Thursday, June 21, 2012

Sure Would Be Nice To Have A Roosevelt Island Main Street Ice Cream Store On Hot Days Like Today

Ice Cream Cone Image From Bentnorthrup

Guess what - that will soon happen. Several reliable sources have told me that Hudson Related is about to sign a lease with a Roosevelt Island resident for an Ice Cream Store on Main Street. Hopefully this will occur in the next few days but just to be clear, the lease has not been signed and Hudson Related has not confirmed the accuracy of this report.

In other Roosevelt Island Main Street retail news, Hudson Related has removed the glass window from Main Street Arcade at 568 Main

and is constructing a prototype in the area to test possible designs of what the Arcade might look like.The proposed mockup should be completed in a few weeks.

Some residents have expressed unhappiness with Hudson Related's plan to remove the Arcade windows. For instance, resident Raye Schwartz writes:
Please consider this.

Whether or not we, Kramer, H-R or the current RIOC or RIRA likes or dislikes the aesthetics of glass partitions is irrelevant. Roosevelt Island was built as a planned community to integrate a variety of levels of housing and a diverse population into a multi-everything community: income, age, mobility, physically challengedm, ethnicity, etc.. That meant that disabled people and seniors would have more mobility and freedom than in any other place in New York, and probably even the country. So to compare it to other places that manage without glass partition protection in spite of inclement weather is missing the point...unless one wants to ignore the intent of this community

While it is essential to improve the retail corridor, removing the glass partitions will wipe out everything this island stands for, or at least was meant to stand for. And the argument about sanitation is absurd too...not when Kramer is entertaining the notion to place a "Subway" store at 531 Main Street and Public Safety will not do a damn thing to get people to stop feeding the pigeons, squirrels and rats because "it's a city ordinance and they work for the state"! Same is true for ignoring the trash the people throw on the ground, the lawns and into planters, not only on Main Street, but outside of Starbucks and Motorgate as well. It seems as if RIOC and Kramer are catering to the trust fund babies and yuppies as they are making efforts to obliterate and override everything this island was meant to be, rather than incorporating new ideas and improvements into the current model. Yes Virginia, improvements, not obliteration, are needed.

Those glass partitions should not be removed. However, they could be improved. Perhaps they could be replaced with larger shatterproof and non-reflective glass panels and the ugly and dirty metal partitions could be removed. The store windows should also be revamped. And instead of the enormous red mastheads, make those smaller and install better lighting so that the storefronts are visible through the glass both day and night. Directories should also be installed on both sides of Main Street, such as the "you are here" directories they have in malls, with maps and store listings as well as arrows. Thos directories should be on both the north end and south end of Main Street, as well as at the tram and the mall at Southtown. They should be all inclusive of the entire retail corridor, from Motorgate and the post office, all the way down to Southpoint Park.

Another thing to consider, not only for seniors or the disabled, is that Main Street is a wind tunnel and those glass panels provide safety and protection for everyone on rainy or stormy days, not just when there's snow. That protection is not only for seniors and the disabled, but also for the kids who attend PS 217, The Child School and even the day nursery.

And as a matter of fact, there should also be some standards for the window displays of all the shopkeepers, i.e. the video/general store which thankfully is somewhat hidden by those partitions! And in addition, when is Urban America going to remove thos hideous chartreuse signs from Eastwood?

I therefore submit the idea that a better aesthetic and the needs of the people of this community can exist in a symbiotic relationship without one sacrificing the other. Just in case RIOC forgot to tell Kramer about the needs of this community, someone please tell him to go back to the drawing board and come up with a better solution that will work for both the people and retail.

Let's not throw out the baby when we simply need to change the bath water!
Roosevelt Island resident Fred Plastino, who chairs Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) Main Street Retail subcommittee, has a different point of view on the window arcade removal:
Let me start off by saying, I have walked many nights in the cold and rain to and from the garage to my home. And while I appreciate the protection of the overhang, I can't say removing the glass and planters will significantly change things under most conditions.

The intent is to open up views, light, and visibility to and from the store fronts. Hudson and their architects feel this is a step in the right direction towards improving street appeal, and I happen to agree. Opposition to this change has been voiced many times, and David Kramer is aware.

They've been hired to revitalize the retail corridor, I think we should give them a chance to implement their ideas for improvement. It's not beyond the realm of possibility they might consider re-establishing the original design if things don't work out. However, if you disagree you can contact David Kramer directly. He has extended this invitation to everyone.
For now, I am just happy about the Ice Cream store!!!


Elizabeth Durkin said...

Amen Ms. Schwartz- I couldn't have said it better myself after 30 years of living here!!.. Maybe Mr. Kramer should live here and walk down that part of Main Street during very bad weather or God Forbid if he was disabled or a Senior Citizen right now.

This Island has been destroyed and there seems to be no end to it and no foresight- just the almighty dollar behind all the -so-called improvements..

This Island indeed was a planned Community for all types of people- not just the more affluent newcomers or to attract more affluent newcomers.

I don't have a problem with affluent newcomers but any new "improvements" must not and should take into account ALL Residents of this Planned community.

BTW- H-R- where are all the new stores- it is now 6/22/12- could it be you are asking too much for leasing?

I suggest Mr. Kramer hold another open Community meeting to let us All know what is commencing with the new stores and the plans H-R has as of now-Summer- 2012..

30 year Resident- WIRE Building.

Mark Lyon said...

I like the wooden ceiling they've installed.  The coloring was a bit inconsistent last time I looked, but it is far more attractive than the current panels and gives a bit of hidden warmth to the structure.  With a little extra lighting and removal of the glass walls, it could be a very attractive look.

YetAnotherRIer said...

"BTW- H-R- where are all the new stores- it is now 6/22/12- could it be you are asking too much for leasing?"

Last time I checked (this morning) quite a few retail spaces on Main Street are being gutted and renovated. It's all coming.

bakgwailo said...

 I hadn't noticed - will have to look up next time I am around there, lol.

Jesse Webster said...

I've really tired of hearing the "30 year resident" nonsense. Who cares how long you've lived here? I certainly don't. There is no linear relationship between the length of your tenure on this island and the value of your ideas about its development. And not all of the newcomers are "more affluent" as you describe.

