Category Archives: Architecture

Mom and Pop Stores: Do They Exist in NY?

It’s common knowledge that small, individually owned businesses—affectionately named “mom and pop shops”—have been replaced by large franchises.

New York, like many big cities, has experienced this trend. Rising real estate costs have driven out many small business owners. As these stores vanish, they often take personal histories with them.

One NY couple, Karla and James Murray, have been documenting this evolution through a project titled Store Front: The Disappearing Face of New York City. This couple have compiled pictures and interviews of mom and pop stores since the 1990s.

“And sadly in 2018, it’s over 80 percent that are closed now that are included in the book,” Karla says sadly.

The couple have also created a sculptural installation of mom and pop stores inside Seward Park in NYC.

Other New Yorkers, who develop friendly connections with personnel at larger chain stores, are unfazed by this phenomenon. “Some franchising gets a bad rap, but that person is still a small-business owner,” said John Armstrong, the owner of the franchising consulting firm FranNet of New York City. “They’re still putting in their capital, time and effort — they’re just going a different route.”

New York: Then and Now

Beginning in the early 20th century this footage from Business Insider gives a visual insight into the changes encountered in NYC from then, until now. In this video we see when the Big Apple first became lively and how the city has evolved and how it has remained the same.

Infrastructure: How New York Copes

suspension-bridge-918828_1280Like many large cities in America, New York struggles to cope with an aging infrastructure. Add to that fact that increasingly more people are moving to NYC and you’ve got quite a situation on your hands. Projected growth is anticipated at half a million over the next 20 or 30 years so how is the state dealing with all of this?

One recent response to the infrastructure needs of New York Coty was taken on my Deputy editor of Metro, Mike Luo via the New York 101 initiative. It was developed in an attempt to “create a new beat that would break out of traditional coverage areas (transportation, schools, crime) — and out of an 800-word print box. New York has what’s been called the champagne of drinking water.”

Further, recent research reported in The New York Times found that infrastructure is an important issue for New Yorkers. Unfortunately though, a delay on work to be undertaken on NYC’s third water tunnel was incurred. This project has been underway by Gotham for 46 years, at a price of $5bn. This is bad news. According to a reported in The Atlantic “The average age of New York City’s 6,400 miles of sewage mains is approximately 84 years, for example. Its 6,800 miles of water mains are approximately 69 years old.”

Better news is in NYC’s infrastructure future though. A state budget that was passed comprises $27 billion to be spent on bridges, roads and other such infrastructure in Upstate New York. Some of the largest projects in the Central New York area are part of this. Examples of this are: the $32.6 million to be put toward operating assistance for Centro buses, run by Central New York Regional Transportation Authority. $32 million will be spent on CHIPS for local bridges and roads. $18.3 million on Route 104 project to put 3.7 paved miles along Route 104 in Oswego, improving the and make improvements including at the Oswego entrance; $10 million to replace the 80-year-old bridge carrying State Route 11 over the Oneida River/Barge Canal in Brewerton; and more.

True New York has various infrastructure issues. But there is a lot in the pipeline being undertaken to improve this.

NYC Subway: Stuck in the Dark Ages

Given how much renovation New York City has encountered in so many different facets of its infrastructure, it is almost unbelievable that the subway system is so far behind. What’s even stranger about this antiquated foundation is that it is still in use by so many thousands of New Yorkers, who travel on it with their most finest tablets and smartphones!

This system causes a lot of delays and even more frustration. In an effort to solve this problem, the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) is seeking funds to update the system. It has uploaded a YouTube video (attached here) of the old-fashioned signaling system and actions being taken to modify them.

A significant part of the plan is Communications Based Train Control which, given how outdated the system is, is quite “revolutionary.” It’s a great shame that it is so far behind also because some of the stations in the system have undergone a huge renovation. For example, the East 180th Street, West Farms, which in 2012 was privy to a 2-year top-to-bottom overhaul costing $66m, paid for by the New York City Transit Authority. Today travelers can enjoy its stunning terracotta roof a new entrance and forecourt, track beds, new elevator access improving circulation, enhanced plumbing, lighting and electrical equipment and more.

