Skip to main content

MAS Summit: City Vitals shows New York's strengths (talent, innovation) and weaknesses (percentage of voters, separation of rich/poor)

A couple of years ago, I remember asking a couple of then-colleagues whom they were voting for in local elections. They had no interest in voting.

Indeed, while New York certainly comes out high in several lists of key urban attributes, it's quite low--43rd out of 50--when ranking the number of votes cast in the November 2004 presidential election divided by the voting age population of the metropolitan area.

That's one intriguing finding in City Vitals, a report that documents four key elements-- talent, innovation, connections and distinctiveness-- that drive prosperity in urban environments.

So it gives some perspective on how New York City can in many ways thrive even as citizens and communities feel a disconnect with government, such as when projects like Atlantic Yards are "done deals" despite formal opportunities for public input.

Another dismaying finding: New York ranks 37th on a measure of the geographic separation between high- and low-income households.

That gives some perspective on how Atlantic Yards could have been cast by proponents as a battle between the "rich" gentrifiers already living in and around Prospect Heights and the poor for whom the "affordable" housing was supposedly aimed.

(That leaves out the fact that much of the subsidized housing would go to moderate- and middle-income families, and that there would be far more market-rate housing than subsidized housing.)

The role of cities

Joe Cortright, president and principal economist for the consulting firm Impresa, spoke about City Vitals and his work for CEOs for Cities at the Municipal Art Society's Summit for New York City Oct. 21-22.

Citing the importance of creating economically valuable new ideas, Cortright noted, "and new ideas don't get created randomly, they get created in particular places. Jane Jacobs really put her finger on this." He showed a slide of the cover of Jacobs' book The Economy of Cities.

So what enables cities to be effective in a knowledge-based economy? He cited the four-part formula, the City Vitals framework and explained how "we've benchmarked each of the nation's 50 largest cities against each other."

New York scores high in having a "great [higher] education system" to attract talented young people.

He noted that New York scores high in innovation, ranking second in patents after Silicon Valley.

He cited the importance of distinctiveness and avoiding faddism, chasing things like e-commerce or biotech. "The secret to economic success if figuring out what your city is good at," he said, again citing Jacobs, who said, "The greatest asset a city can have is something that's different from every other place."

He noted a significant change in the housing market, given that many developments were "predicated on cheap gasoline." Close-in neighborhoods have held their values or appreciated, while outlying areas declined in value.

What about manufacturing, he was asked. He said knowledge-based industries still hold their own. "While we have fewer and fewer manufacturing jobs, the jobs we are hanging onto, are the ones that embrace knowledge," he said, "and structure work that front line workers have to have more knowledge, creativity, teamwork."

He also might have mentioned, as author Roberta Brandes Gratz describes, the importance of custom manufacturing outlets in cities, as well as ethnic foods and other niche businesses.

Some statistics

Below, I've listed the rank of the New York metropolitan area among the 50 areas benchmarked.

Percentage of the metropolitan population 25 years old or older who have completed a four-year college degree: 10 (33.6%)

Percentage of the metropolitan population that are 25 to 34 years old who have completed at least a four-year college degree: 10

Percentage of metropolitan workers who have a college degree and are employed in private sector businesses excluding health care and education: 6

Percentage of metropolitan population 25 years and older who have completed a college degree and were born outside the United States: 4

Number of utility patents issued per 1,000 population: 24

Amount of venture capital raised per 1,000 population: 16

Percent of the adult population who are self-employed: 11

Number of firms with fewer than 20 employees per 1,000 population: 4

Percentage of the metropolitan area population who reported volunteering for a community activity in the past year: 49

Percentage of non-poor households that use public transportation at least once per week: 1

Number of foreign students enrolled in institutions of higher education in the metropolitan area per 1,000 population: 11

Percent of the population reporting taking a trip outside the United States: 4

Number of wi-fi hotspots per 100,000 population: 50

Average of the extent to which the metropolitan area’s 10 most distinctive consumer behaviors exceed the national norm for each behavior: 14
(this suggests that places like San Francisco, Salt Lake City, Denver, and Seattle are more distinctive)

Ratio of persons attending cultural events to number of persons regularly watching cable television: 11

Ratio of ethnic restaurants to fast food restaurants in the metropolitan area: 2 (first is San Francisco)

Variance of local movie attendance from national movie attendance for the top 60 motion pictures nationally in 2005: 16


Popular posts from this blog

Barclays Center/Levy Restaurants hit with suit charging discrimination on disability, race; supervisors said to use vicious slurs, pursue retaliation

The Daily News has an article today, Barclays Center hit with $5M suit claiming discrimination against disabled, while the New York Post headlined its article Barclays Center sued over taunting disabled employees.

While that's part of the lawsuit, more prominent are claims of racial discrimination and retaliation, with black employees claiming repeated abuse by white supervisors, preferential treatment toward Hispanic colleagues, and retaliation in response to complaints.

Two individual supervisors, for example, are charged with  referring to black employees as “black motherfucker,” “dumb black bitch,” “black monkey,” “piece of shit” and “nigger.”

Two have referred to an employee blind in one eye as “cyclops,” and “the one-eyed guy,” and an employee with a nose disorder as “the nose guy.”

There's been no official response yet though arena spokesman Barry Baum told the Daily News they, but take “allegations of this kind very seriously” and have "a zero tolerance policy for…

Behind the "empty railyards": 40 years of ATURA, Baruch's plan, and the city's diffidence

To supporters of Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Yards project, it's a long-awaited plan for long-overlooked land. "The Atlantic Yards area has been available for any developer in America for over 100 years,” declared Borough President Marty Markowitz at a 5/26/05 City Council hearing.

