Friday, March 23, 2018

Former jail to be housing that's "affordable" (whatever that means)

From the Daily News:

A once-infamous juvenile detention center in the Bronx will be transformed into more than 700 units of affordable housing.

The City Council Thursday approved plans to turn the former Spofford Juvenile Detention Center in Hunts Point into a $300 million, 5-acre campus dubbed The Peninsula that will include 700 units of affordable housing, ground-floor retail, light industrial manufacturing space and other amenities.

“It’s a big day for justice in the Bronx. As we move to build more than 700 affordable homes, open space and small businesses in Hunts Point on the site of the old Spofford facility, we are seeing a community rising and the righting of old wrongs,” Mayor de Blasio said in a statement.

Spofford was a hulking concrete complex that was shuttered in 2011 after years of criminal justice activists urging its closure.

All 700 of the units will be income-restricted and the development will be mixed income — with apartments reserved for those making from 30% to 90% of the area median income, and 75 units set aside for formerly homeless people.

WOW! 75 units for the homeless. At this rate we should have them all housed by 3026.

De Blasio to crooked donor: “Do what you’ve got to do.”

From the Daily News:

A major donor to Mayor de Blasio dropped a bombshell Thursday, testifying under oath that when he told Hizzoner he’d have to arrange illegal campaign donations, de Blasio offered a stunning response:

“Do what you’ve got to do.”

Harendra Singh, a former Queens restaurateur who threw free fund-raisers for the mayor and raised thousands of dollars for him, said the mayor twice took a look-the-other-way approach when he broached the subject of illegal contributions.

It’s unclear when the exchanges took place, and whether de Blasio was a mayoral candidate or in office at the time.

Singh, 59, is testifying as a prosecution witness in the trial of a Long Island politician, ex-Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano. Mangano’s wife, Linda, and former Oyster Bay Town Supervisor John Venditto are also on trial.

Singh’s pleaded guilty to bribery charges and stated he raised funds for de Blasio to win favorable treatment from City Hall over a lease dispute involving his restaurant, Water’s Edge.

Prosecutors have said a top de Blasio aide, identified by sources as Emma Wolfe, pressured city managers to treat Singh favorably.

Last March prosecutors announced de Blasio and his minions would not be charged with criminal activity, but they made a point of saying they’d done favors for donors.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Glutton for punishment caption contest

For some reason, Bill de Blasio went on a gluttonous rampage in Middle Village in the middle of a snowstorm.

First, he stuffed his face at a Greek diner:

And then he headed over to a pizza joint:

Since it's the second day of spring and there's a foot of snow outside, it's the perfect time to caption this photo!

A small business' scary story

From Forbes:

Late last summer, I 'Googled' my regular diner to confirm its closing time, and was shocked to find that the site had marked it Permanently Closed. I quickly called the restaurant and learned, thankfully, that it hadn't shut down; however, its Google presence had been hijacked.

And despite the owners' best efforts, it seemed there was nothing they could do about it.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Are shipping containers the future of affordable housing?

From AM-NY:

Shipping containers could become the building blocks for affordable housing in the Bronx.

A New York real estate company has partnered with SG Blocks, a container construction company, to propose a mixed-use development in the northeast section of the borough.

The development would create about 65 to 75 apartments above a retail store and a church, according to Nyron Chin-Sang, the founder of the company Gold Key Group.

Chin-Sang, who is originally from the Bronx, said bringing affordable housing to the borough is important to him.

Waterpointe worked out?

From the Times Ledger:

After the Whitestone community raised concerns about soil contamination, elected officials and local leaders met with the state Department of Environmental Conservation and developers of the Whitestone Waterpointe project to discuss the future of the venture moving forward.

Last week, state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside), Assemblyman Daniel Rosenthal (D-Flushing) and members of Community Board 7 and the Greater Whitestone Taxpayers Civic Association, were able to talk to DEC and developers from the Edgestone Group about key issues facing the 18-acre waterfront property, located at 151st Place and 6th Road.

Avella wrote a letter to DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos requesting a meeting with the commissioner to find out why DEC permitted Edgestone Group to modify the soil cover requirement from Track 2 Residential to Track 4 Restricted-Residential and why DEC allowed the change without first discussing it with elected officials, CB 7 or community members.

