Friday, August 22, 2008


A Curiosity Below Houston Street : 180 Orchard Street....

Today 180 Orchard street was a stark , grey deserted building but for a few hard-hatted workmen that appeared to be doing some DOB required "house-keeping " . No other work was in process here on this beginning of a buildding . It has taken 3 to 4 years to demolish the previous buildings , to dig the hole in the ground , to drive piles, to do under-pinning work and pour 3 floors worth of concrete structure . There is a lot of capital just sitting here doing nothing but generate financing charges . All work has been stopped on this building by the NYC Department of Buildings .
According to the NYC DOB property profile for this building a stopwork order was placed on this structure with the intent to revoke permit #104297850 on 6 June 2008 . This permit according to the DOB was for all architectural , mechanical and structural plans . The architect of record is Issac and Stern Architects , the structural engineer of record is Robert Silman Associates and the mechanical engineer of record is GC Eng & Associates .The DOB property profile shows no clear reason for the intent to revoke . Why the DOB silence here ?
There was also noted in this stopwork order a violation for the unlawful and unsafe operation of a truck boom crane and a violation for construction debris falling to the street .
The stopwork order was later changed to allow workers to remove 3rd floor formwork , place shores to support the 3rd floor and to remove refuse and construction debris as well as make the site generally safe .
According to the city register a $ 12,500,000 was recently provided by the New York Community Bank . More recently according to the city register the owner of the building , LES Realty , signed a sundry agreement with the Dime Savings Bank of Williamsburg .
We have no idea of what is going on here ; there are of course all manner of rumors floating around , none of which are we able to confirm . All very curious .

Early next year, after the (s)election of the next president, interest rates will rise dramatically as the availability of money for loans dries up. You know what happens then -- inflated property values evaporate, leading to a huge wave of defaults and foreclosures as the economy grinds to a halt. (This is the scam the money masters pull in roughly ten year cycles: inflate the economy and sell holdings at the peak of the market, then implode the economy and buy assets for pennies on the dollar -- this is what was behind the market crash of October 1929).

In each cycle, real estate developers overbuild beyond market demand because money is so readily available. In the 80s cycle, they built too many hotels; in the 90s cycle, they built too much office space; in the current cycle, they're building too many "luxury" apts. All of these developments end up vacant when the money supply is restricted as inflated property values crumble.

Why we're seeing a frenzy of activity in demolishing old buildings and then putting up crappy structures as quickly as possible is because developers are trying to lock into what money they can get at low rates before the coming crash results in higher rates and makes loans and funding unavailable.

It should be noted that there is a secret policy within city govt to change the demographics of the city by using the private sector. In this way, people focus anger on developers rather than on the officials that make the destruction of their neighborhoods possible. To assist the private sector, areas are re-zoned, variances are granted, tax credits and other breaks are provided, and low-interest loans are made readily available.

It matters not that developers are not building according to demand -- the real goal is to get rid of the poor folks who stand in the way of gentrifying every fucking inch of the city.

The out-of-scale building that has been permitted to take place in the old-world neighborhoods just east of Houston (Orchard, Ludlow, Allen Streets, to name a few) is the best proof of this.

A nice market crash (even though it is manipulated) will stop this over-development for a while, at least until the next cycle of inflated property values begins anew.

But, the irreversable damage has been and is still being done. Even after the crashes, displaced residents cannot return to their apts, mom + pop shops don't re-open, beautiful old buildings and architecture that define the character of neighborhoods is gone forever and the social fabric of neighborhoods is eliminated.
Community Board 3 from what I have heard is notorious for not being forth coming with information. I have heard stories of community members walking in and asking for information and being given some lame excuse including for the Scarano building on the Bowery.

It just seems most people do not know Community Board 3 exists or have written them off as a self serving corrupt entity. Community board 3 seems like it's own fiefdom and who is monitoring them and since the manger is paid a salary the community should be entitled to know what we are getting for is it aprox. 60,000 a year? Where is the accountability as the area that comprises community board 3 sinks as in sunk by the most rapid, reckless and destructive development possible in NYC's history? Yes evictions rise including small businesses but there are huge environmental concerns and infrastructure concerns as well. When we see construction and infrastructure accidents only than does the mayor and the unbearable Scott Stringer (this closewith CB3) chant "safety first".

CB3 should just put a sign in the window "Sorry our xerox machine is broken" or "Sorry we have no information to share with you about what is happening in the community".

The communities that make up NY need advocates to make simple the DOB access information on line. That is just one example and there should be classes taught in public school for kids to learn how to actively understand and take part in community politics as well as understanding their basic rights.

Bob Arihood at his best is with photos like this with links to DOB because so many of us just don't seem to be able to get it together to access the site.

The builds like NYU hide the sites from our view and their intentions. Every empty site should have the truth about it's status available to the community at the site at all times. The DOB xeroxes up at sites have to be much larger and with very simple instructions or even xeroxes available that members can take away with them.

It is really sad how much the community does not know is happening and I agree the rapidness of it all allows for greedy corrupt people to get what ever it is they want and at the expense of the community.

If there is a water main break because of their rapid builds they are happy because it means another hardship for the community and more people and small businesses are forced out the community is crushed is so many different ways.
we just moved into the building next door on ludlow, we are relieved to hear that this building seems to be interminably stalled if not coming down, since it appears it would have covered up more than half of our windows and eliminated the cross-ventilation. why our building has these illegal lot-line windows is beyond me, but we rented the apt anyway since there didn't seem to be much activity on this monstrosity. thanks for looking out. too bad it has to remain an empty blight on the neighborhood fabric.
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