Tag Archives: Department of Housing Preservation and Development

Real estate roundup: Alternate Silvercup expansion renderings, city approves shaming landlords, Court Square permits filed


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Rendering courtesy of LEESER Architecture

Imagine LIC’s Skyline with this Whimsical Silvercup Addition

The expansion of Long Island City’s Silvercup Studios to include Silvercup West, a mixed-use extension of the famed production studio, hasn’t been a dormant project after all; in fact, LEESER Architecture has been busy creating a plan as an alternate to the originally-proposed Richard Rogers design. Read more [Curbed]

Permits filed for two towers in Court Square

The first permits are up for yet another Court Square tower, this one coming to 27-19 44th Drive. Coincidentally, permits were filed for a 26-story tower right next door yesterday, and the buildings will actually be the same height, with both standing 282 feet tall. Read more [New York YIMBY]

NYC’s Queens to get 2,404 Apartments in Durst Project

Rendering courtesy of Durst Organization

Rendering courtesy of Durst Organization

A partnership including Durst Organization plans to build 2,404 apartments on the East River waterfront in the Astoria section of Queens, New York. Douglas Durst’s company said it will invest $1.5 billion in a 2.5 million square-foot (232,000-square-meter) residential and retail development on Hallets Point, a peninsula just southwest of the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge, according to an e-mailed statement. Read more [Bloomberg]

City to publicly shame harassing landlords

New York City officials will publicly post the names of landlords found to have harassed tenants, hoping the public shaming will be a deterrent. The mayor signed a bill on Tuesday that will require the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development to post on its website the names of landlords found in housing court to have harassed tenants. Read more [New York Times] 

City accepting proposals to develop 200-unit building on Flushing parking lot


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre


The city is asking for proposals to build a mixed-use, mixed-income building with 200 apartments in a municipal parking lot in Flushing.

Flushing Municipal Lot 3, located adjacent to the LIRR Flushing station on 41st Avenue and Main Street, has about 156 parking spots and is operated by the Department of Transportation.

The Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) is accepting proposals for the 43,200-square-foot lot to help address Mayor Bill de Blasio’s 10-year housing plan to create 200,000 affordable housing units in the city. Although the proposals will target housing, all proposals must produce a plan to replace the 156 parking spots currently on the lot.

Community Board 7, which includes Flushing, has about 250,100 people, making it the most populous district in the city.

The HPD said the proposals must have 50 percent of the 200 new apartments as two-bedroom apartments or at least 40 percent with family-sized rooms.

 

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Residents rally for better living conditions at Ridgewood apartments


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

Hany Taha is afraid that his ceiling will collapse on him.

He has lived in the same apartment for 26 years, but now the ceiling is sinking. Although he has complained about it for seven months, nothing has happened.

Taha is a resident of one of six low-income apartment buildings in Ridgewood owned by Ridgewood Realty of L.I. The structures have accumulated a total of nearly 550 violations, according to the Department of Housing Preservation and Development.

At a rally on June 19 outside Manhattan’s bankruptcy court, residents and officials demanded to meet with the company that owns the mortgages — an investment firm called Stabilis Capital Management — to discuss finding a “new, responsible owner.”

“There is no one here,” Taha said. “What we need is someone to take charge.”

While the six apartment buildings, all currently in foreclosure, are not a part of the same complex, they are within walking distance of each other.

Stabilis bought the mortgages in 2011. The original owner, Ridgewood Realty of L.I., foreclosed five years ago. But due to a delay in bankruptcy court, it is still listed as the proprietor.

Attempts to reach Ridgewood Realty were unsuccessful as of press time.

About thirty families rent at the buildings in question, which have six units each. The rent ranges from $900 to $1,050 a month. Tenants make payments to a court-appointed receiver.

Residents want to continue living in the buildings, but fear that Stabilis will sell them to a group that wants to build luxury apartments.

“We are trying to resolve it, but we don’t own the buildings. We don’t have control over them,” a representative from Stabilis said. “We are prevented from taking action because of the bankruptcy that was taken by the owner.”

Residents’ complaints include no heat in the winter, leaks from ceilings, rat infestations, mold and cracked walls. The front doors to some of the buildings are missing knobs, and a number of locks are broken.

“If Stabilis has no plan on how they will rehabilitate these properties to make them safe and decent for the families who live there [...] they should exit this deal now,” said Kerri White, a director at the Urban Homesteading Assistance Board (UHAB), a nonprofit organization that fights for affordable housing.

