Some wealthy new Upper East Side condominium owners are likely feeling buyer’s remorse after the MTA installed a bus stop in front of their newly-constructed Madison Avenue luxury high-rise. There’s just one problem: that’s where the bus stop has been located for 50 years. It was their building’s construction that prompted the temporary relocation.
“It’s very challenging for any residents of our building that are loading, unloading, using walkers, wheelchairs — which describes some of my visitors,” explained new Upper East Side resident Lara Marcon, “Bus users sometimes congregate under our awning, which creates an unsafe condition.”
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Residents of The Benson, an opulent 21-story building located at 1045 Madison Avenue, between East 79th and 80th Streets, which contains just 15 full-floor and duplex apartments that carry price tags in the $6 to $15 million range, sounded off Wednesday night, pleading with Community Board 8 to aid them in their fight to move the longtime bus stop — spanning nearly the entire block — from in front of their new homes.
“I have two six-year-old twin girls, and it’s very difficult to leave or come into our building with all the people in front and the bus coming and leaving and all the people around,” explained one mother who lives in the posh new building, “I can’t just unload the car and bring them [in] because it is very unsafe.”
Despite the wealthy condo owners’ exaggerated concerns about the volume of MTA buses and lingering bus stop patrons, a review of historical collision data collected by the NYPD shows zero crashes in front of 1045 Madison Avenue going back more than a decade.
“There are buses whizzing by the front door at high speeds all day long, and the sidewalk in that particular area is extremely narrow, so there’s no room for the bus riders to wait without blocking the front entrance to our building,” said concerned resident Reed Coleman, adding “There’s no ability for us to drop off in front of the building … we’re often forced to drop off in even less safe areas of the street.”
Of the five residents who spoke about the terrible danger they believed this bus stop poses to their lives of luxury at The Benson, only one acknowledged that the bus stop had been there for decades before the building’s construction.
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However, he did misleadingly imply the 16-unit building had many more tenants than the 17 apartments in the four walk-up buildings knocked down to make way for the luxury high-rise.
“I think that the situation is very different than what it was when the bus stop was originally there,” said condo resident JV Kodali, noting the three retail locations in The Benson, of which only one is occupied, while simultaneously ignoring the five businesses that previously called the buildings at that location home.
Without visiting The Benson, one might feel sympathetic to the residents who feel overwhelmed by the bus stop, which despite its 50-year history at the location, was only reinstalled last February, according to the MTA.
However, anyone who visits the location will immediately recognize the only issue with the bus stop is the one created by The Benson. Three large concrete planters line the curb in front of the building, preventing MTA buses from pulling up close to allow elderly and disabled patients off safely.
During a 45-minute visit to the block Thursday afternoon, Upper East Site witnessed bus after bus pull up in front of The Benson to pick up or drop off passengers. None were ‘whizzing by’ at high speeds.
Meanwhile, the ‘extremely narrow’ sidewalk residents claim contributes to the chaos in front of the building is solely the result of The Benson’s own actions.
The planters The Benson placed at the curb in front of their building extend nearly three feet into the sidewalk, blocking almost a quarter of the 12 feet wide pathway. On the opposite side of the sidewalk, against the building facade, The Benson has also installed two large concrete planters on both sides of the main entrance. They block four feet of the 12-foot sidewalk.
As if the combined seven feet of sidewalk blocked by planters installed by The Benson weren’t enough, stanchions placed out by building staff obstruct another foot of sidewalk space, bringing the total amount to just four feet for pedestrians to squeeze by.
Upper East Site did not witness any “bus users” that appeared to be “congregating” under The Benson’s awning. However, since the overhang extends nearly seven feet over the 12-foot wide sidewalk, it’s no surprise commuters waiting for the bus may end up standing underneath their massive awning.
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We observed multiple building residents getting dropped off or picked up by Ubers during our visit. However, their cars had to avoid the planters on the curb in front of The Benson to make the drop-off. Thankfully, the bus stop extending nearly the entire block creates a safe space.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority was not impressed with the wealthy new residents’ argument.
“New York City Transit buses power equity across the city, and this bus stop on Madison Avenue has been serving the local community for half a century,” explained MTA Spokesperson Meghan Keegan in response to an inquiry from Upper East Site.
“The wishes of some New Yorkers lucky enough to live in luxury buildings do not outweigh the needs of the riding public, including children and seniors who rely on buses to get to work, school, doctor appointments, and other destinations,” Keegan added.
Upper East Site also asked the NYC Department of Transportation whether the planters and stanchions obstructing the sidewalk and bus stop were installed legally.
As you might remember, earlier this year, Upper East Site discovered two large mailboxes installed on two different Upper East Side blocks, both cemented to the sidewalk illegally. DOT ordered those building owners to remove them.
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The Department of Transportation tells Upper East Site that it will inspect the sidewalk in front of The Benson and issue an encroachment notice as necessary.
Though no residents raised the issue specifically, Upper East Site contacted Naftali Group to determine whether the developer informed prospective buyers of the bus stop in front of The Benson, which had only been moved in 2019 to accommodate the building’s construction.
Naftali Group did not respond to our inquiry.
Community Board 8 Chair Russel Squire said the Transportation Committee would take up the bus stop debacle at their next meeting in June, though, based on the MTA’s statement to Upper East Site, it may be a waste of their time.
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The temporary move of this bus stop ( actually many months) ensured a long trek from 72nd to the
Madison stop. Not easy after returning from the York Ave medical complex. And I note the planters exacerbate any crowding problems, no doubt placed in hopes of preventing a seat/shelter for the benefit of bus riders.
Well, sales to date total roughly $232 million for the building, a couple units labeled PHB and PHC sold for $35,726,250 and $22,000,000 respectively, so I’m not sure how many “average” New Yorker’s live at The Benson. If I lived at the building I’d be pulling out the promotional material I was given to see if the bus stop is featured, if I was involved in sales at the building I’d be dusting off my E&O Policy and checking to see if I wrote any emails saying, well, anything, and if I built the building I’d be waiting to be asked why I didn’t try to address this as I was building the jo
It seems to me from photos that if the bus stop was moved south just about 30 feet away from the entrance it would make a big difference to the building and would be completely fine for the bus. I’d recommend the building make a significant donation to the community in exchange for consideration by the MTA. Perhaps City Council member Keith Powers could broker the deal if he is back on the job and has sufficiently recovered from his breathless experience at the Met Gala that he so studiously and exhaustively shared with everyone on social media.
Upper East Site spoke with an MTA bus driver on that route who explained that the articulating buses need the entire block’s length to pull in and out of traffic and straighten out the bus with the curb.
I see 20+ people blocking their entrance every morning. It’s a nightmare for the families, many with small children. Not to mention it probably cuts their property value in half. (That’s a tremendous loss, even for the wealthy). Most probably would not have purchased if the bus stop location was properly disclosed. Uppereastsite should focus on the Naftali group and potential deception. Instead of basking in the buyers misfortune. I suspect most are hard working UESers who pay their fair share of taxes.
Upper East Site contacted Naftali Group but did not hear back. No residents made accusations of deception on the part of the developer during Wednesday’s meeting. Owners who wish to share with us the disclosures made or not made in regards to the bus stop should reach out using the ‘contact us’ page.
Property value in half?
What a tragedy where did you get that made up number and what color was the hat?