Although Mayor de Blasio’s proposed BQX project, which would connect the Brooklyn and Queens waterfronts via streetcar, received praise from many, finding money to fund it may be tougher than expected. Earlier this month, a leaked memo obtained by the Daily News laid out a tough assessment of the construction logistics and financial problems facing the project. And while the mayor admitted last week that his plan for the BQX to be self-funded through tax revenue from higher real estate values may not pan out, an article in Crain’s laid out an idea for the city to sell air rights in the Brooklyn Navy Yard neighborhood to raise money for the project.
Mayor de Blasio
Affordable housing lotteries fail low-income residents and favor middle-income earners, says new report, Thu, April 20, 2017
In every state and major city in the country, extremely low-income renters face a shortage of affordable housing. Although low-income applicants in New York City display a higher need for affordable housing, policies created by Mayor de Blasio and his administration continue to set aside more units for middle-income applicants. In a detailed report, City Limits analyzed affordable housing in Brooklyn and compared the need for affordable housing to the actual number of allotted low-income and middle-income units. For just one building, the tower at 535 Carlton, nearly 95,000 households entered the lottery for its “100 percent affordable” units. However, only 2,203 applicants were eligible for the 148 middle-income units, and over 67,000 households applied for the 90 low-income units. The data shows low-income households in search of affordable housing face much tougher odds than middle-income applicants.
To celebrate the ahead-of-schedule launch of the Citywide Ferry service, Mayor de Blasio rode the first ferry (named “Lunchbox” by second graders from Bay Ridge) this morning into Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Pier 1 as part of an official dedication ceremony. Beginning May 1st, all New Yorkers can join in the revelry when the new Rockaway Route and the existing East River Route kick off. Service to South Brooklyn starts in June, and the Astoria route will be launched sometime in August. In all, there will be 21 stops added throughout the city as part of the expanded service. On top of today’s festivities, the city also released the official new ferry schedules.
Mayor de Blasio announced today that the Citywide Ferry Service, now officially named “NYC Ferry,” will be launching two routes on the first day of May: the new Rockaway Route and the existing East River Route. As DNA Info learned, the Rockaway route takes passengers from the new dock on Beach 108th Street to the Brooklyn Terminal, and then Wall Street’s Pier 11. Expect service on the South Brooklyn Route with stops in Bay Ridge, Sunset Park, Red Hook and Brooklyn Bridge Park to begin on June 1. The Astoria Route will be launched sometime in August and the Lower East Side and Soundview Routes have a launch date set in 2018. Find out more here
Although the recent subway and bus fare hike affects all New Yorkers, low-income residents are being especially hard hit by the jump in cost. As a way to ease this financial burden, the City Council has proposed a $50 million pilot program as part of the “Fair Fares” initiative which will provide half-fare MetroCards to New Yorkers living at or below the federal poverty line. As the Daily News learned, transit advocates say nearly 800,000 residents would be eligible for the discount under the full plan.
With a federal budget proposal that strips significant funding to the Environmental Protection Agency, it’s not so shocking that President Trump and his son-in-law and close adviser, Jared Kushner, both own buildings that rank as the least energy-efficient in New York City. The Daily News shared a new report from ALIGN, a coalition of labor and environmental activists, which found that Trump Tower uses more energy than 93 percent of the city’s large residential buildings. Worse, the Trump Organization’s Mayfair condo uses more than 98 percent. The report also revealed that a Kushner Companies’ 666 Fifth Avenue (controversial for even more reasons as of late) uses more energy than 85 percent of large office buildings.
As the population of New York City continues to rise, so does the amount of garbage lining its sidewalks. But getting all this trash out of sight is not an insignificant expense. As the Post reports, a new study by the city’s Independent Budget Office (IBO) has found that the price of exporting trash is swelling and there appears to be little remedy in sight.
Outside of 432 Park Avenue, Mayor de Blasio held a press conference on Thursday to discuss his mansion tax. The proposal calls for a 2.5 percent surcharge on sales of city homes valued at $2 million or more, which would in turn fund affordable housing for 25,000 senior citizens. De Blasio fittingly positioned himself outside 432 Park because, according to the city, if the proposed tax had been passed, this residence alone would have generated $30.2 million since 2015 in support of housing for low-income seniors. “And that would have been based–and this is stunning to me–on the sale of just 62 condominiums. But it would have meant enough money to subsidize affordable housing for 2,000 seniors,” he said.
