Today’s Headlines

  • Tune In to the 30-Minute Mark and Hear How the B-Q Streetcar Will Run on Magical Thinking (Bklyn Paper)
  • Daily News Withholds a Verdict on BQX Until More Information Comes Out
  • 79-Story Tower Will Rise By the Queens Waterfront With or Without a Streetcar (YIMBY, Gothamist)
  • MTA Starts Meeting With Local Pols About L Train Shutdown (DNA, NY1)
  • TA Calls for Cap on Uber Shift Lengths (Post)
  • Cap’n Transit Is Noticing More People Opting for Uber/Lyft Shared Ride Services
  • Carlos Menchaca Bill Would Legalize Head Starts for Cyclists on LPIs (Bklyn Spoke)
  • DDC and DOT to Make Room for More Traffic at Major Staten Island Intersections This Year (Advance)
  • Vision Zero Paranoia (QChron)
  • Varick Street Bike Path’s Granite Pavers Already Popping Out (Tribeca Citizen)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

  • Alexander Vucelic

    The last mile hurdle can easily be solved for the Transit deserts of Brooklyn and Queens. Here are a photo of bike storage next to a Main railway Station in middle Europe. People just starting storing their bikes here about 15 years ago and the station master went with the flow. This Ad Hoc bike storage stores 2,500 bikes as per a quick count.

    People Keep a beater bike at the Main Station. Zoom to the Photo of the solo bike. You’ll see a total beater bike locked with a dime store lock at the crankcase. People Keep their real bike at Their suburban Station for the last mile ride home. See how the photo of the suburban Station bike Storage Is ‘nicer’ with simple sheds roofs.

    Larry L Is correct, sinply adding hike storage to Subway and LIRR stations in Brooklyn & Queens would benefit millions. Draw a 1-2 mile circle around the transit stations in the so-called transit deserts. Iluminating.

    Notice how the bike Storage Is very close to the Train Plattforms. Citibike helps Big time in NYC CBD, but we still need real bike Storage in outer boros. Adding a a couple of dozen miles of protected bike lanes in the outer boros feeding to transit would also help.

  • Jules1

    I’m generally pro-Uber/anti-regulation, but it absolutely makes sense to limit driver shift lengths as a common sense safety mechanism. The human attention span is only so long, and no commercial driver should be working for more than four hours at a time without a substantial rest break. Thanks to electronic record keeping, this should be an easy rule to enforce.

  • There are very legitimate arguments to be made against the BQX, but Gersh Kuntzman concern trolling over parking because he doesn’t understand what a dedicated right-of-way means isn’t one of them. It may undercut your opposition to the plan to highlight his inanities.

    Are you just concerned that it’s a giveaway to developers? The $2.5 billion won’t otherwise to go transit upgrades anywhere. So once it’s gone, it’s gone.

  • Gersh’s questions were mostly spot on. Dedicated lanes don’t mean the right-of-way will be free of illegal parkers, and the fact that the plan calls for NYPD enforcement to keep the streetcar path unobstructed should be a big red flag. This is not going to be a light rail type of ROW.

    My concern with the financing is that it’s based on fantasy. They’re selling it as free money assuming the streetcar will unlock billions in real estate value, but it’s hard to see how a big increase in property tax revenue will be attributable to this project when the boom is already happening.

  • Joe R.

    So much for affordable housing in this city. If you’re going to build something 963 feet tall, it should be about 100 stories, not only 79. Since when are floors suddenly 12 feet? For decades they were 9 or 10. 100 floors brings you closer to 1 million square feet. Now put at least 24 units on all the floors. That gives you at least 2400 apartments, not 774. All for about the same construction cost. NYC doesn’t need yet more luxury apartments nobody who works can afford. The apartments will end up being bought by the wealthy as “investments”. Maybe they’ll actually have people in them a few weeks per year. Maybe.

  • c2check

    I can’t believe cab drivers are permitted to drive 98 hours a week. That’s crazy. You get into a haze when you’re on the road that long, and when you get used to driving in crazy NYC traffic, I’d think you’d be more likely to drive in ways that are frightening or dangerous for pedestrians

  • Joe R.

    Nobody should work 98 hours a week. Nobody. When people need to work that long to make ends meet something is seriously wrong with our entire way of life. The rich need to share more of their profits. Companies like Uber need to stop making their product cheaper on the backs of their workers.

  • bolwerk

    I wonder what this stuff is going to look like in a century.

    As came out recently, a lot of this boom seems to be filthy rich people using expensive real estate as Swiss bank accounts. They assume they real estate will hold its value. LOL if it doesn’t, because this stuff doesn’t seem intrinsically that valuable. These people just need to stop caring about having an empty apartment in Manhattan, or just need to find a better way to hide their money from the tax man, and a lot of this bubble bursts.

  • bolwerk

    It’s likely entirely possible in Bud Stuy, Red Hook, and maybe even Astoria. It’s also a horrible way to finance projects because it favors real estate lots of people’s needs. Blooomberg-think. Bill de Blasio basically is Mike Bloomberg. Even in Williamsburg there are poorer families with young kids to scare away still.

    Still, even at these inflated costs and assuming about 500M riders over a 40-year project life it’ll probably take about a decade of presently normal American inflation after project completion for it to not be much more expensive than an average-ish NYC bus service. So no need to panic about finances either. Not going to sink us.

    So, don’t just complain about it, subvert it! If you got a better place to put light rail, and think you can convince someone to convince de Blasio, now’s the time!

  • Joe R.

    That’s just it. We have another real estate bubble, mostly thanks to a bear market which encourages people with money to invest in something other than stocks. When the stock market gets hot again, and lots of people pull their money out of real estate, NYC will have a glut of luxury housing. Good news I guess for the average person since that should trigger a general drop in real estate prices. Maybe they’ll convert those luxury apartments into affordable housing, the reasoning being it’s better to get some rent than none. It just annoys me on many levels that NYC has a housing shortage, but we keep building luxury housing, much of which remains unoccupied, just so real estate developers and the wealthy can make a buck. Looking at it that way, these buildings don’t serve an essential social function, unless you consider making the rich richer a worthy goal.

  • bolwerk

    It’s partly thanks to tax breaks. Not only are the market prices being made insanely high, but we actually aren’t even really getting anything for it because most of them don’t produce income either and NYC property taxes are low. It might be Bloomberg’s biggest heist.

    But that $80,000,000 luxury apartment being converted into affordable housing? That is quite the write-down.

    What this probably does show is how un-meritoriously stupidly irrational the filthy rich can be. Because the market for this stuff is also tiny. You can’t have a bunch of these cats liquidating this stuff at once in a downturn without wrecking its value.

  • JamesR

    12 feet per floor is considered a standard. This gives you space to include mechanicals and sound attenuation between floors.

  • JamesR

    FYI even endurance drivers racing in Le Mans only do a couple hours per stint before changing drivers. What we have with cabs now are basically rolling sweatshops.

  • rao

    Huh? If the $2.5 billion in TIF doesn’t go to a streetcar, it’ll go into the general fund for other pressing needs–maybe even transit elsewhere in town. It won’t be “gone.”

  • If the streetcar doesn’t happen, TIF revenue won’t be produced. It’s accounting slight of hand, but my point is that the $2.5 billion won’t be used for transit elsewhere.

  • bolwerk

    It will go to something productive. It’s like 12 years of police misconduct settlements. Let’s use it there instead so nobody complains.

  • bolwerk

    Nobody who MATTERS, I mean.

  • AnoNYC

    Queens Chronicle is such a rag.

    Why do they give these morons so much air time? They had a police officer/fire marshal of an unknown jurisdiction (and police can be some of the worst in the regards to planning because they are puppets of a conservative institution) dismiss statistics for anecdotal sensationalizations. Another cop who despises the city, understands it from only one perspective, and aspires for the suburban lifestyle where you need to drive to every location and never interact with anyone.

    Previously they continued to attack Select Bus Service on Woodhaven Blvd, playing a part in spreading misinformation.

    I can’t stand them. They are Anti-pedestrian, anti-straphanger, anti-cyclists, anti-New Yorker.

  • kevd

    9 feet per floor makes for some depressingly low ceilings (there is stuff in between ceilings and floors after all).
    People prefer higher pre-war units over lower ceilinged post war apts.

    And with all the hallways, mechanical space, elevators – the average apt. will probably be under 900sq feet. Sure, thats a big 1 BR – but it isn’t a bit 2 or 3 BR.

  • Joe R.

    I’ve had 8 foot ceilings in every place I’ve lived. I don’t find it depressing. It makes painting a heck of a lot easier. 8 feet was pretty much the standard for a long time with new construction. Also, I’m thinking in terms of packing as many people as possible into a building that height in order to create affordable, no frills housing. That means low ceilings and relatively small apartments. You could probably even go down to 7 foot ceilings, 8 feet per floor, and squeeze ~120 floors out of a building that height. There are already plenty of large apartments with high ceilings for those who can afford them. Unfortunately, most households don’t have $400K or more income.

    This building is a vanity project, plain and simple. It’s a place for the super wealthy to park their money. I’ll bet when it’s up, you’ll hardly ever see anyone going in or out. The sad part is they probably got some sort of tax abatement for it.

  • Joe R.

    Yes, this is the sad part. NYC can control who builds what via zoning and approval. When a project just stands to make big bucks for a developer, not much for the city, it shouldn’t be approved unless it has some social benefit. Perhaps the way to fix this is to levy a city tax on the sale price of the units. Someone buys an $80 million apartment, the landlord has to give 1/3 or 1/2 of that to NYC. It’ll make projects like this less attractive, give the city more money, and put downward pressure on real estate prices. I know the latter is considered bad in many circles, but from where I stand only a tiny minority benefit with higher real estate prices.

  • kevd

    It is not a place for the wealthy to park their money.
    It is a place for the well off-to live, in between going to work (and a few middle income people as required by our weak inclusionary zoning laws)
    This isn’t 57th street. There are no Russian oligarchs buying up LIC condos to hide their money. For them, LIC might as well be Vladivostok.

    If you want to talk tax abatements, fine. I think we’re on the same page there.

    7 foot ceilings are very depressing to the vast majority of buyers and renters. You aren’t wrong in thinking they’re fine (it is a matter of taste, after all) you’re just in the tiny minority. And any market based development is going to ignore the tiny minority.

    When you buy land you can build whatever height ceiling you want! I’ll wait to see how that works out for you with your 7′ ceilings…..

    Also, building apartments will increase supply and decrease rents in the NYC market, over all.
    We need more apartments being built.
    We need FAR more affordable apartments being built. And we need to alter the existing incentives to make that happen. But even when that does happen there will still be upper income people who want places to live, and who want places to live near mass transit in LIC and who will have the money to pay for those places. They can either live in new construction on lots that currently house exactly zero people of any income, or they can buy out existing residents. Which is preferable to you?

    But this is a sustainable transportation site, not a housing market site…

  • Joe R.

    I’m not saying 7′ ceilings are wonderful, only that if we’re building affordable housing for the masses (which I agree this building isn’t) then your main goal is to pack in as many people as feasible for the least possible cost without at the same time creating a tenement atmosphere. That would be a fool’s errand in a 963′ building. My understanding is costs per square foot start to go up above a certain height. For a building like this it doesn’t matter but for affordable housing the sweet spot might be 15 to 25 floors.

    Not sure I agree just building apartments of any type causes rents to fall. If you have a glut of Rolls Royces but a shortage of bicycles, will that cause the price of bicycles to drop? I doubt it but maybe on a macroeconomic level it’s true. My main point here is there’s already a glut of luxury housing, maybe not in LIC, but in NYC in general. Sure, I’d rather the wealthy live in new housing built in places where nobody is displaced than drive up rents by buying out existing residents. Unfortunately, it seems both usually end up happening once a neighborhood gets hot.

    As for being a place where the wealthy might park their money, I can easily see this being the case exactly because it’s not 57th Street. They might see it as a way to get in on the ground floor before the neighborhood gets red hot. Get the apartment now for $2 million, perhaps in a decade it’ll be worth $50 million. This might not bother me much if NYC got a certain percentage of the sales price of luxury real estate. The city could use that money to build more housing projects or otherwise create more affordable housing.

    Yeah, probably more a sustainable transportation site than a great residential site. Perhaps I’m getting worked up over nothing. Fact it that area has horrid traffic, noise, and pollution for much of the day. Unless that changes, I’m not seeing it becoming that desirable a place to live.

  • kevd

    “I’m not saying 7′ ceilings are wonderful, only that if we’re building affordable housing for the masses (which I agree this building isn’t)”
    Then what are we talking about again? I thought we were discussing this building….

    The affordable housing we need will be in 4-12 story buildings in all the underdeveloped lots in the area and others (hopefully!), not in 79 story luxury projects whose apt’s will be owned by exactly zero Russian oligarchs. Oligarchs don’t need to get in on the ground floor and they’re not trying to. They’re fucking billionaires! $50 million places on 57th St. (or CPW) is where they park their money. Not Queens Plaza….

  • Maggie

    Dirty money flowing into luxury real estate has been a big concern. I’m just making up dirty-money examples here. Colombian kidnapping ring. Kazakh arms trader. Russian computer hacker (you downloaded malware, they lock your computer, you pay a $600 ransom to get it released). You can’t legally open a bank account with that money, there are know-your-customer and source-of-funds regulations. But until the current temporary restrictions on NYC condo purchases, there were wide-open paths to triple-anonymize it with an offshore LLC and roll the proceeds into a $30 million condo, which is nuts. NYC doesn’t need to be open for business to laundering money like that.

  • bolwerk

    Yes, fair enough. It’s a crime tax scenario. That crowd is willing to risk losing more because it’s worth it, basically.

    To wit: if you steal $30M worth of diamonds in New York, fly them to Europe, and redeem the diamonds for cash with unscrupulous diamond dealers, you might lose $20M of the value. But since you stole them anyway, your return on your investment in theft was still $10M less some very minimal operating costs.

    Actually might explain a lot of that unmeritoriously stupid irrationalityI mentioned.

  • rao

    And my point is that precisely because the TIF is accounting slight-of-hand and not a real revenue increase, the revenue WILL be produced and could theoretically be used anywhere.