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Starrett City

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Starrett City Sale: Not Dead Yet

Let's check in again with David Bistricer, the real-estate investor on an increasingly quixotic quest to buy Starrett City, an enormous, subsidized enclave in Brooklyn. His two previous bids for the property were rebuffed by every elected official in New York, with the possible exception of the Marriage Bureau's Commissioner of Deeds, and ultimately shot down by the federal Housing Secretary, despite his $1.3 billion offer and, on the second go-round, two influential black ministers in tow. But he's back! Now, reports the Times, Bistricer has forged an actual working relationship with one of the ministers, the Reverend Calvin O. Butts. (It's not too much of a stretch; Butts is a successful developer in his own right.) They're preparing to approach Starrett City's current owners with an undisclosed new offer. The previous offers have foundered because no one sees how Bistricer will make money on his enormous investment without drastically raising rents, so apparently the new negotiations will have an unusual twist: In a kind of reverse auction, the buyer and seller might have to agree on a lower price before the deal can go through. Why don't negotiations for things we're trying to buy ever work that way? Investor-to-Be in Starrett City Is Bargaining for New Deal [NYT] Earlier: How to Win Friends and Influence Starrett City

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Three More Subsidized Complexes to Go Private?

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Starrett City may not be going the way of Stuy Town quite yet, but it looks like three other complexes are. Laurence Gluck, a Real Estate Board of New York muckety-muck who owns at least six subsidized-housing complexes throughout the city, is angling to control three more. Sources in and out of government say the developer has his eye on the General Sedgwick Homes in the Bronx, Castleton Park in Staten Island, and Meadow Manor in Queens. Amy Chan, of tenants-rights activist group Tenants and Neighbors, says residents of all three complexes have received notice that their owner intends to remove them from the Mitchell-Lama subsidy program, and sources see Gluck's fingerprints on all three: He's actively pursuing projects around the Bronx, his company manages Castleton Park, and Meadow Manor is the subject of litigation involving him.

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Starrett-Crossed

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• Clipper Equity's ingenious PR notwithstanding, the would-be Starrett City buyer was thwarted again. On Saturday, the state's Housing Commissioner rejected the firm's second bid for the complex, concerned with the group's poor track record in the area. [TheStreet.com] • A blaze in a Bronx apartment building injured 53 people by AM New York's count (the Post has the number at 41), including 14 firefighters. The three-alarm fire began on the first floor and quickly spread up and out through hallways. [amNY, NYP] • Barack Obama (who evidently can't just come to a city; he either "swings through" or "invades" it) is back in New York for more fund-raising. He'll hang at a couple of good addresses before stopping by the Letterman show. Obama's previous New York City take is estimated at $3 million. [NYDN] • Bush knew. About Bernie Kerik's past, that is, when NYC's then-top cop was nominated to head Homeland Security. Thus, the doomed pick could have been a purely political gesture. Oh, and Alberto Gonzales had a hand in it, too. [NYP] • And East Hampton becomes a two-newspaper town: The Press, an import from one town over, is taking on the 122-year-old local institution the Star (as New York reported last month). Get ready for war. [NYT]

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How to Win Friends and Influence Starrett City

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Let's say you're a faceless capitalist entity that's put in a bid for an enormous, subsidized apartment complex. The bid is kind of accepted, then it's rejected. The press rakes you over the coals, the locals are wary, politicians literally race each other to the site to dispense "not on my watch" sound bites, and you mull over suing your own broker. You're done, right? Not if you're David Bistricer of Clipper Equity. If you're Bistricer, you then: 1. Promise the residents "ironclad proof" that their apartments will stay subsidized. (Instead of redeveloping the towers, Clipper now simply wants to build more.) 2. Hire two lobbyists: one at home, with Spitzer connections, and one in D.C., whose brother used to be Bush's chief of staff. Have the latter set up a meeting between you and the federal Housing secretary who had rejected your application. 3. Personally meet with the federal Housing secretary. 4. Do so while flanked by two influential black ministers. 5. Make sure one of the two influential black ministers is a fraternity brother of the secretary. If nothing else, watching Bistricer 2.0 at work is a master class in PR. To be continued, we're sure. Aspiring Buyer of Starrett City Is Back Onstage [NYT] Earlier: Daily Intel's coverage of the Starrett City sale.

