CityLand’s Top Ten Stories of 2019

Welcome to CityLand‘s eighth annual top ten stories of the year! We have selected a range of our most popular and prominent stories concerning New York City land use in 2019. Our 2019 coverage was highlighted by articles concerning land use approvals for large scale projects, affordable housing proposals, and projects that faced pushback from local communities who were concerned about infrastructure, access to transportation and local resources, and affordable housing. We at CityLand are excited to continue providing in-depth coverage of the latest land use projects, cases, and legislation in 2020 and look forward to seeing what the year will bring. Thank you for all of your support and have a happy new year!

Brian Huseman, VP of Public Policy at Amazon testifies at City Council Amazon HQ2 Oversight Hearing on January 30th. Image Credit: Emil Cohen/ New York City Council

(1) Amazon Cancels Plans for Long Island City Headquarters in Sudden Announcement

On February 14, 2019, Amazon announced the company was canceling its plans to open a new headquarters located in Long Island City, Queens after political pressure from local and state lawmakers. The plan would have brought 25,000 jobs in exchange for nearly $3 billion in tax incentives. Elected officials argued that taxpayers should not have to subsidize the salaries for 25,000 workers. Local residents also cited concerns about infrastructure, transportation and gentrification. Written by Veronica Rose.


Rendering of modular construction at 581 Grant Avenue. Image Credit: Think! Architecture and Design/NYC HPD

(2) HPD Announces Modular Affordable Housing in East New York

On March 4, 2019, the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) announced plans to develop 167 affordable units on City-owned land in East New York. The project is 100 percent affordable and will create studio to four-bedroom homes for low income and formerly homeless individuals. The project used modular construction, a process where a majority of construction occurs offsite where parts of the building are constructed in “modules” that are later assembled together at the project site. The method cuts down on construction time and cost. Written by Samantha Albanese.


Image Credit: New York Senate.

(3) Governor Cuomo Signs Sweeping Rent Control and Rent Stabilization Reforms into Law

On June 14, 2019, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signed into law the Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act of 2019. The legislation extends and strengthens rent protections for tenants across the state. The new legislation makes the rules permanent, repeals high-rent vacancy deregulation and vacancy and longevity bonuses, reforms rent increases for major capital improvements and individual apartment improvements, creates protections for tenants across the state, and allows communities outside of the City to opt into rent stabilization. Written by Viktoriya Gray.


Rendering of Sendero Verde. Image Credit: HPD/Handel Architects

(4) First Phase of 700-Unit Affordable and Sustainable Development Project in East Harlem Announced

On June 27, 2019, the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) and the project team announced finalized plans for the first stage of development of Sendero Verde in East Harlem in Manhattan. The $223 million first phase of the project will be 100 percent affordable and will include 361 residential units, a new school, and an 18,000 square-foot publicly accessible courtyard featuring a children’s play area, seating areas, adult outdoor exercise equipment, and a stage for community events. Written by Laine Vitkevich.


Rendering of proposed development on Vernon Boulevard./Image Credit: Cipico Construction/CPC

(5) Proposed Rezoning to Bring 330 Affordable Housing Units to Astoria, Queens

On September 11, 2019, the City Planning Commission voted to approve an application to develop three mixed-use buildings in Astoria, Queens. The project will cover a total of 315,966 square feet and will include new housing, local retail, food and beverage businesses, and community facilities. The project will also include both private and public open space. The project is near Astoria’s waterfront parks and cultural institutions such as the Noguchi Museum. Written by May Vutrapongvatana.


Western Beef Supermarket Rendering Image Credit: City Planning

(6) Edgemere Commons Developers Address Remaining Concerns at Council Hearing

On October 3, 2019, City Council’s Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises held a public hearing on an application to redevelop the former Peninsula Hospital site into “Edgemere Commons.” The application proposes an 11-building, mixed-use residential development varying from eight to nineteen stories. The proposed plan includes 2,200 units mixed-income housing for seniors and middle-income families, 150,000 square feet of commercial, community and medical space and nearly 150,000 square feet of publicly accessible open space. Written by Jason Rogovich.


Speaker Corey Johnson Image Credit: CityLand

(7) City Council Approves Borough Based Jails

On October 17, 2019, the City Council voted to approve the City’s Borough Based Jails System application with modifications. The approved plan includes four jail facilities in Manhattan, the Bronx, Queens and Brooklyn and the closure of the Rikers Island detention facility. The four sites were selected based on their proximity to the court house, transit accessibility, sufficient site area to construct a facility and that they were formerly city-owned properties. Written by Jason Rogovich.


ASPCA Brooklyn Office, Shelter and Garage Image Credit: Landmarks

(8) Five Gowanus Sites Receive Landmark Status

On October 29, 2019, the Landmarks Preservation Committee unanimously voted to designate five buildings near the Gowanus Canal as individual landmarks. The five designated buildings are the Gowanus Flushing Tunnel Pumping Station and Gate House, the Somers Brothers Tinware Factory (later American Can Company), the Brooklyn Rapid Transit Company (BRT) Central Power Station Engine House, the Montauk Paint Manufacturing Company Building and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) Brooklyn Office, Shelter and Garage. Each building holds a connection to the Gowanus Canal’s long industrial history. Written by Jason Rogovich.


Image Credit: CityLand

(9) Autumn Has Arrived – Are We Responsible for Fallen Leaves?

CityLand’s guide to properly collecting and properly disposing fallen leaves and other yard waste. A New York City resident or commercial business owner is responsible for keeping sidewalk areas free from any obstruction that could impede pedestrian traffic. This begs the question, does such a requirement include a responsibility to rake, collect and set out fall foliage? Written by Abby Cannon.


Rendering of proposed flood resiliency infrastructure./Image Credit: DDC, Parks, DOT, DEP, and Mayor’s Office of Resiliency/CPC

(10) Mayor and Elected Officials Reach Agreement on East Side Coastal Resiliency Project

On November 12, 2019, Mayor Bill de Blasio, Council Member Carlina Rivera, Council Member Margaret Chin, and Council Member Keith Powers reached an agreement on community investments and commitments relating to the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project, the City’s flood protection plan for Lower Manhattan. The agreement included investments and commitments that addressed the project’s construction, park closures and the lack of open space during construction, park improvements, and community outreach and transparency. Following the announcement of the agreement, the City Council approved the project’s land use applications on November 14, 2019. Written by May Vutrapongvatana.

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