Saturday, January 31, 2009

Gennaro turns MIH protest into political rally

Today's MIH rally drew a couple of hundred people from the community and of course, a bunch of tweeders. James Gennaro was the MC, and Helen Marshall, Eric Gioia, William Thompson, Vivian Cook and Shirley Huntley spoke, along with community leaders. They whipped the crowd into a frenzy by demanding that the government "fund hospitals before ballparks", with everyone apparently forgetting that these were the very morons who pushed for and voted to fund the ballparks before the hospitals.

James Gennaro did a roll call of elected officials who support keeping the hospitals open, and mentioned everyone except Tony Avella, who organized the City Hall rally. Why? Word at the rally was that Gennaro's Chief-of-Staff press secretary (is he still dating one of the Queens CAU directors?) called organizers at St. John's and went apeshit on them for seeking help from Avella and not Gennaro. If the tweeder currently occupying the 24th Council District seat had been in tune with his constituents instead of being preoccupied with making sure that the 11th Senate District was left with no voice, he would have taken it upon himself to reach out and arrange the City Hall rally. After William Thompson left the podium, Gennaro started chanting, "Thank You, Bill!" until the crowd went along.

WTF? Grow up, Sleazeball. This is not the time for petty politics.

Bay Terrace multi-house blaze

Fire Engulfs Homes in Queens from Fox 5

NEW YORK CITY - Firefighters fought a fast- moving fire that tore through some houses in Bay Terrace, Queens, Friday night. The fire went to three alarms, authorities said.

SkyFoxHD was over the scene, where firefighters battled the flames while engulfed in thick smoke. The fire spread quickly from one house to another.

The homes are near the Clearview Golf Course and the Clearview Expressway.

But the City has money for this?

From Brownstoner:

Public records show that the city has taken title to nine properties through the process of eminent domain. The properties include 392, 402, 404, 406, 416, and 418 Albee Square as well as 223, 225 and 229 Duffield Street...As for the city's plans for the project, the RFP process for both the landscape design of the 1.25-acre park and the development of the 700-car underground parking garage have been completed but the contracts have not been awarded or announced yet.

So land acquisition for a 1.2-acre park that sits 6 blocks from Cadman Plaza and 6 blocks from Fort Greene Park so far has cost the City more than $40M, and they've only just begun? (However, we have no money for this park or this park.) And aren't we also just a little eminent domain crazy down at City Hall?

Developer blight becoming more common

From Gowanus Lounge:

We firmly believe that developer blight is going to emerge as one of the THE issues of 2009. We’re talking about construction sites that are either abandoned or left to fester for so long that they become ugly, dangerous to the community and a kick in the ass to quality of life. So, we’re starting a new GL Series today called Blight Me, in which we’re going to be featuring properties that in some way royally f*ck up life for their neighbors and neighborhoods. We noticed this one because pedestrians were walking in the middle of the street to avoid the ice built up in front of this site. This is what the inside of 314 12th Street looks like.

More on the budget

From the Daily News:

In his FY2010 budget proposal, Mayor Bloomberg is providing details of the latest round of agency "gap closing actions" he ordered in December that are expected to save the city close to $1 billion.

They include:

- Reducing of the NYPD uniform headcount by 1,000 (-$48.9 million).

- Elimination of companies in dual-company fire houses or axing the fifth firefighter on 64 engines (-$17 million).

- Increasing rates for single-space parking meters (+$16.8 million).

- Cutting 30 basic life support ambulance tours (-$3.3 million).

- Eliminating 549 child welfare positions (-$15.5 million).

- Reducing "low priority" child care services and foster care boarding home rates (-$12.8 million).

- Cutting 167 seasonal aides at city parks (-$5.6 million).

- Reducing the city subsidy for libraries by 7 percent (-$20.1 million).

- Reducing senior center funding by 5 percent (-$5.3 million).

Iron Triangle businesses ready for battle


From the Times Ledger:

Property owners at Willets Point said they are readying battle plans to fight the city−approved redevelopment of the area in both the court of law and public opinion.

Leaders of Willets Point United Against Eminent Domain, a newly formed coalition of at least 22 property owners in the area, said land acquisition negotiations have dried up since the city Economic Development Corp. won a resounding victory in the Council late last year by getting plans for a $3 billion mega−project approved.

“Nobody’s heard from them. The city doesn’t believe there’s anyone else out here that can fight back, so they’re just going to try and roll over us,” said Jake Bono, of Bono Sawdust and Supply Co. “With all of these new people coming together to fight the project, it should sound an alarm for the public that something isn’t right here.”

