After 40 years, FDR memorial park opens on Roosevelt Island
Nearly 40 years after it was first planned, the four-acre Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park opened on Roosevelt Island last month. Famed architect Louis Kahn completed drawings for the park, but died of a heart attack in 1974 before they were implemented. Despite Kahn’s death, his plan to use the government-owned land — which is on the southern end of the East River island — survived. New York–based Mitchell/Giurgola Architects and the F.J. Sciame Construction Company, along with Weidlinger Associates and Langan Engineering, completed the $53 million project with some modifications to the original design. The park was named for the country’s 32nd president and his 1941 State of the Union speech, according to published reports. President Bill Clinton, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Mayor Bloomberg and other dignitaries were on hand for the park’s designation.
Credit Suisse in crosshairs over mortgage-backed securities
New York state and federal prosecutors have launched an investigation into Credit Suisse over mortgage-backed securities that the bank packaged and sold, sources told Reuters. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman — who has been aggressively going after banks for improprieties that he argues prompted the 2008 financial crisis — and the Justice Department are behind the probe. The details of the investigation were not disclosed, but previous lawsuits against the bank alleged misrepresentation of the quality of mortgages underlying securities that it created and sold, Reuters said. Schneiderman and the Justice Department declined to comment as did the bank.
Six-acre swath of LES gets green light for revamp
Mayor Michael Bloomberg and city council speaker Christine Quinn announced the passage of a redevelopment plan to transform more than six acres of underutilized land on the Lower East Side. The so-called Seward Park Mixed-Use Development Plan won approval from the city council and Manhattan Community Board 3 last month. The long-dormant area includes nine sites along Delancey and Essex streets, which will be transformed into 1.65 million square feet of space. The plan calls for 1,000 units of housing, half of which will be earmarked as affordable, along with 15,000 square feet of public open space. The city is planning to issue a request for proposals for site developers in early 2013. Meanwhile, in another area of Lower Manhattan, Hudson Square Connection, the local business improvement district, proposed a $27 million, five-year redevelopment for the area at the mouth of the Holland Tunnel, Crain’s reported. The measure aims to create more green space and pedestrian walkways.
DOB to expand online permit approvals program
Mayor Bloomberg and Department of Buildings commissioner Robert LiMandri announced an expansion last month of the NYC Development Hub — an online review system launched a year ago that has since approved hundreds of projects citywide. The newly expanded program, which has been dubbed the “Hub Self-Service,” will allow design professionals to submit plans, get permits and pay the fees for small construction projects online, according to a news release. Those projects include office improvements, façade repairs and home modifications. The new program is projected to save the industry $50 million annually.