Under President Trump’s first budget proposal, New York City will lose hundreds of millions of dollars for schools, housing, transportation, homeland security, and other city agencies. According to the Daily News, city schools and afterschool programs can be expected to lose $140 million, homeland security grants will be cut $190 million, and NYCHA will lose $370 million, which is on top of the $76 million cut they were already expecting. Ironically, the budget also slashes transit projects by $2 billion, which means completing projects like the Second Avenue Subway and the Gateway trans-Hudson River tunnel may be on the chopping block, despite the fact that they were specifically called out in Trump’s previous $1 trillion infrastructure plan to receive $14.2 billion and $12 billion respectively.
Just two days after newly appointed Secretary of HUD (the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development) Ben Carson went along with plans to cut federal funding to NYCHA by at least $35 million, the Trump administration is reportedly considering decreasing HUD’s total budget by a staggering $6 billion, or 14 percent, according to a leaked budget draft obtained by the Washington Post. Though it’s not clear how the cuts will affect NYC specifically, previous estimates said cuts to NYCHA’s federal aid could easily balloon to $150 million this year, and Mayor de Blasio was already weighing his options for how to deal with the blow. The Wall Street Journal reports that he said yesterday he plans to put aside city money to help fill the gap, but if the city is “cut on many, many fronts simultaneously,” there won’t be enough to cover the loss in federal funding.
For the first time in 100 years, ferry service will be available to all five boroughs as part of a two-year $325 million initiative by Mayor de Blasio. As the Wall Street Journal reported, the plan will add at least 200 jobs to the city’s economy. Half of these available jobs will pay at least $50,000 per year or more, according to the mayor. The plan for the citywide ferry service, launching this summer, will be managed by the Economic Development Corporation and Hornblower Cruises, who will hire deckhands, captains and other crew members.
Downtown Brooklyn’s 345 Adams Street
Despite “a backdrop of uncertainty,” as he put it, Mayor de Blasio yesterday unveiled an $89.4 billion, 10-year capital plan that includes school construction, public housing repairs, paving roads, and a new NYPD training center. It also sets aside $384.2 million to renovate and rehabilitate aging, city-owned buildings. Commercial Observer tells us that the bulk of this allotment, $94.5 million, would go towards 345 Adams Street in Downtown Brooklyn. The 1920s office building is home to the Department of Finance, Department of Probation, Board of Elections, and Administration for Children’s Services. Others on the list are the Brooklyn Municipal Building ($39.1 million), 253 Broadway in lower Manhattan ($18.5 million), and the Manhattan Municipal Building ($16.7 million).
City Water Tunnel No. 3, one of the largest capital projects in the city’s history; Images: NYC DEP
Mayor Bill de Blasio will officially announce Tuesday that $300 million will be allocated toward the completion of the city’s third water tunnel (known as Water Tunnel No. 3) which will bring drinking water from upstate to the city’s taps. The mayor’s announcement backs up assurances he made in April that the tunnel will be ready for activation in an emergency by the end of this year, and fully operational by 2025, Politico reports. The allocation, along with an additional $3 million to disinfect the Brooklyn/Queens section of the tunnel, is part of the city’s 10-year capital plan and will speed up the timeline for completion of the project.
When Mayor de Blasio took office in 2014, he vowed to build or preserve 200,000 units of affordable housing over 10 years, and so far, he’s made good on his word, despite the loss of the city’s controversial 421-a program. The Times reports that today the Mayor will announce that his administration has added 21,963 affordable units in 2016, the most since 1989. Of these apartments, 6,844 were in newly constructed buildings and roughly 4,400, or 20 percent, were reserved for low-income New Yorkers earning less than $25,000 (much more than the eight percent goal). More than 30 percent were in Manhattan, followed by 29 percent in both the Bronx and Brooklyn.
For the third straight year, IDNYC will remain free to all New Yorkers over the age of 14, despite concerns related to Donald Trump’s request for data from sanctuary cities (h/t DNAinfo). Currently, more than 900,000 people are cardholders, which makes them eligible for memberships and discounts at 38 cultural institutions, 10 of which are brand new this year and include the Museum of Arts and Design, Museum at Eldridge Street, Film Forum, St. George Theatre, and the Jacques Marchais Center for Tibetan Art. Other perks include a 15 percent discount for first-time Citi Bike members, a five percent discount during certain times at Food Bazaar supermarkets, and up to 25 percent off select events at the Barclay’s Center.
