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December 1987

B R O O K L Y N ' S G O L D E N S H O R E S D G A L L E N T O N W A T E R F R O N T P L A N N I N G
2 CITY LIMITS December 1987
c/q L l m j ~ s
Volume XII Numberl0
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City Limits (ISSN 0199-0330)
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Editor: Beverly Cheuvront
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Copyright C1987. All Rights Reserved.
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Watering Down the Public's Role
In its report, New York Ascendant, the Commission on the Year 2000
enthused over the prospect of erecting office towers, luxury apartments,
restaurants, shops and marinas along the 578 miles of New York City
waterfront, a vision that has set the eyes of the city's developers aglitter
in contemplation of the riches to be mined from urban gold coasts.
It is a vision being pushed to reality by the powerful Public Develop-
ment Corporation, which has 14 shoreline projects in permitting stages
and a whopping 26 more under consideration - not to mention count-
less small, private projects multiplying like algae along our rivers and
bays, That most New Yorkers can't afford to live in these projects or pay
River Cafe prices, that ramparts of high-rises will shut the public out
of these esplanades, that small but viable businesses often are forced
out to make way for these Goliaths appears to be inconsequential.
But there is one major impediment standing in the way of an explosion
of construction. The public.
As Westway illustratated, communities don't always accept colossal
projects rising on their shores. And they are often willing to slug it out
in the courts with city officials and private developers.
But Mayor Koch is now doing his best to make sure the public has
little access to influencing the shape of waterfront projects. To this end,
the mayor has visited editorial boards to argue the dangers of community
review. He has fought limitations on the PDC's authority to work back-
room deals free from annoying constraints like budgetary oversight.
And he has developed a new strategic planning office that will, as one
mayoral spokesman says, eliminate the "obstacles" to waterfront de-
The shoreline is a fragile and limited resource that belongs to the
entire public, not just those with a yacht to park at a marina. It is too
valuable to be handed out piecemeal to any developer with an idea,
money and political connections.
In Memorium
On October 29, community activist Dorothy R. Quisenbury was killed
in her Dean Street, Brooklyn, home during a robbery. She worked
tirelessly to improve her community, founding the Fifth Avenue Commit-
tee and serving as its board president; she was on the board of the New
York State Tenants and Neighborhood Coalition, on the board of the
Park Slope Neighborhood Family Center and active in her block associ-
The people of the housing and neighborhood movement will deeply
miss Dorothy Quisenbury, oB.C.
Co r photo by Cindy Reimon/lmpoct Visuals
.... on
Seeking Sand Dollars on Brooklyn Shores 12
Developers and city officials have teamed up to push
two projects on the Brooklyn waterfront. But the
rush for up-scale amenities and housing may push
current residents and businesses into the ocean.
Arverne Beach Brawl 17
A battle is brewing in Arverne over how to use this
waterfront site - the largest piece of land owned
by the city. Affordable housing advocates , market-
rate developers and parkland proponents have en-
tered the fray.
From the Editor
Watering Down the Public's Role . ... . ... .. 2
Short Term Notes
Out of Buildings? .. .. .. .. . . ... ... . .... . 4
Lease Bill Languishes ....... ........... . 4
High Court Hears Rent Case .... . ....... . 4
Tenant Credit ... . .... . . .. . . ..... . ..... . 5
Waterfront Steamroller? ..... ..... . .. . ... 5
Neighborhood Notes
Bronx . .... .. . . ... . . . . .. . . .. ........ .. 6
Brooklyn .. ... ........... . ........... . 6
Manhattan ... ... .. . .. ........... . .... . 7
Queens .. ... . . ......... . ....... . .. . ... 7
City Views
Divide and Hide is Westway's Lesson . ..... 8
On the Waterfront: Planning to Plan . ..... 10
Neighborhood Newsstand
Between the Lines ............. .. ... .. 20
Building Blocks
Cooling Down Hot Water Expenses . . ... .. 21
Letters ................................. 22
Workshop . .............................. 23
December 1987 CITY LIMITS 3
Lessons/Page 8
Shores/P e 12
Arverne/Page 17
4 CITY LIMITS December 1987
City Planning Commissioner
Sylvia Deutsch believes that
plans for the city's in rem
housing stock are progressing
with impressive speed. At a
speech delivered to a recent
Publicworks Forum breakfast,
Deutsch asserted that one
Department of Housing
Preservation and Development
official told her "we may be
running out of in rem
(buildings)." Deutsch indicated
that plans are set for the
development of most of these
But this comes as news to
HPD. Agency spokesperson
Roz Post responded, "Then she
knows something we don't."
According to Post, HPD's
current inventory includes
4,539 vacant and 4,000
occupied buildings. And the city
is still vesting buildings in tax
arrears. "Unfortunately, I don't
think we'll ever run out," added
Post. DD.T.
Michael Brown shared an
apartment for eight years with
his lover, who held the lease.
When his partner died of AIDS,
Brown requested that he be put
on the lease. But Brown's
landlord responded by
slapping an eviction notice on
the door.
A bill passed by the state
Assembly last June would
ensure that people like Brown
would gain the right to remain
in their homes. Supporters are
concerned the bill will languish
in the Senate, where no
sponsors have stepped
forward. Under current rules,
tenants - except legally-
defined "family members" -
are not protected by state law
if they were not already primary
leaseholders for the apartment
when their portners die.
"More and more people are
sharing their lives and homes,"
says Michael McKee, director of
the New York State Tenant and
Neighborhood Coalition. "Just
because they aren't related by
blood or marriage doesn't
mean they should not have
The Assembly bill, number
A3503-A, would allow anyone
who lived with the prime tenont
for more than two years to
take over the lease. Introduced
. by Assemblymen Oliver
Koppell and Pete Grannis, who
chairs the Housing Committee,
the bill is designed to amend the
real property law and the city's
administrative rules. Dozens of
cases are now in the courts, and
surviving partners generally are
losing their battles against
landlords and management
companies. As the AIDS
epidemic increases, the
numbers of these cases are
likely to multiply.
Current laws are being
challenged by lawyers who
argue that those persons who
shared the apartment are
frequently as close to the
deceased as family members,
and should be treated as such.
But John Gilbert, who heads
the Rent Stabilization
Association, argues against any
increase in the number of
people allowed to renew a
lease. "Property owners should
be able to determine who lives
in their buildings," says Gilbert.
After a series of court cases,
including state Supreme Court
judge Helen Friedman's
reversal of her own decision,
Michael Brown has been
denied the apartment. The
Court of Appeals has refused to
review the case. DKathy
For the first time, the United
States Supreme Court has
heard full arguments on rent
control and the Fifth
Amendment issue of taking
property without just
compensation. On November
10, the court was presented with
testimony on a San Jose,
California rent control provision
that weighed a tenant's ability to
pay rent hikes over eight
percent. The court will issue its
Homesteading successes:
Manhattan Borough President David Dinkins, Victor Papa, and Father
Jack Kennington met on November 7 to present Dinkins with an award
from the Lower East Side RAIN homesteaders for h,s eHorts to add
JSOO,ClOO to the city's capital budget for homesteading projects.
decision on the case, Richard
Pennell and Tri-County
Apartment House Owners
Association vs. City of San Jose
(No. 86-753), sometime during
the current session, which ends
in July, 1988.
Landlords have criticized the
rent control provision, claiming
it forced them to subsidize the
poor, a responsibility they say
belongs to the government.
They also charge the law works
against the poor, making
landlords discriminate against
tenants who might not be able
to pay higher rents.
Challenged soon after its
passage in 1979, the California
provision has never gone into
effect. Trials and appeals court
ruled the law unconstitutional,
but the California Supreme
Court upheld it in August, 1986.
The Associated Builders and
Owners of New York and the
Real Estate Board of New York
filed amicus briefs in the
Supreme Court hearing.
But Michael McKee, director
of the New York State Tenant
and Neighborhood Coalition,
says, "The case has no direct
bearing on New York City or
state rent regulations because
the only comparable aspect of
them is the senior citizens
program. Under the Senior
Citizen Rent Increase Exemption
program, the economic
hardship imposed on the tenant
is taken into consideration in
challenged cases where the rent
increase is over eiQht percent.
State law provides landlords
with tax credits when they
exempt from these increases
tenants overthe age of 62 with
incomes below $12,000. These
credits are considered just
John Gilbert, president of the
Rent Stabilization Association,
believes the case potentially
opens challenges to other rent
regulation laws. "If the court
rules that the private owner is
not responsible for subsidizing
individual tenants, it will set the
groundwork for additional
cases, hopefully in New York, on
an issue by issue basis," says
McKee agrees that striking
down the San Jose law will fuel
other court challenges. "The
real estate industry is continuing
and will continue its assualt on
rent regulation. Politically, a win
for the landlords in this case
could be very worrisome," says
McKee. "This will not be the last
attack on rent control through
the courts."
The New York City Council
will hold hearings beginning
November 30 on commercial
rent initiatives. A bill sponsored
by Council Memebers Ruth
Messinger and Stanley Michels
would trigger compulsory
binding arbitration for
commercial rent increases over
25 percent; a mayoral bill
would offer a one year
extension on leases with a 15
percent increase. DTina
Kelley .
Over the years, many low
income tenants have been
refused even basic services at
some savings and loan
institutions. But a new credit
union has formed to meet the
banking and loan needs of
thousands of New Yorkers
squeezed out of the financial
The Self-Help Works Federal
Credit Union will serve some
50,000 low income members of
the Self-Help Works Consumer
Cooperative, a citywide mutual
housing association. The
buildings belonging to the
association have an annual
cash flow of $30 million to $50
Rebecca Reich, development
director for the Urban
Homesteading Assistance
Board, which helped establish
the credit union, says the mutual
housing association first tried to
leverage services like free
checking from commercial
banks in exchange for deposits
from association members.
"They weren't interested," says
Reich, who also is an advisorto
the new credit union. 'We
needed a credit union simply
because banks often refused a
tenant's request for loans, and
they were getting ripped off."
The Self-Help Works Federal
Credit Union will provide many
of the same services as banks,
including checking and savings
accounts and facilities for
buying money orders and
paying bills. The credit union
also will grant loans for home
improvements and offer low
cost insurance policies.
''This is help for people who
don't need big loans or for
people who can't even get small
loans from banks," says Thomas
Guess, chairman of the credit
union's lO-member board of
directors. The board, which is
comprised of mutual housing
association members, will make
policy decisions for the credit
union. UHAB will determine
tenants' creditworthiness by
examining income and
checking credit history. "Since
we know a tenant's financial
status, we are able to let the
tenants know they have
somewhere to turn when banks
have turned them down," says
Reich. oPatrlcia Stephens
The first job for the city's
proposed Office of Strategic
Planning may be to gut
community input on waterfront
development decisions.
