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Old April 11th, 2008, 03:58 AM   #1381
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http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/...he_dead-1.html
Cheyenne Diner may rise from the dead

BY CORKY SIEMASZKO
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER

Thursday, April 10th 2008, 4:00 AM


The 68-year-old restaurant on W. 33rd St. and Ninth Ave. - one of the last classic Art Deco-style eateries in Manhattan - closed at 3:45 p.m. Sunday.


Cheyenne was one of only two railroad diners left in Manhattan.

Credits: Handschuh/News



A nine-story sliver apartment building is planned for the site. Fans are evaluating whether the neon-and-chrome structure can be moved safely, said preservationist Michael Perlman.

Credits: Handschuh/News



The 24/7 diner was popular with cabbies, cops and tourists. Above, signs welcome Daily News employees to the neighborhood, in 1995.

Credits: Simmons



Some patrons visited the all-night joint for the first time Sunday to witness its historic closing...

Credits: Appleton/News



... including tourists from Sweden.

Credits: Handschuh/News



Owner Spiros Kasimis kept his emotions in check as longtime customers shook hands and embraced him. 'It's gotta go. That's all there is to it,' he said. 'We gotta move on.'

Credits: Handschuh/News



On Sunday, breakfast was served all day with a big side order of nostalgia.

Credits: Handschuh/News



Raymond Reitzer, 50, drove in from New Jersey - where there is no shortage of diners - to see what he described as the real thing. 'Not every "diner" is a diner,' said Reitzer, who made the unscheduled trip after hearing about the Cheyenne's demise on the radio. 'These old ones are disappearing rapidly.'

Credits: Appleton/News



Alan Clark, the last costumer to eat at the the Cheyenne Diner, leaves after a satisfying corned-beef omelet.

Credits: Appleton/News


Operation "Save the Cheyenne Diner" is underway.

Led by Michael Perlman, the man who helped rescue the historic Moondance Diner from the scrap heap last year, preservationists hope to find a new location in the city for the iconic diner at Ninth Ave. and 33rd St.

The asking price for the railroad car-style diner is $7,900, not including rigging and lot acquisition costs.

"We've already been talking to a developer in Coney Island," Perlman said.

If the preservationists can't find a suitable spot for the Cheyenne in New York, Perlman said, they will review offers from Ohio and Indiana.

"Diners are among the ultimate public institutions, which harbor countless memories and bridge the generations," Perlman said. "They are becoming an endangered species."

A neighborhood institution decorated with Native American artifacts, the Cheyenne served its last blue plate special on Sunday after losing its lease to a bigger eatery around the corner - the Skylight Diner.

Skylight owner George Papas wants to build a nine-story apartment building on the narrow site, most likely with a restaurant on the ground floor. He's willing to wait until after the Cheyenne is moved, Perlman said.

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Old April 14th, 2008, 11:37 PM   #1382
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http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/20...from-building/
April 14, 2008, 12:10 pm

Worker Dies in Fall After Nylon Strap Fails

By Thomas J. Lueck

Updated, 3:32 p.m. | A worker who was installing windows in a condominium tower under construction at 400 East 67th Street, near First Avenue, fell to his death around 10:30 a.m. today after a nylon safety strap failed, officials said. The man — who was later identified as Kevin Kelly, 25, of Bayside, Queens — fell from the 21st floor to the 14th floor, but it was not clear what broke his fall, the authorities said. No one else was injured, and it was not clear what caused the fall.

Patricia J. Lancaster, the commissioner of buildings, told reporters at the scene that the worker had been installing windows on the 21st floor and fell when a piece of required safety equipment failed. She said an initial investigation indicated the the man’s D-ring — part of his safety harness that is attached to a hook embedded in the building’s concrete — snapped or somehow gave way.

Ms. Lancaster, who was still on the scene shortly before 1 p.m., said it was unclear who was at fault. “We will be holding the individuals responsible for this terrible tragedy accountable,” she said.

“We are very focused on safety,” Ms. Lancaster said. “Construction companies, owners, architects and engineers have to obey the law.”

She said a second worker, who apparently had witnessed the accident but was not directly involved, complained of chest pains and was taken to a hospital for observation.

She declined to identify that man, or the one who fell to his death.

