Monthly Archives: January 2012

NY home foreclosures up 2%

The number also increased by 7.4% in New Jersey and 5.2% in Connecticut, while dropping by the greatest amount on the west coast. “(It’s) a tale of two countries,” says an analyst.

(Bloomberg) – The number of homes in the foreclosure pipeline is increasing in states including New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, where the process is slowed by courts, as Arizona, California and Nevada digest their backlog.

Home loans that were delinquent or in foreclosure fell in three states hit hard by the housing market collapse, dropping 19% in Nevada, 21% in California and 25% in Arizona in the year through Nov. 30, Lender Processing Services Inc. reported Friday. At the same time, they rose 7.4% in New Jersey, 5.2% in Connecticut and 2% in New York, as mandatory judicial procedures delayed seizures.

“(It’s) a tale of two countries,” said Herb Blecher, senior vice president at LPS Applied Analytics, a unit of the Jacksonville, Fla.-based mortgage-services company. “There are certainly two different scenarios that can play out.”

The pace of foreclosures slowed in the past year in so-called judicial states after banks and loan servicers faced investigations over documentation procedures used to seize property. Speedier foreclosures may allow housing markets to recover faster while not giving homeowners as much opportunity to stop the repossession of their properties, Mr. Blecher said.

The 24 judicial states include Florida, where 23% of homes with mortgages were delinquent or in foreclosure, the most of any state, Lender Processing Services said. The state also took the longest to foreclose, with an average of 1,017 days of delinquency in November, followed by Maine, New York, Vermont and New Jersey, all judicial states.

The average U.S. loan was 667 days delinquent when a foreclosure sale was held. The average was 839 days for judicial states and 587 for non-judicial states. Homes sold in foreclosure auctions were an average of 659 days delinquent in California, 629 days in Nevada and 541 days in Arizona, where court approval isn’t needed.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke this week called the weakness in the housing market a “significant barrier” to U.S. economic health and said Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government sponsored enterprises that control the majority of mortgages, might have to bear greater losses to stoke a broader recovery.

“The large inventory of foreclosed or surrendered properties is contributing to excess supply in the for-sale market, placing downward pressure on house prices and exacerbating the loss in aggregate housing wealth,” he said in a Jan. 4 report to congressional leaders.

The U.S. delinquency rate fell to 7.7% in November for mortgages more than 90 days late, compared with 8.2% a year earlier, according to Lender Processing Services. The total number of loans that were delinquent or in foreclosure fell to 6.26 million, down 24% from their January 2010 peak. The number of homes that had received a foreclosure notice and were awaiting seizure by a bank was 2.1 million, little changed from a record 2.22 million in March.


Cuomo wants nation’s biggest convention center

In laying out a plan with $25billion in economic development initiatives, Gov. Andrew Cuomo says that constructing the nation’s largest convention center —and razing Javits—is a priority.

Jan 4th, 2012 — Article by: Jeremy Smerd, Crains New York.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo outlined his administration’s second year priorities
Wednesday in a State of the State speech that described $25 billion worth of economic development i

nitiatives. At the top of the list for New York City is a push to build the country’s largest conve

ntion center in Queens, raze the Jacob K. Javits Center and then redevelop the 14-acre waterfront property on the far West Side of Manhattan.

The governor also said he wants to invest $1 billion to grow the high-tech economy of Buffalo. That proposal drew the largest applause during his address to lawmakers and the public in Albany. The investment would be modeled after the success of the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering in Albany, where a research center has attracted computer chip developers and manufacturers.

Mr. Cuomo also reiterated his proposal for an infrastructure fund that would coordinate the capital plans of various state agencies to rebuild state bridges, highways, dams and railways. He also gave preference to plans to upgrade the state’s aging and inefficient energy transmission lines.

