MTA to reduce L train shutdown by three months

Straphangers waiting for the L at First Ave.

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The MTA announced at the end of last week that the L train tunnel will likely be closed for 15 months instead of the originally-proposed 18 for Hurricane Sandy-related repairs and the shutdown will begin in April 2019 instead of that January.

Transportation blog Second Ave. Subway first noticed the changes to the plan in the board’s materials last Friday and MTA spokesperson Beth DeFalco confirmed via Twitter that the timeline had changed.

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MTA will conduct study on a traffic-free 14th Street during L train shutdown

hoylman

State Senator Brad Hoylman (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

The MTA will be conducting a study on a plan to close 14th Street to traffic for the duration of the planned 18-month L train shutdown.

The feasibility study was announced by State Senator Brad Hoylman on Wednesday, who, along with quite a few other elected officials, had requested the study.

“More than 50,000 people cross Manhattan daily on the L train below 14th Street,” Hoylman said. “It’s crucial that we have a plan in place to accommodate these riders given the L train will be closed for 18 months starting in January, 2019.”

He added that the study includes a proposal for a dedicated bus lane and expanded cyclist and pedestrian access.

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More buses promised during L train shutdown

For Stuyvesant Town and East Village residents, a bright spot of the looming L train shutdown is a new subway entrance on Avenue A, as pictured here in a newly released rendering.

For Stuyvesant Town and East Village residents, a bright spot of the looming L train shutdown is a new subway entrance on Avenue A, as pictured here in a newly released rendering.

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Residents affected by the imminent L train closure got a visit from New York City Transit officials last Wednesday in a meeting organized by Community Board 3 and 6, held at Mount Sinai Beth Israel.

At the meeting, NYC Transit reps promised a beefed up bus fleet around Stuyvesant Town to deal with the planned L train shutdown.

Agency Operations Planning Chief Peter Cafiero said, “If there is no service in Manhattan, then we need to build up the bus fleet. We could be implementing what I’m calling the M14 SBS. It would serve Stuyvesant Town more directly by looping up to East 20th Street.”

This was the second of what the agency has said would be a number of meetings to both get feedback and inform the community about the planned shutdown, which won’t start until 2019. The agency also said at this recent meeting that they will be hosting a meeting some time in the fall just for Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village residents.

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CW sues insurer over Sandy claims

 

Workers in the repair and cleanup effort in Peter Cooper Village in November, 2012

Workers in the repair and cleanup effort in Peter Cooper Village in November, 2012

 

By Sabina Mollot
It was 28 months ago when the wrath of Hurricane Sandy caused the East River to rise 14 feet and barrel its way into Manhattan’s East Side. In Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village, the gushing water caused unprecedented damage, destroying the management office and flooding basements and garages. But according to CWCapital, its insurance company has still not paid over a third of what the owner believes is owed for the damage.
The suit, filed last Thursday, said Lexington Insurance Co. has only paid $60 million of the repair costs and estimated losses that the owner has claimed were actually over $95 million. Adding insult to injury, the insurance company is also trying to bring the entire amount, including what has already been paid, to appraisal.

In its complaint, which is over 100 pages long, CW said the insurer, despite having its agents examine the damage on site, has “capped what it was willing to pay, regardless of the costs of repair.” Additionally, “Lexington simply ignored PCV/ST’s pleas for payment while at the same time, acknowledging that they were covered.”

The suit, which was first reported by Law360, noted how employees on the property immediately started work on the repairs to minimize the inconvenience to residents, which CW said served to minimize business interruption losses.
CW had hoped to get the insurer to agree on a $100 million settlement but Lexington and agents for Lexington from an insurance industry adjuster called Vericlaim “rebuffed those efforts.”

14th Street between Avenues B and C during Hurricane Sandy in 2012 (Photographer unknown)

East River water buried cars outside of Stuyvesant Town when Hurricane Sandy hit. (Photographer unknown)

CW said it has since refined its estimate to reflect newer information and now believes the actual costs from repairs and losses amount to $95,296,483. The owner said the insurer has been provided with access to the property’s employees as well as the related documentation. “PCV/ST has responded to reasonable, and many unreasonable requests for information by Lexington and Vericlaim,” CW wrote.

CW also wrote that the refusal to pay the full estimate is the result of an “incomplete” inspection that was conducted in 2013 by an insurance industry construction consultant called Wakelee Associates. “Based largely on Wakelee’s results,” Lexington informed CW that the loss and damage amounted to about $60 million. Close to $53 million of that has actually been paid out, which, with the $7,500,000 deductible, reflects Lexington’s $60 million estimate.

