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Ryan Singer, executive director of the Board of Standards and Appeals, tells protesters the application has been withdrawn.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The announcement that Benenson Capital Partners and Mack Real Estate Group had withdrawn their application was made on Tuesday morning.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.”

Continue reading

Old Post Office site owners reduce height request

Rendering of 432-438 East 14th Street

By Sabina Mollot

The owners of the former Peter Stuyvesant Post Office, who’d proposed a 12-story residential building for the site, have since changed their request, by proposing a smaller, nine-story building instead. In January the owners, Benenson Capital Partners, partnering with Mack Real Estate Group, had gone to the Board of Standards and Appeals to request a zoning variance they’d need to build 12 stories since current zoning only allows for an eight-story structure. Their plan however was fought by community residents as well as the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation.

The owners’ most recent proposal, which would boost height 14.5 feet higher than what is currently allowable, has also already been blasted by the preservation group. The GVSHP has argued that a building that high is out of context for the East Village and has also claimed that the owners’ main reason for wanting the variance — higher than expected construction costs due to underground water and soil conditions — doesn’t constitute a unique hardship.

Continue reading

14th St. developer grilled on height request

Commissioners of the Board of Standards and Appeals, including (from left to right) Chair Margery Perlmutter, Susan Hinkson and Eileen Montanez Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Commissioners of the Board of Standards and Appeals, including (from left to right) Chair Margery Perlmutter, Susan Hinkson and Eileen Montanez (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The Board of Standards and Appeals accused developers of getting ahead of themselves in a rush to get a new apartment building started before the deadline for a lucrative tax break in the project at the old Peter Stuyvesant Post Office on East 14th Street between First Avenue and Avenue A.

BSA chair Margery Perlmutter said in a hearing this past Tuesday that Benenson Capital Partners and Mack Real Estate Group (MREG) “went ahead and, at enormous expense, installed foundation slabs even though their project wasn’t necessarily viable.”

The developers’ attorney John Egnatios-Beene, of Stroock & Stroock & Lavan, argued at the hearing that the extra cost for building out the foundation was partially due to the construction of a full basement and the difficulties that resulted in building it due to the ground conditions. This rationale was given in addition to the developer’s previous argument that additional apartments were needed to make the project economically viable due to apartments that would be rented below market rate because of the building’s participation in the 421a affordable housing program.

Continue reading

Letters to the Editor: Feb. 18

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

An election closer to home

Forget Donald. Forget Hillary. Forget Bernie. Forget Ted and Marco.  The election that counts is coming this spring.  It’s the election of members of the Board of Directors of the Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association. Like the run for the US Presidency, this is not for sissies.

Members of the board serve all residents in a variety of ways. They negotiate with management on quality of life and other community issues. They, together with the Tenants Association’s attorney, handle appeals of Major Capital Improvements (MCIs) and other rent and lease issues with the Department of Housing and Community Renewal. They work with other tenant organizations in lobbying Albany and City Hall for fair rent laws and practices. They communicate with community residents via printed notices, a website, Facebook, Twitter and a phone-and-email Message Center.

“They” are the members of the Tenants Association’s Board of Directors, elected by Association members for rotating unpaid four-year terms. Although their names appear on the TA’s letterhead and many of its communications, you might like to know what special expertise they bring to our organization, which works on behalf of all Stuy Town and Peter Cooper residents.

The Board includes the hands-on vice president of a New York City construction firm; an urban planner with 20 years of experience in real estate development, property management and city government; a technology director of a major hospital; a marketing director; a special education teacher on child-rearing leave; a retired writer, editor and public relations professional; a writer and book editor.

Several members have been community activists for years; two serve on Community Board 6.  Four members are attorneys, in diverse fields of law, one with a practice focusing on estate and commercial matters, another is a supervisor in the Legal Aid Society’s Criminal Practice. A third is the retired partner and chairman of the litigation department of a leading law firm, and the fourth is in the office of Mayor De Blasio as a senior health policy advisor and attorney.

Each spring, the Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association holds an election for its Board of Directors.

Being a member of the board means working to solve a problem when the solution is bound to leave at least some residents unhappy. It means hours of work with no compensation.

But current and past members of the board report that their time and effort pay off in other ways because being a member of the board of the Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association is a commitment to the continued protection and preservation of a unique experiment in urban living.

Susan Steinberg,
Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association 

Continue reading

Old Peter Stuyvesant Post Office to become 8-story apartment building

The current Peter Stuyvesant Post Office, which will be relocated to another space on East 14th Street (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

The now closed Peter Stuyvesant Post Office on East 14th Street (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

The plans for the soon-to-be demolished former Peter Stuyvesant Post Office have been revealed — it, along with a now vacant shop next store, are to become an eight-story apartment building with 114 apartments.

The plans were announced by Benenson Capital Partners (Benenson) and Mack Real Estate Group (MREG) who are partnering on the development of the property, which will also have 15,400 square feet of ground floor retail.

Benenson has owned the property at 432 East 14th Street, between First Avenue and Avenue A, since the 1940s, and recently filed demolition plans. The post office closed almost a year ago and has since moved into a smaller space a block west.

The new building, across the street from Stuyvesant Town, will be designed by Robert Laudenschlager of SLCE Architects.

“We are delighted to work with Mack Real Estate Group on this exciting new project, which we believe will maximize the long-term value of a property that has been part of our portfolio for many years,” said Richard A. Kessler, Chief Operating Officer of Benenson, in an official statement. “The Macks share our multi-generational investment philosophy, and we look forward to creating an outstanding building by combining our expertise.”

In a press release, the partners touted the location as a prime spot due to its proximity to the L train connecting the trendy Brooklyn neighborhoods of Bushwick and Williamsburg to the East Village.

Continue reading