Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Not your routine stop work order

In the 12 years we've been at this (has it really been that long?) we've come across a number of SWOs posted on buildings. But the story behind this one at 64-00 Metropolitan Ave is like none ever profiled here before.
You can learn a new way to get an ECB violation every day around these parts.

And wait, there's more! The plot thickens...

There are a slew of complaints about this building, and they're interesting to read.

More rules for AirBnB

From Crains:

The mayor's office on Monday unveiled a set of proposed rules that will force short-term rental sites such as Airbnb to disclose the identities of hosts and the types of listings they are offering. The new statues are the result of a law enacted earlier this year that's designed to aid city inspectors in cracking down on illegal home sharing—which they have done in grand fashion lately.

Absent certain exceptions, the new rules propose that booking services submit monthly reports to the Mayor's Office of Special Enforcement through a yet-to-be-create web portal or face fines up to the larger of $1,500 or the annual income from the listing. The reports are to include a host's personal information, how much money changed hands, where to find advertising materials for listings and, most crucially, whether an entire apartment was being rented out and for how long.

Renting an empty unit for fewer than 30 days in larger buildings is considered a violation of the state's multiple dwelling law, and the mayor's office has invoked that statute to ding homeowners or building owners and then hit them with additional violations for not having exit signs, sprinklers and other safety measures required in hotels.

"This law provides the city with the critical information it needs to preserve our housing stock, keep visitors safe, and ensure residents feel secure in their homes and neighborhoods," Christian Klossner, executive director of the Office of Special Enforcement, said in a statement.

The administration is hosting a public hearing on the proposed rules Dec. 18, after which the mayor's office is likely to adopt them in some form. The effort is part of the city's opposition to illegal home sharing, a thorny issue involving a nebulous mix of housing economics, politics and pricey public relations campaigns.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Middle Village construction fence hosts painting & permits

Recently, yours truly came across a painting on a construction fence covered with DOB permits within the friendly confines of Middle Village. Well, this was certainly a new one! So, let's look into it.
The fence stands around what was the former site of a recessed bungalow-style house and a garage which were both torn down.
It's sure looking great now! What a boon to the neighborhood. That fence permit expired about a month ago, but there are no plans filed to do any further work at this site. Surely the local rodent population is grateful for the new habitat provided.

The shoe is on the other foot

From Crains:

Mayor Bill de Blasio is preparing a revised plan to raise money for the troubled New York City Housing Authority by working with private property managers and developers. And a major change to the blueprint involves trimming the amount of affordable housing that will be created—something that would have been anathema to the mayor just three years ago.

The city's plan, which officials said will be released by the end of the year, will be called Nycha 2.0 and will consist of increasing the number of developments managed by private companies, selling air rights and building new apartment towers on vacant or underused land, according to Politico New York, which first reported the initiative. Officials believe they can raise nearly $22 billion, which would take out a significant chunk of the authority's current $32 billion capital needs.

One key element of the plan is developing new apartments on Nycha-owned land that would generate income for the agency, something that was first proposed under the Bloomberg administration. Under that initiative, the buildings would have been 80% market-rate and 20% affordable.

"The idea was to generate money to repair the existing buildings and create significant new affordable housing, though the buildings would not have been 100% affordable," said Fred Harris, a former Nycha executive who helped draft the plan.

However, de Blasio criticized the Bloomberg plan as "a pure giveaway to wealthy elites" and in his NextGen plan proposed buildings that would be entirely affordable or split evenly between affordable and market rate.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Not the sharpest knife in the drawer

From a Bill de Blasio op ed in the Daily News:

They didn't pick Texas, which trumpets its low taxes.

They didn't pick Maryland with its $8.5 billion in incentives, or even New Jersey with its $7 billion.

In the end, Amazon came to New York.

When I took office, the 20-year knock on New York City's progressives was that our love of big government, the labor movement and high taxes would send businesses running.

We ignored the critics, and went on to pass paid sick leave, a higher living wage, a $15 minimum wage and a fair work week.

