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The Other "Green Way": Why Can't New York Build More Quality Affordable Housing?

This article originally appeared on uncube magazine as "An Affordable Housing Complex in the Bronx Revisited."

Two years after the completion of Grimshaw and Dattner's acclaimed Via Verde ("Green Way"), no successors have even been proposed for this supposed model for the design and construction of new affordable housing. In this article, David Bench returns to the site, finding that the sustainable project's lack of impact is caused by a completely different type of "green."

Affordable housing is the quest of every New Yorker. The routes to finding it are mysterious and widely misunderstood, as they are made up of a myriad of buildings, programmes, and rules that have failed to keep pace with the production of luxury housing and gentrification of middle class neighbourhoods in the city. This apartment anxiety has led to such amusing and fateful reactions as the creation of the Rent is Too Damn High political party – whose name speaks for itself – and an economic narrative that propelled Bill de Blasio from a long-shot mayoral candidacy to an overwhelming majority on election day in 2013. Soon after taking office, de Blasio unveiled the most ambitious affordable housing program in generations, which aims to build or preserve 200,000 units in the next decade.

Barcelona Wins Bloomberg 2014 Mayors Challenge

Bloomberg Philanthropies has awarded its 2014 Mayors Challenge to Barcelona, selecting its plan to deal with the problems of an ageing population over the proposals of 20 other European cities shortlisted earlier this year. The award, developed to promote the most creative and transferable solutions to intractable social problems such as public health, unemployment and transportation, carries a €5 million prize for Barcelona to put toward implementing the plan. In addition, four runners-up - Athens, Kirklees, Stockholm and Warsaw - will also receive €1 million each for their own plans.

"To meet the biggest challenges of the 21st century, city leaders must think creatively and be unafraid to try new things – and the Mayors Challenge is designed to help them do that," said Michael Bloomberg, former mayor of New York City and founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies.

Read on after the break to learn more about the proposals of Barcelona and the four runners-up

Michael Bloomberg Named U.N. Envoy for Cities and Climate Change

Former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg has been appointed to be the U.N. special envoy for cities and climate change. Upon receiving the news, Bloomberg tweeted: "Cities are taking measurable action to reduce emissions, emerging as leaders in the battle against climate change... I look forward to working with cities around the world and the UN to accelerate progress [to combat global warming].” You can read more here on USNews. 

Bloomberg Rushes to Approve Billion-Dollar Projects Before Leaving Office

Mayor Bloomberg's decade long administration may be ending this January, but not before he ensures the approval of $12 billion worth of privately developed projects throughout New York City. Under Bloomberg, 40 percent of NYC has been rezoned, creating a hot-bed of new construction. From multi-million dollar research centers to multi-billion dollar neighborhoods — complete with luxury waterfront apartments, outlet malls and the western hemisphere's largest Ferris Wheel — each one of these megaprojects will undoubtedly transform NYC in the coming decades. Check them out here.

Bloomberg's Next Move: Leading an 'Urban SWAT Team'

After a 12 year mayoral run, many have been wondering what Michael Bloomberg's next move will be. The answer: be mayor of every city (kind of). Bloomberg, along with most of his New York City Hall team (including transportation commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan), has shifted his focus to Bloomberg Associates, a consultancy group that - like an 'urban SWAT team' - offers advice to cities that call for it. For free. To learn more about Bloomberg's newest initiative, read the full article here on The New York Times. 

Kimmelman Drafts To-Do List for Next NYC Mayor

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s 12-year reign has left an undeniable impression on the built environment, which transformed “whole swaths of the city” but also made it “increasingly unaffordable to many.” According to architectural critic Michael Kimmelman, “The next mayor can keep architecture and planning front and center or risk taking the city backward.” Understanding that “the social welfare of all cities is inextricable from their physical fabric,” Kimmelman has laid out a comprehensive, mayoral “to-do list” to “building a better city.” Read it here on the New York Times

