Happy Labor Day!

Happy Labor Day

Happy Labor Day

In honor of Labor Day, we won’t be posting on the Monday holiday (but we’ll keep our eyes peeled for breaking news). Have a safe, enjoyable weekend — but don’t forget to check back Tuesday morning. We resume our regular posting schedule at 7:30 a.m.

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Posh Central Park neighborhoods plagued by rats

Central Park and a rat

Central Park and a rat

Residents of the well-heeled neighborhoods surrounding Central Park have a rat problem.

In the past four years, those living near Central Park have called in in 4,691 vermin complaints, according to the New York Post.

In fact, the Upper West Side is the most rat-plagued neighborhood in the city, with a 2,402 complaints in the 10023, 10024 and 10025 ZIP codes since 2010, according to 311 hot-line data cited by the Post.

“The rats are getting worse,” said Upper West Sider Ron Hoffman. “You see them running back and forth on the sidewalk.”

On the Upper East Side, 1,507 vermin complaints have been made since 2010.

“Even the nicest areas in the city have not been able to avoid rat infestations, which mimics thousands of years of history as rats have followed the trail of waste modern human settlements seem to inevitably leave behind,” said Matthew Combs, a Fordham University researcher. [NYP]Christopher Cameron

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Zephyr Teachout takes on LICH redevelopment

Zephyr Teachout and Long Island College Hospital

Zephyr Teachout and Long Island College Hospital

Gubernatorial hopeful Zephyr Teachout is calling out Governor Andrew Cuomo over the long-running Long Island College Hospital debacle.

Yesterday, Teachout criticized Cuomo for remaining silent about the future of LICH in Cobble Hill, in light of SUNY Downstate Medical Center’s decision to sell the facility to developers who plan to bring housing to the site.

She also criticized the bidding process at the facility and is calling for an investigation, according to NY1.

“That bidding process looks a lot like the bidding process that I studied when I was studying corruption in Bosnia. When you’re supposed to bid for a high quality hospital and you end up confusing high quality medical care with luxury condo development—that does not make any sense, unless there’s money behind it,” Teachout said.

Earlier this month, affordable housing developer L+M Development Partners quit the redevelopment project leaving the affordable housing aspect of the redevelopment uncertain. [NY1] Christopher Cameron

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America’s oldest mall is now brimming with micro-apartments

The Providence Arcade in Providence, R.I.

The Providence Arcade in Providence, R.I.

At nearly 200 years old, Rhode Island’s Providence Arcade is considered America’s first indoor mall. But recently the arcade has seen a dramatic overhaul, transforming it into dozens of micro apartments. “It had become economically obsolete,” said J. Michael Abbott, a principal at Northeast Collaborative Architects of the mall, which closed in 2008. “When it was a full shopping center of all three floors, it just wasn’t working. Shops were opening and closing all the time.” Desperate for a solution, the building’s owner, developer Evan Granoff, decided to tap into the growing trend of living in super-small apartments, according to Curbed. The $7 million project wrapped up in October 2013 and some retail space was preserved. However, 38 rental units were also added to the apartment, each measuring only 225 to 300 square feet. Granoff also hedged his bets with eight larger apartments. Rent starts at $550 a month and building amenities include a game room, storage spaces and a laundry machine. [Curbed]Christopher Cameron

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Activists petition to save falcons at 25 CPW

A peregrine falcon nest on a building and the Century at 25 Central Park West

A peregrine falcon nest on a building and the Century at 25 Central Park West

Bird-loving New Yorkers are moving to stop a Central Park West condo from evicting a nest of endangered peregrine falcons.

The activists have presented the management of the Century building at 25 Central Park West with a petition with more than 4,200 signatures, according to the New York Post.

Earlier this month, the board at 25 CPW pushed have the birds, named Comet and Cruiser, and their two hatchlings from the window sill of Steve Nislick’s penthouse.

The birds have lived on the sill since 2010. Building Manager Douglas Elliman declined to comment. [NYP]Christopher Cameron

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Vacant East Harlem firehouse to become cultural center

120 East 125th Street in East Harlem

120 East 125th Street in East Harlem

An abandoned 19th-century firehouse in East Harlem is getting a new lease on life as cultural center.

The firehouse is one of five that were decommissioned in 2003 after severe budget cuts, according to Curbed. However, back in 2008, Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito prevented the building from being auctioned off by assuring that it would become a cultural center.