And this is where Amazon — the world's biggest online retailer — decided to be: in high tax, pro-union, high-regulation New York City. The 25,000 jobs coming to Long Island City in the coming decade represent the single biggest employment boost in the history of our city or state.

You can continue on and read the rest of this delusional bullshit, but let's point out that the type of workers Amazon is planning to hire will not be subject to anything he mentioned and will not be union. And the only reason you got them to come here was because you gave them tax incentives, a helipad and there is a workforce here that can support what they need. But we enjoy you reveling in the fact that this is a high tax state as if that's a positive.

Cozy relationships may have brought shelter to College Point

From the Times Ledger:

City Councilman Paul Vallone (D-Bayside) confirmed Thursday that a controversial men’s shelter will open in College Point next year.

The Department of Homeless Services (DHS) spoke to Vallone Nov. 14 and notified him that they would be moving forward with the proposed shelter at 127-03 20th Ave.

According to the Vallone, the shelter could come as early as next September.

“Our fears were confirmed that 127-03 20th Avenue has been approved for use as a homeless shelter as early as September 2019,” Vallone said. “David Levitan’s greed sold out all of College Point for profit over the needs of our entire community.”

“This is a site that was deliberately purchased and converted for use as a homeless shelter — a despicable act by one owner who has no regard for the communities he infiltrates. We will continue to fight and stand with College Point,” he added.

Despicable act by one owner?

Yes, it was deliberately purchased and converted for use as a homeless shelter by David Levitan and Steven Berger. So who really sold out College Point since everyone knows what those two are all about? Why, it was none other than Gina Argento of Broadway Stages fame, a close friend of the mayor! Let's not forget that her husband, John Ciafone, has organized at least one fundraiser for Peter Vallone, and has been friends with the Vallone family for decades. Hmmm....
Also note that the sale of the property happened more than a year ago (just before the City Council election), but the transfer didn't happen until well after, in March.

Not to worry, we're sure Vallone and the born-again progressive, John Liu, will be right on top of this one. The voters of northeast Queens are to be applauded for their wise choices at the polls.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Parkway Hospital redevelopment approved by CB6

From the Forest Hills Post:

Community Board 6 resoundingly voted to approve plans for a major residential redevelopment of Forest Hill’s abandoned Parkway Hospital.

The board voted 33 to 1 at Wednesday’s meeting in favor of the plan, which includes the construction of a 14-story building at the 70-35 113th St. complex, and the addition of two floors to the existing 6-story hospital building on site. A total of 351 apartments are slated for the project.

The developers, Jasper Venture Group LLC and Auberge Grand Central LLC, had filed an application in September to rezone the property and allow for their towers, taller and denser than allowed under current zoning, to be built. Their application also sought to designate the property under a Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (MIH) zone, the first in the area.

The proposed plan would turn the existing hospital building, with its two additional floors, into a residential tower with 135 affordable units, with 68 of these apartments for seniors. A 4,000 square foot community facility is also planned for the building, which is likely to be taken up by a medical service provider.

The 14-story tower, meanwhile, would be built in the vacant parking lot of the former hospital and house 216 market-rate units. The majority of the apartments here are studios and one-bedrooms, with 44 two-bedroom units.

DeBlasio fires guy that was investigating him

From the NY Post:

The mayor’s official pretext is that Peters had behaved “in a manner indicating a lack of concern for following the law” by improperly trying to replace the special schools investigator and supposedly lying to a de Blasio aide.

The real issue is surely that he’d done his job too well — better than the mayor expected when he installed his former campaign treasurer at the Investigations Department.

Peters exposed rampant mismanagement and systemic dishonesty at the Housing Authority, uncovered significant scandals at the Administration for Children’s Services and blew the whistle on how top mayoral aides lifted deed restrictions so that a Lower East Side nursing home could be sold to a real-estate developer for luxury condo.

And the firing comes as DOI has been investigating political interference in the Department of Education’s “probe” of Jewish religious schools that don’t teach their students non-religious subjects.

In that and other “matters now being pursued by DOI,” Peters told City Hall last month, “the mayor himself and/or his staff, are potentially a subject of investigation.”

