disaster zone

De Blasio Returns to Tour Harlem Explosion Site

Mayor Bill de Blasio getting briefed on the apartment collapse in East Harlem this morning. (Photo: Rob Bennett for the Office of Mayor Bill de Blasio)

Mayor Bill de Blasio returned to the site of the fatal East Harlem building explosion and collapse this morning, where he was briefed on the ongoing  recovery efforts by first responders.

Yesterday morning’s explosion–apparently caused by a gas leak–leveled two buildings near the corner of East 116th Street and Park Avenue, spewing debris into the street and leaving at least seven dead and 37 injured as of last night, with others still missing, a fire department spokesman said. Read More

Appointment Disappointments

Jumaane Williams Hopes Mayor Appoints New Buildings Commissioner ASAP

Bill de Blasio being briefed on today's explosion. (Photo: Rob Bennett/NYC Mayor's Office)

City Councilman Jumaane Williams is hoping that Mayor Bill de Blasio appoints a new Department of Buildings commissioner “as soon as possible” in the wake of a catastrophic East Harlem building explosion.

“I think the mayor, we all know is taking steps to appoint people … the Department of Buildings is one of the ones that are leftover,” Mr. Williams, the chair of the council’s housing and buildings committee, told reporters this afternoon in the City Council chambers. Read More

local efforts

Mark-Viverito Says District Office Doubling as Command Post After Explosion

Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito at the scene of the East Harlem Building Collapse. (Photo: Rob Bennett for the Office of Mayor Bill de Blasio)

City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito was on her way to City Hall from her home in East Harlem this morning when she noticed Twitter erupting with early reports of a massive explosion that had rocked her district, leveling two buildings and leaving at least two dead and 22 injured, according to fire officials.

“I left my home at about 9:15, 9:20. I was on my way to City Hall when I started seeing some activity on Twitter from constituents that had heard the explosion or had been rocked by the explosion, some that live on 118th Street. So I turned around, came uptown,” Ms. Mark-Viverito told the Observer after an emergency briefing this afternoon a block from the site, which remains ablaze. Read More

first responders

De Blasio Says He Has No Regrets About Agency Staffing After East Harlem Explosion

Mayor Bill de Blasio and emergency responders a block from the scene of the explosion.

Mayor Bill de Blasio today said he had no regrets about agency staffing following this morning’s massive East Harlem explosion, which collapsed two buildings, killing at least two and leaving more than a dozen injured. The explosion appears to have been caused by gas.

Speaking at a briefing a block from the site–which remained smoldering, with more than 250 firefighters on scene more than three hours after the blast–Mr. de Blasio heaped praise on emergency workers and first responders, including the Department of Building’s Acting Commissioner Thomas Fariello. Read More

Breaking News

Photos From East Harlem Building Explosion [Updated]

Scene after the 3/12/14 explosion on Park Avenue and 116th Street (Credit: Arman Dzidovic/The New York Observer)

An explosion in East Harlem has left at least eight dead and more than 50 injured with many people missing. The Observer was on the scene and took some photos of the mayhem that ensued after the morning explosion on Park Avenue and 116th Street that leveled two buildings. The mayor called the explosion, a “tragedy of the worst kind,” at a press conference. A gas leak in a piano store was reportedly the impetus for the explosion. Read More

Breaking News

Explosion Levels Two East Harlem Buildings, Killing 8 and Injuring 50 [Updated]

NY1 video from the scene. (screeengrab)

An explosion caused the collapse of two East Harlem buildings on 116th Street and Park Avenue this morning, killing eight people and injuring 50 others. As of March 1 at 1 p.m., one person was still missing, the New York Post reported.

City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said at a press conference: “There are people unaccounted for, and that is of concern,” according to a tweet from Yoav Gonen, City Hall bureau chief at the Post.

Read More

big and tall

Audio: Bill de Blasio Promises REBNY He’ll Build Big

Mayor Bill de Blasio today. (Photo: Getty)

Mayor Bill de Blasio today praised some of the biggest names in the real estate industry and told them he has no qualms about building large in the name of affordable housing.

“I’m looking forward to building upon on a lot of the relationships that I’ve already had the honor of having with folks in this room and getting to know people more deeply in the years ahead and working together,” Mr. de Blasio told the group, according to audio from the closed-door meeting released by his office. Read More

Mayoral Meetings

De Blasio Received With ‘Open Arms’ at REBNY Meeting

Bill de Blasio arriving at this morning's REBNY meeting.

Members of the well-connected Real Estate Board of New York praised Bill de Blasio this afternoon after the mayor attended a closed-door meeting with the group.

While many in the business community had been nervous about the left-leaning mayor and his plans to up taxes on the rich and force developers to build more affordable housing, members of the group’s board left today’s sit-down offering nothing but praise. Read More

executive power

De Blasio Moves to Expand Living Wage With Executive Order

Bill de Blasio delivering hi State of the City speech. (Photo: John Moore/Getty Images)

As part of his State of the City address this afternoon, Mayor Bill de Blasio promised to expand living wage legislation using a tool he has previously rarely mentioned: an executive order.

Mr. de Blasio announced that he will move to drop a lawsuit filed by his predecessor, Michael Bloomberg, to halt legislation passed by the Council guaranteeing so-called “living wage” salaries to employees of projects that receive more than $1 million in city subsidies. Read More

office space

The Fall Season in Downtown

Tara Stacom of Cushman & Wakefield.

“I’m more bullish today than I was in 2007,” said Cushman & Wakefield’s Tara Stacom of  1 World Trade and the outlook for the 1,776-foot tower that will offer 3.1 million square feet of Class A office space. “I did not think one of the first tenants would be a million-plus feet.”

Signing the lease with Condé Nast in May of this year was, for lack of a less hackneyed term, a game-changer for downtown Manhattan, especially as the area emerges not only from the Great Recession but from the malaise that characterized so much of the area since 9/11. Read More

The Sit-Down

Mitch Rudin’s Quarterly Report


In June, Mitch Rudin took the reins as Brookfield Office Properties’s president and C.E.O. of U.S. Commercial Operations following news that Ric Clark would relinquish his role as president of the Canadian firm, which controls downtown’s World Financial Center, while remaining on as C.E.O. of corporate operations. Last week, Mr. Rudin, 58, assessed his progress.

The Commercial Observer: So, why don’t you assess your progress over your first 60 days at Brookfield?

Mr. Rudin: It’s been terrific. I wouldn’t quite call this my midterm report card, but I’ve been here for two months, and to the extent that there have been any surprises they’ve all been pleasant.

What kind of surprises? Read More

Lease Beat

Finance Firm Expands in Trinity’s 100 A of A

100 Ave of Amer (1)

Two Sigma Investments, an international finance and technology firm, has inked a five-year lease at 100 Avenue of the Americas that will allow the company to expand from its current 38,332 square feet, brokers told The Commercial Observer. Read More

The Neverending Story

Mini 1 World Trade Center Discovered in Tianjin, China

6 Photos

A detail from the top of the Tianjin tower.

David Childs, the design leader at SOM for three decades now—his first smash was the postmodern Worldwide Plaza in Midtown, his latest the union-busting 7 World Trade Center—has come under plenty of criticism over the years for his design of 1 World Trade Center. Not only did people find it to be a dumbed-down version of Daniel Libeskind’s heavenly spire, but its signature feature, those chamfered corners, were nothing new either.

Numerous predecessors were pointed out, including one official entry by two students to the master planning competition. Now, a China-based reader sends along another from his side of the world, and it looks like almost an exact replica, down to the circular array surrounding the antenna. Read More