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Gee, Man

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• Friendly fire from fellow FBI men killed an agent in the middle of an operation in Readington, New Jersey. The Feds were taking down a gang of armed bank robbers, one of whom escaped and remains on the loose. [NYP] • David Bistricer of Clipper Equity, the thwarted would-be buyer of the Starrett City housing megacomplex, is back. This time, he cobbled together a camera-ready coalition: a lobbyist with Spitzer connections, an architect, and two black ministers. [NYT] • More awesomeness from Rudy Giuliani's traveling road show: The presidential candidate began a stump speech in California with a Godfather impersonation, then referred to his wife as "a civilian, to use the old Mafia distinction." Yeah, he's a shoo-in. [amNY] • Geese are driving ducks out of Central Park, so the city is bringing in border collies to drive out the geese. Before we make a "who's going to drive out the dogs" joke, let's pause and reflect on the fact that there's a company called Geese Police Inc. on the city payroll. [NYT] • And a strong contestant for the dumbest con ever: An unemployed Brooklynite siphoned off $3.6 million from a city account at JPMorgan Chase (by rigging up 604 individual electronic transfers), spent it through Jewelry TV, then tried to pawn the baubles for cash. [NYDN]

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Good Grief

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• Hundreds of people, not all of them Muslims, attended the Islamic funeral ceremony for the nine children and a mother who perished in the last week's fire. Mayor Bloomberg quoted the Koran; strangers offered to rebuild the house and pay for the funerals. [NYT] • The newly berserk Health Department shut down Union Square's Coffee Shop after finding 120 violation points. The department's management, meanwhile, denies a concerted crackdown, saying inspectors are told to "adhere to current policies." That's a crackdown. [WNBC] • The indefatigable Clipper Equity, whose $1.3 billion Starrett City bid was killed to the applause of every authority imaginable, is back with a new offer: same price plus ironclad "proof" it won't raise rents. How will it make money, then? Why, build more housing on the property. [NYP] • Here's a good moral-compass exercise: Try to work up some compassion for Jeannie Kraph, who says she's being muscled out of her Williamsburg rental. Kraph has been paying $150 a month in rent for the last 50 years. [amNY] • And Al Sharpton does nothing to disprove his supposed jealousy of Barack Obama (cited in the Post) by fuming to the usually Al-friendlier Daily News about senator's "nerve." "I want to know his position on police brutality!" He loves it, Rev. [NYDN]

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The Starrett Sale Is Dead!

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• That $1.3 billion Starrett City deal? Yeah, not gonna happen. The Housing and Urban Development secretary is blocking the sale of the subsidized enclave to Clipper Equity. The deal's vocal opponents included Bloomberg, Cuomo, Spitzer, Schumer, Clinton, and, apparently, God. [NYDN] • Meanwhile, the demolition at the future Atlantic Yards site begins in earnest, with Ratner aiming the wrecking ball at twelve buildings on Pacific, Flatbush, Vanderbilt, and Dean — all within next week. Is it good-bye, weird Guyanese JRG Fashion Cafe? [NYP] • The dancing-rat drama is far from over. In fact, it's amping up: After its initial gaffe, the Health Department came down like a hammer on three more joints (this time, for variety's sake, Pizza Huts) owned by the same franchisee; the parent company, Yum Brands, then voluntarily closed ten more. [NYT] • And dentist Lawrence Rosenthal is suing Cory Lidle's estate for $7 million dollars, because the Yankee's fiery death had inconvenienced him. This, mind you, is the same Rosenthal of the BadDentist.com infamy. Litigious, much? [amNY]

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Poor Joe Bruno

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• We've heard some incriminating things about Joe Bruno, Albany's top Republican, lately; he's been enmeshed in some fishy investments and nepotistic dealings, and the FBI is all over him. Now comes the most shocking revelation: All this hustle and the dude isn't even rich. [NYT] • The Health Department on the shuttered KFC–Taco Bell that became one of West Village's main attractions this past weekend for its scampering rats: "It doesn't look like the inspection that was done … met our standards." What do you mean? There's not a drop of trans fat on these babies! [WNBC] • Apparently state senators were serious about protesting the $1.3 billion sale of Brooklyn's subsidized enclave Starrett City to an -private equity group. After the obligatory photo ops glad-handing the residents, they're actually trying to pass a bill that will block the deal. [NYP] • More grief for JetBlue: Last night's relatively light dusting of snow caused the now-extra-cautious carrier to cancel a whopping 68 of today's flights. Yeah, we'd be unloading that stock right about now, if we had any. [AP via CBS News] • And how can you tell someone's got a touch of Oscar envy? James "King of the World" Cameron will hold a press conference in New York today — to declare that he has found Jesus's grave. [amNY]

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That's Why the Steamroller Is a Tyrant

