You are on page 1of 24

Developer David Walentas has a d::~

for Brooklyn's Fulton Landing. First, 4,000 m anufacturing

workers have to leave.
Short Term Notes
J-51 Still Needs Watching ..................... 3
Sunday Visit to a Landlord .. . ........... . ... . . 5
Suits Contest Chinatown Development ... . ..... . . 6
Protest Brooklyn Plan ..... . ......... .. .. . .... 7
Monk Circle at Phipps Houses .. . ....... . . . ... . 7
A Union for the Organizers . . ... . . . .... .. ... .. 16
Legal Briefs
Insurance Information Won ....... .. .. . .. . .. . . 17
Letters . . ............... . .. . ............ . .. . 18
.. ......... . . . . .. .... .. ... . . 20
Bank Branch Closings Continue . . ... . . . ..... . . 21
Workshop .... . .. .. .................... . ... . 22
Developer David WalenlaS' grand sdiCme means sacrificing 4,000
manufacturing jobs.
Have low income housing and neighborhood advocates made their
task tougher by opposing luxury development?
Budget cuts and regulation tightening have made legal services
harder to provide to a growing population of people in need .
- .
a story of genbification
8:00 P.M.
Saturday, Nov. 19
Taller Latinamericano
19 West 21 Street

$5 contribution
You Are Cordially Invited To The Opening Of
A New 30 Minute Documentary On Gentrification.
screening. disco. cash bar
CITY LIMITS/November 1983
Look Out for the
tOTYIlMIlS) New J-51 Law
Vol. VIllNo. I)
City limits is published ten times per year. monthly
except double issues in June/July and August/
September. by the City Limits Community Infortna-
tion Service. Inc .. a nonprofit organization devoted
to disseminating infortnation concerning neighbor-
hood revitalization. The publication is sponsored by
three organizations. The sponsors are:
Association of Neighborhood Housing Developers.
Inc . an association of over thirty community-based.
nonprofit housing development groups. developing
and advocating programs for low and moderate in-
come housing and neighborhood stabilization.
Prall Institute Center for Community and Environ-
mental De\..,.lopment. a technical assistance and ad-
vocacy office offering professional planning and ar-
chitectural services to low and moderate income
community groups. The Center also analyzes and
monitors government policy and perfortnance.
Urban Homuteading Assistance Board. a technical
assistance organization providing assistance to low
income tenant cooperatives in management and sweat
equity rehabilitation.
Subscription rates are: for individuals and communi-
ty groups. $9/0ne Year. $15frwo Years: for
Businesses. Foundations. Banks. Government Agen-
cies and Libraries. $25/0ne Year. S40frwo Years.
Reduced rates are avai lable for low income readers.
City limits welcomes comments and article contribu-
tions. Please include a stamped. self-addressed
envelope for return of manuscripts. Material in City
limits does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the
sponsoring organizations. Send correspondence to:
CITY LIMITS. 424 West 33rd Street. New York.
N.Y. 10001. Postmaster send change of address to:
City Limits. 424 W. 33rd SI. . New York. N.V. 10001.
Second-class postage paid
New York. NY 10001
City Limits (ISSN 0199'{)330)
(212) 239-8440
Editor ..... ... Tom Robbins
Assistant Editor ....... . .... . .. Susan Baldwin
Marketing Director .............. Jim Mendell
Design and Layout. . . ...... ..... Louis Fulgoni
Copyright 1983. All Rights Reserved.
No portion or portions of this journal may be
reprinted without the express permi!\sion of the
Cover: aerial photo courtesy of The
Phoenix Newspaper; photo of David
Walentas by Michael Henry Powell.
1 ~ continue to provide a hefty public
bounty to developers transforming low in-
come apartments into top-dollar housing
under the city's new J-51 tax abatement and
exemption law.
Even those who come by their tax prize
unjustly - through tenant harassment and
even arson - may still be able to pass
through the new law undetected. And, in-
stead of limiting the range where those ur-
ban outlaws roam, the city's most threat-
ened neighborhoods remain wide open
On October 26, the Council voted to okay
the Koch administration bill to exclude
roughly one-third of the city from stricter
limits on developer tax breaks enacted by
the state legislature. That vote came after
the council rejected an amendment that
would have kept four Manhattan
neighborhoods undergoing gentrification
and displacement under tighter restrictions .
Those areas are the Lower East Side, East
Harlem, Manhattan Valley and Clinton.
Although the entire Manhattan council
delegation fuvored that curb, it was defeated
A second amendment would have
removed a potential inducement to arson
on the part of developers by changing the
way tax benefits are calculated. That
measure lost 23-8.
The stage had been set for the council
decision when the state legislature passed
the overall enabling legislation last spring.
Legislators there reduced the amount of
real estate taxes owners could be forgiven
when developing luxury housing and
barred a tax cut for converting single-room-
occupancy hotels into class A residences.
The state lawmakers were responding to
widespread abuses in the J-51 law which,
although originally enacted to promote
standard affordable housing, has provided
incentives and profits to those driving out
low income tenants.
The state law, however, gave the city the
right to waive its new restrictions three dif-
ferent ways: on a case-by-case basis by the
city housing commissioner (with com-
munity input); where any type of govern-
ment subsidy was involved; or, in entire
designated Neighborhood Preservation
CITY LIMITS/November 1983
Confusion at Hearings
Part of the problem in grappling with the
proposed amendments was what seemed at
times during the debate to be a conscious
attempt to misrepresent their impact.
Repeated statements by housing depart-
ment officials and the council leadership
that the amendments would result in the
end of private market renovations in needy
neighborhoods, took their toll. The ad-
ministration insisted that only by waiving
the tighter curbs in all of the city's 36
Neighborhood Preservation Areas would
construction continue.
Already a complex issue, the J-51 tax in-
centive program was made far more com-
plicated when Council Housing Commit-
tee Chairman Thomas Manton and majori-
ty leader Tom Cuite sent NPA community
boards a mid-summer memo stating that
J-51 benefits would be eliminated in their
districts unless the mayor's exemption of all
the NPAs was passed. That was simply not
true. It did, however, help to launch an at-
mosphere in which misinformation
The message that renovation aided by
government subsidy, or individual private
projects, could be approved without lifting
the limits wholesale, never came through
for many. At the hearings, a number of peo-
ple who came to testify in favor of the
mayor's bill left the microphones slightly
bewildered when they discovered, under
questioning by committee members, they
had misinterpreted the intent of the amend-
ments. That confusion may have been
shared by council members as well.
"Ask any council member who voted for
it five questions about the new law," sug-
gested one J-51 reformer. "Guaranteed,
they'll get four of them wrong."
Watchdogging Needed
The legislative process went as far as it
could and no further in the I8-month long
dispute over J-51's extension. Although
modest reforms were won, the potential for
abuse remains.
Now, until the law must be renewed
again in 1986, the burden of watchdogging
the tax break program is going to fall on
tenant and community groups.
There are a number of ways to do that
monitoring and more information will
follow in City Limits. "Manton said over
and over, 'If harassment goes on in those
neighborhoods, tell us about it. We'll
change the law: We'll be sure he hears about
it;' said Frank Domurad of New York
Public Interest Research Group.
Basically, in buildings where renovation
is following hard on the heels of what was
suspected to have been tenant harassment,
organizers and groups should compile as
much information as possible on the
building's past and present ownership and
rental history. The coalition that lobbied for
reforms will be establishing a central file
for logging abuse cases.
Harassment Convictions
There's also another tool in the law for
groups trying to keep the lid on low income
displacement. The law states that at least
one month before a landlord begins a more
than moderate rehab (over $7,500 per unit),
he must file an affidavit of non-harassment
with HPD. The affidavit must list all par-
ticipants with ten percent or more interest
in the project, and an affirmation that none
of them, within the previous five years,
have been found guilty of harassment or
unlawful eviction either by an ad-
ministrative apparatus (rent control or
stabilization offices), or judicially.
Failure to file this affidavit, any factual
misrepresentations in it or, if any owners
have been convicted of harassment, results
in denial of tax benefits for the project.
While it has traditionally been difficult
to get harassment convictions either ad-
ministratively or through the courts, there
are a number of active owners and
developers who have been convicted and
should be barred from J-51 benefits. But
the next step is for HPD to write regula-
tions to go with the new law. More next
month on how to fight back on J-51.0 T.R.
Housing and Real Estate Courses
Housing Finance In Today's Market
(NY308) 6 Tues., 7:45-9:30 pm, beg. Nov. 22. $85.
Albert A. Walsh, Attorney; former NYC Housing
and Development Administration.
Moderate Housing Rehabilitation Workshop
(NY309) Fri., Nov. 18,9:30 am-4:30 pm. $60.
Clara Fox, Director Emeritus, Settlement Housing
Making the Case for a Zoning Variance
(NY306) Sat., Nov. 19, 9:30 am-4:30 pm. $75.
William Valetta, Legal Counsel, NYC Board of
Standards and Appeals.
66 West 12th Street
New York, NY 10011
Principles of Real Estate Investment
(NY 310) 6 Mon., 5:50-7:35 pm, beg. Nov. 21. $85.
