Press Coverage

New York Daily News
Greg B. Smith
7/11/17
 

Last month, Kallos wrote to the department questioning the use of “public safety” to justify the after-hours permits. None of the work cited — including excavation and pouring concrete — “should qualify for ‘public safety,’” Kallos wrote.

 

New York Times
Charles V. Bagli
7/11/17
 

“New Yorkers are exhausted by overdevelopment,” said Ben Kallos, the city councilman who represents the area and a leading opponent of the tall tower. “This is about standing up and showing the city that there’s another way to do things.”

Critics of the project say that supertall towers in residential areas tend to overwhelm the neighborhood and displace less wealthy residents. Still, both Mayor Bill de Blasio and his predecessor, Michael R. Bloomberg, rezoned large sections of the city for ever taller buildings.

The zoning change, which was proposed by Mr. Kallos and other elected officials as well as neighborhood residents, has been in the works for two years. The proposed rezoning was recently approved by the Manhattan borough president, Gale Brewer, and unanimously endorsed by the local community board. Mr. Kallos hopes that the City Council will approve the proposal after the city’s Planning Department holds a public hearing on the matter in August.

 

Curbed
AMY PLITT
7/5/17
 

Not at all coincidentally, Gamma Real Estate is in the process of building what could become a 700-foot skyscraper at 3 Sutton Place. The proposed development, which has been in the works for some time now (first as a 900-foot tower developed by Baohaus Group, then in its current form), has raised the hackles of community members and elected officials alike. Just last week, Manhattan Community Board 6 gave its approval to the rezoning resolution, and city officials like borough president Gale Brewer and City Council member Ben Kallos have voiced their support.

And according to the Wall Street Journal, the Municipal Art Society is also coming out in favor of building height caps. The society’s president, Elizabeth Goldstein, told the Journal that the ERFA is doing “something which is really unusual and kind of amazing.” MAS, you’ll recall, has pushed for more oversight of as-of-right development before, and has been one of the loudest voices against the “accidental skyline” created by Central Park’s supertall boom.

 

New York Daily News
Ginger Adams Otis
7/5/17
 

City Councilman Ben Kallos, whose district includes many New York Presbyterian facilities, said Waldner’s was “wrong” to fire its union employees.

"Waldner's shouldn't be locking out hard-working employees, some of which have been with the company for 30 years," Kallos said.

“Any institution currently working with Waldner's should insist they end the lockout and negotiate in good faith,” he added.

 

PIX11
Jay Dow
7/3/17
 

Back on the Upper East Side, City Councilman Ben Kallos says the cost of a neighborhood’s transformation is a loss of character.

“Small businesses are being forced out, and that’s making New York City a little less unique,” said Kallos.

 

Crain's New York
Ben Kallos
6/30/17
 

How many kids grow up in the city without realizing what the night sky really looks like? But it’s not inevitable that this continue for generations to come. If only the city would tackle light pollution. The potential benefits of reducing light pollution are enormous, ranging from the pragmatic (saving energy) to the fantastic (inspiring the next Einstein).

 

Gotham Gazette
Felipe De La Hoz
6/29/17
 

Told of his colleagues’ reticence to participate, Council Member Ben Kallos, chair of the Governmental Operations Committee and one of the matching funds program’s most steadfast defenders, expressed frustration and said he was “surprised to see so many elected officials not taking part.”

 

Curbed
Tanay Warerkar
6/28/17
 

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, City Council members Daniel Garodnick and Ben Kallos, and State Senator Liz Krueger were all co-applicants on this zoning change proposal, and hailed the community board’s decision as a first victory.

“This is victory for thousands of residents from hundreds of buildings in and out of the neighborhood who have organized a grassroots application that would use height as an incentive to include affordable housing in any new building,” Kallos said in a statement.

 

Community Board 6 will now provide its comments to the City Planning Commission, as will the Manhattan Borough President’s office. The Planning Commission and the City Council will then seal the fate of this zoning change proposal.

