(THE ABOVE PHOTO IS THE AREA WHICH IS NOW OCCUPIED BY BATTERY PARK CITY)
Here at NY Living Solutions, we’re continuing our look at the history of the area that we call home, this time focusing on Financial District’s neighboring neighborhood, Battery Park City. While the two border each other, Manhattan’s Financial District and Battery Park City couldn’t be more different. While Financial District is New York City’s first neighborhood, Battery Park City is certainly its last. This 92-acre stretch of land literally did not exist fifty years ago. Aside from that, while the Financial District has long been the home to all things business (and finance of course) in New York City, as well as being synonymous with giant office buildings, Battery Park City has been always equated with residences , lush green spaces, and an almost suburban feel.
Bounded by the Hudson River on the North, West and South, and the West Side Highway to the East, the concept for this tiny (by New York City standards) stretch of space was originally conceived by private firms in the early 1960s who wished to replace the disintegrating piers on Manhattan’s Southwest tip with a landfill (not the garbage kind) to build on. Originally an active port for goods entering and leaving New York City, by the 1950s, the area now occupied by Battery Park City was by then crumbling piers and wharves.
In 1966, Mayor Nelson Rockefeller laid out his proposal for what would later become BPC (Battery Park City), and while the plan for a mixed-use community downtown was of benefit to Nelson Rockefeller’s legacy, coincidentally his plan was of mutual benefit to his brother David Rockefeller who was part of the committee spearheading the development of the World Trade Center.
In ’68 the New York State Legislature created the Battery Park City Authority which still manages the area to this day, and in 1972 construction began on the landfill, using material from the excavation of the neighboring World Trade Center, as well as fill from the Hudson River bed. Although the landfill was completed by 1976, construction on the first residential building in Battery Park City didn’t start until 1980. From that point though, building boomed in every decade, with 23 buildings built in the 80s, 9 more in the 90s, and 11 more being built In the 2000s despite the damage done to the neighborhood by the attacks on September 11th, 2001. Since 2010 another 3 residential buildings have been built, not to mention the newly renovated Brookfield Place, formerly the World Financial Center.
At NY Living Solutions, we not only call the Financial District home, but consider Battery Park City an extension of that as well, and whether that means enjoying Battery Park City’s beautiful parks, or its breathtaking esplanade, BPC offers a nice retreat from the hustle and bustle of it’s more active neighbor, the Financial District.
The City Council voted Wednesday to approve the rezoning of Hudson Square in Lower Manhattan. The rezoning will allow developers — including the area’s dominant player Trinity Real Estate — to move forward with several large-scale hotel and residential projects.
As part of the approval process, Speaker Christine Quinn secured a commitment for a vote on landmark status for the adjacent South Village Historic District, according to a statement from Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, a preservation group. But community activists were concerned that the city did not discuss any landmark designations for sites south of Houston Street, which is home to nearly half of the proposed district.
“The landmarking commitment only covers about half the endangered area and won’t take effect until nine months after the rezoning, allowing developers ample time to knock down historic buildings,” Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village group, said in a statement.
Earlier this month, two key council committees approved a controversial part of the proposal, which would let developers build 2,000 to 3,000 new apartments — many of them affordable — in the neighborhood. —Hiten Samtani
Here’s one way for a developer to ingratiate himself with the new neighbors.
Jed Walentas, the new owner of the Domino Sugar factory, will temporarily hand over a football-field-sized lot on his massive Williamsburg site for use as an urban farm, bike course, yoga studio, and reading room until the builder gets around to developing the property.
The east end of the Kent Avenue lot between S. Third and S. Fourth streets will be run by community space guru Bobby Redd and will include an all-weather reading room, a community farm headed by North Brooklyn Farms and a green space that will be used for activities including yoga, aerobics, and public events.
“We plan to establish a community green space where all are welcome,” said Redd. “We have had immense success working with the Bushwick community over the past 14 months and we look forward to working together with our new neighbors in South Williamsburg.”
The west side of the lot, which will be run by Jessica Kocher of Ride Brooklyn, will include a practice cycling space for young riders, beginner and intermediate bike tracks, and a pump track, which is a small course set up with bumps, jumps, and berms.
Volunteers from the New York City Mountain Bike Association will oversee the courses, and Kocher said she hopes to get a handful of loaner bikes for children and possibly adults.
“The purpose of this is to have a place to mountain bike in Brooklyn,” said Kocher, who lamented the fact that Brooklyn is the only borough without mountain bike trails. “Personally, we wanted a place to ride.”
Redd and Kocher submitted separate proposals, but Walentas’s company, Two Trees Management Co., merged them together, creating an urban utopia for the fixed-gear, organic-dining set.
