Saturday, March 31, 2018

Fugazy on Forest Avenue

Forest Avenue in Ridgewood has seen some dramatic changes recently, but there still are a lot of smaller homes along the way. This stretch is pretty modest.

Unfortunately, there is crap underway.
Why would you convert a 2-story, 2-family building into a 3-story, 2-family building? And how is that thing jutting up from the top not a 4th story?

Red brick rowhouse horror in Elmhurst

At one time, Judge Street had a cute row of red brick homes along it. But what real estate mavens and politicians call "progress" happened to it. The hedges have been torn out and replaced with cars. One home, at 43-22, experienced a fire in 2014 that it still hasn't recovered from. In recent months, the owner has taken advantage of the lax zoning and has applied for a "vertical enlargement" which means further crappification of a once lovely streetscape. This month, a stop work order was put into effect.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Corona gentrification project in the works

From the Real Deal:

Developer Ai Yun Chen is planning to bring a mixed-use building to Corona that will feature 90 residential units and span just under 174,000 square feet.

The building would be located at 37-20 114th Street and be split between about 92,000 square feet of commercial space, 81,000 square feet of residential space and 600 square feet of community space. The project, designed by Angelo Ng and Anthony Ng Architects, would stand eight stories and 70 feet tall.

Here comes the Sunnyside Railyards "study"

From Crains:

The city has tapped a team led by architect Vishaan Chakrabarti to develop a master plan for the 180-acre train yard in Queens that Mayor Bill de Blasio imagines being decked over with parks and tens of thousands of apartments, several sources told Crain’s.

Sunnyside Yard, the canyon of tracks between Long Island City and Sunnyside, has long been eyed as a development site of epic proportions. In February of last year, the de Blasio administration released a study showing that it would be possible to construct a deck over 85% of the pit to support some combination of commercial, retail, cultural and residential buildings and open space. In one scenario outlined in the document, that translated to 24,000 apartments and a price tag of $19 billion, a cost on par with The Related Cos.’ Hudson Yards project on Manhattan’s West Side.

Chakrabarti’s firm, PAU, declined to comment, and the city’s Economic Development Corp. said that it has not officially designated a team. However, several sources with knowledge of the process told Crain’s that PAU has won a request for proposals that the city issued in November.

That means the firm will likely be tasked with building on the city’s preliminary work and drawing up a more specific development scheme, which will also account for required infrastructure and schools, a process officials have estimated will take up to two years. Because of the time needed to hash out a proposal and the daunting logistics of building a deck and columns over an active rail yard, the biggest decisions about acting on the master plan will come after de Blasio’s term ends in 2021. However, the administration has argued that coming up with a set of blueprints now is crucial to ensure that Amtrak, which owns most of the yard, can take the city’s aims into consideration as it upgrades its own facilities.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Feds are on the MTA's case

From the NY Times:

The astronomical costs of building the Second Avenue subway and other New York public transit projects are now the subject of a federal inquiry.

The Government Accountability Office said on Wednesday that it was preparing to launch a study of why transit construction is so much more expensive in the United States than in other parts of the world. Special attention is expected to be paid to New York City, where recent projects have cost far more than anticipated.

Auditors plan to examine contracting policies, station design, project routing, regulatory barriers and other elements that drive cost, comparing practices in different cities in the United States and abroad, officials said. A final report with recommendations is to be issued by the end of the year.

The study was part of the spending bill that was approved by Congress last week. And it comes three months after an investigation by The New York Times revealed how city and state public officials had stood by as a small group of politically connected labor unions, construction companies and consulting firms drove up transit construction costs and amassed large profits.

Rockaway firehouse and police precinct up for landmarking

From the Times Ledger:

Two buildings in Far Rockaway were up for consideration as preserved landmarks last week in Manhattan.

The first was Firehouse and Engine Companies 264 and 328/Hook and Ladder 134, located at 16-15 Central Ave., according to the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission.

The second facility up for designation was the 101st Precinct Police Station — formerly the 53rd Precinct — located at 16-12 Mott Ave., which is five minutes away from the firehouse, according to LPC.

The Renaissance Revival-styled firehouse, affectionately called “The Big House” by locals, was built from 1911 to 1913 by architectural firm Hoppin & Koen.

Prominent architects Frances Hoppin and Terrence Koen designed the three-structure firehouse with limestone at the ground floor, three segmental-arched vehicle bays, red brick cladding on the upper stories, a cast stone entablature and a brick parapet, according to LPC.

The precinct is a combination of the Renaissance and Colonial Revival styles and was designed by the Police Department’s Superintendent of Buildings Thomas O’Brien, said LPC. It was built from 1927 to 1928.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Steinway Mansion owners purchase adjoining property

From George the Atheist:

The owners of the Steinway Mansion, 18-33 41st Street (Block/Lot 802/31), Salvatore Lucchese and Phillip Loria, were deeded less than three weeks ago - February 28 - possession of 2 parcels of adjoining land immediately south of the Mansion on 41st Street: 18-39 (Block/Lot 802/27) and 18-41 (Block/Lot 802/29).

