Land Use Updates

Press Coverage
REAL ESTATE WEEKLY
Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Gamma Real Estate will challenge the decision in front of the city’s Board of Standards and Appeals, or BSA, a process Kalikow said he believes will be “very objective, very black and white” because of how much progress was made on the site prior to the zoning change.

If the BSA does not grant the appeal, the developer has already taken steps for a potential lawsuit, Kalikow said, including sending a letter to Councilman Ben Kallos, telling him not to delete any emails related to the case.

Kallos, who represents the Upper East Side, has championed the re-zoning effort at city hall since a group of his constituents raised the issue in 2015. He said had the proposed change not been stuck in the preapproval stage for more than a year, it would have passed through the council well before construction began on the site.

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Press Coverage
CBS New York
Monday, December 4, 2017

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Construction on upscale condominiumshas been stopped in its tracks on Manhattan’s east side.

New zoning rules now say the controversial tower is too tall.

It’s known as Sutton 58 — the site of a 62-story condo building under construction.

Last Thursday, a City Council vote to limit the construction of tall towers on side streets in the area, led to a stop-work order.

“New Yorkers are sick and tired of out-of-control, out-of-scale overdevelopment, and for so very long, no one would stand up for real estate,” City Councilman Ben Kallos (D-5th) said.

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Press Coverage
Crain's New York

Last week City Councilman Ben Kallos shepherded through his chamber a 10-block rezoning of the Sutton Place area that will result in shorter and squatter buildings than are currently allowed. He said they would fit in with the varied character of the tony enclave without sacrificing too much of the square footage that could be built in the future. While that sounds like a reasonable proposal, his motivation was far different. Kallos and a group of residents known as the East River Fifties Alliance wanted to zone out of existence a luxury condo tower being built along East 58th Street. To do so, they pushed the limits of the city's land-use rules in the same way that developers are often criticized for doing.

So blatant was their gambit that the City Planning Commission put a clause in the rezoning to protect the 800-foot project. But Kallos removed it and then fast-tracked his legislation's approval to ensure the developer, Gamma Real Estate, could not complete a foundation in time to squeak in under the old zoning rules.

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Press Coverage
Wall Street Journal
Sunday, December 3, 2017

Mr. Kalikow put much of the blame for the shutdown on the local councilman, Ben Kallos, a Democrat. Mr. Kallos signed the application for the zoning change, along with the East River 50s Alliance, and pressed officials to expedite it.

Mr. Kallos’s support was crucial in the council as other members followed his lead on the issue, a courtesy usually extended on local land-use issues.

“I take full credit for it,” Mr. Kallos said, after hearing of Mr. Kalikow’s complaints. He said the developer is welcome to pursue his rights under the law, but that eventually he might find there already are too many super-tall buildings “intended for billionaires.”

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Press Coverage
Upper East Side Patch
Friday, December 1, 2017

The cobblestone-paved road has been a a vital open space in the neighborhood for nearly four decades, City Councilman Ben Kallos said Friday.

"When I got elected four years ago I promised I would protect as much open space as possible," Kallos said Friday. "Everyone here on the Upper East Side knows that we don't have enough open space and we rank among the last in the city for open space." Kallos said Friday.

 

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Press Release
Friday, December 1, 2017

James Cagney Place Officially Designated a City Plaza

After 42 Years, Closed Section of East 91st Street Becomes Official Plaza

New York, NY,– Residents at James Cagney Place today, welcomed the news that a section of East 91st Street that has been closed to vehicular traffic for more than 40 years -- and renamed James Cagney Place in 1989 -- was officially recognized as a Pedestrian Plaza under the NYC Department of Transportation’s (DOT)  NYC Plaza program Round 10. The award notice came after three years of effort by Community Board 8 Members Rita Popper and Dave Rosenstein, with support from Council Member Ben Kallos, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and in partnership with sponsor Ruppert-Yorkville (R-Y) Management, which helped form Friends of James Cagney Place LLC.

In 2017, the Friends of James Cagney Place organized free events including a jazz festival, movie night, Halloween Parade, and the tree lighting to build community support and demonstrate the import of a protected plaza as a community resource. These events are in addition to daily use by residents walking their dogs, seniors enjoying passive recreation, and children sledding on this section of Carnegie Hill when it snows.

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Press Coverage
Next City
Monday, November 27, 2017

Meanwhile, legislation that passed the New York City Council earlier this month aims to hold local landlords accountable for their POPS. The rules — part of a package authored by Council Member Ben Kallos — would require additional signage in all POPS areas detailing amenities and hours of operation, and include a website address where visitors could find out more information and register complaints. Landlords who don’t comply could face fines of between $4,000 and $10,000.

