The doughty team from St. Michael’s Episcopal is now roughly two months into our engagement of an AmLaw 100 firm to help assess the zoning, land use, “open space,” and other issues surrounding our vacant corner lot and opportunities for development. (Earlier installments in this series are first here and second here.) Attentive readers may recall that we asked for an opinion from our firm within six weeks. Hence this update.
(1) So far we have received nothing whatsoever in writing from the firm. They’ve given us no reason to expect that will change, soon or perhaps ever.
(2) Without descending into irrelevant detail, a prior putative developer for the site had obtained building permits years ago which, mirabile dictu, are still in effect. While they’re in the name of that erstwhile developer and not St. Michael’s, and while they date to a prior zoning/land use regulatory regime, they conceivably have some value today, as bargaining chips if nothing else.
The associate assigned to the matter, who used to work for the City of New York in buildings, claimed she couldn’t locate them and essentially gave up on that bit of research.
As you might expect in 2015, such building permits are not only a matter of public record but are available online at nyc.gov; the ones I’m referring to are here. (I have never in my life visited the City’s Department of Buildings site and it took me less than a minute to find them.)
(3) We recently had a meeting scheduled with the partner on the matter at the firm’s offices in midtown. (I was not present.) Our representative—one of the two wardens of St. Michael’s—arrived about five minutes early and ran into the partner in the firm’s reception area; he was heading for the elevator to go out to get coffee.
He kept going.
My colleague sat in the conference room for 15-20 minutes awaiting his return. When he did appear, the plan was to conference in the other St. Michael’s warden on the speakerphone. He didn’t know how to do that.
Sometimes I fantasize that it would be liberating if Adam Smith, Esq. could delve into the genre of fiction, but such is not the path we’ve chosen.
I hereby honor my promise to keep this short.