Volume 19 Issue 49 | April 20 - 26, 2007

Under Cover

Bucks for Boymelgreen

Flipping residential properties has long been a favorite pastime of real estate-savvy New Yorkers. But last week, developer Shaya Boymelgreen proved that the flip is also alive and well in Downtown’s newly hot commercial market.

After purchasing the 37-story office tower at 14 Wall St. in the fall of 2005, the Boymelgreen Group chose to do, well, nothing with it. Specifically, the company chose not to convert the building into condos, bucking the route taken by many Downtown developers in recent years. According to Boymelgreen’s press release, the developer “foresaw the re-emergence of the Downtown office market.”

In any case, the 1912 individual landmark — built as the home of the Bankers Trust Company — managed to appreciate in value all on its own. After purchasing the building for $210 million, Boymelgreen sold it for $325 million.

Milstein makes a foundation

On Tuesday, the World Trade Center Memorial Foundation an-nounced that Howard Milstein, the managing partner of Milstein Properties, has been named to the Foundation’s board of directors.

In the press release, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the foundation’s chairperson, praised Milstein’s appointment, saying, “Howard has been a strong supporter of Downtown revitalization and he will be an important advocate for the Memorial.”

An advocate of the memorial he may be, but some Downtown residents and agency officials might say that Milstein has been more of an extorter than a supporter of the rebuilding process.

Milstein owned the parking lot on the Greek church parcel across from the World Trade Center, and gave rebuilding officials fits until the Battery Park City Authority stepped in to sweeten his sale to the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. Milstein got the inside track to develop the last residential properties in B.P.C., located adjacent to the ballfields. The authority was expecting him to start construction soon, but got wind recently that the youth and soccer leagues should be able to play through the fall without any work. The leagues are happy not to have to play through pile driving on smaller fields, but the delay sets back the long-awaited Community Center in the buildings.

An apparent parking lot fan, Milstein has sat on the 250 Water St. site for two decades, proposing countless high-rise designs for the low-rise Seaport Historic District that have not passed muster with the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission.

B.P. waxes poetic

A full week after declaring victory in the struggle to keep rent-stabilized tenants at the Parc Place building in Battery Park City, Borough President Scott Stringer was still waxing poetic about the win.

“In all my years of tenant organizing, I have never had such an emotional evening,” Stringer said at Community Board 1’s meeting Tuesday. “The look on those tenants’ faces — it was such an extraordinary, extraordinary time for me. We need more of these wins.”

Darth Saft?

Speaking of Parc Place, at least a few anti-privatization residents at Southbridge Towers who saw our article last week no doubt noticed that attorney Stuart Saft represents Parc’s landlord, Yair Levy.

Saft and his team estimated the value of every one of the 1,651 apartments at Southbridge last year and co-op owners who oppose S.B.T. leaving the Mitchell-Lama housing program said his report was biased. Hogwash the privatizers say, Saft’s hiring was supported by antis and pros alike.

Parc Place’s tenant lawyer, Kevin McConnell, told UnderCover that Saft used to represent some tenants, but now he mainly represents landlords, or as McConnell put it, “He works exclusively for the Dark Side.”

Fox & friends

Tom Fox, president of New York Water Taxi, tells us he is the one doing the pushing to get his firm’s chairperson, developer Douglas Durst, named to be the next chairperson of the Hudson River Park Trust. Fox, who ran the Trust when it was a mere Conservancy, called UnderCover about last week’s item saying Durst was lobbying for the position with Fox’s help. Durst did give Fox the green light to put out feelers to Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s aides, according to Fox, but the developer is not lobbying personally.

And is the crafty Fox maneuvering for a return to government as president of the Trust, replacing Connie Fishman? No way, says Fox, not with a family to support and a business to run. Durst would be a good pick because he continues to support the park as co-chairperson of its Friends group, knows how to get things built, and builds “green,” Fox said.

Fox pooh-poohed conflict of interest concerns, saying the water taxi dock locations were decided long ago and U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler got the money to build them. Durst also favors raising taxes on his and other waterfront property to come up with the hundreds of millions dollars needed to build the rest of the park, says Fox.

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