Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Eyebrow-raising apartment listing in LIC

"Hello QC,

I walked into an open house for several apartments at 36-10 11th St in Queens this weekend and I noticed a telltale sign that the building might have been illegally subdivided. The apartment buzzer on the front only listed three apartments, even thought there are 4 newly remodeled units in the building. There are 3 of the apartments currently listed on the Corcoran website, the link below is for the rear half of the illegally subdivided first floor unit. According to old blueprints for the building which are available on StreetEasy, the first floor used to be a single apartment. There have been no permits issued by DOB for any work recent work in the building, and the building does have a history of illegal dwelling units. Several years ago it received a violation for an illegal unit in the cellar.

After I noticed the illegal subdivided units I decided I was not interested in any of the apartments in the building because I don't want a landlord who cuts corners and who is willing to break the law to earn a few extra dollars.

Can you please provide any advice on how to handle this and similar situations I may find as I continue my apartment hunting in Queens? I opened a complaint with the DOB. Should I also complain to Corcoran that I am concerned about their reputation as a quality realtor when they show and list illegal units on their website?"

~ApartmentHunter in Queens

Well, this is an interesting case. The "corrective action" recommended for the illegal cellar apartment was to obtain a permit. However, cellars can't be legalized. Then the violation was dismissed without penalty. I wonder what the details were on that.

I certainly would notify the realtor about this. They likely won't care, but if they get caught showing illegal units, they could lose their license.

Always, always, ALWAYS check a building's C of O and history of violations before signing a lease and moving in.

Legislation will help mom & pop shops

From DNA Info:

From Meatpacking’s Hogs & Heifers to the East Village’s Other Music and Prospect Height’s Empire Mayo, the list of beloved small businesses being forced out due to rising rents keeps growing — and so have the calls for greater protections for mom-and-pop shops.

Mayor Bill de Blasio is expected to sign legislation Tuesday establishing safeguards to prevent harassment of commercial tenants, just as there are policies protecting residential tenants.

The legislation aims to make it easier for small businesses to stay in the city, many advocates said.

It would allow small business owners, who felt they were harassed in some way and wrongfully pushed to vacate their space, to recover possession of property, attorney fees and damages amounting to one month’s rent or $1,000 from the landlord — whichever is greater — among other costs.

Harassment includes threats, unnecessary construction or repairs on the property that interfered with business, interruptions to essential services like heat or hot water, and the use of “frivolous” court proceedings against a tenant.

Part of Vision Zero deemed unconstitutional

From NY1:

A Queens judge has ruled that a key portion of Mayor Bill de Blasio's Vision Zero plan is unconstitutional, a ruling that threatens to upend the mayor's pedestrian safety program. NY1's Grace Rauh reports.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Another World's Fair a-comin'?

We're a startup working to organize the first U.S. Worlds Fair since 1984. Here's our website: worldsfairusa.com.

We're currently organizing a mini two-day Worlds Fair in August in NYC. It's not in Queens (the venue is in Chelsea), but I thought it might an interesting story for your readers to learn about given the Worlds Fair history in Queens. The event's website is here: worldsfairnano.com

Should you care to talk I'd love to have it included as we're working to raise awareness for it. You can also check it out on facebook by typing in "Worlds Fair Nano." I doubt there's anything with a similar name on FB to confuse it!

Michael Weiss
Worlds Fair USA

"Leading an effort to organizing the
first U.S. Worlds Fair since 1984"
Check us out in Bloomberg Businessweek
Follow us on Facebook

Garden City: It's not Queens

From CBS 2:

The Victorian gem in Garden City is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, but that designation does not protect it from the wrecking ball.

“To lose this type of history to Garden City would be a shame,” said Michael Raab of the Nassau County Office of Housing and Community Development. “It is one of the Stewart homes.”

For months, there were no takers for the 133-year-old home. The Garden City Historical Society was devastated at the thought of losing it, and caught the attention of Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano.

Mangano asked Raab to begin pulling together volunteers, and dozens came aboard to offer to donate their time and services.

“It is a heartwarming project to be able to help a potential veteran in need of housing,” said Michael Pfeiffer of the Nassau County Habitat for Humanity.

If the plan works, expert volunteers will actually lift the house, put it on hydraulic flatbeds, and slowly roll it to Mitchell Field.

NYCID: not all it's cracked up to be

From AM-NY:

When I received a letter two weeks later containing the card I was surprised: Despite my visa expiring in a year, the card said I was a New Yorker until 2021. My face was over-imposed on the map of the five boroughs for five years!