I also don't understand why everyone is going all Braveheart over these stupid window panels. It's not like the existing arcade is fully enclosed. It alternates between paneled and unpaneled sections. If the panels were so important, in inclement weather the arcade would look like an arcade game: Roosevelt Island Frogger, with residents racing to hide behind the glassed-in sections to escape from the elements. But that doesn't happen. Most people just walk a little closer to the building to avoid the wind, rain and snow.

In fact, for the past couple of years, there has been a missing panel in the glass roof along the RL arcade, and when it rains or snows, people just walk right under it. 

No problem.

mogensjp said...

It would be nice if RIOC would finally implement the long-pending
street signage incl speed and parking updates. Car drivers can only save a few minutes by driving at 15 mph and the speed sign
just before the bus stop at Good Shepherd's Plaza remains an invitation to an accident.  

Anonymous said...

The owner of nonnos is the owner of the ice cream Store. I am sure

Anonymous said...

He Opened a snack Bar at Manhattan Park pool. Where doses it end

Anonymous said...

Please bring dominos pizza back to THE famers market on Saturday. The owner of nonnos should Not be able to Say Who could AND Who cannot sell at THE famers market

Anonymous said...

THIS.Island is FOR People with money. I MISS THE GOOD old day's when it was Only THE wire buildings People cared about each Other. I hate What has. Become of This Island Now Its All about money. AND rioc let's it go on. It's All about The rich bulding owners. Making More money

Anonymous said...

There was a Young kid. About 2 years ago at the. Manhattan Park pool. He work there and also had a. Table Where he sold candy and chips AND soda. He was making money Over The summer for School in THE fall. Well the next. Year. The kid doses. Not Have THE table .NOW There a snack bar
..yea you. Guessed it. The owner of nonnos owns THE snack bar.

Ratso123 said...

The lack of a follow-up on the Wire story of a few weeks ago leads me to believe that there are not many signed leases for the retail stores.  All of this work on Main Street and talk about window panels is nothing more than a diversion from the real issue-Is Hudson-Related actually getting interested parties to rent the vacant stores, or are they just getting paid and not delivering?

Anonymous said...

You people are hilarious, if u don't like nonnos or any non nos related store DON'T shop there. Thankfully u have no say in the matter. I for one am thankful that ninnies continues to invest in RI. Stop complaining!!!!!!!!!

Jesse Webster said...

The structure of the agreement with RIOC means they won't get paid unless they open more stores. They have to guarantee the revenues RIOC was receiving before the subleasing agreement was signed.

CheshireKitty said...

I think it's important to first see what the new finishes will look like in their entirety in the experimental bays before going ahead with the entire renovation.  Isn't it a little incongruous to install wooden paneling upon a completely concrete building?  It is a modernist structure that within the cost constraints, made something out of concrete textures and so forth.  Actually, Urban American removed or painted over the original wooden paneling that was once in all the lobbies of Eastwood in an effort to update those spaces.  Wooden paneling can sometimes be "old-fashioned" - even if in the present instance it is intended to somehow render the walkway more "inviting" or more "small-towny".  If I were Kramer, I would have opted for an enhancement of the modern look - re-plaster or re-concrete the pitted surfaces, maybe make them a nicer shade of gray.  Power-wash all the surfaces that can't be redone.  I could see fixing up the entire walkway, but in such a way as to extend the style of the building, instead of slapping a somewhat phony new-old iteration on it, that of the "Village".  

 I don't know if removing the windows is going to make that much difference in the end since it's not the windows that render the walkway shady - it's the fact that all of Main St is in the shade, due to it being a cavern-like street between 200-foot apartment buildings that are built just about up to the side-walk (well, in the case of Eastwood, over the walkway which is above the sidewalk).  There is never a time when Main St is sunny except at high noon.  Kramer has to deal with this - removing the windows is not going to make that much difference, because he can't remove the buildings along Main St.  The key to making the walkway bright is to fill it with bright, shiny, light-colored finishes and to increase the lighting within it - sort of what the subway does with its space underground.  At that point, you could of course keep the windows - since light will be pouring out of them into the shadier Main St.  

CheshireKitty said...

I don't see quite a few being renovated.  There was some work going on in one space - the former pizzeria - but that stopped.  So far, we've only heard that a lease with the Child School for the second floor space at 504 has been signed.  

Frank Farance said...

Jesse Webster, you dismiss historical knowledge and you're completely wrong when you say "here is no linear relationship between the length of your tenure on this
island and the value of your ideas about its development".  It's not that people here for 30 years are any better than people here for 1 year, but people here for a longer while have seen a wider range of what happens here, and they've seen some experiments that have tried and failed, too.  So having more years adds more experience in which to inform us (i.e., creates more value).

As for weather, we've had relatively mild winters recently.  In my meteorological training, I recall there were 17-year and 23-year cycles in weather (and longer ones, too).  One really needs a good 20-25 year history to fully appreciate the weather patterns in a single place.

It seems you are opposed to allowing yourself to be informed, did I read your response correctly?

Westviewer said...

Where is the wooden ceiling? 

Mark Lyon said...

It can be seen in Rick's photo, above.  They took out the white fiber panels and replaced with wooden decking - look above the scaffolding.  It adds a small touch of warmth to the structure while remaining durable.

Mark Lyon said...

Wouldn't removing the non-structural pillars help clear up some of these issues?  Sight lines would be better and the potential for them to be knocked over would be removed.

RooseveltIslander said...

 The Wooden ceiling can be seen from the street above the scaffolding. Here's what it looks like

Westviewer said...

As a resident of 36 years, I agree with you.

CheshireKitty said...

I don't see it adding much of anything to the walkway.  It seems like old wood paneling - not even a fine finish, or teakwood for example.  But, we'll have to see what the whole effect is before we give the do-over a thumbs-up or -down.  

CheshireKitty said...