According to mayorol
spokesman Lee Jones, the new
agency, which will be within the
Department of City Planning,
will implement the
recommendations made by the
Commission on the Year 2000.
Among its first tasks will be
examining waterfront.
development projects, with an
eye towards "cutting down
obstacles in the way of
development," Jones said.
December 1987 CITY LIMITS 5
Some of those obstacles
include environmental
clearances and zoning
regulations, Jones said. They
also include lawsuits that delay
projects. "We want to see if
there is a way to allow
challenges, but collapse the
length of time to get reports,
and so forth, done," Jones
''The only way to implement
the goals of the report is to
involve the entire apparatus of
government," explained Robert
Leitman, executive director of
the Commission on the Year
2000. He said the office will
help to c.oordinate the work of
all city agencies. It will "look at
overall long-range planning
needs of the city on a permanent
basis,N and its potential rale
could include regional planning
and Nspotting new trends not
addressed in the report," said
Details far the new office are
still being worked out by a
committee that includ.s
Leitman, Planning Commission
Chairwoman Sylvia Deutsch
and Board of Education
President RobertWagner Jr. It is
too early to discuss staffing and
budgetary needs for the office,
Leitman said, but initial funds will
begin with the Commission's
budget, which is being carried
over. Members of the
Commission on the Year 2000
will remain as an advisory
board for the Strategic Planning
Office. .
Leitman concurred that the
offices "first major project ought
to be the waterfront. What is
needed is a comprehensive
plan to ensure mixed-use
development, rather than plans
that are reactive to proposals,"
he said.
Having the opportunity to
oversee waterfront planning
could be beneficial to at least
one member of the Commission
on the Year 2000. Alexander
Coopers architectural firm,
Alexander Cooper and
Partners, is designing the $17
million mixed-use project at
Sheepshead Bay (See page 12).
His firm also designed Battery
Park City and the initial plans for
Donald Trump's Television City.
Although Leitman said that
Mayor Koch is "committed" to
long-range planning, some
critics are skeptical.
Peter Marcuse, professor of
urban planning at Columbia
University, called the new office
Nan admission of the failure of
the city planning departmentto
do what it ought to do." He fears
that the office will lack
independence and become "a
way of introducing greater
long-term rationality into the
present policy, whereas it should
evaluate the present policy in
long-range terms."
Marcuse said he also believes
that the strategic planning
office's input on waterfront
development will become Na
steamroller moving along the
waterfront" by taking it "out of
the normal democratic planning
process." oB.C.
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6 CITY LIMITS December 1987
The Bronx
The Promise of Promesa
Promesa means promise. It also
stands for Puerto Rican Organization
to Motivate, Enlighten and Serve Ad-
dicts, which is located at 1776 Clay
Ave. Here amid empty lots and aban-
doned buildings, Promesa is celebrat-
ing 10 years of service, not just to ad-
dicts but to the entire community.
Despite initial fears , local residents
have embraced the organization. Both
Pro mesa's clients and neighbors are
served by the group's GED, employ-
ment training, job development and
placement programs. "People don't
realize that we serve the rest of the
community, not just our own," says
Jose Fernandez, Promesa's planning
coordinator and development direc-
tor. He says about 40 percent of the
clients in its programs are not ad-
According to Cleo Boyd, chairper-
son of the Mount Hope Community
Council , there was some initial op-
position to a drug program coming
into the neighborhood. "But Promesa
has been good for the neighborhood, "
says Boyd. "We work together to im-
prove things and we have our meet-
ings at their buildings, " she adds.
When Promesa recently sought to
buy a house for a new drug- treatment
residence, community members sup-
ported the project.
Promesa has received approval
from city and state homeless housing
programs to develop a vacant city-
owned building at 315 East 175th St.
as 16 units of transitional housing for
homeless women and children. The
adjacent empty lot will be a play-
ground for the future tenants. Cur-
rently the lot is part of the city's Op-
eration Green Thumb and has been
cleared and fenced by Promesa.
Neighbors will raise flowers and veg-
etables until construction is com-
plete next door.
The group celebrated it's tenth an-
niversary with a party at the Sheraton
Center in October that drew over 500
people, including Lt. Governor Stan-
ley Ludine, Borough President Fer-
nando Ferrer and numerous other
elected officials and civic leaders.
Pro mesa's next 10 years promises
many new projects, according to Fer-
nandez. Promesa Foundation Inc., a
newly formed spin-off corporation,
plans to convert at least one nearby
lot into playgrounds for local chil-
dren. Economic development and
new business ventures are priorities
for the foundation.DLois Harr
Gaining Identity
Crown Heights, a neighb'orhood
suffering from escalating unemploy-
ment, troubled schools and a short-
age of social services, does not re-
ceive its share of city aid. charges Jas-
min Raffington, director of the Crown
Heights Neighborhood Association.
If the first step in organizing for bet-
ter services is a common idea of com-
munity, Crown Heights faces a chal-
lenge, says Raffington, who is work-
ing with a new organization to unite
the neighborhood.
Split geographically by Eastern
Parkway and politically by Commu-
nity Boards 8 and 9, Crown Heights
contains many alienated "sub-
communities." Northern Crown
Heights thinks it is part of Bed-Stuy;
southern neighbors think they are
part of East Flatbush. If progress is to
come here, claims Raffington,
"Crown Heights needs to recognize
itself as a community."
Celeste Morris, an aide to Con-
gressman Major Owens, has a differ-
ent view: "The problem isn't that
people don't identify with the com-
munity they live in, the problem is
being unified." Owens' office was in-
strumental in forming the Black Com-
munity Council of Crown Heights, a
group that aims to unify the black
community here, work toward "par-
ity" for blacks in housing, and get bet-
ter services for the community, such
as employment training programs.
In just six months, the Council has
put together a planning board that in-
cludes the Crown Heights Neighbor-
hood Association, representatives of
Owens and Assemblyman Clarence
Norman, members of both Com-
munity Boards 8 and 9, local
churches, members of the local Pre-
cinct Council and many residents.
Housing Commissioner Paul Crotty
appeared at one recent Council meet-
ing to answer questions.
"We are coming out with a plan for
progress in Crown Heights," says
Better Protected
Bensonhurst, on the other hand, is
a communitywithclout. After years of
complaints from residents concern-
ing problems ranging from aban-
doned automobiles to drug dealing,
the community board exerted pres-
sure on the 62nd precinct to "do
something." In response, the precinct
is implementing a Community Patrol
Officer Program (CPOP) this month.
The neighborhood has been divided
into 10 community patrols, with one
officer assigned to every 50 to 60
square blocks.
The 10 new officers will be addres-
sing "quality of life" problems that
have been a wedge between the com-
munity and the police department,
according to Sargeant Daniel Van-
natta, who is in charge of CPOP for
the precinct. At a Community Board
11 meeting in October, the sargeant
stated, "The officers will ring door
bells and learn names. They' ll know
the hours of the local stores. Each offi-
cer will be held accountable." He says
they will be able to predict and com-
bat crime patterns as they learn their
Throughout November, the pre-
cinct used flyers and public meetings
to acquaint residents with the new
cops on the beat. CPOP is already ac-
tive in other Brooklyn communities
such as Bay Ridge, where it "works
like a charm," according to Vannatta.
"Cops are taking their jobs more seri-
ously. They have more freedom, more
latitude, and more time to spend get-
ting the job done."
According to a spokesperson for
the New York City police department,
it is up to each precinct to initiate
CPOP. He also said that the program
is no longer a pilot program - it has
been deemed a success. "But it is up
to others to make some type of move
and establish CPOP in their commu-
nity." DNora FitzGerald
Plan for Pier 40?
After community uproar, the Port
Authority has agreed to renovate Pier
40 at a cost of about $5.8 million. It
should be reopened by the spring of
1988, according to a PA spokesman.
In early September, when the PA
made a sudden decision to shut down
Pier 40, many West Village residents
were upset. The closure meant the
loss both of storage space for local
businesses and a 2,400-space parking
lot. The abruptness of the action
angered many residents; others feared
that the PA had secret plans for the
"This shows a genuine lack of con-
cern on.the part of the Port Authority,
a callous disregard for the communi-
ty," Arthur Strickler, chair of Commu-
nity Board Two's transportation com-
mittee, said earlier. Strickler points
out that a 1985 PA engineering study
put the pier's lifespan at eight or nine
years , and "now all of a sudden it's
going to fall into the river."
Allen Morrison, a PA spokesman,
says the initial decision to close the
pier was made after an August study
by engineering consultants Parsons,
Brinckerhoff showed "structural pro-
blems" with the steel piles support-
ing the pier. Parsons is the same firm
that conducted the PA's 1985 study.
"I don't know why the first study
didn't depict the rapid deteriora-
tion," says Morrison.
Village resident Dan Roskoff says
he wants to know why the prognosis
changed so drastically and has re-
quested copies of both studies under
the Freedom of Information Act.
" It didn' t make sense to renovate a
pier that might have been demolished
for Westway," Morrison explained the
earlier decision to close the pier. The
area around Pier 40 was slated for
landfill as part of the aborted West-
way project. He said the PA decided
to save the pier after a new feasibility
study reported that it could be sal-
The st. Clair Gets a Chance
The St. Clair Hotel may return to
the market as an SRO. On October 8,
the state appellate division upheld a
June 1986 housing court decision by
Judge Lewis Friedman and forced
landlord Max Goldberg to turn the
SRO over to a 7 A administrator.
December 1987 CITY LIMITS 7
For years the fate of the 66-unit
building at 69 West 38th Street hung
in the balance, as Goldberg attempted
to bribe, harass or otherwise coerce
69 tenants to leave. The electricity
was turned off, "people were locked
out, one guy was attacked," says Hank
Perlin of the West Side SRO Law Pro-
ject. By last October, only one tenant
remained, and Goldberg was appeal-
ing Friedman's decision. "If (the ten-
ant) had left during the appeal, it's
unlikely the decision would have
been upheld," adds Perlin. The lone
occupant held on, however, and
Goldberg lost his last appeal.
Nancy Kiriacou of the CIinton-
based Housing Conservation Coor-
dinators was appointed 7 A adminis-
trator and, although Goldberg retains
title to the building, until it is oc-
cupied and repairs are complete, he
can't resume control. Despite the 7 A
program's mixed record of success
and costly repairs needed by the SRO,
the st. Clair is likely to survive.
"Everybody's looking at it as hope-
fully a model project," says Kiriacou.
