New York: Living Expenses

Historically it’s been a well-known fact that living in New York is expensive.  Rents especially can be incredibly cumbersome.  While singles have traditionally preferred living alone the expenditure involved in this is only getting worse.

According to a recent SmartAsset report,  nationwide, New York is the “second city where a roommate saves you the most.” Further:

“Roommates save on average $1,056 per month each, or about $12,600 per year each. This means that together two roommates have a combined savings of more than $25,000 annually. Given the sheer number of people, finding a roommate in New York should not be difficult.”

That is a saving of close to $1,000 every.single.month. There are five boroughs in New York and on average, rent for one bedroom in any of those areas is $2,915 and for two bedrooms, $3,717.  Which is how you get to the $25,000 yearly savings figure from the SmartAsset report.

Having said all that there are some less expensive options to help tighten the budget for those just starting out in New York.  Take a look at NYC Mesh – a group of New Yorkers who are building their own Internet service. The volunteer non-profit entity works on donations of approximately $20 per month from each member for use of a high speed connection which can be used to stream videos without any issues.  It works with a super node antenna and 31 hubs in lower Manhattan and some parts of Brooklyn.  Another super node was recently installed in Sunset Park as well.

And then of course there is the co-living space option. One example of this is Quarters which currently manages three of these housing spaces in New York in order to “provide an easy solution for people looking to move into big cities. With an average price tag of $1,599 per month, this is much cheaper and a great way to network.

Pop Up Art Exhibit in Financial District

While the gala scene in New York City takes its annual summer break, there is still a way for visitors to contribute to the economy and participate in a “boundary-pushing technological and entertainment” adventure.

From August 1-31st, a pop-up – SuperReal – has “transform[ed] the historic Cunard Building into a colorful walk-through digital art installation.” Set up by Moment Factory in conjunction with Cipriani, it is located at 25 Broadway.

According to Moment co-founder and executive creative director, Sakchin Bessette:

“Cipriani 25 Broadway provides the perfect opportunity to juxtapose iconic landmark architecture with layers of new technology to create this immersive experience that blurs the lines between the real and the unreal, illusion and reality – SuperReal aims to inspire a sense of collective wonder and connection. We thought it’s such an interesting thing right now to juxtapose layers onto reality, because where the future’s tending to bring us is the digital and the physical worlds are merging so that they’re indistinguishable. We’re adding layers of virtual reality to everything and other realities to our world — whether it’s the Internet, which is becoming as real as reality, or if it’s entertainment.”

Grand Hall’s interior design has been made to transform the visitor’s surroundings, taking them to a variety of surreal locations.  From flower gardens to balloons, techno music to meadow mellow sounds and everything in between, it truly is an intensifying of the senses. The exhibit features a maze of interactive installations that respond to the visitor’s actions, a floor mirror, balloons playing and more. SuperReal hopes to bring “an eclectic group of people who are willing to set their minds and senses free.”

Cheaper Commutes? Yes Please!

One of the many complaints of New York living/working is the expense.  Accommodation, office space, taxes – these are just some of the reasons for the oppressive expenditure people encounter.

So it was thrilling for the author of this blog to learn about the cashless tolls that will soon be placed on the New York and New Jersey crossings.  Recently approved by the Port Authority, there is now dedicated money being put toward the tolling equipment construction needs.  The estimated costs are:

  1. George Washington Bridge – $89m
  2. Lincoln Tunnel – $60m
  3. Holland Tunnel – $60m.

There is a lot of work to be done for this:  the construction and mounting of toll readers and cameras; alteration of approach roads; deconstruction of the current toll plazas.

It is hoped that the system will be in operation by 2021, in conjunction with the MTA’s congestion pricing.

New York: Media and Tax

In New York State, TV/film producing companies will soon be subject to a slight hike in their tax contribution.  New York State Film Production and Post-Production Tax Credit Programs will have their tax credit slightly reduced.  The supplementary money will be put toward a job training and workforce development fund in the entertainment sector.

