Ella ella eh eh eh
Next time you stop at newsstand for some gum, cigarettes or candy, (or a copy of The New York Observer) you might also find cell phone chargers and umbrellas that won’t break the first time you open them, thanks to City Council Speaker Christine Quinn.
The Speaker and mayoral hopeful announced yesterday at a newsstand Read More
In the Rezone
This afternoon, the City Council voted to approve the Hudson Square rezoning. The rezoning—a plan five years in the making that allows for the creation of a denser, mixed-use district with significantly more residential and retail development—is now in effect. Bordered by Tribeca and Soho, there’s little doubt what the rezoning will mean for Hudson Square’s future. Behold New York’s next hot neighborhood.
Full Council approval was largely a formality after the Council’s land use and zoning and franchise committees voted to approve the plan last week, but it was significant: the last step in a lengthy approval process that will transform a neighborhood currently characterized by old printing plants and quiet sidewalks.
The New York City Council passed a bill today that prohibits employers from considering an applicant’s current employment status when making hiring decisions.
The bill would also put an end to job ads that say applicants must be currently employed. Under this measure, New York would be the first city in the country providing people Read More
Sandy silver linings
At least there’s one benefit for those whose homes were destroyed or significantly damaged during Hurricane Sandy. Today, the city council voted to give owners of such properties an interest-free extension on their next property tax bill— a three month grace period that extends until April 1, 2013 (tax bills are usually due on January 1).
Planes Trains & Automobiles
The bus stop is a lonely place, made lonelier without the reassurances of time. Like Estragon said, “Nothing happens, nobody comes, nobody goes, it’s awful.” Much better to wait underground for the subway where your time is allotted to you by little digital clocks hanging from the ceiling. No more leaning out and staring into the endlessness of a dark tunnel looking for light. Your train is 4 minutes away, at least on those lines fortunate enough to have the timers.
New York City is not a place for waiting. We’re terrible at it, and the City Council knows it. Today, joined by transit advocates and riders, a group of council members introduced a resolution calling on city agencies to install “bus clocks” in all of the 3,300 shelters across the city. Clocks that would display real-time bus arrival information, not simply those flimsy timetables many bus poles now unreliably, even flagrantly, post. It’s a move that will finally see the city catching up with such other metropolitan innovators as Albany, Syracuse, and Champaign, Ill. They’ve even got an online version in Boston—Boston!
“Millions of New Yorkers have stories” from the hurricane, Council Speaker Christine Quinn declared this morning during a soaring, post-Sandy speech at the Association for a Better New York. Among those stories was Ms. Quinn’s own.
It was an emotional moment that came during what was otherwise a wonky, if powerful, policy-laden address to the city’s business leaders during which the council speaker (and presumptive mayoral candidate) called for at least $20 billion in new infrastructure across the five boroughs to protect against future disasters. The story, from the summers of Ms. Quinn’s youth, underscored her belief that the city must seize upon this disaster to create a stronger (or at least drier) future.
“My grandfather came over on a boat from Ireland with a third grade education and worked his way up through the ranks of the Fire Department,” Ms. Quinn explained. “Rockaway Beach offered him a chance to rent a bungalow in the summer, to afford a little place on the ocean just like the rich people he saw in the magazines. It was his own piece of the American Dream.”
For many neighbors of the Chelsea Market, the biggest concern over a massive addition to the market was the shape it would take and thus its impact on the High Line, which the market abuts. Love it or hate it, the High Line had become a major neighborhood amenity, one people did not want to see get any worse with a massive eight-story addition overhanging it.
Developer Jamestown Properties acceded to demands from the City Planning Commission—which oversaw the rezoning that helped preserve the High Line—to rejigger the building, so what kind of concessions could Council Speaker Christine Quinn possibly extract? Especially since she had reportedly waffled on whether or not to beat back the building entirely as she eyes crossing over to the other side of City Hall.
Well, what better way to appease NIMBYs and preservationists than with architectural protections and schools?
In the Rezone
Yesterday, in a unanimous vote 47 years in the making, the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area has finally been approved by the City Council. SPURA, that massive parcel of barren (or in City Council speak, “under-developed”) city-owned land in Lower Manhattan, will now become a 1.65 million square foot mixed-use development. It’s a change that, according to the project’s backers, will create 1,000 housing units, 1,000 permanent jobs and 5,000 construction jobs.
In the Rezone
It took 40 years, but the transformation of the Seward Park urban Renewal Area, better known as SPURA, may finally be here. While everyone seemed excited at the prospect of this finally happening, the opinions were far from unanimous about what the city came up with for its plan for the seven undeveloped acres south of Delancy Street on four forlorn parking lots.
But there was unanimity today, when the City Council’s land-use committee approved the 1.65 million-square-foot plan for SPURA by a vote of 16-0. Attendees of last week’s public hearing on the development south of the Williamsburg Bridge will be relieved to hear that 50 additional affordable housing units (offset by another 50 at market rate prices) have been added to the project, for a total of 1,000 units, half of which will be affordable, half not. The administration also agreed to that now de rigueur piece of rezoning negotiations, a new public school.
STATE OF THE UNIONS
As promised, the City Council overrode the mayor’s veto of Intro 730, a bill dubbed the HPD Transparency Act, by a unanimous vote. Speaker Christine Quinn defended the 46-0 override saying, “This piece of legislation, which is simple in many ways, it’s just transparency. It’s just the info. Why don’t we want to have the info behind our Department of Housing out there? Why don’t we want New Yorkers to have all the facts out there.”
The bill has been criticized for it’s wage reporting standards, which opponents say adds an onerous bureaucratic burden for small firms and MWBEs. Opponents of the bill argue that the supposed transparency of the bill would do little to ensure quality construction. Just knowing how much someone gets paid does not guarantee a better building, the ostensible reason for the bill. When asked about how the bill might still achieve this, the speaker stood by Intro 730.