This is a very well-thought-out analysis of the safety problems of removing the seating and windows from the colonnade bays in Eastwood.  For whatever it's worth, we should all -- Kramer, Plastino, everyone -- consider for a minute why those windows and window-seats were built in the first place.  They were put in to create a zone of safety - because, as Frank says, the colonnade creates an unfortunate double-blind situation for both the motorist and pedestrian.  Remember too that Main St is canyon-like in being bordered by 20-story buildings on each side with only a relatively narrow 2-way street between them.  Main St is almost always in shadow because of this, thus reducing even more the visibility of a pedestrian or child running out into traffic from the colonnade.  As I've said before, even with the safety barriers of the windows-window-seat combinations installed in the Eastwood colonnade, there have already been tragic incidents when people stepped off the Eastwood side of Main St into oncoming traffic and were killed.  The speed of the vehicle makes no difference - we all know kids run after a ball and into traffic all the time.  The safety barriers in the colonnade were put there to reduce this risk, and to clearly point to the pedestrian crossing paths.  These child safety concerns should be referred to the elected officials and the appropriate City agencies, before the safety barriers are dismantled in a misguided effort to enhance the superficial look of the colonnade so that it will be more likely stores will move into empty store-fronts.  In other words, Kramer puts the safety of Island kids on the line so he can make money by renting out the empty store-fronts.  This to me is a rather cruel equation, or trade-off:  For Kramer, Island kids' blood is worth less than the money he stands to make by renting out the store-fronts.  Kramer is prepared to endanger Island residents, and especially kids, by dismantling the safety barriers - all to make a buck.  

CheshireKitty said...

Unfortunately, Jesse, whether or not the glass panels are removed, the majority of residents on RI will remain poor - just as they are now.  This is what really irks you and Kramer and all the other supposed "boosters" looking to "improve" RI.  You just can't stand all the poor folks swarming about the island - because their presence drives down property values.  

Well, as irksome as it is to you, you might as well get used to it, my friend, because RI was intended as much for poor and middle-income residents, as for the rich like yourself.  And short of knocking down Eastwood by "accidentally on-purpose" rendering it uninhabitable by having a portion of the walkway collapse because of the removal of structural members of the colonnade thus forcing a mass closure and eviction of every single resident of Eastwood, and its eventual leveling, the poor people of Eastwood are here to stay.  

Even in Manhattan, Jesse, you cannot completely get away from poor people.  You know that - even in gentrifying neighborhoods like Harlem, they're still there, probably still driving down property values, tsk tsk tsk.  And guess what - the outer boroughs are teeming with them! 

NYC is not a very rich or glamorous place, contrary to the current hype which is often generated by the real estate developers anxious to reel in renters or buyers of expensive apartments.  

If you really, really want to find a purely rich, solidly Republican, upstanding community, which values a low capital gains tax rate, and awards unwavering support for US militarism abroad as long as, you know, mostly the poor are the ones shedding their blood in American wars, maybe you should return to the upscale but dull suburb you no doubt are from and left in order to seek the "opportunities" and "excitement" of a fleshpot like NYC.  Yes, a place like the dull suburb you came from is just perfect for you, Jesse..  

Frank Farance said...

In the photo, it is clear how the Eastwood arcade windows protect against the wind/rain/snow.  Uh, the dry part is were the windows protect, and the wet/snow part is where the windows don't exist (and rain/snow goes almost to the store front).  The windows' weather protection is really clear.  Anyone who tells you otherwise, doesn't have experience walking the arcades or just talking baloney.

Frank Farance said...

Rick almost walked into an oncoming Q102 bus taking the above picture because of the double blind safety issues that will increase by H-R's removing the windows/pillars/etc..  I asked Rick, "See what I mean?".

I think the wood ceiling looks fine, and I'm guessing that wood will age nicely over the next 10-20 years.

Still, H-R will have to temporarily take some of it down to deal with the safety issues.

YetAnotherRIer said...

Why do you read other people's opinions and comments as if there is a class or race issue involved? Can you try to listen to other people's opinion with an open mind and not jump straight into your way of how you see the world?

YetAnotherRIer said...

And how many days of the year does this apply to? Can we not learn how to use umbrellas? Is this about not wanting to use umbrellas or weather appropriate clothing? Also, by looking at this picture the difference between glass panel or not is really minimal. Most of the water is on the ground and very little is in the air. Maybe you can post a picture of the store fronts and compare the wetness of those?

CheshireKitty said...

YetAnotherRIer - Open your eyes!  The windows, window-seats, safety-barriers, call them what you will - their loss will impact the Eastwood residents most of all.  And most of the Eastwood residents are (still) low-income, disabled, elderly etc.  Kramer is removing an amenity from a primarily moderate-income building, in hopes of making that portion of Main St more "gentrified".  By getting rid of the benches/windows, he effectively banishes the poor people into their apartments.  No more hanging out, relaxing, or simply sitting out in the enclosed glassed-in areas - all that will be gone.  The entire project is being done to "get rid of" the poor people, so they are no longer a presence on Main St.  There's also the safety concern - and as I said Kramer doesn't care about that either, heartless so-and-so that he is.  Whatever the class or race of kids that may wind up under the wheels of a bus because of the removal of the safety barriers - what does Kramer care, as long as he can lure businesses onto Main St.!  The only thing Kramer cares about is money.  For him money is more important than anything, more important than safety, more important than kids' blood.  

Salvatore Anthony Hoo said...

There are a couple of issues I have with your statements concerning this project
 #1- This is the 2nd time you are writing about "kid's blood" concerning this project and David Kramer. It is quite dramatic I must say. The guy is just trying to improve the island and improve the quality of life for those that live here. To make the statemnets you are making is a bit absurd.
     I did not grow up here nor do I have children on the island, however I did grow up on a very busy street in brooklyn. Our block was the block leading up to the entrance of the belt parkway which makes it 1000x busier than main street. We played IN the street all day every day as well as on the sidewalks. We were taught to look both ways and be smart about traffic and no one ever got hit by a car, truck or bus let alone end up underneath one. I'm confused as to why you think the removal of these partitions is going to make main street a slaughterhouse for children. Kids are smarter than you give them credit for, they know better than to chase anything into oncoming traffic. Not to mention the plethora of fields and grassy areas there are here on the island. Why would main street be the choice place to play with all of these better options??
#2- You are saying that IF these particular sitting areas are removed people will be "BANISHED" into their apartments. Once again you have the flair for dramatic. There are park benches everywhere with beautuful views, why would people not be able to sit and hang out there??. And if you are going to argue that you can't sit at those other places when its raining or snowing out, who wants to sit outside anywhere when its raining out or cold enough to be snowing?!? I live in 405 and guess what,  when its raining or snowing out, I stay in too.

