Thursday, May 30, 2019

Melinda Katz and her donors from the real estate industry are trying to buy the D.A.'s office


Queens Borough President Melinda Katz is doubling down on developer dollars in the crowded race to become district attorney.

Katz’s donors include a who’s who of the city’s multi-billion dollar real estate industry, making up roughly 29% of all the money she received between mid-January and late May, the latest campaign finance filings with the state Board of Elections show.

She raised $560,000 during the four-month filing period — about $158,300 of which came from people, companies and organizations in the real estate industry, according to THE CITY’s analysis of campaign finance disclosure documents filed by the committee KATZ NYS.

Of the nearly $318,000 Katz raised from individuals, at least $126,000, or 40%, was contributed by developers and people in the real estate industry.

She’s bucking a growing trend of local politicians — among them Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, City Council Speaker Corey Johnson and Public Advocate Jumaane Williams — who say they won’t accept developer dollars.

Katz’s platform includes a pledge to assign an investigator to every workplace accident that results in serious injury. She told THE CITY last month she would “absolutely” prosecute developers who are at fault in construction fatalities or injuries, and not just contractors implicated.

With the June 25 Democratic primary looming, the borough president is the fundraising frontrunner in the seven-way race to replace the late Richard Brown.

Katz’s largest cumulative donation came from the family behind Two Trees Management, whose founder, David Walentas, and his wife each donated $6,250, in addition to the $6,250 donated by his son, Jed. That was followed by a $15,000 contribution by real estate developer Daniel Tishman of Tishman Realty & Construction.

Her campaign was also buoyed by donations from developers and construction companies that do business in the borough she’d have jurisdiction over if she becomes the next DA.
Katz received $12,500 from two people associated with Jackson Heights-based Nash Builders, which constructed an eight-story building in Elmhurst, and $11,250 from individuals tied to The Mattone Group, a College Point-based developer.

Two political committees tied to the Rent Stabilization Association, which represents 25,000 property owners and agents, donated $10,000 to Katz. The political arm of the Real Estate Board of New York, an influential trade group, gave her $2,500.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

City allows tech startup company to put a thousand rental mopeds on the streets.

NY Daily News

The number of mopeds on New York City’s streets has nearly doubled overnight thanks to a local startup.

Revel, a Brooklyn-based tech company, on Wednesday deployed 1,000 street-legal electric two-wheelers across Brooklyn and Queens, which can be rented by the minute.

To use them riders must download Revel’s app, snap a photo of their driver’s license and fork over a $19 sign-up fee. After that, they can be rented for 25 cents per minute on top of a $1 base charge.

The mopeds are made by Chinese manufacturer Niu, and top out at just over 30 mph. They are not allowed to be used on bridges, highways or tunnels, and Revel’s owners do not expect people to take them into Manhattan.

The company launched a pilot last July with 68 bikes, limited to the Brooklyn areas of Bushwick, Williamsburg and Greenpoint. Wednesday’s expansion widens that zone to cover areas up to Astoria, down to Red Hook and over to Crown Heights and Bedford-Stuyvesant.

By making them more available, Revel’s owners think mopeds will become much more popular in the city.

“We’ve learned that this is a safe operation,” said Revel co-founder Frank Reig, 33. “We’ve had a great track record since we launched.”

While mopeds are less likely to injure pedestrians and cyclists than cars and trucks, research has shown that their riders are just as likely to be killed as motorcyclists.

A 2018 study published in the American Journal of Emergency Medicine looked at emergency room records at the University of Louisville Hospital — it found that riders who were in moped crashes were just as likely to die as those who were in motorcycle crashes.

 Another 2016 study out of moped-crazy Denmark found that 78% of moped accidents were the result of rule-breaking behavior on the part of the rider.

This is going to be a disaster. But with the subways sure to get worse, Citibike suspending the e-motored cycle fleet because of exploding batteries and faulty brakes and now that de Blasio's ferries are as tardy as him, this city is really desperate to fulfill and more concerned with the commuting demands of the hipsters and yuppies that they are willing to compromise the safety of everyone and take up whatever little parking space is left available.

de Blasio illicitly rewarded city hall and presidential campaign PAC donors to abused third party transfer program for city foreclosed buildings

NY Daily News

Groups selected by the city to take over foreclosed properties both employ and have close ties with dozens of donors who have given generously to politicians with a say over the fate of the valuable buildings.

A Daily News analysis of for-profit and non-profit entities approved by the city to take over the “distressed” buildings found workers and directors for most of those entities donated cash to local political campaigns. Of the 37 outfits approved for the city’s controversial “third-party transfer” program, at least 21 employ or have close connections with someone who donated, campaign finance records revealed.

Political observers and critics of the program say the donations, coupled with the city picking the companies to take over the properties, many of which are in quickly gentrifying neighborhoods, raise thorny issues.

“These are the kind of things that make me wince. There is something here that doesn’t smell right,” said Betsy Gotbaum, executive director of the Citizens Union good government group. “Who benefits? Why are these particular people benefiting?”

All told, from 2013 campaigns to the present, the donors gave at least $100,000 to local and national political causes, including Mayor de Blasio’s presidential run. Of all the politicians they’ve given to, de Blasio holds the most sway. He is chief of a bureaucracy that chooses who gets the valuable properties and who doesn’t.

