The bomb cyclone of 2018 is believed to be the reason for a dip in 311 calls about a lack of heat in 2019. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)
By Sabina Mollot
With temperatures over the weekend and stretching into Monday and Tuesday feeling absolutely bone-chilling, it may seem hard to believe that the amount of heat complaints made by New Yorkers this year is dwarfed by the number of similar calls made last year by the same time period. The reason is most likely that last year, there was the “bomb cyclone” causing heat-related 311 calls to spike.
RentHop, an apartment listings service, has been conducting annual studies to determine which neighborhoods in New York have the most freezing renters based on the volume of 311 calls about lack of heat. What they have found, in comparing the 2019 data to 2018, is that it’s mostly the same neighborhoods each year with a direct correlation showing neighborhoods with rents lower than the city’s median (around $3,000 for a one-bedroom unit) producing more heat complaints.
The study also came up with a formula that “de-dupes” or ignores duplicate complaints (more than one from one address on the same day) as well as a formula that “normalizes,” taking into account that some neighborhoods are bigger than others by calculating unique complaints per 1,000 rental units. The study also looked at the average asking rents of one-bedroom apartment listings in 2018.
This year’s worst neighborhood was the same as last year’s, Erasmus in Brooklyn with 86.5 normalized complaints, down from 117.5 last year or 1,081 actual complaints this year vs. 670 when de-duped. Median rent for a one-bedroom is $2,140.
The rendering shows “Happy,” a soon-to-be unveiled holiday installation at the Flatiron Plaza. (Rendering courtesy of Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership BID)
On Monday, November 19, the Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership Business Improvement District will launch its seventh annual “23 Days of Flatiron Cheer” programming and unveil, in partnership with Van Alen Institute, a vibrant public art installation – “Happy.”
The event series will kick off on Monday, November 19 from 6-8 p.m. at Flatiron North Public Plaza, 23rd Street between Broadway and Fifth Avenue.
The event will offer a preview of “23 Days,” which runs from Saturday, December 1 to Sunday, December 23 and features free, holiday-themed events. This year’s “23 Days” also will include a food drive, free fitness classes, and an ongoing series of food features with top chefs in the district.
Stuyvesant Town on a recent winter day (Photo by Sabina Mollot)
By Sabina Mollot
There’s no question this winter in New York City has been a particularly brutal one, up until last week, anyway.
As always, this has led to some heat complaints in residential buildings across the city. As Town & Village recently reported, a study conducted by RentHop showed that on the week of the “bomb cyclone” snowstorm on January 4, the citywide average for complaints about lack of heat in a neighborhood was 39.5 unique complaints per 1,000 apartments (57.3 including duplicate complaints).
In Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village that week, there were 8.9 complaints per 1,000 units in Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village or 93 actual complaints (99 including duplicates). However, based on management’s figures, heat complaints have been decreasing in recent years.
This, StuyTown Property Services spokesperson Paula Chirhart said, is due to a few engineering improvements made to the 70-year-old complex’s heating system as well as nonstop micromanaging of said system.
On Sunday, despite frigid temperature, straphangers with an exhibitionist streak ditched their pants and all other leg coverings to take part in the annual No Pants Subway Ride.
Always held on a winter day, the flashmob prank, held for the 16th time, is organized by the group Improv Everywhere. The route technically began at Foley Square and ended at Union Square, but participants of all ages could be seen at other subway stops as well. With the wind chill, the temperature was in the single digits.
Originally begun with just seven cold-tolerant men, the underground leg show now draws thousands and also takes place in other cities and countries. Participants, who dress appropriately for the winter other than their bare legs, always act as if they simply forgot their pants and don’t have any clue why so many others have forgotten them, too.
Some plants can withstand bone-chilling temperatures, like hellebore flowers that have been planted at Madison Square Park. (Pictured) Hellebores that bloomed last winter (Photo by Stephanie Lucas)
By Maria Rocha-Buschel
Despite the deep freeze that has taken over the city for the last week, local parks are still expecting flowers to be blooming during the winter months. The resident plant experts for both Stuyvesant Cove Park and Madison Square Park told Town & Village that the prolonged cold shouldn’t have a lasting impact on the vegetation in the parks and both spaces have plants that not only can withstand the chilly weather but can also bloom in the frigid temperatures.
Stephanie Lucas, director of horticulture and park operations for Madison Square Park, said that there are a number of winter-blooming plants in the park but one of the most plentiful is witch hazel, which, while more commonly-known to consumers as an astringent available at Walgreens, is also a native plant to the northeast.
The city was experiencing blizzard-like conditions on Thursday morning, with four to eight inches having fallen on some parts of the city by early afternoon. A Winter Storm Warning is in effect until Friday at 1 a.m. and the mayor’s office reported that eight to 12 inches of snow are anticipated before the storm ends, with higher amounts locally. Gusty winds are expected to increase, with sustained wind from 30 to 45 miles per hour and gusts up to 50 miles per hour.
