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News and Events
in Lower Manhattan
Volume 1, No. 2  Dec. 18, 2013
Ten years ago, I moved to lower Manhattan and almost immediately started reporting on this community. I was standing in line at the post office to buy stamps - at that time, we had a post office in the Cunard building at 25 Broadway. 
I loved standing in line at that post office. It originally had served as the steamship company's ticketing hall, opening in 1921. Under a ceiling that soared 65 feet above my head, I stared at paintings of sailing ships, carvings of starfish, dolphins, shells and sea monsters and maps of the world. Then I learned that the post office was planning to close that location; the public would no longer be able to see one of Manhattan's great interiors. I wrote about that for a local newspaper. 

Since then, lower Manhattan has proven to be an endless source of fascination because of its history, architecture, politics, parks, museums, marine environment, restaurants, shops, diversity and interesting people. 
You will find reporting about all of that in Downtown Post NYC, which will be emailed to you on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. If you like it, please share it. If you have comments or questions, email [email protected]. - Terese Loeb Kreuzer


Ice skating on Fulton Street at the South Street Seaport.
(Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)


John Fratta, chair of Community Board 1's Seaport Committee, was miffed. On Nov. 26, The Howard Hughes Corporation, which has a long-term lease on much of the Seaport, had opened an ice skating rink on Fulton Street at Front Street and there were charges - $10 admission, $6 for skate rental, another $6 for helmet rental and $8 to check bags.


"Were we not informed by The Howard Hughes Corporation that that ice skating rink was going to be free to the community?" Fratta asked at the Seaport Committee meeting on Dec. 17.


"They rethought it," said committee member Paul Hovitz.


"They rethought it without talking to us," Fratta replied. He suggested that the committee pass a resolution asking Howard Hughes to stick to its promise of free ice skating.


"This is one of the things that Chris Curry [Howard Hughes executive vice president] came to us very proud about - what he was giving our community," Fratta said. "Let's ask them to reverse that back to making it free for the community. In the future,  if they are going to make a change after they come to our committee, [they should] notify our committee in advance and have us weigh in on it."


Hovitz said that there were some discounts for the community. Fratta wasn't swayed.


"The way I describe 'free' is 'free!'" he said. "No discounts."

The resolution passed.

The committee's displeasure over the ice skating rink charges was indicative of its pervasive sense of distrust of The Howard Hughes Corporation, a developer based in Dallas, Texas. Hughes inherited its Seaport leases from General Growth Properties, which went bankrupt in April 2009.

The Seaport Committee acknowledged that the ice skating rink might be bringing some people to the Seaport, whose long-standing businesses are hurting in the wake of Superstorm Sandy. But the ice skating rink could make little difference, the committee felt, with so many Seaport stores and businesses still closed, including the entire Fulton Market building.

According to Michael Levine, consultant to Community Board 1 on land use and planning, Curry said that he didn't want to move anyone into the Fulton Market building "until he was

sure what the ultimate use would be and that would relate to the development coming in the future." Levine that Howard Hughes was "putting different pieces together. My understanding is that we would find out in the fall what the ultimate use is for that building."


In the meantime, Howard Hughes has not released any detailed plans for its current Seaport holdings (other than its mall now under construction on Pier 17) and for those parts of the Seaport on which it has its eye.


Curry told Levine that the plans might be revealed "as early as February" and that Howard Hughes might put them in front of the Landmarks Preservation Commission in March. They would then have to go through the ULURP process (Uniform Land Use Review Procedure), which is required for the disposition of city-owned property. This usually takes a minimum of six months and entails sign-offs by the Community Board, the Borough President, the City Planning Commission and City Council. 


However, Community Board 1 along with other neighborhood stakeholders, is not content just to let Howard Hughes dictate what will happen in the Seaport. C.B. 1 has scheduled a Town Hall meeting for Jan. 13, 2014 at 6 p.m. at which anyone who wants to speak can offer views on what's happening at the Seaport and on what should happen. It will be held at Pace University, 1 Pace Plaza, in the Student Union. 


Curry will not be present but said that he will send a representative.  


"The purpose of this Town Hall isn't to hear from him - we've heard enough from him," Fratta said. "Now it's time for them to hear from the community as to what we expect and what we would like to see at the Seaport."


