In a self-proclaimed atypical State of the City address, City Council Speaker Corey Johnson on Tuesday laid out his vision for city control over New York City’s mass transit system. Johnson said municipal control “means we decide how our system is run, we decide how we raise money, and we decide how we spend it.” He added: “Municipal control means saying goodbye to the MTA.” The new entity would be controlled by the mayor and called Big Apple Transit, or “BAT.”
Image via Flickr
After facing criticism for the delayed and limited roll-out of Fair Fares, Mayor de Blasio and City Council Speaker Johnson have announced plans to expand the program. Starting this fall, eligible New Yorkers in NYCHA, enrolled students at CUNY, and military veterans below the poverty line will have access to the program, which provides half-priced MetroCards for low-income New Yorkers. By January 2020, open enrollment will expand to all New Yorkers at or below the federal poverty line (a household income of $25,750 for a family of four). The program has also been criticized for its reversal on reduced fares for single trips, but Monday’s announcement came with the good news that a pay-per-ride option will be available by mid-March.
Certain basement apartments in East New York will be transformed into legal and affordable homes thanks to a new law signed by Mayor Bill de Blasio on Monday. The legislation creates a three-year pilot program that helps homeowners renovate cellar and basement units to meet the new code standards, which include minimum ceiling heights, window sizes, and proper safety requirements. “There are thousands of basement apartments in our City, but too many are illegal and unsafe,” de Blasio said in a statement. “This program will help New Yorkers secure safe, affordable homes and give homeowners a new legal source of income.”
Emily Ratajkowski and millionaire hubby live rent free thanks to city’s loft law, Noho landlord says, Mon, March 4, 2019
The loft building at 49 Bleecker Street in Noho. Image: Google maps.
There have been a lot of discussions recently about the city’s lack of affordable living space causing artists to flee the city, and about the relevance of regulations like the Loft Law, created to allow artists to live in neighborhoods like Noho and Soho. The New York Post now brings us the case of millionaire movie producer Sebastian Bear-McClard, 31, and his wife, model/actress Emily Ratajkowski, 27. The pair is reportedly living rent-free in a sprawling Noho loft at 49 Bleecker Street. The pair’s landlord, of course, isn’t happy with the fact that Bear-McClard, who is apparently worth an estimated $12 million, has been claiming protection under the state’s Loft Law since 2017, to the tune of $120,000
New York City is home to more than 350,000 women-owned businesses, which generate more than $50 billion in revenue each year. But because women face bigger barriers when starting or growing a company, the businesses fall behind in size and employment compared to businesses run by men. A new campaign launched last week that aims to bring attention to the many women-owned businesses located across the five boroughs. In a partnership between women.nyc, a city initiative to help women navigate careers and finances in NYC, and American Express, the month-long campaign “Shop Women-Owned NYC” kicked off on Friday, coinciding with the start of Women’s History Month.
Image via CityRealty
Update 3/1/19, 1:10pm: According to Crain’s, Governor Cuomo said today on WNYC’s Brian Lehrer Show, “They have given no indication that they would reconsider. I have no reason to believe that Amazon is reconsidering. Would I like them to? Certainly. But I have no reason to believe that.”
Amazon’s Valentine’s Day breakup with New York City has been rough on Governor Andrew Cuomo; the New York Times reports that Cuomo has continued to beseech the retail giant to build one of its two new headquarters in Long Island City, Queens, as it had announced plans to do last November. According to the Times, Cuomo has privately assured Amazon officials that he would ease the company’s path to any needed approvals and is “working intensely behind the scenes”–including a personal pitch to founder Jeff Bezos–to get Amazon to reconsider.
John Brown Smokehouse on 44th Drive in LIC via Flickr
The owner of a Long Island City barbecue restaurant flew to Seattle on Monday in an attempt to revive the city’s deal with Amazon. Josh Bowen, who owns neighborhood joint John Brown Smokehouse, met with executives from the company for two hours, according to Qns.com. Earlier this month, Amazon announced it would no longer open a headquarters at the proposed waterfront location in Queens after facing resistance from local politicians and activist groups. During the meeting, the businessman asked if they would reconsider their decision to pull out of the project. Their response? “Never say never,” the executives told him, according to Bowen.
220 Central Park South. Image via Vornado Realty Trust and Robert A.M. Stern Architects.
We’ve heard it before, but it’s always a shock to hear about how the city’s tax system undervalues big-ticket apartments in expensive neighborhoods. The Wall Street Journal reports that the effective tax rate on billionaire hedge funder Ken Griffin’s sky mansion at 220 Central Park South comes out to about 0.22 percent–compared with about one percent in the city’s less affluent neighborhoods. The reasoning behind this is tied to a complicated city property tax system that assesses all co-ops and condos as if they were rental properties. Rental income at nearby buildings is assessed in order to estimate a condo’s value.
Partial shutdown of Hudson River tunnel would cause NY and NJ home values to drop by $22B, report says, Wed, February 27, 2019
If the only rail link between New Jersey and Manhattan shuttered, homes in the region would see a drop in home value by $22 billion, according to a report released on Tuesday. An analysis from the Regional Plan Association highlights the economic effects of a partial shutdown of the Hudson River tunnel, which was severely damaged by Hurricane Sandy and carries 200,000 daily passengers via Amtrak and NJ Transit. To make repairs to the 110-year-old tunnels, officials have called for a $13 billion project that would construct a second tunnel to keep service operating while the existing tunnel is restored. But President Donald Trump’s administration said it will not support the Gateway tunnel project, making a partial shutdown of the tunnel more likely, according to the RPA (h/t Crain’s).
Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio endorsed congestion pricing and a proposal to reorganize the Metropolitan Transportation Authority in a joint 10-point plan released on Tuesday. The joint plan, which requires legislative approval, calls for tolls to be collected south of 61st Street in Manhattan, with the exception of FDR Drive. Cuomo said on Tuesday he hopes the package of transit proposals is included in the state budget, which lawmakers must pass by April 1. The tolls would not take effect until December 2020, if approved.