Archive for the tag 'condos'

Photo via Douglas Elliman

Photo via Douglas Elliman

As recent reports have confirmed, Brooklyn is becoming an increasingly difficult place to get your foot on the first rung of the real estate ladder. As such, we’ve rounded up some open houses happening in and around Sheepshead Bay this weekend for under $200,000–just keep an open mind, and consider the potential of each.

3105 Avenue V #6A
List Price: $109,999, $745 maintenance
Size: One bedroom, one bathroom
Details: As with a few of our listings today, this coop unit is just about bordering Marine Park and doesn’t offer excellent subway access, so it might be best if you have a vehicle. Beyond that, it’s a strong start: it’s the least expensive of our lot this week, and no renovations are necessary. Sleek and sunny, the only thing you’ll need to add is your furniture–and perhaps a stuffed animal, since no pets are allowed.
Open House: Sunday, December 14, 1-3pm

2140 Knapp Street #2B
List Price: $129,000, $865 maintenance
Size: Two bedrooms, one bathroom
Details: Here’s another place in somewhat decent shape–its walls and floors look well maintained, and its vintage bathroom floor tile is cool, too. The rest of the WC and the kitchen could definitely use some upgrades, though, but no worries–you’ll get to customize them as you see fit, and add some excellent resale value while you’re at it. The unit has been on the market for about four months as well, so we wonder if there’s some wiggle room in that already pretty good price.
Open House: Saturday, December 13 and Sunday, December 14, both 2-4pm

2425 Haring Street #6H
List Price: $149,000
Size: Two bedrooms, one bathroom
Details: With its outdated finishes and at least one room down to the studs, this little darling is in a pretty sad state; however, we can’t help but want to bring it back to life a bit. Like the last wonky-eared puppy left in the window, this place deserves love (or more specifically, decent hardwoods, solid wall colors, and a total kitchen overhaul), but its top floor corner unit status has us thinking the end result could be something wonderful.
Open House: Sunday, December 14, 1-3pm

3178 Nostrand Avenue # 6H
List Price: $169,000
Size: One bedroom, one bathroom
Details: Two #6Hs this week–fancy that! This one is in better shape than two of the three listings above, though it’s only a one bed (we’re just not seeing two beds in this shape at this price). The kitchen and bath could use cosmetic upgrades at some point, but they look passable for a while–and as the unit’s been on the market for over six months, you may be able to haggle and save for future renovations.
Open House: Sunday, December 14, 12:30-2:30pm

Oh, what’s that? You’re dieting on a Sunday? Too bad, buddy. Taken at Donut Shoppe (a.k.a. Sheikh’s) (Source: roboppy/Flickr)

In Case You Missed It (ICYMI): What’s this? A Sunday post on Sheepshead Bites? Yep, we’re doing that now. You’ve got a big week ahead of you because you’re an important person. So we’re going to make your life a little easier and refresh your addled-brain with a roundup of some of the big stories you may have missed this past week.

Of course, you can keep up with what’s going on in the neighborhood all week long. Just follow us on Twitter and Facebook, and sign up for our daily newsletter. If you have any news tips, story ideas, questions or anything else, e-mail us at editor [at] sheepsheadbites [dot] com.

Here are the big stories on Sheepshead Bites from July 7 – 12:

Have a great Sunday, and if you’re looking for something new to eat, try Anatolian Gyro’s octopus salad.

A residential development on Banner Avenue has changed hands for a second time after a dramatic turnaround under its previous owners.

GFI Capital Resources Group’s Irongate Realty Partners has sold the two adjoined apartment buildings to Hudson Companies for $39.5 million. The company purchased the then-beleaguered site for $17.5 million in January 2012.

Boasting 102 units at 2750 East 12th Street and 1125 Banner Avenue, the buildings began construction in the real estate boom in 2006. When the market tanked construction stalled, and it appeared there was little interest in the condo units that began in the $300,000 range. At the time, one building was 95 percent complete, and the other 70 percent.

Irongate purchased the property, completed the construction and went forward with an upscale, exclusively rental approach. It is now 90 percent occupied.

“GFI’s strategy created an attractive buying opportunity for The Hudson Companies, who saw a rare opportunity to acquire a best-in-class new construction asset with waterfront views in a prime Brooklyn location,” GFI Realty Services’ Yosef Katz said in a statement, reported by the Commercial Observer.

We’re not sure where those waterfront views might be, but it’s nice to see a stalled site reactivated, and turned into what might be one of 2014′s biggest residential real estate deals in the area.

Source: Senator Golden's offices

State Senator Marty Golden (Source: Senator Golden’s offices)

Subpoenas were issued to huge real estate firms that scored a windfall in tax breaks in legislation crafted by Republican State Senator Marty Golden and signed by Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the Moreland Commission, a group set up by Cuomo to investigate public corruption, is looking into how developers of ultra-rich hotel-condo towers gained the valuable breaks.

