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Archive for 'Willets Point'

Former Eyesores, New Life Comes to Columbus Circle, the Highline, and Fresh Kills

Metropolis published two articles today on several successful major redevelopment projects that MAS encouraged, such as Columbus Circle, the High Line, and Fresh Kills in Staten Island.  All at various stages of completion, these areas, former notorious eyesores on New York City landscape, are being reimaged in ways that increase open space and activate their surrounding neighborhoods.

In other news, the Landmarks Preservation Commission rejected the current General Growth proposal for the South Street Seaport while there was no vote at the hearing, the Commission objected primarily to the inappropriate scale, massing and height of buildings in a historic district and the relocation of the historic Tin building. Continue Reading>>


Mayor Bloomberg Urges City Council to Support Willets Point Plan for November 13 Decision

willets point garages water pondsNew York Daily News reports that Mayor Bloomberg met with City Councilmembers Friday night to urge them to approve the City’s proposed rezoning of Willets Point, Queens – a decision the Council must make by November 13.  To date, the majority of the Council has been vocally opposed to supporting the rezoning without key amendments.  Read MAS’ testimony on Willets Point here.

Meanwhile, the New York Daily News also reports that the New York City Economic Development Corporation has purchased another parcel of land in Willets Point; the largest parcel yet acquired by the City, this is the 4 acre warehouse, the House of Spices.

In other news, the MTA has delayed signing a contract with the Related Companies for their Hudson Yards bid… Continue Reading>>


Willets Point Rezoning Approved, McCarren Pool Construction Begins

willets point garagesThe proposed Willets Point rezoning was approved yesterday by the City Planning Commission.  The New York Sun and the New York Daily News report that the City Council opposition is demanding primarily that the use of eminent domain be removed from the plan and that the percentage of affordable housing on the site be raised to fifty from twenty percent.

Gotham Gazette reports that modifications made to the plan by the Commission incorporated green building and sustainable design standards. Currently, the plan calls for the construction of a mixed use neighborhood with 5,000 residential units, destination retail, and a small convention center. Given multiple factors that could make Willets Point inhospitable to residents, MAS testified before the Planning Commission suggesting that the City consider the potential of fostering new, green industrial and manufacturing job growth in the area.

In other news, construction at McCarren Pool has started. Continue Reading>>


Thor Equities Feuds with Coney Island Development Corporation; Willets Point Passes at City Planning Commission

coney island parking lot billboardsThe New York Daily News reports that a lawyer for Thor Equities – the primary landowner of Coney Island’s amusement district – admonished the president of the Coney Island Development Corporation  for inaccurately characterizing and discrediting the developer’s plans for the area. At an MAS panel discussion on Coney island last week, the CIDC warned that Thor’s track record thus far in Coney Island is punctuated with half-baked attempts at providing summer amusements and the preservation of vacant lots until the City’s proposed rezoning is approved.

The New York Observer reports that the proposed rezoning of Willets Point passed almost unanimously at the City Planning Commission this morning, only the Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum voted against.  The rezoning must now be addressed within two months by the City Council, the majority of which has already publicly rejected the application as it now stands.  MAS testified before the Planning Commission on Willets Point and will continue to monitor it during the public hearings of the City Council.

In other news, employees in Willets Point are uncomfortable with the City’s job-training program, which is geared toward hotel and service industries. Continue Reading>>


Eminent Domain in the Spotlight

columbia university expansion renderingNew laws proposing to reform the State’s use of eminent domain may gain momentum should the Democrats achieve a majority in the Senate this fall, says the New York Sun. Eminent domain is a centerpiece of three very large development projects in New York City – Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn, Willets Point in Queens, and Manhattanville in Manhattan.  MAS has testified on each of these developments, calling for an inclusive planning process in which the priorities of local residents and business owners are sought and considered.

Controversies among these projects are numerous. The New York Times interviewed the remaining business owners in Manhattanville, the site of Columbia University’s proposed expansion, on the detrimental effects the threat of eminent domain has had on their livelihood. The New York Daily News reports that the NYC Economic Development Corporation is increasing its outreach to City Council members on the proposed Willets Point rezoning, as a majority of the Council has already publicly opposed the project.

In other news, Chelsea Now reports from the first community hearing on the recently released scoping for the Hudson Yards development. Continue Reading>>


City Tries to Save Astroland?

coney island astroland rocketThe New York Post reports from Wednesday’s MAS panel discussion “Coney Island at the Crossroads,” that the City attempted to cut an eleventh hour deal with Thor Properties over the extension of a lease for Astroland – the Coney Island amusement park that closed its doors two Sundays ago.  Recognizing that Astroland is an existing amenity for millions of New Yorkers, MAS had urged the City to find a way to help Astroland continue, including relocating the park to City-owned land.

In other news, the City’s Economic Development Corporation has reached another agreement with a business owner in Willets Point, Queens. Continue Reading>>


City Will Move Forward on Coney Island Rezoning

coney island ferris wheelThe New York Observer interviewed Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Robert Lieber this week on the future of major development projects occupying the Bloomberg administration during its last year – notably Moynihan Station, Willets Point, and Coney Island.  Lieber suggested that while the City is trying to acquire more land at Coney Island, the major landowner Thor Equities is still vacillating on selling – in which case the City would proceed with rezoning. MAS testified that the City’s revised plan – which already reduced the size of the open-air amusement park to accommodate Thor – is too small for the needs of New Yorkers and would deprive Coney of living up to its potential at New York’s premier waterfront amusement and entertainment area.

