Saturday, June 30, 2007

Construction eruption in midtown

Construction workers squared off on a midtown street yesterday after a nonunion laborer backed a cement mixer into a crowd of protesting union workers, police and witnesses said.

Fight for work at building site

Fifty cops rushed to the Eighth Ave. hotel site just before 9 a.m. to break up the dispute, which ended with seven laborers in handcuffs.

Amid the chaos, a union worker attempted to puncture the cement mixer's tires with an ice pick but fled before cops could collar him, a police source said.

Photo from Daily News

We are neither cattle nor sheep

You need a account to read this, but it's very funny and worth the extra step:

The meat institute allots six square feet for each hog in a truck on its way to baconville. Aboard a boat, federal export law requires that a 150-pound sheep be given five square feet. On the E train, human commuters are supposed to get three square feet, and they don’t. We have aimed low and missed.

“So you stand next to people,” Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said this week after the subway bosses released crowding statistics that would shame a stockyard operator. “Get real. This is New York. What’s wrong with that?”

Subway Riders Treated Like Cattle? That Would Be an Upgrade

No one can accuse the mayor of pandering, much less of having a clue, but such an attitude among meat packers would cause riots or congressional hearings. The meat industry must face animal welfare activists and concerned consumers.

Katz seeks to expand litterbox

Even though there are 837 days until the city’s next election cycle, two prominent Queens City Councilmembers, David Weprin and Melinda Katz, have already declared their intention to run for City Comptroller in 2009 setting off an earlier and longer campaign season than the current presidential primary.

“That’s a product of term limits,” said Councilmember Katz, referring to her early candidacy announcement. “I have never been a proponent of term limits because you really have to think about what you want to do early on.”

Well, only if you are a career politician.

Pols join race for Comptroller

“In the end everyone wants what’s best for the city.”

Good one, Mel! Crappy is falling off his bowl laughing. Well, if you lose, you can always do standup at Caroline's.

Group's aim: gain more river access

An alliance of environmental groups literally covered the waterfront last week on a four-borough cruise to envision how the East River might one day become more accessible and enjoyable to those living or visiting near its shoreline.

The coalition's agenda lists more that 70 recommendations in Queens alone, ranging from improvements to Flushing Bay and the World's Fair Marina to "an affordable ferry" serving LaGuardia Airport and restoring the Flushing River.

Imagining an East River for all

"With more than 1,000 acres of development now proposed for the East River shoreline, we have an opportunity to create a waterfront that will fulfill all our diverse needs," the coalition said. "But if we don't seize it, this opportunity will soon disappear."

To purchase the East River book, visit The Greater Astoria Historical Society.

LPC surveys Queens

The city Landmarks Preservation Commission surveyed 15,138 mostly residential buildings between September 2006 and March 2007 as part of an occasional review, commission spokeswoman Elisabeth de Bourbon said. The vast majority of the buildings - 12,423 - are in Queens.

Queens to be assessed for future historic areas

There were 3,750 buildings listed throughout Bayside, Whitestone and Beechhurst; 2,320 in College Point; 2,300 in Broadway-Flushing; 3,180 in downtown Flushing; 517 in Addisleigh Park, a small section of St. Albans; 304 in Ridgewood; and 52 in downtown Jamaica...

Looks like western, central and southern Queens are redlined for overdevelopment and the LPC wants to preserve wealthy neighborhoods and throw a bone to those in the process of massive upzoning and gentrification.

Perhaps it's time to overturn the blatantly discriminatory landmarks law so that all residents of NYC get to experience the city planning hell that most of us do. For if a law does not protect all people equally, then it needs to be repealed.

"No circular" bill passes

And now a follow up on a story previously featured on QC:

The "Lawn Litter" bill, introduced by state Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Bellerose) and approved by the state Senate in May, was passed by the state Assembly last week after a three-year fight.

Assembly passes Padavan bill to eliminate littering by fliers

Sponsored by Assemblyman Mark Weprin (D-Little Neck), the bill prohibits business owners from leaving fliers at homes where signs have been posted indicating that the residents do not welcome solicitors. If this legislation is approved by Gov. Eliot Spitzer, violators will be fined between $250 and $1,000. Padavan introduced the bill in response to complaints about solicitations, but the bill was blocked for three years in the Assembly.

Why would the assembly block it?

"There was a great deal of opposition from the industry that produces and distributes these fliers."