Last week’s meeting allowed for a dialogue and Avella said that while there are still a few items that remain to be concluded, he and Rosenthal were able to talk the developer into agreeing to bring in additional “unrestricted” or “virgin” soil so that homeowners will be able to grow vegetables in their garden. Avella said they were also able to have the developers agree that all monies placed in escrow to maintain the environmental monitoring system, which will require a yearly report, will remain with the homeowners association at the end of the original ten-year escrow agreement term.

For now Avella and Rosenthal said they will urge the developer to increase the monies to be held in escrow to ensure that the new homeowners will not be burdened by the expense of the environmental monitoring system. While the senator said he was pleased that the developer agreed to put in unrestricted soil, he is convinced that the current dollar amount planned for the escrow account is inadequate and will prove to be too little over time.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

First German Sport Club receives stop work order

Back in 2013, it appeared that World Financial Group was about to move into the former First German Sport Club of Brooklyn on Metropolitan Avenue at the edge of Ridgewood. That never happened, and the building sat as is until earlier this year, when this was done to it:
The stop work order seems to be for construction done outside the scope of the permit.

City Council supports upzoning, then complains about it

From Crains:

City Council members criticized the de Blasio administration last week for concentrating neighborhood rezonings in low-income, minority neighborhoods—yet the council itself is fueling the trend.

“It doesn’t seem like [City Planning] has a citywide plan to address the housing crisis,” Councilman Antonio Reynoso, D-Brooklyn, said at a budget hearing Thursday. “It feels like [the city] has a piecemeal approach of going into poor neighborhoods and rezoning them.”

The administration’s plan is to rezone 15 neighborhoods where boosting the allowable size of buildings is supposed to trigger development with affordable housing. So far, the administration has completed the task in Brooklyn’s East New York, Far Rockaway in Queens and East Harlem. The city shortly will approve the Jerome Avenue corridor in the Bronx and has several more in its sights.

But these neighborhoods are not chosen based only on planning principles or to most efficiently ease the housing crunch. Rather, City Planning Director Marisa Lago said at the hearing, City Hall prioritizes areas with amenable council members and neighborhoods.

“Absent community interest, it would be an exercise in futility,” she said.

A willing council member is crucial because the City Council has long deferred to the local member’s wishes when it comes to land use, giving representatives veritable veto power over applications.

City hoping to curb congestion by banning rush hour deliveries

From PIX11:

A ban on commercial curbside deliveries during rush hour went into effect Monday.

The ban is part of a congestion reduction pilot program by the city that will regulate when and where commercial trucks can stop and unload goods on some of the busiest streets in NYC. The ban will not effect personal deliveries.

Starting Monday, there will be no curbside deliveries along Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn and Roosevelt Avenue in Queens from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

In April, the truck ban will expand to 11 cross streets in Midtown, Manhattan, including 54th Street between Eighth and Third avenues and 47th Street between Ninth and Third avenues.

While it will ease traffic on some of the busiest streets in NYC, business owners say bringing in goods later in the day will hurt them. They say the ban will force employees to stay at work later and residents will have to hear trucks being unloaded late at night.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Back-to-back-to-back film shoots taking over public streets

"Do Queens residents ever get to park on the street? Not in Long Island City. (Taken on 21st Street and 44th Drive.)" - anonymous

Claremont Terrace apartment house has become a zombie

From the Queens Chronicle:

Councilman Danny Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) said Dr. John Ko promised him last February that long-delayed work at 1 Claremont Terrace in Elmhurst would be done in one year.

Thirteen months have passed, and the lawmaker says the unfinished, graffiti-covered apartment building abutting the Long Island Rail Road tracks is still in the same unsightly condition.

“It’s become a zombie apartment building. It’s just horrible,” Dromm told the Chronicle on Monday. “Our patience has come to an end.”

The property the building sits on is one of the more historic ones in Elmhurst, as Samuel Lord — the co-founder of Lord & Taylor, the oldest department store in America — purchased the site in 1840, eventually building homes for his four daughters there.

But 12 years ago, the final, decaying Lord home was demolished and construction began on the eight-story building.

But once the shell of it was completed, work seemingly came to a halt.

And in the years since, Dromm said, the site has become an on-again, off-again homeless encampment — “they had tents and everything” — and a magnet for graffiti vandals.