Policy

Construction Update, Policy

Superstorm Sandy, FEMA, NYC flood zones

Mayor de Blasio’s 2014 goal for Hurricane Sandy reconstruction was to start the rebuilding of 1,000 homes and distribute 1,500 reimbursement checks to homeowners who paid for repairs out of their own pockets. And not only have those goals been met, but they’ve been exceeded. According to the Daily News, the city has begun construction on 1,002 homes, fully repaired 309 homes, and distributed 2,104 checks totaling $36.5 million.

The numbers may seem small, but when de Blasio took office at the start of 2014, no construction on any home affected by the 2012 storm had started. There are 14,000 active applicants to the Build it Back program, which is “dedicated to helping New Yorkers living in communities affected by Hurricane Sandy rebuild their homes and get their lives back to normal.” The program is now looking to speed the process up further, hiring more contractors and offering homeowners cash to pay rent when they’re displaced during construction.

[Via NYDN]

Image via northatlanticdivision via photopin cc

Green Design, Policy, Technology

NYC Sees an Increase in Solar Energy

By Dana Schulz, Mon, January 5, 2015

Solar Cells, solar energy, green energy

We’ve been talking so much about real estate trends and all the swanky new condo developments that we can expect to see in 2015, but there’s another, more subtle trend that’s already taking shape. And it’s environmentally friendly.

As CNBC reports, “New York City is experiencing a solar renaissance.” The city has seen a recent flurry of initiatives that advocate for green building, including Governor Cuomo’s $1 billion commitment to solar projects and his law that doubles tax breaks for those who install solar panels on their properties. Plus, in November, the City Council passed a bill that says New York City must cut greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050.

Learn how NYC buildings are incorporating solar energy

City Living, Hotels, Policy

bed and breakfast

Image of a B&B Mike Miley via photopin cc

We’ve already taken a close look at how controversial room-sharing startup Airbnb is accused of depleting the already-scarce affordable housing stock in the city, but a new type of fallout is also underway. Thanks to legislation enforced in 2011 that sought to eliminate short-term rentals and illegal hotels in residential or SRO buildings, many legal bed and breakfast owners are being forced to shut their doors.

Read about the issue here

Policy, Soho

Soho

Soho via CityRealty

By definition, a Business Improvement District (BID) “is a public/private partnership in which property and business owners elect to make a collective contribution to the maintenance, development, and promotion of their commercial district.” Typically, they’re implemented in neighborhoods that need an economic boost, so Soho would seem like an unlikely candidate.

Ever since the neighborhood’s artist lofts were replaced with designer boutiques, residents have struggled to deal with the “mall-ification” of their home. And when the Soho Broadway BID was presented, local activists opposed it, citing that commercial activity was already bursting at the seams, and it was the residents who needed assistance. Now, after nearly four years of debate, the BID is moving forward, but with a decreased budget and an equal commitment to both residents and businesses.

More details ahead

Historic Homes, Landmarks Preservation Commission, Policy

Green-Wood Cemetery

Green-Wood Cemetery via wallyg via photopin cc

Major controversy ensued earlier this week between preservationists and city officials when the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) released a proposal to de-calendar 94 historic sites and two historic districts. The plan would have left these locations, including Long Island City’s Pepsi sign, Manhattan’s Bergdorf Goodman building, and Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, completely unprotected and ripe for alterations or even demolition. Opponents of the plan can breathe a sigh of relief, though, as the LPC has withdrawn its controversial proposal.

Many sites on the list have been there for up to 50 years, but LPC Chairwoman Meenakshi Srinivasan assured the public that they would be dealt with sooner rather than later. “We remain committed to making the Landmarks Commission more effective and responsive in its work, and clearing a backlog of items,” she said in a statement.

[Via NY Times]

Policy, real estate trends

It’s that time again when everyone starts looking back on the year as it comes to a close, but it’s also the time to look ahead to the new year. We already know 2015 will bring a slew of new developments to the New York City skyline, and right on trend with that forecast, Bloomberg has reported that construction loans are up 24 percent in the city.

