Housing + Development

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The Future of ’80/20′ Affordable Housing Hangs in the Balance: Can 421-A Be Fixed?

(Photo: C Ceres Merry)

(Photo: C Ceres Merry)

You may not have realized it, but the city has been in the midst of a “developocalypse” since January, when the state’s 421-a program expired. For decades, the program had fueled development by excusing building owners of property taxes for up to 25 years so long as they devoted at least 20 percent of their units to affordable housing. Earlier this month, it was announced that the stalemate that brought on the developocalpyse, or at least that’s how developers understood it, was over. As the state legislature now mulls over whether to approve the reauthorization of 421-a, City Council members are seeking ways to fix it, and make sure the program fulfills its original mission of creating affordable housing.

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How a Bunch of Brave New Futurists Zapped the Old Pearl River Mart Back to Life

A booth dedicated to the old Pearl River Mart (Photo: Nicole Disser)

A booth dedicated to the old Pearl River Mart (Photo: Nicole Disser)

“Preservationist” has become something of a slur, used to denigrate the old-timers and neo-hippies who’d rather save ratty old tenant buildings and dusty mom-and-pop stores than make way for clean big-box stores with cheap stuff for everyone, and skyscraping mixed-use luxury complexes with their affordable housing pittance. It’s sorta like: C’mon, New York City is, by its nature, dynamic and changing. But the ever-faster pace of development and the lightyear rate of change have made for an urban landscape where transformation takes place exponentially and squeezes out the very people who have made this city vibrant and interesting in the first place.

Over the weekend, a slew of more than 40 local and visiting artists, as well as organizations like the Chinatown Art Brigade (a grassroots effort tackling the divisive issue of gallery-led gentrification in their neighborhood) demonstrated that preservation doesn’t have to be backward-looking.

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A.G. Files Harassment Charges Against Manager of LES and Chinatown Apartments

(Image: Wikipedia)

(Image: Wikipedia)

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman filed a lawsuit today against the property manager and landlords of several apartment buildings in Chinatown and the Lower East Side for allegedly harassing rent-controlled tenants with “repeated illegal and deceptive practices.”  The complaint, filed in New York Supreme Court, accuses the buildings’ owners and Marolda Properties Inc., which manages the buildings, of attempting to bully tenants into vacating rent-regulated units using a variety of improper tactics.

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Protesters Urge Council Member to Curb Luxury Housing in Chinatown and LES

De Blasio as Monopoly man. (Photo: Nicole Disser)

De Blasio as Monopoly man. (Photo: Nicole Disser)

Perhaps you thought that the Coalition to Protect Chinatown and the Lower East Side sounded angry earlier this year when about 60 activists associated with the group gathered outside Gracie Mansion in the bitter February cold to protest the mayor’s “big scam” of a housing plan. But that demonstration was nothing compared to the one staged Thursday, when the Coalition led a large, supremely loud protest against the loss of affordable housing.

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Everyone Looks Like an Insect from the Westlight, the New William Vale Hotel Bar

The view (Photo: Nicole Disser)

The view (Photo: Nicole Disser)

As of this afternoon, for the first time ever, you can make your way up to the tip top of the brand new William Vale hotel, clink glasses with your crew and look out over the expanse of Brooklyn from the Westlight, the new Williamsburg luxury hotel’s 22nd-floor bar with 360-degree views of the city skyline. Suddenly, Brooklyn will look almost insignificant and underdeveloped, teeming with pathetic, spartan life. Shift your godlike eyes down toward the Wythe Hotel and its unfortunate patrons will look like drunken, desperate ants. “Literally, that’s the Wythe– look how little it looks,” a PR rep laughed along with us.

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New Millennial-Friendly Hotel Threatens Historic East Village Tenements

Protestors organized against the new Moxy Hotel and demolition of historic buildings (Photo: Nicole Disser)

Protestors organized against the new Moxy Hotel and demolition of historic buildings (Photo: Nicole Disser)

Yesterday afternoon a group of vocal protesters gathered along East 11th Street, facing a row of historic brick buildings they’re intent on saving from demolition at the hands of one of the city’s most prolific developers. The structures in question are a streak of five residential buildings, all of them five-story, Old Law tenements that, according to the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, have changed little since they were built between 1887 and 1892.

