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Archive for June 11th, 2010

enchanting metamorphoses

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

Recent announcements have heralded the formal beginnings of the process which will transmogrify the ancient Hunters Point section of Long Island City irrevocably. The support of overt interests of the Manhattan political elite have been made in public, and the financial and real estate folks are in line behind the project.

Behold, the future home of an estimated 11,000 people, imagine Tower Town.


More than 5,000 new apartments are anticipated to be constructed in the primary neighborhood character study area by 2017, including completion of the residential development at Queens West and many other mid-size residential buildings throughout the immediate area. Almost 11,000 new residents are expected in the primary study area as a result of this new construction activity.

As the primary study area (and the secondary study area, discussed below) becomes more densely developed, traffic and pedestrian volumes will increase noticeably from the current levels. Intersections throughout the area will be more congested in the morning, midday, and evening peak hours. The intersections that currently experience some congestion on Vernon Boulevard will be noticeably more congested, with some levels of service D and even LOS F, indicating high to unacceptable delays. In addition, other intersections along Vernon Boulevard in the primary study area will also have moderate to high congestion in the peak hours. On the east-west avenues in the area near the project sites (i.e., 48th, 49th, 50th, and 51st Avenues) traffic volumes are expected to increase slightly.

Pedestrian volumes will also increase in the future without the proposed actions, but sidewalks, corners, and crosswalks will generally continue to operate at acceptable levels. The crosswalk across Vernon Boulevard on the north side of 50th Avenue will, however, become noticeably congested during the morning peak hour, as people cross to enter the subway station there. This crosswalk will operate at LOS E, as will the subway stair closest to the corner (Stair S8). Buses serving the primary study area will also be noticeably more crowded.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Direct sightlines of the heroic Manhattan skyline will be offered by these new high rise buildings, and soar over the starry old coastline that has known only industrial usage since the first Europeans arrived on the archipelago we know as New York. Its value for industry has long been exhausted, and today it is a brutal waste of land.

also from

The proposed actions would almost double the study area’s population. However, the proposed actions’ mix of affordable and market-rate housing could serve to relieve rather than increase residential market pressure in the study area. Additionally, given the very strong trend already in place in the neighborhood, the new population at Sites A and B would not be expected to introduce or accelerate a trend toward increased market rents in the study area that might cause significant indirect residential displacement. The redevelopment of Site B would introduce new residential uses to the Long Island City industrial area south of Borden Avenue. It is possible that the introduction of this residential use could lead to some limited indirect business displacement because of increased rent pressures. However, the potential for indirect displacement resulting from increased rent pressure is limited, and would not result in significant adverse indirect displacement impacts.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The new development, a planned community with parks and schools, will extend far from the river- nearly all the way to the Pulaski Bridge with a basketball court and green space sited for the location of the old Vernon Avenue Bridge. The shining city of Queens, and a monument to a revolutionary and aggressive group of city planners, the story of Tower Town has begun.

also from

The Hunter’s Point South Rezoning and Related Actions would allow Site A and Site B to be redeveloped with largely residential buildings with building components ranging in height from

40 to 400 feet. Ground floors would include local retail, lobby, and community facility uses. On Site A, a network of new streets, sidewalks, and bikeways would be developed, creating seven new city blocks from the single 30-acre parcel it is today. Center Boulevard would be continued southward onto Site A and would connect to the rest of the street network. On Site B, it is anticipated that a new publicly accessible private road and open space would roughly bisect the site. The new residential buildings would vary in height, with bases ranging in height from 40 to 70 feet and high rise elements ranging in height from 250 to 400 feet. Nine towers would be developed on Site A, and four towers would be developed on Site B. Ground floors would be occupied by local retail and other commercial uses and community facility uses. A new public school would serve the residents of the buildings and the surrounding neighborhood and create a varied and active streetscape.

In addition, a new public waterfront park would be developed along the East River and Newtown Creek frontages of Site A and a shore public walkway would be developed along the Newtown Creek frontage of Site B. An additional linear public park would also be developed on the south side of 55th Avenue between Center Boulevard and 2nd Street, and a similar public open space would be developed on the south side of the publicly accessible private road on Parcel B, creating a wide boulevard on that street. The new waterfront parks and open spaces on Sites A and B along the East River and Newtown Creek waterfronts would provide greatly increased public access to waterfront views. Wide views of the waterfront and Manhattan would be available from locations throughout the park.

Overall, the proposed actions would change the character of Sites A and B from a commercial and industrial neighborhood to a residential neighborhood. This new residential neighborhood would incorporate retail and park uses that would attract visitors. On both Site A and Site B, pedestrian activity and vehicular activity would increase substantially over existing conditions.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Tower Town is impossible to argue against, this real estate- former home to rail and ferry docks, and 19th century barge based casinos, and printing plants, and refineries, and power plants- is a blight on the city, and an uncomfortable reminder of that earlier time when brick strewn lots were not remarkable but common.

An economic boom in construction and real estate sales will come, when it is built. A new tax base of luxury and glamour will come to western Queens, and a wildfire of enhanced valuation will spur growth throughout surrounding riverine communities- further enhancing the economy and strengthening their own tax base- Dutch Kills first, then Astoria, and Greenpoint.

Tower Town at Hunters Point South, Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn, Flushing Commons, Willets Point, the Kosciuszko Bridge replacement.

