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Thread: Greenways and Waterfront Development

  1. #136
    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
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    Oct 2002


    A New Link Finishes a Bike Superhighway


    The view looking north from the south end of the new bike path extension at Riverside Park, which runs from about 83rd Street to 91st Street.

    When Robert Moses created Riverside Park as we know it today, City Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe said, he left a mysterious break in the waterfront promenade from 83rd Street, just north of the boat basin, to 91st Street.

    So since 1937, bikers, walkers, skaters and the rest have had to stomp up the hill at one end of that stretch to a higher landlocked level of Riverside Park, then back down the hill at the other end to get back to the river.

    Now, after two and a half years and $15.7 million worth of construction, the promenade has been restored to the straight and narrow, giving the West Side of Manhattan a continuous bike path from the Battery to Riverbank State Park at 137th Street. With some inland detours, the path continues to the north end of Fort Tryon Park.

    For bicycle commuters, the extended path is something like a bicycle superhighway, a straight, efficient ribbon along the waterfront with just a few interruptions (sanitation truck crossings, cruise-line passengers dragging suitcases, Intrepid school tours …). Between 59th and 133rd Streets, there are no car crossings at all.

    The path curves out into the river to stay
    clear of the Henry Hudson Parkway.

    The extension, called Riverwalk, formally opened Thursday. It was instantly jammed with strollers and bike riders, intent on getting from one point to another by the most direct route.

    Mr. Benepe remembered that a continuous bike path down the West Side, which has proceeded in fits and starts for years, had long seemed a pipe dream. “I recall Ruth Messinger, when she was Manhattan borough president, working on a bicycle master plan,” he said. “It seemed to be audaciously visionary, 25 years ago. There were all kinds of advocates and bike and transportation activists who kept pushing this plan.”

    Mr. Benepe said he was not sure why Moses, the legendary parks commissioner and highway builder, interrupted the promenade for that little strip from 83rd to 91st Streets, where instead, the Henry Hudson Parkway curves out along the Hudson River and cyclists cede the river view to the speeding (or crawling) cars.

    “That half-mile stretch has been incomplete since 1937,” Mr. Benepe said. “I’m thinking it may have something to do with the geology of the site. It was enormously difficult to put up the walkway. We had to use pilings, which were driven into bedrock. In the 1930s, it might have been very, very difficult and expensive to continue to build a waterfront esplanade. Or perhaps he made a deliberate decision for the aesthetics of the car experience. There is sort of a sweeping view that you get as the road bows out, especially going southbound.”

    To build the bike path extension, which is suspended over the water like a concrete bridge or boardwalk, workers had to sink 102 pilings into bedrock, 78 of them in the water, Mr. Benepe said. “It was incredible, the marine engineering needed,” he said. “That’s why this was an expensive and time-consuming project.”

    Of the $15.7 million cost, $15 million was allocated by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg from city funds, $400,000 was allocated by City Councilwoman Gale A. Brewer, who represents the Upper West Side, and $300,000 came from a federal transportation grant administered by the state.

    “We were lucky to have a healthy economy, at least the first two terms, so a lot of money was put in to build this kind of infrastructure,” Mr. Benepe said.

    The old detour took people past the 91st Street gardens, offering a colorful view of flowers as the seasons changed. The new path has a lovely view of a long wake of sailboats at anchor dappling the water like pebbles skimming across the surface. The extension cuts perhaps five minutes off a bike ride, not bad for a commuter in a hurry.

    For those who prefer a workout to highway speed, it’s still possible to stomp up the hill to the gardens.

  2. #137

  3. #138


    The view looking north from the south end of the new bike path extension at Riverside Park, which runs from about 83rd Street to 91st Street.

    Now, how much would it take to allow mopeds and maybe very small displacement scooters?

  4. #139


    Too much- that pic doesn't show the hoards of pedestrians that are almost always there
    making it near imposable to easily ride through.

