Friday, August 14, 2020

China real estate developer gentrification virus

The Guardian

The optics of a white man trying to grab a young woman of color, while police officers stood by, was ripe for outraged clicks. After a tense debate at a public hearing on 10 February, the Queens community board chair, Eugene Kelty, lunged at a Chinese American woman who was part of a large group opposing a special waterfront district in Flushing, New York.
Later that night, the board – whose leadership is almost all white and had conducted the entire hearing in English – voted in favor of the waterfront district, which would pave the way for more luxury developments there.

What wasn’t captured in the videos that circulated after the meeting that night was who was seated near the front of the room: the developers – F&T Group, Young Nian Group and United Construction and Development Group – who own most of the property in the waterfront and have formed a development consortium, FWRA LLC, to push aggressively for its development.
Young Nian Group is a subsidiary of Zhonggeng Group, an international conglomerate headquartered in Shanghai. The founder of United Group is Chris Jiashu Xu, who immigrated from China as a teenager and now serves as president. Two Taiwanese American immigrants, Sunny Chiu and Michael Lee, founded F & T Group, which is headquartered in Downtown Flushing.
The three developers have stressed in public hearings that they are not outsiders to Flushing, which is 69% Asian. “They’ve been here, they live here, they work here, they’ve invested here,” said Ross Moskowitz, an attorney for the developers at a different public hearing in February.

 The influx of transnational capital and rise of luxury developments in Flushing has displaced longtime immigrant residents and small business owners, as well as disrupted its cultural and culinary landscape. These changes follow the familiar script of gentrification, but with a change of actors: it is Chinese American developers and wealthy Chinese immigrants who are gentrifying this working-class neighborhood, which is majority Chinese.

This part here was eye-catching:

Perhaps the most significant change to Flushing is the disruption of its food scene. From 2000 to 2015, the number of food and drink retail stores has increased from almost 400 to more than 800. But many of the additions are high-end venues, such as the upscale Sichuan restaurant Guan Fu and international Asian chains like Papparich. This change is deliberate - Helen Lee, executive vice-president of F&T, is responsible for selecting retail tenants for more than 300,000 sq ft of space under development in Flushing. She told Eater in 2019 that she chooses restaurants that fit with Flushing’s changing population and that will change its “cheap eats” reputation.

 When reached for comment, F&T’s PR representative, Relevance International, said: “Any real vibrant dining scene requires diversity in choice. While F&T has brought in international renowned brands like HaiDiLao to the market, they’ve also supported longtime staples in Flushing like Nanxiang Xiao Long Bao ($6 dumplings) by leasing them space at One Fulton Square.”

This might explain those foodie night market festivals of the past couple of years by Flushing Meadows Park. Follow the money behind that trojan horse. 

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Such cutting edge humor!

No one appreciates sarcasm more than me, but the $1M price tag is most likely because it's being marketed as a teardown.

Also, did the Post just realize that this is the going rate for property in working class neighborhoods these days?

JQ LLC: It also looks like the bank recently had the residents kicked out of the house too. 

A million for a house in Bath Beach? Mental.

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

City Council pruned budget for tree inspection and maintenance


The city’s canopy of more than 2.6 million street and park trees will have to wait for scheduled prunings due to new budget cuts — a move slammed by a former Parks Department commissioner as “foolish” and dangerous.

The Fiscal 2021 Executive Plan includes a budget reduction of $7.2 million for tree pruning contracts, leaving about $1.5 million for the job. City trees are generally trimmed every seven to 10 years.

Park advocates and government officials, pointing to past incidents where people were severely injured — or worse — by plummeting branches, sounded the alarm over the cuts.

“The problem with not pruning is if a limb falls from a tall tree, it can cause tremendous damage. It can kill people,” said Adrian Benepe, who served as Parks commissioner from 2002 to 2012.

“It’s a meaningless cut that could cause damage both to the trees and to people.”

After the city slashed tree-pruning funding in 2010, tree-related injury claims soared. By delaying pruning contracts, the city saved $1 million — but settlement costs neared $15 million, records show.

“One bad tree limb fall wipes out all your savings,” said Benepe. “This saving is pennywise and pound foolish.”

During 2010, the city pruned less than 30,000 street trees — 50,000 fewer trees than the year before. Full funding for the Parks pruning program wasn’t restored until FY2013 when the 10-year pruning cycle was reinstated.