While the city said it now controls about 60 percent of the privately owned land at Willets Point, more than 60 property owners have not agreed to deals with the city.



Blue means the City made a deal to buy the property before the November 13th vote. No one's been paid yet, though, and they are expected to vacate by the end of the year. TDC wants its shovels in the ground by 2010!

Remember that while your firehouses are closing, your kids' teachers are being laid off and you have fewer cops patrolling your neighborhood, the City always has enough money for ballparks, luxury hotels, yuppie condos and to line the pockets of developers.

"New Shea" Stadium?

From A Fine Blog:

What do left wing-nut Rep. Dennis Kuchinich and ultra-right conservative Rep. Ted Poe have in common? Both have written Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner demanding that Citigroup dissolve the agreement with the New York Mets that pays the Mets $400 Million dollars for naming rights to their new stadium. What do these politicians propose if Citigroup doesn't do it? "Absent this outcome, we feel strongly that you should compel Citigroup to return immediately all federal monies received to date, as well as cancel all loan guarantees", the letter reads. Wow, that's some pretty tough talk! Will it happen?..."New Shea" might be making a comeback!

And the old Shea is getting a farewell at noon today.

Bloomberg explains how screwed we are


And from the Daily News:

Candidates hoping to replace Mayor Bloomberg in November are offering their initial comment on his budget, and needless to say the reviews are not glowing.

City Comptroller Bill Thompson was first out of the gate with a statement saying the mayor is trying to "balance the budget on the backs of working people."

Rep. Anthony Weiner hit our inbox moments later with a more measured response along the same lines, saying "it's generally a bad idea to raise taxes on the middle class."

Fresh Meadows is full of crap

"The block of 163rd Street below Electchester has gradually crappified in the past decade.
This stop-work sticker was issued yesterday. By the time the city issues a stop-work order, it is too late to reverse the damage that crapitecture has wrought.
Once a building is complete, however, its troubles are not over. A completed crap box next door can't even sell its units. Karma is a b*itch to developers!"

-anonymous in Fresh Meadows

Friday, January 30, 2009

Worker Injured in Scaffold Collapse


NEW YORK (WCBS 880) -- At East 42nd St. and 5th Avenue, a construction worker is lucky to be alive.

He was working on some scaffolding at 501 42nd St. when the load he was lifting collapsed on top of the scaffold causing some of it to pancake on top of him.

Firefighters staged a massive rescue effort. They were able to get the man down. They were able to stabilize him in the top of the building and then bring him down to street level.

They just took him by ambulance to Bellevue Hospital, and the fire chief on the scene here believes that he may have a broken leg, but it could have been a whole lot worse. The mobilization here was massive, and East 42nd St. is closed between Madison and 5th Ave.

Ironically, the City Council just passed 2 laws to bolster construction safety.

Caritas deals nixed; hospitals to file for bankruptcy

There will be a rally outside Mary Immaculate Hospital tomorrow morning at 11am.

From the Daily News:

In the midst of the frantic negotiations, the Daily News learned that Queens-based Capitol Health Management Inc. had offered $80 million last year to buy the two ailing hospitals. A company spokesman revealed the offer had recently been upped to as much as $150 million.

Capitol, which runs an outpatient facility at the old Parkway Hospital, offered to keep all three facilities open.

"We have private equity dollars to save all three hospitals," said Capitol spokesman Fred Stewart.

But Stewart said after the Borough Hall powwow, that the deal was now "off the table."

Caritas previously considered selling the two hospitals to North Shore-LIJ Health System, which hoped to build a 400-bed hospital near St. John's Queens - a proposal that relied heavily on public financing.

That plan appears to have been torpedoed by the recession, which has made public funding scarce, said North Shore spokesman Terry Lynam.

Schleicher Mansion scheduled for hearing

On Tuesday, February 10, 2009, the Landmarks Preservation Commission is holding a public hearing on the proposed designation of the following item:

HERMAN A. SCHLEICHER MANSION, 11-41 123rd Street (Q)

The hearings will take place at the Commission's offices at 1 Centre St., 9th Floor North (time tbd). Any information you can provide about the building's significance and condition is relevant to our consideration. Attached please find a statement of significance for this building.

