Date: Thu, 02 Apr 1998 03:14:04 -0500
Subject: Broadway Big Shots Face Jeers On Plan To Sell Air Rights


BROADWAY BIG SHOTS FACE JEERS ON PLAN
TO SELL AIR RIGHTS
Skyscrapers on Landmarks Could Bring in $100 Million
For an Ailing Industry

Giuliani Sides With Theater Owners
Shubert, Jujamcyn, Nederlander Try to Shush Noisy Opposition

BY GREG SARGENT
New York Observer, April 6, 1998

Some two dozen Broadway players gathered in a conference
room high above Times Square on the morning of March 27.
They were there, in part, to take stock of mounting
opposition to a plan they view as critical to their ailing
industry's future: Mayor Rudolph Giuliani's proposal to
allow Broadway theater owners to sell the air rights, or
unbuilt floors, above theater rooftops to developers
building on other midtown sites. Estimated value of all this
air: perhaps as high as $100 million.

Seated around a conference table were Elizabeth McCann,
veteran producer of Amadeus, The Elephant Man and other
shows; Gerald Schoenfeld, chairman of the Shubert
Organization, which owns 16 Broadway theaters; Robert
Nederlander, president of the Nederlander Organization,
owner of six Broadway playhouses; and a host of other
industry and union leaders. These core members of Broadway
Initiatives, an industry business and labor group, have long
fought for such a plan, and they had reason to believe they
were on the verge of victory. But now, against the backdrop
of the room's sweeping views of the Great White Way, it was
becoming apparent that they have a political battle on their
hands -- one whose outcome is very much in doubt.

Zoning battles generally make for dreary fare, hardly the
material for gripping narrative and lively dialogue. But in
a rapidly changing area like Times Square, where every piece
of real estate is the subject of boardroom battles and every
new proposal inspires a host of new conspiracy theories,
bloodless bureaucratic language about land use masks intense
power struggles over money and land.

Indeed, at the heart of this latest battle for the soul of
Times Square is a complex proposal that could change the
face of midtown. In essence, the plan would allow Broadway's
theater owners to sell the air above their roof -- the
distance between theater roof and the highest building point
permitted under the zoning at that site. The air rights are 
going to waste because Broadway theaters are designated as
historic landmarks and thus can't expand upward.

The proposal could bring a huge windfall to theater owners,
who now own a total of 2 million cubic feet of air rights.
At an estimated value of $50 per square foot, those empty 
cubic feet of airy nothings have a theoretical value of $100
million.

Small wonder that the industry has been lobbying for
such a plan for years. And barely three months ago, it
looked as though victory at last was in the industry's
grasp. In December, theater insiders looked on as Mr.
Giuliani unveiled the plan while standing on the stage of
the Lyceum Theater alongside actors Jack Klugman and Ron
Silver. The Mayor's support itself was a considerable victory
because previous administrations had rebuffed the theater
owners' hopes.

Since then, however, the plan has bombed before some of the
city's less forgiving audiences. The so-called "big three"
civic organizations -- the Municipal Art Society, the New
York Landmarks Conservancy and the Historic Districts
Council -- have come out against the plan, all citing
concerns about process and precedent. Several of Manhattan's
12 foot-stomping community boards have voted to oppose the
proposal, citing similar worries.

A SECRET SCHEME?

Meanwhile, opposition has spread quickly through the restive
community of Clinton, the West Side neighborhood that is
home to the countless actors and stagehands who swell the
theater industry's rank and file. To read the lurid Web
postings of ever-vigilant Clinton residents, the air rights
plan is nothing but a secret scheme to enrich Broadway's
powerful theater owners and facilitate outsize development
along dowdy Eighth Avenue, thus expanding midtown's
voracious high-rise into their treasured low-rise
neighborhood of quirky shops and restaurants.

The vehemence of the opposition has startled some theater
insiders. "There's been a growing reality check over the
last few weeks," said Jed Bernstein, the executive
director of the League of American Theaters and producers.
"What some perhaps thought was just going to wander forward
successfully is actually going to require a concerted,
hard-fought effort in order to succeed."

And so, on March 27, in the conference room above
Broadway, the industry's most influential players gathered
to take stock of the situation. They generally meet every
six to eight week's, and this time they discussed the plan's
progress and talked about ways of addressing community
concerns. Amid all the sober talk about zoning and community
review, a cautionary tale made the rounds. As one
participant recalled it, the assembled group heard the story
of recent public hearing during which more than 100
opponents of the plan clapped and booed on cue while a small
group of the plan's supporters huddled nervously in a
corner. The imagry was frightening indeed.

The proposal comes with some significant strings
attached. Owners would be required to maintain the
playhouses and not, say, convert them into nightclubs.
Proponents say this will go a long way toward protecting
these treasured pieces of New York history.

The plan also is meant to address broader concerns about
Broadway's future. In the view of supporters, the smashing
success of sumptuously produced hits like "The Lion King"
belie the industry's deep-seated financial and artistic
woes. Over the past 30 years, they say, an average of half
of Broadway's houses have been dark even as other forms of
entertainment proliferate.

"There is a perceived notion that Broadway is healthy,"
said Ms. McCann, the producer. "But it has become a place
for the safe tourist-dollar shows. As a home for exciting new
writing and exciting new directors, it's been very
inhospitable." And so a portion of the air rights profits
would go to Broadway Initiatives, which would use the cash
to encourage play development and build a more diverse
theater audience.

A BOON FOR WHOM?

Still, the plan raises a number of troubling questions. Some
wonder, for instance, whether the plan will be as much of a
boon to the industry as a whole as it would be to a small
cast of powerful theater owners. Critics point out that 20
of the 25 affected theaters are owned by three powerful
Broadway groups: the Shubert, the Nederlander and the
Jujamcyn organizations. For every square foot of air sold at
$50, $40 would go to owners, in part for theater
maintenance, while $10 would go to Broadway Initiatives.
"[Owners] are the beneficiaries of this plan," said Frances
Eberhart, executive director of the Historic Districts
Council.

Moreover, opponents also point out that allowing theater
owners to hawk air rights like bags of hot roasted peanuts
could set a bad precedent for future zoning in the city.
Zoning maintains the integrity of neighborhoods -- for
instance, the elegant low-rise esthetic of the Upper East
Side. The plan, critics insist, risks throwing this delicate
zoning balance into chaos down the road.

That's because owners of other landmark buildings, such as
churches, might line up to sell their air rights. That could
make more and more air rights available, making it ever
easier for developers to snap them up and plop an outsized
tower in the middle of a low-rise neighborhood.

"Who knows what the future will hold?" lamented Brendan
Sexton, the president of the Municipal Art Society. "You
begin to wonder whether you know the future of your own
block." Mr. Sexton suggested that the theater industry
deserved some other form of public support, such as taxpayer
subsidies.

Finally, some opponents predict the proposal might not even
work as planned. In this reckoning, the air rights would be
put on a buyer's market as a number of theater owners
scrambled to underbid each other to sell air rights to a few
interested developers. The competition would lower the price
of the air rights, clipping owners' profits.

