04/15/14 4:00pm

Tenants at Homewood Gardens Estates in East Flatbush claim their landlord is trying to push them out in favor of white tenants willing to pay higher rents, according to a lawsuit filed in federal court. The suit alleges that landlords Yeshaya Wasserman, Shay Wasserman and Yitzchok Rambod ignored repair requests, forced evictions and offered cash buyouts, the New York Post reported. The East Flatbush residents also say the landlords consistently refuse to make repairs for black tenants, fail to cash rent checks and delay the delivery of front door keys.

“In contrast, white tenants move into renovated apartments, their rent checks are cashed, they receive monthly rent statements and they are not subject to harassment,” the suit states, according to the Post.

The lawsuit also claims black residents have seen their rents double, while white tenants have seen minimal rent increases at lease renewal time. Wasserman and his partners bought the buildings on Brooklyn Avenue and Hawthorne Street in 2009. The state’s Tenant Protect Unit has been investigating Wasserman since last fall, when it subpoenaed documents from all eight of his properties in Brooklyn.

Brooklyn Landlords Pushing Black Tenants out for Whites: Suit [NY Post]
Closing Bell: State Investigates Crown Heights, Flatbush Landlord for Tenant Abuse [Brownstoner]

Image via Google Maps

03/05/14 11:30am

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Coney Island gardeners outraged over the razing of their garden to make way for the redevelopment of the landmarked Childs restaurant filed a lawsuit against the city today, according to a press release they sent us. The 16-year-old community garden on West 22nd Street was legally a park and Parks Department property, according to the statement.

A consultant for the city told The New York Post the garden was “decommissioned” as a park in 2004.

The Boardwalk Community Garden, Coney Island and the New York City Community Garden Coalition filed an Article 78 petition challenging the environmental review and approval of the outdoor amphitheater project, which was championed by former Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz. They plan a press conference on the steps of Brooklyn Borough Hall at noon today to announce the lawsuit.

Coney Islanders Want to Protect Their Garden From Marty’s Theater [Brownstoner]
Photo via Inhabitat

02/21/14 10:00am

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A settlement has been reached in the Long Island College Hospital court case, both parties announced yesterday afternoon, but the details of the settlement will not be available until this afternoon.

The battle over the future of the hospital is a familiar one in Brooklyn these days, as the rising value of land here prompts libraries, churches and, most recently, Junior’s Cheesecake to sell all or a portion of their properties to developers to make over into bigger, denser buildings of luxury residences.

So far, what is known of the LICH settlement is that SUNY (LICH’s owner) must solicit new proposals for the property. SUNY will be required to give more weight to proposals that would keep LICH a full-service hospital. SUNY will be allowed to withdraw from running the hospital in May. Bidders must meet a minimum price in line with the value of the property, estimated to be around $228,000,000 or $278,000,000, said The New York Times.

In recent days, community groups proposed a community-based co-op health care system throughout the borough. Hospital boards of directors, including at struggling Interfaith in Bed Stuy, would be replaced by new boards made up of local residents, patients and employees, DNAinfo reported. LICH advocates are also calling for a study of the health care needs of the LICH service area, The Brooklyn Eagle said.

SUNY has been accused of contempt of court for ignoring a judge’s orders to remain open and operating at the same level of service as it offered in July. Developers who put in bids are now saying the process is unfair, said the Eagle. LICH supporters and plaintiffs include the Brooklyn Heights Association, Boerum Hill Association, Cobble Hill Association, Carroll Gardens Neighborhood Association, Wykoff Gardens Association, Riverside Tenants Association, the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA), Concerned Physicians of LICH and 1199 SEIU.

Mayor de Blasio and Public Advocate Letitia James will announce the details of the settlement this afternoon at City Hall.

02/19/14 10:45am

A partial steel structure is up at 297 North 7th Street, where the project is the subject of a lawsuit. The building is supposed to be a nine-story school with 34,827 square feet, according to new building permits.

We’re not sure if the site has been active recently. When we went by we didn’t see any workers, but it was after hours on a weekday. After building permits were initially approved in August, days later two real estate firms sued the developer for allegedly failing to pay a commission they were due for finding a tenant for the space, private school company MetSchools, as The Real Deal reported at the time.

The developer is Harry Einhorn – yes, that same Harry Einhorn we wrote about yesterday. He was convicted of fraud in 2002 and has been in the news for raising the rent on a senior center and day care nearby as well as plans to build a huge condo development on 4th Avenue.

