Friday, August 3, 2007

Waterfront Builders Subsidize Ferry Service - Why not on Roosevelt Island?

The Real Deal writes about waterfront real estate developers realizing the benefits to their projects by utilizing ferries as part of the NYC transportation system and in some cases are providing subsidies to the ferry operators .

Many developers, including the trio of companies behind Schaefer Landing, BFC Partners, L & M Equity Participants and Allstate Realty Associates, have quietly cultivated mutually beneficial relationships with the city's two water taxi firms -- NY Waterway and New York Water Taxi -- to enhance their river-front projects with dedicated ferry stops.

Some developers pay water taxi operators annual subsidies to guarantee they get docking barges and stops.

Donald Capoccia, who is managing partner of BFC Partners, believes in the future of water transportation. His company struck a five-year deal with New York Water Taxi in 2006, shelling out upwards of six-figures a year as an operating subsidy for the Schaefer site.

Similar deals were struck between New York Water Taxi and the new development One Brooklyn Bridge Park, as well as retail locations in Brooklyn
Is RIOC, the Related Companies, Manhattan Park, the Octagon and other property owners on Roosevelt Island listening?

Happy Feet Outdoor Movie Night at Southpoint Park

It is family night at Southpoint Park's Outdoor Movie event this Saturday August 4 at 9 PM and the movie selected is Happy Feet. Come out to watch the movie and enjoy the fabulous views. Good for RIOC for continuing this program

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Soviet Union or New York City?

I am always curious and often find it instructive to know what other New Yorkers think or experience of Roosevelt Island.
New York food blogger Nosh reviews the state of Roosevelt Island's food scene with this brutal post.

Nowhere else in New York City is more underserved than Roosevelt Island, and because RIOC operates all of its mixed-use buildings as state-run facilities, potential new businesses must submit to agonizingly lengthy approval processes that entail requests for proposals, open bidding, documentation of customer base and proof of financial and stakeholder gain to the island before they are even allowed to occupy a shop. And worse, if the previous tenant owed fees or back-rent, the arrears become the responsibilty of the new business. The upshot is that when a restaurant shuts down on Roosevelt Island, a new one does not spring up to take its place.
Nosh states, as related by blogger Eater, that Roosevelt Islanders have an almost "Soviet set of food choices" although Nosh did appreciate the diner Trellis.
I ate a quite respectable, if slightly charred portobello and cheese challah open-face ($7.45) and drank a decent cup of coffee ($0.90). Full disclosure: had my meal been terrible, I would have not written about it, for fear of causing further damage to the fragile Roosevelt Island dining ecosystem. Fortunately, it was solid, hearty diner fare. Nothing more. And sadly, that qualifies it as the best restaurant on Roosevelt Island.
In a similar vein, a reader from Roosevelt Island comments on this post regarding Island retail services and presents a clear choice for the future of Roosevelt Island - give up the small town mentality and recognize that Roosevelt Island is a NYC neighborhood next to the upper east side of Manhattan and receive the retail services many want or remain in a small town fantasy and continue accepting current level of service. This reader writes:
If the stores are worth patronizing, they will be patronized. If they follow the "Roosevelt Island Rule" they will be the worst of their type and people will go elsewhere. Could any of the independently-owned stores even exist anyplace else? Contrary to public opionion, we are no longer isolated. We are one short subway stop from the Upper East Side of Manhattan. The situation here won't improve until people give up the small-town fantasy and recognize that this is a neighborhood in New York City. It's pathethic that it's probably the only neighborhood in New York that is thrilled to have a Starbucks and a Duane Reade moving in. It is Roosevelt Island, however, and I won't be surprised it our Duane Reade is the only one in the entire system without a Chase ATM.

If the stores were good enough, people would even hop on the F train and take it one stop to Roosevelt Island to shop. If we had a restaurant people wanted to go to, they would come from other neighborhoods. It's nothing extraordinary for people to shop outside their own immediate neighborhood. People travel from one borough to another all the time, but a trip to Roosevelt Island is still seen as a visit to an exotic locale. When we somehow overcome the misconception that we are an isolated "village" outside of New York City, we will attract appropriate retail. This is something that RIOC should be working to achieve.
Is that truly the choice available to Roosevelt Island? I have always thought there could be a balance between attracting more amenities/services to Roosevelt Island and maintaining a slightly less hectic street scene but the price a community must pay for more services and conveniences is greater population density and visitor traffic. Gothamist has a post about how this process is being played out on Smith Street in Brooklyn and links to a recent NY Times article on subject.