As a result, developers might turn out to be the only big
winners. "One prominent developer said to me, 'This is great
for me, I can kill the theater owners selling air rights in
this market'" Mr. Sexton told The Observer.

Theater industry leaders consider these critiques carefully.
They point out that such criticism is a natural part of the
process as the plan evolves. They add that the proposal
contains an array of safeguards to scrupulously avoid a
wholesale weakening of the city's zoning laws. And they
promise to take up the concerns of Clinton residents as the
plan, which ultimately must be approved by the City Council,
slogs its way through the clogged channels of government and
public review.

"We expect that both the Clinton and preservation
communities are going to feel more comfortable with the plan
as it develops," said Ethan Geto, a partner at Geto &
deMilly, Inc., the public relations firm representing
Broadway Initiatives.

Perhaps they will. Still, the civic groups appear to be
attacking the underlying principle of the proposal -- the
sale of air rights for economic development -- rather than
nit-picking over details. One prominent developer who owns a
number of sites in midtown took a pessimistic view of the
plan's chances. "There's going to be too much opposition to
it," he said. "I don't think you're going to see the law
passed."

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Date: Fri, 03 Apr 1998 17:03:33 -0500
Subject: SENATOR FRANZ LEICHTER'S 25TH ANNUAL COMMUNITY CONFERENCE


Reminder -- tomorrow, April 4, 1998
SENATOR FRANZ LEICHTER'S 25TH ANNUAL COMMUNITY CONFERENCE

Saturday, April 4, 1998, 12:00pm - 4:00pm
Columbia University's Miller Theatre 
116th Street and Broadway, New York City

Registration: 11:30 a.m.; Welcoming Statement: 12 noon; 
Caucuses: 12:30 p.m.; General Session:  2:30 p.m.
Reception: 4:30p.m.

The 25th annual Leichter Community Conference will be, in effect, a mock
constitutional convention.  While the voters rejected holding a
constitutional convention last November, it is clear that many favor some
constitutional revision.  Throughout the State, people are fed up with the
mess in Albany.  The conference will focus on what constitutional revisions
should be made in the budget process, campaign financing, education and the
State's obligation to care for the needy.  As a delegate you can
participate in one of the following caucuses and then make your
recommendations to statewide leaders at the general session.

CAUCUSES:  12:30 p.m.

Campaign Finance Reform: Government for Sale?

Sal Albanese, Former NYC Council Member; Joel Gora, General Counsel, New
York Civil Liberties Union & Brooklyn Law School Professor; Rachel Leon,
Executive Director, Common Cause;

Legislative & Government Reform: Open Up the Chambers

Barbara Bartoletti, Executive Director, New York League of Women Voters;
Tom Carroll, President, CHANGE-NY;

Care of the Needy:  Can We Afford Not To Care?

Elizabeth  Krueger, Associate Director, Community Food and Resource Center;
Another presenter to be announced;

GENERAL SESSION:  2:30 p.m.

All declared candidates for NYS Governor have been invited: Charles "Joe"
Hynes, Brooklyn District Attorney; Richard Kahan, President of the Urban
Assembly (confirmed); James Larocca, Former New York State Department of
Transportation Commissioner (confirmed);  Hon. George Pataki, NYS Governor;
Hon. Betsey McCaughey Ross, NYS Lieutenant Governor (confirmed); Hon. Peter
Vallone, NYC Council Speaker (confirmed)

Free Admission
For more information: Call Senator Leichter's Office at 212-397-5913.

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Date: Mon, 13 Apr 1998 09:00:52 -0400
Subject: Rent Control/MBR Alert: call your state reps


Rent Control Alert

Call State Elected Officials Today:
Demand that DHCR follow 3% for 96/97 MBR

On March 27, 1998, a State Supreme Court judge in Kingston dismissed the
landlords' lawsuit against the NYS Division of Housing and Community
Renewal (DHCR).  The landlords had sued the DHCR in an upstate court to
stop the implementation of the city law which returns the 1996/1997 MBR
factor to 3%.  

The DHCR now has about one week to decide if it will follow the city law
and send out notices to enforce the 3% or to follow the original formula
and implement the 32.4% MBR factor for 1996/97.

Tenants must call Governor Pataki and State Assemblymembers and Senators to
demand that the DHCR follow the city law and the 3% factor.  Without tenant
pressure, the Pataki administration will follow its earlier decision and
implement the 32.4% factor.  That will mean an immediate 15% rent increase
for thousands of rent controlled tenants- retroactive to January 1, 1996.

Tell Pataki and your state representatives: the average rent controlled
tenant earns $12,000 per year and is 70 years old.  New York's seniors
cannot afford such high rent increases.  Tenants will face losing their
apartments because of the high increases.

For information on your elected officials and phone numbers, go to:
http://tenant.net/Alerts/Guide/Who/index.html

-----------------------------------------------------------------------
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  TenantNet:              http://tenant.net
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  email:                  
  NYtenants Discussion List: email to  and in 
  the body of the message put "subscribe nytenants".
Information from TenantNet is from experienced non-attorney tenant 
activists and is not considered legal advice.




Date: Tue, 14 Apr 1998 10:58:35 -0400
Subject: Call Virginia Fields on Air Rights Zoning


>From our sister site, Hell's Kitchen Online...
(zoning affects everyone, but tenants are the first to feel pressure)

* IMPORTANT: Call Virginia Fields
* Borough Board Votes Thurs. 4/16 at 8 AM
* Crains: Trouble in the air for theater zoning
* Crains: Boffo Box-office: Broadway makes NY even greener

=================================================================

IMPORTANT: CALL VIRGINIA FIELDS

Manhattan Borough President Fields is wavering on her campaign 
commitment to protect Clinton/Hell's Kitchen from the 8th Ave. 
Air Rights Rezoning plan.

Call her office today at 212-669-8300 [or fax her at 212-669-3380] 
and let her know she must come out against the entire 8th Avenue
Rezoning proposal, including Air Rights.

Let her know:

a) she can't just "express concern" about the impact on the
   neighborhood without being against the primary villian--air rights.

b) this issue is fundamental to the Clinton community. Several years 
   ago, the city recognized that there would be an impact from the
   Times Square redevelopment, and that was on Seventh Avenue. This 
   proposal is "in" our neighborhood, not a few blocks away

c) any compromise that still allows air rights will come back within 
   a few years and devastate Clinton. Air Rights is also a precedent
   that can also affect other NYC neighborhoods.

d) Broadway is doing great (see Crains article below) and if any help 
   is warranted, it shouldn't be on the backs of a single community.

Above all, tell her know we expect her to show leadership on the 
right side of this issue. She was elected on her campaign statements,
and if she wiggles, waivers or spins this issue to please potential 
corporate contributors, she faces the danger of losing her west side
constituency, just like when Ruth Messinger's core support dried up
when she made her deal with Donald Trump's Riverside South. We don't
want Ms. Fields to make the same mistake.