Later, the Buildings Department issued this statement from Ms. Lancaster, which offered a revised account of what happened:

Construction site and worker safety begins with proper site safety measures. A tragedy happened here today. It appears the nylon safety strap connecting the worker to the building failed. As part of our investigation, our team is now auditing the method the crews used to install the safety straps throughout the building. We will pursue the toughest enforcement to the full extent of the law. Development cannot be at the expense of the workers building our City. The Buildings Department has imposed a full stop work order on the site. A full safety inspection is under way, and Buildings forensic engineers are investigating the incident.

The worker was employed by New York Window, a subcontractor retained by the general contractor, Hunter Roberts Construction Group, to install window panels. Preliminary reports indicate the accident occurred on the northeast corner of the building’s 23rd floor, and that the worker fell to a 14th-floor balcony. At this time, it appears a failure of the safety strap connecting the worker to the concrete ceiling played a role in the incident.

The building was designed by the architects Costas Kondylis & Partners and is in the process of receiving a LEED certification, awarded by the United States Green Building Council, for environmentally sustainable construction.

The construction manager is the Hunter Roberts Construction Group, a large construction company that is at work on several projects in Manhattan and Brooklyn. Officials of Hunter Roberts did not immediately return a phone request for comment. The company’s Web site describes The Laurel as luxury condominium, scheduled for completion next January, with 129 apartments, an indoor pool, 14,000 square feet of retail and office space and two levels of underground parking.

The developer is the Alexico Group, based in Manhattan. Officials of Alexico did not return a phone request for comment.

Sewell Chan contributed reporting.
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Old April 15th, 2008, 07:13 AM   #1383
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ooo, bad news..
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Old April 15th, 2008, 10:43 PM   #1384
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first the accident with the crane and now this
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Old April 16th, 2008, 12:02 AM   #1385
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This was the project where that construction worker fell from.

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Old April 16th, 2008, 11:41 PM   #1386
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http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/16/re...ref=commercial
Offices Put High Above the High Line

By STACEY STOWE
Published: April 16, 2008


Suzanne DeChillo/The New York Times

Morris Admji, left, and Charles Blaichman at 14th Street project.



ma.com

A rendering of the tower.


In the trendy meatpacking district, an office tower used to be as rare a sighting as a fanny pack. But the area, a 20-square block playground of boutiques, bistros and luxury apartments in Manhattan, is starting to attract new corporate tenants.

Indeed, in a neighborhood where the clip-clop of stilettos has replaced the scrape of a meat hook on a cable, one new building, at 450 West 14th Street, is being built on a distinctive site imbued with slaughterhouse and sleekly modern characteristics.

Designed by the architect Morris Adjmi, a 10-story glass tower is under construction on top of a former meatpacking plant, a three-story buff brick building where cattle carcasses were delivered by rail and processed for consumption. The 22,000-square-foot plant sits atop the High Line, the former elevated train track that is being redeveloped as an urban park. The High Line runs 103 feet through the building, which will have a staircase and elevator for access to the track. “Morris combined the historic significance of the building and also captured the essence of history in the meatpacking district,” said Charles Blaichman, the principal developer of the project.

The meatpacking district, which sits between 15th and Horatio Streets on the West Side, originated in 1884, when the city set aside a two-acre parcel for food stalls. It was named the Gansevoort Market, for Gen. Peter Gansevoort, who was a Revolutionary War hero and grandfather of Herman Melville, according to the Meatpacking District Initiative, a nonprofit business development organization.

Mr. Blaichman’s office building is expected to have full-floor tenants. It is set amid a landscape that includes some 50 nightclubs and restaurants. He said he hoped that certain kinds of companies would appreciate being part of that mix. These might be financial firms or advertising agencies, he said, or “whoever wants to work in an interesting neighborhood.”

While it has a particularly striking design, the West 14th Street project is not the only office building under construction in the meatpacking district. The event planner Robert Isabell is erecting an 80,000-square-foot building behind the restaurant Pastis that will span the full width of the block between West 13th Street and Little West 12th Street. The prospective annual rent in that building is $100 to $175 a square foot, depending on the floor, said the leasing agent, Matthew R. Bergey, a broker with CB Richard Ellis. There will be ground floor retail space and offices above.