No doubt they voiced their opposition via campaign donations.

From the Creedmoor Civic Association:

"That's fantastic, but now we all need to convince Governor Spitzer to sign this into law.

Please call (212) 681-4580 and tell the person answering the phone that you are supporting the lawn litter bill and would like the Governor to sign it into law.

They will ask for the bill numbers.

Senate: 3420

Assembly: 6247-A

We all need to let him know that we want this law passed!

Remember, if this law is passed, if you desire, you can still continue to receive these circulars on your doorstep. This will give everyone the option whether they want to receive them or not."

St. Sarkis saga continues

Fifteen members of the Doug-Bay Civic Association met last Thursday evening at the Douglaston Manor Market to discuss their ongoing battle to prevent St. Sarkis Armenian Apostolic Church from buying city land next door for a parking lot.

Doug-Bay civic blasts St. Sarkis' new plan

The church's original plans to build a day-care center on the land at 234th Street in Douglaston were scrapped in response to community opposition to the project.

Members of the civic association and some 200 community members who signed a petition believe the land should be turned into a park.

Doug Bay Fights For Contested Parkland

Photo from Windows Live Local

Clinton crap

These 2-family houses at 68-11 to 68-19 Clinton Avenue in Maspeth replaced 1-family homes. They are by no means gorgeous, most clearly evidenced by the rusting balcony and the doors lined up as though these were motels. (Not really sure why balconies are prized so much in Queens considering how polluted the air is on most streets and the fact that balconies and sliding doors provide another entryway for burglars.) We must make mention of the parking being inadequate and the doors leading to the basements, which of course are used for accessory purposes. However, at least these houses have triangular windows near the peak of the roof, facing the sun, which probably cuts down on the heating bills. Of course, at this time of year, their A/Cs must be on at full blast.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Bigger Apple

New York City ranks No. 1 in attracting new residents since 2000, adding nearly 206,000 people. That's more than Phoenix, Houston or Los Angeles gained. Of the 35 cities that added the most population, New York is the only one not located in the South or West.

Big Apple, Southern cities tops in growth

Economic prosperity and the arrival of new immigrants, who have higher birth rates than the overall population, are driving the city's growth. "It's written into the DNA of New York that immigrants are welcome," says Warren Brown of the Cornell Institute for Social and Economic Research.

Of course, these numbers all depend on who you ask.

Carrying a camera could cost you

From the NY Times:

Some tourists, amateur photographers, even would-be filmmakers hoping to make it big on YouTube could soon be forced to obtain a city permit and $1 million in liability insurance before taking pictures or filming on city property, including sidewalks.

City May Seek Permit and Insurance for Many Kinds of Public Photography

Under the rules, the two or more people would not actually have to be filming, but could simply be holding an ordinary camera and talking to each other.

Ah, vague rules. The city's coffers love them, as do officers with ticket quotas...

Welcome to the communist city of New York, 2007.

City council pulls a fast one

The city's new campaign finance legislation, intended to curtail influence peddling in government, carves out a special exemption for another group besides labor unions — "affordable housing" providers, many of whom get government money.

A New Loophole Espied in Bill on Campaign Cash

The legislation, which passed the City Council earlier this week, limits campaign contributions from lobbyists and entities that do business with the city to no more than $400 for a citywide candidate. Tucked into the legalese, however, is a clause that states that "affordable housing" providers are not to be included in that category.

"If one looks for people who might be deemed to ‘pay for play' these would be the very people," [Councilman Oliver Koppell] said. "The building of affordable housing is a competitive business."

"It looks like a sophisticated effort by politicians to launder government money and turn it into campaign contributions for themselves," [associate professor of law and real estate at Baruch College, Jay Weiser] said. "It's all dressed up as the virtuous non-profit affordable housing sector." But, he noted, it's a big slice of the economy."

Sardines squawk at Bloomie

Jam-packed Lexington Avenue line veterans said yesterday that fellow straphanger Michael Bloomberg must be commuting from another planet when he says the subway isn't crowded.


This is the exact scene that Queens commuters at the Ely Avenue and Hunterspoint Avenue stations in LIC see when they take the E or 7 trains into Manhattan during rush hours. Many times you have to allow 3 or 4 trains go by before you can manage to squeeze onto one. If you then must switch to a 4, 5, or 6, then Godspeed. But let's upzone more areas along subway lines...