CW also said some of its costs have been challenged in cases where equipment had to be replaced rather than just repaired. CW defended its actions though, citing in one example the property’s heat controls. The system had controllers that were destroyed in many buildings when Sandy hit. A different type of system was then installed since the original one was no longer commercially available.

CW gave some other examples of not receiving all it believes the property was owed, including in work relating to replacement of all the buildings’ cast iron drain pipes, which had all gotten clogged with water and debris. When dozens of onsite plumbers couldn’t unclog them, contractors had to be hired to saw through concrete basement floors, which meant additional costs to replace floors, drywall, tile and other property. A year later, Wakelee “took the position they could have been unclogged,” said CW, adding that there were no objections when the work was being done. CW said Lexington also accused the owner of having a “premeditated plan” to replace them.

Workers clean out an Avenue C garage in November, 2012 (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Workers clean out an Avenue C garage in November, 2012 (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

The document went on to list other things CW was stuck footing all or some of the bill for such as replacement of steel window and door frames that had been exposed to river water and had corroded, work at the old management office, now converted into apartments (specifically installation of equipment and furniture), damaged fire mains, asbestos removal from buildings, reimbursement for employees’ cleanup/repair work (since they were diverted from their regular duties to do it) and income loss from laundry rooms, garages and the fitness center.
CW is also attempting to block Lexington from pursuing appraisal.

A spokesperson for CWCapital said he couldn’t comment on pending litigation, and a spokesperson for Lexington didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Bellevue gets $380M for Sandy rebuilding

Bellevue Hospital (Photo courtesy of hospital)

Bellevue Hospital (Photo courtesy of hospital)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Bellevue Hospital Center will get a $376 million slice of federal money to cover the cost of putting right damage caused by Hurricane Sandy.

Mayor Bill de Blasio and U.S. Senator Charles Schumer announced last Thursday that the city has secured $1.6 billion in federal aid from FEMA to repair the city’s public hospitals damaged during Hurricane Sandy two years ago.

With its share of the cash, Bellevue will install flood-proof elevators, storm pumps and a flood wall.

“The entire New York Congressional Delegation came together to fight for these funds, and wisely sought resources not just for repairs, but also for mitigation,” said Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, in whose district the hospital is located.

“Bellevue is an important facility and it sustained substantial damage and had to be evacuated during Hurricane Sandy. We are taking the necessary steps to be sure that doesn’t happen again.”

According to Bellevue authorities, much of the damage caused by the 2012 superstorm has already been repaired and the fresh FEMA funds will reimburse HHC for those repairs and mitigation work.

Many pieces of critical equipment, such as electrical switching gear, have been relocated out of the basement to higher elevation on the first floor and the hospital has installed removable flood barriers at the two loading dock entrances facing the East River.

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NYU Langone gets $1.1B for Sandy repairs

NYU Langone Medical Center’s main campus at 550 First Avenue (Photo courtesy of NYU Langone)

NYU Langone Medical Center’s main campus at 550 First Avenue (Photo courtesy of NYU Langone)

By Sabina Mollot
On Tuesday, U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer announced $1.13 billion in FEMA funding for Sandy repair work and mitigation projects at NYU Langone Medical Center.

The $1.13 billion is the total project cost, 90 percent of which will be covered by the federal government. Of that, $540 million is for permanent repairs and restoration for damaged elements of a variety of NYU Langone buildings, and $589 million will go towards mitigation work to protect against future storms. This is the second-largest Project Worksheet in FEMA’s history.

The funds are in addition to $150 million in emergency federal Sandy aid the hospital received in January of 2013.

Like nearby hospitals Bellevue and the V.A. Manhattan campus, NYU Langone saw extensive flood damage as a result of Sandy and had to temporarily close.

Schumer said the money was awarded through a new process built into the Sandy aid bill that’s aimed at cutting federal red tape to get financial help where it’s needed most.

“This is a large amount of money, but the damage was enormous,” he said in a written statement. “When I witnessed this first-hand a few days after Sandy, I was shocked. I am pleased to see this desperately needed reimbursement to repair and rebuild in a resilient way.”

