Coney Island: City Councilmen Simcha Felder of Borough Park and Dominic Recchia of Coney Island get behind an F Express plan, demanding the MTA to explain its foot-dragging. [Second Avenue Sagas]
Dumbo: There are only three days left to appreciate the Brooklyn Waterfront Artists Coalition’s outdoor art display at Empire-Fulton Ferry and Brooklyn Bridge Parks. It's actually quite nice – and you haven't done much appreciating lately. [DumboNYC]
Staten Island: Prosecutors have charged a handyman in a string of break-ins on the North Shore, but stop short of saying they've ended the notorious North Shore Burglar's reign of terror. Man, Staten Island rules. [Staten Island Advance]
Stuyvesant Town: Stuy Town's new ad campaign reads, "Live closer to Greenwich Village than Greenwich, CT." Mm. We didn't know Connecticut was so, um, dormy. [Stuyvesant Town]
West Bronx: Max Roach, the legendary jazz drummer, will be buried on Friday at Woodlawn Cemetery, near the tombs of Miles Davis and Duke Ellington. [West Bronx News]
West Village: The Jefferson Market Library on Sixth Avenue is finally going to get its makeover. Knowing you, you're just going to start complaining about the scaffolding. [Curbed]
Bay Ridge: A construction dispute between two neighbors has escalated into an outer-borough version of the Hatfields and McCoys. [Brooklyn Eagle via McBrooklyn]
Carroll Gardens: Get ready for an eight-story building on Smith Street and 2nd Place. [Curbed]
Dumbo: The gritty Pearl Street Triangle will become a charming, Pratt Institute–conceived public plaza … for the summer at least. [Fort Greene/Clinton Hill Courier via Streetsblog]
Greenpoint: It takes more than generic Pine-Sol to make this place smell good. [Newyorkshitty]
Long Island City: A branch of Dumbo-based Recycle a Bicycle has come to 5th Street, and locals approve. [LICNYC]
Park Slope: Movie-shooting season makes parking even scarcer. [Gowanus Lounge]
Stuyvesant Town: The true mark of a city cyclist is getting "doored" for the first time. [Tommy Lane's Web Log]
Proving that everything eighties is hot again, an estimated 7,000 New York City tenants and tenant activists formed a human chain around the massive, recently sold, increasingly rent-destabilized Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village apartment complex last night — it's Hands Across the East Village! — to protest rising rents and demand state laws to protect affordable housing. But did they reallyreally ring that big old thing, which stretches from 14th to 23rd Streets and First Avenue to Avenue C?
• The city's medical examiner has, for the first time, directly tied a death to 9/11 dust, thus making Felicia Dunn-Jones the 2,750th victim of the attack. The decision's potential impact is, obviously, enormous. [NYDN]
• Yesterday's human chain around Stuy Town, apart from serving up a mini-flashback to Hands Across America, had a specific purpose: to repeal the law that allows landlords to deregulate apartments once the rent hits $2,000. [Metro NY]
• The city is closing its high schools for pregnant girls, sixties inventions now beset with "abysmal test scores [and] poor attendance" (in one hair-raising example, a quilting class was being passed off as geometry). [NYT]
• After facing suits for a few knee-jerk post-9/11 arrests, the city reached a deal with the New York Civil Liberties Union to stop pestering photographers and filmmakers operating handheld cameras on the street. No permit is now needed. [amNY]
• And an infamous distributor of pirated Web content has been sentenced to five years for a real-world crime of, well, blowing up a portable toilet. It's like when they got Al Capone on tax charges, except not. [NYP]
Astoria: After promising for eighteen months, Fresh Start is opening its back patio. [Joey in Astoria]
Clinton Hill: This weekend's annual house tour was so popular that someone even stole tickets (for scalping?). [Brownstoner]
Greenwich Village: Ricky "Livin' la Vida Loca" Martin just paid $7 mil for a three-bedroom at Ian Schrager's new 40 Bond. [NYP]
Hell's Kitchen: Vote now for your preferred redesign of traffic patterns on Ninth Avenue. [Streetsblog]
Park Slope: Look for eighteen new bike racks around the hood, including, of course, in front of Ozzie's. [Gowanus Lounge]
Red Hook: Ikea denies that the extra square footage it acquired on the waterfront will become a Bed Bath & Beyond. [The Brooklyn Paper]
Stuyvesant Town: What does the complex's new logo say about its occupants? And is that a putting green near the fountain? [Curbed]
Williamsburg: More crude bubbles up on the Roebling Oil Fields. [Gowanus Lounge]
Carroll Gardens: Retired parents get bored with the suburbs and move here. There goes the neighborhood. [The Brooklyn Paper]
Downtown Brooklyn: Tillary Street might have a bike lane, but you can barely see it under all the cars. [McBrooklyn via Brooklyn Heights Blog]
Greenpoint: Horrifying new trend: tossing your smoke detector out back when it starts to beep, instead of just changing the batteries. [Newyorkshitty]
Harlem: An agent for a newish co-op was canned after his employers found out he was also using the place as HQ for a stripper and escort service. [Uptown Flavor]
Park Slope: Get ready for another tower on the corner of Carroll Street and Fourth Avenue. [Gowanus Lounge]
Stuyvesant Town: There's a rumor going around that Tishman Speyer wants to tear down this middle-class enclave within five years and replace it with 150 luxury condos. [Curbed]
Greek-born supermarket mogul and top Hillary fund-raiser John Catsimatidis is making noises about an ’09 mayoral run — but it's a weird way to start a nascent campaign by depriving the middle-income seniors of northeast Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village with their last nearby affordable grocery.
