Tag Archives: Department of Housing Preservation and Development

Astoria tenants deal with patchwork repairs, possible eviction for complaints


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

Some residents of one rent-stabilized Astoria apartment building say they are tired of having to fight for what should be their basic rights as tenants.

Sally Aponte has been living at 28-28 35th St. since 1995 and said she started having issues with the building’s landlord, Peter Hiotis of P & T Management CO LLC, when it came to getting repairs completed within her apartment.

At first, Aponte decided to verbally ask her landlord for help with regard to these repairs, such as fixing a kitchen stove or repairing broken bathroom tiles, but after receiving what she calls “patchwork repairs,” she decided to finally file a formal complaint to 311 in 2007.

“He tends to always blame the tenants whenever you ask for repairs and I think he uses that to discourage you to ask for repairs,” Aponte said.

During this time, an attorney for the landlord also sent Aponte a letter advising her that if she made any further complaints, Hiotis would have to pursue eviction because she was allegedly violating the “rent stabilization code.”

Aponte added that the stove was fixed because Hiotis was fined by the FDNY but the rest of the problems in her home remained ignored until an inspector from the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) went to the home.

The inspector found nine violations within the home, such as exposed and sparking electrical wiring, defective and broken plastered surfaces on walls and ceilings, and a defective smoke detector.

And although some of the repairs have since been completed, albeit improperly, Aponte is facing eviction.

According to court documents, Aponte is facing eviction because she is being accused of withholding rent, harassing other tenants, and defacing vehicles of her landlord and other tenants. However, Aponte says she has evidence proving all those accusations as false and believes the eviction comes as a form of retaliation for reporting past and present neglected repairs.

“I didn’t do anything except stand up for my rights but here we have a landlord who is clearly abusing his tenant landlord rights and unfortunately I have to go through this process before I can claim my innocence and that’s unfair,” Aponte said.

Christie Agioutanti, who has been living at 28-28 35th St. for over 25 years, said her issues began in 2013 when she reached out to get her stove repaired. She says she had to go four months without a stove until she got a new one.

The following year she dealt with a broken refrigerator and after going through weeks of problems, Agioutanti became fed up and decided to take Hiotis to court with 28 outstanding repairs.

After an HPD inspector went to the home, they found 20 of those needed repairs to be violations, including a massive hole in her bathroom ceiling that had been covered by a drop ceiling.

Photo by Christie Agioutanti

Fixing this hole, pictured in 2014, was one of the repairs the court ruled Peter Hiotis had to complete in Christie Agioutanti’s home. (Photo by Christie Agioutanti)

Photos of the hole show deteriorating wooden beams and exposed water pipes. Agioutanti added that when the hole was fixed by an unlicensed contractor, it was patched up by layers of sheetrock and plaster and painted over.

A licensed carpenter, who asked to remain unnamed, was approached by The Courier with photos of the hole and the repair process. He said that although the sheetrock covers the issue, it does not solve it. He added that if the repairs are not completed from within the structure of the building, for example by repairing pipes or beams, then it would be just a matter of time before the damage would occur again.

Some of the violations that the HPD identified in Agioutanti’s apartment have yet to be repaired or have not been completed in a satisfactory manner, and she said that if she doesn’t not hear back from Hiotis’ lawyer, she will be forced to return to court.

Other issues throughout the building include a broken intercom system, and a super who asks to not be bothered past his work hours, according to the tenants.

Both Aponte and Agioutanti also add that other tenants are facing the same issues within the building but are afraid of speaking out because they fear facing eviction. They hope telling their stories will help other tenants come out of the shadows.

“He wants us tenants to live in the darkness,” Agioutanti said. “If you don’t know your rights, you can’t claim them.”

Hiotis declined to comment pending litigation.

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City Council approves tax breaks for fully affordable Edgemere housing project


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Rendering courtesy of Curtis + Ginsberg Architects LLP

The City Council approved Wednesday a Housing Preservation and Development Department grant for a 40-year property tax exemption that will allow the construction of a fully affordable 101-unit planned project in Edgemere.

The project, called Beach Green North, will be located on vacant land at 45-05 Rockaway Beach Blvd., and will be 100 percent affordable thanks in part to the tax break. It is being co-developed by Bluestone Organization in conjunction with L+M Development Partners and Triangle Equities.

