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Couple offering 'seminar on wheels' to industry.

From the historic beginnings of New York City to land use and zoning laws, Metro Zone, a seminar on wheels, gives professionals the comprehensive information they need to make sound real estate decisions.

In its inaugural tour last week, Metro Zone, took about 50 industry professionals on an informative journey through several communities including the financial district, SoHo, Gramercy Park, Greenwich Village, TriBeCa, Brooklyn, Williamsburg and Long Island City.

Metro Zone founder and co-owner, Steven Barshov, a real estate attorney at Sive, Paget & Riesel P.C. conducted the bus and water taxi tour. Barshov's wife, Suzanne Joyce, also an attorney is the co-owner of the business.

Barshov's 20 years of practicing real estate law combined with thorough research and extensive contacts with government officials, citizens groups and the private sector assures even the most informed professional will learn something new.

"The combination of their know how on real estate, on land use planning, and background on what connects neighborhoods and taking the city block by block is truly incredible," said Robert Walsh, commissioner NYC Department of Small Business Services, who took part of the inaugural tour. "These people have good information, good insights."

Barshov, a native New Yorker, has a unique view of New York City, which is infused into the tour. "This city is an organism. that lives, eats and breathes," said Barshov. "It generates waste, sewage and solid waste. It requires energy in the form of electricity in the form of gasoline and natural gas, oil. It grows and reproduces."

Little known facts and the historic birth of New York City are passed along in Barshov's captivating stories.

"Very few people know that half of the U.S. Treasury for many, many years came from the duties levied on goods coming in and through New York City," Barshov said, as he discussed how the Port of New York helped the city and the country to grow.

The Equitable Building built in 1915 was included in the tour, to demonstrate how the city grew vertically. In 1916, New York's first zoning law was enacted to prevent developers from building towers without enough land around it to accommodate pedestrian traffic. "The building doesn't set back at all. It goes straight up," Barshov said. "People got upset when they saw the building go up and then huge numbers of people coming out onto the very narrow sidewalks."

Another zoning law was passed in 1961 entitling developers to build higher if they created pedestrian plazas around buildings, Barshov said.

The tour also included the formation and evolution of zoning regulations that allowed buildings that were zoned commercial to become working and living quarters in TriBeCa and SoHo. The artist-in-residence zoning ordinance began in Soho. "SoHo was originally an artist's outpost," Barshov said. "When it became chic rent started to skyrocket."

The group also toured the Manhattan waterfront from Chelsea Piers to DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass). The bus tour continued through Williamsburg and Long Island City.

In 1898, Brooklyn merged with the city of New York to become the city of greater New York. Today it is struggling to remerge as a separate and self-sustainable economic forte, said Barshov. "Brooklyn taken by it self would be one of the largest cities in the United States," he said. "But downtown Brooklyn has no focal point to maintain or sustain its own character, its own growth."

Barshov's love for his hometown helps to make the tour interesting as well as informative. "I wouldn't live anywhere else," he said. "I like the energy of the city. I believe in the future of the city and I'd like to play a part in it. Probably the most fun for me is watching the city grow and change."

Tours can be tailored for individual groups and are scheduled once a month. Tours usually last about four hours. The price is $300 a person and includes a catered lunch. Group rates are available.
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Title Annotation:Steven Barshov and Suzanne Joyce Barshov run Metro Zone
Author:Nelson, Barbara
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Geographic Code:1U2NY
Date:Jul 2, 2003
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