Posts tagged with "the Bronx":

BIG’s Bronx police station breaks ground as crime rate spikes in area

The New York City Mayor’s Office canceled the scheduled public groundbreaking of the already-in-construction 40th Precinct Station and instead held a press conference addressing the recent spike in crime in the Bronx and how the new building might help create a more secure and equitable borough. “While crime is at a record low in New York City, there is still more work to do to ensure that every New Yorker feels safe in their neighborhood,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio in a statement. “This new precinct will strengthen the bond between community and police, which will ultimately help make the South Bronx and our City safer.” According to newly released crime statistics from the New York Police Department (NYPD), murders have nearly doubled in the borough in the first half of 2018. Already 51 people have been killed compared to 26 reported homicides in the first half of 2017. Eight of the recent homicides occurred in the 40th Precinct, whereas two happened in the district in 2017. Officials hope the new facility, which will serve the South Bronx neighborhoods of Mott Haven, Port Morris, and Melrose, will encourage local residents and the police to work together to bring down such crime in the community. The new Bjarke Ingels Group-designed station will sit at the corner of St. Ann’s Avenue at 547 East 148th Street, just two blocks from one of the most heavily foot-trafficked sites in the city. It will replace the precinct’s current home, a Renaissance Revival structure built in 1922, and move the squad closer to the center of activity in the South Bronx. During this morning’s press hearing, City Council member Rafael Salamanca Jr. noted that the location of the new facility will enhance police presence and oversight near The Hub, the aforementioned busy intersection stocked with retail, restaurants, and mass transit. “I’m thrilled that the new 40th Precinct will be housed in my district,” he said, “and that it will be a much-needed resource near The Hub, which is ground zero for the opioid crisis happening in our city.” The 42,000-square-foot station will feature three levels of space dedicated to officer training, physical fitness, storage, maintenance of gear and vehicles, and the first-ever community events space built in an NYPD facility. This addition to the structure is expected to enhance transparency and communication between the police and the local residents. “Our message to New York going forward is that this is your station house,” said NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill. “We were working in a century-old building that was designed for century-old policing methods. Now we're changing that with a modern facility made for modern, neighborhood policing. Everyone should take pride in not only the jobs they do but where they do them.” Initial plans to design the new building began 10 years ago when the city first tapped Alexander Gorlin Architects to envision the station. After BIG took over the project through the New York Department of Design and Construction's Design Excellence Program, plans to build were finally filed in 2017 to the buildings department. Partial approval was given as of May 1 this year and construction began a few weeks ago, according to the DDC. The $68 million station is expected to be complete in spring 2021.

City hits roadblock in siting a Rikers alternative in the Bronx

After Mayor Bill de Blasio's administration announced that it would be replacing the notorious Rikers Island jail with four smaller sites spread across the city, the city pledged that it would move swiftly to begin the public review process before the end of the year. Now, the rush to actually secure the listed sites has hit a snag as residents and politicians in the Bronx are pushing back against the construction of a jail there. The move to close Rikers and spread inmates out across the city’s boroughs can only be accomplished by cutting the 9,000-inmate population in half, a target the administration is aiming for through bail and sentencing reform. Perkins Eastman, working with 17 subcontractors, has been tapped to master plan and maximize density at each of the new jails. By spreading the remaining 5,000 inmates out to local jails, the city wants to cut down on administrative costs and centralize their facilities. But as Crain’s reports, the proposal to build (or reactivating) new jails in dense neighborhoods isn’t going over well. In the Bronx, the city is angling to build a 25-story facility directly next to the Bronx Hall of Justice, which would put the prospective jail within walking distance of the B, D and 4 subway lines, and the Melrose Metro-North train station. As Crain’s notes, while the location makes sense for lawyers and those awaiting trial along with their visiting families, the political interests at play could derail building on that plot. One part of the 100,000-square-foot site is owned by the city, while the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York owns the other two plots. As the feud between Mayor de Blasio and Governor Cuomo continues, it has become increasingly likely that the state government would initiate the required land transfer. City Councilwoman Vanessa Gibson has also objected to building the jail in her district since the Hall of Justice is directly across the street from two public schools. In a bid to speed up the process, all four sites will move through the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) together as one project. As the environmental review could take up to four months alone, the city would need to move fast to secure all of their desired sites before the end of the year. If the Hall of Justice doesn’t pan out, the city may fall back on the more politically expedient site it had originally selected; an NYPD-owned tow pound at 320 Concord Avenue.

