ICYMI – Here 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 and technology, gentrification and businesses going out of business because of it, restaurant and shopping news, the sharing economy, the growing tech corridors in New York City, and other tidbits.
We identify our sources, too.
No fake news, leaks, collusion, temper tantrums or witch hunts on NYCOTC.
Months after Amazon pulled the plug on building a controversial office complex in Long Island City, Google has purchased a second building on the Meapo/Chelsea border to house its growing NYC presence, which already includes more than 8,000 employees.
“This purchase will help us meet our short-term growth needs in Chelsea-Meatpacking, the community we’ve called home for more than a decade, as we plan to double our presence in New York over the next 10 years,” William Floyd, a spokesman for Google, said in a statement announcing the purchase of the Milk Building, a huge eight-story office and retail space connected by a sky bridge to the Chelsea Market building, which Google purchased last year for a reported $2.4 Billion.
- Read the full story in Bloomberg News.
Who Needs Amazon, Part Two – Microsoft
Months after Amazon pulled the plug on building a controversial office complex in Long Island City, Microsoft is doubling down on its presence in New York City by adding more than 60,000 square feet of office space in a new building under construction in Soho.
The building at 300 Lafayette St., at Houston St., is in addition to its space at 11 Times Square, which is three times the size of the additional new space. Microsoft’s growing presence in town includes a retail store on Fifth Ave. The lease for the Soho space does not include the building’s ground floor retail space, that could change.
- Read the full story in the real estate trade publication Commercial Observer
Who Needs Amazon, Part Three – Amazon Needs New York City
Months after Amazon pulled the plug on building a controversial office complex in Long Island City, it is shopping for a gi-normus amount of office space in Manhattan. Amazon reportedly negotiating for at least 100,000 square feet of space in two new skyscrapers being built by Brookfield Properties at Hudson Yards.
The two buildings, with the easy-to-find addresses of One Manhattan West and Two Manhattan West, are due to open in 2022.
Amazon already has offices at 5 Manhattan West.
- Read the full story in the real estate publication The Real Deal.
Legendary New York hit radio station WPLJ 95.5 ceased to exist on May 31st. Oh, it’s still on the air, but the home of such famous disc jockeys as Jimmy Fink, Jim Kerr and Scott Shannon is has been reborn as K-LOVE, with a playlist of contemporary Christian music.
WPLJ has been a NYC favorite for 48 years. The station started on Valentine’s Day in 1971, playing rock music. In the 1980s, it transformed into a top 40 station and then morphed into “hot adult contemporary” format in the 1990s.
The station’s parent company, Cumulus, sold the legendary station and five others to Educational Media Foundation in February.
- Read the full story on WCBS Newsradio 880, whose sister station WCBS FM, still plays the old fashioned rock and roll music we know and love.
I’ll Have What She’s Having
The seminal Nora Ephron romantic-comedy When Harry Met Sally, starring Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan turns 30 this summer, and Katz’s is in on the celebrations.
You must remember the scene in the deli where Ryan’s Sally memorably fakes fakes an orgasm. On July 12, which was the movie’s release date, there will be an orgasm scene reenactment contest in the restaurant. Competitors will sit at the exact same table.
Then, on July 24, the deli is partnering with Alamo Drafthouse in Downtown Brooklyn for a one-night screening of the movie. Tickets will include bites from Katz’s, and there will be pastrami and corned beef carving stations at the theater.
- Thanks NY Eater for this info.
Say hello to tap and go. Staring tomorrow, May 31st, you’ll be to ditch your MetroCard and use your phone to get a ride on NYC subways and buses.
It’s a pilot program, available only at the 4, 5 and 6 subway stations between Grand Central in Manhattan and Atlantic Avenue/Barclays Center in Brooklyn and on Staten Island buses, where there are new, specially equipped turnstiles which can read your phone.
The new system is usable for Google and Apple phones equipped with a payment system, and for bank cards which can be scanned for what’s called “contactless” payments.
Beloved Bleeker Street indie bookstore Bookbook is closing after more than three decades. Bleecker between West 11th and Jones has been increasingly gentrified in recent years, and rising cmmercial rents have reflected that change. So, co-owners Carolyn Epstein and Chuck Mullen have decided to close the book on what began as Biography Bookshop in 1984.
