Rendering via Pier55, Inc
Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer appointed Douglas Durst on Friday to the board of the Hudson River Park Trust, a group he has frequently criticized over their proposed Pier55 project. Durst admitted last year to funding a lawsuit to stop the trust’s plan for an off-shore park on the Hudson River. While billionaire businessman Barry Diller, who is funding the $250 million project, halted construction in September, the plan was restored a month later, with pressure and financial help from Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Brewer told Crain’s that Durst didn’t volunteer, she asked him to join the board. “I think he loves the park,” she said.
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Rendering of 247 Cherry Street via SHoP Architects
In an effort to slow construction of three residential towers in the Two Bridges neighborhood, City Council Member Margaret Chin and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer will submit an application to the Department of City Planning that forces the plan to go through the city’s land use review process. Developments at the waterfront site include a 1,000+ foot tower from JDS Development Group, a 1.1 million-square-foot development from L+M Development and CIM Group, and a 724-foot rental building from Starrett Development. According to Politico, the Manhattan pols hope the review process will encourage public scrutiny of the projects, including a demand for shorter structures.
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New rendering of the entrance to 430 East 58th Street, also known as Sutton 58. Photo: Thomas Juul-Hansen
In what they’re calling an “unprecedented citizens’ application,” the East River 50s Alliance, a Sutton Place/Midtown community group, has mounted a renewed campaign to oppose an 800-foot tall condo tower that’s rising at 430 East 58th Street, the Wall Street Journal reports. As 6sqft previously reported, the developers of the new tower, Gamma Real Estate, closed on the $86 million site earlier this year in a bankruptcy sale and hired Danish-born architect Thomas Juul-Hansen to design the new skyscraper. The group has filed an application for a zoning change that calls for a ban on tall towers in a 10-square-block area; developers regularly file for zoning changes that cover only the property they’re looking to build on.
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The New York Times reports on what is looking like the first of many fights involving the mayor’s new mandatory inclusionary housing (M.I.H.) program which went into effect earlier this year. While the project, a 17-story condominium slated to replace a Manhattan parking lot and two low-rise buildings–one of which houses the venerable Adorama camera store–may not be especially noteworthy, as one of the first developments that may use the new zoning/housing rules, the outcome has the potential to affect thousands of lower-income units in the future. So it’s worth following the outcome, even though, as City Planning Commissioner Carl Weisbrod puts it, “like any legislative action, it will take time for every scenario to play out.”
What’s the battle all about?
A request to put the brakes on a $10 billion plan for a new West Side bus terminal and rethink the process with more input from local officials and the public was rebuffed by the Port Authority chairman, reports Crain’s. Rep. Jerrold Nadler and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer were joined by Deputy Mayor Anthony Shorris, state Sen. Brad Hoylman, Assembly members Richard Gottfried and Linda Rosenthal and Councilman Corey Johnson in backing the effort to slow the Port Authority’s call to move ahead with a design competition to get ideas for the West Side plan.
The controversy emerged after a board meeting on Thursday. “We’re not going to defer the design and deliverability study,” was the reply from John Degnan, the New Jersey-appointed chairman, amid concerns that the new terminal will necessitate the seizure of private property using eminent domain, threaten area homes, small businesses and other organizations and belch more carbon from a larger fleet of buses into the air in an area that already “runs afoul of federal air-quality standards.”
Find out what the fuss is all about
Whether you consider them “dead-end” corridors devoid of street life or nifty urban shortcuts (or just convenient rain shelters), the city’s covered public walkways and arcades are finding themselves in something of a spotlight, reports the Wall Street Journal.
This recent focus is on the covered walkways that run alongside skyscrapers in the Water Street corridor in lower Manhattan. A proposed zoning change, which would affect property owners in the Water Street Subdistrict, would allow retail to open up shop in these arcades.
Find out why some object to new retail additions
Courtesy of James and Karla Murray authors/photographers of “Store Front: The Disappearing Face of New York“
“The evidence of disease is everywhere,” claims Jeremiah Moss. No, he’s not talking about New Yorkers’ health; this is something he believes is even more merciless: hyper-gentrification. Moss, the pseudonymic chief editor behind the “bitterly nostalgic” blog Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York and the founder of the anti-gentrification movement #SaveNYC, and James and Karla Murray, authors and photographers of “Store Front: The Disappearing Face of New York” submitted a short film to last month’s Municipal Arts Society Summit 2015. The ten-minute clip opens with a sinister assertion that “the soul of New York is dying,” and plays as a visual obituary of the small businesses we have lost over the past two decades.
Shortly after Jeremiah’s melancholic melodrama, Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen was asked whether New York should adopt commercial rent control policies. Unconvinced this is an applicable solution, she instead emphasized that a “healthy and vibrant mix of businesses” is important and “bad” businesses must be allowed to fail. Nor is Glen convinced of the plight of the mom and pop, calling it a Manhattan-centric argument. While she acknowledges certain neighborhoods are changing rapidly, she says independent businesses are thriving in other boroughs.
Watch Jeremiah’s video and hear more of Glen’s argument
Historic brownstones in Brooklyn Heights via City Realty
Though landmarking has come under fire over the past year, with the Real Estate Board of New York claiming that historic designation limits affordable housing, the City Council is drafting legislation to alter the landmarks law in favor of historic preservation. As Crain’s reports today, “Backers of the legislation say it will bring more clarity to a process that has been criticized for hindering development, but critics say the ‘devil is in the details.'”
Headed up by Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and drafted by Councilmen Brad Lander, Stephen Levin, and Daniel Garodnick, the new legislation, among other stipulations, would automatically consider any building older than 50 years for historic designation and make it harder for developers to demolish a property in “landmarking limbo.” This comes just four months after the Landmarks Preservation Commission released a proposal to de-calendar 94 historic sites and two historic districts. The plan was eventually receded, but signaled to many a turn in the city’s policy.
See the full terms of the legislation here
Papaya King, a dying small business breed, via Papaya King via photopin (license)
Yesterday, standing inside the Upper West Side’s Halal Guys restaurant, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer unveiled her “Small Business Big Impact: Opportunity for Manhattan Storefronts” report (PDF), which outlines ideas to help small businesses survive and thrive in a city where even Starbucks can’t afford the rents. A major part of the plan is a mandatory negotiation period between landlords and commercial tenants, where the landlord would have to notify the store owner 180 days in advance of the end of the lease whether a renewal will be offered.
The borough president and Councilman Robert Cornegy, chair of the small business committee, are drafting a proposed bill that would enforce the plan. “Small storefront businesses and vendors create jobs and add value, vibrancy, and diversity to our neighborhoods—New York would not be New York without them,” asserted Brewer.
More details on Brewer’s plan
Gale Brewer is no shrinking violet when it comes to city planning, and having her on your side is never a bad thing. The borough president of Manhattan has just come out as a full-fledged supporter of not only Midtown East’s rezoning, but more notably, One Vanderbilt, the controversial 1,514-foot supertall slated to pop up right next door to Grand Central. Curbed reports that Brewer coupled her approval with an announcement that her office negotiated a slew of additional community benefits from developer SL Green—the developer that has already put up $210 million for the improvement of Grand Central’s subway station.
More on what’s included in the plan