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Old May 26th, 2007, 11:20 PM   #961
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http://www.nydailynews.com/boroughs/..._closer-1.html
Rego Center shops, apts. a step closer
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

BY LISA L. COLANGELO
DAILY NEWS CITY HALL BUREAU

Friday, May 25th 2007, 4:00 AM

City officials and developers broke ground yesterday for Rego Park Center, a large shopping and residential complex going up in the shadow of Lefrak City and several stores.

The new retail center will include Home Depot, Century 21 and a Kohl's department store as well as several smaller shops.

And it will have a lot of company.

It's being built on the old Alexander's parking lot, bordered by the Long Island Expressway and Junction Blvd., just off 63rd Drive.

Across the street, Sears, Old Navy, Bed Bath and Beyond and Circuit City sit in the former Alexander's building.

Even though the massive Queens Center Mall is just down the road, city and local officials didn't appear concerned by the concentration of shopping centers in the already dense area.

In fact, Mayor Bloomberg was eager to show some competition with the mega shopping malls of Long Island.

"If we get the state Legislature to eliminate the city portion of the sales tax on clothing and footwear - something that we have asked them to do - we may just have to make one of the eastbound lanes on the LIE westbound instead so we can handle all the extra shoppers who will be streaming in here from Nassau and Suffolk counties," Bloomberg cracked during the groundbreaking ceremony.

The new complex, being developed by real estate giant Vornado Realty Trust, also will include a residential building with 400 apartments.

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn credited Councilwoman Helen Sears (D-Jackson Heights) with securing a key piece of the development - a 2,500-square-foot community room.

Some local merchants are worried that the large stores will draw away their customers. But the project has won the support of Queens Community Board 6.

"The bottom line is, it's a good thing for the neighborhood," said Board 6 district manager Frank Gulluscio.

"That property has been vacant for a long time. Nobody wants to see empty property. Traffic is a concern, but traffic is a concern everywhere in the city."

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Old May 30th, 2007, 04:45 AM   #962
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That area is super concentrated shopping. And since the Queens Center mall has the highest sales per sq foot or something like that in the country, then the area can absorb this new retail without any casualties
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Old May 30th, 2007, 07:26 AM   #963
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New Buildings Are Proposed Among Projects

By DIANE CARDWELL
Published: May 30, 2007
nytimes.com

Facing a $225 million budget gap, the City Housing Authority is planning to sharply reduce its staff and sell vacant land in its projects for development into housing, much of it for middle-income residents, officials said yesterday.

Under a plan scheduled to be approved today, the authority is proposing to raise $50 million by selling parking lots and other open space at a number of housing complexes. Officials at the authority, which is the landlord for more than 400,000 low-income New Yorkers, said that although some of that development might include market-rate units, the income from the land sales generated would help preserve housing for the poor.

The city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development, which often works with private developers to build homes for residents with a broad range of incomes, will buy the land, and expects to select developers for three projects on the West Side of Manhattan and one in Brooklyn within a few weeks, a department spokesman said.

At the same time, Housing Authority officials, who have been steadily reducing the agency’s staff, plan to eliminate an additional 500 jobs by October, through layoffs and by letting vacancies go unfilled. The authority also plans to use $100 million from its capital budget, which is normally set aside for long-term physical upkeep of its 2,653 residential buildings, to help cover its day-to-day costs.

Despite those moves, the authority still faces a nearly $52 million budget gap for the current calendar year.

“This budget requires hard choices, given the limited amount of new aid provided by Washington and Albany,” said Tino Hernandez, the Housing Authority chairman. “The board is taking the steps necessary to ensure fiscal stability while maintaining our commitment to the residents of public housing.”

The Housing Authority has struggled for years to balance its books as the gap between federal subsidies and expenses for items like pensions and heating fuel have continued to grow. Over the years, the authority has undertaken a variety of measures, including raising rents, freezing hiring, reorganizing management and seeking additional assistance from Washington and Albany — assistance it usually did not get.

Officials at the authority have abandoned efforts, for instance, to gain permission to use $117.5 million from federal programs in different ways from the originally intended uses. And they are still waiting to see if they will be able to use $27.7 million from a rent-subsidy program known as Section 8 for housing that was built by the city and state but no longer receives aid from them.

Requests for $62 million in state aid yielded only $3.4 million, while a proposal to bring parity to the way the state helps welfare recipients pay for public and private housing — which could ultimately mean an additional $46.6 million a year — is still pending.

In response, the authority is looking to reduce its work force of roughly 13,000 full-time employees by 500, a move that could result in service cuts at properties where there have already been reductions in weekend staff levels while rents have increased.

Although officials in Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s administration have been considering the idea of selling vacant land in the projects for years, they are only now taking the first major steps toward doing so. Housing Authority officials say there is enough empty or underused space within its developments to support 25,000 new apartments and homes, but that they are selling only enough for roughly 5,000 or 6,000.

Among those parcels are parking lots at the Fulton Houses on 18th Street between 9th and 10th Avenues and at the Elliott-Chelsea complex on 25th Street and 9th Avenue. According to the city’s request for proposals from developers, the apartments at the two complexes are to be affordable to a family of four earning $56,720 to $116,985 and single households earning $39,700 to $81,890.

At a similar development planned for a parking lot and basketball court at the Harborview Terrace Houses, on 55th Street between 10th and 11th Avenues, most of the apartments are to be set aside for those earning $43,249 to $116,985 for a family of four and from $30,247 to $81,890 for a single resident. The Manhattan developments are expected to create more than 400 new rental apartments.