Two months later, as I tried to get into a well-known Hell’s Kitchen bar, the bouncer asked for proof of age. An occasion to unsheathe my card!

I was baffled when he shook his head and said: “We don’t accept this, this is not valid. You need a state ID.”

“This is from the city of New York,” I said. “Yeah, we don’t accept this.”

My Italian driving license opened the gate. I downgraded the episode, labeling it a misunderstanding.

But after a while, it happened again. This time I couldn’t even get in to a Williamsburg bar, despite my friends’ assurances about my age. And I wasn’t carrying my Italian driving license anymore.

“Why do I need this,” I thought of the license, “if I have the IDNYC.”

My wife laughed at me that night. She didn’t want to get the card after I showed her mine. “You wasted your time,” she said.

I was convinced there must’ve been a mistake, even though I remembered the bank had refused a check without an identification other than my IDNYC.

Finally, the coup de grace came in May. I went for a jog in Prospect Park, and I was returning home when I thought to stop by the zoo. As an IDNYC holder, I was entitled to free entry: finally some privilege!

I approached the gate and showed the card. I was told that I first needed to go to the Bronx Zoo (physically) to register before I could gain free entry.

Rome is well-known for its byzantine bureaucracy. I have lived in New York for about a year, and I don’t carry my IDNYC card anymore. I now feel at home.:

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Effort underway to protect Childs Restaurant facade

From DNA Info:

A 1920s-era building on Broadway that was once home to one of the nation's earliest restaurant chains is under renovation, sparking concern from a local historical group that wants to make sure its exterior is preserved.

The former Childs Restaurant building at 36-01 Broadway is recognizable for its ornate facade of nautical-themed terra cotta figures.

But those details are currently concealed behind scaffolding as crews renovate the property to combine it with a shop next door — prompting worries about the future of the unique architecture.

"It's just a beautiful gem of a building," said Bob Singleton of the Greater Astoria Historical Society. "When people walk up and down that street they look at that, they instinctively look at that building."

The owners of the property — that was most recently occupied by a Rite Aid — are combining the now vacant space with the DII discount shop next door to it, according to Morris Dweck, who works for the variety store chain.

The company was just made aware of the community's interest in preserving the facade after receiving an email about it on Thursday, Dweck said, and it's still determining what to do to address residents' concerns.

City falsified lead testing records

From the Daily News:

City workers falsified records to claim day care centers had tested for lead in drinking water when no tests were actually performed, a city controller audit released Friday found.

Starting in 2008, the city was supposed to make sure all day care centers tested drinking water for lead. But Controller Scott Stringer's auditors found that by 2011, the city Department of Health & Mental Hygiene had dropped the ball.

DOHMH — the agency that's required to inspect all 11,000 child care centers in New York City annually — had more or less given up on the task.

"We have supervisors who told employees to falsify these tests and they never bothered for four years to go back and do the testing," Stringer said. "This is outrageous. Neglecting this lead test is a gamble on the health and safety of our kids."

At first, Stringer found, the city tried to enforce the lead test requirement. But by 2011, inspectors were finding the providers weren't keeping up with the testing requirement.

Soon DOHMH supervisors were instructing underlings to simply mark "tested" at sites that had not be tested. This allowed the city to renew or approve a new license for day care providers without actually testing for lead in drinking water at their sites.

Under pressure to keep child care centers open, the agency's bureau of child care management directed staff to claim that the agency had received lead water test results, regardless of whether such tests had been received.

Huge LGA parking garage concerns East Elmhurst

From the Queens Chronicle:

A number of East Elmhurst residents turned out at Community Board 3’s meeting last week to voice their displeasure with a plan to build an eight-story parking garage near LaGuardia Airport.

The Parking Spot wants to demolish the existing parking facilities next to the LaGuardia Marriott hotel at 102-05 Ditmars Boulevard and replace them with a garage that would have more than 1,700 parking spaces.

The plan has gotten some backlash from area residents who fear the project will increase traffic congestion and be a drain on the neighborhood.

“This is a residential community,” said Arthur Bryant. “They have to take it somewhere else. As far as I’m concerned, I hope the board turns it down. I hope the community turns it down.”

Representatives from The Parking Spot came in front of the board in hopes of securing various special permits to help facilitate the project.

The board voted against the approval of the permits.

Before the vote, John Lyons, the senior vice president of development at The Parking Spot, tried to alleviate concerns about traffic congestion, saying the garage would have a relatively modest impact.

He emphasized it would focus largely on long-term parking for travelers flying out of LaGuardia.

I thought we didn't need parking lots anymore because we were all supposed to ride bikes.