Everyone will get two minutes to speak. Organizations with several possible speakers can relinquish time to each other to create a larger block of time for their presentation. No previous sign-up is necessary. - Terese Loeb Kreuzer 


Downtown Science
As part of a series called "Rethinking Mortality" at the New York Academy of Sciences, on Dec. 11, a panel of doctors talked about "Experiencing Death." From left to right, moderator, Steve Paulson, Sam Parnia, Mary Neal, Kevin Nelson and Peter Fenwick. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)

Mary Neal, an orthopedic surgeon from Jackson Hole, Wyoming, was on a panel of four physicians at the New York Academy of Sciences on Dec. 11. Remarkably, in 1999, she had drowned in a boating accident and was without oxygen for around 30 minutes. Depending on your definition of "death," you could say that she had been dead.


The topic for the evening was "Experiencing Death: An Insider's Perspective," the third in a four-part series at the N.Y.A.S. entitled "Rethinking Mortality."


"Certain experiences seem to defy scientific explanation," said Steve Paulson, executive producer of Wisconsin Public Radio's nationally syndicated program, "To the Best of Our Knowledge," and moderator of the panel. "What are typically called 'near death and out of body experiences' [are] an extremely controversial subject, that often pits truly materialist explanations against explicitly religious ones. Near-death experiences push us to the edge of what we know about the nature of consciousness."


Advances in intensive care medicine and an understanding of how to do C.P.R. (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) that occurred in the 1960s have enabled many people to survive heart attacks and grievous illnesses who otherwise would have died.


Peter Fenwick, a neuropsychiatrist, and a leading clinical expert on near-death experiences, said that there are numerous reports from these people of going down a tunnel, seeing beings of light, going to a place of peace and beauty and meeting dead relatives. "You may have a life review, come to a border and then be sent back," he said.


Fenwick said that although a review of life experiences was mainly reported in Western cultures, other aspects of widely reported encounters with death had nothing to do with cultural or religious affiliation. "Atheists will have exactly the same experience," he said. "These experiences are worldwide. They've also been reported throughout history."


The panelists disagreed on the exact definition of "death." Sam Parnia, who is a medical doctor and also has a Ph.D. in cell biology, said that the traditional definition was that death occurred when the heart stops beating, no blood goes to the brain and people get fixed and dilated pupils. However, he said, that with new scientific knowledge, that definition and understanding now are being redefined.


"After a person dies - when the heart stops - the brain cells don't immediately disintegrate and disappear. That process can take hours," he said.


Kevin Nelson, professor of neurology at the University of Kentucky Medical Center, said that, "In cardiac arrest, the brain is still working. It can continue to work for about 10 seconds even with no blood flow. A person may appear dead - comatose or paralyzed - but not be dead. You've gone to the edge but not over the edge."


"We have to redefine how we issue death certificates," said Fenwick.


"There are probably five acceptable and reasonable definitions of death," said Mary Neal. She said that for her, it occurred "when the spirit leaves the body."


Then she recounted her own riveting experience with dying. She was kayaking on a river in Chile with her husband and some friends who kayak for a living. She went over a 15-foot-tall waterfall and was pinned at the bottom under eight to 10 feet of water, her boat caught between some rocks.


"I am a spine surgeon and am very calm. I didn't panic," she said. This wasn't the first time I was under water. I tried to free the boat and I tried to free myself from the boat. It became clear that nothing was working. I'm a very pragmatic person. I knew that I was about to drown and I asked that God's will be done and the moment I asked that, I was immediately overcome with a very, very physical sensation of being held and comforted and reassured that everything was fine. My husband would be fine. My four young children would be fine regardless of whether I lived or died."


Neal said that she was well aware of her circumstances. "I could feel the water sucking my body over the front deck of the boat and I could feel my knees bending back on themselves and bones breaking and ligaments tearing. At this point, I've been asked many times, did you feel yourself become unconscious? I would say that I had been conscious and then more conscious. And I was still me. I was still my same, somewhat cynical, analytical self and my thought balloon off to the side was experiencing this and thinking this is strange."


As she felt her body coming out of the boat, she said that she felt her spirit peeling away from her body and rising from the river. "I was immediately greeted by a group of something - people, spirits, beings," she said. "They were people that I absolutely knew on a very core level had known me and loved me as long as I existed. I knew them. I loved them and we were all overjoyed."


Neal said that she didn't want to come back, but she did. She also reported that she could see her friends performing C.P.R. on her body and calling to her to breath.