Keeping La Marina Afloat
The trouble riverside restaurant and dockage in Inwood may not be re-opening, at least under its current ownership. The liquor license for La Marina has been revoked by NY State authorities, there does not seem to be anybody ready to take over a no-booze restaurant, and the current operators are bankrupt.
The latest is that NYC intends to kick out the current operators and find somebody to take over the space. The NYC Parks Department controls the outdoor restaurant and marina space at 348 Dyckman St., at the foot of the Hudson River.
In case you were pulling a Rip Van Winkle this week, you missed the news about the fare hike on NYC subways, buses and commuter rails. It went into effect over Passover/Easter weekend.
Legendary music spot Webster Hall re-opened after a two-year shutdown for renovations, with a blockbuster performance by Jay-Z. For sure, ticket prices for other performers will be far less than the $250 starting price for opening night.
The historic concert and dance spot dates from 1886 and was named a NYC landmark in 2007. There are three performance rooms, including a 1,500-capacity Grand Ballroom.
- Read the full story in Rolling Stone
The world’s tallest modular hotel is coming to Manhattan, in the newly-trendy NoMad neighborhood. The 168 guest rooms will be assembled in Poland, shipped overseas and trucked into NYC in the middle of the night, when the city streets can accommodate the oversized loads.
The modular concept will allow it to fully-built in 90 days, more or less, compared with at least one year for conventional construction methods, and save tons of money, which . Marriott has its fingers crossed that modular is the new thing, reducing construction costs and allowing hospitality companies to open new locations faster so they can rent rooms faster.
The 26-story hotel will be an AC Hotel, one of the many Marriott brands.
- Read the full story in Bloomberg News.
NYC-based sandwich chain Melt Shop is flying. It’s opening its first airport restaurants later this year, at JFK Terminal Five and in the main food court of Pittsburgh International Airport.
Since launching into franchising in September 2017, Melt Shop has added more than 30 restaurants to the pipeline and remains well ahead of its goal to open 100 locations by 2023.
- Read the full story on Restaurant News
Brooklyn Point is now the tallest building in Brooklyn. The third tower of the huge City Point complex, still under construction, has topped out at 720 feet, changing the Brooklyn skyline, There are 68 stories of apartments and amenities inlcuding a game room, movie screening room and gym complete with a rock wall for climbing, a wine library, a playground, a stroller valet, and more.
Perhaps the most appealing “more” is and a rooftop infinity pool, one of the first for a residential building in Brooklyn, and the highest outdoor pol in the western hemisphere.
The design features one-bedroom apartments on the lower floors and larger ones above. Purchase prices in the luxury building will cost between $850,000 and $3.4 million.
It’s expected to be ready for moving vans some time in 2020.
- Read the full story on Business Insder
ICYMI in March:
Bryant Park is a National Model
- Read the full story here, in Comstock
A legendary Paris patisserie known for its hot chocolate and pastries is heading to Manhattan in September.
Angelina Paris has signed a lease on the ground floor of ML House, a new luxury rental tower at 1050 Sixth Ave., between 39th and 40th Steets. It’ll be the first U.S. outpost for the famed teahouse and bakery, which is known in Paris for its densely sweet hot chocolate and historic fabulous-clientele like Coco Chanel.
The NYC location will include a full-service, sit-down cafe serving modern French cuisine as well as a grab-and-go coffee/bakery area.
- Read the full story in the NY Post
Instacart is bagging some 200 jobs in Whole Foods locations in NYC. They are all part-time employees who grab and bag groceries for shoppers, but do not deliver them. The first jobs to go are 44 Instacart workers at the Bedford Avenue location in Brooklyn, in mid-May, when an agreement between the two companies ends.
The lay-offs do not affect partnerships with other NYC brands, including Costco and ShopRite, along with such specialty shops as Zabar’s on the Upper West Side, Eataly markets and Brooklyn Harvest.
- Read the full story in Crain’s New York Business.
The brick Tudor house which served as the home of Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) in the 1972 film “The Godfather,” is now for sale. Asking price for the four-bedroom property: $1.37 million, quite a bit more than “The Turk” requested from Don Corleone.
The house is in the Staten Island section of Todt Hill, which is a real neighborhood of real Godfather-like characters. In March, Gambino family crime boss Francesco Cali war murdered in front of his residence nearby.