And a parking lot at the Linden and Boulevard Houses in East New York, Brooklyn, is to become a mixture of 180 two- and three-family and condominium town houses. At least 15 of the two-family units are to be set aside for households earning no more than $56,700 for a family of four, with the rest affordable to households earning no more than $92,170 for a family of four.

The Housing Authority sees the plan as a way of leveraging its assets in a time of fiscal strain, but the Bloomberg administration also sees it as a way to ease the housing crunch for middle-class residents.

“We’re creating more economically diverse communities by mixing middle income with the low-income populations” at Housing Authority projects, said Neill Coleman, a spokesman for the Department of Housing Preservation and Development.

Mr. Coleman said that while it was “certainly conceivable” that the developments would one day include market-rate housing, the department would be able to mandate a higher proportion of lower-cost housing because it was buying the land from another government entity at a lower cost than it could privately.

Several advocates of low-cost housing said that they supported the approach in theory, and that mixed-income communities are desirable for those who live in them. But some warned against using public land for middle-income residents at the expense of the poor.

“Within reason, a mixed-income, economically diverse community is a good community,” said Victor Bach, a housing policy analyst at the Community Service Society, which works with the poor. “Because the site and the land is being obtained from N.Y.C.H.A., and N.Y.C.H.A. has a historical mission to assist low-income New Yorkers in providing housing that’s affordable to them,” he added, “that should be reflected in a higher proportion of the housing going to low-income New Yorkers.”

At the Fulton Houses, a dark red brick complex on a quiet, leafy street in Chelsea, a resident, Diane Humphrey, 46, could hardly agree more. “This is supposed to be low income, not high income,” she said. “Rent’s going up, it ain’t going down. That’s unsuitable for a lot of people. Our rent is going up and up. And now they’re talking about building something else.” She added, “They should build more low-income housing.”
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Old May 31st, 2007, 06:09 AM   #964
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^ That sounds like a good idea.
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Old May 31st, 2007, 06:10 AM   #965
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On the Outs in Brooklyn
The city's complicity behind the borough's soaring eviction rate



by Neil deMause
May 29th, 2007

At the end of April, the shopkeepers and residents of a block-long trio of three- and four-story buildings on downtown Brooklyn's Willoughby Street got a jolt from landlord Albert Laboz. Without warning, eviction notices arrived en masse in mailboxes, giving tenants between 30 and 120 days to clear out or face court proceedings.

The merchants on the otherwise unremarkable block, between Bridge and Duffield streets, were stunned. "Out in 30 days is almost an impossible task for me," says Jeff Gargiulo, who opened his Bagel Guys store in 1997. "I have ovens and walk-in boxes and showcases and refrigeration units. It's going to take me 30 days just to disassemble it. And then to move it and store it, it could be up to $30,000 to do all that stuff."

The reason for the sudden evictions, Laboz's tenants soon found out, lay buried in a chart compiled by a public-private group known as the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership. Among the dozens of projects listed as pending for Brooklyn's downtown was one called "Willoughby West," a "mixed-use" building on the site of their stores. The only details given were its cost ($208 million) and size (594,000 square feet)—enough on that site to rise 30 stories or more.

While Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards megaproject and the insta-towers popping up across Williamsburg have gotten more attention, an equally big land rush is stalking downtown Brooklyn in the wake of a rezoning approved by the city in 2004. Around the corner from Laboz's planned Willoughby West, the city is planning to raze a half-block of buildings to make way for a public plaza and underground parking garage for a Sheraton hotel already under construction across the street.

Among the doomed buildings are two 19th-century row houses that, local lore has it, were part of the Underground Railroad. "I was very disappointed that they would even think of taking these houses," says Joy Chatel, owner of 227 Duffield Street, where abolitionists Harriett and Thomas Truesdell lived and where the remnants of old tunnels are still visible in the basement. "They're going to level my house and then apply for a 'freedom trail' to take people past empty lots."

Another block east, Albee Square Mall merchants wait anxiously for word of their fate after its owner (and would-be Coney Island condo builder) Joe Sitt of Thor Equities sold the property to a consortium with rumored plans for a 60-story tower of condos, offices, and shops.

"The neighborhood is changing for the worse, not the best," says Yaakov "Jack" Fuzailov, who runs a basement barbershop adjoining the Lawrence Street subway entrance in one of the buildings that Laboz and his brothers want to raze. "They're taking the poor out, and they're not even putting in the middle class—it's the rich."

Fuzailov, who had just entered the last year of a five-year lease when his eviction notice arrived, says that whenever he asked his landlord about the pending neighborhood redevelopment, he was told, " 'Jack, don't worry; it'll be 20 more years. I'm not even thinking about selling.' It was nothing but a lie."

Other tenants of the Laboz buildings—which include a sushi joint, a check-cashing store, a tiny deli, and what must be the city's only remaining pizzeria serving $1.25 slices—tell similar stories. "[Laboz] said, 'Don't worry, if I wanted you out, I would have had you out already—you got plenty of time,' " says Gargiulo, who, like many others in the building, has been without a lease since 2004—coincidentally or not, the same time as the city rezoning went through. (Albert Laboz and his brothers Jody and Jason, who collectively own United American Land LLC, did not answer repeated e-mail and phone inquiries for this story.)

