Blueprint for affordable housing

WatersidePlaza

By Council Member Keith Powers and Assembly Member Harvey Epstein

As rents continue to climb, the city is working to create, preserve, and secure affordable housing for New Yorkers. Last week, we announced a breakthrough.

In each of our first years in office, we have had the honor of working on a deal that achieves something many dream of but too rarely comes true: a rent reduction for tenants. Over the past several months, we have been involved in negotiations with Waterside Plaza ownership, the Waterside Tenants Association (WTA), led by President Janet Handal, and the City’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) on an affordable housing preservation deal that does just that.

The proposed deal provides substantial relief for rent-burdened tenants, permanently freezes the rent in dozens of apartments, and preserves affordable housing on a generational scale through 2098. The guaranteed 75 years of rent protections for hundreds of apartments combined with the immediate relief to tenants whose rent has been steadily increasing demonstrate a groundbreaking model for affordable housing in New York City.

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Letters to the editor, Aug. 16

Aug16 toon Vader

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Honorable mensch’un for Ravitch

What is a Mensch? I wanted to get this right so I did a little research. The online Urban Dictionary says: “The key to being “a real mensch” is nothing less than … a sense of what is right, responsible.” (emphasis added).

I’m casting my vote for Richard Ravitch, the owner of Waterside Plaza, who proposed a plan to the city that would freeze or roll back rents of some residents who are paying a burdensome portion of their income – defined as more than 30 percent — for rent (“Affordability deal proposed for Waterside,” T&V, Aug. 9).

I was in college when the Waterside development was announced and served as a student member of an ad-hoc committee convened by the school to explore how this new, middle income housing complex would impact the college and how the college might best prepare to serve this population of potential new students. I’m quite certain I contributed very little to the discussions, but people much smarter than myself recognized the ripple effect and saw the opportunities and challenges before them.

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New ferry route schedules are now available online

July26 Ferry

The Lower East Side ferry route will launch on August 29. (Photo by Thomas Rochford)

The New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) and NYC Ferry operated by Hornblower have announced details regarding the launch of the Lower East Side ferry route on August 29 as well as the Soundview ferry route on August 15.

The Lower East Side route, which will run from Wall Street/Pier 11, to Corlears Hook, to Stuyvesant Cove, East 34th Street, and end at Long Island City, Queens, will be a 32-minute trip from start to finish.

The Soundview route will run from the Soundview section of the Bronx (Clason Point Park), to East 90th Street in Manhattan, to East 34th Street, ending its run at Wall Street/Pier 11, and will take about 54 minutes from start to finish.
Schedules for the new routes are available on the NYC Ferry website, ferry.nyc and will also be accessible on the NYC Ferry app prior to the launch.

“We’re excited to launch NYC Ferry service in the Bronx, the Upper East Side and the Lower East Side, which have historically been transit deserts,” said NYCEDC President James Patchett. “For the same cost of a subway ride, New Yorkers that live and work in these communities will now have a fast, affordable and convenient way to get around the city.”

“With the launch of the 2018 routes, NYC Ferry is excited to expand across New York Harbor and continue to build neighborhood connections to the Bronx, Upper East Side and the Lower East Side,” said Cameron Clark, SVP of NYC Ferry operated by Hornblower. “We encourage everyone to hop on board and explore these new, affordable routes that will enhance commutes and shorten travel times for thousands of New Yorkers.”

NYC Ferry has already employed over 325 people as captains, deckhands, customer service agents, operations and more. New Yorkers can still apply at ferry.nyc.

Affordability deal proposed for Waterside Plaza

Sept12 Waterside

Waterside Plaza

By Sabina Mollot

The owner of Waterside Plaza, Richard Ravitch, has entered into a tentative deal with the city to help preserve affordability at the complex in 325 apartments occupied by “settling tenants.”

Those tenants had entered into an agreement with the owner after the property left the affordable Mitchell-Lama program at the turn of the millennium to pay a fixed increase each year, which is currently 4.25 percent. In those apartments, about 30 percent of Waterside’s housing stock, the majority of their occupants are seniors.

Under the agreement, which still must go through a ULURP process and get the approval of Community Board 6, the borough president and the City Council, tenants in those 325 apartments will all see some sort of rent relief.

For tenants earning under 165 percent of the area median income and paying over 30 percent of their household incomes in rent — effectively making them rent-burdened — their rents will become 30 percent of whatever their incomes are. Currently, 165 percent of the AMI is $120,615 for one person, $154,935 for a family of three and $185,995 for a family of five.

