Friday, December 15, 2017

December CB7 meeting scheduled

From the Queens Chronicle:

A post from last Tuesday on the blog Queens Crap pointed to how even though December is not listed as an exception to the charter rule, Community Board 7 did not have its regular meeting with a public hearing during that month last year or the one before.

Although the agenda for November’s CB 7 full board meeting said the next one would be in January, the advisory council has set up a meeting for Dec. 18.

Board Chairman Gene Kelty told the Chronicle that though the board did not have a full meeting last December or the one before, the members weren’t ignoring any major issues in the district.

“If we didn’t have a meeting then it meant that we really didn’t have anything on our agenda,” he told the Chronicle.

“All I know is we’re in compliance this year and we’ll be in compliance in the future,” the chairman added.


Now you can put the RKO on your agenda.

Development of RKO Keith's not happening anytime soon

From the Real Deal:

When Xinyuan Real Estate paid $54 million for a Williamsburg development site in 2012 with plans to build a luxury condominium, the project was heralded as the first go-it-alone venture by a mainland Chinese firm. Two more deals — including last summer’s $66 million acquisition of the RKO Keith’s Theater in Flushing — gave the publicly-traded firm nearly 1 million square feet of New York condo product in its pipeline.

But in recent weeks, the company has dismantled the team running its U.S. development arm, known as XIN Development, several sources told The Real Deal. And following the departure – some were let go, others moved on – of several key executives, XIN has turned over the management of three New York City projects to Kuafu Properties, a four-year-old development firm backed by Chinese private equity.

Precise terms of the deal with Kuafu weren’t disclosed, but Xinyuan said it would retain ownership of the projects.

Sources said that headwinds in the condo market could impact the developer’s other projects — specifically an ambitious plan to redevelop the long-shuttered RKO Keith’s Theater. “The project is stalled and there are landmark issues,” said a broker who has worked with Xinyuan.

After paying $175 per foot for the site in August 2016, plans called for tearing down most of the theater and building a 16-story condominium with 269 luxury units, priced between $1,150 and $1,300 per foot.

But just a few months after announcing the deal, Liang said he saw “danger” in the U.S. real estate market. “With its seven- to eight-year cycle, you get a sense now that it’s peaking,” he told the Wall Street Journal.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Questions about Van Bramer's fundraising

From Progress Queens:

For this report, Councilmember Van Bramer's communications director, Sean Butler, did not answer on the record questions submitted in advance by Progress Queens. A request for an interview was also not answered about the top 40 days when donations were clustered. If Councilmember Van Bramer's committee to reelect did not use more intermediaries to raise the $520,000 that was reported to have been directly raised by committee officials, then the coordination that took place was done by the committee. As noted by the activism group Queens Anti-Gentrification Project on a post on the group's blog, more than $100,000 of the money raised by Councilmember Van Bramer during the recent Municipal election cycle came from the real estate industry. Councilmember Van Bramer has not publicly opposed large real estate industry-backed projects -- such as the proposed rezoning of Long Island City, the proposed trolley service that would run through the Brooklyn and Queens waterfronts, known as the Brooklyn-Queens Connector, and the proposed development of Sunnyside Yards -- that Queens activists say will spread gentrification into the City's second-most populous borough. Activists have charged that Councilmember Van Bramer was "firmly aligned with a real estate industry that shows no regard for the working class." In an editorial published by the nonprofit news Web site City Limits, a member of the Queens Anti-Gentrification Project also questioned the direction of Queens under Councilmember Van Bramer's leadership.

For this report, neither Councilmember Van Bramer nor Communications Director Butler disclosed whether Councilmember Van Bramer had formed a dedicated campaign committee for his speakership race or when Councilmember Van Bramer began his Council speaker campaign. A source familiar with the Campaign Finance Board's regulations directed Progress Queens to the list of declared campaign committees when asked whether Councilmember Van Bramer had formed a dedicated campaign committee for the Council speakership. A review of the list showed that Councilmember had not appeared to have formed a dedicated campaign committee for his speakership race that was registered with the Municipal campaign finance regulatory authority. A separate review of State campaign committees registered under Councilmember Van Bramer's last name showed no change from a prior list of registered campaign committees generated online by Progress Queens on or about the time the complaint was filed with the Federal prosecutors' office.

Council member wants to bring back sidewalk clothing bins


From CBS 2:

Sanchez said the Eddie Bauer winter gear was found discarded outside the 5th Avenue store on Sunday night. She wanted to know why the store would ruin the men’s merchandise so it couldn’t be worn when it could have done so much good.

“This is not a singular incident,” councilman Rafael Espinal said.

Espinal is working on a bill to fine companies that deliberately destroy and dump clothing.

“Incentivize the donation of clothing by creating bins to place in front of retail stores,” he said.


Didn't we just spend years trying to get rid of clothing bins on sidewalks?

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

MetroCard 2nd free transfer coming soon?

From the Daily News:

Transit advocates are urging Gov. Cuomo to sign legislation giving commuters a second free transfer on pay-per-ride MetroCards, the Daily News has learned.

In a letter to Cuomo, advocates argued the measure sponsored by Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz (D-Bronx) and Sen. Martin Golden (R-Brooklyn) would provide much needed assistance to New Yorkers who live in the “transit deserts” of the outer boroughs.

“The lowest income New Yorkers, the people at the furthest reaches of New York City are the ones who would benefit the most from this,” said Danny Pearlstein, policy and communications director for the Riders Alliance.

The Tri-State Transportation Campaign, Straphangers Campaign and Transportation Alternatives are also among those urging Cuomo to sign the measure.

MTA seeks contractor for subway’s first platform safety barrier
Currently, commuters using a pay-per-ride MetroCard get one automatic free transfer per fare. The bill would allow two free transfers within two hours of the original fare’s purchase.

