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The Drama Behind New York City’s Bike Share Delay (Gotham Gazette)

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THE DRAMA BEHIND NEW YORK CITY’S BIKE SHARE

NEW YORK — The firm picked by the city to run what is meant to be the nation’s largest bicycle share program has been dogged by questions about how it got a contract to run a similar system in Chicago, while its partner is being sued by a key software developer.

City officials announced last week that the much-anticipated bike share program would be delayed from its expected roll-out this summer to March 2013. Mayor Michael Bloomberg blamed the system’s software. “The software doesn’t work. Duh,” Bloomberg said on his radio show. “We’re not going to put it out until it does work.”

There may be a good reason why the software doesn’t work: It’s unfinished. According to the city official in charge of the recently launched bike share program in Chattanooga, Tenn., which uses the same platform, the software is undergoing “ongoing development.”

“There’s still work to be done — features to be added — and that’s where we are at the current time,” said Philip Pugliese, of Bike Chattanooga.

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New York City Explores Ferries as Transit (Gotham Gazette)

by Cody Lyon, Apr 15, 2013


East-Ferry

NEW YORK — Nearly six months after Superstorm Sandy paralyzed subways and buses across the city, water transit advocates and politicians are saying it is time to expand ferry service into a robust, five-borough system that can operate in good times and after disasters.

They also see it as a means for providing affordable public transit to areas underserved by existing transit infrastructure — including, for example, the Rockaways, where the subway linking the peninsula was taken out of commission by the storm and a new ferry service was started up to connect the isolated community to Manhattan.

Yet, as policymakers look to expand ferry service, they are reminded of similar efforts over the past 20 years that have drowned in costs. Around 30 regional ferry services have come and gone, despite the investment of close to $700 million in capital investments.

Today’s ferry system is balkanized, with about half a dozen private operators carrying passengers across the Hudson and East rivers, as well as other parts of the metro area. The Staten Island Ferry, which accounts for the largest share of waterway ridership, is run by the Department of Transportation.

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UPSTART- (Business Journals)

What’s more American than coffee shops and ice cream? The freedom to have a ‘gay’ brand

Enlarge Image »Bryan Petroff (l) and Douglas Quint (r) sit outside the East Village location of their Big Gay Ice Cream shop.Bryan Petroff (l) and Douglas Quint (r) sit outside the East Village location of their Big Gay Ice Cream shop. Donny Tsang
by Cody Lyon , Upstart Business Journal contributor March 22, 2013  |  4:41pm EDT
Stroll down East 7th Street in Manhattan’s East Village, go past St. Stanislaus Catholic church, just beyond the Butter Lane cupcake shop, you’ll find Big Gay Ice Cream. And the tiny shop is often packed.Customers squeeze in against unicorn-covered walls, or wait patiently in line outside. They’re all waiting for funky frozen treats like a Bea Arthur, Salty Pimp or a Mexican Affo’gay’to. Some pose for pictures in front of the storefront window featuring a rainbow-swirly ice cream cone.The novel-yet-wildly successful ice cream venture has gotten tons of press from publications as diverse as Men’s Healthmagazine and the Huffington Post, the Food Network and The Rachel Ray ShowBig Gay Ice Cream was the brainchild of co-foundersDouglas Quint and Bryan Petroff who began it as a seasonal food truck in 2009. They opened their first brick-and-mortar location in 2011 and followed it up last year with a second storefront location in the West Village. Today, they’re introducing a soft-serve variety to their ice cream repertoire.
SEE FULL STORY AT UPSTART*

 

 

 

 

Bloomberg Plans to Mandate Green Retrofits (GlobeSt.com)

Last updated: April 23, 2009  11:32am

By Cody Lyon

NEW YORK CITY-As showcased at SL Green Realty Corp.’s Earth Day celebration Wednesday, the inset of a 17th floor roof at the REIT’s 100 Park Ave. is covered with green vegetation that looks out of place among Midtown skyscraper peaks. The “green roof” installation, one of 14 at the newly retrofitted property, catches rain water, eliminating runoff and–unlike its heat radiating concrete neighbor roofs–naturally absorbs rays from the sun, helping cool the building’s interior. Retrofits like these may become a requirement citywide if the Bloomberg administration has its way.

