Film crews on your block: Yet another thing New Yorkers love to hate, whether it’s a case of grumble-brag or a genuine inconvenience. Some people love the opportunity to watch their favorite shows being made (and maybe get a peek at their favorite stars) and argue that it boosts the local economy. Others give the whole gig a big two thumbs down.
Following Superstorm Sandy, FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) updated its flood-zone maps for the first time since 1983, more than doubling the included buildings to 70,000. Therefore, many more property owners are facing the decision of whether to stormproof their homes or pay up for insurance premiums that would go up as much as 18%. But going with the former choice is not as easy as one may think.
FEMA guidelines don’t take into account the unique makeup of New York City with its rowhouses and high-rises, so to comply with the current regulations it would cost the city more than $5 billion, according to studies produces by Crain’s. Those who would be absorbing the costs include middle-class homeowners; NYCHA, which owns more than 25% of rental units in the flood zone ;and owners of large apartment towers, which account for 61% of the 5.5 million properties in FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program. All of these entities must follow the same guidelines as the plan is laid out now, but the city and a group of nonprofits are asking the agency to make changes to the insurance program.
A rendering of the NYU expansion plan
The battle between New York University and local residents and community preservation groups just got a little fiercer, as just yesterday the appellate court overturned a previous decision by the New York Supreme Court that prohibited the university’s $6 billion, 1.9 million-square-foot expansion plan.
NYU now has the green light to move forward with their colossal project, which includes taking over “implied park land” that has been used by the public for years. Local community groups vow to appeal the decision. The Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, Assemblywoman Deborah Glick, NYU Faculty Against the Sexton Plan, Community Board 2, and local residents, filed the lawsuit against the school in 2012.
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.