Republicans maintain majority in state Senate
Republicans maintained their majority in the New York State Senate, raising hopes in the real estate industry that the expired 421a tax break will be resurrected and rent-control legislation loosened, the Commercial Observer reported. Republicans, especially representatives from Upstate New York and the suburbs, are seen as more friendly toward real estate interests, whereas Democrats often vote in favor of rent-stabilized tenants. The Real Estate Board of New York, which disclosure filings show spent $664,000 on four Republican state Senate campaigns, hailed the victory. George Arzt, a Democratic political consultant, told the Commercial Observer that “the real estate industry has long been the bankers of the Republican majority in the Senate. In turn, the Republicans have long protected the real estate industry against what [it] believes are noxious bills.”
NY attorney general sues landlords for tenant harassment
State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman filed a lawsuit against Marolda Properties and a group of building owners for allegedly using harassment to illegally force tenants out of rent-regulated apartments, the New York Daily News reported. Marolda officials allegedly served notices to tenants in Chinatown and the Lower East Side, claiming that they had primary residences elsewhere and refused to renew their leases, as required by law. Schneiderman also claimed that Marolda failed to make necessary repairs. “Unfortunately, some landlords believe they can get away with using these tactics to coerce tenants out of their apartments so they can then raise the rent,” he said.
City refuses to rezone Williamsburg waterfront site
In a blow to a large Brooklyn industrial owner, the de Blasio administration will not rezone a prime industrial waterfront parcel in Williamsburg for housing, Crain’s New York Business reported. Owner Consolidated Edison listed the 2.65-acre site, at 500 Kent Avenue, for sale in October. Though the site is zoned for manufacturing and located within the Brooklyn Navy Yard’s Industrial Business Zone, ConEd neglected to mention the zoning in the request for proposals it issued in the spring, and also played up the site’s location close to several high-end residential developments, including the Domino Sugar factory project. “That is what sent up the red signals for us,” Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams told Crain’s. “We are telling [ConEd] to manage expectations for potential bidders by making it clear that this site is going to stay industrial.” Last year, Alicia Glen, the deputy mayor for housing and economic development, announced that the city would not support residential rezonings in Industrial Business Zones.
‘Areas of concern’ cropping up in NYC economic data
New York City’s economy showed hints of potential softening, according to a third-quarter economic update released by the office of the City Comptroller. The “areas of concern,” in the words of Comptroller Scott Stringer, included an uptick in unemployment to 5.5 percent, from 5.2 percent in the previous quarter, a drop of 1,100 jobs in high-wage industries, and a personal income tax take that was nearly stagnant, up only 0.6 percent on the year. Nevertheless, the city’s economy continued to expand, at a rate of 2.6 percent in the third quarter. “Is this a reason for alarm now? No,” Stringer said in a statement. “But if some of these trends continue next quarter or farther down the road, should we be concerned? Probably.”