ICYMI – 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.
Toy Story – Iconic toy brand FAO Schwarz is opening a store in Rockefeller Plaza in time for holiday shopping this year, including the over-size piano made famous in the movie Big. FAO also is opening an outpost in LaGuardia Airport. The new store is about five blocks south of the old one, which closed in 2015. FAO is now owned by Threesixty Group, a product developer and distributor, which purchased the brand from Toys R Us in 2016, shortly before the international toy retailer went belly-up and closed down. The Rock Centr store will be experiential, featuring product demonstrations with employees, magicians, and employees dressed up as characters, such as toy soldiers, just like the original.
Manhattan Subway Station Re-Opens – The 110th Street/Cathedral Parkway stop of the B and C line is back in business after a six-month rehab. Southbound service resumed Sunday, and northbound resumes at 5am Tuesday, at the start of the work week. The upgrade includes new railings, signs and brighter lights. There’s no word on when the other stations now under repair will re-open.
- Read the full story of all the Manhattan subway station closings on NYC on the Cheap
Governors Island Rezoning – NYC wants to spur the construction of 4.5 million square feet of mixed-use development on the under-utilized southern portion of the island, and make it a new destination for tech and life-science firms, education institutions and dormitories, along with a convention center and hotel. The new development would be at the opposite end of Governor Island from the popular 43-acre There are two next steps – environmental impact studies, and figuring out how to get all those additional people to and from the island. That either means more ferries, or perhaps a tram, like the one connecting Manhattan and Roosevelt Island. It will be another year before the plan is finalized and the City Council can vote on it.
Storage Space – This is no ordinary storage locker. The booming art market has grown increasingly global, which is good news for the art storage business. The art storage company UOVO is building its second NYC facility in Bushwick, Brooklyn, to serve the growing market with 150,000 square feet of climate-controlled storage, plus private viewing rooms and a cafe for meeting with clients, 20-foot ceilings on all floors for Calder-sized artork, enclosed loading docks, and a digital inventory system.
Climbing the Walls – The Cliffs Climbing + Fitness is adding more NYC locations. Already open in DUMBO, Long Island City and a Westchester location, they are taking over 233 Nevins St. in Gowanus for 36,000 square feet of climbing terrain, including ropes courses, over two floors, plus outdoor climbing. There also will be fitness and yoga classes, a shop, and more. It’s scheduled to pen in 2020. They’re also on tap to open a location on 125th St. in Harlem.
Climbing the Tower – Got $24.5 Million? Then you can buy the duplex condo directly below Donald Trump’s opulent gilded Versailles-inspired triplex penthouse at Trump Tower.The 6,100-square-foot spread is currently owned by billionaire Jeff Records, chairman and CEO of MidFirst Bank. The huge spread, just half the size of the ginormous upstairs neighbor’s, is on the building’s 64th and 65th floors, with five “grand bedroom suites” including a master bedroom with dual master bathrooms and dressing rooms.
Since this is a condo, there’s isn’t the same vetting process for buyers as for a co-op, so security experts are concerned that the Russians or Chinese could buy the place through a shell LLC and drill spy holes through the ceiling, or worse.
- Read the full story on Page Six of the New York Post
Christmas in August – It’s never too early to announced the date of your holiday events. Bryant Park announces its Holiday Village, with more than 100 vendors and the FREE ice skating rink, opens on Saturday, October 27th, and the Christmas Tree lighting ceremony, complete with ice skating show, will be on Tuesday, December 4th.
Banned in Brooklyn – Barclays Center is getting rid of plastic straws by the end of this year, making it NYC’s first sports and entertainment venue to make such a commitment. BSE Global, which operates the 18,000-seat home of the NBA’s Nets and NHL’s Islanders, said the ban would divert 3.75 million plastic straws a year from dumps.
- Read more in the New York Post.
- Disney theme parks, the Nassau Coliseum, American Airlines, Marriott hotels and Starbucks also are dumping single-serve plastic straws, by the end of 2018 or 2019, keeping more than 13 million of them a year out of landfills.