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Press Coverage
PIX11
Wednesday, November 22, 2017

The DOB statement also puts it in accord with new legislation. Last week, City Councilmembers Ben Kallos and Daniel Garodnick sponsored bills that increase fines for POPS violations and require landlords and developers to post signs that clearly explain what POPS amenities are available in buildings that have them.

The bills passed in City Council, and are expected to be signed in to law by Mayor Bill De Blasio before the end of the year.

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Press Release
Tuesday, November 21, 2017

I am pleased that the Spence School, the principals of P.S. 151 and P.S. 527, and the Department of Education have agreed in principal to the common goal of opening a state of the art recreational facility to our local public-school students, and to the stated timeline for doing so.

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Press Coverage
The Real Deal
Monday, November 20, 2017

Last week, the City Planning Commission approved a controversial rezoning of 10 blocks in Sutton Place but included a clause that would exempt Gamma’s project from the change. Local Council member Ben Kallos, who is a co-sponsor of the rezoning application, is pushing to have the grandfather clause removed before the full council votes on the measure. The rezoning will impose “tower on a base” standards in the area, which means that 45 to 50 percent of a building would need to be built below 150 feet.

Kallos said the grandfather clause might be a “red herring” for extending the rezoning process for another two weeks or so. A change to the application, like removing the clause, would send the measure back to City Planning for review, giving Gamma more time to complete the foundation.

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Press Coverage
AM New York
Thursday, November 16, 2017

The area’s councilman, Ben Kallos, said he fields complaints daily about overdevelopment and is worried the city is not ready to absorb the population boom it is experiencing.

“They don’t have the school seats we need for the people living here and moving here,” he said. “The Second Avenue Subway is already surpassing ridership goals and they are adding more and more trains.”

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Press Coverage
AM New York
Wednesday, November 15, 2017

But the local City Councilman, Ben Kallos, says he plans to remove the grandfathering clause and promptly pass the prior plan.

“This took more than three years to bring it from a community concern about billionaire’s row extending into a residential neighborhood,” Kallos said, referencing several luxury residential skyscrapers in the works just south of Central Park. “New Yorkers are frustrated with overdevelopment, regardless of what neighborhood that they’re in.”

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Press Coverage
Curbed
Friday, November 17, 2017

One such violator is Donald Trump, who helped bring attention to the issue in 2015 after a black marble bench vanished from the pedestrian atrium of Trump Tower and was replaced with an unapproved sales counter. It has since reappeared, but the Trump Organization was still fined $10,000. In response to the bench drama, three new bills to protect POPS were introduced in the City Council this year, sponsored by Council Members Ben Kallos and Daniel Garodnick.

Other legislation from Council Members Kallos and Garodnick requires additional signage in all POPS detailing amenities and hours of operation, as well as a website for the public to find more information or to register complaints.

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Press Release
Thursday, November 16, 2017

New York, NY – Over 538 privately owned public spaces (POPS) attached to 329 buildings that received additional area to build will be required to provide the amenities promised or face steep fines for bad landlords, under legislation that passed the Council today. The legislation is part of package authored by Land Use Chair David Greenfield and Council Member Ben Kallos.
 
In August 2016, Trump Tower Commercial, LLC, was fined $10,000 in violation of their POPS agreement for having an unapproved sales counter in a space designated for the public. The New York Times has highlighted the shortcomings and non-compliance of POPS in 19771987, and 1998 followed by the publication of “Privately Owned Public Space: The New York City Experience,” authored by Jerold Kayden and the Municipal Art Society in 2000. Comptroller Scott Stringer audited 333 POPS finding 275 had not been inspected by Department of Buildings in four years with more than half failing to provide all required amenities in April of 2017.

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Press Coverage
Bloomberg Business
Wednesday, November 15, 2017

The pleasure may be fleeting though. Councilman Ben Kallos, one of the applicants on the rezoning proposal, said he’ll attempt to remove the grandfathering clause when the full city council considers the matter later this month -- the final step in a long bureaucratic process.

“This is a citywide push against overdevelopment,” Kallos said in an interview. “It has to do with a Billionaires’ Row tower that has no place in residential neighborhoods.”

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Press Coverage
Crain's New York
Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Gamma's victory was short lived, however, as Ben Kallos, the Upper East Side's city council member, vowed to snip the newly created lifeline once the proposal lands on his desk.

"I disagree with the grandfathering clause, and I plan to remove it from this application and move forward," he told Crain's.

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Press Coverage
Curbed
Wednesday, November 15, 2017

The neighborhood rezoning already has the backing of several elected officials, most notably City Council member Ben Kallos, who represents the area. He has vowed to remove the City Planning-proposed clause when the project comes before the Council next month, so this tussle is far from over.

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Press Coverage
The Real Deal
Thursday, November 16, 2017

The application now heads to the City Council, where chances don’t look great for Gamma to escape the zoning change. Local Council member Ben Kallos, who backed the a local community group’s efforts to rezone the area, indicated that he plans to remove the grandfathering clause from the application. The City Council tends to defer to the local council member when it comes to land use applications. The council is expected to vote on the zoning change by the end of the month.

