Policy

affordable housing, Policy

rent stabilization, affordable housing, nyc affordable rent

An investigation by Public Advocate Letitia James’ office found that nearly 40 percent, or 884, of the 2,322 apartments in the Tenant Interim Lease (TIL) program sit unoccupied. After hearing multiple complaints from constituents at town halls, the public advocate’s office launched a full review of the program and discovered it does not meet its goal of providing New Yorkers with self-sufficient, low-income rentals (h/t NY Post). Even more shocking, at one TIL building on 615 West 150th Street, tenants had to move out in 1996 for what was supposed to be a two-year renovation. Per a policy briefing by the public advocate, they still have not been able to return to the units, and their possessions are locked up without access.

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Policy, Transportation

port authority of new york and new jersey, port authority agency, midtown manhattan

After multiple feuds, budget concerns and delays, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey may have finally reached an agreement on a timeline to replace or renovate the bus terminal. As the Associated Press reports, the plan to replace the Port Authority Bus Terminal has shifted attention back to the existing midtown Manhattan, instead of relocating it one block west. Board members of the bi-state agency said a study of the original site will be finished by the end of July to determine the cost and schedule of renovation. Following that study, an environmental review is expected later this year, which could take about two years. Construction cannot begin until the review is completed.

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Policy

airbnb, airbnb logo, short term rentals

With the announcement of Mayor de Blasio’s new executive budget on Wednesday, the shaky relationship between the short-term rental company Airbnb and New York City continues. As reported by Crain’s, the city plans to crack down on illegal short-term rentals by spending an extra $2.9 million over the next two fiscal years. For the fiscal year 2018, the mayor plans to pour $1.6 million into expanding the city’s Office of Special Enforcement, which inspects and fines landlords who rent entire apartments out for fewer than 30 days.

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Policy

Whether you want to know or not, NYC landlords may soon be required to tell you of any past or current bedbug infestations in your building when you sign or renew a lease. As reported by the NY Post, a new city council bill would force landlords to file infestation histories with the Department of Housing and Preservation Development and to either publicly post them in the buildings or distribute them to tenants. The agency would also require all histories to be posted on their website.

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navy yard, Policy, Top Stories, Transportation

BQX, Brooklyn Queens Connector, mayor de blasio streetcar

Although Mayor de Blasio’s proposed BQX project, which would connect the Brooklyn and Queens waterfronts via streetcar, received praise from many, finding money to fund it may be tougher than expected. Earlier this month, a leaked memo obtained by the Daily News laid out a tough assessment of the construction logistics and financial problems facing the project. And while the mayor admitted last week that his plan for the BQX to be self-funded through tax revenue from higher real estate values may not pan out, an article in Crain’s laid out an idea for the city to sell air rights in the Brooklyn Navy Yard neighborhood to raise money for the project.

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affordable housing, Brooklyn, Policy

Pacific Park Brooklyn, Atlantic Yards, Pacific Park master plan, Greenland Forest City Partners, Thomas Balsley Associates

In every state and major city in the country, extremely low-income renters face a shortage of affordable housing. Although low-income applicants in New York City display a higher need for affordable housing, policies created by Mayor de Blasio and his administration continue to set aside more units for middle-income applicants. In a detailed report, City Limits analyzed affordable housing in Brooklyn and compared the need for affordable housing to the actual number of allotted low-income and middle-income units. For just one building, the tower at 535 Carlton, nearly 95,000 households entered the lottery for its “100 percent affordable” units. However, only 2,203 applicants were eligible for the 148 middle-income units, and over 67,000 households applied for the 90 low-income units. The data shows low-income households in search of affordable housing face much tougher odds than middle-income applicants.

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City Living, Policy

Image: Jazz Guy via flickr

Though it’s not too hard to understand the logic behind a mansion tax, a bagel tax…oy vey! Next time you hit your local bagel shop, know that if you get your breakfast sliced–or heaven forbid, with schmear–you’ll get smacked with an 8.875 percent sales tax. If you eat it in the store, (even if it’s still whole), boom, more tax.