In other news, Harlem State Senator Bill Perkins convened a hearing yesterday on reforming eminent domain laws Continue Reading>>


Last Summer for Astroland, Alternative Plans For Admiral’s Row

astroland coney islandThe owner of Astroland in Coney Island is seeking a longer lease from the major landowner, Thor Equities, as their negotiations with the City to rezone the area drag on (AP). MAS testified at the most recent public hearing on the rezoning, stating that the area set aside in the plan as of now for open-air amusements might be too small to sustain a truly great amusement district.

Admiral’s Row, a series of mid-nineteenth century naval officers’ quarters in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, is under threat of demolition to make way for an industrial building, a supermarket, and parking. MAS presented six alternative plans for the site that would allow for these new structures while preserving all or some of the historic buildings. Watch a video and interview with MAS on NY1.

In other news, the vacant Mart 125 on 125th Street will be reconstructed as a cultural venue for local arts and performance groups in Harlem Continue Reading>>


Gotham Gazette Examines Public Participation in Planning Processes, Quotes MAS

willets point garagesIn yesterday’s Gotham Gazette, writer Courtney Gross examines in detail the ongoing conflict between the Bloomberg administration’s rampant rezoning of the city and community advocates’ call for more public participation in the planning process. From the Jamaica Plan to Williamsburg to Willets Point, she points out the flaws in the process that allow plans to proceed despite community opposition. She also tackles the issue of the lack of teeth given to 197-a planning under the current system.

Eve Baron of the Municipal Art Society Planning Center and our the Campaign for Community-Based Planning Task Force says, “When we’re talking about public participation, sitting down and being willing to talk before rezoning happens is one thing,” said Baron. “There is another thing that is working with the community beforehand to create proactive plans.” For more news, Continue Reading>>


MAS Recommends Communities Be Involved in Land-Use Planning, Willets Point Rezoning

willets point garagesIn today’s Gotham Gazette, MAS weighs in on how communities can and should have more influence on land-use planning in New York City, echoing its testimony given to the City Planning Commission last week.

In related news, Crain’s New York Business reports that an outspoken landowner and critic of the proposed Willets Point rezoning has settled with the City.

Elsewhere, many landowners on East 125th Street are still awaiting negotiations with the City as the rezoning review of that area continues Continue Reading>>


MAS Presents Admiral’s Row Demolition Alternatives; New Port Authority Commissioner

Admirals Row MAS Option C IIThe MAS presentation of six alternative plans to retain Admiral’s Row in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, currently slated for demolition to make way for a supermarket garnered plenty of attention in the press, including: New York Times; Brooklyn Daily Eagle; Gothamist; Curbed; and commentary on Brownstoner and Gowanus Lounge).

In other news, architects say windmills would not be the best source of alternative energy for New York City (New York Times). Governor Paterson has appointed Fred Hochberg, former Dean of Milano (the New School) the new Port Authority board Commissioner (New York Observer). Continue Reading>>


City Planning Mega-Hearing Follow-up

Yesterday’s City Planning Commission hearing on the East Village/Lower East Side rezoning, the Hunter’s Point South plan, and the Willets Point redevelopment began at 9am and lasted well into the evening. What a day! Continue Reading>>


Willets Point Rezoning Should Consider Green Manufacturing Alternatives

willets point garagesYesterday, MAS testified at the City Planning Commission hearing regarding the Willets Point rezoning plan. First and foremost, MAS stressed that the plan, which includes an urban renewal action that will allow for the use of eminent domain, must reflect the results of an inclusive planning and monitoring process. In regards to the rezoning – from manufacturing into a mixed-used residential and commercial district – MAS suggested the City conduct a thorough examination of the plan’s implication for long-term, industrial and manufacturing job growth, including a justified strategy deployment of public resources tied to agreed upon community benefits. Finally, MAS raised concerns over the purported high standards of sustainable neighborhood planning Willets Point aims to achieve. The full testimony is after the jump. Continue Reading>>


Rezonings Raise Concerns and Amtrack CEO Interviewed

MAS Issues in the Press:
- City Officials in opposition to the Willets Point rezoning held a press conference and rally outside of the public hearing of the Planning Commission yesterday (New York Times). The rezoning of the Lower East Side was also discussed at the public hearing; opponents want the boundaries to be expanded to include more of Chinatown (New York Sun).

-The New York Observer interviewed Alex Kummant, CEO of Amtrack, to ask questions about the Access to the Region’s Core (ARC) projects and its implications for Penn Station. Continue Reading>>


Opposition to Willets Point and Task Force on Climage Change Established

gimbels subway signMAS In the Press: MAS weighs in on the City’s fight to remove illegal advertising from billboards (Village Voice).The Village Voice also picks up on part of MAS’ New Penn Station advocacy campaign to reopen the network of pedestrian tunnels underneath and around Penn Station.

Issues in the Press:
- Another searing letter was sent from several City Council Members to the Planning Commission stating their opposition to the current Willets Point rezoning in anticipation of its public hearing with the Commission today (Crain’s New York Business, New York Sun). The last three major projects of the Bloomberg administration – Willets Point, Hunters Point, and Coney Island – mark a shift toward increased government intervention than earlier projects such as the Far West Side (New York Observer). Continue Reading>>