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 gentrification, including businesses going out of business because of it, restaurant and shopping news, the growing tech corridors in New York City, and other tidbits,
We identify our sources, too.
No fake news, leaks, collusion, quick pro quo, temper tantrums or witch hunts on NYCOTC.
In case you haven’t heard, starting March 1, 2020, New York State is banning the use of single-use plastic bags.
It’s an effort to reduce litter on city streets and in state rivers, lakes and streams.
The statewide ban bars businesses from providing plastic bags, and in New York City, businesses can charge a five-cent fee on paper carryout bags to shoppers who do not bring their own.
Like any law, this one is complicated, and has a few exceptions, including fresh food from the deli counter, produce and more.
- Read the full story on NYC on the Cheap
New York City reportedly is planning to remove all of the remaining public payphones from the city’s streets.
About 30 payphones will be removed from Hell’s Kitchen by the end of the March, followed by an estimated 3,000 more across the city’s five boroughs in the next few months.
The street-level Pennsy Food Hall adjoining Penn Station will shut down at the end of March, four years after it opened.
K-Mart, also adjoining Penn Station, also will shut down, in May, putting more than 150 people out of work.
The shutdowns are part of a long-planned overhaul of both the 1 Penn Plaza and 2 Penn Plaza office buildings, will will be renamed Penn 1, due to open in 2021, and Penn 2, due to open in 2022. and a longtime vendor said in a social media post.
Current vendors at The Pennsy include The Little Beet, Pat LaFrieda, Italian spot Ribalta, Sabi Sushi, Taco Dumbo and the vegan restaurant The Cinammon Snail, a cocktail bar and beer garden, some of which might return to a new food hall, if real estate developer Vornado Realty Trust decides to open another food hall in the revamped buildings.
- Read the full story here on NYC on the Cheap.
Upper West Siders are happy to welcome Big Gay Ice Cream to Big Gay Ice Cream is now open at 518 Columbus Avenue, on the corner of 85th Street.
Big Gay Ice Cream serves ready-made pints and soft-serve creations including cones, sundaes, ice cream sandwiches, milk shakes and “gobblers” – a traditional pie flavor with soft serve, pie crumbs and whipped cream.
The ice cream company was born in 2009 with a single ice cream truck. Today, it is hugely popular, with several shops around town, and has been featured on top foodie publications and news outlets including Food & Wine, Eater, CBS and GQ Magazine.
According to the I Love the Upper West Side website, some of Big Gay Ice Cream’s most popular flavors include:
- The Salty Pimp: vanilla ice cream, dulce de leche and salty dark chocolate.
- The Dorothy: vanilla ice cream, dulce de leche and vanilla wafer cookie chunks.
- American Globs: fudge-covered salted pretzel balls, fudge-covered pretzel pieces, a fudge swirl and malted sweet cream ice cream.
Affordable Housing for Seniors
The New York Botanical Garden is partnering with a developer to bring hundreds of affordable apartments for seniors to the Bedford Park section of the Bronx.
Plans are for two 12-story residential buildings with 450 below-market-rate apartments, many of them reserved for low-income elderly, on Webster Avenue and Bedford Park Boulevard, adjoining NYBG.
Original plans were to build a combo of housing and a hotel, but now it’s just housing.
ICYMI from January
Luxury leather goods merchant Coach abruptly shuttered its three-level boutique at Madison Avenue and East 57th Street
It’s the latest blow to the fabled but troubled shopping district, which continues to hemorrhage some of its most celebrated stores, including Henri Bendel and Barney’s.
The 6,000 square-foot Coach emporium at 595 Madison Ave. had been at the prime corner for more than thirty years.
Closing, Not Closing, Partly Closing
Beloved NYC grocery chain Fairway set off a full plate of contradictory headlines in January with the news that it was filing for bankruptcy and closing all stores, then denying it, then saying it would close only some of its 14 locations.
So take your pick of which story you believe.
The latest is that Fairway is in talks to sell five of its stores to Village Supermarket Inc., owner of suburban supermarket ShopRite. The $70-million deal may or may not include the flagship location on Broadway and 74th Street, which opened in the 1930s, which may or may not be turned into a ShopRite before or after demolishing the two-story building and replacing it with a rent-heavy high-rise.
It’s enough to give you whiplash and drive you to consume a type of beverage which Fairway does not sell, made from grapes or potatoes or other grains that it does sell.