The two addresses belonged to the late Armin Urban who passed away last year. The deeds to the properties were conveyed to Lucchese and Loria (aka1839 Lucc LLC and 1839 Lor LLC) 18 days ago by Urban's heirs.

Question for Queens: How will this recently acquired property be used:
1. For a Steinway Mansion expanded parking facility?
2. For new development of commercial and/or residential units?
3. For park-like recreation?
4. To lie fallow for possible sale in the future?

Queens is king of tuberculosis

From AMNY:

The number of new tuberculosis cases recorded in New York City jumped by 10 percent last year, the largest increase in 25 years, according to a new report released on Monday.

City officials expressed concern over the health department report detailing 613 new cases in 2017, which is up from 556 recorded in 2016. The number of new multidrug-resistant TB cases also grew in 2017, from 11 to 14.

“New York City has been a leader in TB control, and we need to address this increase in cases,” said Dr. Joseph Burzynski, assistant commissioner for the health department’s Bureau of TB Control. “It will require a coordinated public health response, coupled with the city’s robust health care infrastructure, to make progress in the effort to eliminate tuberculosis as a threat in New York City.”

This is the first time that the city has seen an increase in new TB cases since 2003, according to the report.

Burzynski said TB was found in almost every New York City neighborhood last year, with Sunset Park, western Queens and Flushing having the highest rates of cases. The borough of Queens had the highest rate of cases — 10.6 per 100,000 people. The citywide rate of TB was 7.5 cases per 100,000 people.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Peninsula Hospital to become 1,900 "affordable" apartments

From Curbed:

The former Peninsula Hospital site in the Rockaways will be transformed into a massive residential complex, with nearly all of the apartments slated to be affordable units, Politico first reported.

The news follows two years after the development firm Arker Companies teamed up with Northeast Brooklyn Housing Development Corporation to purchase the development site for $19 million.

Plans for the project were revealed through an application filed with the city—the development will be required to go through a Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP). The developers are hoping to build 2,200 new apartments, about 1,900 of which will be affordable; new open space, a gym, a medical facility, and over 151,000 square feet of retail all spread out over 17 buildings. Of the total units 270 would be reserved for seniors.

Union Turnpike medians need some work

From CBS 2:

A deteriorating median running down the middle of one of the busiest streets in Queens is in need of recovery, and residents say they’re getting concerned.

Community Activist Louis LaPolla says the four and a half mile stretch of Union Turnpike, with lifeless trees and crumbling curbs, has been that way for nearly six years.

CBS2 requested an on-camera interview with the parks department, but it would only say that since it’s not a safety issue it’s at the bottom of the priority list.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Borderline crap sits undone

The St. Nicholas church-to-crap conversion is taking a while.
Everything at this corner is currently an eyesore.

Once again, all this for a supposed 3-family house.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Ridgewood's "crap above" has progressed

The crap above featured in our August 2017 post appears to be just about done. Talk about out of character!

Saturday, March 24, 2018

New contractor for belated bridge project

From the Queens Chronicle:

A new contractor has been selected to pick up where the old one left off at Metropolitan Avenue and Fresh Pond Road on the Middle Village-Ridgewood line.

Almost three months after the city’s contract with Mugrose Construction to replace the bridge deck below the intersection defaulted, the Department of Transportation announced Monday that New Jersey-based Beaver Concrete Construction has been tapped to finish the long-delayed project.

“In business since 1946 and a member of the General Contractors Association of New York, Beaver Concrete Construction has completed several bridge rehabilitation projects for the DOT, including repairs to the Trans-Manhattan Expressway Connector Ramp in Manhattan,” the agency said in a press release. “It is also currently under contract for a multi-bridge component rehabilitation project for bridges in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island.”

Looks like work may have started:

Borough Hall parking lot to open Monday

From Forest Hills Post:

A highly anticipated 302-space municipal parking lot will open to the public on Monday at Queens Borough Hall.

The 122,360 square foot lot, which is bound by 126th and 132nd Streets and 82nd Avenue/Union Turnpike in Kew Gardens, was constructed at the former location of a four-level, 400-space parking garage. The structure was closed off in Sept. 2014 in response to concerns about its structural safety.

The lot is intended to relieve congestion in the busy area, and to help motorists access various municipal offices, including the adjacent Queens County Criminal Court. The lot is about five blocks from the Kew Gardens train station, and is within walking distance of many local businesses.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Former jail to be housing that's "affordable" (whatever that means)

From the Daily News:

A once-infamous juvenile detention center in the Bronx will be transformed into more than 700 units of affordable housing.

The City Council Thursday approved plans to turn the former Spofford Juvenile Detention Center in Hunts Point into a $300 million, 5-acre campus dubbed The Peninsula that will include 700 units of affordable housing, ground-floor retail, light industrial manufacturing space and other amenities.

“It’s a big day for justice in the Bronx. As we move to build more than 700 affordable homes, open space and small businesses in Hunts Point on the site of the old Spofford facility, we are seeing a community rising and the righting of old wrongs,” Mayor de Blasio said in a statement.

Spofford was a hulking concrete complex that was shuttered in 2011 after years of criminal justice activists urging its closure.