Frank Farance said...

Mr. Lyon, with your suggestion, I had a similar initial hunch.  However, I went out and measured this.  I've attached a diagram (Not To Scale) below that shows the geometry and what happens if you remove those non-load-bearing pillars.  The NON-INTUITIVE outcome is: removing the pillars doesn't create better sight lines because the slope of the sight line (looking from above) is the same WITH the pillars (18.33 feet / 4 feet)  as WITHOUT the pillars (9 feet / 2 feet).  This occurs because pedestrians, regardless of the width of the pillars are about 4 feet in from the wall.

At least in a quantitative way, one can see that pillars or not, THE CAR STILL HITS THE PEDESTRIAN because the distance to stop is 86 feet (longer than their best case sight range).  And that's the BEST CASE.  The WORST CASE is a child next to a pillar near the curb (double blind): they are 8 feet away and if we only drive at 3 MPH (not 4 MPH) will we have enough time to not hit them.

Thus, this is really a safety hazard, which is why we need these kinds of obstacles in the Eastwood arcade.

Note: My diagram and summary is a back-of-the-envelope analysis.  A traffic engineer would be able to give a more complete analysis.

Frank Farance said...

Mr. Hoo, please take a look at my analysis, this is a real safety problem, and traffic volume (Belt Parkway or not) isn't the factor.

Even if you're neighborhood had unsafe traffic, that does not negate the desire for people to make this neighborhood safe.  There have been accidents in the past.  Even adults can get surprised, as Rick did yesterday almost walking into a bus.

Finally, although your building doesn't have this amenity, this is certainly a valuable amenity for the WIRE buildings.

Mark Lyon said...

Thanks for the very through analysis.

Frank Farance said...

CheshireKitty, just spoke to Dept. Of Buildings to file complaints.  Hopefully, they will weigh in on some of the safety issues at the construction site.

Jesse Webster said...

I don't think what I said was summarily dismissive of people who've lived here for a long time. 

I don't think embracing change is necessarily at conflict with the mixed income ideal upon which our community was founded. At least for me, that ideal makes this place interesting and vibrant, and the socioeconomic mix of RI is the source of much of its appeal and future potential. I wouldn't want to live somewhere homogeneous, but I would like to see the empty storefronts in my building (Eastwood, to answer your question) filled.The crux of my earlier argument is that there is value -- equal value -- between the ideas of long-time residents and newer ones. Lack of experience can also be a valuable advantage in a community with ingrained interests and complex history of successes and failures.Things do not always need to stay as they are, or return to how they once were. And change is not a panacea. But we should always be open to new ideas, and new approaches to old ideas. It's better to try, fail, and try again than to stand still and bicker.

Jesse Webster said...

This is very informative ... perhaps some creative use of street furniture can help to reduce the danger while still allowing for an open plan.

Salvatore Anthony Hoo said...

GAME. SET. MATCH. BRAVO! I agree 100% that an open discussion should be had between both sides and come up with a solution that makes all interested parties happy. Mr. Farance says there is a history of accidents then it should be addressed. Well said Jesse, glad I wasn't the only one who thought things were getting a bit outrageous and extreme.

Salvatore Anthony Hoo said...

AMEN! (This AMEN shouldn't cause nearly a stir as the last one did.) lol

CheshireKitty said...

If Kramer must dismantle the window/seating combo units, at least replace them with a fence - perhaps riffing off the nautical theme (if he must) which could also contain seating.  You would then get the "open" look Kramer wants (which I have explained will not yield that much additional light falling upon the storefronts because of a. the depth of the colonnade b. the fact that Main St is essentially a canyon) but at least keep the walkway pedestrians - especially kids - safe.  Maybe a wooden built-in look - to coordinate with the ceiling.  Not sure how something like that would hold up to the elements, though.  Even concrete eventually crumbles.  I'm thinking Kramer can perhaps invest alot more in the walkway "upgrade" and find nice brushed metal combo fence/seating units for those bays (or design them and have them fabricated) - he can get some inspiration from the wonderful seating at Gantry State Park, which, if I'm not mistaken is mostly brushed metal.  

CheshireKitty said...

Sal & Jesse: If it weren't for struggle, there wouldn't have been affordable housing programs and the like.  Capitalism doesn't just give away breaks to the poor (or anyone else for that matter); the poor have to extract them from the greedy paws of the capitalists!  Luckily, we do have a democracy wherein by and large many elected representatives uphold the rights of the majority - who are not rich.  Thus we still have some controls on the greed of the rich.  

It is impossible to exaggerate the price moderate income people have paid and continue to pay, in exploitation and in so many other ways.  

Regarding the walkway, consider that for many in Eastwood, it is *all* they have!  There is no option for a nice vacation to the Caribbean & so forth.  There is no money for that.  

Jesse, it's wonderful that you have relatives who have served - yet for some from poor backgrounds, military service is perhaps the only way out.  And the reward?  You tell me.  

Anyway, I am pleased I guessed correctly that Jesse is from a nice suburb or exurb - this explains your devotion to the idea of "improving" the arcade, presumably so it'll be more "home-like" for you.  

bakgwailo said...


Jesse Webster said...

Well, Cheshire, if this break from reality is the only vacation you can hope for, I'm inclined to let you enjoy it.

I'd invite you to my native "exurb," as you call it, but with a population smaller than that of Eastwood over an area slightly larger than Manhattan, I don't think you'd be able to hack it. Too many greedy capitalist (not to mention carnivorous!) coyotes. And no sidewalks -- not even the uncovered kind!

YetAnotherRIer said...

Am I blind? How many of the tenants living in those 1000 apartments hang out in front of Eastwood during bad weather? Yes, there are some. Mostly the same faces and maybe 20 people at most. Most people do not call this place their place of relaxation akin to somebody else's Caribbean cruise. RI, LIC, and Manhattan all have much better places to offer that are used by all kinds of people.

You are trying so hard to turn this into a racial/socioeconomic conflict. I wonder what your real agenda is.

YetAnotherRIer said...