  5. #140


    Mopeds and open frame scooters (like Vespa) are motor vehicles, and need to be registered. They wouldn't be allowed.

    Stand up motorized scooters (go-peds) aren't motor vehicles, so technically, they aren't allowed on roadways. I think they would be allowed on a bikeway.

    Why wasn't this made wider to allow a separate pathway for pedestrians?

  6. #141
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    Jun 2005
    NYC - Downtown


    Is that lighter colored strip on the edge of the bike path away from the water a sidewalk?

  7. #142


    I think that's the top of a concrete wall.

  8. #143


    It is the top of a wall- that strip of the path is like a mini bridge.

  9. #144


    Quote Originally Posted by scumonkey View Post
    Too much- that pic doesn't show the hoards of pedestrians that are almost always there
    making it near imposable to easily ride through.
    Yes, as a pedestrian myself, the bikes are enough already.

  10. #145


    Anyone skate?

  11. #146
    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
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    Oct 2002


    ‘Vision 2020’ Calls For Easier Waterfront Access

    By Megan Finnegan

    A West Side with easier waterfront access as well as more dedicated bike and pedestrian paths along the Hudson River, are just two of the recommendations in Vision 2020: The New York City Comprehensive Waterfront Plan, released last week by the Department of City Planning.

    The new draft recommendations come after seven public meetings and working with local community boards, and encompass a master waterfront plan for the city’s 500 miles of shoreline as well as specifying what will be done within individual neighborhoods.

    According to Vision 2020, the goals for the Upper West Side area, which includes Morningside Heights, are to “improve access through enhanced streetscape, better signage, and more wayfinding to and within Riverside Park and Riverside Park South,” as well as “explore opportunities for waterborne emergency access.”

    The specific recommendations for Riverside Park include creating dedicated bike and pedestrian paths, to possibly develop commercial uses like restaurants and retail stores, and to build more bridges from the park to the waterfront itself.

    Mel Wymore, chair of Community Board 7, said that members of the board and Upper West Side residents have been involved in crafting the recommendations, and that the biggest priority is to increase access to Riverside Park.

    “There have been huge improvements, but the more ways we create access, the more signage, the more pathways to get there, the more activities the better,” said Wymore. He also pointed out that three main concerns for the park are to complete it according to the original plans, to make capital improvements in order to handle increasing traffic to the park, and to continue ongoing maintenance.

    One point on which there has been disagreement, said Wymore, is the proposal to move the Miller Highway underground.

    “There are people who would welcome the burying of the Miller Highway and those who think it’s not the highest priority,” he said. “The consensus is that when the time comes and the current highway has come to the end of its useful life, then it will be a good time.”

    Still, Wymore said that the community is supportive of recommendations to improve Riverside Park, and consider it one of the best assets of the neighborhood and the city.

    A public meeting will take place 6 p.m., October 12, at Rosenthal Pavilion in the NYU Kimmel Center for University Life, 60 Washington Square, to discuss the draft recommendations and other topics, such as expanding public waterfront access and green technology for maritime operations.

    The Department of City Planning must submit a final draft of the waterfront proposal by the end of this December.

    “I was so impressed and excited that hundreds of knowledgeable and passionate New Yorkers attended our workshops, and I hope everyone who cares about the City’s waterfront continues to work with us to finalize these important recommendations,” Amanda M. Burden, City Planning Commissioner, said in a statement.

    For more information, visit

  12. #147
    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
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    Oct 2002


    Department of City Planning outlines plan to beautify NYC waterfront

    by Yingying Yu

    New York City may be on its way to having a more beautiful waterfront.


    At a public meeting last night at the Kimmel Center, the New York City Department of City Planning presented an overview of "Vision 2020: NYC Comprehensive Waterfront Plan." The plan outlined strategies to develop more than 500 miles of the city's waterfront. The event marked the third phase of the plan's development.

