Government briefs

Snapshots of government-related real estate news

Mayor Bill de Blasio
Mayor Bill de Blasio

Mayor eyes Sunnyside Yards for affordable housing

Mayor Bill de Blasio’s vision of building a massive affordable housing project with up to 11,250 apartments on the 200-acre Sunnyside Yards in Queens faces opposition on many levels. Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who through the Metropolitan Transportation Authority controls the site, sees it best used for the construction of tunnels connecting the Long Island Railroad to Grand Central Terminal. Crain’s reported the site also poses geographical and topographical issues. The complex crossover of railroad tracks on the property requires that the MTA and Amtrak agree on any future use. Building a platform over the tracks could also be difficult, given that the bedrock on the site is soft. There is also opposition from the local Councilmember and residents of the nearby Sunnyside Gardens.

High court to hear NYU expansion case

The state’s highest court agreed to hear a case that could derail the massive New York University expansion. The Court of Appeals accepted an appeal filed by a coalition that opposes the project, and had won a victory to have a community garden and nearby strips of land that NYU wants to use as a construction staging area considered protected parkland. That decision was overturned when the school appealed. Capital New York reported that a loss for NYU could make the multibillion dollar expansion more difficult and even delay it.

Rezoning to bring 7,250 homes to East New York

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The mayor and City Planning officials unveiled a massive rezoning effort for East New York. The plan would bring roughly 7,250 housing units to the area, along with 1.3 million square feet of commercial space. The rezoning would encompass 11 blocks in the Ocean Hill area to the west of Broadway Junction, along with the majority of East New York and Cypress Hills, marked by Sheffield Avenue to the west, Lincoln Avenue on the east, Fulton Street on the north, and Pitkin Avenue on the south, New York Yimby reported. The effort could bring population levels back to 66,000, the 1960s peak, from the current 48,000 residents. Without rezoning, the city expects only 550 apartments would be built. Community, commercial/retail and industrial space would see greater gains under the rezoning, while autobody-type shops, warehouse and storage spaces and hotels would decrease.

50 arrests made in DOB/HPD bribery probe


Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance

Two Department of Buildings bureau chiefs and 16 city employees, along with 34 others, were charged with bribery following an investigation by the city Department of Investigation last month. According to Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance’s office, the probe uncovered approximately $450,000 in purported briberies involving 16 staffers from the Buildings and Housing Preservation and Development departments, 22 property managers and owners, as well as two contractors and one engineer. DOB employees were charged with accepting sums ranging from $200 to $3,000, and other benefits from property managers and expeditors, which acted as middlemen between the DOB and contractors, homeowners and managing agents. The cases include allegations of bribing officials to dismiss violations, jump lines, issue phony evictions and expedite inspections. The charges included bribery, bribe receiving, falsifying business records, tampering with public records and official misconduct. The arrests followed two years of investigation and an HPD report pointing to potential misconduct.