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Friday, October 26, 2007

Memorial to Louis Kahn or FDR at Southpoint Park?




The images above are from the proposed Louis Kahn Memorial purported to be for President Franklin Roosevelt that some hope to be installed at Southpoint Park on Roosevelt Island, (Top image is from Architectural Record, bottom from NY Times). The New York Sun is reporting today that:

A plan to build a memorial to President Franklin Roosevelt on Roosevelt Island is getting a boost from city leaders, who are meeting today to underscore their support for the initiative. The movement for the memorial, which was designed by architect Louis Kahn almost 35 years ago, needs to raise $40 million by the end of the year; as of July 20, it had collected $5.1 million.

The city leaders set to attend the event include Democratic Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney; City Council Speaker Christine Quinn; City Councilwoman Jessica Lappin; New York State Assembly member Micah Kellner, and the president of Manhattan, Scott Stringer.
As I have stated before, my impression is that for many proponents of the Memorial, their support is based more upon the desire for a Louis Kahn project in NYC than to honor President Franklin D. Roosevelt, particularly since there is an existing FDR national memorial near the National Mall in Washington DC and Roosevelt Island as well the FDR Drive are named after the late President.

Those in support of this proposal should know that there are many residents of Roosevelt Island who do not want this massive granite structure with rows of trees obstructing the beautiful waterfront views from Southpoint Park and further impeding access to the East River. This NY Sun article had the following statement indicating opposition to the Louis Kahn memorial by Roosevelt Island residents:
The president and CEO of the Roosevelt Island Residents Association, Matthew Katz, said he is concerned that the memorial will cut off views to the east and west. A survey of residents found that most want "the greenest thing possible" in that space, he said.

"The Roosevelts were gods in my house, growing up," Mr. Katz said. "Whether this is the appropriate memorial is another question."

The association's secretary, Sherie Helstien, said that by resisting Kahn's memorial design, residents are trying to "save the last big community park" in the city. "I think a lot of us are just hoping they don't get the money," she said. "We don't want that thing here."
I agree. We do not want any green space nor access to the water from Southpoint's Park removed because of this proposed memorial.

More background on this issue from this NY Times 2005 article:
the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation, the state-appointed organization that runs the island, has commissioned a new design by a New York landscape designer for the 14-acre site, known as Southpoint Park. Taking into account feedback from residents and visitors, the design would substitute the granite memorial and overarching linden trees of Kahn's plan with a lawn for 7,000 spectators to view performances on a removable stage. There would also be a sledding hill and a skate pond.

..."Kahn's memorial was played out in a different time, a different era, a different world," said Herbert Berman, president of the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation. "It was right for 30 years ago, not for now." Today, he said, those who live on Roosevelt Island are interested in less formal uses for the land.

...Last April, the operating corporation invited the Trust for Public Land, a national nonprofit organization that helps communities protect and conserve land by developing parks and recreational activities, to come up with new proposals for attracting people to the park and to the island.

In November the trust presented the operating corporation with "Wild Gardens/Green Rooms," a picturesque park designed by Mark K. Morrison, a local landscape designer who is currently working on security fencing for the United Nations, as well as on numerous Manhattan playgrounds. The design includes a cafe in the ruins of the smallpox hospital and an earth mound providing enough contour for sledding in winter. The removable stage at the edge of a large lawn would be located at the southernmost tip, where Kahn put his granite room open to the sea.

..."Louis Kahn would have done it differently if he were alive today," said Charles McKinney, the consultant in charge of the Roosevelt Island park proposal for the Trust for Public Land. "He was well known for his concerns about creating communal spaces, and he would have understood the importance of this community's concerns, and he would have responded."

Here is a link to the Southpoint Park Conceptual Plans discussed above including the Wild Gardens/Green Rooms concept approved by most residents as well as the Visionary Landscape concept that includes the Kahn Memorial, assuming funding can be obtained.

If the proposed Louis Kahn memorial is built, Roosevelt Island loses opportunities for special events that produce views like this from Thom Sokoloski's The Encampment as well as normal everyday experiences of walking down to beautiful green parkland and listening to the sounds of the East River. Or maybe even the possibility of importing a sand beach to Southoint Park similar to the one in Long Island City at the NY Water Taxi Beach.