Abram Barkan, PreSident, James Felt Realty
Co-op Conversion Workshop for Owners and
(NY311) Sat. , Dec. 3., 9:30 am-4:30 pm. $75.
Stephen M. Raphael, attorney; partner, Raphael,
Marks & Stone, P.C.
Landlords, Tenants and the Law
(NY312) 5 Tues. , 5:50-7:35 pm, beg. Nov. 15. $70.
John A. Milano, Judge, Housing Part, Civil Court.
Fo.r info.rmatio.n, o.r to. register by, call (212) 741-5690.
NEW SCHOOL Fo.R So.CIAL RESEARCH: A university which includes the Adult Division, Graduate Faculty of Political
and SOCial SCience, Undergraduate College, Graduate School of Management and Urban Professions, Parsons School
of DeSign, and o.tis Art Institute of Parsons in Los Angeles.
CITY LIMITS/November 1983
Tenants Pay a Sunday Visit to a Brooklyn Landlord
IXTY TENANTS and community ac-
tivists brought a touch of Boro Park,
Brooklyn to a swank Stamford, Connecticut
neighborhood on Sunday, October 16, when
they paid a surprise visit to the palatial
home of their landlord, millionaire real
estate developer Lawrence Rezak. The pur-
pose of their visit was to draw attention to
deplorable conditions and tenant displace-
ment in Rezak's Brooklyn properties.
Shouts of "We shall not be moved," and
"Rezak, leave us alone,"rang through the
crisp autumn air as tenants walked down
Rezak's 2S0-yard driveway, past a corral
with four horses and a private tennis court .
At the door to Rezak's multi-level, stained-
wood home, tenant leader Sophia Benitez
of Rezak's Midwood Garden's complex,
laid two charred wood beams, remnants of
a burned out apartment in her building, on
the owner's front porch and listened to the
reading of a declaration.
"Mr. Rezak," read Ted Glick, a tenant
organizer with the Anti-Displacement
Committee in Brooklyn's Boerum Hill, "In
memory of the families forced to leave
Midwood Gardens; in the presence of your
neighbors, your home and your communi-
ty, we demand a reckoning to the injustice
served the tenants of Midwood Gardens."
Rezak and his partner and Stamford
neighbor Howard Weiss purchased Mid-
wood Gardens, a 7OO-apartment complex
in the Boro Park section of Brooklyn, in
1979. Since then, Rezak and Weiss have
pursued a self-avowed dislocation policy.
Over 6S0 tenants, many of them black,
Hispanic and elderly white, have left the
apartment complex, spurred on, tenant
leaders and community activists said, by
43 suspicious fires in two years, no heat
or hot water, over SOO housing violations
and continued harassment of the remain-
ing tenants.
Tenant demonstrations, press coverage
and research by the Mayor's Arson Strike
Force into the fires have brought some
results. The New York City Department of
Housing Preservation and Development
has temporarily frozen over $11 million of
Rezak's pending or approved public
rehabilitation projects.
Rezak continues, however, to deny ser-
vices to the handful of families remaining
in the complex and HPD has steadfastly
refused to ask the court to appoint a 7A ad-
ministrator who could help restore needed
services to the buildings. But although the
stand-off continues and another winter ap-
proaches, tenants' spirits were clearly lifted
by the loud visit to their landlord's home.
And the presence of tenants from three
other Rezak buildings suggested Rezak's
problems may be multiplying.
"Hey, if I die today, 1 will be a happy
man;' said Leonardo Pringle, a black ten-
ant leader at 3S0 Empire Boulevard as he
walked back towards the road and the
tenants' bus, leaving behind a steel-gray
Mercedes Benz festooned with leaflets ask-
ing the question, "Do You Really Know
Your Neighbor?" "I think this is great
meeting other tenants of Rezak's. 1 won't
ever leave my apartment now. This really
inspires me."O
Michael Henry Powell
CITY LIMITS/November 1983
Lawsuits Contest Chinatown's Luxury Development
launched a special zoning district for
Manhattan's burgeoning Chinatown com-
munity, where land is scarce and housing
dear. The district, however, has run smack
into an escalating series of lawsuits, the
latest of which seeks to turn the zoning
district on its head and mandate more low
income housing for the neighborhood in-
stead of facilitating luxury high-rises.
The initial attempts by developers to build
in the special zoning district got a black eye
almost right away when the city said
developers of a planned high rise condo
development had harassed former site
tenants away and revoked the building per-
mit. The disappointed developers, organiz-
ed as the Overseas Chinese Development
Corporation headed by Thomas Lee, had
sought to replace tenements they owned at
Madison and Henry Streets with two towers
of 12 and 16 floors containing 150 apart-
ments under the relaxed zoning rules per-
mitted under the 1981 Special Manhattan
Bridge Zoning District.
Unfortunately for the developers, former
tenants of the building at frl Madison Street
protested the manner in which they had been
rousted from their homes. Their claims
were eventually sustained by a report by the
city's Department of Investigation.
A High Stakes District
What happened at frl Madison aroused
much of the Chinatown and Lower East Side
community. It also dramatically
underscored the high stakes for which
developers were playing in the special zon-
ing district.
In May, 1982, the first of three lawsuits
against the special district and its develope-
ment was filed. That class action suit,
known as lin v. Board of Estimate (other
plaintiffs include local groups, It's Time,
Joint Planning Council, Two Bridges
Neighborhood Council) charged the city
with having proceeded improperly in enac-
ting the district. It contended that there had
been insufficient public notice and was ill-
considered in its excessive offers of bonuses
to developers who agreed to provide com-
munity amenities in exchange for denser and
higher bUildings.
Later that summer, in August, 1982, the
CITY LIMITS/November 1983
The Special Manhattan Bridge Zoning District.
state Supreme Court ruled in the community
groups' favor and overturned the special
district. On appeal , however, the city won
its reinstatement and the groups are current-
ly awaiting a final hearing before the highest
court, the Court of Appeals.
That first legal challenge has spawned two
others, the most recent of which challenges
the constitutionality of the city's zoning
policies. The suit was filed in September,
1983, by Brooklyn Assemblyman Frank
Barbaro on behalf of the Asian Americans
For Equality. It calls on the city to use its
zoning powers to create low income hous-
ing. It cites last year's groundbreaking New
Jersey Supreme Court decision, known as
Mount Laurel, which ordered municipal-
ities to zone in affordable, low income hous-
ing units.
The third suit, filed just a month earlier
in August, 1983, challenges the second high
rise to be proposed for the special district.
This one, an 84-unit condominium high-rise
called Henry Street Towers,is the product
of three partners of Helmsley-Spear, Inc.
and a Chinatown insurance broker, Ray-
mond Woo. The challengers are the 200
member-strong Chinese Staff and Workers
Association, a group that has aided union
drives in the community,along with tenants
currently living in the special zoning district
who say they will be pressured out of the
neighborhood if Henry Street Towers is
built. The plaintiffs are being represented
by the Asian American Legal Defense and
Education Fund.
The Henry Street challenge is based on
the contention that the project was substan-
tially changed after it was approved by the
community board last year. Some time after
the project had passed through the com-
munity review period ofULURP (Uniform
Land Use Review Procedure), the
developers dropped six low income units
they planned to rehab in a separate building
and substituted a one-time $500,000 dona-
tion to the city to be used in the communi-
ty. Neither the specific purpose for which
those funds would be spent, nor where is yet
clear. But in any event, the city is holding
up issuance of a building permit until the
money is paid, and the lawsuit is seeking a
judicial review of the entire transaction.
At least four other large development pm-
jects are waiting in the wings of the Special
Manhattan Bridge Zoning District. But as
hard as the city tries to prop open the door
to luxury development in Chinatown, the
community has placed some effective legal
weight on the other side. OT.R.
Phipps UflQllts
Monk Circle Unveiled at Phipps Houses
Thelonious Sphere Monk Circle was officially unveiled last month in front of Phipps Houses, the building com-
plex at West 64th Street where .Monk resided for 45 years. A bill introduced by Councilmember Ruth Messinger
to name the street after the jazz musician passed the city council last summer.
Many of those in attendance at the unveiling, including Monk's brother, sister, and son, Thelonious, Jr., Judge
Bruce Wright, and Democratic district leader Shirley Zaiman, are proponents of a movement to landmark Phipps
Houses. Built at the turn of the century, the apartment buildings became horne to many black jazz artists, but now
are threatened with demolition in favor of lUXUry housing development ['7he Talk of the Town,n June-July 1983].
"Young Sounds," a new program in the nearby Lincoln Square neighborhood center for low income musicians 14
to 21 years old, was announced at the gathering by John Glaisel , head of Local Musicians Union 802. It is a pilot
project of the American Federation of Musicians.D Jim MendeU
Downtown Brooklyn Plan is Protested
Brooklyn gets the economic boost that a
study by a metropolitan-area public plann-
ing group says it deserves, how would cur-
rent low income residents fare?
