The Department of City Planning approved on Wednesday the U.S. Tennis Association’s contentious plan to expand its stadium in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, DNAinfo reported. The approval comes in the wake of the Association’s concession to return 1.56 acres of parkland to the public in return for development rights for a 0.68 acre parcel, a move that didn’t satisfy some community activists. City Planning Commissioner Amanda Burden said at the vote that there would be “no loss of public parkland in order to accomplish the proposed upgrade to the tennis center,” according to DNAinfo. Corona Park may soon be the site of another land battle if the new Major League Soccer team seeks to build a stadium there.
Fresh Pond Road, one of the central arteries of Ridgewood, will be getting a new five-story residential development. In addition to 28 units of housing, the 20,000-square-foot project will also have a small amount of office space. We wonder if it will be a glassy affair like so many new buildings these days. GMAP
The storefront at 40-18 Greenpoint Avenue in Sunnyside is empty now, Papa John’s long having said goodbye. Was it a lack of foot traffic that made them pull up anchor–or was the architecture just too much for even a pizza chain to endure? According to DOB records, the two-story residential addition was added in 2005. At least they decided to class up the place with those fixed awnings. GMAP
“For every developer who has seen an investment turn into a real estate bonanza, there’s a family in a neighborhood like Sunnyside trying desperately to keep up with a rising property tax bill. For every strip of stores that celebrated the opening of a more convenient Starbucks, there’s a hardworking middle class family struggling to put their kids through college on the profits earned by a family-run business,” writes Anthony Weiner in his “Keys to the City” [PDF], a policy document that was released a few weeks before Wednesday’s announcement of his mayoral candidacy.
The term “middle class” is prevalent throughout, as it was in the 2012 presidential campaign. But campaign-speak aside, Weiner does articulate a number of specific changes through a list of 64 reforms. For transit, he supports the expansion of ferry service to serve Rockaway, Sheepshead Bay, Riverdale and Harlem. He also proposes cell phone service on every subway platform – probably a daunting cost for the cash-strapped MTA. He wants city tax breaks for employees who bike to work.
Weiner’s real estate proposals would likely be contentious. He wants Albany’s state properties to pay city taxes and wants rent regulations, the province of Gov. Cuomo and the state’s Rent Guidelines Board, to be shifed to the mayor’s office.
And his affordable housing proposal is a big departure from the Bloomberg standard of 80% market-rate units and 20% low income units. Weiner wants tax abatements and up-zoning concessions for buildings that have 60% market rate, 20% “middle class” and 20% low-income units. He doesn’t specify how “middle class” would be defined as in relation to local income brackets. He also calls for affordable builders to gain quicker Department of Buildings approval and flood insurance subsidies. On another lightning rod issue, the sale of city-owned development rights, he calls vaguely for a “full air rights audit.”
Overall, Weiner appears to be painting himself as an outer borough advocate. (He represented New York’s 9th Congressional District in the House, which previously included parts of Queens before a redistricting this year.) But some of his proposals would take on two of the most powerful entities in the state of New York: the real estate lobby and Gov. Cuomo. Other new programs would have to confront the realities of strained budgets.
Of course, the most pressing issue for Weiner these days is his biggest rival, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn.
Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, was thwarted in its quest to lease at Related Companies’ retail center in East New York, Brooklyn. But sources tell the Observer that the company is looking at some vacant land that would support a 300,000-square-foot store near the Queens-Brooklyn border. One possibility: Ridgewood, near the rapidly gentrifying Brooklyn neighborhood of Bushwick, according to Douglas Elliman broker Faith Hope Consolo. Meanwhile, a Wal-Mart spokesman told the salmon paper that there’s “nothing new regarding Walmart in NYC,” but said that New Yorkers want to shop at the store and travel to suburban locations to do so. The company’s most recent quarterly earnings missed estimates.
The Yankees and England’s Manchester City announced Tuesday that they will form the newest Major League Soccer team, the New York City Football Club (NYCFC). Manchester City will play an exhibition match in the Bronx against Chelsea FC (the team from London, not the West 20s) this very Saturday, May 25. But a far more explosive question is where the new New York team ultimately plays.
The release says that NYCFC will have an interim home in 2015 but that it is “committed to seeking a new permanent stadium in New York.” Candidate No. 1? Flushing Meadows Corona Park, already a battleground between local groups and the U.S. Tennis Association.
It’s far from a done deal. A spokesman at City Planning told Brownstoner that any proposal would require a seven-month Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP), which would involved input from the local community board and borough president, followed by votes by City Planning and the City Council. He declined to comment further on the proposal because it hasn’t been officially submitted.
