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July 2008
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Archive for July, 2008

Solar Empowerment Zones and Interest-Free Loans for Small Businesses

east river waterfront park rendering new york urban designMAS in the Press: Roland Lewis, President of the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance, is answering questions this week about the waterfront on the New York Times‘ City Blog; one in reference to the proposed East Side Waterfront Park. New Penn Station links to coverage of Access to the Region’s Core (ARC) a proposal that will create a new tunnel under the Hudson River that will connect to Penn Station. MAS Issues in the Press: – An alternative energy forum at the City Council today will discuss the possibility of solar empowerment zones, wherein groups of buildings would join together to reduce costs of upgrading to solar energy (New York Sun). – City officials launched their $750,000 program, in the form of grants and interest-free loans, to assist small and local businesses affected by the 125th Street Rezoning (New York Daily News). Queens Borough President Helen Marshall has come out in support for the proposed Willet’s Point rezoning, given the inclusion of more affordable housing (Crain’s New York Business). Continue Reading>>

Cobble Hill Walking Tour

Sunday, October 12, 2:00 p.m. Once just “South Brooklyn” Cobble Hill started out as a brownstone adjunct to Brooklyn Heights. The area is physically very diverse with tree-shaded row-house streets, an abundance of excellent Greek Revival architecture, as much great ornamental iron railings and fences as any place in the city, the grand old buildings of Long Island College Hospital, superb churches, and a model tenement and rown house complex. We will also cross the expressway to what used to be called Red Hook, showing the once intimate connection between Cobble Hill and the waterfront. Leader: Francis Morrone, architectural historian. Meet at the S.W. corner of Court and Congress streets. (Transit: F, G trains to Bergen St.). $15, $12 MAS members.

ARC: Critical to Build, A Struggle to Fund

moynihan station arc tunnels map Eliot Brown wrote an interesting story about the importance to build, and the struggle to fund, ARC (Access to the Region’s Core). The proposed tunnel would be the first built under the Hudson River since Penn Station was built. The tunnel would have clear transportation improvements:
Brown wrote that ARC is “the largest individual transportation project in the New York area by dollars, and would double the railroad’s capacity, allowing for 80,000 more riders daily, with a new river crossing and a fresh set of platforms by Pennsylvania Station.”
But it’s becoming more expensive:
A preliminary analysis by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) found the cost of the project was estimated to span from the $7.6 billion to more than $10 billion depending on a variety of potential roadblocks during planning and construction, according to a government official familiar with the analysis.
AMTRAK has apparently joined the advocates in arguing for a Penn Station connection:
The tracks would not connect to Penn Station tracks—a sore point for many transit advocates and Amtrak, which has criticized the plan for its lack of redundancy should something happen to one of the two tunnel systems. As the region and rail ridership grow, capacity could be better expanded with a connection between the two systems, those critics argue, though New Jersey Transit has said the connection costs would be prohibitive.
While Brown indicates that funding the project is challenging, it’s of national importance to complete the tunnel:
“The project is probably the most important public transportation project in the country,” James Simpson, the F.T.A.’s administrator, told The Observer. “The benefits accruing to New Yorkers and folks in New Jersey are so great that the project has to happen.”
Read “Billions Down The Tunnel!,” by Eliot Brown for The New York Observer Read ARC: 100 Years Later, An Attempt to Re-Conquer Gotham

Reforms to get More Bidders on City Projects and Microorganisms in Gowanus Canal

cyclone coney island brooklyn

Credit: Jasper Goldman

MAS Issues in the Press: – Roland Lewis, President of the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance, is answering questions this week about the waterfront on the New York Times‘ City Blog. Coney Island USA has teamed up with the Shmaltz Brewing Company to advertise their Sideshow image to a wider audience (Brooklyn Daily Paper). – Special Board meetings of the Port Authority will be held monthly to discuss the agency’s progress at Ground Zero (New York Times). Mayor Bloomberg supports putting a Costco on the Upper West Side of Manhattan citing the economic downturn, and the need for jobs and low prices for consumers (New York Sun). – The refurbished plazas and Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center are on track for completion in 2009 (New York Sun). Curbed has photographs of the rapid demolition of the historic Kent Avenue power plant. Continue Reading>>

Urban Hour (Happy Hour) at Jonathan Kirschenfeld Architects

Wednesday, August 13, 6:30 – 8:00 p.m. Visit the offices of renowned architect Jonathan Kirschenfeld, best known for the engineering and design of New York’s famous floating pool. MAS Urbanist events are exclusive to Urbanist members. RSVP to or 212-935-3960, specifying the event’s name and date.

