Posts tagged with "Christine Quinn":

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NYC Department of Design and Construction Launches Program to Support Local Designers

Last May New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn announced a new initiative, NYC X Design, to promote New York's design community, an economic sector that includes more than 40,000 designers of various disciplines, according to official figures. As an outgrowth of NYC X Design, today the Department of Design and Construction (DDC) launched a new pilot project called Built/NYC, which provides $400,000 in capital funding for custom furniture, lighting, or textile designs in up to 20 city building projects. Council Speaker Quinn's office provided the funding for the project, and at a press conference today held at the NoHo design store, The Future Perfect, Speaker Quinn argued that the initiative would support both local designers and local manufacturers and help maintain a diverse economy. Interested designers can respond to an new RFQ, which would place them on a pre-qualified list to be considered for custom pieces for projects like new libraries, community centers, or fire houses (architects for the building projects sit on the selection committee).  According to Victoria Milne, Director of creative services for DDC, designers will retain copyright to the designs, allowing them to potentially sell their objects to other municipalities or to bring them to market through a manufacturer. Industrial and interior designer Harry Allen praised the program for giving opportunities to local designers. He said that New York is "an amazing creative city, but also a hard city." Built/NYC will serve as a new way for industrial, lighting, and textile designers to break into public work. Quinn demonstrated her love of design by complimenting Allen on his slip-on Converse Jack Purcell shoes and she gushed about the wares on display at the The Future Perfect. She warned the assembled reporters to be careful in the store. "If you break it, you buy it," she joked.
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Five NYC Mayoral Candidates Camp Out in Public Housing for One Night

NYCHA Housing (Courtesy of eastcolfax/Flickr) Mayor candidates experienced first hand just what it is like to live in New York City public housing this Saturday. DNA Info reported that Reverend Al Sharpton, affiliated with the National Action Network, organized a sleepover for five of the contenders: Bill de Blasio, John Liu, Christine Quinn, Bill Thompson, and Anthony Weiner. The mayoral hopefuls camped out overnight in sleeping bags in the Lincoln Houses in East Harlem. New York City Public Housing Authority (NYCHA) has been plagued by budget cuts and a 4000,000 back log of repairs, only exacerbated by the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy. (Photo: eastcolfax/Flickr)
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Speaker Quinn Backs Ten-Year Term Limit for Madison Square Garden

Consensus among the city's political players is growing in favor of the relocation of Madison Square Garden from its home atop Penn Station. Yesterday, City Council held a public hearing to discuss the future of the Garden and the overcrowded train terminal. Filmmaker Spike Lee, surrounded by an entourage of former Knicks players, testified on behalf of the Garden. According to the Wall Street Journal, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn expressed her support of a ten-year term limit for the arena in a letter addressed to the Garden's President and CEO, Hank Ratner, on Wednesday. The owners of the arena have requested a permit in perpetuity, however, several government officials and advocacy groups—including Borough President Scott Stringer, the Municipal Art Society (MAS), and the Regional Plan Association—have called for limiting the permit to 10 years. This comes after the City Planning Commission voted unanimously for a 15-year permit extension.
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Christine Quinn Kicks Off NYC Mayoral Campaign: Could Mean More Affordable Housing

New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn officially announced her run for mayor last week.  Quinn started her career as an affordable housing advocate with the Housing Justice Campaign for the Association of Neighborhood and Housing Development, and is positioning herself as the pro-middle class candidate. In a recent speech, she told an audience that New York City needs to become “a place that’s a beacon for the middle class.” After the Bloomberg era of rapid development, Quinn could usher in a new phase that makes affordable housing a top priority. While a few candidates have to yet to declare their candidacy, the race could likely include previous City Comptroller William Thompson, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, and current City Comptroller John Liu.
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Chelsea Market Expansion Approved at City Planning

