Buildings and Construction

Queens Tops Charts for NYC Construction Permits in 2014

A photo from Norman Towers.

In 2014, Queens was issued the highest number of full-building demolition and new building permits, according to New York City Department of Buildings data provided to Commercial Observer. The data showed that Queens obtained 643 new building permits and 575 full building demolition permits last year. This is an increase from 2013, when the borough was issued 593 new building permits and 510 full demolition permits.

“Development throughout the city has been encouraging as can be seen from the issuance of construction permits,” said Department of Buildings Commissioner Rick D. Chandler. “In Queens alone, over this past year there has been a combined increase of over 20 percent in issuance of new building and demolition permits, key indicators of continuing development. This can be attributable to a number of factors including city growth, and is certainly aided by the mayor’s affordable housing initiative.” Read More

Wrecking Ball

Manhattan Bed & Breakfasts Face Extinction

Manhattan BnB owner Anne Edris in her Avenue C BnB, which has recently been forced to close. (Emily Assiran)

“You can do this now, or we can come back later,” a representative from the Mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement Task Force said to Anne Edris, owner of East Village Bed & Coffee, a bed and breakfast in the East Village, who had just opened the front door. It was three days before Thanksgiving, at 8:30 a.m., and Ms. Edris, with a house full of guests behind her, asked the Task Force, which included a police officer, firefighter, and Department of Buildings employee, for a warrant. They informed her it would only take four hours to return with one, so she cooperated.

Ms. Edris let them into her small licensed operated facility, where she has run a business for the past 16 years, and hosted more than 60,000 guests, with over 50 percent repeat customers. She pays state, city, and hotel occupancy taxes for her business, and provides a unique neighborhood experience for world travelers. Swept up in legislation passed in 2010, designed to eliminate short-term rentals and illegal hotels in residential or single-room-occupancy buildings, Ms. Edris, along with many other legal B&B owners, were suddenly rendered illegal when the law was enforced in July 2011. Read More

Green NYC

DOB Commissioner, Real Estate Leaders Push Greener Buildings

Rick Chandler

A day after the People’s Climate March drew hundreds of thousands of activists and Mayor Bill de Blasio announced plans to cut the city’s emissions by 80 percent from 2005 levels by 2050, city Department of Buildings Commissioner Rick Chandler promoted the plan at an Urban Green Council conference for architects, engineers, environmental advocates and real estate industry leaders.

During the conference’s keynote, the former Hunter College administrator and DOB borough commissioner spoke specifically to property owners among the conference’s 130 attendees who will see buildings starting at 25,000 square feet subjected to the same retrofitting and auditing requirements as buildings of 50,000 square feet or greater under the Administration’s plan. Read More

The Lobby

Mayor Nominates BSA, Landmarks Commissioners

Bill de Blasio.

Mayor Bill de Blasio has nominated Margery Perlmutter as commissioner of the Board of Standards and Appeals. Adi Shamir Baron and John Gustafsson were also nominated as commissioners of the Landmarks Preservation Commission.

The nominations have been submitted to the City Council for final approval, according to a release issued by the Office of the Mayor. Read More

Real Estate and Politics

Mayor Taps Rick Chandler as DOB Commish [Updated]

Bill de Blasio.

Mayor Bill de Blasio has named Rick Chandler as the commissioner of the Department of Buildings and believes Mr. Chandler will make DOB a “truly customer-friendly agency,” he said while announcing a series of appointments at City Hall.

The mayor said that too many New Yorkers are “not having a good experience with DOB,” and added:  “We aim to change that.” Mr. Chandler will assume the role around July 28. Read More

Going Green

Green Group Warning Against Glass Towers

High Cholesterol Buildings

The nonprofit Urban Green Council, a coalition of architects, buildings owners and construction companies, released a new analysis entitled “High Cholesterol Buildings” calling for changes to building regulations that they say would cut down on glass towers’ high energy use, the Wall Street Journal reported over the weekend.

The New York affiliate of the LEED-certifying U.S. Green Building Council wants to correct what it calls a “loophole in our energy code” that allows building owners to trade mechanical upgrades for energy-sapping exteriors as part of its mission of advocating for greater efficiency in the city’s buildings. Read More

Green Building

City Department of Buildings Sustainability Chief Hails Energy Incentive

Gina Bocra of the Department of Buildings

The head of the city Department of Buildings’ greening efforts heralded a massive efficiency payout for building owners in a speech this morning in front of energy industry insiders at a Con Edison Solutions forum.

