Saturday, February 25, 2017

Calamus calamity

From QNS:

Maspeth and Woodside residents have been angered over months of delays in the reconstruction of sewers under Calamus Avenue and 69th Street — and they were even more upset on Thursday night, when they learned the project’s completion is still 15 months away.

Nearly 50 concerned residents of the effected neighborhoods filled the parish hall of St. Mary’s of Winfield on Thursday night to hear why the Calamus Avenue Sewer Project — which has left Calamus Avenue and the surrounding areas a virtual mine field of potholes and craters, detoured the Q47 bus for nearly three years, and been a headache for anyone trying to commute in the area — has yet to move forward.

Ali Mallick, assistant commissioner for the Department of Design and Construction (DDC) North Queens Construction, clarified what documents weren’t accurate and why that was such a major problem for the project. The delays have pushed back the projected completion of the project to May of 2018.

“When I took over about a year ago, I found out that this project was dead, nothing was happening on the project,” Mallick said. “And there were problems with the design due to some unforeseen conditions in the ground because the drawings that we had did not match what was in the ground, so we had to do a major redesign with the work.”

Understanding the communities’ frustrations, Mallick and the DDC are looking at ways to work with the contractor to have the workers expand their work day and even work on some weekends to hopefully expedite the construction process and get the job done before the end of this year.

Other members of the DDC, Department of Transportation (DOT), and the Department of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) were on hand to listen and respond to the residents’ concerns.

Noticeably absent from the meeting was a representative from the MTA. Several of the local elected officials reached out to the MTA, alerting them of the meeting and asking them to send a representative.

De Blasio releases emails after Preet meeting

From NY1:

Shortly after Mayor Bill de Blasio met with the U.S. Attorney's office Friday morning, City Hall released a trove of documents concerning communications between the de Blasio administration and outside advisors, known as the "Agents of the City." NY1's Bobby Cuza dug through the documents and filed the following report on what he found.

On what turned out to be a bad news day for the mayor, one where reporters were busy reporting on his meeting with federal investigators, City Hall decided it was a good time to dump some documents — about 1,600 pages in all, including correspondence between the mayor's team and a handful of outside advisors.

One email shows the mayor's team meeting at [Jonathan] Rosen's firm.

Another outside advisor, John del Cecato, is told in one email that the mayor "would like to start talking to you daily."

And a third agent of the city, Nick Baldick, told that the mayor wants to get in touch, wrote, "He usually calls my cell."

But it's del Cecato who seems closest to the inner circle. De Blasio himself tells his scheduler, "Chirlane and I need a call with him scheduled for this weekend."

And in many cases, including many emails from the mayor himself, huge portions are redacted to the point where multiple pages are completely blacked out.

A new approach to big development?

From Crains:

Neighborhood groups would get an earlier jump on city development plans under a proposal being advanced by Councilman Antonio Reynoso, who organized a Friday convening of about 100 planners, housing group leaders, community board members and others.

The Bushwick councilman and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer want to build in a community engagement process before the city's formal land-use review process to give the public a stronger hand in determining the details of local real estate projects. Such a change would require a modification of the City Charter, Reynoso said.

This would give neighborhoods a chance to account for new infrastructure needs, according to the borough president.

"The old model, wherein there's no pre-discussion, ends with community stakeholders just chipping away at the impacts of a project or worse, accepting concessions that have little to do with the project's impact. That's why we need to be smart and start early," she said.

Meeting attendees decried what they consider superficial community engagement processes and the city's project-by-project approach to development.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Today's the day

From CBS 2:

Mayor Bill de Blasio will be questioned by federal prosecutors and the FBI on Friday, CBS2 has confirmed.

CBS2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer confirmed through multiple sources Thursday night that de Blasio will be interviewed about the fundraising scandal that has swirled around the Mayor’s office for nearly a year.

The meeting will take place at the office of de Blasio’s attorney, Barry H. Berke of Kramer, Levin, Naftalis & Frankel, Kramer confirmed.

As CBS2’s Dick Brennan reported, sources said de Blasio’s team has agreed to meet with prosecutors for four hours tomorrow to answer questions.

CBS2 is told the interview was set originally set for two weeks ago, but was postponed until Friday.

Queens realtors opposed to mansion tax

From the Queens Chronicle:

Some Queens realtors are not supportive of Mayor de Blasio’s proposed mansion tax, a policy City Hall is once again pushing that would create a 2.5 percent marginal surcharge on residences that sell for more than $2 million.

The mayor has said that the tax would raise more than $330 million in revenue yearly to fund rent subsidies for 25,000 low-income seniors. It would be a marginal surcharge paid by the buyer that would add to the existing 1 percent fee on sales reaching $1 million or above. Unlike the 1 percent tax, it would only be applied to the value over $2 million. (For example, a $3 million sale would have a $25,000 tax under de Blasio’s proposal in addition to the $30,000 required by the 1 percent tax.)

Long Island Board of Realtors President David Legaz called the mayor’s intention to fund low-income senior housing “laudable” but said that the cost should be borne “equally among New York City citizens.”

According to de Blasio spokeswoman Melissa Grace, the average price of a residence reaching the proposal’s threshold is $4.5 million.

“At a time when many of those buyers are likely to receive a significant federal tax cut, we believe it’s urgent they contribute more to help seniors in need,” she said.

Eight percent of New York City sales between 2014 and 2016 exceeded the proposed tax’s threshold, according to a report last week from the Independent Budget Office.
Most places that pricey are in Manhattan, although several Queens neighborhoods had sales north of $2 million last year: Forest Hills Gardens, Douglaston, Whitestone, Flushing and Astoria.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Gov's gonna blow up the bridge

From CBS 2:

Cuomo met with the team building the new Kosciuszko Bridge, an outdated 78-year-old span that gives new meaning to the term traffic tie-ups. Yet as the $555 million first phase nears completion, the Governor tells CBS2 that blowing up parts of the bridge is exactly what he’s going to do at some point this summer.

The governor says the demolition will save seven to nine months.

When the project is completed in 2020, it will actually be two bridges connecting Brooklyn and Queens — one in each direction. Luckily for commuters, their relief comes in April because when the first bridge is done, traffic will be rerouted and the old bridge will go up in smoke.

50-unit building planned for Woodside

From Sunnyside Post:

A local developer is looking to put up a new building in Woodside that will include nearly 50 residential units as well as a supermarket, daycare facility, and other commercial spaces.

According to a permit filed with the building department last week, Queens-based developer Cheung Kiu plans to build a four-story, 64,472 square foot building at 31-19 56th Street in Woodside.

The plans show that the development would have 40,099 square feet of residential space, 18,711 square feet of commercial space, and 5,662 square feet of community space, with 47 apartments on the upper floors and retail and offices on the lower levels.

Kiu plans to build an attended below ground parking garage with 68 spots on the site, according to the plans.

Well, I don't think that drawing quite depicts a 50-unit building but what do I know?

You've been warned!

From the Daily News:

Airbnb hosts and their neighbors are about to get an education in New York’s new law cracking down on the advertising of illegal short-term rentals.

Share Better, an anti-Airbnb coalition that includes politicians and the hotel industry, is launching a new ad campaign and website Tuesday warning about the new law and the costs of violating it.

Ads will also encourage neighbors who suspect illegal rentals in their building to alert the city.

“AIRBNB HOSTS: KNOW THE LAW,” the headline on one ad reads. “YOU COULD FACE FINES UP TO $7,500 & EVICTION.”

Another ad reads: “If your neighbor is renting an entire apartment for less than 30 days, they are BREAKING THE LAW.”

The ads will run on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other websites.