Showing posts with label NYCHA. Show all posts
Showing posts with label NYCHA. Show all posts

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

DOB fines crane operator $110,000 for boom collapse last month at the Riis Houses

[Photo on July 30 by @FDNY]

Officials at the Department of Buildings yesterday stopped all work citywide by United Crane and Rigging, the company reportedly responsible for the July 30 boom collapse at the Jacob Riis Houses, 749 FDR Drive and Sixth Street.

According to their report, the operator hoisted a load of steel beams that weighed 700 pounds more than the crane's permitted lifting capacity. The collapse forced the temporary evacuation of more than 100 families as well as the closure of the FDR.

United was also involved in a fatal accident this past April 13 at 570 Broome St., in which the counterweight of a crane fell to the ground and killed a worker.

Here's more from a news release via the DOB:

The agency’s order will remain in effect until the firm replaces the personnel who supervised the crane work at this and 21 other locations, and puts in place an independent monitor who will make monthly safety-compliance reports to DOB regarding United’s work.

DOB’s investigation of the FDR Drive incident revealed that the crane’s operator lifted a load of steel beams that weighed more than 4,400 pounds, exceeding the crane’s permitted lifting capacity of 3,700 pounds. The total load weight caused the crane’s boom to bend and partially collapse. The collapse of the boom caused the operator to lose control of the load, which struck the roof and side of the building before falling to the ground. The load of steel was intended to be placed on top of the building to support future mechanical equipment.

Accordingly, DOB issued five violations today to United that carry penalties of $110,000. The violations include failure to designate a qualified and competent Lift Director; failure to make proper notifications to DOB regarding the work that was being performed; inadequate safety measures on site; failure to safeguard the construction site to protect workers and the public; and failure to have proper construction documents on site.

Assemblymember Harvey Epstein reacted to this news...

The city has been upgrading buildings in the Riis complex in recent months as part of the Sandy Recovery Program Restoration.

In a blistering open letter to incoming NYCHA director Greg Russ on Friday, local City Councilmember Carlina Rivera urged the agency to ramp up its oversight of contractors carrying out federally funded reconstruction work.

As she wrote, the crane collapse was "the latest in a string of failures for an agency with an entrenched culture of mismanagement, documentation of wasted resource and a seeming disregard for hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers who live in public housing."

[Click on image for more detail]

You can read more about the Rivera letter at the Post and Curbed.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Developing: Partial boom collapse at 749 FDR Drive and 6th Street; no injuries reported

[Via @FDNY]

Emergency responders and news crews have descended on 749 FDR Drive this afternoon following a partial boom collapse outside an NYCHA building at Sixth Street. No injuries have been reported, per the FDNY after the freestanding crane boom collapsed against a 6-story building in the Jacob Riis House complex.

One of the buildings in the Riis Houses complex was evacuated as a precaution, an FDNY spokesperson told Patch. Traffic has also been stopped along the FDR (southbound lane) and Avenue D.

It was a close call for one resident, as ABC-7 pointed out:

Cynthia Martin, a building resident, said the boom damaged a window in the apartment where she lives with her children.

"The glass shattered inside the apartment. It went in, and (my son) heard a loud boom, and they ran, and all the glass was in the apartment ... my son was sitting right next to it, and thank god for the curtains (were) right there, but all the glass came in ... I felt like I was having a heart attack. I couldn't even get here fast enough," she said.

EVG reader Garrett Rosso shared this video from earlier this afternoon showing the damaged crane ...

The city has been upgrading buildings in the Riis complex in recent months as part of the Sandy Recovery Program Restoration.

Updated 7:30 p.m.

The @FDNY account shared this view of the damage...

Updated 7:45 p.m.

The FDR is open again in both directions...

Friday, May 3, 2019

Developers eye air rights at Campos Plaza for long-stalled 14th Street development

[The long-stalled 644 E. 14th St.]

Back in December, Mayor de Blasio announced that the New York City Housing Authority would sell its unused air rights to developers for the first time ever as part of plan called NYCHA 2.0.

The cash-strapped NYCHA said that it would transfer a portion of its 80-million square feet of air rights to generate $1 billion in capital repairs for nearby developments.

PincusCo examined city records to find that several developers have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to lobby the city for these air rights.

