Now that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has turned his attention to the business ties of President Trump and his family members, reporters and investigators have been scrutinizing the Trump Organization's business history, as well as that of the Kushner Companies, the real-estate firm once run by Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner. And in what at first appears to be a bombshell report - but is later revealed to be much more mundane - the Associated Press is reporting that the Kushner Cos. lied about the number of rent stabilized tenants in three buildings it purchased in the rapidly gentrifying neighborhood of Astoria - and more broadly in 34 buildings it owned across NYC. While none of the fraudulent paperwork bore Jared Kushner's signature, he was in charge of the organization when the alleged abuses were happening. And while Jared was at least nominally in charge of the company during the period in which these false claims were made, the seriousness of the infractions is debatable. For the three Queens buildings in the borough's Astoria neighborhood, the Kushner Cos. checked a box on construction permit applications in 2015 that indicated the buildings had zero rent-regulated tenants. Tax records filed a few months later showed the company inherited as many as 94 rent-regulated units from the previous owner. In all, Housing Rights Initiative found the Kushner Cos. filed at least 80 false applications for construction permits in 34 buildings across New York City from 2013 to 2016, all of them indicating there were no rent-regulated tenants. Instead, tax documents show there were more than 300 rent-regulated units. Nearly all the permit applications were signed by a Kushner employee, including sometimes the chief operating officer. Had the Kushner Cos. disclosed those rent-regulated tenants, it could have triggered stricter oversight of construction crews by the city, including possibly unscheduled "sweeps" on site by inspectors to keep the company from harassing tenants and getting them to leave. Instead, current and former tenants of the Queens buildings told the AP that they were subjected to extensive construction, with banging, drilling, dust and leaking water that they believe were part of targeted harassment to get them to leave and clear the way for higher-paying renters. "It was noisy, there were complaints, I got mice," said mailman Rudolph Romano, adding that the Kushner Cos. tried to increase his rent by 60 percent. "They cleaned the place out. I watched the whole building leave." Tax records show those rent-regulated units that numbered as many as 94 when Kushner took over fell to 25 by 2016. It's an unfortunately common practice among New York City developers: Buy up units in rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods, then do everything they can to make the living conditions as inhospitable as possible. That can include having construction crews working late into the night, or early in the morning, or doing unnecessary renovations on rent-controlled units that make them almost unlivable. In recent years, the city has started cracking down on developers who do this. According to one rent-stabilized tenant, a mysterious man showed up at her door one day and offered her $10,000 to leave her home. She refused, and sued the Kushner's instead - winning one year of rent. Housing advocates have a term for this type of behavior: They call it, "the weaponization of construction." In Kushner buildings across the city, records show frequent complaints about construction going on early in the morning or late at night against the rules, improper or illegal construction, and work without a permit. At a six-story walk-up in Manhattan's East Village that was once home to the Beat poet Allen Ginsberg, the Kushner Cos. filed an application to begin construction in late 2013 that, again, listed zero rent-regulated tenants. Tax records a few months later showed seven rent-regulated units. "All of a sudden, there was drilling, drilling. ... You heard the drilling in the middle of night," said one of the rent-regulated tenants, Mary Ann Siwek, 67, who lives on Social Security payments and odd jobs. "There were rats coming in from the abandoned building next door. The hallways were always filled with lumber and sawdust and plaster." A knock on the door came a few weeks later, and an offer of at least $10,000 if she agreed to leave the building. "I know it's pretty horrible, but we can help you get out," Siwek recalls the man saying. "We can offer you money." Siwek turned down the cash and sued instead. She said she won a year's worth of free rent and a new refrigerator. New York City Council member Ritchie Torres, who plans to launch an investigation into permit applications, said: "The Kushners appear to be engaging in what I call the weaponization of construction." Of course, the Kushners