100 Fountains will revive New York City’s esteemed public drinking culture

Water, water, everywhere, Nor any drop to drink. —Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

Though New York has the some of the cleanest municipal tap water, New Yorkers now consume 1.25 billion bottles of water annually. A contributing factor to the rise in bottled water consumption is the decline in the number of public drinking fountains. New York–based Pilot Projects would like to revive the grand tradition of public bubblers through a novel design/build competition. Pilot Project's 100 Fountains competition, launched September of this year, will tap artists and designers to build 100 fountains citywide in 2016. Each participant receives $5,000 to develop his or her team's design. According to the project proposal, the competition area will be divided into 30–40 zones, with two or three fountains per zone. The public judging period starts June 2016 and runs through September 2016. The original fountains will be auctioned off for charity, and ten designs from the pool will be chosen and duplicated for permanent installation at to-be-determined locations citywide. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZFq8z96zbQQ In 2012, Pilot Projects hosted a campaign to raise awareness around the lack of drinking fountains. In the video above, passerbys in Union Square traipse over a red carpet to a (pre-existing, functioning) fountain operated by white-gloved servers. Per a 2007 zoning text amendment, the Department of City Planning (DCP) requires a fountain in every newly-built Privately Owned Public Space (POPS). The report suggests that, in lieu of vending machines offering sweetened beverages and bottled water, designers should incorporate public drinking fountains into the POPS. To justify their economic reason-for-being, 100 Fountains points to large-scale public art installations that overtook city streets in the late 1990s and 2000s: Christo and Jeanne-Claude's The Gates, Olafur Eliasson's New York City Waterfalls, and CowParade. The economic impacts of these project were estimated in the tens to hundreds of millions of dollars. 100 Fountains also takes direct inspiration from the Minneapolis Arts Commission. The commission highlighted Minneapolis' connection to surrounding rivers and lakes by installing ten custom fountains to celebrate the city's 150th anniversary. Pilot Projects will partner with the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, the Department of Education, Office of the Arts and Special Projects, as well as Yale University’s Environmental Protection Clinic and Parsons The New School For Design to carry out the project. Expect to see fountains on the streets beginning June of next year.  

Archtober Building of the Day 21> Cary Leeds Center for Tennis & Learning by GLUCK+

Cary Leeds Center for Tennis & Learning Crotona Park, the Bronx GLUCK+ Today’s Archtober Building of the Day tour of the Cary Leeds Center for Tennis & Learning in the Bronx offered a close-up view of GLUCK+’s construction process. The firm works in the architect-led design-build model, in which the architect also serves as the project’s general contractor. Our group of inquisitive participants asked GLUCK+ Principal Marc Gee about how this process works, from the company’s insurance requirements to day-to-day life in the office. According to Gee, the system works because “architects are able to think on their feet in terms of design, not just the project’s bottom line.” The bottom line, of course, is also very important. This project was a public-private partnership between New York Junior Tennis & Learning (NYJTL), an after-school and summer program that offers free tennis lessons, mentoring, and leadership workshops to local youth, and the NYC Department of Parks & Recreation. Because it was an open-book contract, GLUCK+ worked closely with the client to adjust the plan as the budget allowed, such as substituting bluestone for the less expensive brick that had originally been planned for the building’s core. In the end, the project came in $2,000 below the guaranteed maximum price. There were a few hiccups along the way. The design of a poured-concrete stairway was not completed until after the building’s windows had been put into place, and then there was only an inch-and-a-half of clearance to get it inside. Now that it has been installed, though, you’d never know what a headache the staircase caused. Brand-new colorful tennis balls fill in for plantings or a fountain that we might expect to see at the bottom of the stairs. For every GLUCK+ project, someone from the firm is on-site throughout the construction process, on hand to deal with any problems that might arise. After all, “there’s no one who can look at a set of drawings better than the person who drew them,” Gee said. Archtober-ites will head to the Lower East Side bright and early tomorrow to tour PBDW Architects’ renovation of the  Educational Alliance by PBDW Architects. Julia Cohen is the Archtober Coordinator at the Center for Architecture.