Many familiar names are on the list. According to the PincusCo investigation, Madison Realty Capital hired one of the city’s most active government lobbying firms, Capalino+Company, to approach NYCHA about the air rights at Campos Plaza II adjacent to the long-stalled development at 644 E. 14th St. at Avenue C.

Per PincusCo:

Madison Realty is not the fee owner, but the lender on the project. The property owner, Shulamit and Shaya Prager’s Opal Realty, purchased 644 East 14th Street for $23 million in 2016, from the Rabsky Group. At the same time, Opal borrowed $52 million from Madison Realty Capital.

How the firm will obtain air rights from NYCHA for its site is not clear, however, because the adjacent NYCHA development, Campos Plaza II, has no available residential air rights, according to a PincusCo Media analysis of city land use records.

That said, Madison Realty almost certainly has a legitimate strategy to obtain air rights. The firm may be seeking an upzoning on the NYCHA parcel, which would make air rights available.

Or alternately, the developers may be seeking a lot merger with two other tax lots co-owned by NYCHA that have more than 300,000 square feet of community facility space available. That would allow the developers to build, for example, a college dormitory space for students. Scores of New York University students live in apartments across the street at Stuyvesant Town. Madison Realty did not respond to a request for comment.

As previously reported (see the links at the bottom of this post), the pre-air-rights plans called for a 15-story residential building with space for a health-care facility.

[The most recent rendering of the development]

There hasn't been much, if any, activity at this southwest corner of 14th Street and Avenue C in 15-plus months. According to city records, the new building permits expired in December. As the PincusCo report notes, this stall may be intentional. "With additional air rights, the project could presumably be larger."

Also, in late January, the Commercial Observer reported that Second Avenue Deli owner Jeremy Lebewohl filed a $10 million lawsuit alleging that his five-story residential building at 642 E. 14th St. sustained damages by the foundation work next door at No. 644.

As for the currently stalled new development, here's a rehash of the info I received on the project in September 2016:

Madison Realty Capital (MRC), an institutionally-backed real estate investment firm focused on real estate equity and debt investments in the middle markets, provided a $52.0 million first mortgage loan for the acquisition of a development site in the East Village and construction of an approved 76,259 square foot mixed use development on the site.

The plans for 644 East 14th Street include 50 residential units, 8,064 square feet of retail space with 200 feet of frontage on 14th Street and Avenue C, and 21,575 square feet of community facility space.

The property is located at the corner of 14th Street and Avenue C, along the Northern border of the East Village and directly across the street from Stuyvesant Town. Residential units will offer contemporary finishes and large balconies with East River views. The borrower is currently finalizing a lease with a major New York hospital to occupy the entire community facility portion of the new building.

This corner property previously housed the single-level R&S Strauss auto parts store, which closed in April 2009.

In 2015, Madison Realty loaned $124 million to Rafael Toledano, a then 25 year old with no track record as a landlord so that he could buy a portfolio of 15 buildings, mostly in the East Village. He eventually defaulted on Madison's loan.

Previously on EV Grieve:
Development back in play for East 14th Street and Avenue C

More details on the sale of 644 E. 14th St.

Here comes a 15-story retail-residential complex for East 14th Street and Avenue C

Prepping the former R&S Strauss auto parts store for demolition on East 14th Street and Avenue C

City OKs 15-story mixed-use retail-residential building on 14th and C

14th and C now waiting for the Karl Fischer-designed 15-story retail-residential complex

14th and C still waiting for its Karl Fischer-designed retail-residential complex

Report: New owners for the empty lot at 14th Street and Avenue C

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Report: NYCHA tenants on Avenue C have been without heat and hot water since Thursday

[Photo on 6th Street from October 2017]

The temporary boilers that arrived after Superstorm Sandy nearly became permanent sitting here for five years on Sixth Street at Avenue C outside the NYCHA-owned building officially known as Lower East Side Rehab Group 5. (The Daily News once reported that a temporary boiler costs $5,000 a month to rent.)

However, a new boiler arrived last fall, thanks to funding from FEMA. Still, by January, residents in the building said that they rarely have heat or hot water, according PIX 11, who noted that the work there was "serving as a model for 17 other projects."

Today, the Daily News reports that the residents have been without heat or hot water now since Thursday's snowfall.

“This is a harsh living condition,” said tenant Neicee Johnson, saying she has no heat and barely any hot water.