The folks at Turbotax explain that, “the state adds an eight-cent tax to any altered bagels,” which includes, “bagel sandwiches (served buttered or with spreads, or otherwise as a sandwich)” or even just sliced for you. According to the New York state Department of Taxation and Finance, “Generally, food and food products sold by food stores are exempt from sales tax.” That bagel loses its exemption when it is “sold heated; it is sold for consumption on the premises; or it has been prepared by the seller and is ready to be eaten, whether for on premises or off premises consumption.”

In honor of Tax Day, we ask: What’s with this bagel tax?

Hotels, Policy

airbnb, airbnb logo, short term rentals

With its value nearing $30 billion dollars, it’s hard to deny Airbnb’s influence and disruption in the American hotel industry. Since its founding in 2008, the short-term lodging company has serviced about 150 million travelers, in three million listings in more than 191 countries. And as the New York Times reported, the hotel industry has launched a plan to take action against the company’s growing market share. The plan includes a national campaign at the local, state and federal levels to counter Airbnb by lobbying politicians and attorneys general to reduce the number of Airbnb hosts and fund studies that show they do not collect hotel taxes and are not required to follow the same safety and security regulations that hotels must follow.

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Policy, Transportation

Hudson River Tunnel, NYC Infrastructure, Grant Program

As 6sqft reported recently, President Trump may include two major New York transportation projects in his proposed budget cuts, including the Gateway Program that would build a new train tunnel under the Hudson River and a program which extends the Second Avenue subway in Manhattan to East Harlem. The Gateway Program, which would add a much-needed second rail tunnel beneath the Hudson River and upgrade aging rail infrastructure in New York and New Jersey, has been relying on the federal government for half of its estimated $24 billion cost. WNYC reports that even if the funding is pulled, the agency may look to funding from a public-private partnership.

Find out what the options are

Art, Long Island City, New Developments, Policy

5Pointz, graffiti museum, Long Island City developments, aerosol art

Starting with the news that the iconic graffiti-covered warehouse known as 5Pointz in Long Island City, Queens, visible from passing trains since its beginnings the 1990s as an artists’ studio and exhibition space, was being razed and replaced by rental apartments, the building has been the subject of heated controversy. As 6sqft previously reported, in 2013 the complex was whitewashed of its colorful exterior murals under cover of night, and renderings surfaced for the rental towers that would replace it; as if to add insult to injury, the building’s owner, Jerry Wolkoff of G&M Realty, revealed plans to use the name 5Pointz as a marketing angle for the new development. Several attempts were made at intervention–and prevention of a similar fate for artists’ spaces since then. Now, the New York Times reports, a federal lawsuit filed by 23 5Pointz artists against Wolkoff, who ordered the art destroyed, is getting its day in court. On March 31, Judge Frederic Block of Federal District Court in Brooklyn ruled that the federal lawsuit against Wolkoff, who ordered the artwork destroyed–could have a jury trial, an incremental legal victory for the artists and a chance to confront Wolkoff in court to seek redress.

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Policy

In February Mayor de Blasio announced that he plans to open 90 new homeless shelters, but during this same month, only 38 percent of families seeking shelter through the Department of Homeless Services were approved, reports the Daily News. This is a 50 percent drop from the same time last year, which comes after the agency’s Commissioner, Steven Banks, received approval from the state in November to require families seeking shelter to present “clear, convincing and credible evidence” that they absolutely have nowhere else to go.

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Policy, Top Stories, Transportation

Earlier this year, President Trump, a lifelong New Yorker, hired two NY-based developers to head an infrastructure commission, which oversees spending on his proposed $1 trillion plan to improve the country’s bridges and roads. Despite this clear connection to the Big Apple, the president refuses to say whether he will include two major transportation projects for the city, both of which his proposed budget defunds, as the New York Times reported. As of now, Trump has proposed eliminating a program that would build a new train tunnel under the Hudson River and a program which extends the Second Avenue subway in Manhattan to East Harlem.