The occupants of the Willoughby West site are now organizing with the help of Families United for Racial and Economic Equality (FUREE), a low-income-families group that moved into offices on Willoughby in late 2004 and promptly found itself in the middle of what it sees as a turf war over whom the neighborhood will serve. "Nothing is priced affordably for the people who live here," says FUREE board member Scherrille Murray. "This is not organic change. This is planned change—but planned for other people."


The roots of the battle go back at least to the 1980s.


The city cleared out row houses and warehouses along Myrtle Avenue west of Flatbush, evicting about 250 residents and 750 workers, to make way for MetroTech, a planned hub to draw corporate back-office workers to Brooklyn. The city helped out not just by using its powers of eminent domain, but with about $300 million in subsidies to lure anchor tenants Chase Manhattan and Bear Stearns across the East River.

While MetroTech's corporate campus was a controversial addition to the skyline, it only whetted the appetite of Brooklyn business leaders and city planners to turn the area into a competitor with Jersey City for office tenants seeking relief from Manhattan rents.

The long-awaited catalyst finally came in January 2000, at a time when the Silicon Alley boom had soaked up every last scrap of available office space. Senator Chuck Schumer convened a working group of corporate execs, city officials, labor leaders, and more corporate execs—18 of the 35 represented either large corporations or the real estate industry—to examine future city development. A year and a half later, the "Group of 35" report was issued, calling for 60 million square feet of new commercial space by 2020—equal to 15 World Trade Center towers—to deal with what it perceived as an office-space crisis. "Without taking action to create more space," the report concluded, "New York City will miss out on hundreds of thousands of new jobs and increased economic activity in the next 20 years."

The following year, newly elected mayor Michael Bloomberg and his economic-development sidekick, Deputy Mayor Dan Doctoroff, arrived in City Hall and began working to make the Group of 35 vision a reality. The booming economy of the '90s that had sparked the Schumer report may have already become a distant memory, but Doctoroff, for one, was undaunted, saying: "We can't predict the future—when the economy's going to rebound. But we know that in the last boom, this city did not have the space for companies who wanted to stay here or relocate here."

The city ultimately approved a massive rezoning of an irregularly shaped stretch of downtown covering 22 blocks from Tillary Street south to Schermerhorn Street. Within that zone, the allowable height of buildings was effectively doubled. "If our views are obscured," said Downtown Brooklyn Partnership president Joe Chan last year from his MetroTech office, "we'll know we've done a good job."

At least at first, though, what Chan will see out his windows will not be Doctoroff's beloved office towers. The Brooklyn commercial market has stubbornly refused to rebound; MetroTech itself saw both JP Morgan Chase and Empire Blue Cross move out last year, leaving some 350,000 square feet of vacant floor space. Chan, looking on the bright side, told the Real Deal recently that this presented "a real opportunity to draw in new industries." Chan tells the Voice that the "renaissance" of the surrounding neighborhoods of Brooklyn Heights, Boerum Hill, and Fort Greene presents special possibilities, creating "a residential base that translates well to the employee base" of "creatively driven industries" like graphic design and architecture.

In the meantime, developers have swiftly moved in to claim the newly liberated downtown frontier for the real estate flavor of the month: condos. Mid-rise apartment blocks were already in the works on Schermerhorn Street, along the northern edge of Boerum Hill; in the rezoned area, the preferred form looks to be the skyscraper, led by the much hyped Oro (top price: $995,000 for a two-bedroom) now rising at the base of the Manhattan Bridge on-ramp. (Condo conversions are also under way in both the old Board of Education headquarters at 110 Livingston Street and in the Verizon building opposite Laboz's planned Willoughby West.) The city's environmental-impact statement for the rezoning estimated that it would create 1,000 new units of housing; the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership now counts 7,500 new units already in the works, with Chan projecting as many as 14,000 eventually.

Turning Brooklyn's low-rise downtown into high-priced towers wasn't the original idea. "There was no constituency that had a vision of downtown Brooklyn as a high-rise bedroom community," notes Robert Perris, the district manager of Brooklyn's Community Board 2, which covers Brooklyn Heights, downtown, and Fort Greene. "Even people that were pro–economic development are disappointed that what we've gotten instead are 40-story residential buildings."

Even more disappointed, needless to say, are those who'd staked their futures on being a part of a newly energized downtown, only to find themselves staring down the barrel of a new Chelsea.

"We moved to this neighborhood when there were crack vials on the floor," Aviva Jakubowitz of Track Data Corporation testified last Tuesday at a city hearing on the fate of the block that contains her company's offices, as well as the Duffield Street Underground Railroad houses. "Now, finally, the neighborhood has changed, and the city wants to take our property by eminent domain."

Also galling is the incestuous nature of the planning process, which has from the start been guided by people with one foot in the development community and the other in City Hall. The Downtown Brooklyn Council, the advocacy group of major area institutions that helped spearhead the rezoning push, was launched in 2000 with James Whelan as its director. Whelan left in 2003 and is now Doctoroff's senior economic-development advisor; his replacement, Michael Burke, was formerly chief of staff for Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz.

Last year, the DBC was folded into a new organization, the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership. Its first president was Chan, Whelan's predecessor as Doctoroff's development aide. Formed from the merger of the DBC, the MetroTech Business Improvement District, the Fulton Mall Improvement Association (whose co-chairs are Al Laboz and Joe Sitt, and whose treasurer is Michael Burke), and the BAM Local Development Corporation, the Partnership has been described as a "BID on steroids": Technically a private nonprofit, it has worked so closely with the city Economic Development Corporation on rezoning that several press accounts have mistakenly called it a city agency.

