After stalling repeatedly over design disagreements, budget woes, and funding squabbles, NJ.com reports that The Port Authority said it hopes to have a new midtown Manhattan bus terminal built in New York by 2030, shovels in the ground by 2021 and be “well underway” by 2026. Though some lawmakers expressed doubt about the ambitious schedule, Steven P. Plate, Port Authority chief of major projects, said at a Legislative Oversight Committee joint hearing about the agency’s $32 billion revised capital plan, “We will have full environmental approval, permits in place and construction well underway” according to that timeline.
In a press release sent out yesterday, Governor Cuomo gave an update on his $500 million overhaul of NYC’s bridges’ and tunnels’ tolling systems. When he first put forth the plan in October, he included flashy renderings of the new cashless collection systems, complete with LED light shows, but his latest announcement tells us that by the end of 2017, old-fashioned tollbooths will be a thing of the past at all MTA-operated bridges and tunnels in the New York metropolitan region.
6sqft has previously shared data that it only makes sense to buy a home in New York City after having lived here for 18.2 years, longer than anywhere else in the nation by a long shot. When and if that time comes, Manhattanities are looking to drop an average of $500,000 for a down payment, according to a new report from Property Shark. To put this figure into perspective, the average price nationwide to buy an entire home is $300,000. And in the Manhattan luxury market, the median down payment is a whopping $3.15 million, which might explain why, according to 2014 census data, only 32% of New Yorkers owned their homes.
The city’s hotly debated 421-a tax abatement program expired in January after a 44-year run. CityRealty reports that the NYC Department of Housing Preservation & Development has seen the number of applications for tax exemption decrease by 45 percent from that time to September 2016, costing the city $1.2 billion this fiscal year. Over the summer, the Governor presented a revised version of the program that would offer wage subsidies to construction workers, but this drew concern from the Real Estate Board of New York, who say the proposal would cause construction costs to rise by up to 30 percent. Now, Politico reports that Cuomo, developers, and unions have been engaging in closed-door negotiations to bring his plan forward and extend the previous 25-year tax break up to 45 years (REBNY and the Mayor had presented a 35-year extension last summer).
Fifth Avenue is known around the world as the high-end shopping address, but rising rents are leading to an increase in vacant space along the retail corridor. According to data from Cushman & Wakefield reported by Crain’s, the availability rate spiked to 15.9 percent in the third quarter of this year, up 10 percent from the same time last year. On the stretch that has the world’s highest rents, from 49th to 60th streets, retail space is listed at an average of $3,213 per square foot, up from $2,075 in 2011. To put this in perspective, current rents in Times Square are $2,104 per square foot after tripling over the past four years.
When Governor Cuomo revealed his plans for a new Penn Station-Moynihan Train Hall complex early last week, things seemed to be moving full steam towards a 2020 completion date thanks to flashy renderings and the selection of a high-profile developer-builder team. But architect Vishaan Chakrabarti was not convinced, and he and his firm the Practice for Architecture and Urbanism decided to create their own vision, one that repurposes Madison Square Garden, a facet of the plan he feels Cuomo failed to address.
These days, everything seems to get the Brooklyn stamp. The Post even went so far as to declare Pennsylvania’s Amish Country the new incarnation of the borough. But a bit closer to home, Jersey City’s Journal Square is making serious headway in the race to become the next frontier. As CityRealty.com recently explained, the slightly-inland area, easily accessible to Manhattan via the PATH train, is prime for development due to lower land and construction costs than the waterfront. At least 10 major residential projects are planned for Journal Square, and according to Ken Pasternack, chairman of developer KABR Group, “Rents for a new-development high rise will be $40 a square foot here, as opposed to $100 in Manhattan. We’re betting tens of millions of dollars that in the next 10 years, the neighborhood will be a brand on par with Brooklyn.”
Yesterday, 6sqft took a look at a Brookings institute study that showed three New York City sports stadiums–Yankee Stadium (the most expensive of all in the country), Citi Field, and the Barclays Center–have received $867 million in direct and indirect federal subsidies. This resulted in the loss of $3.7 billion in government revenues since 2000, due to “lost tax revenue from issuing exempt bonds and the indirect proceeds high-income bond holders receive.”