New York City launches interactive maps that reveal the minutia of neighborhood-level data

Busybodies and neighborhood know-it-alls rejoice: today, New York City, in partnership with civic data managers Vizalytics, launched a beta version of neighborhood.nyc, a new website that maps street-level information derived from 311 calls and city agencies. While this information was and is available in the NYC Open Data Portal, it often required time and high-level sleuthing to sort through mounds of data. The city's new website, neighborhood.nyc, pulls from open data feeds to streamline and map information in the data portal, allowing residents to filter results by neighborhood, or categories, including: MTA, traffic, public health, and quality of life. A search of Tribeca (AN's home neighborhood) revealed markers for noise complaints, street closures, restaurant inspection reports, and contact information for police, fire, and elected officials. In the coming months, the city will invite community leaders to become page administrators, allowing them update their neighborhood's home page images, post community events, or promote local business. To ensure broad access, the site is available in 13 languages. Each neighborhood has its own searchable URL. The index lists over 400 districts famous and obscure, including the twee portmanteaus that are definitely not a thing.

Aim High, Get Low: New “Lowline” linear park eyed in the Bronx

Call it High Line fever: since the first leg of James Corner and Diller Scofidio + Renfro's High Line debuted in 2009, High Line–like projects have popped up all over the city and across the country. Now, not ten miles from the original, the Bronx may be slated for its very own rail-to-park conversion. Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. has asked Mayor Bill de Blasio to transform an unused slice of below grade train track in Mott Haven into a "lowline." The block-long site, bounded by Brook Avenue, East 156th Street, St. Ann's Avenue, and East 150th Street, is owned by CSX. In order to reclaim the space for parkland, the city would need to buy or seize the land from the railroad company. On a visit to the site in September, Mayor de Blasio deplored the condition of the trash strewn corridor, which doubles as a homeless encampment. Soon after the mayor's visit, city workers cleared out the belongings of the residents and removed debris from the site. Sandwiched between schools and their athletic fields, the lowline would be adjacent to mixed income housing projects Melrose Commons and Via Verde.

Review> Paul Gunther on preservation and the ongoing exhibit, Saving Place: 50 Years of New York City Landmarks