In addition to the $50,000 from the
7 A financial aid program and com-
mercial rents from three-ground floor
merchants, the rehab effort will be
aided by a new HPD program for
emergency repairs.
This is a situation where we really
expect it to work out," says Perlin
"We're going to try to contact people
to . see if we can bring back the old
tenants." By the time Goldberg can
take over, Perlin and Kiriacou hope
to have a strong tenants association
in place at the st. Clair.DMary 10
Warehoused Bill
Queens housing and religious
groups are threatening to hold their
own public hearing on an anti-ware-
housing bill if the City Council con-
tinues to drag its feet on the bill.
In a November 4 meeting with City
Council Member Stanley Michels,
who introduced the bill about two
years ago, community activists said
anti-warehousing legislation is espe-
cially important for those Queens
neighborhoods that are undergoing
rampant co-op conversion and mar-
ket speculation.
Although the bill, Intro. 369, is co-
sponsored by 10 other council mem-
bers and is believed to have enough
support to pass, Queens Council
Member Archie Spigner, who chairs
the Housing Committee, has been
slow to bring it out of committee and
to a public hearing.
Advocates agreed to organize a co-
alition of citywide groups to hold
their own public hearing on the bill
in January to underscore their con-
cern about the issue.
Pilot Project
The Forest Hills Community House
is developing a pilot project to help
homeless famili es find permanent
housing and employment. The pro-
gram will target a small number of
families in Queens welfare hotels,
providing them with advocacy, job
readiness skills and placement. Per-
manent housing will be located
through contacts with community
groups and the Human Resource Ad-
ministration; social services and fol-
low-up support will be included.
The four-year pilot program will
work closely with LaGuardia Com-
munity College's Project Enable, a job
training, counseling and placement
program for homeless women. It is
designed as a model that can be repli-
cated by other agencies in the future.
Headed by Mary Abbate, coor-
dinator of Family Programs at FHCH,
the project is aimed at helping home-
less families develop community
roots , rather than maintaining them
in temporary housing. OIrma Rod-
"'DAYI, DICIMBIR 4, 11 & 18 B PM
This Land Is Their Land:
New York in the 19805
Urban Planning and speculation
il1 volatile times
Teache5 planning at the
Metropolit an Studies Program at NYU.
'he New York Marxist School
15 1 W. 19 th Street. NYC 10011 (2 12) 9896820
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8 CITY LIMITS December 1987
Divide and Hide Is Wesfway's Lesson
14 hard-fought years of planning and
nearly $100 million in public spend-
ing should have sent a simple mes-
sage: the water is the wrong place for
development, especially the lower
Hudson River. Instead, the lessons
that the Cuomo and Koch administra-
tions seem to have drawn are to split
that multi-billion dollar boondoggle
into separate pieces (now collectively
called Westway II) and to funnel sub-
sidies for waterfront real estate specu-
lation through public authorities and
agencies insulated from public over-
sight and control.
New plans for Manhattan's lower
West Side shoreline have three dis-
tinct components. An exhorbitantly
priced highway, costing from $500
million to $800 million, is proposed
on the eastern side of the current
roadway. A waterfront esplanade is
planned - but not yet funded - be-
tween the new roadway and the Hud-
son River.
And in the river itself, where West-
way's billion-dollar landfill and plat-
forms were proposed, a new high-
stakes fight is underway. Although
Army Corps of Engineers permits for
the landfill and platforms have twice
been declared illegal by the federal
courts, lawyers are looking again for
ways to evade or dismantle the laws
protecting the river. While federal
funding for the landfill and platforms
was canceled in 1985, Battery Park
City Authority (BPCA) president
Meyer S. Frucher has proposed a new
financing scheme: bonds backed by
future taxes owed by Battery Park City
to New York City.
A broad-based consensus of civic
groups and public officials has
formed to oppose any new encroach-
ment on the river. "What is the point
of the esplanade," open space advo-
cates say, "if it is walled off from the
water by luxury towers in the river?"
Housing advocates want the Battery
Park City taxes used for low and mod-
erate income housing and for upgrad-
ing existing services in the city, not
expensive new landfill, platforms
ana infrastructure for luxury enclaves
in the river.
The three federal environmental
agencies that opposed the Westway
permit for eight years fear that plat-
forms and landfill in the crucial es-
tuarine habitat could have devastat-
ing impacts up and down the Atlantic
coast. Some fiscal and urban planners
deplore the waste of limited public
funds duplicating infrastructure in
the water that already exists on land.
And people who just plain love the
city and want to see it work are appal-
led at the waste of time, energy and
money fighting the same battle over
and over again.
Tidal Wave
For these reasons - and many
others - numerous groups and
elected officials have urged Governor
Mario Cuomo and Mayor Edward
Koch to stop all further public spend-
ing to pursue platforms and landfill
in the river. Nevertheless, the West
Side is awash in a tidal wave of gran-
diose projects.
From West 35th to West 40th
streets, where the city controls the
riverfront, the Public Development
Corporation (PDC) is subsidizing de-
sign work and aquatic studies for
Hudson River Center, a mini-city of
towering offices, hotels and luxury
condos on pile-supported platforms
in the river and along the shore.
From Battery Park City to West 34th
Street, where the state acquired the
river for Westway out to the pierhead
line, Frucher has pressed for a combi-
nation of luxury housing on landfill
up to the Holland Thnnel, with pile-
supported platforms and rebuilt piers
for mixed uses further north.
Although Frucher has been the
most vocal advocate for new attempts
at luxury development in the river,
other state agencies and authorities
also have done their part to pave the
way. The State Department of Trans-
portation, in charge of leasing the
piers, has driven out business tenants
that provided hundreds of blue-collar
jobs and fenced off piers so the the
public cannot use them.
At the Chelsea piers, below West
23rd Street, former Thansportation
Commissioner and State Democratic
Chairman William Hennessy and
former Governor Hugh Carey helped
real estate developer John Connelly
negotiate a new lease from DOT last
year. Frucher has proposed 5,000 lux-
ury housing units in this area. An un-
released report for the governor's and
mayor's 1986 West Side Task Force by
land-use consultant Gary Hack pro-
posed 1,400 to 1,500 housing units ,
offices and floating restaurants or re-
tail stores at the site.
At 15th Street, the MTA is seeking
bids from developers for a floating
bus garage, which will release its cur-
rent depot on Pier 57 for other uses.
At West Houston, the Port Authority,
which leases Pier 40 from DOT, sud-
denly evicted its subtenants in Au-
gust, alleging safety reasons (See,
Neighborhood Notes) .
DOT has a strong incentive to hand
over the river to the highest bidders.
Thanks to a provision U.S. Senator
Daniel Moynihan inserted into the
highway law this spring, the first $90
million or so in proceeds from the
sale or lease of the property acquired
for Westway - including the
riverbed - goes straight to DOT for
highway contracts.
No Oversight
The first serious local effort to limit
public spending for Westway II plat-
forms and landfill was last June 30,
when the PDC's annual contract with
the city came before the Board of Es-
timate. PDC, which acts as the
mayor's real estate development arm,
gets its hefty $158 million budget
from the public. But PDC's status as
a non-profit local development corpo-
ration allows it to contract with the
city and thereby escape crucial con-
trols mandated in the City Charter.
Scores of speakers at the hearing
urged that millions of dollars to ad-
vance platforms in the river be cut
from PDC's contract. Manhattan
Borough President David Dinkins
fashioned a compromise amendment
and rounded up the votes.
Consultant contracts for more than
$10,000 ordinarily must be approved
by the BOE. But PDe is free to give
out contracts in any amounts without
BOE approval. Comptroller Harrison
J. Goldin was so distressed by these
procedures, and by PDC's exemption
from financial disclosure require-
ments, that he resigned from PDC's
December 1987 CITY LIMITS 9
Waterfront decontrol :
Past-Westway development eHorts are focusing on dismantling environmental
laws and limiting public re"iew.
board last year. Dinkins' amendment
would have required that PDC con-
tracts over $100,000 come to the BOE
for approval when they subsidize pri-
vately developed Manhattan projects
to be built on landfill or platforms.
The vote was delayed all through
the night while PDC and the mayor's
office worked the BOE staffers over.
Up until 5 a.m. in this extraordinary
all-night session, it looked as if Din-
kins had the six votes needed for pass-
age - his own and Bronx Borough
President Ferrer's single votes, and
two each from the comptroller and
City Council President Andrew Stein.
Sometime after dawn, the mayor
made personal calls to BOE members.
When the final vote came, Stein de-
feated Dinkins' eminently reasonable
amendment with his critical swing
"We believe that the public review
process - in which this Board of Es-
timate holds a significant role - is of
value and should not be pre-empted
by substantial expenditure of public
dollars before (project) approvals
have been enacted," Dinkins said.
Until this year, Goldin was the only
BOE member to vote against the over-
all PDC contract. This year, Dinkins
joined him.
Recent calls by the mayor's Com-
mission on the Year 2000, PDC and
others for "simplification" of "byzan-
tine" regulations that impede water-
front development may herald efforts
to erode environmental protection.
The water around the city is a price-
less resource that belongs to the pub-
lic. Unless people who treasure it
mobilize quickly to protect it, the
waterfront will be lost to the public
just as it has been rediscovered. 0
Marcy Benstock is the director of the
Clean Air Campaign and its new
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10 CITY LIMITS December 1987
On the Waterfront:
Planning to Plan
invested substantial public relations
time and effort on the waterfront. Bil-
led as an area of growth and opportu-
nity. the city views its shoreline as
the focus for exciting development
projects. Despite all this attention.
policymakers and planners have no
overall inventory of what already
exists on the city's 578 miles of water-
front. And despite a cornucopia of
revitalization studies. there is no
comprehensive plan for develop-
Part of the problem lies in the fact
that authority over the waterfront
lands and its uses are diverse. di-
vided and dispersed. The result is
that projects proceed piecemeal. with
little thought given to the overall ef-
fect of development. While city offi-
cials may cite specific "policies." it
becomes easy to bend policies in the
absence of long-range planning.
Meanwhile. short-range and inef-
fective plans continue to proliferate.
The Public Development Corpora-
tion has provided a "Plan for Develop-
ment" of the New York City water-
front. but this is only a compendium
of 14 proposed site developments. not
an overall plan or an overall develop-
ment concept. The Ports. Interna-
tional Trade and Commerce Depart-
ment - the successor to the Depart-
ment of Ports and Terminals. but with
stripped-down authority over water-
front areas - is still attempting a dec-
ade-old effort to complete an inven-
tory of leases and uses on the city's
The City Planning Commission.
the logical agency for waterfront pol-
icy . programs and planning. has been
attempting a planning effort but lacks
funds. staff and firm policy direction.
