Archive for the tag 'development'

Sleep Inn Hotel

Construction site for the Sleep Inn Hotel (Source: Amusing the Zillion)

Amusing the Zillion reported last week that Sleep Inn Hotel is now under construction on Stillwell Avenue and Avenue Z, just north of the Coney Island Creek, making it the first new hotel in the neighborhood in decades.

The site reports:

A sign on the construction fence says “Anticipated Completion: Fall 2015.” Mahesh Ratjani, one of the partners in the project, tells ATZ: “We are hoping to have it completed by the end of 2014 or the beginning of 2015.” According to DOB records, a 12,989 square foot, four-story hotel will occupy the 13,000 square foot lot. Sleep Inn is a member of the Choice Hotels Group.

Documents on the Department of Buildings website show the hotel will have 53 guest rooms.

The problem is that the 2590 Stillwell Avenue lot, which was purchased in 2007 for $1.9 million, isn’t really part of Coney Island. ATZ says it’s the border of Gravesend and Bath Beach, and I’d agree. Regardless, it’s far flung from the amusement district, and ain’t the kind of hotel we were thinking when we heard hotels were coming to Coney Island.

hockejos

There are at least a dozen cameras between these houses.

John Hockenjos successfully won his freedom after fighting a false arrest in 2011, but he remains mired in a legal battle that threatens to see his property turned over to what he says is an unscrupulous developer. This month, a Queens-based state senator joined the battle, saying Hockenjos is another in a long line of victims of malfeasance and incompetence at the Department of Buildings.

Hockenjos and his wife, Irina, have been fighting with their East 23rd Street neighbors Elen and Argo Paumere since June 2009, when the Paumeres purchased the home next to them with plans for an ambitious overhaul. According to the Hockenjoses, red flags flew fast when they were approached to sign documents turning over a two-foot easement to their new neighbor.

They didn’t sign, and that triggered an all-out war between property owners, according to the Hockenjoses, which includes allegations of physical violence, corruption and even involvement in the false arrest. It has also cost them their jobs, their health, and more than $150,000 in legal fees, they say.

“We’re jobless. We’re money-less. Our health was destroyed tremendously. We lost our reputation,” Irina Hockenjos told Sheepshead Bites. “[The neighbors say] we’re criminals in all kind of ways. We’ve sued them in civil court because they’ve said we’re insane, and that John is a Russian mobster and he walks naked in the street.”

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Sheepshead Bay, post-Sandy. Source: U.S. Coast Guard, via the Office of Response and Restoration

Sheepshead Bay, post-Sandy. Source: U.S. Coast Guard, via the Office of Response and Restoration

New York Rising Community Reconstruction Program invites the community to provide input to the Sheepshead Bay/Gerritsen Beach NY Rising Community Reconstruction Plan.

There will be two consecutive meeting dates at different locations, either of which residents are invited to attend:

  • Monday, October 7 from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at Waterford on the Bay, 2900 Bragg Street
  • Tuesday, October 8 from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at Public School 277, 2529 Gerritsen Avenue

During the meeting you will:

  • Hear about the program and how it can help your community.
  • Provide input to the community’s vision for the future to increase resilience post-Sandy.
  • Tell the New York Rising Community Reconstruction Program what issues you would like addressed in the recovery and mitigation plan.

If you are unable to attend and would like to provide input, visit http://stormrecovery.ny.gov/nyrcr/community/gerritsen-beach-and-sheepshead-bay and submit your comments via the yellow contact button on the right.

You can also join the conversation using the hashtag #NYRising on Twitter (@NYStormRecovery). Follow the New York Rising Community Reconstruction Program on Facebook (NYStormRecovery) or go to www.stormrecovery.ny.gov. For more information, email info@stormrecovery.ny.gov.

voorhies-redevelopment

The owners of the commercial property on the corner of Sheepshead Bay Road and Voorhies Avenue has papered up the windows of the six ground-floor businesses that once occupied the space, signaling that work is set to begin soon on redevelopment of the site.

The six businesses – a deli, shoe store, audiologist, accountant, bridal store and liquor shop – as well as the second-floor offices spanning from 1663 Sheepshead Bay Road to 1669 Sheepshead Bay Road and 1709 Voorhies Avenue, all closed up in the past several months as the landlord, Waldorf Realty Co., began laying the groundwork for the plans. We do know some of the businesses, including Liquor World, which has moved to 1733 Sheepshead Bay Road, and Coney Island Vinny’s Tattoo, which has moved to Jerome Avenue, were upset, having spent a great deal of money to renovate after Superstorm Sandy only to be given the boot when Waldorf announced their plans.