According to a newly formed coalition of
neighborhood and tenant groups, the effects
of the recommendations of the Regional
Plan Association's recent report ,
"Downtown Brooklyn," would be disastrous
for many in the area, leading to spiraling
rents, displacement and few entry-level jobs.
To make that point , members of the
Brooklyn Federation of Tenant Associa-
tions, Accion Latina and the Anti-
Displacement Committee a con-
ference at Long Island University on
October 20 convened by the RPA and local
business groups. The conference was aim-
ed at examining how the downtown area
could benefit from the location of additional
back-office space and a high technology
center, called "Metro-Tech," to be con-
structed around Polytechnic Institute.
While the report cites the ample
availability of a white-collar workforce to be
drawn from Brooklyn and Nassau County
residents currently commuting to Manhat-
tan which could serve the downtown expan-
sion, it contains little discussion of how the
large local unemployed workforce could be
trained and integrated into the scheme. Nor,
the neighborhood coalition pointed out,
does the report discuss how the increased
demand for middle income housing in the
area would affect low income tenants.
The groups called on the RPA to create
a committee of community-based groups to
ensure the participation of downtown's
black, Hispanic, women and other low in-
come groups, injobs, training and housing
created through the plan. DT.R.
CITY LIMITS/November 1983
Does a Garment Cutter Deserve a Harbor VIew?
By Michael Henry PoweU
town Brooklyn, one is constantly cloaked in shadows.
Nine, massive turn-of-the-century buildings, as well as
several sprawling warehouses, lend a cavernous feeling to
the area just behind the elegant and popular River Cafe.
And occasional glimpses of the sky are dominated by two
spiraling bridges, the Brooklyn and the Manhattan.
The two bridges, with a little spillover, neatly define the
Fulton Landing. They were also the cause of the area's fall-
from-grace as Brooklyn's central business and industrial
district. Before 1883, when the Fulton ferry with its twin
pilothouses was the only way to reach Manhattan and sleek,
tall-masted clipper ships were king, the area bustled with
activity 24 hours-a-day. Even today as the bridges carry
traffic further inland, the buildings are home to over 120
firms and 4,000 primarily unskilled black and Hispanic
employees, making Fulton Landing one of the largest and
most stable manufacturing sites in Brooklyn.
Many of these jobs might soon disappear, though, if the
city and state approve an ambitious and controversial $100
million development project for the area. Those manufactur-
ing jobs would be replaced by somewhere between 2,000
and 10,000 white-collar jobs. .
This scheme is the product of David Walentas, a 45-year-
old real estate developer whose building management prac-
tices in Manhattan, Queens and the Bronx have made him
both controversial and wealthy. As the designated developer
for Fulton Landing, Walentas envisions a project similar to
Manhattan's South Street Seaport just across the East River.
It would include office space, apartments, restaurants, shops
and boutiques, parking space and a large marina. The bulk
of the private financing would be provided by Citibank,
while at least $19.5 million would come from a federal Ur-
ban Development Action Grant. Walentas's waterfont com-
munity would span 30 acres, including 15 now jointly-
owned by the state and city.
But now, at least two months before the project can begin
a lengthy official review process, it has already sparked
debate about the type of economic development needed in
Brooklyn and engendered the opposition of a coalition of
manufacturers, loft tenants, politicians and unions. The
fallout from these problems, some city officials have said
privately, could result in a new developer and a scaled-down
Does Manufacturing StiU Count?
Saft Our Jobs raUy at FuJton LandJng, NlM!mber, 1982.
Opponents of the project argue against it from a wide
variety of perspectives. But all seem united behind the
CITY LIMITS/November 1983
retention of manufacturing jobs in Fulton Landing. In a
borough suffering from high unemployment, fully one-
quarter of Brooklyn's workforce is employed in manufactur-
ing. About 80 percent of those manufacturing workers,
citywide and at Fulton Ferry, are black and Hispanic.
"The city has this idea that somehow manufacturing does
not count anymore," said Assemblyman Joe Ferris,
Democrat of Brooklyn, as he stood outside the large,
wrought iron door to the Gair manufacturing building at 60
Washington Street. He had just finished touring the Tru-Fit
Manufacturing Company, a garment manufacturer that
employs 500 people. "These are the last entry-level jobs in
the city. It is absurd to put 4,000 people on the dole just to
satisfy the financial fantasies of a developer."
Walentas and officials at the city's Public Development
Corporation, the agency most responsible for steering the
project through bureaucratic waters, have countered that ,
contrary to objections, the project will complement other
development efforts in Brooklyn. They said the project will
revitalize an underutilized area, provide clerical and retail
jobs for thousands of relatively unskilled office workers and
bring firms to Brooklyn that would otherwise leave the city.
And Walentas, in a view not endorsed by PDC, has also
argued that manufacturing is in a terminal decline.
"Manufacturing is a dying industry; Walentas said, as he
stood before the largest of the Gair buildings on Main
Street. Behind him, two burly workmen threw debris into a
green dumpster as they cleared out the first floor of the
building. "The unions made it too expensive for them. The
real issue now is economic development. It's a war - either
the city goes for the jobs and my project or they stick their
heads in the sand like city planning." The city planning
department has called for keeping those buildings still oc-
cupied as sites for manufacturing.
Walentas's combativeness, which lurks behind his decep-
tively mild demeanor, has created problems for him. Some
city officials have complained of his all-or-nothing attitude.
They said he often seems intent on playing a stubborn game
of chicken and has refused to consider important modifica-
tions in his plans.
A Heavy-handed Past
Walentas's development background has also been a cause
of concern to some city officials and many of his op-
ponents. On more than one occasion, Walentas has been ac-
cused of using heavy-handed tactics in pursuing his develop-
ment and co-oping projects. In one case in 1971, as
documented by reporter Jim Miskewicz in the weekly
Brooklyn Paper, he was accused of forcing over 500
primarily black welfare families out of the Kew Gardens
Hill project in Queens. And in Manhattan, again as related
in the Brooklyn Paper, he was involved in at least two ques-
tionable co-oping deals - at the 395-unit Park Terrace
Gardens apartments in Inwood and at the landmark Alwyn
Court apartment building. The state attorney general in-
vestigated the last case. For his part, Walentas insisted, "I
don't know what they [his critics] are talking about. Most of
my projects have been enormous successes:'
Finally, Walentas has drawn criticism for his use of
political "fixers." These include his lawyers, former Deputy
Mayor and Planning Commissioner John Zuccotti and An-
drew Fisher, son of former MTA head and Brooklyn
Democratic power Harold Fisher, Hank Sheinkopf, a public
relations man with close ties to Kings County Democratic
boss Meade Esposito, and even his Fulton Landing project
director, Karen Murphy, who worked for media consultant
David Garth and was one of Koch's representatives to the
citywide Board of Estimate. Walentas said, "Zuccotti was
my lawyer before he was even on the planning commission.
And the rest, the system is set up so that you work within
the structure. That's the way I work."
Fulton Landing's Fortunes
If he is successful, Walentas will not t,e the first
businessman to make his fortune at Fulton Landing. In
1825, another ambitious entrepeneur, Robert Fulton, re-
ceived a 25-year lease to run his steam-propelled ferry
across to Manhattan. By 1872, the ferry was making 1,200
daily crossings.
Another businessman, John Arbuckle, stored green coffee
beans for his Yuban coffee in the long, red-brick Empire
warehouses. Arbuckle eventually salted away $40 million.
And between 1835 and 1890, Fulton Ferry daily resounded
to the creaks of wagons and pulleys unloading crackers,
raisins, flour, nails, sponges, brooms, soap and liver pills
from the ships and into merchants' wagons.
But none of the men who made their fortune at Fulton
Landing, many of whom later went bankrupt, attempted a
project as ambitious as that proposed by David Walentas.
In 1980, with an eye towards later capturing the 15
publicly-owned acres fronting along the river, Walentas pur-
chased 17 acres behind them, including the Gair and
Sweeney buildings which contained over 40 manufacturers,
from real estate tycoon Harry Helmsley.
"You have to have a large project," said Walentas in
defense of his grandious scheme, "something that is self-
contained. The buildings, when they are converted into of-
fice and residential space, will give me a controlled en-
vironment. Nobody was going to put up money without a
total plan."
Manufacturers Forced Out
After purchasing the buildings, Walentas refused to renew
manufacturers' leases in several of the properties. As a
result , 16 manufacturing firms and 650 jobs left the area -
some to Brooklyn, others to New Jersey or Long Island.
Walentas told the rest of his tenants that he wanted them out
in fivc years.
"It's a war - either the city goes for the
jobs and my project or they stick their
heads in the sand like city planning.
David Walentas, Fulton Landing
('We're not Luddites opposed to progress.
It just doesn't make sense to throw 4,000
black and Hispanic people out of work
because a real estate developer decides
he wants to create a lasting monument.
- Crane Davis, Fulton Ferry L.D.c.
