Green Design, Polls, Technology

Solar canopy by brooklyn solarworks and situ studio

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?

Tell us what you think!

ideas from abroad, Polls, Transportation, Urban Design, Video

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.

Should we consider a similar plan for NYC?

City Living, Polls

NYC Middle-Wage Jobs, Center for an Urban Future, middle class NYC, job data NYC

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?

Cast your vote here!

affordable housing, Polls, real estate trends

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

Bronx, Polls, real estate trends, Staten Island

moving boxes

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?

City Living, Polls, Transportation

subway riders, NYC subway

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

City Living, Polls, Transportation

POLL: Will You Miss the MetroCard Swipe?

By Dana Schulz, Wed, April 13, 2016

subway turnstile, MetroCard, NYC subway

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.”

Turnstile image via Phil Hollenback/Flickr; Hillary Clinton image via FiveThirtyEight/Twitter

City Living, Polls

61 Ninth Avenue, Rafael Vinoly, Starbucks Reserve, Meatpacking District development

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?

Images: Rendering of 61 Ninth Avenue by Rafael Vinoly Architects (top); Park Row via photopin cc (L); Cafe Grumpy via Refinery Hotel (R)

Polls, Urban Design

Hub on the Hudson, Eytan Kaufman, Hudson Yards, floating park

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?

Images: Hub on the Hudson via Eytan Kaufman (above); Pier 55 via Heatherwick Studio/Mathews Nielsen (L); + Pool (R)

affordable housing, Policy, Polls

rent stabilization NYC

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?


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