Real estate kerfuffles
Despite the rainy, windy weather that is set to hit New York tomorrow and a last-minute lawsuit filed to stop Extell from evacuating two co-op buildings adjacent to One57, plans to repair the crane broken during Hurricane Sandy are still moving forward Saturday morning.
Which means that the unfortunate residents of Alwyn Court, the landmarked building at the corner of Seventh Avenue and 58th Street, will either vacate the building voluntarily in the next few hours or face forcible eviction. The crane repair involves swinging a boom over Alwyn and two other buildings before hoisting it up the side of the unfinished tower.
Remember shovel ready projects? Thought they were so 2009? Well, you’d be wrong, at least here in New York, where Mayor Bloomberg, Council Speaker Christine Quinn and the ever financially creative City Comptroller John Liu have done some juggling with the city’s capital construction program to fast track $1 billion worth of infrastructure work. These projects will begin in the coming months, rather than in the coming years. Let’s hear it for putting people to work.
On March 23, Wendell Walters plead guilty to two counts of racketeering and bribery. As the assistant commissioner for development at the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development, he oversaw billions of dollars in city contracts to build and repair the city’s vast stock of private affordable housing. The projects only grew over the past decade as Mayor Bloomberg launched a program to create or rehabilitate some 165,000 units of affordable housing.
During that time, the kickbacks to Walters also grew, totaling some $2.5 million over the course of a decade involving at least 10 different affordable housing developers in the city. Some payments were made in coffee cups, others in thick envelopes stuffed into Walters’ golf bag as he and the builders took in a round of golf. Among the gifts received was a brownstone on 139th Street in Harlem, free renovations to the townhouse and a honeymoon in Greece.
When he was arrested last October, Walters was paraded in front of the Brooklyn Federal Court House. Like so many perps, he was caught by surprise and still wearing his morning clothes, a black fleece pullover and black sweatpants. Tall and handsome with a shaven head, the 49-year-old Walters looked shocked, embarrassed, dismayed.
So was Matthew Wambua.
We were so excited about the new incarnation of The Beatrice Inn: the egalitarian, OpenTable.com, anti-smoking restaurant that will take the place of its former celebrity drug-fueled dance haunt, which shuttered three years ago. Especially since Graydon Carter, along with former Waverly Inn partners Brett Rasinski and Emil Warda, had promised that this time, there would be no Paul Sevigny.
In multiple interviews, Mr. Carter placed the opening of the new Waverly at the end of May. Yet anyone who has walked by 285 West 12th St. recently can see for themselves that the Beatrice is still under heavy construction. Another minor hiccup: they still don’t have their liquor license.
The Neverending Story
As of today, as you probably already know, 1 World Trade Center reached the historic height of 1,271 feet, eclipsing the Empire State Building and reclaiming its place as the tallest building in the city. In honor of that achievement, the tower will be lit up red, white and blue tonight. The Observer asked Tony Malkin, owner of the iconic tower, what he thought of being No. 2 again.
The Neverending Story
Everyone has been eagerly awaiting the topping out of 1 World Trade Center. While that milestone is still a few weeks or months away, as early as next week, the SOM-designed, Port Authority-built tower will surpass the Empire State Building as the tallest in the city.
In honor of that occasion, Earthcam, which has been monitoring the site with great fervor, put together a timelapse of the tower’s rise. It is an amazing site to behold, if also a troubling one—how did it take eight years for a tower, even one of this magnitude, to rise? (Well, we sort of know why. Still, it took half as long for the twice-as-tall Burj Khalifa, though that is also another story of immigrant labor and infinite money.)
Cynicism aside, it is is an impressive feat, especially considering we were only halfway here a year-and-a-half ago.
Plains Trains & Automobiles
The MTA is going beyond the call (literally as phone calls and angry messages are filling up their inboxes) of duty to ensure that residents on the Upper East Side are getting a good night’s sleep.
After repeated complaints that residents are being kept awake at night by construction at the future 72nd Street subway station, the MTA will begin offering nighttime visits to apartments around the area. Engineers from the agency will start their visits starting around 10 p.m. in order to hear the noise and feel the pain that residents are going through while construction continues on the Second Avenue subway line.
The multi-colored muscle behind the City’s construction industry has been revealed through an analysis of U.S. Census data, and contrary to stereotypes, a solid majority of construction workers are now drawn from minority backgrounds.
If the lingering after effects of the recession and Manhattan’s already arduous construction environment weren’t challenging enough to builders in the city, the Department of Transportation’s annual holiday construction embargo is about take effect.
Starting tomorrow and in effect through January 2, 2012, the rules prohibit construction projects from blocking streets and walkways in various areas of the city, including 30th to 60th Streets river to river in midtown.
NBA legend and nascent developer Magic Johnson has engendered even more criticism and controversy for his ongoing renovation of the Mason Mints Factory building in Brooklyn Heights, as the Daily News reports, and now things are turning litigious.