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Press Coverage
Commercial Observer
Thursday, November 2, 2017

The application grows out of Gamma Real Estate’s 3 Sutton Place (now called Sutton 58). The project was previously enmeshed in squabbles between its original developer and lender. Now the project has been hit with the ERFA zoning application co-signed by Councilmen Ben Kallos and Dan Garodnick, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and State Senator Liz Krueger and proposing capping the height of the building. Why? A recent article in Commercial Observer suggests that Gamma officials believe the zoning application stems from the tower’s neighbors complaining that they would lose their views.

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Press Coverage
Crain's New York
Saturday, November 4, 2017

Since August 2008, the front of the Department of Buildings' headquarters in lower Manhattan has been covered by a sidewalk shed. The unsightly steel-and-wood structure outside 280 Broadway stood because for years the city had set aside no money to pay to fix the crumbling facade.

"Thankfully, work has commenced as of a few months ago," Patrick Wehle, an assistant buildings commissioner, said at a City Council hearing last week. But the point had been made: Because it's much costlier to fix a façade than to maintain a shed that devours sidewalk space, blocks sunlight and hurts businesses, and no deadline to remove it, sheds have spread across the city. There are now 8,843—about 200 miles worth—and they pop up any time a building is built or repaired, as Crain's documented in a cover story last year.

Late last year City Councilman Ben Kallos sponsored a bill to stop the scourge and last week a hearing was finally held to discuss it.

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Press Coverage
Our Town
Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Over the past decade, a forest of slender, cloud-piercing towers has been shoehorned into modest-sized lots along West 57th Street and lower Fifth Avenue. Skyscrapers on broader footprints have shot up from the Hudson Yards to the World Trade Center.

While not on the same scale, even the Upper West Side — long resistant to bulky, boxy, outsized glass-sheathed structures — has been getting its fair share since 2007, when the 37-story Ariel East and 31-story Ariel West first dwarfed its neighbors in the Broadway corridor.

For years, the Upper East Side, with plenty of exceptions, was a low-rise redoubt. Not anymore. The dawn of the Second Avenue subway, and a long-anticipated, if embryonic, eastward flow of residents, has fueled a construction boom that is literally raising the roof on the neighborhood.

And it has already provoked a significant backlash: Community Board 8, which represents the old Silk Stocking District, and City Council Member Ben Kallos, who has campaigned to “Stop Super-Scrapers,” are backing a proposal to rein in the loftier heights sought by dozens of developers.

“No one wants to live in the shadow of a billionaire,” Kallos said in an interview. “When you have buildings that are 60- or 100-feet high, and then suddenly someone wants to build 500-feet high or taller, well, that is when folks take exception.”

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Press Coverage
The Real Deal
Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Local City Council member Ben Kallos claimed Fetner plans to cluster the affordable apartments on lower floors and reserve the upper flowers for higher-paying tenants. But representatives for Fetner and NYCHA deny that.

Kallos said he would support the infill program only if it was fully affordable and argued that the $25 million Fetner paid the agency for the land was far too low. “It would be a violation of anyone’s fiduciary duty at a company to sell off all of your assets, leaving you without the money you need to maintain your existing properties and no plan to get out of it,” he said. “There are some apartments in my district that cost $25 million,” the council member added.

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Press Coverage
Crain's New York
Tuesday, October 24, 2017

 

We are getting ready to fight,” said City Councilman Ben Kallos, a critic of residential skyscrapers who supports the board’s proposal and is working to advance it from idea to reality. He has reason to be hopeful.

The City Planning Commission held a hearing last week on another proposal in Kallos’ district that would limit heights in Sutton Place.

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Press Coverage
Commercial Observer
Thursday, October 19, 2017

Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration has championed the expansion of affordable housing throughout all five boroughs, but he, as well as the City Planning Commission, opposed the ERFA’s original rezoning proposal, which was backed by several community representatives, including Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and Councilman Ben Kallos, who represents the residents of Sutton Place. New York State Senator Liz Krueger has backed the proposal, and recently, New York Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney signed on in support of the ERFA’s mission, having already written and voiced concerns to the CPC on the organization’s behalf, according to an ERFA spokeswoman.

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Press Coverage
Curbed
Thursday, October 19, 2017

Previously the rezoning wanted to curtail the height of buildings in this area to 260 feet, but after City Planning raised concerns about that rezoning, the Alliance altered its rezoning proposal.

This latest effort has the backing of several local elected officials including City Council member Ben Kallos. In order for Gamma to move forward with its current plan for the tower, it will have to complete construction on the foundation by Thanksgiving. That’s basically impossible, Kalikow told AM New York.

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