Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Latest on CUNY dorm at Hunter's Point




Here is the latest on the Hunters Point CUNY dormitory + luxury tower proposal:

OCA - the O'Connell Group is the developer. The O’Connell Group is a Real Estate Equity Fund, that in order to meet the 15 percent return on investment to their investors, must milk the taxpayer from both ends. The first part of their double dip is to grossly exaggerate the toxic cleanup costs and fabricate government requirements which has kept them in the ORIGINAL brownfield program allowing them to collect handsomely on both cleanup and construction costs. The second part of the dip is to go for seven variances, amounting to 3X what the zoning allows and include removing light and air from our neighborhood to build a misplaced luxury tower that will have high infrastructure demands.

If you don't want to see your tax money going to wealthy investors, you need to convince the Board of Standards and Appeals that OCA has made some errors in their strategy and numbers. This could be a precedent that would open the doors to developers in many other parts of the City.

Also, this will be Hunters Point's first new construction that will be substandard. In fact, with its multi variance request, including windowed walls closer than allowed and odd shaped open courts, it approaches the configuration of a tenement.

What you can do:
Contact elected officials with these specifics, concentrating on the taxpayer issue.
Convince the media that there is a Citywide story here. OCA is not going to stop in HP.
Contact the Municipal Art Society which keeps a track on these kinds of issues - our project manager is Susana Schraller.
We need a massing model of the building to point out how substandard it is.
Come to the next BSA hearing.

The next BSA hearing will be August 19, 2008 at 1:30 PM. The BSA is located at 40 Rector Street (R or 1 train to Rector Street).

Thanks.

Tom Paino

38 comments:

Anonymous said...

What a great idea. I cannot wait. CUNY!!!

Anonymous said...

Transforming a vibrant neighborhood into chilling souless cheerless blocks.

Blank walls, no ammenities, and a bunch of clueless kids off the farm to buy into it.

Hunters Point will have a half life of about 10 years.

Anonymous said...

Is Queens Council on the Arts supposed to move in to this thing?

Anonymous said...

What a great idea. I cannot wait. CUNY!!!

-----------
Translation:

People in the Village don't want it.

People in Upper Manhattan don't want it.

Give it to Queens. The people are passive and will take anything that is fed to them.

Anonymous said...

There are many factual errors made in this report. Including, to say the least, the name of the developer. Get your facts right!

Anonymous said...

There are many factual errors made in this report. Including, to say the least, the name of the developer. Get your facts right!

OK HOTSHOT, YOU'RE ON

Anonymous said...

Transforming a vibrant neighborhood into chilling souless cheerless blocks.

--

I love this vibrant neigborhood crap. Can anyone tell me what is vibrant about an empty lots which are polluted? What does it contribute to the neigborhood? Is it some form of nostalgia that you are holding onto? Do you see the pictures of what is there currently? Dumpy warehouses and derelict buildings. Thank god they are building here. I welcome them with open arms. I will write each of the person mentioned in the article - TO VOICE MY SUPPORT.

Anonymous said...

Warehouses? I thought this neighborhood was filled with luxury condos? Why would they put a dorm in the middle of them and drive property values down?

Anonymous said...

Would the writer care to back up his claims with some references? Many building have recieved zoning variances in the LIC area and all over the city. Again please post supposrt of this being the first. Zoning variances do not not make a building "sub-standard" (very biased choice of words). When a variance is approved after public comment and expert review it becomes the standard.

Oh dear god! The windows are too close and the courts that I will never see or use are oddly shaped. We must oganize to stop this from happening!

Anonymous said...

Let's make total swiss cheese of the zoning code. Better yet, let's just get rid if it all together. These BSA hearings are a nuisance.

Anonymous said...

7 variances? Are you freakin' kidding me? What a joke! If it doesn't fit into the zoning, build someplace where it does.

Anonymous said...

Variances? Just ask the people in Williamsburg about variances.

They will tell you everthing about expert testimony and public hearings.

Anonymous said...

I love this vibrant neigborhood crap.



FOTF

FRESH OFF THE FARM - NOW THE KID IS A NYC EXPERT...

Anonymous said...

Wait first we bitch because developers don't spend enough money to clean up the toxic sites. Now we bitch because developers are spending too much money cleaning up sites that other people polluted. Amazing.

PHD students are actually good for a community. They will probably be highly educated individuals that will probably have a good sense of community. What we should be worrying about is that we hold City College to maintaining this as PHD or Graduate student housing and not make it a freshman dorm in the future.

Anonymous said...

"What we should be worrying about is that we hold City College to maintaining this as PHD or Graduate student housing and not make it a freshman dorm in the future."

