Monday, December 17, 2018

How San Francisco deals with illegal teardowns

From KPIX5:

The San Francisco Planning Commission made an unprecedented ruling against a developer this week, demanding that he rebuild a replica of a famous house he had illegally demolished.

The residence — known as the Largent House — was in San Francisco’s Twin Peaks neighborhood. It was built in 1936 and designed by one of the most important modern architects, Richard Neutra. Among the unique features of the 1,300-square-foot house was an indoor swimming pool.

The owner, Ross Johnston, bought the property last year. The planning department gave him a permit to renovate the house, but they did not give him the permission to demolish it.

The city believes he wanted to build a 4,000-square-foot mansion on that lot and flip it for a profit.

Earlier this week, the planning commissioners voted 5-0 to order Johnston to build the exact replica. They also want him to put up a sidewalk plaque that would let people know the original Neutra house was demolished.

Johnston’s lawyer declined to comment on our story. The city says even if he tries to sell the property, whoever buys the lot will have to build the replica.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

It's our 12th anniversary

Hi all,

This blog was started 12 years ago today. Not much has changed. Actually, as we're sure you've noticed, it's only gotten worse.

Many crappy returns.

- Crappy

Friday, December 7, 2018

UPDATED: Is the Parc Hotel being converted into a shelter?

Response 12/8/18:

"Hi, this is owner from the parc hotel. I saw your blog posted the parc will be homeless shelter. That’s all rumor, parc hotel is planning to renovate floor by floor during this winter but still bookable during renovation. its never gonna be homeless shelter!

Thank you so much."

Guangyang An

Original post:

"Not sure if you've heard but they are converting the Parc Hotel on College Point Blvd in Flushing to a homeless shelter. The apparent move in date is Sunday, 12-9-2018. The management team that runs the hotel had been fired a few days ago and they are moving forward with this conversion. I've tried to contact CB7 to confirm about this, but if its true, this is pretty major considering there was no meeting or notice about this and to only find out about it the Friday before the move in date is pretty extraordinary. I really hope this isn't true but I was wondering if you had heard anything about this.

Flushing Resident"

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Call to reopen Engine 261 in light of Amazon deal

From the Queens Chronicle:

Even before Amazon opens its doors to 25,000 additional workers, Long Island City’s fire response infrastructure is already stretched too thin. The area needs a new firehouse, and with Amazon on the horizon, there is no longer time to wait.

Fifteen years ago, long before many of Long Island City’s high-rise towers emerged and tens of thousands of residents moved to a once industrial part of town, the city closed a longstanding firehouse dedicated to the protection of the neighborhood, Engine Co. 261.

This shortsighted move to close Engine 261 left the neighborhood highly vulnerable even at the time of its closing. The Uniformed Firefighters Association, elected officials and civic leaders alike protested the closing, and Mayor de Blasio himself — then a member of the City Council — was part of a lawsuit attempting to block the move.

Fast forward to 2018 and Long Island City has continued to transform, with new high-rise apartments and office buildings worsening the problem.

The nearest fire engine company is 10 blocks away from the old Engine 261, and the greater distance trucks must travel has meant an increase in response times, putting lives at stake — not to mention the increase in traffic and congestion due to the influx of people. Across the city, our firefighters are doing more now with fewer resources than ever. The FDNY has broken its run record for five consecutive years, and unit availability is at an all-time low.

Long Island City, more than any other neighborhood in New York and by some estimates the country, has seen an incredible amount of growth in the last decade. But unacceptably, its fire response infrastructure has not grown with it.

Katz shills for Amazon and BQX

From Metro:

Since Amazon announced that its HQ2 was coming to Queens, New Yorkers have wondered how the fraught NYC subway system and other infrastructure throughout the city will be able to handle the influx of workers. Now, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz has an idea.

Katz on Monday called for Amazon to pay for the construction of the Queens-Brooklyn Connector (QBX), also called the Brooklyn-Queens Connector (BQX).

The BQX is expected to stretch 16 miles, from Sunset Park, Brooklyn to Astoria, Queens, Mayor Bill de Blasio detailed back in 2016.

“A substantial and meaningful investment by Amazon that helps ensure the feasibility of QBX would be a fair investment into its new home, and a welcome opportunity for a good corporate neighbor to directly benefit the existing, impacted communities of Western Queens,” she continued.

The connector should also include a free transfer to MTA subways and buses and reduced ‘Fair Fares’ for lower-income New Yorkers, according to Katz. But since subways can still easily become overcrowded when Amazon HQ2 moves into Queens, she added that the Long Island City and Hunterspoint Avenue LIRR stations should become “full-time stations with enhanced service.”

Katz previously said that Queens is “primed” for Amazon and overall supports the deal, but is now acknowledging the neighborhood’s infrastructure needs.

Let's hope this ass becomes DA so we don't have to deal with her land use stupidity anymore.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Filling the void

From Crains:

The city rejected a challenge to a planned Upper West Side apartment building that contains large empty spaces between several floors—a gambit meant to boost the overall height of the project and make the upper units more valuable. But Extell Development's planned tower at 50 W. 66th St. is not quite in the clear.

