De Blasio proposes $2.5 billion streetcar system
In what has been hailed as his most ambitious transportation initiative to date, Mayor Bill de Blasio has put forward a $2.5 billion proposal for a 16-mile streetcar system that would connect neighborhoods along the East River in Brooklyn and Queens that have little or no subway service. The streetcars are expected to run between Sunset Park and Gowanus in Brooklyn and Astoria, Queens. “This is about mapping transit to the future of New York,” said Alicia Glen, the city’s deputy mayor for housing and economic development, in a New York Times story. The plan has won support from developers, including Jed Walentas of Two Trees Management, who is redeveloping the Domino Sugar site in Williamsburg. Walentas is helping to pay for a study on the project’s feasibility and cost. Construction on the streetcar system is set to start in 2019, but full service may not begin until 2024, officials said.
LIC project gets thumbs down from community board
Developers seeking to build apartments at a manufacturing site in Long Island City have been dealt a setback after a community board recommended to vote down the application. Simon Baron Development and CRE Development are seeking a variance from the city’s Board of Standards and Appeals to redevelop the old Paragon Paint Factory site at the corner of Vernon Boulevard and 46th Avenue into a 344-unit rental, three-tower apartment block, according to DNAInfo. The plans also include retail, a park and more than 100 affordable apartments. But Community Board 2 shot down the application last month, saying the area is already overdeveloped. Developer Simon Baron purchased the property for $14.7 million in 2013. The board’s recommendation is only advisory.
City Council takes up affordable housing plan
After months of debate, the City Council is deciding the fate of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s citywide rezoning plan. The plan consists of two major proposals, one which would require developers to set aside 25 percent to 30 percent of units in new buildings as affordable, and another which would permit developers to build taller buildings in low-rise neighborhoods. De Blasio has said the rezoning will further the city’s aim of creating or preserving 200,000 affordable housing units. However, community boards have opposed the proposals, arguing that the affordable apartments would be too costly for many low-income residents. In a possible compromise, the administration last month signaled that the city could set aside units for working-class families earning less than 60 percent of an area’s median income to guarantee more low-income units, Crain’s New York reported. A vote by the City Council is expected to come this month.
Cuomo rejects plan to raise taxes on the wealthy
Governor Andrew Cuomo has brushed aside a plan proposed by an Assembly Democrat to raise taxes on New York’s high earners. “I don’t believe there’s any reason or appetite to take up taxes this year,” Cuomo said last month, according to The Daily News. In January, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie unveiled a plan to extend and expand a millionaire’s tax. Under the proposal, those who make more than $5 million a year would be subject to a new tax bracket of 9.32 percent, while those making more than $10 million would face a state income tax of 9.82 percent. Those making more than $1 million would continue to pay 8.82 percent. The changes would add an extra $1 billion to the state, Democrats say. The millionaire’s tax is set to expire in 2017.