Previously, we reported on the dubious legislation sponsored by Golden, which allowed huge tax breaks for five Manhattan properties. The legislation is expected to save developers like Extell Development, Silverstein Properties and Thor Equities tens of millions of dollars. The bill, which enjoyed bipartisan support and was signed into law by Cuomo, tacked on the expensive properties to the city’s 421-A program, a measure designed to spur residential building construction in less-dense areas of the city and subsidize affordable housing. Projects like One57, which is a 1,004-foot luxury tower featuring penthouses on sale for more than $90 million, were initially excluded from the program until Golden and other state politicians voted to include four developments as an exception under the umbrella of 421-A benefits.

Extell Development, which is building One57, has contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to the campaign chests of both Democrats and Republicans, spurring the Moreland Commission to look into the affair. The independent Moreland Commission was set up by Cuomo after state legislators failed to pass comprehensive anti-corruption measures this year.

The Wall Street Journal described how the impending investigation might bring to light the uncomfortably close relationship between state politicians and major real estate developers:

One person who examined a subpoena from the commission, known as the Moreland Commission to Investigate Public Corruption, said the information requested was extensive, seeking emails and other communications with lobbyists and elected officials over multiple years relating to the tax break.

Kathleen Rice, Nassau County District Attorney and co-chairwoman of the commission, said the commission has begun issuing subpoenas, but she declined to say who received them or the topic of the inquiries. “We have not prejudged anyone or anything—we are going to follow whatever evidence we have, wherever it goes,” she said.

A spokesman for Extell said the company “will cooperate fully with any agency trying to improve government.”

The subpoenas could eventually help shed light on advocacy and lobbying by the real-estate and development sector, long a powerful force in Albany politics. Top landlords and their advocacy groups traditionally are prolific donors, contributing millions of dollars each election cycle collectively to the campaign committees of governors and influential members of the Legislature, and the outcomes of policies like taxes and rent regulation can cost—or make—them fortunes.

Golden and Assemblyman Keith Wright, the Democrat who sponsored the bill in the Assembly, may also be questioned during the investigation. When initially questioned by the press as to why the five properties were included under the umbrella of the 421a benefits, Golden and Wright both pleaded ignorance.

“These projects were ready to go,” Golden told the Daily News. “I’m not sure where they came from,” Golden said in response to who earmarked the developments for special favor.

“These five properties — it was important that they benefit from the piece of legislation probably, and I don’t know why, because some of the folks in the Senate wanted them to be included,” Wright told the Daily News.

1882 East 12th Street (Source: Google Maps)

1882 East 12th Street (Source: Google Maps)

Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz admonished the Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA) for allowing the continued construction on the reviled “Homecrest Tower” (1882 East 12th Street). In a press release, Cymbrowitz cited issues of safety as a major complaint in his opposition to the construction.

Earlier in the week, we reported that the BSA ignored the recommendations of Judge Yvonne Lewis, who ruled that the BSA should reconsider their initial decision to grant permits to owner Joseph Durzieh. The BSA gave Durzieh the go ahead, declaring his permits valid and dismissing community complaints and declared that any errors made in the approval of the original permits were “administrative.”

In the release, Cymbrowitz cited his history of opposition against the structure:

In late June, Assemblyman Cymbrowitz wrote to BSA urging the board to “heed the community’s strong concerns” and rule against the five-story home, which towers well above its two-story neighbors. He had previously written to the city’s Department of Buildings (DOB) asking the agency to revoke its approval of the building’s plans, which were filed incorrectly as a renovation instead of new construction.

Cymbrowitz went on to note that the issue of safety was the primary concern as to why the structure shouldn’t be built.

“This isn’t a case of neighbors’ word against BSA. BSA is choosing to ignore a court order to review a project that was admittedly filed improperly and may have serious construction issues that compromise safety. Who’s protecting the residents here? The lack of accountability is extremely troubling,” Cymbrowitz said.


An angry neighbor in front of the “Homecrest Tower” (Source:

The Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA) ignored a state judge’s plea to re-examine the plans put forward by the shady developer of the so-called “Homecrest Tower” (1882 East 12th Street). Reports indicate that the BSA declared that developer Joseph Durzieh does have the right to continue building the enormous addition to his home, much to the consternation of his neighbors.

