Will insurers cover coronavirus-related business losses? We may soon find out

Chicago-based CNA Financial claims its policy doesn’t explicitly rule out virus-related lossesTRD WEEKEND EDITION /May 09, 2020 09:00 AMStaff

CNA Financial CEO Dino Robusto

CNA Financial CEO Dino Robusto

A business insurer’s position that it isn’t required to cover coronavirus-related losses is set to face a legal litmus test.

A Las Vegas-based company with a CNA Financial’s subsidiary’s policy filed a class-action lawsuit against the company in a Chicago federal court on Monday, according to Crain’s.

The company, Vegas Image, owns a distributor of gambling-themed candy and toys. The company argues that its policy doesn’t explicitly rule out losses “from the spread of viruses.”

Conversely, CNA Financial CEO Dino Robusto claimed on Monday that all the company’s policies “have exclusion barring coverage for viruses.”

“Our property policy exclusionary language does not provide coverage for COVID-19, and as such we never collect a premium for it,” he said during a conference call.

Vegas Image wants the court to order CNA to cover losses for all parties that hold its same policy. The outcome could have wider implications for other insurers and policyholders.

Some insurance policies explicitly cover events like coronavirus. Many insurers began excluding pandemic and disease coverage following the SARS epidemic of the 2000s, when many paid millions out in claims.[Crain’s] — Dennis Lynch

YIMBY Checks In On The Site Of 350 Park Avenue In Midtown East

350 Park Avenue, rendering from Vornado / Rudin Management350 Park Avenue, rendering from Vornado / Rudin Management

BY: Michael Young  8:00 AM ON APRIL 17, 2020

Perhaps the most exciting skyscraper project proposed for New York last year is 350 Park Avenue, a nearly 1,500-foot-tall skyscraper from Vornado Realty Trust and Rudin Management. After YIMBY broke the news on Vornado’s expected 2027 completion date for the tower back in February, we stopped by the site to check on the status of its current occupant. Located between East 51st and East 52nd Streets, a total of two edifices would need to be demolished to make way for the development.

350 Park Avenue. Photo by Tectonic

Vornado has stated that demolition cannot begin until the current leases expire at the end of 2023. Rudin Management owns the adjacent 23-story building to the immediate west at 40 East 52nd Street. This would also have to be demolished to make room for the expansive superstructure. As of now, an architect for the future supertall hasn’t been formally announced, but YIMBY will keep an eye out for any information.

Though the main rendering may not reflect the finished design, it nonetheless reveals the project’s height and design language, characterized by a dramatic wedge-shaped design culminating in twin architectural spires. Composed of four glass-clad sections that successively step back from the sidewalk, the building is a gentle, elegant homage to the classic New York setback pattern. Regardless of the final iteration, any building massing would likely feature wide eastern and western elevations and much slimmer northern and southern profiles.

Park Avenue and Midtown East as a whole are poised for a dramatic transformation over the next decade. Topped-out projects like One Vanderbilt and 425 Park Avenue have already made an impression on the Manhattan skyline and will both complete construction in the near future. In addition, JP Morgan Chase’s upcoming headquarters at 270 Park Avenue is underway and will bring another commercial office supertall to the fold.

350 Park Avenue is reported to be completed around 2027.

Supertall 9 DeKalb Avenue Begins Long-Awaited Ascent In Downtown Brooklyn

9 DeKalb Avenue. Rendering by SHoP Architects/JDS Development


Construction is finally about to go vertical at 9 DeKalb Avenue, the first supertall skyscraper in the outer boroughs. Designed by SHoP Architects and developed by JDS, the Downtown Brooklyn residential tower will stand 1,066 feet above the neighborhood.

Recent photos shot through the construction fence shows construction above street level. Workers were observed placing steel rebar in preparation for the concrete pours that will form the ground-floor columns and core walls of the 73-story skyscraper. The yellow construction crane was constantly in motion delivering materials to the site as crews put up the temporary metal formwork to support the ground-floor ceiling.

9 DeKalb Avenue. Photo by Michael Young

9 DeKalb Avenue. Photo by Michael Young

9 DeKalb Avenue. Photo by Michael Young

9 DeKalb Avenue. Photo by Michael Young

9 DeKalb Avenue. Photo by Michael Young

9 DeKalb Avenue. Photo by Michael Young

9 DeKalb Avenue. Photo by Michael Young

9 DeKalb Avenue. Photo by Michael Young

9 DeKalb Avenue. Photo by Michael Young

Meanwhile, the 160-year-old landmarked Dime Savings Bank of Brooklyn stands awaiting its complete restoration and integration into the 9 DeKalb Avenue project.

