Gregg Singer Responds

The Villager (you have to wait till tomorrow for the article to go online) reports today that the Landmarks Preservation Commission’s Tuesday hearing was once again a face-off between supporters and opponents of developer Gregg Singer and his plan to convert the old P.S. 64, on East Ninth Street near Tompkins Square Park, to a school dorm.

After much debate and ado, the L.P.C. extended a standstill agreement until June 21, when it would convene once again to discuss the future of the building.

The Real Estate had a chat with Mr. Singer today, who wanted to clear up some misconceptions about his project. According to Mr. Singer, there’s been a misunderstanding regarding the allowable floor-area ratio (F.A.R.) of the building. It’s been reported that he’s seeking a larger F.A.R. of 6.5 through a community-facility-use bonus. But, according to Mr. Singer, a deed restriction mandates that the property be developed for community use (such as the planned dorm), and the F.A.R. is 6.5 as of right. Whew! Everybody understand that? We’ve got a call out to the Department of City Planning right now to confirm that. Check back later for updates.

We took the occasion to ask Mr. Singer about his Article 78 and seperate $100 million civil lawsuit against the city, and he said he’s confident that he’ll prevail in both. “We think we’re going to win that, and so does the city, so they’re trying to stop it” through landmarking, he said.

Mr. Singer said that the city’s conspired to pressure schools to not commit to using his planned dorm. As Mr. Singer said, schools that might need cooperation from the D.C.P. or Board of Standards and Appeals for future projects will not cross the Mayor on this particular project. But, he said, he’s confident that the dorm will be used once–and if–it’s built. Possible candidates include N.Y.U., the New School and S.V.A. Asked what would happen if no school agreed to use the dorm after it’s built, Mr. Singer said that it would be “our financial loss–eventually the lenders would take over.”

Mr. Singer also cautioned against what he said would be a bad legal precedent if the push for landmarking P.S. 64 went through. He insists that he has a legal right to build the dorm, and if activists stop his project, the door will be open to the capricious whims of activists to stop projects that on paper a developer has every right pursue.

See our earlier coversage of P.S. 64 here.

-Matthew Grace