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.
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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.”
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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.
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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.
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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.”
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A year after the city’s 421-a tax exemption program expired, a new version of the affordable housing incentive is officially moving forward. In August, Governor Cuomo released a new version of the plan that which include wage subsidies for construction workers and extended terms for the tax breaks, and after the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York and the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) reached an agreement in November to move ahead with this version, the Governor’s office now reports that they’ll be advancing new legislation to move ahead the program that’s now been re-named “Affordable New York.” Cuomo says this will create 2,500 new affordable housing units per year.
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When Mayor de Blasio took office in 2014, he vowed to build or preserve 200,000 units of affordable housing over 10 years, and so far, he’s made good on his word, despite the loss of the city’s controversial 421-a program. The Times reports that today the Mayor will announce that his administration has added 21,963 affordable units in 2016, the most since 1989. Of these apartments, 6,844 were in newly constructed buildings and roughly 4,400, or 20 percent, were reserved for low-income New Yorkers earning less than $25,000 (much more than the eight percent goal). More than 30 percent were in Manhattan, followed by 29 percent in both the Bronx and Brooklyn.
Related Cos. founder Stephen Ross and his Hudson Yards project.
New York-based mega-developer Related Cos. has been instrumental in recent efforts to keep the door open on a controversial program that provides green cards to wealthy investors, reports the Wall Street Journal. Related, the developer behind the $20 billion Hudson Yards project and many other luxury developments, has been instrumental in blocking bipartisan efforts to overhaul a green card program, known as EB-5, that allows permanent legal U.S. residency to immigrants who invest $500,000 or more in certain U.S. businesses.
Hoping for a supportive Trump White House
Reserving three of 5th Avenue’s five traffic lanes for pedestrians will ease the traffic paralysis that President-elect Donald Trump‘s continued residence in his 56th Street tower has caused, former NYC Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan argues. In an op-ed for the New York Times yesterday Sadik-Khan, a principal with Bloomberg Associates and a key player in the introduction of the Times Square Pedestrian Plaza, angled 5th Avenue’s traffic problem as a bipartisan issue that requires change to get better. With the President-elect saying he plans on visiting his Manhattan home frequently even once he has moved to the White House, it is clear New York will need to adapt or risk forever needing to budget an extra three hours to get through Midtown.
Without big changes, the chaos isn’t going to improve
Continuing his 2017 State of the State proposals, Governor Cuomo made an announcement this morning that the state would invest in six regional projects “to move New York City’s outer boroughs forward.” In addition to healthcare-related initiatives, these include: up to 3,000 new units of affordable housing in Brooklyn with wellness-focused amenities; permanent toll reductions on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge for Staten Island residents; $10 million towards the Orchard Beach pavilion redevelopment; and $108 million in financing for the Kingsbridge Armory in the Bronx to be transformed to an ice center.
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In just 11 more days, Donald Trump will take office as the 45th President of the United States. And just as Trump is gearing up for his four-year term, his son-in-law Jared Kushner and daughter Ivanka Trump are preparing to take on major roles as well. Last week it was revealed that the pair would be moving into a six-bedroom, $5.5 million mansion in D.C., and now the New York Times reports that Kushner will step down as CEO of Kushner Companies as he transitions from real estate mogul to full-time presidential advisor.
Plans to rezone Midtown East are few steps closer to reality with the start of the new year. The Department of City Planning has certified a rezoning proposal for the area surrounding Grand Central, and the city kicked off its official land-use review process Tuesday. The next step for the rezoning plans will be the seven-month Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP), which includes review by community boards 5 and 6, the Manhattan borough president, the City Planning Commission and the City Council. The zoning proposal could add 6.5 million square feet of commercial space to the 73-block district in the form of 16 larger, more modern buildings that would replace old ones, breathing new life into the office zone that New York Post real estate columnist Steve Cuozzo recently referred to as “iconic but declining.”
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For the third straight year, IDNYC will remain free to all New Yorkers over the age of 14, despite concerns related to Donald Trump’s request for data from sanctuary cities (h/t DNAinfo). Currently, more than 900,000 people are cardholders, which makes them eligible for memberships and discounts at 38 cultural institutions, 10 of which are brand new this year and include the Museum of Arts and Design, Museum at Eldridge Street, Film Forum, St. George Theatre, and the Jacques Marchais Center for Tibetan Art. Other perks include a 15 percent discount for first-time Citi Bike members, a five percent discount during certain times at Food Bazaar supermarkets, and up to 25 percent off select events at the Barclay’s Center.