All 700 of the units will be income-restricted and the development will be mixed income — with apartments reserved for those making from 30% to 90% of the area median income, and 75 units set aside for formerly homeless people.

WOW! 75 units for the homeless. At this rate we should have them all housed by 3026.

De Blasio to crooked donor: “Do what you’ve got to do.”

From the Daily News:

A major donor to Mayor de Blasio dropped a bombshell Thursday, testifying under oath that when he told Hizzoner he’d have to arrange illegal campaign donations, de Blasio offered a stunning response:

“Do what you’ve got to do.”

Harendra Singh, a former Queens restaurateur who threw free fund-raisers for the mayor and raised thousands of dollars for him, said the mayor twice took a look-the-other-way approach when he broached the subject of illegal contributions.

It’s unclear when the exchanges took place, and whether de Blasio was a mayoral candidate or in office at the time.

Singh, 59, is testifying as a prosecution witness in the trial of a Long Island politician, ex-Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano. Mangano’s wife, Linda, and former Oyster Bay Town Supervisor John Venditto are also on trial.

Singh’s pleaded guilty to bribery charges and stated he raised funds for de Blasio to win favorable treatment from City Hall over a lease dispute involving his restaurant, Water’s Edge.

Prosecutors have said a top de Blasio aide, identified by sources as Emma Wolfe, pressured city managers to treat Singh favorably.

Last March prosecutors announced de Blasio and his minions would not be charged with criminal activity, but they made a point of saying they’d done favors for donors.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Glutton for punishment caption contest

For some reason, Bill de Blasio went on a gluttonous rampage in Middle Village in the middle of a snowstorm.

First, he stuffed his face at a Greek diner:

And then he headed over to a pizza joint:

Since it's the second day of spring and there's a foot of snow outside, it's the perfect time to caption this photo!

A small business' scary story

From Forbes:

Late last summer, I 'Googled' my regular diner to confirm its closing time, and was shocked to find that the site had marked it Permanently Closed. I quickly called the restaurant and learned, thankfully, that it hadn't shut down; however, its Google presence had been hijacked.

And despite the owners' best efforts, it seemed there was nothing they could do about it.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Are shipping containers the future of affordable housing?

From AM-NY:

Shipping containers could become the building blocks for affordable housing in the Bronx.

A New York real estate company has partnered with SG Blocks, a container construction company, to propose a mixed-use development in the northeast section of the borough.

The development would create about 65 to 75 apartments above a retail store and a church, according to Nyron Chin-Sang, the founder of the company Gold Key Group.

Chin-Sang, who is originally from the Bronx, said bringing affordable housing to the borough is important to him.

Waterpointe worked out?

From the Times Ledger:

After the Whitestone community raised concerns about soil contamination, elected officials and local leaders met with the state Department of Environmental Conservation and developers of the Whitestone Waterpointe project to discuss the future of the venture moving forward.

Last week, state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside), Assemblyman Daniel Rosenthal (D-Flushing) and members of Community Board 7 and the Greater Whitestone Taxpayers Civic Association, were able to talk to DEC and developers from the Edgestone Group about key issues facing the 18-acre waterfront property, located at 151st Place and 6th Road.

Avella wrote a letter to DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos requesting a meeting with the commissioner to find out why DEC permitted Edgestone Group to modify the soil cover requirement from Track 2 Residential to Track 4 Restricted-Residential and why DEC allowed the change without first discussing it with elected officials, CB 7 or community members.

Last week’s meeting allowed for a dialogue and Avella said that while there are still a few items that remain to be concluded, he and Rosenthal were able to talk the developer into agreeing to bring in additional “unrestricted” or “virgin” soil so that homeowners will be able to grow vegetables in their garden. Avella said they were also able to have the developers agree that all monies placed in escrow to maintain the environmental monitoring system, which will require a yearly report, will remain with the homeowners association at the end of the original ten-year escrow agreement term.

For now Avella and Rosenthal said they will urge the developer to increase the monies to be held in escrow to ensure that the new homeowners will not be burdened by the expense of the environmental monitoring system. While the senator said he was pleased that the developer agreed to put in unrestricted soil, he is convinced that the current dollar amount planned for the escrow account is inadequate and will prove to be too little over time.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

First German Sport Club receives stop work order

Back in 2013, it appeared that World Financial Group was about to move into the former First German Sport Club of Brooklyn on Metropolitan Avenue at the edge of Ridgewood. That never happened, and the building sat as is until earlier this year, when this was done to it:
The stop work order seems to be for construction done outside the scope of the permit.

City Council supports upzoning, then complains about it

From Crains:

City Council members criticized the de Blasio administration last week for concentrating neighborhood rezonings in low-income, minority neighborhoods—yet the council itself is fueling the trend.

“It doesn’t seem like [City Planning] has a citywide plan to address the housing crisis,” Councilman Antonio Reynoso, D-Brooklyn, said at a budget hearing Thursday. “It feels like [the city] has a piecemeal approach of going into poor neighborhoods and rezoning them.”