All this has left some small-business owners who are members of the BID wondering whether anyone is left to look out for their interests. "The MetroTech BID, we didn't hear from them," says bagel guy Gargiulo. "I was even up at the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce talking with Mr. Burke, and I had asked him, 'Did Mr. Laboz tell you anything about our building?' This was maybe six months ago. And he hadn't heard anything."


The question of whom a redeveloped downtown will serve is touchy


With all involved doing a careful dance to avoid the worrisome topic of who will be pushed out when the New Brooklyn arrives. Chan stresses the new retail space set to be built, which, he hopes, will provide enough excess supply to keep storefront rents low. (Retail rents in the Fulton Mall are already among the highest in Brooklyn.)

Laboz has used his spot as co-chair of the Fulton Mall Improvement Associa tion to push a vision of the mall as a "new 34th Street"—which fits well with the Macy's that currently occupies the historic A&S flagship building there, but perhaps not so much the rest of the busy strip, seemingly equally divided between jewelry stores with sneaker displays and sneaker stores advertising "We Buy Gold." "This is not a race issue," Laboz assured the Observer last year. "The car is running on five cylinders. The goal is to make it a better experience and a better environment for everybody." Chan calls it "surprising" that downtown Brooklyn lacks its own H&M, and points to the Atlantic Terminal's Target outlet as a model for a "diversified" retail experience where you find "families from Park Slope shopping next to families from East New York."

The Department of City Planning's webpage on the downtown Brooklyn redevelopment plan declares that its goal is to "serve the residents, businesses, academic institutions, and cultural institutions of Downtown Brooklyn and its surrounding communities." The city's actual environmental-impact statement for the rezoning plan, though, was more blunt, saying that while current businesses would be displaced, they would not be "significant" losses because "they do not have substantial economic value to the City, they do not define neighborhood character, nor do they belong to a special category of business that is protected by special regulations or publicly adopted plans."

The area's council representatives choose their words more carefully. Letitia James, whose Fort Greene district abuts the eastern edge of the rezoned area, lauds the two planned developments on Myrtle Avenue in her district that will include affordable-housing components. As for displacement of the existing community, she calls the situation "a very delicate balance" and says she plans to "continue to monitor the situation."

Most of downtown falls into the district of David Yassky, the chair of the council's small business committee, who has backed the rezoning. He echoes Doctoroff's belief that commercial demand will ultimately rebound, and "when the demand comes back for office space here, the zoning means that people will be ready to respond." Seven years ago, he notes, Goldman Sachs chose to build a new office tower in Jersey City instead of Brooklyn. "I think we do want to make sure that doesn't happen again," Yassky says.

What about the widespread feeling among downtown merchants that the rezoning was designed to push them out in favor of a new clientele with deeper pockets and lighter pigmentation?

"Sure, I've heard some business owners saying things like that," says Yassky. He calls Albee Square Mall an anomaly—some merchants pay as little as a third of the going rate—because "the guy who owned it wanted people who he could kick out at a moment's notice." And as for the rest, well, that's just capitalism. "To me, it's not accurate to say that this is because of the rezoning," says Yassky. "These are market forces here that are making what were formerly low-rent areas, both residential and retail, into high-rent areas. I'm not saying it's a good thing. But it's market reality."

It's a market, though, that was largely created—or at least abetted—by the city's own rezoning. "We had a significant jump in developable floor-area ratio in some of these areas, so some of these buildings would not have gone up without that incentive," says CB2's Perris. "When you increase the size of the building by 50 percent, it changes all the numbers."

The city's ability to create tremendous wealth for landowners simply by tweaking a few floor-area ratio numbers is one reason many urban-planning advocates have pushed for something called "inclusionary zoning," in which developers must agree to provide a certain percentage of affordable housing in order to exceed the existing height limits.

Though inclusionary zoning was used on a limited scale in the recent rezoning of Williamsburg and Greenpoint, it was rejected by the city for the upzoning of Park Slope's Fourth Avenue and never even got on the table for downtown Brooklyn. Chan insists that even if the city had known of the coming residential boom, inclusionary zoning was not needed. As with Fulton Mall rents, he keeps faith in the restorative powers of supply and demand, saying that by allowing taller residential buildings with more units, "hopefully, with that amount of supply, prices will kind of balance out."

"I couldn't find some array of forces willing and interested to work on it, honestly," says Brad Lander of the Pratt Center for Community Development, who has been the strategy's most tenacious champion. "I met Jim Whelan when he was head of the Downtown Brooklyn Council, and I tried to pitch him. I said, 'Here's this great idea; it'll work for you, it'll work for everyone.' And he chuckled—he kind of said this seems like a reasonable idea, but the way things are going in this administration . . . "

It's a scenario that, planning experts say, points out one of the main flaws with the city's rezoning process: With public discussion limited to the advisory vote of the local community board, it takes an extraordinarily committed organization of local residents to get the city to veer from its declared path. And even then, the appointed community boards are no guarantee to represent the community—as residents of Brooklyn's Board 6 found out last week when nine members were purged by their political patrons for voting against Atlantic Yards, and the Bronx's CB4 saw last year in a similar purge over the new Yankee Stadium plan.

The main reason Williamsburg got a side dish of affordable housing with its condo towers and downtown didn't, says Lander, is that "in downtown Brooklyn, nobody stepped up to organize. It was the whole normal process in terms of what the city did. Folks on the ground did not step up and try to affect it."

