new building application was filed last week for a five-story building at 331 Saratoga Avenue in Ocean Hill. The city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) is listed as the owner on the permit. The vacant lot has been city-owned since the late ’70s, according to public records.

The SLCE-designed development between Dean and Bergen streets will include 80 apartments spread across 61,080 square feet. It will also have storage for 40 bicycles, 15 underground parking spaces, recreation and community space, laundry and a computer room.

Half of the units will be for families earning below the poverty line, according to a 2013 Crain’s article. The complex will be called Bergen Saratoga Apartments and the developer is Dunn Development, it said.

The design could be interesting. SLCE is also the architect of 388 Bridge Street, Brooklyn’s tallest building, and Williamsburg’s 250 North 10th Street. GMAP

Photo by Kate Leonova for PropertyShark


Yesterday HPD put out a request for proposals for the first phase of a big development project in East New York called the Livonia Avenue Initiative. The first phase of the project involves the development of four city-owned sites on Livonia Avenue between Pennsylvania Avenue and Williams Avenue; it’s supposed to bring around 225 low-income rentals and 68,000 square feet of ground-floor commercial space to the corridor. All told, the initiative—which will have a few other phases and stretch into Brownsville—is supposed to result in around 791 units of affordable housing. The lots will be transferred to the developers for $1 apiece. GMAP


HPD sent out a press release yesterday about its “list of 200 residential buildings that have been placed into the agency’s fourth round of the Alternative Enforcement Program (AEP). The AEP…is aimed at increasing the pressure on the owners of the City’s most distressed residential buildings to bring the properties up to code so that the residents are not forced to live in substandard and hazardous conditions.” Anyhow, Brooklyn had far and away the most buildings on the list (click through to see all the ones from Kings County) with a count of 99. The Bronx got dubious second-place honors with 70 properties; Manhattan had 23, Queens had seven, and S.I. had but one. To make the cut, a building has to meet crappiness criteria such as having “three or more open hazardous or immediately hazardous violations per unit issued in the past two years, and Emergency Repair Program (ERP) charges of $5,000 or more for the same time period to qualify. ERP charges are money owed by the owners to the City for repairs done by HPD to correct immediately hazardous violations that the owner failed to address. Residential buildings with between three and 20 units qualified if the building had five or more open hazardous or immediately hazardous violations per unit issued in the past two years, and emergency repair charges of $2,500 or more for the same time period. In this AEP round, the buildings with the highest ERP paid and unpaid in the last two years were selected.” The biggest of Brooklyn’s baddest in terms of number of units is 209 East 34th Street, pictured above, which has 70 apartments.
Photo via PropertyShark.


While we’re not so sure about its constitutionality, a new bill to be proposed by the Bloomberg administration would give the city more power to take proactive measures to fix up derelict buildings whose landlords who fail conform to certain safety standards. Under the plan, HPD could go into a building with a minimum of 27 uncorrected code violations and redo everything from roofs to entire electrical systems and then stick the negligent landlords with the bill; if the owner didn’t pay up, the city would put a lien on the building. The goal is to restore the ailing portion of the housing stock at a time when demand for housing in the city has never been stronger; the goal is 200 buildings a year for five years. Sounds like a good move to us, though if they really wanted to fix the problem they’d get rid of all rent controls.
City to Seek Broader Power Over Buildings [NY Times]
Photo by humain


When you want to convert a house that has been used and classified by the city as a Single Room Occupance (SRO) dwelling, you have to go through a cumbersome process with the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) designed to protect the rights of SRO residents. Unfortunately, as we found out first hand when we converted our house, despite its presumably good intentions, the process is marred by incompetent people and ridiculous bureaucratic hurdles.

HPD’s basic goal is to make sure that a tenant who’s been paying a couple of hundred bucks a month for a room for the last ten or twenty years isn’t booted out in the street. As the owner, you have to fill out a lengthy questionnaire with all the current and former residents’ names and known addresses (even if the house is empty, as ours was when we bought it). Then HPD is supposed to make an effort to contact all these people to make sure they weren’t forced out against their will. In our case, after this mail campaign came up clean, we were told over the phone that everything was fine and we should be getting our Certificate of No Harassment (CNH) within the week. When we called back three weeks later, we found out that HPD had decided to send someone out on foot to try to talk to all the former tenants, thus adding another month to the timeline. At some point in the process, an HPD inspector has to come inspect your house to make sure there are no signs of tenants still living there; at the time (back in late 2004), there was only one inspector for the five boroughs!