Since his 2013 mayoral run, de Blasio has received $4,900 from Nancy Lepre, president of Avante Contracting; $10,950 from Frank Carone, a board member and audit committee chairman at RiseBoro Community Partnership; and approximately $14,000 from others affiliated with the city-selected, third-party-transfer companies.

Both Avante and RiseBoro are among entities approved by the city to take ownership over buildings the city forecloses on. Other companies whose board members, employees or relatives have given include Lemle & Wolff, the St. Nick’s Alliance and the Urban Homesteading Assistance Board.
But Carone stands out among this broad constellation of donors.

 But Carone stands out among this broad constellation of donors.

 Not only is he on the board of directors at RiseBoro, the non-profit once known as the Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizens Council and synonymous with the disgraced late Assemblyman Vito Lopez, Carone is the chief lawyer for the Brooklyn Democratic Party. In that role, he wields vast influence over the candidates the party chooses to sit as judges in Brooklyn’s courts.

The judges chosen by the party go on to hear cases involving foreclosures under the third-party transfer program. If a judge rules in the city’s favor, the city can then transfer the properties to entities such as RiseBoro, which can then begin collecting rent from tenants.

“It is very troubling,” said Serge Joseph, a lawyer for a Bronx co-op that was recently foreclosed on under third-party transfer. “If you put that on top of everything else, it becomes overwhelmingly troubling.”

 “Everything else,” according to Joseph and many other critics of TPT, is the lack of notice provided to owners by the city prior to transfers taking place, the way the city defines a “distressed” property, and the city’s failure to provide assistance to struggling buildings in its Housing Development Fund Corporation (HDFC) program.

Heads up while walking and driving under the 7 el tracks

Transit workers inspect the elevated 7 train structure near the 61st Street-Woodside stop.
photo by Jose Martinez/The City


Even after large pieces of debris plunged from the 7 train’s elevated structure down onto the street several times this year, the MTA isn’t ready to put up safety nets.

Queens Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer requested netting under the tracks above Roosevelt Avenue following a series of high-profile spills.

But “netting would impede access, close-up inspection, and assessment of corrosion or defects on the structure and cause extensive street level traffic disruption to install and secure,” New York City Transit Authority President Andy Byford wrote in a recent letter to Van Bramer obtained by THE CITY.

Byford wrote that New York City Transit is “exploring engineering designs and preliminary costs” before making a “final determination” on the netting.

Van Bramer in March had asked for the MTA to install netting after debris from the elevated tracks repeatedly plunged onto Roosevelt Avenue. In February, a piece of wood pierced the windshield of a passing for-hire vehicle, prompting a pledge from the MTA to inspect “every inch of elevated tracks in the city.”

“Until the MTA is 100 percent certain that nothing is going to fall from those elevated tracks and potentially kill someone, we’ve got to do something to protect the people underneath,” Van Bramer told THE CITY on Wednesday.

Some Queens residents said they take extra care when traveling bustling Roosevelt Avenue.

“I just walk quickly when I’m under the tracks,” said Amelia Carrillo, 73. “It’s not like I’m going to walk around with a hardhat on.”

“It’s an old structure,” said Lucas Reyes, 58, as he walked beneath the elevated tracks at 61st Street-Woodside stop. “You don’t want anything falling on your head.”

Byford noted that New York City Transit has nearly completed emergency engineering and maintenance inspections along the No. 7 line’s elevated structure, with crews removing loose materials and spotting steel repair needs.

Two more “blitz inspections” are underway — to replace any missing track baskets that are supposed to keep loose parts from falling on to the street and to make sure track ties are secure.

“I’ve had people tell me they avoid that area now,” Van Bramer said. “I’ve had constituents say, ‘I try not to drive under there, I try not to walk under there.’”

Monday, May 27, 2019

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez misses Memorial Day Parade in Woodside


George The Atheist

AOC . . . MIA?
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez,  U.S. Representative for the New York 14th Congressional District, where were you Monday, Memorial Day?  Your constituents missed your presence in the Queens part of your district at the annual Woodside Catholic War Veterans' parade -  a traditional solemn remembrance of those local members of the armed forces who gave their lives to protect our country.  
Your predecessor, Joseph Crowley, can be seen in the following photos respectfully present at last year's annual occasion.   Why haven't you followed in his footsteps by attending this event?   Also, why was it that your colleague (also here depicted), in the neighboring 6th Congressional District, 

Representative Grace Meng, was able to attend the Maspeth Memorial Day parade in the area she represents the day before?
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez:  Where were you?  Perhaps making another promotional self-serving movie or blabbing on Twitter?

Politics are still local congresswoman, 


               JQ LLC


London Lennie's owners are selling their property


The latest catch of the day for real estate developers in Queens could be the site of London Lennie’s Restaurant in Rego Park.

An advertisement on the real estate website Zillow that surfaced on May 23 listed the beloved eatery at 63-88 Woodhaven Blvd. as being “for sale or lease” with a $6.5 million price tag. Salvatore Crifasi of Crifasi Real Estate is handling the transaction.

Even with the site being on the market, London Lennie’s remains open for business, serving luxurious seafood lunches and dinners to hundreds of guests each week.

