Overbuilding is Bad for City Life

23 Dec 2019 | 10:22

    Back for the cure - The walk-in medical facility Pro Health Urgent Care opened in the Ruppert Yorkville residential building complex on the east side of 90th and Third in the last two or so years. Then suddenly, just about a year ago, they closed, leaving another big empty space on the busy corner. Then, lo and behold, about a week ago, a notice appeared in the window saying that they were coming back. Good to know that the site won't be having the same fate as the empty storefront where Parlour restaurant once stood – and thrived – on the west side of 90th and Third. That location's been empty for at least two years and it doesn't look like the landlord has been able to bring in a mega-rental tenant. So the neighborhood's left with a big ugly blight of an empty storefront on the avenue. Unfortunately, the west side of Third Ave, starting north at 86th and up through 95th is replete with empty storefronts as landlords hold out for blockbuster tenants or wait to assemble the old Yorkville buildings to make way for sky-high condos – creating a New York not meant for New Yorkers who want to maintain roots here.

    And overbuilding just doesn't work for the civic life of the city. Many, if not all, of the newly built towers undoubtedly will be condos, and in many, if not most, instances, I'd guess, buyers will be investors who will reside elsewhere and reap the benefit of their investment by renting to tenants. Transient tenants don't usually vote at these addresses because they don't intend to establish a permanent residence and have no stake in the community. Perhaps public officials will take those factors into consideration when they go along with rampant razing and overbuilding in local neighborhoods and consider the negative impact on local businesses and services when condo apartment owners are just absentee landlords.

    .Being seen and heard - Back in 2018, the City Council passed a controversial rezoning bill affecting Inwood in Upper Manhattan. Whether its empty storefronts or rezoning, the community has to be heard and the Inwood community opposed the proposal. Kudos to Judge Verna Saunders who decided against the City Council's proposal in Washington Heights in a lawsuit that sought to overturn the council's approval of the rezoning . The community argued that the process behind the city's environmental review was improper. In the lawsuit, as reported in Patch, the community was opposing the upzoning of large sections of the area east of Tenth Ave. to allow for the building of mega-residential developments and rezoning areas west of Tenth Ave. to preserve the character of the neighborhood.

    As a result of the Saunders' ruling, the plan goes back to the city Economic Development Corporation of the Office of he Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development. They will have to explore the issues raised in the Inwood Legal Action's lawsuit. Judge Saunders found that the city failed to take a "hard look" at the potential effects of the rezoning. It's too bad when the governing body overrides the will of constituents. It remains to be seen if the decision will be upheld on appeal. Constructing buildings and ignoring present as well as future consequences to the neighborhood and the community is not good policy making. Luckily, in this case those most directly impacted by zoning changes were heard – and listened to – not the same thing, trust me.

    Chocolate's hot - A recent column noted the influx of chocolatiers in East Midtown – Laderach in the Bloomberg building near Bloomies, and Godiva and Hotel Chocolat. further south on Lex. Not to be left chocolate-less, the UES now has its own illustrious chocolatier with the addition of Jacques Torres. Originally on East 57th St., the eponymous house of chocolate is now at Third and 88th. There's also a location at Amsterdam and 74th. While Godiva and Hotel Chocolat. have seating, the UES Jacques Torres does not. At least not yet. Instead, if you want to stay indoors, you have to stand and sip. Or you can start sipping on your way out the front door. Doesn't sound like a very cozy way to imbibe a childhood favorite, does it?