CITY LIMITS/November 1983
Today, the city's Public Development Corporation favors
the development of the now vacant back space. "A lot of
that space is excellent for what 1 call paper factories, the
back offices that move in and provide lots of white-collar
clerical jobs," said Hardy Adasko, senior development direc-
tor for PDC. "Just because the area is conducive to
manufacturing does not mean that it is the best use of the
On the conversion of the occupied manufacturing
buildings owned by Walentas, however, PDC follows the
company line as laid down by the Department of City Plan-
ning. City Planning issued a report last January 31 that
called for the retention of manufacturing in the occupied
buildings for at least 15 years. The report stated that bet-
ween 1972 and 1981, Fulton Ferry's employment base de-
clined only eight percent . "This relative stability," the report
said, "is impressive."
Who Pays for Relocation?
In what has been widely interpreted as a slap at Walentas,
the planning department's report called for reconfirmation
and strengthening of the industrial zoning in the occupied
buildings. It stated that the remaining jobs "need protection
from displacement by commercial conversion." The report
also called for Walentas to provide a set amount of reloca-
tion assistance to any displaced firms - the first time the
agency has called for such assistance outside of Manhattan.
"I don't want to talk about relocation now," Walentas said,
as he drove through Fulton Landing in his small sports car.
"Yes, yes, there is a need for public sector involvement in
helping these firms relocate. 1 think the city has a role to
play there."
Adasko responded to that suggestion with a smile. "I am
so glad Walentas has no objection to the city paying for
relocation costs. This will be discussed further;' he said.
At this point, though, it is a bit uncertain if the city, state
and Walentas will ever get as far as sitting down to discuss
relocation. The issue of the occupied back buildings may
forestall talks. While the city cannot prevent Walentas from
denying leases and emptying the buildings, it can refuse to
grant him the necessary zoning changes he needs to convert
the space to residential use. And if push comes to shove,
the city could withdraw his designation as developer of the
city-owned land parcel .
"If Walentas wants all or nothing, fine, he'll get nothing,"
said Victor L'Epplattnier, the planning department's project
director for Fulton Landing. "His problem is that he does
not like manufacturing. He wants to push things through
with powerful friends and a mind set that it has to be a ma-
jor project regardless of the faces behind the manufacturing
Deputy Mayor Kenneth Lipper may not share L'Epplat-
tenier's strong feelings. However, sources within the city ad-
ministration have said that Lipper is strongly opposed to
simply caving-in to Walentas. He reportedly believes, given
the success of South Street Seaport, that developer interest
will not be hard to find. If this is the case, the city's chang-
ing position would hearten many parties.
"I think it would be a real mistake to simply let the
manufacturers be pushed out," said David Lebenstein, depu-
ty executive director of Interface, a IO-year-old, nonprofit,
research organization. "We have done many studies of the
New York City waterfront and of manufacturing. The
CITY LIMITS/November 1983
downward trend in manufacturing seems to be abating. And
for a crucial sector of the population, namely blacks and
Hispanics, it is a major employer."
"The big problem, our studies show, is that when
manufacturers are forced to leave, they usually do not stay
in New York," Lebenstein added. "They look towards New
Jersey and Long Island. This usually means that many
semi- or unskilled workers lose their jobs."
Despite his problems, Walentas's project clearly is not
dead. Mayor Edward Koch strongly favors development in
the area. And despite the scrambling by dozens of city
aides to evaluate Walentas's project, the final decision will
be up to him and the Board of Estimate.
If the project makes it that far, the votes on the board
may be there. Brooklyn borough president Howard Golden
has been a cautious backer of the plan, and the other
borough presidents joined Koch in voting for the UDAG ap-
plication last spring.
Yet opponents are hopeful. "We are slowly convincing
people that the project as it is desn't make economic sense,
but it's hard work," said Crane Davis, president of the
Fulton Ferry Local Development Coporation, a group op-
posing the project. A local loft tenant, Davis spoke of the
project between sips of black coffee at a local diner. "We're
not Luddites opposed to progress. It just doesn't make sense
to throw 4,500 black and Hispanic people out of work
because a real estate developer decides he wants to build a
lasting monument."
But community opponents of Walentas's proposed project
acknowledge that time is not entirely on their side. Without
help, the remaining manufacturers might flee the area. As
Jim Adelson, owner of Aphrodesia, a spice wholesale
operation employing over 35 people said, "Fifteen years
ago, I was forced out of Soho, then eight years ago out of
Tribeca. This city scares me now. My next move is to New
MichaeL Henry Powell is a freelance writer and former staff
reporter for The Phoenix in downtown BrookLyn.
Why the Rich Won't Be Denied
By Sandy Hornick
get on with the task of housing the poor." When I
first heard this statement at a community meeting in Green-
wich Village, I was a bit shocked. Good liberals spend
much of their time advocating government intervention on
behalf of the poor. After all, if the affluent are unable to
fend for themselves, who can? In retrospect, however, there
appears to be considerable wisdom concealed in this
It is ironic that this "wisdom" should have been expressed
in Greenwich Village, the traditional home of the political
left in New York. It was once an out-of-the-way
neighborhood where low rents and a high degree of
tolerance permitted ethnic and bohemian communities to
thrive. Ultimately, its very uniqueness began to draw an
ever increasing throng of upper income people. Develop-
ment schemes proliferated to accommodate them.
For more than three decades, a remarkable collection of
community activists have fought a series of mostly suc-
cessful battles to preserve the Greenwich Village immor-
talized by former Village activist and urban critic, Jane
Jacobs, in The Death and life of Great American Cities .
Their victories read like an obituary for development, in-
c1uding: no West Village Urban Renewal designation (which
would have cleared much of what is now the West Village
for high-rise development) , no Lower Manhattan Ex-
pressway (through Little Italy, SoHo and the South Village),
no highway through Washington Square Park, the lowest
density zoning in Manhattan (less than one-third than per-
mitted on the Upper East Side which makes most new con-
struction unattractive to developers), the inclusion of much
of the community within an historic district (which further
limits the possibility of new development) , and, currently,
the fight against Westway (now delayed for years in the
courts). This anti-development strategy has been remarkably
successful in preserving the physical form of Ms. Jacobs's
Regrettably, the ethnic and working class residents Ms.
Jacobs identified with stabilizing the Village are being
replaced with a more homogeneous and more affluent
population. Ms. Jacobs thought of these high-rent tenants as
transient. She warned that a community could absorb only
so many of "these birds of passage"before the neighborhood
becomes them and begins to deteriorate.
Bureaucrats and academics now call this change from us
to them "gentrification." Preventing development has not
slowed gentrification. Rather, the opposite has been true.
11 CITY LIMITS/November 1983
Ms. Jacobs idolized her West Village as a place where in-
dustrial workers and residents happily coexisted, each
benefiting from the other's presence. The workers supported
commerce and provided daytime street surveillance. She
predicted, "If the neighborhood were to lose the industries,
it would be a disaster for us residents." Today, with ~ e ex-
ception of a somewhat diminished meat market to the north
and the graphic arts center to the south, the industry has
been lost. The extent of the decline in the West Village has
been far greater than that experienced in other Manhattan
industrial areas. This change from industry to housing can
only be explained by the relentless pressure of affluent peo-
ple wanting an apartment in the Village, a pressure which
would not be released by constructing new housing largely
because of the community's victories against such new
Outbid by the Rich
None of this is to say that the inexorable drive of the
gentry into the surrounding communities would have been
stopped if new development had been permitted in Green-
wich Village. It would have been impossible for the Village
to retain its unique character while absorbing the number of
lUXUry units sought in the Village. When the Village's
resistance to new development is matched in other potential-
ly desirable neighborhoods, however, the marketplace is not
allowed to construct the new lUXUry housing wanted by the
rich. Only it is not the rich who suffer. They merely use
their superior financial resources to outbid everyone else for
the existing housing.
To help shelter the less fortunate, numerous restrictive
laws have been enacted, including Rent Control, Rent
Stabilization and laws to limit (however poorly) the conver-
sion of rental housing to cooperatives and condominiums.
Nevertheless, the pleas for additional protection from gen-
trification/displacement are appearing in the media with
greater frequency.
While restrictive regulation has considered the needs of
the poorer among us, regulation, like the anti-development
attitude, has not worked as expected because it failed to
adequately care for the relatively wealthy. One wonders how
we could have believed in the naive notion that the law
would deny people with money what they want (housing in
desirable neighborhoods) so that the hoi polloi could be
comfortable. The plain truth is that those among us who
stand to make a buck housing the rich will find a way to do
Emanuel Tobier, a professor at New York University,
recently analyzed housing demand in Manhattan for the
Department of City Planning. Reviewing his findings
highlight the consequences of overreliance on regulation to
protect the less affluent and provide a strong indictment of
the liberal agenda for providing housing in a free economy.
Between 1960 and 1970, approximately 58,000 units of non-
subsidized (luxury) housing were built in Manhattan. Dur-
ing this decade, the upper class renovation of lower class
housing was not yet so widespread as to be seen as a
significant problem. The literature of the time even praised
the nascent brownstone movement as a cheap form of hous-
ing for those who could not afford to live in the new luxury
During the seventies, new lUXUry construction fell
dramatically, accounting for only about 20,000 apartments.