The Zillow description notes that the one-story property is “a rare development site.” The restaurant itself occupies 6,000 sq. ft. of the 10,700 sq. ft. lot, but the existing residential zoning and commercial overlay could allow a developer to erect a more than 22,000 sq. ft. building — nearly four times the size of the existing eatery.

“This redevelopment opportunity provides developers the ability to capitalize on tremendous demand in an area with a scarcity of developable [sic] land,” according to listing, which indicated that it could be perfect for a “mixed-use project with the potential to include … medical, retail, residential, community facility, hotel and/or office.”

The restaurant’s owner also owns the property through a holding company listed on city records as RP Seafood LLC. Crifasi told QNS the owner is keeping his options open about whether to sell the restaurant and its property, or lease the building to a tenant for uses other than a restaurant.

College Point Memorial Day Parade honors veterans of and the memories of soldiers fallen in America's wars

On the Sunday before Memorial Day, patriotism poured out onto the streets of Queens.
CBS2s Tara Jakeway got a front-row seat to the festivities.

What does Memorial Day mean to you?

“All of the guys that I left… I do this every year. I’m proud to (honor) the men who didn’t come back, the women who didn’t come back,” said James Reilly of Lake Ronkonkoma.

Reilly, a Marine Corps veteran, served our country in Vietnam and Korea.

“It’s heartbreaking. So many men and women gave their lives for this country,” added Herb Nowak, a Marine Corps veteran from Queens.
Nowak, also one of the few, the proud, served in Okinawa and the Mediterranean.

“No other organization in American history has done as much for this country as the military has,” Nowak said.

Both native New Yorkers were beaming with pride as they road alongside fellow veterans in the College Point Memorial Day Parade.

“There would be no barbecues on the beach without them hitting the beach,” a member of the NYPD Emerald Pipe Band said.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Bunch of idle boats drop anchor on Queens Village streets.

 Not only are the streets of South Queens Village a junk yard for the disrespectful auto body shops along Hempstead ave, now are streets are being turned into a boneyard for boats! Maybe they'll start sticking "Cash 4 Junk Boats" stickers all over the neighborhood now. I've seen about a dozen boats dumped across the area, including on Springfield Blvd. Absolutely disgraceful! 

I doubt this would fly up in Bayside! (sent via Facebook)

Living on top of a Historic Elmhurst Cemetery

The Elmhurst History and Cemeteries Preservation Society, Inc. has been working with the St. Mark’s American Methodist Episcopal Church (AMES) to save and landmark a historically significant burial site in Elmhurst. The site has been studied and documented by multiple organizations that it has at least 290  human interments and remains.
The site is under evaluation by NYC’s Landmarks Preservation Commission for landmarking. The burial ground represents the history of post slavery African Americans, specifically those who lived and worshipped in Elmhurst.   There was also a recent PBS documentary about the famous Iron Lady Coffin which was excavated from this site.

 So why is this property on the market for real estate development (condo?).

Hard to imagine someone wanting to live atop 290 graves!!!

Signed Anonymous

From James Ng Elmhurst History & Cemeteries Preservation Society, Inc. & Elmhurst resident.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Citywide Administrative Services office worker plans to convert her Rockaway Beach home into an SRO shelter.

The Wave

When Manhattan resident Mimi Fuhrman placed a winning bid of approximately $550,000 in a public auction to purchase a dilapidated 1-family home at 174 Beach 120th Street back in 2017, local homeowner John Karalis could only guess if the winning bidder would end up making the edifice a permanent residence or turn it into her summer home.

But what he later discovered was equal parts perplexing and disheartening.

 “I don’t mind renovating it; I don’t want it to be a 12-room shelter,” said Karalis at The Wave’s recent visit to the outside of the 3-story structure in question.

According to applications unearthed by Karalis and Maureen Walsh of Walsh Properties, the current proprietor of the 40’ x 100’ lot is looking to gain approval from the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) for a Certificate of No Harassment (CNH).

 The document — according to — is what’s required by the NYC Department of Buildings before the buyer can attain a permit to alter, demolish or change the shape or layout of single room occupancy (SRO) dwelling.

Two of Fuhrman’s attempts to get the necessary approval were denied, with the city’s most recent objection occuring on May 15.

While the home was once an SRO, as per Democratic District Leader Lew Simon, it previously served as a summer facility. A year-round site, he states, won’t get the city’s endorsement.

When contacted by The Wave, Fuhrman — herself a city employee, who works as a senior lease negotiator for the Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) — insisted that her plans for the abandoned home are still in the preliminary stages. She further related that she has no intentions of doing anything that would compromise the safety of the neighborhood.

She claimed that she originally viewed her purchase as an opportunity to open a beachside bed-and-breakfast getaway given her educational background in hotel and restaurant management.

Those projections, however, were quickly dashed when the longtime real estate professional realized she couldn’t afford the expenses involved with being a homeowner of the 12-room residence.

“I’m working with somebody else who’s going to help me with the project. They’re going to own more of it than me of course. But I’m not relinquishing any say. I’m going to make sure things are nice,” said Fuhrman when asked about her partnership with Steven Kates, a noted landlord and real estate investor.

