Tenants Fight Harassment | Penn Station Politics | Distressed Buildings to be Rehabbed

June 28th 2013

Protesters invade neighborhood of Bronx Landlord Chestnut Holdings

  1. Housing violations not the issue in beef with landlord. Protesting landlords is not unusual in the Bronx. Usually, the main cause can be seen on the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) website listing violations at every apartment building in the city. But last Saturday’s protest by 50 tenants and 25 supporters, who took two buses to the Riverdale home of landlord Jonathan Wiener, head of Chestnut Holdings, focused on what tenants said are less visible housing problems. Those allegedly include billing tenants for washing machine and air conditioner fees beyond the time that’s legally permitted, inappropriate billing for major capital improvements and threatening to jeopardize residents’ immigration status if they attend tenant meetings. [Bronx Bureau – 06/24/13]
  2. Luxe builders chase dreams of property tax exemptions. Credit our plutocrats and the real estate developers who adore them with this: No financial advantage is too small for them to pursue. The latest evidence that our developers scour sidewalks for pennies might be found at the 90-story ziggurat known as One57, with his-and-her bathrooms, super deep freeze, titanium-reinforced views that reach to the Arctic, or at least Putnam County. The Extell Development Company recently sold a 14,000-square-foot penthouse (but does it have enough closets?) to a hedge-fund billionaire for $90 million. Bargain flats are still to be found at $18 million. [New York Times – 06/24/13]
  3. It’s about to get much easier to dig up your apartment’s deep, dark secrets. For the wealth of information available on rental sites like Craigslist, or real-estate platforms like Trulia, there’s a certain category of crucial information that you just can’t get from charming property write-ups, sunlit photos, or even walk-throughs. Namely, all the bad stuff: code violations against the landlord for broken plumbing or faulty heat, noise complaints, that nagging history of chemical contamination. [The Atlantic Cities – 06/25/13]
  4. What should the next mayor do about homelessness? Homelessness policy has dogged the last four mayors of New York City. David Dinkens criticized Ed Koch’s approach, but Dinkins scaled back his promises once he took office. Rudy Giuliani engaged in a pitched battle with homeless advocates over proposed, draconian shelter policies. Mike Bloomberg targeted a massive reduction in homelessness but the numbers have climbed dramatically during his tenure. [City Limits – 06/26/13]
  5. Rebuilding Penn Station becomes issue in mayor’s race. It is hard to describe Pennsylvania Station, the nation’s busiest transit hub, as anything but a cramped rat’s nest, disorienting for the 600,000 passengers who pass through it every day and unworthy of a city that views itself as the international capital of finance and media. But for the first time since the demolition of the station’s original neo-Classical-style building to make way for Madison Square Garden a half-century ago, the seemingly starry-eyed notion of rebuilding Penn Station has landed in the middle of a mayoral race. [New York Times – 06/26/13]
  6. Critics say Chicago shouldn’t aid DePaul arena with schools closing. Public investment in sports arenas is common urban strategy often sold to taxpayers as an economic investment that will spur so much growth that they will ultimately pay for themselves. (New Yorkers, think Barclays Center.) In May, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the DePaul University announced a proposal for a 10,000 seat, $173 million arena near McCormick Place, a convention center that runs along the lakefront south of downtown Chicago. The unveiling of the plan, which came six days before the Board of Education voted to close 50 public schools because of a $1 billion deficit and underutilization issues, has troubled some. [New York Times – 06/23/13]
  7. 4 distressed Bronx buildings to get $28.6M in rehab. Four distressed Bronx buildings will be undergoing long-overdue renovations, thanks to a financing deal the city brokered with the buildings’ new owner, Workforce Housing Advisors. The buildings, located at 2239, 2241, 2323 and 2333 Creston Ave. in the University Heights section of the Bronx, were all in the city’s Alternative Enforcement Program, which targets 200 especially distressed buildings every year. [Crain’s New York – 06/26/13]
  8. Low-income rental market contracts. Low-income renters are facing increasingly difficult prospects when looking for housing because more people are falling into poverty, and budget woes are cutting into the supply of government-subsidized housing, according to a Harvard study released Wednesday. [Wall Street Journal – 06/26/13]
  9. Residents get preview of Sheridan Expressway overhaul plan. It took two years, five city agencies, 50 stakeholder meetings and a $1.5 million federal grant, but finally the city is set to unveil a sweeping plan to reshape a flawed highway network in the heart of The Bronx. [DNA Info – 06/27/13]
  10. Our awkward housing recovery. By several metrics, 2012 looks like the year when America’s housing recovery finally got well under way. Last year, existing home sales took off at their fastest pace since 2007. New home sales grew by 20 percent from their historic low in 2011. By April of this year, home prices were up year-over-year in just about every corner of the country. Things had improved in the previous 12 months in all but two states, and in 94 of the 100 metro areas tracked by the analytics firm CoreLogic. [The Atlantic Cities – 06/26/13]
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