Saving Place: 50 Years of New York City Landmarks An exhibition at the Museum of the City of New York and Catalog edited by Donald Albrecht, Andrew Dolkart, and Seri Worden Through January 3, 2016 Since the first trace of the species homo sapiens, human evolution only represents four one hundred thousandths of one percent of the earth's age. In proportion to an 80-year life span, that means just 31 hours—less than a day and a half of the 701,280 hours lived. With the existential threat of climate change and ecological ruination gaining traction in collective consciousness—combined with the outsized expectations of breath-holding fundamentalists for whom earth’s rapturous end can’t come soon enough—our sense of what permanence means has begun to shift. If all human culture to date is just four-dozen millennia and we’ve wreaked so much havoc already, “forever” strikes a dubious chord. This temporal dynamic is one prism through which Saving Place and the anniversary it examines can be seen. Another is the end of the post-World War II order and with it a sense that history hasn’t ended after all, including the survival of world monuments (especially amidst the tribal strife in the Middle East) that a united (albeit Western-centric) world had deemed essentially imperishable. It turns out historic places of exceptional human accomplishment can disappear as readily as an endangered species can; the risk of disorientation resulting from the obliteration of common orthodoxies is always high. Such sobering reflection informs this worthy stock-taking anniversary enterprise, which focuses more on the role of the preservation movement as part of the plodding, existential course of civic engagement, rather than some celebratory juggernaut tied only to the singular examples of past excellence like Grand Central Terminal or the Guggenheim Museum. Among the most valued places saved are those of daily routine that most identify as the common bonds of a vibrant community. Only with such coherence can change occur in ways that succeed—and that hold value.   Fifty years ago, New York City Mayor Robert Wagner signed into law the first landmarks designation statute in the nation with the creation of the Landmarks Preservation Commission. With its advent came new public authority and civic duty to adjudge the aesthetic and historic value of elements of the built environment, including privately owned or nonprofit properties, whose future disposition affects the commonwealth of all citizens. It was as controversial then as it continues today, whether held as the basis for NIMBY battles by the privileged few or the evergreen bane to developer dreams clipped by what they sometimes assert are its onerous and subjective restrictions blocking the growth and change endemic to sustained livability.   That is not an easy distinction for a metropolitan region. Since first launched by the colonizing Dutch, the bonanza of real estate development has been the golden egg of the regional economy. It is the essential cornerstone of New York commerce and the obsession of dwellers from those born and bred to those beckoned by its promise of opportunity and fresh beginnings.   This relatively recent chapter of local land use policy and its record of impact are the inspirations for Saving Place, delivered with a welcome sobriety of tone and presentation calmly sharing its results along with the means and personalities that made it happen. An underlying intent born of civic pride stays in lively focus. Like any thorough history show, gray wins out over black and white: The movement started far before the generally shared crucible of the 1963 demolition of McKim, Mead & White’s uplifting Beaux-Arts Pennsylvania Station (giving way to the peerless bathos of Penn Plaza by designer and businessman, Charles Luckman, whose clients took the train users of 1968 to be some dying breed of rodents) and has learned as much from its failures and occasional compromises as from its best known victories.   The movement’s roots took hold not so much against change, but against failed progress when the exchange of present conditions for some promised social gain fell short and urban well-being emerged impoverished. Like the l965 law, the 1978 majority ruling by the United Sates Supreme Court, written by Justice William J. Brennan, Jr. (upholding the City’s designation of Grand Central Terminal and thus laying to rest once and for all any lingering assertions that landmark designation was unconstitutional), is far more nuanced than its friends and foes would have New Yorkers believe. The preservation work done, like the battles to come, are perpetually a collective work in progress. The places and leading players presented in such a context emerge more as dynamic case studies than as fixed heroics. The commissioned photographs by Iwan Baan (whose work is characterized as usual by the vehicles, people, and quotidian activity of such places, so often absent in studies of planning and architectural design). Like the exhibit installation by Wendy Evans Joseph and her firm Studio Joseph, record individual designations are not just bright beacons of superior significance but indispensable, stabilizing place holders that bind community even when hidden in plain sight. Saving Place respects the value of landmarks by gently reminding its audience of what we take for granted and by offering (without insisting) on a greater depth of meaning for sites both individual and district-wide. And yet its overwhelmingly beneficial impact on all corners of today's five boroughs, not to mention the quality and measure of visitor appeal (like it or not, tourism means jobs), cannot be denied or scoffed away as a Luddite blockade to change.   Whatever else New York may risk in 2015, a dearth or loss of dynamic change is not one of them. Saving Place shows instead how traces of the past can at best stand alongside the new for at least the relatively small measure of time that our present civilization can endure. Like the natural world, today we know that the built world also demands balance as a basis of sustenance. The exhibit’s iconic original architectural models and array of primary artifacts are brought to the fore as the landmark’s legacy of material sensuality in historic terms both material and artisanal. The society we keep is well served by some record of past beauty that for all kinds of reasons simply cannot be replicated, and how that should be done. These strands tie a knot of quiet reflection for the Saving Place initiative that bodes well for a landmarks movement pausing only briefly to recall the reasons its work will never end in the messy marketplace of a healthy city. Coexistence is the key; landmarking works best as one part of the overall planning process, not the bejeweled hobbyhorse of some nostalgic elite. In a world with a foreshortened sense of permanence, the longer we can maintain this democratic equilibrium the better off we all will be.

Plan unveiled to transform the South Bronx with public space and waterfront access

The New York Restoration Project (NYRP), a non-profit founded by Bette Midler in 1995 to support public space, has unveiled its vision for a greener, cleaner, artsier, bike-friendlier, and overall healthier South Bronx. The master plan, known as the Haven Project, was created with a range of stakeholders including community groups, designers, and health professionals “to promote physical activity, improve pedestrian safety, and increase social interaction in neighborhoods saddled with some of the city’s heaviest industrial uses and suffering from high rates of poverty, diabetes, asthma and obesity.” The master plan would see the creation of a new waterfront park along 134th street, and bike and pedestrian paths that feed into the upcoming Randall’s Island Connector, which will run between the Bronx and the open spaces of Randall’s Island. A pier on the river would be also redeveloped to “protect the neighborhood and industries from storm surge and foster waterfront recreation.” Conceptual renderings of the new public spaces in the Bronx were drawn up by the Denver-based landscape architecture firm Civitas and include a series of public art installations. The master plan also calls for the implementation of green infrastructure and landscaping throughout the South Bronx, starting with the planting of 800 trees in Mott Haven this year. An NYRP official told Capital that the nonprofit hopes to break ground on the pier redevelopment in 2017. But, as the publication noted, for that to happen, the NYRP will have to navigate through a series of land use and landmark issues, as ownership at the site is unclear and includes two landmarked gantries. But, importantly, the plan has support from local community leaders and a host of city, state, and federal officials. Editor's Note: An earlier version of this story said the NYRP was founded in 1955, it was founded in 1955. 

