Earlier this week, Manhattan Borough President and City Controller candidate Scott Stringer announced his $1 million pledge to restore a historic Harlem fire watchtower at the heart of Marcus Garvey Park. In the 19th century, the 47-foot tower served as a lookout point and the bell was raised in case of imminent danger. Today, the tower no longer protects the community but threatens it, showing substantial signs of decay and neglect.
Running a tight race against Eliot Spitzer, Stringer lags behind the former governor in terms of African American votes and is thus seeking to salvage one of the community’s most valued landmarks. The past few days, he has generated good publicity from his ability and desire to fund this restoration project.The $1 million provided by Stringer, along with the $1.75 million contributed by Councilmember Inez Dickens and $1.25 million by Mayor Bloomberg will be used to preserve the tower. The project includes a full restoration of the tower’s cast-iron structure, the removal of deficient parts, and the additional construction of a stainless steel support system.
On the roof of a construction site in Greenpoint, Brooklyn Monday, U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan announced the release of a new report outlining 69 rebuilding strategies designed to both help Hurricane Sandy–ravaged communities and to serve as a model for coastal regions across the country that are vulnerable to storm surges and rising sea levels. Close to the waterfront, the site overlooked the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant—one of the few sewage treatment facilities to survive Sandy intact. It was a fitting place for Secretary Donovan, who also serves as chair of the Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force, to introduce this bundle of new recommendations that address both immediate and long-term needs of coastal communities, including resilient and region-wide approaches to rebuilding and infrastructure investment. A number of the initiatives in the report, such as HUD’s “Rebuild by Design” competition, are already underway.
With his time in office coming to a close, Mayor Bloomberg is moving swiftly ahead with his administration’s affordable housing plan, and calling on developers to submit proposals to build on the last sizable stretch of vacant city-owned land in the Melrose and HUB area of the South Bronx. The NYC Department of Housing Preservation & Development (HPD) is overseeing the Bronxchester Project, and yesterday announced a Request for Proposal (RFP) to develop two parcels into affordable housing and mixed-use space.
Bloomberg Philanthropies has announced the winners of its Mayors Challenge, a competition meant to generate innovative ideas for the improvement of city life. Out of the 300 cities that submitted proposals, the giving institution created by New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg gave the Grand Prize for Innovation to Providence, RI, and its mayor, Angel Taveras. The city was awarded $5 million to implement its project, what Bloomberg Philanthropies called a “cutting-edge early education initiative.” Under the initiative, participating children will wear a recording device home that will monitor the conversations they have with their parents or other adults. The transcripts of these conversations will then be used to develop weekly coaching sessions in which government monitors or someone will coach the grownups on how better to speak with their children.
In post-Hurricane Sandy New York, it looks like Zone A is expanding, and stretching beyond waterfront properties to encompass buildings farther inland. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) released preliminary new maps on Monday revealing that an additional 35,000 homes and buildings are now listed in flood zones. Business and homeowners included in these new zones will likely see their insurance rates rise.
The lights on the Loew’s Kings Theater’s marquee have been dark for over 35 years since the last showing of Islands in the Stream in 1977. In fact, the entire king-size, 3,200-seat, French-Baroque movie palace is looking quite dim these days, much of its ornate plasterwork worn, damaged, or missing from years of decay and neglect and its terra-cotta facade in need of cleaning. City officials had to string ropes of temporary construction lights through the still grandiose, if a little shabby, lobby, just to make the announcement on Wednesday that Brooklyn’s largest indoor theater is coming back to life in a big way thanks to $93.9 million in new investment from public and private sources.
Manhattan’s far west side is about to become one of the busiest construction sites in the country. Last Tuesday morning, officials gathered at the corner of 9th Avenue and West 33rd Street to celebrate the second major groundbreaking in the Hudson Yards District, Brookfield Properties’ trio of new SOM-designed towers comprising the Manhattan West development to be built over a large rail yard serving Penn Station. The $4.5 billion project’s first phase, construction of the north portion of the railroad-spanning platform that will eventually support development, is now underway, and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg speculated that the second half of the platform could be underway in coming months. Excavation has been ongoing since the fall of 2012.
Officials broke ground today on the long anticipated restoration of New York’s High Bridge connecting the Bronx with Manhattan. Built in 1848 and today the city’s oldest bridge, the 1,200-foot-long span had long been a popular strolling bridge, even making an appearance in Edith Wharton’s 1913 novel Custom of the Country. The landmarked bridge was closed to the public in the 1970s, but after construction wraps up on the $61 million rehabilitation, strolling New Yorkers and bicyclists can once again cross high above the Harlem River—116 feet—and connect with the city’s growing waterfront Greenway. (See also: Photos of High Bridge before renovation.)
Improvements include pedestrian safety measures like accessibility ramps, viewing platforms, and new lighting. An eight-foot-tall cable mesh fence to prevent jumpers and throwing trash will also line each side, a point that drew criticism from some in the community who believe it’s unnecessary and will spoil views. In a statement released at the groundbreaking ceremony, Mayor Michael Bloomberg called High Bridge “one of our city’s great treasures.” He continued, “It will bring people here from all over the five boroughs, and even all over the world, to see some of the most spectacular views in the city.”
After launching a year-and-a-half ago, New York City’s East River Ferry service, has wildly surpassed ridership estimates and Mayor Bloomberg is looking to extend the initial three-year trial period to 2019. So far, more than 1.6 million passengers have paid the $4 fare (or $5 if you take your bike) to ride on the fleet of 149-passenger and 399-passenger boats along the East River between Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and Governors Island (the NYC Economic Development Corporation predicted that 1.3 million would ride the service in its entire three-year pilot). The ferry pilot program was launched to promote economic development along the city’s waterfront, and has been seen as a boon to such waterfront projects as the Williamsburg Edge. The city has issued an RFP for a future ferry operator to take over once the current contract with BillyBey Ferry Company expires in 2014.