Its efforts. through the Department
of Planning. include five studies that
are supposed to complete plans for
the waterfront. coordinating these ef-
forts and making them consistent
with city policy. Only three planners
have been assigned to these studies.
which include the following:
Waterfront Zoning Study: This
study was undertaken to encourage
waterfront revitalization. with hopes
that it will lead to the preparation of
amendments to the New York City
Zoning Resolution for development
that would not require negotiations
or the use of the Uniform Land Use
Procedure. The current study is in its
second phase of a four-part process
and is scheduled for completion this
Public Access Study: The goal of
this study is to recommend ways to
increase public access to the water-
front. The study. also scheduled to be
complete by the end of this year. will
inventory the types of public access
currently available.
Solar Access Study: This innova-
tive study will evaluate prospects for
the use of solar energy in new water-
front developments and indicate the
criteria and performance standards
that should be required. The depart-
ment plans to finish this study by the
end of the year as well.
Water Taxi Study: The city hopes
to determine the financial and physi-
cal feasibility of a private water taxi
system. public docks. routes. equip-
ment and cost estimates for this addi-
tional transportation system. Unfor-
tunately. this study has not yet been
authorized by the Board of Estimate.
Maritime Support Service Loca-
tion Study: The objective of this
study is to determine the economic
and physical feasibility of developing
additional water-dependent
maritime support services. such as.
tugs. tow boats. and barge operations
in the Port of New York and New Jer-
sey. This study is scheduled to be
completed in the spring of 1988.
To coordinate the various activities
along the New York City waterfront.
the Board of Estimate in 1982 estab-
lished the City Planning Commission
as the "City Coastal Commission." Its
role was to carry out and develop
policies under a "Waterfront Revitali-
zation Program." The WRP issued a
140-page report and was slated to re-
ceive funds allocated to the state by
the federal Coastal Management Act
of 1982. Although the state has re-
ceived several million dollars from
the federal coastal management pro-
gram since 1982, the city has received
just $1 million.
Moreover, the City Coastal Com-
mission - the policy arm of the
Waterfront Revitalization Program -
has not met in almost four years and
has failed to set policy and direction
for the development of the water-
front. The Public Development Cor-
poration has moved into the develop-
ment aspect of selected areas of the
waterfront without any coordination
or matrix within which development
should operate. City money has not
been forthcoming for the Waterfront
Policy Program, and the staff of the
city planning department has been
seriously depleted and given limited
resources, making it almost impossi-
ble for the city to do the comprehen-
sive and coordinated policy and pro-
gram development that it should pro-
What is required for an overall city
waterfront policy is an active City
December 1987 CITY LIMITS 11
Coastal Commission with sufficient
staff capable of understanding the
complexities of waterfront develop-
The components of an overall pol-
icy should include the following ele-
The Koch administration should
advance" money" to the City Planning
Commission, which then would at-
tempt to obtain matching funds from
the state and federal governments.
This money would help the commis-
sion hire sufficient staff for the de-
velopment of a comprehensive pic-
ture of the waterfront - and eventu-
ally an overall policy. An effort
should be made to assemble the
major talent in the area of waterfront
development and scientific knowl-
edge of marine technology and infor-
The City Coastal Zone Commission
should give policy direction, and
those policies should be formulated
through public hearings and public
Milestones, guidelines, timetables,
objectives and goals should be set up
for the staff.
Diverse elements within the vari-
ous agencies of the city dealing with
the waterfront should be coordi-
nated. This would include, but not
be limited to, marine transportation,
environmental protection, economic
development and parks.
State and federal jurisdictions also
should be coordinated. If necessary
and feasible, an intergovernmental
task force should be organized with
goals and objectives, defined and de-
lineated well in advance.
The Waterfront Revitalization Pro-
gram should balance the interest of
economic development, public ac-
cess and natural resource protection.
The proposed policies should be
made in conjunction with local com-
munity boards and the public and
then debated in an open forum.
It is essential to stress public input,
because the city has a history of stat-
ing one policy, then acting on
another. This has has happened often
in waterfront access issues, where the
administration vows to keep
shoreline sites public, then closes
them at the demand of a developer
or a community. By public debate,
the city will be able to examine its
programs and policies and move for-
ward to an exciting future on the
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merly vice chairman of the City Plan-
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wo colossal development projects are
swelling up on the shores of Brighton
Beach and Sheep shead Bay, threatening to
drown these working and middle class
communities. Both projects underscore
the city's lack of planning and vision for
the waterfront. -
he bustle begins in the pre-
dawn hours on the Sheepshead
Bay waterfront. Cars laden
with fishermen, poles pointing out
windows or harnessed to rooftops,
cruise down Emmons Avenue. Boat
crews loiter along the piers, hustling
the daytrippers: "Blues. Porgies. First
boat to leave." Lights from the
boats - Pilot II, Jet, Ranger and
others - punctuate the early morn-
ing darkness. Motors 'rumble, diesel
fumes mix with salty breezes.
Like a small New England fishing
village, Sheep shead Bay passes its
heritage from generation to genera-
tion. Fathers bring their sons - a few
now come with daughters or wives -
to fish off the same boats their own
fathers sailed. The boats, too, often
are ancestral treasures. Even Mike's,
the local bait and tackle shop, has
been run by the same family for three
Customers come from all over the
city, blacks, whites and Hispanics,
mixing easily on the party boats, as
the fleet is sometimes called. Return-
ing at mid-afternoon, many display
their catch along the pier, to be sold
to those relaxing at the waterside. The
boats go back out, a new load of fisher-
men on board.
But changes are in store for Sheep-
shead Bay, changes that may upset
this easy shorefront commerce. The
city's Public Development Corpora-
tion recently selected a developer to
construct a $17 million project that
will include shops, a 480-seat float-
ing restaurant , a parking garage and
63 townhouses. The winds of de-
velopment have already picked up
along the bay, with property values
and speculation escalating. A new
condominium project, Waterview Vil-
lage, has opened at the eastern edge
of the piers. Bill Doll , who inherited
his boat, the Jet, from his father, says,
"Little by little the guys will fall off,
like leaves on a tree. "
Just a short walk from the bay, as
the early morning haze clears off the
ocean, Brighton Beach begins to
wake. Its elevated subway line rum-
bles above Brighton Beach Avenue as
shopkeepers begin rolling up the
gates in front of their stores. Retirees ,
who dominate the neighborhood's
population, begin strolls on the
boardwalk or do some early shopping
on the avenue.
The landmark Brighton Beach
Baths and Racquet Club, which has
stood at the intersection of Brighton
Beach Avenue and Coney Island Av-
Sheep shead Bay museum:
Ironically, a "museum boat" will preserve the memory
neet that many fear will be displaced by large-scale deve/olpm ,1
enue since 1919, is still quiet. Its mini-
ature golf course, tennis courts and
swimming pools sit idle.
To some Brighton Beach residents,
though, this is just the calm before
the storm. The owner of the Baths,
Alexander Muss & Sons, has slated
the IS-acre club for demolition. In its
place the Miami-based developer
plans to erect a hulking 2,200-unit
luxury condominium complex. Six
towers , two of which would loom 44
stories, would dominate the ocean-
front. Nearby residents like Jean
Kreiling, president of the Committee
to Preserve Brighton Beach, believes
Brighton by the Sea, as the project is
known, will become a private enclave
of affluence casting its shadow over
the rest of the community ..
The Sheep shead Bay and Brighton
Beach projects have more in common
than proximity. Both represent huge
investments by private developers
and the city in waterfront areas that
have primarily been the domain of
the working and middle classes. Both
projects, which have received en-
dorsements from Mayor Ed Koch and
~ 9
December 1987 CITY LIMITS 13
tIe vision for the future. A former city
official who requested anonymity
concurs, commenting, "They're not
looking at the waterfront in any com-
prehensive manner. It's just where
someone wants to plunk down some
money to build something."
On the Bay
Development along the Sheep-
shead Bay waterfront has been in the
works for several years. Lee Silver-
stein, a spokesman for the Public De-
velopment Corporation, says, "The
impetus for doing something there is
that it is a wonderful waterfront site
that is not used to its fullest
capabilities. "
Initial attempts to get the project
rolling were beached by the city's cor-
ruption scandals. Michael Lazar's de-
Mike Scarpati, captain of the Ronger:
"If they put housing here, we con plant flowe,s on these boats . "
Brooklyn Borough President Howard
Golden, are to be built by politically-
connected companies.
The planning of these projects also
provokes questions. Eric Wollman,
vice president of the Committee to
Preserve Brighton Beach and presi-
dent of the local Eleanor Roosevelt
Independent Democratic Club, says
development is progressing with lit-
velopment company was selected in
June, 1985 by the PDC to build a
sprawling South Street Seaport-like
project on the waterfront. Lazar was
"de-designated" in April , 1986 after
his indictment. PDC went back to the
drawing boards, issuing a scaled-
down request for proposals last Janu-
ary. The major change in the RFP was
the elimination of new construction
in the water. City officials apparently
viewed the Westway debacle as a
warning to avoid environmental law-
suits. Neither striped bass nor corrup-
tion would stop redevelopment on
the bay.
Just a few weeks after releasing the
new RFP, the Public Development
Corporation amended it. Citing input
from the local community and in-
terest from developers, PDC added
the option of housing construction to
the project. Last August, after receiv-
ing just two responses, PDC awarded
the project to Grenadier Realty Corpo-
ration - a subsidiary of the huge
Starrett Housing Corp. - in associa-
tion with the Catco Group.
The plans call for a 30,000-square-
foot retail center, a 380-car garage and
63 townhouse apartments to be built
on Emmons Avenue between East
21st and Dooley streets. A 480-seat
floating restaurant will be moored off
Pier 10, along with a ferry terminal.
In an ironic touch for a project that
is likely to kill the current fishing
fleet, developers will immortalize its
memory with a "museum boat. " City
officials believe Sheep shead Bay can
become a year-round tourist attrac-
But the bay is hardly idle now. The
fishing fleet , restaurants and shops
cater to a different clientele than the
PDC wants to attract, and many boat
owners believe the city wants them
out. Costs for docking at the pier,
levied by the city's Department of
Ports, International Trade and Com-
merce, have escalated 15 to 20 percent
a year for the past three years. A 120-
year-old house, occupied by several
tenants, and six houses where ten-
ants were already evicted to make
way for the project , would be de-
Mike's, the long-time gathering
spot for the fishermen, also would be
razed. "We're not against any kind of
development on the waterfront as
long as development doesn't hurt
what is already there," says Tom Mar-
coni , owner of the Pilot II and former
vice president of the Sheepshead Bay
Boat Owners Alliance.