Contained in the proposals announced by Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Wednesday are mandates that require older buildings to invest in necessary technology and infrastructure that would increase energy efficiency and reduce the city’s carbon footprint. New York City’s buildings are responsible for 80% of its carbon emissions. The investments could prove costly, but promise tremendous savings in power bills for thousands of properties.

LINK TO FULL STORY

Who is Ground Zero’s Ombudsman? :

Years behind deadlines, Billions over budget,calls for oversight at WTC rebuild (GlobeSt.Com)

By Cody Lyon, on August 9th, 2009

Excerpt from globeSt.com article…

NEW YORK CITY-The sidewalks surrounding the 16 acres in Downtown Manhattan known as Ground Zero are still covered by tourists, who are forced to hold cameras high above their heads in an attempt to peek over the blue-shrouded fence guarding the construction site. Eight years after the event that drew those tourists there in the first place, construction at the site has been slow to come, marred by inefficiency and public frustration, and for the last year or so, a very public dispute between politicians, a massive public agency and commercial real estate interests.

“If you get anyone involved who is part of the political process, or the construction process, you’ll get the same old tired answers,” says construction attorney Barry LePatner, author of Broken Buildings, Busted Budgets: How to Fix America’s Trillion Dollar Construction Industry. “There should be huge outrage over this, but we’re in the middle of recession which draws our attention to a zillion other problems.”

Others agree that that the volleying between the involved parties has grown confusing. “The political ping-pong game is very disconcerting to tenants and the brokerage community at large, because people are seeking clarity and specific direction in this marketplace,” says Robert D. Goodman, senior managing director at FirstService Williams.

Goodman, who worked at the World Trade Center, says he’d just left his office one minute before the events of 9/11 unfolded. He says that personal history, plus a career centering on the Downtown market, has contributed to his keen interest in what happens at the site.

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Despite MTA Nod, Atlantic Yards Saga Still Unfolds

By Cody Lyon | New York

“delays due to litigation and a difficult economic environment required the approved changes.” The
statement adds “we have worked very hard, however, as have our colleagues in government, to
ensure that these changes would in no way impact the overall benefits of the project.”

The project, steeped in years of controversy, litigation and now a dried-up credit market, has
evolved into a scaled-down version of what was originally sold to public officials and city residents.
More evidence of a project facing challenges arrived on June 5, when despite being the recipient of
millions of city and state taxpayer-dollar subsidies, Forest City Ratner admitted the shedding of star
architect Frank Gehry. Soon after, renderings surfaced that showed less than dynamic designs for the
centerpiece arena portion of the project. On June 8, New York Times architecture critic Nicolai
Ourousoff referred to the project renderings as a “monstrosity.”

When asked about the scathing Times critique that lambasted what it called more than a “betrayal of
a particular community,” an ESDC spokesman tells GlobeSt.com that a final design and rendering of
the project has not been released. The spokesman said.

LINK TO FULL STORY

 

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February 10, 2014 at 3:50 am

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Keeping the MTA Running (Gotham Gazette)


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By Cody Lyon

NEW YORK — Subway trains arrive at stations late at night too crowded to board. A train that usually travels express often runs local after a certain hour, and some routes have been remapped entirely thanks to Superstorm Sandy repairs or other long-term upkeep. Scores of the city’s bridges and highway overpasses are considered structurally deficient and fixes have been progressing at a snail’s pace. When construction happens, cars sit on highways for upwards of an hour, waiting to get from point A to B.

The city’s mass transit is groaning under the weight of age and use. A labyrinth of governmental agencies that govern and fund construction, operating costs and daily repairs all share the same problem: they are either broke, in debt and set to sink further, and not one of them has figured out how they will get necessary funding.

Yet if the city and state fail to maintain or expand mass transit, there is a possibility that the entire mess of it all could choke on its own congestion.