UHAB had five of the buildings surveyed by Doug Timmons, an architect from FLM Construction Consulting LLC. He determined they would need more than $2.14 million in repairs to meet city code.

 

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Woodhaven residents upset over slow response to sewage issue


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Ed Wendell

Woodhaven residents want to know why it took so long to stop the sewage that was spewing into the streets of their neighborhood.

At the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association (WRBA) March 16 meeting, several members inquired why the feces-ridden puddle continued to be a problem, considering how close it was to a nursery school.

“When there’s a fire, the Fire Department can rush into a house,” said WRBA President Ed Wendell. “They don’t need to ring the doorbell and get permission – there’s a fire. In this case here, this to me was every bit as bad as a fire, because you had human waste spilling out into a street right next to a nursery school.”

The Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) put out an emergency bid to finally fix the lingering problem. Until then, agencies could only slap the landlord with fines, officials said. There’s a $20,000 lien against the house because of fines racking up since 2005, according to Assemblymember Michael Miller’s office.

Children from neighboring St. Luke’s Nursery School had to walk into the street to get out of the waste-filled puddle coming from the house, Wendell said, and the block was never closed off or a crossing guard installed at the site.

“That sidewalk should have been closed, it should have been a hazmat situation,” he said. “Something should have been done.”

The situation with this house was unique because it dealt with tenants, according to Rudy S. Giuliani, chief of staff for Councilmember Eric Ulrich. In normal circumstances, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) would shut the water off, he said. But since the city did not want to make the tenants suffer for an absentee landlord, the city looked to take other options such as sending in HPD.

Giuliani said Ulrich’s office is working on finding out what took so long to fix the problem.

 

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Broken sewage pipe soils Woodhaven street


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Ed Wendell

A broken pipe in Woodhaven has residents concerned about public safety after gushing water, rife with human waste, has soiled the corner of 85th Street and 88th Avenue.

“It’s disgusting,” said Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association (WRBA) president Ed Wendell, who’s been tracking the problem for a few weeks now. Wendell and other WRBA members have contacted city agencies about the problem, but most agencies cannot interfere with a private residence.

Wendell said he drove past the house a few weeks ago and water had been pouring into the street. When he went back two days later, during a bad cold snap, he said the water had frozen with bits of toilet paper and other unmentionables solidified. A snow storm a few days later covered the ice, leading people to think there was nothing but sidewalk underneath. As a result, Wendell said, people were slipping and sliding on the feces-infested ice.

But a bigger problem is one particular neighbor: St. Luke’s Nursery School next door.

The school’s director did not want to comment on the matter.

For everyone’s safety — especially that of the children — the sidewalk either needs to be closed off, or the city needs to install a crossing guard during school hours, Wendell said.

The home’s owner, Noris Requena, according to records, could not be reached at press time, nor could the person listed as the home’s resident.

Because it’s a private home, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) cannot forcibly go inside.

Since the problem is inside the house, the city is limited on how it can intervene, said Rudy Giuliani, chief of staff for Councilmember Eric Ulrich. In a normal situation, the city would shut water supply to the home, but since the home is rented out authorities have opted to keep the water on. DEP has visited the home several times, Giuliani said, but the problem seems to be with an absentee landlord.

The next step, he said, was for the Department of Housing Preservation and Development to intervene since the city has not been able to track down the landlord.

 

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Flushing set to get affordable housing, retail space


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Macedonia Rendering 032212w

A nearly $50 million project will soon bring 143 new units of affordable housing to the Flushing community, as well as additional retail space.

Last week, the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) Commissioner Mathew Wambua, the city’s Housing Development Corporation (HDC) President Marc Jahr, project developer BRP Companies Managing Partner Meredith Marshall, and Macedonia AME Church Senior Pastor Reverend Richard McEachern announced they have closed on $49.6 million in construction financing for the Macedonia Plaza mixed-use development.

Located at 136-50 37th Avenue, Macedonia Plaza will add 143 newly-constructed units of affordable housing. This project, which will be developed by BRP Companies, will transform an underused municipal parking lot into a thriving community hub with affordable low-income apartments, community facility space and economic opportunity through the addition of new retail space.

Macedonia Plaza is part of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s New Housing Marketplace Plan (NHMP). The NHMP is a multi-billion dollar initiative to finance 165,000 units of affordable housing for half a million New Yorkers by the close of Fiscal Year 2014. For every dollar invested by the city, the NHMP has leveraged $3.41 in private funding, amounting to a total commitment to date of more than $19.4 billion to fund the creation or preservation of over 130,700 units of affordable housing across the five boroughs. More than 12,519 units have been financed in Queens.

