New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos

Upper East Side Patch

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.

Upper East Side Patch Give Roosevelt Island A Bank, UES Community Board Says by Nick Garber

Give Roosevelt Island A Bank, UES Community Board Says

Beyond the island's permanent residents, board members also expressed concern that students and employees at the island's Cornell Tech campus, as well as patients at the city-run Coler nursing home and rehabilitation center, might be inconvenienced by the absence of services.

City Councilmember Ben Kallos, who represents the island, told Patch on Thursday that he has been in touch with state and federal officials about restoring banking services.

The developer Hudson Related, which has built up parts of the island, has also "reached out to a laundry list of banks" to inquire about setting up a new branch there, Kallos said.

Upper East Side Patch UES Trader Joe's Set For 2021 Opening After Yearslong Move-In by Nick Garber

UES Trader Joe's Set For 2021 Opening After Yearslong Move-In

After presenting the two options to neighborhood groups including the East River 50s Alliance and Sutton Area Community, Kallos said that residents' preference was clear.

"What I will say is, people love Trader Joe's," Kallos said.

Trader Joe's will be committing to the space through June 2026, with an option to renew until 2036, according to a copy of the lease which was shared with Patch.

Upper East Side Patch Vacancy Crisis: Empty Storefronts Blanket Upper East Side by Nick Garber

Vacancy Crisis: Empty Storefronts Blanket Upper East Side

UPPER EAST SIDE, NY — For years, Upper East Siders have observed growing numbers of vacant storefronts in the neighborhood. Then the pandemic hit.

The coronavirus threatens to unleash a retail apocalypse on New York City, having already shuttered scores of beloved neighborhood eateries and other businesses facing unfulfillable rent payments and a lack of aid from the federal government.

Before the crisis, vacancies were already mounting — a trend that Upper East Side City Councilmember Ben Kallos blames partly on landlords "demanding rents that only national chains and banks could pay."

Upper East Side Patch Submissions Open For Upper East Side Participatory Budgeting by Nick Garber

Submissions Open For Upper East Side Participatory Budgeting

UPPER EAST SIDE, NY — It is once again time for Upper East Siders to weigh in on how to spend more than $1 million to improve their neighborhood through the city's participatory budgeting process.

The process — which has residents brainstorm, pitch and vote on ideas for local funding — opened this month in District 5, which includes the eastern stretch of the Upper East Side as well as Roosevelt Island.

Councilmember Ben Kallos has $1 million for capital projects — brick-and-mortar, physical infrastructure work — to allot to his constituents. (City Councilmember Keith Powers, who also represents part of the Upper East Side, has not yet announced a budgeting program for this year.)

Upper East Side Patch UES School Celebrates New Dual-Language French Program by Nick Garber

UES School Celebrates New Dual-Language French Program

UPPER EAST SIDE, NY — Officials and families cut a ceremonial ribbon at an Upper East Side pre-K center Friday, marking the start of a new French dual language program nearly a year in the making.

The program's origins date back to a December 2019 meeting with City Councilmember Ben Kallos and local school leaders and parents at the Stanley Isaacs Center.

That meeting gave rise to a petition signed by more than 200 parents pledging to send their children to a French dual language program if such a program was created, Kallos's office said.