All at once.

from “Air Quality In Queens County” at

In the interest of protecting the environment and public health of Northwest Queens, the Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC) and the Citizens Helping Organize for a Klean Environment (CHOKE) participated in the New York State Article X permitting process for several new power plants proposed in Northwest Queens. One of their objectives was to have a study conducted to analyze the contributors to air pollution in Northwest Queens and to identify possible strategies for improving air quality and reducing risks to public health. As part of the Article X permitting process for its 250 MW Ravenswood Combined Cycle project, KeySpan committed to funding such a study as a community benefit. CHOKE and NRDC contracted with Synapse to conduct this study. The conclusions and recommendations are those of the authors but do not necessarily reflect the position of KeySpan.

One of the reasons that Queens County was chosen for this study is that it is home to many sources of air pollution. In the northwest corner of the county there currently are four large power plants, which together house 46 electric generating units. The county also contains an extensive transportation network that includes the Long Island Expressway, the Brooklyn Queens Expressway, the Grand Central Parkway, two highway bridges, a tunnel to Manhattan, and two airports, along with over 400 miles of arterial and local roads. Queens also has several large industries, and some 2.2 million residents, leading to significant economic activity which contributes to air quality problems.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A small and insignificant scuttling thing who some might describe as a man, your humble narrator has spent a good deal of time wandering about the lonely industrial frontages of Hunters Point and expended some effort into learning its past. My opinion of this project is meaningless, it is a gathering thunderhead, and Manhattan is coming to Queens. There is just one thing that has been glossed over in mainstream reports about this place…

…this waterfront property…

from a Newtown Pentacle post of 6/7/2009

In 1697, a Dutch sea captain named Peter Praa bought the Bogardus properties and set up farming. He died in 1740, and the land was left to his granddaughter Anne Bennet. Her son, Jacob Diks, inherited next and he passed the land to his daughter- Anna Hunter. In 1817, Hunter, who had three sons, left the land to her children under the proviso that it be sold and the moneys divided evenly between them. This is why the “Mispat” became known as “Hunter’s Point”.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

For the water that promoters of this plan mention is the East River, not the water that has defined it throughout all recorded time.

from a Newtown Pentacle post of 2/28/10:

3.8 miles long, its mouth is directly opposite the Bellevue Psychiatric Hospital in Manhattan, and defines the currently undefended border between North Brooklyn and Western Queens. Estimates state that some 14 million gallons of combined sewage, storm runoff, and industrial waste provide the only flow of water into the Creek. It’s waters are opaque, and in the height of summer turn an unnatural shade of green.

The soft bottom of the waterway is 15-20 feet below the surface of the water, and the hard bottom is occluded by a gelatinous sediment known as “Black Mayonnaise”. Composed of petroleum residues, coal tar, PCB’s, and human excrement- it lies 15 feet thick on the bed. The oxygen content of the water drops precipitously as soon as one leaves the East River. The first of the drawbridges which cross it- known as the Pulaski Bridge, is the borderline beyond which immersion in this water is worthy of full HAZMAT gear and first responders institute biological decontamination procedures for anyone who finds themselves in it.

As I’ve mentioned in the past… the chemicals Putrescine (an organic chemical compound NH2(CH2)4NH2 (1,4-diaminobutane or butanediamine) and Cadaverine (a toxic diamine with the formula NH2(CH2)5NH2)which are produced by the rotting and putrefaction of animal flesh are abundantly found in the Newtown Creek under industrial aliases like Acrylonitrile and are prominent members on the EPA’s list of Volatile Organic Compounds– or VOC’s..

Who can guess, what it is, that may be buried down there?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Tower Town, you see, will be built along the Creek as well…

…the Newtown Creek…


“Newtown Creek is one of the most grossly-contaminated waterways in the country,” said Acting Regional Administrator George Pavlou. “By listing the creek, EPA can focus on doing the extensive sampling needed to figure out the best way to address the contamination and see the work through.”

EPA responded to requests by members of Congress to evaluate specific sites along the creek by publishing a September 2007 report that contained a review of past work and recommendations regarding future work at Newtown Creek. The state of New York referred the site to EPA due to the complex nature of the contamination along the creek.

Newtown Creek is part of the core area of the New York-New Jersey Harbor Estuary, which has been designated by EPA as an “estuary of national significance.” Despite the ongoing pollution problems, some residents currently use the creek for recreational purposes such as kayaking, while others catch fish for consumption out of it. Various sediment and surface water samples have been taken along the creek and reveal the presence of pesticides, metals, PCBs, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are potentially harmful contaminants that can easily evaporate into the air.

In the mid -1800s, the area adjacent to the 3.8-mile Newtown Creek was one of the busiest hubs of industrial activity in New York City. More than 50 industrial facilities were located along its banks, including oil refineries, petrochemical plants, fertilizer and glue factories, sawmills, and lumber and coal yards. The creek was crowded with commercial vessels, including large boats bringing in raw materials and fuel and taking out oil, chemicals and metals. In addition to the industrial pollution that resulted from all of this activity, the city began dumping raw sewage directly into the water in 1856. During World War II, the creek was one of the busiest ports in the nation. Some factories and facilities still operate along it, and various adjacent contaminated sites have contributed to its contamination. Today, as a result of its industrial history, including countless spills, Newtown Creek is badly polluted.

Written by Mitch Waxman

June 11, 2010 at 12:44 am

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