HA HA HA HA HA

How do you propose to do that?

Anonymous said...

Easy you link it to the CO and if they don't comply their CO is revoked.

Anonymous said...

Our writer states: “The first part of their double dip is to grossly exaggerate the toxic cleanup costs and fabricate government requirements which has kept them in the ORIGINAL brownfield program allowing them to collect handsomely on both cleanup and construction costs.”

The NYS Brownfield Redevelopment Credit-consists of the sum of following three components: Site preparation costs (expenses related to qualification for a remediation certificate or preparing a site for development), Tangible property costs (e.g. buildings and structural components thereof), and on-site groundwater costs (remediation of groundwater contamination). The credit is calculated using the % of the costs for each component that qualifies for the credit. The %’s max out at around 20%.

As a result, overstating the cleanup costs does nothing to benefit the developer since 1) he is being reimbursed on the actual cost incurred – not the estimate, 2) before paying out the developer need to prove that he spent the money and 3) he is only being reimbursed a fraction of the total remediation costs. To claim that anyone is collecting handsomely is just inaccurate. At best the developer is recouping only 20% of his cost incurred. Brownfield redevelopment is a partnership between the city and the developer to help defray *some* of the costs of cleaning up this land. Without these programs in place many of these toxic sites would not be remediated due to the cost involved.

Queens Crapper said...

I removed the part about NYU because it is distracting from the main point, which is whether or not there should be 7 variances allowed to build the first dorm in LIC. Someone posts anonymously claiming all the info in this post is incorrect. If you can debunk the contributor's other points, be my guest.

Anonymous said...

You could enforce the Grad Housing status by linking it to the CO of the building. If CUNY does not keep it a as Grad/PHD housing then it will be a "none Conforming Use" violation. That how.

Fred said...

Nope, C of O's never list the status (undergrad, graduate student, PhD student, faculty, etc.) of the people occupying the buildings, just the use (dorm room, dining room, etc.) and how many bodies can inhabit them.

Queens Crapper said...

I deleted 2 lines about NYU that had become the focus of the comments. And I deleted the comments about NYU. This is a post about a CUNY dorm. Keep it about CUNY. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

O'Connor Capital Partners is the developer. I don't know who the O'Connell Group is...

Anonymous said...

New York State established the Brownfield Cleanup Program (BCP) to address the environmental, legal, and financial barriers that often hinder the redevelopment and reuse of contaminated properties. The BCP is set forth in Title 14 of Article 27 of the New York State
Environmental Conservation Law. The program is intended to encourage persons to voluntarily
remediate brownfield sites for reuse and redevelopment.

There are thousands of abandoned and contaminated properties that threaten the health and vitality of the communities they burden. These sites, known as brownfields, are also contribute to sprawl development and loss of open space. This program is designed to advance the policy of the State of New York to conserve, improve, and protect its natural
resources and environment and control water, land and air pollution in order to enhance the
health, safety and welfare of the people of the state and their overall economic and social
well-being.

The Brownfield Redevelopment Credit-consists of the sum of following three components:
• Site preparation costs (expenses related to qualification for a remediation certificate or preparing a site
for development)
• Tangible property costs (e.g. buildings and structural components thereof)
• On-site groundwater costs (remediation of groundwater contamination)

This Credit is calculated using a percentage % of the cost incurred for each component that qualifies for the credit. This maxes out at around 20%.

To claim that anyone is "handsomely collecting on cleanup and constructions costs" is disengenious at best. They are being reimbursed 20% of the cleanup costs. Nothing more. so if you spend $100, you get a credit of $20, but you are still out $80. By definition it is a partial reimbursement of costs incurred. No one is making a killing on this.

Anonymous said...

To claim that anyone is "handsomely collecting on cleanup and constructions costs" is disengenious at best. They are being reimbursed 20% of the cleanup costs. Nothing more.

How's this for "disengenious" [sic]?

The Brownfield Opportunity Areas Program, made possible by the Superfund/Brownfield law in October 2003, provides municipalities and community based organizations with assistance, up to 90 percent of the eligible project costs, to complete revitalization plans and implementation strategies for areas or communities affected by the presence of brownfield sites, and site assessments for strategic brownfield sites.

Eligible Activities
Communities may apply to enter the program at the most appropriate of the three program steps described below leading to New York State's designation of the Brownfield Opportunity Area:

Step 1: Pre-Nomination Study - The Pre-Nomination Study provides a basic and preliminary analysis of the area affected by brownfield sites including: a description and justification of the study area and associated boundaries; a basic description and understanding of current land use and zoning; the delineation and description of existing brownfield sites and other underutilized properties; and a description of the area's potential for revitalization.