Last summer when she was campaigning for her present job, Virginia 
Fields issued a statement regarding the 8th Avenue Rezoning proposal.
(http://hellskitchen.net/csdc/about/about.html#pols) We don't think 
it's unreasonable for a politician to be held accountable for their 
prior statements.

But Borough President Fields has raised more than a few eyebrows when 
she claimed her prior campaign statement was nothing more than an 
"expression of concern" (Backstage, 3/20) and that she hadn't made 
any decision on any aspects of the proposal (Public Hearing, 3/25).

Although Fields stopped a bit short of stating she was 100% against Air 
Rights, she can't claim she against the impact the proposal would bring 
without being against that which causes the impact: Air Rights.

This is a political decision for Ms. Fields. And it is her first test of
real leadership. Clinton/Hell's Kitchen will support her is she does
the brave and right thing.

If you picked up one of CSDC's postcards from the 9th Avenue table,
then make sure you mailed it.. But as time is short (and we don't know
when she will be making a statement), then get on the phone and
call her office.

=================================================================

BOROUGH BOARD VOTE

Yes, that's 8 AM in the morning -- this Thursday the Manhattan
Borough Board will vote on the Eighth Avenue Rezoning proposal,
and of course a good showing from Clinton/Hell's Kitchen goes
a long way. When Crains (see below the 4/13 article) says the
proposal has "stiff opposition," that's your doing when
Clinton showed up at Boards 4 and 5 in March. Let's show them
some stiff morning opposition.

Manhattan Borough Board
Thursday, April 16 at 8 AM
Office of the Borough President
1 Centre Street, 19th floor south wing

Enter the south doors of the building, and be prepared for
the line as they do have a line for the metal detector. This
is a public meeting and your presence is valuable, but the
public will not be able to speak this time. 

=================================================================

>From Crains, April 13, 1998
Trouble in the air for theater zoning
Council works on changes; critics don't see bonanza
BY LORE CROGHAN

A city proposal to allow the owners of Broadway
playhouses to sell their air rights to real estate
developers throughout the theater district has run into
stiffer opposition than expected.

Faced with trouble, the City Council is struggling to
craft a compromise that would make the plan more
politically palatable. Opponents insist the plan is
ill-advised and would fail to achieve its aim of raising
much-needed funds to bolster Broadway.

"There is a desire on the City Council's part to create
a mechanism to keep the theater vibrant," says
Councilman Walter McCaffrey, D-Queens. "As is always the
case, the devil is in the details."

Mr. McCaffrey chairs the zoning subcommittee whose job
it will be to conduct public hearings later this year on
the Giuliani administration's plan and recommend whether
the council should vote for it.

The measure would allow the owners of 25 theaters to
sell nearly 2.5 million square feet of construction
rights they currently can't exercise because nearly all
their properties are protected landmarks. Owners of
landmarked buildings are usually restricted to
transferring these rights to development projects next
door or directly across the street from their
properties. The mayor's proposal would allow them to
sell to developers throughout their entire neighborhood
and into Hell's Kitchen, between 40th and 57th streets
from the west side of Sixth Avenue to the west side of
Eighth Avenue.

The dual purpose of the plan is to raise money to
support the theater industry and to encourage theater
owners to keep using their properties as playhouses.

Too many Planet Hollywoods?

Advocates argue that unless the measure is passed,
cash-strapped facilities are likely to abandon the
industry "There is a real danger that the smaller
theaters will become Planet Hollywoods and other
entertainment centers," says Ethan Geto, the spokesman
for Broadway Initiative, a consortium of theater
management and labor.

The proposal calls for $10 per square foot of the money
raised by air rights sales to go to the nonprofit
organization, which would use it for grants to transfer
Off-Broadway plays to Broadway, for an audience
development program for young people throughout metro
New York, and for financial support for new playwrights.

Though it is geared to bolster a quintessentially New
York industry, which contributed $2.7 billion to the
city economy during the 1996-97 Broadway season and
provided 25,000 jobs, the proposal has ignited
opposition from civic and preservationist groups. They
either don't want it swelling the size of buildings on
the edge of Hell's Kitchen or don't think it will raise
enough money to provide sufficient support for theaters.

As a serious indication of local disapproval, the
Manhattan Borough Board is expected to recommend against
the plan at a meeting set for Thursday, April 16. The
board includes the 10 City Council members who represent
Manhattan, members of the two community boards in the
area where the air rights would be sold, and Borough
President C. Virginia Fields.

To make matters worse, the controversy has spread
citywide, a problem that politicians did not anticipate.
Civic groups in other boroughs, particularly Brooklyn
and Queens, fear that the measure would cause trouble in
their own backyards by establishing a precedent for
owners of landmarks such as churches to sell their
development rights throughout their neighborhoods.

To try to shore up the proposal, Councilman McCaffrey
and his cohorts are meeting with the plan's supporters
and detractors to discuss possible compromises.

One option is to require developers who buy theaters'
air rights to undergo public review of the impact that
larger projects would have on the surrounding community.
The current plan would allow air rights purchasers to
increase the size of their buildings by 20% with no
review.

Another idea is to exclude the west side of Eighth
Avenue from the area where air rights could be used. A
third is to define playhouses in boroughs outside
Manhattan as off-off-Broadway theaters, making them
eligible for Broadway Initiative aid.

A fourth possibility is to totally scrap the air rights
plan and craft another strategy to support the theaters.

So far, developers, who would be major beneficiaries of
the proposal, are only watching the flay from the
sidelines.

"It's not that important to me, says Jeffrey Katz,
president of Sherwood Equities Inc., which owns a
theater district development site. "If asked, I support
it."

The nonchalance comes because development rights are
already available for some projects on the drawing
boards.

Times Square developer Douglas Durst says the fate of
the proposal won't make any difference in the size of
the tower he plans to start building three years from
now on Sixth Avenue between 42nd and 43rd streets. If he
decides to add to the 1.2 million square feet he's
slated for, he can buy rights from the Henry Miller
Theater, which is next to his property.

Plan may fall short

The Rockefeller Group, which plans a 1
million-square-foot office building at its Rock West
site, on Seventh Avenue between 49th and 50th streets,
could buy up to 600,000 square feet of air rights from
neighboring Rockefeller Center if it wanted to construct
a bigger tower.

This underscores a problem foreseen by critics of the
administration's proposal --- that there will be scant
demand for theater owners' air rights even when the real
estate market is hot. They predict that when a buyer
does crop up, numerous sellers will compete for the deal
and drive down the price of the rights. The sales could
wind up generating far less money than the $100 million
that city planners project.

This fear has prompted the opposition of the Municipal
Art Society, which hopes the City Council can craft a
more "straightforward" program to support Broadway.

"If this were the oil industry in Dallas or the auto
industry in Detroit, it would get city attention," says
Brendan Sexton, the group's president. "This is our
hometown industry -- it shouldn't have to go to such
extremes to get some help."

=================================================================

>From Crains, April 6, 1998

Boffo Box-office: Broadway makes NY even greener
Economic impact soars as theaters invest, promote find new patrons
by Emily Denitto

Last year was Broadway's most successful season ever, as record
attendance and ticket sales demonstrated the industry's growing economic
power.

