Long before the ‘summer of hell,’ Amtrak delayed critical repairs
Amtrak stretched out and delayed much-needed safety repairs to tracks at Penn Station to accommodate the redevelopment of the nearby James A. Farley Post Office, according to a report from the New York Times. Between December 2013 and March 2017, crews working on the $1.6 billion conversion of the post office into the Moynihan Train Hall annex got 400 more working hours than the workers repairing the tracks, the Times reported. In doing so, it said, Amtrak “set the stage” for the three derailments at Penn Station this year, which prompted the railroad to shut down the tracks for long periods this summer. Both Amtrak and Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who is leading the Moynihan project, denied that the project prevented any track repairs.
Proposed zoning ‘standard’ could cap height of Gamma’s Sutton Place tower
The city certified a rezoning proposal from Sutton Place neighborhood groups that would cap the height of Gamma Real Estate’s proposed 800-foot tower on East 58th Street, according to Politico. Rather than limiting the development’s height to 260 feet, the rezoning would require the building to be designed to the “tower-on-base” standard, which requires that 45 to 50 percent of the building is massed below 150 feet. If passed by the City Council, it would require that all new developments east of First Avenue between East 51st and East 59th streets follow the standard, according to Patch. Gamma could skirt the new rules if it completed the foundation for the building before the council votes, but the firm’s president, Jonathan Kalikow, said it was effectively impossible to do so.
Michael Stern promises to pay for flood barriers in exchange for air rights
Michael Stern’s JDS Development Group may have struck a deal to make its controversial 77-story residential tower in Two Bridges a reality. If JDS gets the green light from the city for its 600-unit rental project at 247 Cherry Street, the firm will pay for flood barriers to protect neighboring buildings at 80 and 82 Rutgers Slip, DNAinfo reported last month. The two nonprofits that own the low-income housing agreed to sell their air rights in exchange for the flood protection. As a part of the deal, JDS also agreed to move mechanical equipment to the second floor of 80 Rutgers Slip and provide emergency power systems. The building was flooded with four feet of water during Hurricane Sandy.
Ethnic tensions rise over Rabsky’s development at Pfizer site
The Rabsky Group’s 1,146-unit residential development on the old Pfizer site in Brooklyn, a hotbed for ethnic tensions in Williamsburg, was approved by the City Council’s Committee on Land Use in October. Hispanic and African-American residents in a neighboring area are worried that the building — which recently was rezoned to allow for many three- and four-bedroom apartments — will mostly be marketed to Hasidic Jewish families, which are typically larger, Politico reported. Local City Council member Stephen Levin supports Rabsky’s current plan. But Antonio Reynoso, who represents the neighboring, mostly Hispanic and black district, wants the city to more strictly dictate the project.