She wakes each morning at 5:45 a.m. to boil a pot of water on the oven and turn on two space heaters. Her family, which includes two teen children, sleeps with multiple layers of clothing and blankets.

“We barely hang out in the apartment,” she said. “We are hardly ever home. We go to the local library or community areas until it is time for us to come home.”

Local City Councilmember Carlina Rivera is quoted in the article... she is also tweeting about the situation...

Back to the Daily News:

Resident Clara Rivera, 91, has also been shivering in her apartment since the snowstorm last Thursday.

“The house is really cold. They give nothing here in the morning or night,” said Rivera, who has asthma and arthritis. "We're dealing with this every day. I'm not going to die from this cold!"

There were an estimated 6,366 NYCHA tenants throughout NYC with the same problem, according to an online “service interruption” tracker, as the News pointed out.

Monday, June 11, 2018

News roundup: Feds say that the NYCHA covered up public housing dangers for years

Here are some excerpts from today's news coverage about how the city reportedly covered up dangerous public health conditions at NYCHA properties for the past eight years.

Via The New York Times:

The federal government on Monday delivered a withering rebuke of New York City’s housing authority, accusing officials of systematic misconduct, indifference and outright lies in the management of the nation’s oldest and largest stock of public housing.

Federal prosecutors in Manhattan said the authority, which houses at least 400,000 poor and working-class residents, covered up its actions, training its staff on how to mislead federal inspectors and presenting false reports to the government and to the public about its compliance with lead-paint regulations. The failures endangered tenants and workers for years, the prosecutors said, and potentially left more children than previously known poisoned by lead paint in their apartments.

Via Politico:

The report concludes a two-year investigation into one of Mayor Bill de Blasio's biggest managerial failings.

De Blasio signed a consent decree with the U.S. Attorney's Office in Manhattan that commits the city to $1 billion over four years and $200 million in subsequent years to fix dire conditions throughout the housing authority's 325 complexes.

In doing so, he took more ownership of an agency whose head he appoints but which is legally a responsibility of the federal government. Any changes will be made under the watch of a federally appointed monitor.

Via NBC 4:

As a result of the settlement, NYCHA will now have to create three new departments: one for compliance, one for environmental health and safety, and one for quality assurance.

Via the Post's coverage of the news conference with Mayor de Blasio:

When a New York Times reporter suggested the mayor had been forced to sign the decree by the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s Office, rather than agreeing to it willingly, Hizzoner blew up.

“It was not forced, it was a decision, my friend. Seriously my friend, you represent a rather prestigious journalistic entity. Do not put words in someone’s mouth. That’s really not cool,” the mayor said. “I was not forced for a minute. I had the choice if I wanted to do something different to do something different. So really try and respect the truth.”

Earlier in the day, de Blasio issued a statement blaming NYCHA’s problems on "decades" of underfunding by the federal and state government, and "neglect" by prior city administrations.

You may read the consent decree here ... and the complaint here.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

City Council investigating claims of tenant retaliation at NYCHA properties

[Photo of Carlina Rivera yesterday at City Hall via Twitter]

City Council members are taking action following published reports that a resident of the Jacob Riis Houses on Avenue D received an eviction notice after complaining about the NYCHA during a PIX-11 story earlier this month.

During a press conference at City Hall yesterday, New York City Council members Carlina Rivera (District 2) and Ritchie Torres (District 15), chair of the Council Committee on Oversight and Investigations, joined NYCHA residents and advocates to rally against negligent property managers at the Riis Houses. The elected officials say that the property managers are allegedly retaliating against residents who have gone public over the lack of repairs and possible lead exposure in their apartments.

Keshia Benjamin, a Riis Houses resident and organizer of the rally, had her apartment featured on PIX-11 earlier this month over numerous unrepaired health hazards, including leaking pipes that flooded her apartment, damaged doors and bathrooms, and pest, mold, and lead exposure.

Management at Riis Houses reportedly then sent Benjamin a notice that they were examining her record to possibly begin eviction processes for unpaid rent, even though Benjamin said that she had fully paid.

NYCHA officials denied any retaliation, the Daily News reported yesterday.

Following a query by the News, NYCHA officials said that Benjamin's termination notice has been canceled. Per the paper: "It was automatically generated because she had been delinquent on rent within a 12-month period, but has been rescinded because she is now up to date, a spokesperson said."