weren't the only NYC developers engaged in this type of aggressive and borderline illegal behavior. As the Associated Press admits, a combination of minimal penalties, lax enforcement and the sheer profits that can be made from flouting NYC's rent-stabilization laws make this an enticing strategy for developers - particularly when a few dozen long-time rent-stabilized tenants are getting in the way of an eight-figure payday. Rent stabilization is a fixture of New York City that can bedevil developers seeking to make money off buildings. To free themselves of its restrictions, landlords usually have to wait until the rent rises above $2,733 a month, something that can take years given the small increases allowed each year. Submitting false documents to the city's Department of Buildings for construction permits is a misdemeanor, which can carry fines of up to $25,000. But real estate experts say it is often flouted with little to no consequences. Landlords who do so get off with no more than a demand from the city, sometimes a year or more later, to file an "amended" form with the correct numbers. Housing Rights Initiative found the Kushner Cos. filed dozens of amended forms for the buildings mentioned in the documents, most of them a year to two later. "There is a lack of tools to go after landlords who harass tenants, and there is a lack of enforcement," said Seth Miller, a real estate lawyer who used to work at a state housing agency overseeing rent regulations. Until officials inspect every construction site, "you're going to have this incentive for landlords to make life uncomfortable for tenants." New York City's Department of Buildings declined to comment specifically on the Kushner documents but said it is ramping up its monitoring of construction, hiring 72 new inspectors and other staff under laws recently passed by the City Council to crack down on tenant harassment. "We won't tolerate landlords who use construction to harass tenants — no matter who they are," said spokesman Joseph Soldevere. Exactly how much money the Kushner Cos. earned from the buildings mentioned in the documents is unclear. Of those 34 buildings, only the three in Queens and a fourth in Brooklyn appear to have been sold. The company also likely made money by reducing the number of rent-regulated tenants and bringing in those who would pay more. Some tenants, like a mailman who lives in one of the Queens buildings, were able to fight back by hiring a lawyer. Others chose to leave. Aside from forcing the company to file more "amended" permits for its construction work at the buildings, it's unlikely that this report will have any lasting repercussions... However, Kushner's political opponents will no doubt scramble to paint these lapses as part of a pattern of behavior that includes the infamous omissions he left in his security clearance application. ...And, to be sure, the multiple probes into the family's finances, including the possible abuse of an investor visa program should be of much greater concern to Kushner than his treatment of a few dozen rent-stabilized tenants.
The programme focuses on the issues of urban planning and management using new city models and technologies. It is led by international and Russian scholars and experts who are forming the current agenda for smart city development in Russia and worldwide. The key principle of the programme is learning by doing. The programme takes place in a laboratory-type environment where students will try new technology, prepare prototypes, investigate and analyse the city through data, and develop projects that come as a relevant response to complex problems that affect modern cities. The programme invites architects, designers, engineers, economists, entrepreneurs and graduates interested in the management of cities and technologies. The skills acquired during the programme will provide the graduates with a variety of career opportunities in large technological companies, city administrations or their own innovative businesses. https://www.hse.ru/en/ma/techcity/
Kulicke and Soffa, First Financial Bankshares, Texas Instruments, ON Semiconductor and Intel highlighted as Zacks Bull and Bear of the Day
Kulicke and Soffa, First Financial Bankshares, Texas Instruments, ON Semiconductor and Intel highlighted as Zacks Bull and Bear of the Day
Today's address of Vladimir Putin to the Federal Assembly set a new duration record, 1 hour 57 minutes. The number of people gathered in the Manege exhibition hall was also a record, 1,700 people.
Tokyo lacks a clear purpose for hosting the games other than city development, and that's why many people are still puzzled today. The 2020 Games should be a big festival, but we can't expect much growth and many people, even residents of Tokyo, will hardly notice the changes that Tokyo has gone through.
Yuji Ishizaka, an expert on the Olympics at Japan's Nara Women's University.