Repair work covers $540 million at the main campus for damage to the systems that operate building management, electrical and plumbing, fire alarms and fire protection, security, IT systems, telephony, as well as elevate and architectural damage. The hazard mitigation projects cover $589 million at the main campus at 550 First Avenue and its Center for Biomedical Imagining at 660 First Avenue. This includes installing exterior flood doors/barriers/egress, reinforcing walls, reinforcing slabs, filing in area ways, sealing exterior penetrations, elevating elevator program and service equipment, installing internal flood doors, sealing interior penetrations, installing check valves/backflow preventers and installing pumps and sump pumps.

The funding will include repairs at the Smilow Research Center, Schwartz Care center, Medical Science Building, Skirball Institute, Tisch Hospital, Alumni Hall, Rusk Institute, Perelman Building, Schwartz Hall and Coles Student Laboratories.

In a prepared statement, Robert I. Grossman, Dean and CEO of NYU Langone Medical Center, praised Schumer for securing the FEMA funds. “We are grateful to U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer for his unwavering support in achieving this extraordinary federal grant from FEMA, and are also appreciative of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s leadership throughout our recovery from Superstorm Sandy,” Grossman said.

Hurricane Sandy: A look back

It’s hard to believe it’s been exactly a year since Hurricane Sandy battered and in some cases destroyed entire neighborhoods in New York and New Jersey. Manhattan fared better though it certainly wasn’t spared; repairs are still being made around the city including in Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village.

One year later, a plan is in place for the “East River Blueway,” which would help protect the East Side waterfront from the Brooklyn Bridge to 38th Street from future disasters via salt marshes and beaches, and Con Ed has recently announced improvements to its substations to help prevent future blackouts (and explosions).

Below are some photos that were published in Town & Village after the superstorm that were taken on the night Sandy hit or within the next few days.

14th Street between Avenues B and C (Photographer unknown)

14th Street between Avenues B and C (Photographer unknown)

14th Street and Avenue C (Photographer unknown)

14th Street and Avenue C (Photographer unknown)

One of many tree casualties in the neighborhood, this one was found at 23rd Street and Avenue C. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

One of many tree casualties in the neighborhood, this one was found at 23rd Street and Avenue C. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Damaged car in Stuyvesant Town (Photo by Ingrid Devita)

Damaged car in Stuyvesant Town (Photo by Ingrid Devita)

The cleanup effort begins in Stuyvesant Town. (Photo by Ingrid Devita)

The cleanup effort begins in Stuyvesant Town. (Photo by Ingrid Devita)

National Guardsmen give Council Member Dan Garodnick a demonstration on how to prepare packaged meals that were distributed to residents. (Photo courtesy of Dan Garodnick)

National Guardsmen give Council Member Dan Garodnick a demonstration on how to prepare packaged meals that were distributed to residents. (Photo courtesy of Dan Garodnick)

Downed tree in Stuyvesant Town (Photo by Marilyn Pascarelli)

Downed tree in Stuyvesant Town (Photo by Marilyn Pascarelli)

See even more post-storm photos here, and in case you missed it, here’s Town & Village’s update on the status of repairs at the buildings in hard-hit Peter Cooper Village.

 

Hurricane Sandy repairs still ongoing in Peter Cooper Village basements

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By Sabina Mollot

Close to a year after getting pummeled by Hurricane Sandy, Peter Cooper Village, much of which was flooded by a raging East River, is still the site of ongoing repairs in multiple buildings.

Though a couple of buildings in Stuyvesant Town also saw significant damage, it was PCV that saw the lion’s share of damage, in particular destroyed basements that housed laundry and storage facilities.

This week, a T&V reporter took a stroll through a few buildings’ basements to get an idea of the progress of the repair work, which, at least, at the addresses of 601 East 20th Street and 420, 440 and 510 East 23rd Street, appear to be months away from completion.

However, at each of the buildings, during a recent afternoon, bunches of workers were onsite in various basement rooms, focusing on walls on floors.

In those buildings, where for months basements were verboten, now, due to the availability of temporary laundry rooms, residents can sneak peeks at the progress, which includes newly built concrete cinderblock walls in the old laundry rooms, cleared out bike rooms with, in some cases, new hooks on the walls to hold the bikes, new fire sprinkler systems overhead and the beginning of construction of new recycling stations. Additionally, at 601 East 20th Street, there were gleaming new, light-colored floors for the laundry, bike and storage rooms. There were also signs of the beginning of installation of new wiring by basement doors and new overhead pipes in certain rooms in the buildings.

Additionally, in 420, a resident noted that pipes in the temporary laundry room that had previously had a dripping problem, had been wrapped up.

That resident, who didn’t want her name used, also weighed in on the ongoing work.

“This is definitely progress,” she said, “but it’s coming up on a year.”

