City Spaces

October 3, 2007

MTA Moving Into The UES

According to Metro, the MTA has begun the process of taking over apartments that have the unfortunate distinction of being in the path of the Second Avenue Subway project, successfully leasing its first rent-controlled apartment scheduled for demolition.  They still have 58 rent-controlled apartments to go, and the process of leasing all of them will be understandably arduous: aside from the difficult task of finding a rent-controlled apartment on the upper east side available, the MTA has the unenviable task of convincing landlords that they are in fact going to build a subway line this time.  MTA real estate chief admitted that there were/are trust issues with the landlords, but claims they have overcome those issues with at least some of them.  However, no matter how chummy the MTA becomes with their new landlords, the process of clearing these apartments promises to get ugly soon: the deadline for doing so is the end of 2008, and odds are 58 rent-controlled apartments will not serendipitously become available in the time frame, so sooner or later, the MTA will have to begin evicting and relocating tenants.  Under federal law, the MTA must provide equivalent housing for these tenants.  Nonetheless, more than a few of the people affected by the process are bound to yell scream about it, breathing new life into the ever present debate over the morality of negatively affecting a handful of people’s lives to potentially benefit the city as a whole.  We will certainly be watching and listening closely as process progresses over the next year.

September 22, 2007

Making Park Avenue A Little Safer

Filed under: Manhattan, Midtown East, Streets, Traffic, Transportation — Adam Cohen @ 8:46 pm

Well, maybe a lot safer. The Times reported today that a deal between the M.T.A and Department of Transportation has been struck to bring Walk/Don’t Walk signs to the ten blocks of Park Avenue north of Grand Central between 46th and 56th. Up until now, the city has been unable to install the sign because the ceiling of the Metro North tracks below the street is no more than two feet from the street surface. As a result, the foundation of the signs would have punctured the through the deck above the tracks below. It is unclear how the city and the M.T.A have gotten around this problem, but the $5.7 million installation of the signs will be included as part of a $35 million dollar renovation of the streets and sidewalks around Grand Central to prevent leaks onto the Metro North tracks below. The deal will be officially submitted to the board of the M.T.A for approval next week. While it is certainly commendable that the city and the M.T.A are coming together to finally get the walk/don’t walk signs installed, it is more than a bit absurd that it just happening now given the high rate of pedestrian accidents on this stretch of Park Ave.

Park Ave. Cross Walk Signals Possibly on the Way (Gothamist)

September 21, 2007

9th Ave To Be A Haven For Bicyclists

Filed under: Bicycles, Green Building & Design, Manhattan, Transportation, Urban Planning — Adam Cohen @ 10:45 am

According to Streets Blog, 9th Ave will be getting the city’s first bike path that is physically separated from the traffic. The plan calls for a median-like installation, about 15 feet wide between the traffic lanes and the bike lane. The plan also calls for separate traffic signals for bicyclists. This sort of plan is a great move by the city. Hopefully if people feel safer biking in the city more people will; perhaps even a few drivers will convert to cyclists. However, it does seem excessive that they have brought in Danish urban designer Jan Gehl to design the plan. In all honesty I think most of us could have come up with the drawing below. Nonetheless, great plan. Let’s hope we see more of this soon.

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September 20, 2007

Cell Phones Underground!

Filed under: MTA, Subways, Transportation — Adam Cohen @ 2:07 pm

Along with its report on the system and service failures associated the August 8 storm, the MTA is also reportedly set to announce a deal to bring cell phone service to select subway stations according to the NY Sun. Obviously, the two news items could easily go hand in hand — the MTA has voiced plans to use text messaging to notify customers of service changes and suspensions. For those of you worried about having to listen to chatty business people and gossipy teenagers on the trains, don’t fret: the deal only involves bringing service to the platforms.

MTA Flood Report

Filed under: Buses, MTA, Subways, Transportation — Adam Cohen @ 11:40 am

The MTA is releasing its report on the transit fiasco that resulted from the torrential rains and flooding on the morning of August 8 today. Not much info yet, but according Paul Fleuranges, a spokesman for the MTA, it calls for, among other things, better ability to predict the weather in addition to proposals for using text messaging or e-mail to notify customers of delays, service changes or other problems.