The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Amazon, Texas Instruments, ON Semiconductor and Intel
Продажа столичной недвижимости идет на спад. Эксперты считают, что рынок достиг дна, и не ожидают существенных изменений в ближайшем будущем. В прошлом году в Киеве продано 2350 квартир на первичном рынке и 3210 — на вторичном, […]
**Must-Read**: Once upon a time in the past the size and location of cities was underpinned by fundamentals in the sense first of agricultural resources and transport, and then of agricultural plus manufacturing resources and transport, on top of which was built, agglomeration economy, increasing returns, and congestion layer of determination. In the future it looks as though it will be not production but consumption suitability: the fundamentals underpinning cities will be where people find it pleasant to live, on top of which there will be a congestion layer, plus a three-fold path dependence increasing returns layer of determination: the consumption culture, the production culture, and the infrastructure left from the past. Will we all live in one million population mile-long thousand foot-wide thousand-foot high arcologies in Greater San Diego? Not all. But a lot of us may: **Paul Krugman**: [The Gambler’s Ruin of Small Cities](https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/30/opinion/the-gamblers-ruin-of-small-cities-wonkish.html): "Once... towns and small cities... served as central places serving a mainly rural population engaged in agriculture and other natural resource-based activities... >...Over time... agriculture has become ever less important.... Nonetheless, many small cities survived and grew by becoming industrial centers, generally specialized in some cluster of industries held together by the Marshallian trinity...
Roughly one year ago we shared the plans of a billionaire real estate developer in San Francisco who wanted to build communities for the homeless in Bay Area neighborhoods using stackable steel shipping containers (see: San Fran Billionaire Luanches Plan To House Homeless In Shipping Containers). Not surprisingly, the efforts were met with some resistance from the liberal elites of Santa Clara who, despite their vocal support of any number of federal subsidy programs for low-income families, would prefer that those low-income families, and their subsidies, stay far away from their posh, suburban, "safe places." Alas, as the San Francisco Chronicle points out today, like it or not, the boom in "micro-houses" is just getting started in the Bay Area with nearly 1,000 tiny homes, with less than 200 square feet of living space, currently being planned in San Francisco, San Jose, Richmond, Berkeley, Oakland and Santa Rosa. Planners say that’s just the beginning. “We’re very excited about micro-homes,” said Lavonna Martin, director of Contra Costa County’s homeless programs. “They could be a big help. They have a lot of promise, and our county is happy to be on the cutting edge of this one. We’re ready.” Contra Costa has a $750,000 federal homelessness grant to pay for 50 stackable micro-units of supportive housing, and Richmond Mayor Tom Butt would like to see them in his city. Developer Patrick Kennedy brought a prototype of his MicroPad unit to Richmond in November, and county and city leaders say they are leaning toward choosing it. “They’re very fine, and they make a nice-looking building,” Butt said. “They’d be good for anybody looking for housing.” The beauty of the tiny units is that they can be built in a fraction of the time it takes to construct typical affordable housing, and at a sliver of the cost, which means a lot of homeless folks can be housed quickly. The homes have also caught on in San Jose where the City Council just approved $2.4 million to build a village of 40 units to help house the homeless. Of course, just like in Santa Clara, San Jose residents are lashing out at city officials over plans that they say will only serve to increase neighborhood crime. San Jose resident Sue Halloway told the council she was afraid putting the village near residences would increase “neighborhood crime, neighborhood blight (and) poor sanitation,” and predicted that it would be “a magnet for more homeless.” City Councilman Raul Peralez said he understands such concerns, but that “there are no facts surrounding these tiny homes and whatever blight or crime they might bring, because we haven’t done them yet.” “I tell people you really have two options,” said Peralez, who said he wants the village in his downtown district. “You can allow the homeless to live on the streets, or you can provide not only shelter but services in a confined area — with security. In my mind, that’s a way better option for managing this community in an organized way.” So, what do the stackable units look like? As seen in the video below, prototypes from one manufacturer, MicroPad, come complete with full bathrooms and kitchens and have up to 160-180 square feet of living space... “These micro-homes may seem small at 160 to 180 square feet, but they’re actually pretty spacious when you’re in them,” she said. “And they go up very fast.” Kennedy’s MicroPads have showers, beds and kitchens. Individually they resemble shipping containers, but once they’re bolted together with siding and utilities, they look like a regular building. ...which is more or less considered a mansion by struggling New York artist standards...
New research shows that pedestrian and cyclist deaths in America are at their highest since the mid-1990s. What's causing this spike in fatal accidents?
The 2017 Smart Cities Index from EasyPark Group, a smart parking company that advocates for smart city development, listed Singapore at number two and Tokyo at number six. Taipei, Seoul and Daejeon, South Korea, Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai, Kuala Lumpur, New Delhi and Mumbai also made the list.