History of Old PS 64

  • Built 1905-06. Operated as a NYC Public Elementary School PS 64 from 1907-1977
  • The City of NY (City) leased the building to a private company (Tenant) for a one year lease from 1984-85 then the lease term became month to month cancelable with a 30 day notice.
  • The City sold the 111,000 sq. ft. building with an additional 75,000 sq. ft. of development rights (not including parking and/or cellar with an additional 25,000 sq. ft.) at public auction on July 20, 1998 with the closing on July 21, 1999 to the approved buyer, the current owner, 9th & 10th Street, LLC (Owner). The property was sold with a Deed restriction for a Community Facility Use (CFU). A CFU under the City zoning resolution is listed as Use Group 3 & 4.
  • Tenant paid Owner $874 per month in rent for the entire building. Tenant was not authorized to sublease but they illegally rented out rooms bringing in approximately $35,000 per month in rent. In July 1999 Owner gave Tenant a 30 day notice to vacate, which they refused to do. Tenant was of Hispanic origin and claimed the building was a Hispanic Community and Cultural Center. In fact, it was a hotbed of illegal activity with drug use, drug dealing and illegal renting of rooms for cash in violation of the lease and zoning. Unfortunately, for the community and Owner the local councilwomen Margarita Lopez was protecting the Tenant (and the cash) at all costs including using City funds to pay for the Tenants defense on their eviction case for their illegal use and expired lease. Tenant and their illegal subtenants were finally all evicted on December 27, 2001.
  • Owner reached out to schools and over 1200 local community, city and state nonprofit groups to see if they needed space and many were interested in leasing space in the building. Owner offered the space at $12.50 per square foot and the market rent at the time was $18 per square foot. But, in the end, they wouldn’t lease space in the building because they said the local city council member Margarita Lopez threatened their funding from the city, state and federal government if they leased space in the building and most of their funding came from the government. Timeframe 1999-2005. See Community letter.
  • Owner decides to build a college student dormitory, Use Group 3, which is “as of right” and use its development rights and keep the front half of the building on 9th street and go up 19 stories set back from the street and be the same height as the neighboring building. There have been several landmarked and non landmarked buildings in Manhattan that kept the original façade or part of a building and added additional floors to the building.  In good faith, Owner meets with Rosie Mendez, the new local city council member in 2006, to present a deal structure that gives $60 million to the local nonprofit community over 30 years from the cash flow of the building without any approvals needed from the city council, the community board or any government funding. Additionally, Owner offers Community Facility space with its own entrance but Rosie said she didn’t want that because she wants the building for free for the community. If she wanted the building she should have bid for it at auction with the other 13 bidders. The former Tenant was given the opportunity to buy the building from the City for $385,000 with a $135,000 down payment and the City would provide a mortgage for $250,000. The Tenant told City Hall during the time Mayor Giuliani was in office that the City must sell the Tenant the building for $1. The Mayor then put the property up for auction in 1998.
  • Owners attorney advises to obtain a Building permit to remove the facade so the City won’t landmark the building. Then attorney advises to take down the dormers on 10th street because the City is talking about landmarking and since the 10th street side would be demolished anyway you should save the project which will have community use (for a legal community facility use) space in the building and the $60m community benefit. Owner meets with Rosie Mendez three months before the permit expires and explains that if she doesn’t support extending the expiration date of the building permit, so something can be worked out, then Owner would have to do the work to be in a better legal position to save the development rights. Rosie Mendez refused to ask the Mayor or the Department of Buildings (DOB) to extend the permit so Owner removed the dormers on 10th street legally as per the City issued building permit.
  • Rosie Mendez convinces the Landmark commission to Landmark the building on June 20, 2006 even though that Commission, and all other City agencies passed on any interest in the building before it was sold at auction. Prior to Landmarking, Owner shows the Landmarks Preservation Commission 12 City owned buildings that are very similar to Old PS 64 with the same architect CBJ Snyder with his H shape design and the City didn’t Landmarks those. Then on November 19, 2008 the City downzoned the East Village thereby eliminating the development rights and the $60 million benefit to the local nonprofit community and the Community Facility space with its own entrance.
  • Owner creates a School brochure to show the public and private school community that Old PS 64 can be renovated as a new state of the art K-12 school or two K-8 schools after the asbestos and hazardous conditions have been removed.
  • The Deputy Mayor in the Mayor Michael Bloomberg administration wrote a City Hall Letter 1-5-2009 stating the City agrees that higher education is an important economic engine for our economy and that dormitories may help educational institutions attract students to our city. It further states we agree that this building is eligible to be converted to a dormitory use, subject to submission of adequate proof of a nexus between the dormitory and one or more qualified educational institutions, and upon submission of proof to DOB of such nexus with an educational institution, the building would qualify for a permit authorizing the construction of a community facility dormitory.
  • In December 2012 Owner signs a 15 year lease for 1 floor with Cooper Union College (Use Group 3) and in February 2013 Cooper Union College signs a lease amendment for 1 more floor for 15 years.  In May 2013 Owner signs a 15 year lease for 2 floors with Joffrey Ballet Center, Inc. a NY not for profit corp. (another Use Group 3 allowed use) within the existing building.
  • Owner files the full architectural plans for the Use Group 3 uses, as per zoning, with the DOB in February 2013, submits the leases to the DOB after they were signed and 18 months later the DOB issues the Building permit 8-22-14  for the dormitory within the existing building. Five weeks later on September 22, 2014 the DOB issues a Stop Work Order because Rosie Mendez wrote to the Commissioner of the DOB, Rick Chandler, and asked him to recind the permit because she didn’t approve of the leases. This is after the DOB  had 16 months to review the leases and approved them after full legal review at the DOB. (Owner believes a tenant is not even needed to get a building permit when there is no additional bulk or FAR being built but complied with a valid lease anyway.)