Photo by Ianqui

Photo by Power Gail

Robert Bennet for The New York Times

Image from Eater.

It would be a real shame to give up so much potential for Southpoint Park for this memorial.

As I was writing this post Curbed picked up story here.

Segway Polo on Roosevelt Island


Segway Polo on Roosevelt Island from 2005.

The island looks as though it were made for Segways. It's easy to see that the few cars that are even there are not suited for the place... the streets are populated with pedestrians, roller-bladers and bicyclists (and this day, Segways). Two miles long and less than half a mile wide, yet scattered with apartment buildings, shops, and sports complexes, it is truly a microcosm of its big brother, New York City...

Being so small, the entire place is easily traversed by Segway, but moreover, everyone there loved it. Not only did we not get a single complaint/remark, but just about everyone embraced it. THIS, is a perfect place to prove the Segway as something that's practical. If even a small owner population were established on the island, the NY Seg Group is confident that the Seg would catch on to other residents rapidly. Wouldn't it be great to have such an example for Segway use/acceptance? Whenever someone were to comment that Segways aren't useful, we could simply say: "Look at Roosevelt Island!"
Whatever happened to the Segway? It was suppossed to revolutionize transportation.

Image is from Segway Chat.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Meeting with RIOC President


I will be meeting with RIOC President Steve Shane on Monday to discuss various issues facing the Roosevelt Island community. Please let me know if there are any specific issues or questions that you would like me to bring to Mr. Shane's attention and I will be happy to do so.
Image is from The History Channel.

Roosevelt Island Tram Shutdown - How Does it Impact Real Estate Pricing?


Via Metro NY, Curbed asks the following question.

Does closing a major subway station for a year put a dent in real estate prices? Check out Red Hook and Gowanus, because there's a plan to shut down the Smith-9th Street station for a year (give or take, mostly the former).
For current residents of Roosevelt Island and those thinking of moving into the new Hudson/Related Riverwalk buildings or the existing Manhattan Park and Octagon buildings, the same question can be asked of the impact that shutting down the Roosevelt Island Tram for at least seven months will have on real estate prices for our little Island.

As reported in the Main Street Wire:
The RIOC Board of Directors voted Thursday night to "go into the marketplace" to pursue the possibility of a revised Tramway in which two cabins would operate independently.

The projected cost, should the plan ultimately go forward as envisioned in RIOC’s "Alternative 4," would be $21 million to something over $25 million – perhaps as high as $30 million – in 2007 dollars. The Tramway would be out of operation for at least seven months, but the work would not be authorized without further consideration by the Corporation’s Board, and the actual downtime would not start until after a long period of preparation, perhaps a year.
Image is from New York City Walk.

Halloween on Roosevelt Island


The annual Roosevelt Island Halloween Extravaganza Parade will be held on Saturday, October 27th at 12 PM. Roosevelt Island 360 has a Scarecrow Slide Show commemorating the Day.

The History Channel on Halloween's ancient origins:

Halloween's origins date back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in).

The Celts, who lived 2,000 years ago in the area that is now Ireland, the United Kingdom, and northern France, celebrated their new year on November 1. This day marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with human death. Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. On the night of October 31, they celebrated Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth. In addition to causing trouble and damaging crops, Celts thought that the presence of the otherworldly spirits made it easier for the Druids, or Celtic priests, to make predictions about the future. For a people entirely dependent on the volatile natural world, these prophecies were an important source of comfort and direction during the long, dark winter.

Modern traditions:

The American tradition of "trick-or-treating" probably dates back to the early All Souls' Day parades in England. During the festivities, poor citizens would beg for food and families would give them pastries called "soul cakes" in return for their promise to pray for the family's dead relatives.

The distribution of soul cakes was encouraged by the church as a way to replace the ancient practice of leaving food and wine for roaming spirits. The practice, which was referred to as "going a-souling" was eventually taken up by children who would visit the houses in their neighborhood and be given ale, food, and money.