Step 2: Nomination - The Nomination provides an in-depth and thorough description and analysis, including an economic and market trends analysis, of existing conditions, opportunities, and reuse potential for properties located in the proposed Brownfield Opportunity Area with an emphasis on the identification and reuse potential of strategic sites that are catalysts for revitalization. The Nomination concludes with a description of key findings and recommendations to advance redevelopment of strategic sites and to revitalize the area.

Step 3: Implementation Strategy - The Implementation Strategy provides a description of the full range of techniques and actions, ranging from actions and projects that can be undertaken immediately to those which have a longer time-frame, that are necessary to implement the area-wide plan and to ensure that proposed uses and improvements materialize. Site assessments on strategic brownfield sites may be eligible for funding if environmental data is required.

Eligible Applicants
Applicants that are eligible to apply for a grant include:

New York State Municipalities - New York State municipalities are defined as: cities; villages; towns; counties;local public authorities; local public benefit corporations; school districts; improvement districts; and Indian tribes.

Community Based Organizations - Community based organizations are defined as: not-for-profit corporations that are incorporated under Section 501 (c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code whose stated mission is to promote community revitalization within the geographic area in which the community based organization is located; has 25 percent or more of its Board of Directors residing in the community in such area; and represents a community with a demonstrated financial need as indicated by high unemployment, low resident incomes, depressed property values, and/or high commercial vacancy rates.

Municipalities and Community Based Organizations Acting in Cooperation - Two or more eligible applicants may, and are encouraged to, submit a joint application.

Anonymous said...

Comptroller Thompson should audit their books.

Anonymous said...

Before the CB voted on the project, Lisa Deller of the board's land use committee listed six stipulations that the committee was making to CUNY and the builder. The first of them asked that the graduate and faculty residences remain just that in perpetuity; second, that the Queens Council on the Arts increase its outreach to Long Island City artists; third, that the proposed garden courtyard area be open to the public during daylight hours; fourth, that the general residential building should have 20 percent of its apartments "affordable" for residents at or below 80 percent of area median income; ***fifth, in the event brownfields tax credits are granted to the project, the developer should send part of the money to the community for use in a library or other community institution,*** and sixth, CUNY should establish a mentoring relationship with local schools, from P.S. 78 to LaGuardia Community College. All were included in the motion on which the board voted. Steve Cooper, a board vice-chairman, urged approval of the project, saying that it was largely a benefit to the community and if it were rejected, some worse project would doubtless follow in its place. The motion was carried 21-10; largely in opposition were board members who are Hunters Point residents.

http://www.qgazette.com/news/2008/0416/features/032.html

The letter is poppycock admit it.

Anonymous said...

I am sure you wrote the previous comment with a straight face, realizing that community benefit agreements are in no way enforceable by community boards and that once you turn the project over to the developers it's out of your control, right? You also realize that opinions of community boards amd the boro prez are advisory only, and that the developer doesn't have to do a damn thing they suggest?

Admit it, this entire project smells worse than a cat's litterbox on a summer Sunday.

Anonymous said...

Community benefits agreements? You mean like the meaningless ones they made in order to build Shea and Yankee Stadiums that have been reported on in the major daily papers?

Anonymous said...

Once the thing is built, how do you think you are going to prevent it from becoming undergrad housing, or better yet - that after a few years the owner will sell it to become a hotel or condo?

Anonymous said...

"fifth, in the event brownfields tax credits are granted to the project, the developer should send part of the money to the community for use in a library or other community institution."

Developer: Great, Queens library: here's $5. Buy yourself some staples. Now I've gotten that out of the way.

Anonymous said...

"that the Queens Council on the Arts increase its outreach to Long Island City artists"

...Hey, Frankie, order 100 fliers this time instead of 50...Glad we got that out of the way.

Anonymous said...

"that the general residential building should have 20 percent of its apartments "affordable" for residents at or below 80 percent of area median income"

Area median income: overinflated by the luxury condos.

Anonymous said...

"largely in opposition were board members who are Hunters Point residents."

...Hey as long as I personally won't be affected by it, I think it's a great idea!...

Anonymous said...

Please show us the legally binding contract for these community benefits.

Anonymous said...

CUNY seems to be as popular as the plague and just as efficient a killer of a neighborhood!

Anonymous said...

Dormitus dominus (pardon the pig Latin)...dorms dominate!

CUNY's establishes a beach head landing prior to destroying a community!

Anonymous said...

Welcome CUNY - I think you will be a great neighbor and bring some youthful vitality to a formerly ugly, dangerous and contaminated corner of the City.

Anonymous said...

CUNY sucks and so does the "new" LIC. The place had so much potential and it was squandered.