Government briefs

Gotham breaks ground on new affordable housing

Gotham’s new Far West Side project
Gotham’s new Far West Side project
The Gotham Organization last month started construction on a $520 million residential development encompassing nearly an entire city block. Spanning West 44th to West 45th streets from 10th to 11th avenues, the project will include over 1,200 residential units, the company said. Through a partnership with the city, the development will provide 682 income-restricted housing units for households with annual incomes from $66,000 to $135,000. Additionally, there will be an affordable housing component for households with annual earnings of up to $40,000. A new 630-student public elementary school will be built next to the development. As part of the deal, Gotham will contribute $15 million to fund the school. The residential units are slated for occupancy in 2014, and the school is expected to open in the fall of 2013.

Buildings department fights illegal conversions

New York City Buildings Commissioner Robert LiMandri last month visited Woodside, Queens, to mark the two-year anniversary of a fatal fire at an illegally converted apartment there, the Daily News reported. LiMandri vowed to educate the public about the incident and crack down on landlords who improperly subdivide spaces. Since the 2009 fire, the Buildings Department said, it has handed out more than 150,000 flyers warning of the consequences of illegal living conditions. The agency said it would distribute an additional 10,000 flyers at transportation hubs across the city. “Illegal conversions can kill — and we’re doing everything we can to make sure New Yorkers understand that,” LiMandri said in a statement.

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Infrastructure projects spared from budget cuts

Sen. Charles Schumer helped to rescue two key Manhattan infrastructure projects from federal budget cuts, DNAinfo reported. The cuts, proposed by the House of Representatives, would have slashed funding for the Second Avenue Subway by 21 percent and eliminated nearly 50 percent of funding for the East Side Access project, a plan to expand the underground rail tunnels at Grand Central Terminal. Slated for completion in 2016, the East Side Access project will add new station tunnels, tracks and platforms to Grand Central. “I am pleased we were able to beat back these cuts and keep the [East Side Access] project moving forward,” Schumer said.

Fannie Mae seeks $7.8 billion in aid, defends CEO

After third-quarter losses of some $5.1 billion, Fannie Mae will seek $7.8 billion in aid from the Treasury Department, according to Bloomberg News. The losses were fueled by defaults on boom-time home loans and falling interest rates, which have decreased Fannie’s expected revenue, Bloomberg reported. Freddie Mac reported a $4.4 billion loss and will seek $6 billion from the Treasury. Meanwhile, Federal Housing Finance Agency Acting Director Edward DeMarco defended salaries and bonuses at the government-controlled mortgage-finance companies, which have come under fire in the Senate. DeMarco approved packages in 2009 that awarded a total of $17 million over two years to CEOs Michael Williams of Fannie Mae and Ed Haldeman of Freddie Mac. “I need to ensure that the companies have people with the skills needed,” DeMarco said in a letter to lawmakers.

Compiled by Russell Steinberg