City officials and the developers
say the project will complement the
14 CITY LIMITS December 1987
"They're taking Sheep shead Bay away from the public," charges
existing atmosphere on the bay.
"Sheepshead Bay is really a unique
area in the city as far as a New Eng-
land-type fishing area. We don't really
want to change it. We want to enhance
it," says Silverstein. Devora Fong, a
spokeswoman for Grenadier Realty,
concurs. "Of course we want to pre-
serve that," she says.
Despite such sentiments and local
zoning that dictates the kind of shops
that can be located in the area, precise
plans for the project are not yet set.
No rendering of the proposed de-
velopment is available and no price
range for the townhouses has been
set. Many dismiss the developers' talk
of a sensitive project. "They don't re-
ally know what Sheep shead Bay is.
They don't know what goes on here,"
charges Marconi.
Critics accuse the Public Develop-
ment Corporation of being little more
than an agent for private developers
cloaked in the garb of a city agency.
Relationships between PDC and de-
velopers can be chummy. Former POC
head Stephen Spinola now leads the
Real Estate Board of New York, the
lobbying organization for the city's
big developers. Robert Rosenberg,
president of Grenadier Realty, is a
member of REB NY and active in the
organization's partnership with the
city to build 1,001 condos in the
Bronx. Grenadier gave a $2,000 con-
tribution to the Brooklyn Democrats,
the party organization headed by
Borough President Golden, several
months before being selected by PDC
to build the project. REBNY bought
$2,000 worth of tickets to a Brooklyn
Democrats fundraiser last April. Con-
struction of the Sheep shead Bay pro-
ject, scheduled to begin in 1989, re-
quires Board of Estimate approval.
PDC will help shepherd it through
the Uniform Land Use Procedure.
City Dollars
The city has committed some $12
million in infrastructure work to pave
the way for the $17 million private
investment in the project. PDC offi-
cials estimate the project, which will
receive hefty as-of-right tax abate-
ments, will net the city $15 million
in revenues over the development's
first 20 years.
the city. To the fishing community,
the biggest lroblem in the area is
parking. An they believe the 380-car
garage that is part of the development
plan is woefully inadequate.
Several boat owners say the local
community board has in the past
promised different lots for parking.
The site of the newly constructed con-
dos was verbally promised by the
board as parking for the boats, owners
charge. Community Board 15 Chair-
man Maurice Kolodin failed to an-
swer several calls from City Limits.
Without enough parking for custom-
ers, the boat owners say their busi-
ness is dead.
John Maffai, the latest heir to Mike's
Tackle Shop, believes that may be
exactly what the city wants. Maffai
and others think the city wants to free
the piers for luxury boats. And those
luxury boats wouldn't require the
amount of parking the fishing boats
need - especially if some of the
boats are owned by the future owners
of the new townhouses.
"If they put housing here we can
plant flowers on these boats," says
Mike Scarpati, captain of the Ranger.
Scarpati believes building town-
houses directly across from the piers
is a mistake. With action on the water-
front starting before dawn, Scarpati
says, "We're going to have people in
the houses complain about lights,
about the hustling on the streets."
The changes brought by the rede-
velopment plan will be more than
physical. Despite PDC assurances
that the project is designed to open
up public access to the bay, many
doubt this will occur. The plan calls
for new benches and small park areas,
but a development geared to attract
shoppers and high-income residents
may result in psychologically wal-
ling-off of the bay from its current
"They're taking Sheep shead Bay
away from the public," charges Mar-
coni, adding that the city is "using
monetary value over people." Al-
though Devora Fang says Grenadier's
project will "reinforce the historic
quality" of the bay, the plan includes
demolition of Betty Blake's tenanted
120-year-old. Victorian house, one of
the last remnants of the bay at the
turn of the century. To the developer,
Neither the boat owners, shopkeep-
ers or few remaining homeowners
were asking for such investments by
Miami come. to Brighton:
An archItect'. drawIng .how. Alexander MUll' luxury BrIghton by the Sea
historic quality may just be a market-
ing concept, one that has little rele-
vance to those who come to fish from
the boats or buy from a vendor who's
catch is spread along the pier.
Brighton Towers
If the Sheepshead Bay project will
exploit the waterfront, then the pro-
ject planned for Brighton Beach will
overwhelm it. Six hulking towers-
two 44 stories, two 34 stories and two
24 stories - would loom over the
oceanfront. Some 5,000 new resi-
dents, all of whom can afford the
$150,000 to $300,000 luxury condos,
would create a wave of affluence in
a neighborhood where the last Cen-
sus reported the median family in-
come at $14,620.
Some Brighton residents believe
the $300 million development is
exactly what the neighborhood
needs. After years of fighting deterio-
ration and decline, the development
proposed by Alexander Muss & Sons
would ensure the community's re-
vitalization. Others counter that the
mammoth project will displace cur-
rent residents - especially the large
number of senior citizens - create
massive congestion and send a wave
of co-oping and warehousing of vac-
ant apartments through the neighbor-
Although the project is not spon-
sored by any city agency, Stephen
Muss, president of the development
company, announced Brighton by the
Sea from the steps of City Hall,
flanked by Mayor Koch, Brooklyn
Borough President Golden and
Brighton-area City Council Member
Samuel Horwitz. Such company can
help when the project one is an-
nouncing far exceeds current zoning
rules. Muss wants to build 2,200
units on a site zoned for about 300.
Borough President Golden recently
told Newsday, "Waterfront in Brook-
lyn is unique ... It has never been
intended nor desired to be utilized
for large, high skyscrapers. That's the
Manhattan side, not the Brooklyn
side." But Golden's appearance on
the steps of City Hall sends a clear
message of endorsement for the Muss
project. The company contributed
$16,500 to Golden's campaign fund
during 1985 and 1986. Golden failed
to respond to three requests for inter-
views by City Limits. In addition,
December 1987 CITY LIMITS 15
Brighton Beach boardwalk:
Strollers in this senior citizen community point out the Baths, where a
2,200-unit condo complex will soon dwari the boardwalk.
Mayor Koch received a $2,000 con-
tribution just one month after the pro-
ject's announcement. City Council
President Andrew Stein also received
a $1,000 contribution in 1986 and
another $1,000 in 1987. The zoning
waiver, which some estimate is worth
$95 million to the developer, requires
Board of Estimate approval.
Muss has strong allies on the local
level, too. Hyman Cohen, manager of
the Baths and a vice president of Alex-
ander Muss & Sons, is one of the lead-
ing forces in the Brighton community.
He is a member of the community
board and, until recently, president
of the local school board. According
to several reports, Cohen engineered
a letter-writing campaign among
neighborhood teachers in support of
the project, and flyers were distri-
buted using the school board's phone
number. Cohen refused to be inter-
viewed by City Limits, referring ques-
tions about the project to Muss
spokesman George Douris.
Despite the array of backers for the
proposal, vocal community opposi-
tion formed in its wake. Irwin
Fruchman, one of the leaders of the
Committee to Preserve Brighton
Beach, is a former city buildings com-
missioner and planning department
official. Says Fruchman: "He (Cohen)
thought it was a Banana Republic out
here that he controlled ... but there's
a few people he couldn't steamroll."
CPBB submitted to the planning
department a "Plan for the Responsi-
ble Development of the Brighton
Beach Community," which responds
specifically to the Muss proposal. Be-
sides saving the Baths, the "Responsi-
ble Plan" would allow Muss to build
the number of units permitted under
current zoning plus a 20 percent
bonus - if he built 50 units of afford-
able housing for neighborhood senior
Ed Kramer believes that plan
doesn't go far enough. "I can't relate
to 50 units," says Kramer, who runs
Geri-Pare, an organization that does
home repairs for senior citizens. He
argues that far more housing for
senior citizens is needed in Brighton
and that the addition of luxury hous-
ing will spur harassment of senior
citizen tenants who occupy many of
the rent-regulated apartments in the
area. "We are primarily a community
of old people," declares Kramer. "We
can't just pull a Jonestown, take a pill
and disappear."
Pat Singer, co-executive director of
the Brighton Neighborhood Associa-
tion, doesn't believe the seniors will
be pressured to disappear. "If I
thought this (the project) was going
to hurt anyone, I would be against it,"
says Singer. BNA has promoted local
revitalization and receives money
from the Department of Housing Pre-
servation and Development for tenant
rights programs.
"My grandfather settled in this
community back in the '20s and my
mother, her sister and brothers were
16 CITY LIMITS December 1987
Kramer says the neighborhood's senior citizen population
"can't just pull a Jonestown, take a pill and disappear."
raised here. My roots are planted
deep in Brighton Beach," Singer says.
"For some people change might be a
bitter thing to swallow, but how sweet
it is when it brings progress."
Many proponents of the project
openly admit that progress means at-
tracting younger, wealthier people to
the neighborhood. They also argue
that after years of struggle by groups
like BNA, Brighton has rebounded
from deterioration. Much of that suc-
cess is credited to the arrival of Rus-
sian immigrants. Wi@out the condo
project, many say, the Russians will
move to other areas and the neighbor-
hood's decay will begin anew. Asked
if he thought the luxury project
would increase harassment of current
community residents, Community
Board 13 district manager Herbert
Eisenberg responds, "I hope not."
But new investment is readily visi-
ble throughout the community, along
with signs advertising recently con-
verted co-ops for sale. "Just come and
take a look. It's an up-and-coming
neighborhood," says Kreiling.
Although Singer claims BNA has
not taken a public position on the
Muss development, BNA vice presi-
dent Evelyn Cooper has used the or-
ganization to support the project.
Cooper wrote at least one letter on
the organization's stationery, stating,
"I believe this construction would
firm up the economic base of
Brighton Beach and insure the future
orour lovely community."
BNA also was closely related to the
former Ocean Front Development
Corp., an organization headed by
Hyman Cohen. Singer's business card
lists both BNA and ODC affiliations
along with a joint logo. But ODC has
been reformed as the Brighton Beach
Business Improvement District, an or-
ganization set up with the help of the
PDC. Ben Lederman, who runs the
BID !rogram and is a community
boar member, told Newsday last Feb-
ruary, "We're trying to build a high-
rise in Brighton Beach, and the older
people don't want it." Lederman now
says "we" referred to neighborhood
residents as a whole. Lederman dis-
counts the opponents of the project
as "just a committee of 10."