Offices are beginning to sprout in the area because “people want to work where they live,” Mr. Bergey said. He said that the trend began when Paul Tudor Jones of the Tudor Investment Corporation leased 10,000 square feet of office space above the Apple store at 401 West 14th Street.

“There’s a lot of high-net-worth individuals running around, and they want high-end space to work in,” said Mr. Bergey, who specializes in leases of office space in Chelsea, the meatpacking district and the West Village.

When finished about 14 months from now, Mr. Blaichman’s building will have 100,000 square feet of office space to lease for $100 to $125 a square foot annually as well as 8,000 square feet of retail space at $400 a square foot, Mr. Adjmi said. The project is expected to cost about $55 million.

Two retail stores will occupy the ground floor of 450 West 14th Street. Interest has been expressed by high-end fashion retailers, Mr. Blaichman said. The tenants will be half a block away from the Diane Von Furstenberg store at 874 Washington Street. Ms. Furstenberg’s son, Alex, is a partner with Mr. Blaichman in the 450 West 14th Street project. Mal Serure, is the third partner.

Other retailers in the neighborhood include the clothing boutiques Trina Turk on Gansevoort Street and Maison Martin Margiela on Greenwich Street.

Restaurants like Pastis and Spice Market and hotels like the Gansevoort and Soho House have drawn tourists to the area.

Two blocks away from Mr. Blaichman’s project is the Caledonia, the first high-end residential tower to be built on the High Line. Its developers are the Related Companies and Taconic Investment Partners.

As for the office space in his new building, Mr. Blaichman said, the fifth and sixth floor have been spoken for by a fashion retailer, whom Mr. Blaichman declined to identify because the deal had not been completed. The sweeping views from the upper floors will include the Hudson River, the Marine Aviation Terminal Pier and the Standard, an André Balazs hotel.

The building will address environmental concerns, being constructed with some sustainable materials in an energy-efficient manner, said Mr. Adjmi, whose works includes the new Prudential Center area in downtown Newark. Mr. Blaichman, 54, was a developer of the Urban Glass House, a condominium on Spring Street in Lower Manhattan that was the last commission of the architect Philip Johnson, who died in 2005 at age 98, with interiors designed by Annabelle Selldorf.

In the early 1990s, Mr. Blaichman, whose father, Frank, develops hotels and residential projects in New Jersey, worked primarily on town house and loft restorations, including the rehabilitation of a space once owned by Bob Dylan for the Italian painter Francesco Clemente.

In building 450 West 14th Street, Mr. Blaichman, who has developed property in the meatpacking district for a decade, sought to retain the original character of the location.

“There’s an attractive vibrancy here of art, fashion, food and design,” he said. “It’s a commercial jewel.”
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Old April 18th, 2008, 03:48 AM   #1387
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http://www.nypost.com/seven/04152008...651.htm?page=2
Few Manhattan blocks face the upheaval sweeping the one between Broadway and Eighth Avenue and between West 54th-55th streets. Right now the main event is demolition of small buildings to make way for 250 W. 55th St., the 39-story office tower Mort Zuckerman's Boston Properties plans to complete by January 2010.

At the block's low-rise southeast corner, developer Harry Gross and Marriott International have a joint venture to put up a 380-room Marriott Courtyard hotel.

And now, Joseph Moinian has put the 5-story vacant building at 233-239 W. 54th St. up for sale via Cushman & Wakefield. The site, with 80 feet of precious sidewalk frontage, can be built up to 120,495 square feet as of right - yielding a structure between 23 and 27 stories, depending on which of several possible mixed-use options a new owner chooses.

According to Cushman's Ron Cohen, who's sifting offers with Cushman Capital Markets teammates Richard Baxter, Jon Caplan and Scott Latham, zoning allows it to be used for a hotel, apartments, offices, retail or combinations of them. He estimated the site would fetch in the mid-$60 million range.

Moinian also owns the adjacent small apartment building at 241-245 W. 54th St. Five of 18 apartments there are vacant, and nervous residents, already rattled by demolition for the Boston project next door, say old leases aren't being renewed.

But Cohen said the building is not on the market, although it might be some day. As Moinian previously sold air rights over 241-245 to Boston, a new owner couldn't put up as large a new structure there as at no. 233-239.

