CPN Attorney Explains HPD Class Action Lawsuit

As discussed at the open meeting January 8, a class action lawsuit was issued against HPD in which Cadman Plaza North was named. A link to the lawsuit is here: https://www.classaction.org/media/astacio-et-al-v-city-of-new-york-et-al.pdf The communication from our attorney is below:

On December 5, 2019, a class action lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court of the Eastern District of New York alleging that the Mitchell-Lama program has failed to be administered in a fair and consistent manner. The only defendants named are The City of New York, the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (“HPD”) and Louise Carroll, the Commissioner of HPD. This memo addresses the general allegations of the complaint and describes some examples of alleged misconduct.

The Complaint at Large:

The plaintiffs allege that they (i) were placed on waiting lists at various Mitchell-Lama housing developments, (ii) paid non-refundable application fees, (iii) were never contacted about the availability of an apartment, and (iv) were unjustly removed from waiting lists without notice or explanation. The complaint further alleges that HPD failed to monitor and supervise these waiting lists and refers to a report produced by the Division of State Government Accountability (Report 2014-N-3) entitled “The Mitchell- Lama Program: Awarding Housing Units and Maintaining Waiting Lists” in support of such allegations. The class (meaning people who may join in this action) compromises of: all persons who any time after January 1, 2009 were placed on a waiting list and were subsequently removed from the waiting list without proper notice.

The complaint only alleges one count for relief: violation of due process, that is that each plaintiff acquired a property interest in their place on the waiting list and right to an apartment once they (the plaintiff) reached the top of the list, but were deprived of this property interest without sufficient notice or an opportunity to be heard and that they were thus deprived of a property interest without due process. We believe HPD and the other named defendants will dispute the allegations.

Plaintiff Adrian Salas and his alleged experience with the “Cadman Towers” Waiting List:

The Report 2014-N-3 dated July 2015 focused on three developments, one of which was named as Cadman Towers (a 421-unit Mitchell-Lama located in Brooklyn) but the Complaint interchangeably uses Cadman Towers and Cadman Plaza North. However, Plaintiff Mr. Salas’s claims appear to relate to the waiting list at Cadman Plaza North. KLL confirmed that Mr. Salas’s name appears at Number 291 on CPN’s third one- bedroom waitlist (from the October 23, 2009 lottery) with a notation indicating that his application fee was not received. Mr. Salas alleges that he submitted an application for a 1-bedroom apartment at Cadman Towers in 2009, paid the application fee and that the notation was inaccurate and he should remain on the waiting list as an eligible applicant. Management advises they have not reached this list, so even if Mr. Salas is correct, he has not yet suffered any loss or consequence. The Complaint, either intentionally or mistakenly intertwines Cadman Towers and Cadman Plaza North. There are also allegations relating to two apartments of other improprieties relating to occupants’ qualifications in relation to income.

The Complaint focuses upon HPD’s alleged failure to (i) ensure that applicants are offered apartments in the order in which they were placed on the waiting lists, (ii) assure that applicants receive notification prior to being removed from waiting lists, and (iii) assure that applicants are not improperly removed from waiting lists. We thought it prudent to advise the Board of the allegations raised. Cadman Plaza North is just one of 17 city-supervised Mitchell-Lama developments discussed in the Complaint. Cadman Plaza North is not a defendant. There is no need for Cadman Plaza North to take any action in relating to this complaint. We will continue to monitor the proceeding and recommend that CPN continue (as it has been) to investigate complaints of non-primary residence, follow the process for succession rights applications, and offer apartments pursuant to the applicable waiting lists.

If you have any questions regarding the above, please let us know. Thank you.

Kagan Lubic Lepper Finkelstein & Gold, LLP


BQE Panel Nearing Conclusion of Study

In a communication from Carlo A. Scissura, Esq., Chair of the BQE Expert Panel, dated January 7, the following information was conveyed to interested parties:

As the BQE Project Expert Panel begins to conclude our work, I wanted to provide a quick update: The Panel has been hard at work on its final report and recommendations and we will ensure that elected officials, community groups and stakeholders have an opportunity to be briefed on the report in the coming weeks. Thank you your continued involvement, and I look forward to staying in touch as our work concludes. As always, if you have questions please email me anytime at [email protected]

Additional information and opportunity to sign up for future communications can be found here: https://www.bqe-i278.com/en

Teresa’s Closing?

In September we noted, thanks to an alert reader, that Teresa’s restaurant was listed on a real estate site as for lease. We now have it on unofficial, but we think reliable, authority that next Sunday, January 5, will be Teresa’a last day. At least I was able to get my tripe soup, kielbasa, sauerkraut and kasha with gravy, washed down with Zyweic Porter, fix on Friday. I’ll have to have at least one more.

