Park Avenue Armory, image © PBDW Architects
Constructed between the 18th and 20th centuries to resemble massive European fortresses and serve as headquarters, housing, and arms storage for state volunteer militia, most of America’s armories that stand today had shed their military affiliations by the later part of the 20th century. Though a number of them did not survive, many of New York City’s historic armories still stand. While some remain in a state of limbo–a recent setback in the redevelopment plans of Brooklyn’s controversial Bedford-Union Armory in Crown Heights raises a familiar battle cry–the ways in which they’ve adapted to the city’s rollercoaster of change are as diverse as the neighborhoods that surround them.
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Mayor de Blasio’s citywide ferry service initiative, which launched May 1, was meant to provide commuters with an alternative to the problem-plagued subway. However, just under a month after the city launched the NYC Ferry service, passengers have faced delays, long lines, and overcrowding. As the New York Times reports, the ferry service transported roughly 26,000 passengers in total this past holiday weekend, with the East River Route carrying more than 9,600 people each day. In response to high demand, an extra three boats were put into service.
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Mayor de Blasio and his administration have made progress in meeting their goal of building 200,000 affordable units over the span of a decade, as 21,963 new units were added in 2016, the most in 27 years. However, there continues to be a shortage in East Harlem. Out of the nearly 20,000 affordable units, the city brought to all five boroughs, just 249 units have been built in East Harlem, according to a new report by the Department of Housing and Preservation Development (HPD). To better accommodate these residents, the city plans on expediting the construction of 2,400 units of affordable housing over the next few years, as DNA Info reported.
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The much-anticipated NYC Ferry service begins today, lessening the commute to Manhattan for many outer borough residents. The first commuter ferry took off from the new Rockaway route at 5:30 a.m. Monday, picked up more passengers at Sunset Park and then arrived in Lower Manhattan in just about one hour. Newly renovated ferries will also launch today on the East River Route, which services Midtown and Financial District communities. On Sunday, Mayor de Blasio held a christening ceremony and took the first ferry ride from the Rockaways to Wall Street.
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An investigation by Public Advocate Letitia James’ office found that nearly 40 percent, or 884, of the 2,322 apartments in the Tenant Interim Lease (TIL) program sit unoccupied. After hearing multiple complaints from constituents at town halls, the public advocate’s office launched a full review of the program and discovered it does not meet its goal of providing New Yorkers with self-sufficient, low-income rentals (h/t NY Post). Even more shocking, at one TIL building on 615 West 150th Street, tenants had to move out in 1996 for what was supposed to be a two-year renovation. Per a policy briefing by the public advocate, they still have not been able to return to the units, and their possessions are locked up without access.
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With the announcement of Mayor de Blasio’s new executive budget on Wednesday, the shaky relationship between the short-term rental company Airbnb and New York City continues. As reported by Crain’s, the city plans to crack down on illegal short-term rentals by spending an extra $2.9 million over the next two fiscal years. For the fiscal year 2018, the mayor plans to pour $1.6 million into expanding the city’s Office of Special Enforcement, which inspects and fines landlords who rent entire apartments out for fewer than 30 days.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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