01/30/14 9:30am

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Last night we received a copy of this letter from Broken Angel creator Arthur Wood to developer Alex Barrett. The rather ominous letter says the foreclosure at 4-6 Downing Street isn’t final. “I am sure Madison did not tell you that,” the letter continues. “I advise you to get your money back from Madison good luck with that!” Wood concludes: “Be further advised that if you ignore this and go ahead with your renovation, you are taking the risk of the lose [sic] of this property and whatever money you put into it.”

The return address on the letter also revealed that Wood is now residing in Beacon, N.Y. (or at least is receiving mail there). We reached out to Barrett for comment but have not yet heard anything.

Update: Barrett told us he has not received the letter. Otherwise, he had no comment.

A group of Prospect-Lefferts Gardens residents gathered yesterday at Chester Court to explain their lawsuit against a developer who wants to construct a 23-story luxury and affordable development on the lot next door. The neighborhood activists and their lawyers are requesting a court order to require the state housing agency to conduct a more thorough environmental impact study for 626 Flatbush Avenue, because developer Hudson Companies is receiving $72 million in public funds for the project. They’re also requesting an injunction to prevent the developer from demolishing the two-story commercial building on the property or moving forward with construction.

The 80/20 development is an as-of-right project that doesn’t require a variance for the height. However, community members insist that the building will fundamentally change the character of the neighborhood, which is mostly low-rise four- and six-story buildings. The basis of their challenge is that the property is right next to two nationally recognized historic landmarks, Prospect Park and Lefferts Manor, and the state Housing Financing Agency didn’t take that into consideration in their environmental review.

Prospect Park East Network hopes they can negotiate the tower’s height down to nine stories, distributing the same units over a wider footprint, according to a petition on its website.

“Our clients are concerned that this tower will lead to tenant displacement, as landlords see new opportunities in a high rent market,” said Rachel Hannaford, senior staff attorney at Legal Services NYC. “In recent years, developments like this one have changed the character of Brooklyn neighborhoods and forced the most vulnerable out of their homes and communities.”

Those who live on Chester Court are concerned that the building will not only cast a shadow over their little block but ultimately force them to move.

“When we look at a studio apartment building in this building, it’s $1,900 or $2,000 a month,” said 2 Chester Court resident Derek Edwards. “We’re solidly in the middle class — my wife works as a nurse in a hospital. And we just couldn’t afford it.”

“We are disappointed that opponents of development in the neighborhood have resorted to a lawsuit against an as-of-right project that will bring over 50 affordable units to the neighborhood, as well as new retail and community facility space,” said Hudson Companies principal David Kramer. He also told Crain’s, “Nothing says happy holidays and welcome to the neighborhood like a NIMBY lawsuit in the guise of an environmental challenge.”

Group Plans to Sue Over Planned High-Rise Development in Prospect Lefferts Gardens [Brownstoner]

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A group of residents and community groups said yesterday they intend to sue to stop development of a planned 23-story luxury tower at 626 Flatbush Avenue in Prospect Lefferts Gardens. The suit against New York State Housing Finance Agency and developer Hudson Companies Inc. contends that more than $72 million in public funds were approved for the development without a “proper environmental impact study as required by state law,” according to a press release sent out by the group.

“The building in Prospect Lefferts Gardens would be in the midst of a neighborhood that is otherwise largely comprised of six-story or smaller buildings, and would present serious economic and environmental issues for the historic neighborhood,” the release continued.

The group includes the Prospect Park East Network, Flatbush Development Corporation, Flatbush Tenant Coalition and Prospect Lefferts Gardens Neighborhood Association, among others. The group plans to hold a press conference to announce its lawsuit Thursday at 11 am in Chester Court.

The development by Hudson Companies is as-of-right, which means it complies with all existing zoning regulations and does not need any special permits or variances.

Rendering via Hudson Companies

11/19/13 10:00am

A lawsuit over payment has supposedly brought construction at City Point in downtown Brooklyn to almost a complete standstill, according to a story in New York Yimby. According to an anonymous source quoted by the publication, 120 workers walked off the site November 11 in connection with the suit. The blog also alleges that City Point’s developer, Albee Development, has failed to pay several contractors involved in the project.

Everything started when Albee replaced its concrete contractor, Casino Development, with another contractor earlier this month. Afterward, Casino filed suit against Albee disputing its payment and alleging that the developer had prevented Casino from removing its equipment, including more than $1,000,000 in steel framework.

City Point spokesperson Tom Montvel-Cohen told us that the workers had not “walked off” at City Point but had left because the contractor was replaced. Albee removed Casino from the project because the contractor did not meet agreed-upon construction milestones, he said. He also said that City Point is not delinquent in paying any of its contractors and that “erection of steel and masonry are proceeding without interruption.”

