Charge Me Up

East
Thursday, December 17, 2009
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Beautiful Earths solar-powered charging station, with the company MINI E inside

Beautiful Earth's solar-powered charging station, with the company MINI E inside

As automakers vie to release the next generation of plug-in electric cars, many eco-conscious drivers have wondered about the lack of charging infrastructure in dense urban environments. Unlike in, say, London, where charging points are being planned within one mile of every citizen by 2015, New Yorkers have heard little about curbside electric pumps. Well, if you’re looking for a place to plug in your GM Volt, one company’s vision of the future has arrived. Read More

The Final Slam Dunk?

East, East Coast
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
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Forest City Ratner successfully sold bonds today, paving the way for construction of its new arena in Brooklyn.

Forest City Ratner successfully sold bonds today, paving the way for construction of its new arena in Brooklyn.

There may be a few hoops left to jump through before Bruce Ratner can begin construction of his SHoP- and Ellerbe Becket-designed arena for the Brooklyn, New Jersey, Nets, such as completing a partial sale of the team to a Russian oligarch, prevailing in some outstanding lawsuits, and going ahead with eminent domain against the area’s remaining holdouts. But the developer appears to have cleared the final major hurdle standing in his way with the successful sale of $511 million in tax-exempt bonds today for his $900 million arena. (There are still taxed bonds and an equity stake to be taken care of, but they lacked the December 31 deadline.) Read More

Thrice As Smelly

East
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
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A picture of a cement plant—though not the citys asphalt plant—along the Gowanus Canal. (Courtesy Joes NYC)

A picture of a cement plant—though not the city's asphalt plant—along the Gowanus Canal. (Courtesy Joe's NYC)

On Monday, we reported on the Bloomberg administration’s continued vociferous resistance to Superfund listing for the Gowanus Canal. While the main complaint by the mayor was that the Superfund stigma would poison the area for development for decades to come, we did not mention—at least not this time—that a major concern is also that the city could be held liable for some portion of the Superfund cleanup because of a number of polluting properties on the canal. That seems all the more likely now—as does the potential for listing—as the Post reported yesterday that the city has been sent a notice for its liabilities. According to the tab, “The city’s responsibility comes through previous/current ownership of an asphalt plant, incinerator, a pumping station, storage yard, and Department of Transportation garage.” In an interesting new twist, the Navy was also served with a notice for at least nine “facilities where the Navy directed and oversaw government contractors which owned and/or operated facilities adjacent to the canal.”

Retracting the Retractable Roof Retraction

East
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
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Could this roof someday retract?

Could this roof someday retract?

Brooklyn has been called the borough of blogs, which probably explains why that’s where the big city papers are all launching their hyperlocal efforts. First there was the TimesFort Greene blog, and now the Post is getting in on the act—not surprisingly, we were notified about the new venture by the king of Brooklyn blogs, Brownstoner. While the Times has wound up with some odd, interesting mix of community driven news, the Post remains, at least in its first two posts, a decidely top-down affair, though this is not exactly a bad thing. Indeed, the inaugural post for the Post looks at borough president Marty Markowitz renewed efforts to include a retractable roof at the Grimshaw-designed concert pavilion at Asser Levy park, which we first unveiled back in April. Read More

Only In Brooklyn: Archostumes

East
Monday, November 2, 2009
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Architecture has never been so adorable.

Architecture has never been so adorable.

Last week, we threw out some ideas for architectural-themed Halloween costumes, including a proposal for a New Museum costume. Well, we’ve been one-, make that twice-upped by this adorable trio, who were spotted Trick-or-Treating in Cobble Hill by a colleague. Marcel Breuer, Frank Lloyd Wright, and SANAA must be so proud.

Another Atlantic Yards Suit

East
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
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Atlantic Yards opponents keep on marching, launching another lawsuit today. (Jonathan Barkey)

Atlantic Yards opponents keep on marching, launching another lawsuit today. (Jonathan Barkey)

As we reported back in June, the activists fighting the Atlantic Yards project did not expect any of the various government agencies with oversight of the project to oppose it when they had the opportunity this summer—the MTA revised its sale of the yards, the ESDC approved a modified General Project Plan. What the critics were more excited about was the possibility of additional lawsuits, which, while generally unsuccessful, have helped stall the project nonetheless and paint it in an increasingly negative light. Today, a day before a major showdown over eminent domain in the state’s highest court, Develop Don’t Destroy filed a new lawsuit, this one challenging the MTA’s sale, and it has an important distinction from the others. Read More

SHoP-ing for a Fight

East
Monday, September 14, 2009
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SHoPs new Barclays Center will be debated at a public hearing tonight in Brooklyn at 6 oclock. (Courtesy Forest City Ratner)

SHoP's new Barclay's Center will be debated at a public hearing tonight in Brooklyn at 6 o'clock. (Courtesy Forest City Ratner)

SHoP’s new designs for the Barclay’s Center at Bruce Ratner’s Atlantic Yards site has probably gotten the firm more attention than any of its previous ones, including its rather controversial plans for Pier 17 at the South Street Seaport. Today, Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn penned an open-letter to the firm, calling out “Mr. Sharples, Mr. Sharples, Ms. Sharples, Ms. Holden, and Mr. Pasquarelli” for signing on to “a very contentious and troubled project that faces widespread resistance from the communities it would impact—and well beyond.” Meanwhile, “Mr. Pasquarelli” sat down with the Observer to, uh, talk shop on the project and defend his firm’s involvement in the project: “We gave serious consideration as to whether we wanted to do it. And I think the thing that convinced us was, after speaking with Bruce, we were convinced he really wanted to make a great building.” SHoP and Barclay’s collaborator Ellerbe Becket will be discussing their new designs at a special hearing in Brooklyn tonight at 6 o’clock, as will DDDB, no doubt—and us. If you can’t make it for the fireworks, we’ll recount them here for you tomorrow. Or follow us on Twitter, where we’ll be live-blogging the main event.

Atlantic Yards Money Pit?

East
Thursday, September 10, 2009
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SHoPs new design for Forest City Ratners Barclay Center arena in Brooklyn. (Courtesy SHoP Architects)

SHoP's new design for Forest City Ratner's Barclay Center arena in Brooklyn. (Courtesy SHoP Architects)

When Forest City Ratner released new designs by SHoP Architects of the Barclays Center yesterday, it was seen as an effort to right a listing ship. But no sooner had those copper-hewed renderings hit the presses than the city’s Independent Budget Office released a report [PDF] today noting that the arena will cost the city $40 million in revenues over the next 30 years as a result of financial incentives granted to the developer. Furthermore, the city lost a potential $181 million in lost opportunities through tax breaks and incentives provided to the developer, which cost the state $16 million and the MTA $25 million, though the report also notes both will release a net gain of $25 million and $6 million, respectively, if the deal goes through.

Never Surrender Admirals Row

East
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
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The timber shed, the one building—out of 10—to be saved at Admirals Row under current plans. But not if the MAS has anything to say about it. (Courtesy Brownstoner

The timber shed, the one building—out of 10—to be saved at Admiral's Row under current plans. But not if the MAS has anything to say about it. (Courtesy Brownstoner)

Having lost its political fight to preserve most of Admiral’s Row in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, the Municipal Art Society has hit upon a novel idea and is now focusing its energy on the developers who are vying to redevelop the old naval officers’ houses into a grocery store. The RFP was recently released for the project, and through that process, MAS is hoping to persuade prospective builders where the Army National Guard and the city were not. “We hope that our experience and information will be helpful to responders looking to create an exciting new development at Admiral’s Row that combines both new construction and the preservation of the incredibly-significant historic buildings,” Melissa Baldock, a preservation fellow at the MAS, recently wrote on the group’s blog. The effort seems like fighting a nuclear submarine with cannon balls, but who knows. In these cash-strapped times, a developer might look favorably upon some pro-bono design work and the imprimatur of one of the city’s leading civic groups.

TMI Too Late

East, East Coast
Thursday, July 9, 2009
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Earlier today, the Municipal Art Society posted an incredibly informative presentation that the group gave at the recent City Council hearings on the Bloomberg administration’s plans for rezoning Coney Island. The presentation, which can be found above, pretty succinctly explains what’s wrong with the city’s plan, why it won’t work, and alternatives–proposed, of course, by MAS–that could be undertaken. So why has this presentation surfaced so late in the process, when it will have little, if any impact on the rezoning? Read More

Inlet Assumed

East, East Coast
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
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The actual Bushwick Inlet on the day of the groundbreaking of Bushwick Inlet Park (Courtesy Victoria Monjo).

The actual Bushwick Inlet on the day of the groundbreaking of Bushwick Inlet Park. (Courtesy Victoria Monjo)

Yesterday, in a quiet ceremony attended by Mayor Bloomberg, the city broke ground on the first phase of Bushwick Inlet Park. Situated between North 9th and 10th streets along the Williamsburg waterfront, this initial stage of construction will comprise a synthetic turf athletic playing field. Turns out I was also on the Williamsburg waterfront at the time, on a tour of that neighborhood with photographer and AN Editorial Intern Victoria Monjo, capturing images for our forthcoming developers issue (see last year’s here). One of the images we captured was of Bushwick Inlet itself, which sits three or four blocks to the north of where the festivities were taking place. Eventually, park construction will extend all the way to this placid cove, where, according to the Parks Department’s initial plan, there will be a beach, planted terraces, and a performance garden, whatever that is. See the view from Kent Avenue after the jump. Read More

Everybody Wants a Bailout

East, East Coast
Monday, July 6, 2009
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Money pits.

Money pits: World Trade Center and Atlantic Yards.

With the news today, reported by The Observer, that Larry Silverstein has begun legal proceedings against the Port Authority to end the gridlock at Ground Zero, as well as the developments two weeks prior at Atlantic Yards, it seems obvious to us what’s going on here. Having witnessed the financial titans across town receive hundreds of billions of dollars in bailout money, these developers now want theirs. Granted, so did Larry Flint and the porn industry, but the comparison bears consideration. Read More

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