Emily Rich
Public Information Officer
Landmarks Preservation Commission
One Centre Street, 9th Floor North
New York, NY 10007

HERMAN A. SCHLEICHER MANSION
BOROUGH OF QUEENS

The mansion at 11-41 123rd Street in College Point was designed by Morris Gescheidt and constructed c. 1857 for Herman A. Schleicher, a German immigrant. Little is known about Mr. Schleicher. He appears to have become a naturalized citizen in 1850 and died in College Point in 1866. John Jockers, who for many years had been superintendent of the Schleicher residence and grounds, purchased the property around 1892 and converted the house into the Grand View Hotel, an establishment which continued in operation until the early twentieth century.

Beginning in the late nineteenth century, Schleicher’s once sizeable estate was divided into lots leaving the two and one-half story, Italianate-style brick mansion with rusticated brick basement and mansard roof isolated on a circular lot at the intersection of 123rd Road (formerly N. 14th Street) and 13th Avenue (formerly Schleicher Court). The asymmetrical front (western) elevation features a three-bay-wide porch (now enclosed) with stoop leading to a segmental-arched entrance and segmental-arched fenestration with brick surrounds. The corners are delineated by brick quoins, which are repeated on the recessed wing. The rear (eastern) elevation features an arrangement of alternating flat and angular bays, the later with rusticated brick work. The segmental-arched rear entrance with high stoop and pedimented portico (a later alteration) is set into one of the angular bays. The rear and side elevations like the front elevation feature segmental-arched fenestration with brick surrounds, a deep cornice and dormers.

The area of College Point north of 14th Avenue was once home to several estates with large mansions; the Schleicher Mansion is the only one to survive relatively intact. Although altered in the twentieth century to accommodate its conversion into a multiple-family dwelling, the Schleicher Mansion remains a fine example of the Italianate style that was dominant in the mid-nineteenth century.

Parting with Poletti

From the NY Times:

Assemblyman Michael N. Gianaris sent a letter this week accusing the New York Power Authority of trying to keep one of the city’s dirtiest power plants open beyond the January 2010 deadline for shutting it.

The power authority — which provides electricity to city agencies, the Port Authority and other large users — denied the accusation and said it would abide by the 2003 agreement to shutter the 885-megawatt Charles Poletti power plant in Astoria, Queens.

To make up for the loss of the Poletti plant, the authority opened a 500-megawatt plant next door in 2005. It is also working with a company that has proposed building a cable under the Hudson River to transport electricity from plants in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Maryland, where energy prices are generally lower. And the agency signed a deal with Astoria Energy L.L.C., which is supposed to provide power from a new plant it is building in Queens.

But Mr. Gianaris, who represents northwestern Queens, said that the two projects might never get built because of technical complications, cost overruns and tight credit. He argued that the authority had long known of these problems and might use them as excuses to keep the Poletti plant open longer.

Hiram spends a mint to rehab his image

From the NY Observer:

State Senator Hiram Monserrate brought his elections filings up to date, and records show he paid $15,000 to a reputation management firm two weeks after he was accused of assaulting his girlfriend.

That was $15,000 down the drain, Hiram, because everyone still thinks you're a Pig with a capital P. Even that baby is pushing away from you.

FDNY Saviors


And the family is said to be making a remarkable recovery.

O'Neill's manager badmouths Maspeth

From the Forum West:

Another problem is vandalism in overnight hours, including graffiti, smashed windows and damaged cars. According to the residents, the majority of the problems occur late on Monday nights, when O’Neill’s restaurant and bar is filled with customers, including many teenagers, enjoying their weekly hot wing special. “They just completely wreck the neighborhood,” said one resident.

Said another resident: “We know that George O’Neill has to make a living, but the feeling among people living here is that he has the cops in his pocket. Nothing is done about the drinking and the 18- and 19-year olds speeding off.”

On Tuesday, restaurant assistant manager Melissa Meadows said that no underage patrons are served alcohol and expressed doubt that the vandalism is caused by O’Neill’s customers.

“We are aware of the situation and had a couple of friends in last night to keep an eye on this,” she said. “The worst part about it is, the complaints we are getting are due to the fact that they [the customers] are of a different color other than Caucasian… The neighborhood people don’t like the fact that we have n-----s and s---s in our neighborhood.”

“I wouldn’t want a bunch of underage kids sitting on my stoop waiting to eat wings, but it’s a very prejudiced neighborhood,” continued Meadows. “We are part of the community, the place has been here since 1928. We’re not looking for a bad reputation.”