GVSHP and the other preservation groups that organized yesterday’s protest– including the Historic Districts Council, the Lower East Side Preservation Initiative and the East Village Community Coalition– are appealing to the city’s Landmarks and Preservation Commission to come through with an eleventh-hour historic district designation that would thwart plans for a 300-room hotel.

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Hoping to Revive Affordable Housing Incentive, Cuomo Appeals to Developers

Protestors (Photo: Nicole Disser)

Affordable housing advocates protesting Brooklyn Real Estate Summit last fall, 421-a was among their many greivances (Photo: Nicole Disser)

After a week of “secret talks” with leadership from one of the state’s most powerful interest groups, details are emerging regarding Governor Cuomo’s first major steps toward reviving 421-a. The New York Times broke the news yesterday evening about the first sign of a turning point for the controversial billion-dollar, affordable-housing tax abatement that was allowed to expire in January.

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New Report Shows Housing Inventory’s Up, Brooklyn Rents Drop (Barely)

(Photo: Daniel Maurer)

(Photo: Daniel Maurer)

NYC real estate firm Douglas Elliman published a report this morning, showing that the development boom in New York City has had a significant impact on the real estate market. According to the report, the available housing stock has increased dramatically over the last year: the listing inventory for rentals in Brooklyn went up by 29.6 and just slightly more in Manhattan that saw a 30.3 percent increase in the last year.

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Report Says New York City Housing is Grossly Unaffordable; Sky is Blue

Tenants, many of them living in rent-stabilized units, rallying in Chinatown to protest construction as harassment in December (Photo by Nicole Disser)

Tenants, many of them living in rent-stabilized units, rallying in Chinatown to protest construction as harassment in December (Photo by Nicole Disser)

Given that New York City is a place where making “just” $70 to 92k a year can qualify you for affordable housing—thanks, Upper West Side condo developers—it makes sense that homeownership rates here are low. Just how low, however, is a little jarring. According to a new study published by NYU’s Furman Center and Citi, only 42 percent of homes sold on the market in 2014 were affordable even to those making as much as $114,000 a year.

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East Village Landlord’s Ice Cream Social Gets a Chilly Reception

Protestors yesterday at TK (Photo: Luisa Rollenhagen)

Protestors yesterday at TK (Photo: Luisa Rollenhagen)

It’s hard to imagine how anyone could get pissed off about ice cream. It’s pretty delicious stuff on its own, but when ice cream comes free, it’s capable of turning almost any New Yorker with a broken-AC situation into a sedated, softly smiling master of chill. But the tenants at 325 East 12th Street– owned by Brookhill Properties, a real estate company founded by notorious landlord Raphael Toledano, who’s currently under investigation by the State for tenant harassment– have been moved to a level of frustration that can’t be solved with tasty bribes. That’s why, when they started receiving invitations to attend an ice cream social bought and paid for by Brookhill, the tenants organized an ice cream protest.

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An Early Look at Ludlow House, By the Numbers

Ludlow House. (Photo courtesy Soho House)

Ludlow House. (Photo courtesy Soho House)

After some very strident local opposition and the requisite haggling with the community board, the folks at Soho House have finally managed to turn an old funeral home into Ludlow House. Although the privacy policy at the members-only club keeps its gatekeepers from telling us how many film, media, and creative types have signed up to “eat, drink, work and play” there, we were able to score you some other data.

Here’s a look inside the Ludlow House by the numbers.

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Record-Setting Avenue A Condos Revealed, Ready for Fall Opening

(Photo: John Ambrosio)

(Photo: John Ambrosio)

The scaffolding covering the facade of the new 32-unit condominium at 100 Avenue A was recently removed, revealing it to be, well, like any other East Village condo development.

The eight-story property, which is the latest from controversial East Village luxury developer Ben “The Sledgehammer” Shaoul, is nearing completion and is “expecting closing this fall,” said Jordan Hurt of Nest Seekers International, the firm handling unit sales. The new development will feature amenities including a “zen garden,” landscaped rooftop and a new Blink Fitness gym, which opens around the same time as the building itself.

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