Now, with the 60-story horses out of the barn, the opponents' options are limited. FUREE says it wants to cap the height of new buildings, save the Underground Railroad site at 227 Duffield, and increase the affordable-housing component. "Let's make sure we're looking at at least 50 percent affordable housing, because you need to build for the people who are already in the area," says FUREE board member Murray. FUREE and Lander both feel that the city is missing an opportunity by approving the transfer of the Albee Square Mall lease to the new development consortium, letting go one of its few remaining pieces of leverage on a downtown parcel, without demanding any kind of affordable-housing commitments in return.

Gargiulo, who admits that he paid little attention to the rezoning plan when it was in the works, now keeps a petition in his store for patrons to call on the city to "reject the destruction planned by the Willoughby West Development Project." He recalls the mayor's recent statement on the proposed redevelopment of Willets Point in Queens: "There will always be one person who objects to everything, but I don't think anybody suggests that this society should stay back in the Stone Age and never move ahead."

"I got a thousand signatures in three days," says Gargiulo. "It's not just one person that wants to stop this. It's thousands."


Copyright © 2007 Village Voice LLC
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Old May 31st, 2007, 06:11 AM   #966
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Big changes for Brooklyn.
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Old May 31st, 2007, 06:47 PM   #967
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brooklyn will get a fantastic skyline in the next years, can't wait to see it
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Old June 3rd, 2007, 05:39 AM   #968
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http://www.nypost.com/seven/05292007...eve_cuozzo.htm
WEST 50S BLOCK BUSTER

May 29, 2007 -- THE wrecking ball - not the curtain call - is coming to the theater district block bounded by Broadway and Eighth Avenue and West 54th and 55th streets.

The Eighth Avenue east blockfront and adjacent buildings on West 54th Street are being primed for demolition by Gladden Properties, a joint venture of Boston Properties and Robert Gladstone.

Our roving tipster who calls himself "John Q. Public" reports "men working with sledgehammers bashing away at the interior of the old Tripple Inn at 263 W. 54th St."

The development site, which also includes an empty lot and an office building on West 55th formerly owned by Hearst, "can support" a new office tower of 975,000 square feet, according to Boston's first-quarter SEC filing. That's even bigger than we predicted when we first reported the joint venture's purchases of the properties for around $200 million in January and March.

Meanwhile, the buzz is that developer Harry Gross will soon proceed with a long-discussed Marriott Courtyard Hotel project at the northwest corner of Broadway and 54th, where a low-rise building is vacant except for a deli. Gross bought the La Premiere rental apartment building at the blockfront's northern corner last winter.

On West 54th, between the Gladden and Gross properties and across the street from Studio 54, is a small building owned by Joseph Moinian. Although still occupied by a dance studio, it, too, looks like dead meat sooner or later.

Its large ground-floor retail tenant, Kinko's, is moving to the new Hearst tower on Eighth Avenue this summer, employees say. But add this to the mystery: Hearst's brokers at Cushman & Wakefield deny a lease has been signed.

If Moinian's building comes down, it would leave just two buildings on the block: La Premiere and 240 W. 55th, home to McGee's Tavern - which moved there after CBS closed its former Broadway site next to the David Letterman Theater.
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Old June 3rd, 2007, 10:42 PM   #969
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http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/01/ny...=1&oref=slogin
Ruling Favors Developer’s Plan for Vacant East Village School

By CHARLES V. BAGLI
Published: June 1, 2007

After nine years of battling community activists and the city, a developer has won a round in his effort to redevelop a vacant, crumbling school building on the Lower East Side.

A state appellate court in Manhattan ruled on Tuesday that the Bloomberg administration had improperly refused to issue a building permit that would have allowed the developer, Gregg L. Singer, to build a 19-story dormitory on the site of Public School 64, which sits on East Ninth Street, near Tompkins Square Park.

The project, which ignited a bitter fight against gentrification, would preserve the five-story building’s French Renaissance facade.

“The building has been vacant for a long time, and it’s an eyesore,” Mr. Singer said yesterday. “The idea isn’t for us to stay in court forever. Let’s keep politics out of it and stay focused on what’s good for the city.”

But the city does not intend to issue a permit anytime soon. John Gallagher, a spokesman for Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, said that the administration would appeal the ruling, in which two of the five judges dissented, and that there were two other outstanding lawsuits over P.S. 64.

Mr. Singer bought the building for $3.15 million in 1998 at a city auction amid protests by activists and elected officials. He has been blocked at every turn from renovating it for elderly tenants, nonprofit organizations or college students, and the upper floors now serve as a roomy pigeon coop.

After the school closed in 1977, it became an unofficial but widely used community center for theater groups, artists and political activists. Mr. Singer evicted the tenants, who viewed him as an interloper with a secret plan to build luxury housing. The opposition eventually swelled to include the pro-development Bloomberg administration and even the owner of the penthouse next door at the Christadora House, which had been at the center of its own gentrification battle in the 1980s.

In 2004, the city refused to issue a building permit for Mr. Singer’s dormitory proposal, and in 2006 it designated the school a landmark, further restricting his ability to renovate or demolish it. He claimed that he had been double-crossed by some city officials who had indicated support.

Mr. Singer sued, several times. In one case, he sought $100 million in damages, claiming that Mayor Bloomberg had “cut a dirty political deal with the local city councilwoman at the time, Margarita López: In exchange for her support of his re-election bid, he would see to it that his administration blocked the owner’s development plans.”