Meteorologists were calling the storm a “bomb cyclone” because of the extreme drop in pressure in a short amount of time, causing the storm to strengthen quickly. A storm is classified as a “bomb cyclone” if pressure drops 24 millibars in 24 hours and this storm dropped 53 millibars in 21 hours and 59 millibars by 24, making it one of the most intense storms the East Coast has ever experienced.
On Monday night, the Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership (BID) celebrated the launch of “23 Nights of Flatiron Cheer,” an upcoming series of free events at the pedestrian plaza with the unveiling of “Flatiron Reflection,” an architectural installation. The installation was created by the firm Future Expansion, the winner of a design competition held by local nonprofit Van Alen. (Pictured L-R) Nicholas McDermott and Deirdre McDermott of Future Expansion; Jessica Lax, Van Alen Institute; Emily Colasacco, NYC DOT Art; Isabel Meisner, Van Alen Institute; Jennifer Brown, Flatiron BID; Jorge Parreira, New Motor; Kurt Cavanaugh, Flatiron BID; Amanda Eldridge, GMS; David Messineo and Stephanie Darna, New Motor
By Maria Rocha-Buschel
The weather was appropriately windy and wintry for the kickoff of the Flatiron BID’s annual holiday festivities, known as the “23 Days of Flatiron Cheer” on Monday.
The series, offering free performances, fitness sessions, prizes and hot beverage giveaways, officially begins on December 1, but the launch this week gave a preview of the offerings to come and also served as the debut of the newest art installation on the north Flatiron Plaza, “Flatiron Reflections.”
Participants arrived at the Union Square station in their knickers after participating in the ride on Sunday. (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)
By Maria Rocha-Buschel
New Yorkers braved below-freezing temperatures and the remains of the weekend’s snowstorm for the annual No Pants subway ride on Sunday, organized by comedy group Improv Everywhere. The pantsless riders converged on Union Square around 4 p.m. after riding through the subway system from various origin points.
The prank has been hosted by Improv Everywhere for the last 16 years, beginning with only seven participants in 2002. Since then, the event has grown to include more than 4,000 pantsless New Yorkers, with other cities organizing their own events throughout the world.
The idea behind the prank is that passengers board subway cars at different stops in the middle of winter without pants on. Participants behave like they don’t know each other and wear other winter-weather clothing like coats, hats, gloves and scarves, and the only unusual aspect of their appearance is their lack of pants.
On Saturday, about 70 Stuy Town residents gathered at the Oval fountain for the annual Christmas tree lighting. Christmas Carolers kicked off the evening before the arrival of Santa Claus who led a countdown to the tree lighting with a “ho, ho, ho.”
Guests enjoyed free cookies and hot chocolate and cider and also picked up free necklaces and stuffed reindeer toys. Children got to take pictures on Santa’s lap nearby in the Oval Studio.
A Menorah lighting will take place on December 28.
In case you’re wondering how your building, or the whole neighborhood for that measure, compares to others in terms of heat complaints, apartment listings site RentHop has compiled a map based on complaint calls to 311 made during the last heat season.
According to its data on unique callers, Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village residents made a measly 56 complaints, in comparison with East Villagers who made over seven times that many at 396. The Murray Hill-Kips Bay area also had significantly fewer with 144 calls while Gramercy residents made 119 calls. Lower East Siders made 160, Chinatown 213.
The coldest New Yorkers hailed from lower-income neighborhoods such as Washington Heights in Manhattan (1,935 in the north and south sections) and Crown Heights in Brooklyn (1,382 in the north and south sections). But along with the East Village, another pricey Manhattan neighborhood where residents said they lacked adequate heat was the Upper West Side with a total of 629 complaints.
I am so happy to find out why my apartment has been freezing all winter and why every time I complain to management, nothing is ever done—management’s goal is to provide a temperature of 72 degrees, which I do not believe given how many times my thermostat has been below 72.
Like all of the neighbors in my building, I too have bought a space heater and I am sure the New York City Fire Department would be thrilled to know most everyone in PCV/ST runs a space heater to keep warm.
Seventy-two degrees is only a few degrees above 68, the level enacted into law to prevent slumlords from providing inadequate heat. If the legal minimum threshold were 64 degrees, would CompassRock’s target be 68?
PCV/ST apartments are not tenements in a poor section of the city, but potentially the best place to live for a family with beautiful grounds and playgrounds, none of which the current owners and management can take credit for.
What they can take credit for is providing a very annoying and uncomfortable living environment with their heat policy. With the amount I pay for rent as a market-rate tenant, I expect a certain level of comfort and not a heat policy designed to provide the minimum amount of heat legally required.