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Though Mayor de Blasio said early last year that he would phase out the process of using hotel rooms to fill the gaps in supporting the city’s growing homeless population “as quickly as possible,” a new request from the Department of Homeless Services would extend the practice for up to nine years. The Post reports that the agency’s proposal is in response to the record 60,686+ New Yorkers in shelters, and they’re asking for vendors to supply “emergency shelter social services in commercial hotels.”
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A Google Earth image of the property
News of President Obama imposing sanctions against the two Russian intelligence agencies that were allegedly involved in the DNC hacking that affected the 2016 presidential election is perhaps the biggest news in the world right now, but it hits a lot closer to home than many New Yorkers may realize. The administration expelled 35 intelligence officials from the country and ordered two intelligence compounds closed, one of which is a 49-room mansion on a 14-acre property in Glen Cove on Long Island’s ritzy Gold Coast (h/t Gothamist). NBC New York reports that, although the Soviet Union purchased it in 1951 to be used as weekend home for its UN delegates, many locals were never aware of its existence as a “longtime getaway for Russian diplomats” that was “also used for Russian intelligence purposes.”
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The Atlantic and the New York Times recently exposed the privately owned public spaces (known as “POPS”) in the Trump Tower as being far from “public.” As both journalists demonstrated, most of the Trump Tower public spaces were either cordoned off or non-existent, most notably, the case of the missing bench. A long bench was supposed to be available to the public in the main lobby but was removed as Donald Trump explained, “due to tremendous difficulties with respect to the bench—drug addicts, vagrants, et cetera have come to the atrium in large numbers. Additionally, all sorts of ‘horrors’ had been taking place that effectively ruined the beautiful ambience of the space which everyone loves so much.” In exchange for providing the POPS, the Trump Tower was able to add roughly 20 extra floors for the 66-story building by including a public atrium, restrooms, two upper-level public gardens and the now replaced bench. So what exactly are POPS, how are they monitored and is there a way to make them more successful?
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Less than a week after the city announced that they’ll be increasing the number of commercial hotel rooms housing homeless families and individuals by more than 500, a report from Comptroller Scott Stringer puts the average cost a night citywide for the current batch at $400,000, according to the Daily News. The report, which is being released today, says that since November 2015, the city booked a total of 425,000 hotel rooms, costing more than $72.9 million. As of last month, there were 5,881 homeless New Yorkers staying in hotels, with the average nightly bill climbing from $163 to $194 over the past year.
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In New York City, where buying and selling real estate is a high-stakes endeavor, the topic of historic and landmark designation is frequently raised. There are heated discussions on the subject of listing neighborhoods or buildings on the State and National Register of Historic Places or having them designated by the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission. It’s important to know what those organizations do and the distinctions between them. You could even be eligible for significant financial aid for your renovations if you own property in an historic district.
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NYC will get a big boost thanks to Governor Cuomo’s Regional Economic Development Council competitions, a six-year-old initiative that provides “ground-up” funding driven by a community’s success in improving quality of life and growing the local economy. New York City was named a “top performer” by the administration and awarded $80.2 million. The hefty sum will be allocated towards 121 projects across all five boroughs, including $1 million to build a tech incubator facility in Brooklyn, $1 million for a shuttle-bus service for the Brooklyn Navy Yard, $2.1 million to support the Green Point Manufacturing and Design Center, and $1.24 million to complete the final section of the Brooklyn Bridge Park beneath the bridge. Money will also go towards brownfield clean-up, supporting workforce expansion in local organizations, job training, and improving parks in low-income neighborhoods.
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As he readies himself for reelection this coming year, Mayor de Blasio is looking to address the city’s surging homeless population. Just this week, the city reported a record 60,686 New Yorkers in shelters, nearly 40 percent of whom are children. This number was closer to 51,470 when de Blasio took office in 2014, and despite the $1.6 billion he’s spent on homeless services since this time (a 60 percent increase), the shelter system still can’t support the growing population. Therefore, as the Times explains, he’s looking to ramp up a controversial initiative that uses hotel rooms to fill in the gaps, earmarking more than 500 additional rooms for this portfolio.
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