And modern evolution of Halloween:

By the 1920s and 1930s, Halloween had become a secular, but community-centered holiday, with parades and town-wide parties as the featured entertainment. Despite the best efforts of many schools and communities, vandalism began to plague Halloween celebrations in many communities during this time. By the 1950s, town leaders had successfully limited vandalism and Halloween had evolved into a holiday directed mainly at the young. Due to the high numbers of young children during the fifties baby boom, parties moved from town civic centers into the classroom or home, where they could be more easily accommodated. Between 1920 and 1950, the centuries-old practice of trick-or-treating was also revived. Trick-or-treating was a relatively inexpensive way for an entire community to share the Halloween celebration. In theory, families could also prevent tricks being played on them by providing the neighborhood children with small treats. A new American tradition was born, and it has continued to grow. Today, Americans spend an estimated $6.9 billion annually on Halloween, making it the country's second largest commercial holiday.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Riverwalk Condo Going Up on Roosevelt Island


Construction of the new Hudson/Related Riverwalk Condo on Roosevelt Island is moving quickly and sales should be starting soon. What impact will the credit crunch in the mortgage markets have on this new condo development as well as other new waterfront developments in Long Island City (Powerhouse and Foundry developments) and Williamsburg (Edge and Northside Piers)?

Blogger Urban Digs asks the following question of concern to buyers of new condo developments:

What happens to all those new development buyers that are currently in contract, waiting for building completion to close, if the jumbo credit markets continue to be in distress and there is a much different lending world than when the original contract was signed?
What if the buyer doesn't have the doc's to get the commitment, if lending/underwriting standards have tightened so much in the past 3-6 months? What if the buyer gets a much higher interest rate than was originally anticipated? What if the bonus doesn't come in as expected? What if they lose their job? What if the property becomes unaffordable?

While these are valid questions, they are also on the doomsday side and must be looked at with an open mind; after all, if it wasn't for new dev units we would have an extreme shortage of supply! This is a very wealthy city, with great salary's / bonuses and plenty of qualified demand. But with some 17,000 - 20,000+ units set to close in the next 1-2 years or so, questions should be raised given the change in the macro environment and re-pricing of risk in the mortgage markets!

Strange how this topic has not been raised in the major media? Too negative maybe?
And Blogger Matrix on appraising new condo developments:
The problem with appraisals done in new developments can be more about independence of the appraiser than the use of comps. If the developer arranges financing, they are likely going to own, hire or or have a financial relationship with a mortgage broker or local lender. The appraiser may have been offered a package deal to appraise these properties in bulk or more efficiently for the lender or mortgage broker. The act of saving the applicant $25 on an appraisal fee may also serve to remove independence from the process since killing a sale could cancel 100 future appraisal assignments. duh!

$225,000 License Fee for 70,000 Sq. Ft. of Waterfront on Roosevelt Island- Pretty Good Deal

I received message yesterday from RIOC President Shane in regard to this earlier October 11 inquiry regarding the proposed, now approved, Roosevelt Island Racquet Club License Modification.

Mr. Shane writes:

To answer your questions as raised in your e mail of 10/11 (and I do want to apologize for not having specific answers earlier, but as you know, I was in Europe until last Thursday, Thursday being the day of the meeting and the press thereof, Friday, the day after and yesterday I was in Albany at the Internal Control seminar called by the Comptroller and DOB.)
I responded:
Thanks for the reply. I will post later today or tomorrow. You are right that I knew you were out of town last week and may not have been able to respond to my inquiry of !0/11. That is why I also copied Erika Wilder, RIOC's community relations officer, so that I might get a response prior to the Board meeting when such information would have been of use to the community. if she is not the appropriate person to contact in your absence, who would you suggest to be the contact person in the future?
Here are the questions and Mr. Shane's answers. Mr. Shane's replies are indented. When Mr. Shane references a "schedule" to 9/27/07 memo he is referring to the memo that is included in this earlier post and I inserted the relevant portion into his answer.

