Today’s Headlines

  • FDNY Ambulance Driver Strikes and Kills Gen Zhan, 81, in East Village Crosswalk (DNAPost)
  • Parade Organizers Claim No Knowledge of Eastern Parkway Ped Island Removal (Gothamist)
  • Brooklyn Paper Says de Blasio’s Waste Hauling Reforms Are an Invitation to Organized Crime
  • Daily News Thinks Cuomo’s Q70 “LaGuardia Link” Should Be Free
  • Today in Terrible Ideas: Subsidizing Uber SUV Rides in New York City (Post)
  • Citi Bike Starts Valet Service at West and Chambers Street Station (News)
  • Cops Shamed Into Arresting Black Car Driver for Assault of Cyclist in Williamsburg (Gothamist)
  • Five Thirty Eight Tries to Nail Down Just How Much New Yorkers Value Transit Access
  • The Times Examines the Race to Succeed Shelly Silver
  • Groups of Young People on Bikes Are Freaking Out Staten Island Motorists (Advance)
  • U.S. DOT Out of Ideas on How to Prevent Traffic Deaths, Asks for Help (NPR)
  • Vooch

    well the land under the BQE to private developers for $100 billion, that would be enough to pay pay for 100 miles of heavy rail in the transit deserts of Brooklyn & Queens.

    plus it would provide at least 200,000 housing units

  • Vooch

    civilized cities have pneumatic tubes which carry trash under streets, no need for garbage trucks at all. proven 40 year old technology

  • ahwr

    So those housing units will each cost 500k for land+the cost of removing the ramps/environmental remediation+the cost of constructing high rise buildings for the housing units to exist in.

    Is the market for housing that expensive large enough?

  • Vooch

    the 1,500 acres of NYC land currently blighted by the BQE used to contain Housing, Retail, and Commercial. It can again.

    The housing component is but one component of restoring the neighborhoods devestated by the BQE.

    BTW there is a shortage of some 500,000 housing units in NYC. Restoring the BQE neighborhoods would only satisfy about 200-150,000 units matching current densities

  • ahwr

    My point was that 100 billion is a phenomenal amount of money and will require very expensive housing, you might need to lower your expectations.

  • Joe R.

    Not only that but NYC by itself can’t solve what is basically a national problem—namely a shortage of urban housing. I’ll bet if we magically built 500,000 new units, assuming we could find a place to put them, housing costs here would still be more than many middle class can afford. Other cities need to start building housing, perhaps starting on the parking craters which exist in many of these cities. Infill development in inner ring suburbs will help also.

  • Vooch

    what is 1,500 acres of prime NYC land worth if carefully sold over 5 years ?

    I figure $65million an acre is reasonable

  • bolwerk

    If the BQE is 10.4 long, about 54,914 feet, dividing all that into 20 foot wide lots and selling each for about $500k might net you nearly $1.4 billion. Basically that assumes having about the space of a brownstone with a small yard.

    Of course that is impossible because not every inch of it could be developed, and much of it runs over existing streets. Plus there are intersections. All told you’d be lucky to make a few hundred million, after demolition costs and given that most of the land probably isn’t that valuable.

  • bolwerk

    It’s not prime land. It could make for some useful transit or recreational space.

    Put $100 billion in perspective: a decade ago, the entire New York City real estate market was valued at less than $1000 billion ($1T). Let’s just say for sake of argument it has inflated to $2T now, the BQE is not going to be 5% of that.

  • bolwerk

    The real estate case I could see for ripping out the BQE is that maybe it would make the land around it more valuable. It also takes relatively unproductive land, a highway that doesn’t pay any property taxes, and turns it into productive land that generates incomes and pays taxes.

  • Vooch

    You think $65 million/acre is too much for prime NYC land ?

    how much is an acre worth in Brooklyn heights ?

  • Joe R.

    There’s also a great chance the soil under the BQE is contaminated with lead, DDT, PCBs, and who knows what else. It might well not really even be suitable for anything but industrial use.

  • Vooch

    add in on/off ramps plus the full ROW it’s close to 1,500 acres

  • Joe R.

