200 Amsterdam Avenue in November 2019. Photo by Michael Young
Developers of the Upper West Side’s tallest building, 200 Amsterdam Avenue, were dealt an unprecedented let down last week when a State Supreme Court Judge ruled that 20 or more floors may have to be eliminated from the residential skyscraper. Developers SJP Properties and Mitsui Fudosan America are in the process of appealing the decision, which is the latest in a string of community-led attacks on development throughout the city.
Steven Pozycki, founder, chairman, and CEO of SJP Properties said “This ruling sets a dangerous precedent for the future of development in this city, “It will send a message to investors that the administration of land use controls in New York City can be upended, and substantial investments can be wiped out, by even a single individual who is unhappy with the building permitted by those controls.”
Opponents of the project, led by civic organizations including the Municipal Arts Society (MAS), contend that the developers skirted regulations by using a “gerrymandered” 39-sided plot in order to maximize the height of the 668-foot-tall tower.
Legal representatives for the development team disagree on all grounds. “The reality is that there’s nothing nefarious about it,” said Paul Selver, partner at Kramer Levin, which is representing the developers. “If the whole block was one zoning lot, you could still build the exact same building. The gerrymandering didn’t create this building; the fact that you have a superblock created the ability to build this building. And that superblock goes back to Robert Moses times.”
However, Selver has faith in the appeal process, and believes that 200 Amsterdam will eventually get back on track.
Residents of Tribeca and Chinatown are up in arms over the decision to build a 45-story jail tower at 125 White Street, currently the Manhattan Detention Complex more infamously known as “the Tombs.” While the city had originally planned to shift a portion of the island’s projected 5,000 inmates (the administration expects to reach that number from the current 9,000 through bail and sentencing reform) to a 40-story tower at 80 Centre Street in Lower Manhattan, that fell through in November of 2018.
Now, the plan is to demolish the two towers at 124 White Street (13 stories) and 125 White Street (9 stories) and replace them with a 45-story, 1.27-million-square-foot tower with 1,440 beds.
New York’s MTA is thinking about a public service announcement that would ask subway riders not to remove Apple AirPods while getting on or off the subway, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The Wall Street Journal quoted MTA maintenance supervisor Steven Dluginski, who said the MTA uses a “picker-upper thing” to rescue lost AirPods. But, given the summer heat and increased sweat, Dluginski said there has been an increase in the number of AirPods that have fallen on the tracks.
this summer was the “worst” for AirPod rescues and that on just a single summer Thursday at noon, Dluginski’s team had to retrieve six of them. It’s risky for employees who have to try to pick them up and can cause train delays.
In July, a rider named Ashley Mayer went viral on Twitter after she retrieved a lost AirPod from the tracks using duct tape at the end of a pole.
Best Thing Is To leave Them On
Optimus Ride, a leading self-driving vehicle technology company, has announced the launch of New York state’s first self-driving vehicle program, located at the Brooklyn Navy Yard (Yard), a 300-acre industrial park with more than 400 manufacturing businesses and 10,000 employees onsite. There are six autonomous vehicles that will transport passengers between the NYC Ferry stop at Dock 72 and the Yards’ Cumberland Gate at Flushing Avenue, a vital connection point in a truly multi-modal commute for thousands of passengers and a first-of-its-kind commercial autonomous driving system.
A cyber attack halted many of Monroe College’s technology systems and platforms last week. Students and faculty and staff members were locked out of the college’s website, learning management system and email, with hackers demanding payment of around $2 million in Bitcoin to restore access.
Marc Jerome, president of Monroe College, a for-profit institution in New York City, confirmed the cyber attack in a statement July 11. “Our team is working feverishly to bring everything back online, and we are working with the appropriate authorities to resolve the situation as quickly as possible,” he said.
“In the meantime, Monroe continues to operate,” said Jerome. “We’re simply doing it the way colleges did before email and the internet, which results in more personal interactions. As we have done throughout our 86-year history, we are coming together to assure that our students, faculty and staff are well served.”
The college is working with local law enforcement officials and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. There was no comment on whether the college plans to pay the $2 million ransom.
Despite the college’s learning management system, Blackboard, going down, students continued to attend classes last week, handing in homework on paper.
Uber and Lyft have stopped accepting new drivers in New York City. The move comes after the city passed new rules that are designed to curb the explosive growth of ride-hail companies.
On its website, Uber attributes the new policy to “new [Taxi and Limousine Commission] regulations. There is a reference to legislation passed by the New York City Council in December 2018, which requires ride-hail companies to pay drivers at least $17.22 an hour after expenses. The pay formula uses a so-called “utilization rate,” which accounts for the share of time a driver spends with passengers in their vehicles compared to time spent idle and waiting for a fare.
The rules penalize companies for running too many cars without passengers on city streets. The higher a company’s utilization rate, the less it has to pay drivers to meet the new wage floor requirement. The rules were intended to increase pay for drivers, while also addressing what many saw as an oversaturated market in New York City.
Uber stopped onboarding new drivers in New York City on April 1st, followed soon after by Lyft. In January, Lyft sued the city to block the new wage rules, arguing that they would create an uneven playing field and would ultimately mean their own drivers would be paid less. Three weeks later, Uber sued the city over the cap on new ride-hail drivers.