New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos

Upper East Side Patch

Upper East Side Patch UES University To Build New Biotech Hub With $9M City Grant by Nick Garber

UES University To Build New Biotech Hub With $9M City Grant

Rockefeller University will build a life-sciences hub on its Upper East Side campus, part of the mayor's push for new public health spaces.

UPPER EAST SIDE, NY — Rockefeller University will build a new life-sciences hub on its Upper East Side campus as part of a citywide push to make New York the "public health capital of the world," Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Thursday.

The $9 million grant to Rockefeller will help it convert some of its existing academic research labs into a new incubator for life-science companies, dubbed the Tri-Institutional Translational Center for Therapeutics.

The $9 million grant to Rockefeller University will help it convert existing research labs on its Upper East Side campus into a new incubator for life-science companies.

City officials said the 26,000-square-foot facility will be the first of its kind among the Upper East Side's collection of biomedical institutions, and will link up with Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and Weil Cornell Medicine to conduct research.

The facility has been years in the making, according to City Councilmember Ben Kallos, who began meeting with Rockefeller University to discuss the incubator space shortly after taking office in 2014.

""Biotech will own the future and if we learned any lesson in 2020, it is that New York City needs to become a hub for this industry as soon as possible," Kallos said in a statement. "These biotech centers will create thousands of good-paying jobs and have the potential to be crucial in discovering life-saving cures and treatments for diseases right here on the Upper East Side"

The city funding will cover only part of the cost of the new labs and Rockefeller will need to raise the rest, Kallos's office said.

The combined $38 million in grants announced Thursday are part of LifeSciNYC, a $500 million initiative launched by the de Blasio administration in 2016 to grow the city's life-sciences industry over the next 10 years.

De Blasio's administration has also backed a controversial proposal to greatly expand the New York Blood Center on East 67th Street, which officials said would help the city recover from the coronavirus pandemic by adding thousands of square feet of new lab space. Some neighbors, however, have opposed the plan due to its size and impact on the surrounding blocks.

Rockefeller University, whose York Avenue campus stretches between 63rd and 68th streets, opened four new buildings on a platform above the FDR Drive in 2019.

One of the nation's most prestigious research institutions, Rockefeller's faculty have won 26 Nobel Prizes.

"The combined research strengths of three world-leading biomedical institutions provides an unparalleled foundation to ensure the success of the new Tri-Institutional Translational Center for Therapeutics," Rockefeller President Richard P. Lifton said in a statement.

"By consolidating existing collaborations and providing much-needed biotech incubator space into the bargain, this new center will focus the boldest biomedical science in the world on solving today's most challenging medical problems – while also growing the fast-emerging biotech sector in New York City."

Upper East Side Patch New UES Shelter Overwhelmingly Backed By Community Board by Nick Garber

New UES Shelter Overwhelmingly Backed By Community Board

Supporters said the new shelter will provide safe housing for unhoused people who are already a visible presence on the Upper East Side. City Councilmember Ben Kallos, who worked to bring the shelter to the neighborhood, mentioned a man he sees on the street most days on East 93rd Street and Second Avenue.

"Does the man on 93rd have to stay there for the rest of his life, or can we offer him something two blocks away?" Kallos said.

Upper East Side Patch New 'Safe Haven' Shelter On Upper East Side Welcomed By Board by Nick Garber

New 'Safe Haven' Shelter On Upper East Side Welcomed By Board

UPPER EAST SIDE, NY — A proposed shelter on the Upper East Side won the unanimous backing of a community board committee on Wednesday, as members expressed hope that the new facility could help the neighborhood's street homeless population find more permanent housing.

The 88-bed shelter is set to open in January 2022 on East 91st Street between First and York avenues. It will be run by Goddard Riverside, the housing-focused nonprofit that is headquartered on the Upper West Side and operates nearly two dozen locations around Manhattan.

An existing building at the current site will be torn down to make way for the new seven-story structure, which will be purpose-built as a shelter serving single adult men and women.