Waldorf is also currently renovating the storefronts on the southwest corner of Avenue Z and East 16th Street, having similarly refused lease renewals or relocated the businesses there. That site has been gutted entirely and a new facade is nearly complete, featuring dark blue tiles and silver paneling.

We reached out to Waldorf about their Voorhies Avenue redevelopment plan, but have not yet heard back.

UPDATE (September 20, 2013): Waldorf has responded, confirming that it is a “revamp.” They have not yet chosen an architect so were not able to say more about their plans.

Allan Tannenbaum, Untitled, 2012. © Allan Tannenbaum. (Courtesy of ICP via the Epoch Times)

Allan Tannenbaum, Untitled, 2012. © Allan Tannenbaum. (Courtesy of ICP via the Epoch Times)

In the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, a common theme circulating in the social and political atmosphere has been one of defiance. The message has been to rebuild and redevelop, even in the most vulnerable coastal communities. A report in Mother Jones is arguing that the attitude of continually trying to defy nature is costly, risky and could very well backfire despite billions in planned improvements.

In their analysis, Mother Jones target comments made by prominent political leaders and suggest that “retreating” from the coastline might be a more a realistic option:

Retreat needs to be considered not as a defeatist last-resort, but as proactive strategy needed in some places.

Take New York City, for example, where Mayor Michael Bloomberg has proposed 257 initiatives to be pursued over the next 10 years at an estimated $20 billion. He has repeatedly emphasized that the city “will not retreat from the waterfront.” But it will be hard to stand by this categorical commitment as sea levels continue to rise.

Meanwhile, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed a $400 million home-buyout program, of which a meager $170 million has been HUD-approved. Only homes with damage more than 50 percent of their value are eligible. The Oak Beach community in Staten Island has applied as a pilot program for a community-based buyout, but hasn’t yet been approved. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is encouraging rapid rebuilding while also proposing a limited buyout program. But with no funding set aside for it, he has made clear he prefers to rebuild rather than retreat.

The report lays out the case that rising flood insurance premiums coupled with expensive new building regulations laid out by FEMA create unfavorable options for homeowners trying to live in coastal communities. Previously, we had reported on the new flood lines drawn by FEMA that will drastically increase costs for homeowners in vulnerable areas. For example, if you have a $250,000 home with a ground floor four feet below sea level, and cannot meet FEMA’s new building regulations, you may have to pay $9,500 a year in flood insurance. By comparison, a home hoisted three feet above the flood line will only have to pay $427 a year, but the cost of doing so will be expensive.

It is because of these reasons that the Mother Jones report is advocating other options like buyouts, curtailing development and fixing the infrastructure:

These options should include support for buyouts in mid-Atlantic communities, at least for coastal and estuary locations that are either at elevations of ten feet or less above the local mean higher high tide or 5 feet above the latest mapped FEMA 1 percent per year base flood elevations, whichever is higher. Once buyouts at these elevations are secured, they should progress to higher elevations.

Disallow new residential development in those low-lying elevations unless it is flood-adapted (safely moored and floatable or substantially raised with raised or floodable utility connections). With urgency, local building codes need to be re-written to take this into account, since those specifications don’t yet exist.

Know that flood-protective structures—sea gates, levees, or walls—have limits. To start, sea levels will inevitably surpass their finite design heights. But before that ever happens, they introduce their own collateral hazards. A barrier system meant to protect an estuary or river with considerable discharge could flood communities behind the protective systems.

Develop a set of land-use priorities. Infrastructure, including transportation networks, sewage treatment plants, solid waste facilities, energy supply and distribution systems, utilities, and public health facilities demand the highest priorities for adaptation, whether by protectionaccommodation (some utility distribution systems could be made submergible; other system elements could be raised or made floatable); or by retreat to higher ground. In any case, for this essential infrastructure, higher flood standards need to be considered (such as the 0.2%/year flood elevations), and margins for sea level rise must be added that are in a time horizon commensurate with the expected lifetime of the facility itself. New rights of way will need to be relocated from low-lying areas to higher elevations.

The report even goes as far to suggest creating alternatives to subway systems, which they believe are too vulnerable to constant predicted future flooding, calling for an overhaul of the century old rail system.

Interesting stuff. Whether or not you accept the recommendations in this report, the critical point is that the city is at a crossroads with billions of federal dollars to spend on potential solutions. It is up to our political leaders, engineers and city planners to make sure that they are covering every angle of the recovery process and make decisions that mitigate the full impact of future natural disasters.