Talk about fishy timing.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Metrocard scammers at Sutphin

From PIX11:

A daily commuter who moves through the Sutphin Boulevard transit hub told PIX11 a troubling situation has been going on there for at least three years.

“Gangs control the front of the turnstiles,” the woman told us. “They don’t let tourists out of the station until they give up their MetroCards.”

The hustlers want the cards to “swipe through” other tourists arriving in the United States, who want to get into the subway system. A guy named Lavell said he’s seen the swipers in action and knows the fee.

“Two dollars, and they give you a transfer.”

When PIX11 decided to investigate on two recent weekdays, we saw several people—men and women—soliciting MetroCards from travelers who were leaving the subway system, pushing their luggage along, on their way to the AirTrain that would take them to JFK airport.

Plaxall to develop site alongside Amazon

From The Real Deal:

Plaxall isn’t completely handing over its large Long Island City project to Amazon.

The family-run plastics company, which last year developed a 15-acre plan that appears to have been the key to luring Amazon’s HQ2 to New York, will retain a site just to the south of the tech company’s planned campus where it can develop its own commercial building, according to a memorandum of understanding between the company and the state and city’s respective economic development arms.

Plaxall... will retain the southernmost block of the larger project: a group of properties that sit on the block between 46th Road and 46th Avenue. The six property lots, which cover nearly the entire block, would allow Plaxall to build a mixed-use building slightly larger than 800,000 square feet, or a residential building of nearly 566,000 square feet.

Under the residential plan, the new building would be subject to the city’s Mandatory Inclusionary Housing requirements, and under either scenario, Plaxall would set aside 5 percent of the space for light industrial use.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Bad roads are to blame for added costs

From CBS 2:

A new report finds they cost drivers in our area an average of $2,800 a year.

Part of that $2,800 is spent at car mechanics, reported CBS2’s Aundrea Cline-Thomas.

Drivers consider it a necessary evil to get to work, but traffic backups and potholes are an all-too familiar site in our area.

The cost of wear and tear adds up. A new report from TRIP – a national transportation research group – found drivers in the New York City area spend nearly $2,800 a year. It’s more money spent on car repairs, wasted gas by sitting in traffic and being late for work, all because the roads are so bad.

“It’s distressing to see that here in the metro area 2/3 of pavements are in poor condition,” said Carolyn Bonifas Kelly of TRIP. “That means two out of every three miles you’re driving on you’re hitting potholes, you’re hitting rough roads.”

The larger concern is that the deteriorating infrastructure could keep more jobs from coming to the area.

Experts say the solution is more transportation funding from the state and federal government.

Judge says "no deal" on public housing plan

From the NY Times:

A federal judge rejected a sweeping settlement on Wednesday that would have appointed a monitor to oversee the troubled New York City Housing Authority and required the city to pump at least $1.2 billion into repairs.

The judge, William H. Pauley III, also strongly suggested that the federal government should take over the authority instead.

In a scathing opinion, Judge Pauley deplored the “breathtaking scope” of the squalid living conditions in the city’s public housing complexes. He rebuked the city for its mismanagement of the agency, and said the federal government had abdicated its legal responsibility to overhaul the nation’s largest stock of public housing that is home to about 400,000 vulnerable New Yorkers.

The unexpected ruling threw the future of the Housing Authority into doubt and unraveled a deal that Mayor Bill de Blasio had staked his reputation on as a champion of public housing tenants.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Bland Houses host fighting vermin

From PIX11:

Melba Nazario lives at the Bland Houses in Flushing says she saw rats fighting raccoons for trash.

Nazario said when she tries to complain to the management office, it’s always closed.

A spokesperson for NYCHA said exterminators are treating the area every two weeks for any rodent issues, with the last treatment on Oct. 29. They are scheduling to address any raccoons at the development. The animals will be safely relocated. Also, all the garbage and trash around Senior Center have already been removed by staff, a spokesperson promised.

The Bland Houses’ office has been closed briefly due to a staffing shortage, a spokespersons aid. It will be reopening Dec. 4.

Is it time for panic buttons at bodegas?