The spokesperson also said, "NYCHA does not retaliate against residents for any reason."

City Council members claim that Benjamin's story is not the only one at the Riis Houses, and "it appears that Riis property managers are held unaccountable by central staff at NYCHA and use that power to promote a culture of silence amongst residents looking for help."

The Council’s Committee on Oversight and Investigations is now investigating reported instances of retaliatory actions at Riis Houses, as well as the grievance process for tenants and the overall accountability structure within NYCHA.

In addition to the Council investigation, Rivera is planning to introduce legislation to create a formal grievance system so that NYCHA tenants can submit their complaints anonymously and have them investigated fairly. This piece of legislation comes after the recently introduced legislation from Council member Rafael Salamanca that would mandate performance reviews for NYCHA employees.

"NYCHA seems to be focused on moving bad actors around the system whenever they are in the spotlight and not on providing accountability," Rivera said at City Hall yesterday. "This simply cannot continue — the NYCHA must explain themselves in person for these actions."

Monday, March 5, 2018

About the ongoing issues with the NYCHA

[Avenue D and 10th Street]

On Friday, embattled NYCHA Chair Shola Olatoye shared a letter with residents of the city's public housing. The letter, marking her fourth anniversary as chair, noted some progress at the agency as well as addressed failures in lead paint inspections and heating outages.

The NYCHA posted Olatoye's letter on Twitter Friday evening...

Olatoye and the NYCHA continue to make headlines in recent months. Per the Daily News on Saturday:

Olatoye has faced relentless calls to resign after it emerged that she falsely told the City Council in December that properly certified workers had inspected some 4,200 apartments for lead paint. A Department of Investigation probe found the inspections were in fact done by workers who lacked the required training.

Meanwhile, last month, Dr. Howard Zucker, the state health commissioner, launched an investigation into the recurring heat and lead paint problems at NYCHA properties throughout the five boroughs, including in the East Village and Lower East Side.

At the Jacob Riis Houses on Avenue D, one resident said that she has just gotten used to the lack of heat, even telling ABC 7 last month that she knows better than to complain.

"Some of us that do have the heat, if we complained then there's no heat for the rest of the winter," Cynthia Martin told the station.

Martin also said that she has peeling paint in her apartment, "which she fears is lead paint. Not to mention mold, which she blames for her kids' asthma."

This past Tuesday, the Citywide Council of Presidents, a group of tenant leaders chosen by residents, asked a judge to appoint an independent monitor to oversee the NYCHA "because it has failed to provide heat and hot water, keep residents safe from lead, involve tenants in policymaking and hire residents, as required by federal regulations," per published reports.

Here's more background from The New York Times last week:

Three authority officials, including the general manager, Michael P. Kelly, have resigned, and one was demoted. There are persistent calls for the authority chairwoman, Shola Olatoye, to resign or be removed, though Mayor Bill de Blasio has remained supportive of her.

“Lots of different of organizations have sued Nycha, but this is a first,” Nicholas Dagen Bloom, an associate professor of social science at New York Institute of Technology and the author of “Public Housing That Worked: New York in the 20th Century,” said about the lawsuit. “It does show a mounting, spreading activist spirit. Generally speaking, that council was a rubber stamp and it has been widely criticized for decades, though not always fairly.”

At the Daily News yesterday, author Ben Austen weighed in with an opinion piece titled "NYCHA at the crossroads."

From that piece:

New York City is at a crossroads. If its public housing is allowed to deteriorate further, the buildings will soon seem too dilapidated to save. They will become more dangerous, the cost of repairs ever-more insurmountable.

Some terrible harm to residents will come to define NYCHA's cruelty, and the value of the real estate on which the buildings sit will emerge as an irresistible lure. By then, demolition will be hailed as the only solution.

But for hundreds of thousands NYCHA residents who live and work in the five boroughs, there is no other viable alternative. The city already operates by far the largest Section 8 voucher program in the country. With de Blasio pressing his plans to add 300,000 units of affordable housing, generally above the public housing income threshold, it just doesn't make sense to let this major share of the city's low-income portfolio fall into ruin.

For his part, Mayor de Blasio still reportedly has Olatoye's back, saying in late January that when assessing the totality of what the agency has accomplished during her tenure, she has made "tremendous progress."