  • Finally, in July 2015, after Owner addressed the made up “concerns” of the DOB they issued Building permits again. Again, within three weeks after a lot of pressure on the Mayor and the DOB from Rosie Mendez and other elected officials, who Rosie convinced to support her misinformation campaign,  the DOB rejects the leases after their prior approval and issues a Stop Work Order. The DOB states they mainly reject the Cooper Union lease because, even though they lease the beds, the college doesn’t need the beds in the summer (they don’t have a summer program) and that means, from the DOB point of view, they are not leasing the beds for a minimum of 10 years, which is a requirement of DOB Rule 51.  Cooper got frustrated with the City and was protested by Rosie Mendez and cancelled the lease.  The DOB rejects the Joffrey Ballet lease because they say 30% of their space must be for programs and not housing which the DOB had already approved after an exhaustive thorough review. This was made up as there is not a rule or law that states this “30%” requirement. Joffrey Ballet has a site for programs on W. 10th street and that’s where the programming is done with the exception of the use of the facilities on the premises.  Joffrey Ballet could not afford to accommodate this most onerous requirement.
  • Owner works with DOB to find out exactly what rules they have that are not listed in Rule 51. Owner does this by submitting zoning determinations called ZRD-1. Thereafter, Owner knows exactly what the DOB needs to lift the stop work order to allow construction to begin.
  • August 2016 owner signs a 10 year lease for 2 floors with Adelphi University addressing all previous concerns of the DOB.  After an unprecedented 8 months of lease review the DOB had objections. Owner and Adelphi signed a lease amendment and another to address the new DOB concerns, which were without merit. The Lease, and its amendments, addressing agency concerns complies with all DOB Rule 51 requirements. In spite of this arduous effort to comply, the DOB will not lift the stop work order. Instead, the DOB conjures up reasons why the lease in non compliant using objections that are contrary to what the lease says. Mainly the DOB states Adelphi has an option to lease beds rather than an obligation to lease beds.  However, the lease states for 10 years that Adelphi leases the entire second and third floors which shall include 196 beds. Like all college leases in NYC the tenant has the right to license their beds to their students but the tenant (Adelphi) remains the tenant who leases the space from the Owner. Additionally the DOB says Adelphi doesn’t have exclusive use and control of all of their premises. That is what a lease provides is exclusive use and control which includes licensing their beds to their students, like every other NYC college. Owner and Adelphi even did a lease amendment with the exact language the DOB wanted and their response was “the new amended lease fails to satisfy the requirement for proof of control”.
  • 2014-2017 Rosie Mendez informs Mayor de Blasio she wants the building to be a “community use or community benefit,”  a description that doesn’t exist in the zoning text but was offered from the Owner in 2006 but it had to be a legal Community Facility Use to comply with zoning, not the illegal use of the past. The Owner’s proposed college student dorm will be a tremendous community benefit but Rosie Mendez objects to the fact that the property was sold by the city and that someone else has site control. Rosie Mendez balked when Owner offered Community Facility Use space for a legal community use because she wanted the building for free. Rosie Mendez has never made a specific proposal to lease or buy the property;  nor has she informed the media or any of her allies where the money would come from to lease or purchase.
  • Old PS 64 is a privately owned building since 1999. Owner is trying to enforce the Deed restriction and get a Building permit. City Hall has interfered with the DOB from doing its job. The City sold the building and issued  an  interior demolition permit and allowed Owner to fully demolish the interior of the building but will not allow it to be renovated and used. The “as is” value from an appraisal after the interior demolition was completed but before renovation as of November 2015 is $82.5m and it cost $60m to renovate in 2015. Using the same method for valuation as the appraiser with updated numbers as of September 2017, the “as is” value is $92.7m and it cost say $67.5m to renovate. Is it realistic to argue that the City would buy the building (the building is not for sale), at the value at such time, and will pay a minimum of  $160.2m, before damages,  just so local politicians can have a vacant renovated building with no programs or funding in place for ongoing operations? The buildings current condition  is vacant and ready to be renovated with “state of the art” plans designed to sustainable and LEED principles.
  • A 2007 report from Economics Research Associates states that after development of the dorm, the ongoing operation of the project will generate total spending of approximately $17 million in the City annually. Extrapolating from the report, the community has already missed out on over $300 million of expenditures that would have been spent in the community, over the last 18 years,  had the building been occupied.
  • A report by Greenwich Realty Advisors states our analysis indicates an unsatisfied need of 57,098 dormitory beds in New York County.
  • The planned College student dormitory known as University Square has approved building plans and support from the majority of the community, who signed dormitory support petitions with over 1600 signatures, but Mayor de Blasio and his appointed followers have not yet allowed the project to move forward.  See support petitions generated from the community in 2017: batch 1, batch 2, batch 3 and generated from the Owner in 2008 from local businesses. The property remains a vacant eyesore in the community, giving credence to an observation in a Daily News article that our NYC legislature is a:  “ sometimes intelligence-starved council ”.
  • In September 2017 Owners managing partner meets Mayor Bill de Blasio in Tompkins Square Park and follows up with a letter.
  • October 2017, Adelphi University cancels the lease.
  • East Village Cares, the largest community based organization in the East Village, has a rally at City Hall on November 17, 2017.
  • Despite the Political obstruction ownership continues to try to work with the government to see who will take care of this community and allow this “as of right” project to move forward. The project will be a great benefit to the community and that’s why the majority of the community supports the project. Additionally, Owner has started legal proceedings to protect the building, the project and the rights of the owner and the community.