From PIX11:

Several bodega owners rallied in the Bronx on Tuesday, calling for panic buttons to help them reach police during emergencies.

The rally was held outside Wascar Guerrero’s deli on Shakespeare Avenue. Two weeks ago he chased away a group of teenagers with a metal pipe. Guerrero believes they were trying to rob his store.

“I have to protect me and my customers too," he said.

Guerrero says it took police more than half an hour to respond.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Bill would legalize basement units citywide

From PIX11:

City Council Member Brad Lander says he wants to make sure long-time residents like Thorne can stay in the community, while also providing affordable housing. It's why he's proposed a bill to help homeowners bring illegal basement units up to code.

"We just have been playing a sort of don't ask, don't tell game and that's not good for anybody," said Lander.

Under his proposal, homeowners would receive low interest, subsidized, or forgivable loans depending on their income level. That money would be used transform basements into legal apartments with the help of the Department of Buildings.

In exchange, current or future tenants will receive leases with renewal clauses and affordable rent increases.

"If the house is in proper standard with the basement and pass all it's examination it could be done," said Thorne. "If it fails, it should be out."

If the pilot program is approved it will roll out in East New York sometime next year. If it's successful, it will likely roll out to the rest of the city shortly after.

Van Bramer & Maloney in favor of Amazon before they were against it

Well that's sure interesting. Quite a rogue's gallery here!

Added trivia bonus: How many of the signatories are now in prison?

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Amazon will be too much

From NBC:

Amazon could be coming to Long Island City, bringing 25,000 jobs to that part of Queens. But could mass transit handle the influx? Local city officials say the infrastructure needs to be repaired before Amazon potentially moves in. Andrew Siff reports.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Condos raided over AirBnB rentals

From the Wall Street Journal:

A team of New York City law-enforcement officers swarmed a Manhattan condominium last month, issuing 27 notices of violations for illegal hotel use in one of the largest crackdowns on short-term rentals such as those listed on Airbnb.

The raid at the Atelier, a 46-story Midtown luxury tower, may be a sign of what’s to come. New York and other cities are seeking to limit short-term rentals that can run afoul of local laws designed to limit hotel-style stays in residential buildings.

The violations went to 20 different apartment owners who allegedly rented to guests from at least 15 countries including Argentina and Spain. Some guests paid $400 a night, and one group of six from Switzerland paid a total bill of $3,823 for a short-term stay, according to city records.

Two members of the Atelier condo board were among those cited for making illegal short-term rentals. They also were accused of putting up illegal partitions in their units to create extra rooms.

100 years ago today

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Elmhurst fights for its historic African burial ground

From the Times Ledger:

The fight for survival continues for one of the city’s oldest African burial grounds now that a Request for Evaluation was submitted to the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission.

The Elmhurst Histories and Cemeteries Preservations Society submitted the request Oct. 1 as a step toward keeping the piece of local and national history from being buried underneath a 55-foot-tall residential building. On Sept. 13, the developing company Song Liu filed permits to develop the five story structure at 47-11 90th St., according to reports from the city Department of Buildings. If construction were to take place, a vital part of American history could be wiped off the map.

In 1828, St. Mark’s American Methodist Episcopal Church was founded — on the site of the proposed building — one year after enslaved people were emancipated in New York City 35 years before the Emancipation Proclamation. Newly Freed African-Americans quickly established the congregation which eventually evolved and relocated three times. The church still remains active today as the St. Mark’s A.M.E Church in North Corona, which is still responsible for the 310 bodies still believed to be resting in the lot hugged by highways.

Construction can only take place when there has been an agreement struck between Song Liu and St. Mark’s AME Church of Corona, according to Giampino. In order for Song Liu to touch the earth, the remains must be properly removed and reburied. St. Mark’s AME Church did not respond to request for comment about the matter.

“It’s a very sad story,” said James McMenamin, vice president of the Elmhurst Histories and Cemeteries Preservation Society.

In 1928, after St. Marks AME had to move to new location, the New York City refused to grant the church permission to remove the remains to a new location. The burial ground was then mostly forgotten and even written off of city maps, according to Giampino.