Gamma declined to issue Curbed a comment, but Gamma president Jonathan Kalikow said the following to Real Estate Weekly:

 

Upper East Side Patch
Brendan Krisel
6/28/17
 

Sutton Place Plan To Limit Buildings' Height Clears Hurdle  

SUTTON PLACE, NY — A plan to cap how how buildings can be in the Sutton Place neighborhood — a small residential area sandwiched between the Upper East Side and Midtown East — has cleared a hurdle. Manhattan Community Board 6 voted unanimously Tuesday night to support the application, filed by neighborhood resident group the East River Fifties Association.

“We have been working with the Department of City Planning for almost two years in order to get this far, Alan Kersh, president of the East River Fifties Association, said in a statement.

"Now, we are more energized than ever. We hope to move this initiative to completion with a ‘yes’ vote from the City Planning Commission and then final approval from the full City Council."

The next step for the rezoning proposal is a ruling by Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, who has previously announced support for the application.

The East River Fifties Alliance plan would cap new developments — built within the confines of East 52nd to 59th streets East of First Avenue — at 260 feet tall. Additionally, developers would be required to set aside 20 percent of their building's residential units at below market rate prices in exchange for bonus Floor Area Ratio (the amount legally allowed square footage in relation to the size of the building lot).

The alliance submitted their proposal to the Department of City Planning over fears that Sutton Place's relaxed and outdated zoning regulations would make the area a ripe target for extremely tall "Megatowers."

But rezoning advocates shouldn't be over the over the moon about the Community Board approval. Both the Community Board and the Borough President's rulings are considered advisory votes in the public review process, Department of City Planning staffers told Patch. The plan still needs to be approved by City Planning and the City Council.

It does have supporters in the City Council including local representative Ben Kallos, who celebrated Tuesday night's vote.

"This is victory for thousands of residents from hundreds of buildings in and out of the neighborhood who have organized a grassroots application that would use height as an incentive to include affordable housing in any new building," Kallos said in a statement.

 

 

NY1
Michael Scotto
6/22/17
 

"I think every New Yorker is tired of super tall towers going in that have no place in residential neighborhoods, and for the first time residents have banded together and fought back," Manhattan City Councilman Ben Kallos said.

 

Politico
Sally Goldenberg
6/21/17
 

As City Councilman Ben Kallos greeted constituents during an Easter egg hunt in Sutton Place Park two years ago, a resident approached him to discuss a less benign matter: Word had spread that a developer intended to build a luxury skyscraper on nearby East 58th Street.

He handed Kallos a nine-page packet of marketing materials prepared by Cushman & Wakefield.

"The Sutton Place Development is an ultra-luxury, as of right, ground up opportunity which will reach over 900 feet tall," the brochure boasted. It predicted the tower would be "an obvious choice for local and foreign buyers."

The councilman immediately notified the neighborhood paper, attended co-op board meetings and informed the local community board, which passed a resolution raising concerns about the plan.

And so began an unusual land use dispute that has outlived the previous developer, spanned two city planning commissioners and pitted a well-funded community group, East River Fifties Alliance, against the new developer and Mayor Bill de Blasio's administration.

 

Gotham Gazette
Sam Raskin
6/20/17
 

Extending the deadline would also level the playing field between first-time candidates and seasoned politicians, argued Council Member Ben Kallos, chair of the committee and prime sponsor of the legislation. “Experienced candidates, or candidates retaining lawyers or compliance professions, may be knowledgable about the financial disclosure deadlines,” Kallos said. “New candidates, however, may lack such experience or the funds for experienced campaign staff.”

Kallos recalled that he failed to meet the disclosure deadline himself when he ran for City Council in 2013, noting that campaign novices are often not aware of the disclosure requirements until it is too late. “There is a potential for such candidates to be disproportionately impacted and found out of compliance before they are ever notified of the requirement,” he said.

 

New York Post
Michael Gartland
Selim Algar
Kirstan Conley
6/19/17
 

Manhattan Councilman Ben Kallos, a mayoral ally on education, countered that “charter schools shouldn’t be playing politics with children as pawns."

“Holding the public-school system hostage for charter-school expansion isn’t right,” said Kallos, who represents the Upper East Side. “Parents in my district aren’t asking for more charter school seats. They’re asking for more seats in traditional public schools.”

