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Ginormous NYC complex wins greenlight




Ginormous NYC complex wins greenlight

It was a big week for future projects as developers won City Council approval over NIMBY objections.

In a blowout reminiscent of the Chicago Bears’ 73-0 slaughter of the Washington Redskins in the 1940 NFL title game, Council members voted 48-0 to pass rezoning for a $1 billion Williamsburg, Brooklyn, waterfront complex with thousands of new apartments. Developer Two Trees Management expects to start building by 2024.

The Council also gave green lights to highly controversial Soho and Noho rezonings to allow large-scale residential construction and plans for a mammoth mixed-use tower to replace the Grand Hyatt Hotel on East 42d Street.

“The tide is turning against NIMBY-ism,” Two Trees managing director for external affairs David Lombino said of the phenomenon. He predicted, “You’ll see more of it under [incoming mayor] Eric Adams.”

The centerpiece of the 3.5-acre Williamsburg site called River Ring, is a pair of sloping apartment towers rising to 710 and 560 feet designed by BIG, the architectural firm headed by Bjarke Ingels. Some 263 of a total 1,050 units will be “permanently affordable” and have the same design and amenities as market-rate units.

The plan also calls for Two Trees to pay for and operate water-based recreation and programs on three adjoining acres, including  kayaking, marine ecology studies and an accessible beach on the East River. There will also be a new, 50,000-square-foot YMCA facility and a $100 million investment in resiliency infrastructure.

An aerial shot of Brooklyn shows how the River Ring would fit in
In a major win for the developer, River Ring will rise in Brooklyn.
Max Touhey |

River Ring, a former industrial site, is immediately north of Two Trees’ Domino development, which also has waterfront access. The two adjacent projects will eventually provide continuous waterfront access site to extend from South Williamsburg to Greenpoint.

But how did the project receive unanimous backing from the often development-averse Council? We reported in January 2020 that politically connected residents of Northside Piers towers, just north of River Ring, fiercely opposed the plan over “density” and its supposed negative effect on the waterfront. They warned of “horrible” conditions such as “broken bottles and  people drinking.”

An artist's rendering shows the outdoor recreational area that would include water sports and educational opportunities.
The project will bring outdoor recreation and ecosystem education.
Max Touhey |

But the resistance seemed more to do with blocking views of wealthy New Yorkers from their Northside Piers apartments.

Lombino credited support from former Brooklyn Borough President Adams and Council member Steven Levin, “who was extraordinarily helpful in the face of some local opposition.”

Lombino added, “We’re seeing widespread awareness that there’s a desperate need for new housing, and it sometimes needs to go into wealthy neighborhoods.”

The MTA as we know it could face the end of the line if Gov. Kathy Hochul were to impose another statewide lockdown to slow the fast-spreading  virus.

We wrote in these pages on Friday that a months-long lockdown like the one that turned the Big Apple into a “ghost town” in 2020 could finish off industries for good that gamely crawled back to life earlier this year —  including real estate, media, retail, hotels, Broadway and restaurants.

Governor Kathy Hochul speaks at a podium
New York Governor Kathy Hochul will decide whether a second lockdown takes place and how strict the rules will be.
Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

But  public agencies would also be at risk, none more than the indispensable MTA.

The agency — a linchpin of the entire northeast economy — wouldn’t comment on what effect a shutdown might have. But a glance at known facts reveals a frightening picture.

The subways and rail and bus lines run by the MTA lost over $200 million a week during the worst of the pandemic — accelerating an already grave fiscal threat to the agency, which faced a $2 billion structural deficit.

Subway ridership fell to 10 percent of pre-Covid and the LIRR and MetroNorth to 5 percent. The services have since partly rebounded — for example the subways to 55 percent to 58 percent of pre-Covid as of November. But full recovery might be years away.

To avert short-term disaster, the federal government stabilized the MTA with $14 billion in emergency funds through 2025.

An MTA bus with a Masks Required sign
A sign on a Manhattan bus makes clear the reality of the easily spread Omicron variant.
Getty Images

But a second shutdown similar in length to last year’s would bring the fiscal cliff up much sooner. Who’d use subways, buses or trains if  everything is closed again?

To avoid default or catastrophic service cuts, the MTA would need to race through much of the federal funds in the next year or two. It would then need more aid from Washington — if lawmakers could even be persuaded to cough up more dough.

Let’s pray  it doesn’t come to that.

Nationwide firm AMA Consulting Engineers PC, signed a five-year lease for 30,756 square feet at  825 Eighth Ave., aka Worldwide Plaza.

The pyramid-crowned, 49-story tower is owned by a joint venture of SL Green, RXR Realty and NYRT.

The asking rent was $70 per square foot. The 2-million-square-foot tower is 95 percent leased.

SL Green leasing director Steven Durels said that AMA Consulting was drawn to Worldwide Plaza’s “unique campus” with multiple dining and fitness opportunities, access to a large outdoor plaza and an on-site subway station.


