Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Bickering over Skyview Parc

From the NY Post:

Muss Development, a joint-venture partner with Onex Real Estate Partners, is putting giant Sky View’s unbuilt, second residential phase up for sale.

Muss is expected to put out a formal offering this week via Massey Knakal for development rights to Sky View Parc’s second trio of condo towers. The three additional towers, totaling 650,000 square feet, are planned to rise atop the complex’s 800,000 square-foot Skyview Center retail base, which is nearly 100 percent leased to stores including Nordstrom Rack, Marshall’s, Target and Best Buy.

“We have been retained by Muss to sell development rights to Phase 2,” Massey Knakal principal Robert Knakal told us.

However, Muss’ move seemed to take its partner by surprise.

Onex Real Estate Partners CEO Michael S. Dana, in consultation with his lawyer, Fried Frank real estate Chairman Jonathan Mechanic, told us: “Phase 1 turned out to be a tremendous success. We’re 100 percent committed to Flushing and to the second phase. We believe it will be even more successful than Phase 1.”

Dana said due to confidentiality rules, he could not comment on Muss’ action. But, “Onex is committed to proceeding to build phase 2” and hoped to begin construction in November.

Whatever’s going on between the partners, the Muss move is the latest twist in the project’s long and complicated history.

Queens has a whole lot of poop

From DNA Info:

Not picking up after your pup is a violation of the measure, introduced in 1978, and carries a $250 fine.

But a sanitation officer must witness a violation in order to issue a ticket, according to the Department of Sanitation, so some residents rely on 311 to document discarded poop in their neighborhoods.

Queens had the highest number of complaints over the past four years with 1,409 and Maspeth was the ZIP code with third most complaints in the city.

Rounding out the top 10 were Parkchester and Wakefield in the Bronx, with 109 and 94 complaints respectively, East New York in Brooklyn with 84, the Bronx's Bedford Park with 80 and Ridgewood in Queens with 77.

Reynoso approves of Starr Street rezoning

From DNA Info:

It's a dollar menu deal for artist studio space.

A proposed mixed-use building in Ridgewood at 176 Woodward Ave. plans to dedicate 3,000 square feet for artists and community groups to rent space for $10 per year — under a buck a month.

Developer Slate Property Group added the feature after working with Councilman Antonio Reynoso to obtain his support for a zoning variance on the property, which is currently zoned for industrial use, according to Reynoso's office and Department of Buildings records.

The proposal for the 88-unit building originally had no affordable housing, but developers committed to 50 percent affordable units, along with the affordable community space after discussions with Reynoso's office and community members, the councilman's office said.

The City Council approved the plan on Tuesday.

The affordable units, of which 20 percent will be permanently affordable, will be distributed to people earning between $23,000 to $105,000 per year.

Six-figure salaries qualify for affordable housing? HA HA HA HA HA!!! And why the hell is Reynoso choosing which groups will benefit from this? You have to love the new era of tweeding. Vito Lopez, Jr...

Lawsuit over 2022 redistricting

From Epoch Times/AP:

A government watchdog group is challenging the wording of a ballot question on redistricting, saying the referendum on this fall’s ballot is deceptive.

Common Cause-New York announced the lawsuit Tuesday. The organization is one of several that have criticized the ballot question, which will ask voters to authorize a new commission to handle redistricting beginning in 2022. That’s the next time the state’s political districts will be redrawn to account for population changes.

The referendum says the commission will be independent, even though top lawmakers would pick eight of its 10 members, and the Legislature would have the power to reject any commission proposal it didn’t like.

Common Cause Executive Director Susan Lerner, a plaintiff in the suit, says the proposition is misleading and should be rejected.

$1600 for 1-bedroom in Jamaica?

From the Queens Courier:

Development in Jamaica is about to pick up and bring big changes to the New York City real estate scene, according to a firm building new apartments in the area.

TCX Development, a Great Neck-based firm, is working on a seven-story, 21-unit apartment building on Hillside Avenue near 191st Street. TCX officials believe they are ahead of the wave of development they feel is coming to the neighborhood because of its zoning, extensive public transportation network and massive downtown shopping district.

The building will mostly be comprised of one-bedroom apartments for $1,600 a month, which Asherian said will be attractive compared to Brooklyn and Manhattan prices for comparable rooms. There will also be one three-bedroom penthouse.

$1,600/mo seems a little steep for a one-bedroom in Jamaica. But if it doesn't work out, the Department of Homeless Services will gladly pay $3,500/mo for these apartments.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Most new buildings are not energy efficient

From Crains:

Earlier this year, the city's Department of Buildings began auditing thousands of architectural plans for new and renovated office and residential buildings. The results have been staggering: nine of every 10 have failed to meet the energy code, a set of standards that have been on the books for more than 30 years but are only now being enforced in earnest.

In some cases, the Department of Buildings has even stopped nonconforming projects in their tracks.

"We're very serious about this, and are trying to educate the industry on what is required," said Gina Bocra, chief sustainability officer at the Department of Buildings, which set up a permanent audit unit about eight months ago. "Buildings are the largest source of energy consumption in our city, and how we conserve energy is key to making progress on reducing greenhouse-gas emissions."

As laudable as the motivation might be, some people are fretting about the potential costs of compliance in terms of time and money. Looming additions to the building code over the next year only fan the concerns.

Several changes already are under consideration, including a potential requirement for developers to purchase pricey sensors that regulate building systems depending on how many people are present, and another that might require rooms to be more airtight.