NYC prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, gender, religion and age. And now it’s about to prevent discrimination against residents and visitors who do not have a credit card, or choose not to use one to pay for a kale salad or a pair of socks.
The City Council has approved legislation that prohibits stores, restaurants and other retail outlets from refusing to accept hard currency. If the new law is signed by Mayor de Blasio, it will go into effect before the end of the year, with a potential $1,500 fine for each violation.
The measure puts NYC at the forefront of a national movement to rein in so-called cashless businesses.
Massachusetts has had a law requiring retailers to accept cash and credit since 1978. New Jersey, Philadelphia and San Francisco approved such bans last year, and several other cities including Chicago are considering similar legislation.
Tad’s Steaks closed its last New York City location on Jan. 5th after 50 years, due to financial troubles that include rising rents and competiton from national chains like Applebee’s and TGIFriday nearby.
The cafeteria-style chophouse opened at 761 Seventh Ave., at 50th St., in 1960. and was known for its affordable meat-and-potato dinners on red trays. Meals that cost little more than $1 each when the first one opened in 1957. A steak lunch today can be had for as little as $9.
At its height, Tad’s had eight locations in NYC and another 20 around the country.
City Bakery closed its doors after 29 years. Owners informed followers via Instagram of that “painful truth”.
The shop at 3 W. 18th St. was the beloved home of the $2 homemade hot chocolate marshmallow, an annual Hot Chocolate Festival, and what many New Yorkers consider the best cup cocoa in the five boroughs and great cupcakes. But it has made bad financial decisions recently which are biting into its bottom line.
Construction has begun for the new NYC headquarters of tech giant Google.
Parts of the St. John’s Terminal building in Hudson Square have been demolished, as a first step of a gut renovation of the building and an addition of eight floors.
New York State vehicle owners get a new license plate starting in April 2020. It was chosen by popular vote among designs five offered.
Nearly half of the 324,000 New Yorkers who weighed in on the designs — 49.7 percent — chose the one featuring a panorama of New York landscapes, including the Manhattan skyline, Montauk’s famous lighthouse, Niagara Falls and the Statue of Liberty.
The 35,000 square feet space is on at least three levels and will likely resemble a London studio tour for the film series called The Making of Harry Potter.
Visitors will be able to walk through recreations of many of the films’ most iconic locations, including the Great Hall, the Forbidden Forest and the locomotive platform where young wizards and witches departed for the Hogwarts School where Potter learned his sorcery.
There’s no opening date, but it will be at least one year, maybe more.
NYC has been a popular destination for Harry Potter.
The New York Historical Society had a hugely popular exhibit last year, complete with original manuscripts and other items never seen before out of Great Britain, including original manuscripts. And there was a Harry Potter Broadway play last season, as well.
End of an Era
The Paris Theatre, New York City’s last remaining single-screen cinema, has closed after 71 years.
Photos posted on social media show a goodbye note posted on the theater’s window that says the Paris’ lease has ended and is now closed.
The 581-seat Paris was one of the oldest art-house theaters in the country and was the nation’s last remaining single-screen cinema dedicated to first-run platform release movies.
Rumors that the theater was to be shuttered surfaced several months ago, and apparently delayed by the popularity of its last film, “Pavarotti”, exactly the kind of high-end, older-audience pleasing fare that thrived there.
The property is owned by real estate mogul Sheldon Solow, who is expected to convert the valuable space across the street from The Plaza Hotel and Trump Tower and around the corner from Bergdorf Goodman into retail use.
Meanwhile, another Solow-owned theater, The Beekman on the Upper East Side, has also closed.
- Read the full story in the film industry publication Indie Wire.
Yesterday, it was a favorite shopping spot for famous musicians from Buddy Holly and the Beatles to Bob Marley and Jimi Hendrix.
Today, the former site of Manny’s Music at 156 West 48th Street has been approved for demolition, according to a city permit issued last month.
The storefront has been closed since 2009, but the five-story building had been left relatively untouched, and the large vertical “Manny’s” sign and adjacent clock remained visible. The building was built around 1920 and is not currently landmarked by the city, records show, which means there is no protection from the wrecking ball.
It’s a final nail in the coffin for the legendary music store that served as a mecca for generations of musicians on what was once New York’s famed Music Row.
Dwayne Doherty, a spokesperson for Rockefeller Group, which owns the building, said it was too early to comment on plans for the site, which means they are still working out the height and design of the new skyscraper that will replace Manny’s.
