The First Neighborhood


By Alon Gibely Jex

Since 2005, when NY Living Solutions first opened its doors, we’ve been located in the Financial District. Not only did we get our start here, but so did New York City itself, when the first Dutch traders set up shop in this very same area in 1625. And through the years, the importance of this neighborhood has certainly not diminished.

In 1697, Trinity Church was erected to serve the needs of the growing Protestant community, and the church is still there, albeit in its more recent Gothic incarnation, built in 1846 where it still stands. In the church’s adjoining cemetery lies the remains of Robert Fulton, inventor of the steamboat and namesake for nearby Fulton street, Albert Gallatin, former US Treasurer and one of the founders of New York University, and Alexander Hamilton, former US Treasurer and revolutionary, who’s currently nearly as popular now as he was when he was alive thanks to the Broadway musical.

The revolutionary roots of New York City’s Financial District don’t end with Hamilton, Federal Hall, located on Wall Street, is where George Washington first took office as the first president of the newly formed United States of America, with New York City as its capital, and Federal Hall housing all branches of its newly formed government. Federal Hall still stands right there on Wall Street, as a museum, with a statue of George Washington in front in honor of the oath of presidency he took in 1789.

Just a few blocks from Federal Hall, on Pearl Street, sits Fraunces Tavern, New York City’s oldest building. This tavern was a flash point for the American Revolution and also the site where George Washington bid farewell to his troops. Fraunces Tavern is now a museum, but still an active bar as well!

Head up north to Beaver Street (so called because it was the site of an active pelt trading market for Dutch settlers) and you’ll run into the iconic Delmonico’s steak house. Started in the early 1800s, Delmonico’s has been serving prime cuts to the people of the Finanicial District for over two centuries.

Many of Delmonico’s most loyal customers are those who work in another iconic building, the home of the New York Stock Exchange. Although Wall Street (so named for the 12-foot wall that was built in 1697 to protect the Northern boundary of a Dutch Settlement situated there) is synonymous with the world of finance, and more specifically, the stock market, the actual home of the New York Stock Exchange is technically on Broad Street. And while the nearby bronze behemoth, the Charging Bull (also called the Wall Street Bull) has only been around since the late eighties, the building on Broad Street has been the home of the NYSE since 1903.

Yes the history of the Financial District is long and illustrious, and this post merely scratched the surface of the birthplace of New York City.  No longer just a center for finance, the Financial District is now home to thousands of people that call New York their home, including us at NY Living Solutions, who have been here for over a decade and can’t wait to see what the next ten years brings to this wonderful neighborhood.

Domino developer promises bikes, yoga, veggies, books

By Danielle Furfaro via The Brooklyn Paper
Courtesy of Two Trees Management Company
This is what Jed Walentas wants to build on the Domino Sugar factory site.

Here’s one way for a developer to ingratiate himself with the new neighbors.

Jed Walentas, the new owner of the Domino Sugar factory, will temporarily hand over a football-field-sized lot on his massive Williamsburg site for use as an urban farm, bike course, yoga studio, and reading room until the builder gets around to developing the property.

The east end of the Kent Avenue lot between S. Third and S. Fourth streets will be run by community space guru Bobby Redd and will include an all-weather reading room, a community farm headed by North Brooklyn Farms and a green space that will be used for activities including yoga, aerobics, and public events.

“We plan to establish a community green space where all are welcome,” said Redd. “We have had immense success working with the Bushwick community over the past 14 months and we look forward to working together with our new neighbors in South Williamsburg.”

The west side of the lot, which will be run by Jessica Kocher of Ride Brooklyn, will include a practice cycling space for young riders, beginner and intermediate bike tracks, and a pump track, which is a small course set up with bumps, jumps, and berms.

Volunteers from the New York City Mountain Bike Association will oversee the courses, and Kocher said she hopes to get a handful of loaner bikes for children and possibly adults.

“The purpose of this is to have a place to mountain bike in Brooklyn,” said Kocher, who lamented the fact that Brooklyn is the only borough without mountain bike trails. “Personally, we wanted a place to ride.”

Redd and Kocher submitted separate proposals, but Walentas’s company, Two Trees Management Co., merged them together, creating an urban utopia for the fixed-gear, organic-dining set.

“We married them,” said Dave Lombino, director of special projects at Two Trees.

Two months ago, Two Trees announced it was searching for operators to take over the space across the street from the main refinery building while it pushed its new plans through the city’s land-use review process.

Two Trees will not charge the interim operators rent, said Lombino, but they will pay utilities.

The initial agreement with the operators is for one year, and it could be extended, depending on how long it takes Two Trees to get approval and finish the site design.

Walentas has said the company wants to build on the Kent Street lot first, but Lombino said ground will not be broken until late 2014 at the earliest.

