Assembly taking aim at MCIs, IAIs, vacancy de-control

Photo by Sidney Goldberg

Assembly Member Harvey Epstein during a recent tenant lobbying day in Albany (Photo by Sidney Goldberg)

By Sabina Mollot

With the rent regulations set to expire on June 15, the New York State Assembly has set public hearings on May 2 and 9 to discuss a package of proposals aimed at strengthening the current laws.

Among the legislation includes a bill that would end major capital improvement (MCI) rent increases and also require the state housing agency to create a program ensuring property owners maintain a certain level of repair. MCIs are charges tacked on to a tenant’s rent to pay for improvements to the property.

“The major capital improvement rent increase program is a flawed system which has been overly complex for property owners to navigate,” said the bill’s sponsor, Assembly Member Brian Barnwell, “and has been a great disservice in our efforts to preserve the affordable housing stock.”

Another bill would end individual apartment improvements (IAI). Under the current law, landlords are allowed to raise rent after making IAIs, which can range from cosmetic repairs to redoing various rooms.

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Buses, not L train, the top concern at MTA town hall

Bus protesters

Protesters slam the elimination of bus stops at the L train open house at the 14th Street Y. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

East Side straphangers voiced concerns about changes to the M14 route at the latest L train town hall held at the 14th Street Y this past Monday.

The MTA and NYC Transit held the town hall to accept feedback on the L train plan, and while M14 bus service is not directly related to the project, the MTA is planning to make the route SBS to help commuters when L train service is limited during the construction.

The Department of Transportation is also still considering implementing a “busway” along 14th Street that would limit private traffic on the roadway, and DOT Director of Transit Policy Aaron Sugiura said that a decision on the busway will likely be made by early summer around the time that SBS is launched on the M14. The DOT is requesting feedback on the busway and will make a decision after receiving input from the community.

“The volume of people on 14th Street was going to be staggering (with a full shutdown) so it’s slightly less of an issue now,” Sugiura said. “But (a busway is) still a possibility and we’re still working on what exactly it would look like.”

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New leasing office for Peter Cooper Village under construction

A new leasing office is under construction in Peter Cooper Village. (Photos by Thomas Rochford)

By Sabina Mollot

Earlier this week, residents noticed that a new leasing office was being advertised in Peter Cooper Village in the corner space previously occupied by the Petite Abeille restaurant. The slick-looking posters show smiling individuals of various ages, and the property’s very new logo for Peter Cooper.

Asked about the advertisements, Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village general manager Rick Hayduk confirmed there is a new leasing office under construction just for Peter Cooper, but it will be housed in the neighboring 350 First Avenue. This is where another leasing office, primarily a center for brokers’ use, used to be until closing last year. The new leasing office was briefly mentioned in an e-blast to neighbors last week that also mentioned the Stuyvesant Town leasing office would be getting “a refresh,” as would signage and employee uniforms.

“Since our acquisition in late 2015, StuyTown Property Services’ and Beam Living’s focused attention has been on improving a resident’s experience (resident communication, situational response time, exterior aesthetics, quality of life issues, playgrounds, etc.), and we felt it was time to reset the ‘public’ image of the two communities,” Hayduk said in a written statement. Continue reading

Suspect charged with trying to rob Stuy Town Citibank

Citibank attempted robbery suspect

Police arrested a Bronx man on Thursday in connection with an attempted robbery of the Citibank at 262 First Avenue last month.

Robert Balsano, 47, of 1146 Ogden Avenue, allegedly strolled up to a teller on Saturday, March 23 with an encyclopedia that had a note inside demanding cash. However, the teller refused and he ended up fleeing without any money.