Tag Archives: Department of Buildings

City to deploy ‘shelter repair squad’ to fix homeless shelter issues


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

Five city agencies are coming together to investigate and solve the issues faced at over 500 homeless shelters throughout the city.

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Monday that the city will deploying hundreds of “special SWAT teams” — made up of employees from the FDNY, Department of Buildings, Department of Homeless Services, Department of Health and the Department of Housing Preservation and Development — to accelerate the process of repairs at homeless shelters all over New York City.

“These SWAT teams are necessary because we aren’t dealing with a problem that just started in the last year or two, we’re dealing with a problem that is decades old and has gotten worse for several reasons,” de Blasio said. “This city has seen a homelessness crisis that in the last decade went from a very troubling level to an absolutely unacceptable level.”

According to the mayor, 56,000 people are currently living in shelters, and although that number is down from 59,000 people a few months ago, there is still much more to be done.

The implementation of the inter-agency shelter repair squad comes after de Blasio received a report from the Department of Investigation two months ago that put forth the unhealthy conditions at the city shelters. The DOI found 25 shelters that required immediate attention, and those have since had almost all violations addressed.

One of those shelters included the Corona Family Residence, where de Blasio made the announcement Monday afternoon. This facility had violations such as smoke detector problems and rodent infestations.

The squads will go out to individual shelters, identify the problems and solutions to them, then reach out to various departments and agencies that could find the resources to correct the conditions. Typical violations — such as broken or missing smoke detectors — will be expected to be fixed within a seven-day period after being identified. Some of the more complicated capital repairs will begin in about 30 days with a plan of completion within the calendar year.

Along with the squad, there will also be an accountability system put into place where members of the public will be able to track the city’s progress through online scorecards.

“Every effort is being made to reduce the number of health and safety violations within DHS shelters, and the creation of the shelter repair squad will provide immeasurable support to us in these efforts,” DHS Commissioner Gilbert Taylor said. “This engagement is truly reflective of our city’s collective responsibility, serving our most vulnerable New Yorkers. These measures will indeed help DHS to overcome the many years of neglect that our city shelter system has been subjected to.”

Last week, de Blasio also announced that in the city’s 2016 $78.3 billion budget $100 million will go toward homeless prevention and assistance, including rental support, anti-eviction and legal services, and more. The budget will also include $4.7 million to expand the number of shelter beds for runaway and homeless youth by another 100, while enhancing mental health services.

For Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, who attended the Monday announcement, the issues residents have to live with at these homeless shelters hit close to his heart because his family once lived in a shelter. Van Bramer said that many of the issues the families are facing are the same as those his family faced years ago.

“Every family that comes to [a] shelter is in a state of crisis in one way or another, but the fact that they found shelter means that they are on the path to recovery, like my family. So going to [a] shelter is the first step, in many cases, to making it out of [the] shelter,” Van Bramer said. “But when you get to that shelter, it should be a place where any New Yorker could live because it’s about dignity and it’s about knowing that you matter, your lives matter, your children matter.”

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Buildings Department approves revised Glendale shelter construction plans


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

While the battle over the proposed Glendale homeless shelter is far from over, the Department of Buildings (DOB) gave its blessing to the shelter’s revised blueprints.

The DOB approved on April 2 amended building plans to convert a long-defunct factory at 78-16 Cooper Ave. into a hotel with 70 dwelling units. In March, the agency approved plans for 103 units but quickly reversed course and withheld them for further review.

Issues stemmed from the previous classification of the site as “lodging,” but the revised plans approved on April 2 describe the building as a class B hotel. This change would allow operation of a hotel as-of-right, without requiring changing the location’s manufacturing zoning, which would involve a public review process.

The Department of Homeless Services (DHS) previously reached a five-year, $27 million agreement with the nonprofit Samaritan Village to operate a homeless shelter for up to 125 families at the factory site. Its owner, Michael Wilner, is reportedly leasing the site to Samaritan Village and is responsible for the factory’s renovation.

While construction may take place at the shelter site, the contract itself must be approved by City Comptroller Scott Stringer before it can be used as a homeless shelter. A spokeperson for Stringer told The Courier his office has yet to receive the contract, and therefore has yet to make the decision.