“We married them,” said Dave Lombino, director of special projects at Two Trees.
Two months ago, Two Trees announced it was searching for operators to take over the space across the street from the main refinery building while it pushed its new plans through the city’s land-use review process.
Two Trees will not charge the interim operators rent, said Lombino, but they will pay utilities.
The initial agreement with the operators is for one year, and it could be extended, depending on how long it takes Two Trees to get approval and finish the site design.
Walentas has said the company wants to build on the Kent Street lot first, but Lombino said ground will not be broken until late 2014 at the earliest.
“For us, it’s silly to have this site fenced off from the community,” said Lombino. “We want to signal to the community that we are creative and ambitious.”
If interest-only loans were issued too freely before the foreclosure crisis, their availability now is restricted to a privileged few.
A staple of the jumbo market, interest-only loans continue to be used by affluent borrowers to help them manage irregular cash flow, reap a tax benefit, or free up cash for investment elsewhere.
In particular, people in the financial services industry who derive most of their compensation from yearly bonuses commonly rely on interest-only loans to keep their mortgage payments manageable the rest of the year. “Then they take some of that bonus and pay down their mortgage each year,” said David Adamo, the chief executive of Luxury Mortgage in Stamford, Conn. “And their monthly payment then also goes down.”
Thus, interest-only loans have evolved into a financial tool, and no longer a means to affordability.
Freddie Mac stopped backing the loans in 2010 after suffering big losses; as a result, fewer lenders offer them. Those that do have strict qualifying standards. Lenders generally require that the borrower have at least 30 percent equity in a property, and a minimum FICO score of 720. Determination of ability to pay back the loan is based on the fully amortized payment, not the interest-only payment.
Additionally, “a lot of lenders will want to see assets to cover as many as 24 months’ worth of principal, taxes and insurance payments,” said Richard Pisnoy, a principal of Silver Fin Capital, a brokerage in Great Neck, N.Y.
Interest-only loans are primarily adjustable-rate products with an initial fixed period when only interest is due. Available in 5-, 7- or 10-year terms, they “are generally done for 10 years so there’s no payment shock in the near term,” said Tom Wind, the executive vice president for residential and consumer lending at EverBank, a national lender based in Jacksonville, Fla.
Interest rates are usually an eighth- to a half-percentage point higher than on fully amortized jumbo loans. After the fixed term is up, the mortgage re-amortizes, and both principal and interest are due.
March 21, 2013 03:30PM
By James Gardner
325 West Broadway project rendering
A particularly ugly part of West Broadway in Soho will soon become unimaginably better. The best thing that can be said for the existing structure at 325 West Broadway, at Grand Street, is that in the days when things were still manufactured in New York City it used to be a factory that produced Tootsie Rolls — those delicious, caramelized confections that we all remember from our younger days.
Now I yield to no one in my reverence for Tootsie Rolls, but that does not obscure the fact that the drab and unadorned building from which so much joy once issued is itself an eyesore, confected out of bare, albeit vaguely caramel-colored, brick.
All of that is about to change: the development firm of DDG has gotten the go-ahead from the Landmarks Preservation Commission to tear down the factory and put up a luxury condominium. DDG revealed new renderings for the project earlier this month. Standing nine stories plus a rooftop penthouse level, the building will have seven units ranging from 3,000 to 6,000 square feet.
The planned building, designed by DDG’s in-house architect Peter Guthrie, consists of a cubic structure clad in a pristine glass curtain wall, covered in a cast aluminum façade screen, with an elegant glass façade at street level, given over to retail and to the building’s lobby, the renderings show. (Beyhan Karahan Architects & Associates designed an earlier plan for the project.)
The results, to be completed in 2015, will look especially good when viewed beside the drab 19th century pile to its left, which could also profit from the strenuous ministrations of a developer.
Nov. 15 (Bloomberg) — Freddie Mac, the government- supported mortgage company, made it harder for some borrowers with second-lien home equity debt to refinance as it released guidelines for its version of the federal Home Affordable Refinance Program.
For a borrower with loan-to-value ratio of less than 80 percent, the McLean, Virginia-based firm will require total housing debt, including second loans, of less than 105 percent of a property’s current values, according to a notice to lenders posted on its website. Previously, there was no cap.
“The rationale is to manage risk better,” Brad German, a spokesman, said in a telephone interview.
President Barack Obama has said he directed Freddie Mac and rival Fannie Mae to expand their HARP programs to help ease the U.S. housing slump and aid consumers. The companies, which were seized by the U.S. in 2008, are detailing the changes today, after they were announced Oct. 24.