Figuring out where new transit money might come from is perhaps one of the biggest challenges facing policymakers — and the next mayor — in the years ahead. Transit advocates say there are workable solutions, from levying “impact fees” on new development to a “toll swap” proposed by “Gridlock” Sam Schwartz.

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October 18, 2013 at 12:42 am

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Ray Benson and Friends Open Rattle Inn

Rattle Inn, one of the newest bar and music venues in Austin, is open and the owners are planning a big kickoff Jan. 23 headlined by venture co-partner Ray Benson’s band Asleep at the Wheel.The 7,500-square-foot space at 610 Nueces St. will be three bars in one. Rattle Inn is the love child of Benson, Ranch 616 owner Kevin Williamson and Matt Luckie, who owns Lavaca Street Bar & Grill and Gibson. Williamson and Luckie also co-own Star Bar.Benson, Luckie and Williamson said they’ve invested more than $500,000 in the new space but wouldn’t disclose details.

Joel Mozersky of One Eleven Design worked with the three to design a mid-century modern, Palm Desert-style space with large snakeskin booths and taxidermy on the walls. Rattle Inn consists of a main bar, “Ray’s Backstage” and a rooftop lounge

LINK TO STORY AT ABJ

ABJ-  How the Bastrop Blaze Could Impact Real Estate Values

The wildfires that destroyed most of Bastrop County could drop property values by as much as 60 percent, one firm estimates. Land is already starting to trade hands and more transactions are expected as the smoke clears.

Bastrop County land values could be cut in half as the real estate market faces dramatic ups and downs resulting from the wildfires that scorched almost 35,000 acres.

Dramatic value dips would be problematic for many landowners, but they could yield opportunities for investors looking to employ a patient buy-hold strategy while this patch of Texas recovers.

“We’re confident there will be some devaluation in the acreage charred by the fires,” said Cameron Boone, director of research at Lewis Realty Advisors Inc. Lewis Realty estimates the value of land directly impacted by wildfires could drop by up to 60 percent.

This might open the door for what some call vulture investors, who swoop in and offer pennies on the dollar for damaged properties, Boone said.

Link to Full Story

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Gotham Gazette

How Data Is Helping Riders To Make Sense Of Their Transit System

NEW YORK — New Yorkers love to complain about their subway system: It’s too slow, too expensive, too dirty. And, worst of all, it’s too difficult to understand why.

That part — the why — is gradually being answered as the Metropolitan Transportation Authority embraces and promotes the public dissemination of the massive amounts of data that the agency generates on everything from train delays to its budget.

A group that works to keep the MTA accountable is set to release findings on Tuesday from a long-term study titled “The MTA in the Age of Big Data,” which looks at  the state of the agency’s efforts to make data accessible to the public.

LINK TO FULL STORY

Gotham Gazette

Butt Of Jokes G Train Gets Some Serious Attention

by Cody Lyon, Mar 04, 2013

NEW YORK — It was once known as the venerable train to the 1939 New York World’s Fair and was a critical transit artery for workers at industrial plants churning out materials for World War II.

Today the G train is the object of jokes and rants each day, both for its small number of cars and its spotty service.

“It’s a wild card as far as when I’ll get to work or back home,” said freelance theater director and Greenpoint resident Josh Hecht, who takes the G train daily and says he leaves home an extra twenty minutes or so early to get to work appointments.

A number of factors are coming together to bring change to the long-neglected G train, which has seen ridership grow because of the popularity of neighborhoods served by the subway line, including fashionable Williamsburg, Greenpoint, Fort Green, Clinton Hill and Bedford-Stuyvesant in Brooklyn.

The Metropolitan Transportation Agency, in response to calls from state lawmakers and a new transit advocacy organization for improvements like increased frequency of trains and communication with riders on the line, has announced that it will do a so-called “full line review” of the line by June. That review could result in major upgrades to one of the city’s most neglected lines.

LINK TO FULL STORY AT GOTHAM GAZETTE