Meanwhile, the last remaining residential tenant standing between Zuckerman's Boston Properties and its new office tower has moved out.

Back on Feb. 10, The Post's Susannah Cahalan reported on choreographer Horace Turnbull, who lived at 261 W. 54th St. - one of the buildings Boston must raze for its skyscraper.

Turnbull was said to be seeking between $600,000-$900,000 to leave, but there's no word on what he was paid.

Boston is proceeding with demolition and expects to deliver its new tower by January 2010. Law firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher has signed for 220,000 square feet. A long progressing deal with Proskauer, Rose for more than 500,000 square feet is in the works but is not yet done, despite reports elsewhere that it had been signed.

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Old April 20th, 2008, 01:56 AM   #1388
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http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/20...lumbus-circle/
April 18, 2008, 11:43 am

A New Face on Columbus Circle

By David W. Dunlap


(Photo: David W. Dunlap/The New York Times)

The main facade of the new Museum of Arts and Design, overlooking Columbus Circle, has fully emerged from its cocoon of scaffolding. Next week, City Room will feature an interactive graphic tracing the building’s architectural evolution from the Gallery of Modern Art that Huntington Hartford built in 1964, a transformation that was opposed by Tom Wolfe and many landmark preservationists. The story will be told in video interviews with Holly Hotchner, the museum’s director, and Brad Cloepfil, its architect.

Archival photographs will recall the early days of the “lollipop building” and its eccentric creator. Three-dimensional projections will depict the structure’s load-bearing concrete walls and how they were cut away to bring more light into the galleries. Floor plans will demonstrate how the layout was changed to create more generous space inside.

Construction videos and photos will show the painstaking assembly of the facade, made of thousands of hand-glazed terra cotta tiles. And renderings will contrast Mr. Cloepfil’s initial plans with the design that was eventually realized.
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Old April 20th, 2008, 01:58 AM   #1389
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hm, I always thought the building had a very characteristic facade. now it's a bit bland ... looks like an ordinary office building.
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Old April 20th, 2008, 09:54 PM   #1390
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I was against that recladding from the beginning b/c I thought it usually makes the building already have an obsolete design that was a fad when even thinking about it.
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Old April 24th, 2008, 12:32 AM   #1391
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http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/..._brooklyn.html
Cheyenne Diner bound for Brooklyn

BY LEO STANDORA
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER

Tuesday, April 22nd 2008, 4:00 AM

A reborn Cheyenne Diner could be serving up bison burgers, French fries and chocolate egg creams on Brooklyn's Red Hook waterfront by the summer.

Preservationist Michael Perlman said Monday a contract has been signed to move the Cheyenne, one of the city's last rail-car-style diners, to the Borough of Kings.

The Cheyenne, a landmark at 33th St. and Ninth Ave. in Manhattan for more than 50 years, closed April 6 to make way for a nine-story residential and commercial development.

Perlman, who formed a committee to save the diner, said Mike O'Connell of O'C Construction, the son of noted Red Hook developer Greg O'Connell, is the buyer.
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Old April 24th, 2008, 12:33 AM   #1392
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http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/20/ny...ty&oref=slogin
Amid the Cobblestones, Fears of an Intruder

By GREGORY BEYER
Published: April 20, 2008


Rendering by Morris Adjmi Architects

SINCE September, when he had emergency eye surgery to repair a damaged retina, Jordan Schaps has occasionally been compelled to offer up a medical metaphor. He has one about the impending change in the far West Village, on the corner of Washington and Perry Streets, a few doors down from where he has lived for more than 20 years.

Late last month, the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission approved a proposal for a seven-story luxury hotel and restaurant on the quiet corner.

Mr. Schaps’s medical metaphor goes something like this: The community is the patient, and the hotel’s developer and architect are the doctors. The problem is that in the view of Mr. Schaps, a former photography editor at New York magazine, the patient is perfectly healthy and the operation amounts to malpractice.

Mr. Schaps and some of his neighbors argue that this admittedly dramatic comparison suits the proposed 85-room hotel at 145 Perry Street, which will sit within the 2006 extension of the Greenwich Village Historic District. For months, local residents and preservationists have opposed the proposal, which originally called for a height of eight stories, and argued that the new building would bring noise and congestion. The landmarks commission rejected the developer’s presentations twice before accepting the third.

