The Daily Dirt: Arrested development in Two Bridges

An analysis of New York's top real estate news

New York /
Jun.June 25, 2020 07:00 PM
Justices Ellen Gesmer and Anil Singh with a Two Bridges Rendering (NY Courts)

Justices Ellen Gesmer and Anil Singh with a Two Bridges Rendering (NY Courts)

Four towers are planned for Two Bridges. A judge has ruled against the developers in two lawsuits. But an appeals court Thursday delivered them a glimmer of hope.

Just to give you a quick recap: JDS Development Group, L+M Development Partners, CIM Group and Starrett Development are planning three projects with a combined 2,775 rental units. After the City Planning Commission approved the projects as compliant with zoning, the City Council and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer filed a lawsuit asserting they are not.

The city officials believe the projects should have gone through the months-long Uniform Land Use Review Procedure. A state Supreme Court judge ruled in their favor. That same judge also handed a victory to neighborhood groups that filed a similar complaint.

On Thursday, two appellate court justices didn’t seem to buy into arguments for forcing the towers to go through public review. One said lawmakers could have rezoned the area if it wanted to forbid towers.

“Shouldn’t the City Council have amended the zoning resolutions years and years ago?” Justices Anil Singh asked the attorney representing the City Council and borough president. “You are going through all sorts of hoops to say that a review is necessary.”

The city’s land-use review process has been suspended since March, freezing projects that depend on it. But zoning nerds have had plenty to discuss. Earlier this month, a hearing was held on the nullified rezoning of Inwood. In that case, some of the judges seemed amenable to the argument that Ulurp doesn’t include a robust analysis of the socio-economic effects of rezonings — a bad sign for builders.

Sorry, lenders. You can’t foreclose on New York properties.

New York Chief Administrative Judge Lawrence Marks issued new guidance on Thursday, which — surprise! — conflicts with a previous order by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

According to the order, no foreclosures can proceed for the time being unless the property is empty or abandoned. The memo also encourages lenders to drop pending cases, Georgia Kromrei reports.

“No motions other than to discontinue a pending case shall be entertained or decided,” Marks wrote. “No judgment of foreclosure may issue for any matter other than one addressing vacant and abandoned property.”

The guidance is a departure from Cuomo’s May 7 order, which extended and limited the previous eviction moratorium and blocked the “initiation of a proceeding or enforcement of … a foreclosure of any residential or commercial mortgage” if the distress was related to the coronavirus. So, foreclosures unrelated to the virus could feasibly proceed.

The new guidance comes after Marks issued similar rules on evictions, which also differed from the governor’s order.

What we’re thinking about: Are you ready for phase three of reopening? Send a note to [email protected].

CLOSING TIME

Residential: The priciest residential closing recorded Thursday was for a condo unit at 10 Riverside Boulevard in Lincoln Square, at $3.66 million.

Commercial: The most expensive commercial closing of the day was for a retail unit at 100 Willoughby Street in Downtown Brooklyn, at $9 million.

BREAKING GROUND

The largest new building filing of the day was for a 195,168-square-foot mixed use building at 111 Willoughby Street in Downtown Brooklyn. Kristina Vagen of Michaels Development filed the permit application.

NEW TO THE MARKET

The priciest residential listing to hit the market was for a penthouse condo at 456 West 19th Street in Chelsea, at $12.5 million. Compass has the listing.

— Research by Orion Jones

A thing we’ve learned…

Luxury retailer Valentino’s landlord on Fifth Avenue is a French billionaire who used to own a 20 percent stake in Fitch Ratings, which led to the ratings agency getting fined more than 5 million euro for conflicts of interest, according to the Financial Times. Through a holding company, billionaire Marc Ladreit de Lacharrière purchased 693 Fifth Avenue from Thor Equities in 2016. Valentino is suing the holding company to terminate its lease. Thank you to Kevin Sun, who provided this context

Elsewhere in New York

— Less than two weeks ago, President Donald Trump and Attorney General William Barr learned that Jay Clayton, chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, was interested in a new gig: U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York. Politico reports that within hours of this revelation, Barr moved to fire Geoffrey Berman, who was hired by Trump after the president fired Preet Bharara.

— New York waterpark owners are miffed that they don’t have a clear timeline for reopening, the New York Post reports. New Jersey and Connecticut parks are open for business. That includes Mountain Creek Waterpark, which is featured prominently in this story and is where I spent one terrible summer in high school as a lifeguard. I wasn’t strong enough to push guests down “High Anxiety,” and people on line got really angry with me. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

— The MTA is renaming two Brooklyn subway stations to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Medgar Evers College and honor the civil rights activist, Gothamist reports. The Franklin Avenue and President Street subway stations in Crown Heights will respectively go by Franklin Avenue-Medgar Evers College station and President Street-Medgar Evers College station.


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