New York City's efforts to improve its educational system took the spotlight in Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s State of the City address earlier today, but job creation and a slew of construction projects planned or under way were also mentioned. The mayor, who spoke at Morris High School in the Bronx, praised the city’s 2011 accomplishments and set a broad list of goals in several areas including plans to streamline the building inspection process.
"We've already opened an online hub for reviewing and approving digital construction plans," Bloomberg said, referring to the Dept. of Buildings' recently launched NYC Development Hub. "Now, we're teaming up with the industry to form the Partnership to Build NYC, and together, we'll strengthen safety and reduce waiting times for building inspections citywide. Our goal is ten days or less." He also said the city will streamline City Planning’s review of land use applications.
Those are ambitious goals but the mayor "has achieved a lot on the brick and mortar front … he translates broad goals into very concrete projects," says Dick Anderson, president of the NYC Building Congress, who attended the mayor’s address. The wait time for a building permit can currently take a few months, Anderson says, "so getting it down to 10 days would be a huge accomplishment."
The mayor also touched on a host of development plans and said that the city issued RFPs today for a new operator of the Kingsbridge Armory in the Bronx. "We've heard from a variety of interested parties, including those who want to develop it into recreational space," Bloomberg said.
The mayor mentioned projects planned throughout the five boroughs including the Bronx-based $270-million Eastchester shopping center; renovation of the Bronx River Art Center; and rezoning East Fordham Road to allow for private-sector investment.
"The speech was classic Mike Bloomberg," Anderson says. "It was philosophical, ambitious, concrete and far reaching."
The speech follows Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Jan. 4 State of the State address in Albany in which he also made several development proposals including building a 3.8-million-sq.-ft conference center at the Aqueduct Race Track in Queens, which would be funded by private investment. Among other initiatives, the governor proposed a master plan for the Jacob Javits convention center in Manhattan to become a mixed-use facility. He also said he aims to lure businesses to Buffalo, the third-poorest city nationwide, with up to $1 billion in multi-year economic incentives.