Coney Island: A Ride Through History

Wednesday, September 10, 6:30-8:00 p.m. Charles Denson, author of Coney Island: Lost and Found, will offer an insider’s vivid history of the Coney Island that was his neighborhood. He described the predominant theme of his book as “urban planning gone awry,” a Coney Island that “never had a blueprint or anything resembling a master plan.” That is about to change. Charles Denson will provide a valuable look back, to be followed on September 17 by a MAS panel discussion on the City’s Comprehensive Development and Rezoning Plan for Coney Island. $15 non-members, $12 members/students. Purchase tickets online or call 212-935-2075.<

Urbanist Summer Party Celebrates Adaptive Reuse

The Urbanists held their annual Summer Party at the soon-to-be-opened Galapagos Art Space in DUMBO on Tuesday, July 15. The venue was originally built in 1905 and has recently been skillfully converted into a LEED certified building. MAS Urbanists and their friends joined MAS staff to celebrate our current preservation efforts, especially those focused on conversion and reuse of historic buildings, with music and dancing. [AFG_gallery id=’2′]

Mobile Art Pavilion to Come to Central Park and Keeping Climbers off NYTimes Building

sterling place romanesque prospect heightsMAS Issues in the Press: – Preservationists and anti-Atlantic Yards groups are hoping the proposed Prospect Heights Historic District will act as a tool to preserve other areas against development pressures from the Atlantic Yards development (Brooklyn Paper). Plans to build a condominium at the site of the Kean House on Lexington Avenue is the impetus for petitioning the expansion of the Upper East Side Historic District (New York Sun). – The mobile art pavilion , designed by London architect Zaha Hadid, will reside at Rumsey Playfield in Central Park this fall (New York Times). The Tribeca section of the Hudson River Park is complete and will open to the public on Wednesday (New York Times). – At Coney Island USA President Dick Zigun’s “State of Coney” address last Sunday, he considered advocating a single-ownership/gated theme park model for Coney Island (Brooklyn Paper). Continue Reading>>

NYC Art Commission Gets New Name and Another Private Landowner Sells in Willet’s Point

gowanus canal brooklyn new york city urban restorationMAS in the Press: MAS attended a public hearing last night concerning the demolition of Admiral’s Row in the Brooklyn Navy Yard; MAS and its partners are advocating an alternative that preserves the historic buildings and also allows for a supermarket to be built on the site (Brownstoner; Gowanus Lounge; Historic Districts Newsstand) MAS Issues in the Press: – Nicholas Sprayregen, the last private land owner standing in opposition to Columbia University’s expansion hopes to take his case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court (New York Observer). The City has made a deal with another private landowner Willet’s Point site to sell and relocate (The Real Deal). – A new State law will encourage developers to meet highest levels of brownfield remediation while limiting tax breaks they can receive on such projects (New York Times). Local groups are pressuring the Landmarks Preservation Commission to consider expanding the boundaries of the Upper East Side Historic District (New York Sun). Continue Reading>>

Weiner on Major New York City Developments

Representative Anthony Weiner spoke today at a Crain’s Breakfast Forum. He briefly discussed major New York City development projects, including the creation of a new Penn Station. He questioned whether state agencies ought to be running so many of the projects in New York City and urged the city to “reclaim control from Albany.” Read “Weiner to spur jobs in outer boroughs”

Tour of New York’s First Platinum LEED Building

Wednesday, September 3, 1:00 – 2:00 p.m. Find out why the Bank of America tower will be one of the most ecologically friendly buildings in the world. Join us for a hardhat tour of the “still-under-construction” building, led by Cook+Fox Architects. MAS Urbanist events are exclusive to Urbanist members. This tour is at capacity and no more reservations are being accepted.

Trains Feel More Crowded? That’s Because They Are

AmtrakThe New York Observer is reporting that Amtrak’s ridership is increasing on the Northeast Corridor. According to the Observer, it “increased over 3.2 percent annually in June, from 878,671 passengers to 907,316, according to new figures from the national rail service.” They also crunched the numbers on ridership for fiscal year 2008 (October – June) versus 2007:
In 2008, 5.6 million passengers traveled the Northeast corridor (Washington to Boston), versus 5 million in 2007, an 11% increase. Travel on Acela, the Northeast-only express service, increased by 8%, from 2.4 million to 2.6 million riders..
Read “Amtrak Northeast Ridership Up 3 Percent,” by Leigh Kamping-Carder for The New York Observer