    Manhattan land prices average about $1200 per square foot, or a bit over $50 million an acre:

    http://observer.com/2015/07/going-underground-as-land-prices-rise-new-york-institutions-seek-subterranean-space/

    I can’t see anything in Brooklyn being worth more. Even if it were, at $65 million an acre developers would be hard-pressed to break even on luxury housing, never mind anything remotely affordable.

  • Vooch

    Joe,

    believe the $1,200/ft is way off.

    it suggests a entire city block (~4 acres ) is only worth $200 million. We know that even 1/2 a city block sells for couple of billion in Midtown.

    $66million/acre seems about right

  • Joe R.

    Even if it is right you’re not building affordable housing if the developer has to pay that much for land. You’ll just get more luxury condos, which is really the last thing NYC needs. You probably need to be under $2 million an acre to build anything resembling affordable.

    It might make more sense to go after low-hanging fruit if you want to build more housing than to start tearing down highways. Develop parking lots in the outer boroughs. Lots of those. Upzone them so you can build at least townhouses on them. Maybe air rights above expressways or els have potential but I think the building costs would be rather high. Consider razing LGA for housing. In the end trying to knock down an expressway to build housing is likely to be fraught with obstacles. If NYC needs money for new subways, I can think of lots of better ways to get it, starting with cutting the DOE and NYPD budgets.

  • bolwerk

    I honestly have no idea. Look at it this way though: given residential cap rates in New York when I last looked, maybe in the past 2 years (~4%?), you can roughly figure land selling for $65 million would need to generate about $2.6 million/year in income – which is enormous, given the fact that we’re talking about land that will need to be made unimproved (basically demolishing the expensive structure on it) and then developed.

    Or put it in terms of the impossible task of covering the entire acre you mention with 27 80’x20′ lots (80x20x27 =~ acre): each would need to sell for ~$2.4 million, which is high even for Williamsburg brownstones. So land use regs would need to permit constructing an improvement on each lot that on average generates enough income to cover that.

    I suppose it might be doable in some ritzy areas the BQE travels through, but it’s absurd in some of the marginal areas (including graveyards and, as @disqus_dlP91vGbzC:disqus mentions, brownfields).

  • Vooch

    The land currently blighted By The BQE Used to Be Part of The Street Grid with Typical NYC neighborhoods. I’m thinking simply returning The Street Grid to it’s pre-Existing condition.

    The New Land should Match Adjacant zoning, so One would have certain areas with less dense and other areas with relatively high density.

    The high density Primo Land Might fetch $250 Million an Acre. The low density Might only get $20 Million

  • Vooch

    simplest Way to reduce costs of NYPD Is 1) phase in requirement of 40 years of Service for Full Pension 2) Crack down in disability abuse 3) Institute physical Standards Test given annually to all NYPD ( no more 375lb Cops which Are Health Care nightmares )

  • Maggie

    Idk – this is just cursory googling, but LGA served 28.4 million passengers last year; not even counting the 11k people who work there or non-passenger family and friends who travel to the airport, it has more people coming and going than all but 4 subway stations.

    The NYDN editorial did a good job laying out how unnecessarily confusing and difficult it is to figure out how to get from LGA onto the bus/subway network, especially for visitors who need to start by buying a metrocard. Why wouldn’t we want to invest some money to improve this? The MTA and Port Authority should be able to do this – as well as other initiatives – as a matter of principle, really. My take is, a regional transit network has to include intuitive access to and from the airport.

    I didn’t read the link on fare evasion arrests yet but I’ll check it out. NY is already unusual, in a positive way, in having flat transit fares regardless of distance. I’d rather have a less gated system with random fare checks with deterrent fines – but I’ll read the link, maybe it’ll change my mind.

  • AMH

    The crosstown buses definitely do. The idea to make them “free” is still a good idea because it will speed service while people will pay (or have already paid) elsewhere.

  • bolwerk

    The Q70 carries a pretty smalle percentage of those people, but assuming ridership holds steady after making it free it would probably cost about half a million dollars a year to offer the free ride. That number would go up if more buses were required to meet higher demand.