 

ABC7
Darla Miles
6/16/17
 

The New York City Health Department announced the community cluster of the disease Friday. All seven cases have been confirmed in the last seven days. The area impacted is the Lenox Hill neighborhood, which runs from East 60th Street to East 77th Street.

Four of those infected with the disease are still hospitalized, two have been discharged and the person who died was in his/her 90s and had significant underlying health conditions.

Legionnaires' disease is caused when water tainted with Legionella bacteria is inhaled into the lungs. It's a severe form of pneumonia in which the lungs become inflamed due to infection.

The health department said symptoms include fever, cough, chills, muscle aches, headache, fatigue, loss of appetite, confusion and diarrhea. Symptoms usually appear two to 10 days after significant exposure to Legionella bacteria.

 

DNAinfo.com
Shaye Weaver
6/8/17
 

With their school’s support, Neil and his schoolmate Katerina Corr, who are leaders in the MSLC, testified in support of GSAs during the city’s Committee on Education on Oct. 19, 2016.

After that hearing, the MSLC met with Councilmen Danny Dromm, who is the chair of the council’s education committee, and Ben Kallos to work on the new legislation.

“The rise of hate crimes nationally and in the city means it is more important than ever that the City supports our LGBTQ youth through these student-run clubs,” Kallos said. New York City has always been a leader on LGBTQ issues and that includes supporting our students.”

Dromm said GSAs are vital to the physical and mental-well being of LGBTQ students.

 

FOX 5 WNYW
Kayla Mamelak
6/8/17
 

NEW YORK (FOX 5 NEWS) - Bike lanes are all over New York City. And yet seeing bikers pedaling wherever they see fit is not uncommon. Many of these bikers are making deliveries.

City Councilman Ben Kallos is working to fix the problem with a bike safety initiative. The group stops by local restaurants and offers delivery people free helmets, safety lessons and more.

But things get more complicated when delivery men and women ride e-bikes. An e-bike looks no different than an average bike, except for a small electric motor attached to the frame. That motor makes the bike illegal.

 

New York's laws on e-bikes are murky. Selling motorized bikes that have a maximum speed of less than 20 mph is legal, but riding them isn't. If your e-bike is confiscated, you can get it back after a having a court hearing and paying a $500 fine.

photo

The NYPD confiscated 155 e-bikes in 2016 and a whopping 691 so far in 2017. While some lawmakers, like Councilman Kallos, favor the confiscations, others say e-bikes are just as safe as regular bikes. Assemblyman Nick Perry said e-bikes help people who have to pedal a lot during the day, especially low-wage workers who work hard to support their families. He has introduced legislation to legalize e-bikes in New York. The Transportation Committee is reviewing the bill.

Right now, pedal-assist e-bikes are classified as bicycles in New York City, meaning those are legal to use.

Citing safety concerns, the de Blasio administration squashed legislation in 2015 to include other forms of e-bikes.

 

New York Daily News
Erin Durkin
6/7/17
 

They originally conceived of a requirement that every school set up a group to help gays but learned the Council doesn’t have the authority to mandate that. Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan) introduced the legislation on their behalf Tuesday. “The rise of hate crimes nationally and in the city means it is more important than ever that the city supports our LGBTQ youth through these student-run clubs,” he said.

 

DNAinfo.com
Shaye Weaver
6/7/17
 

 The East River 50s Alliance is proposing to cap building heights at 260 feet.
The East River 50s Alliance is proposing to cap building heights at 260 feet.
East River 50s Alliance

SUTTON PLACE — Locals' bid for a zoning change to block super-tall skyscrapers in Sutton Place is undergoing formal public review after a year-and-a-half of planning — but city officials are concerned it could discourage affordable housing in the area.

On Monday, the City Planning Commission began its review of the zoning proposal, which would ban any commercial development between East 52nd and 59th streets east of First Avenue, except for “community uses” such as medical offices and day care centers. It would also impose a height cap limiting any new development to 260 feet, and mandate that 13 percent of any new development be dedicated to below-market-rate housing in exchange for bonus Floor Area Ratio (FAR).

The proposal comes after plans were filed by the Bauhouse Group for a 900-foot skyscraper at 430 E. 58th St. in 2015, though the proposal later fell through.