Artists and fashion brands are abandoning The Shed, a new venue for emerging artists at Hudson Yards, to protest the connection between the developer of the sprawling, $25 Billion complex and his support of President Trump.
Fashion brand Rag & Bone and designer Prabal Gurung have moved their New York Fashion Week shows from the venue, to protest the widely-criticized August 9 fundraiser for Trump’s reelection held at the Southampton estate of real estate mogul and Hudson Yards developer Stephen Ross. His firm, Related Companies, developed the site. Ross also owns the Equinox fitness chain and SoulCycle owner’s home in Southampton.
Ross is a board member of The Shed, but the space maintains that it is “fully independent” and “does not endorse or take part in fundraising for political candidates, period.”.
In a post on Twitter, Gurung said his decision was designed to “question these individuals whose motivation seems to be nothing but $$$ and to also challenge our own integrity and choices that we make everyday.” Rag & Bone announced its own plans to relocate their show.
Two artists also have pulled their work from The Shed. Zackary Drucker and A.L. Steiner, who work as a team, pulled their photo collage, “Before/After, 2007/2019” from “Open Call, Group 2” a day after Ross’s fundraiser. A wall label announcing the removal was posted in the artwork’s place.
Frontier Airlines announced its upcoming expansion Newark Airport with $15 one-way fares from EWR to 15 cities.
The super low fares celebrate new routes by the low-cost carrier to EWR starting in November, with daily non-stop service that includes Las Vegas, Orlando, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Miami, Phoenix and Raleigh, and also to San Juan, Cancun and Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.
Frontier will add additional routes by spring, including a non-stop to Ontario, California, near Los Angeles.
The new service essentially replaces flights by fellow low-cost carrier Southwest Airlines, which is departing EWR for LaGuardia.
Welcome Southwest Airlines to LaGuardia, starting this fall, when it deplanes from Newark and begins boarding in New York City.
This is great news for travelers who love the bargain fares Southwest Airlines but hated getting to EWR early in the morning or returning late at night, when public transportation is not available and a taxi or car service can be well over $100.
But it’s bad news for passengers aboard cruise ships docked at Port Liberty, who now have a longer and more expensive ride to their relaxing cruise.
It’s a fallout due to both what the airline describes as ticket sales “below expectations” and also to the grounding of the Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft. Southwest has more than 30 of the planes, the most of any US carrier.
New York City is the Number One market in the USA for skilled freelance workers. The survey by Fiverr, reports that NYC is home to more than half a million freelancers earning estimated $25 billion.
Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington DC and Miami round out the top five, in order.
The survey rates technical, creative and other professional freelance workers – including freelance writers, editors and photograhers – not such freelancers as restaurant delivery workers.
One million. That’s the total of square footage Facebook is planning to lease for office space in a building now under construction in Hudson Yards.
It is not known whether that will be in addition to or replacing close to 700,000 square feet of space it currently leases at 770 Broadway, the former Wanamaker Department Store building that’s part of the Noho Historic District.
Whatever, since it’s another giant footprint for Silicon Valley tech giants in here New York City, and part of the reason NYC is the #1 market in the USA for professional freelance workers (see above).
Google is planning a $1 billion expansion at St. John’s Terminal in the West Village, in addition to the major investment it’s made around its current HQ at 111 Eighth Avenue, the building which houses Chelsea Market.
And even though Amazon’s plans for a second North American headquarters in Queens fell apart, the company is reportedly eyeing office space in Midtown, in the Manhattan West megaproject—just across the street from Hudson Yards.
Krispy Kreme is opening a 24/7 flagship store in Times Square, complete with a “glaze waterfall” that tumbles a sugary coating over freshly made donuts made around-the-clock.
You’ll be able to watch tne entire process from comfy stadium seats, like the ones in the best movie theaters.
There will also be a neon “hot light” that will glow red to let people on the street know when fresh donuts are coming out of the oven.
Museum of Broadway will launch in New York City’s Times Square in 2020.
The pop-up museum will focus on three main components: the expansion and evolution of the theater district from lower Manhattan to Times Square; the making of a Broadway show, spotlighting the multitude of behind-the-scenes roles that bring Broadway plays and musicals to life every night; and the “game-changers” — the landmark musicals through the decades that continually challenged and redefined the very idea of what a Broadway show could be.
So far, only the intention to open a Museum of Broadway has been announced, not the location.
Read the rest of the story here.nd 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.
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.
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 flightSayonara, 270 Park Ave.
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 went 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
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.