CITY LIMITS/November 1983 12
The demand for luxury units continued to be strong,
however, and, in spite of the reduced new construction, the
overall number of lUXUry units created in Manhattan re-
mained fairly constant at 65,000 units for the decade. In-
stead of new construction, the upper classes were increas-
ingly housed in buildings which once provided shelter or, in
the case of loft buildings, jobs for the less affluent.
This analysis suggests that the markets for luxury housing
in new construction, renovation and conversion are
somewhat interchangeable. As the level of new housing con-
struction declined after the early sixties, alternate forms of
lUXUry housing were sought and, in the seventies, were
found in renovation and conversion. As a result,
brownstones and loft buildings are increasingly divided into
small cooperative apartments similar to that offered in new
Protecting the Poor
It has become the accepted position of all mainstream
political positions that everyone should and can live in de-
cent housing. The left and right no longer differ on the
goal, but their opinions are widely divergent on the
method. Liberals call for government intervention; conser-
vatives seek to let the market take its course.
The liberal approach fails because it doesn't recognize
that the affluent will not be denied the housing they desire.
While conservatives implicitly understand the wealthy, their
aproach fails too. To understand why, it is necessary to take
a closer look at the market for housing.
There are essentially three classes of housing users. The
first class can be described as the "affluent ," composed of
those who can afford the high costs associated with new
housing construction and proper maintenance. For the most
part, these people can live almost anywhere they choose.
Should they so desire, or should new housing be
unavailable, they could also live in existing housing.
The second group, from a housing affordability view-
point, I'll call the "middle class." This is the largest sector
of the housing market. Most of its members cannot afford
newly constructed market rate housing, but they do have
sufficient financial resources to obtain, maintain, and often
improve, a wide variety of existing housing.
The third and least fortunate group lacks the money to
properly maintain and operate existing housing.
Free market advocates argue that as the affluent move on
to newly built or renovated apartments, housing is freed for
the middle class and, as the middle class moves up, the
formerly middle class housing becomes available (trickles
down) to the lower classes.
Though liberals prefer to dismiss it, there is substantial
evidence to support this theory. Between 1940 and 1980,
amidst the most prolonged surge in housing construction in
U.S. history, all measures of substandard housing showed
dramatic declines. Nevertheless, the trickle down theory
contains at least two flaws, one of which is fatal .
From 1940 to 1970, real household income rose more or
less steadily in the United States, increasing the amount of
money available to be spent on housing. Since 1970, real in-
comes have fallen slightly. If incomes continue to decline it
is questionable whether the post-war gains in housing s t a ~
dards can be maintained.
More importantly, Michael Stegman, in his study, The
Dynamics of Rental Housing in New York City, theorizes
that almost half of a million households may be "too poor
to afford rent of any amount" (assuming they use their
limited income to purchase necessities other than housing) .
Thousands of others can afford some rent but not "enough
to pay the full cost of adequate housing" (emphasis added) .
For these people, it wouldn't matter if housing in the city's
best areas trickled down. Without the income to maintain
and operate it, even the city's best housing would succumb
to the laws of economics.
Thus, neither the liberal nor conservative approaches pro-
mise to resolve our housing crises.
Our inability to formulate a successful housing policy can
be attributed, at least in part; to liberal and conservative
ideologies with which we have been approaching the pro-
blem. When these ideologies came to dominate American
political thought , America was being transformed from an
agricultural to an industrial nation. The process was a par-
ticularly painful one. Though most Americans have coveted
the wealth of the industrialists, they identified with the
workers, dividing the world, as Jane Jacobs did, into "us"
and "them."
From a housing perspective, building housing for the rich
is viewed as detrimental by liberals because it helps "them."
If it helps "them", it must be bad for "us." Similarly, govern-
mental assistance for the poor is viewed critically by con-
servatives. The "them" and "us" positions are reversed, but
the attitudes are identical .
Resolving the housing problem requires a rejection of
either ideological perspective and a recognition that there is
significant truth in both positions.
Needed: Market Rate Housing
Regulation and opposition to development have not
prevented affluent households from displacing many of their
less fortunate counterparts during the 1970s. In addition,
public policy must be directed to promoting the building of
more market rate housing. By increasing the supply of
housing available in new construction, the upper class de-
mand for renovated or converted units can be reduced,
thereby preserving more of the existing housing stock for its
current residents and/or preserving more loft space for blue-
collar jobs producing industries.
There are those who feel that new construction would
have an adverse impact on the character of some desirable
neighborhoods. They may well be correct. Neglected in this
evaluation, however, are the consequences of too little new
construction - accelerated displacement of the
neighborhoods' current moderate income residents.
Also neglected is the option of selectively allowing higher
densities at locations, and in layouts, which ensure com-
patibility with the surrounding neighborhood. Returning to
our example of Greenwich Village, we find there are many
six-to-16-story buildings and even a 29-story building, all
built before World War II, most of which have been suc-
cessfully integrated into the fabric of this low-scale
neighborhood .
Instead of instinctively opposing new development, com-
munities might consider how to repeat the pre-war Village
experience. If community leaders are to succeed in stabiliz-
ing their communities, they must recognize that it is often
not new lUXUry construction, but the absence of such con-
struction, which causes displacement.
On the other hand, housing the affluent will not resolve
the housing problems of the poor. Only improving the in-
comes of the poor, either through employment or a
One wonders how we could have
believed in the naive notion that the law
would deny people with money what they
want (housing in desirable
neighborhoods) so that the hoi polloi
would be comfortable.
redistribution of the wealth of the society, can help here.
Given the condition of the national economy, it is unlikely
that we will see a substantial improvement in the ability of
the poor to earn relatively higher incomes. This leaves
redistributing the wealth, either through direct income sub-
sidies, subsidies to housing construction, renovation, opera-
tion and maintenance, artificially holding down rents
through rent regulation, or, more likely, through a combina-
tion of techniques.
Developers must understand that they have obligations to
the public which go beyond housing the rich. The profits
and tax benefits derivetl from increased luxury development
resulting from reduced governmental regulation, which
would be considerable, carry with them a responsibility t{)
help those who do not benefit from such development. 'y
assisting the less affluent , developers will make New York
more attractive to all classes of people, ultimately raising
property values and providing developer.,; with some return
for their having met their obligations to the public.
The crucial point is that the affluent and non-affluent
need not be locked in mortal combat for housing. Both
must be served. 0
Sandy Hornick is a planner with the New York City Depart-
ment of City Planning. However, the views expressed are
solely his own.
CITY LIMITS/November 1983
lv1,,, "I 11i( IllJ(Ji litvcllegoJ Ihu!)
, ,I ! LJ( I, 'II L'III IhlJ( c]Je fewer to serve
!II' III (i'l,i I, " ..flh l'. hlC'h 10 do 11
City's poor were visibily diminished
last month when one of four neighborhood
outposts of the 20-year-old MFY Legal Ser-
vices on the Lower East Side closed its
doors. The shuttering of MFY's Delancey
Street office, where thousands of low in-
come residents' had sought assistance with
the legal complications of housing, debt,
social security and family since the early
sixties, graphically marked the steady ero-
sion of both the type and amount of legal
help available to needy New Yorkers since
President Reagan began what is now a three-
year-old campaign to abolish the program.
Although blocked by Congress in
dismantling the services, the Reagan
Administration has succeeded in severely
hobbling the program's work. The budget
for the national Legal Services Corporation
was slashed by 25 percent in 1982 and again
in 1983. Congress has yet to pass a budget
for this year and legal services advocates are
somewhat buoyed by a small increase con-
tained in the continuing spending resolu-
tion. But substantial concern is now focus-
ed on proposed new regulations that would
severely limit the number of people who
could use legal services, as well as Reagan's
latest nominees to the Legal Services Cor-
poration board. This eleven-person crew is
still being scrutinized by legal services ad-
vocates, but most appear to be as little ac-
quainted with the Corporation's tasks and
goals as Reagan's earlier interim appoint-
ments and to be equally undistinguished in
their dedication to assisting the poor.
New York City's Legal Service's Network
New York City has ten independent legal
services projects coordinated through a cen-
tral umbrella agency, Community Action for
Legal Services. CALS, as it is known, dis-
tributes New York's federal allocation pro-
portionately to those offices. That city
allocation is based on the number of New
Yorkers eligible for legal services; that
figure, based on the 1970 census, was three
million and, according to the 1980 census,
CITY LIMITS/November 1983
By Tom Robbins
has increased somewhat, but CALS has yet
to receive more funds reflecting that
All of those calculations would be great-
ly diminshed if pending regulations that call
for a cap of $1 ,500 on liquid and non-liquid
assets of those eligible for legal help, are im-
plemented. Those rules would bar many of
those on public assistance and social
Those new rules would distort a picture
that has shown more New Yorkers steadily
in need of legal assistance, particularly as
Reagan rules in other areas, such as welfare,
social security and housing take effect.
"We're getting more people to serve, with
fewer people to serve them and with fewer
services on hand to do it," summed up
Eleanor Bader, the community education
director at the South Brooklyn Legal Ser-
vices office on downtown Court Street.
