New Partner J. Christopher Daly for Westview and Island House

j. christopher daly, j christopher daly, sheldrake

The new partner in Island House and Westview is The Sheldrake Organization.  Its founder is J. Christopher Daly.

The Sheldrake Organization describes itself as “the largest owner and manager of privatized public housing in New York State,” and says, “Through enduring partnerships with both government and non-profit agencies, Sheldrake now owns and operates more than 2,500 units of housing in seven counties throughout New York State.  Furthermore, Sheldrake currently has Federal and State applications pending, the approval of which will lead to the renovation and construction of an additional 1,500 units.”

In a related development, RIOC has received a proposal for extension of the ground leases for Westview and Island House.  

Daly did not respond to messages left this week at his office in Hempstead, Long Island.  The WIRE was not able to determine whether a deal has actually been made, nor to determine what stake Daly’s company will hold in the Roosevelt Island properties.  According to an aide to City Council Speaker Gifford Miller, Daly has an appointment for a meeting with Miller.

Both Island House and Westview are currently Mitchell-Lama properties under the supervision of the New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR), which sets rental rates.  This week, in fact, DHCR held a hearing on the owner’s request for a rent hike for Westview. 

If the buildings are privatized – that is, privately mortgaged and removed from the Mitchell-Lama program – they are no longer under DHCR supervision, and owners are free to raise rents.  But on its website, Sheldrake makes a point of saying it maintains affordability in the housing it owns or manages:

The Sheldrake Organization is currently focusing on the development of affordable housing and, more specifically, the conversion of public housing to private ownership.  Through pro-active management of its more than 2,500 units throughout New York State, Sheldrake has become engrained in the economic, social, and cultural fabric of the communities it serves.  It is the mission of this Organization to preserve and maintain the welfare of our residents, to provide high-quality affordable housing to communities in need, and to continue being New York State’s leading developer of privatized public housing.

Sheldrake’s properties range in size from a 36-unit senior citizen building in Hempstead, Long Island, to a 496-unit building in Mount Vernon.  They range west to North Tonawanda, near Buffalo.

Sheldrake describes itself as a “driving force behind the revival of Hempstead Village… Originally founded by J. Christopher Daly in 1988 to develop distressed and blighted commercial properties in suburban Hempstead, the Sheldrake Organization has grown rapidly into a full-service real-estate firm which owns, manages, develops, and leases residential and commercial property throughout New York State.”

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Like the story line of a Brad Pitt movie, New rleans is an epic parable of man versus evironment. Last month, the twice-named Sexiest Man Alive by People magazine, swept into town to shine the spotlight and rev up resources for the devastated city.

What he discovered was that many areas have yet to recover even a year later. More than half of New Orleans remains empty with scores of abandoned houses, shops, offices, schools, and churches. “I was not prepared,” the actor said, describing how he drove for miles only to see street after street of devastation.

“There’s a big opportunity here,” Pitt said,

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to rebuild the city using energy-efficient building materials and appliances that would improve quality of life, particularly in low-income communities.

Indeed, New Orleans is a live case study on massive re-construction and a fertile ground for reform.

Hurricane Katrina was the costliest, most deadly hurricane in the history of the United States. As it hit the Gulf Coast in August, 2005, it was the sixth-strongest Atlantic hurricane ever recorded and the third-strongest landfalling. It flooded over 80 percent of the city.

The calamity is now an indelible chapter of knowledge, as the local debate simmers on how to effectively rebuild the city.

A massive rebuilding and far-reaching social dynamic have also made the Big Easy an inevitable focus for environmental campaigns such as green building. The timing may be ideal.

Green, energy-efficient design has begun to show economic teeth, capture marketshare, and gain serious credibility among residential builders. Momentum builds as voices from all sides of the table herald the economic and social value of green.

Hollywood celebs, like Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Kate Bosworth are throwing their star power behind the rally for more green construction in the U.S. just as the ideology is trading its organic tie-dye for a mainstream collar.

Green building is on the fast track to becoming the next big thing for large-production, residential builders. Developers say they are building green because they believe in it, but they also expect to gain a competitive edge. If faced with the choice of renting or buying two similar apartments, developers say, consumers increasingly will opt for the one with green features, even if it comes at a higher price.

“We think it’s important to do, and we think that other buildings that don’t do this will become obsolete, and our buildings will continue to maintain their value,” said Douglas Durst, who built 4 Times Square in New York, a pioneering green office building, in the late 1990’s. He is now building his second green apartment tower.

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) says that builders producing environmentally responsible homes rose by 20% in 2005, and that number is expected to grow by another 30% this year.

First Lady Laura Bush spoke to a gathering of National Design Award honorees last month urging them to become involved in the Gulf Coast re-build. Their legacy, she said, would be found in their efforts to improve the devastated region. She also added that Hurricane Katrina “gives us the chance to build green buildings and to build energy-saving buildings.”

Once lacking architectural sophistication, fiscal feasibility and wide consumer interest, green building was attractive in principle, but a challenge to apply.

Yet, as consumer demand sets its own economic priority, so too has a spattering of green buildings evolved into entire communities sprouting up across the country.

Going green — energy-efficient, water-conserving buildings full of features that value natural over chemical, recycled over new and renewable over disposable — is firmly in play in consumers’ minds and builders’ hearts.

Most are already familiar with the benefits of green building from the workplace. Having made its way into office construction years ago, corporate America began to notice less absenteeism; less time lost to asthma, allergies and other illnesses aggravated by mold, stale air and chemicals found in many conventional buildings.

