Friday, October 16, 2009

Roosevelt Island's Main Street Is NYC Version Of Prisoner's Village - Will New Study Bring Master Leaseholder And Change Depressing Drab?

Main Street Image Of Roosevelt Island Is The Village From Glark

Roosevelt Island's drab, dreary and depressing Main Street has often been compared to East Berlin prior to the fall of the Wall or even The Village from the great British Television program The Prisoner. Glark, a blogger recently visiting Roosevelt Island wrote:
This morning I got up early and explored the half of Roosevelt Island I missed on my first trip to this weirdo bit on earth in the East River. Main Street in so late 60s and early 70s it made my teeth ache. It’s all concrete and metal siding, rundown and aesthetically homogeneous. It’s like a English village via Soviet Russia. It’s the New York version of The Village from the cult TV series The Prisoner. It’s fascinating that it is so close to Manhattan and yet worlds apart.
Well, maybe things are about to change for Roosevelt Island's Main Street. The long sought after Roosevelt Island Main Street Retail Study ("The Study") prepared by Phillips Preiss Shapiro Associates has been completed and made public.
Roosevelt Island Main Street Retail Study

It is quite detailed and 54 pages long. Issues of Roosevelt Island demographics, appropriate retail store and square footage mix, what type of retail services do the residents of Roosevelt Island want and not want, competitive analysis of existing retail choices, problems caused by the restrictive covenant in Gristedes Supermarket lease that inhibits retail competition, how can visitors be attracted to Roosevelt Island to spend retail dollars, future options for Main Street retail, among many others are addressed. It is a comprehensive document.
The Study's findings are (Page 2):
  • Roosevelt Island residents do just 12% of their shopping on the island.
  • The existing retail mix on Main Street is failing to capture the new market opportunities afforded by the island’s growing affluent market.
  • Main Street suffers from several design flaws.
  • Residents have a very negative attitude towards Main Street.
  • Roosevelt Island is gaining affluent residents while maintaining its economic and ethnic diversity.
  • Cultural and athletic activities bring thousands of visitors to Roosevelt Island each year, but this translates to very little spending on Main Street.
  • The most desired new retail uses from residents on Roosevelt Island are a bakery, a restaurant, a green grocer, an ice cream shop, a pizzeria and fish store.
  • There is sufficient demand to support at least a small-format green grocer, a bakery, another sit-down restaurant and a quick-service food and beverage establishment.
Roosevelt Island Main Street Arcades Page 14 of Report

The Study recommends (Page 3):
... six major interrelated intervention strategies to set a new life for Main Street in motion:
  • Create a public/private partnership to lease and/or help manage Main Street.
  • Pursue specific streetscape interventions and create appearance standards and design guidelines for Main Street retailers.
  • Revive the Roosevelt Island Chamber of Commerce to be the steward of Main Street success.
  • Re-organize existing non-profit uses to maximize available marketable space, and cluster
  • appropriate non-profits into space more suitable to function.
  • Make Good Shepherd Plaza the “town square” of Roosevelt Island.
  • Create a “Gateway to Main Street” at the southern entrance point to Main Street.
The Study concludes (Page 38) that the following types of retail tenants would be most appropriate for Roosevelt Island's Main Street:
1. Green Grocer
2. Ice Cream Shop
3. Specialty Cheese Shop
4. Seafood Store
5. Bakery
6. Pizzeria
7. Florist
8. Restaurant
9. Butcher
10. Home furnishings store.
As to the future, the Study found, as we all know from historical practice, that RIOC is not qualified to manage a successful Main Street Retail environment (Page 39-40):
... The RIOC does not have the administrative or professional capacity to create a successful retail environment on Main Street.

This is due in large part to the extensive RFP process which is required pursuant to the RIOC’s status as a public authority. The RIOC should follow the example provided by other public authorities in New York which have dealt with this same issue by engaging retail professionals in the private sector. Private involvement in Main Street could utilize one of the three following basic approaches:
1. The Master Leaseholder (the JFK Model): Under this arrangement, the RIOC would solicit proposals, as it did in 2005, for a private takeover of all or some Main Street retail storefronts. Terminal 4 at John F. Kennedy airport is an example of such an approach. In 1997, the Port Authority of New York executed a 25 year lease with Schipol USA and LCOR Incorporated for all retail spaces in the terminal. Schipol/LCOR sub-leases each space and manages the overall retail environment.

