— The Board of Standards and Appeals is expected to rule at a meeting today whether the developer behind a controversial Upper West Side apartment tower is misusing mechanical space at the building.
— State lawmakers have introduced legislation that would subject homeless shelters to the city’s lengthy land use approval process.
— New York City apartment building sales have fallen to new lows following rent law changes enacted last year, per a new report from Ariel Property Advisors.
LAND USE FIGHT — “City prepares ruling on design for Extell’s Upper West Side tower,” by Crain’s Ryan Deffenbaugh: “City administrators are expected to rule on whether a high-profile developer is improperly using mechanical space to build what would be the Upper West Side’s tallest apartment tower, the latest action in one of the city’s most contentious active land-use fights.
The Board of Standards and Appeals is slated to decide Tuesday morning whether Extell is ‘appropriately occupying’ the mechanical floor space in its proposed 775-foot-tall apartment tower at 50 W. 66th St. Opponents, including the City Club of New York and civic group Landmark West, accuse the developer of using mechanical spaces to jack up the heights of its penthouse apartments beyond what the neighborhood’s zoning allows. Extell has quarreled with the preservationists in the courts, media and at City Hall since announcing the plans for its tower for more than four years.”
SHELTER SKELTER — “Savino, Fall introduce legislation that would make homeless shelters subject to public land use review,” by Staten Island Advance’s Sydney Kashiwagi: “After Staten Islanders and the borough’s elected officials say they were left in the dark about the city’s plan for a 200-family homeless shelter at 44 Victory Blvd., two North Shore state lawmakers have introduced legislation that would increase public scrutiny of shelter developments, using the city’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP). Because homeless shelters are considered emergency resources, they currently do not face the same level of review as other types of major construction projects — instead, the city is only required to give a community 30 days notice to voice any potential concerns about a site before it opens.”
SAFETY WATCH — City to send contractors to install pedestrian protections at buildings with unsafe facades, by POLITICO’s Janaki Chadha: The owners of 152 city buildings who were told they need to install pedestrian protections due to unsafe facades have yet to do so — prompting the Department of Buildings to send contractors to complete the work at the owners’ expense, agency commissioner Melanie La Rocca said today. The properties were identified by the agency in an inspection sweep initiated after a fatal incident in December when a woman was struck by falling debris in Manhattan. Another pedestrian was killed by falling debris in Queens earlier this month.
HOUSEKEEPING — “William Zeckendorf wants to build an army of NYC homeowners,” by The Real Deal’s Erin Hudson: “Developer William Zeckendorf is angling to build an army of New York homeowners to lobby lawmakers. Residential property owners in New York City could, if mobilized, become an influential group that brokerage executives believe would be aligned with the industry when it comes to legislation affecting real estate taxes and property valuation. The idea is in early stages, according to the CEOs of brokerages Brown Harris Stevens and Halstead — both companies owned by Zeckendorf’s Terra Holdings. … It’s unclear whether the group would be exclusive to one or more Zeckendorf Development projects or more far-reaching.”
RENT REGS — “Latest landlord lawsuit claims rent law violates Fair Housing Act,” by The Real Deal’s Erik Engquist: “Another group of landlords has filed a lawsuit challenging New York’s new rent law, hiring Randy Mastro to argue that the statute hurts minority tenants as well as property owners. Mastro, a former deputy mayor in the Giuliani administration who is now at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, argues in a 77-page federal complaint that the law passed in Albany last June expands an unfair advantage for rich tenants, in violation of federal law. The case was brought by G-Max Management, Green Valley Realty, Siljay Holding, Jane Ordway, Dexter Guerrieri, and eight other landlords of rent-regulated housing. This is at least the fourth lawsuit to challenge the law, which went into effect in June.”
MARKET WATCH — “NYC Apartment Building Sales Plunge After New Rent Law Dents Values,” by Bloomberg’s Oshrat Carmiel: “Sales of New York City apartment buildings tumbled to near-decade lows last year, after new rent rules scared investors away from properties with regulated units. By every measure, it was a terrible 2019 for those in the business of owning and selling multifamily properties. The dollar value of purchases across all boroughs fell 40% from the prior year to $6.91 billion, the lowest total since 2011, according to a report by brokerage Ariel Property Advisors. There were 290 multifamily deals — a 36% decline, and the first year with fewer than 300 transactions in records dating to 2010. Apartments fell out of favor for investors last year as they digested New York’s new rent law, which governs about 1 million apartments in the city.”
WHAT’S IN STORE — “Fendi, Berluti sign Madison Avenue leases, easing Vornado slump,” by New York Post’s Steve Cuozzo and Lois Weiss: “Staggered by the imminent Barneys shutdown and recent closings of many smaller boutiques, Midtown’s fanciest shopping zone — at least part of it — is getting a sudden burst of urgently needed energy. Both Fendi and Berluti have signed retail leases at Vornado’s 595 Madison Ave. at 57th Street, The Post has learned. The Art Deco-style Fuller Building’s prime corner is exactly where Coach abruptly closed a longtime store there, as The Post reported last week. The new, luxury emporiums will fill most of the depressingly dark storefront space at 595 Madison. A source said one more lease will soon be completed at the address as well.”
RETAIL WOES — “Gulliver’s Gate closes at Kushner’s Times Square property,” by The Real Deal’s Rich Bockmann: “One of the troubled retail tenants at Kushner Companies’ big Times Square property has called it quits. Gulliver’s Gate, the miniature-landscapes tourist attraction that filed for bankruptcy last year, has shut down at Kushner’s 229 West 43rd Street, according to Debtwire. The two-and-a-half year old company filed for bankruptcy last year with a plan to restructure its business, which reportedly struggled under the weight of its $5.7 million annual rent. Gulliver’s Gate was not the only retail tenant at Kushner’s property to face hardship: National Geographic got into a dispute with its landlord over rent last year.”
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