Hey, Maybe Georgie O'Neill would like to pick his gin joint up and move to a different neighborhood. I for one am sick of the urination on front lawns, loud drunken behavior, illegally parked cars (and commercial truck parked by fire hydrant 24/7) and 104th Precinct looking the other way when it comes to this place.

Apparently, if you own a "cop bar", not only do you feel entitled to get away with murder, but you also feel free to talk trash about your neighbors, many of whom are your patrons. Not looking for a bad reputation, eh? You already have one, babe. This just proves the contempt this place really has for the area they've called home "since 1928" (actually it's been there since December 5, 1933 - the day Prohibition ended - and was originally called the Plateau Tavern). And it sounds more like Ms. Meadows has the issue with the skin color of the patrons at O'Neill's rather than the victims living in the neighborhood who never mentioned race while complaining about the vandalism they suffered.

But hey, many Democratic fundraisers are held at the restaurant (Joe Crowley, Marge Markey, etc.) and a certain former elected official and convicted granny molester regularly fell off a bar stool there and enjoyed big meals with what was left of his campaign cash, so things will surely just continue as usual.

Did other papers report on this? Well, the Ridgewood Times painstakingly detailed the neighbors' complaints but then referred to O'Neill's as "a nearby bar" without naming it. Why? Perhaps it's because they have an ad for "O'Neill's legendary chicken wings" on page 25...

Photos from Queens Tribune

Settling for pedestals for now

From the Daily News:

A pair of gigantic space-holding pedestals could appear at Ground Zero as temporary stand-ins for two of the site's long-planned signature skyscrapers, officials disclosed Thursday.

The broad-shouldered pedestals - facing each other along Church Street - could possibly house world-class retail shops if officials delayed additional construction during the economic downturn.

Each could be engineered to permit later construction of the immense towers planned by World Trade Center developer Larry Silverstein for the 16-acre site.

The pedestals are essentially handsome and ultra-expensive stumps for the future buildings. They could serve as a stop-gap measure until the hobbled economy recovers and private construction financing becomes available again for the twin mega-projects.

Gun buyback program coming to Queens


From NY1:

The Queens district attorney says while overall crime in the borough is down, homicides are up. There were 95 last year, 23 more than the year before.

District Attorney Richard Brown says that's not a high number given the size of the borough, but any increase is still troubling. In response, he will announce on Friday a Queens Gun Buyback Program – the first ever in the borough.

The DA says he's working on the details with the New York City Police Department, elected officials, and local clergy. The buyback program would allow people to turn in illegal guns to churches in exchange for $200.

The lowdown on Laurelton crap

"This crap in located at 130-06 233 Street in Laurelton. Zoned R-2 (single family) this monster has a Buildings Dept. Stop Work Order which is constantly removed by the developer's cronies.
There is also ongoing litigation with the property's rightful owner who they sold the complete 80 x 100 lot and subsequently altered documents to attempt to take back half of the land to build this monster on." - anonymous

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Caritas update: meeting at Borough Hall today

"Today, January 29, 2009, at 2:00pm, Queens Borough President Helen Marshall will have another meeting at Borough Hall at the request of Senator Malcolm Smith to discuss the imminent healthcare crisis in Queens. The Senator plans to present his restructuring plan at that time.

The deal to be presented at the meeting today is not a good deal for the hospitals. The sponsors are the same as the ones for Dr. Robert Aquino at the failed Parkway Hospital and will not be a sustainable or ethical solution."

Malcolm Smith is in bed with Caritas. Oh, and Tony Avella, who has taken the lead on getting the City's attention on the issue, has not been invited to the meeting. Is this really the time for petty politics, Helen & Malcolm?

Tour of the Brooklyn Navy Yard


The City Concealed: Brooklyn Navy Yard from Thirteen.org on Vimeo.

Bell Park Gardens asbestos uncovered

From Queens Tribune Blog:

"Fabio Morales only took a few seconds to find the debris he was looking for. He photographed the crumbling, ashy gray material, bagged it and held it up before a Queens Tribune reporter."

Hospitals may close by the end of February

From the Times Ledger:

Teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, Caritas Health Care Inc. sent a letter to the more than 2,500 employees of St. John’s Hospital and St. Mary Immaculate Hospital this week informing them that they could be permanently out of work as early as Feb. 14.

In the letter Caritas Chief Executive Operator John Kastanis painted a bleak picture, saying it does not appear the company will be able to obtain enough state aid to stave off filing for Chapter 7 liquidation proceedings before Thursday.

The letter goes on to say that in the event of a bankruptcy filing following a meeting of the board of directors on Jan. 29, all employees of both hospitals would be terminated between Feb. 14 and Feb. 28.