    Built on the original 1992 Comprehensive Waterfront Plan, Vision 2020 is part of Mayor Bloomberg's interagency initiative to reclaim New York City's waterfront, support economic development on the working waterfront, and promote climate resilience.

    Amanda Burden, chair of the department, stressed the importance of the waterfront to those living in New York.

    "The water is so important that we really need to think of it as our sixth borough," she said.

    Audience members voiced hopes and raised concerns for the project. Many viewed Vision 2020 as a catalyst for change along the waterfront and in adjacent communities.

    Among the most vocal organizations present was the NYC Environmental Justice Alliance.

    Several of its member organizations, including El Puente, The Point CDC and Nos Quedamos, strongly advocated for the redevelopment of abandoned industrial and commercial buildings, removal of toxic waste sites and an increase in the number of protected locations.

    "In particular, the waterfront plan should address the better handling and storing of hazardous waste," Nos Quedamos member Yolanda Gonzalez said. "For instance, right now there's a radioactive site that's only a block or so away from a public school."

    John Valverde, director of Osborne Association's Green Career Center, said he thought the plan should focus more on the people themselves.

    "My main interest [in the plan] is to ensure that disadvantaged populations are included in economic development of the waterfront," he said. "I would like to see the involvement of low-income populations, women and formerly incarcerated populations."

    Michael Morelli, director of economic development and planning, said he expected the plan would have long-term effects.

    "We are beginning to frame what will ultimately be a larger and continuing process to build climate resilience," he said.

  13. #148
    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
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    Oct 2002


    New York’s Next Frontier: The Waterfront


    An aerial rendering of a proposed development at Hunters Point in Queens.

    STANDING on the roof of the Edge, a luxury waterfront condominium project under construction in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, you can’t help but be taken in by the grand sweep of the Manhattan skyline.

    But what Jeffrey E. Levine, the developer whose company is building the Edge, sees when he looks to the north are vast swaths of undeveloped land stretching along the Brooklyn and Queens waterfront.

    “It is a great opportunity to buy land and warehouse it for development,” said Mr. Levine, the president of Levine Builders, which operates Douglaston Development, builder of the Edge.

    Many other major developers, real estate lawyers and city officials are thinking along similar lines. Even with new construction slowed by a troubled financing environment, the groundwork is being laid for the next great phase of waterfront development in the city.

    The Bloomberg administration recently unveiled a draft of a comprehensive waterfront plan, known as Vision 2020, that includes more than 500 prospective projects costing tens of millions of dollars. These range from efforts to increase access to the water for kayakers and canoeists, to measures to protect against rising sea levels resulting from climate change.

    “Vision 2020 is a blueprint for the next 10 years and beyond that will change the way New Yorkers live for generations to come,” Amanda Burden, the director of the Department of City Planning, said in October at a public hearing on the report’s recommendations. She said that the goal was for the water to become the “sixth borough.”

    “The water should become a part of our everyday lives,” Ms. Burden declared.

    After years of aggressive rezoning and more than a decade of environmental cleanup, sizable tracts of land along nearly 600 miles of waterfront in all five boroughs are positioned for development. And despite persistent uncertainty in the real estate market, the dozen or more large-scale residential projects that are soon to begin construction, are under way or were recently completed across the city will provide the foundation for that next phase of building.

    That being said, even with the groundwork laid out more clearly than at any time in recent years, a casual reading of the history of development in the city reminds us that the grand plans of today have a way of falling apart if public support, municipal needs and private profit cannot be made to converge.

    Borough by Borough

    The dozens of large-scale plans by private developers are being matched by equally ambitious city projects. A snapshot of a few projects gives a sense of the scope of what could come.

    In Manhattan, where waterfront land is scarce and commands premium prices, construction could begin soon on one of the last large parcels of the Hudson waterfront, in the West 50s, pending approval by the City Council. On the East Side, from South Street Seaport to Harlem — already the site of a new recreational pier — the city is betting that its investment of more than $150 million in new piers, parks and greenways will have the same impact that Hudson River Park had on residential and commercial property values on the West Side.