This is not the first lawsuit City Point has dealt with. In May, a group of unions, politicians and community groups sued the city and the developer over allegedly low wages. The suit was dismissed in October.

Legal Issues Halt City Point’s Phase II [NY Yimby]
Rendering by CookFox

10/31/13 9:30am

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Forest City Ranter last week sued New York City to ask for a reduction in the assessed value of one of its as-yet-unbuilt Atlantic Yards sites. Forest City is seeking to reduce the amount it would pay in tax, DNAinfo reported.

The developer already has received at least $761 million in subsidies from the government, according to the publication. The site in question, on the southern side of the project, is Block 1129 — currently a parking lot. The Finance Department valued it at $11,200,000. FCR says it’s worth about $1,600,000. Technically, FCR doesn’t pay property tax, but rather something called “payments in lieu of taxes,” or PILOTs, because it leases the land from the city.

If all this sounds familiar, that’s because last year the company filed another lawsuit charging the city had overvalued Barclays Center. Three days after DNAinfo reported the lawsuit, FCR dropped it, saying it was filed in error.

Above, the railway over which some of the Atlantic Yards project will be built.

Atlantic Yards Builder Sues City in Attempt to Cut “Tax” Payments [DNAinfo]

10/28/13 10:00am

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Some investors are suing some developers for fraud concerning an unspecified address in Williamsburg, according to an item that appeared in publication Law360 and was picked up by The Real Deal.

We searched public records and found the LLC is connected to three addresses on one block, one of which, 195 Berry Street, above, is part of a complex along North 4th Street between Berry and Bedford where Whole Foods is supposed to be locating. That particular site has been stalled for years, although recently we noticed the roof had been removed.

The lawsuit by financial backers Cornwall Management and Russian investor Oleg Soloviev alleges that developer North 3rd Development, hedge fund Thor United, and Atlant Capital Holdings purposefully misled the investors to defraud them of $2.2 million by defaulting on their loan agreements, then arranging a short sale of the property to a company controlled by one of the developers. The suit asks for $3.6 million.

The entity North 3rd Development is connected with 195 Berry, 248 Bedford, and the townhouses at 129 North 3rd Street, according to PropertyShark. The Real Deal specifies that the property in question is a “$119 million residential project.” Anyone know more?

NYC Developers Bilked Investors in $119M Project, Suit Says [Law360]
Williamsburg developers Sued for Fraud in $119M Project [TRD]
Roof Gone at 193 Berry Street [Brownstoner]
Big Deals in ‘Burg [Brownstoner]

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Had a judge known Forest City Ratner changed its Atlantic Yards construction timetable from 10 years to 30 years in 2009, Barclays Center may never have been built, according to a ruling in a legal case about the controversial development made public yesterday. In her decision, she said that the Empire State Development Corporation owes community groups legal fees incurred during a lawsuit to compel an environmental impact study for the second phase of the project. Because of an agreement with the ESDC, Forest City Ratner will have to pay the costs, according to a press release about the matter put out by one of the plaintiffs, Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn. “We’re gratified by today’s decision, but the fact remains that, as Justice Friedman suggests, had the ESDC and Forest City Ratner not knowingly misrepresented the facts to the court, the entire Atlantic Yards project, including the heavily subsidized Barclays Center, would never have gotten off the drawing board,” said Candace Carponter, Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn’s legal director, in the release.

Judge Slams ESDC in Decision Awarding Fees to Atlantic Yards Challengers [AYR]

08/29/13 9:00am

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The condo board of 96 Rockwell Place has filed a lawsuit against the building’s developers in New York State Supreme Court because the building has no permanent certificate of occupancy. The conversion of the former piano factory was finished in 2009 and a temporary c of o expired in July, according to a story in The Real Deal. “The lapsed TCO has all but halted the ability of the condominium’s residents to sell, refinance, [or] obtain homeowner’s insurance, but even worse, may have caused many unit owners to default on their mortgages,” said the suit. The building was converted by Joshua Landau and Eric Derector. “The sponsor’s interest is, and always has been aligned with the condominium board,” said Landau said in an email to The Real Deal. “The Department of Buildings has granted numerous TCOs in the past for the premises and we are working diligently to resolve any additional requirements they may have. We expect the matter to be resolved as soon as possible.” In July, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman told the developers to offer to let buyers out of their contracts, after the condo board complained about construction and financing problems with the building.

Fort Greene Condo Board Sues Over Missing CofO [TRD]