Yes, Frank, my point of view is that a) I like the idea of removing the glass panels because of the looks, b) I don't see safety concerns for me and my children (no matter what data you throw at me I will insist that I am in charge of my own and my children's safety, especially in places like NYC) , and c) I am in favor of weather appropriate clothing. Listen, I live in Manhattan Park (cue CheshireKitty throwing insulting me how I dare to look down at all the poor people) and I don't even take the red bus, no matter what the weather is. I don't require covered sidewalks, I'll be happy to get rid of them in oder to make the WIRE buildings look more attractive. But then again, this is a matter of taste and personal opinion only.

Salvatore Anthony Hoo said...

This is not about affordable housing. The changes to the walkway and storefronts aren't forcing anyone out of their homes. To say the walk way is ALL the people of eastwood have is such an exaggeration. On the opposite side of the building is the waterfront and across to the manhattan side is the waterfront as well. Not to mention parks and grassy areas everywhere.

Salvatore Anthony Hoo said...

Of course some precipitation will float in but this picture doesn't truly tell the whole story and not all of that water came directly from the sky. People track rain water in through the open spaces as the enter, shake their umbrellas off there and cars splash puddle water in as well.

SherieL said...

Mark, and all:

I have been lobbying, through the RIRA Island Services Main Street Retail Advisory sub-Committee, which also includes several residents (who are automatic members of RIRA as you ALL are, by the way), these ideas: 1)  that I would like to see ceiling or wall lighting and that it should be motion sensitive:  I would like to see it on at night of course, but somewhat dim until someone walks beneath and triggers lighted area  to brighten as one walks through at night time.  I don't know how or if my comments have been received by David Kramer.  We have met once with Andrew Jackson, his second-in-command, and had a very cordial and comfortable conversation with him.  All our comments were well heeded in the meeting.  

Folks, it is really true that when there are very high-wind situations (and yes, whatever the weather cycle is who knows/cares, but we've been through some good storms here, sitting in the middle of the East River) the rain and snow have both blown in on the non-coverered areas.  Still it is a very nice thing to have that corridor for cover when we need it.  It does the job intended.  It is a wonderful amenity for all of us who are out and must walk to whatever venue (we go to a ton of meetings in various Main Street buildings and having that protection even for a small amount of time, is really pleasant, for EVERYONE.  Even if we have to cross back to the westside of the street to get to our meeting, we will often cross over to the EW side to find cover when we can.  Otherwise we are out in the open, like you, when we can't. 

As regards seating, my recollection is that there will be seating, but a new design.  So people will still be able to sit outside on the walk area in front of the RL/EW buildings.

If you want to become a member of this sub-Committee you should contact Aaron Hamburger or Fred Plastino through RIRA President, Matt Katz. Contact info is always in The Main Street WIRE in the RIRA Column. The more the merrier.

Alternately, you can attend the next RIRA meeting in September 5 and meet these folks then.

Frank Farance said...

Mr. Hoo, please carefully look again at the photo.  You'll see the portions that were soaked because of lack of windows, and you'll see foot traffic.  The soaking was not due to foot traffic, according to your theory, the same kind of soaking would appear *with* the windows (which it did not).

CheshireKitty said...

You are certainly entitled to your point of view - but remember, the Eastwood arcade without the glass panels is not going to look like the Manhattan Park buildings' arcades because none of the MP buildings are in the Main St "canyon" - there will still be shadows in the Eastwood walkway so the purported "benefit" to the stores - that they will be more visible, will be minimal.  It's a pointless trade-off, because only better arcade lighting will improve the visibility of the stores, whether or not the panels are removed.  If the arcade lighting were improved today, even without a general arcade upgrade, I bet Kramer could attract merchants to lease stores.  

Re: Your kids.  OK - maybe you are the kind of parent that has your children under direct observation whenever they go outside to play.  That is commendable.  However, some parents do let their kids out to walk over to the park, shoot hoops, play handball, or just pal around with friends.  If you remove those barriers from Eastwood arcade, you are  increasing the chance that one day, one of those kids is going to step off the curb, not see a car, plus the car will not see the kid, and a tragedy will occur.  

Hey, we're all for carrying umbrellas and wearing raincoats!  You haven't yet glommed on to the beauty of living in Northtown yet apparently:  In inclement weather, you can walk through the MP arcades, under the public school awning, and through all the Main St arcades without getting soaked, which is an extremely nifty feature of living on RI.  RIOC should consider extending this amenity throughout the island - which would highlight this unique, pedestrian-friendly feature of the island.   You may not require covered sidewalks or the Red Bus, but you must admit, they are handy.

CheshireKitty said...

Jesse - So you would throw your poor neighbors to the wolves?  This is your "solution"?  You should be ashamed of yourself! 

Salvatore Anthony Hoo said...

This is your most well thought out, lowest drama response you've ever had. Congrats. . However you did refer these pigeon dropping, dirty window sitting areas at "elegant" which is confusing but, listen, bottom line is that the community should speak with kramer and discuss a happy middle on this project.

CheshireKitty said...

Salvatore:  Correction: The window seating areas are not covered with pigeon poop. There is pigeon poop at some points along the walkways where some courageous/masochistic pigeons have managed to build "edgy" nests atop the anti-pigeon spikes which cover the light fixtures.  The ledges above the seating areas, which could have provided a spot for pigeons to sit & s--t, were long ago covered over with wire "chicken-coop" fencing.  So the seating itself isn't dirty.  It is simply my opinion that the seating/window combo units are elegant - in that they afford a quiet, comfortable spot from which to observe Main St. etc.  Too bad Kramer doesn't think so. 

Well - yes - it would be nice if the community could express its wishes to Kramer, especially those that will be most affected by the removal of the window/seating areas:  Eastwood residents.

Here's a suggestion:  Urban American could distribute a brief questionnaire along with rent bills to all Eastwood residents, which would be returned to management along with the rent.  The questionnaire would explain that Kramer is proposing making a major change to the Eastwood arcade/walkway, which will result in the removal of all the protective glass panels and window-seats.  Obviously, this will be an enormous diminution of the publicly available recreational space for residents.  The residents should be informed explicitly about what they are about to lose.  Once all this is set out in the questionnaire, with before & after illustrations so that people fully understand what is planned, then each resident of each household should have a chance to answer Yes - I think the glass panels and seating should be permanently removed, or No - I want the glass panels and seating retained.   