The Chip Shop, and now Teresa’s, gone. It seems every place I love is doomed to die (the record goes back to Capulet’s on Montague, for those who can remember it). Sic transit gloria mundi. -Brooklyn Heights Blog

Bertha Lowitt

We were saddened to hear about the passing of Bertha Lowitt last week. She was 102; Mother to Susan Dowling and Grandmother of Jon Dowling. Here, she is seen celebrating her 100th birthday at Noodle Pudding.

Newsroom: (FYI)

Mitchell-Lama Co-ops In the News




It’s a Welcome Addition!

Builders replaced the iconic “Watchtower” sign that once greeted travelers heading over the Brooklyn Bridge with a new sign that reads “Welcome” on Monday. 

“Seen from Lower Manhattan and greeting travelers as they cross the Brooklyn Bridge, ‘Welcome’ embodies the message to our tenants and the entire city that Panorama is a vital part of the transformed Brooklyn waterfront and reinforces the idea that Brooklyn is an inviting place for companies to set up shop,” said the principal of investments at CIM Group Jason Schreiber in a prepared statement.

The rooftop marquee sits atop the Jehovah’s Witnesses’s former headquarters turned office-and-retail complex in Brooklyn Heights, where it will salute work-a-day New Yorkers — and, not to mention, potential tenants of the bougie new commercial tower — as they cross the borough’s namesake span, according to a rep for the landlord.

Workers tore down the original sign — which formerly graced the Kings County skyline since 1969 — in late 2017. The “Watchtower” sign replaced an earlier sign of the pharmaceutical company ER Squibb and Sons, which constructed most of the campus in the 1920s.

The new sign was designed by Manhattan firm Morris Adjmi Architects with lettering that resembles the original sign’s neon-red characters, and is illuminated with energy-efficient LED lights. The sign will continue to sport the old alternating time and temperature display above it, according to reps.

Workers tore down the almost 50-year-old sign in 2017.   Photo by Paul Martinka

The Jehovah’s Witnesses setup shop at the Watchtower building in 1969, and expanded their Brooklyn Heights headquarters several times before selling the property to developers ahead of a move upstate in 2016.

Big Apple developer CIM Group, along with partnering Dumbo-based firm Livwrk, plan to ceremonially light up the new sign on Wednesday, on the 50th anniversary of the “Watchtower” sign’s debut.

City officials ruled in November 2018 that the owners could put their own branding on the sign.

After the old sign was taken down, Brooklynites were left to wonder for more almost two years whether developers would install a replacement on the building’s rooftop scaffolding, and renderings — including at one time the project’s website  —showed a sign spelling out the development’s name “Panorama.”

The Brooklyn Heights Promenade: A Monument to Civic Engagement

An informative and entertaining look at the history and future of the Brooklyn Heights Promenade by Spectrum News Staff Brooklyn.
This story is the fourth installment of NY1’s new initiative, “Street Level,” which explores the city through the history and culture of specific streets and the people who live there.

The New York City skyline as seen from the Brooklyn Heights Promenade is among the city’s most iconic views. The site may not be as well known as the Empire State Building, the Brooklyn Bridge or the Statue of Liberty, but standing on the Promenade, looking out over the water, you can see all three. For decades, the Promenade has been a fixture of Brooklyn Heights – both a rare strip of tranquility in the middle of the urban cacophony and a physical barrier separating a gentile neighborhood from the rush of the cars below. Read article/Watch Video: https://www.ny1.com/nyc/all-boroughs/street-level/2019/09/16/the-brooklyn-promenade–a-monument-to-civic-engagement

Holy smokes: Developer reveals first look at swanky Brooklyn Heights senior housing

It’s heaven on earth!

Developers unveiled plans for a massive luxury senior housing complex inside an old Brooklyn Heights hotel formerly owned by the Jehovah’s Witnesses last week. 

The $330 million renovation of the former Leverich Towers Hotel on Clark Street, dubbed the “Watermark at Brooklyn Heights,” by Florida-based investment group Kayne Anderson Real Estate Advisors will offer opulent amenities for Kings County’s well-heeled oldsters near Willow Street when it opens in early 2020. 

The bigwig builders bought the 16-story building from the Jehovah’s Witnesses in 2017 for $200 million and partnered with Arizona-based company Watermark Retirement Communities to retrofit the building into a swanky retirement palace featuring 275 rental apartments spread across its 310,000 square feet.

Rentals start at $8,245 for a studio and go all the way up to a whopping $22,000 for a two-bedroom, according to the head of Watermark Retirement Communities, Andrea Ellen.

The building also boasts a rooftop terrace, along with theaters, dining venues, a pool, fitness center, spa, beauty salon, art studios, and a library spread across three floors. 

And that’s not all! The fancy retirement home will boast a private art gallery with rotating exhibits featuring local and emerging artists, mainly from Brooklyn, which will sometimes be open to the public during cultural and educational events, according to Ellen.

– Brooklyn Paper