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• That was fast: Spitzer has earned the epithet "tyrannical" for the first — and probably not the last — time in his gubernatorial tenure. Apparently, the Spitz now tours fellow Democrats' districts to individually rip the legislators for reneging on the comptroller deal. [NYDN] • Late policeman Cesar Borja became the human face of the post-9/11 illnesses befalling first responders. The Times bursts that heroic bubble today by reporting that Borja wasn't even a second responder; he never rushed to the site on 9/11 and simply picked up a few shifts there, in December 2001, for overtime pay. [NYT] • The president, meantime, can't keep his mitts off another hero — Wesley Autrey, our bunny-hat-sporting subway savior; weeks after his cameo at the State of the Union, he is back at the White House for some sort of George Bush Cares About Black People shindig. (Among other invitees: Charlie Rangel.) [NYP] • Chuck Schumer, Christine Quinn, and Hillary Clinton pile on Clipper Equity, threatening to block its Starrett City purchase unless they see an ironclad pledge to keep the complex's 6,000 units affordable. Turns out Clipper "doesn't have a written plan" for its $1.3 billion impulse buy. [amNY] • And get ready for actual snow, if you remember what the stuff is; a few inches of it are expected this afternoon. But don't get too excited: This bit of real winter will quickly be replaced by that post-millennial stand-in — freezing rain — by tomorrow morning. [4 Weather Plus]

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Andrew Cuomo, Sheriff of Greenpoint

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• The toxic oil puddle under Greenpoint (which is, we'll remind you, larger than the Exxon Valdez spill) has spent years as one of New York's most esoteric horror stories. Finally, in a big move by new AG Andrew Cuomo, the state is taking Exxon Mobil to court over it. Four other companies are also targeted for dragging their feet on the cleanup. Awesome. [NYT] • That was fast: Starrett City, the nation's largest subsidized-housing complex, changed hands, going for the price we mentioned — just not to the bidder we mentioned. Clipper Equity swooped right in, picking up the megaproperty for $1.3 billion. [NYDN] • Social conservatives are piling on Rudy Giuliani in earnest, decrying his anti-gun, pro-abortion, pro-gay union stance in direct mailings and other "material." One would think they'd let the train wreck play out by itself. [amNY] • And brand-new State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli has a great Day One case on his desk: One of the office's employees was arrested for public masturbation. This is, mind you, one month to a day after a security guard at the same office got caught exposing himself to kids. Must be an exciting place to work. [NYP]

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Wherein We Begin to Paste ‘Starrett City’ Into Our Stuy Town Coverage

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You know the words, so sing along: A middle-class housing enclave, routinely described with superlatives and recently put up for sale, has just fetched a mind-blowing offer. Tenants are worried that the buyer will deregulate, and politicians say there will be no redevelopment at the site without a "lengthy public review"; meanwhile, the whole thing proceeds with the momentum of a giant rock rolling toward Indiana Jones.

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What Is Starrett City, and How Is It Worth a Billion Dollars?

Life in New York these days: another day, another enormous middle-class enclave on the auction block. This time, it's the lower-profile Starrett City in Jamaica Bay, Brooklyn — the largest federally subsidized complex in the country. (Only here, of course, could there be a 140-acre, 14,000-resident collection of 46 towers that few people have heard of.) Although recently renamed a more suburban-sounding Spring Creek Towers, Starrett is, in fact, something of a city: It has its own schools, places of worship, "peace officers," crocodilians, and power plant (it didn't even go dark during the 1977 blackout). Its Times profile in 1984 painted a perhaps overly boosterish picture of "a red-brick Camelot" with "everything Florida has but the weather." Its owners think it will go for over a billion dollars. The immediate question is whether it's going to get the luxury treatment some suspect is in store for parts of now-Tishman-owned Peter Cooper Village and Stuyvesant Town. One view is that new owners would be silly to deregulate these buildings, where most rents are close to market rates anyway, and forfeit the massive tax perks. Still, it's hard to get rid of the feeling that we're looking at Stuy Town the Sequel. To complete the picture, the same two CB Richard Ellis brokers are handling the sale, and — per Daily News sources — some thwarted Stuy Town suitors are expected to come calling. Brooklyn Tract, Home to 14,000, Goes on Block [NYT] Starrett City owners eye Stuy-high offers [NYDN]

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Real-Estate Developers to Middle Class: Drop Dead

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• The NYPD has made six arrests in its hunt for "the fourth man" from the scene of the Queens shooting that killed Sean Bell. The dragnet, which involved cops raiding houses in the middle of the night and picking people up on unrelated gun charges, infuriated the already jittery community; the surviving victims' attorney says the fourth man doesn't exist. [NYDN] • First Stuy Town and now Starrett City. The subsidized Brooklyn megacomplex (140 acres, 46 towers, 5,881 apartments, 14,000 residents) is up for sale. The enclave, which has its own schools and even its own newspaper, is expected to fetch over $1 billion. [NYT] • The populist Post sides squarely with the riders on the cab-fare issue, insisting the new hike boosts fares up to 27 percent instead of the promised average of 11 percent. Which is not to say the paper wasn't indignant about the 11 percent, too. [NYP] • MTA head honcho Peter Kalikow is making noises about stepping down from his post in mid-2007, despite having five more years left in the term. (Spitzer wants him out.) The always-gracious Roger Toussaint responds by saying "even six months is too long." [amNY] • Oh, and you don't cross Kalikow and not pay for it. Here you go, NYC — no subway cell service for you! [amNY]

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