The planned seven-story building will have more than 93,000 square feet of living space and about 500 square feet for commercial space, according to filings with the Buildings Department. There will also be a total of 35 parking spaces in the building, which was designed by Curtis + Ginsberg Architects and GDSNY.

Half of the building’s units will be for families making 60 percent or less of the area median income, according to reports. Developers are hoping to break ground on the project in the summer.

Beach Green North will be built with the use of bioswales and pervious asphalt to maximize stormwater retention, which will help prevent sewer system overflows. The building will also make use of energy-saving features and amenities to enhance resiliency against big storms, such as Sandy, which devastated the Rockaways.

Councilman Donovan Richards was pleased with those features of the project in addition to its affordability.

Beach Green North

“This plot of land has been left desolate for decades, but it will now feature housing that offers greater comfort for occupants and an enhanced level of survivability in case another catastrophic storm hits the peninsula again in the future,” Richards said. “This is a great victory for a community of working-class New Yorkers and as further developments come to fruition, I will continue to fight to ensure that the Rockaways remain a place for working families to live, work and thrive.”

The project will be the first development on vacant Edgemere beachfront property.

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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.”

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208-unit affordable housing and retail project selected for Flushing parking lot


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Rendering courtesy of Bernheimer Architecture

The Housing Preservation and Development Department (HPD) announced the winning project Tuesday for a development on a Flushing municipal lot at 133-45 41st Ave. near Main Street.

A project called One Flushing from a team comprised of Brooklyn-based Monadnock Development, nonprofit Asian Americans for Equality and Hanac Inc., was selected following a request for proposals. The project will have 208 affordable housing units and community and retail space.

It is part of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s initiative to create and preserve 200,000 units of affordable housing in 10 years.

The apartments will be available to individuals earning between $24,200 to $72,600 annually and $34,520 to $103,560 annually for a family of four. Housing in the building will be divided between 60 apartments reserved for senior citizens and 147 for low- and moderate-income households. There is also one unit for a superintendent.

“The One Flushing development plan is an example of a dynamic proposal that encompasses affordable housing, supportive senior housing, and services for the community as a whole,” HPD Commissioner Vicki Been said. “I look forward to seeing this development take shape and will be thrilled to welcome future residents to their new homes.”

Amenities will include a gym, a community room, laundry rooms, a 15,000-square-foot second-floor terrace and a green roof.

The Bernheimer Architecture-designed building will have large windows that are reinforced to reduce noise from the LIRR station behind the property. And it will have eco-friendly features such as solar panels on the roof.

The current parking lot on the site has 156 parking spaces on 43,200 square feet. When complete, the project will have more than the current amount of parking spots, according to HPD.

One Flushing Rendering

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New residential and commercial building coming to Edgemere 


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Map via Google 

The Department of Housing Preservation and Development filed applications with the Buildings Department to construct an eight-story, 101-unit mixed-use residential and commercial building on a vacant lot in Edgemere.

The project will dedicate 93,491 square feet to living space and nearly 500 square feet of commercial space.

There will be a total of 35 parking spaces at the residence, which will be designed by Curtis + Ginsberg Architects and located at 45-05 Rockaway Beach Blvd.

Renderings of the project, called Edgemere West, can be found on the architect’s website.

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City accepting proposals to develop NYPD parking garage in downtown Jamaica


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Christopher Bride/PropertyShark 

Even more development is coming to Jamaica—this time on the site of a police department parking garage.

Not long after Mayor Bill de Blasio’s pledge to focus on creating more housing with his State of the City address, the NYC Economic Development Corporation (EDC) officially announced a request for proposals to develop hundreds of market rate and affordable units out of an NYPD parking garage in downtown Jamaica.

The 59,500-square-foot site at 93rd Avenue and 169th Street could also include ground-floor retail, according to the EDC, which set an April 30 deadline for developers to submit plans for the lot. Of course the project is consistent with de Blasio’s goal to build and preserve 200,000 affordable housing units in 10 years.

The two-story garage is currently used by cops, and will have to be entirely demolished to construct the new project, according to the EDC. But it’s a price the city is willing to pay for more housing.