The outcome pleased State Senator Thomas Duane, whose district includes the West Village and who testified at a landmarks hearing to request the height reduction. “We really made the best out of a not-so-great situation,” Mr. Duane said, adding that a future application for a liquor license would allow negotiations on quality-of-life concerns to continue.

Even among the hotel’s staunchest opponents, there is little love for the nondescript storefronts along Washington Street that will be demolished to make way for the new building.

The people behind the hotel say it will be a fitting addition to the streetscape. “We are anticipating it to be kind of a luxury boutique hotel that has the soul of the Village within,” said Scott Sabbagh, the developer of the building, which will have an undulating brick facade, oversize aluminum windows and a terra cotta cornice.

Construction is expected to begin late this summer, and the hotel could open as early as 2010.

Addressing residents’ fears of increased traffic and loud crowds, attracted by the hotel and the lobby bar and basement-level restaurant, Mr. Sabbagh said: “It will add a buzz in the neighborhood. But it will be a lot more subtle than something in the meatpacking district.”

The neighborhood-embracing language exasperates David Crohn, a 31-year-old freelance writer whose Washington Street co-op is on the same block as the site of the planned building. As Mr. Crohn put it, “I’m appalled at the idea that they would market the charm of this part of the Village when in fact they seek to destroy it.”
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Old April 24th, 2008, 09:26 AM   #1393
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seems to fit well there. I'm not sure if it would bring a whole lot of congestion though, i think there justr exaggeratring. Good updates
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Old April 25th, 2008, 03:25 AM   #1394
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http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/24/ny...l?ref=nyregion
City Orders Safety Check of ‘High Risk’ Building Sites

By CHARLES V. BAGLI
Published: April 24, 2008

A day after the resignation of the city’s embattled buildings commissioner, the Bloomberg administration announced a $4 million plan Wednesday to hire specialized engineers to inspect “high risk” construction sites citywide and develop new procedures to make the work safer.

In his first official announcement as acting buildings commissioner, Robert D. LiMandri, the former deputy, said a team of about 20 engineers would assess excavations, crane operations and high-rise concrete operations during a sweep through construction sites around the city.

The engineers, he said, would also be asked to review the Buildings Department’s current inspection procedures to identify any potential changes to ensure safety.

“This year we have seen an increase in accidents and injuries related to high-risk construction activities, and we must make sure that as construction activity in the city continues to increase, the department’s ability to hold the construction industry to higher safety standards keeps pace,” Mr. LiMandri said in a statement. “This investment is about identifying ways in which the department and the construction industry can make high-risk activities safer.”

The Bloomberg administration is keen on rebuilding public confidence after an embarrassing jump in the number of fatal construction accidents this year. Those deaths were a major reason that the previous buildings commissioner, Patricia J. Lancaster, resigned on Tuesday.

Ms. Lancaster, the first woman to hold the post, was credited with modernizing the department and developing a new building code, but was facing growing criticism not only for the fatalities but also for embarrassing mistakes on construction permits and inspection oversights.

In light of the accidents, the City Council held a hearing last week about construction safety, and plans another on May 6. In addition, two state assemblymen, James F. Brennan and Vito J. Lopez, are holding a hearing Thursday at 250 Broadway.

After the city announced the $4 million safety program, Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn praised the mayor for “a much needed investment in the long-term future” of the Buildings Department. But, she added, “The best way to restore the public’s trust in the agency and ensure that all who live and work around construction sites are as safe as possible is to hire an adequate force of well-trained, professional inspectors.”

But Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg dismissed calls for hiring additional inspectors.

“You can always look at every agency and think that they could do more and that they could use more people,” he said on Wednesday. “The reality of the world is that every agency is probably understaffed, and the taxpayer is probably overtaxed.”

The mayor offered a different approach, suggesting that inspectors could “show up at different times, unexpectedly. You change your methods of inspection, of permitting, and there are ways to statistically do an awful lot with a relatively few number of people. The Buildings Department actually does have an awful lot of inspectors.”

The department temporarily shut down 8 of the 29 tower cranes in use at construction sites in the city during an inspection sweep that began shortly after the March 15 collapse of a crane on 51st Street at Second Avenue that left seven people dead. Inspectors are now checking the 220 mobile cranes in use in the city.

