Best Laid Plans
five ring circus
Back when we did our big report one what the Bloomberg administration has in store for Midtown East under an in-the-works rezoning, we came up with a little dream/doomsday scenario of what that might look like. Then, when the city officially unveiled the plans, they revealed that some sites could potentially see buildings as big or bigger than the Empire State Building, and they produced their own images of this brave new world.
Now, our pals over at Curbed have come up with their own rendering of a Midtown of the future, which are equally exciting and terrifying, depending on where you stand on cool new skyscrapers and the crowds and shadows that come with them.
Best Laid Plans
Dan Doctoroff, Olympic dreamer, got to attend an opening ceremony for the games this summer, even if it was not the one he had hoped for. It was from London, where Mr. Doctoroff was taking in the 2012 summer Olympics, that he fired off an email to his friends declaring “feelings of ‘what might have been’ are curiously absent.”
The Times got a hold of this email, where the former deputy mayor for economic development and current head of Bloomberg LP goes on to say that even without them, the Olympic bid was good for New York.
Best Laid Plans
It was but one line in Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s State of the City address in January, but it could prove to be one of the biggest of his dozen years in office.
“In the area around Grand Central, we’ll work with the City Council on a package of regulatory changes and incentives that will attract new investment, new companies and new jobs,” the mayor said from the stage inside Morris High School in the Bronx.
Hizzoner spent more time talking about Cornell’s Roosevelt Island tech campus, keeping the Hunt’s Point Produce Market from moving across the Hudson to Jersey and efforts to further expand the blue-collar workforce on the waterfront. Even the redevelopment of nearby East Fordham Road and Webster Avenue got equal billing with these vague pronouncements about “the area around Grand Central.”
Despite the scant mention, it turns out that for an administration that has never shied away from big plans, this may be one of the biggest projects yet.
Best Laid Plans
One of the more onerous aspect’s of developing in New York City is the public review process, known as ULURP, a seven-month gauntlet of meetings and votes and editorializing about one’s baby. But just as troublesome can be the act of getting to ULURP, a pre-certification process at the Department of City Planning that can take months, and sometimes even years, as city officials and planners get a project into the shape they want it and running environmental and economic analysis on the project.
The city just popped an aspirin on this development headache, or rather an Aleve, for a new program known as BluePRint, the Business Process Reform. It is meant to streamline the pre-certification process, Deputy Mayor Robert Steel announced at an ABNY breakfast this morning.
24 hour party people
Much as we want to be, The Observer is no real fan of the transformation of the Fourth Avenue from grotty auto shops to shoddy “luxury” apartment buildings. As usual, The Journal‘s Robbie Whelan delivers another brilliant diagnosis for the city’s architectural woes, and this time he focuses in on “Brooklyn’s Burden.”
Make No Small Plans
Even as the city has gotten squeaky clean over the past decade, in some ways, it is still as nasty as the Bowery at its worst. Case in point: Booze hounds. According to The Times, drinking-related problems are at modern highs.
Design Within Reach?
Last year, a not-entirely outrageous proposal by urban theorist and Columbia professor Vishaan Chakrabarti was put forward to use landfill to connect Governors Island to Lower Manhattan, creating an entirely new Battery Park City South of sorts. Compared to landfill efforts in Tokyo and other parts of China, the idea is actually incredibly modest. And here is how it could be done.
Last month, Mayor Bloomberg stood in a shiny white conference room inside Department of Buildings headquarters on lower Broadway, two blocks from City Hall. He was surrounded by some of his top deputies and a giant flatscreen monitor mounted on the wall. Welcome to the Hub, a new high-tech system that allows the city’s architects and engineers for the first time to interface with plan examiners at the 17 different departments with oversight of their projects simultaneously.
“We all heard horror stories about delays in the approval process that cost time and money,” Mayor Bloomberg told reporters.
Standing at the podium beside the buildings commissioner and landmarks chair, closer to the mayor than the reps for the Real Estate Board and developer the Related Companies, was a striking woman in a black tweed dress and gray cardigan.
Margaret O’Donoghue Castillo, along with her members at the New York chapter of the American Institute of Architects, where she is currently serving as president, have told the city more of these horror stories than anyone else, and it was through their advocacy, their lobbying, that encouraged the mayor and the Department of Buildings to create the Hub.
In Da Slope
In her four years atop the city’s Department of Transportation, Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan has masterminded a re-engineering of the city’s streets that not so long ago would have been impossible. Bike lanes proliferate, parking spaces have been transformed into cafes, and Broadway, the most famous road in the world, has been almost entirely closed Read More
On Monday, The Real Estate Desk looked at what’s wrong with Brooklyn’s Fourth Avenue and why its 2003 rezoning has come in for mixed-reviews. The Desk’s theory was subpar design, but hoping to make a contribution instead of simply criticizing the six-lane street, we asked a few experts for their thoughts.
City Planning spokewoman Read More