The monies that will be generated by this small hike will be approximately $1m per year.  With this, New Yorkers will have more chance of gaining employment in the entertainment industry, should they desire.  This will have an impact on growth in the sector within the state of New York.

According to Chairman of NBCUniversal Film & Entertainment Group, Jeff Shell:

“NBCUniversal has a long-standing commitment to developing the next generation of talent, both in front of and behind the camera. We applaud Governor Cuomo for his leadership on this issue and his administration’s continued attention to fostering diversity in the media industry.”

ESRI User Conference

In this video of the 2019 Esri User Conference, we see how New York’s MTA systems work in practice.  We see how such systems – in conjunction with a geospatial infrastructure – keeps New York City moving.

Open C-PACE

New York’s Energize NY Open C-PACE (Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy) Program is being utilized by 150,000+ firms spanning a wide range of commercial properties.  Already firms in Bedford and Saratoga Springs have been using this program which “provides a low cost, long-term alternative to traditional loans to fund clean energy projects in commercially owned buildings.”

C-PACE offers “100% long-term, fixed-rate financing for energy efficiency, renewable energy upgrades, and sustainability measures such as green roofs to buildings through a voluntary property tax assessment.” Funding comes from private firms, one of which is Hannon Armstrong Sustainable Real Estate.

The Climate Mobilization Act (which was enacted earlier this year) will penalize commercial properties with more than 25,000 square feet which are not able to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050 (and 40% by 2030).

Summer in the City: Time for Tunneling!

New York City summers can be hellish.  But then so can those in other countries that people like to travel to for summer vacations.  To enjoy our summers wherever we are, we need to find a way to have fun that involves hydration and water to cool off.  One perfect way to do this is via a tunnel.

A lot of countries have cool tunnels.  Mozes Victor Konig is familiar with some of them as he likes to take his children out of his Tel Aviv hometown and do something fun that involves exploration and water – the tunnel is the perfect solution. Faced with the seemingly never ending-school holidays, Konig this year took his kids on an air-conditioned bus to Jerusalem where it’s slightly cooler and found indoor activities for them at the cool Western Wall Tunnels

“I wasn’t sure initially as my kids didn’t seem that excited.  But literally within minutes of entering the tunnel they were blown away!  They didn’t ask for the iPad once; it was amazing!  The thing is, when you think about it, what kid doesn’t want to get wet and explore a deep, dark, unpredictable tunnel?  Any kid from 5 can do this tour and it really makes for a fun few hours to explore hidden parts of the Temple Mount.”

Kids – and adults – can check out stone arches, interactive Temple models, water pits (the best!) and even an ancient aqueduct.  While you are in it you will be parallel to nearly 500 meters of the Western Wall, and through that you get to really feel what it must have been like for King Herod when he tried to expand the Temple Mount – not easy! 

When you’re done with that you can move along to Hezekiah’s Tunnel which is very nearby and is a fabulous place to forget the sweltering heat.  This man-made water tunnel is 1,750 feet and offers two different tourist options:  one dry and one knee-high.  Again, accessible for kids age five and up.

But let’s get back to dealing with the New York summers.  One option Konig checked out a few years ago was the McCarren Pool Tunnels.  He describes it as a “pool with a difference” which is definitely one way of looking at it!  Located at Greenpoint, it is a nice pool (it was recently renovated) with a story that Konig investigated before snapping photos.  During the Great Depression, the FDR’s Works Progress Administration commissioned the construction of 11 huge pools around the city. 

So today – as well as enjoying a swim around – you can now check out access tunnels underneath the park.  There you will see amazing drainage pipes and enjoy other adventures.  And the actual pool still has the remains of the some of the original tunnel for those who are skeptical about taking the underground route.

No matter what you do this summer, make it a wet one.  It is not worth going anywhere without proper hydration and keeping cool with water.  So from Jerusalem to New York, keep cool underwater in the summer of 2019!

