Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

A Roof Most Restoration Companies Would Love to Hate

June 8, 2010

Restoration Corporations Admiring a beautiful roof

Wow. That’s… one heck of a roof there.

The restoration corporation involved with that roof would have a bit of a logistical headache on its hands. Nothing impossible, of course, but time-consuming.

But, the chance to work on something that intricate and historic! It’d be a joy to loath that job.

Working on old churches is a personal favorite. I can’t quite shake my Catholic upbringing; standing in a century (or centuries) – old cathedral brings a sense of calm to the job. There’s a smell to it – candle wax, stain for the pews, the must of old books – that reminds me of youth, of being young and cared for, meals taken care of, Nickelodeon back when Nick At Night ruled the evening, and frozen pizzas.

Well, some things stay the same.

There’s an old comfort to old things. It’s nice to be reminded of that now and again.

York Restoration Corporation Grooves on a Classic Building

June 4, 2010

York Restoration Corporation

Mmm. That top floor. Creepy, right? Like something from Hitchcock’s classic, “Psycho.” Looks like there ought to be the faint outline of a cross-dressing, murderous, hotel-running Anthony Perkins looking out onto the street.

Not to denigrate the building! It’s a classic building. You know it’s solid, if a little dingy, and probably filled to its rafters with locals who’ve lived in the same apartment for 32 years. They who nod in the hall as they pass one another, occasionally share exciting family news, live with two cats and a cockatoo, eat too much salt, hoard the razor-thin ovals of nearly used-up soap bars inside a plastic bag under the sink so that, a few months and many bars of soap later, those little leftover soap slivers can be packed together to form a “new” Voltron soap bar.

This building says, “buy local.”

“Never try to lift more than you weigh.”

“Cut up all but one of your credit cards, then put that last credit card in a shallow bowl of water. Stick that in the freezer. Whenever you get the urge to buy, pull it out and wait for it to melt. Chances are, the urge to buy will’ve subsided by the time it’s completely unfrozen. Win!”

“Take your date for a walk and a picnic in the park rather than dinner and a movie. Unless you can’t hold a conversation. In that case, always suggest movies. If all else fails, ask a lot of questions and pray you’re attractive.”

Yes, I’d take that sensible building. If it were a woman, and I were dating, I’d have no qualms about taking her home to mother (so long as she cleaned up a bit beforehand.)

And she weren’t the female Anthony Perkins.

Oh, to live in an apartment like this…

June 2, 2010

York Restoration Corporation Great Architecture

Don’t get us wrong – we here at York Restoration Corporation love our apartments and condos and little homes in and around Queens. Some of us even have a little back yard for our dachshunds to play in, or a little patio attached to our little apartments. We’re generally happy with where we are, if not so excited about the little bit of square footage we’ve for furniture, guests, and closets. And the like. Yes, York Restoration Corporation is pretty pleased with life, in general.

But! These apartments? Wow.

It’s hard to imagine living a life with so much natural light lighting our days and evenings. Look at those walls of windows! It’d be great to spend an evening reading some non-fiction – say, a biography on Herbert Hoover – while the streets below teemed with harried New Yorkers, scrambling to and from jobs and lives, most of which could never imagine how much nicer it is to live with an entire wall made out of windows.

Ah, well. This building is one of our recent favorites, here at York. We’re in love with the odd architecture, the spacious floor plans, and, of course, the windows.

Well played, apartment dwellers. You win this imaginary round.

York Restorations Enjoys Union Square

May 28, 2010

York Restoration Corporation's view of union square

After a cool day, one who threatened and menaced New Yorkers by brandishing darkening clouds and a whisper of rain, York Restoration Corporation felt the need to take a balmy visit to Union Square.

With temperatures teasing the low 90s, York Restoration Corporation sunned and sipped cold tea in Union Square’s newly wide-opened northern plaza.

This particular shot is facing west, looking at a aesthetically odd grouping of buildings. A mixture of shops, office space, and the occasional rogue apartment, the grouping’s wildly different heights and styles is a fun accident of New York’s mixture of old and new.

Next time the weather breaks and drags you out from your office, into the sun, beverage of choice in-hand, take a quick look around at the mixture of architecture, all the brick, steel, glass, sparkling, drab, crumbling, brand spanking-new, strange buildings that make up the visual white noise of living in the greatest city on Earth.

