Facebook Is Entering Into The World Of Real Estate 

Facebook is currently planning to develop a community near its headquarters in Menlo Park, California. The property is set to have a supermarket, restaurants, shops, and a 193-room hotel. 

The company town will be known as Willow Village, and will contain over 1,700 apartments on site, including 320 more affordable units and 120 that will be set aside specifically for senior citizens. 

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Willow Village is being developed on a 59-acre site which currently stands as an industrial and research complex. Facebook is collaborating with Signature Development Group to create the space; the group is a Bay Area real estate developer known for creating spaces that combine commercial and residential spaces. 

The design for Willow Village is projected to be very community oriented and pedestrian friendly. It will have numerous bike trails, sidewalk space, and numerous public park spaces; including a quarter-mile elevated park meant to emulate the High Line in Manhattan, NYC.

The development will also contain a 1.25-million-square-foot office building that will include a massive glass-dome area known as the “collaboration area.” 

Facebook initially filed paperwork to redevelop the 59-acre site back in 2017, but were met with major resistance from residents in nearby neighborhoods who were worried about the traffic and housing prices that would be impacted. 

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In order to accommodate, Facebook created a blueprint that made Willow Village have 30% less office space to make room for 200 more apartments. It also agreed to prioritize construction of grocery stores and other retail options that any citizen can use, not just employees. 

“We’re deeply committed to being a good neighbor in Menlo Park. We listened to a wide range of feedback and the updated plan directly responds to community input,” said John Tenanes, Facebook’s VP of real estate.

Willow Village will not just be for Facebook employees. The City of Menlo Park is still currently reviewing Facebook’s proposal that would allow for prime residential access to the spaces in Willow Village, but it’s expected that the proposal will be approved in the coming weeks. 

The goal is to have as many Facebook employees as possible living in the village to allow for optimal business. The public aspect will also help the social media giant further grow because they now will have direct access to the individuals who use the platform every day. 

Florida Residents Complained About Champlain Towers Development Two Years Before Collapse

Two and a half years before the Champlain Towers South building collapsed in Florida, residents were complaining that the buildings were being developed too closely together and didn’t seem safe. 

“We are concerned that the construction next to Surfside is too close. Workers were digging too close to our property and we have concerns regarding the structure of our building. There’s construction equipment directly across from our building’s property wall,” resident Mara Chouela, who is also a board member of the condo association, wrote in a January 2019 email to a building official.

Rosendo Prieto was the official responsible for sorting through complaints made by the condo association at the time. 30 minutes after Chouela sent the initial email, Prieto responded that there was nothing that needed to be checked. He reasoned that “the offending development, an ultra-luxury tower known as Eighty Seven Park, was directly across the border separating the town of Surfside from the city of Miami Beach, which runs between the two buildings. 

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Now, after the Champlain Towers South collapse, Eighty Seven Park is facing even more scrutiny over the construction of these buildings. In fact, Champlain residents often complained that all the construction from the neighboring buildings continuously caused their units to shake.

“The construction of 87 Park did not cause or contribute to the collapse that took place in Surfside. But the 18-story tower would not have been allowed to be built across the border in Surfside, where buildings are subject to a 12-story height limit (although Champlain Towers itself received an exemption in the 1980s to add nine extra feet),” The Wall Street Journal reported Monday.

Maggie Ramsey is a Florida resident whose mother is among the unaccounted for Champlain residents, and she claims her mother had been concerned about the work being done next door for weeks now. 

“She did complain of a lot of tremors and things that were being done to the other building that she sometimes was concerned about what may be happening to her building, and if she was at risk.” 

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Peter Dyga, the president and CEO of Associated Builders and Contractors, said that “the likelihood of the Eighty Seven Park construction being a significant cause in the Surfside collapse is slim, but no lead or idea should be excluded.”

“There’s probably going to be multiple things in the end that have contributed in some way or another. Still, buildings are built next to buildings all the time, and it doesn’t mean that they come down.”

Records also show that Champlain South residents have sent a series of angry emails to Terra Group, the developers behind Eighty Seven Park, complaining about construction debris, noise, and lack of action. 