The results of those checks, the city said, “made clear that a thorough review of crane operations and oversight is needed.”

The job of running the department, which has stubbornly resisted fixing for more than a century, seems particularly unappealing at the moment, those in development and government circles say, given the string of deaths, accidents and mistakes, and the fact that Mr. Bloomberg is approaching the end of his term.

Administration officials are seeking to end the requirement that the commissioner be an architect or engineer in the hope of broadening the applicant pool; the change would also make the acting commissioner, Mr. LiMandri, eligible to continue in the post.

Mr. Bloomberg acknowledged the challenge of finding a successor for Ms. Lancaster in his remarks on Wednesday.

“Being a commissioner in the city of New York is a really challenging job,” the mayor said, and there are people who enjoy taking on what may seem like “an insurmountable problem,” he said. “Those are the people who take it to the next level.”

Diane Cardwell contributed reporting.
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Old April 25th, 2008, 03:26 AM   #1395
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http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/...hunters_p.html
Tax-free bonds plan to bankroll Hunters Point South high rises

BY JOHN LAUINGER
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER

Thursday, April 24th 2008, 4:00 AM

The city's planned Hunters Point South megadevelopment could rise above the Long Island City waterfront on the backs of tax-free bonds sold through a special nonprofit organization, a top city official said Wednesday.

Tom McKnight, a senior vice president of the city Economic Development Corp., said the uncommon approach would create a significant cost savings for the project, which will use city subsidies to provide 3,000 residential units that will be affordable to middle-income families.

But housing advocates said the proposal to sell tax-free bonds is an end-run around requirements to build housing that would be truly affordable to the average Queens resident.

The Hunters Point South plan began its public review process on Monday - the same day as the more controversial Willets Point redevelopment proposal.

Hunters Point South would create a mixed-use development with 5,000 residential units along the East River immediately south of the state's ongoing Queens West redevelopment.

McKnight said the city will bankroll the purchase of the 30acre property and also foot bills for cleanup, infrastructure and parkland - which estimates say could reach $200 million.

The proposal to create a nonprofit to sell tax-free bonds is intended to cover construction costs for the seven high-rise residential buildings planned for the site, McKnight said.

"It's a costly project between the affordability, the infrastructure and our acquisition of the property from the Port Authority and the state," McKnight said.

The proposal to sell tax-exempt bonds has "a real positive effect on the bottom line," he added, but did not give a dollar amount for the expected savings.

But the Hunters Point South plan has been panned by housing advocates who say Queens' median household income - $48,000 a year - falls well below the lowest prices anticipated for the project's rental units.

The EDC did not respond to requests to define exactly what "affordable to middle-income" would be.

Housing advocate Elena Conte of the Pratt Center for Community Development said the city's plan to sell tax-free bonds is carefully designed to exploit an affordable housing loophole.

If the city were to apply for tax-free bonds directly - instead of setting up the nonprofit organization to do so - they would be subject to a federal requirement that 20% of the units be affordable to families making less than half of the local median income, she said.

"It just seems like an extraordinary effort to keep folks out of this development," she said.

"And when those folks are the majority of the people in Queens, you sort of have to wonder why the administration is failing to address their needs."

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Old April 25th, 2008, 03:12 PM   #1396
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i dont like when they restore buildings is new york! why dont they just let it to stay as itself! grrrrrrrrrr.
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Old April 26th, 2008, 01:11 AM   #1397
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7 res. towers...sounds interesting, hope we can see a render soon
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Old April 26th, 2008, 05:09 AM   #1398
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If you are referring to the ones in Hunts Pt, then don't expect much, b/c it will mostly just be run of the mill apartments.
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Old April 27th, 2008, 12:11 AM   #1399
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http://www.downtownexpress.com/de_260/tenanthope.html
Volume 20, Number 50 | THE NEWSPAPER OF LOWER MANHATTAN | APRIL 25 - MAY 1, 2008

Tenants hope win won’t be demolished on appeal

By Julie Shapiro


Downtown Express photos by Shoshanna Bettencourt

Liu He Vun, right, said through an interpreter that many nephews and grandchildren stayed in her Baxter St. apartment when they first came to America. Margaret Chin, center, of Asian Americans for Equality, organized the rally to protect the buildings. The owner, Edison Properties, could demolish the building for condos if it wins an appeal or files a new application.