Source: Daniel P. Fleming via Flickr

Source: Daniel P. Fleming via Flickr

For better or worse, New York City is the land of constant renewal. Over the last century, newer and higher skyscrapers overshadowed older ones, poor and working class neighborhoods transformed into expensive and trendy hotspots and the luxurious beachfront resorts of Coney Island evolved into an amusement center and then a source of urban blight. The long and winding history of the development of Coney Island real estate and its future is tracked in a great primer  by Salon.

We have spilled a lot of digital ink on the history of Coney Island, starting with the competing resort days of Manhattan and Brighton Beach, the days when the area was the source of bizarre spectacles like the public electrocution of an elephant and the efforts of those who failed to transform the area into a glittering paradise after it fell into decay.

Salon’s article, though, tackles the onset of modernity, and the woes it caused at the People’s Playground:

This was once a singular place, an amusement park so grand and unusual that on an average weekend in its heyday, visitors mailed a quarter-million postcards to friends and relatives. Luna Park, the flagship attraction that burned down in 1916, drew nearly 100,000 attendees each day. By the time the subway reached Stillwell Avenue, in 1918, the area drew still more visitors. Weegee’s iconic 1940 image of Coney Island beachgoers jammed together like sardines today hangs in restaurants up and down the boardwalk, a memento of the glory days.

In the ensuing decades, population loss, television, cars and air conditioning undercut Coney Island’s appeal. New York’s urban planning czar, Robert Moses, hated its tawdry arcades and thrill rides. He transformed the eastern end of the amusement district into a home for the relocated New York Aquarium. The housing projects with which he rebuilt Coney Island became some of the city’s most depressed and dangerous.

Jumping from Coney Island’s decay, the report delves into those who changed Coney Island through land use and zoning battles, property squatting and tenant evictions; the horrendous city planning pains that birthed the new New Coney Island, for better or for worse:

As the city grew rapidly in the ’90s, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani set his sights on Coney Island. Like [Robert] Moses before him, he bulldozed a roller coaster to build a recreational facility, this time a minor league ballpark for the Brooklyn Cyclones. The Bloomberg administration eyed the island as a potential site for the 2012 Olympics, and in 2003, commissioned the Coney Island Development Corporation (CIDC) to examine the possibility of revising the restrictive C7 zoning that since 1961 had sheltered carnies and coasters (and a few vacant lots, as well) from market forces.

But a Brooklyn developer named Joe Sitt stole the limelight from CIDC, announcing a $2 billion plan in September 2005 that made the Las Vegas Strip look dull. Sitt had shrewdly purchased over a dozen acres of the old amusement park in anticipation of a rezoning gold rush, and hoped to bring in marquee clients like Dave and Buster’s, Ripley’s Believe it or Not, and the Hard Rock Café.

It’s fair to say New Yorkers were horrified by Sitt’s plan — he responded by toning it down in later renditions — but what happened next was worse. Unable to build on his new land, Sitt chose instead to destroy it. Two years after his gaudy dreamchild was plastered on the cover of New York magazine, his development company, Thor Equities, began to evict tenants in what was both a premature move towards development and, many observers reckoned, an attempt to force the city’s hand. Coney Island grew barren. “They paved paradise to put up…. what exactly?” asked the Brooklyn Paper.

The present reality of Coney Island, influenced by Bloomberg’s efforts to redevelop and rezone seemingly the entire city, and the events of Superstorm Sandy, has attracted a corporate presence to the boardwalk, no matter how nauseating some might see it. Salon’s report touches on the fears some have of the quixotic spirit of the area being stamped out forever:

What’s in store for the amusement area? “We will never make Disney here,” CAI president Valero Ferrari told the New York Times, ”but it will be something more… refined, cleaner, a little more year-round, if that’s possible, with sit-down restaurants and sports bars.”

The company hired Miami Beach restaurateur Michele Merlo to re-envision the boardwalk, with plans that call for, among other things, a food court with international cuisine. “Maybe one day,” he said in an interview with New York 1, “you can come and read your book outside on this nice boardwalk, sit in nice comfortable chairs and have a nice cappuccino or ice coffee.”

The report is well worth soaking up and you can do so by clicking here.

Source: bklynr.com

Source: bklynr.com via ny.curbed

Thomas Rhiel of BKLYNR put together this nifty little map that shows the approximate age of all structures standing in Brooklyn. We were clued into this map, which pins the age of 320,000 structures across Brooklyn, via NY Curbed.

