladding issues have made life a misery for leaseholders across the country.

Many are facing the real prospect of bankruptcy due to fire safety repair bills that can run into hundreds of thousands of pounds per flat.

The issue is that the owners are unable to sell the properties until the buildings are proved to be safe, leaving those who would like to move them stuck in their homes and also seeing monthly bills rise, as they are potentially unable to remortgage. 

Leaseholders have cautiously welcomed the housing secretary’s recent statement that they were ‘trapped’ and that it was time to protect them and make ‘industry pay’.

At the same time, Michael Gove, the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, announced: ‘We will scrap proposals for loans and long-term debt for leaseholders in medium-rise buildings and give a guarantee that no leaseholder living in their own flat will pay a penny to fix dangerous cladding.’

However, the current reality for many of these flat owners is that they still face massive bills to cover interim fire measures running into thousands of pounds.

Tom Beak, a solicitor at law firm Kingsley Napley, replies: The short answer is maybe. However, I’m afraid there are ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’.

First, Michael Gove’s announcement did not introduce new legislation, it merely set out an intention to negotiate with developers and invite them to contribute to the latest remediation fund, specifically for ‘medium rise’ buildings.

Mr Gove hopes to have agreed a fully-funded plan of action by March, but if negotiations stall it is currently not clear what measures will be taken to force a solution on the developers concerned or indeed how long this will take.

Second, the focus of the new proposals is to cover the outstanding cost of remediation of unsafe cladding to buildings 11 to 18 metres tall. So if your building falls in that range you may benefit in due course. If it is over 18 metres, you must continue to rely on pre-existing policies.

If your building is less than 11 metres, I’m afraid you remain outside the scope of Government-led financial support. In fact, at present, there are no solutions proposed for buildings that are declared unsafe but are less than 11 metres tall, hence such buildings are likely to remain unmortgageable making it impossible for leaseholders to sell.

Unfortunately, if your building falls within this category, the new proposals only offer the hope that the Government’s change in advice on building safety assessments encourages lenders to relax their position and return to lending on such properties.

It may also not be plain sailing if your block is ‘medium rise’. We await details of the precise eligibility criteria as to how the fund will be allocated. Despite the suggestion that ‘all leaseholders’ will be protected, previous policies have contained strict eligibility criteria for access to funds, so it is possible that not all buildings between 11 and 18 metres tall will qualify.

Of course, until we know that Mr Gove’s negotiations with developers are successful, there is no guarantee that the proposed remediation fund of £4billion will be available at all.

Other fire defects, such as flammable balconies, missing cavity barriers and replacing faulty fire doors are not covered 

Finally, the proposed remediation fund is designed to remove ‘unsafe cladding’ only. 

So, while you may well benefit from assistance with the cost of remedying the cladding issues on your building, other fire defects, such as flammable balconies, missing cavity barriers and replacing faulty fire doors are not covered. 

This is in keeping with previous policies, which have been criticised for providing partial solutions and making buildings ‘half safe’, with innocent leaseholders footing the remainder of the bill to remedy safety defects.

On the plus side, however, it is worth noting that the Government has scrapped its previous solution for 11 to 18 metres tall buildings that consisted of a long-term, low-interest loan for leaseholders. This would have added to leaseholders’ debt, rather ensuring that the ‘polluter’ pays.

In addition, Mr Gove’s announcement introduced fresh funds to cover common alarm systems on buildings that continue to use a waking watch.

This will be on top of the existing Waking Watch Relief Fund. Mr Gove also intends to enter discussions with the insurance sector to reduce insurance premiums that have soared in the wake of this safety crisis and to issue new proportionate guidance on building safety assessments. T

he hope is that this encourages the market and changes the ‘cautious approach’ adopted by buyers and lenders – which according to Mr Gove often ‘goes beyond’ what is necessary. Whether this is effective remains to be seen.

So while Mr Gove’s new proposals are a step in the right direction, much uncertainty remains. Provided that the proposed remediation fund can be realised swiftly and applied without unduly onerous eligibility criteria, it is surely a better solution than the previously proposed loan scheme.

However, it is likely that many leaseholders will continue to foot the bill for interim safety measures and struggle to sell their homes, until the practical effect of the changes are realised.

Without further, targeted policy or an extension of the remediation fund to cover fire safety defects beyond cladding, these defects will likely continue to be funded by leaseholders.

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No reasons recorded for low rates of successful speeding prosecutions

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Fewer than one in five people prosecuted in court for speeding offences are being convicted, new data shows.