When it comes to affordable housing, any victory is better than no victory — but a group of Baxter St. tenants aren’t celebrating just yet.

The tenants, who live in 12 rent-stabilized apartments at 126-128 Baxter St. in Chinatown, found out last year that their landlord was trying to evict them and demolish the buildings. Earlier this month, the state Division of Housing and Community Renewal sided with the tenants and ordered the landlord to renew their two-year leases.

But while the win is a relief, it isn’t a permanent fix. Edison Properties, which owns the Baxter St. buildings, lost on a technicality and can appeal the ruling.

To rally support for what they see as an ongoing battle, 40 people gathered in front of the two endangered buildings last Thursday.

Led by Margaret Chin, deputy executive director of Asian Americans for Equality, they took turns at the microphone, speaking in Chinese and English. Behind the speakers, tenants and tenant advocates waved signs reading “Save the Baxter St. Buildings” and “Preserve Affordable Housing in Chinatown.”

Yewchung Lee, 78, has lived on Baxter St. for 18 years. With white hair and wire-rimmed glasses, Lee said through an interpreter that he does not want to leave the apartment where his grandchildren were born. Lee doesn’t speak much English, and he said living in Chinatown allows him to go grocery shopping and attend doctor’s appointments.

“If I move too far away, I could starve to death,” Lee joked in Chinese.

John Gorman, the lawyer representing the tenants, cautioned the crowd that the win is a temporary fix. The D.H.C.R. denied the eviction application because Edison Properties was late in submitting a zoning document — which doesn’t necessarily mean that the agency will preserve the building in the future. Edison can appeal the ruling until mid-May or reapply to demolish the buildings.

Edison Properties bought 126-128 Baxter St. early in 2005 and last year filed an application to evict the tenants and demolish the two adjacent five-story buildings. Edison owns a parking lot adjacent to the buildings, and tenants speculated that Edison wanted to temporarily use the site as a parking lot and then build luxury condos when the market improved.

An Edison spokesperson declined to comment.

The oldest tenant at the rally was Liu He Vun, 89. She moved to Baxter St. so long ago that she doesn’t remember how long she’s lived there, but said through an interpreter that it is the only place she has lived in the United States.

Wearing a flowered shirt and velvet vest, Liu shuffled up to the microphone during the rally and addressed the crowd in Chinese. Her grandchildren grew up on Baxter St., many in her apartment, she said.

Afterwards, Liu sat in front of the building and described how her apartment was a center for her whole extended family. Her great-grandson, Jeffery Liao, 19, translated.

Liu’s apartment was the first stop when family members arrived from China, she said. Nephews and grandchildren crowded into her four-room apartment, lined with bunk beds.

Liu feels at home on Baxter St. and in Chinatown and can’t imagine going anywhere else. Her husband died several months ago and family members hired a maid to help take care of her.

“This is not a very mobile community,” said Aiyi Liao, 35, Liu’s granddaughter.

Aiyi Liao spent most of her childhood living in her grandmother’s apartment and is disturbed by the trend toward luxury development in Chinatown. Her grandmother is a rent-stabilized tenant paying between $500 and $600 a month, Liao said.

“It’s ridiculous — the rents in Manhattan,” Liao added. “How do you expect people to move to another place? It’s impossible.”

Another tenant, a woman with graying hair who was at first hesitant to approach the microphone, told the crowd that the landlord would harass her by banging on her door. Waving her fist to demonstrate, she said in Chinese that she doesn’t speak English well but tried to talk to the landlord. He offered her $20,000 if she moved out.

“Where will I move for $20,000?” she asked. “This is my home.”

Landlords are required to compensate rent-stabilized tenants, but the compensation is not enough, Gorman said. A tenant paying $500 a month for a three-bedroom apartment, for example, would receive about $35,500. The stipend can’t compete with rapidly rising rents in Chinatown and throughout the city, Gorman said.

Chin said the long-term solution is for the State Legislature to make it harder for landlords to evict tenants from rent-stabilized buildings. Landlords should have to submit plans for how they will replace the affordable housing they demolish, she said. Chin also wants landlords to help the displaced tenants find affordable apartments in their current neighborhood.

