Monday Bulletin: Faux Penthouses; ‘Hat Lunch’; 25×25

Desperately seeking the photographer so we can credit! “That was my photo that I shared with you guys last week but I didn’t expect it to be published due to its low resolution. I zoomed in quite a bit to not disturb them. I heard that birds abandon their nest and chicks if they feel threatened. Regards, Emma Wu.” 

By Carol Tannenhauser

Monday, May 9, 2022, generally clear, high of 67 degrees.

Our calendar has lots of local events! (Click on the lady on the upper right.)

A penthouse isn’t (always) what it used to be. Real estate terms have evolved, according to Business Insider, which is why promoters of 200 Amsterdam Avenue (69-70) can claim that “the 668-foot-tall tower has a total of ten penthouses, which begin on the 41st floor.” Still, according to several dictionaries, the word penthouse is derived from the Old French word “apentis,” meaning appendage, “at the top of a tall building.” Two such appendages made news in the neighborhood last week.

The city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission gave billionaire investor Bill Ackman the go ahead to append atop a century-old building on 77th Street off Central Park West, The Real Deal reported, but not as he originally wanted. “Detractors claimed the [original plan] would disrupt the character of the area and set a precedent for billionaires to make changes as they desire.” The LPC sent Ackman’s architects back to the drawing board where they produced a scaled-down version, which the Commission called, “a masterpiece of architecture.”

Ackman and his wife Neri Oxman will share sight lines with the owners of another appendage atop 360 Central Park West at 96th Street. “Originally designed by Rosario Candela in 1929, the upper floors and interiors are now being converted and meticulously transformed into a spacious new condominium duplex designed by CetraRuddy Architecture,” YIMBY reported. “The full-service prewar building is the only condominium on Central Park West that bears the prestigious Candela imprimatur.” Architectural Digest said Candela’s “1920s Manhattan co-ops set the global gold standard.”

It was hats on — and frocks, too — at the Central Park Conservancy’s annual Frederick Law Olmsted luncheon, “better known as the ‘hat lunch,’ now in its 40th year,” wrote The New York Times. Held on May 4th in the Conservatory Garden on 105th Street, it hosted 1,300 guests, including former mayor Michael Bloomberg (hatless) who said, “This is a handful of people who put in a lot of money every year to keep Central Park going.” Click the link to see the array of hats, including some with a message for SCOTUS.

Open Streets was an emergency measure instituted for the pandemic, but “a campaign backed by the city’s new mayor now aims to permanently wrest dominance away from vehicles and preserve these new outdoor havens,” according to The Guardian. “The alternative vision for America’s largest city demands that 25% of its street space is converted from car use to walkable pedestrian plazas, green space, bus lanes and dedicated cycle paths by 2025. The campaign, called 25×25, has now also been adopted by activists in Los Angeles, an indication of how some Americans are questioning the long-held primacy of cars amid a surge in cycling since the start of the pandemic.”

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NEWS, REAL ESTATE | 14 comments | permalink
    1. JE says:

      Re: Open Streets –
      The UWS has a seasonal weekly open street on a big stretch of Columbus (70s and 100s) and a small part of Amsterdam (100s). These are very popular. With the 25×25 pledge, it sounds like there’s the potential for something more permanent.

      Where would people like to see space taken from cars and re-designed for people?
      A few ideas:
      – Sidewalk expansion on the narrow side streets – turn a parking lane into wider sidewalks and green space
      – 72nd street 96th street – remove car lanes to add protected bike line so cyclists can ride safely between the Hudson River Greenway and Central Park
      – Broadway – widen the median (reduce moving or parking lanes) to create pedestrian walkway

      • Tom says:

        I’m not in favor of this initiative because I think it purposely ignores the way people and goods move through the city right now in order to force dire conditions that might (might) change behavior, instead of altering the root cause. People don’t drive cars because there are roads, they drive cars to carry large things from a to b, or to connect spaces that aren’t connected by public transportation, or to be safer than walking through dark streets at night. Taking away lanes to add bike lanes has had a benefit (more bikes) and a big detriment (far more complicated intersections between cars, bikes, and pedestrians with a predictable increase in fatal accidents) and yet the detriment is not being attributed to the changes, but rather to car drivers supposedly becoming more reckless than ever before. I don’t really buy this argument, and it feels politically motivated to get to an end product rather than to actually build workable, safe solutions to the problem of fossil fuels and safe travel. Here’s what I mean, based on your examples:

        1. Sidewalk expansion on narrow side streets. This would move the curb out 10′ and cut parking in half. The cars owned by people on that street don’t immediately disappear, nor does the need for, say, moving trucks. So this creates an environment of angry jockeying for parking spaces, basically a legion of distracted drivers playing musical chairs for longer than usual, with the plan being that they’ll get so angry and fed up that someday they’ll sell their cars to out-of-city buyers.
        2. Remove a car lane on 72nd and 96th (or to 96th?). This would be taking away a crosstown bus lane, unless bikes are funneled into the middle lanes, which makes turns for cyclists more dangerous.
        3. Create a pedestrian walkway on Broadway. In ignoring that there are intersections on every block, this effectively would make Broadway into two different avenues, and by encouraging north-south pedestrian movements it would basically double the number of interactions between cars and pedestrians.

