Wednesday, February 13, 2019
The lobbyists behind the air-rights transfer and zoning variance for 3 St. Mark's Place
Updated 2/14: The CB3 committee reportedly voted down the air-rights transfer.
Tonight, reps for Real Estate Equities Corporation (REEC) will appear before CB3's Landmarks Committee at 6:30 to discuss transferring the air rights from the landmarked — and under-renovation — Hamilton-Holly House across the street at 4 St. Mark's Place.
With these air rights and approved zoning variance, the Morris Adjimi-designed building REEC planned for the northeast corner of St. Mark's Place and Third Avenue would rise to 10 stories — twice the size of the original plans.
And as you sort through the various zoning documents (this link goes to the PDF on the CB3 website with details on the proposal) and public records for REEC, some familiar names emerge from behind the scenes.
As public documents show, REEC has several lobbyists working on their behalf, including Capalino & Associates and Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP.
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James Capalino, arguably New York's most prolific lobbyist, has ties to the Rivington House scandal... and last spring he reportedly agreed to a $40,000 settlement with the state's ethics watchdog that investigated his dealings with a nonprofit created to promote Mayor de Blasio's agenda. (In August 2016, de Blasio said that he cut ties with Capalino, who has represented several big-money developers seeking City Hall approval for their projects.)
Meanwhile, as the Post reported last November, the city paid Kramer Levin Naftalis and Frankel LLP $2.6 million, de Blasio's legal-defense bill during investigations by state and federal prosecutors starting in 2016. Investigators closed the probes in 2017 without bringing charges against the mayor. (In late January, City Council passed a bill that allows elected officials to fundraise to pay off legal bills, though it excludes lobbyists, holding companies and corporations from donating, as The Wall Street Journal reported.)
Public documents show the scope of lobbying work that the firm Kramer Levin Naftalis and Frankel is doing on behalf of REEC...
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This past October, REEC filed plans for a 5-story, 29,030-square-foot building at 3 St. Mark's Place.
A retainer agreement from Capalino to REEC on public record (PDF here) dated from last May 8 shows that there were already plans in place for a building larger than the current zoning allowed. The letter doesn't state dimensions for the building, only that: "Consultation will provide pre-certification and post-certification government relations expertise regarding the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure [ULURP]."
Tonight's public meeting is the beginning of the review process, which requires an application to the LPC followed by an application to the City Planning Commission for the special permit. (Read this primer on an explanation of the ULURP process.)
REEC picked up the 99-year leasehold for the properties here for nearly $150 million in November 2017. The corner assemblage is owned by the Gabay family.
The CB3 Landmarks Committee meeting tonight is at the JASA Green Residence, 200 E. Fifth St. at the Bowery.
Previously on EV Grieve:
Report: NE corner of St. Mark's Place and 3rd Avenue will yield to a 7-story office building
Demolition permits filed for northeast corner of 3rd Avenue and St. Mark's Place
End is nearing for the businesses on the northeast corner of 3rd Avenue and St. Mark's Place
New building plans revealed for 3rd Avenue and St. Mark's Place
Developers of 3 St. Mark's Place are looking to double the size of their proposed office building at 3rd Avenue to 10 floors with air-rights deal
Concern over potential air-rights transfer for new office building on St. Mark's Place and 3rd Avenue