The resident, who said she refuses to use the temporary, free washers and dryers, and also didn’t care for two fly paper traps that loomed a few feet above them, observed how there are also no longer any laundry carts. There was however a folding table, put in by management, and next to it was a card table likely put there by a resident. The woman added that there’s been no word on what’s to become of building’s paid storage unit room, destroyed by the superstorm. “They haven’t said a word. There’s been no timetable.”

As for the temporary washers and dryers, word is the machines, which are smaller than the commercial grade ones that preceded them, came from an army base in the south.

Meanwhile, outside the buildings, a recent round of landscaping has been restoring Peter Cooper Village’s green spaces to their former glory. All except for a couple of garden areas, now all fenced off, have fresh grass and plantings. A couple of areas that are still bare soil were being worked on by landscapers and on Tuesday were marked with flags.

A heavily tree-lined area, which previously had a cow path through it due to people taking shortcuts on the grass, is now completely green.

Something of an eyesore though is the boarded up basement windows in the buildings that had been flooded. Some basements also currently have what appear to be wooden paths trailing from the windows across the lawns, which are what’s housing temporary power feeds.

510 is one of the buildings with a power feed, where inside on Tuesday it looked like new electrical wiring was being installed and a recycling station was in the early process of being built. Nearby walls yet to be repaired appeared Swiss-cheese-like due to being covered with holes. Other walls however had already had their water-damaged plaster stripped, leaving the rough concrete underneath exposed.

A resident at 440 also commented on the progress on his building to note that activity had stopped for a while and then picked up again in mid-September.

“They’re nowhere near done,” he observed. “It looks the same as it did a month ago.”

The resident, Jonathan Turkel, added that since repairs had started again, it had been pretty noisy, including on a recent Saturday morning. But that didn’t bother him, he said. What did bother him was when on Wednesday morning, he was awoken by the smell of gasoline in the building, which, it turned out, was due to a worker accidentally spilling some in the basement. Turkel said he’d initially asked workers what was up only to have them say they hadn’t done anything. Still concerned over the smell, Turkel then called 911 and firefighters responded. It was the firefighter, Turkel, said who learned from a worker that gas had been spilled, despite his initially telling Turkel and the FDNY otherwise.

Brian Moriarty, a spokesperson for CWCapital, did not respond by T&V’s deadline when asked about the gas incident and also didn’t respond to a request for comment on the status of the Sandy repairs.

However, last month, Moriarty told Town & Village work was expected to be completed later this fall.

This was in response to Council Member Dan Garodnick’s calling on CWCapital to speed up the work on the basements, noting that management had previously given a timetable of September for their reopening.

“This has taken far longer than anyone could have reasonably expected,” Garodnick said at the time, “and residents deserve an explanation and compensation.”

But according to CW, the delay was due to the frustratingly lengthy process of acquiring approvals from numerous agencies.

“As we’ve said,” said Moriarty in September, “rebuilding the 17 basements that were damaged during Hurricane Sandy is a complex project that, beyond the physical work and procurement of materials with long lead times, involves numerous agencies that must review and approve plans for every aspect of each basement’s infrastructure and careful scheduling and staging of contractors to ensure the work is completed as quickly and safely as possible with the minimum disruption for our residents.”

He added that “although some residents may not yet see physical work being done in their basement, we assure you that significant progress has been made in all basements. We are making every effort to finish this work as soon as possible, and expect it will be done later this fall.”

Meanwhile, John Marsh, the president of the ST-PCV Tenants Association, said he had no complaints this week about the fact that the repairs weren’t complete. In fact, Marsh, who lives in Peter Cooper, said that overall he thought CW was doing the best it could under the circumstances.

“Given the amount of devastation, they’re really working hard,” he said. “There’s a lot of remediation they had to do first and a lot of manufacturing was customized for their needs and there’s the fact that they were competing with every other Sandy-impacted area as well.”

He also said he thought the special servicer had done well with mold prevention, treating the issue “aggressively.”

At this time, added Marsh, though the basements aren’t close to being completed, he thought residents had bigger worries, in particular two recently issued major capital improvement rent increases for video intercoms in Stuy Town and other security upgrades in Stuy Town and Peter Cooper

Basements in PCV still closed

Garodnick asks for timetable,

CW says approvals from city take time

Generators outside Peter Cooper Village buildings during early stages of the cleanup/repair efforts in November  Photo by Sabina Mollot

Generators outside Peter Cooper Village buildings during early stages of the cleanup/repair efforts in November
Photo by Sabina Mollot

 By Sabina Mollot

Nearly eleven months after Hurricane Sandy, Council Member Dan Garodnick has called on CWCapital to finish the repairs in hard hit buildings in Peter Cooper — especially since they were supposed to have been completed this month.