Photo from NY Post

4 signs of urban decay

Check out the points made by this Times Ledger letter writer:

As a lifelong New Yorker, I have seen many neighborhoods disintegrate. The answer to urban blight in the Bloomberg-era is gentrification, but that is no solution for most people. The solution is to get out before it is too late.

Four clues your community is facing urban deterioration

The overdevelopment of Brooklyn

First, Williamsburg:

"I don't know how far Williamsburg can grow," he says. "The public schools here are abysmal."

And even with the increase in residences, boutiques, bars and people, there is still no major grocery store in the vicinity (FreshDirect is the mantra of the Williamsburg broker), and the L line is constantly packed shoulder to shoulder.


Next, Bushwick:

"This is the continuation of Williamsburg," insists the condo's frantic real estate agent, dashing about the sixth-floor sales office. "Look," he says, burbling the happy nonsense of a salesman, "people in the neighborhood are ready to take their lives to the next level."

Although no one's keeping score, there's a huge displacement going on here of working families who are otherwise entitled, under statutes, regulations, and common civic decency, to hold onto their homes. As old a story as gentrification has become, it's still a double-edged sword that can cut ruthlessly at the poor unless tempered by tough enforcement of housing codes and rent rules.

The Second Battle of Bushwick

Photo from NY Post

Crap comes in different colors

On the left, in maroon, are 66-17 53rd Avenue and 66-19 53rd Avenue and on the right, in pukey peach, are 66-23 through 27 53rd Avenue which have no building permits on file under their addresses. There previously were a 1-story, 1-family home on the left, and a 2-story, 2-family wood frame home on the right, if I am interepreting the online system correctly. It's great that in overdeveloping the plateau, builders are employing the entire crap color palette and different styles of crappy architecture. The final touch: arched windows! Now that's class.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Power outage in Middle Village

Con Edison has restored power to thousands of Queens residents, after the lights went out for about two hours this afternoon, but with more severe weather on the way, the utility is bracing itself for another long night.

New Yorkers Brace For More Storms, As 200 Remain Without Power

About 11,000 customers lost power in Middle Village shortly after 3:30 p.m., sending Con Ed crews scrambling to get it restored. By the evening commute, only about 200 customers remained in the dark, some of whom have been without power since last night.

Wednesday’s storms also caused damage to homes throughout southeast Queens. A huge tree fell in Jamaica, blocking the entrance to one home on 104th Street and damaging another when it came straight through the roof.

Well, as long as the power was ok on the Upper East Side... how many more days left of summer?

Photo from Daily News

Willets Pt & Atlantic Yds team up for rally

A broad-based coalition of property owners, tenants, advocates, elected officials and citizens gathered yesterday on the steps of New York's City Hall to voice opposition to epidemic abuse of eminent domain in New York City and New York State.

The group, united under the banner New Yorkers Against Eminent Domain Abuse, gathered to mark the two-year anniversary of the US Supreme Court's much reviled decision, Kelo v. City of New London. Since that decision was rendered, 38 states have enacted eminent domain reform legislation, but New York, widely regarded as one of the nation's leading abusers of eminent domain, has yet to lift a finger to defend the rights of homeowners, business owners, and tenants.

"We haven't seen this level of eminent domain abuse in New York City since the days of Robert Moses," explained Lumi Michelle Rolley, contributor to "Mayor Bloomberg's policy has been to threaten the use of eminent domain to force property owners to sell and to thwart every effort towards legislative reform both in Washington and Albany."

"The abuse of eminent domain is an abuse of our fundamental constitutional rights and must be opposed like all other attempts to violate constitutional rights. Our government has no business forcing us to sell our properties to benefit their developer friends," said Daniel Goldstein, a Brooklyn homeowner fighting to protect his home from abusive government seizure. "Everywhere developers want to build, government officials are paving the way with phony blight studies to accommodate them. We are sick and tired of the Bloomberg Administration's policy of eminent domain abuse, and it has got to stop.

Many of the participating groups intend to coalesce formally to raise awareness of New York's politicians' addiction to eminent domain abuse. Participating groups cite these ten reasons the current situation must be reformed:

1) According to a comprehensive study performed by the Institute for Justice, New York State remains one of the leading abusers of eminent domain in the nation.

2) Eminent domain abuse in New York has increased dramatically in the past three years.

3) In the two years since the US Supreme Court Kelo decision, 38 states have passed eminent domain reform legislation, while New York State's politicians have refused to act.

