Policy

Nomad, Policy, real estate trends

Broadway between 26th and 27th Streets, NoMad

Broadway between 26th and 27th Streets, part of the current Madison Square North Historic District, via Wiki Commons

Over the past few years, NoMad (north of Madison Square Park) has been the subject of countless articles looking at its rise to becoming a go-to place for culture, food, business, and residential opportunities. In fact, as we reported last June, since 2009 the neighborhood has seen price-per-square-foot averages rise by 40 percent. But not everyone looks at this neighborhood as the next frontier. Local residents and preservationists see the area as a relic of the late 19th century, when it was home to the city’s most opulent hotels and mansions and brownstones occupied by New York’s elite, as well as of the Roaring Twenties, when the community boomed as a commercial hub. For these cultural reasons and for NoMad’s wealth of industrial and gilded architecture, a proposal will be heard tonight in front of the landmarks committee of Community Board No. 5 to extend the Madison Square North Historic District.

NoMad property owners and developers don’t agree with the proposal, citing that the area’s building stock has been significantly altered over the years. As the Wall Street Journal reports, “The face-off is significant because it is centered in an area that has seen hundreds of millions of dollars of private investment, with new hotels and apartment buildings breaking ground, and new stores and restaurants opening almost weekly. In the eyes of real-estate executives, it would freeze growth in a rare section of Midtown Manhattan still ripe for development.”

More details

affordable housing, Hotels, Policy

Airbnb, Housing, Tourism, Hotel

The city and the hotel industry have been waging war against Airbnb since last September in an effort to both preserve affordable housing and to protect hotel operators throughout the city. Though millions of dollars have been spent by both parties campaigning for change, apart from a couple of rulings ousting affordable renters for putting their apartments on the home-sharing site, not much has changed. Airbnb has failed to sway lawmakers, and the group leading the anti-Airbnb movement, ShareBetter, has only kept Airbnb from changing a state law that prohibits tenants in buildings with three or more units from renting out their home for short stays. In fact, according to Crain’s, Airbnb is thriving in NYC with now more than 27,000 rooms and apartments on its site.

Find out more here

affordable housing, Major Developments, Policy

decatur street brooklyn, decatur street bed stuy

The revitalization of East New York is at the center of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s affordable housing plan, but like his ambitious Sunnyside Yards project, his ideas for the fallen areas of Brooklyn are apparently also filled with holes. According to a piece published by the Wall Street Journal yesterday, de Blasio’s plan to re-zone 15 neighborhoods to allow for taller and denser housing won’t do much good for affordable housing. The main reason? The rents are too low. In fact, housing experts believe that his plan is more likely to hurt the character of Brooklyn’s most tony areas, including Park Slope, Fort Greene, and Crown Heights, amongst many others.

More on their findings here

City Living, gentrification, Policy

Papaya King, NYC hot dogs

Papaya King, a dying small business breed, via Papaya King via photopin (license)

Yesterday, standing inside the Upper West Side’s Halal Guys restaurant, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer unveiled her “Small Business Big Impact: Opportunity for Manhattan Storefronts” report (PDF), which outlines ideas to help small businesses survive and thrive in a city where even Starbucks can’t afford the rents. A major part of the plan is a mandatory negotiation period between landlords and commercial tenants, where the landlord would have to notify the store owner 180 days in advance of the end of the lease whether a renewal will be offered.

The borough president and Councilman Robert Cornegy, chair of the small business committee, are drafting a proposed bill that would enforce the plan. “Small storefront businesses and vendors create jobs and add value, vibrancy, and diversity to our neighborhoods—New York would not be New York without them,” asserted Brewer.

More details on Brewer’s plan

Policy, real estate trends

In Case of Fire, Take the Elevator to Safety

By Diane Pham, Fri, March 20, 2015

elevator fire

If you work in a tall tower, throw everything you ever learned about fire safety out the window because the Fire, Buildings and City Planning Departments are re-writing the rules. In response to the supertalls popping up across Manhattan, the agencies are looking to create more occupant-evacuation elevators that can be used to move people down a tower in the event of an emergency. Because, really, can you imagine trying to flee down 90 flights of stairs?