Claims for injuries caused by trees increased by 92% — from just under 400 claims to over 700 — during the period of reduced pruning and maintenance. In some community districts outside Manhattan claims increased by 590%, according to a 2015 ClaimStat report by City Comptroller Scott Stringer.

In 2015, Stringer told the City Council that there is a direct correlation between million-dollar legal claims and the amount of money the city allocates for tree pruning each year.


Reduced tree pruning isn’t synonymous with dangerous conditions, said Dan Kastanis, a Parks Department spokesperson. “Tree pruning is important, but inspections keep people safe, and proactive tree inspections are continuing in every borough, every day,” he said.

Monday, August 10, 2020


NY Post

The Big Apple is set to hit more grim milestones, with the number of shootings and gun victims so far this year set to match figures for same period the past two years — combined.

There have been 821 shootings and 1,000 gun victims as of Saturday.

Last year for same time frame, there were 466 shootings and 551 victims, while in 2018, there were 449 incidents and 548 victims.

That means combined, there were 905 shooting incidents and 1,099 victims for time period in 2018 and 2019 — close to the totals for this year alone, according to statistics released by the NYPD on Sunday.

Saturday, August 8, 2020

Queens is still the most powerless days after the hurricane


While crews with Con Edison have made progress restoring power to the five boroughs following the wind-related outages caused by Tropical Storm Isaias, more than 33,000 customers remain powerless in the five boroughs. And they're not expected to get their electricity back until 11 p.m. on Sunday night.

Manhattan stands as the only borough where full service has been restored to Con Edison's customers, according to a press release Con Edison sent out early this morning. Queens holds the largest number of outages with 19,000, with the Bronx at 9,700, Staten Island with 3,200, and Brooklyn with 1,400 customers still out. In Westchester County, 53,000 customers remain without service.

The storm on Tuesday packed a wallop, bringing gusty winds of 70 miles per hour in New York that caused widespread outages. At the height of the blackout, some 300,000 customers were left without power. That prompted Con Edison officials to deem the outage is the second worst next to Superstorm Sandy.

Con Edison has enlisted the help of outside utility companies to help restore power, with 1,230 contractors working alongside the 1,700 Con Edison workers. They say crews have been working "84 straight hours" since the storm hit, clearing out downed trees that became entangled in wires.

The New York City Office of Emergency Management has been managing tree removals across the city.

"Queens specifically has been the hardest hit," said OEM commissioner Deanne Criswell of the downed trees. "Right now, we have over 1500 people working on clearing trees across the city, and 153 of those are in Queens. We're continuing to bring in additional resources, and reassigning some of of other personnel from city agencies to help support the tree removal efforts."

Flushing, Bayside, Astoria, and Woodside are being given priority to have downed trees cleared. It will take next week to have all those trees removed.

The restoration also came when a pop-up blackout knocked out electricity to 180,000 customers on Friday morning. The incident--which cut off power to 187,000 customers in the Upper West Side, Upper East Side, and Harlem in Manhattan, and 77,000 customers in Maspeth, Queens.


CBS New York's report from Woodhaven, one of the men at the end of the video says it all about the city's and Con Ed's response.

Anarchy on the Belt Parkway

Impunity City

 The location of this is on 124th and South Conduit Blvd in South Ozone Park and it’s a remote residential area north of the JFK airport. Barely any pedestrian or even bike commuting goes here. The actual exit ramp for 130 st. is about a few blocks east.

But apparently, those venturous drivers looking to depart from the Belt didn’t want to wait that long…

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Donovan Richards: councilman, Queens BP candidate and now pitchman for LIC overdevelopment

Your LIC stakeholders look to develop up to 15 buildings in Anable ...


City Councilman and lead candidate for Queens Borough President Donovan Richards announced his support of the Your LIC waterfront development.

The development, a project four private developers are looking to build in the 28-acre land along Anable Basin — made popular due to Amazon’s proposed HQ2 — has garnered much attention throughout what is almost a year of its public visioning sessions.

“As we battle massive inequality across Queens, the Long Island City Waterfront presents a key opportunity to create new jobs, affordable housing and much-needed community facilities,” Richards told QNS. “We need ambitious proposals that will bring significant private and public investment into communities that have long endured disparities based on their socio-economic status.”

Your LIC’s developers, MAG Partners, Plaxall, Simon Baron Development, and TF Cornerstone, were brought together by City Council Speaker Corey Johnson last year in order to create a comprehensive plan with community input well before the ULURP process.