4) If the City and State can seize people's homes and businesses for private development, then no one in New York is safe from eminent domain abuse.

5) Government should not collude with private developers at the expense of its citizens

6) Wherever developers see an attractive piece of real estate, the City or State accommodates them by issuing trumped-up declarations that the neighborhood is "blighted."

7) Our homes, our stores, our apartments and businesses are not for sale to politically connected developers.

8) Mayor Bloomberg's policy has been to recklessly misuse eminent domain and thwart legislative attempts to curb its abuse.

9) Any neighborhood undergoing rezoning is ripe for eminent domain abuse.

10) Property rights are fundamental constitutional rights.

More here: New Yorkers Against Eminent Domain Abuse.

Council passes new building codes

After four years of heavy lifting, the City Council finally voted yesterday to approve a modernized building code for the city.

Once they are signed into law by Mayor Bloomberg, the provisions will kick in starting July 2008. Builders will have the option of using either the existing code or the new one until July 2009, when the new code will become fully mandatory.

Two years?

Building code gets Council OK

Some of the new requirements are:

Fire sprinklers will be mandatory, not just for high-rise apartment buildings but also for any new residential buildings with three or more units. That includes attached two-family homes, as well as one-family and two-family homes that have more than three stories.

Hardwired and interconnected smoke alarms will be required in each bedroom and other locations in multilevel dwelling units.

New high-rise buildings will need separate on-site water supplies for emergencies, including earthquakes, that might cut off city water.

Spurred by 9/11, new safety features will be required in high-rise residential buildings, including an internal communication system, wider stairs, elevator lobbies with smoke partitions and impact-resistant walls around stair and elevator enclosures.

Photo from Daily News

Queens: We're Number 3!

Here's an article from the NY Times about the status of Queens amidst the other boroughs:

Insecurity to the Third Degree recent months, a phrase has appeared in The Queens Tribune, a weekly newspaper, that suggests that Queens occupies only a fair to middling place in the citywide pecking order. The phrase is “third borough syndrome,” and the implication is that in terms of buzz and cachet, Queens is forever resigned to third place behind Brooklyn (recently hot) and Manhattan (traditionally hot).

Cartoon from NY Times

Just what developers need: incentives

Two local politicians announced yesterday that legislation to create two new affordable housing zones across several Queens neighborhoods has been passed by the state Legislature and is now waiting to be signed into law by Gov. Spitzer.

The law would provide 25-year property tax breaks to developers who make at least 20% of their units affordable.

Affordable home zone

The two zones encompass Woodside between 54th and 69th Sts. and 39th Ave. and Broadway; and the Elmhurst-Jackson Heights-Corona area, bounded by 69th and 94th Sts., 52nd Ave. and Northern Blvd.

To qualify, households cannot earn more than 60 percent of the median income of households within the exclusionary zones.

Special commemorative newspaper issue

Why newspapers go easy on overdevelopment and the people who make it possible:

Amorelli Realty

Assemblyperson Mark Weprin

Assemblywoman Audrey Pfeffer

Congressmember Carolyn Maloney

Gerald Caliendo

State Senator George Onorato

Councilmember Eric Gioia

Congressmember Gary Ackerman

Congressmember Joe Crowley

Councilmember David Weprin

Councilmember Pinky Gallagher

Dynasty Realty

FDR Democratic Association

Forest City Ratner

FS Marino Realty

Global City Enterprises

Macaluso Realty

Assemblyperson Margaret Markey

Councilmember Melinda Katz

Councilmember Peter F. Vallone, Jr.

Pistilli Realty Group

Remax Today Realty

State Senator Serphin Maltese

State Senator John Sabini

Rally to save the Franklin Avenue Wych Elm


Please join Councilmember Liu, local Civic Associations and others to rally and demand protection for the 100+ year old Wych Elm from construction damage by the SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION AUTHORITY of the Board of Education!

The SCA already removed one historic public tree and they’ll permanently damage the next one. We will not tolerate another irresponsible act by the SCA. This historic Elm is a pride of our green community.