The new scrutiny might take some in the development community by surprise. The first energy code was set in place in the 1970s. Subsequently, the city passed its own version but rarely enforced it.

But make no mistake: Flouting the energy code now carries serious risks for developers. The department is drawing up new fines and regulations that will apply specifically to the code.

In a handful of cases, building inspectors have issued stop-work orders at construction sites. And in at least one instance, a random tip called into the department resulted in a developer being investigated and fined for building a structure that was not up to sustainability standards, even though the property had already been occupied.

Today's sprayings

Rezoning resistance at City Council

From the Times Ledger:

A landlord seeking to usher in two residential developments by rezoning a Ridgewood strip has days to woo the City Council amid resistance from the local legislator.

The Woodward Avenue rezoning proposal was slated to go before the Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises Aug. 18, before eventually making its way to the Land Use Committee and full Council.

Lawmakers have traditionally deferred to the legislator who represents the area in question — in this case Councilman Antonio Reynoso (D-Brooklyn).

Reynoso did not return requests for comment, but he has fought authorizing residential projects in the manufacturing zone during several stages of the city’s review, arguing newcomers may price out residents and businesses that offer higher-paying jobs than typical retail establishments.

Ridgewood has been divided over the bid to reclassify a three-block strip bounded by Starr Street and Flushing, Woodward and Onderdonk avenues to permit an 88-unit residence at 176 Woodward Ave. and a second eight-unit building near Woodward Avenue and Starr Street.

Some argued the rents described by developers — with studios going for about $1,000 and two-bedroom apartments renting for up to $1,800 a month — would not be affordable to most in Ridgewood and invite an influx of young, wealthier inhabitants.

Others said the project would improve an area mostly used for vehicle storage that has become a haven for crime.

Community Board 5, Borough President Melinda Katz and the city Planning Commission have all approved the rezoning.

This area is a complete dump, and a good part of the reason is because of the people that live there. We're talking prostitution, shootings, drug dealing, etc. This may be one time when a rezoning/gentrification actually benefits the people already living there because it will force the dirtbags out. Does Reynoso love dirtbags?

I actually sent photos of this very site to Miss Heather awhile back.

Inclusionary zoning deadline extended

From Crains:

The city is widening its search for private-sector firms to help craft a key portion of the mayor's affordable-housing plan.

The Housing Development Corp. is seeking firms to analyze real estate markets around the city and locate neighborhoods that might be ripe for mandatory inclusionary zoning—a policy that would require affordable apartments to be built as part of new developments in areas that are rezoned for taller new buildings.

Mandatory inclusionary zoning is a cornerstone of Mayor Bill de Blasio's effort to build 80,000 more affordable-housing apartments over the next decade.

But after a July 25 application deadline netted two complete proposals, HDC extended its application period until Aug. 28 due to additional firms that expressed interest in applying for the project.

The administration wants the private-sector firms it hires to find locations where mandatory inclusionary zoning rules would encourage development.

Eventually, the winning bidder would also be responsible for proposing changes to the city's existing inclusionary housing program, which offers extra development rights to builders in exchange for including affordable units in new construction but is optional.

Monday, August 18, 2014

What the hell is going on in Maspeth?

City Council may actually do something useful next month

From the NY Post:

A City Council public hearing on a measure that would make it easier for the city to seize the eyesores and fine the operators is scheduled for Sept. 8.

Used-clothing collection bins are banned on city property, including public sidewalks and roads. Bins placed in parking lots and on private property with the permission of the property owner are legal.

The illegal bins are installed in the dead of night, officials say. And even when sanitation inspectors quickly tag them, the bins’ owners take advantage of regulations giving them 30 days to haul them away.

They remove them on the 29th day and usually set them up around the corner.

City Council members want to stop the clothing-bin carousel, with a bill that would allow the Sanitation Department to remove illegal boxes immediately.

The measure would also create a registry of legal bins and require bin operators to quantify their collections by weight. The bin owners could be fined if they fail to comply with the new rules.

Another hotel for Queens Blvd

From the Queens Courier:

A 26-story mixed-use hotel is coming to Long Island City.

The hotel, which will be located at 32-35 Queens Blvd., will have 150 rooms, New York YIMBY reported.

Raymond Chan Architect is designing the building.

The hotel will be just over 104,000 square feet, with a 44,400 square-foot community facility, according to filings owner Fongtar Realty made with the Department of Buildings.

Fantastic. Some day it will make a great homeless shelter! And this is in Sunnyside.

Stringer rips Parks over poor tree care

From CBS New York:

New York’s chief fiscal officer on Sunday accused his city of endangering residents by failing to maintain many of the 650,000 trees lining streets.

Comptroller Scott Stringer says contractors hired to care for the urban greenery have pruned trees that didn’t need it and neglected those that required attention. In addition, there are questions about charges and record-keeping.

“Tax dollars are wasted, property is damaged and, worst of all, people are sometimes injured or killed,” said Stringer, who held a news conference on a sidewalk in Chelsea. “Time and time again in four of the five boroughs, the Parks Department failed to properly manage the work done by private contractors.

“I don’t have to go out on a limb to tell you that our city’s performance is unacceptable,” Stringer told reporters, including 1010 WINS’ Glenn Schuck.

He blames the city agency for a mismanaged pruning program that has cost millions of dollars in claims for injuries and property damage.

“Look, you’re pruning the wrong trees,” Stringer said. “And we paid for tree prunings that didn’t happen.”