“For us, it’s silly to have this site fenced off from the community,” said Lombino. “We want to signal to the community that we are creative and ambitious.”

Planning NYC’s next 50 years: Zoning

New York’s real estate planning gurus tackle the next 50 years of zoning By Leigh Kamping-Carder

Planning Commissioner Amanda Burden

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the city’s comprehensive “Zoning Resolution,” which dictated what types of development could go where.

The rules have undergone changes since taking effect in 1961, but in many ways, they continue to reflect the concerns of a prior era — when the automobile was king, manufacturing a steady source of employment and the Internet a far-off dream.

“We are occupying a social realm that’s different than [what] we constructed 50 years ago,” developer Jonathan Rose, founder of the eponymous real estate firm, said at a conference last month organized by the Department of City Planning, the Harvard University Graduate School of Design and the Steven L. Newman Real Estate Institute of Baruch College.

As the Zoning Resolution passes the half-century mark, the kind of radical revamp that took place in the 1950s is not in the works. But city planners, academics and real estate professionals are crafting proposals that will shape the way developers build in the coming years: unlocking underused land, updating Midtown’s aging office stock, incorporating sustainability, and redefining “mixed-use” in ways that blur residential and commercial districts.

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New York City’s Bike Share Will Be 10,000 Strong, Stretch from UWS to Crown Heights

The city has been in the thrall of a bicycle backlash for the past year, after the city’s Department of Transportation ran lanes through the East Village, Upper West Side and, most controversially, along Prospect Park West, which led to a lawsuit filed by neighbors living on the thoroughfare.

Things seem to be finally calming down—the lane lawsuit was defeated, recent polls have put bike lane support north of 60 percent—but how will the city react when the Department of Transportation and its love-her-or-hate-her Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan roll out a massive bike sharing program across Manhattan and Brooklyn next summer?

Comprising roughly 600 stations with 10,000 bikes, the scheme will, according to two people briefed on the plans, stretch from the Upper East and Upper West sides down to the tip of Manhattan and over the bridges into Brownstone Brooklyn, reaching as far as Greenpoint and Crown Heights. “The whole point is it needs to be dense,” a city official told The Observer. “It needs to serve a lot of different trips in order to be viable.”

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Board Backs Development of Site on Lower East Side With Housing


After sitting fallow for 43 years as the Lower East Side’s popularity soared, a desolate stretch of parking lots along Delancey Street is closer than ever to being transformed into housing and shops, marking the end of a long and bitter stalemate over the future of the sites.

On Tuesday night, Community Board 3 voted unanimously in favor of guidelines to develop the five parcels, collectively known as the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area.

Under the guidelines, the properties would become the site of about 1,000 housing units — roughly half of which would be allocated to middle- and low-income earners — along with retail shops, green space and, potentially, a school.

On Monday, after a subcommittee approved the guidelines, the State Assembly speaker, Sheldon Silver, whose district includes the land, gave the plan crucial support. “The final guidelines that were approved by the committee tonight strike an appropriate balance between the needs and concerns of all stakeholders,” Mr. Silver said in a statement, “and will result in a development that will ensure our neighborhood continues to thrive.”

Full Article Here

Cinema Lobby To Move Inside

Goldman Reclaims Ground Floor Theater Entrance

The entrance lobby will be moved upstairs.

The entrance to the Battery Park City Regal Cinema is undergoing a facelift — literally. “The box office and entrance to the theater are being moved upward to the second story,” explained a Regal employee who asked not to be identified. “The space where customers currently buy tickets and then board the elevators and escalator is going to be absorbed back into the hotel,” this staffer explained.

This move is taking place against the backdrop of larger changes at the Embassy Suites, which is slated to close shortly after the Christmas holiday for a gut renovation that will transform it into a Conrad Hilton, the upscale brand operated by the same parent company.

As part of this renovation, the space that currently houses the theater box office and entrance will become part of the retail corridor that the hotel’s owner, Goldman Sachs, plans to populate with trendy food venues, such as Shake Shack and Blue Smoke.

“Movie customers will come through the same door,” explained the Regal employee, “but they will go straight up the existing escalator on the left side of the lobby, which will take them to the second floor,” where a new box office is being built. At that point, this Regal staffer said, “they can board the existing elevator or escalator to take them upstairs to the theaters.”

A second Regal insider said that the theater is expected to remain open through the renovation of the hotel, and that the reconstruction work to the box office and lobby should be finished before the end of December.

via – The Broadsheet Daily

Businesses see BIDs as Antidote to Hard Times

By Amanda Fung

Hudson Square in lower Manhattan has come a long way in recent years, as ad agencies, media firms and others have replaced the printers that once dominated the area.