2. The Retail Manager/Consultant (the Grand Central Model): This model would allow the RIOC to maintain control over Main Street, but the leasing process and management of the tenants would be handled by a private consultant(s). The tenanting of individual spaces, storefront design guidelines and maintenance standards would be based on an overall retail master plan developed by the RIOC. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s partnership with Jones Lang LaSalle and William Jackson Ewing is a good example of this arrangement. This example is highlighted on the following page.

3. The Hybrid Model: This model, which represents a combination of the first two approaches, would be based on a Retail Master Plan created by the RIOC. The Retail Master Plan would identify specific categories of retail that make sense from both a market and community viewpoint and, where possible, identify the potential locations of each. RIOC would then solicit proposals for a master leaseholder. The master lease agreement would contain stipulations about specific types of tenants and locations are available based on the RIOC Retail Master Plan.

The RIOC has articulated a desire to continue to maintain some control over the tenanting and management of Main Street. As such, the Grand Central model really makes the most sense. The problem, however, would be the costs associated with retaining qualified private consultants. If retaining a consultant is not economically feasible, the RIOC should consider the feasibility of pursuing the Hybrid Model. This would allow the RIOC to identify several specific uses that are: (1) desired by residents; and (2) viable based on the market analysis in this report, and negotiate a master lease agreement with stipulations that the master leaseholder must pursue tenants in those categories. Conducting a transparent RFP process, including an independent appraisal of each space, for the overall management of Main Street would fulfill the requirements of the Public Authorities Act by securing a fair market value for the master lease. The private firm would then be allowed to sub-lease the spaces, as long as the tenants met the stipulations of the RIOC Retail Master Plan. ...
Maybe, perhaps, if we are extremely lucky, RIOC will follow through on the Study's recommendations, get out of the business of managing retail on Main Street and find a private sector Master Retail Leaseholder to take over Main Street.

Read the whole 54 page Roosevelt Island Retail Study yourself which RIOC has posted on their web site as well. Lots of interesting stuff.

Otherwise, Roosevelt Island's Main Street is doomed to continue to look like a drab relic of East Berlin before the Wall fell or the Village from The Prisoner!.

Be Seeing You.

You Tube Video of The Prisoner

Will Magnets Solve Roosevelt Island Pooping Pigeon Problem At F Train Subway Station

Roosevelt Island F Subway Station Rafters Filled With Pigeon Droppings

A reader of this NY Times City Room Blog post on the Failing F train commented (#10) on the disgusting condition of pigeon poop all over the Roosevelt Island subway station:
I’ve lived in NYC all my life, but am really disgusted by the F station on RI where I live. Pigeons are allowed to roost inside the station and the floors and turnstiles are covered daily by droppings. The ceiling has been draped with netting in attempt to discourage the pigeons from entering the station, but they somehow fly in anyway. Because of this, birds still flap around above, the netting has become filled with feathers and pigeon droppings, and the escalators and handrails are targeted with pigeon poop. This is a high-volume subway station on a very busy subway line, and it is filthy. Additionally, on the Manhattan-bound platform, water can be heard gushing behind a metal door. I’m not a structural engineer but I’m thinking that’s not good.
Roosevelt Island F Subway Station Turnstle Bird Droppings

RIOC Director Jonathan Kalkin addressed this issue with RIOC staff and reports:
I discussed with everyone the bird problem and they stated that they are going to try putting magnets in the subway station. A revolving door would solve the problem too, but it is not ADA compliant. They could board up the area where the birds go, but that could kill off the present birds and would not be aesthetically pleasing.

Staff at RIOC said that pigeons do not like magnets. It interferes with the homing ability. I do not know if this will work and am looking into several other alternatives at the moment.
I don't know about magnets but I do know it might help if people would stop throwing food at them and feeding them. I see this quite often, particularly at the Starbucks patio where people throw their crumbs at one or two pigeons and then a huge flock of them fly over to battle over the pieces.

More Roosevelt Island Subway pigeon poop from earlier posts.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

No Queens Bound F Train Service To Roosevelt Island Friday 12:01 AM - Friday 5 AM

RIOC is reporting:

Subway (F Train) Advisory

The MTA has reported that on Friday, October 16, 12:01 AM - 5:00 AM, there will be no F Train northbound service at Roosevelt Island.

The Roosevelt Island Operating Corp. will operate the Tram and Bus Service throughout the service disruption.
Northbound service means Queens bound trains.

Fishing With Joe On Roosevelt Island

You Tube Fishing With Joe Video

As Joe's friend says of Roosevelt Island fishing:
Fishing is something everyone should do and everyone enjoys. Even if you don't catch you can see from my face that I am having a wonderful time fishing.
I hope Joe and his friend make part 2 of the video so we can see if they caught the BIG FISH!

More on Roosevelt Island fishing from earlier posts.

Roosevelt Island Cat Adoption Day Saturday October 17 At The Motorgate Garage From 11 AM - 2 PM

I saw this notice up on the Starbucks bulletin board regarding Roosevelt Island Cat Adoption Day being sponsored by Island Cats. If you want to adopt a cat, head on over to the Motorgate Plaza next to Gristedes on Saturday October 17 between 11 AM and 2 PM.

More information on Island Cats is available on their web site including:

The Roosevelt Island Princess YinYang Project (RIPYY) was formed in 2005 to help cats abandoned on Roosevelt Island find homes or live in managed Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) colonies on the Island. Ann Hallowell and Rossana Ceruzzi have agreed to act as consultants.

RIPYY was formed after the death of the small black-and-white cat – to some “Princess” and to others “Yin Yang” – who lived for years in bushes near the subway and enchanted passersby with her curiosity and delight in everything from her own bowl of Costco dry food to tumbling in high snowdrifts. She died in September 2004 when a marauding stray finally drove her into the path of a truck...

You Tube Video of Animal Haven Cat Adoption

UPDATE - 10/17- Event was postponed. No further details.

Roosevelt Island Dog Mistress And Blogger Profiled - What's It Like To Be A Roosevelt Island Dog Owner

Image of Roosevelt Island Dogs From CUNY Interactive Journalism

CUNY"S Interactive Journalism blog profiles Roosevelt Island's Dog Mistress, the blogger Roosevelt Island Dogs who:
... organizes the weekly Small Dog Play Group at the island’s northern tip, works with the parks department on making improvements to the dog runs, and runs the Roosevelt Island Dogs blog....
Roosevelt Island Dogs comments on not being called the "Dog Lady", comparing having dogs on Roosevelt Island versus Manhattan, the Roosevelt Island spirit and more.

Here's a You Tube video of Roosevelt Island Dogs playing at the Octagon Dog run.

It's hard to imagine but there was a time when Roosevelt Island was a place without dogs.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Scenes From 2009 Roosevelt Island Fall For Arts Day

Last Saturday's Roosevelt Island Fall For Arts Festival was a fun event for all. Roosevelt Islander Brian Dorfmann took these photos and was kind enough to send them in so they could be shared with all in the community. Thank you Brian.

There was face painting,

musical performances,

crafts for sale,

artists at work,

kids drawing,
and just having fun,

The adults also got a chance to hang out with their friends and meet some new neighbors.

All Images Above From Brian Dorfmann

- Also present at 2009 Roosevelt Island Fall For Arts Day were Women For Mike Bloomberg and

a dog too!

Women and Dog For Bloomberg Images From John Larson

How Do You Set Up Shop At The Roosevelt Island Farmers Market?

Roosevelt Island Farmers Market Last November

I received an inquiry from Yona's Gourmet Delights, a potential new vendor for the Roosevelt Island Farmers Market asking:
Do you know who I would need to contact to join the farmer market in Roosevelt Island on Saturdays?

Yona reports that she sells:
... at other farmers markets in Ny and NJ. As well as the East side and West Side Green flea Market every Sunday. I sell 4 Varieties of Vegetarian Quiche as well as Borekas, Which is a triangle appetizer with savory foods in it. I combine The puff pastry dough with traditional greek recipes like Spankopita and Tyropita. I have a very loyal following in the upper west side. I heard that a great deal of residents are internationals so they would really like the quiche.
Looks like Yona would fit right in at the Roosevelt Island Farmers Market.