Elaine and Peter Albert, who have lived in the “Godfather” home since they purchased it for $195,000 in 1977, have much happier memories.
- Read the full story in the New York Post.
This is great news for lovers of fresh food at affordable prices, and not so great news for Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods.
The first NYC Wegmans is set to open in the fall at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, located on Flushing Avenue in the Admirals Row development. It will be massive – approximately be 74,000 square-feet, including a second-floor mezzanine market cafe with nearly 100 seats, plus a bar that will serve food, wine, beer and spirits.
Besides being a great place to shop, Wegmans is a great place to work. The family-owned company is looking to fill approximately 500 positions, including part-time and full-time. About 150 full-time positions will be available in areas including entry-level management, customer service, overnight grocery and culinary roles such as chefs and line cooks.
In 2018, the company, which has been in business since 1916, placed second on FORTUNE magazine’s “100 best companies to work for” list and has been ranked highly on the list for 21 consecutive years.
Full-time job applicants are invited to apply online at jobs.wegmans.com, or call 347-652-2424 for more information.
Read the full story, and see a short video, in this report from WPIX TV
It’s Electric – There will be more electric bicycles bikes on NYC streets come warm weather. Citi Bike is making a major expansion of its fleet of pedal-assist e-bikes, adding 4,000 of the speedier cycles over the next few months.
E-bikes have proven very popular since they were first introduced in NYC last summer, so popular, in fact, that it was hard to find one. With thousands becoming available by June, both Citi Bike and pro-bike Mayor Bill Di Blasio see them as a an important last-mile transportation option along with a dedicated mode of transport.
But it will cost you more to save sweating and grunting.
Using one of the e-bikes will cost an additional $2 per ride, or an additional 50 cents for those who qualify under the reduced fare program.
The current cost is $3 to take a 30-minute trip on one of bike-sharing services normal two-wheelers. Which means taking an e-bike will cost $5, which is still cheaper – and possibly still faster – than a taxi or app-based car service. Even those who have a Citi Bike membership will have to pay the $2 surcharge.
The extra cost is necessary to cover the extra costs of servicing the e-bikes, whose batteries need to be replaced every 45 minutes of riding. The good news is that Citi Bike will need to hire additional employees for e-bike maintenance.
- See the original story in Streetsblog
Stand Up and Shut Down – Ikinari Steak is shutting down nine of its eleven NYC locations, which parent company Pepper Food Service will switch over into Pepper Lunch locations.
Ikinari Steak, which has a cult following in Japan, is known for its food, and also that there are no seats. Everybody eats standing up.
Apparently, that was not a menu item of choice by NYC diners, and maybe the format of Pepper Lunch won’t be, either: although it has seats, it’s a cook-it-yourself fast-casual dining, which doesn’t sound fast for lunch.
Pepper Lunch has 200 locations in more than 15 countries; its first U.S. outpost opened in Los Angeles last year, and another is slated for Houston. In LA, the menu includes steaks, seafood, pastas, and curry dishes, which diners cook on sizzling skillets.
- Read the full story at NY Eater
Longtime Williamsburg neighborhood hangout the Abbey. It opened in 1997 and throughout the years has been a fixture in NYC’s LGBTQ scene. It was dim and divey, with happy hour and free popcorn. It is owned by the same team behind dive spots Charleston, Alligator Lounge, and Crocodile Lounge.
Last call for longtime Williamsburg dive bar Rosemary’s Greenpoint Tavern. The unpretentious bar has been in the neighborhood since 1955.
The eight-year-old Nomad restaurant John Dory Oyster Bar closes after more than a year of weathering explosive sexual misconduct accusations against its former owner Ken Friedman. It opened in the Ace Hotel in 2010, quickly earning two stars from the Times. Christina Tosi will open a flagship Milk Bar there in its place.
Open for more than a decade on the Upper West Side, Manchester Diner also has closed.
Manhattan may get its first actual public beach, along the Hudson River in Chelsea, on The Gansevoort Peninsula. That’s the name of an outcropping at Little West 12th Street that used to house a salt repository used by the Dept. of Sanitation, which was demolished in 2016, and is now little more than a vacant lot of prime riverfront real estate.
