Vol. 18, No. 20 Oct. 20 - Nov. 2,  2005



Building Alarm
It started out as good news.

A reader called to tell us about a beautiful garden taking root at Botanical Square, the large apartment complex on Webster Avenue just south of Mosholu Parkway.

We went over to take a picture and came upon even more good news — new owners were in the process of renovating the buildings. A resident showed us newly painted hallways, better lighting and other improvements.

So, when our enterprising reporter, Heather Haddon, got back to the office, she thought she’d be well on her way toward a good-news story about an enlightened landlord who believed that taking care of the property was a good business investment.

But when she consulted city records available on the Web and discovered that the same company that owned Botanical Square had recently purchased many properties in the area, she did some more digging.

What she found was troubling. The strategy of the Pinnacle organization and the Praedium Group seems to be to buy buildings, fix them up, raise rents more than what a normal capital improvement increase should normally allow, and then sell to the highest bidder.

Longtime tenants will suffer and many will have no choice but to leave.

We expect that local housing advocates (the northwest Bronx has many of these thanks to the area’s history of real estate speculation with disastrous consequences), city officials, and local politicians, will investigate these companies’ practices before it is too late.

Tenants are enjoying the benefits of improved buildings now, but a difficult future could be just around the corner.

Armory Clock Ticks  And Ticks
There was a lot of good feeling in July, when practically every local lawmaker showed up to escort Governor Pataki on a tour of the Kingsbridge Armory.

But, as far as we know, not one positive development has come from that meeting more than 15 weeks ago — 106 days to be exact.

The problem, as Armory watchers and Norwood News readers well know, is fairly simple. Two National Guard companies, now based out of the Armory’s annex to the rear of the Armory main’s buildings — the massive drill hall and head house — must be moved if community plans for the landmark facility are to be realized.

The land that annex occupies is the only part of the Armory where the city can site new public schools. Schools are the linchpin of a consensus finally arrived at last year by community residents and elected and city officials.

The main problem appears to be that no one seems to want to take the lead on finding a new location for the Guard. The city and state appear to think that it is the other’s job.

Mostly, though, it seems that aside from some local politicians, no city or state official particularly cares all that much what happens at the Armory.

We hope that once the mayoral election is over, Mayor Bloomberg will re-direct some of the laser-beam focus his administration applied to the West Side stadium project to goals more achievable and desired by ordinary New Yorkers. The Armory, which has the benefit of already being in the city’s inventory, would seem to be the kind of local economic development project our businessman mayor would seize on with relish.
We expect we’ll now need to wait until Bloomberg retools his administration — or Fernando Ferrer introduces his — in January to see any new movement on the Armory front.

In the meantime, the Armory Clock keeps on ticking …



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