“I am shocked and disappointed to see the lack of consideration and respect that Terra has shown our residents. You have said you want to be a good neighbor… This is truly outrageous and quite unprecedented from what we hear from other associations in the area that have dealt with construction beside them,” Anette Goldstein, a condo board member, wrote to executives with the developer. 

NYC Real Estate

New York City Real Estate Hasn’t Slowed Down In Wake Of Coronavirus Pandemic

Due to the strict and necessary quarantine measures that the coronavirus pandemic has caused, the real estate industry has been flipped on its head. While certain sales that were already in motion are still able to move forward thanks to digital communication, a lot of major real estate development projects have been put on hold due to covid-19 concerns. Some developers in New York City, however, are still filing for large project requests under the assumption that the world will eventually move back to a place of normalcy. 

Even though the entire state of New York issued an order at the end of March for all nonessential construction projects to be halted to stop the spreading of coronavirus, the order also clarified that construction work can continue on developments in places where at least 30% of the apartment spaces are affordable housing units with inclusive housing agreements; for those who are struggling with this major global transition.

A majority of the projects that have been filed/will continue to move forward within the coming weeks include senior living facilities, such as the 377,000-square-foot, 30-story development located at 60 Norfolk Street in Manhattan. This space is projected to include residential, commercial, and community space within its 366 units. This one project is a part of a much larger development that’s predicted to include over 500 housing units; 20% of which will be used as affordable housing, and 24% will be used for senior citizens. 

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In Queens, a 289,000-square-foot mixed-use development located on 23rd Street in Long Island City will split its space to also include a residential, commercial and community space. A majority of it (roughly 60%) will be converted into affordable housing, however. In Brooklyn, the same development group is working on a 10-story mixed-use project on Coney Island that’s set to include 376 residential units. The remaining 11,000-square-feet will be set aside for local businesses to use for commercial purposes. 

On Watson Avenue in Soundview, an area in the Bronx, a senior housing project is currently underway and is set to include 201 individual units that stretch across 136,000-square-feet. Within the development there will also be a community center space, that will likely also mainly be used by the senior citizen residents. This project was specifically filed by the New York City Housing Authority as a means of increasing protections for senior citizens against the coronavirus, since they are at a much higher risk. 

The New York City Department of Housing Prevention and Development, which helps create affordable housing options for those in NYC, has filed for multiple projects both before and during this current pandemic as a means of protecting lower class rights. Besides the senior citizen facilities, like the one mentioned above, that they’re working on developing, their goal is also to create more affordable housing in general. 

One of the filed plans includes a 115,000-square-foot residency project in Edgemere, which neighbors Queens. This 8-story project is set to include 138 residential units, 22 of which will be reserved for senior citizens exclusively. The rest of the unit will also have some space for commercial use as well. 

These multi-use residential developments that are currently being filed and constructed are essential for enduring this current pandemic, but will also be necessary for whatever the aftermath of this will look like. As of right now, as we all know, the nature of how this virus moves, and the industries it affects along the way, is completely unpredictable, which means the aftermath will be just as unpredictable. All we can do is prepare as much as possible now, for a brighter future, and healthier today.


An HIV Vaccine Could Be Available As Soon As 2021

HIV is a devastating illness that affects millions of people worldwide and in many cases leads to AIDS, which is often deadly. HIV attacks the immune system, making it more difficult for the body to fight other infections, and as the immune system deteriorates, infections that would ordinarily lead to temporary, minor illnesses can kill. Currently, no cure for HIV exists. In recent years, however, medicines have been developed to fight HIV infection and reduce the risk of infecting others, allowing people with the disease to live long and fulfilling lives. In the past, many devastating illnesses such as smallpox have been all but eradicated thanks to the development of vaccines, which work by stimulating the body’s immune system to create antibodies to kill viruses. Now, scientists have made tremendous progress in developing a vaccine for HIV, according to reports from Forbes and The Sun.

