Cuomo’s executive order tells banks to give homeowners a break

Governor firms up call for moratorium on mortgage payments, foreclosuresTRD NEW YORK /March 21, 2020 09:04 PMBy Georgia Kromrei

Governor Andrew Cuomo (Credit: Getty Images)

Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order Saturday urging banks to postpone mortgage payments for 90 days for homeowners in financial distress because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The order states that “it shall be deemed an unsafe and unsound business practice” if state-regulated banks do not offer strapped borrowers forbearance on mortgages for 90 days. It demands the superintendent of the Department of Financial services write “emergency regulations” to ensure banks make the applications to receive the benefit widely available to consumers.ADVERTISING

The mortgage relief is directed toward homeowners who lose their jobs or are in financial distress because of the coronavirus. It does not apply to commercial loans secured by property.

Cuomo issued the executive order after his top aide Melissa DeRosa told reporters that “some people were detracting” from the measure, which was announced by the governor on Thursday. A memo issued by the Department of Financial Services hours after the announcement showed that postponing mortgages was a suggestion, not mandatory, casting doubt on Cuomo’s ability to dictate banks’ lending practices via press release.

But Saturday morning, DeRosa said that the Department of Financial Services had reached a deal with the banks. The heads of commercial banks had been negotiating directly with Cuomo’s office since earlier in the week, according to sources.

“[Department of Financial Services] actually struck an agreement with the banks. We try to do this in a way where we’re not dictating to them,” said DeRosa at a press conference in Albany.

Indeed, the measure does not specify how the government will ensure the banks comply with the order. But a finding of an “unsafe and unsound business practice” could subject financial institutions to fines by the regulatory agency, which oversees insurers and state-chartered banks.

As for renters, many may face challenges paying rent on April 1. To slow the spread of the virus, Cuomo has ordered that all non-essential workers stay home — leaving many unemployed or without pay.

Landlord groups say that relief for them must also come from the government, in the form of a tax abatement, a direct subsidy to renters or mandatory forbearance of their loans. Tenant groups demanded a suspension of rents during the crisis, but have so far stopped short of a full-blown rent strike. Sen. Michael Gianaris from Queens proposed a bill to forgive 90 days of rent in light of the coronavirus.

The executive order also states the superintendent can draft a regulation to restrict fees for ATM use, overdrafts and late credit card payments during the crisis. But it stops short of demanding the department’s superintendent, Linda Lacewell, do so.

Lacewell was appointed by Cuomo to the department in June of last year. Before that, she was the governor’s chief of staff, after having served as Cuomo’s special counsel since before he became governor.

500 West 25th Street’s Alabama Limestone Façade Revealed, In Chelsea

500 West 25th Street’s Alabama Limestone Façade Revealed, In Chelsea

500 West 25th Street, designed by GF55 Partners

BY: Michael Young 8:00 AM ON MARCH 13, 2020

500 West 25th Street is beginning to reveal more of its Alabama Limestone and glass envelope as the scaffolding comes down. Located at the corner of West 25th Street and Tenth Avenue in Chelsea immediately to the east of the High Line, the ten-story residential building is designed by GF55 Partners and being developed by GDS Development. L’Observatoire International is in charge of the façade lighting.

Recent photos show the grid of recessed floor-to-ceiling windows framed with angled pieces of cut stone. Much of the netting and scaffolding remains but should be disassembled as spring arrives.

500 West 25th Street, photo by Michael Young

500 West 25th Street, photo by Michael Young

500 West 25th Street, photo by Michael Young

500 West 25th Street, photo by Michael Young

Renderings seen on 500 West 25th Street’s website highlight the view from the High Line of the building’s cantilevered upper levels, loggias, and balconies. Homes are set to come with white oak cabinetry, natural stone countertops, and Gaggenau appliances. Master bathrooms will feature oversized walk-in showers, a freestanding bathtub, a marble accent wall, and heated marble flooring.

Looking south along the High Line

The main entrance and lobby is located on the corner of the northern elevation, while the adjacent ground-floor retail space takes up the rest of the double-height first story.

The main entrance and adjacent retail space

The main entrance and adjacent retail space

The main lobby and front desk

The main lobby

Walking into the main lobby

Perhaps the most eye-catching feature of the design is the eastern profile facing Tenth Avenue, which features an assembly of thin louvers in front of the windows that span the full height of 500 West 25th Street. They will create an architectural contrast with the rest of the structure while matching some of its subtle details and trims.

Looking southwest

The full-floor residences at 500 West 25th Street will occupy about 22,000 square feet, from levels two through eight. A total of nine units are planned, including a duplex penthouse on the upper floors that will include 12-foot-high ceilings and its own private rooftop terrace. More photos of the interior spaces can be viewed on the project’s main website.

500 West 25th Street could likely be completed by the end of the year.

Credit to YIMBY’s daily

City closes “loophole” that developers exploit to build towers

Clarification comes as war over 200 Amsterdam Avenue intensifiesTRD NEW YORK /March 02, 2020 05:45 PMBy Sylvia Varnham O’Regan

200 Amsterdam (Credit:

200 Amsterdam (Credit:

UPDATED March 2, 2020, 6:33 p.m.: The Department of Buildings on Monday said newly formed zoning lots cannot consist of partial tax lots, settling an issue that has dominated a contentious case over a condo development at 200 Amsterdam Avenue.

The clarification — issued in a sparsely worded bulletin — is effective immediately and is not retroactive, said Jane Meyer, the deputy press secretary at the mayor’s office. That means it won’t apply to the Amsterdam Avenue tower.ADVERTISING

In mid February a judge found that the city should not have let developers SJP Properties and Mitsui Fudosan America use a gerrymandered 39-sided zoning lot for the 668-foot tower, which topped out last summer. The decision contradicted previous decisions from the city’s Board of Standards and Appeals, which supported the Department of Buildings’ decision to issue the permit.

Lawyers for the developers relied on a historical interpretation that a zoning lot could consist of partial tax lots — drawn from the 1978 “Minkin Memo” — but a 2018 bulletin from Buildings offered a conflicting interpretation. The developers’ lawyers argued the latter bulletin was merely a draft and, moreover, that it should not be applied retroactively.

The latest bulletin clarifies the issue, going forward.

“The developers of 200 Amsterdam took advantage of a decades-old zoning interpretation to create a gerrymandered 39-sided zoning lot in order to construct a luxury building that is one of the tallest on the Upper West Side,” the city’s Meyer said in an email. “We are closing this loophole so that developers will no longer be able to cobble together partial tax lots for new buildings.”

In a statement, a spokesperson for the developers of 200 Amsterdam said that, “This bulletin clearly states previous applications of the Minkin Memo relying on partial tax lots, which includes numerous existing buildings in the city, are permissible, which includes our permit issued in 2017. Furthermore, the city recognizes that its new interpretation should not be applied retroactively. This is the fourth time the city has affirmed our permit.”

The lawyer representing opponents of the project had a decidedly different take.

“I’m glad that the Department of Buildings is recognizing what I consider obvious and what they have previously recognized in their draft [bulletin],” said Richard Emery. “I think their position regarding the currently issued permits that violate the zoning law is insupportable, especially with respect to 200 Amsterdam.”

It is not yet clear whether the city will join the developers in an appeal. In a statement, senior counsel Kimberly Joyce said the city is “nearing a decision about its appellate options.”