Mayor pushes new building rules to protect against future disasters like Sandy
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg wants to toughen the city’s building code so that both commercial and residential properties can withstand natural disasters like Hurricane Sandy better, the New York Times reported. The stricter regulations, which must be approved by the City Council, would apply primarily to new construction, major renovations, existing multi-family dwellings and buildings that provide essential services such as hospitals. The Real Estate Board of New York supports the overhaul but points out the changes could be costly. Bloomberg also has proposed an ambitious plan to fortify the city’s infrastructure and 520 miles of coast against powerful storm surges and rising sea levels. The initial phase, estimated at $20 billion, calls for elaborate ocean barriers such as floodwalls, levees and bulkheads (see related story, “By the numbers: The final tally on Sandy’s fallout”).
FHA hid higher loss estimate of $115B to avoid public outcry
The Federal Housing Administration left out key data from its annual report that shows it could lose as much as $115 billion over 30 years in the event of prolonged severe economic conditions, the Wall Street Journal reported. The loss estimate is based on a methodology by the Federal Reserve that the mortgage insurance agency isn’t required to use; an FHA independent actuarial review released last fall put the amount at $65.4 billion. An investigation by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee uncovered the figure, described as “troubling” by committee chairman Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif. The panel reviewed emails from FHA officials that suggested they didn’t want to include the higher number because of the uproar it might cause. The officials, who have since left the agency, stood by their decision, arguing the bigger estimate was less relevant because the housing market was already recovering.
MTA in final stages of selecting developer for restored building in FiDi
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority is close to picking a developer for the just-restored Corbin Building, which is next to the agency’s under-construction subway hub in Lower Manhattan. The eight-story building, at Broadway and John Street, will have an entrance to the Fulton Center, the New York Times reported. The MTA plans to lease 31,000 square feet in the century-old Corbin Building — a large corner storefront and upper floors — as well as 30,000 square feet in the transit hall. All the space is for commercial purposes. The agency hasn’t announced a date for selecting a developer but expects the new train station to open next year.