It should be noted, however, that this is not the first time that claims of the imminent development of an HIV vaccine have been reported. As early as 1984, government officials have predicted that a vaccine would be developed within a few years. This prediction turned out to be far from accurate, as many speculated that exposure to the experimental vaccine in question actually increased patients’ chances of being infected with HIV. Because HIV is a disease that works by attacking the immune system, attempts to develop a vaccine have failed as the virus effectively prevents the body from developing antibodies, which are necessary for fighting viral infections. This fact has made research on the development of an HIV vaccine both slow and dangerous, as researchers have had to grapple with the possibility that their experimental treatments were doing more harm than good.

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As such, an atmosphere of pessimism has clouded research on the development of an HIV vaccine for more than thirty years. But recent developments have provided hope that a safe, effective vaccine for HIV is possible, inspiring belief that the disease could be essentially eradicated like the many devastating viruses that have preceded it. Currently, there are three different late-stage human clinical trials underway for HIV vaccine candidates, and any one of these experimental treatments has the potential to one day be deployed on a massive scale, reducing incidences of infection by a substantial margin.

The first trial, called the HVTN 702 Trial, began in October 2016 and involves two intramuscular injections. These injections contain a genetically-modified variant of the canarypox vaccine which contains pieces of HIV that, while unable to cause infection on their own, could allow the immune system to develop antibodies to fight against the real virus. The trial, which is being conducted in South Africa, an area of the world strongly impacted by the AIDS epidemic, is scheduled to conclude in July 2021.

The second trial, called the HPX2008/ HVTN 705 or Imbokodo Study, uses a similar approach as the previous method, as treatment consists of two injections. However, the ingredients are different; this experimental vaccine includes a re-engineered form of the common cold with inert pieces of HIV attached. Like the previous trial, this trial is being conducted in southern Africa, and includes thousands of participants, all of whom are women. It’s expected to conclude in February of 2022.

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The third trial is the HPX3002/HVTN 706 or Mosaico Trial, and is being conducted in various countries around the world, including locations in North America, South America, and Europe. This trial just began in July of this year and is hoped to enroll 3,800 participants. The Mosaico Trial uses the same experimental vaccine as the Imbokodo Study, but aims to include a more diverse range of participants, including men between 18 and 60 years old as well as transgender people.

Perhaps the trial that shows the most promise is the HVTN 702 trial, as it is based on a vaccine that has shown moderate success in reducing HIV infection in the past. In 2009, a study featuring a similar vaccine reduced infections by roughly 30%, marking substantial progress but not a protection level high enough for general use. As the vaccine developed for the HVTN 702 trial seeks to address the shortcomings of the previous vaccine, many are hopeful that this updated version will offer a protection level great enough to warrant widespread deployment.

Developing a vaccine for HIV has proven to be enormously challenging, and while research on the illness has progressed significantly, the virus has proven to be extraordinarily resilient. As such, while optimism is warranted by the multiple ongoing trials, expectations that a vaccine will be available by 2021 should be tempered, despite the prevalence of such predictions throughout the news media. That being said, the development of an HIV vaccine would surely revolutionize the state of global health, and as such, these trials are surely worth paying attention to as they progress and eventually conclude. 

Guy Standing

From Homelessness to Million Pound Success

Today Sandro Heitor is at the forefront of transparency in the construction industry through his multi-million-pound business Trio. However, his journey to success has been fraught with many setbacks along the way that while challenging, have motivated him to achieve the highest levels of success. 

Sandro moved to London in 1989 with his parents at the age of 4 but he originally hailed from Portugal. However this move was not one that brought instant yield as he and his parents found themselves homeless for a prolonged period, sleeping in churches and office spaces until they could afford a single room above a fish and chips shop between them. It was during this period that he was inspired to help others as when his mother could only afford chips but he wanted a red can of Coca-Cola, the shop owner kindly gave him not one but three cans. It was then he decided he wanted to have an impact on others like she had had an impact on him. The struggle felt by his parents meant Sandro has always been thankful for his later success and a key motivator has been to always be able to provide and give his parents the early retirement they deserve; to stop them falling back into homelessness his parents would work from 6am-8pm.  