Now the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute has been selected as the building’s developer, according to Untapped Cities.

The nonprofit will break ground on the site, located at at 120 East 125th Street, on September 16. It hopes to move in by September 2015. [Curbed | Untapped Cities]Christopher Cameron

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Inside the New York Plaza Hotel’s latest $50M listing

1 Central Park South #301

1 Central Park South #301

Florida-based philanthropist and retired insurance tycoon Barry Kaye and his wife Carol have listed their apartment, created from the former state rooms at the iconic Plaza Hotel, for $49.5 million. The listing was the steepest of week.

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The couple picked up the three-bedroom, 3,412-square-foot condo for just $13.6 million in 2008, according to the New York Daily News.

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The third-floor apartment, located at 768 Fifth Avenue, features an elaborate master suite with two bathrooms and two walk-in closets, electric shades and access to the Plaza’s spa and gym. [NYDN] Christopher Cameron

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Atlantic City is losing two Casinos in just three days

Trump Palace in Atlantic City

Trump Palace in Atlantic City

A time few could imagine during the not-too-distant glory days of casino gambling has arrived in Atlantic City, where two casinos will close this weekend and a third will shut down in two weeks. More than 5,000 workers will lose their jobs in an unprecedented weekend in the seaside gambling resort, leaving many feeling betrayed by a system that once promised stable, well-paying jobs.

The Showboat is closing Sunday, followed by Revel on Monday and Tuesday. Trump Plaza is next, closing Sept. 16. To the thousands who will be left behind, it still seems unreal.

“We never thought this would happen,” said Chris Ireland, who has been a bartender at the Showboat since it opened. His wife works there, too, as a cocktail server. Before dinnertime Sunday, neither will have a job.

What makes it even tougher to swallow is that the Showboat — one of four Atlantic City casinos owned by Caesars Entertainment — is still turning a profit. But the company says it is closing Showboat to help reduce the total number of casinos in Atlantic City. Caesars also teamed with Tropicana Entertainment to buy the Atlantic Club last December and close it in January.

“They just want to eliminate competition,” Ireland said. “Everyone’s in favor of a free market until it doesn’t exactly work for them.”

Yet many analysts and casino executives say the painful contraction now shrinking Atlantic City’s casino market is exactly what the city needs to survive. Since 2006, Atlantic City’s casino revenue has fallen from $5.2 billion to $2.86 billion last year, and it will fall further this year. Atlantic City will end the year with eight casinos after beginning the year with 12.

New casinos popping up in an already saturated Northeastern U.S. gambling market aren’t expanding the overall pie but are slicing it into ever-smaller pieces. Fewer casinos could mean better financial performance for the survivors.

Resorts Casino Hotel, which was on the verge of closing a few years ago, completed a remarkable turnaround in the second quarter of this year, swinging from a $1.3 million loss last year to a $1.9 million profit this year.

“I truly believe that eight remaining casinos can all do very well when the gambling market is right-sized,” said Resorts president Mark Giannantonio.

That may be true, but it is little comfort to workers who are losing their jobs. By the time Trump Plaza shuts down in two weeks, nearly 8,000 jobs — or a quarter of Atlantic City’s casino workforce — will be unemployed. A mass unemployment filing due to begin Wednesday is so large it has been booked into the city’s convention center.

When casino gambling was approved by New Jersey voters in 1976, it was billed as a way to revitalize Atlantic City and provide stable, lasting jobs. The first casino, Resorts, opened in 1978, kicking off three decades of soaring revenue and employment.

But the Great Recession hit just as new casinos were popping up in neighboring Pennsylvania and New York, cutting deeply into Atlantic City’s customer base.

“There was a promise when casinos came in here that these would be good, viable jobs, something you could raise your family on and have a decent life with,” said Paul Smith, a cook at the Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort. “I feel so bad for all these people losing their jobs. It wasn’t supposed to be like this.”

Mayor Don Guardian says his city is remaking itself as a more multifaceted destination, where gambling is only part of the allure. But he acknowledges the pain this weekend will bring.

“This is going to be a difficult few weeks for many of us in Atlantic City,” he said. “People will lose their jobs, and that is never good news. Our hearts go out to our neighbors and friends. We still have difficult waters to navigate.”

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