Author: NYLS BLOG

New York Fracking Rules

By Jim Efstathiou Jr. 

The drinking-water supply for 9 million people in New York City won’t be protected by New York state’s proposed rules on hydraulic fracturing for natural gas, residents and politicians said.

“There is no possible regulation strong enough that you could come up with to prevent that one accident,” State Senator Tony Avella, a Democrat who has introduced a bill to prohibit fracturing, or fracking, said at a hearing yesterday at the Borough of Manhattan Community College. “New York state should never consider this process.”

The state has banned high-volume fracking while the Department of Environmental Conservation weighs rules that would let companies extract gas from shale with the technique. The agency has said it plans to bar the technology within 4,000 feet (1,219 meters) of unfiltered watersheds that provide drinking water for New York City and Syracuse. Final rules may be issued next year, spokeswoman Emily DeSantis said in an interview.

Energy producers use fracking, which forces millions of gallons of water, chemicals and sand underground, to break up rock and liberate trapped gas. Environmental groups have said the process has tainted drinking water in states such as Pennsylvania, where almost 4,000 wells have been drilled. While New York delays, its neighboring state has enjoyed new hiring and tax revenue, advocates of the process say.

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Maintaining Elevator Safety

By Raanan Geberer

If you’re a board member, a manager or just a unit owner of a typical New York City-area co-op or condo, chances are you use an elevator every day, except if you live in a “garden apartment” complex in one of the outer boroughs or the suburbs. We’ve all seen those elevator inspection reports, but chances are that we don’t think about the inner workings of elevators very much. And it seems like the only times that elevators make the news is when something goes wrong, like the time a Chinese-food deliveryman was stuck for three days inside an elevator in a Bronx high-rise.

But if you look at the elevator, it’s a technological marvel, something we couldn’t do without. Like the automobile, it’s a fairly recent development. There have been elevator-like hoist devices throughout history, but in 1853, American inventor Elisha Otis invented a freight elevator equipped with a safety device to prevent the elevator from falling in case a cable broke. This increased the use of elevators. And when, around 1920, New York City finally allowed the use of self-service elevators in apartment buildings, as opposed to those operated by elevator operators, the number of apartment houses built with elevators grew dramatically.

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Loan limits on the rise for FHA, but not for Fannie and Freddie

FHA loans could become the go-to financing option for homebuyers in New York and New Jersey, but with higher fees.  By Kenneth R. Harney

After a year characterized by grumpy partisan gridlock, Congress came up with a Thanksgiving compromise that could change the mortgage choices of buyers and refinancers in more than 660 markets across the country: It raised maximum loan limits for the Federal Housing Administration while leaving loan ceilings untouched for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

In effect, this may make FHA the go-to financing option for borrowers needing loans up to $729,750 — with down payments as low as 3.5 percent — in New York, New Jersey, high-cost areas of California, metropolitan Washington, D.C., and scattered counties in other states, including Massachusetts, Florida and North Carolina. Fannie Mae- and Freddie Mac-eligible loans in those areas, meanwhile, stay capped at $625,500.

Equally important, the new plan raises the FHA ceilings for purchasers in hundreds of more moderately priced markets. In Hartford, Conn., the limit for FHA is now $440,000 — up from $320,850; Fannie and Freddie remain capped at $417,000. Seattle-area buyers’ maximum FHA loan amount jumped to $567,500, while the Fannie Mae-Freddie Mac ceiling remains at $506,000.

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Planning NYC’s next 50 years: Zoning

New York’s real estate planning gurus tackle the next 50 years of zoning By Leigh Kamping-Carder


Planning Commissioner Amanda Burden

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the city’s comprehensive “Zoning Resolution,” which dictated what types of development could go where.

The rules have undergone changes since taking effect in 1961, but in many ways, they continue to reflect the concerns of a prior era — when the automobile was king, manufacturing a steady source of employment and the Internet a far-off dream.

“We are occupying a social realm that’s different than [what] we constructed 50 years ago,” developer Jonathan Rose, founder of the eponymous real estate firm, said at a conference last month organized by the Department of City Planning, the Harvard University Graduate School of Design and the Steven L. Newman Real Estate Institute of Baruch College.

