Friday, October 21, 2011

Roosevelt Island Main Street Retail Town Hall Presentation By New Landlord Hudson/Related - Here's What Happened

The gloomy, dreary, depressing and empty presence of Roosevelt Island's Main Street retail corridor will soon be nothing more than a bad memory. The Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC), a NY State Public Benefit Corporation, that operated as the Landlord for our Main Street Stores turning Main Street into a replica of a commercial corridor in the former Soviet Union is now out of the Roosevelt Island retail business. RIOC has been replaced by a private sector developer, Hudson/Related, the developers of Southtown Riverwalk Buildings, as the Master Leaseholder for Main Street.

David Kramer, a principal of Hudson, and his retail team presented their vision of a revitalized and thriving Main Street last night at a Town Hall Meeting organized by the Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA). Here's what Mr. Kramer had to say.

You Tube Video of Main Street Retail Town Hall Meeting (Part 1)

Following Mr. Kramer's remarks, Hudson/Related's architect and brand designer spoke of the physical changes they were considering for Main Street.

You Tube Video of Main Street Retail Town Hall Meeting (Part 2)

And then came a question and answer session with Roosevelt Island residents, organization leaders and merchants.

You Tube Video of Main Street Retail Town Hall Meeting (Part 3)

You Tube Video of Main Street Retail Town Hall Meeting (Part 4) Audio/Video is out of Synch

Will have more on this later.

UPDATE 10/22- Here are some before and possible after scenes of the new Roosevelt Island Main Street from Hudson/Related.

East Arcade Store Before

East Arcade Ice Cream Store After - wood ceilings, better lighting, open view of arcade.

West Side of the Street Before,

West Side of the Street After - appears to be a restaurant in the Cleaners Space.

East Arcade Corridor Before - dark, dreary and dirty,
East Arcade Corridor After - wood ceilings, better lighting, colorful signage and clean.

View of East Side of Main Street From West Side of Main Street Before

and after. Open view of the East Arcade


theohiostate said...

Looks great!

Can't wait!

mike said...

a lot  of  people at this meeting , i would say there were maybe 5 black people ,more or less .this is the new roosevelt island , just the way the rich building owners want it to be, right rioc,

Westviewer said...

No one  prevented any interested residents from attending.  

bartonfinck said...

Mike you type cast all different races and different ethnic groups into certain catagories. Why do you do that? Being rich or poor is not born or loss out of ones skin color...being rich or poor in money terms if that is what you mean comes from the desire to have a strong work ethic, or you can sit back and claim that that here is no jobs, collect food stamps, complain and just do nothing and bad mouth and complain about people that live around you.
This is sad, you have anger issues and I hope you can find a good way to cope with them before your children become just like you...that would be sad, your remarks seem to be of racist nature a lot of the time. I am sorry you feel that way in life.

bakgwailo said...

It was also pretty highly advertised on the entire island, no excuses for those who did not show up - if they didn't, then they were simply not interested.

Ava Dawson said...

Does this mean we're getting a lulu?

YetAnotherRIer said...

I really like the new look. I agree, the glass has to go. All these complains about keeping it for protection from the elements is plain dumb. You still have the ceiling. That's good enough.

YetAnotherRIer said...

Why are the owners of Trellis so idolized while Gristedes is vilified? From the quality and appearance both establishment are very, very similar. And to be honest, buying groceries at Gristedes and make your own diner food at home will be plenty less expensive than getting a similar meal at Trellis. So, why is one a hero and the other a villain?

I think the owner of the Bar and Grill and Nono's in Southtown gives back just the same or even more to the community. They throw in the money for events. They are happy to provide goods and services for fundraisers (I've seen plenty PS 217 parents coming onto Nono's asking the owner for support). I agree that the food itself is not the great for the price but they are definitely on par with Trellis. Are they bad because they support higher rents for retail?

YetAnotherRIer said...

I guess I use this thread as a running commentary about the videos while I am watching them. So DR used to have delivery but then they pulled it? The pharmacy at Gristedes still offers it, though, no? That's the beauty of free market... bring your business to another place. Also, DR (and Walgreens, who, btw, bought out DR) offers online services where you can fill and refill your prescriptions and they mail it to your home. Most insurers work with retail pharmacies to offer mail services as well.

Frank Farance said...

I've looked a the photos and I can see some attractive elements of the proposal.

However, we still need the side protection from the elements.  Almost always, the snow and wind go west to east (not from above), and the rain gets the walkways wet where there is no side protection.  This might not be obvious at first glance.

So getting rid of the (glass) barrier makes it more difficult for people in walkers, strollers, and wheelchairs.  I'm open to any ideas that preserve the functionality of the barrier that are consistent with some architectural aesthetic.

Aside from the weather, the present benches provide a safety barrier from the (mostly) not visible traffic at the curb.  If you have small children or animals, you know that open areas (like the open benches they suggest) will be dangerous.  It's different on the west side of the street where there is a lane of parked cars as a barrier.

If they are going to change the lights, which I don't like the pink sodium lights because of safety hazards, they should look at how lighting affects the visibility of pedestrians crossing the street.  There is a real visibility problem at night, IMO the pink lights reduce the visibility of pedestrians (the white lamp posts on the west side are better).

Aside from an architect, we need to have a traffic engineer review the safety aspects of the open benches, the increased (jaywalking) pedestrian traffic the open benches afford, and the sidewalk/street lighting.  RIOC has a traffic engineer they've used before and he is familiar with the Island.  Maybe they can use him again.

YetAnotherRIer said...

I am very sure everybody would still be all right without the side protections. Sure, when the winds are strong you may get wet or snowed in but this is something I wouldn't mind in exchange for an attractive retail corridor. It works just fine everywhere else in this country.

I agree with the benches too close to the traffic. There is enough space to create a buffer zone, maybe some bushes or just some grass would be great. Maybe we could have parking on both sides of the street? I personally would prefer a pedestrian only zone but if we cannot get that it should be okay to have cars parked on both sides of the street.

roozevelt said...

Mike, who are you?  Do you live in a bubble?

What does RIOC have to do with who shows up to a meeting.  Anyway, this was a RIRA sponsored meeting, not RIOC. 

Have you lived here long?  We, who have, welcome the change on Main Street.  Glass partitions can go.  There's enough room for people to hide from the elements.  It needs to be opened up to bring vibrance to the retail corridor.

The new Roosevelt Island doesn't have to be about rich building owners... It's about having a vibrant Main Street for ALL residents.

bartonfinck said...

Frank you have some very good point...I think if you spent about 30 minutes walking around Main street and showing Mr. Kramer how the elderly and the people in wheelchairs like to have an area to go and why some are so upset about removing the glass walls etc....I think Mr. Kramer will have some ideas about how to help...maybe come outside chess tables, maybe and area that has speakers that plays soft music for people to sit and relax as well? So many people are yelling at Mr. Kramer instead of showing him what ou speak of. Also, We have to get the bus stopes evened out on the island so the red bus and the Q102 will continue and be our community buses...I feel it will bring all the people on the island together and show that everyone is important and deserves to have an equal amount of bus stops near their homes. There are elderly in parts of south town and disabled as well, there should be a bus sto at 455 going south bound right near the Blackwell house...that is a long hike to the tram and train for people and children in those buildings and there should be 3 or more bus stops in south town going south to help the masses ... I hope you agree and I would like to see Mr. Kramer work with the elderly and disabled on the island so that they are not forgotten about as well. Please talk to him and show him that there should be places for those in wheelchairs to socialize and feel like they can get out and see the sun....I want the red bus and Q102 to stop at the new South Point park as well....that was promised by Mr. Martinez and RIOC months ago...still not bus stops down is a nice place, yet too too far for a lot of people to walk..why is RIOC dragging it's feet getting the bus stops there? MTA will put a stop there, Mr. Martinez has to approve it. Why does he not?

Frank Farance said...

Regarding the red bus and Q102, we (Mr. Hamburger, Mr. Katz, myself) are looking to have a meeting soon with RIOC staff on this.  I've heard some of your points before, and some new ones in your message above. We'll get back to y'all after the meeting.

Frank Farance said...

[The comments below are excerpts from another thread on this blog, sorry for the re-post.]

According to H-R, an Art Gallery -cum- Boy Scouts Room -cum- Thrift Shop -cum- Dance Hall all fit on the second floor of 504 Main.  I don't think H-R has really thought about how organizations might co-exist in the same space.

I've heard that RIOC is required to discontinue the seniors' shoppers bus because of a contract provision in the master lease agreement.  (I'm waiting for written confirmation on this.)

I also point out that while Mr. Kramer complains that the prior
arrangement was a political process (community pressure on RIOC) with subsidies (uneven rates, some paying no rent at all), the new arrangement is also a political process (H-R gets to decide which merchants, regardless of the community's needs) with subsidies (e.g., Starbucks and Duane Reade stores would not be able to stand here on their own if there weren't cross-store subsidies with other properties, and not all rents will be the same to achieve the political goal of H-R).

In other words, it's not like we've graduated to fair-market-only plan, we've just moved to someone other than RIOC making decisions, and we have less clout with the new decision-makers.

Oh, and don't forget that RIOC is paying for renovations.  According to RIOC CFO Steve Chironis at the RIRA meeting, H-R will put up the money, but RIOC won't draw its share of rent until the renovations have been paid for with merchants' rents.

Said differently, we could have had a better deal merely outsourcing this via a commercial managing agent (collects rent, enforces leases, finds new tenants), and kept some control of who uses the space and rent reductions for special needs,  which would have addressed almost all the concerns about RIOC's past operations and planned well for the future with a modern retail strip.  <-- Yes, I pointed this out a year ago.

CheshireKitty said...

I thought it was ironic that Kramer praised the architectural charms of Eastwood and Roosevelt Island in general (yes - Eastwood is considered "notable" and "progressive" & is listed in the AIA Guide to NYC) but then wishes to dismantle the facade of Eastwood, the very feature that gives it its unique charm.  Why does he want to take away from a building he's already praised for being well-designed?  The facelift type upgrades such as improved arcade lighting, perhaps a power scrub, the wood ceiling (maybe) are all OK, but to take away the sheltered walkway with the nice benches, which invite neighborly conversations, or simply a spot to read a book etc., is going too far and will destroy the very thing he praised: Eastwood architecture!  Somebody should notify the AIA, and any group that is into landmark preservation, because the removal of the glass panels and benches will butcher Eastwood architecturally - even though Kramer himself praised the design of Eastwood, including the walkway!  He says he wants more visibility for businesses.  He could probably figure out a way to incorporate illuminated signage/logos into those glass panels, or have one panel, or do a stained glass look (you can use your imagination here) which would make Main St pop much more than simply deleting the glass & benches and figuring people can make out the stores within.  We're in a new century now - why not pull out all the stops and make the arcade the centerpiece of a uniquely "refreshed" Main St?  Otherwise, it just becomes  a dull colonnade, like you see in countless other locations, both in NY and around the world:  Functional yes, but hardly inviting, and definitely not architecturally unique or exciting.  As I wrote at the top, Kramer led off his talk by correctly and appropriately praising the wonderful assemblage of architectural design that comprises RI - including Eastwood.  Why not respect, and build on the Eastwood design concept by keeping the glass panels and benches, instead of shredding Eastwood's design by destroying them?

CheshireKitty said...

You may want to come to the RIRA meetings and get involved with the various committees - any resident can go.  The RIRA people meet regularly with the RIOC officials about the bus stops etc.  You are probably right about a lack of bus stops at Southtown.  Why not bring a sketch of where you are requesting additional bus stops to a RIRA meeting and ask that RIRA please bring your request to the attention of RIOC.

CheshireKitty said...

Are you saying remove all vehicular traffic from Main St a la Fulton St Mall (although I think there's some bus traffic there) or Nassau St?

CheshireKitty said...

Oh, and BTW - DR/Walgreen's is going to stop processing Express Scripts Rxs in January 2012.  Luckily we have the alternative of Gristede's Pharm on this island.  However, the hours of Gristede's on Sundays are only until 3pm.  In case someone needs a medicine after 3pm on a Sunday, and they can't use DR because DR wont take an Express Script Rx, they're really screwed since they'll then have to start scurrying around to either Manhattan or Queens, even if they are sick, since most off-Island pharmacies will not deliver to RI (unless I'm mistaken). 

CheshireKitty said...

You would, wouldn't you! ;)  Believe me, the new look isn't going to change much..  I think Kramer is trying to slowly pull down Eastwood - because Eastwood in many ways is a lost cause in terms of possible conversion to luxury housing.  If the facade alteration weakens the building sufficiently, the building will be condemned, which will play into the landlord's fondest dream of finally having a perfect excuse to evict everyone in Eastwood, build anew and better, and then start collecting Southtown-like rents, or selling upscale condo units, so as to really cash in on his gigantic investment in that property. 

CheshireKitty said...

I don't see how not having glass partitions is going to bring vibrance to Main St.  If anything, you, roozevelt, will get to see the many, many low-income, elderly, disabled, and so on & so forth, even more clearly and fully illuminated, once it's gone.  I guess they do not represent "vibrance" to you.  They ain't goin' no-where, to use the slang expression.  As far as African American under representation and un involvement in community affairs and decisions:  There are some in the corridors of power who are observing the "revitalization" effort with interest.  Once the needs of the free market begin to interfere with the needs of a community which still contains many - probably hundreds - of elderly/African American/disabled/low-income residents mostly concentrated in Eastwood, Kramer may receive a suggestion to lay off the walkway or else he may find increased scrutiny focused on his tax bill/payments/business practices/compliance and so forth.

YetAnotherRIer said...

Yes, remove all private vehicles from Main Street and allow public transportation (that includes yellow school bus service and para transport) only. So, it's more like Fire Island.

Frank Farance said...

I'm guessing that you're not serious.

Here's a thought experiment: Some hot weekend in July, buy cartons of ice cream and lots of frozen food from Costco (drive to Motorgate) or Gristede's (start at Motorgate).  Now wait for the Red Bus (up to 15 minutes) and by the time you get to Southtown, everything is melted.  One needs parking for loading and unloading, which is most of the Main Street parking.

And because no private vehicles, no Fresh Direct, right?  And the merchants will have it worse because they need to haul much bigger quantities in hand trucks(!) from Motorgate.

Oh, but the hospitals will have the *right* to use their cars to/from work.  This was negotiated with UDC/SAHE/RIOC and the unions in the early 1980's because they didn't want to park at Motorgate.

A practical suggestion I made a while ago was: no parking 7-9 AM Mon-Fri in the WIRE corridor (church crosswalk to deli crosswalk).  This will still permit school buses, taxi and car service,  paratransit, and passenger car pickup/dropoff.  Deliveries to merchants would either be in non-street spots (breezeways) or outside morning rush hour.  Not to different than Second Avenue.

Westviewer said...

That was the original plan. 

YetAnotherRIer said...

Sorry, I forgot to add that commercial traffic could be allowed during certain early hours. Can we not be independent from the car on such a small island? Can we not transport a carton of ice cream home without a car? And no, it will not be all melted within the 15 minutes or so it will take. 

The hospital... well, I guess there goes my suggestion but they already habe shuttle buses they could use. But I guess we just love our cars way too much. I mean, out ice cream will melt, right?

Frank Farance said...

I used ice cream as an example (yes, it really melts in July).  What about returning with young children, packages, etc.?  When my kids were younger, it was impossible to think of hauling everything from the garage, we needed to unload/load at our building.  There are dozens of use cases that rationalize short-term parking for loading/unloading.

Tram_Rider said...

Frank Farance

Kramer suggested the second floor might be a green office space for entrepreneurs and home-based professionals to rent desks, cubicles and conference rooms, like the Hive at 55 (Broad Street).

He also said The Child School and the Islamic Society expressed interest in the space.

The Boy Scouts were confirmed in their current space; Kramer said "I accept."

The Thrift Shop was not mentioned as a tenant to the second floor of 504, nor was a Dance Hall.

Representatives of Gallery RIVAA were asked why they must remain at street level and not on the second floor. Still, there was no indication that they would be offered the second floor of 504 instead of the green office space that Kramer described.

You undermine your credibility when you spread false rumors and lies.

YetAnotherRIer said...

I still have to disagree because I have small children as well andnever owneda caron thisisland.Everything is possible andcertainly doable. Youcanputice creasm as well as all your frozenitems into a cooling bag. Thereis really no need to drive aroundon thisisland exceptfor convinience andcomfort. Unfortunately, most value those more than other things.

YetAnotherRIer said...

This is a reply to Frank's comment below. This blog has a fixed width in the comment section and four of 5 comments in it gets too narrow.

I still have to disagree because I have small children as well and never owned a car on this island. Everything is possible and certainly doable. You can put ice cream as well as all your frozen items into a cooling bag. There is really no need to drive around on this island except for convenience and comfort. Unfortunately, most value those two things more than other pesky things like environment and waste of limited resources. Just look at the number of people squeezing into the red bus on a beautiful spring day or the people cramming into the subway elevator.

Frank Farance said...

I am reporting what existing tenants told me in the weeks prior to the meeting.  H-R did go around to the non-profits and asked them to collectively use the second floor of 504 Main Street.  Those are the facts.  My point is that H-R wasn't thinking about how they would all share the space.

Westviewer said...

How many square feet are on the second floor of 504 Main Street?   Can the space be sub-divided so that each organization has its own adequate space?    Is there an elevator?  It would be a shame for RIVAA to lose its space.    That being said, I understand the POV of H-R, too. 

I liked the concept outlined in the presentation of adjacent businesses providing synergy for each other.  I hope this concept extends to the oversized and way-too-prominent public safety office.  A good police presence is essential, but it shouldn't be the most prominent element on the streetscape. 

Frank Farance said...

My understanding is that H-R's plan was not to subdivide directly, but to share the space.  They called it "meeting space", i.e., different organizations need to have a meeting space that is scheduled and shared.  I don't recall the exact number, but I think the top floor is on the order of 1500-2000 sq ft.  If they are 10 organizations, it doesn't make sense to divide the space into 200-sqft units because that's too small to have a meeting; thus, they are talking about sharing the space.

There is an elevator, but I don't know if it works. Overall, I think the problem will be configuring the space in a way that the organizations (including NYPL) will be able to use the space *independently*, each with varying operating hours and needs.

Having, say, choir practice above and a library below is the opposite of the kind of "synergy" you speak of. :-)

YetAnotherRIer said...

I actually understood that shared office space as a business that rents out temporary offices/desks to organizations and individuals who cannot afford a fully fledged office. Think free lancers, for example, who don't want to meet clients at home. Something like Green Desk ( or Regus ( just to name a couple.

455Resident said...

Thank you Mr Tram_Rider for accurately conveying the information provided at the meeting by H-R.  Once again, Frank throws out a bunch of incorrect information and uses it to present an argument that doesn't exist.  Again, if Frank had spent more than 10 minutes at the meeting he would know the true facts as presented by Tram Rider.  Too bad there are so many of you that actually believe Frank's BS.

Tram_Rider said...

Whatever H-R said to tenants and was reported to you is hearsay.

What Kramer said in public, as recorded, is the current state of affairs.

Frank Farance said...

You're saying the Only Truth is what Mr. Kramer said in public and there is no value reporting what others have said? By your reasoning, any report of indirect experience has no value, which means newspapers and many residents' statements/concerns would be hearsay, too.

You can qualify it as hearsay (which I never said otherwise), but still I believe other readers of this blog would like to know the information I reported.  Note: The qualification of "hearsay" doesn't make the statement untrue, it just conveys the lineage of experience.

Frank Farance said...

The information I presented was correct: H-R was considering combining non-profits into 504 Main.  A careful reading of Mr. Kramer's statements, as quoted above, don't contradict that.  Until we see a signed lease for the space, we should recognize there might be multiple options being considered, and not all being discussed publicly.

Tram_Rider said...

Thank you 455Resident. I am Ms./Dr. Tram_Rider.

commonsense540 said...

They talk about a quiet space for the Library, a possible place of worship, meeting space, so we build these spaces next to a  Youth Center great planning.

455Resident said...

In this case, hearsay can be defined as the statements made by business owners and organizations who have had a free ride far too long.  They're not dumb Frank, they know that anything said to you will find it's way onto the airwaves and be conveyed in typical FF rhetoric.

Frank Farance said...

Let me get this right:

(1) you're not happy with hearsay;

(2) you define hearsay as "the statements made by business owners and organizations who have had a free ride far too long" - certainly a unique (and biased) definition, whereas I would have looked to Wikipedia for a more common definition;

(3) you're able to read the minds of these entities "they know anything said [blah blah blah]";

AND (4) you're upset that points of view outside some party line might get voiced to the community.

Your comment was entertaining!