        • Leon says:

          Exactly. These anti-car people think that by making it more difficult to drive, all cars will immediately disappear. It doesn’t work like that.

          It will create a tremendous amount of congestion on the remaining roads that allow cars, making life miserable for people on those blocks. It will slow ambulances, trucks, and buses.

          It will also make life much more difficult for the doormen and small business owners who commute into the city (not all suburbs are adequately serviced by public transportation, especially at off hours, and that is unlikely to change). Many restaurants, museums and theaters are supported by people who drive in from the suburbs – if it is difficult to drive and/or park, they will be less likely to come.

          I believe none of the anti-car people have ever lived outside of NYC, nor do they have any friends or family who live outside NYC. It is frustrating that they seem to be screaming the loudest and getting their way – the rest of us must organize.

          And please note, I have not owned a car for 20 years.

      • Je too says:

        Open Restaurants/Streets is a huge problem for the many people who use buses. On the West Side the M7 and M11 are being rerouted.
        And compounded when there is bus rerouting for other events such as street fairs, bike events etc

        IMO not acceptable to close avenues with bus routes.
        Especially on the West Side where there is good access to Central Park, Riverside and numerous playgrounds.

        Mass transit must be NYC’s priority.

    2. LL says:

      Hold on. I am a born-and-bred Nee Yorker, and have thus used my birthright to never learn to drive. Having said that, how exactly does Open Streets affect traffic? What about for people who need tp use their cars to commute? Let us not forget that at the height of the pandemic, no one was going anywhere.

      And most importantly. Are people using Open Streets, and if so, is it worth it for other city residents?

      • Josh says:

        How does it affect traffic in reality? Yesterday, I was driving down Amsterdam from north of Columbia U. At 113th, Amsterdam was closed, so I had to make a right on 113th instead of 110th where I expected to turn. Making the left onto Broadway at 113th instead of 110th actually made the turn easier since there was no cross traffic. On the way up, it requires an extra couple of turns – a left onto 99th is easiest, and then a right on Broadway, and another right on 112th if I want to go back to Amsterdam. Net cost in time, about 5 extra minutes if there are pedestrians in the crosswalk. Clear turns, maybe 2-3 extra minutes. And I have never had an issue with a traffic jam completely wasting time. When it used to end at 96th street, the block between 95th and 96th took about twice as long to navigate as before due to the forced turns, but was never that bad.

      • LM says:

        LL – Am also a native New Yorker and do not know how to drive.

        I do not support “Open Streets”. A few side streets maybe – but not avenues.

        Am really upset concerned about bus rerouting – it is not right.

        Also closing streets makes other traffic worse; is hard for elderly, disabled who may need a cab or Access a Ride or other vehicle access; hard for workers who need to drive.
        Lots of other reasons too.

        The bicycle lobby and restaurant lobby have been pushing “Open Streets”

    3. Kathleen says:

      Amazing photo, thank you, Emma! Great shot!

    4. Kathleen says:

      Pros and cons, as always. Still, I agree that NYC needs to focus on improving public transportation, safer and much less disruptive to people’s lives as illustrated in some of these responses. I hope those of you who see this so clearly also write to the mayor and other local reps.

      • cpwpj says:

        Kathleen, my sentiments exactly. There are well-argued, not snarky, suggestions here. I hope that those who offered them will quickly convert them into emails or letters to all elected officials, starting with the mayor and boro prez, moving on to state electeds, City Council reps etc. Thank you!

    5. Michael says:

      Since the driving lobby is here, I’d like to vocally advocate for the 25×25 plan as well as continuing to add protected bike lanes to make NYC a more bike and pedestrian friendly city. I’ve had a car since I was 16 and was so glad to move to NYC and no longer need one. However, it makes me sad my fiancée doesn’t feel safe biking in the city to get from point A to point B for lack of protected bike lanes. I’m excited to see parking removed and protected bike lanes added.

      We need to move forward with congestion pricing and 25×25.

      • Carmella Ombrello says:

        I’m sorry that your fiancee — whom, I assume, has the same access to buses, subways and taxis as we non-cyclists — is fearful of riding in the existing bike lane. It’s oxmoronic to think that more bike lanes, protected or otherwise, will “make NYC a more bike and pedestrian friendly city.” It’s one or the other. There are certainly cities in which bikes and pedestrians co-exist peacefully; New York is not one of them, not while bike lanes give riders the illusion that they have the automatic right of way; not when silent electric bikes use bike lanes use the lanes as speedways. Bike lanes make crossing the streets more onerous and more dangerous for pedestrians, including children, the elderly, parents with strollers, and people with disabilities.

    6. Stu says:

      For years the city has successfully made it more difficult for cars in the city with the unsuccessful hope of reducing the number. Our ex-mayor blamed it on the “black cars”. I think construction (which abound throughout the city) along with the parking lanes caused by adding bike lanes is the real cause of traffic tie ups. Instead of fighting cars I feel it’s time for us to live with cars. Open areas for pedestrians are not only great but needed. However, our present system of robbing Peter to give to Paul has caused a great deal of animosity. With public transportation down because of crime (and other factors) it’s time for our traffic gurus to admit failure and try to figure an amenable system. While pedestrians,bikes (especially the E bikes) and cars do not always get along, they are all here to stay at