Meanwhile, the fight goes on for community activists opposed to the shelter’s opening. Community Board 5 District Manager Gary Giordano said in a phone interview the advisory body would file a formal challenge of the plans with the Buildings Department. The public has until about May 11 in order to officially file a challenge with the agency.

“We will do some consultations with attorneys and try to make the best of it,” Giordano said.

The Glendale Middle Village Coalition, a group of civic and business organizations, continues to raise funds for its legal challenges to the plan.

It previously filed an Article 78 proceeding against the DHS’ environmental assessment which determined that 78-16 Cooper Ave. — used for industrial manufacturing for decades and located adjacent to a chemical storage facility — is safe for reuse as a shelter.

The coalition hopes a judge’s ruling will force the DHS to perform an environmental impact study on the site, which could cost millions and take several years to complete.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Buildings Department OKs construction of Glendale homeless shelter


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

Updated 5:28 p.m.

BY SALVATORE LICATA, ROBERT POZARYCKI AND LIAM LA GUERRE 

Building plans to construct a controversial homeless shelter in Glendale are moving ahead.

The Department of Buildings approved permits on Tuesday for the conversion of a vacant factory building into transitional housing, which the community has repeatedly opposed for years.

The dilapidated factory will have 103 units, smaller than the 125-room shelter originally proposed, encompassing 74,542 square feet of residential space, according to the filings with the Buildings Department. The four-story building will also be built with parking spaces for 33 vehicles, per plans.

The Department of Homeless Services (DHS) has a pending five-year, $27 million contract with Samaritan Village to operate the homeless shelter at the site. Residents and neighborhood representatives are upset that the permits were granted.

“Trying to sneak this in, it’s all political,” said Sal Crifasi, president of the Glendale/Middle Village Coalition, a group of residents and community leaders devoted to fighting against the shelter. “Somebody is getting something. They are rubber stamping everything. I think someone is getting paid.”

The Glendale/Middle Village Coalition has raised about $80,000 from hundreds of residents to legally combat the shelter.

They are appealing against the Environmental Assessment the city did on the land. The coalition’s members feel that the city did not take a “hard look” at the area in order to determine the impact of a homeless shelter at the site. They want a full Environmental Impact Study done.

The coalition has a hearing on April 9 regarding its Article 78 proceeding.

Politicians were also disappointed by the news of the approved plans and pledged to continue to fight the construction of the shelter.

State Senator Joe Addabbo is trying to set up a meeting with DHS and the mayor’s office for next week to talk about the plans.

“We are going to continue to fight this and remain vigilant,” he said.

“To date, we haven’t seen the Department of Homeless Services live up to its commitment of transparency and engagement with local communities in the siting of these facilities,” City Comptroller Scott Stringer said in a statement. “I urge DHS to engage and update all stakeholders about the development of the Glendale site, including these Department of Building permits.”

RECOMMENDED STORIES

New Edgemere residential building revealed


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Rendering courtesy of Curtis + Ginsberg Architects LLP 

Architects of a new mixed-use residential building in Edgemere released a rendering of the building, which the Department of Housing Preservation and Development recently filed applications to construct.

The project will be an seven-story, 101-unit residential and commercial building on a vacant lot at 45-05 Rockaway Beach Blvd. Curtis + Ginsberg Architects LLP is the architect and GDSNY designed the façade, which has a sleek, modern look with metallic features.

The project will dedicate 93,491 square feet for living space and nearly 500 square feet for commercial space, according to filings with the Buildings Department. And there will be a total of 35 parking spaces at the residence.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Building inspectors from Queens among those arrested in $450K city bribery scheme


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

HANDCUFFS 1

Building and housing inspectors from Queens were among the 50 suspects who were allegedly involved in slimy, widespread corruption that uncovered about $450,000 in bribes, according to Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance.

The borough contributed nine of the individuals who were arrested in connection with the citywide bribery scheme to skirt city building and construction regulations.

In addition to the city agents, Queens property managers, owners and two reputed mob members were arrested on Tuesday, after a two-year-long sting, which began with an inquiry into the attempted bribery of a single Buildings Department inspector, Vance said.

“Bribery schemes compromised two important city agencies and fair competition in our robust housing and real estate development markets,” Vance said. “Today’s cases demonstrate that the same surging demand that drives the pace of development can inspire the taking of shortcuts.”

