Thursday, March 26, 2015

MTA sells air rights to clock tower developers

From DNA Info:

The MTA board voted to sell unused development rights from one of its Queens properties for nearly $56 million to a developer planning to build the borough's tallest building.

Through the deal made on Wednesday, the developer of a proposed 70-story apartment tower will be able to build up to 77 stories instead of the 38 the current zoning at the site allows, and up to 490 additional apartments, according to the MTA board documents.

Once the sale is finalized, the MTA will transfer 478,000 square feet from an MTA-owned lot at Northern Boulevard and 40th Road to the development group Queens Plaza Park Development LLC, which includes Property Markets Group and The Hakim Organization.

The sale is expected to go through in the next month or two, an MTA spokesman said.

Because every piece of available land must be developed

From the Queens Tribune:

Several years ago, a handful of Elmhurst neighbors and volunteers transformed a vacant lot into a community garden. In the coming months, it is slated to transform again, but this time into new apartments.

Winnie Mok, a secretary at Tan Architect P.C., which is designing the planned development, said five two-family buildings are slated for the lot. Owners expect to file construction permits within weeks, Mok said; preliminary work installing a temporary perimeter fence has already begun.

The lot in question sits at the end of Manilla Street at Kneeland Avenue, up against the LIRR tracks. The youth volunteering program Young Governors spearheaded the reclamation of the lot, starting in 2011, with the help of the New Life Development Corporation and other community members.

According to lead garden organizer Jennifer Chu, the group received a “verbal OK” from the lot’s then-owner, a retired attorney now located in Florida, to use the site.

“We figured, he’s not using it, we can just work on it make to it look nice.” Chu said. “He said he intended to sell it and so we said, ‘sure, whenever you need to sell it, we’ll vacate.”

Nevertheless, the lot was sold in early February, according to the City Department of Finance. Chu said she received no notification of the sale.

“I’m just surprised that he didn’t give us any notice,” she said, adding that the Young Governors had made an effort to keep the owner up-to-date on activity at the garden, sending pictures and sometimes harvested produce.

The site’s previous owner could not immediately be reached for comment.

Big long bus route proposed

From the Daily News:

The city’s most ambitious plan to speed bus travel to date — an approximately $200 million, 14-mile super route through the heart of Queens — was unveiled by the de Blasio administration Tuesday.

The design features bus-only lanes, curbside fare payment and wireless technology that activates green lights for approaching buses between Woodside in the north all the way down to the Rockaways on the southern coast.

A six-mile segment in the center of the route along Woodhaven and Cross Bay Blvds. will be the most dramatically altered, with separate lanes for local and through traffic, turning restrictions and wide, landscaped pedestrian islands for riders getting on and off buses, officials said.

Construction is expected to start in 2017 and take about one year, Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said. The entire project is estimated to cost $200 million, officials said.

When finished, the seven Select Bus Routes created by the city since 2008 will pale in comparison, Trottenberg said.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Racist graffiti-bombs Astoria subway station

"Another one for American Eagle Outfitters, had "Slut" written on the model. The Abraham Lincoln exhibition advert had the N-bomb scrawled on it. It was smudged, but there." - Anonymous

Parks destroys 100 year old Astoria tree

From CBS 2:

People in the neighborhood said the Parks Department told them the old tree was rotted and hollow inside. But when they cut it down, it was not hollow at all.

“You didn’t have to be an expert to see, it’s a healthy; a very healthy tree,” said Anna Jutis.
Jutis has admired the tree for the 45 years she has lived in the area. Now, she and others are mourning its loss.

Patterson said she was assured multiple times by city officials that the tree would be safe.
“Their exact words were, ‘It will never be cut down, because it’s a landmark,’” she said.
But now, they are left with a stump, and pieces of the tree as souvenirs.

Big Glendale property sold

From the Observer:

A 94,000-square-foot property in the Glendale section of Queens has sold for $9.18 million to two different buyers, according to Avison Young, the brokerage firm that represented the seller and one of the buyers.

The property at 79-40 Cooper Avenue includes eight lots, a 50,000-square-foot industrial building, two attached residential buildings, two parking lots and vacant land spread over two acres.

The seller of the property was Hansel ‘n Gretel Brand, a deli processor that had been in business for 140 years that has since closed. Hansel ‘n Gretel Brand occupied the industrial building until last year.

Carye & Sons Acquisitions, a family-owned real estate company, bought the majority of the property, including all of the holdings along Cooper Avenue, for around $7 million. This included four lots, a vacant piece of land and the industrial building. Carye & Sons plans to redevelop the industrial property on the site into an 80,000-square-foot self-storage and retail building.

