Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney discusses her legislation in Washington, DC. (Photo courtesy of Carolyn Maloney)
By Sabina Mollot
For the past decade, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney has been pushing legislation aimed at preventing money laundering, often via real estate purchases, by cracking down on shell companies.
On Tuesday, May 14, Maloney held a press conference in Washington, DC about the bill, which she said is finally starting to gain traction in Congress along with having the support of law enforcement agencies, banks, credit unions and four real estate industry associations. Real estate groups in support of the bill are American Escrow Association, American Land Title Association, National Association of REALTORS, Real Estate Services Providers Council, Inc. (RESPRO).
“I’ve never had such huge support for one of my bills before,” said Maloney. “If this bill passes, it’ll be harder to finance terrorism.”
After reintroducing the Corporate Transparency Act, which is co-sponsored by Reps. Peter King and Tom Malinowski last week, she expects it to have a markup soon. A markup, unlike a hearing, is aimed at getting legislation passed in committee and moved onto the house floor. There have already been hearings for this bill, and there is also one set for next week. The bill hasn’t yet been discussed in the Senate.
Tenants know who’s owned in Albany
On April 6, I attended a rent law town hall hosted by Cooper Square Committee. Our Senator Brad Hoylman, Assemblyman Harvey Epstein, former Assemblyman (now Senator) Brian Kavanagh and other electeds were there. They described the rich possibilities to strengthen the rent laws this year, as the Democrats hold the biggest majority in the State Senate since 1912. It was a veritable love fest of pro-tenant legislative possibilities they put forth.
But the landlord lobby still looms, which Hoylman explained as the reason his Pied-a-Terre Tax was axed out of the budget. I think the Pied-a-Terre Tax is magnificent and have cheered Hoylman on for years. It would have raised almost double for the MTA what its substitute, the congestion pricing plan which did pass, is projected to raise.
That the landlord lobby killed it is potent: there is no single politician in NY today who has gotten more money from real estate interests than Andrew Cuomo. He is the landlord lobby’s #1 favorite politician to fund. I think Senator Hoylman is being charitable in blaming “the landlord lobby.” I say follow the money.
By Sabina Mollot
Following the announcement that the Stuyvesant Town lottery would be reopening for would-be residents in the upper income tier, Town & Village asked a few market rate residents and former residents as well as others for their thoughts. The market raters we spoke with seemed to think that while the rents weren’t exactly cheap, the lottery was still welcome news. However, those unaccustomed to paying those kinds of rents were wary of labeling the available units as affordable.
After hearing what the rents were for one and two-bedrooms, Larry Watson, a former Stuy Town resident who moved out last year, said he thought the deal sounded better for the two-bedrooms.
He’d previously paid $3,900 for a converted two-bedroom.
“If you look at the price for a studio anywhere in Manhattan, it’s $2,000,” said Watson, “so it’s an $800 leap for a one-bedroom, but for a two-bedroom it’s an extra $1,300. So you get the value in a two-bedroom, but not a one-bedroom. I’d say it’s a decent offer,” he said.
Workers remove a statue from 281 Park Avenue South. (Photos by Sabina Mollot)
By Sabina Mollot
Last summer, the installation of nine anatomically correct male statues into a storefront in Gramercy raised a few eyebrows, with neighborhood residents wondering if it was an art exhibit or a marketing gimmick. It didn’t help anyone’s confusion that there was a neon sign in the window indicating the space was for rent.
As it turns out, the answer is it was a bit of both. On Monday afternoon, workers emerged from the storefront at 281 Park Avenue South and 22nd Street, moving out the larger-than-life-size sculptures. Asked where they were going, a worker at the scene said the naked men were headed to storage, since the ground floor space had been leased to a restaurant. However, Dan Turkewitz, one of the brokers marketing the space, later said nothing was finalized, so he wasn’t sure why the statues were being evicted. “We’re talking to a lot of different people,” he said.
The former Peter Stuyvesant Post Office (Photo by Sabina Mollot)
By Maria Rocha-Buschel
A Community Board 3 committee recently shot down a developer’s request to build higher than zoning allows at the site of the former Peter Stuyvesant Post Office on East 14th Street. The board’s Land Use, Zoning, Public & Private Housing Committee last Wednesday unanimously voted against the zoning variance for a 12-story building. City zoning laws allow the developer to build up to eight stories at the site.
Representatives for Benenson Capital Partners, which is working on the development at the site, 432-438 East 14th Street, previously asked the committee for the variance in June. The company argued that construction costs related to the groundwater conditions made complying with affordable housing unfeasible unless the development could be built larger, the blog EVGrieve reported at the time. With the proposed change in height, the building would have 31 units of affordable housing and a total of 155 units. CB3 had asked the reps to return after the June meeting after looking into alternatives to increasing the building height.
A number of community groups spoke against the plan last week to make the development between First Avenue and Avenue A higher, including the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation (GVSHP), the North Avenue A Neighborhood Association, the 12th Street Block Association and the 13th Street Block Association, as well as residents of East 13th Street.
Harry Bubbins, who works with GVSHP as the East Village and special projects director, gave testimony against granting the variance because he felt it was “out of context” with the other buildings in the area.