The facility will be a Safe Haven — a type of shelter with a low threshold for admission, whose primary goal is to get people off the streets and into a safe bed. The site will offer social and meal services, counseling, and a rooftop recreational area.

A number of elected officials joined Wednesday's Community Board 8 meeting to speak out in favor of the shelter. City Councilmember Ben Kallos, whose office had advocated for the facility, said it would serve the neighborhood's street homeless residents who are already visible in places like subway stations.

A number of elected officials joined Wednesday's Community Board 8 meeting to speak out in favor of the shelter. City Councilmember Ben Kallos, whose office had advocated for the facility, said it would serve the neighborhood's street homeless residents who are already visible in places like subway stations.

"There's one person on 86th Street on the downtown entrance, there's one person on the northbound entrance ... we all know who they are, we know what they look like," he said.

State Sen. Liz Krueger, whose East Side district includes two other Safe Havens, said neighbors have welcomed the facilities.

"The communities are very glad that they opened and they're actually seeing a difference in people on their streets or not on their streets," Krueger said.

Some residents said the apparent support for the shelter contrasted with the Upper East Side's reputation as a less-than-welcoming neighborhood for the homeless. Resident Ben Wetzler said he hoped the shelter's move-in would be conflict-free, unlike the recent battles on the Upper West Side.

"I'm really hopeful that our neighborhood will be more welcoming and do a better job of working with you," he said.

No one at Wednesday's meeting said they opposed the shelter, although two neighbors expressed concerns about safety. In response, representatives from Goddard Riverside said the shelter would have 24/7 security, as well as psychiatry services for any seriously mentally ill people admitted there.

Among the shelter's supporters were two students at East Side Middle School, located down the block from the future facility.

"I feel that it is very important to help people feel welcome so that they can accept these services," said seventh-grader Ahana. "It's also important to empathize with others to try to understand how you would feel if you were in their situation."

The shelter, and the supporting resolution passed on Wednesday, will be discussed again at CB8's full board meeting on Jan. 20.

 

Upper East Side Patch Was 'Camp Auschwitz' Sweater Made In UES Co-op? Probably Not by Nick Garber

Was 'Camp Auschwitz' Sweater Made In UES Co-op? Probably Not

City Councilmember Ben Kallos, who condemned initial reports that TeeHands was based in the neighborhood, said he welcomed news that the address may have been fake.

"The Upper East Side is a welcoming and friendly place. We do not harbor White supremacists or their sympathizers, so of course, it makes sense that the address listed for this shady company selling racist T-shirts is not a real address in my district," he said in a statement.

Upper East Side Patch New Supermarket-Style Food Pantry Open On Upper East Side by Gillian Smith

New Supermarket-Style Food Pantry Open On Upper East Side

UPPER EAST SIDE, NY – A new Urban Outreach Center location opened in the Upper East Side Thursday, offering food and assistance to those in need.

The new site includes a supermarket-style food pantry that allows visitors the comfort of being able to choose from available foods, adding dignity and a sense of normalcy for people receiving fresh produce and healthy staples from the pantry.

The location also includes community dinners on Tuesday evenings, offering hot, restaurant-quality meals to food-insecure families senior citizens and low-income New Yorkers.

There are also clothing rooms, mail distribution services and a job center.

"The Urban Outreach Center is committed to ending the hunger gap in East Harlem and the Upper East Side – providing our low-income neighbors with the healthy food they need, with the dignity they deserve," said The Rev. Jordan Tarwater, Executive Director of the Urban Outreach Center of NYC, in a prepared statement. "We are so grateful for the warm reception from the neighborhood and the outpouring of support from those who share our vision that no parent, child, or senior citizen in NYC should struggle because they lack access to food or other basic resources."

