Wednesday, March 21, 2012

This week's Riverdale Review & Bronx Press

Here are the stories in this week's (March 22 - March 28) bumper issues of the Riverdale Review and Bronx Press.

* Espaillat to challenge Rangel for congressional seat > State Sen. Adriano Espaillat, who currently represents a sliver of Riverdale, announces his intention to unseat Rep. Charlie Rangel and confirms he is currently circulating petitions to qualify for a spot on the state's primary ballot in June.
* EDC quiet on 230th Street mall while broker appears to announce winner and flogs retail space > City officials have apparently rejected housing in favor of big-box retail stores for the long-awaited 230th Street Broadway Plaza development.
* Diaz seeks relief for heating oil conversion cost > Member items should be partially used to help low-income co-ops comply with the city's controversial heating oil conversion mandate, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr said.
* HHP killer sentenced to 30 years by NJ judge > A Jersey City judge has sentenced a man to 30 years in prison for killing his girlfriend and dumping her body along the Henry Hudson Parkway.
* New Healing Touch has two identities > A local massage parlor suspected of serving as a front for prostitution is apparently attempting to reopen under a new name, Green Forest Spa.
* Investigation at PS 24 hinder assistant principal choice > Efforts to fill the vacant assistant principal position at P.S 24 have stalled due to two separate pending investigations involving the school's administration.
* Delayed effects for Croton parks money > City officials insist The Bronx is seeing the fruits of the nearly $200 million it was promised from the controversial Croton mitigation fund and estimate the last cent will be spent by 2014.
* Petco and Bank of America set for Stella D'oro mall > Petco and Bank of America have filed letters of intent and are slated to join BJ's Wholesale Club at Riverdale Crossing, a yet-to-be-built  shopping center located at the former Stella D'oro cookie factory site.
* Repaving relief for motorists > The DOT will repave two badly damaged streets in Riverdale, following a plea by Councilman G. Oliver Koppell.

Also in the Bronx Press:
* Opponents demand an end to police-patrolled schools > Dozens of students, teachers and their supporters gathered in front of the Bronx County Courthouse on March 9 to demand an end to what they call theoccupation of the New York City school system by armed members of the NYPD.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

EDC quiet on 230th Street mall while broker appears to announce winner (UPDATE)

This teaser story first appeared in the blockbuster issue of the Riverdale Review on March 22.

By Miawling Lam

City officials have seemingly rejected housing in favor of big-box retail stores for the long-awaited 230th Street Broadway Plaza development, the Riverdale Review can reveal.

Artist's rendering of the entrance at the proposed
230th Street Broadway Plaza. 
Documents show a two-story shopping mall appears to have been chosen as the winning project, beating four other proposals in the process.

While the city's Economic Development Corporation remains mum, preliminary signs suggest experienced national developer Equity One has been tapped to redevelop the 80,000-square-foot plot of city land.

According to a three-page brochure that briefly appeared on Ripco Realty’s website last week, tenants were being sought to occupy four spaces totaling a mammoth 115,063 square feet at the site. The available space was to be split evenly between two floors and range from 17,957 square feet to 38,691 square feet. The brochure, and the attached listing, has since been pulled down but a cached version can still be retrieved.

Under the plan, vehicular access would be made available from both West 230th Street and Verveelen Place, while pedestrians were slated to enter via a small plaza on Broadway. Undercover parking for 129 cars would also be provided, offering much-needed relief for motorists accustomed to scrambling for spots on the street.

When contacted earlier today, EDC spokesman Kyle Sklerov refused to confirm if Equity One had been chosen and simply said no winner had been announced. When asked why Ripco Realty appeared to single out one of the five submitted proposals, Sklerov said he did not know.

Intrigued? Want to know more? Read the full story in tomorrow's paper.

UPDATE: EDC confirmed yesterday (April 3) that Equity One's proposal had indeed been chosen. According to a press release, the experienced national developer would invest $54 million in the 80,000 square-foot site and seek four national big-box retailers to lease the available space. EDC estimates the project will create more than 250 new full-time and part-time jobs as well as 500 construction jobs. It is understood the developer will try to fill as many of these positions possible with Bronx residents.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Petco and BoA to join BJ's at Kingsbridge mall

UPDATE: On June 15, Metropolitan Realty Associates president Joseph Farkas finally confirmed that Petco, Bank of America and casual dining restaurant franchise Buffalo Wild Wings were currently negotiating leases. Although none have signed on the dotted line, he said signs were promising.