Because of this drain, the authors of the study advocate that stadiums should not be eligible to receive tax-exempt bonds, especially since they claim “there is little evidence that stadiums provide even local economic benefits.” But not everyone agrees, likening stadiums to other public enterprises like parks. And, at least as pertains to the stadiums in New York, these venues host other community events aside from ticketed sports games. Which side are you on?
As of late last month, summer construction work on the Barry Diller-funded Pier 55 was complete, with the first nine piles propping up the offshore park having been installed. It seemed as though all systems were a go at the $130 million futuristic park, but yesterday 6sqft reported that The City Club of New York, the civic group who was behind an earlier lawsuit and stop work order, may have a backer in none other than Douglas Durst.
And today the Wall Street Journal shares that opponents had their first day in front a panel of state appellate-court judges to express environmental concerns and frustrations that the initial planning between billionaire Diller and the Hudson River Park Trust was done behind closed doors. What are your thoughts on the issue?
When 6sqft shared views yesterday of how a trio of new residential towers will alter the South Bronx skyline, we also looked at developer Keith Rubenstein’s ambitious, albeit misguided, plans to rebrand the neighborhood. After dubbing the area “the Piano District” and throwing a party that made light of the troubled “Bronx is Burning” days of the 1970s, locals criticized his insensitivity and blatant attempts to accelerate gentrification. In addition to the aforementioned project, which will yield a total of six towers, Rubenstein is planning a food and beer hall nearby. And he’s not the only one turning to this new frontier. Other seemingly “trendy” establishments that have opened up in recent years include the Bronx Brewery, Bronx Baking Company, a slew of coffee shops, and the Port Morris Distillery, and there’s the plan to transform the Bronx General Post Office into a dining/drinking/shopping destination.
But on the other side of the coin, the Bronx has been a hotbed for affordable housing development. In fact, the borough was issued the most residential permits in the city during the first six months of 2016, likely due to the fact that 43 percent of units under Mayor de Blasio’s affording housing plan that began construction during this time were in the Bronx. But is this enough to preserve the diverse culture and demographics of the South Bronx, or is it poised to become the next “it” neighborhood?
When the Mayor officially endorsed the plan for a Brooklyn-Queens streetcar, the estimated cost to realize the project was pinned at $2.5 billion. Since then there have been plenty of purported roadblocks that some believe could balloon costs further, such as the claims that the 16-mile streetcar route would run entirely through flood zones and require two new bridges. But the latest comes via Crain’s, who reports that the necessary train yard/maintenance facility for the cars may be the size of an entire city block and cost $100 million, which only adds to concerns that the Brooklyn Queens Connector (BQX) may become more of an economic burden than the city can take on. While that may or not be so, proponents maintain that the cars are absolutely necessary. Not only are a number of areas along the BQX’s proposed routes underserved by existing transit, but with all of the new office and residential developments planned for Brooklyn’s waterfront, the fact is, adding additional transit is a necessity, not an option.
Though the New York Wheel got its first shipment of crane parts last month, its opening has been pushed back from late 2017 to April of 2018, reports DNAinfo. Construction on the $580 million Staten Island Ferris wheel is still on track to finish up next year, at which time it will resemble the renderings, but “the wheel requires rigorous testing and commissioning that must be conducted to the highest standards,” said its CEO Rich Marin.
This is not the first time the project has been delayed, and it’s also been plagued by financial issues (it went $300 million over budget) and legal battles, but the developers are still optimistic. In fact, they’re projecting that the attraction will be more lucrative than the Empire State Building’s observation deck and bring in more than four million visitors during its first year. But is a giant Ferris wheel enough to revitalize an entire borough, especially the one that’s for so many years been the black sheep of NYC?
When the SHoP Architects-designed American Copper Buildings were first revealed, it wasn’t as much their twisting silhouettes that made headlines as it was their diagonal, amenity-filled skybridge. The three-story bridge, boasting a lap pool and lounge and topped with private terraces, is located 300 feet above the street, the highest such structure in the city and a new concept in enticing residents to the luxury market. And just this week, Bjarke Ingels unveiled new views of his High Line towers, which will feature two skybridges. Though they’re much closer to the ground, they’re also planned as amenity spaces, which makes us wonder–is this architectural feature set to become a new trend in NYC?
One day in May last year, Washington Square Park had 54,000 visitors, more than enough to fill Yankee Stadium. Annual attendance at the High Line more than tripled to 7.6 million visitors last year from two million in 2010. And Central Park expects to break records this year with 42 million visits.