The Bloomberg Years: Reshaping New York

Since Mayor Bloomberg took office in 2001, the fabric of New York City has been in constant flux. In just 12 years, Bloomberg has lead an effort to rezone 37 percent of the city to create opportunities for high-density growth, as well as aided the construction 40,000 new buildings and 450 miles of bike lanes. Putting these efforts in perspective, the New York Times has released the interactive feature “Reshaping New York” that compares statistics with drastic ‘before and after’ comparisons. Check it out and read our report on Bloomberg’s lasting affect on the Empire State here

Bloomberg Moves Forward with Controversial Seaport City

Before he leaves office at the end of this year, Mayor Bloomberg has high hopes that his Post-Sandy plans will get off the ground. Most of his ideas have been met with consensus, however, one has stirred quite a bit of controversy: adding acres of land to Lower Manhattan in order to create apartment/office towers-cum-levees. 

Critics have launched a variety of arguments against the "Seaport City": (1) practical feasibility - beyond the "tough regulatory hurdles," the unpredictable nature of rising sea levels makes it difficult to predict how high these levee towers will actually need to be for them to safely withstand future storm surges; (2) economic feasibility - the plan would cost a whopping $20 billion dollars ($5 billion of which has yet too be accounted for); and (3) local character - local businesses are unlikely to care for their waterfront property suddenly becoming inland property, a transformation that would alter the character of the neighborhood entirely.

Bloomberg, on the other hand, maintains that Seaport City, a kind of Battery Park City for Lower Manhattan, will not only provide storm protection, but (unlike many other proposals) actually generate income, thus offsetting the project's considerable price tag: "this approach would provide the protective value of a traditional levee while also providing new land on which commercial and residential buildings could be constructed, both to accommodate the City’s growth and to help finance the construction of the multi-purpose levee.” To really understand the feasibility of the project, however, the city of New York has just released a request for proposals from architects, planners and developers. More info, after the break...

Mayor Bloomberg's Legacy:The Construction Boom of NYC

NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg's twelve years in office will leave an undeniable impression on the physical landscape of the city for future generations.  The new and revised policies of this administration have encouraged unprecedented growth of New York City and its outer boroughs in the years following 9/11.  According to a new series called The Bloomberg Years by WNYC and this article by Matthew Schuerman, Bloomberg's three consecutive terms have made New York City's skyline taller, have made the city more attractive and in turn, more expensive.

Join us for more after the break.

Which Bold Idea Should Win Bloomberg's Mayors Challenge?

During a time of paralizing political turmoil, local leaders are stepping up to fulfill their role as pragmatic problem-solvers and combating the tough challenges - such as economic growth, environmental protection, public safety and poverty - facing our cities today. This empowering phenomenon is highlighted by Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Mayors Challenge, a competition designed to further inspire America’s mayors and local leaders to generate innovative ideas that solve major challenges and improve city life.

Over 300 cities across the nation took the challenge and 20 finalists were selected in November. Now, it is your turn to vote on the idea you believe to have the greatest potential for impact. Five bold ideas will be selected in the coming weeks, each receiving national and local recognition. In addition, the winning city will receive a $5,000,000 grand prize and four other cities will receive $1,000,000 to help implement their ideas.

The proposals after the break...

Mayor Bloomberg Announces Winner of adAPT NYC Competition

“My Micro NY” Winter © nycmayorsoffice/Flickr
“My Micro NY” Winter © nycmayorsoffice/Flickr

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has announced the winner of adAPT NYC - a city-sponsored competition that challenged developer-led teams to design an innovative micro-apartment that responds to 21st century housing problems. With an all time high of 8.4 million people, and an expected million more by 2030, New York City’s shortfall of affordable one and two person apartments is continuing to grow at a staggering rate. In an effort to solve this imbalance, the winner of adAPT NYC will build an experimental project on a piece of city-owned land in Kips Bay, Manhattan, that has been alleviated from the 1987 density restriction that requires all new apartments to be greater than 400 square feet. 

“The growth rate for one- and two-person households greatly exceeds that of households with three or more people, and addressing that housing challenge requires us to think creatively and beyond our current regulations,” said Bloomberg.

So, who won adAPT NYC? Find out after the break!