This week the appellate court ruled in Mr. Singer’s favor on the building permit.

What brought the case to this point was the city’s fear that should Mr. Singer’s dormitory plan be allowed, he might later use the property for market-rate housing. This led the Bloomberg administration to impose what Mr. Singer and other real estate executives called an “unprecedented” requirement: He had to provide a leasing agreement with a specific school or schools. The city rejected Mr. Singer’s application when he failed to produce such a lease.

The court said that the city could not prohibit the dormitory project based on a possible future illegal use, especially since it could easily deny or revoke a certificate of occupancy.
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Old June 4th, 2007, 07:54 AM   #970
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any more info on the 80 south street tower? that tower is amazing o_o
here's the website http://www.80southstreettower.com/index.htm but it doesn't tell you much other than awesome renders/views and that condos start at 29m
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Old June 5th, 2007, 09:15 AM   #971
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I like this building but I don't think it is good idea to build something like that in New York City. New York City is pretty overcrowded place that would need much dense buildings to support the job/population growth. That building is seen like waste alot of space for New York City. It is not fair for many people in New York City.
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Old June 6th, 2007, 01:45 AM   #972
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http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/05/ar....html?ref=arts
Renovation Slowly Adds Some Light to Lollipops

By ROBIN POGREBIN
Published: June 5, 2007


Allied Works Architecture

What 2 Columbus Circle might look like after the redesign.



Sara Krulwich/The New York Times

The architect Brad Cloepfil in the future Museum of Arts and Design at 2 Columbus Circle. Mr. Cloepfil kept Edward Durell Stone's original "lollipop" design for the building.



2 Columbus Circle once housed the former Huntington Harford Gallery of Modern Art.


Sara Krulwich/The New York Times

The first floor in the future Museum of Arts and Design shows the slits Mr. Cloepfil cut into the original building to add light.



Sara Krulwich/The New York Times

The new view from the future Museum.The dining area will have spectacular views of Columbus Circle and Central Park.



A view of the future Museum of Arts and Design as seen from Columbus Circle.

The controversial white block of a building is still shrouded in dark netting. The hard-hatted men perched on the surrounding scaffolding won’t wrap up their work until the middle of next year. But behind the scrim, the “lollipop” building at 2 Columbus Circle is steadily changing into a new home for the Museum of Arts and Design.

Two years ago, preservationists lost a battle to prevent radical alterations to the 1964 building, which was originally designed by the architect Edward Durell Stone. It was a long and bitter fight, with city officials and preservationists crossing swords over whether it was a Modernist landmark or an eyesore — and whether a redesign would amount to a shortsighted pastiche.

Strolling through the building on a recent afternoon, the architect for the renovations, Brad Cloepfil of Allied Works Architecture, emphasized that he had sought neither to erase the history of Stone’s building nor to content himself with a superficial makeover. “Part of the intent was to preserve key memories of the building — the shape, the scale,” he said. “It’s still an idiosyncratic building. It’s still a monolith in Columbus Circle. There are many ways to preserve something without just a stylistic overlay.”

The biggest difference between old and new seems to be the light. Rooms that were once dim and subdivided are now wide open and full of sun. Slices into the once-opaque facade have opened views of Central Park to the north and the Hudson River to the west.

“Now that you can see the spaces, it’s really exciting,” said Mr. Cloepfil, who redesigned the building in collaboration with Gary Edward Handel & Associates.

“I love to think of it as editing,” he said of the renovations. “You’re basically taking a building apart as much as possible while it’s still standing.”

He said the exterior was largely intact, except for the cuts and a new cladding in iridescent white terra cotta that will be installed over the summer. All but one of the street-level lollipop shapes have survived, in part because they had to as structural supports for the building.

But the lollipops will now be behind glass, since the lobby will extend toward the sidewalk. And the building’s signature portholes are gone, along with Stone’s Venetian-style loggia.

Preservationists had argued that the redesign would erase the historical importance of the building, which originally housed a supermarket magnate’s art gallery and later, the city’s Department of Cultural Affairs. Mr. Cloepfil said that he did not dismiss the preservationists’ concerns but wished the debate had been framed differently. “It could have been a more fascinating conversation about the nature of preservation,” he said. “The debate never got beyond whether this piece of work merited critical preservation.”

“I think it’s a debate that needs to happen; the old criteria don’t really apply anymore,” he added. “That’s part of the lost opportunity of this building.”

There were larger questions worth considering, he said, like, “Is the iconography the most important thing, or are there other ways to preserve the experience of the building?”

For him, the next question is, “Does it have critical value? And I think the answer is no.”

Mr. Cloepfil also directly took on the project’s most vocal and high-profile critic, the architect Robert A. M. Stern, who is also dean of Yale’s School of Architecture. Mr. Stern had argued that the building was an important example of postwar design. “It was really an attempt at historicism — a desperate gasp at historicism,” Mr. Cloepfil said, as if Mr. Stern were bent on romanticizing the recent past, as opposed to rethinking it.

What Mr. Cloepfil sees as his “primary act of architecture” at 2 Columbus Circle are the two-foot cuts in the walls and floors, which will be filled by barely translucent glass. “By making a two-foot cut, a three-dimensional incision, it completely opens the space up,” he said. “The metaphor I use is, it’s like taking away the seam of the shirt. The shirt is still intact, but you opened it up at all the intersections.”