These statistics come from a New York Times article today that looks at how “more people than ever are jamming into the city’s public parks, pools and beaches, filling the most popular ones to bursting, creating noise and trash problems and making the experience altogether less enjoyable for those looking for a bit of serenity.” This overcrowding has led the city to spend $6 million this year hiring an additional 500 seasonal workers. They’re also extending beach and pool seasons past Labor Day and implementing more free programs like outdoor movies and yoga classes.
On Monday, as 6sqft reported, Governor Cuomo unveiled the MTA’s “plans to build 1,025 new subway cars, and to modernize 31 of the city’s more than 400 stations.” Most of the new fleet will be of the open-gangway format, and they’ll boast wider doors, Wi-fi, USB ports, better lighting, cell service, security cameras, full color digital information displays, and a new blue and gold color palette that represents New York’s state colors.
Since the upgrades are part of the $27 billion capital plan that was approved in May, some critics are questioning whether the changes are more cosmetic and brag-worthy, rather than functional. But the city explains that the design of the new cars will help alleviate overcrowding, thereby reducing delays. What do you think–can the MTA do better?
We’re all for glamping here at 6sqft, though we typically reserve these outdoor adventures for places like the Catskills. But the W Hotel chain is hoping to capitalize on the trend and bring it to their Lexington Avenue location. A press release from the company announces their Outdoor Glamping Suite, part of the 17th floor Extreme Wow Suite, which makes nods to camping with “a 12-foot yurt bedecked in a kaleidoscope of fabrics and textures, glowing lanterns, rattan hanging chairs and a fire pit that lights up with a flip of a switch.” The W teamed up with interior design company Laurel & Wolf to create the experience, which is going for a whopping $2,000 a night.
Yesterday, 6sqft shared some of the best and wackiest proposals from an ideas competition reimagining Philip Johnson‘s iconic New York State Pavilion. Built for the 1964-65 World’s Fair in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, it’s struggled in recent years to find financial support, and the competition is a way to drum up enthusiasm for the necessary $52 restoration.
The ideas ranged from the expected (elevated parks, event spaces) to the socially conscious (refugee housing, a homeless shelter) to the totally out there (a cheeseburger museum, a UFO landing pad). And while a new incarnation for the historic site would certainly draw visitors and interest, is that the appropriate way to honor the cultural and architectural merit of a structure that was built for a specific purpose at a very special point in time? Plus, preservationists have already secured close to $6 million for repairs, and the structure got a $3 million paint job last year.
Move over Bushwick and Williamsburg, Sunset Park is the new cool kid in the borough. Curbed shared a report from Cushman & Wakefield that names the 100 coolest streets in the country, and coming in among the top 15 neighborhoods is Sunset Park, “where boxes and independents co-exist.” The report points to a bohemian exodus from Williamsburg, which has become more mainstream and pricey. And though hipsters are moving to ‘hoods like Bed Stuy and Crown Heights, Sunset Park outdoes them with a unique type of retail growth and creative sector thanks to the Bush Terminal Park and Industry City. The millennial population is about 27 percent and the average household income is $81,529.
New Yorkers have learned to take deadlines and budgets from the MTA with a grain of salt, and the Second Avenue Subway may be the worst offender since it was first proposed all the way back in the 1920s. But the past couple years have restored some hope; in April 2015, it was announced that Phase I of the project was 82 percent complete and on track for its December 2016 opening, and last summer the MTA even went so far as to say the entire line could open sooner than originally planned.
But yesterday the Post reported that there’s a good chance the Second Avenue Subway won’t be finished on time, blaming construction crews not showing up for work. This has put inspections behind schedule, and therefore “the agency has only completed 67 percent of the testing and needs to do another 1,100 checks by October.”
While Governor Cuomo is busy trying to make his plans for $3 billion in renovations at Penn Station a reality, developers are hot to come up with a new design for 2 Penn Plaza, the tower directly above the station and Madison Square Garden. Vornado Realty Trust, who owns roughly nine million square feet around Penn Station including 2 Penn Plaza, released renderings in March for a glassy, wave-like tower by starchitect of the moment Bjarke Ingels. The concept is quite a departure from the current, stale state of the site, but yesterday an even more futuristic idea came to the table. Brooklyn Capital Partners tapped AE Superlab to create a plan for the world’s tallest free-fall tower ride above the station. “Halo,” as it would be called, would rise 1,200 feet from the roof, have 11 cars, and move as quickly as 100 miles per hour, giving it a top-to-base free fall of about six seconds.