Impunity candidate, Bill de Blasio

 Impunity City

Well, there and off he goes again, Warren de Blasio-Wilhelm has thrown himself into the presidential race, whose sudden announcement was induced by a high school student who accidentally found an ad for an event Sioux City featuring the derelict mayor touting his candidacy on social media. The ad itself should be a foreboding for the Blaz  for it’s comical misspelling of his current name.

Now he has a legitimate excuse to leave the town he was elected to.

The habitually, perpetually late and derelict mayor is jumping into the primary with 23 other Democrats, despite polling at 0% and absolutely no chance to participate in the first debate in June with the others, including favorites Bernie Sanders and Unkie Joe Biden along with stalwart candidates like the outstanding Tulsi Gabbard and Elizabeth Warren and establishment DNC bots like Pete Buttegieg and Kamala Harris.

Even with these mountainous obstacles and in concert with universal rejection from his constituents and solidarity hatred from people with disparate political ideologies, de Blasio will not be deterred. The defiant hypocrite and ignoramus even blew off the advice of his staffers and his political peers. It’s like if the emperor who wore no clothes realized what he looked like and still arrogantly continued walking in public with his pus oozing herpes sore covered cock and balls flapping in the breeze as he swayed.

I posted a Twitter presidential poll between the Blaz and the guy who smashed 42 LinkNYC kiosks in Manhattan. So far, it's unanimous.

Screenshot_2019-05-25 JQ LLC Impunity City on Twitter Which notable New Yorker would you prefer to run for president NYCMay[...]

Court rules in favor of Maspeth hotel's landlord

Earlier this month, the New York Supreme Court issued a blow to New Ram Realty, (aka Harshad Patel, et al) by siding with the landlord of the Maspeth Holiday Inn Express in declaring that New Ram's arrangement with Acacia Network violated the terms of their land lease. The court:
  • "Ordered, adjudged and decreed that defendant New Ram Realty, LLC's renting of rooms at property located at 59-40 55th Road, Maspeth, New York to DHS or another agency of New York City to house homeless persons constitutes a material departure from the use provisions (Article 5 and Section 35.8) of the lease and a breach of such use provisions; and it is further,
  • Ordered, adjudged and decreed that plaintiff KCM Realty Company is entitled to exercise its remedies under the lease; and it is further,
  • Ordered, that the motion for summary judgment on the third cause of action  is granted on the issue of liability."
In the order, the court pointed out that not only did New Ram breach its contract with KCM, but it also violated the City's Zoning Code by housing homeless at the hotel for extended periods of time.

Jamaica auto body shop using three streets for vehicle storage and are getting away with it

Auto Body has over 30 cars on 150th street, 97th ave, 149 street. Jamaica NY

No registration,  no inspection over 1 month.   

Cops come and give tickets to the local residents. 

Friday, May 24, 2019

Drinking fountains in Queens public parks are loaded with lead!%2FhttpImage%2Fimage.jpg_gen%2Fderivatives%2Flandscape_768%2Fimage.jpg&f=1


The water from one drinking fountain in Pelham Bay Park in the Bronx has 50 times as much lead in it as permitted by federal regulations, according to an official test. Another at a tennis court in Cunningham Park in Queens has nearly 23 times above what officials consider safe.

The New York City Department of Parks and Recreation has published early results from its program to test for lead contamination at its public drinking fountains. And while many of the numbers are alarming, they’re also “very common” for cities with aging, lead-based plumbing, according to Marc Edwards, a civil engineer at Virginia Tech who helped uncover harmful lead levels in Flint, Michigan.

A Gothamist/WNYC analysis of the city’s data found that, out of the 448 fountains checked thus far, 20 fountains (4.5 percent of the early total) tested above the federal standard of 15 parts per billion (ppb). By comparison, in a similar exercise carried out in New York City public schools in 2017, roughly 8 percent of water sources tested above the same threshold once all the results were tallied.

The testing program is a component of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s LeadFreeNYC campaign to eliminate childhood lead exposure in the city. The parks department said drinking water from public fountains is not a known source of exposure, but the city’s health commissioner, Dr. Oxiris Barbot, said the tests “will ensure that we leave no stone unturned.”

Research has shown that even low levels of lead exposure can cause reduced IQ, hyperactivity and other behavioral problems in children. In adults, lead is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease and other health issues.

Sampling in parks and playgrounds started on May 6th in Queens. All of the city’s 3,500-plus public fountains are scheduled to be tested by June 14th. Two samples are drawn for each source, one after a fountain has sat unused for up to 18 hours prior to testing, and another after a flush of several seconds to help determine how deep the source of contamination in the plumbing goes. Any fountain that exceeds 15 ppb will be turned off until it can be fixed, officials say. Test results are to be updated on a weekly basis.

At the Dry Harbor Playground in Forest Park in Queens, a drinking fountain where children regularly play came in at 296 ppb, nearly 20 times the federal standard.

“There's no doubt that that's too much lead to be drinking from a fountain,” Edwards said. “You should be worried about it. You should remediate that tap. That shows there's a hazard.”

 This investigation only started a few weeks ago and Queens parks dominate the list. And despite Gothamist's headline and the odious NYC Parks officials marginalizing this vast public health hazard, these are a lot of parks with high level toxicity and not "some".