“The Pepsi Cola sign gets landmarked and $1.9 million (is allocated) to save and restore the house next door to Louis Armstrong,” said McMenamin. “In the meantime we have been trying to save this structure in Elmhurst and we have gotten zip.”

Yep, that about sums it up.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Cuomo to do an end run around Van Bramer on Amazon

From Crain's:

The Cuomo administration will likely use a controversial planning process to shepherd Amazon's potential headquarters in Queens around the normal city review, Crain's has learned.

Several sources familiar with the negotiations to bring the tech giant to a sprawling office and mixed-use campus around Anable Basin on the Long Island City waterfront say the state is planning to create a general project plan to rezone the roughly 20-acre site, which today can only accommodate low-rise manufacturing uses.

That would give the state the authority to remake the area without having to secure approval from the City Council, which usually holds power over major development projects in need of a rezoning.

The general project plan still requires an environmental review, allows the community to comment in a public forum and is subject to nonbinding input from the City Planning Commission and the local community board.

The advantage for Gov. Andrew Cuomo is that the Amazon project could not be held hostage by Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, per the council's tradition of deferring to the local member on rezonings.

"I'm not just surprised, I'm angry," said Van Bramer. "I think it would be shocking if this was done in a way that bypassed the city land-use review process. This is the most top-down approach to a project I have seen so far, with no community involvement. This is the governor and the mayor and [Amazon CEO] Jeff Bezos sitting in a room together."

Now this is what you call a bad hombre!

From the Queens Chronicle:

A Jackson Heights man convicted of rape and twice deported from the United States was sentenced to 57 months in prison by a federal judge last Wednesday for illegally re-entering the country, prosecutors said.

Judge Sandra Feuerstein ruled that Rogelio Mendez, 38, a Mexican national who also has gone by “Rogelio Mendez-Puebla” will serve the time consecutively with the 30-month sentence he got in Suffolk County court last year after pleading guilty to third-degree rape.

He was working at a restaurant in Southampton, LI, when that crime occurred in September 2016. Mendez raped a woman at a house he shared with co-workers.

He’s incarcerated for the rape now.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, Mendez was first deported from America in 2004, after he served a two-year prison term for illegally possessing a loaded gun in Queens.

He came back to the United States in 2005 and was deported again in 2009.

Then, Mendez illegally re-entered the United States a year later.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Amazon & Google may expand here

There are a bunch of articles out there about the possibility of Amazon and Google expanding here, so here are some of them for your perusal.

What Amazon May Mean for Queens: Gentrification and (More) Packed Trains

Local politicians grow concerned as Amazon HQ2 eyes Queens' Waterfront Plaxall property

Any zoning changes for Long Island City would hinge on local lawmaker

Bezos Turns Gritty Queens Area Glutted With Development Into 'Field Of Dreams'

Report: Google planning big New York City expansion

The 18th hole needs protection!

From CBS 2:

Cracked windows, shattered windshields and dented cars … again and again.

The culprits? Golf balls.

Dozens were scattered all over Raymond Hublall’s home on Commonwealth Boulevard in Little Neck, because right across the street is Douglaston Golf Course.

“From 2010 to now I’ve spent approximately $5,000,” Hublall said.

His neighbors have seen similar damage. The situation is not just proving to be expensive, it’s also dangerous. Hublall said one errant shot injured his niece.

“She was walking in from roadway walking into my front door and she got hit by the golf ball,” Hublall said.

Just to give you an idea of how many golf balls end up on some of these properties, Hublall produced a box filled with them. He said he collected all of them in just a couple of months.

Back in 2014, neighbors complained to local leaders and got netting installed. The only problem is it doesn’t protect the 18th hole.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

"Vertical enlargement" = 5 more stories

From Forest Hills Post:

Plans have been filed for a “vertical and horizontal extension” of a two-family home located at 99-49 66th Ave. The plans call for the house to be converted into a 7-story, 18-unit building. They also include space for professional offices, which are classified as community facilities.

Woodhaven businesses being targeted for fines

From CBS 2:

Dozens of store owners in Queens say the city is cutting into their bottom line.