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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

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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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Letters to the editor, June 7

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Darth VDER is cheating NYers

Did you know that a recent decision by New York State energy regulators means that 32 percent of all New York City residents are not treated equally when it comes to accessing renewable energy as compared to other New York state residents? This affects all of us who do not pay our energy bills directly to Con Ed, including everyone living at Stuy Town, Waterside and most people living in large multifamily buildings, even though we pay the same amount as the other 68 percent of New York state residents to fund the state’s clean energy programs.

For most of us in New York City, remote renewable energy – also known as community distributed generation (CDG) – is the only option we have if we want to purchase clean renewables energy. Recently the Public Service Commission – a board of utility regulators appointed by Governor Cuomo – changed the rules for valuing clean energy generated at locations remote to where is consumed.

This new method, called VDER (Value of Distributed Energy Resources), applies to solar, wind and hydro-electric generation and is intended to succeed the current net meter value methodology. VDER differentiates between those of who pay their Con Ed bill directly to Con Ed, known as Direct Metered and those that do not, known as Master Metered or Master/Submetered, crediting Direct Metered residents almost 50 percent more value. It’s not fair.

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Waterside Plaza celebrates royal couple

British International School director Abby Greystoke (left) and Peter Davis pose with a cardboard cutout of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle at Waterside Plaza’s royal wedding viewing party. (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Waterside Plaza was honored with typically British weather for the occasion of the royal wedding last Saturday but the spirits of Harry and Meghan enthusiasts weren’t dampened at the community’s viewing party, hosted in a joint event by Waterside and the British International School, which is housed on the property.

Aside from the school, Waterside Plaza has another unique connection to the UK that made it an especially appropriate spot to watch the nuptials of Prince Harry and American actress Meghan Markle.

“We’re technically on British soil right now,” joked Michelle Glazer, who lives at Waterside Plaza and works at the school. While the school is not an embassy and not recognized as British territory, the statement is still somewhat accurate, even if just in a literal sense.

“Waterside was built on landfill that was brought back from the UK,” Glazer explained. “American ships went to bring supplies to Europe after the war but you can’t send empty ships back across the ocean, so they had to weigh the ships down with rubble that came from bombed out buildings.”

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Muggers threaten woman with hammers near Waterside: Cops

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

A man and a teenager were charged with robbery on Saturday morning, soon after allegedly threatening a woman with hammers near the FDR Drive across from Waterside Plaza.

Police said that 23-year-old Thomas Blyden and a 16-year-old boy approached one of the victims at about 6 a.m. while she was walking west on East 25th Street between the FDR and First Avenue.

The victim said that Blyden and the teenager rushed her from behind, both of them allegedly wielding hammers while telling her, “Don’t say anything. Give me your money.”

The victim told police that she gave them all the cash she had before making a run for it towards First Avenue and headed north, while the suspects fled south on First Avenue. Police, however, caught up with the two suspects on First Avenue near East 22nd Street about 15 minutes later.

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Town & Village holding holiday toy drive

Gifts donated to Mount Sinai Beth Israel in last year’s drive (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Town & Village is holding a toy drive to help make the holidays brighter for children undergoing medical treatment during the holiday season as well as the children of families in outpatient programs run by Mount Sinai Beth Israel.

Gifts will be accepted for children of all ages as long as they are new. Items for older boys are especially in high demand. No toy weapons, please.

Partnering with Town & Village on this effort are:

Stuyvesant Town Property Services, accepting toys at Resident Services, 276 First Avenue on the First Avenue Loop Road
Waterside Plaza management, accepting toys at the management office, 30 Waterside Plaza, and the Swim & Health Club, 35 Waterside Plaza
M&T Bank, accepting toys at the branch at First Avenue and 23rd Street.

Deadline to donate has been extended one day to Friday, December 15. Toys should be unwrapped.

Mayor grilled on garage

Council Member Dan Garodnick and Mayor Bill de Blasio at a town hall on Tuesday (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

On Tuesday, the mayor was grilled about the proposed sanitation garage for East 25th Street by neighbors who attended a town hall.

The hotly-contested issue was the topic of discussion at numerous Community Board 6 meetings when it was first announced in 2012 but the plan has stalled in the last two years, and Mayor de Blasio said at the town hall, which was also hosted by Council Member Dan Garodnick, that the issue will be reviewed again once the next term for City Council begins.

“The fundamental problem is that the facilities are concentrated in Lower Manhattan so we need some kind of facility to serve this area and so far this seems like the most viable site,” he said. “But there should be a real conversation about what the community needs.”

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Bus service will soon be increased at Waterside Plaza

An M34A bus at Waterside Plaza (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Residents of Waterside Plaza, who for years have complained of limited access to mass transit, will soon be seeing a major increase in the number of buses coming to and leaving from the complex each day.