The Legal Services Staff Association,
which is affiliated with District 65 of the
United Auto Workers and represents
lawyers, paralegals and support staff in the
city's offices, said New York City has lost
30 percent of its staff since 1981. Of 140
lawyers there are now only 90, said Associa-
tion president Liz Koob. The reduction in
paralegals, who are asked to take the brunt
when attorneys leave, has been almost the
Those staff cuts have been made through
attrition, however, not with layoffs, and
Koob credits pressure from the association,
which struck CALS for two weeks in the
winter of 1979-80, with restraining
Nationally, staff and office cuts have
paralleled the amount of reduced federal
funding. By 1982, after the first decrease,
354 legal service field offices closed across
the country, and 1,546 attorneys left the pro-
gram, according to Bob Rhudy of the Coali-
tion for Legal Services in Washington, D.C.
Even before the cuts, federally-funded
legal services never provided adequate
numbers of representatives for all of those
deemed in need. It is estimated that there
were two legal service attorneys for every
10,000 eligible people. Meanwhile, the ratio
of those in private practice was put at one
attorney per 300 people able to afford
private legal fees.
Public, nonprofit attorneys, it was
estimated, could handle no more than 20
percent of the cases. Those numbers have
worsened since the Adminstration's cuts.
Seeking Private Funding
The Delancey Street office of MFY serv-
ed a population of low income Lower East
Side residents for whom housing conditions
are a major concern. Overall, forty percent
of MFY's clients seek help with landlord-
tenant law in cases involving eviction,
harassment and bad building conditions.
Citywide, the breakdown is similar. Yet
crucial as housing representation may be,
it's one of the toughest for legal services of-
fices to fund and provide.
"Closing that office is the clearest exam-
ple of what the cuts mean on a day-to-day
basis," said MFY director Norman Siegel.
While MFY has had some limited success
in getting state and city funds to provide
specific types of legal help, general service
legal assistance-such as housing court
representation - has suffered, said Siegel.
In the past two years, MFY has opened
a city-funded midtown office to advocate for
tenants of single-room-occupancy hotels, a
unit for those who have had their social
security disability payments terminated, and
a state-funded unit for discharged former
mental patients.
"These projects are important and have
kept our numbers - our staff and budget-
up, but what does it do for someone living
near Delancey Street who needs a housing
lawyer because they're being harassed and
can't afford one?" asked Siegel.
Like other legal services projects around
the city and country, MFY has reached out
to the private sector and the bar association
for help. Last year, MFY raised $30,000 in
contributions and in-kind services, such as
the typing of manuscripts, from private
sources. But it discovered in its funding
drive, said Siegel , that "Every other group
is coinpeting for the same funds."
Legal services projects elsewhere around
the country, said Bob Rhudy, had found
private fundraising not to be successful.
Like MFY, some have managed to fill
budget holes with state and local funding for
specific legal work, such as representation
of the handicapped or juvenile justice. Yet
in many cases, noted Rhudy, "Offices are
taking on a kind of work they had not
previously offered. General case work re-
mains the hardest to fund."
Groups in favor of federal legal service
provision have responded to Reagan's attacks
with their own legal assault, but the going
has been slow. A year and a half after a suit
was filed, an appeals court in Washington
is about to consider whether the President
violated the law by filling the Legal Services
Corporation board with interim appoint-
ments made while Congress was in recess
and thus never considered nor confirmed.
The escapades of some of the miscreants
named to the board, such as running up huge
expense account tabs while legal services of-
fices were being forced to use the flip side
of discarded photocopy paper, have attracted
some notoriety. But the ir>terim appointees
have persisted in a mission aimed at curb-
ing the program.
Implementation of the new income
eligibility rules was avoided when an injunc-
tion against a board meeting was won by the
Coalition for Legal Services and other
groups. But the remaining four appointees
are expected to try again before they are
The President has sent only six of the
eleven new candidates' names to the Hill for
consideration, but Senate committee con-
firmation hearings are due in early
November. Few of the nominees, said
Rhudy, seem to have past experience with
Legal Services. One, Robert Valois, is a
former aide to North Carolina Republican
Senator Jesse Helms. Valois, according to
the Washington Post, helped the J.p. Stevens
textile company create an industry front
organization to counter a union boycott cam-
paign. Another, Michael Wallace of
Mississippi, once a clerk to Supreme Court
Justice Rehnquist, worked on behalf of Bob
Jones University in its effort to maintain
nonprofit tax status despite its racial admis-
sion bars. New York City'S contribution to
the new board would be Bernard Bloom, a
Brooklyn surrogate judge with no record of
assistance to that borough's three legal ser-
vices projects.
"Unless Reagan gets his appointments
through now," said Rhudy, "he won't be able
to in '84 as an election year. Approval of the
board could spell drastic new changes. It's
a major new threat."
As New York's legal services projects
scramble to make up what the Administra-
tion has taken away, they are also confron-
ting an internal examination prompted by
ongoing contract negotiations between
CALS and the staff association. According
to association head Liz Koob, a major focus
of union demands is a restructuring that
would decrease what she said is a needless
heavy layer of management, and place those
jobs and funds into legal service provision.
The contract expired September 30.
"We're mindful of the budget problems,"
said Koob, "but no one has really looked yet
at the service needs of the clients."O
., . AHP TO rl.lLL
CITY LIMITS/November 1983
A ---. at _ at tile _ memben at tile ReII's
torney Wayne Saitta, District 6S representative Dwight Loines, and HCC orpnlzers Bob
ORKERS AT HOUSING CON- this summer apparently prompted the staff
servation Coordinators, (HCC), a te- to join a union.
nant advocacy and nonprofit rehabilitation
agency in Clinton, recently unionized in an
effort to improve their working conditions.
"We won by a clean sweep;' noted shop
steward Wayne Saitta, referring to the
workers' unanimous union vote on October
13th at the National Labor Relations Board.
Through that vote, the 19 organizing and
clerical staff members at HCC joined the
Hells Kitchen Organizers Local of the Na-
tional Organization of Legal Service
Workers, part of District 65 of the United
Auto Workers union. Employees at MFY
Legal Services in Clinton are also members
of the Hells Kitchen Local.
Organized workers at the community
group do not include its management staff;
those holding positions as Executive Direc-
tor, Accountant, Director of Weatherization
and Program Evaluator are not members of
the bargaining unit.
As City Limits goes to press, the union
members at HCC are preparing contract
negotiations with management to improve
office conditions.
"We've got four organizers sharing two
phones and one typewriter," said Saitta.
Through a union contract, the employees
will seek more staff involvement in making
office policy, additional office equipment,
raises, and the same benefits for part-time
workers as full-time employees; health
benefits, sick days, vacation days and com-
pensatory time.
Although some workers made similar
demands last year, events which took place
CITY LIMITS/November 1983
Consultant Study Stirred Protest
According to Saitta, who is staff attorney,
and tenant organizer Bob Kalin, HCC's
Board of Directors this year paid an outside
management conSUlting firm $10,000 to
determine how to improve the group's
HCC employees; who said they were
never advised of the action, first saw the
report in August. They felt they should have
had input in the policy decision that led to
the study. .
"If the Board was honest with us, they
wouldn't have needed some outside con-
sultants to tell them to fix the roof that's leak-
ing on our only typewriter," said Saitta.
Kalin added: "Not only was this 47-page
report wildly inadequate, but the fact is that
the Board wasted $10,000 which could have
been used for raises and improving the
In September, all the workers flied with
the NLRB and served notice to Executive
Director John Glynn to attend NLRB hear-
ings on recognizing the HCC staff as
members of the Hells Kitchen Organizers
No Board Opposition
HCC employees noted that management
was receptive in that the Board did not act
to oppose them.
''The board could have hired union-
busting attorneys to attend the hearings and
debate each person's eligibility," said Kalin.
Asked about the union drive, Executive
Director Glynn said, "We can't be against
organizing since we organize people. Peo-
ple organize to get what they want." But, he
noted, "whether a union is the best way to
serve the workers is a different question."
Employees believe that a union will be
able to serve them.
"The staff at HCC was ripe for a union,"
said Saitta. "Since there are a lot of cutbacks
being made, a union will give us direct in-
put on the practical and policy level as to
how the organization will be run."
Maintenance Workers Organized
on West Side
Although maintenance workers at other
community housing groups have sought
union affliiation recently; HCC is believed
to be the sole nonprofit housing group where
office workers and organizers have voted to
have union representation.
Last spring, eighteen superintendents and
maintenance workers of an Upper West Side
group, the Manhattan Valley Development
Corporation, joined Local 32-B-J of the Ser-
vice Employees International Union. The
group manages city-owned housing through
a community management contract with the
city housing department as well as federally
subsidized low-income rehabiliation pro-
jects it has sponsored. Although no contract
has been signed yet, a management
representative said a tentative settlement had
been reached. Local 32-B-J has also sought
to represent workers at other community
groups in Harlem and the Bronx. 0
Rachel Sanchez works with the monthly,
Clinton Community Press.
