NEW YORK CITY – Men with tool belts used to be a common sight around condo and co-op buildings in a city that was renovation-mad. But when the economy collapsed and the real estate market tanked, the contractors, along with the carpenters, plumbers, electricians, floor guys and stone guys, seemed to fade away.Now they’re coming back. Across the five boroughs and beyond, the renovation business, which fell victim to tightening credit, declining home sales and overall economic misfortune, is starting to pick up. The increase reflects contradictory forces: a fitful but growing sense that the economy is getting better and, at the same time, more subdued ambitions for the future.“I think a lot of it has to do with people having a longer-term perspective in their home now,” said Doug Milles, a member of the condo board of the 300-unit Columbia. He added, “I’ve always felt personally that it’s a good time to invest in your property during down times, because when things get better, you’re going to have a lot more attractive property.”Contractors around the region say their phones are starting to ring again.
By Hilary Stout, March 26, 2010

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