New York City wants someone to turn a notorious detention center into a dynamic live/work community

The New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) is looking for developers eager to turn an abandoned juvenile detention center in the Bronx into the city's "next creative live/work community." The Spofford Juvenile Detention Center has been closed since 2011, and as DNAinfo reported, it had a notorious reputation for "verbally and physically abusive staff members and poor living conditions, which included serving kids food that was infested with roaches and giving them clothes and underwear that had already been used, according to a 2004 report from the Correctional Association of New York." In a press release accompanying its Request for Expressions of Interest for the site, the NYCEDC said, "respondents are encouraged to consider a wide range of residential and non-residential uses for the site, including commercial, cultural, institutional and light manufacturing." The city also wants developers to put an emphasis on bringing "high-quality, career-oriented jobs" to the Hunts Point community. The affordable housing included within the complex would count toward Mayor de Blasio's ambitious plan to build or preserve 200,000 units of affordable housing in a decade. “By encouraging the co-existence of commercial and light industrial activities with mixed-income residential use, we can better leverage our City’s assets to provide opportunities and strengthen communities throughout the five boroughs," said NYCEDC Interim President Kim Vaccari in a statement. Responses to the RFEI are due October 1st.

A long-abandoned New York City aqueduct reopens as bike and pedestrian path

After 45 years, New York City’s oldest standing bridge has been returned to its former glory. On Tuesday, city officials and local advocates cut the ribbon on the newly-revitalized, High Bridge, which stretches 1,450 feet across the Harlem River, from Upper Manhattan to the Bronx. The Romanesque structure dates back to 1848 when it was part of the Old Croton Aqueduct that delivered fresh drinking water into a growing city that was struggling to produce its own. After decades of decay, followed by years of rehabilitation, High Bridge is open once again, offering an inter-borough connection for pedestrians and cyclists. https://vimeo.com/18642808 According to PBS, five of High Bridge’s masonry arches were removed in the 1920s and replaced with one steel arch to better accommodate passing ships. Later, in the late 1950s, when the Croton Aqueduct was decommissioned, High Bridge became a strictly pedestrian path. And it stayed that way until the 1970s, when it was closed to the public and left to deteriorate for decades. After years of prodding from community groups, and a full-page New York Daily News editorial, Mayor Michael Bloomberg committed $50 million toward the restoration of the bridge. In 2006, the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation announced that the project would, in fact, happen, but construction did not start until 2013. On the day of the official groundbreaking, AN reported that, along with necessary structural work, the High Bridge project included "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.” The project was supposed to be completed in 2014, but things obviously did not pan out that way. But that's all water under the bridge, if you will, because the High Bridge is back and open for business. “After years of dedicated effort, the High Bridge now offers a very real connection between neighbors, boroughs, and crucial resources," New York City Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver said in a statement. "Starting today, the people of the Bronx and Manhattan—and indeed all New Yorkers—have will once again be able to walk, bike, or simply sit and enjoy this beautiful bridge." The total cost of the project was just shy of $62 million. https://vimeo.com/130252478

With this purchase of five acres of waterfront land, is the South Bronx New York’s newest development hot spot?

The Chetrit Group and Somerset Partners are betting big on the Bronx. The developers have recently purchased 5 acres of industrial land along the Harlem River. The Wall Street Journal reported that they plan to build up to six 25-story market-rate apartment towers on the land. According to the Journal, “overhauling the area would cost at least $500 million in private investment and at least $200 million in local, state, and federal funds, with a percentage from developers for roads, sewers, flood prevention measures, and work to integrate a freight rail line with the public areas.”

MTA Off Track: Record ridership just one of the problems facing New York City transit

Overcrowding on New York City subway trains is becoming a major problem for commuters. According to new data from the MTA, there were 14,843 weekday delays caused by overcrowding in December alone. The New York Post found that the number is up 113 percent from the same period a year ago. Fixing the overcrowding will not be easy for the MTA as it is trying to accommodate record ridership and still dealing with damage from Superstorm Sandy.