In a unanimous vote today, the New York City Planning Commission approved Jamsestown Properties' plans for expansion at Chelsea Market with few modifications. The building was rezoned to be included in the Special West Chelsea District, thereby allowing developers to increase density after a significant contribution is made to the High Line. Much to the quite literal relief of High Line visitors, this likely means bathrooms will finally find their way to the southern section of the park. The latest designs by Studios Architecture set the massing of the Tenth Avenue addition back away from the park, which Planning Commissioner Amanda Burden expressed concern about during a review session. Jamestown Properties has also agreed provide funds and space for park amenities, like bathrooms, as well funds for affordable housing in Community Board 4 district. "While affordable housing bonuses are not normally associated with commercial buildings, there are special features of the West Chelsea district regulations which make this possible,"said Burden. "I believe this will be a great addition to the West Chelsea neighborhood," she continued. "The additional office space will serve what has become a destination for creative and technology industries, and this new development will provide critical amenities to the High Line." Nevertheless, community activists remain concerned about traffic and congestion from the park and resulting building boom. This was no secret to those attending CB4 meetings, but the controversy roared into the open with Jeremiah Moses' oped piece in Sunday's New York Times under the head, "Disney on the Hudson," which claimed "the park is destroying neighborhoods as it grows." The sound-off got a swift response from the many, including Friends of the High Line founders Joshua David and Mark Hammond who found Moses' claims "an unfortunate simplification of our past and current reality." The current reality for parks is a public/private financing model, thus David and Hammond's support for the Jamestown project and the resulting park amenities it provides. "This is clearly a deal between the Friends, City Planning, and Jamestown," said Save Chelsea's David Holowka. He noted that the majority of the massing will gravitate toward the park rather than the Ninth Avenue. Regardless of where the bulk will land, some will never be appeased with further expansion. "The amenities are cold comfort," said Andrew Berman of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation. "The development will increase traffic and congestion to an area that’s already busting at the seams." Berman added that the West Chelsea Special District already allows for substantial growth for many years to come. The measure will now go before City Council and speaker Christine Quinn, whose district includes the Chelsea Market. The expansion is considered by some to be a litmus test of where the mayoral candidate's loyalties lie, with the NIMBYs or the development community.
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Conditional Nay on Chelsea Market Expansion

The Tenth Avenue expansion. In what many are calling an opening shot in the 2013 mayoral race, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer has recommended a conditional disapproval of the Chelsea Market expansion proposal. The recommendation is in cahoots with Community Board 4 which voted to only allow the project if it provides off-site affordable housing and a 20 percent reduction in height along Tenth Avenue. As City Council Speaker Christine Quinn represents Chelsea, The New York Times coverage of the expansion been through the prism of the upcoming race, which will likely see Quinn face off with Stringer, among others. And with Google just across the street from the proposed development, big tech sector businesses will be studying the speaker's move as closely as her local constituency.
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New York Urbanism Times

Today's New York Times is packed with urbanism stories, with three articles and two Op-ed pieces that made it to print. First, there's Speaker Christine Quinn's exemption for Related Properties' Hudson Yards project from the Living Wage bill. Then there are rumblings from Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer's office that he isn't pleased that NYU "seems to be backpedaling" on their 2.2 million square foot proposal. A source says the university may be able to get by on 1.5 million square feet.  “When you propose a plan you know will overwhelm the existing community, you lose credibility with architects, planners and land-use experts, and you lose the heart and soul of a community,” the BP told the paper. But wait there's more... There's  a stunning rebuke of gated communities by Rich Bengjamin in the Op-ed. This was followed by Jessica Bruder's concern that Burning Man, the overnight city that rises in the Nevada each year, "is building its own kind of caste system" with scalpers charging more than $1000 for tickets. Back in the New York section there is an article about the so-called Sixth-and-a-Half Avenue. Through mid-block crosswalks, speed bumps, and stop signs, the DOT is planning to better connect a series of privately owned public spaces, known as POPS, between Sixth and Seventh Avenue, from 51st to 57th Streets. But the article opens with a swipe at DOT bike lanes: "First came the bike lanes, creeping like overgrown ivy across the city streetscape." The idea for defining passages was first presented to CB5 about a year ago by the Friends of the Privately Owned Public Space (F-POPS). The group proposed naming the passageway Holly Whyte Way, after the great New York urbanist William "Holly" Whyte. Loeb fellow and Streetsblog founder Aaron Naparstek found the Times lede a tad off. "It's a little bit disappointing to see the New York Times metro desk framing yet another public space improvement as a tabloidy 'bikelash' story while completely failing to make any mention of Holly Whyte, the man," he said in an email. Architect and F-POPS president Brian Nesin said seeing connections defined remains the main focus, but "his work helped change the zoning to really improve pubic space in the city and we all benefit from that."    
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Documentary Celebrates Burnished Bungalows

