Policy

Policy

NYC Council votes to close mechanical void loophole

By Devin Gannon, Thu, May 30, 2019

Rendering of 50 West 66th Street; courtesy of Binyan Studios/ Snøhetta

The New York City Council on Wednesday voted to close a zoning loophole that has allowed developers to fill multiple floors of a tower with mechanical equipment without counting the floors as part of the building. The so-called mechanical void loophole enabled taller residential towers, and therefore higher, more expensive units, without actually creating more housing. The amendment approved by the Council will count mechanical voids taller than 25 feet as zoning floor area, as Crain’s reported.

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Hell's Kitchen, Policy, Transportation

Image via Wikimedia

As 6sqft previously reported, in 2017 plans to address the overcrowded Port Authority Bus Terminal–the world’s busiest–became focused on renovating the existing midtown Manhattan building rather than relocating it a block to the west. Despite constant squabbles, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates the bus terminal, agreed on a timeline, and a study was undertaken to determine costs and a schedule. Options included building a terminal for intercity buses underneath the Jacob K. Javits center, which itself has undergone major renovations. Now, as Politico reports, the two-state organization is moving forward with plans to replace the overtaxed terminal, with a focus on three options as outlined in an unreleased “scoping document.”

Options, this way

Policy

Image: Michael Kowalczyk via Flickr

As local politicians scramble to change decades of waste and bad habits, businesses are often in a better position to have an impact on the planet, and some are eager to oblige. Whole Foods just announced they’d be ending the use of plastic straws in their juice bars and cafes and packaging rotisserie chickens in bags instead of plastic cartons, the New York Post reports. And grocery megachain Wegmans says they’ll be bagging single-use plastic bags by the end of this year, ahead of a statewide ban. Recently Mayor Bill De Blasio weighed in with NYC’s own Green New Deal; the mayor announced in April that the city has passed an executive order intended to mobilize resources to combat climate change. In addition to addressing the more obvious plastic, the plan includes the phasing-out of processed meat purchased by government-run facilities like hospitals and schools–but not street vendors, restaurants or stores.

Hot dogs are safe, for now

Policy, Transportation, Urban Design

Corey Johnson, NYC subway, City Council Speaker

Via City Council Speaker Corey Johnson

City Council Speaker Corey Johnson’s comprehensive “complete streets” bill arrives just three months after he proposed a five-year plan to make New Yorkers who take mass transit, walk and bike a priority over motor vehicle drivers. Johnson plans to introduce legislation next week that would require city officials to build 150 miles of dedicated bus lanes and 250 miles of protected bike lanes within a five year period, Streetsblog reports. Johnson said, “I want to completely revolutionize how we share our street space, and that’s what this bill does. This is a roadmap to breaking the car culture in a thoughtful, comprehensive way.”

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Celebrities, City Living, Policy

new york public library, nypl, top books of 2018

Image via publicdomainpictures.net

A majority of New Yorkers–95 percent–said in an online survey that Mayor Bill de Blasio‘s proposed $11 million funding cut to public libraries would hurt the city’s communities, according to the Daily News; scaled-back hours and reduced programs like free after-school options for teens would curtail staffing and hiring across all five boroughs. Now, actress Sarah Jessica Parker is adding her celebrity firepower to help rescue the city’s libraries with an online campaign, the New York Post reports.

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Policy, Transportation

NYC subway, MetroCard

Photo via Flickr cc

“This is a common-sense policy that makes it easier for kids to get to school and does away with needless complexities that have existed for too long,” said NYC Transit President Andy Byford in response to the MTA’s proposal to replace half-price student MetroCards will full-fare options for students. The MTA Board is expected to vote on the proposal on Wednesday, which would grant K-12 students who live at least a half mile from their school three-trip, full-fare student MetroCards.

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Architecture, Green Design, Policy

Photo via Flickr cc

During a rally at Trump Tower yesterday, Mayor Bill de Blasio put the Trump Organization on blast as he promoted the city’s Green New Deal. Under the new climate change legislation, which requires large buildings in New York City to dramatically cut their greenhouse gas emissions, eight Trump-owned properties, referred to as “dirty, inefficient buildings,” would cause the Organization to owe roughly $2.1 million in fines annually beginning in 2030. The 27,000 metric tons of greenhouse gasses that these buildings pump out each year is equal to 5,800 cars. After being passed by the New York City Council on April 18, the law is slated to go into effect on May 17.

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Policy

Via Flickr

The New York City Council on Wednesday passed a package of 17 bills intended to protect tenants from landlord abuse. The legislation includes closing the so-called “Kushner loophole,” which had allowed landlords to file false paperwork with the city’s Department of Buildings. The bill comes a year after President Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner’s family’s firm, Kushner Companies, was found to have falsely claimed it had no rent-regulated tenants in dozens of buildings it owned when it actually had hundreds.

Learn about the bills

Midtown East, Policy

Via Flickr

The New York City Council on Wednesday approved the first supertall to be constructed under the Midtown East rezoning. JPMorgan Chase will build a new 70-story headquarters at the site of its current offices at 270 Park Avenue. The rezoning, adopted by the city in 2017, affects more than 70 blocks around Grand Central Terminal and encourages the construction of taller, more modern office towers in the neighborhood. Designed by Norman Foster’s Foster + Partners, the 1,400-foot building is set to become one of the tallest structures in the city and the tallest office building by roof height.  More here

Harlem, New Developments, Policy

View of the proposed new tower, looking north from 5th Avenue and 108th Street

A church has filed an application with New York City to rezone a strip of Central Park North in order to make way for a new mixed-use tower. La Hermosa Christian Church is seeking zoning changes to all or part of at least five lots along West 110th Street, as first reported by YIMBY. A 188-page environmental assessment statement prepared for the Department of City Planning this week details the development of a 33-story mixed-use tower with 160 units, of which roughly 48 would be affordable.

See the plan

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