Government briefs

Jul.July 01, 2012 07:00 AM

Aqueduct Convention Center plan falls through

Aqueduct race track

Plans for Genting to build a $4 billion convention center and casino in Queens have fallen through, Governor Andrew Cuomo said last month. Genting, a Malaysian company that opened a gaming “racino” at the Aqueduct racetrack in October, had planned a 3.8 million-square-foot facility in Queens to replace Manhattan’s Jacob K. Javits Center. Cuomo said he’s discussing plans for a convention center and casino with other companies, however. Next year, the state legislature will send voters a constitutional amendment that would allow Las Vegas–style casinos in New York.


Freddie Mac: Mortgage rates hit record low

The average interest rates on 15- and 30-year fixed mortgages hit record lows last month. The average interest rate on a 15-year mortgage fell below 3 percent, to 2.97, for the first time ever, while the average rate for a 30-year loan dropped to 3.75 percent, hitting its lowest point since the long-term mortgages were instituted in the 1950s. In part because of these low rates, refinancing now accounts for some 78 percent of residential mortgage activity, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.


Zoning changes for DoBro to “rationalize” parking

Marty Markowitz

The city’s Department of City Planning has proposed zoning changes that would reduce the number of parking spots required for new Downtown Brooklyn residential buildings in an effort “to better reflect actual parking demand,” Crain’s reported. Last month, the city sent the proposed amendment to Brooklyn Community Board 2 and Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz for review. Developers are currently required to build four parking spaces for every 10 residential units, which has driven up costs and caused a surplus of parking spaces in many buildings, according to Crain’s. City Planning proposed requiring only two parking spots for every 10 units and eliminating parking minimums in buildings that include affordable housing. The public would also be able to park in unused residential parking garages on an hourly or daily basis, rather than just weekly or monthly. “Our goal is to rationalize parking requirements for Downtown Brooklyn,” commissioner Amanda Burden said. The city has said that it is also considering changes for other neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens.


City begins online lottery for affordable housing

Richmond Place

The city for the first time last month began allowing residents to submit applications for affordable housing online, the New York Times reported. Would-be residents seeking to live in two new developments — the Westwind Houses at 45 East 131st Street in East Harlem and Richmond Place in Queens — can now submit applications via a new website: The site will expand this fall to include all new affordable housing development projects in the city. The city currently receives about 160,000 applications each year for about 4,000 affordable units, which usually sell or rent at below-market rates. Applicants, who must meet certain income requirements to qualify, are selected via lottery. Until now, applicants have had to complete a paper application and mail it to the developer of each building they were interested in applying for. With the new system, however, users can use the same application to enter multiple lotteries.  But for now at least, paper applications will still be accepted.

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