Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Midtown Manhattan and its Admirable Architecture

Midtown Manhattan has long been known for its spectacular architecture.  Being home to some of the city’s most iconic buildings (including the Chrysler, Empire State, and UN HQ), as well as the world’s largest central business district, it perhaps should not come as much of a surprise that there is often talk of buildings that were, constructions that are and architectural designs that are in process.  In this article, we take a closer look at some of them.

Executive Director of AIA New York State, Georgi Ann Bailey believes there are 25 must-see buildings in New York.  Two of these are in the Midtown Manhattan area.  One is the main branch of the New York Public Library.  Designed by architects John Merven Carrère and Thomas Hastings, this is the entity’s flagship building and a “prominent historic landmark” in the midtown area.  It is also a very old building (opening its doors in 1911) and today its 646,680 square feet boasts a 52 foot high ceiling in its famous Rose Main Reading Room, filled with thousands of reference materials on open shelves, furnished with brass lamps, comfy chairs and sturdy wood tables. Of course the grand chandeliers add to the grandiose nature of the building as well.

The other one included in that list in the area was designed by architects Edward Durell Stone and Philip L. Goodwin, with a remodel by Philip Johnson, and Yoshio Taniguchi. New York’s
Museum of Modern Art, can be found on 53rd Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues.   It has been hailed as being one of the world’s largest and most influential modern art museums.

Then there are the upcoming constructions. Amy Plitt in an article in NYCurbed  took a look at the construction on Jean Nouvel’s Midtown supertall (already in progress for a year now) which is finally taking shape.  Noting its distinctive diagrid, this is quite an exciting time for midtown’s architecture.
Another one to watch is New York’s Only If Architecture which designed a mirror-filled space to be used by three companies in a very minimalist style.  With 18,000 square feet at its disposal, this will feature both open and closed work areas as well as a showroom made out of modular rolling elements.  In addition, surfaces will be in black and white and have a very organized feel.
So, there is a lot of interesting building in midtown Manhattan of note today.


Pastimes in the Park

There’s nothing like the beginning of summer to start enjoying the outdoors.  And midtown Manhattan is great for that, especially when it comes to parks, given the Parks and Rec organization.

Last month, Bryant Park had its official annual summer opening ceremony.  Those present were able to tromp over the freshly grown grass, crushing it with picnic blankets.  This is because, every year, the lawn there is torn out and regrown in spring for those to enjoy in the summer.  With the new lawn open, the city has put together a calendar of events, such as outdoor theater, meditation and dance classes and nighttime yoga.

In other park-related news in the region, Manhattaners should take advantage of the green space that surrounds the American Museum of Natural History. At the Theodore Roosevelt Park, an initiative from Parks Without Borders is seeking approval to progress in this project.  Director of Long Range Policy and Planning of the Institute, Sarah Nielsen said the aim is to “make parks more open and welcoming and beautiful by improving entrances, edge and park-adjacent spaces.” As co-manager of the Theodore Roosevelt Park Project, she will lead a study on how the space is used and to determine what improvements might be viable.  The idea is to really investigate – and improve on – the current status of the neighborhood.


Meanwhile, in June and July, there will be a variety of family-based activities including: circus arts, children’s rapper and Beatles tribute band, all free for residents.  The Manhattan Parks and Rec organization (mentioned above) has been putting these concerts on for the last four decades.  They will all be held at the Larry Norvell Band Shell (City Park) and commence at 8pm.  

Monday, April 17, 2017

What’s “Up” in Midtown Manhattan?

It’s possible that soon enough a 4,000-foot length skyscraper will appear in midtown Manhttan. The proposed “silly straw supertall structure” designed by Ioannis Oikonomou believes his design features New York’s “hidden layers,” and thus tells the tale of how we perceive the city. It would connect the two towers over Calvary Baptist Church. As Oikonomou pointed out:
“[New York] architecture no longer operates as formation of buildings and streets. It is a cluster of catalysts to memories and emotions which inhabit our minds.”
Right now the area is quite crowded. It is filled with a seven-story prewar building and a 77-floor condo. Should the building go ahead, it would take up 2,000 feet (in height). Of course there is some opposition to the plan. Most notably from Chair of Community Board 5’s Sunshine Task Force, Layla Law-Gisiko who referred to the design as “silly and out of touch.”