Artist rendering of Riverdale Crossing showing the location of
BJ's Wholesale Club, Bank of America and Petco.
by Miawling Lam

Petco and Bank of America will join BJ’s Wholesale Club at Riverdale Crossing, a new shopping center to be built at the former Stella D’oro cookie factory.

The Riverdale Review can exclusively reveal that a revised brochure posted on Ripco Realty’s website on Thursday shows both businesses have filed letters of intent to occupy space at the yet-to-be-built mall, located at Broadway between West 236th and West 238th Streets.

Ripco Realty is currently recruiting retailers to set up shop at the highly anticipated mall and is acting as a leasing agent for the Long Island-based owners Metropolitan Realty Associates.

According to the three-page flyer, Bank of America is set to occupy a 2,800 square-foot parcel of land facing the elevated subway tracks on Broadway, while Petco will be housed further west on a 9,995 square-foot space.

Floor plans show at least four other smaller spaces ranging from 4,774 square-feet to just over 9,998 square-feet are being flogged. Up to 304 spaces of street-level and rooftop parking will also compliment the retail space.

Calls to Ripco Realty, Petco and Bank of America for comment were not immediately returned.

Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz said he would welcome both tenants to Kingsbridge.

“When these kind of stores come into an area, I think they’re basically demonstrating their confidence in the area so I think it’s positive for the community,” he said. ”I think, over time, we are going to see continuing improvements in the Kingsbridge area, partially as a result of the additional stores coming in.”

This week's Riverdale Review & Bronx Press

Here are the stories in this week's (March 15 - March 21) issues of the Riverdale Review and Bronx Press.

* Confusion reigns as legislature, courts battle on redistricting > Redistricting maps for the state Senate, Assembly and congressional districts continue to be unresolved, with the latest plans out of Albany remaining a moving target.
* Few accidents logged at disputed school crossing > The NYPD has logged just 25 accidents along the six-block stretch of Independence Avenue between West 232nd and West 238th Streets since 2007. In comparison, the intersection of Broadway and West 230th Street has played host to 324 accidents over the corresponding period.
* Indian Point vital to NYC's livelihood and growth: Giuliani > Closing Indian Point would be catastrophic for New York City and result in more brownouts, blackouts and higher utility bills, according to former mayor Rudy Giuliani.
* Merchants hail new recycling program a success > Locals have embraced the expansion of a popular city-run recycling program since baskets were placed in two public locations in Riverdale three weeks ago.
* Charter school on track to fill seats > The Tech International Charter School, a new middle school slated to open in Kingsbridge this September, appears to be on track to fill each of its 132 sixth-grade seats.
* Hebrew Home offers new lights for low-vision residents > The Hebrew Home at Riverdale has become the first nursing home in the country to open a special unit for low-vision residents.
* Merchant evades $18,000 water bill with help of local pol > Councilman G. Oliver Koppell saves Tremont Paint Store owner Mark Lipton from an $18,000 bill after a staffer recognized the billing period in question coincided with a major water main break.
* Mayor proposes to slash $43 million from NYPL > Fewer library books could be purchased and staff hours could be slashed if austerity measures outlined in Mayor Michael Bloomberg's preliminary budget proceed as planned.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Espaillat to consider running for Congress (UPDATE)

Congressman Espaillat?
Today, state Sen. Adriano Espaillat will announce the formation of an exploratory committee to run for Congress, a source close to Espaillat told Bronx Press Politics.

According to the most recent draft of redistricting maps, that could mean Espaillat could run against Rep. Charlie Rangel in the 13th Congressional district (currently the 15th). According to those maps, the district would include Washington Heights, Inwood and parts of the west Bronx. It would be 55 percent Hispanic, 12 percent non-Hispanic white and 27 percent non-Hispanic black, which would shape up nicely for a Latino candidate to challenge the incumbent.

It should be noted that a new draft of the Congressional maps could alter the districts, and therefore the races, in northern Manhattan.

The largest problem for Espaillat's campaign, aside from unseating an incumbent, would be for multiple Hispanic candidates to run, diluting the voting bloc and giving Rangel the easy road to victory.