"When Shola took office, the Housing Authority was literally teetering on the brink of bankruptcy. She righted the ship. So I want to give her a lot of credit," the mayor said at an unrelated press conference in the Bronx in January, as reported by the Post. "I continue to have great faith in her."

Other elected officials don't share that sentiment. Gov. Cuomo told WNYC last week that the NYCHA's numerous problems stem from poor management, not underfunding.

"When they tell you it takes us three to four years to spend money they get today, that is a problem," Cuomo said. "People can’t wait three to four years to turn on the heat. Lead paint is a problem today. And, that's what the residents are complaining about and I think they’re right."

The Mayor, in response, said that Cuomo was being ridiculous.

For further reading:
Why Can’t de Blasio’s Housing Authority Keep the Heat On? (The Village Voice)

City Seeks Proposals For Large New Residential Project at La Guardia Houses (The Lo-Down)

Sunday, October 29, 2017

5 years of portable boilers on 6th Street

[Photo from yesterday]

The temporary boilers that arrived shortly after Superstorm Sandy remain rather permanently on Sixth Street at Avenue C outside the NYCHA-owned building.

In September 2014, Sen. Schumer and Mayor de Blasio announced that $108 million in federal funding would be used to replace temporary boilers in NYCHA buildings damaged by Sandy. Apparently they haven't been able to get over here these past three years. (The Daily News once reported that a temporary boiler costs $5,000 a month to rent.)

Anyway, a look back at the boilers that have roughly cost the NYCHA $600,000 to rent these past five years.

October 2014...

October 2013...

April 2013...

Early 2013...

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

A look at the backlogged work orders and violations of local New York City Public Housing properties

[Photo of Scott Stringer from Monday's press conference]

According to a damning audit that City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer released on Monday, the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) makes its residents wait for weeks, months and sometimes even years before fixing serious problems.

In addition, "NYCHA officials have repeatedly fixed the numbers in the their backlog of repair requests without actually fixing the problems," as the Daily News put it.

Per the report (find the summary here; the news release here):
The audit ... revealed that NYCHA drastically under-reported data on its maintenance backlog, failed to properly train staff to get rid of mold, mildew, and excessive moisture conditions in tenants’ apartments, and fell dramatically short when it came to meeting its own deadlines for repairs.

The audit also found that the NYCHA routinely closed non-emergency work orders if residents were not home when workers visited their apartments. In total, the audit found 55,000 backlogged repairs ... while it took the NYCHA an average of 370 days to fix safety violations.

We asked Stringer's office for the stats on NYCHA properties in the East Village and Lower East Side.

The work order backlog numbers are as of July 2014 and violations are as of September 2014:

45 Allen Street: 42 backlogged work orders, 4 outstanding building violations
Baruch Houses: 904 backlogged work orders, 55 outstanding building violations
Bracetti Plaza: 20 backlogged work orders, 2 outstanding building violations
Campos Plaza: 87 backlogged work orders, 5 outstanding building violations
First Houses: 19 backlogged work orders, 1 outstanding building violation
Gompers Houses: 147 backlogged work orders, 9 outstanding building violations
LaGuardia Houses: 275 backlogged work orders, 26 outstanding building violations
LES Consolidated: 180 backlogged work orders, 30 outstanding building violations
Meltzer Tower: 60 backlogged work orders, 1 outstanding building violation
Riis: 718 backlogged work orders, 43 outstanding building violations
• Seward Park Extension: 121 backlogged work orders, 16 outstanding violations
Smith: 468 backlogged work orders, 32 outstanding violations
Vladeck Houses: 335 backlogged work orders, 42 outstanding violations
Wald: 330 backlogged work orders, 8 outstanding violations

For their part, NYCHA officials said that Stringer was recycling old data.

Per DNAinfo:

"Reviewing old work order data from January 1, 2013 — July 31, 2014, the audit measure a long-acknowledged, well-documented issue, which the new leadership at NYCHA was brought onboard to fix," NYCHA Chief Communications Officer Jean Weinberg said in a statement.

Stringer is "recommending investing in technology to track repairs in New York City’s public housing similar to the CompStat program that the Police Department uses to map and respond to crime," per The New York Times.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Report: Deal finalized to create public-private partnership for 6 public housing developments

[File photo of Campos Plaza]

The New York City Housing Authority reportedly finalized a deal earlier this week to sell a 50-percent stake in six Section 8-subsidized developments to L+M Development Partners and BFC Partners for $360 million, plus another $100 million in additional renovation investments.