They’re being forced to take down their outdoor signs that they say are vital to their business.

A DOB spokesperson says they’ve received anonymous complaints about area businesses, and have to inspect once that happens. In a statement, the spokesperson said the department isn’t specifically targeting Woodhaven.

Local leaders aren’t satisfied.

“They weren’t aware they had to have a permit when the sign was put up,” Assemblyman Michael Miller (D-38th) said. “Now they’re being penalized for it.”

Miller is trying to find a compromise with the city. He’s hoping they can set up an amnesty period for business owners.

Store owners say the only thing falling will be their bottom line since as things currently stand, they have no way of advertising their business. Many say they bought their shop with the awning or sign already up, thinking everything was already up to code.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Big ass development project approved for Queens Blvd

From Sunnyside Post:

The city council gave the developer of a proposed two-tower project in Woodside the go-ahead Wednesday after an agreement was reached requiring the buildings to be smaller and for the project to include an elementary school.

Madison Realty Capital, which required a zoning change in order to move forward with the project, initially planned for 17 and 14 story towers at 69-02 Queens Blvd. Instead, it will be building 15 and 12 story towers at the site, respectively.

The developer also agreed to build a 476-seat K to 5 school spanning more than 66,000 square feet, which will be included in the base of one of the towers.

The changes to the project, among others, were signed off by the council on Oct. 31, thus ending the six-month public review process for the development and clearing the project to be built.

The developer’s revamped project does away with a prior plan that received intense push-back from area residents, Community Board 2, and even Council Member Robert Holden as it underwent its public review process to rezone the site.

The new project, however, goes beyond drops in height and the inclusion of a school. Rather than a total of 561 apartments with 169 affordable units as originally designed, the towers will have a combined 431 units, with 129 designated as affordable.

While the number of units has dropped, the development will still set aside 30 percent of the apartments for affordable housing, as laid out in the initial plan.

DSNY, please clean this up!

"Driving home today in Bayside on 43rd Ave. and 223rd Street a home made sign caught my eye. I had to stop get out and snap a picture that I hope you share on Queens Crap. People are feed up with the inordinate amount of littter and their do nothing local government.

- anonymous

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

What's on the back of the ballot

Today's the day

Johnny's voting. Right after he stuffs this greasy slice into his mouth.

Monday, November 5, 2018

City: "Now that LIC is overdeveloped, let's worry about infrastructure"

From LIC Post:

The city has committed to investing millions in Long Island City under a new plan released today aimed at supporting sustainable growth in the neighborhood.

The Long Island City Investment Strategy, as the longterm plan is called, outlines the ways the city is and will be addressing practically all infrastructure in the neighborhood, ranging from parks, schools, transportation, and sewage systems.

To fund the improvements, the city is funneling $180 million into the neighborhood on top of $2.2 billion it says it has invested into the area over the years.

The city admits the impetus for its strategy comes from rapid residential development that has strained neighborhood resources and the quality of life of people living in the neighborhood since the 2001 rezoning.

The plan, additionally, stems from coordinating with multiple city agencies and engaging with the community since 2015, where the city heard concerns from distressed locals on infrastructure keeping pace with development.

A friendly voting reminder from Queens Crap

Sample Ballot SD11 by queenscrapper on Scribd

Above is a sample ballot for a district in northeast Queens. Please be advised that all ballots throughout the borough will be similar to this one. There are many races this year plus ballot questions, which means each voter will get TWO pages to fill out, front and back.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Sometimes you just can't win (even when you do)

From Politico:

On hyper-local issues, however, upstairs-downstairs divides can become acute—and the symbolic positions that feel good on a national level can turn into real-world decisions that impact people’s lives. Most voters in liberal cities have seen these fights: Upscale parents in Democratic neighborhoods whose liberalism vanishes when it comes to bringing in students from poorer neighborhoods (as on Manhattan’s Upper West Side) or pooling PTA funds between richer and poorer schools (as in Santa Monica, California). This is even more common in the area of housing, and in particular affordable housing, where well-off liberals tend to lose interest in “affordability” the minute it threatens to change their neighborhoods or dent their real-estate values.