Rangel, who has represented the 15th Congressional district since 1971, is the third-longest currently serving member of the House of Representatives.

Espaillat would make history with a win against any opponent, becoming the first Dominican-American in Congress if he were to win in November. 

Espaillat released the following statement: 

"This is a historic opportunity for the State of New York to send a clear and unmistakable message that the growth of the Latino community demands that our government reflect our diversity.  

“I have been privileged to serve in the NYS Assembly for 14 years and in the Senate for the last two years. Throughout my career in public service, I have advocated for our community to be represented at the highest levels of government.  We are forming a committee that will explore the possibilities of what a predominantly Latino district would look like and whether there is support for a candidate who represents us. 

“While it’s premature to target one particular district, given the fact that final district lines have not been settled, launching this exploratory committee is an important step in making sure we are ready, when the final district lines are established.”

Espaillaat's exploratory committee is comprised of the following individuals:

Ø  Jeff Korek, Esq
Ø  Rev. Calvin Butts, III
Ø  Ralina Cardona
Ø  Kim Ramos, Esq
Ø  Hon. Maria Luna
Ø  Ricardo Oquendo, Esq
Ø  Jefrey Pollock

Thursday, March 8, 2012

This week's Riverdale Review and Bronx Press

Apologies for the lack of updates--Brendan's absence is being sorely felt--but here are the stories in this week's (March 8 - March 15) issue of the Review. 

* Second woman nabbed in local prostitution sting > Undercover NYPD officers swoop on New Healing Touch and arrest a 43-year-old Queens woman for soliciting sexual services. The arrest--the second in three months--means police now have legal grounds to pursue the massage parlor's closure.
* Specialized HS admits from RKA soar > Thirty students from the Riverdale Kingsbridge Academy won coveted seats in the city's nine elite specialized high schools this year.
* City may order new buildings to reduce stormwater overflow > Residential buildings could be forced to capture more stormwater runoff and store it on-site under a city plan designed to alleviate street flooding and reduce combined sewer overflows.
* Local pols to play musical chairs in redistricting > The Bronx could be carved up into five different congressional districts under controversial new redistricting lines proposed by the New York State Senate and Assembly.
* Merchants lobby to keep Riverdale Avenue identified > Businesses have joined elected officials in deriding plans to eliminate "Riverdale Avenue" from new Henry Hudson Parkway road signs, arguing the omission will negatively impact the area's identity.
* Mystery surrounds death of RKA alum in Illinois > Tributes have begun to flow in for a Riverdale Kingsbridge Academy graduate whose lifeless body was found in the woods in Illinois last weekend.
* Enhanced local bus service coming in April > MTA officials announce that starting on April 8, buses on the hugely popular Bx7 route will run every six minutes, up from the current eight-minute headway, during evening weekday peak hours.
* Manhattan College cafeteria workers regain lost jobs > The National Labor Relations Board rules that Gourmet Dining Services, the food service vendor at Manhattan College, must rehire all former Sodexo employees.
* Diaz releases ed summit report > Better collaboration among parents, teachers, elected officials and city authorities is the key to lifting the performance and graduating rates of Bronx students, according to Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.
* Businesses hopeful for skating rink bonanza > Local merchants and residents are devising strategies to boost economic development and capitalize on possible increased foot traffic from the yet-to-be-built Van Cortlandt Park ice skating rink.

Also in the Bronx Press:
* Education disaster for the smartest Bronx kids > Just six percent of Bronx students who took the specialized High School Admissions Test, landed seats at one of the city's eight elite high schools.  The Bronx accounted for just 322 of the 5,360 eighth-graders who received offers. In comparison, 1,919 came from Queens, 1,676 from Brooklyn and 1,074 from Manhattan.
* Westchester Square Biz Improvement District approves > The northeast Bronx is set to become a thriving commercial area after city officials unanimously approved the creation of the Westchester Square Business Improvement District.
* Heart attack eyed as cause in fatal Gun Hill crash > A heart attack is believed to be the cause of an early-morning crash that took the life of a beloved livery.
* SLA sting nets 11 Bronx stores > Investigators at the New York State Liquor Authority issued summonses to 118 stores across the city, alleging they sold liquor to minors.