Anyway, once Kramer starts with the Eastwood arcade, who's to say where his "overhaul" ambitions will end?  Maybe other aspects of Main St bother him.  For example, people often congregate by the steps of 575 Main St - right next to the deli.  Maybe Kramer will want those steps reconfigured so as to make them less congenial for hanging out on.  Kramer may not like the Westview arcade - since it mostly plunges that sidewalk into shadow even though Westview is opposite a large open field.  What will Kramer do with the Westview arcade - and will his dismantling it cause structural problems with Westview, since that arcade appears to very much be quite structurally a part of the building, i.e. a continuation of the load-bearing walls since the arcade walls are so solidly built of brick.  How far will Kramer go in "improving" the looks of his fiefdom?  What will he do about the arcade along Motorgate?  Is it "nice" enough for Kramer?  Remember - that arcade probably cannot be modified since Motorgate has to support the immense weight of hundreds of cars parked there.   I really think Kramer is picking on Eastwood because it is an "easy target" because he suspects the, largely, let's say rather depressed in socio-economic terms, Eastwood community will not have the wherewithal to come up with a spirited defense of the building's facade/arcade.  

The harm will be that once the amenity is gone and business does not pick up, the amenity is gone for good - plus there will still be no stores.  Kramer can then pull out of his Master Lease Agreement - but he will not have to put back the amenity!  Who is the net loser in this sorry scenario - you guessed it - Eastwood residents!  The people who always seem to get get the shaft...  

Frank Farance said...

Cheshire Kitty, some minor points:

1. Kramer needs the consent of UA to do work on the Easwood facade, just as he would need the consent of WV to change the Westview Arcade, and the consent of IH to change steps at 575 (I haven't heard any actual suggestions from H-R on IH's steps).

2. You mention the light of the store fronts, which itself has been a complex issue since the 1980's.  Back then, no one knew who was responsible so they came up with a 3-way solution: RIOC is responsible for one third of the lights, the City is responsible for one third of the lights, and the building is responsible for one third of the lights.  I'm guessing you'd need all parties involved since it would affect their maintenance responsibilities.

3. The lighting itself is problematic for pedestrian safety.  Because of their pink/orange color, they wash out colors and shades, so pedestrians visible at dusk/night in other lighting are much less visible in this light *when viewed from the driver's seat*.  RIOC's lights on the west side of the street (white-blue) do a much better job of illuminating pedestrians *when viewed from the driver's seat*.  So if I had to do the lights over again in Eastwood arcade, they'd be higher (cutting out glare to driver) and a different color (white-blue).

Frank Farance said...

Now a year later (with no new stores), is it really the arcade that
says: As a business, I'm forgoing a year's worth of income until that
Mr. Kramer revitalizes Main Street and finishes the wood paneling on the ceiling of the arcade.

Remember, RIOC (not H-R) is paying
for this arcade upgrade, and that money (approx $3 million) is coming
out of services that RIOC would provide to the community.  I point this out because the RIOC Board gave H-R a deal where H-R does not have to upfront any significant money, e.g., monthly merchants' rents can go directly towards arcade upgrades.  I think everyone would love to be in that no-risk situation: having someone else pay for building upgrades.

Also, an arcade upgrade doesn't change the income or spending levels
of the residents.  If RIOC spends less on community services (e.g.,
youth services) and you need to spend more yourself to make up for the
loss of services (e.g., day care, some other activity), then the arcade
upgrade takes away from spending ability.  <- This is not as theoretical as it sounds.

Since H-R has little/no downside, there is little motivation for H-R to rent the spaces (other than missed opportunities).  H-R can say, "Gee I'd really like to rent the place at $50/sq-ft", wait 6 months and say, "Gee I'd really like to rent the place at $45/sq-ft", wait 6 months and so on.  Because H-R is looking for rents way above the market, this problem is similar to the Sultan's Dowry Problem (a well-known math problem, see "") where a man gets to choose from one of a 100 daughters hoping to maximize the dowry.  In short, one needs to wait through 1/e (e=2.71828, 1/e=37%) of the daughters to maximize the return, or pass through 37% potential Main Street merchants (since none will pay $50/sq-ft) to maximize H-R's return.  <- Essentially, this is the "gaming" strategy in rejecting (say) a $25/sq-ft tenant today (because you believe a high-paying tenant will come along), but two years from now with no higher paying tenants, you'll take any tenant willing to pay $25/sq-ft.

Although the Sultan's Dowry might explain the behavior, it will take a while before enough failed leads (Sultan's daughters) give a sense of where the market is.  H-R's wait makes good business sense, but it doesn't match the hype and expectations of the Wondrous Main Street Retail Master Lease.

Even so, any prospective merchant comes here at lunch time and says:
Where's The Business?  This is a bedroom community in that way.

And Cornell coming here?  Do ya think someone will walk almost a mile (12-15 blocks)
to the WIRE buildings for an ice cream when someone else says "Hey let's put an ice cream store on

I hope some stores open up, and I hope things improve.  But really,
stores would be opening already if they thought there was business to do here, REGARDLESS of the Eastwood arcade.  We just need to wait for H-R to wait through 37% of the unwanted Sultan's daughters, so far it has taken a year.

(Subway doesn't count as a new business because, I've heard, it is a lateral move on the Island.)

Salvatore Anthony Hoo said...

I've been saying this for awhile now. I have spoken to their real estate agent Hal Shapiro about possibly doing something on main street and the $50/ft number gets throw out there and its laughable. The fact of the matter is that as nice as it would be to have a wide variety of stores on main street, our population and community just cannot support it. That, combined with the lack of foot traffic or possibilty of any off island people EVER strolling down main street is a recipe for business failure. Any smart business person is  going to look at the demographics, lack of traffic flow as Mr. Farance said and run the other way.
     Even if an ice cream store comes, or a clothing store. How much ice cream and clothes can we buy? And at $40-$50/ ft you'd be out of business in a matter of months. The math doesn't work from an investment standpoint and untill the population grows or the numbers they are asking for rent come way down, filling the retail spaces is going to continue to be a problem.
      I'll repeat something I wrote on here previously which should make the retail situation on the island more clear.  Do yourselves a favor and take the tram over to 2nd ave and walk 5 blocks north or south (especially North) and see how many vacant storefronts there are. If businesses cannot survive on the upper east side IN MANHATTAN, what makes you think the Roosevelt Island MAin Street spaces can survive with all the factors that are  working against them here?