The arrested Queens members include Housing and Preservation Department inspectors Barry Rice Jr. and Steven Crawford; Department of Buildings inspector Artan Mujko; property owners and managers David Weiss, Sandro Cabrera, Frank Campasano and Aleksander Zivkovic; and brothers Agostino and Michelangelo Accardo, who have reported mob connections.

Here are the alleged roles of the Queens individuals charged in the group bust and a citywide map showing where the schemes took place:

-Queens Department of Buildings inspector Artan Mujko allegedly accepted $70,000 in bribes for “signing off” on inspections for David Weiszer, an unregistered expeditor. Weiszer would send a list of properties his clients owned to the Buildings Department chief of development for Brooklyn construction, and Mujko would inspect the properties at his chief’s request and invariably the buildings would pass inspection.

-Queens HPD inspector Barry Rice Jr., working with Brooklyn inspector Luis Soto, was allegedly bribed to order tenants to leave buildings in Bushwick without a valid vacate order.

-Frank Campasano was one of the building’s owners Rice took a bribe from.

-Rice also allegedly arranged “pre-inspections of certain properties to ensure violations on buildings would be resolved before he conducted official inspections, after which the violations would be dismissed,” the district attorney’s office said.

-Rice and Associate Housing Inspector Stanley Hall allegedly promised to dismiss violations from a Bushwick property owned by Shea Sigal for more than $3,000 in bribes.

-Rice and Steven Crawford allegedly negotiated bribes from Joel Rubin, a property manager, to “pre-inspect” and dismiss violations from properties. Rice accepted $600 in bribes from Rubin.

-Rice allegedly accepted $300 in bribes from Aron Stuhl, a property manager for “pre-inspection” violations.

-Sandro Cabrera and David Weiss were among other property owners and managers charged with allegedly offering bribes ranging from $200 to $2,800 in exchange for various Department of Buildings favors.

-Aleksander Zivkovic is among a list of property owners and managers charged with allegedly paying bribes to HPD inspectors Olive Ortiz and Luis Soto to remove building violations. The bribes totaled around $41,000 for the property owners. The violations included a rotted door frame, non-working hallway lights, and presence of mice, flies and roaches.

-Agostino Accardo, an alleged member of the Bonanno crime family, and his brother Michelangelo, were charged with operating an illegal check bundling and money transmission service. It was not clear exactly what role they played in the corruption probe.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Selling point: LIC Wills Group building sold for $43.5M — and more big sales


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Scott Bintner/Propertyshark

A number of properties in Queens sold for big prices recently, according to city property records. Here’s a run down of interesting transactions over the past week.

Address: 43-01 21st St.
Price: $43,500,000

The Wills Group Family Limited Partnership sold its commercial building in Long Island City at 43-01 21st St. for $43.5 million, according to city property filings recorded on Friday. The property is a three-story building with more than 120,000 square feet of space. The buyer is listed as Chicago-based 43-01 21st Street Eat LLC, although developer Rockrose was in contract for it last year, according to a published report.

Address: 55-02 Broadway
Price: $9,000,000

Manhattan-based 55 Broadway Realty LLC picked up this mixed-use office and factory building in Woodside for $9 million, according to city records. The one-story building has just over 30,000 square feet of space.

Address: 5 Court Square/28-24 Jackson Ave.
Price: $15,750,000

This building, which sits across the street from the Citibank Building in Long Island City, was in high demand because of its developmental potential in a hot neighborhood. At nearly 8,000 square feet, current zoning laws allow a future development to be nearly eight times bigger. AF Court Square LLC sold the building to Jackson 2524 LLC, a Great Neck-based firm, which filed to construct a mixed-use residential and commercial 11-story building with 73 units on the site last year. The project was disapproved by the Buildings Department.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Expansion of Bayside church underway


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

Construction to expand the Siloam Reformed Church of New York in Bayside is underway and officials expect the work will be completed this year.

The church, which is located at 35-25 Bell Blvd., is building a new wing on its current building to include a cafeteria and gym area, according to filings with the Buildings Department.

The three-story building will expand from about 8,000 square feet to a total of nearly 14,000 square feet with the Victor Han Architects-designed addition.