Initially Sandro believed that financial freedom was going to be his route to happiness and success but this almost caused him to go bankrupt. Thankfully, he was able to turn around his misfortunes; however, he would not change these experiences because this put him on his current path. If he could give any advice to his younger self it would be to prioritise your own wellbeing and do not go after things which are outside your control. He believes in investing time in what is already in front of you as you may well find that everything you need and want is already there. Within his book The Entrepreneur Paradox, Sanrdo discusses the importance of all three pillars of wealth. He believes that business people should not focus solely on financial wealth, but they also need to invest in themselves emotionally. 

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Sandro is passionate about the difference in approach of Trio including transparency and methods when contracting, buying, developing and maintaining property in the real estate hub that is London. Originally a small property investment partnership, Trio has diversified its business and works across various verticals within London Property. 

Trio now operates in three divisions: the first is property maintenance and work with agents, housing associations, private landlords and hotels carrying out any maintenance work. They also have a contracting division where they do bigger projects on behalf of clients and their third division is their own property development, for which they buy land and any existing buildings to build their own beautiful apartments in London. Every area of Trio is done with a difference and they have over 60 brand new apartments agreed in 2019.

“At the end of the day, the goal is to be able to look back without any regrets and say, this was all worth it. That is the true mark of success.”

For Sandro, success does not simply equate to a large amount of money. Sandro is passionate that he wants to create an impact that is bigger than just himself. The public perception of contractors is so often fraught with negative stereotypes of unreliable and dubious individuals but this is something Sandro, and his business Trio, are looking to debunk through prioritising transparency. 

Similarly, Sandro has also noticed that many dedicated and hardworking sole traders do not get the opportunity to work with big clients as they are not able to spend the expected funds or have the insurance necessary for these opportunities. Trio was established to support sole traders and smaller contractors in securing these opportunities so they also have access to the biggest contracts. For Sandro, this not only benefits his business, but it benefits others around the world.

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Sandro is proud that he and his business are selective over who they choose to work with. Sandro creates meaningful relationships with clients that share the company values and understand and respect what it is they are trying to achieve. Small traders are prone to suffering from issues with cashflow but Sandro views client relationships as mutually beneficial.  

When asked what advice he would give to his younger self, Sandro said “Look after number one. Self-belief is so important, as is your mental health and wellbeing. The road to success can be complex and stressful, and it won’t necessarily be easy, so it’s really important that you do it all on your own terms. At the end of the day, the goal is to be able to look back without any regrets and say, this was all worth it. That is the true mark of success.”

For more information about Trio visit:

The Entrepreneur Paradox is also available for purchase on Amazon. 


Scientists Make Progress in Developing Lithium-Metal Batteries

As time progresses, nearly all of the components in the personal electronic devices available for purchase rapidly transform, as advancements in display, camera, and processor technology enable an ongoing improvement in the user experience. One exception to this rule, however, is their batteries lithium-ion battery technology has remained basically unchanged for several years, as the technology seems to approach the limits of the density of energy storage. Batteries composed of different materials, including graphene and lithium-metal, offer promising developments in the size and capacity of batteries for mobile devices, but technology involving these materials has not yet progressed to the point of safety and commercial viability. However, scientists around the world are dedicated to discovering breakthroughs in the field of battery technology, and one such breakthrough may have begun recently at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Washington.

In this laboratory, scientists have pinpointed the cause of one of the greatest impediments to the development of lithium-metal batteries, which is the growth of microscopic needle-like structures within the material of the batteries, leading to short circuits, battery failure, and even fires. Though these structures can form in both lithium-ion and lithium-metal batteries, they are much more prevalent in the latter type of battery, halting the widespread adoption of lithium-metal in battery-powered devices. While it’s too soon to assert that this research shows the commercial and practical viability of lithium-metal battery technology, the research represents a significant advancement in the field, as it provides scientists around the world with information that could help them refine and perfect the technology. 

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The scientists discovered the cause of the needle formation by taking advantage of two high-resolution microscopes, an atomic force microscope and an environmental transmission electron microscope, which they used together to observe the chemical reactions that produced the needles, also known as dendrites. With this technique, they found that dendrites begin when lithium ions started to gather, or “nucleate,” on the surface of the anode. (An anode is the positively charged electrode by which electrons leave a device.) The team compared the development of these dendrites to the growth of a stalagmite on the floor of a cave.