What is the approximate square footage of the premises?
Approximately 70,000 sf
I understand from the webcast of the Real Estate committee meeting that the current base license fee is $225 thousand with approximately an additional $60 - $70 thousand in % fee. Is that correct?
Yes, but, see the entire schedule presented in my memo of 9/27/07, copy attached
What is the new proposed license fee?
See above schedule

How does the license fee for the Roosevelt Island Racquet Club compare to other similarly situated clubs in New York City? Is it comparable in terms of fees and term? Is it even a relevant question?
Other racquet clubs not relevant. We have ours. The property is devoted to recreational purposes in the GDP but unusable as "open" space because of the shower of auto parts from the bridge and is already under license to 2031, now as extended.
Since the current license term extends through 2031 why does it have to be extended for an additional 15 years? The waiver of any potential liability for tram discontinuance does not seem reason enough to justify such an extension. After all there have been previous occasions when the tram was out of service and to my knowledge no such liability occurred. The willingness of the Tennis club owner to spend additional sums on a market study to determine the potential of a business opportunity for themselves hardly seems reason for RIOC to extend the license term either. Please explain what benefit does RIOC receive in exchange for the additional 15 year term?
There was no "have to be" about the extension, but was part of the negotiation. Your judgment about the value of the waiver of liability for tram discontinuance is, of course, your judgment. While no action was brought for prior outages of the tram, the issue exists.
Why does the Public Authorities Act not apply to such a large space as the Tennis Club with a license term extending to the year 2048. These premises are not the small shops on Main Street where applying the Public Authorities Law makes no sense.
The Public Authorities Act does, in literal interpretation, apply to each space, including the Tennis Club. Extension of the existing license is deemed by RIOC to be not subject to the immediate application of the PAA. Any significant change (see the possible results of the study, as yet unknown) will require an RFP.
How many Roosevelt Island residents are members of the club, either adult or children? What is the discount rate for Roosevelt Island residents and for how long has that been in effect?
See attachments for report on community participation and programs.




Eventually, if an RFP is issued for the Sportspark facility and a bidder other than the current tennis club operator wins the RFP, under the terms of the proposed license modification, what exactly does that bidder have to pay the tennis club operator. I watched the webcast of the real estate committee meeting and am unclear in the event that another bidder wins the RFP what you meant by the winning bidder having to pay the tennis club for it's "going business value". Do you mean merely the value of the current tennis club or do you mean to include the potential value of a new "Chelsea Pier" type complex at the combined Sportspark/tennis facility. If you mean the potential value of the new facility that would put a competing bidder at a severe and unfair disadvantage in any bidding process.
Appraised value of the existing business.
...I was also surprised that none of these questions were raised during the RIOC Board's Real Estate subcommittee meeting. Is it that they either already knew the answers to these questions, do not think them relevant or some other reason that I am not aware of?
I have no comment on your surprise, but am unaware of any other reasons held by the members of the Committee.
Again, I thank Mr. Shane for participating in this dialogue which I believe is of benefit to the Roosevelt Island community.

However, my objection to this License modification for the Roosevelt Island Racquet Club remains. No further or additional rights should be bestowed upon the tennis club or obligations assumed by RIOC until other potential recreational, cultural, entertainment or public uses that would benefit the Roosevelt Island community are explored for this prime waterfront site. Unfortunately, the Roosevelt Island Board of Directors disagrees and chose to extend the license term another 15 years through the year 2046.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Roosevel Island Raquet Club Follow Up





A reader sent in this copy of the Memorandum in support of the Third Lease Modification for the Roosevelt Island Racquet Club that was approved during the October 18, 2007 RIOC Board of Directors meeting. The memorandum was written by RIOC President Shane to the RIOC Board's Real Estate Committee. To read the memo, click on that portion of the page you wish to read and it will open to a larger page. A letter in support of the proposal by a Roosevelt Island resident that was included in this package to the Real Estate Committee is posted here.

Here is a link to the webcast of the Board meeting. The first item on the agenda, approximately the first 2 hours of the meeting, deal with the Roosevelt Island Tram. The next item focuses on the proposed Tennis club license. Note that there is virtually no discussion of any of the questions posed in this earlier post nor were they answered in response to the original inquiry:

How does the license fee for the Roosevelt Island Racquet Club compare to other similarly situated clubs in New York City? Is it comparable in terms of fees and term? Is it even a relevant question?