From the Queens Courier:

“This past Tuesday, January 20,” said Dario L. Centorcelli, [Elmhurst Hospital] spokesperson, “there were 144 people at one time in the emergency room. In the hospital, we were at 101 percent capacity.

“This means that 30 [patients] were waiting for beds,” he continued. “We keep them in the ER, where they are well cared for, but it backs up the ER.”

St. John’s and Mary Immaculate hospitals provide health care services to approximately 200,000 Queens residents annually, and employ 2,500 medical professionals and health services workers.

Shea-ing goodbye

The Queens Tribune Blog has more photos of the dismantling of Shea Stadium. And one former player is lamenting its loss.

Urban planning at its finest, part 9

Luxury condo next door to slaughterhouse!

I'll let Miss Heather explain the rest.

Amazing what a little $$$ can do!

From the Real Deal:

Two Trees Management has spent $400,385 on lobbying in 2007 and 2008, more than five times what the company spent in lobbying between 2002 and 2006. Two Trees' Dock Street project, which includes a middle school and housing, entered the public review process last year, during which the company spent $225,484 to lobby the School Construction Authority, the mayor's office, the Department of City Planning, Borough President Marty Markowitz, Community Board 2 and the City Council. According to the Brooklyn Paper, city officials originally said a middle school wasn't needed in Dumbo, but after the lobbying, the city put the school into its five-year construction plans.

Brooklyn park ridiculously expensive

$16M A YEAR FOR PLANNED B'KLYN PARK
By RICH CALDER, NY Post

The controversial Brooklyn Bridge Park will cost $16.1 million a year to maintain - making it the city's second-most-expensive park per acre to operate.

Officials yesterday overseeing construction of the 85-acre waterfront park revealed a new financing plan that estimates the park will cost $346.3 million to build - more than double the $150 million price set in 2002.

Only $231 million has been budgeted, so the project is being built piecemeal.

A Post analysis found the park is now slated to receive $189,458 an acre annually for maintenance and operations, trailing only Manhattan's Bryant Park ($643,833 an acre).

The city spends an average of $9,555 an acre to maintain parks, so the best ones - like Bryant and Central - are usually in elite areas that supplement their budgets with private dollars raised by well-funded conservancies.

The annual maintenance of Brooklyn Bridge Park is supposed to be funded through revenues raised through the construction of more than 1,200 controversial high-rise condos.

The Post reported last week that plans to build 780 of them - along with a hotel - are on hold.

Regina Meyer, president of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Development Corp., said the huge operating expense is largely due to the fact that the park includes piers that are costly to maintain.

Examining North Flushing crap

These three are located in North Flushing.

If you explore the ones in Flushing you will see either the driveway is too narrow (like seriously what's the point of the garage?), the home is just really out of place, or it's just simply atrocious to stare at.

A 3-family dwelling? What the heck?

-Chris

Hopefully, help is on the way.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

City allows 18th century landmark to decay

From NY1:

A multi million dollar renovation is taking place at Erasmus Hall High School -- but only on the main facility.

In the courtyard sits a landmark building, the original school built back in 1786 when Flatbush was its own town.

With a statue of Dutch scholar Desiderius Erasmus in front, the Colonial wooden structure was called the Erasmus Hall Academy. Alexander Hamilton, John Jay and Aaron Burr were among its founders. And now there's a campaign to make sure that history is preserved.

"There's a chance that we can lose it if something isn't done soon," said Terry Kaplan, Erasmus Hall Alumni Association.

The Erasmus Hall Alumni Association wants the city to put some construction dollars into the effort. The building is both a federal and city landmark and stands as one of the oldest schools in the country. But concerned alumni worry it may not be standing for long.

"The boards are falling off. They're rotting. The roof has a hole in it. And there's water leaking in. The glass is damaged. The shutters are falling off," said Kaplan.

Parks nixes Fort Totten fueling station

From Bay Terrace Cafe:

Customers of the Cafe were pleased to learn that NYC Parks & Recreation has decided an on-site CNG fueling station in Fort Totten is not necessary. According to Queens Parks Commissioner Lewandowski, the Fort Totten tram will fuel at Park’s fueling site in Flushing Meadows Corona Park. It’s possible that community pressure had a lot to do with DPR’s determination.

Yankee stadium park costs skyrocket


From Crain's:

The cost of replacing more than 22 acres of South Bronx parkland displaced by the new Yankee Stadium has skyrocketed 67% to nearly $195 million, according to a new report by the Independent Budget Office.

