Sure, it’s getting warmer. But a political battle over the heating system at the Astoria Houses got more complicated this week. Bronx Councilman Ritchie Torres, who chairs the oversight and investigation committee (he formerly chaired the NYCHA oversight committee), published a report claiming that Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration will be to blame for six more “heating seasons” (somehow that translates to three years, apparently) with boiler problems at the Astoria Houses. The New York Daily News, in a January 29 story on citywide Housing Authority boiler issues, featured the Astoria Houses:
“While all four permanent boilers at the Astoria Houses were up and running, they were barely able to heat the building to 68 degrees. And while some developments have a redundancy — an extra boiler that kicks in if one fails — Astoria doesn’t.”
The Torres report follows the admin’s decision last November to cancel $43.5 million in financing from the Housing Development Corporation towards the Durst Organization’s 163-unit, affordable housing building, planned for the Astoria Houses campus as part of its Halletts Point mega-development. (This was supposed to be a way for NYCHA to profit from some of its land.) The deal involved Durst paying for boiler repairs at the Astoria Houses. Politico last week said the city “disputed” that pulling the finances was part of a feud after de Blasio listed Durst as an example of a campaign contributor that didn’t receive a favor: in this case, not winning a contract to run the East River ferry.
“There was a leading real estate developer and campaign contributor who wanted the contract for our new citywide ferry service. His proposal was good, but the City agency involved thought another one was better. He didn’t get the contract.”
After that op-ed, a Durst spokesman said, “Winter is coming.” Douglas Durst had also financed lawsuits against de Blasio-backed Pier 55 on the Hudson River.
A few notes:
State Senator Michael Gianaris makes case for gun purchase background checks.
The New York Times editorial board says the mayor should hurry along with the Brooklyn Queens Connector, AKA, the BQX streetcar. The editorial board does not say in the piece why it supports the streetcar (which, I think is implied), other than quoting Michael Kimmelman who four years ago said, “a streetcar is a tangible, lasting commitment to urban change.” The editorial also links to Kimmelman’s 2014 piece that actually preceded BdB’s proposal in his 2016 State of the City address. Instead, the editorial focuses more on the concept of time. And yea, the mayor only has one term left to make BQX an official plan. The Times editorial board did a similarly ambiguous writeup of the BQX in 2016 titled, “A Streetcar Ride to New York’s Future.” I guess the opinion is implied in the word, “future.” Here’s how the board concluded then:
“City planning is always part art. And this proposal does not lack for vision. But Mayor de Blasio, so invested until now in social welfare issues, will have to show fortitude in defending the practicality of his venture in mass transit innovation. It will have to survive the inevitable criticism of urbanites who think they know better ways than a trolley car to get around New York.”
A few notes:
Women on bikes will gather at Queensbridge Park on March 25, then ride to Borough Hall in Kew Gardens to advocate for gender equality AND the continuation of the Queens Boulevard bike lane.
City Limis: “De Blasio promised that those trucks will be moved out of Ravenswood Houses by Sept. 2017, but his promise didn’t come to fruition because they couldn’t find a space to put those trucks in.”
TF Cornerstone dialed down its tower plans at Hunters Point South.
TF also bought up 38-21 12th Street in the LIC Industrial Business Zone in Ravenswood, where that long colorful mural is. The Real Deal said, “A 152-key hotel was previously rumored as planned for the site, but TF Cornerstone released a statement saying the company has no plan to change the zoning from industrial use.” But, what the hell else would TFC build?
I stalked Councilman Jimmy van Bramer today. Well, for five minutes I swung by the annual black history month celebration at the Jacob Riis Settlement at Queensbridge. I stood quietly in the back and noticed there was lots of free food. JVB honored a whole bunch of people. Here’s a whole list of them. What I heard sounded like a tribute to people making their community a great place by doing things such as anti-violence work.
Old news: A few days ago Councilman Costa Constantinides announced he’s officially going through with making over Steinway Street: he wants there to be mid-block crosswalks and a plaza. But I’m… not sure when and how? And he doesn’t seem to be sure where this plaza will be. Too bad no one reads this yet. I’d say, post your opinion on where the plaza should go.
This is a blog I finally started: a notes from the edge of Queens sort of thing.
First, a quiet roll out.
A few notes…
That Green Apple supermarket on 21st Street by Queensbridge closed and, of course it did. I’m not sure when it happened and, it always looked closed. (One sign just says it’s being renovated but another sign says For Rent.)Meanwhile, another hotel is going up in the vicinity, next to Exile.
You can probably guess which corner of Astoria I’m blogging from: Ravenswood. Some call it South Astoria. I often call it Long Island City. But I intend to cover much more than my corner of Astoria. There’s too much interesting stuff all the time not to. Like, did you hear about the dead baby in the Dutch Kills Playground and the bonkers signs the NYPD plastered around the playground saying “Dead Baby”? Or the stripper strike last year and ACES closing or the Cafe Benne on Steinway being replaced by slightly hipper (IMHO) Kinship Coffee? I can’t figure out why it’s hipper (IMHO), other than perhaps the paint job and they play A Tribe Called Quest (homage to Queens?)
I know, there’s already people covering these areas without DNAinfo (wait, is that coming back, or just Gothamist?) W/e. Anyway, maybe I’ll actually really do this.