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Blackstone is buying up debt-ridden public and private properties

Crains New York

Blackstone Group LP is seeking $5 billion for its latest fund that invests in real estate debt, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The vehicle, Blackstone Real Estate Debt Strategies IV, will focus on property-related wagers in public and private debt globally, according to an investor presentation seen by Bloomberg. The pool will have an emphasis on the U.S.

The firm is tapping into sustained interest in private real estate debt as investors search for yield. In 2018, $26 billion was raised by funds dedicated to real estate debt, on the heels of a record $33 billion the year prior, according to data from Preqin. Roughly 40% of the assets in real estate debt vehicles have yet to be invested, an effect of the strategy’s relatively recent growth, the data provider said.

Paula Chirhart, a spokeswoman for New York-based Blackstone, declined to comment.

Blackstone’s new fund scored a commitment of up to $100 million from the $42.7 billion Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund, the pension disclosed last week on its website. Management fees will be waived for four months for investors in the first close, saving the pension as much as $500,000 based on its commitment.

The fund is charging a 15% incentive fee with a performance hurdle -- the return rate it is required to meet to receive carried interest -- of 6%. It will charge 1.25% management fees per year on invested capital for commitments of at least $400 million, and 1.5% for those below that level.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Mayor de Blasio administration obfuscating race and income data of affordable housing applicants


The de Blasio administration is fighting to keep under wraps studies of its own data used to analyze whether the city’s affordable housing lottery system reinforces segregation.

The latest result: a 31-page report filed in Manhattan Federal Court on Tuesday that contains the word “Redacted” 131 times over the spots where the findings would be — including eight times with the R-word screaming out in huge type.

The fight for secrecy stems from a suit filed by a civil rights group arguing that the city’s policy of giving so-called “community preference” for affordable housing to residents already living in a neighborhood keeps intact the racial and income status quo.

The Anti-Discrimination Center’s latest analysis of the issue isn’t public, thanks to objections by the city.
It’s extraordinary that information that can’t be personally identified is treated as a state secret,” said Craig Gurian, an attorney representing the Anti-Discrimination Center. “This is information the public could not be more interested in. It’s not personal information. It’s how the housing lottery process — which can have tens of thousands of New Yorkers apply for a few apartments — whether people get a level playing field or not, based on race.”

Gurian first asked a federal magistrate judge to put this data into the court record in June 2017 after a statistics expert hired by the Anti-Discrimination Center completed his first report.

At the time, however, Judge Katharine Parker blocked the release of the study’s results, agreeing with the de Blasio administration’s request to keep it private while city lawyers prepared their response.

Luna Park affordable housing board members took nearly a million in bribes from people that got first dibs to apartments

NY Post

Three Brooklyn women at the helm of a Coney Island affordable-housing development pocketed more than $870,000 in bribes by fraudulently fast-tracking wealthy home-buyers into high-demand units meant for low-income families that needed them, officials said Tuesday.
Anna Treybich, Irina Zeltser and Karina Andriyan now face a 78-count indictment for the scam they ran from January 2013 through this month at the taxpayer-subsidized Luna Park complex, funding their luxurious tastes, officials said.
“Corrupt insiders got cash bribes, applicants got the apartment they wanted without having to wait, and honest families were left out in the cold,” Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez said.
He was surrounded by a sampling of the trio’s alleged ill-gotten finery, including bags, shoes and jewelry bearing the names Chanel, Fendi and Cartier — and a rack of fur coats.
Playing gatekeeper in their respective roles as president, treasurer and office manager of the Luna Park Housing Corp., Treybich, Zeltser and Andriyan wormed well-heeled tenants into 18 apartments at the five-building, 6,000-resident Mitchell-Lama complex in exchange for cash bribes as large as $120,000, prosecutors said.

 In nearly all of the cases, they did so by doctoring applicants’ documents to claim that they were relatives of outgoing tenants, allowing them to cut ahead of non-connected applicants, some of whom had seen their names sit on waiting lists for decades, authorities charge.

Otherwise, Mitchell-Lama hopefuls coming in cold without relatives are processed on a first-come-first-served basis.
As of Tuesday, the waiting list for Luna Park included 585 applicants for studios, 3,806 for one-bedrooms and more than 9,700 each for two- and three-bedrooms, according to public records.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Aqueduct Station elevator run by Resorts World never works.
Photo by Jose Martinez/The City
The City

 A parts problem was to blame for problems at the Aqueduct Racetrack stop on the A train — whose privately maintained elevator was available just 33.5% of the time in the first three months of 2019 because of broken glass.

“That’s not a good number,” said Cynthia Lewis of Queens, a regular at the Resorts World Casino New York City at Aqueduct. “They should work harder to make sure it works all the time.”

“They don’t even fix the slot machines,” said another woman at the subway station, who asked to be identified only as Leslie. “Why should they fix their elevator?”

 But global casino king Genting — which operates Resorts World Casino New York City and maintains the elevator — had to order custom-made glass before the elevator could resume transporting riders between the platform and a parking lot. The company says MTA specifications are to blame.

“Accessibility to our facility is a key priority and we monitor this elevator closely to ensure it is providing the service to those who need it,” a spokesperson for Resorts World Casino told THE CITY. “As soon as the MTA alerts us to an issue, we immediately dispatch a maintenance crew, which helps to keep it in service.”

