A study released Thursday by the Citizens Housing and Planning Council (CHPC) suggests that Mayor Bill de Blasio’s initiatives to ease the city’s housing woes should include a program that would convert the 38,000 or so basements in the city’s single-family homes without having to make big changes to city or state laws. As Crain’s reports, the study is part of the CHPC’s Making Room initiative that explores how alternative housing typologies can better meet the needs of New York’s diverse households. The council introduced the study by stating their belief that “based on the ﬁndings we present here, that a basement conversion program in New York City would be an eﬃcient and exciting way to add residential density and expand housing choices in our expensive and highly constrained urban market.”
The Port Authority Board of Commissioners yesterday approved a $32.2 billion, 10-year capital plan–the agency’s largest ever. The major allocations include: $3.5 billion to begin the planning and construction of a new Port Authority Bus Terminal; $10 billion towards improving trans-Hudson commuting, including a $1.5 billion Goethals Bridge replacement, completion of the $1.6 billion Bayonne Bridge rebuilding, and a $2 billion rehab of the George Washington Bridge; $11.6 billion in major airport upgrades, which factors in $4 billion for the new LaGuardia Terminal B, a plan to extend the PATH train from Newark Penn Station to the Newark Airport, and the beginning of Cuomo’s JFK overhaul; and $2.7 billion towards the Gateway rail tunnel project.
Back in November, the Wall Street Journal reported that Mayor de Blasio had spent a record $1.6 billion on homeless services since taking office three years prior, a 60 percent increase that came with 20 percent more New Yorkers in city shelters. Now, as shared by the Post, Comptroller Scott Stringer says that homeless spending will reach a whopping $2.3 billion when this fiscal year ends on June 30th, almost twice the $1.2 billion spent three years ago. “We have to pause and ask ourselves, are we seeing results?” he said.
For those who thought removing subway station garbage cans as a means to decrease litter and rats seemed counterintuitive, you were right. The Post looks at how things have fared since the MTA took out cans in 39 stations in 2012, and since this tactic was nixed by the state Comptroller’s Office in 2015. Despite the latter attempt to course correct, a new state report shows that the situation is still just as bad in many stations, with the amount of litter on the upswing and an increased number of track fires.
New York City already has planned a $3.4 billion investment over the next five years to repair the decaying infrastructure of the century-old Catskill Aqueduct. As 6sqft previously explained, the 92-mile network of tunnels, dams and reservoirs brings the city’s water supply from the Catskill/Delaware and Croton watersheds. If you think this figure is steep, consider the $40 billion that a report from state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli estimates it would cost to repair and upgrade the entire state’s aging water infrastructure over the next 20 years. As the Daily News explains, in NYC alone there were 562 water main breaks in 2015, and throughout the state, contamination is leading to concerns over clean drinking water.
De Blasio’s 2017 affordable housing plan includes $1.9B for 10,000 new units and Elder Rent Assistance program, Mon, February 13, 2017
In preparation for his State of the City address this evening at the Apollo, the Mayor announced two major affordable housing initiatives. The first will allocate $1.9 billion for 10,000 new apartments reserved for households earning less than $40,000, 5,000 of which will be set aside for seniors and 500 for veterans. The second implements a new Elder Rent Assistance program to provide 25,000 seniors with monthly rental assistance of up to $1,3000, to be funded by the city’s proposed Mansion Tax.
For fiscal year 2017, the city budgeted $88 million for snow removal and has already spent $26 million. But yesterday’s dump of the white stuff could bring that number up to $54 million. DNAinfo reports that Comptroller Scott Stringer estimates it could cost NYC taxpayers between $19.9 and $27.9 million to dig out from Winter Storm Niko, which is based on the average of $1.99 million per inch of snow that the city has paid over the past 14 years.
The line separating Trump’s personal business interests and his role as President of the United States continues to blur, as the Washington Post reports today that the Pentagon may lease “a limited amount of space” in Trump Tower. In doing so, the U.S. Defense Department says it will be able to better protect Trump’s family, as Melania and Barron have decided to remain in the couple’s gilded Trump Tower penthouse, and Donald himself when he is town. The move, however, has one major and obvious sticking point: rent on the space would need to be paid to the Trump Organization—and taxpayer dollars would be used to foot the bill.
In November, the City Planning Commission voted to raise the cost of air rights transfers in the Theater District, allowing the city to take a 20 percent cut of any sales and establishing a minimum floor price of $346, a roughly 400 percent increase over the current $17.60 flat fee that they feel will be more in line with current property values. Despite vocal opposition from the Real Estate Board of New York, who back Theater District landlords and believe the increase is “is onerous, excessive and unfair,” this month the Commission is hoping to have the proposal approved by the City Council, reports Crain’s.
In the state’s capital on Monday, Mayor de Blasio spoke in defense of various policies including NYC’s “sanctuary city” designation, WNYC reports. The mayor was in Albany to ask state legislators for funding for items like education, public health and affordable housing. In the face of criticism from Staten Island assembly members Nicole Malliotakis and Ron Castorina (both Republicans), who questioned the mayor’s pledge not to aid in the mass deportation of undocumented immigrants by the new administration, de Blasio said he had discussed the issue with then-President-elect Trump, and would continue to resist mass deportation for “moral, economic and security reasons.” Though Castorina said de Blasio would be risking the loss of billions of dollars in federal aid, the mayor said the money withheld by the federal government would only be $100-150 million and that his legal advisers say the city could fight back in court.