Cooling off on a Hot Summer Day on Roosevelt Island

Family cooling off on a hot summer day in the sprinkler next to Blackwell House. Good job by RIOC in getting this working for the summer.

Forgotten New York Tour of Roosevelt Island

Forgotten New York is a wonderful treasure trove of information about New York city neighborhood street scenes including Roosevelt Island. Here are highlights of a 2005 Forgotten New York tour of Roosevelt Island.

A different type of tour was reported in an article from The New York Times describing urban spelunkers:

Urban explorers, a highly disparate, loosely knit group, share an obsession with uncovering the hidden city that lies above and below the familiar one all around them. And especially during the summer, they are out in full force.
Urban explorers have:
crawled, climbed and sometimes simply brazenly walked into countless train tunnels, abandoned subway stations, rotting factories, storm drains, towers, decaying hospitals and other shadowy remnants of the city’s infrastructure the authorities would rather he did not enter.
One of the explorers, has visited Roosevelt Island and posted the above picture of view of Manhattan from Renwick Hospital Ruins at Southpoint Park.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Grocery Shopping on Roosevelt Island

Kensington Brooklyn blogger has been posting and readers commenting upon the the quality and variety of grocery shopping options in their neighborhood which I found very interesting as it pertains to Roosevelt Island. For a very long time our only grocery shopping option was Gristedes (I think an earlier and smaller version of the store was called Sloan's) and the Deli on Main Street. Then, a few years ago, Fresh Direct came into existence and I think that Roosevelt Island was one of their first test markets. Other options are the Food Emporium on First Avenue, the Trade Fair on 36th Avenue or Costco on Vernon B'lvd, both in Queens.

My preferences for quality of food, service and price has been for Fresh Direct and Food Emporium. Gristedes is used primarily for convenience due to being on Roosevelt Island although now that am living in Southtown, Food Emporium may be more convenient, particularly with monthly metro card. I have rarely gone into the Deli so I hesitate to offer an opinion on them but I do remember that during the blackout several years ago they were the only store open providing much needed supplies including water and there was no gouging at all. In fact, they were extremely helpful during that period. I have never shopped at either Trade Fair or Costco so cannot venture an opinion.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Taxi Around Roosevelt Island

Take a quick You Tube Taxi Ride around Roosevelt Island.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Movie Cancellation Update from RIOC

RIOC President Steve Shane provides a reasonable answer to earlier post inquiring why outdoor movie event scheduled for last Saturday night was cancelled due to weather prediction of thunderstorms for that night on Friday afternoon rather than waiting until Saturday morning or afternoon for a more accurate forecast. Mr. Shane writes:

The cancellation of the movie had to be called by Friday at noon or we
would be charged for it anyway. Has been rescheduled.
Perhaps some type of weather insurance provision can be included in future agreements with outdoor event vendors.

Election Will Not Happen as Planned

Unlike residents of any other city or state in the United States, the residents of Roosevelt Island are prevented from voting for our local governmental representatives. Roosevelt Island is governed by the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp., a New York State public corporation, whose Directors are appointed by the Governor and approved by the State Senate. The RIOC President is also appointed by the Governor.

In the past, prior to the current administration, many residents failed to understand what qualified many of these Appointees for their positions other than being political friends of the sitting State Administration of the time. An improvement has been the appointment of a majority of community residents to the Board, although that does not address the issue of an elected local government which is presumably more responsive to the community than an appointed one.

There was some hope for a recent plan worked out by RIRA and RIOC President Steve Shane for the "election" by the community of Board members to be nominated by the Governor. The "election" was supposed to be held this September but has either been postponed until November or later, cancelled entirely or subject to further review. See the story in Main Street Wire for more details. As of now, this story is available online only as a pdf file of the entire last issue of Main Street Wire.
Update: The New York Sun covers the story here.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Roosevelt Island Map

The Main Street Wire has published a comprehensive map of Roosevelt Island including existing and planned apartment buildings, parks, schools, retail stores, garage, tennis courts, swimming pools, Tram, Subway station etc. Great job as usual by the Wire.

Update 8/13/10 - More on Roosevelt Island maps.

Premature Movie Postponement?

Saturday night's outdoor movie at Southpoint Park was cancelled by RIOC due to fear of predicted thunderstorms. As we know the thunderstorms did not arrive and the movie could have been shown. We all know that 20/20 hindsight regarding weather predictions is worthless and that RIOC cannot be criticized for an incorrect weather forecast. However, RIOC can be criticized for making the decision to cancel Saturday night's movie on Friday afternoon. Why did RIOC not wait until Saturday morning or afternoon when the latest weather forecast could be evaluated before making a decision to cancel that evening's movie?