The sale comprises 10 buildings and 874 units, including Campos Plaza on Avenue C and East 12th Street and East 4th Street Rehab between Avenue B and Avenue C in the East Village.

The Observer has more on the deal, made final on Tuesday:

The sale, which places the properties in the hands of the newly-formed Triborough Preservation Partners, a public-private partnership ... was carried out as a means of opening a variety of funding streams to address the Section 8 facilities’ decrepit condition — they are estimated to require some $113 million in maintenance and repair over the next 15 years — in the absence of federal dollars, which mostly dried up in the 1990s.


Without the establishment of a public-private partnership, the new funding sources, which will supply financing for construction, operations and maintenance of reserves, would not have been available to NYCHA, which as a public entity is ineligible for the loans, tax credits and other financial instruments responsible for the fresh funds.

Shola Olatoye, the chair and CEO of NYCHA, said that her organization will retain approval and oversight rights with respect to all major decisions.

You can find more background on the story at Curbed. And The Wall Street Journal.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Temporary boiler leftover from Sandy now leaking oil on East 6th Street

[Photo by EVG regular @TedRoden]

It appears that one of the temporary boilers that remain on East Sixth Street at Avenue C outside the NYCHA-owned building is now leaking oil into the street.

Good thing that Sen. Schumer and Mayor de Blasio announced yesterday that $100 million in federal funding will be used to replace temporary boilers in New York City Housing Authority buildings damaged by Hurricane Sandy.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

One year later on East Sixth Street

As far as we know, these are the only temporary boilers that remain in the neighborhood from Sandy... on East Sixth Street at Avenue C outside this NYCHA-owned building.

Of course, there are other less-visible lingering effects from the storm...

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Report: City taking different approach to leasing space on public housing property

City officials have apparently rethought plans to lease space on public housing property for luxury development, the Times reports today.

In February, New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) revealed plans to lease playground and community center space for luxury high-rises ... an announcement that brought about immediate criticism from residents and politicos alike.

Yesterday, NYCHA officials announced that "instead of requesting formal proposals to build on the grounds of eight housing projects in Manhattan, as previously envisioned, they would first solicit ideas from private developers — so-called expressions of interest — before choosing any construction projects."


"Officials are now encouraging proposals that would incorporate retail stores, community facilities and other uses on the ground floors, which many public housing residents favor."

The NYCHA originally said that the new development would generate $31 million to $46 million in annual lease payments, "all of which will go toward fixing up deteriorating buildings. The agency currently has a backlog of 420,000 repair orders and faces a $60 million budget gap annually," the Daily News reported in February.

Perhaps those trees adjacent to the Max Meltzer Tower will be safe after all.

Previously on EV Grieve:
Outrage over proposal to turn the green space at the Meltzer Tower into private development (35 comments)

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Flyers urge residential action against proposed development at Meltzer Tower

[March 2013]

Opposition continues to mount against the city's plan to lease the park space at Max Meltzer Tower to private developers... among other things, the new development would wipe out the park at the senior citizen development at 94 E. First St. near First Avenue ... taking down 26 trees with it...

New flyers went up on buildings near Max Meltzer this past weekend...

[Click image to enlarge

The flyers urge residents to speak out against the proposal during tomorrow night's CB3 subcommittee meeting at 6:30 ... as well as the full CB3 meeting on April 23.

[Via Steven Matthews]

There's also a new Facebook group called Friends of Meltzer with more details.

Previously on EV Grieve:
Outrage over proposal to turn the green space at the Meltzer Tower into private development (35 comments)

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Rosie Mendez leads call on NYCHA officials to improve infill development process

From the EV Grieve inbox...

Friday at 9 a.m. on the steps of City Hall, City Councilwoman Rosie Mendez, Chair of the Committee on Public Housing, and Council Members Margaret Chin and Melissa Mark-Viverito will be joined by other elected officials, Tenant Association Presidents, community organizations, advocates and concerned residents as they hold a press conference to demand that the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) improve the Infill Development process to empower residents.

The Council Members will then proceed to Council Chambers in City Hall to conduct an oversight hearing of NYCHA’s Infill Development/land lease proposal and to consider a resolution that calls on NYCHA to “engage its residents in planning for and to include certain requirements in any ground leases for NYCHA land.”