The administration’s plan is to rezone 15 neighborhoods where boosting the allowable size of buildings is supposed to trigger development with affordable housing. So far, the administration has completed the task in Brooklyn’s East New York, Far Rockaway in Queens and East Harlem. The city shortly will approve the Jerome Avenue corridor in the Bronx and has several more in its sights.

But these neighborhoods are not chosen based only on planning principles or to most efficiently ease the housing crunch. Rather, City Planning Director Marisa Lago said at the hearing, City Hall prioritizes areas with amenable council members and neighborhoods.

“Absent community interest, it would be an exercise in futility,” she said.

A willing council member is crucial because the City Council has long deferred to the local member’s wishes when it comes to land use, giving representatives veritable veto power over applications.

City hoping to curb congestion by banning rush hour deliveries

From PIX11:

A ban on commercial curbside deliveries during rush hour went into effect Monday.

The ban is part of a congestion reduction pilot program by the city that will regulate when and where commercial trucks can stop and unload goods on some of the busiest streets in NYC. The ban will not effect personal deliveries.

Starting Monday, there will be no curbside deliveries along Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn and Roosevelt Avenue in Queens from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

In April, the truck ban will expand to 11 cross streets in Midtown, Manhattan, including 54th Street between Eighth and Third avenues and 47th Street between Ninth and Third avenues.

While it will ease traffic on some of the busiest streets in NYC, business owners say bringing in goods later in the day will hurt them. They say the ban will force employees to stay at work later and residents will have to hear trucks being unloaded late at night.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Back-to-back-to-back film shoots taking over public streets

"Do Queens residents ever get to park on the street? Not in Long Island City. (Taken on 21st Street and 44th Drive.)" - anonymous

Claremont Terrace apartment house has become a zombie

From the Queens Chronicle:

Councilman Danny Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) said Dr. John Ko promised him last February that long-delayed work at 1 Claremont Terrace in Elmhurst would be done in one year.

Thirteen months have passed, and the lawmaker says the unfinished, graffiti-covered apartment building abutting the Long Island Rail Road tracks is still in the same unsightly condition.

“It’s become a zombie apartment building. It’s just horrible,” Dromm told the Chronicle on Monday. “Our patience has come to an end.”

The property the building sits on is one of the more historic ones in Elmhurst, as Samuel Lord — the co-founder of Lord & Taylor, the oldest department store in America — purchased the site in 1840, eventually building homes for his four daughters there.

But 12 years ago, the final, decaying Lord home was demolished and construction began on the eight-story building.

But once the shell of it was completed, work seemingly came to a halt.

And in the years since, Dromm said, the site has become an on-again, off-again homeless encampment — “they had tents and everything” — and a magnet for graffiti vandals.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Communities across NYC see the writing on the wall

From YouTube/PIX11:

Lawmakers want the space for new classrooms. Some in the community are worried the hotel will be used to house homeless individuals.

Original story here.

Should pieds-à-terre be taxed more?

From Brick Underground:

The number of apartments being used as pieds-à-terre and short-term vacation rentals in New York City has spiked by over 20,000 in the last three years, and such apartments now make up 2.1 percent of all housing in New York City, according to census data recently released by the city.

The number of apartments listed on the most recent Housing and Vacancy Survey as vacant because of "seasonal, recreational, or occasional use" is now 74,945. This is the highest since the Regional Plan Association started keeping track in 1991 and, as the group's director of community planning Moses Gates notes, more than enough to house the city's entire homeless population. A Department of Housing Preservation and Development spokesman says that the agency can't parse from the data how many of these 75,000 apartments are being rented out on sites like Airbnb versus how many are being used as pieds-à-terre, and indeed there may be some overlap. Still, it's clear that the gain of 69,000 newly built apartments since 2014 is dampened by the simultaneous removal from of nearly a third of that number of apartments the sales and traditional rental markets.

Gates argues that the numbers show the urgent need for the city to create a pied-à-terre tax, so that wealthy people have incentives to sell their apartments or rent them to full-time tenants rather than keeping them empty or occasionally renting them to tourists.

"You're taking housing off the market during a housing emergency," he says. "That should be good enough" for the city to take action. Pied-à-terre owners, he adds, are "not paying city income taxes, but you're using city services to protect your tax investment."

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Happy St. Patrick's Day from Queens Crap!

Tickets going fast! Oh wait, there are no tickets. Just a big Irish tweederfest. Who wouldn't want the Tom Manton Irish Person of the Year award?

CB4 votes against requested zoning change

From the Times Ledger:

Developers at a site in Elmhurst may not be getting the zoning change they need for a 13-story housing complex and Target location if Community Board 4 and anti-gentrification groups have the final say.

The advisory board at Tuesday’s meeting voted against the variance to allow Sun Equity Partners and Heskel Group to build an additional three floors on the proposal site and asked that the city accept their recommendation to downzone the area to further prevent the development from happening.

More than 30 public speakers, including political hopefuls, filled the roster at the March 13 meeting and sitting space in Elmhurst Hospital’s auditorium was exhausted with activists from Queens Neighborhoods United filling the periphery with signs calling to protect their neighborhood from gentrification.