Instead of simply suppressing the growth of dendrites, the team wanted to find the root cause of their growth and eliminate it. As such, the scientists experimented with the mix of electrolytes in the batteries to determine which ingredients led to the development of dendrites. They found that one ingredient in particular, ethylene carbonate, directly correlates with dendrite and whisker growth, and found that adding some ingredients, like cyclohexanone, prevented their growth. While ethylene carbonate enhances battery performance and is currently considered an indispensable ingredient in lithium batteries, it also leaves the battery vulnerable to damage. As such, more research is necessary to determine what ingredients, if any, can replace ethylene carbonate in potential lithium-metal batteries of the future. That being said, these initial findings may very well clear the path for the development of lithium-metal batteries and their implementation in battery-operated devices generally.

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Although this research breathes life into the possibility of higher-capacity batteries in our devices, for the foreseeable future we will continue to rely on rechargeable lithium-ion batteries for the vast majority of applications. However, lithium-ion technology has proven to be a tremendous advancement in energy-storage technology, so much so that the researchers responsible for pioneering these devices recently won a Nobel Prize. Though the products have been on the market since 1991, they have since “laid the foundation of a wireless, fossil-fuel-free society, and are of the greatest benefit to humankind,” according to the Nobel committee. 

Climate Change

Restructuring our Communities may be the Key to Fighting Climate Change

The real estate market of the future is bound to be impacted by the effects of climate change. Though no one can predict exactly how climate change will change the way we buy, sell, and live in houses, it’s likely that efforts to mitigate the impacts of climate change will play a role in transforming our home lives. One proposal for adopting a more sustainable lifestyle involves rethinking the way we conceptualize our communities, and creating towns that are entirely self-sufficient, where the town generates its own food, electricity, and other commodities. Building communities in this way has a number of benefits: a town that is self-sufficient is resistant to changes in global and economic forces, and locally-grown food often tastes better and creates jobs for the community.

James Ehrlich, entrepreneur and founder of RegenVillages, intends to create communities of this nature in order to lay the groundwork for the sustainable living of the future. Unlike most typical real estate developers, Ehrlich has a love of farming and a deep concern for the environment, and the communities he envisions helping to create are nothing like the communities of today. Ehrlich envisions small, self-contained villages with abundant farms and fishing opportunities, and solar panels on the roofs of all of the houses. In these theoretical communities, residents do not drive vehicles, which pollute the atmosphere; rather, residents walk or bike, and taxis and autonomous cars serve as transportation. These communities are intended to be built on the outskirts of cities to which residents commute, and a specialized piece of software called “Village OS,” which will connect regenerative infrastructure to smart houses, is in development.

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Achieving sustainability is an essential component to adapting to life under climate change and mitigating its worst effects. Because of the environmental costs of manufacturing goods in factories and shipping goods by plane, boat, and truck, many environmentalists believe that a transition towards locally-sourced resource consumption will become increasingly necessary as time goes on to cut down on carbon emissions. Producing electricity locally also has environmental benefits, as the efficiency of energy production via solar panels or windmills near the source of consumption is greater than using electricity over long distances. Because Ehrlich’s communities are designed with walkability in mind, the houses do not even have driveways, and the communities’ design is meant to encourage environmentally-friendly means of transportation to the greatest possible extent.

Ehrlich is already planning to construct one of these communities on a 61-acre plot of land near Amsterdam. This community is planned to have 300 units, and the plans feature a number of greenhouses and other amenities for residents to enjoy. Ehrlich intends for his communities to allow residents to get back in touch with nature and develop a more grounded relationship with their environment and the resources they consume. As far as Ehrlich is concerned, urbanization is a trend that will begin to fade as people start to desire more quiet and peaceful lifestyles. Ehrlich has invested most of his life savings into the project, and has had difficulties with securing investors and managing land rights. Ehrlich considers the ultimate commitment to be one in which you invest your own resources in an idea that you believe in, and he has done exactly that, due to his conviction of the necessity of transforming the way we live in the face of climate change to allow prosperity for generations to come.