New York is serious about going green and Governor Cuomo just signed into law a bill to extend—and double—the possible tax breaks given to those who install solar panels on their properties. A press release notes that the break will offer a rebate of 5 percent on either the solar panel installation cost; property taxes the year panels are installed; or $62,500—whichever is less. The new bill is meant to offset the 25 percent higher cost of installing solar systems in the city due to stringent regulations and the complexity of building sites.
INTERVIEW: Andrew Berman, Executive Director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, Tue, September 2, 2014
There’s been a lot of controversy around preservation in New York City as of late, and through it all, the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation (GVSHP) seems to always make its voice heard. From debunking myths about affordable housing and historic districts to advocating for the Village’s next great landmark, GVSHP remains on the front lines of the field.
Founded in 1980 to preserve the architectural heritage and cultural history of the Village, the organization now includes the East Village, South Village, Far West Village, Noho, and Meatpacking District in its purview. Part of the reason for GVSHP’s expansion stems from the tireless efforts of its longtime Executive Director, Andrew Berman. Since 2002, he has overseen the research, educational programming, and advocacy of one of the city’s leading preservation nonprofits. We recently sat down with Andrew to learn more about his views on the current state of preservation in the city and where he hopes to take GVSHP in the future.
When we talk about apartments in glassy towers we always emphasize the stunning views, ample natural light, and cross ventilation. But according to a study from the Urban Green Council, most residents in these all-glass buildings are not taking advantage of those attributes.
The “Seduced by the View” study surveyed 55 glassy buildings around New York City and found that on average, 59% of the window area was covered by blinds or shades. And over 75% of buildings had more than half of their window area covered. Results were similar regardless of time of day, direction the window faced, and whether the building was commercial or residential.”
In early 2014, the Department of Buildings (DOB) set up a permanent audit unit and started reviewing the architectural plans for thousands of new and renovated buildings. What they’ve found is alarming; nine out of every ten office and/or residential buildings failed to meet the New York City Energy Conservation Code (NYCECC).
The energy standards were implemented over 30 years ago, but are just now being enforced. And while environmentalists welcome the stricter monitoring, some building owners and construction companies are nervous about the potential increased costs of compliance, both in terms of money and time.
Mayor de Blasio called for all 59 New York City community boards to propose ways to increase the number of affordable housing units within their district, and CB4, which covers Chelsea, Clinton, and Hell’s Kitchen, is the first to respond. The Manhattan District Board 4 Affordable Housing Plan was voted on internally by the board on July 23, but is expected to be officially presented to the city on August 8th. The 81-page plan, which could influence affordable housing policy throughout the city, focuses on six major themes that will outline how the west side neighborhoods tackle the addition of 11,000 units of affordable housing.
It’s not always as easy as one might think to successfully advocate for the landmark designation of an historic building in New York, especially when that building’s owner is not on board with preservation efforts.
According to the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation (GVSHP), more than 20 historically significant buildings (including those designed by renowned architects like Frank Lloyd Wright and Morris Lapidus) have been heavily altered or altogether demolished over the past 12 years after city officials gave word to owners that their buildings were under consideration for landmarking. This comes from a new report that GVSHP commissioned, which examines the Bloomberg administration’s actions regarding the notification given to developers and owners that the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) was looking at their properties, allowing alteration and demolition permits to slip through before any historic protections were granted.
You read it right, tall towers in New York City actually have a lower risk of being affected by an earthquake. The U.S. Geological Survey, the federal agency responsible for reporting and recording earthquake activity, recently updated their National Seismic Hazard Maps, which “reflect the best and most current understanding of where future earthquakes will occur, how often they will occur, and how hard the ground will likely shake as a result.” One change to the maps since they was last updated in 2008 is that the east coast has the potential for larger quakes than previously outlined, but residents of NYC high rises are in a slightly lower risk bracket.
Two of the biggest trends in the current NYC real estate market are tall, glass towers and eco-friendly design. Oftentimes, though, these two architectural movements don’t meet, and now environmentalists are calling for stricter regulations that would make this marriage a requirement, by way of decreasing the huge expanses of curtain wall windows that the towers have adopted as their hallmark.
Park Avenue Historic District Approved with Major Modifications, Extell’s New Tower May Soon Rise as a Result, Tue, April 29, 2014
The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission has just approved the creation of the Park Avenue Historic District, but with major modifications that could mean big changes for the neighborhood.
The boundaries of the district were proposed to run from 79th to 96th Street, but the final version passed today excludes the blocks north of 94th Street, which encompasses the Morris Ketchum Jr.-designed Hunter College School as well as The Loyola Grammar School at 48 East 84th Street.
More importantly, today’s ruling would appear to give Extell Development the green light to replace a Park Avenue church rectory with a condominium tower.
Scaffolding in New York City is as much a part of the city’s skyline as the Empire State Building itself—and has been around for much longer. On the surface, scaffolding seems to be a necessary ugly; a kind of urban cocoon from which a beautiful new butterfly building emerges.
But if you are one of those people who cringes every time you see a building wrapped in scaffolding, you better get used to it because it’s only going to get worse. All while the scaffolding companies laugh all the way to the bank.