“Financing the transaction that allows Macedonia Plaza to be built is another important step in fulfilling the Mayor’s New Housing Marketplace Plan’s goal of creating or preserving 165,000 home by the close of the 2014 fiscal year,” said Wambua. “To date we’ve financed the construction or preservation of more than 130,700 homes, and every one of those units represents a family in need. In BRP Companies and Macedonia AME Church we have dedicated partners who are helping to bring affordable, sustainable housing to the Flushing community, and an opportunity for stability to hardworking New York families.”

Macedonia Plaza will be constructed on approximately 30,000 square-feet of the current municipal parking lot, which was conveyed to the developer at a nominal cost to help subsidize the affordability of this development.

When complete, Macedonia Plaza will be 14 stories tall with 143 affordable apartments;113 of the apartments will be available to low-income families earning not more than $48,140 for a family of four. Nearly 30 of the apartments will be available for low-income families earning not more than $31,540 for a family of four. There will be one apartment reserved for the building’s superintendent. The unit distribution will include 27 studios, 58 one‐bedroom apartments, 55 two‐bedroom apartments, and two three‐bedroom apartments. It is anticipated that construction will be complete in the spring of 2014.

The total development cost for the Macedonia Plaza project is $49.6 million. HDC is providing a $26.3 million first mortgage and $9.3 million in tax-exempt bond subsidy through its Low-Income Affordable Marketplace Program (LAMP). HPD is providing $5.1 million in city capital funding and $1.7 million in federal HOME funding. Hudson Housing Capital is providing $1.8 million in tax credit equity, and BRP Companies has allocated $5.4 million for this project.

In additional to the affordable residential component, the Macedonia Plaza development will include approximately 6,287 square-feet of new retail space, and 2,767 square-feet of community space. It will also incorporate green building practices and amenities consistent with the city’s mission to produce affordable, healthy and sustainable housing.

The project site will incorporate air rights from the adjacent Macedonia African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church, which recently celebrated its bicentennial and is one of the oldest houses of worship in Queens.

“I am elated that the construction of affordable housing by the Macedonia AME Church is about to begin,” said Councilmember Peter Koo. “This development will create homes for the most socio-economic disadvantage citizens of Flushing and is a reflection that affordable housing concerns still remain as a fundamental need in our communities.”

 

Residents allege Jamaica building is a ‘nightmare’


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/photos by Michael Pantelidis

Residents of one Jamaica apartment building say they are living in hell, spending their nights shivering and waiting for their homes to “freeze over” before repairs are made.

Numerous tenants of Loval Hall, located at 88-22 Parsons Boulevard, have complained about dangerous and unlivable conditions in their apartments – including leaky roofs, shoddy plumbing and no heat overnight.

“There’s something wrong here – it is a nightmare,” said Amy Anderson, the building’s tenant representative. “Every night, the heat has been off from around midnight to 6 a.m. If the oil tank is empty or very low they don’t fill it and we don’t get heat. If you call the landlord you get a recording machine and no one calls you back. The thing that frightens me most is that nobody seems to care.”

Anderson says tenants receive little to no aid from the landlord, New York Affordable Housing, or superintendent, John Alba.

Naomi Ferdoushi, who lives with her husband and 6-month-old son, says her family has contracted serious illnesses due to the lack of heat.

“The baby wakes up and cries a lot,” said Ferdoushi. “He got a cough, and last week my baby and I both had a fever. He was so sick I had to take him to the emergency room.”

Ferdoushi also says her radiator leaks into the apartment below and that the super threatened he would close the heat for the entire building if she did not turn hers off.

Shameema Ferdousi, who lives directly below Ferdoushi, said the radiator leaks directly onto her daughter’s bed.

“For the past several weeks, water floods into the room all night and soaks the bed when the radiator upstairs is on,” she said.

Proctor Martin, who shares an apartment with his wife, two kids and elderly mother-in-law, says the conditions throughout his home make him fear for his family’s well being.

“I had a front door with a rope instead of a knob for four months. If there was a fire, I don’t know what I would have done,” said Martin, whose family has lived in the building for almost four decades. “There was a leak in the sink for about a year. After they fixed it, the tiles popped up because of the leak. For months, about a third of the floor was covered with tiles and the rest was exposed plywood. You have to go through highways and hell to get [Alba] to do anything.”

Martin says both his door and floor were recently fixed – only because he took the landlord to court and the judge ordered the work be completed.

Sergio Gonzalez, a tenant for 38 years, has had a myriad of difficulties in his apartment, including all his windows being bolted shut – which the landlord was ordered by the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) to correct – and a broken toilet, forcing him to relieve himself in a waste paper basket for eight days.