Cohen says he will not vote on the
project when it comes up for commu-
nity board review. But at a board meet-
ing held to provide information about
the project to the public, community
In the path of construction:
This occupied 120-rear-old house would be
vacated and razed for the Sheepshead Bay
members were not allowed to ask
questions or dispute information pre-
sented by Muss representatives, ac-
cording to several people who were
"Never have we gotten this type of
reaction in favor of a project from a
community," says Muss spokesman
George Douris. A new community
group, The Committee for the Better-
ment of Brighton Beach, formed to
promote the project. A letter circu-
lated by the group says the proposed
project will help bring everything
from new subway cars to a larger sup-
ply of rent-stabilized apartments to
the area. "The new apartments they'll
build will not only bring comfort to
those who live in them, but to all of
us who call Brighton Beach home,"
the letter states.
The letter neglected to say that Hy
Cohen formed the Committee and
that its office is in the Baths. A call
to the number listed for the group gets
a "Brighton Beach Baths" identifica-
tion. Jack Verchelesler, a committee
member called to the phone, says he
sees no contradiction in the group's
sponsorship by Muss & Sons. "We're
on the same team," he comments.
Despite such well-organized sup-
port, the Committee for the Preserva-
tion of Brighton Beach reports it has
over 4,000 signatures in opposition
to the project. And Muss & Sons is
still struggling to get its Environmen-
tal Impact Statement certified by the
planning department. The company
has run into problems justifying its
request for a 700 percent increase in
zoning density. But Planning Com-
mission Chairwoman Sylvia
Deutsch's recent characterization of
the department as a "processing
agency" may indicate Muss's pro-
blems will soon be worked out. And
Eisenberg says, "I am ready to accept
what the city accepts."
Meanwhile, the city began some
long-needed repairs along Brighton
Beach Avenue, a project organized
with the help of the Brighton Beach
BID. But Fruchman raises questions
about some of the work, including a
new water main run to the Baths site.
He says construction being done by
the city will save Muss some $5 mil-
lion in costs usually borne by a pro-
ject's developer.
A great deal of time and money -
much of it public -has been in-
vested in both the Sheep shead Bay
and Brighton Beach projects, al-
though neither have received commu-
nity board or Board of Estimate ap-
proval. But even as little more than
proposals on paper, the two projects
elicit serious questions about the
city's intentions for waterfront de-
Perhaps the most obvious ques-
tion - and one that doesn't seem to
be asked by city officials eager to see
developemt proceed - is whether
these projects even belong on the
waterfront. In both instances the pro-
jects use the waterfront as an amenity,
like a sales pitch for a doorman or
heated garage. But the waterfront is
a resource, something to be nurtured
and used by the city as whole. De-
velopers complain the city planning
and review process take too long.
While there may be a process, in real-
ity, it has little to do with planning. 0
December 1987 CITY LIMITS 17
The Arveme Beach Brawl
Arverne'. vacant beache ..
eyond the windswept board-
walk of the Rockaway penin-
sula in Queens lies one of the
largest expanses of vacant land left
in New York City. More than 10,000
feet of beach frontage comprises the
southern boundary of the 302-acre
Arverne Urban Renewal Area - so
designated in 1965. Fallow for nearly
20 years, Arverne is today the center
of a three-way tug-of-war. Two sides
are clashing over the question of
whether prime oceanfront property
is "too good" for low and middle in-
come families, or whether city-
owned land should be used for lux-
ury development. On the third side
of the triangle are environmentalists,
who believe the ecologically fragile
Should the land be u.ed for low Income hou.lng, luxury development or env;ron-
mental pre.ervatlon?
he Arverne Urban Renewal Area is the
largest piece of vacant city-owned land
in New York. Affordable housing, luxury
development and environmental interests
are clashing over its Iu ture.
shoreline should be preserved as
At the center of this controversy is
the city's abdication of its planning
responsibility in Arverne, a challenge
that has been turned over to develop-
ers instead.
First developed in the 1880s, Ar-
verne was for decades a popular sum-
mer resort for the tonier crowds seek-
ing escape from the city heat. It began
losing its cachet after World War II,
when the development of the suburbs
and the proliferation of automobiles
lured those sunseekers to' distant
Arverne's summer vacation bun-
galows - despite their lack of heat
and plumbing - SOOn became year-
around houses for lower income
families, according to a consultant's
report on the area commissioned by
the Department of City Planning. In
1965, the city declared the area a
slum, relocated its residents (most to
public housing in the Rockaways)
and razed the bungalows. Because of
the financial crisis of the 1970s, the
city's first plans for Arverne's rede-
velopment fell by the wayside. A sec-
ond attempt four years ago went as
far as a request for proposals (RFP)
by the Department of Housing Preser-
vation and Development. But it net-
ted only three responses. According
to Larry Parnes, director of the
Queens Office of City Planning, none
of these proposals were deemed suit-
Today, HPD is trying again. The
agency is involved in a two-stage pro-
cess: first to gauge developer interest
in the property and then to choose a
developer. But HPD is also facing a
challenge by the Queens'Citizens Or-
ganization, a coalition of churches,
which wants to build 3,000 to 4,000
units of affordable, Nehemiah-type
housing on the property. QCO is as-
sociated with East Brooklyn
Churches, which is building the
Nehemiah housing in Brownsville
and East New York, through its affili-
ation with the Industrial Areas
The first part of HPD's task was
easy: Interest in Arverne is great, as
evidenced by responses from more
than 50 developers , including Harry
Macklowe, Park Tower Realty,
Hirschfeld Realty, Port Liberte
Partners, the Starrett Housing Corpo-
ration, and QCO. All paid HPD $500
for its request for expressions of in-
terest (RFEI).
The housing department plans to
use the RFEI proposals, due De-
cember 7, to develop a detailed mas-
ter plan for the urban renewal area.
This may incl ude the selection of
only one portion of the area to be de-
veloped initially. It will then - in
March - issue an RFP only to those
developers whose previous submis-
sions met the criteria established in
the RFEI. HPD expects to make its
final selection of a developer in July
The HFEl Huts no criteria for a pur-
chase price for the land, although it
mentions that 0 devoloper will have
to make a land purchase offer in "cash
18 CITY LIMITS December 1987
or affordable housing units" as part
of a response to the RFP. However, it
emphasizes that infrastructure costs,
estimated at $75 million, would be
expected to be borne by the de-
"The city is using this $75 million
estimate against low-cost develop-
ers," says Michael Gecan of the IAF,
who is working with QCO on the Ar-
verne Community project. He called
the estimate ridiculously high, ad-
ding that in the Arverne Community
plan most of the infrastructure costs
are built into the price of the housing,
although the city would be expected
to build a new school.
Little Faith
The Queens Community Organiza-
tion places little faith in the formal
HPD process, according to Gecan.
"We don't waste a lot of time reacting
to their notions about how to devel-
op," he says. Instead, QCO is making
a direct appeal to Mayor Edward
Koch. "We are asking him to do what
he did four years ago with Nehemiah:
to ignore the bad advice of his ad-
ministrators and give us the go-
ahead." Asked if QCO is currently
communicating with the mayor,
Gecan responds, "Yes, we are talking
to him through the public."
In late October, more than a month
before the first set of proposals are
due at HPD, the QCO presented its
plan to the public. I.D. Robbins, gen-
eral' manager of the Nehemiah pro-
jects, who would manage QCO's "Ar-
verne Program" as well, described the
plan at a session punctuated by QCO
clergy-led prayers asking God to give
QCO the land. The Arverne Program
calls for a mix of mostly one- and
some two-family townhouses, com-
plete with second-story balconies for
an ocean view. The units would cost
$50,000 to $75,000, depending on
size and location. The plan also fea-
tures access paths to the beach from
parking lots on the landward side of
the development, eight new service
buildings for the beach and a 30-acre
park on the bay side of the Rockaway
peninsula. The entire development
would cost an estimated $400 mil-
lion, including $225 million for the
housing and related infrastructure
costs. Qeo would raise the construc-
tion financing for the project. The
state Urban Development Corpora-
tion would finance the boardwalk,
Reverend Arthur Davenport, head of the Queens Citizens Organization:
Working-class homeowners would bring stability to Arverne, he says.
service buildings and parking lot,
and revenues from these concessions
would be used to payoff bonds sold
to cover the state's share of the costs.
The plan calls for the city to cover
other infrastructure costs as well as
provide the same $10,000-per-unit
no-interest second mortgage to home
purchasers as it does with current
Nehemiah projects. The second
mortgage and a package of tax sub-
sidies, together with a State of New
York Mortgage Agency low-interest
first mortgage, could bring the carry-
ing costs of the housing down to $400
per month, said Robbins.
The density of the Arverne Pro-
gram is much lower than that allowed
in the RFEI, which calls for overall
zoning not to exceed R6 levels. This
zoning typically results in densities
of 100 units per acre, depending on
apartment size. In contrast , Qeo
would build fewer than 20 units per
acre. Robbins believes relatively low-
density townhouses are the only form
in which affordable housing can be
built. "The lowest cost for an apart-
ment building is $180,000 per unit,"
he says. "We're not interested in
building housing for people who can
afford to live in Manhattan."
QCO sees its proposal as a chal-
lenge not only to HPD, but also to
Queens Borough President Claire
Shulman and members of the local
community board, who say that the
Arverne site should be reserved for
market-rate housing. Their argu-
ments focus on a need for "balance"
in the Rockaways, which community
members feel has been a dumping
ground for undesirable city projects.
"Our community has done more in
terms of social causes than any other
community in the city," says Commu-
nity Board 14 District Manager Jay
Steingold. The area, he says, has 16
percent of the nursing homes in the
city and 18,000 subsidized housing
units. Twenty-two percent of the
population is on some form of public
"People see Arverne as a precious
site," he adds. "We'd like to see a de-
velopment there bring in people with
purchasing power" so the area can
maintain needed shopping areas and
Stable Homes, Stable People
Sam Samuels, press secretary to
Borough President Shulman. says
locating a market-rate housing de-
velopment at Arverne would be "a
boom to the economy of the Rocka-
ways." "The more people, the more
the need for stores and businesses,"
he says. "There are not too many jobs
there now."
Reverend Arthur W. Davenport, pas-
tor of the First Church of God in Far
Rockaway and co-chair of QCO, took
issue with this view, emphasizing
that residents of the QCO's Arverne
community would bring stability to
the area. "Our residents would be
homeowners," he says, "with stable
homes and stable people. They will
attract economic development."