On-the-rise neighborhoods like Bed-Stuy and Harlem are being aided by the construction loan boom, especially for the renovation of multi-family buildings. The loans, often well over $1 million, are appealing for gentrifying areas because they usually require borrowers to only begin making interest payments once the renovation is complete. For example, a Clinton Hill resident secured a $800,000 construction loan to renovate a century-old multi-family brownstone and estimates that the value of the home will more than double to at least $2.2 million after the renovation.

More information here

Historic Homes, Landmarks Preservation Commission, Policy

Pepsi sign, Long Island City

The currently calendared Pepsi sign in Long Island City via gigi_nyc via photopin cc

Just a month before the year-long celebration of the landmarks law’s 50th anniversary is set to commence, the preservation community was dealt what is perhaps its biggest blow since the demolition of Penn Station. The city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission revealed in its public review meeting last Wednesday that it would de-calendar 95 historic sites and two historic districts throughout the five boroughs, removing the historic buildings and spaces from the landmarking to-do list and leaving them completely unprotected.

Proponents of the plan argue that many places on the list have been there for 50 years, and their removal would free up the LPC’s backlog. Preservationists dismiss this claim, citing that the fact that the historic sites have sat unlandmarked for so long is all the more reason this out-of-nowhere proposal is bad public policy. Some of the more high-profile locations under consideration include Long Island City’s Pepsi sign, Manhattan’s Bergdorf Goodman building, and Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn.

More on the de-calendaring and what it means

Architecture, Brooklyn Heights, Policy, Urban Design

Brooklyn Bridge Park

Rendering of the Brooklyn Bridge Park waterfront via Brooklyn Bridge Park

Critics of the two new residential towers planned for Pier 6 in Brooklyn Bridge Park have made complaints that the structures’ environmental impact needed further analysis, but a new study, completed by environmental engineering firm AKRF and set to be released today by the city-controlled Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation asserts that the towers’ environmental impact will be insignificant.

In a statement, Brooklyn Bridge Park said: “After evaluating the potential impacts on 19 distinct environmental categories—including schools, flood resiliency, traffic and open space—and incorporating any relevant updated changes to the project, the environmental regulations and background conditions, the technical memorandum concludes that the Pier 6 uplands project would not have any additional significant impacts.”

More on the planned towers here

Policy, Staten Island, Transportation

Verrazano-Narrows Bridge

Verrazano Bridge via Sue L C via photopin cc

Bridges and tolls are on everyone’s mind these days, thanks to the MTA’s latest proposed fare hikes. If approved, this would raise the toll of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge to $16. And today, on the 50th anniversary of the bridge’s opening, most Staten Islanders still think that driving across the bridge was supposed to become free once it was paid off. No one’s really certain where this myth came from, but those who believe it are quite passionate about the subject.

More on the urban myth here

Construction Update, hudson yards, Major Developments, Midtown West, Policy, Urban Design

NYC planned communities, Hudson Yards, Hudson Yards Master Plan, Kohn Pederson Fox

Hudson Yards rendering

Just yesterday, the city hailed the completion of the platform built over the west side rail yards that will support the Brookfield West development, a major component of Hudson Yards, the 26-acre development rising on the far west side. And while Brookfield will boast a two-acre park plaza, two 60-plus-story high rises and other public commercial space, it’s important to note that $7 million was spent just on designing and producing a special machine called “The Launcher” to lift the 56,000-ton concrete slabs to build the platform.

This is just one of many substantial costs in the mammoth Hudson Yards project, for which the city will have paid nearly $650 million in subsides by the end of this fiscal year, money that, over the past ten years, has come straight from the pockets of taxpayers. And that’s not all; according to a review by the city’s Independent Budget Office, even more will be needed through 2019 to complete the “next great commercial district.”

More on the subsidies and Hudson Yards

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