“The 168th Street garage site holds powerful potential to serve the Jamaica neighborhood with affordable housing and other amenities, while building upon the area’s strengths as a commercial, cultural and transit hub,” said EDC President Kyle Kimball.

Police vehicles will have to be “accommodated” in order to redevelop the site, the EDC said.

Photo courtesy of NYCEDC

Photo courtesy of NYCEDC

The development could create 400 construction jobs and 80 permanent jobs, the EDC said, and would add another project to the dizzying amount of construction coming to Jamaica near the downtown spurred by under-utilized lots, cheap land prices, high traffic and access to a massive transportation hub.

This includes Greater Jamaica Development Corporation (GJDC) giving its twin parking lots near 90th Avenue and 168th Street to Blumenfeld Development Group for a jumbo mixed-use residential and commercial project, with more than 265,000 square feet of space.

The GJDC is also working on a $225 million, 29-story residential and commercial tower across from the AirTrain and LIRR station on Sutphin Boulevard.

Not far away on Sutphin Boulevard, Able Management Group is constructing a 210-key hotel, and nearby York College has 3.5 acres of on-campus land that could be home to new companies that want to move into the area to partner with the institution through Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s START-UP NY tax-break program.

TCX Development’s seven-story luxury rental building on Hillside Avenue is nearing completion, and some major properties have also hit the market or were recently sold, including a $22 million sale of a huge garage and commercial strip at 163-05 and 163-25 Archer Ave. There are already plans to develop the property into a housing and retail mix, according to a published report.

Also, the Jamaica Colosseum Mall, which was formerly a Macy’s department store, also hit the market for an astounding $45 million.

And finally, the Department of Housing Preservation and Development recently announced that it is accepting plans from developers for 17 vacant city-owned sites in Jamaica to create more affordable housing.

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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.

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17 city-owned sites in Jamaica identified for new affordable housing


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Christopher Bride/PropertyShark, Map courtesy of Google

In the de Blasio Administration’s latest effort to make a dent in the city’s housing crisis, the Department of Housing Preservation and Development is calling on developers to build housing on about 175 sites across the city.

The agency released a list of vacant, city-owned properties for the construction of affordable housing across the five boroughs last week, including 17 sites in Jamaica, which are the only Queens locations.

The agency is collecting applications from developers until Feb. 19 for the program.

The city is even offering financing through its Neighborhood Construction and New Infill Homeownership Opportunities programs, but it comes with the requirement that at least one of every three units must be affordable or up to 80 percent of Area Median Income. That’s no more than $67,120 in annual income for a family of four.

This effort seems to be part of Mayor de Blasio’s plan to create and preserve 200,000 units of affordable housing over 10 years.

The single largest lot in the program is at 108-59 Union Hall St., which has 8,830 square feet. But if combined with adjoining vacant lots at 108-41, 43, 49, and 51 there is about 20,800 square feet of space.

Take a look at the map below to see where the Jamaica properties are, and click here for the full city-wide list.

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Queens developer forced to pay $100K for tax break violation: AG


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

63-36 99th St. (center)

The developer of a Rego Park building was forced to pay a combined $100,000 in restitution and back wages after ignoring legal obligations for receiving tax benefits, according to Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

The state settled with Tuhsur Development LLC after the firm violated mandates of the 421-a program, which offers tax incentives from the city when constructing buildings.

In exchange for benefits under 421-a, landlords and developers must add properties to the rent regulation system, and building workers must receive prevailing wages.

However, Tuhsur neglected to pay prevailing wages to workers at 63-36 99th St. in Rego Park. The firm was forced to pay nearly $10,000 in back wages to three building service workers and $90,000 in restitution to the city.

“Tax breaks offered to developers and landlords are not freebies,” Schneiderman said. “They come with legal obligations to New York taxpayers — ones that developers and landlords agree to abide by when they accept the tax incentives.”

In addition, B&S Management LLC, which owns 138-06 35th Ave. in Flushing, failed to register units in the building under the state’s rent regulation registry. It will provide rent regulated leases to eight families and was forced to pay $10,000 in restitution to the city.

The money collected in restitution from the firms will be used by the Department of Housing Preservation and Development to develop homes for low-income families.

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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.”