As he readies himself for reelection this coming year, Mayor de Blasio is looking to address the city’s surging homeless population. Just this week, the city reported a record 60,686 New Yorkers in shelters, nearly 40 percent of whom are children. This number was closer to 51,470 when de Blasio took office in 2014, and despite the $1.6 billion he’s spent on homeless services since this time (a 60 percent increase), the shelter system still can’t support the growing population. Therefore, as the Times explains, he’s looking to ramp up a controversial initiative that uses hotel rooms to fill in the gaps, earmarking more than 500 additional rooms for this portfolio.
Police presence around Trump Tower, via latecapitalism/Instagram
White House North, Dump Tower–call it what you will, but Trump Tower has been causing a major headache for the city ever since the President Elect announced that he hopes to spend weekends in his penthouse at the Midtown tower and that wife Melania and son Barron will continue to reside there during his presidency. Initial estimates put the cost of protecting the building at $1 million a day, but after City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and Council Member Dan Garodnick launched a petition last week demanding that the federal government cover these costs, Mayor de Blasio has officially asked for a total of “$35 million to cover the 73 days stretching from the election on Nov. 8 to Jan. 20, inauguration day,” reports the Post, a lesser amount of roughly $480,000 a day.
As of the summer, Mayor de Blasio was ahead of schedule on his ambitious plan to build or preserve 200,000 units of affordable housing over 10 years, having financed nearly 53,000 such apartments. His goal will now be even closer in grasp thanks to the additional $300 million in federally tax-exempt bonds the Governor has allocated to subsidize the cost of new construction, which brings the city’s total bond capacity to $771 million, according to the Daily News, an 11 percent increase over 2o15.
City officials are pushing to have the $325 million citywide ferry service, helmed by Hornblower and managed by the city’s Economic Development Corporation, up and running a few months before next November, when Mayor Bill de Blasio stands for re-election. As 6sqft reported in September, two bayou-based shipbuilding companies, Horizon Shipbuilding in Bayou La Batre, Ala. and the awesomely-named Metal Shark in Franklin, La., are racing to complete the 19 new boats scheduled to hit the water this summer. The ferry service will be the most extensive passenger ferry service of its kind in any U.S. city.
555Ten, an Extell building that would be affected by the 421-a changes
As 6sqft reported last week, Governor Cuomo, developers, and unions have been engaging in closed-door talks to bring forth his revision of the city’s 421-a program that includes wage subsidies and an extension of the previous 25-year tax break up to 45 years. Glaringly (but not surprisingly) absent from the negotiations is Mayor de Blasio, but he’s now taking matters into his own hands, at least when it comes to those under-construction buildings that got in to the program before it expired in January. According to the Times, the de Blasio administration introduced a new policy that says these projects must include housing for some of the 60,000 New Yorkers currently living in homeless shelters, but developers, particularly Extell’s Gary Barnett, are not happy about the changes.
Mayor Bill de Blasio, the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) and Citywide Ferry operator Hornblower have announced that construction has officially begun on 19 vessels that will kick off New York City’s first citywide ferry system, with vessels sporting the latest in 21st century maritime technology. The mayor said in a statement, “We are moving full steam ahead and bringing modern ferry boats, outfitted with the latest technology and safety features, to our waterways. This new fleet will help us connect commuters and visitors alike to neighborhoods throughout the city.”
It looks like it’s been another successful year for Mayor de Blasio’s affordable housing goals. When he took office in 2014, he pledged to build or preserve 200,000 such units over 10 years. In a January 2015 speech, he announced that during his first year, the city exceeded its goal by 1,300 apartments, building or preserving a total of 17,300 units. Now, an announcement on Monday from his administration says that the city is ahead of schedule with its goals thus far, financing the creation or preservation of nearly 53,000 affordable apartments.
As reported in the Times, “just in the fiscal year ending June 30, more affordable housing units — 23,284 — had been built or preserved than at any time since 1989.” In a statement the Mayor said, “This engine is in full gear, financing enough affordable homes for 130,000 people in just two and a half years.”
New Yorkers make a lot of garbage. We create more than 44 million pounds of residential and commercial waste every day–about a ton per person annually. Of that, only a third is recycled, composted or burned to generate energy. The rest is dumped in landfills. A recent Crain’s article explains how Mayor Bill de Blasio hopes to make a serious dent in all that dumping. He has pledged that by 2030, the city would be sending “zero waste” to landfills: “This is the way of the future if we’re going to save our Earth.” But like most things, the success of any plans to reduce the rubbish pile hinges on two things: management, and incentive (which, for most New Yorkers, means money).
