NYC Officials on Air Rights | Airbnb’s Recent Move | The Affordability of Queens

April 22nd 2014

(credit: New York Magazine)

  1. Officials ‘air’ their plan differences. Ms. Been’s plan, released in March, was done for her previous employer, the Furman Center for Real Estate & Urban Policy, a joint research center of NYU’s Law School and its Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service. It called for a formulation ‘intended to balance flexibility and fairness, by defining a reasonably large recipient area ... while ensuring that unused development rights are not transferred’ to a neighborhood with a different character. Buyers of air rights would bypass the bureaucratic slog of obtaining a discretionary ‘special permit,’ but would have to build some affordable housing. The proposal could create 66,000 affordable and market-rate units, according to the report. [Crain’s New York Business – 04/20/14]
  2. Will Airbnb’s $21 million olive branch get it legalized in New York? Now Airbnb has changed course and announced that it wants to pay its tax bill - or collect taxes from its hosts and pass them on, more accurately - which they’ve tallied at $21 million a year. Right on cue, hotel owners are changing their tune and insisting that Airbnb not be allowed to pay taxes as a regulated entity, because that would bring them under the umbrella of legality. ‘For them to turn over a law to collect taxes is them just trying to legitimize what we see as an illegal business,’ Geoffrey Mills, chairman of the Hotel Association of New York City, told the New York Post. [New York Magazine – 04/18/14]
  3. The King can no longer afford Queens. Far too often, over the past few years we have read about Brooklyn as a marketable commodity - its aesthetic, lifestyle and twee products coveted and exportable. But the 50th anniversary of the 1964 World’s Fair in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park would seem an appropriate time to reflect on Queens: The Brand. [The New York Times – 04/18/14]
  4. Population growth in dense U.S. cities: short-term correction or long-term trend? Has the housing bubble and bust fundamentally changed where Americans want to live? Today, apartment construction in dense cities is booming, and hyper-urban high-rise neighborhoods have both strong home-price growth and population growth. Furthermore, the most recent Census population estimates tell a striking story of a swing back to big, dense cities. [The Atlantic Cities – 04/15/14]
  5. Under hoof, foot and tire. How about a real ‘Streetscapes’- not about buildings, but the streets themselves? The roadways of New York have long been the subject of turf battles among cars, horses, bikes and pedestrians. But the history of what they’re fighting over is multilayered - literally.Stone Street, in Lower Manhattan, is the first known paved street in New York. References appear to paving there in the 17th century, when it was laid with real cobbles - small stones rounded by water. [The New York Times – 04/18/14]
  6. Atlantic Yards’ B2 completion date pushed back to 2015. Forest City Ratner is pushing back the expected completion date for the prefabricated B2 tower at the firm’s long-delayed Atlantic Yards project. The 22-acre Atlantic Yards site has been a work in progress for 10 years, and is increasingly coming under fire for not yet producing any housing units, the New York Times reported. The project’s modular B2 tower, which kicked off construction in December, was said to be scheduled for completion within 18 months. But now, as that deadline nears, the projected date has been pushed back to late 2015. [The Real Deal Magazine – 04/21/14]
  7. More homeowners no longer need to be in foreclosure, and they may not even know it. An increasingly larger share of homes in the foreclosure process have positive equity. This baffling tidbit from RealtyTrac turns on its head the most common reason behind foreclosures in recent years.  When the housing market soured and home prices plunged, many people ended up ‘underwater’ - meaning they owed more on their mortgages than their homes were worth and therefore could not refinance or sell their properties if they faced financial difficulties. [The Washington Post – 04/18/14]
  8. After foreclosure crisis, renters suffer under Wall Street landlords. The poster child for the foreclosure crisis has been a middle-income suburban family. But low-income urban renters also saw their buildings over-mortgaged at the height of the crisis, and now faceless hedge funds and nameless investors are replacing their desperate landlords - sometimes with disastrous consequences. Six years after the foreclosure crisis helped tank the world’s economy, investors are snatching up ‘distressed’ properties - those that are in foreclosure or facing foreclosure - and seeking to turn a profit on them. Advocates for affordable housing worry that this profit comes at the expense of tenants [Aljazeera America – 04/20/14]
  9. A cautionary tale for cities that want their own High Line. The 28.5-kilometer Hofplein railway was completed in 1908. It carried trains for a century, but its tracks have been unused since 2010. Though the Dutch railway operator Nederlandse Spoorwegen (NS) still owns the roof and the rails, the arches themselves were sold to four housing corporations that were looking for a good investment. But, in part because of the complexities of the dual ownership, maintenance of the viaduct slipped. So in 2006, the same year construction on New York’s High Line park broke ground, the four housing corporations asked a group called Crimson Architectural Historians to transform the Hofbogen from a unused rail bridge into a public space that the city could be proud of. [Next City – 04/21/14]
  10. Take a closer look at P.S. 109’s new subsidized artist housing. As the scaffolding at East Harlem’s P.S. 109 is peeled down, the retrofitted school comes even closer to its second life as affordable housing for artists. Purchased by Minnesota-based Artspace in 2012 for $1 and co-developed by Operation Fightback, the building has undergone a $52.2 million makeoverin part funded by $24 million in federal low-income housing tax credits, the Journal reports. The building will provide 90 apartments for artists, with at least half of the units reserved for inhabitants of East Harlem. Residents who are placed by the Department of Housing, Preservation & Development must demonstrate a commitment to art and living in an artistic community. Once chosen, residents can live in the subsidized housing in perpetuity. [Curbed NY – 04/18/14]
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