Since the current license term extends through 2031 why does it have to be extended for an additional 15 years? The waiver of any potential liability for tram discontinuance does not seem reason enough to justify such an extension. After all there have been previous occasions when the tram was out of service and to my knowledge no such liability occurred. The willingness of the Tennis club owner to spend additional sums on a market study to determine the potential of a business opportunity for themselves hardly seems reason for RIOC to extend the license term either. Please explain what benefit does RIOC receive in exchange for the additional 15 year term?

Why does the Public Authorities Act not apply to such a large space as the Tennis Club with a license term extending to the year 2048. These premises are not the small shops on Main Street where applying the Public Authorities Law makes no sense.

How many Roosevelt Island residents are members of the club, either adult or children? What is the discount rate for Roosevelt Island residents and for how long has that been in effect?

Eventually, if an RFP is issued for the Sportspark facility and a bidder other than the current tennis club operator wins the RFP, under the terms of the proposed license modification, what exactly does that bidder have to pay the tennis club operator. I watched the webcast of the real estate committee meeting and am unclear in the event that another bidder wins the RFP what you meant by the winning bidder having to pay the tennis club for it's "going business value". Do you mean merely the value of the current tennis club or do you mean to include the potential value of a new "Chelsea Pier" type complex at the combined Sportspark/tennis facility. If you mean the potential value of the new facility that would put a competing bidder at a severe and unfair disadvantage in any bidding process.
One member of the Board did ask Mr. Shane about this 1991 NY Times article which said of the Roosevelt Island Racquet Club:
lease payments to the state will be set at a minimum of $100,000 a year and should increase after five years to over $400,000; the club will then pay a percentage of its revenues to the state.
Mr. Shane questioned the accuracy of this report and did not elaborate any further. As this reader points out:
In '91 rent should be $100.000, five years later over $400.000, and 16 years later it should be more, much more, than over $250.000
Something is fishy...
Perhaps subsequent modifications reduced the license fee. We don't know, but questions should still be asked. No other critical, much less challenging, questions were asked by the Board members as to whether the tennis facility is the only recreational, cultural or public use facility possible for this location or whether they are indeed good neighbors to the Roosevelt Island community.

I continue to ask, Why increase the License term for an additional 15 year term without Roosevelt Island receiving anything in return? All the increased license term does is increase the value of the Tennis facility and makes it more expensive for any other potential user. How does that help RIOC or the Roosevelt Island residents? It certainly helps the tennis facility. What a shame!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Connect Roosevelt Island to Manhattan- Solve Transit Problems



Roosevelt Island 360 adds his thoughts on Roosevelt Island transportation options:

Access from Roosevelt Island onto the LIRR track below the subway station is undoubtedly a pipe dream. But building a entrance to the LIRR East Side Access spur would be much easier and cheaper than ever building a new subway station connecting to either the N,R or E,V lines which each also travel underneath Roosevelt Island.
For those of you that were not aware there is another tunnel directly below the tunnel that brings the subway through Roosevelt Island. This second tunnel was built with the long term goal of bring the LIRR onto Manhattan's East Side and down into Grand Central Terminal...

The alternatives to increasing transportation access to and from Roosevelt Island are pretty limited as we all know. So perhaps the logistics and possibility of a LIRR station stop on the Island should be investigated.
The issue is discussed at a transit oriented message board called Subchat that concludes:
the MTA would never attempt or pay for such access.
Trains Are Fun, a commentator on Subchat, sums up the prospects for improving Roosevelt Island transportation this way:
...take-home points are: add more land to the island until it's part of Manhattan, and that should solve the problem. Glib, but that's more likely to happen than what you're asking for.
A reader of Roosevelt Island 360 makes an interesting comment regarding the impact of the new Related/Hudson Riverwalk condo's coming on line as well any other future residential development such as the rumored sale of Coler Goldwater Hospital.
... the fact is that there is NO adequate help coming for the overcrowded F and tram. no lirr station, no stop at the E/V tunnel (accessible from the mta property in southpoint), no ferry in the foreseeable future. the mta COULD add a few more trains at rush hour, but i think track crowding is an issue (trains back up at bottlenecks). frankly, the people who have allowed plans to move forward for more buildings on the island than exist currently are bordering on criminally negligent. at best, they have assumed 'someone will eventually fix the transit problem.' at worst they have pocketed their cash and said 'not my problem.' the saying goes 'it's just gonna get worse before it gets better.' but really, it's just gonna get worse.
I don't agree with the "criminal negligent" characterization which I am sure was meant only to highlight the existing problem. However, the fact remains that there is now, and will be for the
foreseeable future, significant transportation infrastructure problems on Roosevelt Island and these new residential condo or rental buildings will only add to the problem unless something is done to increase transportation alternatives to the Island