You Tube Video of Yona's Garden Delights

The main occupant of the Roosevelt Island Farmers Market is the Wengerd Family. Time Out New York reports:
... we stop by the island’s farmers’ market, located under a gray Motorcade parking garage. Teetering tables of fresh fruit and other produce—peaches, tomatoes, sugarplums, corn, apricots and more—are run by a group of Holdeman Mennonites led by the chinstrap-bearded Israel J. Wengerd. He’s been coming from Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, to peddle his father’s (and now his) wares on R.I. since 1988, when he was just 12. “This was always my market,” says Wengerd, “and I found the people to be very friendly.” Marketgoer Sandra Levine, a 31-year Islander and architectural historian, simultaneously lambasts the island’s Gristedes (“the worst in the city”) while praising Wengerd’s comestibles: “The stuff that says home grown on it is really good.”
According to this 12/15/01 Main Street WIRE, the local Roosevelt Island PS/IS 217 Parents Association has a permit from RIOC under which the Farmers Market operates. The PS/IS 217 web site reports:
Every Saturday the Farmer's Market and Marketplace at Motorgate Plaza continues to be a source of revenue for PS/IS 217. Please continue to patronize our vendors.
Can anyone answer Yona's question regarding whom to contact in order to sell at the Roosevelt Island Farmers Market?

UPDATE 6PM -RIOC'S V.P. of Operations Fernando Martinez has the answer:
The school PTA manages the Saturday farmer's market. Interested vendors should contact Lydia Tang at The fee is $30 per weekend to set up a table.
UPDATE - 10/16 - Yona contacted the Roosevelt Island PTA and reports:
Not really sure that I will get in. I spoke to a man named brad and he said someone else was selling quiche as well. I tried to explain to him that mine are different. In that they are small cupcake size and all vegetarian but I do not know if that convinced him. He said there "would be a meeting about it" so I don't know if I will get in. Would love to since I heard it is a really nice market.


PS come and taste them at the east side flea (saturday)or at the west side flea market on Sundays on columbus and 77th.
UPDATE 4/12/10 - Current information as to how to set up shop at the Roosevelt Island Farmers Market here.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Latest Retail Vending Maching Technology Comes To Roosevelt Island - Blockbuster $1 DVD Kiosk Appears At Gristedes But Did Not Work For Me

Blockbuster $1 A Night DVD Vending Machine At Roosevelt Island's Gristedes

I had not been in the Roosevelt Island Gristedes for a while until last weekend and was pleasantly surprised when I walked into the store to see one of the new Blockbuster DVD $1 a night vending machines. A store employees told me that the kiosk has been in place for several weeks.

Who would have thought that the Roosevelt Island Gristedes would be in the technological forefront of the video rental business? According to recent NY Times article on video vending machine business:

... The kiosks hold about 500 DVDs and focus on new mainstream releases.

Customers follow a series of touch-screen prompts to use the kiosks, which vend from slots on the side. Once a selection is made, the customer swipes a credit card through the reader. The card is charged a dollar (and tax) for each DVD rented; the charges for additional days, if any, are added when discs are returned. The charge for lost DVDs is $25.

“If you make renting affordable and fun, people are going to watch a whole lot more movies than they did before,” Mr. Lowe said.

According to Video Business:
... With NCR’s advanced technology, these machines will dispense a wide array of DVDs and could offer digital downloading in the future, all under the Blockbuster brand,” said Blockbuster CEO Jim Keyes in a statement today....
Of course, when I walked into the Gristedes, the Blockbuster DVD vending machine was on the fritz and not working.

It's a good idea and depending upon the movies available, I would probably use it although I hope that some of the Southtown retailers such as Duane Reade install their own DVD vending machines for the convenience of those living in Riverwalk and everyone who uses the nearby F Train Subway Station.

Monday, October 12, 2009

MTA Releases Failing F Train Review Study, Confirms Overcrowding At Roosevelt Island Subway Station - Will Subway Pushers Soon Be Needed?

