The Daily Dirt: Mayoral candidate targets real estate industry

An analysis of New York's top real estate news

Jan.January 30, 2020 12:29 PM
Scott Stringer (Credit: Getty Images)

Scott Stringer (Credit: Getty Images)

Mayoral hopeful Scott Stringer unveiled his housing plan. Many developers won’t like it.

The city comptroller laid out his housing priorities Wednesday. They include requiring affordable housing in a much larger swath of projects. Specifically, he said he would demand projects with 10 units or more to set aside 25 percent of the apartments as affordable. On average, those dwellings would have to be within the price range of households earning 60 percent of the area median income.

And though he wouldn’t have the authority to enact it, he called for an end to the tax break formerly known as 421a (now Affordable New York). Such a change — which housing advocates are seeking this year — would fall to the state legislature.

“We need to fundamentally change the bargain between the city and the real estate industry,” Stringer said. “We can’t keep spending billions and billions getting so little affordability in return.”

The industry is already sounding off on the proposals.

“Collectively, it shows a shockingly shallow grasp of housing policy for someone who has been in office for as long as he has,” a representative for a major developer said. “I think it came as a surprise to a lot of folks. He’s been moving to the left pretty dramatically in preparation for the primary.”

The mayor’s office indicated that it’s not within the city’s legal authority to establish such affordability requirements.

The real estate industry doesn’t seem to have a champion among Democratic mayoral hopefuls. Stringer and Corey Johnson have sworn off donations from the industry. Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., who was accepting such donations, announced this week that he will not run for mayor and will leave politics when his term expires in two years. And Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams has been sounding the alarm about gentrification.

Despite the new rent law, New York Community Bank is still focused on financing multifamily buys.

During its fourth quarter earnings call, bank officials dismissed reports that property values were in a downward spiral, Georgia Kromrei reports.

“We have been six months under new rent regulations. To date we are not seeing any negative asset-quality trends,” Joseph Ficalora, CEO of New York Community Bank, said on the Wednesday call. “Fifty percent or $18.7 billion of our total multifamily portfolio is subject to the Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act. The average loan-to-value ratio is 53 percent.”

Decreases in the value of rent-regulated properties, he said, “do not impact one iota our ability to loan.” ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Still, Ficalora noted that wealthier owners are opting to keep units vacant, in hopes of combining units and setting a new first rent.

What we’re thinking about: Who will buy JPMorgan Asset Management’s 125 West 55th Street? Send a note to [email protected].


Residential: The priciest residential closing recorded Wednesday was for a condo unit at 443 Greenwich Street in Tribeca, at $14.7 million.

Commercial: The most expensive commercial closing of the day was for an apartment building at 227 East 59th Street in Lenox Hill, at $17.5 million.


The largest new building filing of the day was for a 24,500-square-foot residential building at 508 Graham Avenue in Greenpoint. Cheskie Weisz filed the permit application.


The priciest residential listing to hit the market was for a townhouse at 325 East 18th Street in Gramercy Park, at $4.5 million. Halstead Real Estate’s Ari Harkov has the listing. — Research by Mary Diduch

A thing we’ve learned…

WeWork’s Maureen Ehrenberg is on the New York State Teachers’ Retirement System’s real estate advisory committee. Thank you to Georgia Kromrei, who provided this tidbit.

Elsewhere in New York

— Rafael Espinal Jr.’s sudden resignation may be just the first of many early exits from the New York City Council, Politico New York reports. Members who are at the end of their second terms are likely going to be tempted to jump ship early.

— A red-tailed hawk was rescued from the U.S. attorney’s office for the Eastern District building, Gothamist reports. The raptor had apparently flown into the side of the building but was also afflicted with lead poisoning.

— In other animal-related news, a coyote was spotted in Central Park, the New York Post reports. It spawned a series of Looney Tunes-themed warnings from the NYPD.

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