    For that amount, I’d think it would be more worthwhile to implement ahwr’s idea with an improvement at a station for allowing in-system transfers from the subway. If it could be built for under $10 million, it probably costs less!

  • bolwerk

    I’m not saying it’s an inherently bad idea, but I don’t see any route to generating billions, let alone hundreds of billions, in sales from it. In practice, most of it is not improvable land and what improvements are possible often aren’t directly income-producing (e.g., bike trails).

    I think the idea of taking wider streets, like parts of Queens Blvd, and turning them into improved private land is a cool idea idea. But I’d be impressed if the entire city offered the high 11 figures in sales over it.

  • ahwr

    If it wasn’t clear the 500k I mentioned came from dividing Vooch’s 100 billion in expected revenue by 200k expected housing units. So on average per housing unit the cost is 500k for ‘land’.

  • Vooch

    good Points and Love The thinking about selling Land on The over wide roads like Queens Blvd.

  • ahwr

    How does the cost of removing a highway+environmental remediation plus development on the site compare to the cost of decking over a railyard+development? ~26 acre hudson yards leased for ~one billion dollars. How does the development potential of hudson yards compare to the BQE?

  • ahwr

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/06/nyregion/06crosstown.html?_r=0

    Half of the passengers on the M34 and M42 buses are transferring from the subway, according to data provided by Mr. Bloomberg’s campaign.

    Much less than 85% on the Q70.

  • Vooch

    Hudson yards insanely expensive to build,

  • ahwr

    You probably need to be under $2 million an acre to build anything resembling affordable.

    Ignore the space devoted to streets, parks, etc…just counting the lots set to be residential/mixed, figure you build a modest height mid rise with a residential FAR of 3.0. Any retail etc…wouldn’t count towards that 3.0. Then 2 million an acre works out to ~$15 per square foot of housing. Construction costs, development fees, etc…are more than ten times for a midrise. You can get a little cheaper building row houses with a cheaper labor market, but the lower density means you pay more for land per unit and it ends up being a bit of a wash. You still have a modest family apartment of 1000 square feet going for 150-250k. Cheaper than what you could find in much of the city, but still pushing what’s affordable for people much below the median. ‘Affordable housing’ new construction requires significant subsidies.

    You’ll just get more luxury condos, which is really the last thing NYC needs.

    New housing isn’t affordable. Housing has to trickle down. If there isn’t enough new stuff at the top end people fix up old stuff, and you lose potentially affordable housing.

  • ahwr

    So is removing a highway+environmental remediation. And how much of the land the BQE sits on is as desirable as where Hudson yards is?

  • Vooch

    demo is a trivial cost, plus the concrete can be used to infill part of NYC Harbor providing hundreds of millions of added Chang Ching !

    environmental is a red herring. The land currently blighted by the BQE used to be typical NYC neighborhoods, not going to be Environmental issues

  • bolwerk

    Ah, yeah. I wasn’t really referencing that. I just was following his initial suggestion: sell the land (for $100B).* I picked $500k as a nice, round, and deliberately absurdly high vacant/post-demolition lot price, and I didn’t even regard demolition costs.

    * Not develop and then sell it. Presumably, when it comes to the point where it’s improved so there are housing units to sell, private developers will profit, not the city.

  • Vooch

    One can expect 1/2 of sq.ft. to Built to Be retail,commercial, and possibly other. Drops Land cost of residebtial to $250k/Unit

  • Vooch

    Joe – Love The Idea of Filling in Parking craters with housing. Tge outer boros have thousands of Parking craters

  • Vooch

    City sells Land – Profits
    developers take Risk and Build – Profit
    City collects property, sales taxes, and income taxes – Profits
    New Yorker’s get housing and nieghborhoids – Profit
    The blight of The BQE Is Removed – Profit

    win win all around

  • Andrew

    The cost to convert the Q70 to SBS is very small compared to most other routes, since all but two stops already had machines installed for the M60 a few years back.

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