20 March 2008

Assuring the Palm Beach Crowd

The King of NYCabbies alerted me this article in the current issue of the Palm Beach Daily News ("The Shiny Sheet"), in which, as the KOC aptly put it, Department of City Planning commissioner Amanda Burden speaks to her true constituency.

I'm just going to reprint the article in all its astouding lack of irony, boldfacing lines that particularly give me the chills in their implied meaning. My totally measured and reasonable observations are in brackets. Please note that this article about New York's future is written by paper's FASHION EDITOR!

Planner Amanda Burden explains future of New York City to Preservation Foundation of Palm Beach

Daily News Fashion Editor

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Community planning, zoning and development issues are at the fore in town this season.

To reflect — and perhaps encourage ["perhaps" indeed; Burden doesn't want any dialog] — the ongoing dialog and to educate the public about the principles and goals of sensible growth strategies, the Preservation Foundation asked Amanda Burden, director of the New York City Department of City Planning and chairwoman of the City Planning Commission, to deliver the March 14 Gruss master architect lecture, traditionally presented by a distinguished practitioner of design.

Burden works for Mayor Michael Bloomberg, whom she calls a great figure "who wants to make a difference." [My God. He's a Svengali figure to his various commissioners.] She is charged with devising development strategies for New York City, with an eye toward improving economic conditions and quality of life. [Quality of life for whom? Folks of her tax bracket?]

An important part of her job is maintaining the city's position as a city of global stature, [Are we in danger of losing our position at a city of global stature? Will only overdevelopment save us?] able to compete with economic and cultural capitals around the world while creating and maintaining vibrant and diverse neighborhoods [Her plans, of course, quash diversity, not encourage it; what they create is homogeneity], waterfront sites and public spaces — and encouraging top level, sustainable design. [I'm not aware that much of the jerrybuilt crapitecture she engenders with her rezonings is sustainable or top level. I've always considered it bottom-run development never meant to last the ages.]

"We're trying to shape the city," said Burden, noting that 79 rezoning plans have been passed, with more than one-sixth of the city targeted for redevelopment.
[Holy shit! One sixth of the City's in Bloomberg's image. Hello, Atlanta!]
She discussed several projects, some nearing completion, each reflecting the goals that she and the city administration consider essential:

* Restoration and enhancement of Lower Manhattan.

"It was suffering even before 9/11," Burden said. "The area was all business and went to bed promptly at 5 p.m."

Burden's office has induced an increase in residential development downtown, with a potential to draw 10,000 families to new apartments and condominiums and, with them, an influx of a variety of restaurants and shops.

* Implementation of Manhattan's Hudson Yards district.

"There are no sites in midtown Manhattan for office towers," Burden said. "Zoning, which allowed only low-density buildings, on the far west side of midtown had killed the area." [Oh, ick! Low-density buildings! The work of the Devil, they are! They kill neighborhoods. Only tall buildings revive areas.]

She intends to redesignate 59 blocks on the West Side, extending the dense midtown skyline west toward the Hudson River. [Just what anyone would want, an extension of that suffocating skyline] The change would allow a potential 24 million square feet of office space, as well as a supply of homes.

"Yes, it's dense, but it's very key to maintain New York's competitive edge in the world, and this will address that aim," she said. [This represents a rare bit of questioning from the reporter in this article. Again, Burden is blinkered. She can see no other solution for improving New York than overdevelopment. Competitive edge=tall, shiny towers. How can someone so limited in imagination be in charge of city planning?]

Part of the plan includes parks along a new boulevard spine and extension of a subway line.

"Transportation access is very important," she said. "Weaving parks and open spaces into the plan creates real estate value."

* Developing regional business districts.

Burden's office envisions an office district in downtown Brooklyn, which she describes as having fabulous assets, including access to surrounding low-scale residential neighborhoods, superior transportation and the potential for plenty of residential development alongside commercial properties, with mixed-use development a priority.

Within that context, Burden advises town planners to "invest in public open space and transportation."

* For Long Island City, Burden envisions an office district [She sure likes office districts.] that combines preservation of the area's low-density character with growth. New buildings, some quite large, built in strategic locations will "give an identification to Long Island City," she said. [Long Island City residents already feel they have an identity, lady.]

* The city is rezoning the entire South Bronx to encourage residential and retail development in conjunction with the new Yankee Stadium.

Manhattan's 125th Street corridor "needs new zoning that will catalyze development," Burden said.

The historic street, home of the Apollo Theater, was described as a dull succession of one-story buildings [Again: small buildings=neighborhood killers] with no cultural center [WTF!], no residential development and no restaurants. [There it is again! Restaurants! She's obsessed with getting fois gras in Harlem!] Burden's plan offers developers a bonus for the inclusion of arts, entertainment, dining and retail elements, which are required to gain the necessary approvals from the city.

"Banks can deaden an environment, closing their doors at 3 p.m.," she said. "We've zoned for limited bank exposure on the street level, positioning the banking floors on the second floor to encourage more vitality." [This is the only good idea you've got, Burden! Make it citywide!]

Burden believes 8,800 new jobs and thousands of needed apartments will result from the 125th Street redevelopment plan.

She went on to detail plans for a waterfront residential development along the "completely abandoned" East River shoreline in the Greenpoint and Williamsburg neighborhoods of Brooklyn.

The High Line elevated railway park in Manhattan's West Chelsea district is intended to add value to the existing real estate, preserve the gallery district and create housing on the perimeter.

And rezoning Brooklyn's Coney Island will save it as a year-round community and amusement park site. [What? It was dead? I know lots of people who go there every summer. Sorry it it's too gritty for your clean white suit, Amanda.]

In the sustainability arena, Burden outlined plans for "greening" open spaces: parking lots will be required to include planted medians and shade trees, and 75 percent of residential front yards in the outer boroughs will be required to be planted, not paved over.

Ladies and gentelmen, this is what she actually thinks. Of course, they're not really her thoughts, any more than DOB head Patricia Lancaster's are hers. They're fed to them by Mayor Mike.

Only 651 days until he's gone, people.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I ready for Bloomberg and his administration to go. I was behind him with the smoking ban, but the overdevelopment of NY neighborhoods, unfair used of eminent domain (is that what they teach at Columbia University now), too many tall buildings/condos (and now cranes collapsing because of it), congestion pricing, banning trans fat (if you're eating McDonalds, it's expected to be unhealthy, you're not going there for the salad), duplicating stadiums just to make more expensive box seats, and turning the outer boroughs into mini-Manhattans, now he's just going overboard. Why od they think throwing a makeshift park in the middle of a redevelopment makes everything okay. Rezoning the south Bronx, just means they're finding a way to get rid of the low-income residents currently there. And how was there no culture and restaurants in Harlem -- maybe just none she would eat at! And I've notices on other blogs that although some people are agains tall shiny cookie-cutter buildings, they all want more restaurants in neighborhoods. Don't people cook at home anymore?