BIG’s design wouldn’t change much in the way of 2 Penn Plaza’s current configuration, but it would create more retail space at the base. Halo, though it would cost $637 million to build, claims it would bring in up to $38 million a year for the state. Since Brooklyn Capital is contending with Vornado Realty Trust and Related Companies to upgrade the space, we want to know which of these ideas you think is a better fit.
Installing solar systems in NYC can be tricky due to strict regulations and the complexity of buildings sites. But yesterday, 6sqft shared Brooklyn Solar Works‘ and Situ Studio‘s clever Solar Canopy, which “not only adheres to the city’s strict building codes, but has been developed specifically for the characteristically flat rooftops of NYC.” The A-frame structures’ columns bolt to rails attached to a building and are oriented at a 33-degree pitch to maximize panel efficiency when pointed south. And since they have a head clearance of ten feet, they don’t eat up roof space.
They’ve already been installed atop homes in Brooklyn, but at a price point of around $30,000 (though tax incentives bring that down to about $7,000) and a pretty obvious visual presence, can Solar Canopies replace traditional solar panel systems in the city?
At the 19th annual Beijing International High-Tech Expo, China flexed some of its public transportation prowess by debuting a model of a proposed bus system that would hover over vehicular road traffic, straddling existing highways. Dubbed the “Transit Elevated Bus,” the radical idea has been kicked around for several years, but now the WSJ reports that China will be building a trial run of the system in its Hibei province later this year.
While here in the U.S., we are still scavenging for mass transit dollars and desperately trying to convince politicians that adding more lanes to highways does not actually relieve congestion, China may literally leap above and beyond U.S transport planning if these “air buses” come to fruition. The engineers claim each bus could hold more than 1,200 commuters at a time and travel up to 40 miles per hour. Additionally, construction would be one-fifth the cost of a subway line and could be completed in a single year.
The lack of affordability in New York is typically, and justly, blamed on skyrocketing rents, but when it comes to the middle class it might be more closely tied to a lack of jobs. The Wall Street Journal shares a new report from the Center for an Urban Future, which finds that “while the city added a record number of jobs since 2011, middle-wage industries paying between $40,000 and $80,000 a year added the fewest positions, and a lot of those were temp jobs.” Additionally, middle-wage jobs lost the most employees. Low-wage industries (paying under $40,000) such as restaurants and home health care services disproportionately added the most jobs.
However, the report also points to a few factors that may indicate a comeback for the middle class. For one, middle-wage industries accounted for three of the eight sectors with a net gain of at least 10,000 jobs since 2011. These are employment services, building equipment contractors, and colleges/universities, respectively. In total, 23 middle-wage sectors added at least 1,000 jobs during this time, not far off from the low-wage sector’s 24 and high-wage’s 28. But are these figures enough to give the middle class staying power?
The city’s 421a program, which provides tax breaks of up to 25 years to new residential buildings that reserve at least 20 percent of units as affordable housing, expired in January, leaving Mayor de Blasio concerned for his push to add/preserve 200,000 units of affordable housing over the next decade. According to a REBNY report last year, 421-a is responsible for 5,484 affordable apartments and 13,801 market-rate units in the pipeline, and if it’s not renewed some of them could end up as high-end luxury condos or lost forever as housing for low- and middle-income New Yorkers. Critics of the program, however, feel that it actually destroys affordable housing by virtue of itself, giving unfair tax breaks to the wealthiest developers, and the Mayor doesn’t disagree.
The Real Deal reports today that de Blasio “implored the state’s affordable housing developers to pressure Albany to pass a reformed 421a program before the legislative session comes to a close next month.” He said, “When it comes to the 421a program, I’ve said many times, the way it was configured in past years didn’t make sense anymore. It wasn’t fair to the taxpayers. It wasn’t helping us create the affordable housing we needed. It focused too much on luxury buildings.” But considering his “icy relationship” with Governor Cuomo, it’s definitely a toss up.