Looking at the front of the Dime Savings Bank of Brooklyn. Photo by Michael Young

Looking at the front of the Dime Savings Bank of Brooklyn. Photo by Michael Young

9 DeKalb Avenue will yield a total of 425 rental apartments and 150 condominiums, along with amenities including an outdoor terrace and a rooftop pool on top of the Dime Savings Bank. The domed edifice will serve as an entrance to the development’s 120,000 square feet of retail space along Flatbush Avenue, greeting visitors with its beautifully ornamented and richly colored former bank interiors. The southern corner of the parcel will retain the famous Junior’s Restaurant and Bakery, which is operating within a two-story structure. This is the only section of the land that was left untouched.

The closest subway trains are the B, Q, and R trains to the north at the DeKalb Avenue station; the the 2, 3, 4, and 5 trains to the south at the Nevins Street station; and the A, C, and G trains to the west at the Hoyt-Schermerhorn Streets station.

9 DeKalb Avenue is anticipated to be finished around 2022.


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: 200amsterdam.com)

200 Amsterdam (Credit: 200amsterdam.com)

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.”

Quantifying the rise and fall of NYC’s condo market

Nearly half of new condo units in Manhattan that came to market after 2015 remain unsold TRD New York /January 10, 2020 09:45 AMStaff

Gary Barnett

Gary Barnett

The last decade saw the development of ultra-luxury condos that altered New York City’s skyline — and the rise of gentrification and need for affordable housing.

More than 54,000 condos were erected in the last decade in the five boroughs by firms including Extell Development, which built some of the priciest. But a slow market at the top and excess inventory has led developers to offer concessions to convince buyers to sign on the dotted line. A data analysis prepared by Nancy Packes Data Services for the New York Times showed that nearly half of new condo units in Manhattan that came to market after 2015 remain unsold — 3,695 out of 7,727.

“You never had this kind of supply in these price ranges,” said Gary Barnett, the president and founder of Extell Development. “The $5 million to $10 million market is hammered — there’s way too much of it.”

Working class neighborhoods were also transformed by the influx of glassy towers: Williamsburg saw the most new condo units built, 3,201, between 2009 and 2019. The Queens neighborhoods of Flushing and Hunter’s Point added 3,075 and 2,484, respectively. In Manhattan, 23,204 units were delivered, concentrated in the Upper West Side, Midtown West, Tribeca, Lincoln Square and the Financial District.

The new towers coincided with the increase of median rents, especially in Brooklyn. Greenpoint and Williamsburg saw the greatest increase over the decade, where rents soared 54 percent, from $1,207 in 2010 to $1,854 in 2018, according to the Furman Center. [NYT] — Georgia Kromrei

NYC’s 10 biggest new real estate projects

The largest filed in January was for a massive office in Kips Bay

New York /February 10, 2020 09:00 AMBy Eddie Small Research by Yoryi de la Rosa

Clockwise from the top: 500 East 30th Street, 1 Ellis Street and 2555 Broadway (Credit: Google Maps)

Clockwise from the top: 500 East 30th Street, 1 Ellis Street and 2555 Broadway (Credit: Google Maps)

New York’s life-sciences sector got a major boost last month.

A roughly 418,000-square-foot building from NYC Health + Hospitals in Manhattan’s Alexandria Center for Life Science was the largest project filed in January — by a wide margin.

The second largest, Gary Barnett’s 22-story mixed-use development by 97th Street and Broadway on the Upper West Side, was almost 200,000 square feet smaller.

The 10 largest filed last month included projects in Queens, two in Manhattan, two in Brooklyn and one in Staten Island.

1. 500 East 30th Street, Manhattan
The largest building plan filed in January was a 417,734-square-foot office property in Kips Bay from NYC Health + Hospitals. It will stand 21 stories and 384 feet. It is part of the third phase of the Alexandria Center for Life Science, according to YIMBY.

2. 2555 Broadway, Manhattan
Gary Barnett’s Extell Development plans a 22-story project by 97th Street on the Upper West Side spanning 224,945 square feet. The development will have 215,866 square feet of residential space and 9,080 of commercial, and 130 residential units. Extell finished its assemblage for the project in 2017 by closing on 262 West 96th Street for $80 million. The property was previously home to a Gristedes supermarket.

3. 1 Ellis Street, Staten Island
A storage facility in Tottenville spanning 146,364 square feet grabbed the No. 3 spot. The structure from Charles Brown’s Ellis Storage LLC will stand three stories and 37 feet tall.

4. 88-20 153rd Street, Queens
The largest Queens project filed last month is from the Chetrit Group on its Mary Immaculate Hospital site in Jamaica. The residential building will span 132,085 square feet with 207 residential units, and it will stand 80 feet and eight stories tall. It is the fifth building the company is planning for the hospital site, along with a four-building, 481-unit complex at 150-13 89th Avenue.

5. 136-18 Maple Avenue, Queens
This mixed-use project in Flushing from developer Vicki Zhi will span 105,621 square feet and have 68 apartments. The project will include commercial and community space, and stand 14 stories and 147 feet tall. The building is one of many mixed-use developments on its way to the neighborhood.