With summer weather quickly approaching, it's the perfect time to kick back and dream about a sweet bungalow by the beach... in Queens. Endangered bungalows throughout New York City have been on the radar for some time now, but documentary filmmaker Jennifer Callahan has focused on the fight to preserve the few bungalows left on the Rockaway Peninsula in her film Bungalows of the Rockaways, which will be screened tonight at Tenement Talks at the Tenement Museum.   The filmmaker got Estelle Parsons to do the voice over and Columbia's Andrew Dolkart to comment on historic value. Planning Commissioner Amanda Burden talks about the zoning surrounding the enclaves. Even Council Speaker Christine Quinn's dad, 83-year-old Lawrence Quinn, weighs in with his memories of the bungalow.  But for the most part, the residents of Rockaway do most of the heavy lifting. The film traces the history of the bungalows from their  17th century origins in Bengal, India, on though to their arrival in England, then New England, and eventually on to their landing in NYC and in Rockaway, where they replaced tent communities of the working class. Callahan doesn't shy away from the sordid bits of Rockaway history, such as segregation.  The communities were primarily divided between African Americans, Jews, and Irish, with the blacks responsible for getting the bungalows cleaned and ready for when the whites showed up for summer vacation. Later, when Robert Moses arrived on the scene, his slum clearance displaced scores of African Americans. Many crowded into the bungalows under appalling conditions. There's no need for a spoiler alert in revealing the ending. Suffice it to say, though the Planning Commission and Parks have stepped up efforts to retain the neighborhood's character, the area has yet to be landmarked and without a historic designation, the bungalows are not protected.  
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New York, Here is Your New Skyline