The Hudson River Park Trust now runs the 550-acre space stretching along Manhattan’s western coast, and has named a designer, James Corner Field Operations, to make a beach. Construction would begin next year. as the project’s designer.
Read the full story in Crain’s New York Business.
A ban on foam in New York City went 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
Terminal 8 at John F. Kennedy Airport is getting a multi-million dollar modernization, via a $350 million investment by American Airlines and British Airways.
The upgrade will add premium lounges for both airlines, improved baggage systems, premium check-in space, upgraded concessions, and five additional wide-body gates to allow for additional trans-Atlantic flights.
British Airways will be moving to Terminal 8 from Terminal 7, which is being replaced to accommodate the expansion of JetBlue.
It’s part of the $13 billion plan to transform and enlarge the airport announced recently by Governor Andrew Cuomo, and the multi-billion dollar program to modernize LaGuardia Airport that’s already underway.
- Read more in the NY Post.
Also at JFK, the old TWA terminal is a few months away from re-opening as a 512-room hotel with a sweeping rooftop observation deck. It will be called the TWA Hotel at Terminal 5.
Trader Joe’s is stepping out of the grocery delivery game in Manhattan, as of March 1. It’s just too expensive. Home delivery service was reportedly threatening the grocer’s cheap prices.
“Instead of passing along unsustainable cost increases to our customers, removing delivery will allow us to continue offering outstanding values,” a spokesperson told the East Village blog EV Grieve.
JPMorgan Chase has filed an application to demolish its 52-story, 707-foot headquarters building, to build a bigger one.The filing is a pivotal step for the bank, which plans to replace the 1.5 million-square-foot Modernist tower with a 2.5 million square foot supertall skyscraper designed by Lord Norman Foster.
It would be the largest planned demolition in NYC history – bigger by far than the two largest NYC skyscrapers demolished on purpose – the 612-foot-tall Singer Building, torn down in 1968, and the 517-foot-tall Deutsche Bank Building, which was damaged beyond repair on 9/11.
The 270 Park Ave. glass metal tower was designed by Gordon Bunshaft and Natalie de Blois for Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, de Blois being one of the few senior female designers of the time. It was completed in 1961, and for nearly 50 years the tower held the record for the tallest building designed by a woman.
- Read the full story in CityRealty.com
January saw the end of several favorite restaurants, bars and coffee shops, some of them after decades, but all of them because of rising rents that could not be sustained. Thanks, greedy landlords for closing these doors:
Cornelia Street Cafe — an iconic space in NYC’s literary, music, and art worlds — closed after over four decades in West Village. Artists Charles McKenna, Raphaela Pivetta, and Robin Hirsch established Cornelia Street Cafe in 1977. It was a cultural fixture through the years, hosting hundreds of performances annually.
Journalism and literary hub the Half King has officially closed. News broke of the restaurant and bar’s impending closure at the end of December, and on January 26, it served its final night. Since its opening in 2000, the Half King has served as a neighborhood pub with burgers, wings, and a popular daily happy hour. It also provided frequent journalism and photojournalism programming, with readings and galleries hosted in the space.
Tao Group’s Stanton Social shuttered after 15 years in Hell Square. It was one of the early NYC restaurants that helped shape the prolific restaurant group’s over-the-top approach to food and drink. Chef-owner Chris Santos noted that the closure is the result of an ending lease.
These closings – and more – on the irregular what’s closed recently update from NY Eater.
And in case you missed it, these ICYMI updates from December
IKEA, the Swedish home goods empire, will open in Manhattan in the spring of 2019. It will be the chain’s first city-center location and launch the concept called the Ikea Planning Studio, designed specifically for urban markets with smaller display space and where warehouse space is less feasible.
The location at 999 Third Avenue, between East 59th and East 60th streets and directly across the street from the Bloomingdale’s flagship location., will not be a full-fledged buy and carry operation as in Red Hook or Elizabeth, NJ. Instead, it will “give customers the opportunity to discover, select and order Ikea products for delivery to their home, which is what urban residents want and need,” a press release reads. In other words, you can look at and try out furniture, but you won’t be able to walk out the door with an assemble-yourself bookcase or sleeper sofa.
The city store won’t even have an Ikea cafe. However, you could take home such smaller items as picture frames, kitchen utensils and decorative pillows. O(or any other furniture item) in tow.