This post brought to you by York Restoration Corporation

Playgrounds for the rich

April 27, 2010
York Restoration Corporation Rockaway

The Rockaway Ferry is sinking quick

A recent article from the NY Daily News about their shutting down a shuttle from Rockaway Beach to Manhattan had this to say:

Deputy Mayor Howard Wolfson explained to the packed room of riders at the Belle Harbor Yacht Club how the city was subsidizing nearly $20 per passenger trip on the ferry. Wolfson noted this was a far cry from the 56 cents per subway ride the city provides in subsidies for each straphanger.

“The clear metrics that were established to determine whether or not this would be a success have not been met,” Wolfson said.

So what are the clear metrics that were established? What makes this a success or a failure, according to the Mayor’s office? Why is the city’s subsidizing of the ferry a failure when the financial exceptions made for the creation of a baseball or football stadium is deemed a success?

York Restoration Corporation, Atlantic Yards Imagination

A mock-up of the Atlantic Yards project

According to a press release from Forest City Ratner, the Atlantic Yards project will bring in 25,000 construction and permanent jobs. The release quotes Mayor Bloomberg:

“The Barclays Center at Atlantic Yards is the first piece of what will be one of the largest private investments and job generators in Brooklyn’s history,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “The world-class arena will bring the Nets to Brooklyn, and the entire project will bring with it more than 25,000 construction and permanent jobs, thousands of units of affordable housing, and tremendous economic activity. Now more than ever, we need investments that create jobs and help build for New York City’s future, and Atlantic Yards is as significant an example of that as there is.”

The city has – so far – provided over $305,000,000 in subsidies to the Atlantic Yards project, as well as backing off their requirements that Forest City Ratner pay for MTA transportation improvements, like reducing FCRatner’s initial financial obligation for the Vanderbilt Yard from $100 million to only $20 million. The New York Post sets the total loss to the city at $2.1 billion.

Wrapped up in all of this is the additional funding from the city for the “affordable housing” in the new sky rises, as well as favorable deadlines and penalties for completion of the various phases. The city is in a position to “require” the towers have “low-income” housing (officially defined as persons making less than $32,000 a year, which is a strange designation when the official “living wage” that Bloomberg signed into law is only $8.10/hour), but then pay the building’s owners a stipend for having the low-income units. Furthermore, it was announced that only 12 percent of the housing planned would be affordable to people making below $32,000.

We’ll be spending about $84,000 for each job created. Maybe not so bad if all those jobs were permanent; unfortunately, however, many of those jobs are swallowed up by one-time construction workers. You’d also have to factor in the fact that most of the jobs are seasonal, that the company running the concessions – Levy Restaurants, Inc – is based in Chicago and Charlotte, that many of the multi-millionaire players and coaches won’t necessarily live in New York City, or even the state, and things start to look a little more dingy.

York Restoration Corporation Yankee Stadium Overhead

Beautiful, but boondoggle nonetheless

Let’s compare this to the latest build in nearby Bronx. Here’s an excerpt from a recent analysis:

New York City released two of dozens of documents sought by the Assembly Committee on Corporations, Authorities, and Commissions that relate to the City’s attempt to give the Yankees an additional $430 million of taxpayer money for the construction of the new Yankee Stadium. The Yankees have already received an excess of $1.5 billion of taxpayer money.

These two documents are the Yankees’ application to the NYCIDA, which the City and the NYCIDA have had since December 11, 2008, and had previously refused to release, and a cost-benefit analysis which is part of the NYCIDA process. The documents reveal that the $2 billion in taxpayer subsidy will yield an total increase of full time employment at the new Stadium of only 22 jobs, that the average wage of employment at this subsidized project is $34 million per year, that the largest single uses of the new monies are for a large television and audio-visual system, concessions, Yankee’s administrative offices, and other accoutrements.

And then there’s the opportunity cost of selling this land to a stadium who won’t be paying as much in property taxes as a spread of regular everyday office buildings, or residential apartments. For example, New York City is missing out – in mortgage taxes alone – on $8 million because of the subsidies it offered to the new Yankee Stadium. Meanwhile, the state’s missing $14 million.

Meanwhile, New York is running a $10 billion deficit, and Governor Patterson is asking for the right to furlough “non-essential” government workers one day a week.

While the state will “officially” own the stadium, Ratner will lease the stadium for $1 a year. You put a single two-story home in that giant block of property, and you’d make more money in property taxes than the stadium will. While the stadium is publicly owned, the team will pocket the hundreds of millions in naming rights for the stadium. Think “CitiField” instead of Shea, or “Minute Maid Park” nee Enron Field nee Astros Field.