One resident during the public speaking portion of the meeting pointed out that nobody spoke in favor of the proposal while representatives from the developers were seen making snide remarks and gestures at the remarks being said.

The community board eventually voted nearly unanimously against the zoning change that would grant the extra building height with recommendation to lower the zoning to below the current height restriction.

City doesn't really care what Blissville (or anyone) thinks

Friday, March 16, 2018

Dulcken demolished

From George the Atheist.

Homeowner gets stuck with sidewalk repair bill

From NBC:

A New York City man was stuck with a charge for the sidewalk outside his home even though he was involved in a free repair program with the city. Lynda Baquero reports.

Bill's Blissville B.S.

From CBS 2:

Less than 500 people currently live in Blissville, yes, that’s what they really call it, a five-block area in the southeast corner of Long Island City. But they will soon be outnumbered by homeless people.

The Department of Homeless Services is turning the Fairfield Inn on Van Dam Avenue into a permanent homeless shelter for hundreds of adults. More than 100 men already live in a temporary shelter in the City View Hotel two blocks away, and even more homeless families are staying in another hotel less than a mile away.

“People’s cars have been broken into. There have been robberies. People hanging out, asking for money cigarettes and what not, odd behavior,” Perez said.

City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer said he and Blissville residents aren’t opposed to helping the homeless. The issue, he says, is about fairness.

“My district now houses four times the number of homeless individuals than we produce,” Van Bramer said. “And the mayor’s whole plan is about equity.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio said the homeless population in Blissville will decline as the temporary shelters close, but added, “We’ll keep looking at that community to make sure what’s done is fair.”

Thursday, March 15, 2018

LIC is not having it

From QNS:

Earlier this month, Long Island City residents rallied against a proposal to develop two city-owned lots along the waterfront. But developers are arguing that their plan was made with the community in mind.

Last July, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that TF Cornerstone was chosen to develop two sites that sit on 44th Drive. The plan includes 1,000 units of housing, an elementary school, manufacturing and commercial space, a performance space and waterfront access.

Almost immediately after the plan was announced, residents began to express their disappointment at Community Board 2 meetings, through a petition and a rally held on March 3.

Since the land is publicly owned, residents feel that they should have been consulted before the city finalized any plans. According to the LIC Coalition, the group that created the petition, residents want a portion of the land to be turned into a wetland park. Since the sites sit in a flood zone, they argue that constructing large buildings would make the land vulnerable.

Residents also want to see a community recreation center, “school seats, artist and light manufacturing space, a cultural center, a climate change educational center, job training, space for NGOs and other community benefits,” the petition said.

A great job by all...

From the Daily News:

The average nightly population in city homeless shelters last December was 63,495 — a record high, the annual State of the Homeless Report from the Coalition for the Homeless found.

“It’s a huge amount of people,” Giselle Routhier, policy director at Coalition for the Homeless, said. “There’s only nine cities in the entire state that have populations greater than our shelter system.”

It comes a year into Mayor de Blasio’s “Turning the Tide Plan,” which only aims to cut the shelter population by 2,500. The coalition has been calling on de Blasio to help the homeless through one of his other plans — to build affordable housing. They want him to set aside at least 10% of units for the homeless.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

The MTA did this to themselves

From the Village Voice:

In the summer of 2014, New York City Transit intern Philip Betheil was finishing up his master’s in urban planning at Columbia University when his boss, David Greenberger, gave him a project. The two worked for NYCT’s operations planning division, and Greenberger tasked Betheil with looking into an arcane bit of subway minutiae called signal modifications and what effect they had on train service. They worked on the report on and off over that summer, tossing more than a dozen drafts back and forth.

In August of 2014, after Betheil’s internship had ended, the draft report languished in the organization’s digital innards. (Betheil declined to comment on the record for this article. Greenberger did not respond to a request for comment.)

But now, more than three years later, the report, which was obtained by the Village Voice along with other internal documents, provides a radically different explanation for the subway’s declining performance than the one that MTA leadership has given the public. The root cause of the subway system’s decay, it turns out, isn’t budget cuts or overcrowding — rather, the collapse of the subway system appears to have been primarily self-inflicted by the authority itself, in response to a single accident two decades ago that set the transit system on a path to disaster.

Moreover, these internal documents suggest that much of what the MTA is doing to fix the subways, including the authority’s $836 million Subway Action Plan, is not addressing the bulk of the delays that are plaguing the city’s transit system. And only now has the subway’s leadership, since the recent hiring of New York City Transit president Andy Byford, begun to seriously consider its own role.

“It’s not that complicated,” a source with direct knowledge of the situation who asked not to be identified told the Village Voice. “The trains are slower because they slowed the trains down.”

Because 1 de Blasio hasn't done enough damage

From Politicker:

New York City’s First Lady Chirlane McCray opened up about what has led her to consider higher office in 2021 and the challenges that come with her job during her first-ever gaggle with the media amid heightened scrutiny of her role in appointing top City Hall staffers.

On Monday night, McCray told NY1’s Courtney Gross that 2021 is among timeframes she is considering for a possible political office run. In November 2017, she told Cosmopolitan magazine she isn’t ruling out public office. And last month, she told Observer that running for office or leading a not-for-profit are both possibilities.

