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.
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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.
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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.”
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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
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
Image via nyc.go
“Small businesses in New York City have no rights. You’ve been here 50 years and provide an important service? Tough luck—your space now belongs to Dunkin’ Donuts. You own a beloved, fourth-generation, century-old business? Get out—your landlord’s putting in a combination Chuck E. Cheese and Juicy Couture.” – Jeremiah Moss in today’s Daily News.
With out of control rents, insane land prices, and properties trading hands for tens of millions–if not hundreds of millions–New York has become a playground (and a bank) for the ultra-rich. While most of us complain about the rising the cost of living with little action beyond a grumble, others are far more affected, namely the “mom and pop” shops forced out to make way for high-rent-paying tenants such as Duane Reade, Chase and Starbucks. But all is not lost. The issue of small business survival seems to be gaining some traction, particularly with a new campaign called #SaveNYC launched by Jeremiah Moss of Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York.
Let’s face it, we all feel that we’re paying too much for our tiny NYC apartments, and while for most of us that’s just the name of the game, for others who are living in a rent-stabilized unit but being charged market-rate rent, it’s actually true. Want to know if you fall into that boat? A new website called amirentstabilized.com will help you find out.
The site allows renters to search their building to see if it’s on the city’s list of addresses with rent stabilized units. Unfortunately, it can’t tell you if your specific apartment is one of them, but it’s a great first step and provides resources for confirming your unit’s status, as well as filing a complaint if you’re being overcharged.
Find out more here
Going broke will no longer mean losing out on your rent-controlled apartment in NYC. According to Bloomberg, city tenants who file for bankruptcy will now be able to keep the keys to their affordable apartments as public assistance. The decision is taken from two opinions formed by the New York State Court of Appeals and the Manhattan-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Previously bankrupt tenants faced a threat of eviction even when they were current on rent.
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Mayor de Blasio via @KevinCase via photopin cc; affordable housing buildings via gkjarvis flickr
Developers have been rushing to break ground on projects before June, when the controversial 421-a tax abatement is set to expire, as it provides incentives to developers for up to 25 years when they reserve at least 20 percent of a building’s units for low- and moderate-income tenants. However, those against the 40-year-old program criticize it for using working people’s tax dollars to build swimming pools and pet hotels for the world’s billionaires; after all, the construction of One57, where a penthouse recently sold for $100 million, was built using subsidies from the program.
But on what side of the debate does Mayor de Blasio, whose goal is to implement “the largest affordable housing program that any city, any state has attempted in a ten-year time span in the history of the republic,” fall? Though many of his supporters oppose 421-a, in order to reach his goal of building 80,000 new affordable housing units–especially in places like East New York where a rezoning would be necessary to allow for denser construction that mandates the inclusion of permanently affordable apartments–de Blasio says he needs the program, according to Capital New York.
More on the 421-a debate here
One week ago we learned of the landmark ruling to evict a rent-stabilized tenant from his ultra-luxe 450 West 42nd Street building for listing the unit on Airbnb for nearly triple what he was paying, a show of just how serious the city is about the issue. Now they’re getting even more aggressive, as two City Council members want to pass a new law that would let tenants sue their landlords for renting out neighboring apartments as illegal hotels through Airbnb.
More details ahead