Second Avenue Subway Construction Updates
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.
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.
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.
East side councilmember wants to meet every person in the district
New York, NY— After reports of a Second Avenue construction worker falling and sustaining injuries, Council Member Ben Kallos, who represents the East Side and Roosevelt Island, released the following statement:
A quartet of politicians—Rep. Carolyn Maloney, Councilmen Daniel Garodnick and Ben Kallos, and Assemblyman Dan Quart—held a press conference Wednesday to warn of five issues that could postpone completion of the first phase of the new subway line. In ascending order of worry, they listed the 69th Street entrance to the 72nd Street station, track installation, electrical work, the project's budget, and—their top concern—the 86th Street entrance.
U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney, City Council members Ben Kallos and Dan Garodnick and representatives for other elected officials gave an update on the project at a news conference Wednesday and said they would push the agency to work on areas of concern regarding the line.
Nancy Ploeger, president of the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce, along with Councilmembers Ben Kallos and David Garodnick, announced the launch of the Second Ave. app last month.
The app is designed to help businesses that have been hurt by the ongoing construction of the Second Ave. subway. The app gives users easy access to the 457 businesses along the avenue.
“We have a lot of young people around Second Avenue and of course everyone using apps today,” said Ploeger.
Kallos and Garodnick helped find money for the project, allocating $10,000 to bring the idea to life. According to Kallos, public-private partnership was an essential model for supporting the small businesses that suffer because of necessary infrastructure improvements.
Council Member Ben Kallos, whose East Side district has been significantly affected by the subway construction, feels businesses need more than just easy access. "While the Second Avenue Subway will be beneficial to our residents, construction has been disruptive in our community, affecting small businesses and residents alike," he said. "Many small businesses have closed, and those that have stayed open have seen up to a 30 percent decline in revenues." Kallosproposed an idea for providing financial relief to these businesses through city grants, but his proposal has not seen movement.
Second Avenue has long been a cause of strife for New Yorkers on the East side. From restaurant owners losing profits due to subway construction to pedestrians being forced onto the street thanks to closed sidewalks, the avenue has been the source of no shortage of headaches.
Now, a new problem has come into focus: taxi accidents.
Over the course of the past three years, from January 2012 to May 2014, accidents involving taxicabs on Second Avenue between 59th Street and 96th Street have risen by approximately 45 percent, according to an Our Town analysis. While accidents totaled 96 for the five-month period from January to May in 2012, they rose to a startling 139 during the same period in 2014.
Councilman Ben Kallos, who represents the Upper East Side, said, “Every New Yorker should feel safe walking down the street, which is why traffic and safety issues are so important in our community,” he said. “Any trends that show collisions on the rise, from commercial or personal vehicles, must be closely watched by city government.”
Councilman Kallos urged residents to contact him via his web site if they are concerned about an unsafe intersection or a street issue they felt needed fixing.
Also not doing so well: Second Avenue businesses. Those that have not already closed are just barely limping along with subway construction on its umpteenth year and Councilman Ben Kallos thinks that the city should provide grants to keep the survivors alive, according to DNAinfo. “Small businesses located within 150 feet of municipal construction sites would be eligible to apply for grants if they could show a 10 percent reduction in taxable income compared to the year before construction began.”
City Councilman Ben Kallos is hoping to secure funds to help business owners like Pecora by creating grants for small businesses that have been negatively affected by municipal construction projects like the Second Avenue subway project.
Since construction started, Second Avenue businesses have struggled with decreased foot traffic, high noise levels and excess dust and debris.
“Anyone who lives in the district knows that stores have closed,” Kallos said. “Some have seen losses of 25 percent or more. Even businesses like the Beach Café, which has been here for almost 50 years, are struggling.”
According to Kallos's proposal, small businesses located within 150 feet of municipal construction sites would be eligible to apply for grants if they could show a 10 percent reduction in taxable income compared to the year before construction began. Businesses could seek funds for both physical improvements, like soundproof windows and improved ventilation systems, and for marketing and advertising efforts to reach more customers. In some cases, businesses would also be able to seek funds for payroll and rental assistance.
I would like to get the MTA to auction off a free ticket for the inaugural run of the 2nd Avenue subway each and every month. To participate in the contest, contestants would have to either A. Tweet, Send an Instagram photo, or post on Facebook a product or meal purchased at a 2nd Avenue business anywhere along the construction zone using the hashtag #Isupport2ndAve
B. Use a website called Thunderclap.it which would blast out a timed tweet and facebook post from all supporters of 2nd Avenue businesses
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 eight Assembly Districts. 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. Some establishments in the heart of the initial construction area have lost 20 or 30 percent of business, and others have closed permanently. This bill would create a Second Avenue Subway construction economic development grant program for the purpose of providing financial and technical assistance to small and micro businesses located within the area where construction is taking place. Assistance would be provided for projects such capital improvements, marketing and advertising, as well as emergency funds for endangered businesses. Thus, any grants from this program would be funneled right back into the New York City economy.