Design revisions, project additions, unanticipated cleanup of hazardous materials and construction inflation have driven costs up by $78.6 million, the report said. While the Yankees are financing the stadium — with the help of city and state subsidies — the parks are being paid for by the city.

Funding for the increase has been built into the city’s capital budget, according Doug Turetsky, chief of staff of the IBO, a city agency that operates independent of the mayor. A spokesman for the mayor did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Still counting in 11th Senate District race

From the Daily News:

City Board of Elections commissioners voted unanimously today to reverse their December decision and allow disputed paper ballots to be counted in the yet-undecided 11th SD race, signaling the beginning of the end of what has been an extremely contentious and drawn-out process.

Depending on how long the count takes - and there have been conflicting reports as to exactly how many ballots are out there, but it's somewhere between 1,700 and 2,700 - this contest could be a contender for the title of longest-running undecided legislative race in modern history.

Observers and operatives on both sides of the aisle have been more or less in agreement (at least privately) that Padavan is going to be declared the winner.

Doorman not so smart about Smart Meters

Councilman Eric Gioia calls on Con Edison to add Smart Meters
By Erin Durkin
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER

A Queens pol called on Con Ed on Sunday to install technology that could save New Yorkers millions on their electric bills - and blasted the utility for squandering cash they could use to pay for it.

Councilman Eric Gioia (D-Queens) said installing Smart Meters, which provide real-time info on electric rates and use, would save the average consumer 10% on electric costs.

"Con Ed has the money," he said, noting the utility made a $1.2 billion profit last year. "They've been sitting on the money and not investing a penny in what New Yorkers really need."

He said Con Ed instead paid "exorbitant" salaries to executives and upped dividends to investors for the 35th straight year.

In a statement, Con Ed called Smart Meters "the wave of the future" and said it would install them - when it could secure tens of millions of dollars in public funding to make it happen.


I guess Eric hasn't changed his position on these things, which will end up costing the consumer more in the long run. Why bother troubling yourself with closing hospitals, overdevelopment and crime when you can waste everyone's time bitching about the MTA, Costco and Con Ed?

Marty's $64M plastic potato chip

From the Brooklyn Eagle:

The huge $64 million Coney Island Performing Arts Center amphitheater that has been hailed as a significant enhancement for the popular outdoor concerts at Asser Levy-Seaside Park and a major concert venue for Brooklyn is also being questioned as a waste of money and destroyer of the parkland.

“What — $64 million for this?” said environmental activist Ida Sanoff, who lives near the park and is a former Community Board 13 member. “Why put a commercial venue in the midst of a residential community, bringing traffic jams? Our libraries and school programs are being cut. It will take away parkland and bring more noise. We don’t need this expensive plastic potato chip here!”

Smith's Infirmary Hospital - then and now

Kingston Lounge is back with another set of great photos, this time of a former hospital in Staten Island. Another outer borough gem intentionally left off LPC's V.I.P. (Very Important Property) list...

Atlantic Yards now just a shadow of itself

From the NY Post:

The reeling Atlantic Yards project has come a long away from the spectacular glass-and-steel arena designed by star architect Frank Gehry and surrounded by 16 monolithic brick, glass-and-steel high-rises - but seemingly in the wrong direction.

The economic downturn has even scaled back the hopes of the project's biggest cheerleader, Borough President Marty Markowitz, who recently called for the planned future home of the NBA Nets to be substituted for one with a cheaper "brownstone" fa├žade, and Gehry's vision for the rest of the 22-acre project in Prospect Heights is now comprised of one or two high-rises and a lot of "temporary" surface parking and other empty space.

A rendering commissioned by The Post shows a significantly scaled-back version of the controversial $4 billion project by developer Bruce Ratner, which is now on hold indefinitely because of both the credit crunch and anti-project litigation.

Double dose of Kew Gardens Crap

"Hey Queens Crap, I thought I'd send you guys some pictures of some oversized homes that are filling up Queens.
These two are located in Kew Gardens. Talk about no style. Oh my." - Chris

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Queens hospital rally at City Hall

KEEP US OPEN!

Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley:

Dr. James Satterfield, MIH Surgical Director:

And then there was a surprise visitor:

Well he could run, but he couldn't hide from this sign which was right there when he got to the top of the stairs:
(The mayor pretended he didn't see it.)

More photos by nutrichris on Flickr and videos by nutrichris on YouTube.

