Friday, August 10, 2007

Counting Down the Days to Focacceria on Roosevelt Island

This sign went up today at 455 Main Street announcing the soon to open and badly needed pizzeria on Roosevelt Island. This time they used a spell checker.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Roosevelt Island Condo/Rental Market

You knew it had to happen sometime. A post about real estate listings for condo sales and apartment rentals on Roosevelt Island. Here are links to NY Times, and Craigslist for Roosevelt Island sales and rentals as of today.
A 2 bedroom 2 bathroom 996 sq. ft apartment is listed at $820,000 or $823 per sq. ft. According to Streeteasy, it has been on the market for 79 days.

Curbed has link to excellent article in Habitat Magazine on construction defects in new developments. Per Curbed:

Just how big an issue is the construction quality of new residential developments in New York City? The forthcoming issue of Habitat magazine digs into that question ... Given the fact that many issues won't show up until after the dust settles, something tells us we're just seeing the tip of the iceberg on this one.

Cartoon link is here.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Memorial to Louis Kahn or FDR at Southpoint Park?

RIOC President Shane alerted my attention to this letter to the Editor of the NY Sun by a famous architect who is a former student of Louis Kahn, the architect of the proposed FDR memorial at Southpoint Park. I believe the letter is in regard to this NY Sun article which was posted here as well. The writer states:

The FDR Memorial Park will not usurp this community garden, but will enhance it greatly. The formal clarity of the Kahn design will complement the Wild Garden scheme to the north.

In regard to the opposition to the Memorial by residents of Roosevelt Island (the total numbers of which are unclear) the letter writer dismisses as:
the survey of residents referred to in the article was in fact a very small sampling: only 38 people registered their opinion.

I inquired of RIOC President Shane:
Would the author's point that the survey is of no or little relevance because only 38 people were counted be different if a much larger sample of the population was oppossed to the Kahn/FDR memorial?

He replied:
I have no idea. Certainly, if of the 12,000 residents, there were a more substantial number whose opinion had been tallied, by scientific samoling techniques or in gross census, that opinion would have more standing as being representative of Island opinion. The dispositve value of that opinion, whatever it may be, is another matter.

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. If the purpose is, as stated, to honor FDR and there is a need for an additional honor, why not proceed with this suggestion from the NY Times City Room Blog Waterfront Expert:
You may be aware of the effort to create a Four Freedoms Memorial to F.D.R. on the southern end of Roosevelt Island, but as it is now the waters alongside the island are only generically known as the east and west channels. While I don’t know about Roosevelt’s impact on the Bronx or the Upper East River towards Long Island Sound, how about “Roosevelt Channel” for that little piece of water between the island and Queens?

I think this is a great suggestion for honoring FDR as well as maintaining the stunning views from Southpoint Park unobstructed by any permanent structure.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Harbor Police Activity by Subway Pier

There was a great deal of Harbor Police, Fire and Helicopter patrol activity in and above the East River this morning near the subway pier. Sadly, the reason for this was that a body was found in the water. The NYPD, NYFD, and EMS performed their duties with typical professionalism.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Review of Outdoor Movie Night at Southpoint Park

Fellow Roosevelt Island blogger Rooseveltisland360 had a great time at last Saturday's Southpoint Park outdoor movie night. Description and slide show here.
There is also an interesting post on the future survival of Riverwalk toddler playground after the construction of remaining Southtown buildings.

Strollers on the Red Bus - A Public Hazard or Necessity?

Have the Park Slope baby stroller controversies come to Roosevelt Island?

Two recent letter writers to the Main Street Wire have complained about having to fold up their baby strollers before boarding the Red bus.
One writes:

I was surprised to learn that the Red Bus now requires strollers to be folded while riding for the "safety of our children."

Please tell me how it is safer for me to hold my infant in one arm, my folded stroller in the other, and any bags or belongings I have with me with that third arm I wish I had, all while standing on a moving bus!?

Let’s admit the real reason, which is that the buses are overcrowded and undeniably strollers do take up room. However, there are other things besides strollers that take up room. Just two examples: walkers and grocery carts.

Would it be correct to tell an elderly person they must fold their walker before entering the bus? No. Because the walker is a necessity for that person. And so is a stroller for a mother who has a heavy child or multiple children or must travel a long distance.

Would RIOC receive even more complaints if passengers were told they must remove their belongings from their carts and fold the cart before entering the bus? Yes. Because what is the use of a cart if one must carry their belongings by hand in addition to the folded cart?

I understand that the MTA buses do not allow for open strollers (or wheelchairs, walkers, and grocery carts for that matter). But, up until this point, the Red Bus has. And I, like many others I know, moved to Roosevelt Island assured that we could access the Red Bus with our children in strollers.

Much like anything else that takes up room on the bus, strollers are a necessity. Children are safe in them and should be allowed to remain in them on the Red Bus.
Another writes:
Would you please explain to me the thinking behind this new "safety" rule on the bus? How is holding a baby in one arm and a folded stroller in the other (leaving no arms to hold on with) safer than having the baby seated and strapped into a stroller?

In case you have not noticed, there are lots of babies on the Island and not one of their mothers thinks that this a good idea. Dangerous yes, unfair yes, inconvenient yes, physically impossible yes. Good – no!

You can expect to be hearing from many of them.

Also what should one do with the baby while folding the stroller, perhaps lay him or her out on the sidewalk; balance the baby on one’s head?

I respectfully ask that RIOC drop this nonsense

RIOC responds:
The prohibition against open strollers during rush hours only has apparently pitted one set of riders against the other. Everyone should realize that this rule is SOP on the MTA. My mail from adult users without children is highly supportive of the ban. I empathize with the stroller set. Rush hours seemed a reasonable compromise.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Master Leaseholder for Main Street Retail?

A member of RIRA Common Council proposes that a private real estate firm become the Master Leaseholder for the Roosevelt Island Main Street retail space. The Master Leasehlolder form of ownership may end the blight of empty storefronts, such as the former Pizza and Bakery, by removing obstacles to leasing commercial space from RIOC resulting from restrictions placed on RIOC due to the 2005 Public Authorities Act.
As outlined in the Main Street Wire:

Our solution is simple: We lease the commercial space to a master leaseholder who then sublets the individual storefronts. You’ve heard this approach before, but we added a few restrictions that will give the Roosevelt Island public a role and a voice: An advisory group of residents will help the leaseholder decide what kind of stores, restaurants, and services we need.

I see a potential problem with the idea of a Master Leaseholder. I believe that, excluding the occupied Gristedes space, there is approximately only 40,000 square feet of Main Street retail space controlled by RIOC. That may not be a large enough inventory of leasable space to interest a well qualified real estate management company to own and or manage. I recall that Jones Lang LaSalle put out a Request for Proposal for a Master Leaseholder for the Main Street retail space and nothing came of it.