Second Avenue Subway Construction

The East Side of Manhattan is currently undergoing one of the most significant construction projects in decades -- the creation of the long-awaited Second Avenue subway. The construction has begun and will eventually run through parts of most of Manhattan. While the Second Avenue Subway will eventually bring much needed transportation improvements to the East Side, it is currently having a substantially negative effect on local businesses.

As former Chief of Staff for Assembly Member Jonathan L. Bing, I had the opportunity to work on drafting the Second Avenue Subway Construction Economic Development Grant Program, as well as working the MTA and Second Avenue Business Association to launch the Shop Second Avenue campaign. While this bill originally passed both houses, it was vetoed by the Governor and has not passed both since. I will reintroduce the legislation on a City level and continue to fight to keep and grow jobs in the district.

Motherboard The Underground New Year's Party A Century In The Making by http://motherboard.vice.com/en_ca/read/second-avenue-subway-opening-party-photos

The New York City subway is the lifeblood of the city, outgoing MTA chairman Thomas Prendergast said the other night—that is, the sort of circulatory system that people tend to move through, drift through like blood cells (5,650,610 each weekday, to be precise), not a place they move to. On New Year’s Eve, it was the opposite: six stories down was the figurative height of urban accomplishment, a gleaming destination unto itself. The crazy idea of launching the Second Avenue Subway at a New Year's Eve party inside a subway station—of launching the subway at all, on deadline—was Governor Cuomo's, said the governor, who was standing on a dais above a crowd of well-dressed revelers and not far from a black sign hanging on the wall that said, miraculously, in white Helvetica letters, “72 STREET. 24 HOUR BOOTH.”

“I said to my family, I said, ‘You know how about this for an idea? We have a New Year’s Eve party in the new subway station.’ And they gave me that look, like you know, ‘There’s crazy Dad again!’ But, I said, ‘This is unlike any subway station you’ve ever seen. You look at this mezzanine level, which subway stations normally don’t have. It’s open, it’s airy. You look at the public art that is in all these stations, it is amazing." Here, the walls were decorated with amusing, live-size mosaic portraits of everyday New Yorkers by artist Vic Muniz, including one of a couple of bulky, bearded Brooklynites holding hands. Cuomo did not mention that, nor did he acknowledge another obvious amazement: the station was litter-free, with not a rat in sight.

Issue: 
Second Avenue Subway Construction

New York Times Second Avenue Subway’s Arrival Brings Fear That Rents Will Soar by Emma G. Fitzsimmons

Even Yorkville’s city councilman, Ben Kallos, 35, who grew up in the neighborhood, is weighing how he and his wife can afford to stay in the district. He said there was little he could do to slow rising rents.

“Where I have to place much of my focus is on helping rent-regulated tenants stay in their apartment and exercise their rights,” said Mr. Kallos, a Democrat who has also pushed to set a height limit on so-called superscrapers in the neighborhoods he represents.

Austin Finan, a spokesman for Mr. de Blasio, a Democrat, said the administration’s top priority remained protecting affordable housing and building new units.

PhotoWorkers on Second Avenue between East 69th and East 70th Streets, completing work on the 72nd Street station. CreditDave Sanders for The New York Times

“We pursue that goal in every neighborhood in the city, including on the Upper East Side,” Mr. Finan said.

Across the United States, good transit access often leads to higher real estate prices, with home values near rapid transit in Boston, Chicago, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Phoenix and San Francisco far outpacing other properties during the last recession, according to a report by the American Public Transportation Association.

Issue: 
Second Avenue Subway Construction

Our Town Second Ave. businesses still struggling by Madeleine Thompson

Unless you’re standing right in front of Maz Mezcal, on E. 86th Street between First and Second Avenues, you’ll probably miss it. The restaurant is hidden from view from most directions, due to extensive fencing and machinery. That’s all part of the construction of the Second Avenue subway, which has had a negative impact on business.

“It’s been horrendous,” said Mary Silva, owner of Maz Mezcal. “Business – at least mine and most everyone’s that I’ve spoken to – has dropped anywhere from 30 to 50 percent.”

In order to offset the financial consequences Maz Mezcal and its peers are facing, the Department of Finance is offering them the opportunity to have any fines forgiven that they’ve racked up during the construction. Council Member Ben Kallos encouraged the community to take advantage of the program, which will allow Second Ave. business owners and buildings to have any penalties and interest voided for violations such as snow on the sidewalk, working without a permit, improper trash disposal and failure to conduct required inspections, among others.

“It’s an opportunity for them to get to square one ahead of some legislation I’ve introduced that would actually put their businesses at risk if they haven’t been good neighbors,” Kallos said.

At Kallos’ press conference last week, Finance Department Commissioner Jacques Jiha said almost 700,000 violations have gone into judgment since the construction on the subway began.

Issue: 
Second Avenue Subway Construction