The remaining piece of the property, including a parking lot and two residential dwellings, was sold to an adjacent landowner for $2.2 million. Right Time Realty’s Joe Ibrahim represented the buyer on this transaction. Mr. Ibrahim could not immediately be reached for comment.

Forest Hills mansion tops $3M

From Curbed:

This 5,000-square-foot mansion in Forest Hills, Queens was built in 2006, after the owners' previous home was destroyed in a fire. As traumatic as that experience must have been, it did afford them the opportunity to design their dream home from the ground up, and the property now sports five fireplaces, radiant marble heated floors, built in speakers, occasional soaring vaulted ceilings, and various outdoor spaces including a balcony, terrace, garden, and patio. Relisted a week ago, it's now asking $3.289 million.

Contract awarded for tunnel repairs

From the Queens Courier:

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Monday that the MTA is expected to award a four-year, $236.5 million contract to rebuild the Queens Midtown Tunnel, which since the 2012 hurricane has been operating with temporary repairs. Around 40 percent of the length of tunnel was submerged in 12 million gallons of salt water during the storm.

The contract, which will be completed with Judlau Contracting Inc., was approved by the MTA Bridges and Tunnels Committee on Monday and is expected to be approved by the full MTA board on Wednesday.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

LIC Clock Tower to be calendared

From Brownstoner:

Awesome news for preservationists in Queens! This Tuesday the Landmarks Preservation Commission will calendar the LIC Clock Tower — officially known as The Bank of the Manhattan Company Long Island City Branch Building — to be considered for landmark status. Located at 29-27 Queens Plaza North, preservationists have rallied around this neo-Gothic structure, built in 1927, which is not protected from demolition. And recently, news came out that the owners of the clock tower, Property Markets Group, planned to develop 830,000 square feet on the surrounding land.

Sounds like someone wants those air rights for the adjacent property.

It's time to clean up the brownfields program

From Capital New York:

Taxpayers spent $1.4 billion on a statewide brownfield cleanup program that is woefully insufficient, according to a report issued by a leading environmental advocacy group in New York.

"The current program is out of control," Peter Iwanowicz, head of Environmental Advocates of New York, said in statement accompanying the report. "Taxpayers are footing the bill for an extraordinarily costly and broken system that is in desperate need of reform.”

The report, entitled "Ripe for Reform," says that since 2009, close to $800 million in tax breaks have gone to redevelopment at brownfield sites and not for cleanup, leaving thousands of sites in need of remediation. In releasing the report last week, the group joined Citizens Budget Commission in urging Albany to enact reforms proposed by Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Brownfields are sites of concentrated contamination that are the environmental legacy of New York's 20th century manufacturing industry. Former gas and oil refineries, chemical plants and foundries are the chief sites in need of remediation.

According to the EANY report, whole regions of the state have been ignored by New York's Brownfield Cleanup Program, while the "cleanup" aspect of the program has given way to lucrative redevelopment tax credits. The group reports that 86 percent of all payouts since 2009 have been redevelopment credits as opposed to remediation costs.

How we'll be screwed, in a nutshell

Draft Scope DCP of Proposed Zoning Changes - Review

QCC Members

Attached, with great thanks and appreciation to Paul Graziano, is Paul's analysis of the subject plan. This five page document boils down the mayor's proposed changes to NYC zoning that will be heard at Wednesday's scoping meeting.


After you read Paul's synopsis, or the whole 166 pages, we hope you will understand the urgency and come out Wednesday. As civics we have all fought for dozens of years to protect and systain our communities - of whatever nature - from over development. The mayor's (or should we say, developers) plan will dramatically affect the shape and size of our neighborhoods forever.

We hope to see a huge, city-wide turnout on Wednesday. The scoping meeting will follow at 4pm at 22 Reade Street, only a few blocks away.

Once again, our thanks to Paul for this monumental effort.

Richard Hellenbrecht, V.P.

Trains late a lot

From DNA Info:

You're not imagining it — your commute has been off the rails recently.

Delays increased on most subway lines in 2014, with about 20 percent of all trains on the tracks arriving late to their stations and medium and major delays increasing sharply, according to MTA records.

The problem was the worst on the 5 train, which saw 32 percent of its trains delayed.

The news coincides with a fare increase this past weekend, taking the basic fare on the system to $2.75.

Experts are divided on what's been bringing your ride to a screeching halt, with MTA officials pointing to a surge in ridership and commuter advocates blaming a lack of funding for needed infrastructure repairs.

Hmmm...surge in ridership? So we shouldn't have been upzoning all those areas near a subway?

Same old story in Bayside

Another nasty parking situation in Bayside.
This property has had multiple complaints about a variety of issues.
They got banged for the curb cut back in 2009, but nothing was done about it.