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NYC apartment upgrades have dropped. Are the new rent laws to blame?

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Plus, snow squall! And more intel in today’s New York Minute news roundup

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Good morning, and welcome to New York Minute, a new roundup of the New York City news you need to know about today. Send stories you think should be included to tips@curbed.com.

Apartment renovations are down, and landlords blame the new rent laws

Among the changes to New York City’s rent regulation rules that went into effect this year was putting more protections in place against unnecessary renovations in buildings or individual apartments, which landlords could then use to jack up rents. But a Wall Street Journal analysis found that in the wake of those reforms going into effect, the number of fixes being made to rent-regulated apartments has dipped.

According to the WSJ’s analysis of Department of Buildings records, there was a 44 percent decline in the number of reno projects undertaken between July and November, and spending on apartment improvements dropped by $71 million. Some contractors and industry insiders are blaming the new rent laws; Frank Ricci, a member of the Rent Stabilization Association (a pro-landlord group), told the WSJ that the new laws “removed incentive to do upgrades beyond the minimum.”

But Brad Hoylman, a Manhattan state senator who supported the rent reforms, said more data is needed before drawing any firm conclusions. “The real estate lobby would have us believe that the law is going to result in the deterioration of the housing stock,” he told the WSJ. “I think that is frankly an unhelpful talking point.”

And in other news…

  • The MTA board approved the transit agency’s 2020 budget, despite protests (even within the board) over the allocation of funds to hire 500 additional cops to patrol the subway.
  • Apple’s hunt for Manhattan office space continues amid a wave of tech giants signing leases in the city; reportedly, the company looked at offices at Essex Crossing.
  • A new study argues that NYCHA properties in Gowanus should sell their air rights to developers to help fund desperately needed repairs.
  • City Council member Mark Levine wants to sever the Trump Organization’s contracts with amenities in Central Park and a Bronx golf course.
  • A four-bedroom penthouse in the Brooklyn building where Joan Rivers grew up is asking $5 million.
  • The Governors Ball music festival is eyeing Van Cortlandt Park for its 2020 edition.
  • An empty lot on West 88th Street is asking close to $3 million—but it also comes with approved plans for a six-story, contemporary mansion.
  • And finally, were you as excited about the snow squall as we were? If not, perhaps this time-lapse of the snow moving in, taken from the top of One World Trade Center, will help you understand why it was so cool: