Brookfield in talks to invest in Waterside Plaza

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Waterside Plaza (Photo courtesy of Waterside Plaza)

By Sabina Mollot

Richard Ravitch is looking to find an equity partner for has Waterside Plaza apartment complex on the East River.

City Council Member Keith Powers, whose constituency includes the 1,470-unit former Mitchell Lama complex, said ownership is in “early stage talks” with potential investors, including real estate industry giant Brookfield.

“We know in the short-term it’s to have equity,” said Powers, who made the comments after Bloomberg reported Ravitch was looking to sell Waterside Plaza for up to $600 million.

Powers told Town & Village he spoke with management of the complex after the Bloomberg report surfaced.

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July 4th celebrated at Waterside

yellow bursts

Waterside residents gather outside for a closeup view of the fireworks. (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Last week’s holiday came at the end of a heatwave that threatened a downpour, but the occasional raindrops didn’t dampen the lively party at Waterside Plaza for the July 4th holiday last Wednesday.

As always, after the sunset, hundreds if not thousands of people headed outside for a front-row seat to the Macy’s fireworks display.

In the hours leading up to the show, residents as well as local elected officials shared hot dogs and hamburgers on the plaza. Local politicians in attendance were reflective on the American experience, particularly of immigrants, because of the recent changes in immigration policy that resulted in children being separated from their parents at the country’s southern border.

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Letter to the editor, June 21

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Polling place changes make no sense

The following is a letter from City Council Member Keith Powers that will be sent to all residents of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village.

Dear Neighbor:

As your new City Council Member, I wanted to inform you about a change that was made to your poll site for the upcoming elections. If you live in 330 1st Avenue, 400 E 20th Street, 410 E. 20th Street, 430 E 20th Street, 440 E. 20th Street, 442 E. 20th Street, 444 E. 20th Street, 446 E. 20th Street, 448 E. 20th Street or 450 E. 20th Street, your poll site has been changed.

The Board of Elections (BOE) has moved the voting location former poll site in Peter Cooper Village at 360 1st Avenue to the poll site currently located in Stuyvesant Town at 545 E. 14th Street for the upcoming election on Tuesday, June 26 and the subsequent elections in September and November of 2018, you will have to vote at 545 E. 14th Street.

I will be contacting the Board of Elections in an attempt to restore your polling site to its previous location. The poll site at 360 1st Avenue is still actively in use but currently only serves buildings within Peter Cooper Village.

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Opinion: The business of stopping harassment

Mayor Bill de Blasio signed legislation sponsored by Council Member Keith Powers that’s aimed at cracking down on sexual harassment on Wednesday, May 9. (Photo courtesy of Keith Powers)

By City Council Member Keith Powers

Most businesses in New York City are small businesses. Not just small, but really small: a whopping 62.8 percent of businesses in the city have just 1-4 employees, according to census data.

For this reason, I was surprised to discover that workers for New York City businesses with fewer than four employees had no legal protection from incidents of sexual harassment under New York City’s Human Rights Law.

That’s why I introduced my first piece of legislation in January to extend sexual harassment protection to all private employees in New York City regardless of their size. The protection already existed at the state level, but this law wasn’t already in place here. That means every single private employee wasn’t protected. It was important to address this oversight, especially given how many employees fall into this group.

Our country is experiencing a watershed moment as women and men speak up about their experiences of harassment, creating the era of #MeToo. As stories unfold and wrongdoings are revealed, cities and states are taking action to modernize laws and prevent any incidents in the future.

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Opinion: Powers and Epstein

By former Assemblymember Steven Sanders

It sounds like a law firm. But in reality, this duo is now the political first responders for our Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village community.

Keith Powers became our new City Council member in January following the term-limited retirement of 12-year Councilman Dan Garodnick. Harvey Epstein was elected to the State Assembly last month in a Special Election occasioned by Brian Kavanagh vacating his Assembly seat for the State Senate in lower Manhattan.

Given the fact that most of our State Senate’s district represented by Brad Hoylman is west of Fifth Avenue, and our community is but a small part of Carolyn Maloney’s Manhattan-Queens Congressional District, the predominant burden of representing this community on a day to day basis falls to Powers and Epstein.

And there are no shortage of issues. Preserving affordability in our housing stock and repairing public housing projects, improving mass transit especially the subway system, keeping our streets safe and maintaining city services while the federal government retreats are but a few of the issues facing Manhattan’s East Side and the City.

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Mayor announces expanded ferry service

The ferry landing at Stuyvesant Cove Park (Photo by Thomas Rochford)

By Sabina Mollot

One year after the launch of NYC Ferry, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that ridership along the city’s waterways could grow to as many as 9 million annual passengers by 2023. This is twice as many passengers as were initially projected, so in anticipation of commuters abandoning the subway and flocking to ferries, the city will be nearly doubling its fleet of boats. For this purpose, $300 million has already been socked away for use over the next several years.

The funds will go towards three new 350-passenger capacity ferries (by late this summer) along the busiest routes and a second homeport where ferries will be maintained and repaired. There will also be improvements to the two main ferry terminals, Pier 11/Wall Street and East 34th Street. These include wider gangways and new bow-loading locations to increase the number of vessels that can dock simultaneously. Infrastructure improvements and upgrades are also planned for existing barges and landings to accommodate larger crowds. Eight charter vessels will also be deployed this summer, each with capacity between 250-500 passengers.

Commuters will also see increases in service. Boats will be arriving every 20-30 minutes on weekdays and weekends on all four routes. Additionally, beginning on Memorial Day Weekend, Governors Island will be the last stop on the East River and South Brooklyn routes. This is aimed at increasing service to the popular summer destination.

No changes were mentioned specifically for the ferry stop at Stuyvesant Cove, although it, along with four other stops on the Lower East Side route, is expected to open late this summer, which would be on schedule.

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Met joins PSLL on opening day

Mets player Jerry Blevins joined the Peter Stuyvesant Little League at Con Ed Field on Saturday morning for a ceremony following an annual parade through Stuyvesant Town. (Pictured) Blevins with girls from one of the league’s two district teams (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

On the sunniest opening day the Little Leagues of New York City have seen in years, the Peter Stuyvesant Little League, celebrating recent district-wide wins, marched triumphantly through Stuyvesant Town, circling the Oval and then heading onto Con Ed Field on Avenue C.

The annual parade and kickoff celebration took place on Saturday morning, with the PSLL also celebrating another coup — the first-ever visit from an active member of Major League Baseball, the Mets’ Jerry Blevins.

For the past decade, the league has had a tradition of having a former player come to the field to give the kids a pep talk. Previous guests have included Dwight Gooden, Keith Hernandez and Mookie Wilson.

Seth Coren, the league’s new president, introduced Blevins as “the most reliable pitcher in the bullpen, contributing to a historic 11-1 season.” He also joked that Blevins was also “an internet sensation” for stirring up some controversy when he said “Field of Dreams” wasn’t among the top 10 baseball movies of all time.

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Maybe next year for participatory budgeting

By Sabina Mollot

Over the past week, many City Council members, including Speaker Corey Johnson, have been cheering the fact that this past week, April 7-15, was a window of community voting on how to spend $1 million.

The money, part of allocated funds for different districts, was included in a program called “participatory budgeting,” in which constituents, including children, get a say in how the money gets spent, like improvements to parks, libraries or senior centers.

However, not all districts were included in the program and District 4, spanning from Stuyvesant Town to 98th Street, had no participatory budgeting. Note: This isn’t extra money, just funding set aside from a council member’s budget.

We reached out to City Council Keith Powers’ office to ask why his constituents didn’t get a say, and according to a spokesperson, Liz Peters, the reason is that he would have had to enroll in the program last year, and at that time Powers wasn’t in office yet. However, she said, Powers would look into the process for next year, because he thinks it’s an “innovative idea,” one that was started by the Progressive Caucus, of which he is the vice co-chair.

Powers wants to make it easier for candidates to run

Council Member Keith Powers has introduced a package of campaign finance legislation that would ease paperwork burdens on smaller campaigns. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

On Wednesday, freshman Council Member Keith Powers turned some of the more frustrating experiences of being a candidate into a package of campaign finance bills aimed at making it easier for candidates to run for office.

The council member said he expects that tweaking the current regulations will lead to less burdensome paperwork, specifically for first-time candidates who don’t expect to rake in big bucks.

“I discovered while running that you had to jump over a number of hurdles to run for office,” said Powers. “(The legislation) can make it easier without undermining any safeguarding around public dollars. So they don’t have to commit all their rime to fundraising, but actually talking about issues.”

The first bill, which lists Diana Ayala as a co-sponsor, would allow candidates to get matching funds for smaller contributions. Currently, a candidate needs a minimum of 75 donations from donors within the district that are at least $10 each. The bill would change the minimum donation needed to qualify for matching funds to $5.

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Hoylman, Powers ask HCR why it approves all MCIs

ST-PCV Tenants Association President Susan Steinberg, pictured at the podium, discusses MCIs at a Tenants Association meeting held in November, alongside local elected officials. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Fed up with the consistent approvals of major capital improvement (MCI) rent increases by the state’s housing agency, Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association President Susan Steinberg called on local elected officials last November to get the agency to stop what seemed to be a rubber stamping process. Or at least, Steinberg said, while hosting a meeting for neighbors, to explain the reasons for the approvals of every MCI ever applied for by the landlord, when the Tenants Association has challenged each and every one of them. She noted at the time that the agency, by its own regulations, was supposed to provide explanations for its decisions.

The two state elected officials sitting on the stage of the auditorium of MS 104, State Senator Brad Hoylman and then-Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh, said they’d follow up.

Five months later, Hoylman, as well as new City Council Member Keith Powers, have penned a lengthy, legalese-filled letter to RuthAnne Visnauskas, the commissioner of the state housing agency, Homes and Community Renewal (HCR) that reiterates the TA’s arguments against the permanent rent increases.

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Powers presents Council proclamation to Stuyvesant Town female Boy Scout

Council Member Keith Powers with Sydney Ireland at a ceremony at Immaculate Conception Church on Tuesday night (Photo by John McCarten)

Sydney Ireland, the female Boy Scout from Stuyvesant Town, who so far has been unable to get her accomplishments from over the past decade and rank formally recognized by her organization, was instead recognized on Tuesday evening with a proclamation from the City Council. The proclamation was presented by Council Member Keith Powers and was also signed by Speaker Corey Johnson.

Troop 414 hosted a Court of Honor for Boy Scouts receiving rank advancement and earning merit badges on Tuesday, including Sydney and other young women — though it was technically unofficial — at Immaculate Conception Church. Powers also presented the Troop with a certificate of appreciation.

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Council calls for stronger rent regs

Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association President Susan Steinberg (at right) waits to give testimony about why rent regulations are needed. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The City Council Housing and Buildings committee held a hearing on legislation aimed at maintaining rent stabilization in the city this past Monday, with city elected officials also expressing strong support for the repeal of various policies at the state level that allow landlords to increase rents and move apartments out of the program, such as vacancy decontrol, preferential rent and vacancy bonuses.

Although the state controls rent regulation, the legislation heard in the Council this week proposed the extension of rent stabilization in the city and includes a resolution determining that a public emergency requiring rent control continues to exist and will continue to exist on and after April 1.

Council Speaker Corey Johnson pressed representatives from the Department of Housing Preservation and Development at the hearing about whether or not the de Blasio administration supports the repeal of vacancy decontrol.

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Editorial: Hold that hearing any day now

The recent statements made by City Council Speaker Corey Johnson about wanting to see the Small Business Jobs Survival Act get a hearing, after being blocked for many years, should be encouraging news to anyone who owns a small business or enjoys patronizing them.

In this column, we’ve shared our support for this piece of legislation, which is aimed at getting commercial tenants an automatic lease extension when it’s time to renew despite some unexplained claims that it’s unconstitutional.

What we are asking now though is that the SBJSA finally get that hearing.

If council members continue to just talk about it (or not) then we really don’t see how they aren’t willfully ignoring the systematic annihilation of mom-and-pop shops.

What we don’t need is another study on why storefronts are vacant. We know perfectly well why. Amazon, while a game changer for sure, isn’t solely responsible for murdering brick and mortar stores. Astronomical rents and warehousing of retail spaces by speculative owners are still the biggest problems.

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Powers’ first bill takes aim at sexual harassment

Council Member Keith Powers earlier this week in committee (Photo by Emil Cohen/City Council)

By Sabina Mollot

For his first bill as a City Council member, Keith Powers is hoping to change language in the city’s Human Rights Law so that employees of very small companies who are facing sexual harassment can file suit against the harassers. Previously the law did not protect employees of companies that employ fewer than four people.

The bill, along with 10 others aiming to fight sexual harassment, will be discussed at a hearing on Thursday. The legislation package, including Powers’ bill, has been heavily inspired by the #MeToo movement, with Powers saying he became aware of the loophole last fall in a conversation about the movement with a friend who’s a civil rights attorney.

The friend had mentioned that state law was tweaked several years ago to end immunities from companies with fewer than four employees, but the city had yet to follow suit.

Powers, who’d just been elected, made a note then to tackle the issue once in office.

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First Ave./14th St. a seedy intersection, neighbors tell cops

Deputy Inspector Steven Hellman, commanding officer of the 13th Precinct (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The intersection at East 14th Street and First Avenue has recently become a hub for the homeless as well as unsavory characters who’ve been loitering, making neighborhood residents feel unsafe, a number of neighbors have been saying.

The intersection was one of the topics brought up to police at a meeting on Tuesday evening held by the 13th Precinct Community Council.

StuyTown Property Services general manager Rick Hayduk told the precinct commanding officer, Steven Hellman, that management has gotten an uptick in calls about the area.

“We wanted to heighten awareness about First and 14th because there’s been an increase in vagrants,” Hayduk said.

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