Image of Blurred, Moving F Train From Venus in Furs

Several readers forwarded this link to the October 9 NY Times City Room Blog post on the MTA's F train subway review study dated October 7, 2009. According to the NY Times, the review concluded:
... After a detailed review of the 27-mile line, examining everything from litter on the seats to how many stations are skipped each week, the transit agency came to the same conclusion as the train’s long-suffering commuters: The F is grade F....
In response to complaints made by Brooklyn politicians and residents, the report focused primarily on that borough's portion of the F Train Route but had this to say about Roosevelt Island F Train service:
...Overcrowding has been a consistent problem; more than a quarter of the trains that pass through Roosevelt Island toward Manhattan during the morning rush are packed above capacity....
Several Roosevelt Island residents commented on this article including fellow blogger Roosevelt Island 360:
As the story indicates by the time Southbound trains reach Roosevelt Island a number of the trains are already packed. This is especially so for trains arriving between 815am and 900 am. If the trains are running with any type of delays the situation only grows worse. Should be real fun next year when the Tram is temporarily out of service. We need more trains and a ferrry.
— Roosevelt Island 360 (Eric)
Another opined:
Roosevelt Island residents have requested that, during the morning rush hour, a single Manhattan-bound car (front or rear) be reserved on each train until Roosevelt Island to permit commuters to board.

The tram carries up to 125 passengers each ride, two trips every 15 minutes, eight trips every hour. If F trains are already at capacity, imagine the addition of 1,000 passengers per hour to the F train.

— Roosevelt Island resident
Other readers expressed surprise that Roosevelt Island residents are not complaining about the failure of the proposed and long awaited Second Avenue Subway to include a stop at 60th Street near the Tram as well as the disgusting pigeon poop droppings at the Roosevelt Island Subway Station detailed in earlier posts.

The MTA's F Train Study report briefly addressed the overcrowding at the Roosevelt Island F Train Subway station on Pages 12 -13.
...Although loading on the F line on average falls within guideline capacity, individual trains may exceed guideline capacity. For example, Table 6 shows that 26% of southbound trains at Roosevelt Island in the AM peak hour exceed guidelines with V/C’s greater than 1.0

In addition, certain cars may exceed guideline levels even on trains with V/C’s of less than 1.0. A car-by-car analysis of the F line at the peak load points showed that southbound trains at Roosevelt Island tend to be more heavily loaded at the south (front) end of the train – that is, the front 2 cars are twice as likely to exceed guideline loads compared with the rest of the train. Loading is relatively even on Queens-bound F trains at the peak load point during the evening peak period...
and indicated that an analysis of the 63rd Street Street Connector (which includes Roosevelt Island) is underway (Page 23):
... Schedule and Service Design – The complexity of the F line and the heavy loads it carries warrant reviewing the service design of the F to assess potential operational and service changes, including:

...An analysis of the 63 Street Connector service plan between Queens and Manhattan, which rerouted the F onto the 63rd Street Line from the 53rd Street Line. This effort is currently underway. ...
Is this what Roosevelt Island F Train riders have to look forward to when the Tram goes out of service next March for replacement? MTA Subway Pushers?

You Tube Video of Japanese Subway Pushers

Roosevelt Island Jobs Available - Payroll & Benefits Administrator With RIOC and Early Childhood Teacher For Bright Horizons

You Tube Video Of Monty Python Silly Job Interview

Are you an experienced Payroll and Benefits Administator seeking a job here on Roosevelt Island. If so, there may be a job available for you with the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC). According to Craigslist:
The Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation (RIOC) is a New York State Agency with the responsibility for the development, maintenance, and safety of Roosevelt Island, NY. Located in the East River between Manhattan and Queens counties. Roosevelt Island is a vibrant community with residential housing, commercial properties and community recreation areas.

The Payroll and Benefits Administrator will work under the supervision of the Director of Human Resources, and will be responsible for the bi-weekly payroll processing, payroll system maintenance/update, benefit program enrollment and changes, and all associated invoice processing.


Assisting in the planning and direction of the Corporations Human Resources programs.
Preparation and processing of bi-weekly payroll through ADP PC Payroll system
Maintain and administer all Payroll functions, including receipt and audit of employee timekeeping: maintenance of accrual reports; input of all payroll data changes.
Orientation of all new-hire employees.
Coordination of employee benefit programs for the Corporation, including distribution and processing of all employee related forms and documents; communication with various benefit providers; updating employee population of impending changes or open enrollments.
Worker's compensation insurance claim processing.
Employee Leave, retirement and termination processing.
Benefit invoice audit and processing.
Respond to employee inquiries.
Maintenance of employee files....
The compensation is $50 -$55 Thousand per year. More information is available here.

For other Roosevelt Island job seekers, Bright Horizons at the Octagon is seeking an early childhood Associate Teacher.

Let's hope you don't have a Silly Job Interview!

Good Luck to those who apply for these positions.