So far, developers have revealed they plan to develop 10 to 12 million square feet of the 28-acre land with up to 15 buildings that range from 400 to 700 feet in height, or 37 to 64 stories. They’ve mentioned seven acres of public open space. The plan also calls for 50 percent of commercial space, 30 percent residential and 13 percent “community” space that would include three new public schools and space for arts and culture.

Developers say they’ve committed to 5,700 total apartments with 25 percent (or 1,400 units) being affordable, which they say will be consistent with the area’s Mandatory Inclusionary Housing metrics. When asked for specific price range for the units, Your LIC Spokesperson Jovanna Rizzo said they did not have those specifics yet.

Then how are we sure these buildings end massive inequality, Donnie? And what about transit and infrastructure?

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Keep on obstructin' again; Runway Towing returns and dumps damaged trailers on Conduit Blvd.

 Runway towing at in again in south ozone park. Back in January channel 2 news did a story on this problem about this towing company storing there damaged trailer on south conduit from 124th street to 126th streets.

 About 5 months went by before this tow company started there nonsense again. DOT even put up no standing anytime signs and two new fire hydrants were put at 125th street and yet they still continue to conduct illegal parking problems here.

 They also still have no regard for people’s safety putting these trailers on the corner of this busy intersection. you can not see oncoming traffic on south conduit ave.

 The local police pct which is the 106 will not say anything to them because they help them out with tow operations.


So this is a ongoing fight that will never end until unfortunately a bad accident happens. 

So sad.


Rent apocalypse now

People unfold banners from a subway platform in Queens May 21st, 2020.


Hundreds of people marched from Glendale to Bushwick, and back to Ridgewood where they held a sleep-out to demand an eviction-free New York on Saturday, Aug. 1.

 “Today is the day to pay rent, unfortunately, more than 1 million people have lost their income and haven’t been able to pay rent,” said Raquel Namuche, an organizer with the Ridgewood Tenants Union (RTU). “That’s why we’re here demonstrating to tell [Gov. Andrew] Cuomo … [we need] ‘universal rent relief, the actual cancellation of rent.'”

 While the city has entered phased opening and hundreds of thousands returned to work, the city has 1.3 million workers out of work with the unemployment rate at about 20 percent as of July — “a figure not seen since the Great Depression,” according to The New York Times

The demonstration, organized by RTU with support from Mi Casa No Es Su Casa and various other tenants associations representing Queens and Brooklyn, began at the Glendale Veterans Triangle on Myrtle Avenue and Cooper Avenue with some English and Spanish speeches.
Throughout the introduction, protesters were repeatedly heckled by a group of people and passersby watching the event.
The event was one of many eviction protests held throughout the city during the months of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, as advocates fear for the safety of tenants at risk of eviction once Cuomo’s eviction moratorium expires entirely on Aug. 20. NYC Housing Court began accepting new eviction filings on June 20.

Small businesses losing hope to remain in business

Small business owners from across Queens came together on the steps of Queens Borough Hall to call for immediate financial relief to offset loses brought on by the economic consequences of the COVID-19 crisis on Wednesday, July 29.
Despite following COVID-19 protocols, the local business owners said they are drowning in debt, their bills are piling up and rent is nearly impossible to pay. Should help not come, many said they face the prospect of closing for good.
Organized by Queens Together and the Queens Chamber of Commerce, the rally was supported by state Senator Michael Gianaris’ Small Business Advisory Committee, Business Improvement District directors and a handful of elected officials including Councilman Donovan Richards, the front-runner in November’s Queens borough president race.
“The leadership in this country has made this a bailout for Wall Street rather than Main Street. The bottom line is that many of the small businesses, the folks behind me and in front of me, are folks who put everything into investing in the American Dream,” Richards said. “When they opened a small business it was because they had that American Dream of contributing to the economy, of doing something different, adding to the culture and vibrancy of the borough, but instead at this moment they now are suffering a nightmare and partly because of policies that have done everything, even prior to COVID-19, to really not assist small businesses.”
Business owners noted that the financial health of several local businesses is not the only economic metric for the moment. Some local businesses are owned by and employ local people, they said.
“Small businesses are also families,” said Roseann McSorley, the owner of Katch Astoria. “We aren’t struggling only with our store rents; we are also struggling with our own home rents and costs of raising our families, and when a business closes its doors, it means dozens more families are faced with personal hardship.”