This problem played out in Queens as well, in a way that suggests the gulf between insider get-it-done politics and symbolic wins. On 82nd Street, just down the road from Crowley’s district office, developers proposed converting an abandoned movie theater into a 13-story mixed-use project with three stories of affordable units in it. Crowley was in favor of it—it meant permanent jobs at the Target that was going in on the ground floor, union construction jobs in the building of the thing, and more housing, in particular affordable housing.

Ocasio-Cortez opposed it, saying that it would bring gentrification and that the affordable housing wasn’t affordable enough. Politically, it was a winner for her: It gave her a chance to bash Crowley for being in thrall to the real estate industry. The portion of the district where it is slated to go up isn’t so much gentrifying as changing; Latinos are moving away and Asian immigrants are moving in. It has grown less white over the past decade, if anything, but she got a boost from the surrounding, whiter neighborhoods that have helped spearhead the opposition, fearing that the project was out of scale with the neighborhood and would increase vehicle and pedestrian traffic.

Ocasio-Cortez won the election, and three weeks later, the local councilman who supported the project withdrew his support. Neighborhood activists claimed victory—over the real-estate industry, over gentrification, over the old insider system.

Just one thing: The project is still going forward.

Crowley and other local elected officials had been negotiating with the developers to add more affordable housing, but once he lost, any leverage to add it to the project vanished. Legally, the developers can still build 10 stories without any go-ahead from the government—and without bringing any new affordable housing to Queens at all. Which is what the developers have suggested they intend to do.

TRO issued to prevent alienation of Theodore Roosevelt Park

From Curbed:

The American Museum of Natural History’s expansion plans have been put on hold following the issuance of a temporary restraining order (TRO) by New York State Supreme Court justice Lynn Kotler. The TRO against the Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education, and Innovation stems from a lawsuit filed by a group known as Community United to Protect Theodore Roosevelt Park, which has been opposed to the expansion for quite some time now.

The museum filed plans for its five-story, Studio Gang-designed expansion in August 2017, and began pre-construction work on the building last month. This further angered the community group opposed to the development, who were waiting on the October 2 hearing date for the lawsuit they had filed against the museum earlier this year.

For now, construction work, and any planned removal of trees from the park will have to be halted until a court hearing that’s been scheduled for December 11, 2018. Community United has been opposed to the project on the grounds that it will destroy the park, lead to the removal of trees, and that construction work will pose a safety and environmental hazard to the surrounding community.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Court Square condo project is is quite huge

From LIC Post:

The developer of a 67-story building that will contain 802 condo units got the go ahead from the state attorney general’s office to start selling units.

The building will be the tallest in Queens to date, with the total value of all units in the 100 percent condo-building to exceed $1 billion, according to the offering plan. The units are expected to begin closing in July 2020.

The development, called the Skyline Tower and located at 23-15 44th Drive, will consist of about 30 percent of the condo stock in Long Island City when it is complete, according to Patrick W. Smith, an agent with Stribling & Associates who focuses on new development and who is heading up the company’s first office in Queens.

Woodside train overpass is crumbling

From CBS 2:

A Queens train overpass is crumbling to pieces and nearby workers and residents worry if something isn’t done to fix it it could cost someone their life.

Take a walk underneath an Amtrak span in Woodside and you might be stunned at what you’ll see. Crumbling concrete. Exposed steel. Holes the size of a child in the pillars that hold it all up.

And that’s not even the worst of it.

“Chunks of cement coming down, raining down off of this bridge. It’s very dangerous,” said Woodside resident John Moutopoulos.

“A lot of people are at risk, vehicles, children, adults,” resident Sehar Kaddough added.

“It’s scary that you never know what’s going to hit you in the head,” resident Eli Monahemi said.

Monahemi said the overpass at Northern Boulevard and Broadway could have killed him.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Lefferts Blvd businesses worried about winter

From AMNY:

Merchants in a Kew Gardens retail strip atop a Long Island Rail Road overpass want years of delayed repairs iced out before the winter, when they say the lack of insulation leaves people shivering and water freezing in pipes that are prone to shatter, exacerbating the damage sustained from leaky roofs.