YetAnotherRIer said...

I have to disagree a little bit here. Here on RI we are starved for basic things like bread, donuts, ice cream, sandwiches, etc. This is unlike the UES or anybody else where the main reason for failure is you couldn't beat the competition. Here your nest is made. Scot Bobo will make a killing with his ice cream store. Well, maybe not a killing but he will not go out of business anytime soon.

YetAnotherRIer said...

"However, some parents do let their kids out to walk over to the park, shoot hoops, play handball, or just pal around with friends."

Right, but I sure hope that the kids are allowed to do these things once they understand that the street is dangerous and they have to stay away from it. I am not going to watch over my kids all the time, they sure know how to do things on their own. They also know that they should be shit-scared of the street and car traffic. No barriers needed.

Salvatore Anthony Hoo said...

I hope for him it is successful, I truly do. I will be a supporter.   And having the only game in town certainly helps. I do not know how much sq/ft he is taking or at what price he negotiated for. But I wish him all the best.

CheshireKitty said...

Absolutely right.  Plus there seem to be more & more empty storefronts on 2nd Ave., not less.  And that is in the heart of the UES, which is one of, if not the highest-income zipcode in the US. 

Salvatore Anthony Hoo said...

Clearly they went out of business because they couldn't beat their competition but its the fact that they remain vacant that is the issue. And main street is a long way from second avenue with a fraction of the potential customer base both in the actual volume of people in the area AND foot traffic.  Time stamp it, CheshireKitty and I agree on something! Yippie! Substantially less fun though, lol.

Westviewer said...

We had an ice ream store here many years ago and it went out of business, because it wasn't very good.  If the new store offers a high-quality product  -- and I hope it does --- at a reasonable price, it will succeed.   

JimmyLaRoche said...

How do you almost walk into a bus?


I guess every time someone doesn't pay attention, we must go full steel ahead and fix it.

Frank Farance said...

One can walk into a bus by not having the usual visual cues to remind him/her of the danger.  It really is a human factors problem and, thus, humans fail (and will be killed).  You'll see it in the subways where there are railings on the platform when near escalators: it's just as easy to turn and walk into the subway (so railings help avoid accidents).

The problem isn't kids or whether or not we are parenting them well, it is a hazard because the normal cues to warn us (and warn the drivers) are not there, and the spaces (pedestrian and roadway) are too close.  This problem occurs for adults, too (as happened to Rick) and for people unfamiliar with this kind of rare/unique sidewalk/roadway configuration in the Eastwood arcade.

This is why I've said that a traffic engineer should study this and provide guidance if (as H-R has planned) the obstacles that reduce that cross-flow are removed.

Lastly, reducing hazards is not a bad thing, it is a methodology used by the National Transportation Safety Board, and it saves lives.  I don't understand why you are opposed to a common, industry-accepted approach towards reducing accidents.

Salvatore Anthony Hoo said...

I have to agree Jimmy.

RooseveltIslander said...

A purpose of good planning, architecture and design is to anticipate the mistakes that fallible human beings make in any specific environment. Sometimes, regrettably, people do not pay attention and to the extent possible, good design should take that into account so that horrible accidents are minimized.

In regard to the incident Frank mentions, I was standing near the pillar, which blocked my view of the street as well as the bus driver's view of me, and took one step into the street to take a picture of the wood ceiling. As I stepped into the street, I looked to my left and saw the oncoming bus about, as I remember it, 20 - 25 feet away and immediately step backed on to the sidewalk.

Frank Farance said...

Lucky you, had it been closer, you would have been hit.  I'm not saying you're careless, it's just that these kinds of problems are caused by poor design, which will be made worse by H-Rs changes.

JimmyLaRoche said...

Seriously Frank, it's not a perfect world. THINGS HAPPEN!

An argument of horrible accidents due to poor architecture is ridiculous. All we have to do is go back since the buildings were put up and main street was allowed to have traffic, and compare the numbers.

I can GUARANTEE the numbers are no astronomical figures. ACCIDENTS happen, no matter how much of a perfect world you want built.

Driver in in attention,

YetAnotherRIer said...

I walked up north on Main Street today and paid good attention. You know what visual and tactile clue runs all along East Wood: a curb. A rather steep one at that, too (with some exceptions that probably need to be fixed). So, you cannot tell me that there is no clear boundary between the sidewalk and the street and that people will walk into the streets in masses because there is no way to stay safe.

I get this feeling this all comes down to one thing: we, as society, get more and more unwilling to own the responsibility to keep ourselves safe. Somebody else must be in charge of that. In this case, it would be the architecture of a building.

JimmyLaRoche said...

Oh my goodness! Shut your race baiting yapper shut!

Why is it when you have no leg to stand on, you turn to race.

You want to turn in the race game? Lets fire up the grills then!

I guess Zach the white guy is going around doing robberies and larcenies on the island.

Get a clue! Your a race baiting idiot!

JimmyLaRoche said...

Well so much for your 311 complaints. This is a copy paste taken from the law of RIOC. Oh yeah, it also mentions that the board doesn't have MUCH power as they believe they have.
"3.  The requirements of all local laws, ordinances, codes, charters or
 regulations  shall  be  applicable  to  the  construction, alteration or
 improvement of any building or structure on Roosevelt  Island,  provided
 that the corporation may, in lieu of such compliance, determine that the
 requirements  of the New York state uniform fire prevention and building
 code, formulated by the state fire prevention and building code  council
 pursuant  to  article eighteen of the executive law, shall be applicable
 to such work. In the event of such compliance with the  New  York  state
 uniform  fire prevention and building code, the city shall have no power
 to modify any drawings, plans or specifications for such work or for the
 plumbing, heating, lighting or other mechanical branches thereof, or  to
 require  that  any person, firm or corporation employed on any such work
 perform the same except as provided by such plans and specifications  or
 obtain  any  additional  authority, approval, permit or certificate from
 the city in connection therewith."

CheshireKitty said...