UPDATE: Council Speaker Christine Quinn, in whose district the project is located, gave her strong support for it at a press conference before today's meeting of the City Council. More below. The battle for the soul of New York—or at least for its skyline—was over before it even really began. The City Council Land Use Committee just voted in favor of Vornado's roughly 1,200-foot, Pelli Clarke Pelli-designed 15 Penn Plaza, apparently unswayed by complaints from the owner of the Empire State Building, Anthony Malkin, that it would ruin views of his iconic tower, and thus the city as a whole. In fact, the issue of the skyline barely even came up, and when it did, the council members, who voted 19-1 for the tower, essentially said New York must build to remain great. "I think it's a project the city needs," said Councilman Daniel Holleran, a Staten Island Republican. The bigger issue, by far, than the dueling towers was that of who would build 15 Penn Plaza, namely MWBEs. That's the policy shorthand for women- and minority-owned business enterprises. The council, like the city, is majority minority, and so ensuring employment for minorities, particularly in the notoriously cosseted construction industry is often a high priority. When Vornado showed up at Monday's hearings without a specific plan for how it would ensure a portion of the contractors on the project would be MWBEs, the committee members were displeased. Councilwoman Letitia James Albert Vann asked if the company even had any sort of minority hiring practices, to which the head of the New York Office, David Greenbaum, joked that he was not sure but had had a party recently at which there were many women, and his wife asked which were employs and which were spouses and he said, with a chuckle, that it was more of the former. James was not amused. Vornado proffered a last minute MWBE plan before today's vote, calling for at least 15 percent of all construction work to be done by MWBEs. Whether the project would have been torpedoed without it is hard to say, but it did little to assuage council members complaints at the same time they overwhelmingly voted for the project. James Saunders, one of the council's lions on MWBE issues, made his frustration known. "This is a tepid response to a need, a very tepid response," he said of the new MWBE plan. "We can't go on like this. That we even have to have this discussion shows that there needs to be some real dialogue here." Holleran expressed disappointment that the council does not use its limited leverage over such projects to extract more concessions early on than at the very end, when development projects have essentially reached the stage of fait accompli. Not that it would have mattered if there was any real opposition, as the mayor cast his considerable weight behind the project yesterday, according to the Wall Street Journal [sub. req.].
"I don't understand that. You know, anybody that builds a building in New York City changes its skyline. We don't have to run around to every other owner and apologize," he said. "This is something that's great for this city." "Competition's a wonderful thing. One guy owns a building. He'd like to have it be the only tall building," he added. "I'm sorry that's not the real world, nor should it be."
Malkin was not at today's vote. And perhaps its was with good reason that the council did not take up his position. As our colleague Eliot Brown points out over at the Observer, the skyline fight is not that disimilar to the one over the Ground Zero "Mosque," in that it's a supremely local issue that has been given over to if not irrational than at least emotional pleas for something locals could care less about. After all, we're only ruining the view from Jersey. Yet again, the debate surrounding this project was only nominally about the project at hand. UPDATE: When we asked Speaker Quinn about the merits of such a large, even overbuilt project—it's 42 percent larger than current zoning allows, going from a 12 FAR to an 18 (though mind you the Empire State Building is a whopping 35, so who's dwarfing whom exactly?)—she said she was fine with it. "I think given that this is 34th Street, 33rd Street, and 7th Avenue, one of the most commercial areas in the city of New York, this is an appropriate place for dense development." (The project is actually located between 33rd Street and 32nd Street.) Quinn even went so far as to compare the unbuilt 15 Penn Plaza to many of the city's other iconic office towers, calling it a modern day Rockefeller Center, something the city needs more of. "Our position is about Midtown business district expanding into the 21st Century," Quinn said. "As it is, we're not on par with some of our competitors, say London or Hong Kong. In the middle of this recession, what this say is New York is coming out of this, and coming out on top." Quinn said that she was happy with the MWBE agreement that had been reached with Vornado while also stressing that such matters were not technically under the purvey of the city's land-use review process. When we asked if they should be, Quinn demurred. On a less demure note, Curbed is reporting that the real reason Malkin is so opposed to 15 Penn Plaza is because it's potentially throwing off the feng shui of his tower, killing the "life force" of the Empire State Building and thus a deal with a business from Hong Kong to lease space in the tower. And now we've heard everything.
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One Bryant Reaches New Heights

The building's been up and running for two years, but One Bryant Park wasn't finished finished until last Thursday night, when the opening party was held in the cavernous lobby and the U.S. Green Building Council awarded the Dursts with the building's LEED Platinum plaque. Jody Durst kicked things off, thanking everyone for coming, all the people who made the building possible, and the like before introducing Rick Cook, the lead designer for Cook + Fox on the penguin-shaped tower. Before a crowd of a few hundred bankers, real estate types, and other assorted Midtown workadays, Cook probably gave the largest architectural lecture of his career. Cook talked about how important it was to make the building natural and humane, how important it is that the the first thing anyone experiences when they enter the building is nature, granted in the form of wood-inlaid handles on the revolving door. There's the overhanging ceiling that draws the eye out into the park, the fossils scattered throughout the Jerusalem stone tiles on the wall. The crowd's heads swung back-and-forth from one sustainable feature to the next, mouths at once smiling and agape. (To go even deeper inside the building, check out this cool tour our pals at the Observer recently took.) Cook even quoted from Genesis before celebrating the freedom he and his team had had while working on the project: "When we were brought on, they didn't ask for big and green. Instead, the challenge was how do you design at scale in an American city today." He got about the most applause we've ever heard for an architect anywhere. Next up was Al Gore, who mentioned what a big fan he was of the mayor, also in attendance and about to speak. Gore happens to be a tenant in the building, as the offices of his private equity firm are located there, and he mentioned that they had just received their LEED Platinum for interiors certification that day, and entreating everyone to do the same while reciting the old saw about buildings eating up 30-plus percent of the world's energy. Then, the head of anchor tenant Bank of America's sustainability efforts got up for some back patting and to announce a $125,000 grant to fund 100 gardens at public schools in the city, part of a new initiative. Then came the plaque, and with the speechifying done, a champagne toast and back to our "locally sourced" mojitos.
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Recycling Finally on NYC Streets?