Housing advocates have protested other eviction-demolition plans on the grounds that the change amounted to a renovation, but in this case tenants believe Edison plans an actual demolition of the buildings.

Landlords who want to demolish buildings currently just have to show that their plans are lawful and they have money for construction, Gorman said. Edison received a $37 million loan for the Baxter St. project, he said.

On the other side of Baxter St., a new luxury condo building takes up half the block, and speakers frequently pointed to it as an example of what they do not want to see.

Chin is excited that the tenants are speaking out against Edison Properties and said it’s gratifying to see the results, at least so far.

“The initial victory is very good,” she said. “By standing together, when you organize, when you fight back, there is a chance.”

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Old April 27th, 2008, 12:13 AM   #1400
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http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/27/re...te&oref=slogin
When to Shout ‘Eco-Friendly’

By C. J. HUGHES
Published: April 27, 2008


BFC Partners/Skidmore, Owings & Merrill

The Toren, rising in Brooklyn, is finding that green ads clinch deals.


BUY any magazine this week at one of 35 New York newsstands and the cashier will throw in the latest issue of O2, whose 64 pages include articles and splashy photos.

If the title doesn’t ring a bell, don’t fret. The publication is a thinly disguised marketing gimmick to sell units in Riverhouse, at 1 Rockefeller Park in Battery Park City, by publicizing its environmental features — geothermal wells, solar panels and the like.

It’s also the latest, and perhaps brashest, attempt yet to sell apartments by emphasizing energy efficiency.

Just a few years ago, many developers putting up eco-friendly high-rises shied away from trumpeting their green features. They were convinced that the majority of buyers associated that type of construction with lower-quality design or a lack of comfort, according to developers, brokers and architects.

But today, developers seem more than confident that buyers’ tastes have changed. Green features still don’t translate into higher asking prices — despite the fact that they can add 5 percent to high-rise construction costs — yet they’re increasingly helping to close deals, people in the industry say.

Buyers can still get glazed eyes when told how, for instance, construction waste will be recycled, said James Lansill, the senior managing director of Corcoran Sunshine Marketing and the creative force behind O2, who spent $100,000 generating its 85,000 copies.

“But if you distill the green story to the elements in their personal space,” like clean air, “it’s much more compelling,” said Mr. Lansill, adding that the current and previous issues of O2 helped sell 10 Riverhouse condos.

Riverhouse’s 268 units — from 750-square-foot one-bedrooms to 2,450-square-foot four-bedrooms, priced from $900,000 to $6.5 million — are 70 percent sold since September 2006, he said.

“There’s no question green adds a competitive advantage,” said Donald Capoccia, the managing principal of BFC Partners in Manhattan.

His company’s Toren, an aluminum-and-glass tower rising at 150 Myrtle Avenue in Brooklyn, is aiming for gold LEED certification, under an environmental-design rating system devised by the Green Building Council. Gold is second only to platinum in the system; LEED is an acronym for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.

Toren’s artful 55-page sales brochure explains how power will be supplied by five on-site 100-kilowatt generators.

Its units range from 450-square-foot studios to 1,970-square-foot three-bedrooms, priced from $320,000 to $1.695 million; 15 of 240 have sold since sales began this month, Mr. Capoccia said.

Of course, not all developers are convinced that buyers really care about LEED ratings — and in such cases, even if a building has green plans, its developers may not publicize them.

Alf Naman, a co-developer of HL23 in Chelsea, put it this way: “Buyers are first concerned about price and layout and finishes and location.”

Like Toren, HL23 is shooting for LEED gold. But that ambition is barely evident from its Web site (hl23.com); it cites more conventional features. The building has 11 two- and three-bedrooms, priced from $2.65 million to $11.5 million, Mr. Naman said. Sales began this month; none have yet sold.

In general, said Murray Levi, a principal of Manhattan-based LiRo Architects and Planners who is often consulted on LEED projects, the hype about going green is a good thing. It may persuade future developers that they won’t be able to sell apartments unless they’re friendlier on the environment. “There’s a wonderful confluence of good policy becoming good business,” Mr. Levi said.
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