Sports world reacts to John Madden’s death




Sports world reacts to John Madden’s death

Legendary NFL coach and broadcaster John Madden died Tuesday morning at 85, the NFL announced. News of the football icon’s passing hit Twitter on Tuesday evening, and athletes, coaches and broadcasters from across the sports world reacted.

Fellow broadcasting legend Dick Vitale, who is currently battling cancer, called Madden “the greatest analyst of all time of any sport” in his Twitter tribute.

Former Yankees pitcher and notable Raiders fan CC Sabathia said “your legacy will live forever.” Madden coached the then-Oakland Raiders from 1969-78, a couple of years before Sabathia, a Vallejo, California native, was born. Lakers star LeBron James had similar words about Madden’s lasting legacy, adding an infinity emoji.

Former tennis star and social justice activist Billie Jean King recalled meeting Madden as a “privilege.”

Radio voice of the Rangers Kenny Albert, a five-sport broadcaster who’s been with FOX Sports since its inception in 1994, shared a photo circa 26 years ago to remember Madden.

ESPN’s Bomani Jones took a bit of a shot at current color commentators, noting that Madden “set an unreachable standard.”

Frank Caliendo, who’s made a career out of impersonations, including one for Madden, said he was surprised how emotional he felt.

Several football players, and others, including Saints running back Mark Ingram II and former Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant, credited Madden with being part of the reason why they love football.

Rams wide receiver and NFL MVP contender Cooper Kupp quote the late coach in his tribute: “The road to Easy Street goes through the sewer.”

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Miles McBride’s Knicks role will lessen with Kemba Walker’s resurgence




Miles McBride’s Knicks role will lessen with Kemba Walker’s resurgence

MINNEAPOLIS — The Knicks got back another body in rookie point guard Miles McBride, who was cleared from protocols Tuesday and rejoined the team in Minnesota.

But there is no longer any hype for the rookie’s return. Kemba Walker is back as the starting point guard and coming off winning Eastern Conference Player of the Week honors with four standout games, including his Christmas Day spectacular. The Knicks have gone 2-2 since Walker regained the starting job.

“It’s great,’’ coach Tom Thibodeau said. “He had a great week. He’s playing great basketball. The team winning helps him get recognized and he was a big part of driving that winning. It’s great for the team.’’

McBride was also spectacular in his last outing before getting COVID-19, when he played the entire second half Dec. 16 in Houston and seemingly earned a spot in the rotation. In fact, McBride had strung together two decent outings before he was ruled out. But things have changed since his emergence and McBride is likely back to being a bit player.

Without a practice, McBride wasn’t even expected to see time when the Knicks faced the Timberwolves to kick off a four-game road trip.

Miles McBride
NBAE via Getty Images

Of course, with Walker’s arthritic knee, anything is possible. The Knicks play Detroit on Wednesday in a back-to-back, so it’s uncertain whether Walker will complete both contests. In addition, Immanuel Quickley is out of COVID-19 protocols but Thibodeau wasn’t sure he was ready for meaningful minutes.

That left Walker against the depleted Timberwolves, who were missing their three top players (Anthony Edwards, Karl-Anthony Towns, D’Angelo Russell), all because of COVID-19 .

Kemba Walker
Kemba Walker

When McBride got sidelined by the virus and Derrick Rose needed ankle surgery, Walker was resurrected by Thibodeau and it’s been a stunning comeback story.

Though Thibodeau has clear reservations about Walker based on his nine-game banishment due to his defensive malaise as an undersized point guard, he admitted after the Christmas Day triple-double against Atlanta that Walker is playing “much more aggressive.”

Walker’s triple-double that featured 10 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds was a lot different than his prior outing, when he scored 44 points against Washington.

“I thought his passing was terrific,’’ Thibodeau said before the Knicks resumed their schedule.

“Kemba had control of the game. The game tells you what to do. That’s what I loved about the way he played. I don’t think he forced anything. They puts size on him and were aggressive in their pick-and-roll coverage. He didn’t fight it. He attacked pressure the way you like to attack pressure. You don’t fight pressure with pressure. Don’t try to split it. Get rid of it, go to the backside. Let the game tell you what to do.’’

The Knicks coach is finally seeing all the elements of what Walker can do. Before his demotion, Walker was nothing more than a no-defense, 3-point shooter whose plus-minus was an abysmal minus-122.

Thibodeau was also concerned about his durability in sitting out two of the three back-to-back sets. The last load management game in Atlanta in late November triggered Thibodeau’s decision.

But now it’s only superlatives from Thibodeau in judging the last four games.

“Sometimes it’s going to be his shooting, sometimes it’s his penetration and getting in the paint to force a collapse and sometimes they’re being aggressive with their traps get rid of the ball quickly,’’ Thibodeau said. “The overall play, his rebounding. When your guards rebound, those are key to fast breaks. The more guard rebounding we get the better we can be. ‘’

The Knicks still have three players in protocols — centers Nerlens Noel and Jericho Sims and the newly infected Wayne Selden. Quickley and Kevin Knox were cleared on Christmas but were held out for conditioning.