In addition to opening the Manhattan outpost, Ikea will remodel its popular Red Hook store, scheduled to wrap up by the end of 2019.
- Read the full story in this Ikea press release.
Trump Tower, the office and residential condo tower where the Trump Organization has its headquarters, has an Energy Star score of 44, 30% below the median, according to energy data released by the city. An Energy Star score is based on a formula developed by the federal Environmental Protection Agency to evaluate energy efficiency while taking into account extenuating factors such as property type and how densely a building is occupied. The score is also used to rate consumer products.
- Read the full story in Crain’s New York Business.
And it’s not just the Trump Tower in NYC. The Trump Tower in Chicago is rated at the bottom of the city’s energy rankings. Full story here.
NYC school buses go green in September. Under a $1.25 Million pilot program, NYC gets four electric buses for the start of the 2019-2020 school year.
Recent research from the New York League of Conservation Voters shows that converting the city’s roughly 9,000 school buses to electric vehicles would be the equivalent of pulling more than 621,000 cars from the streets, reducing greenhouse gases by 2.9 million tons each year.
League officials also say a switch to electric buses would reduce the occurrence of asthma among city kids — the No. 1 cause of missed school days.
- Read the full story in the NY Daily News.
The new deadline for completing the new Grand Central Terminal tunnels, platforms and retail and food courts is Dec. 21, 2022 – four years from now.
The project will create a new, direct route for riders of the Long Island Rail Road to and from Manhattan’s East Side, alleviating traffic that currently flows through the chaotically congested Penn Station, on the West Side. It’s a massive undertaking, already underway for years, with massive cost overruns thanks to bureaucracy and politics. By some estimations, the new through-way could cut as much as 40 minutes from the daily commute of some riders, while also alleviating congestion at both Grant Central Terminal and at Penn Station.
- Read the full story in the New York Post
Lyft buys Citi Bike – Silicon Valley rideshare company Lyft has just spent #100 million to purchase Citibike, the NYC bikeshare company owned by Motivate. That will triple the number of bikes available to NYC riders, but it is not clear just how many will be conventional pedal bike and how many will be battery-assisted e-bikes that are opposed by Mayor di Blasio.
Lyft and Citi Bike also have other opponents – the other bikeshare companies already operating in NYC and whose who want to enter the market, who cannot compete with the big money of Citi Bike and Lyft.
- Read the full story on Engadet.
Also, the four-month pilot test program for dockless bikes has been extended through the end of the year. All three operators are continuing: Lime in the Rockaways and Staten Island, Jump Bikes in the Bronx and on Staten Island, and Citi Bike in the Bronx.
The pilot is also thought to be a test for the introduction of shared e-scooters, which are believed to have the greatest business potential of any of the so-called micro-mobility modes. E-scooters are currently illegal in NYC and opposed by Mayor di Blasio.
- Read the full story on Crain’s
Outlet for Fashion – Global designer denim brand True Religion and Cotton On, Australia’s largest retailer, have announced they will both open stores at Empire Outlets, New York City’s first and only outlet center. This will be True Religion’s first location on Staten Island and Cotton On’s first location in all of New York City.
Both stores will be located steps from the Staten Island Ferry alongside Empire Outlets’ other designer retailers, an artisanal food hall and world-class open space that will draw millions of New York City residents and tourists each year. Empire Outlets is due to open in Spring 2019.
- Read the full story in their press release.
Cash Not Accepted – Cashless restaurants may be getting their just desserts. There’s a move in the City Council to require restaurants to accept cash, since that discriminates against low-income New Yorkers who may not have traditional banking options, which include credit cards Violators would face fines of up to $250 for a first offense and up to $500 for additional violations
The ban on cashless restaurants would hit high-end eateries along with more affordable ones like salad chain Sweetgreen, which requires payment via its own mobile app., which discriminates against those who don’t have smatphones or prefer not to pay via a smartphone app.
- Full story in the New York Post.
Shirley Chisholm Statue – She was the first Black female to serve in Congress, and the first female of any color to run for president. Now, Shirley Chisholm is to be honored with a stateue in her native Brooklyn. It will be in Prospect Park, and it will be one of the few statues to a woman in iny NYC park candidate for President, arriving some time in 2020.
- Read the full story here.
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.