With a national average of just over 16 per cent, data covering a three year period between 2018 and 2020 shows conviction rates ranging from 7 per cent recorded in Co Mayo to 24 per cent in Co Wexford.

In total, of almost 60,000 court prosecutions, fewer than 10,000 concluded with a ruling against the driver.

While separate statistics show that 8,325 cases (14 per cent of total prosecutions) were either dismissed or struck out by judges, no information is available as to why.

“The Courts Service system does not record the reason a case was struck out unless the Judge includes the reason in their order,” Minister for Justice Helen McEntee told Social Democrats co-leader Catherine Murphy who had sought recent information around mobile phone use by drivers.

“As such, the Courts Service does not hold complete statistical information on the reasons for any case being struck out.”

Fundamental issues

However, Parc, the road safety advocacy group which has analysed the data, said such a gap in knowledge is among a number of fundamental issues it is to raise with senior garda management and the Road Safety Authority (RSA) in a forthcoming meeting.

“If we don’t know the reason why [cases are being thrown out] then how are we ever going to fix it,” said chairwoman Susan Gray.

“Why are they failing in court, why so many, why are some areas like Mayo recording so few convictions, why is no one looking into this? In Mayo where the RSA is based, [there was a conviction rate of] 7 per cent over three years.”

The counties with the four major cities – Dublin, Cork, Galway and Limerick – accounted for 24,387 prosecutions, or 41 per cent of the total, and had a conviction rate of 19 per cent.

Outside of those areas, the counties with the highest number of speeding offences ending up in court were Kildare (6,948), Louth (2,600), and Wexford (2,055). Despite being an outlier in terms of prosecution rates, Kildare saw a conviction rate of just 10 per cent, the third lowest of 26 counties.

Conviction rates were the highest in Wexford (at 24 per cent) but three quarters of prosecutions still fell down for whatever reason. Following Wexford, drivers were most likely to be convicted in Dublin, Donegal, Longford and Westmeath (each 22 per cent), Louth (21 per cent) and Limerick (20 per cent) but no other county reached the 20 per cent mark.

Drivers were far less likely to see a conviction recorded against them in Mayo (7 per cent), Meath (8 per cent) and Kildare (10 per cent).

Catherine Murphy said the data raised a number of issues and exposed a traffic penalty system in need of greater consistency and cohesion.

“There can be a huge differential depending on what court you end up in and that shouldn’t be the case,” she said. “You would expect to see this [conviction rate] almost the reverse way around.”

She said there was no reason why data should not be recorded that shows why prosecutions do not proceed, or fail and that the overall road safety enforcement system required a less fragmented approach.

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BNP Paribas REIM acquires Barcelona office building (ES)

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BNP Paribas REIM acquires the iconic office building “Tanger 66” located on 66 Calle Tanger, in the 22@ District in Barcelona, from Blue Coast Capital. This asset is an emblematic building and an architectural landmark in Barcelona, with a total surface area of 7,211m². It is strategically located in the 22@ District, which is one of the most sought-after office area in Barcelona and a European hotspot. The District 22@ is a neighbourhood that used to house industrial sites before becoming one of the most important urban renewal projects in Europe and being rehabilitated to provide modern and elegant offices designed to meet the needs of businesses. The neighbourhood is now composed of more than 1,500 companies specialised in IT, energy, design, media or scientific research and is considered today as a space for constant innovation.

 

The “Tanger 66” building was re-developed from a textile factory into the first LEED Platinum office in Barcelona by Blue Coast Capital. It is composed of 4 floors and an 800m² terrace garden in the upper floor. It offers modern working spaces with training areas, collaborative spaces, computer laboratories, an auditorium and a cafeteria. The building benefits from an excellent connection to public transportation with metro, tram, bus and train stations only a few minutes away. It is fully let to Hewlett Packard.

 

Jean-Maxime Jouis, Global Head of Fund Management for BNP Paribas REIM commented: “This acquisition strengthens the BNP Paribas Diversipierre fund portfolio and fits perfectly with the fund’s strategy by adding a modern asset, fully let and located in a strategic location in Barcelona. In addition, the building is certified LEED Platinum, therefore it respects the funds’ commitments and more generally the environmental issues targeted by BNP Paribas REIM, whose strategy is to accelerate its funds’ goals in terms of ESG.”

 

Fraser Denton, Managing Director, European Real Estate for Blue Coast Capital said: “I am delighted for BNP Paribas REIM in finalising this transaction. Our re-development of T66 is an excellent example of Blue Coast Capital’s focus on creating exceptional real estate and is a leading example of real estate repurposing whilst achieving the highest level of LEED Certification.”

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