It seems that every day we’re hearing of small businesses being forced to move or shut down altogether due to rising rents in just about every corner of the city. Even icons like St. Mark’s Bookshop and Other Music have packed it in after years at their well-loved locations. And new businesses have an even tougher road ahead, trying to gain a foothold in changing neighborhoods where landlords hope change brings high-paying tenants.
There are a number of grassroots efforts in the works to help businesses gain and maintain a foothold when faced with skyrocketing rents and challenging regulatory hurdles–and more help may be on the way. DNAInfo reports that Mayor Bill de Blasio is expected to sign legislation Tuesday that prevents harassment of commercial tenants by greedy landlords. Advocates hope the new law will make it less difficult for small businesses to thrive and grow.
Affordability vs. racial inclusion may sound like an odd battle to be having, yet it’s one that often simmers below the surface in discussions of neighborhood change. The words “Nearly 50 years after the passage of the federal Fair Housing Act…” are, of course, no small part of the reason. And in a city known for its diversity–one that often feels more racially integrated than it is–the question of how housing policy might affect racial makeup tends to be carefully sidestepped, but the New York Times opens that worm-can in a subsection called “Race/Related.”
Currently, the city allots half of its new affordable housing stock to residents of the specific community district where the project is being built and who meet the income requirements. But the Anti-Discrimination Center says this “community preference” policy violates the 1968 Fair Housing Act, “which prohibits discrimination in housing sales, rentals and financing based on race or national origin,” according to an article today in the Wall Street Journal. The New York-based group filed a suit against the city on these grounds, claiming that it adds to existing segregation patterns. If they are successful, the verdict would undoubtedly impact Mayor de Blasio’s plan of adding 80,000 new affordable housing units in the next ten years.
Mayor de Blasio is expected to announce today the rollout of a ten-year plan to improve the city’s debt-and-disrepair-riddled public housing. According to the New York Times, plan items include–perhaps most notably–the leasing of land within a number of housing complexes to developers; other items include the transference of some New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) employees (and the $90 million a year it costs the agency to pay them) to other city agencies and increased rents as well as higher parking fees for residents.
From the onset, Mayor de Blasio has been extremely vocal about his plan to add 200,000 units of affordable housing over 10 years, 80,000 of which will be new construction. Though many feel this is an arbitrary number, backed up by no data as to where the units will be, the Mayor seems committed to reforming current policies to reach his goal. And after months of speculation, he has revealed his planned changes to the city’s 421-a tax incentive program, which is set to expire in June.
According to the Times, under his proposal, the controversial tax would no longer apply to condo projects (to understand the logic behind this decision just look at the $100 million sale at One57 that received the tax abatement). But it would apply to new rental projects, which would have to have apartments for poor and working-class residents make up 20 to 30 percent of the building in order to qualify for city tax breaks. It would also extend the abatement from 25 years to 35 years. Another part of the overhaul is to eliminate so-called poor doors.
De Blasio also wants to up the city’s mansion tax. Currently, home sales over $1 million are subject to a 1 percent tax, but de Blasio proposes adding an additional 1 percent tax for sales over $1.75 million, as well as a third 1.5 percent tax for sales over $5 million. He estimates this will bring in an extra $200 million a year in tax revenue, money that would be allocated to affordable housing programs.
- Go inside the studios of five Brooklyn artists. [BK Mag]
- On the final episode last night of “The Jinx,” HBO’s Robert Durst crime documentary, the real estate scion implicated himself in the murders of three people and was arrested Saturday in New Orleans. [Forbes]
- Space-saving takeaways from a 48-square-foot kitchen. [Curbed]
- Are you chronically late? Try the Mayor de Blasio lateness excuse generator the next time you miss a morning meeting. [DNAinfo]
- The 1962 subway “bar car” that ran from Times Square to South Ferry. [Untapped]
Images: Robert Durst (L); Mayor de Blasio (R)
I sat under a canopy of blue sky on the elevated platform of the Sutter Avenue stop in Brownsville, Brooklyn. I like elevated subway stations because they’re, you know, elevated as opposed to that subterranean scene that transpires underground. What I wasn’t liking so much that particular day, high above the busy avenue, was the way the platform slightly vibrated with each passing vehicle below. It was somewhat unsettling. And then the ground really started to shake, so much so that I looked to the distance to see if Godzilla bore down on Brooklyn, smashing cars and pounding through buildings, breathing fire and squawking that awful squawk. But it was only the 3 Train rattling in from East New York. The platform continued to shake more and more until the train, thankfully, came to a stop. I got on board, but I wasn’t all that happy about it.
And then I started to think about my dog.