New Benchmark

Buildings between 25,000 and 50,000 square feet will have to start filing electricity and water benchmarking data when the City determines that utilities can upload the information directly to the EPA Portfolio Manager website, according to legislation approved by the City Council yesterday.

The Council also approved a bill requiring existing buildings over 25,000 square feet to meet the lighting standards currently in effect for new buildings by 2025.

DHCR has reduced the monthly air conditioning surcharge permitted in electric inclusion buildings to $26.65 per month effective October 1st.

The City Planning Department formally started the process to rezone Gowanus for higher density housing this week, beginning a typically 18 month process. Less formally, City Limits reports, the administration is pushing new development on vacant land in Brownsville, along with new neighborhood programs, that might have an equally dramatic effect.

Pro Publica is attacking the NYPD and City for forcing tenants to agree to vacate to end nuisances that were, in fact, not proven. Private owners have long had difficulties when forced to make nuisance cases by the authorities with little support in the way of evidence and no sympathy in the courts.

Which part of history is historic? That’s the question in a lawsuit brought by opponents of new five story buildings approved by the Landmarks Commission at 60-68 and 70-74 Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking district. They say the buildings are too tall compared with the two story buildings on the block since the 30’s. But, the Commission noted that there were five story tenements there before, earlier in the 20th century. They are both right, of course, and history will tell us who wins.

Public Advocate Letitia James came out with her 100 worst landlords list, yesterday, claiming to have fixed problems with errors in prior lists by sending her staff out to visit each building, take pictures, and talk to tenants. Nevertheless, number 25 is still the owner of a former hotel that is being renovated and doesn’t have any tenants…as was pointed out last year and the year before.

There is something in the air about air rights. The Mayor’s office is holding meetings to discuss unspecified changes and religious and non-profit groups are leery of a minimum price per square foot being proposed in the midtown east area. They are concerned that the City will get greedy and set a price too high to allow them to cash out.

And speaking of cash, HPD employees may have to give some back after the City issued as much as 40% raises to almost 300 of them in violation of collective bargaining agreements. Reports don’t say who complained.

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