Council backs plan for Coney Island amphitheater
The City Council approved former Borough President Marty Markowitz’s plan to convert the landmarked 60,000-square-foot Childs Restaurant Building in Coney Island into a restaurant and 5,099-seat music arena for use as a summer concert venue. The former beep said the project, dubbed the Seaside Park and Community Arts Center, will benefit the impoverished community by providing jobs and infrastructure upgrades. Opponents argued that the $50 million needed to transform the derelict building into an amphitheater would be better spent fixing existing problems such as chronic heat and power outages and storefronts shuttered since Hurricane Sandy. Construction should be completed by the end of summer 2015, and the theater should be operating in the summer 2016.
Court clears Silverstein in 9/11 collapse of 7 WTC
A federal appeals court ruled last month that Larry Silverstein’s company could not be held responsible for the collapse of 7 World Trade Center after the twin towers were struck in the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the New York Daily News reported. A group of plaintiffs led by Con Edison and its insurance companies sued Silverstein Properties, arguing that the 47-story building fell because of structural deficiencies. The 2nd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Manhattan ruled it is “simply incompatible with common sense and experience to hold that defendants were required to design and construct a building that would survive the events of Sept. 11, 2001.” After 7 WTC fell, it crushed a Con Ed power station below the building.
Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac fee hike put on hold
A hike to certain fees charged by mortgage-finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac was put on hold by Mel Watt, the new director of the firms’ regulator, the Federal Housing Finance Agency. The increases, set to take place in March, would be offset in most states by eliminating other fees, but lenders in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Florida were not going to see the offsets, which could lead to higher borrowing costs in those states. The states were missing out on the offsets because they have the longest foreclosure delays, which cause Fannie and Freddie to lose more money on repossessions. Watt told the Wall Street Journal he wanted to evaluate the impact on Fannie and Freddie’s risk exposure, the cost and availability of credit and other factors before going ahead with the hikes.
City Council OKs Bronx armory ice rink conversion
The City Council gave the go-ahead to a project to convert a long-vacant armory in the Bronx into the Kingsbridge National Ice Center. Approval of the $320 million project was secured after City Council Member Fernando Cabrera switched his stance at the 11th hour and voted for it, according to the New York Times. The 750,000-square-foot facility will eventually include nine ice-skating rinks, a 5,000-seat arena, and 50,000 square feet of community space. The project is being developed by KNIC Partners, which counts former Ranger star Mark Messier as an executive. Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. was quoted in Crain’s saying it was the first time a developer of a city project has agreed to provide “wall-to-wall living wage jobs for local workers,” along with opportunities for minority- and women-owned businesses, free ice time for local schools and other programs that benefit the community.