The floor cuts create a sense of connection, the architect said, so that a museum visitor will always sense “that something is above you and something is below you.” The vertical wall cuts “connect you to the city,” he said, while the horizontal cuts fill the galleries with natural light.

Yet in some ways, the renovation is more noteworthy for what has been taken out than what has been put in. To maximize the available space on four gallery floors, the architects moved the mechanical systems behind the elevator bank and put the restrooms below ground, by the auditorium, and on the sixth floor, which will be home to the museum’s education department. They also took various staircases away. About 300 tons of concrete were hauled off the site, along with 47,000 square feet of surface materials.

“Because we’re working within the existing envelope, part of the quest was to give the museum as much new space as possible,” Mr. Cloepfil said.

The museum, which focuses on crafts, art and design, is struggling to accommodate all of its operations in 17,000 square feet in its current site on West 53rd Street. The square footage will more than triple, to 54,000 — 14,000 of which is gallery space. “One floor of this building is the size of our whole museum now — the two main galleries,” said Holly Hotchner, the museum’s director. “When you imagine how robust the exhibition program will be as a result of this gained space — we’ll probably have one-third of the permanent collection on view.”

Work on the building is slow going. Scaffolding first went up in fall 2005. “It took over a year to take the building apart,” Mr. Cloepfil said. “Essentially what we’ve done is take away as much of the building as possible without totally restructuring it.”

In the lobby, he pointed to where the main entrance will be on the north side of the building, and to the location of a planned store and information desk. Where now there is a gaping chasm, there will be a staircase suspended by cables leading from the first-floor galleries down to the basement auditorium.

From dawn to dusk, the terra-cotta facade will subtly change in color, its sheen varying from purple to orange to gold to green.

But Mr. Cloepfil asserts that the central experience of the building — its quiet solidity — will remain as it was. Even as he was pointing out all the changes to 2 Columbus Circle, the architect kept emphasizing how the building’s role in the city had not really changed.

“All we’ve done is remove things,” he said. “A lot of what holds people’s memory of this place is still intact.”
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Old June 7th, 2007, 12:46 AM   #973
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New condo tower planned at 305 East 85th Street





05-JUN-07

The Ascend Group LLC, of which Robert Kaliner is a principal, plans to erect a 21-story residential condominium building at 305 East 85th Street.

The L-shaped building will wrap around a property on the northeast corner of 85th Street and Second Avenue that houses the Panorama Caf¿.

The site consists of three, 5-story, walk-up apartment buildings that are in the process of demolition.

It was acquired for $42,250,000 from a joint venture of The Lincoln Property Company of Dallas and Equity Residential, a real estate investment trust in an auction conducted by Eastern Consolidated.

John Cetra of Cetra/Ruddy is the architect for the 63-unit development.

The new building will have floor-to-ceiling windows, a rooftop swimming pool, and some balconies.

The project will use air rights purchased from the building at 1648 Second Avenue that houses the Heidelberg Restaurant, one of the few remaining German restaurants that made the Yorkville neighborhood centered about 86th Street west of Lexington Avenue famous.

The new building will be the third major new residential tower under construction in the area. The Related Companies is erecting the Brompton on the southeast corner of 86th Street and Third Avenue and Extell development is building the Lucida on the southeast corner of 86th Street and Lexington Avenue.

There is excellent crosstown bus service and good local shopping in the area and there is an express stop on the Lexington Avenue Subway at 86th Street.

Alan P. Miller, senior director and principal of Eastern Consolidated, said that the properties involved in the sale had a 421-A Tax Certificate benefit as well as inclusionary bonus air rights in pace. He said that Martin Piazzola, an executive vice president and partner at Lincoln, had acquired the buildings several years ago and negotiated buyouts.

"The competition was fierce and the bid deadline we established needed to go to a second round as several groups were vying for this Upper East Side corner," Mr. Miller said.

The Ascend Group is developing "A Building" at 425 East 13th Street, an 8-story condo project, and 133 West 22nd Street, a 13-story condo project, both also designed by Cetra/Ruddy.


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Old June 7th, 2007, 12:46 AM   #974
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Old June 7th, 2007, 12:49 AM   #975
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34-story mid-block condo tower planned for 309 Fifth Avenue





06-JUN-07

A 34-story residential condominium tower with 100 apartments is planned at 309 Fifth Avenue between 31st and 32nd Streets.

The glass-clad building will have a low-rise base at the building line and a dramatic setback tower with two cantilevered and angled sections and "sawtooth" northwest and southwest corners with many balconies.

Ismael Leyva is the architect and renderings of the project appeared today on his website. His other projects include Plaza 57, Post Toscana, 15 Renwick Street, One Carnegie Hill and 785 Eighth Avenue.

309 Fifth Owners LLC, of which Haskel Cohen is a partner, is the developer.

The mid-block building, which utilizes development rights transferred from a qualified Inclusionary Housing site and air rights from 313 Fifth Avenue, will be 452 feet high, according to documents on file with the Department of Buildings.

It will have storage facilities and a "tenant pool" in the cellar, two apartments on the 4th floor, four apartments each on floors 5 through 8 and 11 through 13, three apartments on floors 9 and 10 and 14 through 28, two apartments on floors 30 to 32, and two duplex apartments on floors 33 and 34.

The area between 23rd and 33rd Street and Fifth and Madison avenues has recently witnessed substantial new residential activity.