Cuomo vetoed a similar measure in 2015, arguing it would cost the Metropolitan Transportation Authority millions of dollars.

LIC concerned about L train shutdown

From LIC Post:

L train shutdown woes are spilling over into Long Island City, where local leaders are demanding that the city develop a plan to reduce the impact of the thousands of L train riders expected to take the G up to the Manhattan-connecting Court Square after the L train shuts down in 2019.

The Court Square Civic Association urged MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota to protect Long Island City’s already-crowded Court Square station from the extra riders that would travel there once the L train tunnel connecting Williamsburg to Manhattan closes for Sandy-related repairs in 2019.

The G train, one of four train lines that go through Court Square, will be increasing its capacity by doubling in length to carry would-be L train riders to the station, who will then get on Manhattan-bound 7, E, and M trains, according to the MTA.

The CSCA says the neighborhood is dealing with its own capacity issues after an influx of residential development over the years, with a 25 percent increase in ridership recorded at the station from 2011 to 2016. An MTA-sanctioned plan to divert riders to Long Island City, they say, will disproportionately affect Western Queens.


Wow, so no one saw that strain on the subways when they were cheerleading overdevelopment?

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Subway bomber waged a personal war on Christmas


From CBS 2:

The subway was attacked during rush hour by an apparent suicide bomber.

The alleged attacker has been identified as 27-year-old Akayed Ullah.

Six people, including Ullah, were injured in the blast.

Investigators said the bomb was poorly constructed, and failed to properly detonate.

They have the remnants of the device, which includes some type of Christmas light that may have been used as an electrical component.

Governor Cuomo said security has been boosted at high profile locations statewide, and investigators have been sent to Ullah’s Brooklyn home.

The FBI and NYPD bomb squad were on the scene as early as 8:30 a.m. looking for any information as to what may have motivated him.

The home is on East 48th Street in the Flatlands section of Brooklyn. A quiet, tight-knit community where neighbors said the only problem they ever had with the suspect’s family was over a parking spot.

Neighbors said Ullah lived in the basement of the brick multi-family home near Avenue N for at least the last 5 years. They said his mother, father, and brother — who has his own wife and child – lived in the unit upstairs.


Another basement dweller, eh?

From the NY Times:

Law enforcement officials said the attacker, identified by the police as Akayed Ullah, 27, chose the location because of its Christmas-themed posters, a motive that recalled strikes in Europe, and he told investigators that he set off his bomb in retaliation for United States airstrikes on ISIS targets in Syria and elsewhere.

De Blasio thinks this is "creative & bold"

From the NY Times:

Under Mayor Bill de Blasio, the city’s reliance on the cluster sites has grown along with the rise in homelessness, which has arguably been the biggest failure of his tenure.

Now the mayor is taking a large step toward ending that reliance: On Tuesday, Mr. de Blasio is expected to announce a plan to essentially convert many of the homeless apartments into affordable housing, hoping to solve a problem that has worsened over his first term.

Under the plan, the city would use public financing to help nonprofits buy roughly a third of the apartments currently used for the homeless, and then convert the apartments into affordable units, helping the mayor fulfill two goals: lowering homelessness and adding to the city’s affordable housing stock.

If landlords do not cooperate, the city intends to use eminent domain to take the property, officials said.

The planned acquisition involves 800 apartments spread throughout 25 to 30 buildings, mostly in the Bronx, which has the overwhelming majority of cluster apartments in the city. The city targeted buildings where more than 50 percent of the units were occupied by homeless people — a threshold that would guide future acquisitions, the city said.

The planned acquisition could place about 3,000 people into permanent housing; in some cases, homeless families living in the apartments would simply stay put, but would no longer be considered homeless. It was not immediately known how much the program would cost the city.


In other words, we're condemning buildings that already house homeless families in order to turn them over to someone else and then reclassifying the people living in them as "not homeless". This sounds like a plan. A bad one.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Soccer or hockey stadium may be headed to Belmont


From CBS 2:

What does the future hold for the vacant lots at Belmont Park?

More than 200 of its neighbors went to Elmont High School on Sunday to find out what two New York sports teams have in mind. As CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez reported, most locals weren’t very happy about what they heard.

“Like it or not, the residents of this area are getting a stadium, and the congestion is going to be mind boggling,” one man said.

“It’s going to be nightmare,” another person added.

The New York City Football Club, partly owned by the New York Yankees, hopes to transform part of the property north of Hempstead Turnpike into a 26,000 seat open-air stadium for its professional soccer team.

Meanwhile, the New York Islanders want to turn that property into a world class sports and entertainment facility, including an 18,000 seat arena for the professional hockey team.

$3/4M taxpayer money blown on worthless race

From the Daily News:

City Public Advocate Letitia James burned through nearly all of the more than $750,000 in taxpayer matching funds in a lopsided race against a poorly funded opponent — spending $500,000 on a single Election Day expenditure, public records show.

James, a Democrat who cruised to reelection over Republican political consultant J.C. Polanco, spent about $1.7 million in total on the race, according to filings with the Campaign Finance Board. She crushed Polanco, her nearest competitor — earning 812,234 votes to his 172,601.

James was widely expected to win her reelection bid — but still filed a statement of need requesting the entire amount of matching funds, citing Polanco as a strong opponent. In doing so, she noted media coverage about the would-be pol — including stories about how little money he had raised.

Candidates are required to return matching funds they do not spend on their race — but James has just $39,018 left in her coffers, meaning the taxpayers will get back little, if anything.

James spent a whopping half-million in one day — Nov. 7, the date of the general election, when she reported the $500,000 payment to Global Strategies Group. Her campaign said the payment was for digital ads that appeared on social media sites, community and ethnic newspaper sites and other news sites — including the Daily News website.