A new in-depth study of the 1996-97 season shows just how far that power
goes. The study, to be released this week by The League of American
Theatres and Producers Inc., estimates Broadway's total economic impact
on the city at $2.7 billion, a 37% increase in real dollars over the
past five years.

The study identifies several trends that bode well for Broadway and the
city. The theater remains a major draw for tourists, helping to lift
ancillary spending at venues ranging from hotels to restaurants. New
marketing efforts for Broadway as a brand appear to be paying off,
especially in attracting younger audiences And theater owners are once
again spending on capital improvements.

The study itself will be used to help chart further initiatives. In the
coming weeks, the League will announce several new promotional plans,
including its first national effort in supermarkets.

"There's been real progress in the last five years," says Jed
Bernstein, executive director of the League.

The total economic impact includes the direct costs of mounting and
running shows, tickets and more. But it also factors in the related
effects of that spending, as the dollars spent in a lumberyard, for
example, ate then put back into the local economy.

Broadway's tourist draw is the most significant contributor to its
overall impact.

More than 10.5 million people attended shows last season -- up 44% from
199l-92 -- and spent $499 million on tickets. Nearly half of those
theatergoers came from outside the metropolitan area, 1.7 million of
them visiting specifically to go to Broadway. Another 3.2 million
theatergoers came from the suburbs, often adding a meal and parking to
their trip.

All combined, visitors' direct costs were $971 million, up from $706
million five years earlier. Their total economic impact was $1.7
billion, in 1991-92, it was $1.2 billion. "Broadway is a crucial draw for
the city's tourists," says Karen Hauser, the League's manager
of research.

Theater owners are beginning to invest in their properties again.
Capital spending five years ago was so low it wasn't even part of a 1991-92 
study done by the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey.

But last season, theater goers spent $72.2 million on renovations as
well as the construction of two new houses that brought Broadway's
theater count to 37. The total economic impact of capital investment
was $105.7 million.

Playing to a younger crowd

"This is a big change, and it's one that will have a lasting impact on
the economy," says Catherine Lanier, director of research for the
Alliance for the Arts, a nonprofit research group that co-sponsored the
study. "Thanks to the new theaters, there's been a major increase in
the seating capacity for Broadway overall."

More and more, those seats are being filled by younger theatergoers.
The number of ticket holders under the age of 18 more than doubled to
1.1 million last year, from 500,000 for the 1990-91 season.

Broadway's improving health results from a number of trends, from an
ebullient economy to shifting demographics, says Mr. Bernstein.
Babyboomers have 7-, 8-, 12-year-old kids who are now at a prime age
to introduce to Broadway," he notes.

It also reflects the theaters' improved marketing efforts. Shows are
courting those younger theatergoers, and Broadway is being touted as a
brand to all ages as never before.

Late last year, the League launched The Broadway Line, the industry's
first toll-free information service. Partnerships with other brands,
most notably Broadway's first official corporate sponsor, Continental
Airlines, are further promoting the Great White Way.

This week, the League will announce a new three-year partnership with
Cadbury Schweppes. A national retail promotion planned for the fall
will bring the Broadway name into supermarkets across the country.

"Talk about mainstream marketing," says Mr. Bernstein, a former
advertising executive. "This is Procter & Gamble 101."

But costs rising quickly

The economic impact study reflects some of Broadway's biggest
challenges as well as its successes. The costs of bringing last seasons
shows to the stage amounted to $74.5 million, compared with $66.1
million five years earlier. Operating costs once the shows opened rose
to $410.3 million from $288.4 million.

"This reaffirms what we've known for a while now -- that costs have been
rising way ahead of ticket prices," says Mr. Bernstein.

Those costs are less painful when productions  are  successful, of
course. The number of new shows last year was similar to the 1991-92
season: 37 and 39, respectively. But because playing weeks increased
nearly 50%, to 1,347 from 905, the average weekly operating expense
remained virtually the same, at $318,000. "Shows are always most
expensive in the beginning, and economies of scale are created as the
playing weeks go up," says Mr. Bernstein.

Creating a hit on Broadway will always remain a tough goal. But the
industry's reviews, and thus its economic impact, are clearly on the
rise.

"Broadway has returned to its rightful place on the entertainment
menu, a position it had in the Forties, Fifties and beginning of the
Sixties but then lost for a while," says Mr. Bernstein. "Until now."

-----------------------------------------------------------------------
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  email:                  
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activists and is not considered legal advice.




Date: Thu, 16 Apr 1998 05:35:01 -0400
Subject: EMERGENCY ALERT -- NEED PEOPLE THIS MORNING 4/16/98 at 8 AM


EMERGENCY ALERT -- NEED PEOPLE THIS MORNING 4/16/98 at 8 AM

We NEED people to show up this morning at the Borough Board Vote
on the Eighth Avenue "Air Rights" Rezoning proposal.

Borough Board Vote
8 AM THIS MORNING -- Thursday April 16
Municipal Building
1 Centre Street
19th Floor, South Wing
"R" Train to City Hall, or "E" train to Chambers

Late last night we learned City Planning and the theater owners 
are trying to sneak through an alternate resolution at the Borough 
Board meeting this morning and has apparently convinced Borough President 
Virginia Fields and a few key City Council members that they 
need to "save the theater." The alternate resolution will be 
just as devastating to Clinton as the original zoning proposal.

It's important Clinton residents and supporters show up and let 
them know they should pay attention to what many community 
boards and civic groups are saying. Even if you can make it 
only for the first hour, please make every effort to come 
downtown and don't let them get away with these dirty tricks. 

This is what we've heard:

Tom Duane, Ronnie Eldridge and Margarita Lopez are firm in their 
support for Clinton, as are Community Boards 4 and 5.

At this point Phil Reed and Guillermo Lineres are unknown, even though
they had previously said they were against the proposal.

Wavering towards giving support to the "save the theater" alternate
resolution are City Councilmembers Stanley Michels, Kathryn Freed,
Gifford Miller and Bill Perkins.

Eastsider Andrew Eristoff (Republican) never indicated any opposition
to the proposal, and we didn't expect it given his ties to the Mayor. 

-----------------------------------------------------------------------
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Date: Sat, 18 Apr 1998 14:39:10 -0400
Subject: Tenants Online 4/18/98


Tenants Online                                           4/18/98
-----------------------------------------------------------------

In this issue...

* Queens League of United Tenants Spring Meeting
* Manhattan Borough Board Zoning update
* CCN Editorial: Virginia and the Wolf
* The Midnight Demolition Of 172 Stanton Street

=================================================================

Queens League of United Tenants is having its Spring Meeting
April 23, 1998 at 7:30 PM
Queens Borough Hall
120-55 Queens Boulevard
Kew GArdens, Rm 213.
Open to the Public. 

TOPICS:
The Crisis in Affordable Rental Apartments and What the City Council
Can do about it!  Specific Focus on the 5% vacancy emergency and can we change
the definition to make more sense in today's market;

The City budget and HPD--increase in code enforcement inspectors and
attorneys to ensure maintenance of scarce housing and the Housing anc
Vacancy Survey.