Residents of 45 buildings totaling more than 2,000 individuals have supported the zoning plan, elected officials said.

"The community has won a major victory with the certification of our rezoning proposal to stop the march of super-scrapers and build more affordable housing in residential neighborhoods," said Councilman Ben Kallos, who supports the proposal with other local elected officials. "While I am disappointed with how long it took to certify, it is better late than never."

Robert Shepler, co-chairman of the The East River 50s Alliance Leadership Committee, which is behind the effort, said that developers in Sutton Place are not required to contribute to the city’s affordable housing goals.

"Nor do supertalls do much to address the City’s need for additional market rate units because they produce fewer apartments — often for absentee owners — than more modestly scaled buildings with comparable square footage," he said.

 

DNAinfo.com
Shaye Weaver
6/1/17
 

"I attended these meetings and we weren't allowed to say 'no,'" Holmes resident and Community Voices Heard member Lakesha Taylor said. "We were given choices with no answers. What is this really for? You're not even fulfilling your deficit. We're getting darkness, we're getting dust...for a building [that] will be 50/50."

Roughly $40 million in repairs are needed at Holmes Towers alone, officials said.

"The city is losing money on this deal," Kallos said, explaining that the city will only rake in $25 million from the development, while it plans to give Fetner $13 million toward the building's construction and lose millions of dollars in unpaid taxes as part of the building's 99-year lease.

 

Queens Chronicle
Ryan Brady
6/1/17
 

Variance-seeking developers will be affected by one of the laws, which Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan) introduced. In their BSA applications, they will have to demonstrate that the situation is a unique one in the neighborhood. And if they lie on their application, they face a civil penalty of up to $15,000.

Kallos introduced four other bills signed by de Blasio that affect staffing at the BSA and aim to make it more transparent.

One of the former requires the Department of City Planning to appoint a coordinator who testifies in defense of existing zoning rules to the BSA; the testimony will be accessible on the internet. The other mandates that a New York State-certified real estate appraiser be available to consult with or work for the BSA to analyze and review real estate financials that developers provide.

The transparency measures dictate that the locations for all sites for which special permits and variances were approved by the BSA since 1998 be viewable as a layer and list on an interactive New York City map. The second law requires the BSA to biannually report the average length of time it takes to make a decision on an application; the total number of applications; how many were approved and denied and the number of pre-application meeting requests.

 

New York Post
Jennifer Bain and Linda Massarella
Jennifer Bain
5/31/17
 

“You’re taking their light and air and playground,” she said, standing in the play area alongside parents.

Maloney said the proposed project — for which the city would receive a $25 million payout from the developer in exchange for a 99-year lease — is short-sighted.

“We need more green, not greed, in the city,” she said.

Councilmember Ben Kallos said he has attended dozens of meetings where the details of the lease and the construction plans are being hashed out.

Although half of the units in the new building are intended to be affordable housing, Kallos says he suspects the project would not benefit the existing community.

“I don’t think the NYCHA residences should be trapped in the shadows of the wealthy,” Kallos said.

“I want to save this playground.”

Protestors vowed to fight the plans.

 

Lic Post
Christian Murray
5/29/17
 

One of the bills that passed now requires the BSA to list the number of applications it has approved or denied as well as the average length of time until a decision was rendered. Another bill requires the BSA to list all the variances and special applications action upon since 1998 to be available on an interactive map of the city.

Ben Kallos (Manhattan), who sponsored several of the bills, said in a statement: “We are taking away the rubber stamp from a government agency that used it far too often over the objections of residents.”

 

DNAinfo.com
Shaye Weaver
5/26/17
 

Taking cues from the community about trash spilling out of garbage bins and onto sidewalks, Councilman Ben Kallos set aside $154,780 of city discretionary funds to purchase 284 "High-End Litter Baskets," which cost $525 each. 

The new cans are larger than the typical bins found on many street corners and feature narrower openings at the top to prevent spillage, as well as covered tops to discourage "that extra coffee cup," according to Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia, who unveiled the bins alongside Kallos Friday outside the East 86th Street Second Avenue Subway Station.