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Policy

NYC and Mexico City join forces to boost tourism

By Devin Gannon, Thu, April 6, 2017

NYC & Company, New York City Marketing, Mexico City Ad

The uncertain political climate and anti-immigrant rhetoric following Donald Trump’s election caused a drop in tourism to New York from many countries, and notably, from Mexico. In an effort to repair its relationship, New York City and Mexico City renewed a city-to-city partnership this week to foster tourism between the two places. As Crain’s learned, NYC & Company, the city’s official tourism agency, collaborated with Mexico City’s Ministry of Tourism, to share best practices in tourism marketing and provide reciprocal promotional support. In Mexico City, billboards and bus shelters will declare “New York City- Le da la bienvenida al mundo,” which means “welcoming the world.”

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Policy, Transportation

MetroCard, NYC subway, MTA

Although the recent subway and bus fare hike affects all New Yorkers, low-income residents are being especially hard hit by the jump in cost. As a way to ease this financial burden, the City Council has proposed a $50 million pilot program as part of the “Fair Fares” initiative which will provide half-fare MetroCards to New Yorkers living at or below the federal poverty line. As the Daily News learned, transit advocates say nearly 800,000 residents would be eligible for the discount under the full plan.

Find out more here

City Living, Policy

To date, close to 700 LinkNYC Wifi kiosks have been installed throughout the five boroughs. Among their features are an app that lets users make free calls anywhere in the U.S., as well as a dedicated red 911 button for emergencies. Coupled with the fact that most New Yorkers have cell phones on them, it seems that the city’s 14,813 red alarm boxes serve basically no purpose anymore. In fact, as Crain’s tells us, last year, the boxes were used only 11,440 times to call the FDNY, which is an average of less than once per box. And, of these calls, only 13 percent were for actual emergencies and just 1.5 percent for fires. But yet, the city spends a whopping $6.8 million annually paying electricians to repair the call boxes and others to paint over graffiti.

What’s the deal?

Policy

With a federal budget proposal that strips significant funding to the Environmental Protection Agency, it’s not so shocking that President Trump and his son-in-law and close adviser, Jared Kushner, both own buildings that rank as the least energy-efficient in New York City. The Daily News shared a new report from ALIGN, a coalition of labor and environmental activists, which found that Trump Tower uses more energy than 93 percent of the city’s large residential buildings. Worse, the Trump Organization’s Mayfair condo uses more than 98 percent. The report also revealed that a Kushner Companies’ 666 Fifth Avenue (controversial for even more reasons as of late) uses more energy than 85 percent of large office buildings.

See the report here

Policy, Top Stories

Despite the fact that Donald Trump received only 18 percent of presidential votes citywide, he’s getting a surprising show of NYC support when it comes to his $20 billion border wall. Crain’s reports that 11 New York-based firms, including contractors, architects, and “little-known small businesses,” have expressed interest in the project, seemingly undeterred by legislation proposed last month that would bar the city from signing contracts with companies involved in the wall. Though some of these applicants support Trump’s true intentions, others have taken a more creative approach, using the submission process as a way to support immigration and co-existence.

Hear from four of the applicants about their proposals and stances

Policy

Photo: Seth Wenig (AP) courtesy of Van Alen Institute.

A blue-ribbon commission has recommended that Rikers Island be closed and replaced with several smaller facilities based on a study of the storied jail’s future according to the Daily News. The panel, led by former New York State Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman, has been studying the the troubled 10-jail facility for more than a year. Mr. Lippman and the Speaker of the City Council, Melissa Mark-Viverito, will officially announce the findings on Sunday. A member of the commission said that recommendations include supervised release of some detainees, new smaller jails across the city and an overhaul of the bail system as part of a transition that would take 10 years to complete. According to a recent New York Times report, Mayor de Blasio has shifted his position on the issue and will be announcing his support for a closure plan, possibly at a news conference Friday.