NYC housing departments vetted designs for "affordable housing" in vacant lots are just hideous and claustrophobic

Some of the estimated 1,000 vacant lots across New York will be converted into affordable housing as part of a new NYC Housing Preservation and Development partnership with the American Institute of Architects.

Every square inch of real estate is premium in a place like New York. With that in mind, 23 lots across the city, many of which are small, oddly shaped eyesores, will be converted. Deputy Commissioner of 

Neighborhood Strategies Lelia Bozorg says the city is working on it because neighborhoods are changing and New Yorkers are being priced out of them.

“It’s one way to explore different models of housing, which is really important in a city like ours,” Bozorg said.

One lot being converted on West 136th Street is 17 feet wide. Design is difficult because the lots are often so small.

Four hundred designers from around the world competed to renovate the properties. Only five - all New York based - were chosen.

Future tenants will have to go through the housing lottery to live in these new buildings. The lists are not yet ready.

These buildings are not yet under construction.

City continues to dither about SBJSA while small businesses rapidly vanish

Queens Eagle

Mom-and-pop shops throughout Queens are closing at alarming rates, and small business advocates say one decades-old piece of legislation could stem the tide of evictions and closures. The City Council just has to act on it.
The Small Business Jobs Survival Act has undergone many iterations since it was first introduced in the Council in 1986. The city has changed significantly over that time period, and small business owners and employees now face their greatest challenges to staying open and employed.
The SBJSA would prevent landlords from gouging their commercial tenants with steep rent hikes and pricing the businesses out of their locations. The bill would require commercial landlords to offer commercial tenants 10-year lease renewals and give the tenants right of first refusal.
"[SBJSA] has been kicking around in one form or another since 1986," said Kirsten Theodos, the co-founder of the small business advocacy coalition TakeBackNYC. "This is the eighth time that 
[SBJSA] has been introduced in the City Council and it just had its eighth hearing, which was this past October and yet the City Council will not commit it to the floor for reaching a vote."
The city defines small businesses as companies that employ fewer than 100 people. “Very small” businesses employ fewer than 20 people. The inaugural “Small Business First” report published by the city in 2015 found that 98 percent of NYC’s 220,000 businesses had fewer than 100 employees, while 89 percent had fewer than 20.
These businesses are especially vulnerable to eviction or getting priced out of their locations and there is little they can do about it, Theodos said.
"If you are a rent-regulated tenant you have a right to renewal, commercial rent tenants have nothing like that," said Theodos. "As a result we have landlords dictating all the terms and what we are seeing are exorbitant rent increases. Landlords are denying lease renewals and those are the reasons we are seeing good businesses getting pushed out."
At first the closure of small businesses was a Manhattan problem, she continued. But in recent years, more and more outer-borough businesses are getting priced out, Theodos said.
It’s easy to observe the dissolution of these businesses in the number of vacant storefronts on bustling streets. But it’s hard to pinpoint exactly how many storefronts are vacant, as City Lab reported last year.  
A 2018 New York Times article estimated that 20 percent of Manhattan storefronts were vacant. The City Council responded that it’s more like 4 percent.
Exact answers are even harder to find in Queens, where shuttered shops have received less attention. Residents sense it, though.
"If you ask anyone, regardless of the borough they live, they can attest to the vacant storefronts in their neighborhood," said Theodos. "'If you ask them, ‘Did the businesses get kicked out because they were bad businesses?' the answer is going to be 'No, because they were either rent-hiked or denied a lease renewal.’"

Monday, May 20, 2019

No shit, Sherlocks at City Council; the city planning department doesn't evaluate the effects of overdevelopment?

LIC Post

City Planning’s predictions as to the outcome of neighborhood rezonings will be put under the microscope if a number of bills sponsored by Council Member Francisco Moya become law.
The bills would require city agencies to review past neighborhood rezonings to see how accurate City Planning’s projections were with what took place on the ground in following years.
The bills come at a time when there have been a number of neighborhood rezonings—where existing residents have voiced concern about being displaced due to gentrification– and instances where City Planning’s projections have been found to be way off.
For instance, City Planning’s projections were proven wrong when it rezoned a 37-block area in 2001 in the Court Square/Queens Plaza area. The city anticipated, according to its Environmental Impact Statement in 2001, that no more than 300 residential units would be built in the rezoned area by 2010, according to a report released by The Municipal Art Society of New York last year. In 2010, there were 800 residential units and by 2018 almost 10,000 units—with more coming.
With each neighborhood rezoning, the city goes through an environment review process, called the City Environmental Quality Review (CEQR), to identify the likely outcome.
Based on the CEQR manual, the city must evaluate the impact of a rezoning on land use, traffic, air quality, open space, schools, socioeconomics, among other items. City Planning studies these impacts and makes projections that go into an Environmental Impact Statement, which the public relies on when it undergoes the ULURP public review process.
City Planning works with other city agencies, such as the School Construction Authority, Department of Transportation and the Department of Housing Preservation and Development, to produce an Environmental Impact Statement. The agencies provide guidance based on City Planning’s calculations.
However, the city is not held accountable for its predictions and legislators want that to change. There is no mandate requiring officials to re-examine their projections.