The oldest structures are clearly churches but in closely scanning the map, I haven’t seen any blue in our area, which represents buildings built before 1825. Let me know the oldest spots you can pick out. Here, again, is the link to the zoomable map in full.

shul1

1782 and 1784 East 28th Street (Source: Google Maps)

Shul Shunned: A local synagogue located on a residential block was denied the support of Community Board 15 last night, as neighbors lined up during the Board’s meeting to decry the shul’s proposal to expand.

Proposed plan for the shul. (Click to enlarge)

Proposed plan for the shul. (Click to enlarge)

Congregation Kozover Zichron Chaim Shloime currently takes up two residential homes at 1782 and 1784 East 28th Street, between Quentin Road and Avenue R. Leaders from the synagogue came to request the Board’s approval for a plan to legalize a structure that has illegally connected the two buildings for nearly 20 years, and to expand the rear of the building to add a women’s prayer sanctuary. A representative for the owner said that the facility served 200 local families. Because women and men are separated for prayer services, the building no longer has the space to accommodate their flock, and women have stopped attending. The proposal would provide the space they need to serve the congregation, the representative said.

Neighbors, though, rattled off complaints about the building’s owners, saying that congregants often caused traffic and blocked driveways, the building has been illegally altered without regard for safety, is out of character with the rest of the block, and is a general detriment to their quality of life.

Joe Melfi, whose 85-year-old disabled mother has lived in an adjacent attached house for 40 years, pleaded with the Board to join his neighbors in opposing the shul’s plans.

“My mother and my father, who’ve been in this community 40 years, chose that house to raise five children, raise 14 grandchildren and 11 great grandchildren. They worked their lives as a longshoreman and a seamstress … and all my mother wants is to spend her twilight years, her golden years in that house,” Melfi said. “How she is possibly not going to have her quality of life affected by this level of construction, I don’t think it’s humanly possible. And anyone voting for this proposed initiative needs to consider that, and consider the responsibility of my mother in that situation.”

Keep reading to find out what happened, and more information from this month’s Community Board 15 meeting.

Recchia

The following is a press release sent yesterday from the offices of City Councilman Domenic Recchia:

The City Council passed legislation today renewing and improving upon the J-51 tax abatement and exemption program. Sponsored by Council Member Domenic M. Recchia, Jr., Chair of the City Council’s Finance Committee, the legislation builds upon the State Assembly’s property tax relief bill passed earlier this year, which extended the previously expired program, offering tax exemption and abatement for qualified homeowners who undertake renovation and development projects. Passed unanimously, the exemption will be retroactive from December 31, 2011 and will last until June 30, 2015.

“The J-51 program revitalizes our neighborhoods and communities by incentivizing apartment owners to rehabilitate and improve their buildings. It has been a great success in the past and I’m proud to sponsor its renewal and improvement now to ensure that we remain committed to the betterment and beautification of our City for the future,” said Council Member Recchia. “I’m grateful for Speaker Quinn’s leadership in moving this legislation forward.”

A 2012 report noted that over 580,000 New Yorkers have directly benefitted from J-51. With this extension, improvements will be made to the program, restricting eligibility to developers focused on creating or preserving affordable housing. These changes will allow the City will both cut costs and ensure that needed housing rehabilitation continues in the future.

The Parks Department planted approximately two dozen new trees along Emmons Avenue west of Ocean Avenue this week, as the city moves to complete the final phase of a decade-long rehabilitation of the waterfront.

The $460,000 project, funded by Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz, will continue throughout the spring. On the checklist for beautification are:

  • repaired sidewalks
  • covered trash bins
  • new trees, with granite block pavement in enlarged tree pits
  • new curb cuts
  • fresh paint on the Bay’s railing
  • blue concrete and matching artistic design elements previously installed near the piers, from Ocean Avenue to East 27th Street
  • 1964 World’s Fair-style benches

When construction is finished, the Emmons Avenue street-scape will have seen a complete overhaul over the last decade. Repairs began in 2003, when the city installed new antique-style lights along Emmons Avenue and Shore Boulevard. In 2006, the city completed a similar renovation to the current one, from Ocean Avenue to East 27th Street, adding new benches, sidewalk designs, tree pits and more.

Cymbrowitz, in a press release, said that the improvements will help the community continue to recover from Superstorm Sandy.

“Beautifying Emmons Avenue is part of the larger mechanism of long-term recovery,” Cymbrowitz said. “Trees represent new life. They’re meant to last, and so is Sheepshead Bay.”

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