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The Urban Outreach Center is a new nonprofit created from the historic homeless services mission of Avenue Church NY

Upper East Side Patch UES Nonprofit Steps Up Food Giveaways For A Tough Holiday Season by Nick Garber

UES Nonprofit Steps Up Food Giveaways For A Tough Holiday Season

UPPER EAST SIDE, NY — More New Yorkers may be at risk of hunger this holiday season than any other in recent memory, prompting one neighborhood nonprofit to ramp up its efforts to deliver meals to those who need them.

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Aside from deliveries, the center is also hosting two turkey distribution days, the first of which took place Tuesday. Volunteers included Councilmember Ben Kallos and Assemblymembers Dan Quart and Robert Rodriguez.

"Food insecurity is something our City has been grappling with now more than ever before as Covid-19 has hit many communities that were already in need," Kallos said in a statement.

Upper East Side Patch Rare New Affordable Apartments To Be Sold On Upper East Side by Nick Garber

Rare New Affordable Apartments To Be Sold On Upper East Side

UPPER EAST SIDE, NY — A newly constructed building on the Upper East Side will soon offer apartments for sale at stunningly low prices, city officials announced this week.

The City Council on Wednesday approved a tax exemption for 10 studio apartments at 1402 York Ave., allowing those units to be sold to households making at least 80 percent of the area median income — $63,860 for an individual or $72,800 for a couple.

That works out to estimated sale prices ranging from $23,972 to $64,437. Applications will be listed on the city's Housing Connect lottery site by Christmas, according to City Councilmember Ben Kallos, who negotiated with the city and developers Beach Path and Hirschen Singer & Epstein LLP to secure the apartments.

Upper East Side Patch Renovation Completed For 18th Century Roosevelt Island Home by Nick Garber

Renovation Completed For 18th Century Roosevelt Island Home

UPPER EAST SIDE, NY — A ribbon was cut Wednesday to mark the completion of a long-awaited renovation of the Blackwell House, a historic building on Roosevelt Island whose rehabilitation has been years in the making.

The house, built in 1796, is the oldest building on Roosevelt Island and will become a museum, housing the island's historic artifacts, archives and records.

The $2.9 million renovation was funded by the office of City Councilmember Ben Kallos, the Roosevelt Island Development Corporation (RIOC) and the city.

During the ceremony, Kallos said the push to renovate Blackwell House began during the tenure of his predecessor, Jessica Lappin — who was also in attendance Wednesday — but was delayed more than 13 years due to battles with city agencies over funding.

"To be clear, projects like this should not be celebrating their Bar Mitzvah at their ribbon cutting," Kallos said.

Upper East Side Patch Long-Awaited Carl Schurz Park Playground Renovation Completed by Nick Garber

Long-Awaited Carl Schurz Park Playground Renovation Completed

One day after it reopened, Kallos said the playground was already jam-packed when he stopped by on Friday, with more than one birthday party underway. The yearlong closure was bound to be a hardship for the neighborhood — and the events of the last few months only amplified that, he said.

"If I knew that the pandemic was going to happen, I probably would've wanted to delay it a year," Kallos said.

A small bit of the renovation remains to be done — the Parks Department still needs to replace one piece of equipment and add an ADA-accessible swing, Kallos said.

Still, most of the work wrapped up just in time: the next few days' forecasts call for 70-degree highs.

Upper East Side Patch Desperate Roosevelt Island Parents Ask City For Childcare Help by Nick Garber

Desperate Roosevelt Island Parents Ask City For Childcare Help

UPPER EAST SIDE, NY — Parents pleaded with the city on Sunday to expand its citywide remote learning center program to Roosevelt Island, where families have struggled to care for children attending class from home.

The city's Learning Bridges program, rolled out in September, is intended to allow parents to drop off their children at one of dozens of sites around the city on days when students are scheduled for remote learning, rather than in-person class.

Roosevelt Island, though, was not approved for a Learning Bridges site by the city's Department of Youth and Community Development — even though the applicant, the childcare center Island Kids, is "an institution" with a devoted following of families, according to City Councilmember Ben Kallos, who represents the island.