New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos

Land Use

El Diario Todas las miradas sobre Amazon por polémica sede en NYC by Jose Martinez

Todas las miradas sobre Amazon por polémica sede en NYC

Amazon responde

Funcionarios electos como el contralor Scott Stringer, la expresidenta del Concejo Municipal y candidata a la Defensoría del Pueblo Melissa Mark Viverito, y los concejales Jimmy Van Bramer, Brad Lander, Ben Kallos y Jumaane Williams también se unieron al movimiento que se trasladó al interior de la edificación, donde visiblemente molesto, Corey Johnson, presidente del Concejo Municipal dio inició a la primera de tres audiencias públicas programadas.

Curbed Opponents of Amazon’s ‘unconscionable’ HQ2 deal rally in Queens by Dave Colon

Opponents of Amazon’s ‘unconscionable’ HQ2 deal rally in Queens

Numerous speakers also blasted the inclusion of a helipad in the construction of the campus, which was held up as a totem of what they saw as Bezos’ elite attitude, refusal to ride the subway, or spend a second longer in Queens than he might have to. City Council Member Ben Kallos of the Upper East Side went as far as comparing Bezos to a Bond villain.

Kallos was also the only speaker of the bunch to bring up a letter that he and many other lawmakers (including rally leader Van Bramer and Queens state Senator Mike Gianaris) signed last year asking Amazon to explore moving to New York City, an awkward juxtaposition with the day’s anti-Amazon sentiment. “A lot of us did sign a letter saying we wanted to have a conversation with Amazon, and I’ll be the first to say talking to tech companies is a good thing,” Kallos explained. “But we didn’t sign on the dotted line that we were signing away our tax dollars. They’re taking $3 billion out of your pockets and none of us get a say in that.

The Guardian New York City to Amazon: drop dead by Erin Durkin

New York City to Amazon: drop dead

The city also agreed to facilitate construction of a new helipad on the site for Amazon executives. The Manhattan city councilman Ben Kallos said the arrangement made Amazon’s chief executive, Jeff Bezos, look like a “Bond villain”.

“The governor and the mayor have decided to throw Jeff Bezos almost $3bn in subsidies and tax breaks – and throw in a helipad so he doesn’t have to take the damn 7 train,” said city councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, who represents Long Island City. “He wants this helipad so he doesn’t actually really have to spend any time in Queens.”

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Upper East Side Patch NY's $3B Gift To Amazon Could Pay For Wish List Of Fixes: Pols by Noah Manskar

NY's $3B Gift To Amazon Could Pay For Wish List Of Fixes: Pols

Addressed to Bezos — whom one of its signatories, Councilman Ben Kallos, compared to a "Bond villain" on Wednesday — the letter stated officials' belief that "Amazon will be a strong contributor to our civic and commercial life."

Gianaris, who signed the letter, said the officials thought the jobs stemming from the project would be good, but "never contemplated that public dollars would be secretly given to Amazon to get them here."

Pacific Standard HOW QUEENS IS PUSHING BACK AGAINST AMAZON HQ2 by Jake Denton

HOW QUEENS IS PUSHING BACK AGAINST AMAZON HQ2

Another popular grievance among the speakers at the rally was the state-funded helipad in Queens that New York has promised Bezos. "He's going to have a helicopter pad. It's like a Bond villain," Councilmember Ben Kallos said. Kallos' district includes Roosevelt Island, which sits adjacent to Long Island City, just one subway stop away. "Residents on Roosevelt Island are scared to death about what Amazon will bring," he said.

Kings County Politics Government Real Estate Scam Odds, Ends & Loose Threads by Stephen Witt Kelly Mena

Government Real Estate Scam Odds, Ends & Loose Threads

As The KCP Investigation continues into the city’s taking of fully paid off properties through the Department of Housing Preservation & Development (HPD), Third Party Transfer (TPT) program, KCP has been busy chasing down a number of of leads in trying to unravel the complex role of the government’s involvement. What follows is a few of these odds, ends and false leads with a brief explanation:

FALSE LEAD: 2017 CITY LEGISLATION PROMPTED THE FORECLOSURES

In 2017, the coalition Stand For Tenant Safety (STS) along with the City Council’s Progressive Caucus put together a legislative package of 11 bills, which passed the Council in August of that year.

Among these bills was City Council Member Ben Kallos‘ (D-Manhattan) bill, Intro. 0930, which expands HPD’s (TPT) program, allowing the city to foreclose and sell distressed residential buildings to pre-qualified third parties, and to include buildings whose owners have incurred large amounts of unsatisfied building violations.

The bill, although expanding the definition of “distressed” property, had nothing to do the seizure of more than 60 properties across Central Brooklyn in a single foreclosure judgement last September. The  legislation does not go into effect until 2019, and even if it was in effect, would unlikely  include the properties featured in KCP’s investigative series as these properties do not have the type of building violations detailed in the bill.

The Real Deal A community group claimed victory over Gamma’s Sutton Place tower. It might be short-lived by Kathryn Brenzel

A community group claimed victory over Gamma’s Sutton Place tower. It might be short-lived

To the relief of an Upper East Side community group, Gamma Real Estate’s tower won’t violate new zoning rules until at least next year. But there’s no guarantee that the developer won’t build beyond that.

Manhattan Express In E. 58th St. Tower Fight, Debate Over Who’s Ahead by Sydney Pereira

In E. 58th St. Tower Fight, Debate Over Who’s Ahead

An Upper East Side community group is claiming a small victory in its legal battle against a tower under construction on E. 58th St. But that victory, the developer counters, is nothing more than a mere coincidence due to the project’s construction timeline.

Curbed One of NYC’s oldest sidewalk sheds is finally taken down by Ameena Walker

One of NYC’s oldest sidewalk sheds is finally taken down

The sidewalk shed was one of nearly 8,000 around the city and was one of the city’s oldest. It was scaffolding like these that prompted City Councilman Ben Kallos to introduce a bill last November that aimed to require scaffolding to be taken down within six months of it having gone up. Kallos argued that some property owners opt to keep the sheds in place for extended periods of time to put off making costly facade repairs. In 2016, the Department of Buildings (DOB) found that the city was home to nearly 2,000 “dormant sheds” where repair work wasn’t being carried out on building facades that posed safety hazards. Even the DOB headquarters at 280 Broadway in Manhattan has had a sidewalk shed around it since 2008.

Next City NYC Pilot Program Hopes to Beautify Miles of Scaffolding by RACHEL KAUFMAN

NYC Pilot Program Hopes to Beautify Miles of Scaffolding

In 2016, frustrated with the scaffolding mushrooming around the city, Councilmember Ben Kallos, who represents the Upper East Side, proposed legislation that would put a timeline on how long scaffolding can stay up. He reintroduced the legislation in early 2018. Building owners say the legislation is unfair because sometimes building owners don’t have the money to make needed repairs.

During the City Canvas pilot, the city is hoping to get proposals for at least one location in the city. With 300 miles of the stuff, it shouldn’t be hard to find at least one space to enliven with art.