Mayor De Blasio will renew his call for a “mansion tax” before this state Legislature in Albany today, reports Politico. In support of rent subsidies for 25,000 low-income senior citizens, the mayor has detailed a proposal that will raise the property transfer tax to 2.5 percent for any sale above $2 million. “We are asking for some basic tax fairness from the wealthiest New Yorkers so low-income seniors can afford their rent and continue to call the greatest city in the world their home,” the mayor said in a statement.
Dr. Ben Carson, a retired neurosurgeon and failed Republican nominee, has now been cleared to serve as Secretary of Housing for the next four years. For many, his appointment remains perplexing. Carson has no political experience and no obvious knowledge of housing and development issues. At least some concerns about Carson’s fitness for the job were put to rest during his Senate hearing on January 12. Beyond a contentious exchange with Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, Carson dodged any major attacks. Still, there is no question that under Carson’s direction, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) will roll out a series of changes over the coming four years. While some changes will impact housing and development in New York City, Carson’s influence is expected to be minor.
Governor Cuomo recently announced that his revised version of the city’s 421-a tax exemption program would officially be moving forward. He said the initiative, dubbed “Affordable New York,” would create 2,500 new affordable housing units per year, but a new study from the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development says this will come at a cost. As Politico reports, Cuomo’s changes to the program would cost NYC an additional $820 million over 10 years if approved by the state Legislature, $82 million a year more than Mayor de Blasio’s proposed 421-a overhaul in 2015.
Downtown Brooklyn’s 345 Adams Street
Despite “a backdrop of uncertainty,” as he put it, Mayor de Blasio yesterday unveiled an $89.4 billion, 10-year capital plan that includes school construction, public housing repairs, paving roads, and a new NYPD training center. It also sets aside $384.2 million to renovate and rehabilitate aging, city-owned buildings. Commercial Observer tells us that the bulk of this allotment, $94.5 million, would go towards 345 Adams Street in Downtown Brooklyn. The 1920s office building is home to the Department of Finance, Department of Probation, Board of Elections, and Administration for Children’s Services. Others on the list are the Brooklyn Municipal Building ($39.1 million), 253 Broadway in lower Manhattan ($18.5 million), and the Manhattan Municipal Building ($16.7 million).
Reporters at McClatchy obtained documents that the Trump transition team provided to the National Governor’s Association detailing 50 projects across the country that would take priority under the President’s proposed $1 trillion infrastructure plan, and among them are two NYC-based projects. The Gateway Project, which would repair the aging and Sandy-damaged Hudson River rail tunnels and build a new one, would cost $12 billion and create 34,000 jobs. Phases two and three of the Second Avenue Subway would cost $14.2 billion and create 16,000 direct jobs.
City Water Tunnel No. 3, one of the largest capital projects in the city’s history; Images: NYC DEP
Mayor Bill de Blasio will officially announce Tuesday that $300 million will be allocated toward the completion of the city’s third water tunnel (known as Water Tunnel No. 3) which will bring drinking water from upstate to the city’s taps. The mayor’s announcement backs up assurances he made in April that the tunnel will be ready for activation in an emergency by the end of this year, and fully operational by 2025, Politico reports. The allocation, along with an additional $3 million to disinfect the Brooklyn/Queens section of the tunnel, is part of the city’s 10-year capital plan and will speed up the timeline for completion of the project.
At a board meeting over the summer, the MTA began discussions about increasing subway and bus fare to $3 by 2017 “in an effort to raise more than $300 million annually,” as 6sqft reported at the time. The Daily News has now learned that the agency will officially recommend the four-percent increase at their board meeting next week. Though they’ll be passing on another option that would’ve kept fares at $2.75, the hike will increase the bonuses that come with re-loading one’s MetroCard from 11 to 16 percent, “an extra 96 cents for every $6 purchase.”
Construction deaths have been on the rise ever since the city entered into its current building boom. But a new study from the New York Committee for Occupational Safety & Health titled “Deadly Skyline” shows just how dire the situation has become. Between 2011 and 2015, New York state construction worker fatalities jumped from 33 to 55, and of these, 25 were in NYC. Even more alarming is the fact that, during this time, safety inspections decreased from 2,722 to 1,966 and 90 percent of fatalities were the result of safety violations at construction sites.
After the Transport Workers Union and the MTA failed to reach a deal on Sunday night, the contracts for 44,000 subway and bus workers expired. But a tentative agreement was reached yesterday for a 28-month contract that stipulates a 2.5 wage increase over the first 26 months with a $500 bonus in the last two, higher than the two percent rate of inflation the MTA originally offered. Yesterday afternoon, TWU Local 100 president John Samuelson shook hands with outgoing MTA Chairman Tom Prendergast to close the deal, but it must still be ratified by the union and approved the MTA Board.
Trump to name New York developers Richard LeFrak and Steven Roth to oversee new infrastructure council, Tue, January 17, 2017
President-elect Donald Trump has previously outlined his $1 trillion infrastructure plan not just as a means to repair and build bridges and roads, but as a real estate platform for private entities to build and subsequently own public works such as schools, hospitals, or energy pipeline expansions through $137 billion in tax credits. So it comes as no surprise that he’s tapped two of his longtime buddies and big-time New York real estate developers to head up the new council that will monitor this spending. The Wall Street Journal reports that Trump asked Richard LeFrak and Vornado’s Steven Roth to manage this council of 15 to 20 builders and engineers, referring to the men as “pros” because “…all their lives, they build. They build under-budget, ahead of schedule.”