August 17th - August 23rd, 2013
Bloomberg Backs Down on Plan to Turn NYCHA Sites into Luxury Housing
August 20 - One of the Bloomberg administration's controversial programs has been left to wither on the vine. A plan to turn chunks of city-owned land over to developers and add thousands of luxury apartments in eight different NYCHA developments has essentially been kicked to the next mayor, according to Gothamist. "This isn't quite a white flag of surrender, but it's pretty close," Council Speaker Christine Quinn told the Times. In March NYCHA asked developers for RFPs, but on Friday the mayor announced that instead of RFPs, the city is now looking for "suggestions" to be tendered by mid-November, with RFPs to follow. The plan, which would add more than 4,000 new apartments on NYCHA land, 80 percent of them market rate, is supposed to raise $50 million annually. Meanwhile the current amount of NYCHA's unfunded capital improvements: $6 billion -- and that's slated to go up to $13.4 billion over the next five years. Despite the indefinite delay, Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh warns that the plan's basic troubling premise remains: "building thousands of new residential units in the middle of densely populated neighborhoods. Today's announcement may be a welcomed slowdown in the process, but it doesn't change that basic fact," he said.
Battery Park City Authority Names Interim President
August 20 - Demetrios Boutris, president and chief operating officer of the Battery Park City Authority, handed in his resignation Aug. 16, 10 months after he had been appointed to that position by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, reported the Downtown Express. At the Aug. 20 B.P.C.A. board of directors meeting, Robert Serpico, the authority's chief financial officer, was confirmed as interim president and C.O.O. while the authority searches for a new president. The B.P.C.A. president is responsible for the authority's day-to-day operations. Serpico will continue to hold the position of chief financial officer -- a position with urgent responsibilities of its own as the B.P.C.A. prepares to go into capital markets with a $300 million bond offering.
Traffic Moves with Some Problems Through Broadway Construction Snarl
August 20 - Traffic was flowing slowly but surprisingly surely last Thursday during hour, despite traffic barriers that closed all but one of the southbound lanes near Wall Street, reported the Downtown Express. The bottleneck at Liberty St. slowed traffic as cars funneled into the left lane to avoid Phase 1 of the city Dept. of Design and Construction's Broadway Reconstruction Project. On August 15, the chaos of taxis, tour buses and pedestrian traffic had taken over Broadway between Rector and Liberty Sts., where construction began the first week of August. However, pedestrians and employees of area businesses noted that the construction did not have an impact on their day-to-day activities. Several pedestrians went over to ask directions of "traffic enforcement agents" stationed at the intersections. This first of two sections of the $42 million capital street reconstruction plan will take until July 2014 to complete, according to a presentation by the Dept. of Design and Construction. Phase 1 of Broadway, from Rector to Ann Sts. will take about two years to complete.
City Council Overrides Bloomberg Veto of NYPD Oversight Bills
August 22 - The City Council voted overwhelmingly Thursday to overturn Mayor Michael Bloomberg's veto of two controversial police oversight bills known as the Community Safety Act, reported DNAinfo.com. The council voted 39 - 10 to clear the way to establish an inspector general of the police department, and voted 34 to 15 to override the mayor's veto of a bill to allow police bias lawsuits to be filed in state court, as well as federal court. Bloomberg called the vote a "dangerous" step in the wrong direction for city safety. Ahead of the hearing, Council Speaker Christine Quinn -- who supported the IG bill but opposed the bias bill on the ground that it would sow legal confusion by allowing bias suits to be filed in both federal and state court, instead of only in federal court as is the case now -- said she had expected the bills' passage. The inspector general position is set to begin on Jan. 1, 2014. The position will be a mayoral appointee and will be based in an office in the city's Department of Investigation. The bias bill is set to go into effect 90 days after its passage.
After 30 Years in Seaport, Artist Forced to Close Pier 17 Studio
August 22 - All it took was one glimpse into the charmingly gritty world of the bustling Fulton Fish Market more than 30 years ago, and Naima Rauam said she was hooked, reported DNAinfo.com. "It was fascinating watching these men working through the night, busily throwing around colorful fish, colorful boxes, with water, ice that glistened," said Rauam, a painter who set up her first studio in one of the Seaport fish company buildings in 1983. Rauam kept her studio in the Seaport even after the fish market closed in 2005 -- moving into a space on the second floor of the Pier 17 mall -- but now she's being forced out again as the pier undergoes a complete overhaul. "It's sad -- it's like a trauma," Rauam said. "My work has always been anchored to the Seaport." Rauam has to move out by Sept. 9, when the entire mall will be shuttered in anticipation of construction that is slated to begin Oct. 1. The multi-million-dollar redevelopment calls for gutting the mall and replacing it with high-end shops and restaurants built in a sleek, glass structure. To mark her final days on the pier, Rauam will be showing a selection of her paintings, charcoals and prints at one last exhibition in her Pier 17 gallery, from Aug. 28 to Sept. 9. The artist said she's been searching for another Seaport space, but with so many buildings still shuttered, or under construction, because of Hurricane Sandy damage, she has not yet had any luck. Rauam's show, in her second-floor gallery in the Pier 17 mall, will run from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.