Weiner sneaking up on Bloomberg in polls

From NY1:

According to an exclusive NY1 poll, Mayor Bloomberg beats City Comptroller Bill Thompson by 13 points in a hypothetical matchup, but only wins reelection against Congressman Anthony Weiner by seven points.

It's a sign the mayor will have to wage an aggressive campaign.

Weiner beats the mayor among young voters, those making between $30,000 and $50,000 a year, black voters and essentially ties the mayor among latinos -- a group Mayor Bloomberg has been targeting for years.

The 1980s are back!

From the NY Post:

It feels like a flashback to the 1980s on city streets - an era no one's nostalgic for.

Overstretched cops are struggling to combat petty crime, according to police sources - resulting in an easing of enforcement that's taking Manhattan down fast, angry New Yorkers told The Post.

"People tell me they're scared to come here," said Greg Agnew, owner of the East Bay Diner on First Avenue at 29th Street. "Guys are hanging out in the street, doing things they're not supposed to be doing, loitering. They cause fights. They urinate on the floor, There's drug use."

Earlier this month, The Post reported that the NYPD had shifted focus away from quality-of-life crimes - such as loitering, urinating and drinking in public, and minor traffic offenses - and was instead focusing on major crime and counterterrorism.

Last year, the number of summonses issued for minor criminal violations dropped by tens of thousands, city data shows.

The neglect is fast sending the city back to the dark days of the pre-Giuliani era, New Yorkers said last week.


I'm sorry, you must be mistaken. Summonses went down because people are better behaved. Our mayor said so and he wouldn't lie.

Let's take a look at the Willets Point finalists, part 2

From BoomBustBlog:

Macerich (MAC), which has nearly $4 bn of debt due over the next three years faces a daunting task ahead to navigate as a going concern. Further compounding the problems for MAC is the Company’s property portfolio, which is highly susceptible to the current crisis, built on high leverage (current LTV of 85% based on market value) and including a significant number of underwater properties with negative equity. As expectations of a recession are fast turning into a reality, a slowdown in consumer spending and a consequent impact on retailers would result in additional pressure on the Company’s occupancy levels, impacting its rental rate growth and net operating income...Is Macerich an undervalued victim of a bear market slaughter, or is it a bankruptcy waiting to happen?

From the NY Observer:

Related has recently expressed worries about financing to numerous real estate executives and others familiar with the project, saying that the company has had trouble raising new money, according to those people.

Although such credit problems are hardly unique, Related, not known for doing much on a shoestring budget, has also cut back its payments to contractors. The firm stopped paying its architects, according to people familiar with the developer. And just as the public review is beginning for zoning changes integral to the project, Related has cut by half the amount it is paying its lobbying firm Capalino + Company, according to lobbying records. The lobbying firm specializes in guiding projects through the public review process.


Not to mention the firm has had massive layoffs over the past few months and has cut back the staff working on its new projects to 4 or 5 people...

And to round out the post, let me remind you about the Muss predicament.

So, to update the Willets Point developer recap from December:

Vornado Realty Trust
Forest City Ratner Companies
General Growth Properties, Inc.
The Macerich Company and AvalonBay Corporation
The Related Companies
Muss Development LLC

The Westfield Corporation
TDC Development & Construction Company

Part 3 coming soon!

Landlords not being held accountable

From the Daily News:

Hundreds of landlords caught permitting unsafe or illegal conditions on their properties were allowed to skip out on millions of dollars in fines, a scathing new audit claims.

The audit by city Controller William Thompson found more than 75,000 unpaid building and zoning code fines totaling roughly $202 million as of last October, including some that had been outstanding for nearly a decade.

"The city is not holding individuals and businesses liable," Thompson said in a statement. "If someone does not pay a fine and experiences no collection efforts, there is nothing to prevent ... future violations."

Thompson noted that the upper East Side construction site where a crane collapsed last March 15, killing seven people, had 21 unpaid fines even two months after the accident.

CB14 members fighting the Cross Bay toll

From the Daily News:

A southern Queens community is trying to enlist the help of a civil liberties group in its fight against a proposal to abolish a decade-old toll rebate program on the Cross Bay Bridge.

In a creative legal strategy, community leaders in Broad Channel and Rockaway say that removing the rebate violates locals' First Amendment rights, provisions of the state Constitution and the City Charter.

"We have to pay a tax, in the form of a toll, to travel within our own community," said Community Board 14 member Michael Tubridy, who wrote a letter to the New York Civil Liberties Union.