But it wasn’t until last year, when local businesses banded together to form a business improvement district, that Hudson Square finally got noticed. The BID adorned the area with promotional banners and planted trees along its corridors.

“We helped put Hudson Square on the map,” says Ellen Baer, president of the Hudson Square Connection BID, which just last week tapped a team of seven leading urban designers to give area streets and squares a pedestrian-friendly makeover.

Today, business owners in two nearby neighborhoods, SoHo and Chinatown, are hoping to follow in Hudson Square’s footsteps by forming their own BIDs, as is another group along Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn. In addition to those three, four existing BIDs—NoHo and the Lower East Side in Manhattan, and two in Brooklyn—are hoping to expand. Others, like Myrtle Avenue in Queens, are just in the “thinking about it” stage.

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Bridge to Pier 1 is Approved

By Andy Campbell

The long-awaited footbridge linking Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Pier 1 and Brooklyn Heights is officially a go.

Squibb Park Bridge — which will extend from the sunken park at Columbia Heights and Middagh Street over Furman Street and down to the verdant former pier below — is off the chopping block after the Brooklyn Bridge Park board of directors approved the construction contract for the $5-million bridge last week.

Park officials hope that the pedestrian pathway will curb complaints over access to Pier 1, which is quite a schlep from any direction. That said, park officials touting the bridge as being “nearby” the A, C, 2 and 3 train lines is misleading — in fact, the trip to Pier 1 at the foot of Old Fulton Street would only be cut down by a block or two when walking from the south.

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Mini Empire State Building Tapped For Landmark Status

MIDTOWN — Three Midtown buildings are being eyed by the Landmarks Preservation Commission for landmark status, including a miniature Empire State Building and what was once deemed the “world’s biggest hotel.”

Members of Midtown Community Board 5’s Landmarks Committee scrambled to weigh in on the Commission’s plans, which they were notified of just two hours before their monthly scheduled meeting Tuesday evening.

The Commission is set to hold a public hearing on the designations on Oct. 26.

The first building, the 12- story Hotel Wolcott on W. 31st between Broadway and Fifth Ave, was designed by architect John H. Duncan, the man behind Grant’s Tomb in Riverside Park and the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Memorial Arch in Brooklyn’s Grand Army Plaza, according to descriptions provided by the Commission.

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City Revamping Plan for Red Hook, Brooklyn Streetcar Line


A long-shelved plan to restore trolley service in Brooklyn is back on track.

The city has hired a transportation consultant to study running a mile-long trolley or light rail line from the Red Hook waterfront to Atlantic Avenue at the southern edge of Brooklyn Bridge Park.

The URS study could also look at extending the route another half-mile east along Atlantic Avenue to the transit hub at Borough Hall, sources said.

The city Transportation Dept. is finally tapping into a $295,000 federal grant Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-Brooklyn) secured for the five-month study in 2005.

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Superfund Designation: Good for Gowanus?

EPA designation might help real estate values, brokers say March 31, 2010

By C. J. Hughes

At left: The canal, a narrow 1.8-mile, tilde-shaped waterway, includes bits of neighborhoods like Park Slope and Carroll Gardens. At right: The EPA plan would curb runoff and remove the sludge in the Gowanus Canal.

Last month, Brooklyn’s Gowanus Canal became one of the most polluted places in the country, at least in the eyes of the federal Environmental Protection Agency, which named it to the infamous “Superfund” cleanup list.

While that environmental scarlet letter may not make for the most compelling marketing gimmick — New York’s Love Canal, whose toxicity led to the creation of the Superfund in 1980, is hardly prime real estate today — Gowanus probably won’t see its property values dip, according to many brokers, landlords and developers.

There are a couple of reasons for that counterintuitive assessment. For one, the neighborhood around the canal, a narrow 1.8-mile, tilde-shaped waterway, includes bits of established neighborhoods like Park Slope and Carroll Gardens.

What’s more, mopping up the mess from oil refineries, tanneries and raw sewage, which have contaminated the Gowanus since it was dug in the 1860s, will likely mean better things to come.

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City Hall to Get Solar Panels

Mayor Michael Bloomberg

New York City Hall could be come one of the city’s largest providers of solar energy, if Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s plan to install as many as 158 solar panels on its roof goes through, according to the Post. The green upgrade is part of the nearly two-centuries-old building’s $100 million makeover, and could help the building achieve silver LEED status. If the maximum 158 panels are put in place, they would comprise about a 10th of the roof’s total 20,000 square feet. Although the panels won’t “zero out the [traditional] electricity” consumption in the building, Ken Vogel of Long Island-based Solar Power, said, they will help encourage environmentalism among New Yorkers. “It’s more symbolic than anything else,” Vogel added.

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