Lottery reopens in Stuyvesant Town

Stuyvesant Town (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Stuyvesant Town’s apartment lottery has reopened, this time for applicants earning a maximum 165 percent of the area median income (AMI).

The lottery opened on January 16 and would-be residents (and current residents) have the opportunity to apply until February 21, 2018. The waiting list for people who’ve already applied is still active, so no further action is required on their part.

Applications are currently being accepted for one-bedroom apartments at $2,889 and two-bedrooms for $3,543 in Stuy Town and Peter Cooper Village. An advertisement for the lottery puts the income limits for the one-bedroom apartments at $110,220 for a single person, $126,060 for two people and $141,735 for three. For the two-bedroom, income limits are $126,060 for two people, $141,735 for three, $157,410 for four people and $170,115 for five. Applicants also can’t have more than $250,000 in assets though sometimes there are exceptions with regards to retirement accounts.

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Hotel 17 reopens with ‘extended stay’ model

Hotel 17 shut down regular hotel operations to comply with the Illegal Hotels Law. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Hotel 17, the Stuyvesant Square budget hotel that closed in April due to zoning issues, has recently reinvented itself as an extended stay hotel.

The 160-room hotel, which is located at 225 East 17th Street, notes on its website in several places that it’s now “extended stay,” meaning guests must book a room for 30 days or longer.

Doing this keeps the building, which was never actually zoned as a hotel, in compliance with the city’s Illegal Hotels Law. The law forbids buildings that are zoned as residential from renting units for under 30 days. Hotel 17 operated openly as a hotel for decades but a few years ago found itself in trouble with the city upon a crackdown on short-term rentals.

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Rent will go up 1.25, 2 percent

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Tenants play limbo at the vote. (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The city’s rent-stabilized renters will be seeing increases of 1.25 percent for one-year leases and 2 percent for two-year leases.

The increases were voted on by the Rent Guidelines Board on Tuesday evening, after two years of rent freezes for one-year leases, frustrating tenants as well as landlords.

Tenant advocates and community groups were pushing for at least another freeze and in many cases a rollback, but owner representatives felt that the increases didn’t go far enough.

Tenant member Harvey Epstein said in his remarks prior to introducing the proposal that ultimately passed that he and Sheila Garcia, the second tenant member on the board, knew tenants needed a rollback or at least a freeze, but he said that neither were possible at this year’s vote.

“It’s our job to do the best we can and live with the political realities,” Epstein said. “We take this job seriously and today is the first day to move to a better system.”

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Baruch professor appointed as a public member of RGB

Hilary Botein said she was surprised to be asked to serve on the board. (Photo courtesy of Hilary Botein)

By Sabina Mollot

Last Thursday, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced two new appointments to the Rent Guidelines Board — the same day the board held its first meeting to help determine this year’s rent increase (or freeze) for over a million households.

One was real estate professor and lawyer David Reiss. The other was Hilary Botein, an attorney and associate professor at Baruch College’s Marxe School of Public and International Affairs, who teaches courses on housing and community development policy. Both she and Reiss are now public members, replacing K. Sabeel Rahman and Steven Flax.

Reached on the phone after Botein attended her first RGB meeting as an active participant, she told Town & Village the call from the mayor’s office came as a surprise. However, saying yes to the unpaid position wasn’t difficult for Botein, who’s been to many RGB hearings and meetings as an observer and has also sent her students to the often raucous forum for assignments.

“It is a lot of work and a big responsibility,” she said, “but I also felt it was an opportunity to bring my experience and knowledge of housing in New York to (impact) millions of people.”

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Tenants rally for rent rollback before first RGB meeting

Tenants rallied outside 1 Centre Street on Thursday (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Rent stabilized tenants geared up for the upcoming Rent Guidelines Board vote at a rally before the board’s first public meeting of the year this past Thursday morning. Encouraged by a recent ruling by the New York Supreme Court, tenant advocates pushed for a rent rollback.

“As Judge Debra James ruled in her courtroom on Tuesday, the RGB must consider tenant affordability, along with landlord expenses, income and profit,” said Anne Cunningham, a tenant of a residential hotel on the Upper West Side who has been coming to RGB-related housings rights protests for more than 30 years. “And when the RGB votes, they must consider a rent rollback for tenants as a fair and reasonable rent adjustment.”

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Rent freeze stays

Tenants protest the lawsuit last September. (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

On Tuesday, a judge ruled against a landlord group that had sued to undo the rent freeze for over a million stabilized tenants in New York City.

The fight might not be over though since the Rent Stabilization Association, which represents over 25,000 property owners in the city, later tweeted that it would review Judge Debra James’ decision and “seek grounds for appeal.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio, meanwhile, cheered the news, and while discussing it on Tuesday, also brought up the mansion tax, saying this would create affordable housing for 25,000 more New Yorkers.

“Everyone who has struggled to pay the rent ― here’s the good news ― the people won and the landlords lost,” de Blasio said.

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Former Post Office site developers give up on trying to add height

Ryan Singer, executive director of the Board of Standards and Appeals, tells protesters the application has been withdrawn. (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

The developers of the former Peter Stuyvesant Post Office site have given up on trying to get the green light to add another story to their planned East 14th Street residential building.

The announcement that Benenson Capital Partners and Mack Real Estate Group had withdrawn their application was made on Tuesday morning. The news, delivered by Ryan Singer, executive director of the Board of Standards and Appeals, to a group of mostly union member protesters across the street from the BSA building on Reade Street, elicited cheers.

“The process worked the way it should,” Singer said. “Based on comments from the board yesterday, they felt they could no longer pursue the variance.”

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