When was the last time you found yourself on a city street, empty water bottle or given-up-on crossword in hand? Being the conscientious New Yorker you are, no doubt you looked around for a recycling bin to deposit your refuse in. Odds are, you didn't find any nearby, as the city—so often held up as a green beacon—is woefully lacking in recycling receptacles. That could change soon, with the passage of a package of recycling-related legislation that was unveiled just before Earth Day last month. Since the launch of a public recycling pilot program in 2007, there are now 300 bins scattered across the city. The council hopes to double that number within three years of the legislation's passage and increase it to 1,000 within a decade. But the city has a long way to go, considering there are more than 25,000 "corner baskets" located in the five boroughs. Today, Council Speaker Christine Quinn and some of her greener colleagues took a trip up to Astoria to check up on the recycling bins there as part of the pilot program and urge New Yorkers to lobby for more of them. “Next time you walk through your local park or down a major commercial strip, take a quick glance into one of the public waste baskets," Quinn said in a statemtn. "I guarantee you it will be brimming with newspapers, magazines, plastic bottles, and soda cans—all of which can and should be recycled. As we head into summer and New Yorkers and tourists spend more time outdoors at our world-famous public attractions, this bill will give them the to opportunity to pitch in and recycle, and make our city an even cleaner and greener place.” While the council's initial efforts may seem meager, an official said that they would be conspicuously located in high-traffic locations, such as parks and major thoroughfares, allowing a limited number of cans to meet a considerable amount of the city's recycling needs. Also, the council continues to negotiate with the Department of Sanitation, meaning there could be more bins on the way. Given that another piece of the recycling legislation is the capacity to finally recycle paint, certain hazard waste, and plastic beyond those items labeled 1 and 2—now including takeout containers and juice bottles—it seems like this is the least, though certainly not the most, the city could do.
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Related Events?

With all the ink spilled of late on the Related Companies’ faltering plans to transform the massive Kingsbridge Armory into an equally huge mall, another of the developer’s megaprojects has been lost amidst the protests: Hudson Yards. As Bronx City Council member Joel Rivera has been leading a noisy fight against the armory, demanding a living wage for workers who will someday populate its stores and food courts, speaker Christine Quinn has been more quietly negotiating with Related on adding affordable housing to the western section of the outsiszed development planned for the Far West Side. On Wednesday, Rivera was prepared to lead a vote against Kingsbridge unless the developer met his demands—$10.00 per hour with benefits or $11.50 without—but the vote was cancelled at the last minute when stalled negotiations fired back up. Another vote had been scheduled for this morning, but that, too, was postponed until Monday, the drop-dead deadline for the council to act on either project. As for the Yards, Quinn, in whose district the project lies, has been working more quietly on behalf of her constituents to strike a deal for additional affordable housing—less than 10 percent of the 5,000 units are currently set aside for low- and middle-income families—as well as other sundry issues like schools and infrastructure that were raised when the project was approved by the City Planning Commission in October. “My staff and I have been working closely with Related,” Quinn said during a Wednesday press conference. “The negotiations with Hudson Yards are also ongoing and we expect an announcement when we come to a vote.” Could this also be cause for delay, then, on the Kingsbridge vote, that Related is busy working out two deals? Quinn’s staff declined to say, but council member Tony Avella, who is chair of the Zoning and Franchise Subcommittee that will hold the votes on the Hudson Yards and Kingsbridge projects, said he believes a deal has been reached and Quinn is only waiting until both projects are settled to make an announcement on hers. A city official confirms that negotiations are ongoing for Kingsbridge, but Quinn's people and Related have not returned calls seeking the status of their project. Til Monday...