The Daily Dirt: De Blasio wades into Gowanus fight

An analysis of New York's top real estate news

New York /
Mar.March 17, 2021 09:05 PM

In a fight over city rules, it helps to have the mayor on your side.

On Saturday, as many of us were consumed by state budget and Cuomo-related news, Mayor Bill de Blasio signed an executive order that explicitly addressed an issue at the heart of a lawsuit blocking the Gowanus rezoning.

The order suspended certain city rules that require community boards to hold meetings at a “place of convenient public assembly.” It also stated that proceedings held as part of the city’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure could be held remotely.

Attorneys for the city have argued that previous emergency orders suspending the in-person requirement of the state’s Open Meetings Law already covered Ulurp. A coalition of community groups disagreed.

Now that the mayor has issued an order that explicitly suspends the city rule cited by the coalition, attorneys are asking a state judge to dismiss the lawsuit.

The application to rezone Gowanus has been stalled since January. Brooklyn Supreme Court Judge Katherine Levine has indicated that she doesn’t want to keep the application out of Ulurp indefinitely, though she has sympathized with arguments that Zoom and remote hearings aren’t universally accessible. It remains to be seen if the mayor’s executive order will put her over the edge.

Jason Zakai, an attorney for plaintiff Voice of Gowanus, issued a statement calling the executive order “an obvious and desperate attempt to bypass the judicial process.” He indicated that he plans to file a response to the city’s call for dismissal.

The Beekman Tower is now valued at $80 million.

That’s a 45 percent cut from 2018, when it was appraised at $146 million, Kevin Sun reports.

It has been a rough year for the 178-unit complex. In 2020, its net operating income reached $1.6 million, which represents less than half of the $3.9 million generated in 2019. Last June, a $63 million refi loan was transferred to special servicing, due to “imminent default.” After the owners and the CMBS lender reached a new repayment agreement, the landmark tower exited special servicing.

Trepp analysts expect the value of the building to reach only $93 million in 2023, which seems to point to a long road to recovery.

What we’re thinking about: Are you looking forward to Hulu’s WeWork documentary? Are you sick of WeWork? What should I watch instead? I’m still going to watch the WeWork doc, but send a note to [email protected].

CLOSING TIME

Residential: The priciest residential closing recorded Wednesday was a condo at 118 Greene Street in Soho at $8 million.

Commercial: The most expensive commercial closing of the day was a retail building at 4910 Broadway in Inwood at $10.5 million.

BREAKING GROUND

The largest new building filing of the day was a 9,900-square-foot residential building at 5-22 49th Avenue in Hunters Point. Amir Zicherman of Oren and Ivy LLC filed the permit application.

NEW TO THE MARKET

The priciest residence to hit the market was a townhouse at 334 West 20th Street in Chelsea at $25 million. Compass has the listing.

—Research by Orion Jones

A thing we’ve learned…

The Department of Buildings on Friday is launching a pilot program to conduct video inspections for certain types of reviews. Owners can opt into the program, which will apply to final inspections in Staten Island and the repeal of stop-work orders issued for construction done without a permit in Brooklyn. More information on the program and how to apply can be found in the DOB’s March 12 service notice.

Elsewhere in New York

— Walmart heiress Alice Walton, the world’s richest woman, donated $800,000 to New Yorkers for a Balanced Albany in September, marking her first contribution to an NYC election, Gothamist reports. The super PAC is supporting John Sanchez, who is running in a special election for the City Council seat in the 15th District.

— The lawyer representing Charlotte Bennett, one Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s former staffers who has accused him of sexual harassment, claims the law firm selected to aid in the state Assembly’s impeachment investigation presents an “unacceptable conflict of interest,” Politico New York reports. Attorney Debra Katz said that the law firm, Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP, has ties to the Cuomo administration.

— Council member Jimmy Van Bramer, who is running for Queens Borough President, believes that he contracted Covid-19 while petitioning for signatures in Sunnyside, Jackson Heights and Forest Hills, the Sunnyside Post reports. Van Bramer blamed the governor for declining to suspend petitioning requirements.


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