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Midtown, Policy

NYC may have to compete for Trump Tower security funds

By Devin Gannon, Fri, March 31, 2017

While the President has yet to visit Trump Tower since his inauguration, the price of protecting the First Lady and 10-year-old Barron costs the city an average of $136,000 per day, according to the NYPD. Congress offered only $7 million to reimburse the city for the $24 million the police department said they have spent protecting the building between the period of Trump’s election and his inauguration. However, as Crain’s learned, that payment is not guaranteed, and NYC may have to compete with New Jersey and Florida, both places the president frequents, for the money.

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Policy

donald trump, president trump, tax plan

New York’s top elected officials, aware of the political leanings of their constituents, continue to be outspoken in their opposition to President Trump and his administration. As Crain’s reports, City Comptroller Scott Stringer serves as one of New York’s most vocal assailants on Trump, with 50 percent of his press releases written this month attacking the president’s policy proposals. In a report released this week, Stringer analyzed Trump’s proposed federal income tax law and found that it disproportionately benefits the highest-income earners in New York. If adopted, 40 percent of all single parents would see their taxes go up, compared to 90 percent of millionaires who would see a reduction, according to Stringer.

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City Living, Policy

The cost of exporting trash in NYC is expected to soar

By Devin Gannon, Mon, March 27, 2017

nyc trash, garbage, sanitation department

As the population of New York City continues to rise, so does the amount of garbage lining its sidewalks. But getting all this trash out of sight is not an insignificant expense. As the Post reports, a new study by the city’s Independent Budget Office (IBO) has found that the price of exporting trash is swelling and there appears to be little remedy in sight.

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affordable housing, Policy

432 Park Avenue, DBOX, Macklowe Properties, Vinoly, Deborah Berke (52)

Outside of 432 Park Avenue, Mayor de Blasio held a press conference on Thursday to discuss his mansion tax. The proposal calls for a 2.5 percent surcharge on sales of city homes valued at $2 million or more, which would in turn fund affordable housing for 25,000 senior citizens. De Blasio fittingly positioned himself outside 432 Park because, according to the city, if the proposed tax had been passed, this residence alone would have generated $30.2 million since 2015 in support of housing for low-income seniors. “And that would have been based–and this is stunning to me–on the sale of just 62 condominiums. But it would have meant enough money to subsidize affordable housing for 2,000 seniors,” he said.

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Midtown West, Policy, Sunset Park

Industry City, Design Week, ICFF, Sunset Park, Brooklyn, NYC

At a Manhattan community board meeting Wednesday evening, city officials told garment industry representatives of plans to remove Midtown‘s manufacturing preservation requirement, Crain’s reports. The change to a 1987 zoning rule means that landlords will have the option to rent the formerly set-aside space to commercial office tenants. City officials cited the failure of the preservation effort to meet its goal, highlighted by a reported 83 percent decline the number of garment workers–from 30,000 to 5,100– since it was first implemented. As 6sqft recently reported, the rezoning is seen as “a clear push to drive these businesses toward lower cost space in Sunset Park.”

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Landscape Architecture, Meatpacking District, Policy, Urban Design

If you thought the roller coaster that is Pier 55 was over since construction began in November, you may not want to step off the ride just yet. Just yesterday, a federal judge ruled in favor of the City Club of New York, who took legal action against the $200 million Barry Diller-funded offshore park way back in the summer of 2015. As reported by the Times, Judge Lorna G. Schofield agreed with the group’s claim that the Army Corps of Engineers had not conducted a sufficient environmental review on how the 2.4-acre park would affect fish and wildlife. She ordered that work stop at the site and called for a review of alternatives for building along Hudson River Park, a maritime sanctuary.