On Tuesday morning, after announcing that the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City—of which she is chairwoman—and the Hispanic Federation would provide $200,000 to support mental health services in Puerto Rico post-Hurricane Maria and send a 12-person team to aid in recovery, McCray said she’s undecided on a position.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Glendale landlord hoards tenants' trash

From CBS 2:

For tenants in one Queens building, it’s a living nightmare.

They claim their landlord hoards their trash and that the smell has caused a cascade of problems, CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez reported Sunday night.

Kathleen Midlaw is literally bugging out inside her Glendale apartment. It’s infested with gnats.

When she invited CBS2 to the building, Sanchez sensed the root of the problem — a horrible stench coming from the basement

Garbage, huge bags of it, were stacked up, wall to wall in the basement of the building on 65th Place. Midlaw and her neighbors blame their landlord, Maria Hlawaty. Tenants say she has been hoarding their garbage for years.

Here's where they want you to hold onto your poop

From QNS:

The next time it rains, the city’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) wants Queens residents to wait until it stops before doing the dishes, taking a shower or flushing a toilet.

The appropriately titled “Wait…” pilot program is expanding throughout western Queens, the DEP announced on Monday. Participating homeowners and tenants are sent text messages alerting them that the Newtown Creek and Bowery Bay Wastewater Treatment plants are near capacity — and that they should minimize their water use in order to prevent sewer overflows from spilling into already polluted waterways such as the Newtown Creek and Flushing Creek.

The pilot program area of Queens covers all neighborhoods north of the Jackie Robinson Parkway and west of the Van Wyck Expressway, as well as portions of Kew Gardens Hills and Briarwood.

According to advocates, the Wait Program is geared at educating the public about where their dirty water winds up after going down the drain. Wastewater produced whenever someone washes clothes or dishes, or even flushes a toilet, travels into the city’s vast underground sewer system, destined for one of many sewage treatment plants for cleanup and processing.

But in a heavy rain event, not all of the storm runoff and wastewater winds up in the sewage treatment plants. When the plants hit capacity, excess wastewater is expelled through combined sewer overflows into waterways across the city. About 90 percent of the overflow is comprised of storm runoff, and the rest is household wastewater containing detergents, chemicals and raw sewage.

Hey, how about limiting the building in these boroughs until the city gets a handle on how much waste they produce?

Monday, March 12, 2018

City stops sheltering homeless at Par Central Motor Inn

From the Queens Chronicle:

The city stopped using the Par Central Motor Inn in Jamaica Hills as a homeless shelter last Wednesday, officials said.

Since August 2015, the de Blasio administration had used the motel as “temporary emergency transitional housing” for homeless families with children.

Councilman Rory Lancman (D-Fresh Meadows) and the city had reached an agreement for ending its use as a shelter months ago, but the city didn’t give a specific deadline as to when.

Lancman is happy City Hall followed through.

“I am pleased that the Par Central Motel will no longer be used as a shelter, and look forward to working with the administration to close other hotel shelters in the District,” he said in a prepared statement.

The Par Central’s ownership could not be reached for comment prior to deadline.

Why is the City stopping use of some hotels to house homeless while simultaneously starting the use of others?

LIC residents unhappy with City's plan

From the Times Ledger:

Hundreds of Long Island City residents and business owners rallied with community leaders and elected officials Saturday against the city’s plan to develop two plots of publicly owned waterfront property on 44th Drive and a neighboring Department of Education building on Vernon Boulevard.

The proposal, announced in 2016, would turn the city-owned lots into commercial space, luxury apartments and a school, but the community has other ideas that are not being heard by the de Blasio administration.

“With the critical lack of infrastructure in the area, from schools to transportation to senior centers, the fact that the city would try to sell precious public neighborhood land to private developers shows their shortsightedness and lack of understanding of the needs of the neighborho­od,” Hunters Point Civic Association President Brent O’Leary said. “I am proud of our neighborhood for standing up to the city and saying our neighborhood will not be sold off. If you want to develop community land, it is the community who should be deciding how that best helps the neighborhood not outside interests.”

The rally was organized by the group Coalition LIC whose online petition has over 1,000 signatures and would prefer the waterfront lots be turned into parkland with wetlands that would afford climate protection in a flood zone. The coalition wants the DOE building turned into a school with a community recreation center, artist and light manufacturing space, a cultural center, a climate change educational center and job training.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Jail plan pisses off the Bronx

From PIX11:

Community members held a town hall Thursday night to voice their concerns over a proposal to build a new jail in the south Bronx neighborhood.

The jail would be built at the corner of East 141st Street and Concord Avenue. It’s currently the site of an NYPD impound lot.

Hundreds packed the auditorium of P.S. 65 Mother Hale Academy, which is just down the street from the site.

The meeting opened with chants of “We will fight, we will win!”

Meanwhile, in Kew Gardens...

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Is Center Blvd a danger zone?

From PIX11:

Parents in Long Island City, Queens called for increased pedestrian safety measures along Center Boulevard Friday afternoon.