DATE: Monday July 9, 2007, 3 o’clock PM
LOCATION: Under the Elm on Franklin Avenue
between Colden Str and Kissena Blvd,
southside of Franklin Avenue

For further information please contact Councilman Liu’s Office and Barbara Baruch at 1-718-888-8747 x115

Commissioner Clueless

In a telephone interview, the city’s parks commissioner, Adrian Benepe, said that no realistic reuse plans, with enough money attached, have emerged. The city is studying the possibilities for restoring and reusing the site, he said — but he added pointedly that the pavilion was originally intended to be a temporary structure. The city recently spent $70 million on a new pool and skating rink in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, he said, and his department is also seeking money to restore the park’s lakes.

Among Venerable Ruins, a Rusty Relic From 1964

“The question, given all the other demands for Flushing Meadows Park, is, is this the best use of that money?” Mr. Benepe said. "I honestly don’t know the answer."

How about stepping aside then and allowing someone who does know the answer take over...

Checkerboard crap

Department of City Planning records say that these ugly homes in Maspeth were built as 2-family homes in 1980. However, Department of Buildings records say that none of them are 2-family now:

50-40 69th Street

50-42 69th Street

What doctor's office?

50-46 69th Street

What's with the enclosed balconies, anyway? In the winter, they're full of condensation.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Finch pinch at Ridgewood Reservoir

From an account of a birdwatching trip at the Ridgewood Reservoir in Highland Park:

"All of a sudden the young child from the family gleefully pointed to a beautiful bird in a cage on the fence near the man. At the same time, I realized that the beautiful bird was a male American Goldfinch, that there were at least 6 different cages, and all had wild birds in them. I didn't confront the man directly because I didn't want to jeopardize my own or the young family's safety, but I did immediately start the long process of trying to report the incident. Through a series of calls back and forth to several agencies... it finally got reported to the Urban Park Rangers, who seemed to be the most concerned.

Unfortunately, by then the man was long since gone, but Rangers Kreft and Billak came to the sight and got the details and specific location so they can include it in some random checks of the area. For future reference, (718) 846-2731 is the direct line to the Park Ranger Office in Forest Park, and you can call that number for any incident in Queens parks. You can leave a message if there is no answer, and the machine is checked from the field for messages."

Complete post here: Late post for Sat 6/23/07 at Ridgewood Reservoir

Photo from Wikipedia

Strategic placement of signs

Just a quick note to let you know that these sandwich- boards that pop up along our sidewalks like magic mushrooms every weekend are illegal. (However, after I got this pic home and took a look at it, I realized that the green can on the right bears the name of the Queen of Queens Crap. Rather appropriate that the Katz name appears on a garbage receptacle, but nonetheless interesting, considering this was taken at the corner of Queens Blvd and Grand Avenue, which is not within the confines of her litterbox. Why is the Department of Sanitation providing free advertising to politicians?) Anyway, the best place to put these obstructive signs, should you come across them, is inside a trashcan such as the one shown.


From DOT's website: The Department of Sanitation enforces for: "A" Frame Signs, (718) 714-2730

And it's clearly stated in the Sanitation codes under "sidewalk obstruction."

The form for reporting violations is here: Obstruction on Street or Sidewalk or call 311.

Did Dale pay to play?

Hemmerdinger, a Democrat who headed the real estate development firms Hemmerdinger Corp. and ATCO Properties, described himself as an advocate for transparent government.

He and his wife, Elizabeth, recently hosted a fundraiser for the state Democratic Party that featured Silda Wall Spitzer, the governor's wife, with tickets ranging from $250 to $10,000.

MTA pick is 'independent thinker'

The Hemmerdingers' support of Spitzer is a point of contention with Albany Republicans. Republican State Chairman Joseph Mondello called for an investigation into whether the nomination is a pay-to-play deal.

Does the Parks Dept discriminate?

The quality of the typical New York City park is determined largely by whether it is in a wealthy or poor neighborhood, according to a study to be released by a private nonprofit group today. The report also indicated that despite budget increases in recent years, the Parks Department is not doing enough strategic planning to manage its parkland properly.

Study Criticizes Parks Dept. Management

“About one of eight parks citywide is not in acceptable condition, and there is a significant correlation between a community district’s share of parks in unacceptable condition and its average income level,” according to the report by the group, the Citizens Budget Commission.

Sunnyside clears landmarks hurdle

A housing development in Queens constructed for middle-class families during a housing shortage after World War I was nominated Tuesday for landmark status by the city's Landmarks Preservation Commission.

Queens housing development nominated for landmark status

The board's recommendations must still be approved by city planners and the City Council.