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.
Last October, when the realty giant Tishman Speyer took Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village off MetLife's hands for $5.4 billion, the concern was that the new owners would push for deregulation of its rent-stabilized apartments. That hasn't happened yet, but new figures in the Times show the company taking a different tack: displacing the wealthy. Market-rate tenants, Stuy Town's minority, are fleeing brutal rent increases. One two-bedroom went from $2,660 to $3,350 overnight; another two-bedroom jumped from $3,750 to $4,450, a raise of 18.7 percent. In yet another case, Times cites a 33 percent jack-up. In addition, Tishman is aggressively going after the stabilized tenants who own vacation properties elsewhere and thus face "nonprimary residence" suspicions. The company says it's merely bringing rates up to date with the market realities, and that "roughly 80 percent" of the tenants are renewing their leases. Of course, that means 20 percent — that's some 2,246 apartments — didn't.
After Sale, Rent Increases Give Some Sticker Shock [NYT]
The benevolent overlords of MTA are now promising no fare hikes for 2007, honestly. For real. Not for subways, not for LIRR, not for Metro-North or bridge-and-tunnel tolls — not even for lightning-fast, camera-equipped Space Age ultrabuses. The news comes as a backtracking, after Peter Kalikow & Co. had already put a $240 million hike on the books, not to mention scared the bejesus out of everyone by floating a bizarre service-cut proposal. Now Kalikow says enough money has appeared to make that hike unnecessary, which raises the question: Where did the money come from all of the sudden, and who's the secret Santa?
It comes from, says Kalikow, the city's booming economy — and particularly its real-estate market. "The agency gets revenues from real estate transactions," the News says, adding later that "it will get some assistance from the megasale of Peter Cooper Village and Stuyvesant Town." All of which is well and good, if it keeps our subway fares down. But also: Huh? Is there a MTA tax on real-estate transfers? Is Tishman Speyer throwing a few MetroCards at Stuy Town residents to keep them happy? We don't quite get this bit and would appreciate anyone who could explain.
On the other hand, it's not like it so much matters. The MTA is predicting "huge deficits" for 2008.
MTA Plays Fare and Holds It for '07 [NYDN]
The little is-MetLife-breaking-an-old-contract? headfake notwithstanding, Tishman Speyer closed its purchase of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village on Friday. That night, residents of the two mammoth complexes came home to find notes from their new landlords tucked under their apartment doors. It says many of the right things with the hope, no doubt, of assuaging middle-class residents' fears that they're going to be forced out. "We are a business with deep roots in New York, a true love of our city and a great respect for the neighborhoods that make it special," the letter says. "We are committed to maintaining the unique character and environment that have made Peter Cooper Village and Stuyvesant Town such a wonderful place to live for so long." But what's most heartwarming about the letter is this: Rob Speyer, the company's senior managing director and "head of New York," who signed it, has the signature of a third-grader. Who can be scared of that?
There's a larger image of the full letter here.
There's a major plot twist in the story of Stuyvesant Town's impending $5.4 billion sale, potentially the largest real-estate deal in history. As any good plot twist should, it begins with a lawyer, alone in a library after hours, poring over a dusty folio (or so we'd like to think). He's representing the megacomplex's tenants (who lost their own bid for the place to Tishman Speyer), and he has unearthed an obscure provision in the 1942 agreement between the city and MetLife, Stuy Town's owner. Under its terms, MetLife would get a 25-year tax break in exchange for a promise: The insurance company would keep rents low and, crucially, it would cap its annual profit at six percent.
The tenants' lawyer has thus concluded that, should MetLife go on with the sale, it must either dissolve its subsidiary named in the agreement or fork over all excess profit to the city (yeah, right). MetLife, meantime, is of course shrugging this off as "a last-minute, desperate attempt to interfere." Tishman Speyer is staying out of the mess altogether. And the ball is now in the city comptroller's court, where the discovery may actually get some traction. Consider Comptroller William Thompson's original statement when the sale was announced: "I am deeply disappointed that Metropolitan Life rushed to sign a deal without giving serious consideration to the offer submitted by the residents of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village." Is this his chance to remedy that disappointment?
MetLife Real Estate Deal Could Be Derailed [Crain's]
Thompson Statement, 10/17/06 [NYC.gov]
So much for the tenants' group: Tishman Speyer, the real-estate behemoth that controls Rockefeller Center, among other things, has won the auction for Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village, agreeing to pay MetLife $5.4 billion for the complex. That works out to $486,769 for each of the complex's 11,232 apartments. Which would take only 243 months — a mere twenty years and change to recoup if each unit rented for the maximum allowable stabilized amount of $2,000 per month. Naturally Tishman will wait that out, right?
110-Building Site in N.Y. Is Sold to Speyer [NYT]