Whether for health, global responsibility, or marketshare, a new affluent consumer category is building momentum in today’s market and it’s pressing green building into the multi- and single-family residential markets at a rapid clip.

“LOHAS,” or Lifestyle of Health and sustainability, is one of the latest consumer groups that builders are responding to with new and renovated green product.

Thought to include over 40 million adult consumers, the value of the LOHAS market is estimated at $200 billion according to David Brotherton, a Seattle consultant in corporate responsibility. This includes goods and services ranging from eco-vacations to green homes.

There’s a lot more consumer interest. It’s starting to be a groundswell,” says Calli Schmidt for the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) in Washington. Green building will reach a tipping point next year as two-thirds of all builders will build green homes according to a McGraw-Hill construction survey.

Environmentalism ebbs and flows within American politics, but green building has permeated the U.S. legislature.

The Energy Policy Act of 2005 offers federal tax credits of $1.80 per square foot on all projects that meet ASHRAE standards (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers). Other legislation gives businesses up to 10 percent tax credit for employing solar and geothermal technologies. The Department of Energy also hands out grants for businesses that experiment with new energy-efficient technologies.

Rentals get bells and whistles

Manhattan rental building developers are taking on more high-end amenities to entice would-be dwellers.

From swimming pools and saunas to playrooms, dog services and state-of-the-art health clubs, rental buildings seemingly have it all. But the perks are not exactly freebies: Tenants are increasingly paying more to live in these buildings.

“The rental buildings are almost being taken to the level of condominiums [or] hotels,” said Daren Hornig, managing partner of Saxa, a real estate investment and development company that is scouting out Manhattan sites for a rental building.

At 545 10th Avenue, close to 41st Street, the Sheldrake Organization is breaking ground this year on an as-yet-unnamed 650-unit rental building that will have a sand volleyball court and a self-service bar, possibly run by City Bakery, according to J. Christopher Daly, president of the Sheldrake Organization. City Bakery is already slated to set up shop in Sheldrake’s soon-to-open Riverhouse condominium in Battery Park City.

Riverhouse offers a swimming pool, fitness center with yoga studio, pet spa and on-site car rental service among many other amenities.

In-house commercial tenants appeal to renters.

When Whole Foods Market opened a store in the Avalon Chrystie Place rental development on the Lower East Side, rents rose dramatically, said Neil Binder, principal and co-founder of Bellmarc Realty. Buildings in fringe neighborhoods, such as the far West Side, Wall Street and Battery Park City, to some degree, often include amenities to entice would-be-renters and fill in for a neighborhood’s lack of services.

“It’s not about getting more [services], it’s about getting attention,” Binder said.

While these bells and whistles may affirm a building’s image and in some cases help a company brand its name — as in the case of Trump — they often mean more money out of a tenant’s pocket. Some developers charge extra fees, others build it into a higher rent, while still others — often those developing buildings in fringe neighborhoods — chalk it up to the cost of doing business.

A gym is bare bones in most buildings and 25 percent of the time is included in the rent, said Gordon Golub, the senior managing director of Citi

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If there is a pool and roof deck, the majority of the time there is an additional fee for usage. They are typically marketed to tenants as a package, Golub said. The price can range from $500 for seasonal pool access to $1,200 for a year-round pool, Golub said. If the building has a roof deck, but no pool, generally its use is free. To use an on-site party room, buildings typically charge residents at least a $50 to $250 cleanup fee.

With today’s emphasis on health and wellness, gyms are now found in around one-quarter of Manhattan rental buildings, Golub said, and typically there is a fee to help with servicing the facility. In some buildings, the fee is nominal. In Rockrose Development buildings, most gyms are free, but others charge $200 to $700, said Sofia Estevez, vice president of Rockrose Development.

At the Ritz Plaza, a 479-unit building at 235 West 48th Street, building owner Stonehenge Management charges an annual $850 health club fee for gym membership, which includes access to an indoor heated pool and social lounge with outdoor deck.

To entice potential tenants to move to less prime parts of Manhattan, developers may throw in amenities.

At the 333-unit Olivia, a rental building across from Penn Station at 315 West 33rd Street, just west of Eighth Avenue, Stonehenge Management does not charge for use of the 5,400-square-foot gym.

“We needed a draw,” said Marc Kaplan, director of leasing at Stonehenge Management, at a May Citi Habitats rental forum, and it has helped rent apartments.

In highly desirable neighborhoods, some developers do not feel compelled to include amenities.

Skyline Developers is slated to break ground on a rental project at 79th Street and Third Avenue in about a year. There will only be a small gym with a few machines inside.

“It’s the best location,” said Orin Wilf, president of Skyline. “I’ll rent that with no problem whatsoever.”

Still, it’s clear developers are devoting more and more space to amenities than before.

On average, a large rental building has 7,000 to 10,000 square feet of space for amenities, Hornig said, compared to five to 10 years ago, when it was closer to 3,000 square feet. But not all amenities warrant the hype.

Pools on rooftops and fully equipped, big health clubs add value.

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Syracuse Center of Excellence – J Christopher Daly Keynote Speaker

J. Christopher Daly

Founder and President, Sheldrake Organization “Recycling, Rehabilitating,

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and Recreating Sustainable Buildings in New York State”

J. Christopher Daly is the President of Sheldrake Organization. He founded Sheldrake in 1988 with the mission to recycle and create urban residential and commercial properties. Under J Christopher Daly leadership the company has earned a reputation as a responsible developer, dedicated to providing affordable housing, environmentally responsible residencies, and creative urban business opportunities. With nearly 5,000 units of housing, the Sheldrake Organization has and will continue to be an effective and socially conscious developer, owner, and manager of residential developments.

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