    In Brooklyn, developers have put forth ambitious plans for construction near established waterfront neighborhoods in Williamsburg and Greenpoint, including a $1.4 billion plan to turn the former Domino Sugar factory into residential housing with about 2,200 units.

    In Queens, the city is planning the largest project of below-market-rate, or affordable, housing to be built in three decades, around 5,000 apartments, on the barren stretch known as Hunters Point. The infrastructure is being put in place to support the new community; developers have submitted bids; the city is expected to pick a winner by the end of the year and to begin construction by spring.

    In the Bronx, the city has rezoned large sections of the waterfront to encourage residential development, including the lower part of the Grand Concourse and Hunts Point. The plan would create a greenway along the Bronx River from Hunts Point to Westchester County.

    And on Staten Island, the old Navy Homeport, a 35-acre decommissioned base, would be developed into a largely residential neighborhood, with the city investing $33 million in road improvements.

    Because one of the traditional hurdles to waterfront development has been lack of public transportation, the city is planning a pilot program that would expand water taxi service along the East River, similar to the service on the Hudson between Manhattan and New Jersey.

    The Groundwork

    The pace of building will generally correspond with broader economic conditions; even so, several projects are already moving ahead, while developers of other parcels are securing approvals and permits so that they can move quickly when the time is right.

    “In the past, when we have faced budgetary constraints, we chose to defer large infrastructure projects,” said Seth W. Pinsky, the president of the New York City Economic Development Corporation.

    “This time we have been able to keep all of our major projects moving forward, and we expect to have shovels in the ground on many of these headline projects within a matter of months.”

    By laying the groundwork now, Mr. Pinsky said, “everything is in place so that when the climate turns, private developers will be able to ride the cycle up from the beginning rather than rush to meet it at the end.”

    The result, over the next decade, could be a market larger by tens of thousands of rental apartments and condos — both affordable housing and luxury homes.

    Of course, grand visions have fallen short in the past — or taken much longer than predicted. Both city officials and developers say using the current lull in the market wisely is critical to waterfront development.

    For the more than 250 people who packed into a meeting room in the West Village last month to hear the city’s Vision 2020 presentation, the environmental impact of any planned projects was of most concern. Some also expressed the sentiment that the city was too generous with developers.

    Although the final draft of the plan is not due until the end of the year, city officials say that their goal is to work with developers in order to get them to pay for public improvements, often through specific provisions written into the zoning regulations.

    “This administration’s philosophy has long been to seed investments with public money in order to leverage investments by the private sector,” Mr. Pinsky said.

    That can mean developers’ spending millions on parks, schools, piers and bulkheads — costs that play a role in how they price their properties. In this economic climate, some developers are balking at the city’s demands.

    The Scale of Things

    In New York, waterfront parcels tend to be large, underused industrial sites, making it easier for developers to create more ambitious projects than in developed parts of town.

    For instance, the Edge, on the East River around North Sixth Street, is the one of the largest condominium projects in Brooklyn. It includes a 30-story tower with 360 luxury units, a 15-story tower with 205 residences and lower-rise buildings with 360 below-market-rate units. Mr. Levine plans one more building on the site but is waiting for the economic forecast to improve before breaking ground.

    Similarly, T. F. Cornerstone has been working on an outsize condo/rental development in Long Island City, Queens. In addition to a 498-unit rental building and a 184-unit luxury condo that have been built, four planned rental buildings would add more than 2,600 apartments to the neighborhood and test people’s willingness to pay for stunning views in a neighborhood with few services that is still defining itself.

    “I think in nearly all instances, the type of development and scale of that development on water’s edge is different than what happens inland,” said Jon McMillan, the director of planning at T. F. Cornerstone. On the waterfront, he said, “you have kind of a clean slate.”

