Government briefs

City struggles with defaulted buildings

Hundreds of city buildings are in default after being seized decades ago for unpaid taxes and turned over to low-income tenants and nonprofits, with taxpayers now owing $100 million, the New York Post reported. In the late 1970s, the city launched a program through its Housing Development Fund Corp. that gave nonprofits the chance to take over foreclosed properties and allowed tenants to buy their apartments at very low prices. “It’s just a huge ongoing problem,” said Mark Page, the city’s budget director, at a City Council hearing last month. He says the city doesn’t want the buildings back, but hasn’t been successful in collecting from low-income tenants.

North Tribeca rezoning enters public review

The city began a public review process last month for the residential rezoning of a 25-block area of Tribeca, according to the Downtown Express. The area, full of historic loft buildings, extends roughly from Canal and West streets on the north and west to Walker Street and Broadway on the south and east. It is zoned for manufacturing but has become increasingly residential. The proposal would introduce height limits, allow for residential conversions and encourage affordable housing development. It will go to Community Board 2 for comment before moving on to the office of the Manhattan Borough President, the City Planning Commission and, finally, the City Council.

East Side development plan underway

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Construction of a new building for the United Nations next to its current headquarters is part of an East Side waterfront plan being developed by city and state officials. Still in its early stages, the plan is part of an effort to fill a 21-block gap on the East Side promenade along the water between 38th and 59th streets. The project could cost up to $200 million, sources close to the deal told Crain’s, a proposal that comes amid a $1.9 billion renovation to the U.N. complex.

AG hits developer with fraud suit

Attorney General Andrew Cuomo filed suit against embattled developer Yair Levy for $7.4 million, alleging he underfunded and illegally withdrew millions of dollars from the reserve fund at the Rector Square condominium in Battery Park City and used it for personal and unrelated business expenses. The civil suit, filed in New York State Supreme Court last month, seeks restitution, damages and penalties, and to bar Levy from selling condominiums and other securities in the future statewide. Cuomo, who launched a probe in July 2009, alleged that Levy illegally withdrew more than $1.6 million from the reserve fund and failed to make other required contributions, while writing checks for credit card bills, wireless phone payments and payments to his son-in-law, according to the complaint. Levy denied the allegations in a statement released through a spokesperson, saying he was “deeply disappointed” with the attorney general’s actions, and that he would reserve further comment until after reviewing the claims.

City gets control of Brooklyn Bridge Park

The state’s Public Authorities Control Board voted last month to give the city control of the long-delayed Brooklyn Bridge Park project. In exchange, the city will fill $55 million of the project’s $120 million budget shortfall with money set aside for the stalled Javits Center expansion, according to the New York Post. The plan, which will infuse the 85-acre property with much-needed cash and ensure that the park can stay open later at night, was approved by the Bloomberg and Paterson administrations in March. The park is being built as funds become available; the first sections, at Piers 1 and 6 in Brooklyn Heights, opened in April.