Judge Schwartz in his decision stated that
the Department may withhold information
when it falls within the provision of the law,
"that disclosure would result in economic or
personal hardship to the subject party and
such information sought is not relevant to
the work of the agency requesting or main-
taining it." The Judge found that the Depart-
ment failed to establish either of these
points, thus making their denial
Corporation's Arson Prevention Project
has won ajudgement against the New York
State Department of Insurance to release in-
formation on so-called "excess line insurers"
who frequently provide last resort insurance
to troubled properties. Manhattan Supreme
Court Judge Seymour Schwartz declared the
Department's denial of the requested infor-
mation to be unreasonable based on the
Public Officer's Law. Flatbush Development
rued the suit pursuant to the Freedom ofln-
formation Act.
The Arson Prevention Project of Flatbush
Development Corporation has developed a
comprehensive program to deter arson in
the North Flatbush section of Brooklyn bas-
ed on a computerized arson early warning
system. One of the primary deterrent
strategies is to notify insurers in Flatbush
when their insured properties are "at-risk"
to arson. An important source for the iden-
tity of the insurer of a property is the New
York State Department of Insurance. The
Department receives affidavits from brokers
placing excess line insurance in accordance
with Regulation 41. Excess line insurers are
out of state and foreign companies not
licensed in the State of New York who in-
sure where conventional insurance is
A request by Flatbush Development Cor-
poration and Ron Hine, the director of the
Arson Prevention Project, dated September
22, 1982 for the insurance information was
denied by Elaine Berger, the Records Access
Officer of the State Department of In-
surance. The Department stated it "would
be an unwarranted invasion of personal
privacy within the contemplation of the
Public Officer'S Law." An appeal of this deci-
sion was also denied by Joseph A. Oster, the
Assistant Deputy Superintendent and
Counsel to the State Department of
Ron Hine, director of the Arson Preven-
tion Project, stated, "Our access to this in-
formation will benefit a number of
parties-now we can notify excess line in-
surers when their properties are in trouble.
We can also identify for the State Depart-
ment oflnsurance where insurance brokers
are not complying with Regulation 41. The
denial of our request by the Department was
an irrational decision which runs counter to
their own interest."
"Information on excess line insurers is
especially important because a dispropor-
tionate share of fire insurance fraud occurs
in this part of the market ," Hine added. 0
Financial Management Center
is pleased to announce its new Low Cost
Accounting Program.
Each client will meet at ou r office with an
accountant with extensive non-profit
background. The cost is $720 for the
year, billed at $60 per month.
Each client will receive the following
services from our specialized
accou ntants:
Overall accounting/bookkeeping
For more information about Low Cost Accounting
contact FranCie, Program Manager, or Buddy Meth,
Executive Director at
36 WEST 44th STREET NEW YORK. NY 10036
Set up books.
Prepare quarterly income and expense
Prepare quarterly tax filings.
Review ledger quarterly.
End of calendar year preparation of
W-2 and W-3 forms.
End of fiscal year preparation of 990
and other year end forms.
Prepare year end compilation.
EftS (212) 575-1816
... because your accountant should save you a fortune-not cost you onel
17 CITY LIMITS/November 1983
More 'House Sense'
To the Editor:
It does not seem right to permit Ms. Sylvia Orans letter con-
cerning "Housing Sense" [Letters, August-September 1983] to go
Every group in the drama bears some of the responsibility
for the CrISIS that presently exists and hence every group needs
to be part of the solution. "House Sense" is an attempt to attract
children into assuming their role as part of the solution to the hous-
ing problems in New York City. Children and adolescents needs
to into the picture positively in at least two ways:
1. live They can add or subtract to the quality
of life III the bUllding where they live. As one walks through the
buildings of our city one would not presume too much to speculate
that at least part of the graffiti that is less than decorative is the
work of some who are less than thirteen years old. Old does not
have to a Senior Citizen to realize that at least some of the noise
complaints that are made are against those who are between the
ages of five and thirteen. We do not expect children to solve all
of the problems of the world in any area as children but we do
help them through our educational programs and systems to begin
process responsible members of society and pro-
vldmg them With some of the skills that will be developed in their
future lives of adults.
2. Stills, Nash, & Young reminded us of the reciprocal
relatIOnship between parents and children in the educational pro-
cess. Put quite simply: PARENTS DO LEARN FROM THEIR
CHILDREN. Many of us who have dealt in family education pro-
grams have learned that often times the best way to reach parents
is through their children. I would also suggest that the particular
problems of urban housing are particularly open to this approach
for the following reason. New York City has a high immigrant
population many of whom would be living in areas in which the
housing problems are most acute. The housing maze in New York
City is extremely complex to even native New Yorkers and those
whose first language is English. To become comfortable with the
whole housing situation as an immigrant is even more difficult.
The use of the children of a family to help their parents to feel
at home with this very important part of their life seems to me
to be a rather good pedogogical and socialization activity.
Why is it that whenever one talks about the tenant component
in the housing equation in New York City one becomes suspect
of exonerating landlords. The housing crisis in New York City
is of such proportion that there is sufficient blame (in very dif-
ferent degrees) and responsibility for everybody: the President,
the Mayor, landlords, tenants, community organizations, banks,
insurance companies, etc., etc. "House Sense" will Nor solve
the housing crisis in New York City by itself. In fact nothing will.
However, it is and can become another valuable tool in a neces-
sarily varied arsenal of weapons needed to preserve our housing
Reverend Kevin Sullivan
Free Insurance Appraisal
Richards and Fenniman, in insuring tenant and community
groups for over 10 years, IS offering to the readers of City Limits a free insurance
appraisal of their building.
knC?w your needs, your requirements, and how to help you get insurance
finanCing. And most important, we can get you the best prices.
a free insurance appraisal of your building and an evaluation of your current
Insurance program call me:
Ingrid Kaminski, Account Executive, (212) 267-8080.
Richards and Fenniman, Inc.
156 William Street, New York, New York 10038
CITY LIMITS/November 1983 18
.:.:": .. :
0. , . , .
Let us evaluate your insurance
program to see if you are getting the
most for your dollars.
"Specializing in lVon'Pr0fit and
Community Organizations"
Contact: Paul Sourifman
(212) 684-4770
Think how much cheaper it would be
if all the people, like yourself,
got together and bought oil by the millions of
Well, it's already happening.
We have been serving over 1000 buildings for five years.
Call 239-9410 for latest prices on #2, #4, and #6 oil
A N H 0
424 West 33rd Street
New York, N.Y. 10001
CITY LIMITS/November 1983
~ ~ - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
VICES: Folksingers Charlie King and
Deborah Silverstein will perform on Satur-
day, December 3rd, 1983 at 8 P.M. in a
benefit concert for South Brooldyn Legal
Services. The concert will be held at NYU
Law School, 40 Washington Square South.
Tickets are $7.00 at the door, $6.00 in ad-
vance. Both performers specialize in
topical, political material. For tickets, call
(212) 855-8003. D
--CALENDAR: Published by Junc-
tion/College Development Corporation and
the Town of Flatbush Cultural Association,
Inc., the Historic Flatbush 1984 calendar
describes the rapid changes experienced by
the area known today as Flatbush, Mid-
wood and East Flatbush using both text and
pictures. The cost is $5.00 plus $1.75
postage. Order from: J/CDC, 1569 Flat-
bush Avenue, Brooldyn, New York 11210. D
. .....
.. -0.. ~ . ~ . ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
<) ... -0 . ~
o . ' . ~
. . c;"
~ ~ _ ~ _ n ~ ~
--TIVISTS: The national Housing In-
stitute, a nonprofit group associated with
Shelterforce newspaper, is offering a un-
ique three-day training course for those
seeking to develop skills and strategies for
improving housing qUality. Programs in-
clude: Organizing skills and Leadership
Development, Winning Better Laws, Art of
Negotiating, Using the Media, Housing
Alternatives. Instructors are from the Na-
tional Tenants Union, the New Jersey
Tenants Organization and Rutgers Univer-
sity. NHI training will be held from
November 30 through December 2 at the
Shelterforce office, 380 Main St., East
Orange, New Jersey. The cost is $150 per
person. Partial scholarships will be
available. Separate arrangements for room
and board must be made. Contact Woody
Widrow at NHI for more information:
(201) 678-6778. D
This Year,
New York's
for the Holidays.
Give a subscription to City I,jmits at the special
low holiday rate of 33% off the regular price.
Save 44% on each additional gift subscription.
To take advantage of this special offer, return the gift envelope inside the
magazine before it's too late. Your friends will receive the very next issue.
CITY LIMITS/November 1983
new neighborhood disinvestment of
the eighties-quickly accelerated last
month as another major bank announced
plans to close 13 metropolitan-area
branches by the end of this year. The bank,
Manufacturers Hanover Trust Company,
. said that a total of 25 area branches would
be shut by the end of 1984.
The closings more than double those
already announced or carried out by other
New York City commercial banks this year.