The Queens Delegation of the City Council have been invited.
Attending to date--Helen Marshall, Sheldon Leffler, Julia Harrison, John
Sabini.  If you council member is not listed here and you live in
Queens...call them ask them if they are planning to come.  Hope to see you
there.  For Information call QLOUT @261-8015 ext 6 

=================================================================

FLASH: Manhattan Borough Board Rejects 8th Ave. Air Rights Rezoning 
Plan 11-0 (with one abstention).

We'll try to get a more complete update later. But go ahead and continue
to call Borough President C. Virginia Fields (see the Chelsea Clinton
News Editorial below) at 669-8300. Fax her the editorial at 669-3380 
or 669-4305. Fields has yet to make her statement on the rezoning 
and gave every indication she would side with developers. 
So much for campaign promises.

=================================================================

Editorial from Chelsea Clinton News
Virginia and the Wolf

The next judgment on the rezoning of Eighth Avenue and the theater district
lies in the hands of Manhattan Borough President C. Virginia Fields and the
Borough Board of which she sits at the helm. Residents of Hell's Kitchen
are looking to her to convey their concerns to the city that the proposal
could change, for the worse, the face of their neighborhood. The
anti-proposal flyers that the Clinton Special District Coalition has been
circulating include a statement by Fields dating back to last August, when
she was on the BP campaign trail. She said that neighborhood residents are
"understandably concerned about this intrusion to their neighborhood," and
that "it is hard to believe that this district will not suffer in many ways
from the rezoning." She has not uttered a statement this strong since she
moved into her new office in January. 

Fields seems to have greater access to the ears of the city than many other
officials and community members. In February, City Planning presented the
proposal to her and other members of the Borough Board in what some local
officials called more detail than has been made for any other officials to
date. 

Fields should use her power to the advantage of the Manhattan constituents
who elected her and oppose the City Planning proposal as it now stands. She
should remember what she said as BP-hopeful, and not hinge decisions on her
sights as mayor, a common jumping-place for borough presidents. Former-BP
and mayoral hopeful Ruth Messinger lost the support of some of her corps
constituents by supporting Trump's Riverside South project a couple of
years ago. 

Ten years ago, the city saw legitimate reason to reject a rezoning proposal
similar to the plan now on the table. Hiding this wolf behind the curtains
of the beloved theater does not make it any better.

Fields should not fall prey to the temptations of bigger business just
because they may one day feed bigger campaigns. 

=================================================================

The Midnight Demolition Of 172 Stanton Street
submitted by Steve Zehentner (szetner@akula.com)
http://www.outpostvideo.com/172stanton

On Saturday, January 24th, 1998 at 8:58 a.m., a partial collapse of one
section of the north facade occurred at 172 Stanton Street, a five 
story - 10 apartment building on the corner of Clinton and Stanton Street 
on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. 172 Stanton Street was a private building 
owned by Nat Weiszberg with legal rent paying tenants. Load bearing brick 
broke away on the first floor and from one section between two windows 
on the second floor on this one section of facade only. No other visible 
shift of the rest of the buildings facades occurred, nor did any debris 
fall from the building in any other location.

By 9:30 a.m., the police and fire department ordered the tenants to
immediately evacuate the building saying, "Just put on your clothes, 
leave now and later on after we inspect the building, you will be able 
to return." Tenants in adjacent buildings at 176 Stanton and 28-30 
Clinton were also evacuated. By 10:00 a.m., the O.E.M. - The Office of 
Emergency Management -- a division of the Mayor's office that
coordinates all inter-city emergency operations was on site. By 11:00 a.m.,
New York City Mayor Rudolph Guiliani arrived and inspected the 
building. By 1:30 p.m., all the streets leading to the site were 
closed. By 2:30 p.m., the demolition contractor, hired by H.P.D. -- 
The Housing Preservation & Development Authority-- moved in with a boom crane.

A few blocks away, the Red Cross set up a relief center for the tenants of
the three buildings and affidavits were taken from all the 
residents of 172 Stanton:

     "I, Muhith Mohammad Ahmed, hereby swear: I reside at 172
     Stanton Street, 1D. Our building is right now being destroyed. My
     possessions are still inside the building, including my schoolbooks,
     homework, clothing, money and other personal belongings. The
     police will not let us reclaim our things. They say that only after the
     building is demolished then they will allow us to dig through the
     rubble, after our things are lost and destroyed. And yet, I have
     seen men going in and out of the building all day, even as we have
     been refused entry. City workers, police, others come in and out,
     run up and down the stairs, everybody is allowed in, it seems,
     except for us, the people who live there. Please order the city to
     allow us to get our things before they destroy the building. Signed
     on the 24th day of January 1998 under the penalties and pain of
     perjury."

     "I, Stanley Kleinkopf, hereby swear: I and my wife Ann, reside at
     172 Stanton Street, apartment 1C. Around nine o' clock this
     morning my neighbor's heard a rumbling. Now our building is
     being demolished and we have not been allowed to reclaim our
     possessions, including jewelry, our medication, our pet cat named
     "Honey" and everything else we own. I am 75 years old and Mrs.
     Kleinkopf is 71. My bankbook and financial papers are still in the
     apartment. My medical bills....everything. Please stop the
     demolition and allow us to reclaim our things and our lives.
     Sincerely and signed under the penalties and pains of perjury on
     this 24th day of January, 1998.

As the police, fire department and the demolition contractor moved throughout
the building all day to shut off the utilities, residents pleaded with the
police to be allowed to retrieve their pets, which were eventually killed during
the subsequent demolition. One building away at 178 Stanton Street, tenants
refused to let the police enter their building and received a phone call from
the building owner stating that the Department of Buildings was going to break
the door down so they could inspect the building. Tenants from 178 Stanton
refused to open their building in fear that their building would also be
evacuated and subject to the aggressive demolition tactics that they had
witnessed throughout the city during the last several years: 316 East 8th
Street, 319-21 East 8th Street, 269 East 4th Street (ABC Community Center), 27
Second Avenue, 672 E. 136th Street, 26 East 1st Street, 535 East 5th Street,
537-39 East 5th Street and East 13th Street between Ave. A & B.

At approximately 4:00 p.m., Marc Friedlander, a.k.a. Marc Zero, a resident of
172 Stanton Street, broke through the police perimeter and entered his
apartment. Mr. Friedlander stated, "The city told me all day that we would be
allowed to get our stuff out. Then they started saying that they were just going
to gently tear the building down and carefully remove possessions with the
crane." Mr. Friedlander is an avid collector and award winning video & filmmaker
whose work has been presented on MTV, TBS as well as on European and Asian TV.
His last 14 years of work and collecting included: an international film, video
and photography archive, video cameras and production equipment, rare movie
cameras, audio recording masters, rare manuscripts & books, antique clothes and
much more. After gathering up one box of video cameras and recent video work, he
was promptly arrested in his own apartment. The police escorted him and his one
box of possessions from the building, and now 2 weeks later the police precinct
has refused to return these possessions. The city did however, return to him one
guitar pulled from the wreckage, it's neck broken.