Jimmy, gimme a break.  You know and I know RIOC is directly involved in whatever does or does not take place on RI.  It's not a capitalist free-for-all as you would like everyone to think.  It's a planned community - accept it and shut up!

CheshireKitty said...

Jimmy - You are seriously mistaken if you think obstructions such as the colonnade are not "really there" because it is exactly the same in terms of hazard as crossing a street without obstructions.  Sorry, Jimmy that nonsense don't fly.  Any sane individual must see that crossing a street that has obstructions is much more hazardous than crossing one without them - q.e.d. Jimmy that means you are not exactly "all there" shall we say?  

CheshireKitty said...

I rest my case - you have completely "implicated" yourself.  Talk about bias - you are the poster child for it!

BTW - if you can't stand the folks who may stand on the sidewalk or converse along the arcade,  you can do yourself and us all a favor and simply - move out!

YetAnotherRIer said...

So much drama about glass panels. The world will go on without them. Poor people and rich people will still be living here as happy or as miserable as before. 

I am fascinated, though, how you make a link of attempts to uplift the look of one of ugliest buildings here on Roosevelt Island to racism.

Mark Lyon said...

Perhaps we could increase the number of poor and/or minority residents by making the building less attractive.  To accomplish same, I suggest that UA/RIOC have Christo come cover the building in pink fabric.

AshleyMcCormick said...

One wishes the remodelled walkway would keep away the young people who loiter purposelessly in front of 580.

Anonymous said...

Shhh dont tell that to Cheshire. To her those fine young lads are speaking about current events,news and family happenings.

Unfortunently theres not much psd can do as loitering is not a crime anymore.

Westviewer said...

For the record, there are no glass panels in front of 575 Main Street, on the other side of the street, but there is plenty of hanging out. 

Mark Lyon said...

It seems like a comfortable middle-ground could be reached by leaving the "junction" areas (with the sloping glass roof) glassed-in and adding additional seating (possibly replacing the current glass with a more seamless and cleaner look) while at the same time removing the panels that block view of the storefront and make the walkways feel hidden.

For the ultimate in luxury, perhaps the junction areas could be climate controlled. 

CheshireKitty said...

The young people congregating on the street in front of 580 are a trademark of the neighborhood.  There was once seating at that arcade window unit - which was converted into a planter maybe 10 or 12 years ago in an attempt to cut back on the "hanging out" phenomenon at that particular corner.  As you can see, the conversion didn't significantly cut back on the phenomenon - although I must say, the placement of a planter at Westview corner, just where the RIOC office is, did deter people from sitting on that ledge (which was, however, not a seat/bench to begin with).  

These young people leave others alone - if they ever pick fights, it's among themselves.  If they seem loud, you can always simply turn on the fan-only function of your a/c (that is, if your a/c is not already on, which it usually is during warm weather, when they are more likely to gather outdoors).  

You'll find, living in Eastwood, that warm weather draws people outdoors - just like anywhere else.  So you'll tend to hear more evidence of human activity if you keep your windows open.  That is just inevitable/natural.  If you can't stand the noise, if you don't already have your a/c going, you have a choice of either putting on the fan function of your a/c - which will drown out stray noise - or, shutting the window.  You will eventually get used to this noise and eventually even get to enjoy it, since it's evidence of life going on, recurring every spring/summer like the sound of returning warm weather birds..    

Mostly, the teens hanging out are just blowing off steam/excess energy - they probably enjoy the "alarmed" or "vaguely intimidated" looks their behavior draws.  It's best to simply go about your business.. they're just kids  being kids.  

CheshireKitty said...

There are no glass panels in front of 575 but there is the wide, gangplank-like stairway, which affords plenty of room for people to occasionally sit out on, especially since it abuts the bodega, which is also a favored spot to congregate.  What is Kramer going to do about the 575 stairway - put little spikes on it to prevent people from sitting there?  Or the sidewalk in front of the bodega?  Have PSD continually bust people that may pause there, even to read the signs on the kiosk, under the anti-loitering laws?  How far will Kramer go to make Main St more "acceptable" to the moneyed white people he would like to see shopping in his stores, as opposed to the poor black folks that currently fill the thoroughfare.  

CheshireKitty said...

That is an interestingproposal although I'm not sure I agree with it.  Upgrading the "junction" glassed-in areas with a more seamless look... I wonder if the 3 mil allocated to the upgrade could be stretched to provide a new more updated glass canopy for these "junction" areas. 

It's of course cheapest to simply demolish everything and then slap on a superficial "fix" which is what Kramer is going to do - and probably pocket what monies remain, since I doubt his "prescription" is really going to cost 3 million dollars.

I think, Mark, you should carefully consider  the fact that the window/seat combo units that you want demolished  continue the design feature of the window bays above these units.  These bays  actually extend out over Main St.; thus, the window/seat combo units are partially shaded by these overhanging window bays - adding to the sense of intimacy/protection from the elements - including the sun, which as everyone knows, is harmful during mid-day if one is exposed to it for longer than say a half-hour.  Luckily for the users of the arcade window-seats, the shade afforded by  the overhanding window-bays affords additional protection from the harmful UVA & UVB sunlight.  

As far as the overall facade design, the arcade's window/seat combo units are similar to the function of the columns that once graced the bases of the WTC - in that those columns then sprang skyward to reach the very tops of those lamented lost buildings, and in so doing pulled the entire architectural composition together.  

Likewise, the window /seating units support and extend the line of the overhanging window bays and are thus an integral feature of the facade.      The whole point of the colonnade was not to have a uniform line of columns marching down Main St. Some were filled in with the window-seating combo units Kramer now wants to destroy because that feature would echo or further convey a key thematic element of the building - the window bays of Eastwood - conveying this theme from the very base of the building at it's arcade, to the very top of the building - just as the columns of the WTC knit together those massive, revered,  structures into a comprehensible and impressive architectural composition.

Continuing the window-bays into glass-enclosed window-seats on the arcade level of Eastwood  would also make for a much more interesting building.  The varied facade with alternating materials and window bays jutting out over Main St. is far more interesting than those found on  "plain-vanilla" "cereal-box"-type high-rises typically put up by most cost-conscious developers.  It is exactly why Eastwood is considered notable architecturally.  

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