And then, there’s this:

Their deal [the one that’s netted them $48.2 million through 2009 – ed.] with the IDA lasts until 2046. According to the IDA’s latest job assessment report, that controversial stadium currently has 3,621 full time jobs — about 1,300 more than the old stadium, according to one estimate.

We paid out anywhere between $400 million to $2 billion in subsidies for the Yankees to add only 1,300 jobs. Sure, we got a pretty new stadium out of the deal. But try walking in there without shelling out $40 or so. Seems like a big open field would be a better deal. At least I wouldn’t have to pay half a day’s salary for the right to sit in the grass that my taxes bought.

Obviously, this is a done deal, and there’s no halting money from influencing a business-first city hall, but let’s not fall over each other trying to celebrate a if not corrupt, then certainly shady dealing. Atlantic Yards will be the next swanky condo highrise, and an obscenely rich Russian playboy gets a new home for his basketball team. Meanwhile, we’re all paying more for much less in our subways, and Rockaway Beach loses its ferry.

So let’s get back to the original question – at what point does the subsidy become silly? Why is the metric used for public transportation seemingly thrown into the bin when we look at stadium construction, or expensive condo units? Why does the MTA shut down umpteen bus lines and an entire subway line because of budget cuts, and how can we then afford to foot the bill for Forest City Ratner’s Atlantic Yards development? How can the deputy mayor say on one hand that the subsidies for the Rockaway ferry are untenable, but on the other, that Yankee Stadium was a giant success and boy-oh-boy Atlantic Yards is going to be an even bigger one?

I think we’ve gone past silly into surreal.

This post brought to you by York Restoration Corporation

Oh, it’s ugly. So, so ugly. But that’s what makes it NY.

February 17, 2010

Ugly, probably. Interesting, arguably. New York, definitely.

Lots of complaints about the architecture, here. Looks like a building swallowed the biggest Christmas tree, ever. Then, it lumbered to midtown and sat down on a brick pinwheel.

When websites are comparing your brand new building’s aesthetics to soviet-era, modernist concrete apartment blocks, you know you’ve got a polarizing structure. But hell, look around – for as many beautiful, interesting, or esoteric buildings there are littering Manhattan like the trash building up in its subway tracks, there’re 5 or 10 instances of lazy, ugly, or abhorrent architecture.

Well, it ain't purty.

And that’s part of our draw! It’s somehow reassuring to see those Robert Moses-era, slummy, low-income highrises sticking out of lower Manhattan (Harlem, too!). At the very least, it’s getting people talking about the skyline.

It’s part of why New Yorkers fought the Lollipop building’s redesign for the American Museum of Design and Craft. We sorta like ugly. Ugly’s part of us, just like we’ve got a glut of world-class clothing models, we’ve got tons and tons of ordinary, below-average, or downright fugly people driving cabs, answering phones, or begging for change.

Look, I wouldn't stay here, but obviously *someone* is

It’s the city. Get used to it; you might even learn to enjoy it, someday.

If you're new, try starting here.

This entry brought to you by York Restoration Corporation

Empire State Building’s Lobby Restored!

October 1, 2009

Empire State Building's lobby ceiling gets a fresh coat of paint

From the NY Times:

Anthony E. Malkin, the president of Malkin Holdings, which owns the building, said the lobby had become “a real letdown,” in contrast with the lobbies of two other famous skyscrapers of similar age, the Chrysler Building and 30 Rockefeller Plaza. Mr. Malkin wanted the lobby to be more of a triumphant portal than a utilitarian passageway for tourists on the way to the observation deck and workers on the way to their offices.

Amen, Mr. Malkin. Buildings are so much more than a structure in which to work, or sleep, or eat a sandwich. There’s a reason we pay architects millions to design unique, beautiful, awe-inspiring artifices.

There’s an inherent beauty to each and every building, from the welfare tenement, whose exterior is muted from years of neglect, to the Burj Dubai, who’ll be scrape the heavens and maybe confuse some angels with its transcendent loveliness.

More power to anyone out there uncovering (or recovering) their buildings’ natural allure.

This entry brought to you by York Restoration Corp

Building restoration loses a hero

August 4, 2009

Mr. Gwathmey's exterior restoration of the Guggenheim was much lauded for preserving its original beauty

Yesterday, Charles Gwathmey, the man who supervised and designed the restoration and expansion of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Guggenheim Museum, died yesterday. His work on the Guggenheim was applauded for respecting and preserving Frank Lloyd Wright’s vision while improving the flow and increasing the space available to the curators.

This entry brought to you by York Restoration Corporation