Stadiums are inherently tied to the public sector. Virtually all pro teams extract some sort of tax abatement as part of a new stadium deal, with the argument that the thousands of future spectators will lead directly to consumer spending and new jobs. But studies haven’t supported the claims that arenas lead to an overall net benefit. And this proposal comes at a time when Madison Square Garden, one of the most famous venues in the world, is trying to secure its own future.
Ferran Soriano, head of Manchester City, issued a cautious note regarding development:
“New York City FC will have a permanent home in the City in the great traditions of New York sports and world soccer – a home that must be a sports, commercial and civic success…But in considering any stadium site, we will listen first. This is what we have always done in Manchester and what we will do in New York. Only in this way, can the Club truly represent the City whose name it will carry.”
Mayor Bloomberg, a consistent fan of sports as an engine of economic development (see Atlantic Yards, Citi Field, the new Yankee Stadium and the defeated Jets proposal), was more bullish. But remember that this is his last year as mayor, and any decisions will likely be shaped by his successor.
“Soccer is one of the world’s most exciting and popular sports, and it should be played on the world’s biggest stage – in New York City…New Yorkers are the greatest sports fans in the world, and they will welcome a Major League Soccer franchise with the full-throated and loyal support they are famous for. Manchester City has a great reputation for both winning teams and serious community investment, and that will help them fit in well with the excellent leadership of New York City’s other professional sports teams. Increasingly, sports events and activities – from the NHL playoffs to the MLB All-Star game to the SuperBowl – are spurring economic growth, as our investments in new arenas and infrastructure are paying off.”
What do you think?
Photo: L-R, Randy Levine of the Yankees, MLS Commissioner Don Garber, Ferran Soriano of Manchester City, via NYCFC
Developer Rockrose will build a 500-foot tower in Long Island City that will become the tallest residential building in Queens, the Observer reported. The bulding, at 43-25 Hunter Street, will have 975 residential units and is expected to break ground in the fourth quarter of this year. The total cost of the project is an estimated $400 million. The new building is close to the existing Citigroup Building at One Court Square, prompting Rockrose executive Justin Elghanayan to dub it Citigroup’s “girlfriend.” Seven warehouses will be demolished to make room: 25-25 44th Drive, 43-25, 43-15, 43-11 and 43-09 Hunter Street, as well as 27-02 and 27-06 43rd Avenue. Rockrose is also opening new residential properties at Linc LIC in Court Square and Eagle Loft at 43-22 Queens Street. TF Cornerstone, which is owned by other members of the Elghanayan family, is developing its own Long Island City portfolio near the waterfront.
Rendering via Rockrose / Observer
This post has been updated: Rockrose’s new building would be the tallest residential building in Queens, not the tallest overall.
More controversy has erupted in Willets Point, the industrial neighborhood near Citi Field that is already facing a redevelopment plan. This time, local auto repair shops are claiming that they were shut down by the Department of Buildings in an effort to evict them, CBS reported. The agency issued a “partial vacate” order a 38-01 126th Street, but the businesses that closed were at 37-03 126th Street and 38-05 126th Street. As a result, workers at the shops suddenly found themselves unemployed. The Department of Housing Preservation and Development, another government agency that owns the buildings, didn’t comment.
More zoning changes are in store for flood-prone areas that may include Howard Beach and the Rockaways. The City wants to change building rules to conform to the latest federal standards for flood resistant construction, and the public review process started Monday, City Planning Commissioner Amanda Burden said. New rules would affect building heights, the location of mechanicals and off-street parking, the placement of stairs and ramps, activities on ground level, and the quality of the streetscape. But raising the ground floor above the flood line can make for some really ugly buildings, so the rules would allow gradual grading, stair turns, porches and plantings to “prevent unnecessarily stark landscapes with blank walls, and promote ‘eyes on the street’ to foster street-level vitality,” as a City press release put it. Burden, a Bloomberg appointee, has already rezoned a staggering 36 percent of the City, according to Crain’s, including areas like Jamaica and Flushing.
Police arrested 38 suspected drug dealers in Ravenswood Houses in Astoria and Queensbridge Houses in Long Island City, the Daily News reported. The suspects were ages 18 to 57 and accused of dealing heroin, cocaine, oxycodone, methamphetamines and marijuana to uncover cops. There are around 7,000 residents in Queensbridge and another 4,500 in Ravenswood, making them some of the largest housing projects in the country.