The last we reported on the building, which is a 53-foot tribute to horrendous taste, Judge Yvonne Lewis had sided with neighbors who called for a halt to the project. The judge didn’t have the authority to tear down the structure but had ordered the BSA to re-examine the case. Durzieh had argued that he had the proper permits to make the alterations, claiming that he was building a new addition for his family. Neighbors argued that this was unlikely considering that Durzieh tore down most of his house to accommodate the addition and that his plans called for the installation of an exterior staircase and an elevator. The speculation was that Durzieh was looking to build and rent out condos.

When the BSA finally ruled last week, they declared that Durzieh’s permits were indeed valid, stating that architect Shlomo Wygoda made an error by not filing for a “new building” permit. The BSA decided that this error was “administrative” in nature, effectively giving Durzieh the go ahead on his plans.

Brooklyn Daily described the angry reaction of State Senator Tony Avella:

Tony Avella, a state senator from Queens who crusades against unscrupulous developers, visited the tower on E. 12th Street earlier this year and cited the agency’s decision as further evidence of why the mayor should get rid of it.

“This is one more example of why the Board of Standards and Appeals should be abolished,” said Avella. “It’s just incomprehensible that this developer got away with this huge building. It’s a monstrosity, and not only that, but its a dangerous accident waiting to happen.”

In fact, the board appears to have performed no additional investigation or review beyond the consulting the buildings department, and based its decision largely on the testimony of the department it is supposed to police.

Attorney Stuart Klein, who represents the neighbors opposed to the structure, spoke to the unfair relationship between the Department of Buildings (DOB) and the BSA.

“This decision says that the BSA is going to rubber stamp anything the DOB does,” Klein told Brooklyn Daily.

Congressional reps of Sandy-hit areas are looking to reform a law that prohibits FEMA from providing emergency relief to owners of condos and c0-ops. The New York Times is reporting that federal lawmakers are forging a bipartisan effort to bring help to condo and co-op owners swamped with bills as a result of Superstorm Sandy.

In June , we reported that Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein introduced a resolution that called on Congress to change the law which bars FEMA from helping condo and co-op owners.  Weinstein explained how the law in question, known as the StaffordAct, operates:

While nothing prohibits these co-ops from applying for aid, the Stafford Act, a Federal law last amended in 1988, considers co-op boards not-for-profit businesses. Therefore, aid cannot be applied to common spaces – like garages and laundry rooms – nor can it be applied to the walls and floors in apartments, because, according to bylaws, these spaces belong to and are the Coop’s responsibility.

Weinstein’s resolution to urge Congress in this matter passed unanimously in the New York State Assembly. Perhaps as a result of Weinstein’s call to attention, members of Congress are now pushing to change the Stafford Act, calling it discriminatory against condo and co-op owners.

The Times further described what the problems facing condo and c0-op owners and what the passage of the bill would change:

Co-ops were most affected because of their unique form of ownership, in which tenants own shares in a building. While condo owners can get federal assistance to fix walls and floors in their individual units, owners of co-ops cannot, because their apartments’ walls and floors are usually the legal responsibility of the building.

The bill would make condos and residential cooperatives eligible for FEMA assistance by adding them to the Stafford Act. The bill would remove the $30,000 cap in aid for co-op and condo associations but does not impose a new one, stating that it would need “to be determined by the rule-making process.”

Backers of the proposed legislation include Democrat Steve Israel and Republican Peter King. Israel acknowledged that while changing the rule will be difficult, it is the fair thing to do.

“We have a lot of educating to do,” Israel told the Times. “There will be many members of Congress that would say, ‘I don’t have co-ops in my district; why should I support this?’ My response would be, I don’t have tornadoes, but I support your assistance.”

Mayor Michael Bloomberg

Mayor Michael Bloomberg

Some lame duck politicians go out on a whimper, defeated by gridlock, apathy and restlessness on part of the people. Mayor Michael Bloomberg is not one of those politicians. In just the past few months alone, Bloomberg has pushed a massive $20 billion storm protection plan and scored a victory when the New York State Supreme Court upheld his plan to expand taxi service across the city. He’s expanding recycling programs, banning styrofoam, and even pissing off Sarah Palin. The New York Times is now reporting that Bloomberg is seeking to make major changes to the city’s building code to increase the resiliency of buildings citywide in the event of more extreme weather incidents like Superstorm Sandy.

Needing only the approval of the City Council, Bloomberg’s plan to overhaul the building code would make New York City a national leader in making buildings more resilient in the face of hurricanes. For the time being, the new rules would mainly affect the construction of new buildings and big renovations on existing buildings in the flood areas, including much of Sheepshead Bay.

But some upgrades could also be required in existing larger buildings. The Times listed changes that would have to made to residential buildings, co-ops, condominiums, public housing and rental apartments:

For example, emergency lights will be required in hallways and stairwells in case of extended blackouts. Existing buildings will have to add faucets to a common area on lower floors, like a laundry room. That is intended to allow people on upper floors, which lose water pressure from electric pumps during blackouts, to obtain water.