The businesses say the LIRR has been issuing notices to the management company contracted to maintain and lease the storefronts, but a tougher stance is needed to end the years-long saga.

"The railroad sent a letter, sort of an ultimatum, to Zee N Kay Management," said Nathalie Reid, who owns Thyme Natural Market, at 81-22 Lefferts Blvd., about a notice issued last month. "We've been sort of sitting here holding our breath to find out what's going on, and no one has gotten back to us."

"If we have another bad winter and our pipes freeze and they start exploding again, then we're going to be back to square one," said Reid. "We would like them to at least address something to do with the plumbing."

A deluge of development is headed our way

From Curbed:

According to a report from, a platform that provides neighborhood insights based on available New York City data, the city has already saw more than 12,800 new housing units open in the first half of 2018 and another 31,000 are expected to open by 2020 (h/t Wall Street Journal). In all, it is projected that New York will gain 90,000 new apartments between 2016 and 2020.

Per its findings, reports that the bulk of these new housing units are being constructed in the outer boroughs—primarily in Brooklyn and Queens. In fact, nearly 60 percent of the new units are opening in neighborhoods Brooklyn or Queens. The only Manhattan neighborhood where a significant portion of these 31,000 new units are being added is the Lower East Side. For instance, Long Island City was ranked first among the top ten neighborhoods that are booming with new units, and by 2020, it’s expected to welcome nearly 6,400 new apartments, though Greenpoint is expected to see the biggest burst of new units by 2020. Williamsburg trailed behind Long Island City, slated to welcome 3,470 new units and Bushwick came in third place.

So what’s driving the residential boom? According to Localize, much of it has to do with the tremendous amount of permits filed by developers back in 2015, when there was a rush to get them in before the state’s 421-a tax abatement expired in January 2016. Many of the developments that are under construction now are the result of those permits and the number of new units under construction are starting to level off, though there is an uptick in the amount of units now hitting the market.

But what’s more important than merely the number of new housing that a particular neighborhood will receive is the implications it can have on the community. “New construction could mean different things in different neighborhoods,” says the report. While in the short term, residents may have to deal with the nuisances that come with construction projects (noise, dust, congestion), the long term effects could result in a shift in demographics, burdened transit systems, overcrowded schools, tension between newcomers and longtime residents, and a change in architectural style within a neighborhood.


Thursday, November 1, 2018

Lots of new taxes being considered to save MTA

From NBC:

A state panel is advising Governor Andrew Cuomo to consider a bundle of new taxes after revelations that the price for fixing the beleaguered Metropolitan Transportation Authority has doubled.

As it turns out, officials say a controversial plan for congestion pricing won’t raise enough money to cover the difference.

The task of finding solutions for raising the dough has been left to a city-state sustainability task force. Sources tell CBS2 that in addition to congestion pricing, the task force is exploring other options including:

- raising the payroll tax
- increasing the real estate transfer tax on sales of property over $5 million
- ending the sales tax exemption on clothing purchases under $110

Mitchell Moss, head of the Rudin Center for Transportation at New York University, has other suggestions including raising the gas tax.

“We should be using the gas tax and other broad-based revenues,” Moss said. “We might even want to consider getting revenue from cannabis to be earmarked for riders.”

A marijuana tax is a real possibility if pot is legalized in New York, sources say. Other revenue streams could come from new taxes on casinos and sports betting.

John Liu's awkward political ads

From the NY Post:

Liu’s ad was in terrible taste, according to Republican Jewish activist Arthur Schwartz.

“‘Jews like pastrami so this will resonate with them.’ —Moronic New York democrat politician,” Schwartz tweeted Monday.

The campaign said they didn’t intend for the ad to create indigestion.

"I'll fight for abortion rights as soon as I finish stuffing my face with lox!"

Not sure what he's eating here. An empanada? In fact I'm so distracted by trying to figure that out that I forgot the point he was trying to make.

This, on the other hand, is truly nightmare-inducing but it's doubtful that Trump cares.