Siloam Reformed bought the land in 2012 for $1.8 million from the Elim Presbyterian Church of New York, according to city records.

A construction poster on the site says that the building is expected to be completed this summer.


RECOMMENDED STORIES 

Construction underway on Ridgewood’s largest new development


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Rendering courtesy of Essex Capital 

A rendering has been revealed for the largest new development in Ridgewood, a seven-story, 90-unit rental tower.

Construction has already begun on the project, which will be located at 16-14 and 16-26 Madison St. Essex Capital is building the residential structure and hopes to keep rents much lower than those in Manhattan and Brooklyn neighborhoods, according to a published report.

But rents in Ridgewood have been surging when compared to just five years ago, and exact rates weren’t given yet, Crain’s reported.

White Plains-based KSQ Architects is designing the building, which will also have 45 parking spaces, according to records filed with the Buildings Department in 2013.

Essex Capital paid $4.7 million for the two lots in 2013, according to city records.

RECOMMENDED STORIES 

18-story mixed-use residential tower planned for Long Island City


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Map courtesy of Google

Developer New York Lions Group is roaring again in Long Island City.

The Great Neck-based firm filed applications on Friday with the Department of Buildings to construct another tall, mixed-use residential building in the neighborhood.

The new tower will have 18 stories with 110 apartments as well as another 8,645 square feet for commercial tenants at 42-06 27th St., according to city records. There will also be 55 parking spaces in the development for future tenants.

It will be another collaboration between Lions Group and Flushing-based Raymond Chan Architect.

Also in Long Island City at 27-01 Jackson Ave., Lions Group plans to construct a 15-story mixed-use residential and commercial tower also designed by Raymond Chan. This project will have 88 apartments and about 7,000 square feet of commercial space.

Raymond Chan is also designing Lions Group’s 77-unit Astoria condo at 14-07 Broadway called The Baron, which is expected to be completed by September of 2016.

Finally, the Great Neck developer recently refiled plans to construct an eight-story condo with 15 apartments at 42-83 Hunter St. in Long Island City. The building will have 12,336 square feet of living space and is being designed by Flushing-based MY Architect PC.

RECOMMENDED STORIES 

Massive Flushing development site to go on sale


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo courtesy of Scott Bintner

UPDATED: 1/23 1:38 p.m.

Flushing is poised for the sale of large development site.

The property across from the Sky View Parc complex will be going on sale, New York YIMBY reported. The seller, ABS Flushing Development, bought the property in 2006 for $26 million.

The land at 131-35 Roosevelt Ave. had Buildings Department approved plans in 2008 for a major development, which included four mixed-use buildings at 16 stories. Originally designed by Ismael Leyva Architects and called River Park Place, the project would have had 457 apartments.

Renderings of the project are still posted on the architect’s website.

River Park Place will not be the only major development site in Flushing to see time on the market.

Last year, the second phase development rights of Flushing’s Sky View Parc luxury condo project, which included approved plans for a three-building residential complex, was listed for sale by Massey Knakal. The property was reported to have asking prices of more than $100 million.

However, Onex Real Estate Partners, the team that designed phase 1 of the Sky View Parc condominiums, retained the site and will go ahead and develop the second phase of the project, which includes more than 800 luxury condos in nearly 750,000 square feet.

“We are eager to bring the next chapter of this thriving community to fruition,” a representative of Onex said.

UPDATE: Previously not mentioned, Onex Real Estate Partners will develop the second phase of the Sky View Parc condos project. 

pic-1-624x311

Photo courtesy of Massey Knakal

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Astoria parking lot with major development plans sells for $17M


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Gratiela Ilis/PropertyShark 

An Astoria parking lot with plans for development has been sold for $17.35 million, according to property records filed with the city on Tuesday.

The buyer, Astoria 31st Street Developers LLC, bought the property, which is located at 31-51 31st St., from a group of owners under the name 1st Carico LLC.

Files to demolish the parking booth and construct a seven-story, mixed use commercial, residential and community facility building, were placed with the  Buildings Department last year.

SLCE Architects are designing the new building, which will have 114 residential units and nearly 20,000 square feet of commercial space as well as a 4,155-square-foot community facility,  according to city records.

There will also be 127 parking spots at the site.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Permits filed for building at new Cornell Tech campus


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Renderings courtesy of Weiss/Manfredi

For now Cornell University’s Tech campus is located in Google’s building in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan.