Charles Gargano, chairman of the Empire State Development Corporation, mused on 11/15/05 to WNYC's Brian Lehrer, “Isn’t it interesting that these railyards have sat for decades and decades and decades, and no one has done a thing about them.” Forest City Ratner spokesman Joe DePlasco, in a 12/19/04 New York Times article ("In a War of Words, One Has the Power to Wound") described the railyards as "an empty scar dividing the community."

But why exactly has the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Vanderbilt Yard never been developed? Do public officials have some responsibility?

At a hearing yesterday of the Brooklyn Borough Board Atlantic Yards Committee, Kate Suisma…

No, security guards can't ban photos. Questions remain about visibility of ID/sticker system.

The bi-monthly Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Community Update meeting June 14, held at 55 Hanson Place, addressed multiple issues, including delays in the project, a new detente with project neighbors,concerns about traffic congestion, upcoming sewer work and demolitions, and an explanation of how high winds caused debris to fly off the under-construction 38 Sixth Avenue building. I'll have more coverage.
Security issues came up several times at the meeting.
Wayne Bailey, a resident who regularly takes photos and videos (that I often use) of construction/operations issues that impact residents, asked representatives of Tishman Construction if the security guard at the sites they're building works for them.
After Tishman Senior VP Eric Reid said yes, Bailey asked why a guard told him not to shoot video of the site, even though he was on a public street.

"I will address it with principals for that security firm," Reid said.
Forest City Ratner executive Ashley Cotton, the …

Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park graphic: what's built/what might be coming (post-dated pinned post)

This graphic, posted in November 2017, is post-dated to stay at the top of the blog. It will be updated as announced configurations change and buildings launch. Note the unbuilt B1 and the proposed shift in bulk to the unbuilt Site 5.

The August 2014 tentative configurations proposed by developer Greenland Forest City Partners will change. The project is already well behind that tentative timetable.

How many people are expected?

Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park has a projected 6,430 apartments housing 2.1 persons per unit (as per Chapter 4 of the 2006 Final Environmental Impact Statement), which would mean 13,503 new residents, with 1,890 among them in low-income affordable rentals, and 2,835 in moderate- and middle-income affordable rentals.

That leaves 8,778 people in market-rate rentals and condos, though let's call it 8,358 after subtracting 420 who may live in 200 promised below-market condos. So that's 5,145 in below-market units, though many of them won't be so cheap.


Barclays Center event June 11 to protest plans to expand Israeli draft; questions about logistics

At right is a photo of a poster spotted in Hasidic Williamsburg right. Clearly there's an event scheduled at the Barclays Center aimed at the Haredi Jewish community (strict Orthodox Jews who reject secular culture), but the lack of English text makes it cryptic.

The website explains, Protest Against Israeli Draft of Bnei Yeshiva Rescheduled for Barclays Center:
A large asifa to protest the drafting of bnei yeshiva in Eretz Yisroel into the Israeli army that had been set to take place this month will instead be held on Sunday, 17 Sivan/June 11, at the Barclays Center in Downtown Brooklyn, NY. So attendees at a big gathering will protest an apparent change of policy that will make it much more difficult for traditional Orthodox Jewish students--both Hasidic (who follow a rebbe) and non-Hasidic (who don't)--to get deferments from the draft. Comments on the Yeshiva World website explain some of the debate.

The logistical questions

What's unclear is how large the ev…

The passing of David Sheets, Dean Street renter, former Freddy's bartender, eminent domain plaintiff, and singular personality

David Sheets, longtime Dean Street renter, Freddy's bartender, eminent domain plaintiff, and singular personality, died 1/17/18 in HCA Greenview Hospital in Bowling Green, KY. He was 56.

There are obituary notices in the Bowling Green Daily News and the Wichita Eagle, which state:
He was born in Wichita, KS where he attended public Schools and Wichita State University. He lived for many years in Brooklyn, NY, and was employed as a legal assistant. David's hobby was cartography and had an avid interest in Mass Transit Systems of the world. David was predeceased by his father, Kenneth E. Sheets. He is survived by his mother, Wilma Smith, step-brother, Billy Ray Smith and his wife, Jane all of Bowling Green; step-sister, Ellen Smith Alexander and her husband, Jerry of Bella Vista, AR; several cousins and step-nieces and step-nephews also survive. Memorial Services will be on Monday, January 22, 2018 at 1:00 pm with visitation from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm Monday at Johnson-Vaughn-Phe…

Atlanta's Atlantic Yards moves ahead

First mentioned in April, the Atlantic Yards project in Atlanta is moving ahead--and has the potential to nudge Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn further down in Google searches.

According to a 5/30/17 press release, Hines and Invesco Real Estate Announce T3 West Midtown and Atlantic Yards:
Hines, the international real estate firm, and Invesco Real Estate, a global real estate investment manager, today announced a joint venture on behalf of one of Invesco Real Estate’s institutional clients to develop two progressive office projects in Atlanta totalling 700,000 square feet. T3 West Midtown will be a 200,000-square-foot heavy timber office development and Atlantic Yards will consist of 500,000 square feet of progressive office space in two buildings. Both projects are located on sites within Atlantic Station in the flourishing Midtown submarket.
Hines will work with Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture (HPA) as the design architect for both T3 West Midtown and Atlantic Yards. DLR Group will be t…