More to come…

Update: In addition to the aforementioned improved weather forecasting technology (which the report indicates involves the use of Doppler radar technology) the report also advises revised “storm operating protocols,” development of a “bus service alternative plan,” and standardization of procedures for communicating with MTA personnel and customers. At first glance, it appears the report largely reiterates what everyone affected by the August 8 meltdown has already said should have taken place, at least as far as the impact on the system and its customers and communications goes (the report also issues findings and recommendations on engineering issues that arose due to the flooding). The report does however admit that the agency failed on numerous fronts on that morning, so, that’s something.

Read the full report here.

City Room: M.T.A Failed During Aug. 8 Flood

Coney Island Fans Rejoice

Filed under: Brooklyn, Coney Island, Development — Adam Cohen @ 10:23 am

It appears that Coney Island developer Thor Equities has struck a last minute deal to allow a number of Coney Island boardwalk businesses to remain open through next summer. Carol Hill Albert, the owner of the Astroland amusement park on Coney Island is hoping she will be next. The eight businesses on the boardwalk were preparing to shut down (Astroland had already closed for the season on September 9) as of November to make way for a controversial Las Vegas style, year-round resort complete with 350 luxury vacation condos.  Thor has certainly received an ear-full about those plans and I am sure the complaints and protests will only become louder over the next year.  The first major obstacle could come as soon as next month though when the city is expected to announce its rezoning plans for the area.

September 19, 2007

Trump Soho Renderings

Filed under: Architecture, Design, Development, Manhattan, Real Estate, Soho — Adam Cohen @ 6:14 pm

Check out the renderings for the Trump Soho: the condo building that can’t really be a condo building. Rather, it will be a condo-hotel, so residents — who will pay around $3,000 per square foot — can live there for no more than 120 days out of the year. Overall, it looks nice, though the best part may be the public plaza outside.

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Con Ed Out, Solow In

Filed under: Architecture, Development, Manhattan, Midtown East, Real Estate, Urban Planning — Adam Cohen @ 2:07 pm

The New York Sun reports today that, with the former Con Ed site cleared, Sheldon Solow’s East River waterfront development is taking steps forward.  Community Board 6 will hold a public hearing tomorrow on the  development, which consists of six glass towers — four of which top 600 feet — totaling 5 million square feet.  The plan calls for upwards of 6,100 housing units as well as retail space (a Curbed reader reports that Whole Foods is eyeing the development).  The project has predictably drawn criticism from residents of the area who claim the development is too dense for the area, and the buildings too tall.  The development, which is desgned by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill would certainly have a significant and interesting impact on the Manhattan skyline from across the East River.  As the rendering below from the environmental impact statement [pdf!]shows, the buildings are so skinny that the effect is more one of slicing into the midtown skyline that total domination of it.  My guess is SOM designed the development to not overshadow the UN, but to have the effect of looking towards it — perhaps a bit of political opining through architecture?

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To catch up on the history of the proposed development, check out Curbed’s series of posts on the topic: East River Waterfront Dreaming in Midtown

September 18, 2007

A Myrtle Avenue Renaissance

Filed under: Architecture, Brooklyn, Clinton Hill, Fort Greene, Urban Planning — Adam Cohen @ 10:39 am

The Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnership and the Project for Public Spaces have unveiled new plans for a remade Myrtle Avenue in Fort Greene and Clinton Hill. It includes curb extensions to slow traffic, provide extra space for pedestrians on the sidewalks and heighten safety in general, in addition to numerous public plazas and lots with the potential to be used for open-air markets and other public programming.

Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnership: Placemaking and Public Space Enhancements

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Additionally, Pratt Institute made its plans for the former “KFC site” on Myrtle Avenue official today. The 120,000 square foot building, which includes 15,000 square feet of retail space, is designed by the architectural and engineering firm Studio A and WASA, and will aim for LEED Gold certification. The project has received a $75,000 Kresge Foundation grant to aid in the inclusion of green technologies including a green roof, photovoltaic solar panels and a geothermal climate control system. Check out the renderings below and Pratt’s official press release here.

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Welcome to City Spaces!

Filed under: General — Adam Cohen @ 5:19 am

City Spaces is a blog about the urban environment in New York, and the factors that shape it. For more info on what you can expect to find in this space, check out the about page.

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