Gioia said he will seek tax breaks for homeowners who make improvements that meet Landmarks requirements, as well as resident parking permits to offset the loss of illegal parking spaces carved into front lawns.


Supporters of the designation said the protections are needed to prevent rampant changes that compromise the neighborhood's original character.

"The only thing that's going to change is that people won't be able to break the rules," said Catherine O'Flaherty, a Sunnyside Gardens homeowner for eight years.

A landmark approval

Resident Jeffrey Kroessler welcomed the commission's unanimous vote, which recognizes the neighborhood's status as one of the first planned residential communities.

"All the little changes that have been taking place over the years diminish what's special about the neighborhood," he said. "We did it to protect our neighborhood from homeowners with an outsized sense of individual entitlement, without respect for the architecture or the history of the place."

Historic Vote For Queens Neighborhood

Susan Meiklejohn...sounded bruised by the experience. Ms. Meiklejohn, an associate professor of urban planning at Hunter College, opposes the designation, believing that landmark status will make life harder for the 70 percent of residents who rent, and the 11 percent who live below the poverty line.

Area of Sunnyside, Queens, Is Given Landmark Status

Art Crappo en Prados Frescos

There formerly were a couple of 1-story, 1-family houses here, but now take a look. There are now five 2-family [wink] houses located at 174th Street and 64th Avenue in Fresh Meadows. The plans for each new address bear the notation:


Tuesday, June 26, 2007

And it's overdevelopment by a nose...

"Whether or not you have racing at Aqueduct, you have an enormous piece of land there that can and should be used for some other things," Spitzer told the Daily News Editorial Board. "That's a remarkably valuable piece of land from a public perspective."

On last legs

Those are magic words to real estate developers, who may soon get a chance to submit fresh proposals for the rundown track, which sits on a parcel of land that could be worth $1 billion.

"The community is very nervous about what would go there if they close the track," said Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer (D-Queens). "But it seems like no one is listening because they must have this preconceived plan to bring in developers to take it over. All we hear is that it's a valuable piece of real estate."

Doorman hops off fence


June 26, 2007 -- A plan to create the largest historic district in Queens - including more than 600 homes - will get a boost today when a local councilman lends his support at a meeting of the Landmarks Preservation Commission.

Councilman Eric Gioia (D-Queens) said he'd found most Sunnyside Gardens homeowners support historic designation for the 16-block enclave built between 1924 and 1928.

The proposal had split the community between preservationists and those charging that limits on home expansions would keep large immigrant families from living there.

Gioia said he found there "is far more consensus of what people want to see in the neighborhood. Once you push past the vitriol, you saw huge common ground."

The Landmarks Preservation Commission, which gave tentative approval to the plan in March, is set to vote on the designation today.

Subway sandwich

Passengers packed like sardines on several subway lines may eventually get some breathing room, but the city's most cramped commuters may have to wait years for relief.

"It's bad news," Transit Authority President Howard Roberts said Monday. "There's no room in the inn."

Transit head: No quick fix for overcrowding

Subway crush

Adding more cars to trains and extending station platforms could alleviate pressure. But that takes money the MTA doesn’t have, said Roberts, and one potential funding solution — congestion pricing — could exacerbate the problem in the short run, especially if diverted drivers choose to take trains on already overcrowded lines.

How not to publish a newspaper, part 6

A note to the publisher:

Take a look in the mirror before you take that glamour shot, then take a look at the glamour shot before going to press...

In addition:

Indians did not found Maspeth in 1621. They had already been living there for many, many moons by that time. In 1621, European arrived and discovered that Indians were living there. (Try looking up the word "indigenous" in the dictionary.)

Article from the Queens Ledge

See also:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 7
Part 8
Part 9
Part 10

A lotta dough for a lotta buildings

Vantage, a real estate investment firm created in 2005, will nearly double its stake in Queens by purchasing around 1,900 units owned by Nicholas Haros. Apollo Real Estate Advisors, which has provided financing to Vantage in the past, is expected to partner with the firm again on this deal, according to sources.

Queens portfolio fetching $300M

Haros, who built up the Queens portfolio over the past two decades, managed the buildings in addition to owning them. He was included on a 2005 list of landlords the advocacy group Housing Here and Now called the 10 worst in the city.

Photo from Windows Live Local

A Flushing farewell

The webmaster of Forgotten-NY bids farewell to Flushing. But before doing so, he visits Flushing's Lost Cemetery

Pinky's party

Homely next to Homestead


I don't know what to make of this one.