Gina Bocra, the agency’s chief sustainability officer, hailed a Con Ed and New York State Energy Research and Development Authority incentive called the “demand response program” that presents building owners with big checks to go with their energy savings in exchange for cutting back on usage and installing new technology. The only catch is that owners have to install the fully-operational equipment by June 1, 2016. Read More


Sam Chang’s Hotel ‘Promise’ to Rise in Midtown West

Sam Chang. (Credit: Wired New York)

Sam Chang will reportedly commence work on an 80-room Comfort Inn or Days Inn at 337 West 36th Street as part of a pledge to give his business associates a stake in a hotel before he retires.

Mr. Chang’s McSam Hotel Group could start construction on the 18-story lodgings in Midtown West as soon as six months from now after filing plans with the city last week. Read More

Construction Beat

Construction Fatalities Drop, Injuries and Accidents Rise

1 WTC (The Freedom Tower)

Last year, the number of construction-related deaths dropped in New York City, but the number of related accidents and injuries rose, Department of Buildings Acting Commissioner Thomas Fariello announced today.

The number of construction permits increased last year as the number of related deaths dropped to three compared with eight a year prior, representing a 62.5 percent decrease. Read More

REBNY 2014

REBNY Considers de Blasio’s City Hall

Bill de Blasio and Bill Bratton at Mr. Bratton's appointment as police commissioner. (Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty)

With the fate of millions of dollars in tax incentives and millions of square feet of office space in the balance, the city’s real estate industry is bracing for the impact of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s cabinet appointments. But the left-leaning Democrat who won the election last fall by attacking inequality and his predecessor, Michael Bloomberg, has thus far refrained from tapping any nominees hostile to new development. Read More

Sales Beat

Nordstrom Pays $102.5 M. for Midtown Flagship


Seattle-based luxury retailer Nordstrom has reportedly paid $102.5 million for the site of its future Midtown flagship store at 225 West 57th Street.

The seven floor store will anchor a massive 88-story, 1,550-foot residential condo tower that Extell Development is building at the site.

The retailer said its store will encompass 285,000 square feet when it Read More


Neighbors Fume Over One57 Permit

(Photo: Al Barbarino)

Neighbors of One57 are reportedly fuming around-the-clock after the Department of Buildings granted Extell Development a 24-hour work permit.

Residents are lashing out over a permit that allows Extell to run an exterior elevator and work on its crane through August 18, which is the latest of more than 300 such variances issued over the last year, Read More

Wired City

Mayoral Candidates Weigh in on Tech Expansion: John Liu


Mayor Bloomberg has been a vocal advocate of moving New York City toward the center of the tech world, but with the end of his third term approaching, the future of his vision is in jeopardy, especially where it concerns broadband technology. Throughout the day, Wired City will be publishing a series of interviews with several of this year’s crop of mayoral candidates, asking each where he or she stands on issues regarding broadband and how best to upgrade the city’s aging infrastructure. Read More


Another Setback for Joe Chetrit at Chelsea Hotel: Speaker Quinn Alleges Tenant Harassment

Joe Chetrit (Credit: Mathew Katz/DNAinfo)

The Department of Buildings ordered Joseph Chetrit to stop work at the Chelsea Hotel on Friday night, one day after City Council Speaker Christine Quinn sent a scathing letter asking the developer to do so, The Real Deal reports.

The order, the latest of a series of setbacks at the property, followed complaints from tenants that heat and gas service had been shut off at the site, leading DOB inspectors, a range of other city organizations and ConEdison to visit the site on Friday.

“HPD will be issuing violations for no heat and hot water and no gas as these conditions have not yet been addressed by ownership,” one city official told The Real Deal.

Once a mecca for bohemians, artists, writers and musicians, from Bob Dylan to Charles Bukowski to Iggy Pop, the famed “hotel” undergoes its own transformation, to the chagrin of some.

Ms. Quinn, in her letter, recalled the outstanding violation against Mr. Chetrit that was issued after construction workers broke through a tenant’s ceiling.

“You must stop this blatant harassment of your tenants,” Quinn wrote. Read More