"The key question," adds Gecan,
"is whether the largest available plots
of city-owned land area going to be
used for affordable housing or high-
cost development. They're always say-
ing that other land is available for af-
fordable housing. When will the city
say for once that the so-called good
land is not too good for working
Dan Schneider, president of the
non-profit All Rockaway Planning
Council, says his organization op-
poses QCO's Arverne program on
other grounds, specifically that it is
not environmentally sound or well-
planned. "The Rockaway beaches are
eroding," he adds , "and so far, there
is no funding for a replenishment pro-
gram. We feel that the low income
people would not have the political
clout to get the funding. "
Schneider questions HPD's entire
approach toward the Arverne site.
"They're asking the wrong ques-
tions," he says. "They started by ask-
ing what kind of housing should be
built there, rather than asking what
should be there in the first place. " He
believes Arverne should be examined
as part of a comprehensive plan for
December 1987 CITY LIMITS 19
"When will the city say for once that the so-called good land
is not too good for working families," asks Gecan.
the entire Rockaway peninsula, both
in terms of environmental preserva-
tion and economic development.
"They're talking about putting $80
million worth of infrastructure and
another $100 million in improve-
ments at Arverne, " he says. "It's
worth a couple of million for plan-
One glaring omission in HPD's ap-
proach to Arverne is the lack of an
evacuation plan in case of hurricanes.
"By putting 6,000 to 10,000 units
there, they're going to increase the
population of the peninsula by 50 to
100 percent," Schneider says. "Even
in my lifetime, we've had hurricanes
where the beach met the bay, and
people have had trouble getting out."
Conservation Effforts
The possibility that the Arverne
site may soon be developed is
threatening some ongoing conserva-
tion efforts on the peninsula. Arverne
is fueling land speculation in the
Rockaways and driving up the price
of land that environmentalists are try-
ing to acquire for preservation pro-
jects, according to Albert F. Appleton,
vice president and conservation chair
of New York City Audubon Society.
NYC Audubon, in conjunction with
the Trust for Public Land, is pursuing
a "Buffer the Bay" project to preserve
a continuous belt of open space on
the shore of Jamaica Bay. The groups
have identified a number of sites in
the Rockaways that they would like
the city to acquire, including a nar-
row strip on the northern side of the
Arverne Urban Renewal Area.
"Everyone is waiting to see whether
Arverne will really work," says Ap"
pleton. "To the extent that it will
work, it will greatly increase develop-
ment pressure. If it bombs, who
Other environmentalists are con-
cerned about the fate of the
beachfront area. "The city is not treat-
ing the area either according to its
potential or with the kid gloves it de-
serves," says Bernard Blum, presi-
dent of Friends of Rockaway Inc., a
conservation group. He is especially
concerned that the RFEI and the as-
sociated consultant's report do not
emphasize the importance of de-
veloping water-related uses in water-
front areas. ''All they have in mind is
a kind of high-density development
like a Starrett City," he says. "They
constrain the builders to do the min-
imal to enhace the beach front and
treat Rockaway as if it wasn't a coastal
Friends of Rockaway would like to
see on the Arverne site recreational
water-related uses such as an
aquarium, hotel and surfing facility
for the natural surfing beach at the
end of Beach 38th Street. "We're not
saying create one big open space, but
emphasize what should be em-
phasized," Blum explains. "Give rec-
reation a shot; don't make it the bot-
tom priority." 0

Since 1980. the Housing Energy Alliance for Tenants Cooperative Corp. (H.E.A.T. COOP) has provided low
cost home heating oil and energy use reduction services.
The H.E.A.T. Coop has targeted for services the largely minority low and middle income neighborhoods of the
Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens. H.E.A.T: s general purpose is to provide assistance and services that lead
y to neighborhood stability.
As a proponent of economic empowerment for revitalization of the City's communities, H.E.A. T. remains committed
to assisting newly emerging managers and owners of buildings with the reduction of energy costs (long recognized as
I. the single most expensive area of building management). H.E.A.T. has presentedandtangibiliebuopportunitiest for tenant
associations, housing coops, churches, community organizations, homeowners sma Slnesses 0 garner
.,.. substantial savings and lower the costs of building operation.
' Through the primary service of providing low cost home heating oil. various '-ling plant servIc:es and
energy management services, H.E.A.T. members have collectively saved over 1.5 million dollars.
r . W:>rking collaboratively with other community service organizations with similar goals, and working to establish its
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services that work for and lead to stable, productive communities.
, If you are interested in learning more about H.E.A.T. or if you are interested in becoming a H.E.A.T. member, call
D; or write the H.E.A.T. office.
Housing Energy Alliance for Tenants Coop Corp,
853 Broadway, Suite 414, New York, 10003, [212] 5050286
20 CITY LIMITS December 1987
Between the Lines
ing editorial writers from Rupert
Murdoch. Although only the Post
will editorialize against famine relief
in Africa, the News has now jumped
out in front against beggars, dubbing
them a "major irritant of city life."
Guidelines banning begging are espe-
cially needed, the News said, since
many beggars are mentally ill or
homeless." Jimmy Breslin, heading
for Newsday, knows when to jump off
a sinking ship.
Just when we thought the New York
Post had hit rock bottom ,(having re-
turned to its tradition of calling
homeless people "bums" in head-
l,ines), news breaks that one of the
city's most unpopular real estate de-
velopers, Peter Kalikow, is seeking to
buy the tabloid. (Donald Trump and
Leonard Stern also are eyeing the
Post, perhaps signaling that publish-
ing has become a trendy gentlemanly
sport for high-ticket developers.)
Kalikow, best known for his efforts
to demolish hundreds of middle in-
come housing units on East 79th
Street, also is angling for a major
fundraising role in the Dole for Pres-
ident campaign.
The tenants in the City and Subur-
ban Housing Project that Kalikow
wants to wreck are fighting the de-
veloper vigorously, but with limited
success so far. The American Jewish
Committee earlier this year made a
laughing stock of itself in awarding
big donor Kalikow its Humanitarian
of the Year Award at the Pierre Hotel
benefit dinner. Now Kalikow is hunt-
ing bigger game. What is the price for
Mayor Koch's long list of graceless
gestures got longer when he threw in
the towel and called a halt to the city's
condemnation of the Chelsea
Maritime Union Building purchased
by Father Bruce Ritter's Covenant
House. The mayor 'knew he was los-
ing the public relations match, typi-
cally the only match he cares about.
You can't beat, in the mayor's words,
"a priest who has cancer." A class act,
our mayor.
It is too bad none of the reporters
covering the Covenant House story
asked the obvious question. Why has
the mayor, so eager to seize a building
a Franciscan priest intends to use for
runaway kids, refused for four years
to condemn any of the city's massive
welfare hotels?
The welcome entry to town of The
New York Observer has been marred
by the paper's shoddy writing. Some-
one better hire a copy editor fast.
Jean Nathan's story on Habitat for
Humanity was simply garbled, al-
though it probably was just as well.
But try to get past Ginger Danto's lead
paragraph in her front page story on
Trump's Television City.
Here it is in its endless entirety: "In
the 11 years it would take to move
Television City from concept to real-
ity, to erect its tower and excavate its
parking lots, to fill its shopping cen-
ters and pour its streets, much of
what has made the West Side so ap-
pealing to residents and developers
alike will be threatened, according to
a panel of five experts who assessed
aspects of the colossal project."
Bad writing must be contagious.
Even Tom Robbins, the former City
Limits editor, who really can write,
has a demon in his Observer typewri-
ter too. It was Robbins who described
a prestigious Wall Street law firm as
"blue ribbon." Jersey cows, Tom, win
"blue ribbons." With a law firm, try
"blue chip."O
Three Coffee Picking Brigades
to Nicaragua
Dec. 8-29
Jan. 3-17
Jan. 9-30
Approximate cost: $540, ' :.
excluding roundtrip
fare from U.S. to
Mexico City.
Information: call Internat'l
Work Brigades/NY
(212) 865-5904
Some financial :
aid available
December 1987 CITY LIMITS 21
Cooling DOVtfn Hot Water Costs
fers to hot water for bathing, cooking
and laundry purposes, but not the
water needed for space heating. DHW
typically is the second-largest home
energy user, representing about 13
percent of a household's energy bill.
In multi-family buildings, that figure
is about 30 percent.
Some simple changes in habits can
reduce the amount of energy needed
to provide domestic hot water.
Among these are using hot water only
when necessary, taking shorter show-
ers, filling the bathtub to a lower
level, using a laundry detergent de-
signed for warm or cold water and
operating dishwashers and clothes
washers with full loads.
System changes also can add
energy efficiency. Understanding
them begins with an understanding
of how the hot water system works.
When you open a hot water faucet at
a sink or tub, the amount of hot water
available depends on several factors,
inlcuding the temperature setting of
the water heater, the distance from
the water heater to the faucet, the
amount of pressure on the water sup-
ply system, the length of time since
the faucet was turned off, and
whether any other hot water faucets
are open.
Here's how the hot water gets to
your sink and tub. At some point
along the cold water supply line in
the house, some of the flow is split
off and sent to the water heater. The
water heater is simply a tank with a
heating device that warms the water
to the desired temperature - usually
115 to 145 degrees. When the set tem-
perature is reached, the heating de-
vice shuts off. As time passes and the
water begins to cool, the heater turns
on, reheating the water. The energy
lost during the reheating is known as
standby loss, because the heater is
expected to be on "standby" and
ready at all times. Standby losses are
one of the built-in inefficiencies of
conventional hot water heaters, ac-
counting for 10 to 25 percent of the
water heating energy expense.
After the water is heated, it stays
in the tank until a hot water faucet is
opened. Because the entire water sys-
tem is under pressure, as hot water
is drawn out of the water heater, it is
replaced by cold water. As the cold
water mixes with the heated water in
the tank, the heating device senses a
temperature drop and turns on again.
If the hot water is taken out of the
water heater before fresh cold water
can be heated, you will soon run out
of hot water. The pipes that supply
hot water from the water heater to the
sinks and tubs are always full of
water, fairly hot near the heater, but
becoming cooler as they get farther
away and as time passes.
Measures to reduce DHW energy
consumption include installing flow
restrictors and low-flow heads on
faucets, insulating the hot water tank,
setting the water heater thermostat on
the lowest setting for dishwashing
(usually 140 degrees), installing in-
tegral heat traps, and choosing
energy-efficient hot water heaters.
To virtually eliminate standby
losses, install tankless heaters that do
away with the energy-wasting dis-
tance between tank and faucet. A
tankless, or demand, water heater is
installed at the point of use (tub, sink)
and does not provide for storage of
hot water. Instead of water tempera-
ture turning on the heating device,
water flow triggers it. When the faucet
is opened, cold water is heated as it
passes through a small heat ex-
changer. Because there is no supply
to deplete, this device makes it possi-
ble to take several showers in a row.
However, heavy use might affect flow
and pressure, which would result in
less-than-hot water.
