Government briefs: De Blasio accused of giving white-glove treatment to real estate donors, City Council kills development plans for the MTA’s 12-acre Bronx site … & more
From the September issue:
State senator urges HCR to notify tenants if they are being overcharged
State Senator Brad Hoylman penned a letter to the New York State Homes and Community Renewal agency, urging the agency to notify tenants if their apartments were illegally removed from rent stabilization. The $266 million taxpayer-funded J-51 tax abatement gives landlords tax breaks to upgrade buildings on the condition that units are kept rent stabilized. But over the last 20 years, roughly 50,000 apartments have been illegally deregulated. In January, Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered landlords to register all units in J-51 buildings, but ProPublica later reported the state wasn’t informing tenants if their units were affected.
Midtown landlord who flouted Airbnb law ordered to give up properties
A Manhattan judge ordered landlord Salim Assa, who allegedly rented out apartments on Airbnb, to relinquish control of two apartment buildings to an independent manager, the New York Post reported. Assa appealed the decision and earned a temporary stay, giving him continued control over 334 West 46th Street and 15 West 55th Street. Assa’s lawyer suggested that tenants in the buildings were responsible for listing rooms on the home-sharing site. The judge’s decision is the first of its kind, according to the Post, and is part of the city’s larger battle against Airbnb. Since the beginning of the year, Airbnb has spent more than $400,000 trying to overturn the state’s law prohibiting apartment rentals shorter than 30 days.
Council quashes proposal for a mall on a 12-acre MTA site
The City Council rejected a proposal for a mall and senior housing facility in the Bronx, leaving a 12-acre property in limbo, Crain’s New York Business reported. Grid Properties offered the Metropolitan Transportation Authority $30.5 million for the site, but local Council member Andrew King opposed the retail project. Instead, the community called for office, light manufacturing or affordable housing, but because those options would not be as lucrative, the MTA may have difficultly finding another taker: a state law requires the agency to sell its properties at fair-market value.
Mayor accused of giving white-glove treatment to two ‘corrupt’ donors
Mayor Bill de Blasio allegedly ordered his aides to grease the wheels of government for two prominent donors, both of whom are at the center of a New York Police Department bribery investigation, according to emails obtained by the New York Daily News. JSR Capital’s Jona Rechnitz skirted a vacate order after directly emailing Hizzoner and requesting help with violations he incurred for running an illegal hotel. His business partner, Jeremy Reichberg, had a $650,000 water bill lowered to $125,304 after writing to the first deputy mayor’s chief of staff. The city later pegged the bill reduction on a faulty meter, and de Blasio called his speedy responses “typical” and said that the pair rarely got what they wanted. The emails also revealed that Rechnitz told the mayor that a Hasidic community patrol waited two hours to inform authorities about the abduction of landlord Menachem Stark in 2014.