Sayonara, Styrofoam – A ban on foam in New York City goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2019. The ban means local stores and food service establishments cannot pack your take-out or eggs in those ubiquitous polystyrene clamshells, or your take-out coffee cups, in anything which cannot be recycled.
The Styrofoam ban also includes “packing peanuts” — those white, popcorn-like nuisances that make messes of hallways and building trash rooms — for shipping. Between now and then, the city’s health and consumer affairs departments will educate New Yorkers on the ban and on Styrofoam alternatives. Once the ban goes into effect, there will be a six-month grace period before penalties can be imposed.
- NYC joins more than 70 other cities which already have banned foam, and the announcement comes on the heels of proposals to outlaw plastic straws at eateries across the boroughs, ban single-use plastic bags statewide, and prevent the sale of disposable plastic bottles in city parks.
- Full details on the official NYC website
- SEE ALSO United Airlines is first airline to ban styrofoam in flight
Qatar Buys Iconic Hotel Plaza – Katara Holdings, a Qatari-owned hospitality fund, has bought the Hotel Plaza for $600 Million from Sahara India Pariwar, an Indian business group that was the majority owner. It’s just the latest change of ownership for the world-famous property, once owned by Donald Trump.
He bought it in 1988 for $350 Million, but was forced to sell it to group of investors, including Saudi Arabia’s Prince al-Waleed bin Talal, as part of bankruptcy proceedings. There’s no word yet on whether the Qataris will make any changes to what now is part hotel, part condos.
- Full details on New York Business Journal
- A real estate investment firm related to Qatar also is in line to buy a majority interest in 666 Fifth Ave., owned by the family real estate company of Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner.
Sky High Prices – Two penthouses are poised to set sales records for Manhattan homes below 14th Street. Michael Rubin, owner of sports retailer Fanatics and co-owner of the Philadelphia 76ers, is buying a unit at 160 Leroy St. for just under $50 million, and an unidentified buyer is in contract for a penthouse at 70 Vestry St. listed for $65 million.
- Full details in The Wall Street Journal
Empty Pot – The iconic Coffee Shop bar in Union Square is closing up in October after three decades, driven out by rising rents in the neighborhood they helped make safe and trendy. It is one of the last mom&pop businesses left in Union Square and they can’t afford the rent anymore, plus the popular stop for coffee, cake and Brazilian food and drink anchors an old building ripe that you know Big Real Estate is eyeing to knock down and replace with a ritzy high rise.
- Full details on Grubstreet
It’s a Wrap – The famed Magno Screening Rooms has shut its doors after nearly 70 years, another victim of rising rents in Midtown. Unless you are “in the biz’, you probably never heard of Magno, despite its importance. Tucked inside a office building at 729 7th Ave. (near the corner of W. 49th St.), it screened previews for distributors, reviewers and other insiders.
Word is the closing will hit Indie filmmakers the hardest, because there is now one less place for them to get traction for their work. It’s the end of an era.
- Read the full story in Variety.
Sheer Poetry – Activists and fans are attempting to get landmark status for 99 Ryerson St., where Walt Whitman lived and wrote some of his best work. An effort last year failed, as the Landmarks Preservation Commission determined alterations to the property, including the application of aluminum siding, had altered it too much from Whitman’s time there in the late 1800s.
- Read the full story in The New York Times
Food for Thought – Hoboken, N.J.-based Jet.com plans to open a distribution center in a Bronx warehouse this fall. The move is part of the e-retailer’s effort to expedite delivery of merchandise and food to New York City customers. Jet.com parent Walmart has said it wants to offer same-day grocery dropoffs in 100 cities by 2019.
- Read the full story in Crain’s
More Food for Thought – The NYC Health Department wants to add location-tracking devices to mobile food carts, facilitate inspections. Inspectors do not regularly check one-fifth of New York’s 5,500 licensed food trucks because they cannot find them, the agency said. Critics say such GPS tracking could create potential immigration-status problems for some vendors.
Red the full story in the New York Post