Political impasse snarls bus terminal project
New York officials are blocking the Port Authority’s plans to build a $10 billion bus terminal on Manhattan’s West Side because they want the project moved to New Jersey, Politico reported. The terminal would replace the existing facility on Eighth Avenue between 40th and 42nd streets, which the news site described as “widely reviled and slowly crumbling.” Manhattan Councilman Corey Johnson, who has veto power over the project, told Politico he did not plan to support the results of an ongoing design competition for the new terminal, effectively throwing the megaproject into disarray. In addition to the new terminal’s location, other issues include its size, pollution, and the desire to avoid using eminent domain. The replacement terminal is slated to be built west of the current one. The Port Authority is scheduled to select a winning design in September.
First mandatory inclusionary zoning project scuttled
The City Council unanimously voted to reject a developer’s proposal to build a 50-percent affordable, 355-unit residential project in Inwood rather than a smaller market-rate tower, the New York Daily News and Politico reported. Without the approval, Washington Square Partners and Acadia Realty Trust can still construct a 14-story market-rate complex. The project was the first private-sector development proposed under Mayor Bill de Blasio’s mandatory inclusionary zoning policy, which requires developers to include below-market-rate housing in projects that require city approval. Local City Council member Ydanis Rodriguez led the opposition. Afterward, Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito downplayed concern that the Inwood vote set a precedent. “Every project in every district is different,” she said. The mayor, however, did not hold back his frustration. “Now we have zero affordable units — someone tell me why that’s a victory,” de Blasio said.
Stalemate over LICH site stymies redevelopment
Talks have stalled over the redevelopment of the former Long Island College Hospital site in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, Politico reported. Fortis Property Group acquired the hospital for $240 million in 2015. As of right, Fortis can begin construction on two residential towers comprised of 529,000 square feet of market-rate housing. However, the developer wants the city to approve a rezoning for 900,000 square feet of residential space, including some low- and middle-income apartments, as well as retail space, a public school and a park. A neighborhood group opposes both proposals, while the de Blasio administration is in favor of rezoning. Local City Council member Brad Lander is seeking a compromise. “We’re still waiting,” Lander told Politico. “We talk to City Hall, we talk to Fortis. But the big question is, what is Fortis going to do?”
DOB’s e-filing program begins
New York City’s Department of Buildings has rolled out the first phase of a $29.6 million computer system overhaul that will phase out paper-based filing procedures that date back to 1989, Crain’s New York Business reported. The new system, called DOB NOW, allows the department’s employees to more efficiently investigate construction site safety violations, monitor complains, and issue licenses and permits for the city’s over 1 million buildings. The rollout is planned to continue through 2018, until it encompasses all construction jobs. Officials opted for the upgrade in 2015 to help shake the department’s reputation for being opaque and corruptible and to deploy its inspectors and auditors in a more targeted way. Until earlier this year, most business with the DOB had to be conducted in person.