It has to be more than 6 years ago that a small one story stucco building on Cuthbert Road off Lefferts Boulevard in Kew Gardens was demolished.

A foundation was laid for whatever was to be built there, but then all activity stopped until about a year and a half ago when work began on the 8 story building you see in the third picture. The pattern seems to be brief periods of work followed by long periods of inactivity.

Worse than the apparently never ending construction project is the change to the Kew Gardens skyline. The attractive half-timber Homestead Building was the first commercial building to go up in Kew Gardens. Now, it is impossible to look at it without seeing what's in back of it.


Monday, June 25, 2007

City calls for veto of state 421-A legislation

From the NY Sun:

Much of the flurry of criticism has been directed at the bill's primary architect, Assemblyman Vito Lopez, a Williamsburg Democrat who chairs the Assembly's housing committee. Mr. Lopez, a veteran of Albany politics, sought to increase affordability provisions beyond the bill passed by the City Council, including a large expansion of the area that requires affordable housing and a decrease in income requirements for low-income tenants. In order to convince the real estate industry and the Republican-controlled Senate to agree, Mr. Lopez said he needed to give up concessions, which included pushing back the date for the new legislation to take effect.

But in ceding ground to the real estate industry, Mr. Lopez said he created an exception for the $4 billion Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn, a move that has infuriated a base of affordable housing advocates who would likely have come out supporting the bill.

Development Tax Break Bill Faces Calls for Veto

No Land Grab points out that: "There's one point that I think most people are missing in this 421-a Ratner-Clause fiasco, that the exception allows Ratner to charge more rent from low-income tenants than other developers who qualify for the plan. That may be the most outrageous aspect of the entire deal."

Photo from Streetsblog

Lobbyists to hire lobbyist?

From the NY Times:

These are hard times for lobbyists, at least when it comes to public perception. The City Council is moving to limit their campaign contributions. Some top aides to Gov. Eliot Spitzer are letting it be known that hiring a lobbyist might not help one’s case in Albany. Even the movies portray them as soulless influence peddlers.

For Lobbyists, This Campaign Is Personal

So these days, when some of the most powerful lobbyists in New York City get together in private, they talk about the insults they are hearing and attacks they are feeling from all sides. Some have suggested banding together to change their image, to spread the word that they are not bad people. Perhaps even ... hire a lobbyist.

Developer with shady past still building

Some participants at a Community Board 8 meeting last week discussed Robert Chou's criminal record — he has been convicted of bribery and perjury — and said they feared a repeat of what they said were dangerous conditions during the construction of the East 79th Street development three years ago.

Upper East Side Developer Draws Ire

The city cited the project for more than 20 environmental violations, including operating a crane in an unsafe manner and failure to safeguard the public from falling debris — and issued fines in excess of $10,000. During construction, two pedestrians sustained minor injuries after a piece of plywood fell from a sidewalk bridge erected at the site. In a letter to the deputy commissioner of the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development after the incident, state Senator Liz Krueger and the then speaker of the City Council, Gifford Miller, said the site had "emerged as a public safety threat owned by a company that has routinely engaged in duplicity."

Photo from Windows Live Local

Graffiti bill changed to protect free speech

Council Member Peter Vallone Jr., a hero among anti-graffiti activists, has rewritten a bill banning anyone under the age of 21 from carrying such "graffiti materials" as spray paint, in an effort to satisfy a federal judge who prevented an earlier ban from being enforced.

Graffiti Bill Is Rewritten To Foil Free Speech Suit

The new version of the bill would allow people under 21 to possess spray paint and large permanent markers if the materials are carried in a sealed container or a bag closed with a key or a combination lock.

"It's not ideal and it's not what I envisioned originally," Mr. Vallone said. But even with the compromise, he noted, "It's the toughest in the country."

How not to publish a newspaper, part 5

Behold the physical seediness of the Queens Ledger offices on Grand Avenue in Maspeth.
The sign is temporary because they most likely will be forced to move again soon.

See also:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 6
Part 7
Part 8
Part 9
Part 10

From supermarket to supercrap

Today's featured crap is located on the north side of Northern Boulevard between 150th Street and 150th Place:

Before: a car dealership (& illegal supermarket?)

After: 15 separate addresses each containing at least 1 store and 4 housing units. 60 total dwelling units.