In addition to the provisions in the resolution, the Council members will call on NYCHA to hold themselves to a “gold standard” of resident and community engagement, including, without limitation:

• Additional time between Infill meetings at affected developments so that all affected Tenant Associations and residents can secure independent legal and technical assistance to review plans and make meaningful comments

• Additional time between now and the release of the RFP — including a third meeting where residents and their “technical advisory team” can review a draft RFP and comment upon it before it is released

• NYCHA must ensure that all comments on the Infill plans are addressed and responded to; they must also provide a paper based system (to compliment the online portal) that captures the comments of those who do not have internet access. Lastly, suggestions should be centrally posted and logged for all residents to review

• NYCHA should commit to full Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) review for each Infill site, ensuring that the community has an effective voice in the process and that additional considerations and interconnected issues that major development presents are unilaterally addressed

Previously on EV Grieve:
Outrage over proposal to turn the green space at the Meltzer Tower into private development (35 comments)

Here's what's in store for Campos Plaza under the city's land-leasing plan (16 comments)

Friday, March 29, 2013

East Village meeting set Monday to discuss city's land-lease plan

From the EV Grieve inbox... via the Real Rent Reform Campaign...

Next R3 Meeting: Monday, April 1, 6:30 pm
113 E. 13th Street between Third Avenue and Fourth Avenue

If you haven't already heard, NYCHA has released their plan to put luxury towers on eight public housing sites (view the official plan here). The plan hasn't been well received by the community, and Chairman Rhea was grilled and heckled for 3 hours, as reported by the Daily News.

At Monday's meeting, we'll hear a special presentation from Community Voices Heard about progress in organizing around the NYCHA infill project, and what how the broader tenant movement can respond.

Vist the R3 website here for more details.

Previously on EV Grieve:
Outrage over proposal to turn the green space at the Meltzer Tower into private development (35 comments)

Here's what's in store for Campos Plaza under the city's land-leasing plan (16 comments)

Monday, March 25, 2013

Outrage over proposal to turn the green space at the Meltzer Tower into private development

More details were circulating last week about the city leasing the park space at Max Meltzer Tower to private developers... among other things, the new development would wipe out the park at the senior citizen development at 94 E. First St. near First Avenue ... Flyers appeared in the vicinity during the weekend...

You can see what would be lost ... trees, opens space, light, etc.

Per the NYCHA website, this is what is proposed:

Meltzer Tower has a $10.5 million unmet need for capital building improvements over the next 5 years.

Proposed Development on Land Lease Site(s)
East 1st Street Site
Site Area: 13,000 SF (Approximate)
New Construction: 121,500 SF of Residential Floor Area (Approximate)
18,500 SF of Commercial Floor Area (Approximate)
97 New Apartments

In the self-created FAQs, officials say this with a straight face:

Wouldn’t this be disruptive to the community?
Construction would not take place forever, and would be conducted in a strictly monitored fashion.


One longtime East Village shared his thoughts on the proposal via email:

All they have to say about disruption is that construction doesn't last forever. How encouraging. They don't mention that the building will be devastating to the dozens of residents of the adjacent buildings on 2nd Street. NYCHA explains that the development of the site is necessary because the Meltzer Tower needs $10.5 million for deferred maintenance. We don't know the terms of the deal, but if that's the sale price it's peanuts for 140,000 sf. And they don't mention that the new apartment building will certainly block light from the west for Meltzer residents. Selling off public assets is always sad and usually a bad idea. The density of building in the East Village has always been an issue and it's getting worse quickly.

Upset by this proposal? Here's who you can contact, via the flyers...

[Click image to enlarge]

Friday, March 22, 2013

Here's what the city has planned for open space at Meltzer Tower

This week, more details emerged about the city's plan to lease playground and community-center space to developers within public housing areas. On Wednesday, we looked at the plans for Campos Plaza.

In the image above, you'll see what's in store for the Meltzer Tower off of East First Street between First Avenue and Avenue A (via the NYCHA website):

Max Meltzer Tower on Manhattan's Lower East Side is a 20-story building exclusively for seniors with 230 apartments housing an estimated 246 residents.

Meltzer Tower has a $10.5 million unmet need for capital building improvements over the next 5 years.