But unlike those branch closings by
Citibank and Chase Manhattan Bank,
Manufacturers gave advance notice of the
planned shutdowns to anti-redlining ac-
tivists in an effort to hea,d off the kind of
protest that followed other closings this
year. The bank announced a willingness to
meet with representatives to discuss the
The Coalition Against Redlining met
twice with representatives of Citibank and
the Federal Reserve Board to discuss ways
to include the community once a decision
is made to close a local branch office.
Citibank's decision to shutter half a dozen
Brooklyn branches last spring led to
derilonstrations, legislative hearings and
four challenges under the Community
Reinvestment Act to bank regulators to
block Citibank expansion plans elsewhere . .
In a letter to Pauline Wilson, chairper-
son of the Coalition, Manufacturers
Hanover Senior Vice President William
Buckingham cited changes in deregulation,
non-bank competition and new technology
as reasons the bank needed to streamline
its operations. Buckingham added in the
letter that the bank projected steadily in-
.creasing losses at each of the branches.
The dilemma of the rapidly growing
phenomenon of branch closings by com-
mercial banks that frequently carry much
Subscribe to the
of a neighborhood's business transactions
was posed to Federal Reserve chainnan
Paul Vo1cker by neighborhood activists in
a meeting in September. According to
Marion Swan of the Coalition who joined
a National Peoples Action delegation in
Washington, Vo1cker expressed concern
about the closings and said that while
lenders could not be told not to close a
branch that was losing money, ways should
be found to prevent them from disrupting
the economic life of the community. 0 T.R.
Association of Neighborhood Housing
a digest of late breaking information on: Legislative
Developments, Housing, Budget News, Neighborhood
issues, Economic Development and Fundraising.
Each weekly issue also carries a calendar listing
critical hearings, demonstrations, conferences and
o Individuals and community groups: $20/ \ year.
o Citywide nonprofits, banks, foundations,
government agencies: $35/1 year.
Please send me a subscription to The Weekly Reader.
Make check' payable to:
Association of Neighborhood Housing Developers.
Send to: Weekly Reader, ANHD, 424 W. 33 St .
New York, NY 10001.
Sorry, combination subscriptions 10 Weekly
. Reader vlld Cil, Limits art' 110 longer {lvailable.
CITY LIMITS/November 1983
Youth Action Program, East Harlem, grassroots community
organization developing youth movement through concrete
projects run by young people. Responsible for renovation of
five buildings: two tenant co-ops, three homes for homeless,
with teenagers doing construction. Have completed one
building; morale is high, credibility excellent. Exciting, more-
than-full-time job for someone who can organize, administer,
counsel, fundraise, and enjoy life. Bilingual Spanish/Eng.
preferred. $14,000-$17,500. Apply: Dorothy Stoneman, 1280
5th Ave. NYC 10029.
Position Available-
Tenant and Community Organizer
An assertive self-reliant organizer needed to
work with lawyers, social worker and another organizer to
assisttenants in SRO hotels and roominghouseson Manhat-
tan's East Side. Working knowledge of rent regulations,
codes, and city agencies helpful. Position available
immediately. Salary $17,000 plus excellent benefits.
Send Resume to: Anne Teicher
Eastside SRO Legal Services Project
223 Grand Street
New York, NY 10013
--- --EOE/Affirmative Action----
Growing LDC seeka a person to help Implement and ex-
pand a commercial revitalization project Involving
Storefront Renovations, Business Assistance, Commer-
cial Security, coordinating promotions, and some site
development. PosHlon Involves a wide variety of taska and
allows for a good deal of creativity.
B.A. and at least two years of full-time experience In some
combination of the following: Planning, Commercial
Revitalization, Contrsct Management, Fundrslslng, Com-
munity Organizing, Real Estate Development. Position re-
quires a highly motivated, aggressive person with strong
Interpersonal skills. Salary: $18,000 and possibility of In-
centive compensation plan.
Send resume to:
Far Rockaway Revitalization Corp.
1931 Mott Ave., Rm. 316
Far Rockaway, NY 11691
Equal Employment Opportunity Employer
Tenant Relations
Description: To act as liaison between tenants in
Community Management buildings and CHDC.
Responsible for development of tenant associations to
participate in decision making for management and
repair planning, assist in the resolution of maintenance
and repair complaints and eventually form self
sufficient tenant cooperatives. Provide information on
coop ownership and maintenance/management, and
coordinate tenant training activities. Preparation of
various written reports on actiyities and maintaining
building meso
Qualifications: 2 years community organizing or
social service experience required. College degree or
equivalent experience. Clinton resident preferred, bil-
ingual Spanish and English desirable.
Salary: S14,OOO per year.
Send resumes to:
6646 10th Avenue
New York, NY 10036
Attention: Charles Abney
Send resume to: Executive Director
Assoc. of Neighborhood Housing
424 W. 33 ST.
New York, N.Y. 10001
A NYC Agency Is seeking qualified Indivi-
duals to perform technical work In order-
Ing and Inspecting repairs and alterations
to City-owned residential buildings.
(CONSTRUCTION): Order repairs, inspect work and
ensure repairs are done according to specifications.
salary: $24,155
Qualifications: (1) Six (6) years FTPE in construction
repair, alteration and/or rehabilitation of mUl-
tiple-dwelling, commerCial, Industrial or public
buildings in capacity of general contractor,
superintendent of construction, procurement
specialist or evaluator responsible for cost
estimation, field supervisor or as an inspector. A
satisfactory equivalent combination of educa-
tion and experience Is acceptable. However, all
candidates must possess at least three (3) years
of the required experience.
rehabilitation of residential buildings.
salary: $20,671
Qualifications: (1) Five (5) years FTPE experience
as: journeyman (mason, carpenter, plaster, Iron
worker or plumber), heating plant evaluator,
building contractor, engineer, housing inspector,
construction inspector, or construction esti-
mator; or (2) Three (3) years experience above
plus two (2) years education In college or Trade
school In construction program or education
towards BA or BS degree In Civil Engineering
Architecture or related field; or (3) completion
of five (5) years apprenticeship in building in-
spection; or (4) satisfactory equivalent.
REPAIRS): Determine acceptability of minor
building alterations and repairs as well as various
supplies and materials to ensure compliance with
purchase or contract specifications.
salary: $18,688
Qualifications: (1) Four (4) years FTPE in inspection
of building repairs or alterations; or supervision
of maintenance men or skilled tradesmen
(plumbers, electricians, etc) engaged in building
repairs or alterations; or review of invoices to en-
sure compliance or repair work with original
specifications; or (2) BA degree plus one (1) year
experience above; or (3) satisfactory equivalent.
Candidates must be able to handle detailed paper
City Residency Required
Excellent Benefits Package
Send Resume to: P.O. BOX
'We are an Equal opportunity Employer; MIP'
Poster Calendar
in S4Iidarit\' with the It ..... of

The calendar that features 13
original works of art-winners of a
national competition for posters
in solidarity with the people of
Central America.
Unique combination of politics
and art
13 StIrring images
Full color reproduction
8% x 18Yz" calendar size.
Only $6.91 plus handing.
off on orden of
10 or more)
Order one for yourself ... and
several more for your friends.
Just send In the coupon below.
1-9 e aI.ndCIIr .. I7.9I eac:h
($6.95 cover prtce plus 51
postage and handling).
Iave.o% on 10 Of more,
SUO ($4.20 each plus $.30
postage per cOendar.)
Enclosed Is S for
__ 1984 "ArtIsts In SolIdar-
Ity wtth the People of Centra
AmerIca" calendars postpaid.
Name _________ _
Ma_ __ _______ __
State ______ _
Sen::! yo.s order TO:
ArtIIIII a 1111,." Cal .....
19 WIlt 211t ..... 2nd P100r
.... York, No 10010
CITY LIMITS/November 1983
N E W Y O R K C I T Y ' S H O U S I N G C R I S I S :
_ . '
S ponsored by: Center for Metropolitan Action, and the Pratt Institute Center for Com-
munity and Environmental Development.
M on. D ec. 12, 1983
9: 00 a. m, -' 4: 30 p. m.
33 W est 42nd S treet
C U N Y G raduate C enter
N ew Y ork, N ew Y ork
The idea of requiring some
types of real estate proj ects
to underwrite the costs of
offsetting their environmental
impacts or to contribute to a
more balanced pattern of de-
velopment within the City is
not new. New York has led the
nation in the use of innova-
tive techniques (mainly zon-
ing) to harness the potential
of new development to provide
directly or indirec~ly for a
wide range of public amenities
designed to serve the general
welfare of the City 'and its
Recently, however, public
attention and debate has been
focused on the Rousing Crisis
and the use of this approach
for the purpose of creating
and preserving affordable
housing through a citywide
Housing Trust Fund. While the
concept is relatively simple,
the promulgation of any speci-
fic mechanism inevitably
arouses opposition from a
variety of sources, many of
which traditionally support
lower income housing.
The intent of this conference
is to provide a forum in which
all the actors in the develop-
merit process, Neighborhood
Housing Groups, Community
Boards, Elected Officials, De-
velopers, Lawyers, Planners,
etc., can constructively dis-
cuss and, perhaps, even agree
on a positive approach to fos-
tering more equitable develop-
ment for all New Yorkers.