Topping the list of priorities, though, was the convention center plan. He said he wanted to replace the Javits Center with 3.8 million-square-foot exhibition center at the Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens through a joint-partnership the administration is developing with Genting Americas, the gaming corporation that operates the racino.

“Let’s build the largest convention center in the nation, period,” Mr. Cuomo said. “It will be all about jobs, jobs, jobs, tens of thousand of jobs.”

Razing the Javits Center would leave a multi-block, $4 billion piece of waterfront property that could be parceled off and developed alongside Related Cos.’ planned Hudson Yards project and the redevelopment of the Farley Post Office into Moynihan Station. The redevelopment of Javits will be modeled after Battery Park City, where the state leases the land to developers in exchange for a percentage of their rental income. Revenue for the state would increase along with apartment values.

Economic development officials had considered Willets Point, Queens, a possible site for a new convention center because of its proximity to La Guardia Airport and infrastructure improvements that are already underway. But the Aqueduct Racetrack site in Queens has clear advantages, too: Genting could build a convention center on one story and, perhaps most importantly, finance it.

“Genting Americas is extremely excited about this opportunity to partner with Gov. Cuomo to build the largest convention center in the country,” said Christian Goode, the company’s senior vice president for development. “It’s a great time to invest and grow in New York, and we are thrilled to be able to play a role in creating jobs and increasing tourism.”

The governor described the convention center as a $4 billion project that would include as many as 3,000 hotel rooms.

An insider familiar with the issue said a constitutional amendment allowing casino gambling would not be a necessary incentive for Genting to build the convention center, but the governor nonetheless reiterated his belief that the state must allow Las Vegas-style gambling in order to compete with casinos operated in other states and by Indian tribes in New York.

“It’s not a question of whether we should have gaming,” he said. “We have gaming in the state of New York…We’re not doing it as well as we should be doing it, but we are in the gaming business.”

Observers have discussed upgrading subway access to Aqueduct and possibly building an AirTrain spur to connect John F. Kennedy International Airport to the site. Mr. Cuomo controls the authorities that manage those systems—the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

Mr. Cuomo used slides and pictures to make his point and, at one moment, make fun of himself and other legislative leaders. Last year he used battleships to highlight the Legislature’s bickering that had made Albany ineffective. On Wednesday, he showed photoshopped pictures of Republican Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and Democratic Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver holding hands. Signaling a return to the camaraderie of the past, the two men were portrayed in black and white photos wearing boys’ short trousers. (Were those knickerbockers?)

The speech first read as a highlight reel of the governor’s rookie year accomplishments: an on-time and slimmed-down budget, a property tax cap, a marriage equality bill and a tax “reform” bill that cut taxes for middle class households, among other legislative victories.

But Mr. Cuomo quickly cut to his “three-part plan” focused on economic development, streamlining government and his “vision for a progressive future.” He promised this year, as he did in early 2011, to introduce mandate reforms that would ease the burden the state places on local governments to provide services. Part of that was a promise to reduce the pension benefits to future government workers.

Mr. Cuomo ended his wonky speech with a pep talk to rally the audience to support his jobs plan. Raising his voice and trying to sound inspirational, he said, “This isn’t the end but the beginning…last year we learned to walk, next year we learn how to run.”


Public Review Begins for Zoning to Reinforce the Vibrant Retail Character of the Three UWS Avenues / Hudson Yards

January 3, 2012 — City Planning Commissioner Amanda M. Burden today announced the beginning of public review for new zoning that would reinforce the character of the Upper West Side’s main shopping streets. The proposed regulations will help ensure that over time the general multi-store character of Amsterdam and Columbus avenues would be maintained, while promoting a more varied and active retail environment on Broadway. These zoning tools have been crafted to respond to community concerns about the potential erosion of the Upper West Side’s unique commercial character and to support active pedestrian retail streets.