City Councilwoman Helen Rosenthal, who represents the neighborhood, was part of a contingent that opposed the project and supported a challenge, arguing that the excessive mechanical voids were contrary to the city's building codes. On Thursday, however, she announced that the neighborhood's objections had been overruled by the Department of Buildings, which found that the cavernous spaces conformed to building and zoning codes.

Customer expecting happy ending goes berzerk

From the Daily News:

A customer flew into a rage at a Queens spa when he didn’t get a “happy ending“ to his foot massage and attacked two workers with a hammer — before smashing their piggy bank tip jar to pieces, cops said Sunday.

The wild rampage was caught on surveillance video released late Saturday by cops who are asking the public’s help tracking down the brute.

The mayhem began when the creepy customer demanded his money back from a 55-year-old worker at Tao Spa Bodywork on 40th Rd. near Main St. in Flushing around 10:30 p.m. Thursday, cops said.

He had ordered a foot massage and was unhappy his request for a so-called happy ending — an erotic massage — was turned down, according to police sources.

When the worker refused him a refund for the foot massage, he went berserk and pulled out a hammer, dragged her into the 24-hour spa’s front waiting room and punched her in the face, the video shows.

Two other employees tried to come to the woman’s aid, but the man grabbed one of them, a 56-year-old woman, by the throat and pushed her against the wall while brandishing the hammer, the video shows.

The women finally gave the customer $40 to get rid of him, police said. Still unsatisfied, he shattered a yellow piggy bank sitting on the front counter with his hammer, snatched the tip money scattered on the counter and dashed off, cops said.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

3 City Council hearings on Amazon

From Metro:

The New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson still has a lot of questions about what exactly will happen when Amazon HQ2 comes to Queens, and in a search for answers, the Council will host three hearings about the closed-door deal that lured the tech giant here.

At the New York City Council Amazon hearings, council members will question city officials and Amazon executives about the negotiations made in the bid for HQ2.

Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen, Economic Development Corp. President James Patchett and Amazon executives have been invited to the hearings, Corey’s office told the Wall Street Journal.

There will be three hearings in total, with the first oversight hearing scheduled for Wednesday, Dec. 12 at City Hall. That hearing will be through the Economic Development Committee to look at the specific Amazon HQ2 in Queens site and how the deal between the company and the city played out.

Group seeks to preserve historic Elmhurst cemetery

From the Queens Gazette:

Underneath a muddy desolate back lot near 47-11 90th Street in Elmhurst exists a forgotten cemetery. Almost two centuries ago, African-American residents of what was then known as Newtown buried their family and friends in this sacred place of eternal rest.

According to the Elmhurst History & Cemeteries Preservation Society, a total of 310 burials were made in the cemetery. Some burials have been removed but numerous remains are still at the site. The society stated that the African American community in Elmhurst traces backs to the time of slavery in the late 1600s.

In 1828 a parcel of land was donated to former slaves who were members of the United African Society (later known as St. Mark's AME Church) one year after slavery was abolished in New York State. The first African American church, parsonage, school and cemetery were set up at this site. Elmhurst had a free African American community living, working and worshiping in this particular area of Newtown.

In 1914, Booker T. Washington came to speak in Elmhurst to help raise funds for the St. Mark's AME church.

The goal of the society is to make the site a NYC Landmark and for it to be placed under the National Register of Historic Places.

More information, including a petition to save the burial ground, can be viewed here.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

NYS Pavilion getting some love from the Feds

From the Times Ledger:

The restoration effort of the New York State Pavilion at Flushing Meadows Corona Park will receive more than $16 million in federal funding, according to U.S. Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand.

As announced on Nov. 26, the cash infusion will be used to repair and replace several electrical units at the World’s Fair Park and other areas which were severely damaged during Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

“The World’s Fair Pavilion is an enduring icon and it should be preserved and promoted for current and future generations,” Schumer said. “Now the pavilion is being restored and these federal funds will be used to repair damaged caused by Superstorm Sandy and help yet another community asset recover after the storm.”

The $16,468,030 grant was provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to the New York Office of Management and Budget and will be used for repairs at the pavilion as well other storm-damaged areas of the park.

Overhaul for World's Fair Marina

From the Queens Chronicle:

Plans are in place for the World’s Fair Marina to receive a $32 million makeover, including a complete reconstruction of one of its piers.

The improvements to the marina, located on Flushing Bay in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, will focus on the deteriorating Pier 1. The pier, which is closed to the public, will be demolished and completely rebuilt under the plan.

Officials from the Parks Department told Community Board 3 at its Nov. 15 meeting the pier is “in pretty bad shape” and “in need of reconstruction.”

The Parks Department was in front of the community board looking to secure a letter of support before it puts its plan in front of the city’s Public Design Commission. Due to the snow that fell that day, the board did not have the required number of members present at the meeting to vote.

The construction budget of $32 million includes funding from City Hall as well as federal dollars designated for Hurricane Sandy repairs. The World’s Fair Marina was battered during the 2012 hurricane and suffered considerable damage.