6. 134-11 221st Street, Queens
The third Queens project to make January’s list comes from Myron Berman: a 72,130-square-foot building in Jamaica with 64,642 square feet of residential space and 7,488 square feet of industrial. It will stand four stories and 42 feet tall and have 81 residential units.

7. 35-01 36th Avenue, Queens
This mixed-use building in Astoria comes from the real estate company AKI. The 10-story project will span 43,423 square feet, split between 33,375 square feet of commercial space and 10,048 square feet of community space. It will stand 179 feet tall and feature nine parking spots.

8. 408 Lefferts Avenue, Brooklyn
The biggest Brooklyn project filed in January is a mostly residential building from United Elite Group in Prospect-Lefferts Gardens. The development will span 43,129 square feet, divided between 40,110 square feet of residential space and 3,019 of community space. It will stand six stories and 65 feet with 56 residential units.

9. 397 Kingsland Avenue, Brooklyn
This 40,000-square-foot Greenpoint parking garage is from the film and production company Broadway Stages. It will stand 35 feet tall and have 150 parking spaces.

10. 17-11 Hancock Street, Queens
January’s list closes out with a project in Ridgewood. Leo Kaufman filed plans for a 39,673-square-foot residential building that will stand seven stories and 70 feet tall with 60 residential units.

The 87th Annual Tree Lighting At Rockefeller Center

Rockefeller Center. Photo by Michael Young

Savannah Guthrie, Hoda Kotb, Craig Melvin, and Al Roker co-hosted the Christmas in Rockefeller Center TV special, while Access Hollywood’s Mario Lopez, WNBC-TV news anchor Stefan Holt, and News 4 New York anchor Natalie Pasquarella hosted from 7:00pm to 8:00pm. There were live performances from Derek & Julianne Hough, Idina Menzel, Lea Michele, Ne-Yo, Billy Porter, Straight No Chaser, Jordan Fisher, and Skylar Astin & Alex Newell from NBC’s Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist. Additional appearances by Miss America 2019 Nia Franklin, the Radio City Rockettes, Jon Bon Jovi, Chicago, Brett Eldredge, John Legend, and Gwen Stefani were also a big part of the show.

The Christmas tree, which is a Norway Spruce, comes from the town of Florida, NY and was planted as a sapling by Carol Schultz in 1959. It now stands 77 feet tall in the middle of the Big Apple and was shipped over 60 miles to its current resting place. It surpassed the height and weight of last year’s tree by five feet and two tons. Topping the evergreen off is a giant 900-pound Swarovski Crystal star that was designed by Daniel Libeskind and measures 112 inches in diameter. There are three million individual crystals that will brightly sparkle and shine in the daytime and nighttime thanks to LED backlighting. The crystals radiate from the center and are placed on 30 spikes. Over 50,000 multi-colored lights hug and wrap around the Christmas Tree.

The tree will be on display until January 17, 2020, when it will be taken down to be donated and used as lumber for Habitat For Humanity.

Atlas Capital buying West Village building for $80M

Investor co-developing northern portion of St. John’s Terminal siteTRD New York /December 02, 2019 04:35 PMBy Rich Bockmann

110 Leroy Street (Credit: Google Maps)

110 Leroy Street (Credit: Google Maps)

The developer that sold the site of Google’s future Hudson Square headquarters last year is not done with the neighborhood.

Atlas Capital Group is in contract to buy a large commercial building on the border of the West Village and Hudson Square, just a few blocks from the former St. John’s Terminal building that will house Google’s $1 billion office, sources told The Real Deal.ADVERTISING

The investment and development firm is paying $79.5 million for the nine-story, 80,000-square-foot building at 110 Leroy Street, according to a source familiar with the deal. The seller is Arthur Leeds Associates.

Representatives from Atlas Capital and Arthur Leeds did not respond to requests for comment. A CBRE team led by Darcy Stacom and Bill Shanahan marketed the property. The brokers couldn’t be reached.

Atlas Capital Group, headed by principals Jeff Goldberger and Andy Cohen, is familiar with the neighborhood. The company and its partner Westbrook Partners spent years negotiating a rezoning for the massive St. John’s Terminal a few blocks away in Hudson Square, a portion of which they sold to Oxford Properties Group early last year for $700 million.

Oxford is developing the southern part of the site into a 1.3 million-square-foot office building for Google. Atlas and Westbrook are reportedly planning to build somewhere between 350 and 430 apartments — a mix of market-rate and affordable/senior housing — on land they kept on the northern portion of the site.

Atlas has experience with both commercial and residential investments. The company co-owns a 1.1 million-square-foot former industrial building in Long Island City that Atlas and its partners repositioned as the trendy “Factory” office building. And Atlas developed the 10-unit, Annabelle Selldorf–designed condo building at 42 Crosby Street in Soho.

The immediate area around 110 Leroy Street is full of pricey new residential developments, such as Shibumi Development’s townhouse and condominium project at 601 Washington Street one block over and Property Markets Group’s 13-unit 111 Leroy Street condo directly across the street.