On the street, community activists worked to obtain the legal paperwork to bring
to a Supreme Court Justice who was waiting at their home on Saturday night. This
court-ordered injunction would have been a temporary restraining order against
the demolition. When word that the imminent arrival of the court papers reached
the press area, several witnesses reported that Gerry McClarty, from the O.E.M.,
made a call on his cell phone and immediately at about 7:00 p.m., the demolition
of 172 Stanton Street began.

Ironically, last February 1997, at 537-39 East 5th Street, two injunctions from
New York State Supreme Court judge Barbara Kapnick, had been served on the city
to halt demolition and the cartage of the residents' possessions. The "law and
order" Mayor and his Executive branch ignored the injunctions and New York State
law as well as Federal law and demolished the building. Jacqueline Bukowski, the
lawyer representing the residents of 5th street said, "When the City ignores the
laws of the State, it forces its citizens to live in a state of fear and
unpredictability. Even homeless people living under a bridge have Federal law
protection regarding the seizure of their property."

At 10 p.m. Saturday night, local news broadcast pictures of the partially
collapsed wall with the lead in, "Another building collapse in Manhattan today,"
complete with interviews of tenants complaining about landlord negligence. On
Sunday, January 25th, The New York Times reported in an article headline,
PARTIAL COLLAPSE OF BUILDING LEAVES FAMILIES HOMELESS, "The incident is the
latest in an alarming spate of structural problems at buildings around the
city..." Recently, this angle that New York City is falling has popped up in the
media every week. Presented prominently is the idea that the century old
buildings of N.Y.C. are near the end of their life cycle. The subtext of this
media hysteria is - 'Don't Be Surprised - Building Collapses Coming to a
Neighborhood Near You'. On Monday, The NY Times article was titled, OWNERS OF
FALLEN BUILDING CALLED NEGLIGENT. By Tuesday, the story was dead.

By Sunday noon, the building was gone. Demolition crews worked continuously
through the night with the crane and a large scoop taking bite after bite of the
building. Debris dumped in the barricaded street was collected and hauled away.
Many witnesses to the demolition reported that at no time during the 17 hours of
pounding did the building, which was described by Ted Birkham, a spokesmen for
the Department of Buildings, "...as in danger of collapsing.", further collapse.
It was simply dismantled floor by floor until the demolition crew reached the
ground.

The speed and efficiency of the operation, the well managed control of the site
and of the press, coupled with the surreal quality of the crane scoop repeatedly
attacking the building all night long under the glare of spot-light, left many
onlookers in shock. Now, two weeks later, neighbors report the feeling of having
an arm or leg cut off without any explanation or diagnosis. The corner that once
was; the bodega grocery store, the bank of phones, the social activity, the
people, just gone - disappeared.

Demolition and the New York City Building Code

The method of the all night demolition violated many provisions in New York
City's own Building Code - Chapter 26 Subchapter 19 Article 6 - Demolition
Operations. The codes provisions call for a careful and systematic floor by
floor removal of materials by a contractor working their way down from the
inside and removal of debris from the building through covered chutes or
openings. Another provision speaks to the protection of adjacent structures
particularly the removal of beams in party walls, which in this case, were
simply ripped out of the party wall by the claw on the end of the boom crane,
potentially damaging adjacent buildings.

The mechanical demolition or use of a crane like the one used at 172 Stanton
Street to smash the building is permitted only upon issuance of a special permit
by the building department and in accordance with several requirements
including:

     Unless permitted by the commissioner, the mechanical method of
     demolition shall not be used where any building, or portion thereof,
     occupied by one or more persons is located within the safety zone.

As both adjacent buildings, 176 Stanton and 28-30 Clinton are occupied, this
method of demolition must have been approved by the commissioner Ron Livian.
Interestingly, the criteria or guidelines the commissioner uses to determine
that a situation warrants an override of standard procedures for demolition's
are not delineated anywhere in the Building Code. Furthermore, the criteria or
guidelines that are used to determine that a condition, is an "emergency
condition" and subsequently the building needs to be demolished are also not
delineated in the Building Code.

Phone calls to building department inspectors confirmed that no such guidelines
exist. The chief inspector, Thomas O'Flaherty and the Manhattan Borough
Commissioner, Mr. Livian, simply by the mandate of their office, have the power
to authorize demolition of a building when they or their inspectors decide that
a building is in "imminent danger of collapse" No confirmation from independent
architects or engineers representing the building owner or tenants is necessary,
or more importantly, required by law.

City records indicate and photographs of the building confirm, that extensive
repairs to install tensioned tie rods to structurally secure the north and south
facades to the structural floor beams was completed in the fall of 1997 and
approved by the architect responsible for the job. An application to repair the
portion of the north facade that collapsed was disapproved in 1991. H.P.D.
reports that the building had 93 outstanding code violations at the time of
demolition. The nature of these violations, and the answer as to why the '91
application was disapproved are under investigation.

John Shuttleworth, an independent licensed architect and neighborhood Community
Board 3 member stated, "Judging from photographic evidence of the north facade
of 172 Stanton Street, and site observations of the Stanton & Clinton street
facades; the building could have easily been braced and made safe in order to
allow tenants to retrieve their possessions. The reshoring of facades is
standard procedure and is happening right now all over the city. The vacate
order was responsible, but the owner should have been given the opportunity for
independent inspection and repair."

The Tenants of 172 Stanton Street

172 Stanton housed between 30 and 40 residents including about 10 children. Many
were long term residents with The Kleinkopfs living their over thirty years.

They are a mix of Puerto Rican, Dominican, Bangladeshi, Jewish and White. 172
Stanton was primarily a low income rent-subsidized building.

     "I, Marcelino Garcia, hereby swear: I reside at 172 Stanton
     Street. The building is right now being demolished. It is still safe to
     enter - there are many men inside right now. I and my neighbors
     are losing everything, a lot of valuable things, including money,
     jewelry, important papers and medicines. There are two cats and
     two pets birds on three floors that are still stranded in the building.
     Signed on this 24th day of January 1998 under the penalties and
     pain of perjury."

     "I, Paula Berson, hereby swear: I am a resident of 172 Stanton
     Street, Apt. 2C. The firemen banged on my door early this
     morning and told me I had to get out. They gave me five minutes. I
     am unable to save any of my possessions including my Medicare
     card, money, artwork and all of my files. I can't even prove that I
     live in the building without this identification. Signed on this 24th
     day of January 1998 under the penalties and pain of perjury."

On Saturday night, the tenants were driven out of Manhattan to a hotel near
LaGuardia airport, approx. five miles from their neighborhood. The city, as they
have done in similar cases, put them up in this hotel for three days. After that
time, they are categorized as "homeless" and put into the shelter system, as if
they had just been picked up off the street. If the individual tenant decides
not to go into a shelter, but instead decides to stay with a friend or relative,
then they lose their "homeless" status and are ineligible for housing
assistance. Those who stay in the homeless shelters are put on an emergency list
for housing. This emergency process can take a month or more and they must take
whatever apartment in whatever neighborhood they are offered, or they are
ineligible for housing assistance.

