The Daily Dirt: Another shot at a housing deal

New York legislative session kicks off

New York Legislative Session Begins: The Daily Dirt
Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins (Getty)

New year, new…housing deal?

The state legislative session kicked off Wednesday, and housing appears to be top of mind. Much like last year, elected officials seem to agree, in theory, that something must be done about New York’s housing crisis.

Unlike last year, the governor does not plan to push an agenda that would require housing growth throughout the state. This week she unveiled two of her policy priorities for the year: protecting consumers and improving students’ reading proficiency.

During an address to the Senate on Wednesday, Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said “it’s time for us to develop a comprehensive plan” that includes “the principles of good cause [eviction]” and also “paves the way for the construction of new affordable housing.”

The Senate has favored the phrase “principles of good cause” since at least last March. In its budget resolution, the chamber noted that it “supports advancing tenant protections that align with the core principles of good cause eviction,” but didn’t actually include the policy itself. The Assembly similarly avoided taking a stand in its own resolution.

This is all to say that on the surface, it doesn’t seem all that much has changed since last year.

In his opening remarks, Assembly Speaker Carl Heasties kept his housing comments vague.

“All stakeholders must come to the table and have a serious discussion about how we can work together to solve New York’s affordable housing crisis,” he said. “We must build more affordable housing across the state, but at the same time protect those in our existing housing stock. We can’t afford not to act.”

Also of note on Wednesday: Sen. Zellnor Myrie threw his support behind a rezoning proposal for a site in Park Slope owned by the Arrow Linen Supply Company. The rezoning would pave the way for 244 apartments. Assembly member Robert Carroll has called the proposal “inappropriate.” Council member Shahana Hanif, who actually controls the plan’s fate, has not taken a public position.

“I’m open to changes in the size or scale of the proposal, but the simple fact is we simply can no longer concentrate new development in lower-income neighborhoods while ignoring the need for housing everywhere else,” Myrie wrote in a City Limits op-ed. “We must step up and do our part in ensuring that there is sufficient housing for all.”

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A thing we’ve learned: Billy Joel is having a hard time selling his estate in Long Island’s Oyster Bay. He listed the property in May for $49 million, but took it off the market to renovate and then relist it, according to Newsday. During a show on New Year’s Eve at the UBS Arena in Elmont, he remarked that “nobody” was willing to pay the asking price. “Just because I’m selling that house, doesn’t mean I’m leaving Long Island,” he added. “I’m just gonna spend a little more time in Florida like old Jewish guys from Long Island do.” Thank you to Erik Engquist for passing this along!

Elsewhere in New York…

— The city’s public hospitals are again requiring employees to wear masks amid a surge in Covid, flu and respiratory syncytial virus cases, Crain’s New York reports. “It’s not inevitable that we’re all just going to get sick,” Dr. Ashwin Vasan, New York City health commissioner said in a statement to Crain’s. “We’re all more observant of symptoms in the post-emergency Covid era, but we also have a lot of tools to keep ourselves and each other safe.”

— The first cannabis dispensary on the Upper East Side is slated to open Thursday. THC Herbal Care is located at 1412 Lexington Avenue.

— Several laws and policies take effect this year, including an increase in the minimum wage to $16 an hour in New York City, Long Island and Westchester, and $15 in the rest of the state. The Times-Union has a nice roundup of some of the other measures.

Closing Time

Residential: The priciest residential closing Wednesday was $15 million for a condo at 685 Fifth Avenue in Midtown.

Commercial: The most expensive commercial closing of the day was Prada’s $397 million purchase of 720 Fifth Avenue in Midtown.

New to the Market: The priciest residence to hit the market Wednesday was a condo at 551 West 21st Street in West Chelsea asking $28 million. Tyler Whitman has the listing. — Jay Young

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