Get the whole legal saga

Green Design, Policy

Bioswale, NYC Department of Environmental Protection, NYC green infrastructure

While you may have never heard of the term “bioswale,” you have probably seen these curbside gardens throughout the city. A bioswale, or rain garden, is a pit dug into the sidewalk that’s been filled with rocky soil and shrubbery. These gardens absorb polluted stormwater and prevent runoff that could seep into waterways through the sewer system. Despite being an effective solution to water pollution, the New York Times reports that some city residents are crying out against find bioswales, calling them unattractive, messy, and hotbeds for trash and pests.

Find out more here

affordable housing, Policy

Like many cities across the country, New York City’s population is getting older. Today, more than 1.1 million adults over 65, nearly 13 percent of the city’s total population, live in the five boroughs, a number which is expected to rise to over 1.4 million by 2040. In response to both this growth and the Trump administration’s budget cuts to beneficial senior programs like Medicaid and Medicare, City Comptroller Scott Stringer released a new report detailing policies that invest in the city’s seniors (h/t Metro NY).

Find out more here

Featured Story

Features, History, Policy

Remembering New York City’s days of deadly smog

By Michelle Cohen, Wed, March 22, 2017

Smog covering the Empire State Building. New York, NY, US, November 21, 1953, LIFE Magazine.

Over Thanksgiving weekend in 1966, the layer of smog that hung above New York City killed about 200 people. An estimated 300–405 people died during a two-week smog episode in 1963. In 1953, as many as 260 died from breathing the city’s air over a six-day stretch.

6sqft reported recently on Donald Trump’s proposed budget and subsequent concerns about the impact significant funding cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency totaling $2.6 billion or 31 percent–including staff reductions and program eliminations–might have on the city’s drinking water and air quality. A spokesman for Mayor de Blasio assured us that these federal cuts won’t impact NYC’s high quality water supply. But what about the air?

But what about the air?

Policy

President Trump, Budget Proposal

Under President Trump’s first budget proposal, New York City will lose hundreds of millions of dollars for schools, housing, transportation, homeland security, and other city agencies. According to the Daily News, city schools and afterschool programs can be expected to lose $140 million, homeland security grants will be cut $190 million, and NYCHA will lose $370 million, which is on top of the $76 million cut they were already expecting. Ironically, the budget also slashes transit projects by $2 billion, which means completing projects like the Second Avenue Subway and the Gateway trans-Hudson River tunnel may be on the chopping block, despite the fact that they were specifically called out in Trump’s previous $1 trillion infrastructure plan to receive $14.2 billion and $12 billion respectively.

Find out more here

Policy

tour the gowanus canal, Brooklyn Atlantis Project

President Trump released his budget proposal Thursday that lays out his plan to bulk up defense and homeland security spending, and thereby dramatically cut funds to the Environmental Protection Agency (as well as foreign aid, the arts, and public broadcasting). As reported by amNewYork, these proposed EPA cuts, which total $2.6 billion or 31 percent, include staff reductions and program eliminations, which may make the city’s drinking water and air quality vulnerable to pollution.

Find out more here

affordable housing, Bronx, mott haven, New Developments, Policy

570 East 137th Street

Rendering of Mill Brook Terrace courtesy of NYCHA

As part of the New York City Housing Authority’s NextGen initiative–the controversial policy of partnering with private companies to develop housing on open space in existing public housing projects–an affordable senior development is coming to the South Bronx. As reported by NY Yimby, Mill Brook Terrace in Mott Haven will be a nine-story, 169-unit building at 570 East 137th Street and will be set aside for seniors who earn no more than 50 percent of the area media income, or less than $36,250. Designed by Perkins Eastman Architects, the building will include a 9,000-square-foot senior center on the ground floor, which will include a commercial kitchen, community space, activity room and an outdoor garden.

Find out more here

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