No matter. The Knicks go as Kemba goes.

“He’s much more aggressive,’’ Thibodeau said. “That was the challenge. At the beginning of the year he and Evan were two new starters. Sometimes guys are trying to fit in. he’s being very aggressive which is the way we want him to play. Not deferring at all. When he and Julius [Randle] are aggressive like that our team is different.’’

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Bar raises dramatically for Zach Wilson in matchup with Tom Brady, Buccaneers




Zach Wilson and Tom Brady

When Zach Wilson stares across the MetLife Stadium field at the opposite sideline this Sunday, it won’t be Trevor Lawrence he’ll be looking at as his game-day counterpart.

Lawrence, drafted by Jacksonville one spot before the Jets selected Wilson at No. 2 overall last April, is a contemporary.

This Sunday at MetLife, the Jets rookie quarterback won’t be staring at a contemporary on the other sideline. He’ll be staring at the GOAT.

Tom Brady.

The bar raises dramatically for Wilson and the Jets, who are coming off of their feel-good, get-well win over the woeful Jaguars and Lawrence this past Sunday.

Brady and Buccaneers, who are 11-4, NFC South division champions and seeking to repeat as Super Bowl champions, play the Jets, who are 4-11 and seeking more signs of development from their rookie quarterback.

To say this is a step up in competition for Wilson and the Jets going from Lawrence and the Jags to Brady and the Bucs is as obvious as pointing out that Tampa Bay receiver Antonio Brown has had a few off-the-field incidents during his otherwise stellar NFL career.

There hasn’t been a lot to keep the interest of the Jets fan this season — other than watching Wilson’s development. That took an unfortunate pause for the four games Wilson missed with a knee injury, but he’s been back for five games and has looked like a better quarterback, throwing only two interceptions in those games (none in the last three) since returning from his injury.

The problem, though, is that Wilson hasn’t been producing enough touchdowns, throwing for three of them and rushing for four others in the past five games.

Zach Wilson and Tom Brady
Zach Wilson and Tom Brady
N.Y. Post: Charles Wenzelberg; AP

Baby steps, though.

Wilson was the better quarterback this past Sunday when matched up with Lawrence, who threw for more yards than Wilson did, but Wilson ran for 91 yards, including his electric 52-yard scoring jaunt, and made key throws when he needed them.

Wilson will not win Sunday’s game against Brady and the Bucs throwing for the 102 yards he had against the Jaguars. He and the Jets will need more.

Consider this: Brady enters the game having thrown 37 TD passes and for 4,580 yards this season and averages a league-high 305.2 passing yards per game.

Then this: The Buccaneers average 29.5 points per game this season, second most in the NFL.

And this: Wilson doesn’t have a single 300-yard passing game, averages 183 passing yards per game and has thrown seven TD passes in 11 games.

Seven TD passes is a pedestrian two-game total for Brady.

Wilson and the Jets are playing with house money anyway in what always has been a developmental season, so Sunday against Brady should, at its very least, be a great measuring-stick learning experience for Wilson, who’s studied Brady on tape.

Wilson revealed this month that he watched film of Brady before the Jets played the Eagles on Dec. 5 in an effort to pick up tips on how Brady worked against the Eagles defense when he played them earlier in the season.

“I thought it was really cool to see kind of how he went through his whole process, how he navigated the pocket, different things like that,” Wilson said at the time.

On Sunday, Wilson gets to see that process up close as Brady tries to dissect a Jets defense that has yielded 29.9 points per game this season, the most in the NFL.

That puts an added onus on Wilson to produce on the other side of the ball, because he knows Brady is going to get his. Wilson will likely need to produce four TDs — any way he can — for the Jets to simply remain competitive with the Super Bowl champs.

That’s a lot to ask of a 22-year-old kid who’s produced just 11 TDs in his 11 starts, up against Brady, who’s thrown 618 TD passes and for 83,784 yards in his remarkable career.

It, too, is a lot to ask playing against an aggressive Tampa Bay defense that’s ranked No. 9 in the NFL in points allowed (20.8 per game) and is led by former Jets head coach Todd Bowles, who’d surely like to send a holiday message to his former employer.

If you don’t think Bowles will be blitzing the bejesus out of Wilson, then you probably think Antonio Brown is a living saint.

The good news for the Jets is that Wilson has shown incremental improvements, particularly when it comes to his decision-making and quicker releases on his throws.

“He’s coming along, he’s getting more comfortable, he’s calmer back there,’’ Jets coach Robert Saleh said Monday. “He’s in a great headspace and it’s going to be fun to watch him grow, continue to grow.’’

A big part of that growth will take place this Sunday as he watches the GOAT operate from the opposite sideline at MetLife.

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