This is our monthly recap of recent NYC news you might have missed during the last few weeks. As usual, our list is heavy on real estate, gentrification, restaurant news, the sharing economy, and other tidbits. We identify our sources, too.
No fake news, white lies, spins or leaks on NYCOTC.
The Thrill is Gone – B.B. King Blues Club & Grill shuts its doors at the end of April after 18 years, citing rising rents in the Times Square neighborhood it helped revive from seedy to sought after. Since it opened in 2000 on 42nd Street, the club named for the late blues icon has played host to regular Sunday blues brunches, sometimes featuring the Harlem Gospel Choir, Aretha Franklin, James Brown, Jay-Z and other influential acts. The club’s operator says they are looking for another location with affordable rent. Stay tuned. (Billboard)
Closed – Chelsea brasserie Markt has closed after 20 years of serving seafood and Belgian ales, first in the Meatpacking District and then further uptown. It may have been NYC”s first craft beer hall, before that became a trend, and it certainly set a good food trend in the desolate area that became oh so chic and expensive Meapo. We’ll miss your moules and frites. The original Markt was at 401 West 14th St. and moved north to 676 Sixth Ave., near 21st Street , in 2007. ( NYEater)
SEE ALSO Where to eat in Chelsea and Flatiron
Rising Prices – NYC restaurants want to charge you more, reflecting increasing operating costs, including higher wages for wait staff. But they don’t want to raise menu prices. What’s the solution? A surcharge, like the airlines do for fuel costs, checked baggage, preferred seating. What the surcharges by hotels for “resort fees” that include the gym and the pool. And we all know how much we all love those fees. ( Food and Wine)
No Wheelchairs Allowed – The three biggest ride-hail services in NYC – Uber, Lyft and Via – are driving to court together to fight the Taxi and Limousine Commission requirement that 5% of all trips muse be in wheelchair-accessible vehicles. The rule goes into effect in July, but the big-money ride-hail services don’t like it. The big boys think they don’t have to operate by the same rules as small, family-owned limo services, or licensed yellow and green taxis, which are adding wheelchair-accessible vehicles to their fleets.
The TLC rules apply across the for-hire vehicle industry, and also require that half the industry fleet is wheelchair accessible for dispatched rides by 2020.
Uber, Lyft and Via pride themselves – and advertise heavily – that they have made affordable transportation accessible to New Yorkers who don’t live near accessible public tranportation. But that apparently excludes accessibility passengers who require wheelchairs. (Crain’s)
Unwanted Guest – NYC’s hotel industry has ramped up its war with Airbnb, charging them with causing rent increases by taking thousands of affordable apartments and homes out of the rental pool. The hotel industry has launched a $1 million-plus campaign for local TV ads and direct mail, primarily to the areas in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens with the highest rates of Airbnb rentals.
The anti-Airbnb effort cites statistics including from a 2018 study by Canada’s McGill University, which found Airbnb rentals removed 13,000 apartments from New York City’s housing market in 2017 and increased average rents by hundreds of dollars. Airbnb called the study biased because it was commissioned by a union representing hotel workers. (Crain’s)
- The anti-Airbnb tagline is “The Airbnb effect costs NYC”.
Moving Experience – Barclays is moving 440 employees from Midtown Manhattan to the wilds of Whippany, New Jersey, to save money. They’ll be gone – either across the river or to new employers entirely – by early September. According to the money-losing bank, the NYC workers are being re-assigned to a location that already does back-office “stuff”, and we all know how consolidating jobs and job locations works out for everybody affected. Most big banks made big profits last year, but not Barclays, which swung to a loss of 1.9 Billion British pounds, compared to earnings of 1.6 billion pounds in 2016, partly because of legal fees related to “litigation and conduct.” (Crain’s)
- In one bit of irony, the NYC offices being vacated once belonged to Lehman Brothers, another financial firm whose financial difficulties caused it to go belly-up.
Talking Trash – New Yorkers are throwing out less trash for recycling than before. A Dept. of Sanitation study for 2017 shows we recycle just over half of all pepar and just under half of the metal, glass and plastic we use. That’s down decimal points from 2016, but decimal points add up to many tons. According to the report, the average NYC household recycled 174 pounts of paper, including newspapers, magazines and unwanted junkmail, and 144 pounds of metal, glass and plastic including take-out containers, liquor and wine bottles, and single-use bottled water. So we have a long way to go to the NYC goal of zero waste.
- Read more trashy details on the website WasteDive.com.