E-Scooters Arrive in New York

Finally the state of New York is granting to permission for electric scooter-sharing companies to operate in certain areas.  Initially accepted by Albany (which has come to an agreement to remove the ban), the next step is for Governor Andrew Cuomo to legalize it for the rest of the state.

This new policy will have its limits. First, cities in New York will have the option to say yes or no to this so that localities will allow to make the decision themselves on how the vehicles are operated etc.  Although the e-vehicles will be legal throughout the state, municipalities will have to give the last word on allowing a sharing service before it is launched. 

All of this however does not apply to one borough – Manhattan – at least for now.  those in that borough will have to continue to use: their own bikes, buses, cars, the Roosevelt Island Tram, the infamous subway system and taxis.

Business Investments and Success: What’s New

Some companies – especially those in the medical tech industry – are seeing the fruits of their labor right now.  Having developed ideas and worked carefully – for years (sometimes decades) – these companies are now getting investments they have long deserved.  Here we take a brief look at what has been going on in this area in the New York region.

Centene – a firm working as a principal intermediary for both government-sponsored and privately insured health care programs – has been heavily involved in raising funds for Quartet Health.  The latter company was established in 2014 and collaborates with “health plans and systems to facilitate access to personalized care and enable virtual collaboration between providers to ensure the best health outcomes” with a focus on “medical and behavioral health conditions.”  Thanks to the support of Centene, $600m in Series D funding has now been raised.  This brings the total of the funds raised to $153m.

Other Series D funding that has been raised is now in the hands of SecurityScorecard. The information security firm – founded in 2013 – appraises corporate firms’ cybersecurity strength.  It does this via an analytical rating of cyber threat intelligence signals to get a better understanding of IT risk management.  In its Series D funding, $50M has been raised from a variety of investors including: Accomplice, AXA Ventures, Evolution Equity and Intel Capital.  This brings its total reported equity funding to $100M.

But that is just a couple of small items.  The bigger picture is that over the last five years, 7,500 New York-based tech companies have been supported by $38.4 billion of investment alongside a huge network of academic institutions, accelerators and incubators.  As well, a bunch of startups have been purchased in New York.  Examples include: General Assembly (for $413 million) and Plated ($200 million).

Founded in 2011, GA is a leader in education which has “transformed tens of thousands of careers through pioneering, experiential education in today’s most in-demand skills. When you learn web development, data, design, business, and more.”  Today it has a “global, professional community of 40,000-plus full- and part-time alumni.”

Plated was established in 2012 and a year later – due to its participation in Techstars – developed a name for itself.  The US ingredient-and-recipe meal kit service facilitates the meal-making process for people in their own homes. The way it works is simple:  the client signs up, picks their recipes, then receives a box of all the ingredients they need for it and then follows very simple steps to “create impressive dinners worth sharing.”

New York has definitely proven itself in the business-cum-startup-investment world recently.

New York: New Wellness

Wellness has long been a trend in New York but recently it seems to be making its way to the Flatiron District. Now that there are many startups there, it is a prime location for hard working executives to take advantage of wellness opportunities near to their workspaces.   Some examples of these include: Exhale Spa (where attendees can take barre, cardio and yoga classes;  enjoy a facial, massage, acu-healing, scrubs, manicure and waxing); Inscape (offering guided meditation, relaxation, self-care products sold in the store); Stretch*d (for assisted stretching sessions enhancing flexibility) and many more. 

The area has so become akin to fitness that it’s even taken on a new name in the last few years as well:  the Fitness District. As co-founder of Stretch*d, Amanda Freeman refers to the district as:

“the best neighborhood in the world for health and wellness concepts to debut.  The mix of clientele and the density of offices and residential buildings are unparalleled.”

Now New York is even home to a CBD and plant-based wellness hub – Standard Dose – which is aiming to be the address for all self-care services and products, “dedicated to elevating wellness through natural healing and curating only the best and most effective products.”