Normally, only M34A buses come and go directly to Waterside, but the additional service will come through the M34 Select Bus Service (SBS), starting on September 3.

On weekdays from 11 a.m.-1 a.m., the following day, there will be 22 additional trips (an increase of 44 percent). On Saturdays from 11 a.m.-1 a.m. the following day there will be 14 additional trips (an increase of 30 percent). On Sundays from noon to 1 a.m. the following day, there will also be 14 additional trips (an increase of 39 percent).

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East River sinkhole repaired

 

Repaved sink hole (Photo courtesy of Economic Development Corporation)

By Sabina Mollot

The East River bike lane sinkhole has finally been repaired.

According to Shavone Williams, a spokesperson for the New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC), the faulty valve causing the problem was located on Friday, and fixed, with the road repaved by midday. Workers at the scene had been looking for the damaged water line that belonged to the nearby Skyport garage since a water main shutdown on Wednesday morning, Williams admitted.  The EDC manages the Skyport, which is owned by the city.

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Sinkhole on E. 23rd turns into gurgling tub

July27 Sinkhole July25

Men work at the sinkhole on the bike lane at 23rd Street and the East River on Tuesday. (Photo by Janet Handal)

By Sabina Mollot

A sinkhole that’s been on the bike lane at 23rd Street along the East River for weeks now has grown from being a few feet across to a ten-foot-wide gurgling geyser. It has also been an active worksite manned by a plumbing crew from the Economic Development Corporation, which manages the nearby city-owned Skyport garage. It’s a broken, leaking pipe underneath the garage that has been blamed for the problem.

Town & Village first reported on the sinkhole last week, when a then two-week-old 311 complaint had yet to spur any action from the city. The relevant city agencies finally arrived at the scene last Wednesday evening (following T&V’s press time) to barricade off the area. Additionally, at that time, a spokesperson for the DEP told us the Skyport garage had been ordered to fix the pipe as well as well as the sinkhole.

But by Tuesday evening of this week, a spokesperson for the EDC, Shavone Williams, still couldn’t say exactly when the damaged water line would be fixed, although the expectation was sometime this week. Williams added that the EDC was planning with the Department of Environmental Preservation to shut down a main on Wednesday morning so contractors could repair the line and repave the surface later in the week. Until it’s repaired, Williams said, the crew would remain onsite and keep the area surrounding the water hole secured with cones and tape.

Meanwhile, water service was completely shut off at Waterside Plaza on Wednesday by 8:30 a.m., according to the management office. General Manager Peter Davis said he didn’t know if it was related to the sinkhole, since the property hadn’t gotten a notice from any agency. UPDATE at 10:54 a.m. Water service has been restored to Waterside, and a DEP representative said the agency was looking into why it happened and why residents were not notified.

Janet Handal, president of the Waterside Tenants Association, first reported the sinkhole to the city on July 5, fearing it would become a deathtrap for cyclists and the usual crowds of people headed to the party boats at the marina next to the garage.

However, there was no visible response from the city on the growing hole until Handal reached out to a number of city agencies and elected officials as well as Town & Village. Only then did teams from the DEP and the Department of Transportation arrive to completely barricade off the sinkhole, which had been only partially surrounded by tape.

As of this Tuesday, Handal said it didn’t appear the workers knew yet where the water main actually was. After stopping by the site, Handal said she was shocked by the force and sound of the gushing water in the hole, as thick cords from six water pumps snaked their way inside. The width of the hole, which had originally just been in the bike lane, had stretched across two traffic lanes by then. This may have been done intentionally to allow the workers access, however.

Based on her observations, though, the water pumps didn’t appear to be doing much. She said she was told by a worker that the EDC was waiting for the DEP to turn off the water and that the collapsed pipe was believed to be about 80 years old.

Sinkhole growing on bike lane at E. 23rd St.

Cyclists have been stopping short in front of this sinkhole, which was first reported to the city by Waterside Tenants Association President Janet Handal over two weeks ago. (Photos by Janet Handal)

By Sabina Mollot

Cyclists, beware.

A sinkhole that appeared earlier in the month has grown even larger as the ground continues to ripple on the bike lane at East 23rd Street and the FDR Drive.

The sinkhole was reported to 311 on July 5 by Janet Handal, president of the Waterside Tenants Association, when she spotted it. But as of Wednesday, July 19 in the morning, it was still there, and, from what she’s observed, stretched into a yawning concrete chasm.

“A rapidly progressing collapse of the pedestrian-bike path in front of the 23rd Street Marina is happening and urgently needs to be attended to,” Handal said in an email.

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