The Upper West Side Neighborhood Retail Streets Initiative is the result of a partnership with Manhattan Community Board 7 and elected officials and extensive outreach with Business Improvement Districts (BIDs), local property owners and other stakeholders. The proposed regulations reflect the existing local retail dynamic while still allowing flexibility for property owners and retailers to invest and provide necessary goods and services on the Upper West Side.

Commissioner Burden said, “The Upper West Side’s traditional retail streets offer diverse retail services to one of the most dense and vibrant residential neighborhoods in the city. These successful corridors provide services, jobs, housing and open space all within a walkable area. I was delighted to work with the community and elected officials to craft the Upper West Side Neighborhood Retail Street Initiative. This modest proposal would help maintain the existing vibrant retail character along Broadway, Amsterdam and Columbus avenues by providing a framework for new establishments that builds on the strengths of these corridors, ensuring that over the long term they continue to serve the needs of Upper West Side residents.”

City Council Member Gale A. Brewer said, “Diverse retail has always been the soul of our neighborhoods, and the Upper West Side is no exception. When local stores are lost to large chain stores and banks, our private lives and the community’s character are damaged. These retail losses are permanent, and they drive other small business owners from the neighborhood. The Neighborhood Retail Streets Initiative is intended to protect our retail character, and I commend Commissioner Burden and her staff for their leadership. I will continue to work closely with her, the City Council, and all stakeholders to restore balance to our retail landscape, and to keep the Upper West Side a vital place for residents and merchants alike.”

“We must do all that we can to ensure that diverse retailers continue to define the distinct character of the Upper West Side,” said City Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito. “I am thrilled that part of the Manhattan Valley neighborhood which I represent is being included in this proposed zoning change, so that it can also be protected from the increasing dominance of banks and retailers that tend to occupy a large ground floor footprint, leaving little room for the diverse small businesses that fuel our local economy. I applaud Commissioner Burden and my colleagues for their leadership on this zoning change and look forward to voting for it in the City Council.”

City Council Member Inez E. Dickens said, “I strongly endorse the Upper West Side retail proposal rezoning plan. This proposal will preserve the historic fabric of the Upper West Side that provides a diverse repository of unique small businesses, a place where the entrepreneurial spirit can flourish, and economic stability that yields jobs and job training experiences. I congratulate my colleague, Council Member Gale Brewer, who I work very closely with on her careful attention to every aspect of this plan.” 

The proposed regulations would be applicable to 73 block fronts along Broadway generally bounded by West 73rd and 110th streets, and 77 block fronts along on Amsterdam generally bounded by West 73rd and 110th streets (except for 87th-105th Streets on the east side) and Columbus generally bounded by West 72nd and 87th streets.

The initiative is comprised of targeted regulations to maintain the general multiple-store character on these avenues, which residents of the dense Upper West Side neighborhood rely on for retail services. This modest proposal would foster over time multi-store ground floor retail spaces within a framework that would maintain the current vibrant streetscape. The proposal would not modify or expand the uses currently permitted under the existing zoning district regulations. As requested by the community, new banks would be permitted, but they could not occupy large amounts of ground floor space at the expense of the variety of retail services. The proposed rules for both commercial and bank frontages on Columbus and Amsterdam, and for bank frontages on Broadway, would apply only to new stores in new and existing buildings. Existing stores would not be affected.

The PDF Document proposed zoning text amendment will be referred to Manhattan Community Board 7 and the Manhattan Borough President’s office for a 60-day review period, followed by a City Planning Commission and City Council review.


Department of City Planning
The Department of City Planning (DCP) promotes strategic growth, transit-oriented development, and sustainable communities in the City, in part by initiating comprehensive, consensus-based planning and zoning changes for individual neighborhoods and business districts, as well as establishing policies and zoning regulations applicable citywide. It supports the City Planning Commission and each year reviews more than 500 land use applications for actions such as zoning changes and disposition of City property. The Department assists both government agencies and the public by providing policy analysis and technical assistance relating to housing, transportation, community facilities, demography, waterfront and public space.

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