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.
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.”
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.
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.
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).
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?
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.
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.
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.
Governor Cuomo announced a $1.4 billion initiative last week to bring resources like health care services and new jobs to Central Brooklyn. According to the governor, the plan, called “Vital Brooklyn,” will bring 7,600 jobs and more than 3,000 new affordable housing units to Brownsville, East New York, Bedford-Stuyvesant and Crown Heights. And while Cuomo’s administration found these neighborhoods to be some of the most disadvantaged in the state, residents worry about the possible gentrification and displacement effects (h/t NY Times).
New York City expected tourism from foreigners to fall after President Trump’s chaotic announcement of his first executive order in January which banned travel from seven majority-Muslim countries because it was unclear which travelers would be allowed into the country. However, as reported by Crain’s, it’s not just money-spending travelers that have avoided the Big Apple; it’s student and youth groups that are canceling trips to the city.
Just two days after newly appointed Secretary of HUD (the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development) Ben Carson went along with plans to cut federal funding to NYCHA by at least $35 million, the Trump administration is reportedly considering decreasing HUD’s total budget by a staggering $6 billion, or 14 percent, according to a leaked budget draft obtained by the Washington Post. Though it’s not clear how the cuts will affect NYC specifically, previous estimates said cuts to NYCHA’s federal aid could easily balloon to $150 million this year, and Mayor de Blasio was already weighing his options for how to deal with the blow. The Wall Street Journal reports that he said yesterday he plans to put aside city money to help fill the gap, but if the city is “cut on many, many fronts simultaneously,” there won’t be enough to cover the loss in federal funding.
Just a day after Ben Carson‘s confirmation as Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) last week, the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) penned a letter not only inviting him to tour the city’s public housing stock (the largest in the country) but urging him not to support budget cuts that would ultimately affect its 400,000 residents. Roughly $2 billion of NYCHA‘s total $3.2 billion operating budget comes from HUD funding, which is immediately needed for the thousands of apartments in dire need of repairs. But their worst fears have come true, as the Wall Street Journal confirms that Trump’s first budget cuts geared towards the city reduce NYCHA’s support by $35 million, the agency’s largest decrease in federal aid in five years, and this figure could very well grow to an unprecedented $150 million.
Retired neurosurgeon and failed Republican presidential nominee Dr. Ben Carson is officially the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which will put him in charge of 8,000 federal employees and an agency with a $47 billion budget, tasked with overseeing most of the nation’s affordable and public housing, enforcing fair housing laws, and providing low-income persons with mortgage insurance. The senate voted yesterday 58-41 to confirm his appointment; the relative lack of Democratic pushback was surprising considering Carson not only has no political experience, but no apparent knowledge of housing, development, or urban issues. Likely with this in mind, the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) has already extended an invitation for Carson to come tour the city’s housing developments.
The exact details of the mayor’s proposal, to be announced Tuesday afternoon, are not yet known, but the focus will undoubtedly be the mayor’s ongoing battle to significantly beef up the city’s overwhelmed shelter system, according to the New York Times. New York–along with Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington, D.C,– has experienced an increase in homelessness in recent years, though the number of homeless people has declined nationwide. The city’s shelter infrastructure is over capacity to the point that, as 6sqft previously reported, around $400,000 a day is being spent on using hotel rooms as temporary shelters. Homelessness is one of the mayor’s thorniest problems; the proposal will reportedly increase the number of shelters throughout the city by nearly one third.
Just two weeks after the city announced that they’d spend $136 million to create the “Made in NYC Campus,” a hub in Sunset Park that will provide affordable space for film and fashion companies, it’s come to light that the de Blasio administration has been planning a rezoning of Manhattan’s Garment District. As Crain’s explains, this could potentially roll back rules that require landlords to rent a portion of their buildings to fashion companies, a clear push to drive these businesses toward lower cost space in Sunset Park.
The de Blasio administration pulled the plug Monday on proposed legislation that would give the city a 20 percent cut of any air rights sales in midtown Manhattan’s Theater District, according to Crain’s. The reversal followed disputes with City Council members over a key element–a floor price for the sales. The proposal had been part of a long effort to get theater owners to up the amount they contribute to a fund used for venue maintenance and support for smaller theaters. There is now speculation as to whether the move could cast a shadow on the administration’s Midtown East rezoning plan, which is a similar policy initiative.
To set qualification guidelines for its affordable housing lotteries, the city turns to the set area median income (AMI), basing annual household income and rents off this figure. However, as The Real Deal explains, “the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development calculates AMI regionally, “using a formula that lumps the five boroughs together with Putnam, Westchester, and Rockland counties.” For 2016, this equated to $65,200 for a single person and $90,600 for a family of four, but a new bill proposed by Democratic State Senator Michael Gianaris and Assemblymember Brian Barnwell would require developers of new 421-a projects to calculate AMI based on the specific zip code in which the building is going up.
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.