Tankless heaters are ideal when hot
water is needed a long distance from
a conventional tank location, or when
running pipe is difficult and expen-
sive, as when remodeling. Tankless
water heaters are more expensive
than conventional ones, but will
make up for the extra cost in energy
savings over the years. In addition,
the convenience of not running out
of hot water may be another reason
to select the tankless unit.O
For a free, illustrated fact sheet on
plumbing systems, send a stamped
self-addressed envelope to HAND-
NAN, Cornell Cooperative Exten-
sion, 280 Broadway, Room 701, New
York, NY 10007. Mention City Limits,
December, 1987.0
Community Organizer. Renovation Supervisor. Weatherization Coordinator.
Urban Housing Specialist. Community Management Director. Polley Analyst.
Housing Paralegal. Business Manager. Housing Director. Loan Arranger. Project
Director. Construction Specialist. Activist. Accountant. Housing Attorney. Execu-
tive Secretary. Energy Specialist. Assistant Editor. Executive Director. Activist.
These are just some of the positions recently advertised in CITY llMI1S. The advertising choice of
housing professionals in government, non-profit organizations and industry.
Call 925-9820 to place your ad.
22 CITY LIMITS December 1987
No Heartbreak
To the Editor:
Beverly Cheuvront's October arti-
cle ("Heartbreak Hotel ") joined pass-
ion for the elderly poor with seeming
indifference to the real nature of their
plight. We reject her characterization
of Covenant House's intentions and
actions regarding the hotel even as
we applaud her interest in its most
vulnerable tenants.
What "Heartbreak Hotel" fails to re-
port, and what lies at the heart of the
SRO tenants' individual tragedies, is
the real cost of housing them. That
cost now stands, conservatively, at
$20 per day; the rent Covenant House
charges those permanent SRO ten-
an ts averages little more than half tha t
amount. Ms. Cheuvront reported the
story of one elderly man who could
not afford $450 a month rent. He, like
many other permanent residents ,
could never manage the $600 per
month that it would take to cover the
full cost of providing him room and
hotel services.
Covenant House has responded to
this grim financial fact in two ways.
We have, first, poured over $3 million
on average per year into subsidizing
the tenants' rents while undertaking
extensive repairs to the hotel 's struc-
ture and interior. Second, and most
important, we have from the start em-
barked on a plan to save a large por-
tion of the hotel 's rooms for its SRO
residents. How? By attempting to re-
store mixed use of the hotel- at-
tracting tourists and youth hostel
users to pay rates that offset the losses
on SRO rooms.
The arithmetic of the hotel is clear:
either rents to permanent residents
must be doubled (a course that would
be as immoral as it is illegal) or they
must be subsidized, in substantial
part, by transients willing and able
to pay higher rates. Covenant House
has chosen the latter option, although
it has meant sustaining huge ongoing
losses over the past three years.
And we have not, in taking that
course, embarked on any effort to
harass or evict tenants. It may be our
staff has, on occasion, been rude and
has made mistakes. Where that has
happened, I know of no instance
where we have failed to apologize and
to attempt to rectify the wrong. Yes,
we have brought actions to evict ten-
ants. We have done so, however, sole-
ly in cases based on gross , longstand-
ing failure to pay rent (or in one case
based on behavior seriously endan-
gering other tenants). Prior to initiat-
ing eviction actions we have in every
case worked extensively to arri ve at
some other alternative, and indeed
most often have established long-
term payment plans in preference to
legal action.
These unexciting facts cannot eas-
ily compete, I realize, with the fiery
barbs of impassioned SRO advocates.
Those advocates know, whatever
their rhetoric, that SROs cannot be
maintained by private owners at a
huge financial loss indefinitely.
Depicting as a "Simon Legree" the
man who each year, at almost no cost
to the city, cares for 8,000 homeless
children in New York is as tasteless
as it is unfair. Asserting, in effect, that
he ought to divert from that work
more than the current $3 million a
year to subsidize SRO tenants in the
Times Square Hotel suggests a
dangerous absence of common sense.
Oscar Wilde once declared, in one
of his rare bursts of common sense,
" If one tells the truth, one is sure,
sooner or later, to be found out. " All
of us at Covenant House hope that
City Limits and the general public
will have the patience to seek the
truth about the Times Square Hotel.
We do not fear what they will find.
James J. Harnett
Executive Vice President/Chief
Operating Officer
Covenant House
Since 1980, the Community Development Legal Assistance Center (CDLAC) has specialized in solving the legal
problems of low-income co-ops, homesteading groups, TIL buildings, shelters for the homeless and other non-profit
groups. For more information about using CDLAC's services, send a brief description of your project or group and a
summary of your legal needs to Debra Bechtel at CDLAC.
Development Corporations and other non-profit groups, forming subsidiaries, annual reporting requirements, and many more issues. $25.00 (include. POIlaF).
BY -LAWS: A GUIDE FOR NONPROFIT GROUPS AND THEIR LA WYERS A step-by-step guide to drafting by-laws; includes
checklist of important provisions and citations to all relevant statutes. $8.25 (include. poataae).
A Project of The Council of New York Law Associates, 99 Hudson Street, New York. NY, 10013 (212) 219-1800
HOUSING ORGANIZERS: Community Service Society's Owner-
ship Transfer Project. Assist low & moderate income tenant
assoc. purchase, rehab & co-op privately owned buildings. Re-
search building histories, develop loan packages. Requires BA,
2 years related paid expo or MA & 1 year paid exp. , expo in tenant
organizing & training, knowledge of loan packaging and housing
development. Requires travel throughout NYC, flexability, night
meetings. Fluency in Spanish preferred. Salary: $26,797 & be-
nefits. Resumes to: Laurie Ben-Abraham, HR- 74, Community
Service Society, 105 East 22nd Street, NY NY 10010. EOE.
DIRECTOR. Non-profit housing agency. Supervise staff of 10.
Provide technical assistance, coordinate advocacy effforts for
coalition of neighborhood-based housing development organiza-
tions. Exp. in community organization, fundraising, housing de-
velopment & administration desirable. Sensitivity/commitment to
low income neighborhoods. Salary: $30,000-$35,000. Send re-
sume immediately to: Chicago Rehab Network, 53 W. Jackson,
Chicago, IL 60604.
HOUSING DIRECTOR. Manage tenant organizing & housing
assistance program. Supervise 2 organizers. Must be bilingual
Eng/Spanish & have housing expo Salary: $20,000. Resume:
Washington Heights-Inwood Coalition, 652 W. 187th St., NY NY
STRUCTION FIELD SUPERVISOR. For city initiative funding
community based housing groups to train at-risk youth in con-
struction trades. Exp. necessary. Youth receive both remedial
education & on-the-job construction skills as they rehabilitate
small, vacant in rem buildings for homeless & low income. Re-
sumes to: D. Tessitore, NYC Dept. of Housing Preservation &
Development, 75 Maiden Lane, NY NY 10038, Rm. 604. NYC
residency required. EOE.
INTERN. Temp., part-time for '87-88 academic year for National,
non-profit land conservation org. To help prepare NYC natural
lands inventory, open space plan for East Side, technical
assistance for community park and garden groups, develop prop-
erty profiles, assist in other projects. Must be grad student or
recent grad in related program (planning, law, resource manage-
ment, public administration). Salary: $8.50/hr. Min. 16 hrs.lweek.
Resume, letter to: Robert Feder, Assoc. Dir. NYCLP, Trust for
Public Land, 666 Broadway, NY NY 10012.
Statement of Ownership, Management and Circulation
IiH4Ulr"d b)' :111 II.S.C;,
Title of Publication: City Limits. Publication No. 496890. Date of Filing:
9130187 , Frequoncy of Issue: Monthly, except bimonthly in JunelJuly, Au
gustlSept. No. of Issues published annually: 10. Annual subscription price:
$15 Individual. $35 Institution, Complete mailiniladdress of known office
of publlcatlon: 40 Prince Street, NY NY 10012. Managing Editor: Doug
Turotsky, Ownor : City Limits Community Information Service Inc, Editor:
Beverly Cheuvront, 40 Prince Street. NY NY 10012. Known bondholders,
mortgagees, and other security holders owning 1 percent or more of total
amount of bonds , mortgages or other securities: none. The purpose, func-
tion and nonprofit status of this organization and the exempt status for
federal income tax purposes has not changed during the preceding 12
months. Extent and nature of circulation, Total no, of copies 5.000 (5.000
actual no. closest to filing date); Paid andlor requested circulation: 2,200
(2 .200); Mail subscription: 1,800 (1,800); Total paid andlor requested circu-
lation: 4,000 (4,000) ; Free distribution by mail, carrier or other means,
samples, complimentary and other free copies: 600 (800); Total distribu-
tion: 4.600 (4.800). Copies not distributed: 400 (200); Return from news
agents: 0 (0); Total: 5,000 (5,000). 1 certify that the statements made by me
above are correct and complete. Beverly Cheuvront, editor.
December 1987 CITY LIMITS 23
FIELD REP. National, non-profit land conservation org, seeks
field rep. to provide technical assistance to community garden
groups & NYC land trusts working to maintain & protect neighbor-
hood open space resources. Assist in incorporation, tax-exemp-
tion, lease & purchase negotiations, fundraising, property re-
search, liaison to similar NYC agencies. Requires BA, exp., ex-
cellent writing & communication skills, ability to work indepen-
dently, commitment. Excellent benefits. Salary: $21,000-$23,000
dep. on expo Resume, letter to: Viviane Arzoumanian, Trust for
Public Land, 666 Broadway, NY, NY 10012.
DIRECTOR. Center for Neighborhood Development, Cleveland
State University. Provides technical assistance, training, re-
search support to neighborhood organizations involved in com-
munity, economic & housing development. Requires MA in urban
planning, public administration or related field, & 5 years expo
in neighborhood development activities. Deadline 1/30/88. Start
4/1188. Resumes to: Dr. Dennis Keating, CSU, E. 24th & Euclid
Ave., Cleveland, OH 44115. EOE, m/f/h.
COMMUNITY AIDE. Office of Manhattan State Sen. Franz Leich-
ter. Represent Sen. in Chelsea & Clinton neighborhoods. Partici-
pate In comm. meetings, work with neighborhood activists. Con-
cerns such as hsing, crime & devlpmt. (particularly Trumps TV
City, Columbus Center, & Times Sq. Redev) . Write testimony,
develop press issues. Salary: $20,000 + all state employee
benefits. Downtown Manh. office. Resume & cover letter to:
Glenn von Nostitz, Off. of Sen Franz Leichter, Capitol Bldg.,
Albany, NY 12247.