Here's more unaccountability:

Hunters Point developers for parcel C given the green light to build their towers higher and higher

Developers have released new designs for Parcel C of the ongoing Hunters Point South development, a shift that will result in the two planned towers to rise significantly higher than expected along the 

Long Island City waterfront in order to accommodate the complex infrastructure running below the ground along with a recently planned school for the site.
The two residential towers, referred to as “north” and “south” will rise to 55 stories, or 550 feet, and 44 stories, or 440 feet, respectively. The north tower’s new design is 14 stories higher than previously planned, and the south tower will see an additional nine stories, up from 35 stories in the previous plan.
The developer, TF Cornerstone, aims to break ground in June 2018.
The two towers will be flush against the perimeters of the parcel, as will the newly incorporated elementary school, resulting in cleared-out space in the middle of the site, where no built structures will rise, save for a food pavilion with outdoor seating amidst greenery and public art installations.

 The changes were revealed during Community Board 2’s Land Use meeting Wednesday night. Jaclyn Sachs, a senior planner at the Department of Housing Preservation and Development, and John 

McMillan, director of Planning for TF Cornerstone, said that they had to redesign the two towers so they wouldn’t disturb  power lines, an Amtrak tunnel, and other infrastructure running below the site. 

Furthermore, easement holders such as the New York Power Authority and Amtrak, wanted unobstructed access to the site.
Sachs added that while the New York Power Authority and Amtrak and other easement holders were part of initial conversations about the development, it wasn’t until a specific proposal for the parcel was put out by TF Cornerstone that easement holders preferences for an undisturbed center became clear.
TF Cornerstone also had to incorporate an elementary school on the parcel, which was not part of the original plan, after the city pushed for its addition during the developer’s redesign. The school will be 34,000 square-feet, with 572 seats, and have a ground level playground directed toward the center of the site.

 “This was not an easy thing to do,” Sachs said, adding that parcel C is the largest and most complex of the parcels on the 30-acre Hunters Point South development.

This obviously got permitted because it contains, ahem, "affordable housing", which as we have been told ad nauseum that it can only be achieved if market rate and luxury housing get built also. Like the nearby "zipper building":

The Zipper Building, a new luxury condominium development in Hunters Point, has officially placed all 41 of its units on the market.
The available condos, located inside the converted and expanded zipper factory at 5-33 48th Ave., range from studios to four-bedrooms. The units begin at $650,000 and go up to $2.5 million.

“The Zipper Building will complement the budding Hunters Point neighborhood, which is in the midst of a real estate boom,” said Eric Benaim, CEO of listing brokerage Modern Spaces.

And the behemoth at Court Square,

The first units have hit the market in the 67-story, 802-unit building that is going up in Court Square.
Twenty-units are now available in the condo, which will be the tallest building in Queens when it is complete. The listing prices for those units now on the market range from $660,400 for a studio to $2,325,610 for a three-bedroom.
The development, called the Skyline Tower and located at 23-15 44th Drive, is across the street from One Court Square and is being marketed as offering spectacular views and more than 20,000 square feet of luxury amenities.
The condos offer floor-to-ceiling windows, modern appliances, and marble-adorned bathrooms.
The initial listings are in floors four through 36. The developer anticipates that buyers in the bottom 36 floors will be able to move in by the end of 2020, around the same time that the Dept. of Buildings is expected to issue a Temporary Certificate of Occupancy.
Residents will be able to move into the higher floors by the end of 2021, when the TCO is expected to be issued. The upper floors will tower over the Citigroup building.
Eric Benaim, the CEO of Modern Spaces, anticipates that it will take four years to sell all of the units. Modern Spaces is the exclusive marketing and sales firm for the project.

Apparently, the city and the real estate industry that truly runs it is building for speculative, well, hypothetical residents to supply instead of and for the present demand of hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers who are having difficulty finding affordable housing right now.

7 transit line automated upgrades are done
LIC Post

The MTA announced yesterday that it has completed another technological upgrade to the 7 line that it believes will result in faster and more reliable service.

The latest upgrade, called “Automatic Train Operation,” will see trains programmed to a provide optimal cruising speeds, acceleration and braking that will lead to evenly spaced service and smoother, faster trips, according to the MTA.

Operators will continue to instruct the train to depart a station, make sure that tracks are clear throughout the ride, and control emergency braking in the case of obstacles.

The 7 line is now the second train line to have the technology, after the L. All other lines rely on operators to control a train’s acceleration, cruising speed and braking.

“I am tremendously proud and excited to announce that New York City Transit train operators are now running the entire Flushing Line using automatic train operation, which will make trips smoother and faster for all our customers on that line” said NYC Transit President Andy Byford in a statement.

The latest 7-train upgrade comes just months after the completion of the signaling system called Communications Based Train Control (CBTC), which the MTA says has already led to dramatic increases in on-time performance and other metrics associated with good service.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Council Speaker demands funding restored for street corner trash collecting


The City Council Speaker called on Hizzoner to restore $4.2 million in funding for collection of garbage from street corner trash cans.

“No one wants to go back to the days when overflowing trash baskets on every corner was the norm," Johnson said. “We need those baskets emptied more often, not less. Cutting this funding won’t balance the city’s budget, it will hurt the city’s quality of life.”