You Tube video link of Tokyo subway system during rush hour is here.

Getting to Roosevelt Island


The Bowery Boys have more on Roosevelt Island transportation options.
For most of its existence, people used ferries to get to and from Manhattan and Queens. Boatloads of prisoners, smallpox patients, the mentally insane, and, yes, residents of the island crossed the East River daily.

Later, when the Queensboro Bridge sprung up on its north side, a trolley would stop in the middle of the bridge, allowing people to then enter a small elevator which would take them down to the island. According to NY Roads, this was the only way for the public to get to Roosevelt (then Welfare Island) in the 50s. I can't imagine this inconvenient from of commute brightened the island's reputation any.

A lift bridge spanning 2,877 feet to Queens was opened in 1955, finally allowing automobiles on the island. Its also the only way you can walk there. Those odd Queensboro elevators were dismantled in 1970.

However Roosevelt Island is often defined by its most popular method of conveyance, the Roosevelt Island Tramway. This unique way of getting to and from home, taking less than five minutes one way, is a picturesque and perfectly European way of experiencing the city. The aerial tram, made by the Swiss company Vonroll, is the only one of its kind on North America to be used as actual mass transit. (Many vacation destinations obviously use trams, including mountains in Oregon and New Mexico.)
Image is from The Bowery Boys.

UPDATE - 12/10/08 - Here are directions to Roosevelt Island.

Does Roosevelt Island Need Hipster Wannabees Before Getting Ferry Service?


According to the Brooklyn Paper:

The city is sifting through several proposals from ferry operators to shuttle commuters between Manhattan and at least three stops in Williamsburg and Greenpoint, an effort that the city hopes will reduce congestion on the roads and also on the overloaded G and L trains.
One thing Roosevelt Island has in common with Williamsburg and Greenpoint is horrendous congestion at our F train subway stop during rush hours and frequent disruptions at other times. Does Roosevelt Island need hipsters and wannabees living here before any attempt is made to reduce this congestion? Particularly with the prospect of the Roosevelt Island Tram being out of service for a prolonged period of time in the not too distant future, alternative transportation options are essential for Roosevelt Island residents.

More:
Water taxi companies are chomping at the bit to cash in on the population explosion in Williamsburg and Greenpoint, the city says. More than 27,500 new housing units will be developed by 2013 — all “within easy walking distance from existing or potential new ferry landing sites,” according to the document the city sent out to the ferry companies.

The year-round ferry service would make at least one round-trip every half hour during morning and evening rush hours, with less-frequent service during off-peak hours and on the weekends. Most of the cost would be borne by the private companies, but the city is offering some incentives, including building “ferry landings and related infrastructure,” according to the EDC request for proposals.
An East River ferry service that includes stops at 96th and 76th street as well as Roosevelt Island is certainly as worthy and necessary as the Greenpoint/Williamsburg route despite the absence of hipsters and wannabees.

Image is from Pedicab Blog.

Critique of Mitchell Lama Affordable Housing on Roosevelt Island- Report of the NY State Inspector General


The Main Street Wire reports on the NY State Inspector General's Review of the Division of Housing and Community Renewal's Oversight of the Mitchell Lama affordable housing program and the response by current DHCR Commissioner Van Amerongen. The Inspector General's full report is here. According to the report, the Mitchell Lama housing program:

...has provided affordable rental and cooperative apartments for hundreds of thousands of middle-income New Yorkers since its inception in 1955. The State has made a substantial investment in Mitchell-Lama housing, providing private developers with low-interest loans and tax exemptions to build apartments subject to regulated rents and purchase prices. The majority of Mitchell- Lama housing developments are located in New York City, where the program is especially important as middle-income families may earn too much to qualify for federal government housing vouchers, yet struggle to pay market-rate rents.
The report is highly critical of DHCR's oversight of the Mitchell Lama program from January 2003 - October 2006 concluding that:
DHCR’s monitoring of Mitchell-Lama housing companies and its
enforcement of its own regulations has been grossly deficient on a broad scale. Rather than safeguarding the integrity of the program, DHCR, through its own shortcomings, has allowed housing companies to flout rules regarding apartment allocation, financial reporting, and contracting. DHCR’s deep and systemic failures have resulted in deterioration of facilities, waste of taxpayer money, increase in charges to tenants, and the allocation of apartments to unqualified applicants at the expense of those legitimately entitled to those same apartments.
As to Roosevelt Island's Westview Apartments (See pages 45-51) the report found that:
warehousing of Mitchell-Lama units appeared to be occurring at Westview, which is a highly desirable rental development with a waiting list of more than 1,000 applicants. As of August 2006, the complex had 31 vacant apartments, each of which had been vacant for an average of 327 days. In February 2004, a private entity signed a contract to purchase Westview, with the clear intent, once the property was free of Mitchell-Lama regulations, to convert it to condominium ownership. As a condition of the sale, the prospective buyer required DHCR to grant a waiver of the competitive bidding requirements of the complex’s management agent contracts in order to permit the buyer to assume the management of the property. DHCR granted the waiver in late 2004, agreeing to have the property managed jointly by the current owner and the buyer on a month-to-month basis until the sale of the property either was consummated or the contract was abandoned. The deal fell through in March 2006.
Shortly after the agreement to jointly manage Westview was reached, the number of vacancies began to rise. Before the agreement, Westview had, at most, three to five vacant units at any time. However, by November 2005, the number of vacancies had risen to 27, or a rate of 7.5 percent. According to an official at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, there should be no vacancies in subsidized housing in New York City, but if vacancies exist, they should not exceed one percent. Nonetheless, in his field report of December 5, 2005, the DHCR representative assigned to Westview termed the complex’s inflated vacancy rate “satisfactory.”
Image is of Danny Kaye from the movie The Inspector General at Amazon.com.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Bike Riding on Roosevelt Island


A thread was started on Live Journal regarding Bike riding to Roosevelt Island. An inquiry was made asking for assistance on a bike route to Roosevelt Island from Queens.

does anyone know if there is a bike route (or what is the best bike route) to get to roosevelt island from queens? also, does the tram station have an address? there is a lot of information on how to take the tram from manhattan to the island, but not much about how to take the tram from the island to manhattan. i just want to ride it because i never have, and it seems like a big hassle to take the subway all the way into manhattan when i live close enough to ride to the roosevelt island side.

i've never ridden a bike over the queensboro bridge, is there a path? does the path let you off on roosevelt island?
An excellent answer from another Live Journal reader:
There's no bike trail, there's the 36th Ave bridge that gets you here (I love on RI). What do you need to know about the Tram? Works the same way into Manhattan as from it. :)

If you want to bike from Manhattan to RI, you use the lower level (entrance on south side of 60th St east of 2nd Ave) and bike to Queens. Then you get off in queens and go west (all the way to Vernon Blvd is best as there are a lot less lights) and go to 36th Ave (right past Con Ed plant) and make a left onto the bridge and bike to RI. There's not much room to bike here tho, better for running. I usually ride my bike into Manhattan and bike on the Greenway there. :)
More Roosevelt Island bike information from Astoria Bike:
the good news is bikes are now officially allowed on the ramp by the parking garage on Roosevelt Island. Before you were supposed to take the stinky elevator. But the ramp was always more fun and not dangerous. Just another random “bikes are bad” thing. And what’s with pissing on elevators? I mean, if you have to go, and I often do, why do it in the elevator?
I think a great bike route would be on the Promenade facing Manhattan from the northern tip of the Island by the Lighthouse all the way to Southpoint Park.

Images of the Roosevelt Island promenade and Lighthouse Park are from blogger Bento Box.

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