NYC Housing Shortage: Solution

NY-housingFor years it has been known that there is a housing shortage in New York City. This inevitably escalates prices, making the city really unaffordable to many. So what is the solution? One current idea hails from My Micro NY that is attempting to build small prefabricated units, that will ultimately line downtown Manhattan. Smaller than the standard studios they will measure between 250 to 350 square feet and will be suitable for one to two people.

Even though there already exists many small apartments in NYC, this is something different. The above-mentioned units are so small that the project was given a one-time exemption from city zoning codes, making the construction possible. Approximately 40 percent of the 10-story construction will be designated affordable housing. As Tobias Oriwol of Monadnock Development pointed out:

“The whole point is making studios affordable to people who right now would be living in a converted or shared situation, which they wouldn’t do if they could afford to live elsewhere. This is another housing type that should be offered to people in New York City.”

This venture is indeed something Mayor Blasio is behind. He has recognised the “crisis of affordability” in the city and his response has been 200,000 affordable units over the next 10 years. He believes that “affordable housing is part of the bedrock of what makes New York City work. “ Thus his plan is to “support New Yorkers with a range of incomes, from the very lowest to those in the middle class.”

My Micro NY is doing exactly that…good for them!

Affordable Housing Program

housingNew York is not known for its affordable housing. Officials and organizations are trying to address this issue. For example, Mayor Bill de Blasio is planning on building 80,000 additional affordable units in the next few years. And the Dunn Development Corp. that is being put in to action immediately which at present has 820 units that are being built.

Indeed, given that there has been so much construction in the luxurious front, affordable housing are not words associated with New York (the city having spent around $32 billion last year in construction). According to the New York City Building Congress around $11 billion of this was spent on residential construction.

These figures indicate that there are many more luxury high-rises being built in the city. This is because of the 60 percent increase, there is only a 22 percent escalation in the number of units (so more money is being spent on fewer units).

What is great about this is that for those in construction, the demand for their skills in the city is possibly higher than ever. There is so much building going on, that builders are needed to fill the positions.

World Trade Center Opening

New York, Manhattan Buildings
New York, Manhattan Buildings

It’s been a long time since business took place at the site of New York City’s Twin Towers. Over 13 years ago when terrorism struck, the place was shattered in every single way. But now, according to an official from the Durst Organization (behind the construction), Jordan Barowitz, “the building is open for business.”

1 World Trade Center was developed by the Durst Organization in conjunction with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. It measures at 1,776 feet in height, and is just a few meters away from the original building. Construction began back in 2006 but today, this impressive building – spanning 20 professional football fields – is ready to resume business.

Of course, those who perished will always be remembered. The new building is situated just a few steps away from the memorial that honors them.

Scouting Out Restaurant Real Estate in NYC

Empire-State-BuildingWhen it comes to scouting out great places for New York restaurants, the Patina Restaurant Group seems to have gotten it down. It currently has three restaurants at the Rockefeller Center, as well as a location in Lincoln Center and Madison Square Garden.

Its most recent addition to its portfolio has been the State Grill and Bar that it opened at the Empire State Building. At this venue, one can order classic cocktails from the Art Deco period as well as upscale American cuisine – a true fusion of worlds.

Part of Patina’s strategy is to scout out such locations. One way of doing this is through the great connections the firm has, such as the Malkin Family that has known Chief Executive Nick Valenti for decades. Valenti is in charge of the Empire State Realty Trust.

“It is our strategy to look for these locations,”  Valenti mentioned, and that it seems, is exactly what he is doing.

New York City Skyline

New-York-City-SkyscrapersNew York City is constantly evolving as new skyscrapers are erected. One example is Hudson Yards, a huge new development in Manhattan, valued at $20bn. The project – engineered by Related Companies and Oxford Properties Group – should be finished within the next four years and will feature offices, stores, restaurants, parks and more. Located between 10th and 12th Avenues, and running from 30th to 34th Street, those using the complex will be able to access it from an extension of the No. 7 subway line.

Also in the pipelines is the Nordstrom Tower. Due to be completed in 2018, this will measure 1,775 feet high and will be at 225 West 57th Street. Designed by Adrian Smith (who is famous for designing the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa in downtown Dubai), the Nordstrom Tower is set to be the world’s tallest residential structure – 300 feet higher than anything else in Midtown (although a foot shorter than One World Trade Center).

Clearly, over the next few years New York’s skyline is going to continue its process of evolving.