Lead image via Jason Farrar
Courtesy of Anderson Transport Edinburgh
It’s really no secret that the Bronx and Staten Island have been the boroughs slowest to gentrify and bring in New Yorkers looking for that hip factor. But apparently their affordable prices are starting to outweigh their longer commutes and less urban makeups. The latest report from the Real Estate Board of New York says that home-sales prices in these boroughs rose 35 percent in the first quarter of 2016, much steeper than the rest of the city. According to the Post, these new home buyers are selling property for a higher price in Manhattan or Brooklyn, then “cashing out” to buy cheaper pads in Staten Island or the Bronx. Plus, taxes are lower than in other suburban areas like Westchester or Jersey. This new trend got us wondering, if you had to relocate to the Bronx or Staten Island, which would you choose?
Have you ever noticed those signs on a train or bus that say “video and audio systems in use?” If not, you might want to start paying closer attention, because the notifications are actually warning you, the rider. NPR took a closer look at the use of video and audio surveillance on public transportation, the latter of which has been increasing across the country in recent years, especially as of late with the heightened fear of terrorist attacks.
NJ Transit is the latest agency to add audio recorders, putting them on their light rail trains. Many riders feel it’s an invasion of privacy, and Ed Barocas, legal director of the ACLU New Jersey, told WNYC “There are laws that say you can’t surveil conversations that you aren’t a part of, when a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy.” But NJ Transit is unwilling to answer specific questions about how the data is stored and for how long, stating simply “We’re using every available technology to deter criminal activity on our system.” This got us wondering, how would New Yorkers feel if the MTA followed suit — would they respect the safety precautions or feel violated?
Image of audio recorder via Oran Viriyincy/Flickr
The ye-olde MetroCard swipe has made national headlines in recent weeks, thanks to Hilary Clinton’s inability to get through the turnstile and Bernie Sanders’ belief that we’re still in the dark ages using subway tokens. The fact that these snafus are so attention-grabbing goes to show how intrinsic the simple act of swiping a MetroCard is to New Yorkers’ daily lives, which makes today’s announcement that the MTA is seeking proposals for ways to pay for subway rides with “contactless media” like smart cards or mobile devices all the more emotionally charged. Though the Post notes that this wouldn’t take effect until at least 2021, 6sqft wants to know if you’ll lament the days of “please swipe again.”
It was announced yesterday that Starbucks is opening its largest store in the world in the base of Rafael Viñoly’s forthcoming Meatpacking District building at 61 Ninth Avenue. The 20,000-square-foot facility will be a Roastery-branded store, “part of a push to bolster growth with larger locations that offer experiences to customers,” reports Crain’s. The decision may be due to the fact that Starbucks is facing increased competition from regional and local coffee shops, many of which roast their own beans or include information about bean origin. But it looks like the chain store‘s growth isn’t slowing; thanks in part to its rewards program, Starbucks’ stock rose 27 percent over the past year. The new mega-store won’t open until 2018, which gives New Yorkers a couple years to figure out their java preferences — big-name corporation or local cafe?
Yesterday, 6sqft uncovered conceptual renderings for a nine-acre island/pier in the Hudson River that would serve as a final terminus for the High Line. It would be a circular-shaped cultural and recreational center, dotted with five interconnected pyramid-shaped buildings, as well as an elevated promenade and a marina. It’s quite similar in design and theory to Barry Diller’s proposed Pier 55 floating park, which is planned for a Hudson River site slightly farther south in the Meatpacking District. And then there’s the + Pool, a massive public pool proposed for the East River.
Pier 55, the futuristic, $130 million park and performance space, already has a lease deal and $113 million in funding in place, but it was slapped with a lawsuit saying those involved have failed to throughly evaluate the environmental impact of the park. Which brings us to our question — is this new model the future of public space in NYC? In an urban setting where every square inch of space is at a premium, floating parks certainly are a creative alternative, but are the logistics ultimately too complicated?
This time last year, Mayor de Blasio put forth his controversial rezoning proposal, part of his plan to preserve and/or create 200,000 units of affordable housing by 2024. It’ll now come to fruition, as DNAinfo reports that the City Council has approved the rezoning. “It includes Zoning for Quality and Affordability, a push to raise building heights and lift parking requirements in order to facilitate the construction of more affordable and senior housing, and Mandatory Inclusionary Housing, which will rezone certain neighborhoods and require affordable units in some new construction,” they explain. But not everyone is happy about the largest zoning overhaul since 1961. In fact, the City Council hearing was full of protestors, many of whom feel this will take away long-fought-for height limits that keep neighborhoods in scale. Which side are you on?