Officials and experts estimated that a 20-story co-op could spend $16,000 for faucets in a laundry room, and more than $100,000 for backup lighting that could last many days. The lighting would be far cheaper if owners deployed battery-powered lights with a shorter life.

Bloomberg’s task force, which he set up with Council Speaker Christine Quinn, did not propose any new rules for existing single-family homes. Still, homeowners looking to make major renovations would have to conform to new regulations like using longer screws and nail fasteners on windows and doors so they can stand up to high winds. New sloped roofs would have to use reflective shingles to cut down on heat.

Hospitals would also have to protect their windows, potentially costing them hundreds of thousands of dollars per building. The city also wants to force businesses that store toxic chemicals to keep them in flood-proof areas. Resistance to the plan is expected to come from real estate developers who fear the overall increased costs they would incur.

In pushing the changes, Bloomberg cited the destruction of Sandy as an imperative.

“Sandy clearly underscored why we need to protect our buildings. We learned a lot, and we want to make sure we won’t forget those lessons,” the mayor said at a press conference.

Mayoral front-runner Christine Quinn stressed speed as being an important factor in executing Bloomberg’s plan.

“We plan to move as quickly as possible,” Quinn told the Times.



A fight that has stretched over seven years might finally be ending as a state judge has ordered the city to re-examine building plans from a shady developer who has attempted to build a 53-foot addition to his Homecrest home. The New York Daily News is reporting that Judge Yvonne Lewis has sided with neighbors who have spent years complaining that the home in question (1882 East 12th Street) was illegally altered.

We last reported on the 53-foot eyesore in October of 2010. At that time, Joseph Durzieh, owner of the house, was arguing that he had the proper permits to construct the enormous additions because he was merely altering his house and not building a new structure entirely. Neighbors argued that Durzieh actually tore down most of his house to set up the new addition to rent out condos. Durzieh maintained that the addition was meant only for his family but many were skeptical considering that plans called for an elevator and exterior staircase.

While Judge Lewis doesn’t have the authority to order the tearing down of Durzieh’s tower, she informed Durzieh to prepare to do so when the city properly re-examines the case. Neighbors were thrilled at Lewis’s decision but still livid at the nightmare they’ve had to live with.

“The site is in an appalling state,” neighbor Betty Travitsky told the Daily News. “There has been no upkeep. To live next to this is horrible. People walk by and laugh.”

Despite the judge’s decision, the Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA) still has the final say when they again re-examine the building plans and will provide a final decision on July 23.

Still, optimism is strong that the BSA will reverse its previous decision.

“Common sense says anyone in their right mind would rule to tear this aberration down because it is not and never was an alteration,” said Walter Maffei, an architect consulting with the neighbors. “But it’s lack of common sense and respect that got us to this point.”

401(K) via Flickr

It looks like the city may have screwed thousands of New Yorkers out of a tax break that benefits condo and co-op owners, according to a report by Crain’s.

The confusion came about when tens of thousands of New York condo and co-op owners received letters from the Department of Finance telling them that a change to an existing tax abatement that was passed by the legislature this past January disqualified them from collecting the break.

The problem is that the new legislation disqualifies secondary residences – but the department erroneously sent the letters to thousands of primary residences, which still qualify for the full tax break.

The financial implications are huge, as those incorrectly excluded from break could lose out on an extra $1,000. Who or what to blame for the screw up was not entirely clear:

“Some people have been in their homes, 20, 30 or 40 years and are getting these letters,” said Mr. [Warren] Schreiber, [co-president of the Co-Op and Condo Council in northeast Queens]. “I think what happened is that the Department of Finance’s records are out of date, but it’s causing a lot of confusion and chaos.”

And it’s not the first time a mistake like this has happened. Nearly two years ago, Finance Commissioner David Frankel acknowledged the department had erred on 15,000 property bills the city mailed that July because of a “computer glitch.”

But in this case, a Department of Finance spokesman said the agency had used available data to determine which of the city’s 360,000 condo and co-ops would qualify for the abatement, and automatically enrolled 230,000 of them. In instances where there was not enough information, the agency sent out 130,000 of the letters to homeowners saying they were not eligible for the tax break.

Still, all hope is not lost for those who incorrectly received the letter disqualifying them from the break. The letter does inform residents to fill out a form by April 1 and mail it back to verify that their address is indeed their primary residence.

The Department of Finance stated that the letter was useful for updating their records, but it hasn’t stopped residents, especially the elderly, from getting anxiety that their financial planning may be out of whack.

Do you own a condo or a co-op and incorrectly receive a letter from the Department of Finance? Let us know. Oh, yeah, and let the DOF know, too.

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