Vacate and Demolish - An Escalation of Tactics

Vacate & demolish orders issued by the Fire Department and the Department of
Buildings based on the pretext of structural instability have occurred at many
locations throughout New York City during the last decade. Here are two of the
more recent Lower East Side building demolition's:

Feb. 1997 - 537-39 East 5th Street A city owned building occupied by more than
20 squatters for years was said to be in danger of "imminent collapse" after a
fire on the second floor. Independent architect, John Shuttleworth testified in
court that the fire was contained in one corner and that the building appeared
to be structurally sound. Police and city officials were walking throughout the
building after the fire without hard hats or any other precautions. One person,
Brad Will, made his way into the building and onto the roof. When the police
failed to apprehend him, they continued demolition, knowingly endangering his
life. Two NY State Supreme Court injunction orders to cease demolition and
cartage of property were ignored by the city. The Fifth Street Block Association
organized a protest because of the plaster, lead paint and asbestos dust that
was released into the air by the mechanical demolition. Residents possessions
were needlessly destroyed, their pets killed.

July 1997 - 26 East 1st Street A city owned building occupied by legal rent-
paying tenants was said to be in danger of "imminent collapse" after a rain
storm caused plaster to fall in the building's stairwell. The tenants were given
a half hour to vacate and were never allowed back in. An independent architect
who wanted to assess the structural condition of the building was refused
entrance. City workers moved throughout the building and removed some of the
tenants possessions. Most possessions as well as peoples pets were lost in the
demolition. Tenants were housed for one night by the Red Cross, three days in a
welfare hotel and then into the homeless shelter system.

And now....172 Stanton Street - A privately owned building with legal rent-
paying tenants. The pattern is clear: From city owned squats, to a city owned
building with legal tenants, to a privately owned building with legal tenants.

As tenants in New York City continue to lose their civil rights and legal rights
in the courts, there is less and less difference between tenants and squatters.
All low income tenants, city as well as privately owned rent subsidized or rent
controlled buildings are vulnerable to assault by New York City's forced
eviction and demolition squad:

       The Mayor
       The Mayor's Office of Emergency Management - O.E.M.
       The Department of Buildings 
       The Housing Preservation & Development Authority - H.P.D.
       New York City Fire Department
       New York City Police Department
       The New York Media

This coordinated effort has become increasingly sophisticated, swift and brutal.
In earlier demolition's, real efforts were made to remove people's possessions.
Sometimes days would pass as the city hired movers to pack possessions and video
tape apartments. Eventually squatters, some of whom were in city run programs,
became aware of the real intent of phony vacate orders and refused to leave
their homes. In response, the city stepped up its tactics and began using fear
and panic to enforce immediate vacate orders as they did at 26 East 1st Street
and 172 Stanton Street. Six vacate orders have been issued already in 1998.

At 172 Stanton Street, confused tenants huddled in the street waiting to be told
when they could return to their apartments, waiting to hear when repairs would
begin to shore up the building, waiting for politicians to arrive to intervene
in the madness; and then, only slowly to realize that they were without rights,
recourse, legal or effectual political representation, except for the handful of
activists who have been fighting back for years.

It is assumed that after a lengthy legal process, a monetary settlement of
compensation will be made to the tenants. Money is a very poor measure of
justice, but for the city, money is just what it costs to do business, or as a
city official said during the 5th Street demolition, "Go ahead, sue us, our
pockets are deep."

The Pope and The US Constitution

All of this is happening in the richest city of the wealthiest nation in
the world while it is the middle of its longest economic expansion in
history. A country whose very name is a symbol of freedom, equality and
liberty as embodied by it's Constitution. 

     AMENDMENT IV

     "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses,
     papers and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures,
     shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon
     probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly
     describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to
     be seized.

     AMENDMENT V

     No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without
     due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public
     use without just compensation.

     AMENDMENT XIV

     All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to
     the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the
     State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law
     which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the
     United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life,
     liberty, or property; without due process of law; nor deny to any
     person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

On Saturday, January 24th, while plans to demolish 172 Stanton were being
realized, Pope John Paul II was in Cuba where he made clear that he opposes what
he called "capitalist neo-liberalism which subordinates the human being to blind
market forces".

The blind market forces have its sights set on the Lower East Side of Manhattan
- surely one of the United States most historically significant and culturally
vibrant neighborhoods - and on Saturday, January 24th, 1998, the blind market
forces rolled over the US Constitution and the people of 172 Stanton Street.

     "I, Steven Fleischer, residing at 172 Stanton Street, Apt. 3D,
     request that we be allowed to retrieve our belongings as promised
     by members of the Fire Inspectors and Building Inspectors. In my
     apartment are precious antiques, photo equipment, diplomas,
     awards, family photos, optical equipment, locksmith equipment,
     electrical, many tools of my trade, all my clothes, TV's, appliances,
     etc, etc, etc, etc. My whole life is there. Signed on this 24th day of
     January 1998 under the penalties and pain of perjury."

-----------------------------------------------------------------------
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  TenantNet:              http://tenant.net
  NYTenants Interactive:  http://nytenant.net
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  email:                  
  NYtenants Discussion List: email to  and in 
  the body of the message put "subscribe nytenants".
Information from TenantNet is from experienced non-attorney tenant 
activists and is not considered legal advice.




Date: Mon, 27 Apr 1998 08:55:12 -0400
Subject: Tenants Online 4/27/98


Tenants Online                                           4/27/98
-----------------------------------------------------------------

In this issue...

* Zoning Forum: The Next Step, City Hall
* West Side Stormy: B'way Rezoning Rapped (Backstage 4/24)
* Senator Leichter Announces Retirement

=================================================================

--==:: I M P O R T A N T ::==--

Clinton/Hell's Kitchen Zoning Forum
The Next Step: City Hall

Hear from your elected officials about the next steps
in the fight to save Clinton/Hell's Kitchen from
8th Avenue Air Rights and overdevelopment. The 
Community Boards have spoken. Clinton residents 
must turn out for City Planning and City Council 
hearings and votes.

Scheduled to appear:

Tom Duane, NYC Council
Franz Leichter, NYS Senate
Richard N. Gottfried, NYS Assembly
Scott Stringer, NYS Assembly

Wednesday, April 29
at 7:00 p.m.
St. Clare's Hospital Auditorium
426 West 52 St. (between 9/10 Aves.)

* What Happens Next?
* Who are the Key Players?
* Will other boroughs oppose it?
* What should you do?

Coming up:
City Planning Public Hearing
Wed., May 6 at 10 a.m., City Hall

=================================================================

West Side Stormy: B'way Rezoning Rapped 
Theatre Air-Rights Plan Receives a Third Rabbit Punch 
By Murdoch McBride
Backstage, April 24, 1998

Unless the NYC's Department of City Planning (DCP) can totally re-market
itself to residents of Clinton and Hell's Kitchen within the next month or
two, its beleaguered proposal to rezone the theatre district's western
border probably won't get past the full City Council.