Proposed Development on Land Lease Site(s)
East 1st Street Site
Site Area: 13,000 SF (Approximate)
New Construction: 121,500 SF of Residential Floor Area (Approximate)
18,500 SF of Commercial Floor Area (Approximate)
97 New Apartments

Current Uses on Land Lease Site(s)
-Landscaped Seating Area

Benefits for Meltzer Tower Residents
-Redesigned Central Plaza with resident participation
-Preference for new low-income apartments
-Emergency power generation for critical building systems
-Temporary and permanent job opportunities
-Enhanced security for development

Here's the presentation that officials gave on March 13.

A reader pointed us to the FAQs for the proposal.

Wouldn’t this be disruptive to the community?
Construction would not take place forever, and would be conducted in a strictly monitored fashion. Additionally, construction would generate job opportunities for NYCHA residents. Once the new building is in place, there would also be additional, permanent job opportunities for NYCHA residents to pursue.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Here's what's in store for Campos Plaza under the city's land-leasing plan

More details are emerging about the city's controversial plan to lease playground and community-center space to developers within public housing areas.

Via The Lo-Down, we've learned that the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) finally posted details on the spaces that will be earmarked for private development.

Here's what's planned at Campos Plaza (image above) via the NYCHA website:

East 12th Street Site

Site Area: 26,122 SF (Approximate)
New Construction: 90,000 SF of Residential Floor Area (Approximate)
Note: 20% of proposed residential units will be available to households at or BELOW 60% of Area Median Income (AMI)*

Current Uses on Land Lease Site(s)
• 45 Parking Spaces
• Compactor Yard
• Basketball & Handball Courts
Note: NYCHA will continue to provide parking spaces for all NYCHA residents with a current legal parking permit.

Benefits for Campos Plaza Residents
• Central Plaza redesign with resident consultation
• Preference for new low-income apartments
• Emergency power generation for critical building systems
• Temporary and permanent job opportunities
• Enhanced security for development

According to the Lo-Down, the plan would see "a total of 2,026 new apartments on the Lower East Side — about 400 of them designated as permanently affordable."

Of course, all this info arrives with about a month to go before the city will issue Request for Proposals for eight NYCHA properties in NYC.

Meanwhile, tonight, Smith Houses reps are boycotting the "public information" meeting about the plan. Per their news release:

“The Tenants’ Association Exec. Committee asked NYCHA to reschedule the meeting in order to give residents at least a 10-day notice and opportunity to review the proposals, but NYCHA is deciding to go ahead anyway. The Authority is making it seem as though their plan is a done-deal and residents just have to put up with it.”

As the Daily News first reported in February, the NYCHA expects to generate $31 million to $46 million in annual lease payments, "all of which will go toward fixing up deteriorating buildings. The agency currently has a backlog of 420,000 repair orders and faces a $60 million budget gap annually."

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

'War' is declared as city plans luxury development in the middle of public housing

Here we go.

The Daily News reports today that the cash-strapped New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) is planning on leasing playground and community center space for luxury high-rises

Per the article:

[T]he agency plans to lease out land to private developers who will then build some 3 million square feet of luxury apartments smack in the middle of Manhattan housing projects.

Internal documents obtained by the Daily News show the planned 4,330 apartments in eight developments are all in hot real estate neighborhoods, including the upper East and West Sides, the lower East Side and lower Manhattan.

Of the new units, 20 percent will be set aside as "affordable" — designated for families with net income of $50,000 or less.

But will the richies want to live so close to the poors? Not to worry! Per the article: "The new luxury towers will face away from the old, deteroriating affordable housing."

As the Daily News put it: "The housing authority is planning its very own Tale of Two Cities."

On the Lower East Side, a parking lot at the Baruch Houses will be redeveloped into luxury towers. There are also plans to lease a parking garage at Campos Plaza on Avenue C.

Meanwhile, residents are mobilizing against the plan. The Lo-Down has details from last night's CB3 Land Use Committee meeting, where Smith Houses Tenant President Aixa Torres warned: "This is a travesty," she said. "We are not going to take this… When no one wanted to live here, we stayed… if you want a war, you got a war."

The upside for the NYCHA: They expect to generate $31 million to $46 million in annual lease payments, "all of which will go toward fixing up deteriorating buildings. The agency currently has a backlog of 420,000 repair orders and faces a $60 million budget gap annually," the Daily News reported.