Friday, March 17, 2017

Simon Indian Palace

A look at the new Simon Indian Palace eatery, just by Bloomingdale’s, but it’s pretty hidden. This is Nurul Amin’s first venture in NYC. Working alongside three chefs (Jalal Bhuiyan, Miraj Bhuiyan and Shohag Alam (an executive chef, curry specialist and tandoor master), this team create specialty non-vegetarian and vegetarian appetizers and entrées together for their customers. Take a look at this video to see inside the kitchen.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Beijing Arrives in Manhattan

Thanks to the work of entrepreneur Brian Goldberg, midtown Manhattaners can now get jianbings locally. A rolled crepe (common to Beijing street food), a permanent kiosk has replaced Goldberg’s popups to sell these food items as Goldberg  had recently recalled them seeing that New Yorkers were starting to make them.

While he may have been raised New York (growing up in Spring Valley), he definitely has the culture, having later become a Chinese scholar.  His eclectic experience had him train to become a professional luge racer and thereafter work in the finance industry.  Then in Hong Kong, he ran a few eateries.

The thought behind these local jianbings was Golderg’s idea to create something “that would be interesting and make people happy,” which is his ultimate goal in “making jianbing as mainstream as ramen.”  

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Allegria Hotel: A Great Choice with Owners Stabilis Capital

Whether for a weekend get-away from New York City or for a business conference, the Allegria Hotel in Long Beach is a great choice. The hotel opened in 2009 with great excitement as the first upscale hotel in Long Beach in decades. In the summer of 2016, it was sold at a bankruptcy auction for $27.4 million. The winning bid went to Stabilis Capital Management LP, a New York investment firm.

As Stabilis Capital on New York reported in a memo, “Stabilis is excited to have won the bid and is passionate about this property. We believe strongly in the potential of the Allegria Hotel and, if the [bankruptcy] trustee approves the sale process, we look forward to making capital improvements and other investments in the property. We plan to establish the Allegria as a truly top-notch boutique hotel.”
The hotel includes 143 rooms and 124,000 square foot of oceanfront space.

After the auction, Ken Silverman, a Chapter 11 operating trustee said, “I’m confident that it’s going to be continued as a hotel, and the current management is going to stay on. I believe [Stabilis has] experience in the hospitality industry.”

Silverman continued, “The hotel is going to continue to operate, and we’re honoring all events and we’re still going to be booking. And the summer season has been spectacular so far — [the hotel has] either been substantially or fully occupied.”


Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Grocery Options in Midtown

When it comes to grocery options, Midtowners should be happy that choices are expanding.  A Whole Foods Market is opening its newest location, right across from Midtown Manhattan’s Bryant Park in a couple of weeks.  The exact location is 1095 Avenue of the Americas.

While the market does not focus on being the least expensive grocery store in town, the benefits are that for the health conscious it has a large selection.  Its official opening will begin with a celebratory bread baking event which will start at 8.45am on the first day, 28th January and then 15 minutes later the 36,000 sq. ft. store will be open for business.  Featuring quick-serve prepared foods that Whole Foods has earned a reputation for over the years, it will also sell basics such as produce, condiments and canned items.


According to a recent Manhattan Retail Tour investigation, in general, grocery stores in the area are somewhat unique (compared to those across the country and maybe even worldwide) since the produce selection is actually driven by Manhattan’s multi-culturalism, and given that around 36 percent of Manhattaners are foreign-born with 60 million tourists per annum, tons of ethnic options make the rounds, which is often reflected in the layout and offerings of each market.