As the Zoning Resolution passes the half-century mark, the kind of radical revamp that took place in the 1950s is not in the works. But city planners, academics and real estate professionals are crafting proposals that will shape the way developers build in the coming years: unlocking underused land, updating Midtown’s aging office stock, incorporating sustainability, and redefining “mixed-use” in ways that blur residential and commercial districts.

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Secret Streets: A Map to New York City’s Hidden mewes

Friday, November 18, 2011

mews%20map%20header.jpg

In the 19th century, when the preferred method of transportation was the horse-drawn carriage, the city was full of mews—rows of stables, often with accompanying carriage houses. The mews also frequently had living quarters for servants built above them, and were constructed around a paved courtyard. When, in the early 20th century, automobiles began to replace carriages, the mews were demolished, put to commercial use, or converted into residences. Today, few of them remain, but the ones that do—most of which are protected landmarks—exist as little pockets of seclusion in a loud, bustling city, and, as such, are prime real estate. And, since they’ve all been around for over 150 years, many of them largely unchanged compared to the surrounding areas, they contain quite of bit of history. We put all of the remaining mews we could find into a handy map.

Link Thru Here

Triggers for Rejection -Mortgages

The New York Times
By VICKIE ELMER
Published: October 6, 2011

“WE regret to inform you…” Nobody applying for a new mortgage or a refinancing wants to see or hear these words. But last year more than two million people were turned down for home loans, according to federal data, often because they didn’t meet certain lender requirements or because their applications were incomplete or otherwise problematic.

And that number, from the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council, doesn’t even include those who abandon the often-complicated mortgage qualification process. The Mortgage Bankers Association estimates that about half of those who try to refinance and 30 percent of buyers are either denied or drop out.

“A lot of people have credit banged up,” said Michael Fratantoni, the association’s vice president for research and economics.

Lenders’ underwriting criteria have become more rigorous in recent years; some banks have tightened up beyond federal requirements. Here are the six biggest triggers for rejection, according to industry experts.

INSUFFICIENT INCOME Lenders want to make sure you can afford to make the mortgage payments. Someone who earns, say, $40,000 a year need not bid on a $750,000 apartment, unless there’s a trust fund with quarterly payouts or other money available. Also, lenders typically look for at least a two-year track record of income, which could hurt those who may have switched jobs recently. “It’s common to get turned down if you have a gap in employment history over the last two years,” said Erin Lantz, the director of the Zillow Mortgage Marketplace, an online loan-matching service.

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The Contraption That Wants to Replace Central Park Horses

By EMILY B. HAGER
A model of the faux-vintage electric car that horse advocates say could replace carriage horses in New York, with Ed Sayres, left, and Steve Nislick of NY-CLASS, the group that sponsors the cars.Marilynn K. Yee/The New York TimesA model of the faux-vintage electric car that horse advocates say could replace carriage horses in New York, with Ed Sayres, left, and Steve Nislick of NY-Class, the group that sponsors the cars.

The faux-vintage electric car that horse advocates want to replace Central Park’s carriage horses has classic white-walled tires, running boards, mahogany and an “ah-hoogah” horn.

On Thursday, in a fourth-floor conference room of Manhattan’s Hippodrome — where circus horses once performed — Jason Wenig set a model of it across the table from the car’s sponsors.

“Brass is going to be everywhere, and it’s going to be shiny and beautiful,” said Mr. Wenig, who runs a customized car design shop in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

NY-Class, a nonprofit group that lobbies for the removal of the carriage horses from New York City, revealed the car for the first time on Thursday.

NY-Class, which stands for New Yorkers for Clean, Livable and Safe Streets, paid $12,500 to have the two-foot-long lime green model built. It is based on turn-of-the-20th-century cars. Lanterns perch on its sides. Tiny baskets that would carry a driver’s lunch or extra blankets hang from it. Its convertible top rolls back in sections. The car is intended to hold up to six tourists.

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