"We've had many high rises go up in the past couple of years and a lot more families moving in. And we need our city to help us keep our community safe," Heidi Braunstein told PIX11.

Families were joined by City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer in a press conference. He explained why extra measures are need along Center Boulevard.

"There are three schools. There is a massive park on the waterfront that everyone wants to go to," he said.

Laying down the law

From the NY Post:

The city has suspended a lucrative tax break from more than 1,700 property owners it says aren’t following the rules – a move that could cost them $66 million this year, officials said Friday.

The owners facing removal from the “421-a” tax abatement program failed to file a mandatory Final Certificate of Eligibility.

Officials said 1,788 properties — from three-family homes to multi-family buildings — didn’t register in time, so the city suspended the breaks. The non-compliant properties have a combined 11,022 apartments.

City officials said they’ll reinstate benefits to owners who comply by May 1.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Remaining ugly in Auburndale

From the Queens Chronicle:

When a new owner planned to tear down and rebuild four derelict attached two-family homes in Auburndale, it opened up the possibility that the community would no longer have to look at the eyesore.

The plans have been scrapped, though.

Community Board 11 member Henry Euler discussed the situation at the advisory council’s meeting on Monday.

The homes, on 47th Avenue near 197th Street, were built in 2005 but never finished. Because they have never had a certificate of occupancy from the city — there is an issue with egress — no one has been able to legally live in them. The property has a construction fence at it.

Euler, who is a resident of Auburndale, said at the meeting that the new buyer had met with CB 11 members at a committee hearing about his plans at the end of 2016. But, he continued, the board didn’t hear from him after that.

Bulova waves bye-bye to Boody Street

From the Commercial Observer:

Bulova, a maker of luxury timepieces, has sold its three-acre office campus at 26-15 Brooklyn-Queens Expressway for $25.2 million to Terreno Realty Corporation, according to the watchmaker’s broker Eastern Consolidated.

The company has occupied the one-story 83,000-square-foot building on the site in the Woodside section of Queens for more than three decades and owned it since 2007. The campus also has two parking lots that are a combined 91,000 square feet.

The site has 60,000 square feet of unused air rights, according to Crain’s New York Business, which previously reported that the property was in contract but did not report the price of the sale.

Terreno Realty, a real estate investment trust based in San Francisco which focuses on industrial properties, plans to renovate the building and lease it to industrial users.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Dulcken House is being chainsawed

From George the Atheist

Brooklyn building illegally converted into shelter

From Kings County Politics:

The city announced today it removed all its resident clients from a four-story Bedford-Stuyvesant walk up illegally converted from a 14-unit apartment building to a 42-unit single room occupancy (SRO) shelter.

But the entire incident, in which the owner of the building at 529 Monroe Street appeared in some form of collusion with both the city and the non-profit organization that has a contract with the city to house homeless in an illegally converted building has local officials deeply concerned.

According to Community Board 3 District Manager Henry Butler residents have filed complaints about the building with CB3 as far back as the spring of 2017 when construction first began on the 4-story walk up.

Despite repeated complaints that the construction was illegal, the owners Monroe Lewis LLC, one of the shadowy landlords that operate out of 199 Lee Avenue in Williamsburg, was able to not only complete the illegal work, but secure a contract whereupon the city contracted with the non-profit Core Services to turn the site into a SRO homeless shelter.

The owners were able to do this even after the DOB slammed them with several fines including one for occupancy exceeding nearly three times the building’s Certificate of Occupancy and for altering plumbing without a permit.

Then, since September 2017 – around the same time the city passed legislation that would ramp up penalties as well as allow the Department of Buildings easier access to buildings suspected of illegal home conversions, the city began to illegally fill the building with tenants.

Despite the DOB leveling fines at the building’s owners for the illegal conversion, the HRA continued to house the homeless there, netting the landlord and Core over $40,000 a month in guaranteed city funding to split up as the city pays $1,047 per SRO unit.

Great report!

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Resorts World sounds like a pleasant working environment

From the Daily News:

Women working at Resorts World Casino endure harassment and physical assaults from badly behaving bettors, grabby gamblers and violent male co-workers — and it’s all because of their employer’s let-it-ride attitude, court records charge.

Bartender Tuwanna (Trish) Anderson said the violence and harassment is systemic at the popular Queens racino — and she has the injuries to prove it.

She filed a lawsuit against co-worker Toman Davis and the casino’s owner, Genting Group, saying Davis choked her while on the job on July 4. The chilling assault was captured on surveillance video — and even reviewed by security directors — but no one came to the rescue, her lawsuit says.

Other women on the staff had previously complained about bartender Davis’ violence and unsafe conditions for female servers in general, but nothing changed, the lawsuit says.

City's trash cans being pilfered

From NBC:

It's not clear why, but thieves are stealing the city's 275-pound trash cans. Melissa Russo reports in an I-Team exclusive.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

New rat strategy

From the Daily News:

The city’s Department of Health began using dry ice to kill rats Monday, after a successful 2016 pilot and the Environmental Protection Agency’s approval of the frozen carbon dioxide to kill rodents.