But it’s widely expected that when Cornell’s new 2-million-square-foot tech campus opens on Roosevelt Island in 2017, the young leading minds of a new era will pour into Long Island City via the Queensboro Bridge for work opportunities and cheaper residences than Manhattan—as well as a world-class skyline view.

That long-awaited boon for the Queens tech community just took another step forward as Weiss/Manfredi Architecture filed an application with the Buildings Department Monday for the new corporate co-location office building on the campus.

The new 188,603-square-foot building will be six stories tall, according to the city filing, and will have a 38-car parking garage. There will be space within the building for students, faculty and firms on campus, according to Cornell.

Campus 6

The building is filed for 1 Main St. on Roosevelt Island, which is technically in Manhattan, and the land is owned by the New York City Economic Development Corporation. Forest City Ratner Companies is developing the building.

In addition to the corporate co-location building, there will be a residential building, designed by Handel Architects, which includes 350 student housings units, with a mix of one, two and three bedroom suites.

Amenities in the residential building include a roof deck, gym, bike room, lounge and various media rooms, according to Cornell. In total there will be housing for 2,000 students and 280 faculty members.

The future campus will have 2.5 acres of new green space, including an outdoor campus plaza called the “Tech Walk” with outdoor benches and trees.

Architect firm Morphosis is designing the first academic building on the campus, which will feature academic classrooms and facilities.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Eight-story condo tower to replace LIC industrial site


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Scott Bintner/PropertyShark

Great Neck-based New York Lions Group has refiled plans with the Department of Buildings to construct a residential tower on the site of a former industrial building in Long Island City.

The new structure will be a skinny eight-story condo building at 42-83 Hunter St. with 15 units, according to city records, and will be designed by Flushing-based MY Architect PC.

Lions Group picked up the property for nearly $1.9 million in May, according to city filings, and the new building will be 12,336 square feet, which is about the max allowed to be built on the site.

Demolition permits were filed last month for the small, one-story industrial building currently occupying the site.

Lions Group has been working on a number of projects throughout the borough, including a seven-story glassy Astoria condominium building, which they plan to begin building next year.

RECOMMENDED STORIES 

New Elmhurst luxury rental building The Elm West revealed


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Renderings courtesy of Pi Capital Partners 

The Elm East meets The Elm West.

The developer of The Elm East, an Elmhurst luxury building located at Broadway and Queens Boulevard, has revealed renderings for a project planned across the street called The Elm West.

Flushing-based Pi Capital Partners is developing the sibling project at 85-15 Queens Blvd., according to a published report. The new building will be larger than its predecessor, which was completed in 2012.

The Elm West will have 130 luxury units, 50,000 square feet of retail space and a community facility, according to New York YIMBY.

Tenants will benefit from panorama views of the Manhattan skyline, according to Pi Capital.

Permits have yet to be filed with the Buildings Department for the new building, but if it’s anything like its sister, The Elm West will have a mix of studios and one- and two-bedroom apartments.

the-elm-east3

The Elm East

RECOMMENDED STORIES 

Partially developed controversial Dutch Kills hotel for sale


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Rendering courtesy of Massey Knakal

The owner of a controversial, partially constructed hotel in Dutch Kills is selling the structure.

Residents protested and even sued to stop construction of the nine-story boutique hotel on 39-35 27th St. in the Long Island City neighborhood in 2010, according to published reports.

But now, with more than 20 new hotels opened over the last five years, the area has become a hot hotel market, and owner Steven Baharestani of Dutch Kills Partners LLC is hoping to sell the yet-to-be completed hotel to the highest bidder.

“The offering presents a unique opportunity to acquire a full or partial interest in a hotel in the construction phase, in one of the most rapidly developing hotel markets in the New York metro area,” said Andrew Posil, director of sales at Massey Knakalwhich is marketing the building.

Construction on the hotel is one-third complete, according to the real estate firm. It will be 38,000 square feet and have 79 rooms when finished.

Baharestani is looking for the best possible offer for the hotel, and there isn’t an asking price for the building, a Massey Knakal representative said.

The Buildings Department originally approved plans for the hotel back in 2007.

RECOMMENDED STORIES