The building’s sewers were also backed up from February to May of last year, causing feces to frequently flood the alleyway.

Although the problem was eventually resolved with the help of HPD, the department says the super did deny them access to the building multiple times.

Many residents have also expressed concern regarding the building’s ability to sustain a proper evacuation in the event of a fire.

Anderson says she has found emergency fire exits locked, and the fire escapes are old and bent with a significant amount of rust – making them potentially incapable of supporting people during an evacuation.

The landlord received a violation and an order to fix the fire escape from the FDNY on February 2.

According to an HPD spokesperson, Loval Hall currently has 86 open violations, 18 of which were issued this past January. From 2002 to 2011, HPD spent roughly $20,600 to perform emergency repairs on hazardous violations, due to the lack of corrective action by the owner.

HPD’s Housing Litigation Division (HLD) has also been involved in 12 cases in housing court filed against the owner between 2005 and 2011. HLD recently resolved a Comprehensive Case against the landlord, ordering the correction of all outstanding violations, due to the owners’ failure to do so in a timely manner. The case included $20,030 in civil penalties.

Despite the countless complaints by residents, New York Affordable was removed from Public Advocate Bill de Blasio’s worst landlords list in November for trimming the building’s violations down from 144. A spokesperson for de Blasio says the building still requires significant improvements and the history of tenant harassment calls for close attention.

Repeated attempts to contact New York Affordable went unreturned.

Alba says the building has improved dramatically since he became super and that Anderson has been unwilling to work with him to further improve living conditions. Among the recent enhancements the super says he has made is the installation of security cameras, wireless temperature sensors and a new water pump.

“This building, with the violations, was bad,” said Alba. “I told Ms. Anderson to give me six months in the building before you call the Department of Buildings, and she refused to do that. I have not gotten a lot of complaints about the heat either – only from [Anderson]. The boiler is set on winter, so it automatically goes on and off. It is not on manual, but I sleep comfortably.”

Beyond dangers within their apartments, numerous tenants have also expressed fear due to Alba, who they say has physically and verbally assaulted, as well as harassed them.

“He pushed me in front of my wife. I went to ask him about the door knob and he pushed me,” said Martin. “On Christmas, my son and his friend were talking in the hallway and the super said, ‘You better get out of my hallway or watch what I’ll do.’ This guy is acting like a bouncer.”

Martin, an African American, also says the super has directed racial slurs towards him.

Anderson, who has a restraining order against Alba, claims he has threatened, cursed and spit at her.

“He has gone after me, Sergio, the Martins, and has threatened people not to call 3-1-1 or open their mouths,” she said.

Gonzalez also claims the super peeped into his bathroom window – which looks out onto the alleyway – while he was showering and cut his television antenna on the roof.

“It’s a nightmare living here,” said Gonzalez, who has filed six incidents with the NYPD against Alba, including one for petit larceny, one for criminal mischief and four for harassment. “Nobody would want to live so close to this devil. He harasses me 10 to 12 times a day. He verbally harasses me with all the nasty words you can imagine. He has told me he’s going to kill me. One time he made his hand like a gun and shot at me.”

According to Ferdousi, the most frightening feature is the landlord’s attempt to force her from her apartment by claiming she does not pay her rent – which she says she always mails on time.

“I send my rent certified mail with return receipts,” Ferdousi said. “They are doing this to harass me to get me out and raise the rent.”

Currently, three families have harassment cases against Alba and New York Affordable.

Alba, who admits to formerly having a drug problem and serving time in prison for robbery, claims he has never harassed or harmed any tenants.

“Am I aggressive sometimes? Yes,” he said. “When I see people trying to plot against me, yes I’m going to be aggressive. They say I harass them, but they spend all their days calling newspapers and the city departments. They have nothing better to do. There are no problems in here.”

Some residents can attest to Alba’s claim, asserting that the building has improved dramatically during his time in charge.

“I’ve never had a problem with this super,” said Lisa Dickstein. “[Anderson] has lied about the super and she thought I would lie when I have had no problem. He has been doing a great job. [Anderson] comes out of nowhere and complains. I have never had a problem with the heat.”

Anderson, along with other tenants, believes residents who do not speak out against the super are either immigrants who are unaware of the law or scared of him.

“When you have people from other countries who don’t know their rights and they move into a building, if you tell them something and it is not the truth, they have no frame of reference,” said Anderson. “They are lying to the people, and they don’t know any better. Other people are just too afraid to talk.”