A tall residential tower was erected at 425 Fifth Avenue at 38th Street, and another was recently completed at 325 Fifth Avenue, and plans were recently disclosed for a new mid-block tower at 224 Fifth Avenue across from the recent conversion of the former Gift Building at 225 Fifth Avenue. In addition a major tower is planned at 400 Fifth Avenue and construction is proceeding at the Sky House at 11 West 29th Street and the new owner of the former Metropolitan Life Insurance Company clocktower building on the southeast corner of Madison Avenue indicated it was proceeding with its residential conversion, which is half a block north of the construction site for Saya, another tall new residential tower at 22 East 23rd Street.

Calls to Mr. Leyva and Mr. Cohen from CityRealty.com today were not returned.


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Old June 7th, 2007, 04:07 AM   #976
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http://www.downtownexpress.com/de_21...etalittle.html
Volume 20 Issue 3 | June 1 -7, 2007

Soho to get a little ‘Lipstick’



A design for a new residential building at 140 Sixth Ave. features a lower, contextual side on Sullivan St. mirroring Soho’s historic architecture, and a taller modernistic, glass “mini-Lipstick Building” look on Sixth Ave. The project also will boast building-integrated photovoltaic collectors — or built-in solar panels — in its glass balcony railings. The former gas station site just south of Spring St. needs a rezoning for residential use. Anthony Morali, the building’s architect, said a 100-foot height cap will be enacted with the rezoning, meaning the new building only could be about 10 stories at its highest point. There will also be a plaza as a “buffer” between the carwash to the south, he said. “We feel we’re in context with what the neighborhood would like to see,” Morali said of the design featuring two heights and two styles. The rezoning needs to go through the city’s uniform land-use review procedure, which could take more than six months.
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Old June 7th, 2007, 05:14 AM   #977
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Some great new projects for NYC!
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Old June 7th, 2007, 06:43 AM   #978
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Agreed. Some good projects for the city despite some that i just dont like. Thanks for the info. guys.
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Old June 7th, 2007, 06:22 PM   #979
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cool news,i really like the 34 storey tower. very good design!
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Old June 7th, 2007, 08:17 PM   #980
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TalB View Post
http://www.nypost.com/seven/05012007...zzo.htm?page=0
HOTEL KING'S LATEST

CHANG PLANS FULL-SERVICE BOUTIQUE INN FOR W. 56TH ST.


FACELIFT: This rendering of the new façade for 655 Madison Ave. is scheduled to be finished by the end of the year.

May 1, 2007 -- HOTEL king Sam Chang has claimed another slice of Midtown for a new inn - a 14-story, 20,000-square-foot, full-service boutique property he plans to build at 20 W. 56th St. between Fifth and Sixth avenues, a few doors west of jeweler Harry Winston.

Chang's McSam Hotel Group just bought the doomed, existing five-story building on a 2,500-square-foot lot for $7.5 million. The small site can support the new hotel without needing any additional air rights.

Eastern Consolidated's Alan P. Miller brought in the buyer; the same firm's Eric M. Anton and Ronald A. Solarz repped the seller, Japanese investors True World Group.

Until last month, the address was home to Japanese restaurant Kiiroi Hana, which True World opened in 1983. "Its owners realized the time was right to cash in on their long-term investment," Solarz said.

The bustling, long West 56th Street block is also home to a much larger project - Nos. 31-39, now a large hole in the ground, where Manhattan Century Properties and the Stillman Organization are working on a mixed-use luxury condo.

But for the estate of late real estate legend Sol Goldman, Chang's site at 20 W. 56th might be the one that got away. Sources said heirs Jane Goldman and Alan Goldman own the adjacent small buildings at 18 and 22 W. 56th as well as a contiguous property on West 55th.

The Kiiroi Hana building would have given the Goldmans about 75 feet of uninterrupted frontage, but the sale to Chang broke up the nascent assemblage. "It may be they weren't aware True World wanted to sell - this was one of those under-the-radar transactions," our source said.

Miller said Chang has nearly 4,000 new rooms under construction in the city at more than two dozen locations. He has seven hotels under construction on West 39th Street between Eighth and Ninth avenues.

Chang owns the real estate and signs up management companies to operate the hotels, which are flagged as Hilton Gardens, Holiday Inn Express and other brands.

*

The once dowdy office building at 655 Madison Ave. at 60th Street is getting a new skin, new lobby, new systems - and a new lease on life as a prime Plaza District office address.

In recent years the owners of early 1950s-vintage building watched the more glamorous towers in Barneys country fetch rents above $100 a square foot.

Tenants at 655 Madison were paying half that. "It was a Class-B building at a Class-A address," says Andrew Roos, one of several principals of GVA Williams who own the tower. "We were the low-cost providers in the neighborhood, which we didn't want to be.

"We were surrounded by the likes of 667 Madison, buildings much newer or reskinned," Roos said. Recently, "We decided we wanted to be commensurate with our neighbors."

So the owners are spending more than $15 million on improvements, including a new curtain wall designed by Swanke Hayden Connell chief architect Richard Hayden.

When the job is done by the end of the year, 655 Madison will sport a new façade of tinted gray glass above a granite base, replacing what Roos calls the "ugly" former painted gray spandrels and stone.

The GVA partners have about 90,000 square feet available in the 250,000-square-footer, now home to office tenants Loews and Estée Lauder and retail stores DKNY and Anne Klein.

Roos said the "beautiful" result will be attractive to boutique European firms and hedge funds willing to pay "triple-digit" rents.

[email protected]
how this facade look now????
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