City streets have cleaned up their act in recent years, with 96% rated “acceptable” or better last year, according to Johnson

Still, the seven community boards with the lowest ratings for clean streets are all in Brooklyn or the Bronx, the speaker claims. 

What not Queens? The photo above was taken on a street corner in Ozone Park and Jamaica is still keeping up it's reputation for being the filthiest detritus strewn town in the borough.

To paraphrase those protests: Can't clean the city, can't run the country.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Only eleven blocks of Rockaway Beach gets new sand


Rockaway Beach is whole again.

Mayor Bill de Blasio joined elected officials at Beach 94th Street Tuesday to announce the sand restoration operation mounted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was successful.

Now, the popular stretch of the beach from Beach 92nd Street to Beach 103rd Street, which was closed all last season due to erosion that made the area unsafe for swimming, will be open in time for Memorial Day weekend.

“For New Yorkers, summer means Rockaway Beach. That’s why I could not be happier to announce we will have the entire beach open in time for the Memorial Day weekend,” de Blasio said. “I want to thank all the stakeholders who came together to make the hopes of so many New Yorkers a reality. 

We could not have done it without your partnership.”

The Corps dredged the East Rockaway Inlet and pumped the sand two and a half miles west where bulldozers restored the beach.

“Getting tons of sand onto Rockaway Beach in time for summer, and avoid a repeat disaster of prime time beach closures, required every level of government to dig in deep,” Senator Charles Schumer said. “And using the sand from the East Rockaway dredge was a win-win plan because it keeps open a vital channel and all of Rockaway Beach.”

 The closure last summer hurt restaurants and bars in the neighborhood such as Connolly’s, Bungalow Bar, Community House, Thai Rock and Uma’s.

“This is great news, not only for the residents of the Rockaways, but also for the local business owners who suffered because of last year’s beach closure,” Councilman Eric Ulrich said. “I am looking forward to a wonderful beach season where people from all over the city can enjoy Rockaway’s beautiful beaches.”

In 2013, the Army Corps of Engineers placed 3.5 million cubic yards of sand on Rockaway Beach following Superstorm Sandy but infrastructure was never constructed to keep it in place. The New York District is awaiting final approvals from USACE headquarters for the Rockaway and Jamaica Bay Reevaluation Report, which will authorize construction of erosion control features such as jetties and new groins at federal expense.

 So they added tons of new sand from dredging the east side of the shore without protection again. I give this replenishment 70 days until it gets devoured by the ocean.

Gas pipeline in Rockaway gets kiboshed


New York State rejected the application for the controversial Williams Pipeline, also known as the Northeast Supply Enhancement Project, the $1 billion pipeline that would have transported fracked natural gas from Pennsylvania under New York Harbor terminating just over three miles off Rockaway Beach.

More than 60 elected officials — including City Councilman Costa Constantinides, state Senator Joseph Addabbo and Comptroller Scott Stringer — had announced their opposition to the 24-mile pipeline along with 250 organizations and nearly 20,000 who stand against the project.

National Grid had warned the pipeline was necessary to provide guaranteed service to new gas customers, including Governor Andrew Cuomo’s $1.18 billion Belmont Park redevelopment plan. 

Environmentalists warned the project would prolong dependence on fossil fuels instead of moving towards a clean energy future and that construction would pollute the waters by kicking up toxic heavy metals in the sediment.

“As currently conceived in the application, construction of the NESE pipeline project is projected to result in water quality violations and fails to meet New York State’s rigorous water quality standards,” the state Department of Environmental Conservation said in a statement released Wednesday. “Specifically, construction of the proposed project would result in significant water quality impacts from the re-suspension of sediments and other contaminants, including mercury and copper.”

Stringer called the decision a major victory.

“We’ve been outspoken in opposition to the pipeline from the beginning, and I am so proud of the coalition of dedicated advocates who refused to have their voices drowned out be entrenched interests,” he said. “The fossil fuel industry learned an important lesson, they are no match against the people of New York. When we fight back, we win.”

The fight is far from over because the DEC rejection was “without prejudice” meaning the Oklahoma-based Williams Transco could reapply.

“The Department of Conservation raised a minor technical issue with our application for water quality certification,” Williams Transco spokesman Chris Stockton said. “Our team will be evaluating the issue and resubmitting the application quickly. We are confident that we can be responsive to this technical concern, meet our customer’s in-service date and avoid a moratorium that would have a devastating impact on the regional economy and environment.”

Bayside streets are a lunar landscape


Residents are criticizing the poor street conditions in Bayside, as cars traveling down local streets run into potholes, large cracks and uneven roads.

Some like Danielle Chase, blame the ongoing sewer and water main replacement for the pothole hell plaguing the neighborhood.

“Most of the poor street conditions are due to the never-ending construction going on. 38th Avenue from the service road to 217th [Street] is a warzone,” Chase told QNS.

 According to, residents can file complaints about potholes, cave-ins, utility damage and hummocks — roadway asphalt that has been pushed into a wave shape — online or by calling 311. But area resident Arlene Mordjikin said the complaints have not made a difference.

“Bell Boulevard between Horace Harding Expressway and 48th Avenue needs to be repaved. I’ve reached out to 311 since 2016 and I’m still waiting,” said Mordjikian.