New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos

Second Avenue Subway Construction

<P>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.</P>
<P>As former Chief of Staff for <A HREF=" York State Assembly">Assembly Member Jonathan L. Bing</A>, I had the opportunity to work on drafting the <A HREF="… Avenue Subway Construction Economic Development Grant Program</A>, 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.</P>

Upper East Side Patch Trees Planted Along Second Avenue Bike Lane by Brendan Krisel

Trees Planted Along Second Avenue Bike Lane

"Spring has finally sprung and with the new trees and planters can't wait to turn every pedestrian island into a small garden," Kallos said in a statement. "I am glad I was able to collaborate with our city agencies to launch and expand this great program to beautify the neighborhood."

Seventeen tree guards to protect the new trees from neighborhood pets were also installed as an extension of the Adopt-A-Planter program launched by Kallos in 2014 to bring trees to the First Avenue bike lane, officials said.

Motherboard The Underground New Year's Party A Century In The Making by

The Underground New Year's Party A Century In The Making

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.

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

Second Avenue Subway’s Arrival Brings Fear That Rents Will Soar

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.

Our Town Second Ave. businesses still struggling by Madeleine Thompson

Second Ave. businesses still struggling

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.

Crain's New York Doubts raised on Second Avenue subway. Can you believe it? by Erica Davies

Doubts raised on Second Avenue subway. Can you believe it?

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.

AM New York Maloney raises concerns over Second Avenue subway woes by Ivan Pereira

Maloney raises concerns over Second Avenue subway woes

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.

Our Town The Second Avenue App by Panyin Conduah

The Second Avenue App

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.

Gotham Gazette Throughout 2nd Avenue Subway Build, Local Businesses See Fewer Customers, No Aid by Shannon Ho

Throughout 2nd Avenue Subway Build, Local Businesses See Fewer Customers, No Aid

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.

Our Town Second Avenue Crash-Way by Mary Kekatos

Second Avenue Crash-Way

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.