“Rat ice is used in parks primarily because it’s safe — it’s safe, it’s effective and it poses no risk to wildlife such as hawks and birds of prey,” DOH Director of Pest Control Ricky Simeone told reporters Monday at Columbus Park in lower Manhattan.

Simeone was standing beside three holes in the earth of one of the park’s flower beds — burrows, he said, for the rats. Three DOH exterminators, wearing gloves and using metal scoops, filled the holes with little cubes of smoking dry ice — and then buried them. Trapped inside with the dry ice, which turns to carbon dioxide, the rats will suffocate and die.

“Or, nicely put, they go to sleep and they don’t wake up,” Simeone said.

The method works within minutes — though some rats may escape, so the city typically treats an area three times, returning to look for new burrows they might have dug. It can be more effective than using poison.

Future Blissville shelter "unlike" others - it's sure to be worse

From LIC Post:

A public meeting will take place in the coming days for the community to discuss the new homeless shelter on Van Dam Street that will occupy the current site of the Fairfield Inn by Marriott.

The meeting will be held on March 15 at St. Raphael’s Church, located at 35-20 Greenpoint Ave., from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. The event, organized by the Department of Homeless Services, will deal with the permanent homeless shelter for adult families at 52-34 Van Dam St. expected to open this month.

The location will provide shelter for up to 154 homeless families, and is unlike the nearby temporary shelters at the City View Inn and Best Western that have opened up in recent months.

The Van Dam center, according to the DHS, will be a “high-quality transitional housing facility”, and will offer multiple services to help shelter residents, including health and mental health services, employment counseling, and housing placement assistance.


Ask the people of Greenpoint how this "Home/Life Services" treats their neighborhood and monitors the "activities" of the homeless there. Same promises, shitty result:

Officials Blast New Homeless Shelter Being 'Smuggled' Into Greenpoint

Greenpointers: Clay St. homeless shelter attracting unsavory activity

Troubled Shelter Has To Clean Up Act or Lose Contract, City Says

Monday, March 5, 2018

Corona AirBnB flophouse shut down

From the Daily News:

The city has shuttered a Queens flophouse that operated as an illegal hotel listed on the Airbnb site — even offering travelers a $21-per-night stay in backyard tents.

The Corona home at 98-13 Northern Blvd. was one of two hit with a partial vacate order last month after officials deemed them “imminently perilous to life (and) public safety.”

“There is about 40 people on the two floors,” a caller reported to the city last October.

“The backyard has air beds under tents, also.”

When investigators from the Mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement showed up on Feb. 21, they found 27 mattresses crammed into two floors, four guests and one permanent resident.

The two-family property was illegally converted to seven furnished bedrooms where transient guests lived alongside one permanent resident, officials said.

Contractor with dubious past accused of work without a permit

From the Real Deal:

The contractor who was charged with manslaughter following the fatal East Village gas explosion is now performing illegal renovations at Harlem apartments, according to a new complaint.

Dilber Kukic is gut renovating four apartments at 303 West 154th Street with no permits, according to the New York Daily News. The complaint to the Department of Buildings from Jerry Leazer, who worked as a broker at the building, says the contractor has been doing rewiring work and removing walls without the proper approvals.

Inspectors went to the building on Thursday but could not enter and posted a notice telling the landlord, Uphattan Corporation’s John Schreiber, to schedule an inspection.

Woodside CSX tracks are a mess

From CBS 2:

“Here, where it’s a private company and private property, it’s impossible for the city to even get in there,” City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer told Duddridge.

Neighbors are now adding rodents to their list of complaints, saying the animals are running rampant.

“We don’t now want the rats and mice and whatever seeping into our homes and apartments,” said Corrao.

The New York City Department of Sanitation says its cleaning unit inspected the area last month. It says CSX has been notified and has seven to 10 days to either clean up or sanitation crews will at the company’s expense.

There’s still one more hurdle – the sanitation department can’t clean up the property until a judge grants crews a warrant to enter the grounds.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Evolution of a Queens street corner

147th Street and Delaware Avenue, Flushing

NY Post. City Demands Landlord Pay.

"Amazing isn't it, the inconsistency and selectivity by this mayoral agency in pursuing who damages and harms public street trees, who gets fined for those damages and the "special groups" like developers here in Queens that astonishingly get away with their nefarious tree damaging behavior without any noticeable summonsing or jail time - even when New York's Greenest have been alerted about it." - anonymous

Dulcken House doomed

George the Atheist reports on the impending demolition of Astoria's Dulcken House.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Why shelters have an explosion in the population of single men

From the Daily News:

Parolees from state prisons are surging into city shelters, with 4,122 sent there last year, up from 2,152 at the start of de Blasio’s first term.

They are more likely shown to a cot in drug-infested barracks or a bed in a pricey hotel room than a specialized residence to help ex-offenders.

A year too late, facts force departure from the mayor’s noble-progressive-warrior script. Now he says of the parole parade: “This is exacerbating our homelessness problem.”

That’s an understatement: Roughly one in five of all the new arrivals in adult shelters last year was a parolee, accounting for most of an influx that brought 20,000 men and women to check in at some point.

Only this past December did the city homeless agency start helping parole officers steer clients away from shelters.