Daniel Kummer, chairperson of Brooklyn’s Community Board 6, appeared weary at last night’s meeting before debate even began on a motion concerning zoning variances requested by New York Methodist Hospital, in connection with a planned expansion of its Park Slope campus. Though the board would approve the plan by the end of the night, the meeting, like the expansion itself, proved somewhat contentious. (Some neighbors have implied that the expansion would lead to nothing less than the destruction of the neighborhood.)
THERE GOES THE NEIGHBORHOOD
These last few weeks, to hear some people tell it, you’d think that New York’s streets have been endangered by one of the greatest threats to public safety that the city has ever seen (not to mention the worst aesthetic blight since the Ugg craze). Comparisons have been drawn between the Department of Transportation and the Taliban. There have been impassioned pleas, there have been fits of yelling and, of course, there have been lawsuits. But now, perhaps, we’ll finally get some respite from all the bike rack hatred as New Yorkers shift their hatred to the bikes themselves.
Citi Bikes will be arriving in the next few days—some 800 of the 6,000 bikes are already docked at stations—and New Yorkers will be able to take them out for a spin starting Memorial Day. It’s just too bad that the incessant whining over the bikes is likely to sound very much like the incessant whining over the racks, led first and foremost by the chorus of sanctimonious ninnies going on about public safety.
on the waterfront
Kips Bay, the East Side enclave pocked with post-war towers, has been largely protected from many of the changes that have transformed other sections of Manhattan. Neither particularly posh nor particularly gritty, nor particularly beautiful, the neighborhood is known as a good place to raise a family or fade into senescence.
But now the cloistered area is getting an unwelcome shot of vigor in the form of new micro-unit apartments. The local community board is terrified that the diminutive middle-class housing units will draw undesirable elements, bad seeds, transients.
How would you like to wake up to views of the Manhattan Bridge and Lower Manhattan beyond, a lavish waterfront park right outside? That is the vision Brooklyn Bridge Park is hoping will entice developers into the newest private development within the libertarian park. Today, the park released a request for proposals for a development at the nexus of John and Pearl streets in Dumbo. The project calls for no more than 130 residential units in a 101,000-square foot development that can rise no higher than 13 stories.
“The addition of the residential development at the John Street site represents a critical element of our park maintenance plan,” Regina Myer, president of Brooklyn Bridge Park, said in a statement. “This development will not only benefit the DUMBO community, it will further activate the northern end of the park.”
It Takes a Village
Here we thought 40 Bond Street was one of the greatest building of the past generation. (Maybe that’s not saying much, since this is New York.) But this riotous video from Curbed shows that opinions are far less uniform than the lofty windows on the Herzog & de Meuron-designed, Ian Schrager-built condo project in Noho. The highlight is clearly the angry neighbor who calls the place “a piece of shit” and “Frank Lloyd Wrong.”
It Takes a Village
Opinions have been mixed on NYU’s plans to expand its campus in Greenwich Village. Construction unions and some local businesses like it because it means more work and more customers. Neighbors and some local businesses do not like it because it means more crowds and shadows and a loss of that Bohemian character. The mayor likes it, Scott Stringer likes the compromise he came up with, NYU antagonist Andrew Berman likes none of it.
What may (or may not, depending on one’s level of cynicism) surprise is that a good many NYU faculty do not like the expansion plan, either. According to a survey conducted by the NYU Faculty Senators Council (PDF), a representative body for professors and instructors, nearly two-thirds of faculty oppose the plan, compared to one-quarter that supports it. A full 40 percent percent of the faculty surveyed said they strongly oppose the plan.
It Takes a Village
The vote of Borough President Scott Stringer has become the hottest commodity since, well, the Park Slope Food Co-op’s Israel vote last night. Everyone is leaning on the Beep to give the project a full-throated yes or no, from construction unions to community groups. No sooner did a group of 44 Village organizations send a letter to Mr. Stringer’s office opposing the plan than the Post has come out with an editorial urging him to support it.
The chorus of opposition to NYU’s expansion plan grows louder. (It’s not just the dogs and the neighbors anymore.) Forty-four different community leaders, politicians, preservationists and neighborhood groups have written a letter to Borough President Scott Stringer urging him to vote down the university’s ambitious, outsized project to build four new towers a few blocks south of Washington Square Park.
“We believe that the zoning changes, lifting of urban renewal deed restriction and taking of public open space requested by NYU is wrong in principle, and the developments which would follow from it would have a terribly detrimental impact,” the letter reads. “We believe that there are better alternatives to be consider by the University and the city.”
As The Observer recently chronicled, the East Side of Manhattan is so starved for parkland, locals will do just about anything to hold onto every blade of grass and monkey bar. At Ruppert Playground, neighbors have been fighting the powerful Related Companies, which is preparing to replace the open space with a new apartment tower possibly reaching 40 stories.
The developer has every right to do so, as it built the playground three decades ago and only had to keep it open through 2008. This has not kept those on the block and their elected officials from fighting the plan, but now Related seems to have found its secret weapon: photon rays!