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.
Getting Around – The NYC Council is moving to cap the number of vehicles driving for Uber and other ride-hailing services, as part of an aggressive move to address mounting concerns that their explosive growth has led to worsening traffic congestion and low driver wages. The proposed legislation set minimum pay rules and also would change the way these apps operate.
Companies like Uber and Lyft which provide more than 10,000 daily trips would be re-classified as high-volume transportation services with separate regulations, including for how often a vehicle must be occupied by a passenger, to reduce the time spent driving around the city while empty, adding to gridlock while reducing city air quality.
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
Asta Luego – The Chevys Fresh Mex outpost in Times Square closes, costing more than 100 people their jobs preparing and serving Mexican food, beer and Margaritas. It’s not clear whether it’s the fault of the recent bankruptcy of its California-based parent company Real Mex Restaurants, or the desire of landlord Tishman to redevelop the space for retail.
It’s the second recent high-profile closing in recent months on high-priced 42nd Street. You may recall that BB King’s Blues Bar shuttered after naerly two decades, citing rising rents in the neighborhood it helped revive from seedy to sought after. The club named for the late blues icon had played host to regular Sunday blues brunches, sometimes featuring the Harlem Gospel Choir, Aretha Franklin, James Brown, Jay-Z and other influential actUn
Unmade Beds – Laytner’s Linen & Home at 2287 Broadway (82nd) is closing after 57 years on the Upper West Side, the store said in a note on the window, another example of rising commercial rents killing family-owned businesses. Laytner’s had been in a long negotiation with its landlord, who had put a “for rent” sign on the door months ago. The closing sign went up when negotiations broke down. Laytner’s shrunk its store in 2013 to counter rising rents. It still has an Upper East Side location.
- Read the full story in West Side Rag
Nuts to You – A Nutella Cafe is opening by the end of the year in Union Square, at 116 University Place. Specific menu items have not been announced, but should be similar to, if not identical to, what’s on the menu at the first Nutella Cafe that opened last May in Chicago. That would include a croissant filled with Nutella, a grilled baguette topped with Nutella and toasted hazelnuts and a Liege waffle dressed with fruit compote, Nutella and toasted hazelnuts.
- Read the full story in this NYPost article
The Union Square Partnership expects to roll out a prototype in October of a streetside composting bin for pedestrians’ food scraps, then launch a full-blown pilot project of the containers next year. The organic-waste receptacles are just one consequence of a study it conducted with students at Columbia University’s Earth Institute that found roughly 85% of the refuse in the dozens of trash cans in and around Union Square Park could be recycled or repurposed.
Uneaten edibles make up a little more than 15% of the trash in the organization’s baskets and compactors, the report found, and such compostable castoffs not only weigh down bags, but they also attract bugs and rats.
- Read the full story in this article in Crain’s.
Play Ball – New York City’s first soccer stadium may be coming to the South Bronx, in a major development being compared to Manhattan’s Hudson Yards. In addition to the soccer stadium, the development would also have 550 affordable apartments, a 25,000-square-foot medical facility, 150,000 square feet of retail, and an 85,000-square-foot park. It’s all under consideration by the NY State legislature, which really governs NYC.
- YIMBY had the exclusive