"If the rebate program was removed, it would infringe on [our] rights," Tubridy said.

Broad Channel and Rockaway residents would be the only city residents forced to pay a toll within community board boundaries, established by the City Charter.

"The removal of this rebate will require Broad Channel and Rockaway residents to pay a toll to go to the post office, pick up their children at school, access our local hospital, go food shopping," Community Board 14 District Manager Jonathan Gaska wrote in a letter to the NYCLU. "The financial cost to our residents will amount to thousands of dollars a year ... to conduct everyday activities."

Community members are planning a multipronged effort to halt the MTA plan, which is likely to take effect in June.

Cheyenne slowly makes its way to Alabama

From the Daily News:

The Cheyenne Diner's famed neon sign was lifted onto a flatbed truck on Sunday - its first step in a cross-country trek toward Alabama.

Neighbors and tourists gathered at the corner of 33rd St. and Ninth Ave. to watch as the once-glowing beacon was unbolted from the iconic Manhattan diner. The sign will be stored in a Brooklyn warehouse before it - and the oft-photographed railroad-car style diner it adorned - head south to Birmingham.

"Sorry to see it go. I just wanted to say goodbye," said Andrea Kleiman, 43, a Manhattan dog-walker.

A nine-story condo is slated to go up on the site.

Parking perk still part of the job for pols


From the Daily News:

Mayor Bloomberg yanked free parking spots from a handful of elected officials last year - but borough presidents, the city controller and other pols still enjoy the perk, the Daily News found.

Bloomberg ordered the crackdown after the Daily News reported exclusively last summer that four City Council members had signs outside their district offices reserving spaces for "Council Vehicles."

But city officials decided to leave in place nearly 200 spaces near City Hall and borough offices for borough presidents, the city controller and state officials like the governor and attorney general.


The Gotham Gazette has more about the continued abuse of parking placards by city employees.

1939 World's Fair in Color! (part 2)

Video by robertwmartens on YouTube.

Monday, January 26, 2009

If the snout fits, wear it

Daily News editorial:

...on Dec. 5, 2007, the Governmental Operations Committee, chaired by Brooklyn's Simcha Felder, held a hearing on reforms. Civic organizations testified, calling for action, and Felder said he would submit legislation on the matter in the coming year.

Having noted that on our calendar, we posed a question to Felder on March 15: What was up with the legislation, we asked.

Ask Quinn, he answered.

We queried Quinn: When would the bill be ready? Later, her aides said.

Well, it's 2009, and Quinn and Felder and most of the rest are getting ready to run for reelection. It was high time to call Quinn again. The answers were very different.

The speaker now believes the Council should defer to the judgment of a still-to-be-appointed Charter Revision Commission.

Then again, Quinn's aides said, if any members of the Council want to push their own reform legislation, they are perfectly free to do so.

Bottom line: Quinn and the Gang took the money and ran.

KEEP THEM OPEN!!

Councilman Tony Avella and staff from St. John's Queens and Mary Immaculate Hospitals will hold a press conference tomorrow at City Hall at 12 noon. The following is footage from Saturday's rally at St. John's:


"KEEP US OPEN!"


Myrna Bailey, Administrative Director of Clinical Services


Councilman Tony Avella


State Senator Shirley Huntley


Assemblyman Michael DenDekker


Comptroller William Thompson


Assemblywoman Marge Markey


State Senator Toby Stavisky


Dr. John Denton, Director of Medical Education

Videos by nutrichris on YouTube.

So I can't help but wonder as I look at these videos and yesterday's photos:

- Where was Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum? Early retirement?

- Where were Public Advocate candidates and current council members Eric Gioia and John Liu? Both represent Queens but apparently only "certain" people.

- Where was Borough President Helen Marshall who made a point about keeping these hospitals open during her State of the Borough speech? When you have no primary or general election opposition to worry about, this is what happens, I guess.

- Where were Community Affairs Unit Commissioner Nazli Parvizi and Queens Community Affairs Unit Director Jennifer Manley? Harassing another community group somewhere?

- Where was City Planning Commissioner Amanda Burden? Trying to figure out how many condos can be squeezed into this space after the hospital closes?

- Where was Councilwoman Melinda Katz, whose district utilizes this hospital? Hosting a fundraiser for developers with eyes on this property?

- Two mayoral candidates showed up and a third sent a representative. Where was Mayor Bloomberg? Keeping his ass warm in Bermuda?



Shame on all of you.