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Council to vote on fate of J-51.

Major movement has been made on the long-awaited J-51 bill. The measure was passed by the Housing and Buildings Committee of the City Council unanimously last Thursday, May 6, and the full Council will vote on it this Thursday. the new measure would be retroactive for co-ops to that date. Council Housing Counsel Paula Elaine Kay said it would be retroactive for other residential buildings to July 1.

Attorney Paul Korngold, a J-51 expert with the firm Tuchman, Katz, Schwartz, Gellis & Korngold, said "It's basically the state law."

The main benefit, he said, is that it extends the J-51. But, he noted, no one is addressing the tie-in between the MCIs and the J-51s.

He said the actual benefits for rental housing have been cut because the MCI rent increases are currently phased-in over seven years instead of five years when the J-51 was originally written years ago. The resulting J-51 benefit is diminished through an offset, he explained.

"It takes away a lot of incentive and the city ends up losing money because they are not generating jobs," he added.

To illustrate the tie-in between jobs and parking

* James R. Penturn, Toronto, Canada-exhibition and reuse of office building and parking

* Coliseum Markets, James J. De-Petrillo, East Brunswick, New Jersey-flea market, reuse of office building and parking

* Beyond Inc., William Shrewsbery III, New York, New York - multi-media and entertainment

* Dr. Zvi Almog, New York, New York - not-for-profit TV and museum dedicated to discrimination history

* David Rozan, New York, New York- parking

* Jason Carter Associates, Jason Carter, New York, New York - TV studios, reuse of office building and parking and incentives, Rent Stabilization Association President John J. Gilbert explained that since the MCIs have begun phasing over 84 months rather than 60 months, 11 window manufacturers have gone out of business.

"If you want to solve the lead paint problem and encourage water conservation, increase the incentives," he said. "One of the things the Council can do is give back the offset."

While Gilbert said he is glad the bill is moving forward, he is disappointed the Council Committee rejected their request to waive the offset.

Additionally, Gilbert noted, the measure allows J-51 benefits for lead paint abatement only after a poisoned child is identified. "We suggested getting in there before, but we could not convince the committee."

Gilbert charged Chairman Archie Spigner, who also heads the Mayor's Task Force on Lead, and Council President Peter Vailone were determined to do it only when they worked on the overall lead abatement laws because of a fear of "double-dipping" by owners.

Another portion of the proposed J-51 measure includes a change in the caps on the assessment of rental units from $30,000 to $40,000 at the time you start the work. "It's a major liberalization," Korngold said. "With the decline of values, you're putting in virtually every building except the super luxury."

Korngold said he represents some co-ops that are going to be eligible because of this. It's not a giveaway, he insisted, because when the last law was passed in 1988, they intended to include the middle class co-ops but since the assessors started bringing up the assessments those buildings were left out. "These co-ops should have been included all along and luxury buildings are still not eligible. To that extent it is helping to preserve middle class housing."

Another disappointment was the addition of asbestos for abatement but only to the extent required by Federal, State or local law, noted Charles Rappaport, president of the Federation of New York Housing Cooperatives. "They may be removing it because they need to," he explained. Building improvements that are mandated by law should qualify, he said, giving as examples the excess cost for putting in water meters; conversion of incinerators to compactors; removal of lead paint; and the submetering of electricity.
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Title Annotation:New York, New York City Council; J-51 real estate legislation
Author:Weiss, Lois
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:May 12, 1993
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