This is the conventional wisdom surrounding the prospects for this
controversial plan, which proposes the liberal sale and geographic transfer
of air rights in a rezoned and slightly expanded district, with development
planned primarily along Eighth Avenue.

In the first two steps of a lengthy approval process, Community Boards 4
and 5 voted against the plan. A third major blow to the proposal came on
April 15 at the Manhattan Borough Board meeting. There, the Manhattan
delegates to the full City Council supported an advisory resolution
critical of the plan and urged "an approach that addresses the issues
raised by the [borough] board."

Borough President Virginia Fields said, "The proposal, as set forth, is not
acceptable."

Even so, the Manhattan delegates to the City Council joined in negotiations
with the community boards over the language of the resolution. They pushed
for a more conciliatory tone and thus kept the door open for a revised,
more acceptable version of the plan. City Councilwoman Ronnie Eldridge
summed up this sentiment at the meeting when she said that the resolution
marked "the real beginning of the process."

Sending A Clear Signal

The nearly unanimous resolution from the Borough Board was unusual and sent
a clear, strong signal to the full City Council and to other civic groups:
Without major changes in substance, theatre district re-zoning is going
nowhere.

Sources indicate that the city was blind-sided by the degree of opposition
it has encountered.

Proponents of the plan say it gives order to existing Eighth Avenue
development, bolsters the theatre industry, and directly benefits the
Broadway Initiative with a percentage of the proceeds from the sale of air
rights.

The Review Process

The zoning proposal is midway through the standard review process for
rezoning, known as the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP). Under
ULURP, zoning and land use proposals proceed chronologically through
community boards, borough boards, the City Planning Commission, the full
City Council, and finally to the Mayor.

If the City Council votes the theatre rezoning proposal down, it will be a
dead issue. This is why the nearly unanimous Manhattan Borough vote, which
included the 10 Manhattan delegates from the City Council, is considered
such an important signal.

The proposal should pass the planning commission, where the Mayor enjoys a
political majority, but should the full City Council vote the proposal
down, it would not go to the Mayor.

Opponents of theatre district rezoning, many of whom live in the
Clinton/Hell's Kitchen area north of 40th street and west of Eighth Avenue,
have enjoyed affordable rents and a neighborhood lifestyle characterized by
the zoning protections in place for 25 years. They fear that the impact of
big development along Eighth Avenue would overburden an already dense area.
They also fear that because air rights would be transferred "as-of-right,"
development would take place without any meaningful public review. They
have also successfully defined the debate, making it less of a "save
Broadway" issue and more of a citizen effort to safeguard the reviews
established with ULURP.

Zoning laws typically strive for a balance of burdens and benefits, with
transferred rights going to nearby buildings in an effort to stabilize
neighborhoods and provide predictability.

However, the proposed plan calls for air rights to go to designated
"receiving sites" along the west side of Eighth Avenue which borders Hell's
Kitchen and the Clinton Special District--often far away from the
originating site. Critics said this skewed the balance of benefits and
burdens in zoning.

A day before the Borough Board vote, during a seminar on theatre rezoning
sponsored by the Women's City Club of New York, Community Board 5 member
Kevin Finnegan opined the plan to be "fundamentally flawed. It's a proposal
designed to help a small class of property owners and whenever you look to
zoning to generate revenue, you are selling your patrimony--the air and
light of our urban landscape.

=================================================================

SENATOR LEICHTER ANNOUNCES RETIREMENT FROM LEGISLATURE
April 20 (Press Release)

Senator Franz S. Leichter (D/L, Manhattan/Bronx) announced today that he
will not seek reelection to the New York State Senate and will end his 30
years of service in the State Legislature.  First elected to the Assembly
in 1968, Leichter entered the Senate in 1975 and is presently concluding
his twelfth term.  He represents the 30th Senatorial District that runs
along the Hudson River from Chelsea to the Northwest Bronx and includes
most of Manhattan's West Side.

In announcing his retirement, Leichter said:

"I have greatly enjoyed the opportunity to serve in the Legislature for the
past 30 years.  It is now time to move on and find new ways to provide
public service."

Leichter is known for his many reports analyzing State and City tax
abatements and business subsidy programs, how the Legislature conducts its
affairs, campaign fund-raising abuses and the high cost of banking
services.

Reflecting on his legislative career, Leichter stated:

"In my years in Albany, I have fought to make the Legislature more
democratic and more responsive to the needs of New Yorkers.  While some
progress has been made, much more needs to be done.  Sadly, as seen by its
output, the sum is less than its parts.  The powerful leadership system in
the Legislature stifles initiative and productivity."

Leichter continued:

"Over the years, I have documented abuses in the campaign finance system. 
I believe my reports and advocacy have helped to establish New York City's
public campaign finance system.  But, in Albany, I have seen how big money
dictates more than ever what legislation will pass or fail.  Campaign
finance abuses are a cancer threatening out democracy."

Among Leichter's major accomplishments are:

* Introducing the nation's first bill to legalize abortions (Cook-Leichter),
which became law in 1970.

* Introducing and having passed the nation's first law requiring banks to
give depositors early availability to their monies deposited by check.

* Exposing the return of sweatshops in New York in reports he issued in the
early 1980s.

* Spurring adoption of the City's public campaign finance system through
reports issued on fund-raising by members of the Board of Estimate.

* Issuing reports of the State's waste of over one billion dollars on the
so-called "Job Incentive Program," which led Governor Cuomo to abolish the
program in 1983.

* Sponsoring the law protecting nursing home patients and others by
requiring health professionals to report incidents of patient abuse.

* Being a prime mover in the effort to create a greenbelt along the Hudson
River shore.  He succeeded in securing funding for Riverbank State Park
(135th to 145th Streets) and getting New York City to be a part of the
Hudson River Valley Greenway, and he is the prime sponsor of the bill to
create a park and limit commercial development along the Hudson River
waterfront from Battery Park City to 59th Street.

* Leading the effort to pass the State's Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) to
combat "redlining" and discrimination by banks.

* Initiating passage of the warranty of habitability law to protect tenants
from unsafe housing conditions.

* Issuing for the past 13 years an annual rating of banks and a guide to
consumers on how to reduce banking costs.

* Sponsoring the "pooper scooper law" requiring dog owners in New York City
to clean up after their pets, which served as a model for other cities to
do likewise.

Leichter entered politics upon graduating from law school.  He joined the
budding reform movement, which was then led by Eleanor Roosevelt and former
Governor Herbert Lehman, in challenging Tammany Hall.  He worked in the
campaign to elect William F. Ryan to Congress and succeeded him as
Democratic District Leader in Morningside Heights in 1961.  He held that
position until elected to the Assembly in 1968.  Twice reapportioned out of
his district in an effort by Republicans to drive him out of the 
Legislature, Leichter in 1974 defeated the Minority Leader of the Senate to
win his Senate seat.

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