    One of the more ambitious undertakings in Manhattan is the Riverside Center complex being built by the Extell Development Corporation. The project, between 59th and 61st Streets along the Hudson River, recently won a key approval from the City Planning Commission despite complaints that its five residential buildings — with nearly 3,000 housing units on eight acres — would overcrowd schools, become an enclave for the wealthy, and skimp on retail space.

    Gary Barnett, the president of Extell, said that the “quantum leap” in demands being put on developers could even now stifle new construction.

    “The question is whether some of these projects will ever get going,” he said. “Is it financially feasible because of all the requirements put on them?”

    He ran through the list of the things he has been asked to do in order to build Riverside Center: pay for part of a new school; use an expensive architectural plan preferred by the city; mitigate environmental problems at a nearby Con-Edison plant; set aside 35 percent of the land as open space; meet retail requirements; and create 500,000 square feet of affordable housing.

    “All of this costs money,” Mr. Barnett said. “All of these projects — and I don’t say mine are exempt — are in danger.”

    Like many of the major waterfront projects, the Extell development has been in the works for years.

    Mr. McMillan, who was the director of planning for Battery Park City from 1985 to 1997, said it had really been only in recent years that Battery Park City had established a firm neighborhood identity of its own, even though it was conceived in 1968.

    Similarly, projects like the one he is working on in Long Island City will take years to come into shape, but the foundations being built today are critical to the kind of neighborhood that will develop.

    “We are essentially building a community here,” Mr. McMillan said. “When you are starting a new neighborhood, you really do have to start with rental housing to get things started,” in part because “young renters are often willing to make do without essential neighborhood services.”

    In fact, many of the buildings in the pipeline today are likely to be rentals as opposed to condominiums, because they are a safer bet financially. Landlords can always lower rents until the economy improves, then raise those rents and still make money, whereas developers who sell condos at a loss cannot recoup it.

    The economy may be driving some of the changes in the types of projects likely to be built along the waterfront, but large tracts on the outskirts of established neighborhoods allow for greater freedom in design.

    “In Battery Park City,” Mr. McMillan said, “we were going for that ‘Ye Olde New York’ look, paying special attention to historical precedence.” He noted that that meant a lot of brick.

    “Now, I think people are less interested in creating a kind of prewar aesthetic.”
    The city is encouraging higher-rise development right on the water, perhaps reshaping the skyline in Brooklyn and Queens. Advances in glass technology allow developers to be more creative in design as they build communities where none existed before. “The water’s edge is a chance to do something different,” Mr. McMillan said.

    Public and Private

    The city is dictating that most of the new waterfront projects have a below-market-rate component, usually starting at about 20 percent.

    But even with those units, the demand for affordable housing is still overwhelming. The Bloomberg administration hopes that the huge housing project at Hunters Point, on an empty finger of land jutting out from southwest Queens, will help ease the crunch.

    When it is complete, it will rival Co-op City in the Bronx as the largest affordable housing complex in the city.

    Nearly a dozen developers have submitted bids to build apartments for the first phase of the project; the winning bid is to be chosen by the end of the year and construction to begin as early as 2011.

    “The waterfront in the city is so extensive,” said Mr. Pinsky of the economic development corporation, “that we really have the opportunity to do everything.”

  14. #149


    Quote Originally Posted by Merry View Post
    When it is complete, it will rival Co-op City in the Bronx as the largest affordable housing complex in the city.
    Great, using tax dollars to build another Co-Op City, this time in otherwise valuable land right next to Manhattan. Because Co-Op City is such a smashing success, right?

    And who are the lucky ducks that get to live right across from Manhattan on everyone else's buck? Why is it that hundreds of thousands of people are stuck an hour's commute from Midtown jobs, are paying taxes into the city's coffers rather than taking them out, while a politically favored group now gets to live in slick new apartments right across the East River from Manhattan? That sounds as sustainable as a house of cards.

    The brilliance of politicians astounds.

  15. #150


    Votes need to be bought.

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