In another installment of “the rent is too damn high,” Two Bridges residents are demanding that the city increase its oversight of the mega-towers coming to the Lower East Side waterfront, which are set to add thousands of luxury units to the lower-income and working-class community.
Residents, activists, community groups and their elected representatives gathered at the steps of City Hall yesterday afternoon with a Valentine’s Day message for Mayor de Blasio. Their request – to convert the long vacant P.S. 64 building in the East Village into a community center and disallow owner Gregg Singer from developing it into a college dorm.
It’s too late to save Rivington House, the former HIV treatment facility that a non-profit nursing home operator unexpectedly flipped to a luxury developer after the city quietly lifted a deed restriction. But a bill signed into law today should do something to prevent buildings designated for community use from becoming luxury condos.
The new law requires the city to maintain a searchable online database of properties with deed restrictions, and forces developers who want to have them lifted to inform their local City Council member, community board, and borough president. The law requires the mayor, a specially formed committee, and the Department of City Planning to review any such requests, and approve them with the mayor’s personal sign-off only if they’re deemed to be in the city’s best interest. While there had been talk of requiring the city’s stringent Uniform Land Use Review Procedure in such scenarios, the new law stops short of that.
Public officials are demanding, in louder and louder voices, to know why and how the city quietly allowed a Lower East Side building once reserved for non-profit use to be turned into luxury housing. Today, local politicians gathered to push for stronger transparency and oversight, to prevent it from happening again.
The former schoolhouse at 45 Rivington was operated by VillageCare as an AIDS/HIV treatment facility, under a deed restriction established in 1992 that limited the building to non-profit usage. Since the HIV crisis has dimmed in the Lower East Side, the facility was no longer needed at capacity. At the end of 2014, VillageCare sought to sell it to a for-profit nursing-home operator, Allure Group, with local officials’ understanding that it would remain some kind of medical facility for the general population, likely for the many seniors in the neighborhood.
“Right now there are banners up all over the city that say ‘New York City: real estate capital of the world,’ and that pretty much sums up what the basic civic religion is in New York City,” said Tom Angotti, author or New York For Sale. The Hunter College professor of Urban Affairs and Planning was a panelist at a Take Back NYC public forum Thursday evening, where he and a diverse group of experts spoke on the subject of small businesses in New York and answered questions relating to a proposed bill that aims to help the city’s small businesses survive.
Community Board 3 has long been known as a hotbed of liquor licensing debates, among other things — but its new member isn’t even old enough to drink. (Or vote in local elections, for that matter.)
Keep Reading »
While Community Board 3 is staunchly opposed to synthetic greenery, it’s doing everything it can to preserve actual greenspace. The board wants to designate all of the East Village and Lower East Side’s community gardens as parkland, so that they’re protected from future development. Last night, it overwhelmingly approved a resolution to request that the city officially name its area Community Gardens District.
Keep Reading »
With its fight against the New York Attorney General simmering, a new campaign has been launched to fight Airbnb. is a group of community activists, organizations, elected officials, and others who went public today with an assault on the apartment-sharing service, which they believe is more of a disservice to the community.
Keep Reading »
Should Airbnb pay hotel taxes? The issue is still causing the kind of drama you wouldn’t want in your home — and lawmakers are now arguing that the service’s hosts, whose names they’re trying to get their hands on, are driving up rents for the rest of us.
Keep Reading »