This was a timeline given by management, and noted Garodnick in a letter to CWCapital Asset Management Vice President Andrew MacArthur, was last mentioned in an official property update to residents in August.

“It is now September, and as far as the residents can tell, none of those basements appear close to opening,” said Garodnick, in the letter, which is dated September 4.

He added that residents deserve at least an update with some sort of explanation since residents in 15 PCV buildings have had to do without bike storage or laundry rooms. (Those buildings have had temporary washers and dryers.) Residents have also been unable to access the basement to get in and out of their buildings. Meanwhile, instead, Garodnick said, the only updates residents do get are for things management wants to promote.

“The updates being sent out give information about more whimsical matters like last week’s photo contest — with no word about these basic services,” said Garodnick. Though he was the one to push CW to give residents a timetable for the completion of the work, Garodnick said he never expected that the September date wouldn’t be enough time. “This has taken far longer than anyone could have reasonably expected,” he told T&V, “and residents deserve an explanation and compensation.”

Following the loss of Sandy-related services in 15 Peter Cooper buildings and two Stuyvesant Town buildings, the Tenants Association filed an application for rent reductions with the state housing agency. However, there has still been no decision on that, the Tenants Association said this week, and in his letter, Garodnick called on CW not to wait for that claim to be resolved before paying up.

“We’re getting close to the one-year mark here,” he said.

Garodnick said that as of Tuesday he has not gotten a response from CW, but on Wednesday, after being asked for comment from T&V, Brian Moriarty, a spokesperson for CWCapital said that the delay is due to the slow process of getting city approval for the various aspects of the work.

“As we’ve said, rebuilding the 17 basements that were damaged during Hurricane Sandy is a complex project that, beyond the physical work and procurement of materials with long lead times, involves numerous agencies that must review and approve plans for every aspect of each basement’s infrastructure and careful scheduling and staging of contractors to ensure the work is completed as quickly and safely as possible with the minimum disruption for our residents,” Moriarty said.

“As such, it is not uncommon for construction projects of this scale to take a long time. Although some residents may not yet see physical work being done in their basement, we assure you that significant progress has been made in all basements. We are making every effort to finish this work as soon as possible, and expect it will be done later this fall.”

Moriarty said that as far as the rent rebates are concerned, the Tenants Association’s application, previously slammed by CW in a court document as “petty” and “mean-spirited,” was also helping to slow things down.

“We offered to sit down with the TA in January to negotiate exactly that,” said Moriarty. “However, they declined to meet and elected to file a diminution of services claim instead.  It is disappointing as many of the steps the TA has taken have actually prolonged our ability to get the required approvals.  It seems that this could have been more easily resolved.”

In response, Garodnick said, “Rather than get into a he said, she said about TA management negotiating, CW should just do the right thing and compensate tenants.”

Though we were unable to reach the Tenants Association by press time for the print edition, TA Chair Susan Steinberg and President John Marsh later responded to say that the application for a rent reduction doesn’t affect management’s ability to restore the laundry rooms. They added that filing the application strengthened their ability to negotiate.

Peter Cooper Village tenants will have five extra days to move their property out of storage areas

The following email was sent to residents this morning by the Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association.

The TA’s legal committee has been negotiating with management  for the last week over removal of property that may be damaged  or contaminated in the storage areas.  All tenants who have not  signed releases and who still have property remaining in their storage spaces should receive a notice from management by today (Friday 11/30) granting five additional days to seek  relocation of their property by management and an additional period of time to retrieve their property at the relocation site.

 

It is vital that you review and respond to the notice from management in a timely way. If you have any questions about it contact the TA message center at 1-866-290-9036 or follow

  this link to contact us electronically.

 

The TA’s counsel has recommended against signing any release  or waiver forms at this time. All negotiations and actions taken  by the TA are without prejudice to any rights tenants may        continue to have with respect to property losses.

 

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PLEASE: WE NEED YOUR FINANCIAL SUPPORT

Your Tenants Association is run exclusively by volunteers.

Please help defray the cost of legal, professional, communication, and meeting expenses. To save time and effort, donate online. Or mail a check payable to: ST/PCV TA, P.O. Box 1202, Stuyvesant Station, NY 10009-1202.  Thanks.