Read more

affordable housing, Policy

Pacific Park Brooklyn, Greenland Forest City Partners, COOKFOX, Thomas Balsley

Brooklyn’s Pacific Park development, one of the pipeline projects examined in the report for it’s affordable housing offer. Rendering by COOKFOX

This morning the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) released a report today saying if the city fails to renew the existing 421-a partial tax exemption program, we could stand to lose thousands of affordable units. REBNY took a look at a sample of projects in the pipeline—including Essex Crossing, 5Pointz, Domino and Pacific Park, amongst others—and found that 421-a is responsible for 5,484 affordable apartments and 13,801 market-rate units in these developments. They argue that without the abatement the theses units would be in jeopardy and be “immediately be sent back to the drawing board.” They add that some of the units could even end up as high-end luxury condominiums and some of the middle- and low-income housing now in the works would be lost forever.

Find out more

Policy, real estate trends

Time Warner Center

The Time Warner Center, a hotbed of anonymous foreign investment

The media has been abuzz lately with talk of international mystery property buyers and the shell companies they use to hide their real names. Tired of the shady tactics, a group of 17 nonprofits is calling upon the U.S. Treasury Department to harder scrutinize foreign real estate buyers by verifying their actual identities and screening them for any risk of money laundering.

The request came in the form of a letter sent to the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network on Tuesday that asks for a repeal of a 2002 exemption from the Patriot Act that was granted to the real estate industry. The Patriot Act was signed into law in 2001 following 9/11 to heighten security and allow for broader means of investigation. Under the act, real estate professionals would be required to “conduct due diligence checks on their customers,” according to the Times. But after the industry lobbied against this, they were exempted from the regulations.

More details ahead

affordable housing, Policy

Housing New York, NYC zoning, Department of City Planning

On the surface it sounds like a great idea: Adjust zoning regulations to better accommodate the Mayor’s goal of preserving and creating 200,000 units of affordable housing. But some are angered that the proposal would lift current zoning protections and height limits by as much as 20 to 30 percent.

According to the Department of City Planning, the newly released plan, called Housing New York: Zoning for Quality and Affordability, addresses the city’s outdated zoning regulations that don’t reflect today’s housing needs or construction practices. However, an email from the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation asserts: “The proposal would change the rules for ‘contextual’ zoning districts throughout the city–zoning districts which communities frequently fought hard to secure, to limit the height of new development and keep it in character with the surrounding neighborhood.”

More information ahead

City Living, gentrification, Policy, Polls

POLL: Can #SaveNYC Win the Small Business Battle?

By Dana Schulz, Wed, March 11, 2015

On Monday, we took a look at #SaveNYC, a new campaign helmed by Jeremiah Moss of Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York that’s fighting to save the city from the superrich. Moss’ end goal is to get the Small Business Jobs Survival Act passed, “which would give businesses an opportunity to negotiate lease renewals and reasonable rent increases, whereas right now a landlord can outright kick a tenant out by denying a lease renewal, or hiking up rents so that only large chains can afford them.” While this is undoubtedly a noble undertaking, Moss has been criticized by the press in the past for his sometimes “bitter” or “one-sided” nature, so do you think he has what it takes to save NYC’s mom and pops?

Images: small business Katz’s (L) and chain store Starbucks (R), via Wiki Commons

Policy, real estate trends

rent stabilization, One57, Extell, Christian de Portzamparc

Remember the $100 million apartment at One57, the most expensive ever in New York City? Well, the (presumably) billionaire buyer pays just $17,268 in annual property taxes on the unit, or 0.017 percent of its sale price, as if it were worth only $6.5 million, according to the New York Post. In contrast, the owner of a $1.02 million condo nearby at 224 East 52nd Street is paying $24,279, or 2.38 percent of its sale price.

This is just one example of the fact that the owners of the city’s ten most expensive apartments pay effective rates that are unbelievably lower than those paid on cheaper properties. How is this possible? It’s in part due to the 421-a tax abatement, but more so due to the city’s convoluted method of assessing market value for condos and co-ops.

More on the tax inequality here

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