A video of this panel discussion and of other lectures and panels is on the N.Y.A.S. website.


The next and final session in the Academy's "Rethinking Mortality" series is on Feb. 5 at 7 p.m. It is entitled, "Confronting Mortality: Faith and Meaning Across Cultures." For more information and tickets, click here. - Terese Loeb Kreuzer 



Last year's pavilion for Figment, an annual art festival on Governors Island, was constructed from 53,000 plastic bottles. This year's winner has just been announced. It will be made from thousands of plastic cups. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)

"Serpentine Recycled-Cup Structure to Grace Governors Island," Curbed, 12/17/13. The pavilion for the annual Figment arts festival on Governors Island "is always somewhat whacky," says Curbed. New York-based CDR Studio's "Governors Cup" was the winner this year, with "used plastic cups, saved from discard throughout the city" that will be bound by zip ties into "a densely knit serpentine structure." Last year, the pavilion was constructed from 53,000 plastic bottles (see photo, above). For more about this year's pavilion, click here.

"Floodproofing South Ferry Station Will Mean Building on Parkland,"
WNYC, 12/16/13. Yes, we would like to have the South Ferry Station of the No. 1 IRT back, after it was knocked out by Superstorm Sandy. No, we would not like to relinquish a swath of historic Battery Park in order to restore the station. But that is the trade-off presented by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. "The room with the electrical relays that control the track signals sits at the lowest part of the station - a station dug out of landfill at the edge of New York harbor," reports WNYC. Temporary repairs can be made, but a permanent fix would entail placing the equipment above ground, in the park. The MTA and the Parks Department are negotiating. In any case, don't expect that station to open until 2016 at the earliest. For more, click here.

"Westfield Group to Manage Fulton Center leasing,"
The Real Deal, 12/17/13. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority's board is about to approve an Australian developer, the Westfield Group, as developer of 180,000 square feet of space in the new Fulton Transit Center. "As the master leaseholder, Westfield will manage the subletting of commercial space, digital advertising sales and maintenance," says The Real Deal. "The term begins when the Fulton Center's public circulation areas open in June of next year." Around 300,000 people are expected to pass through the transit center every day. For more, click here.


The U.S. Navy's Blue Angels flying over the Hudson River near Battery Park City on Dec. 13. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)

To the Editor:
I was very impressed by the inaugural issue of the Downtown Post NYC, and I look forward to reading it from now on.

Just FYI, in the photo you published of the Blue Angels, the squadron is flying in what's called a "missing man" formation. This is a unique formation used in "fly-overs" by both Navy and Air Force squadrons to honor the memory of someone recently deceased (usually a serviceman). My hunch is that on this occasion, flying past the World Trade Center, the formation was intended to honor the memory of those who died there on 9/11, but that's only a guess. Thought your readers might want to know.

More info can be found here:

Ro Sheffe

From the Editor:
Thank you for the interesting insight!

We welcome letters to the editor. Send them with your contact information to [email protected]/

Bits & Bytes
Carey Nava teaching a class in Italian cooking at Asphalt Green Battery Park City's Culinary Arts Center. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)

Asphalt Green Battery Park City at 212 North End Ave. has a large, beautifully equipped kitchen where a catering company called "Great Performances" gives cooking classes.  The winter session begins on Jan. 4, 2014 and runs through March 3 with classes for adults, teens, and parents and caregivers who want to cook with children as young as two years old.

Among the offerings are two-hour classes for couples ("Date Night"), each with a different menu. Teens can enroll for three Saturday sessions to learn basic cooking skills. Sunday morning classes called "Cooking with Kids" are for adults with children aged 6 to 12. "Petit Chef" classes are for adults with 2- to 6-year-olds. "Sweet Treats" will teach how to make a variety of "beautiful and delicious desserts," while "Culinary Boot Camp" is for beginning and semi-experienced home cooks "who want to take their cooking skills to the next level."

Fees for the classes range from $110 to $450, with discounts for Asphalt Green members. For more information, click here or call (212) 298-2900.  
Theory coming to Brookfield Place  
Brookfield Office Properties announced on Dec. 16 that Theory, designer of clothing for men and women, will be among the retailers in Brookfield Place opening in 2014. This will be the store's second downtown location. It also has stores in Soho, the Meatpacking District, the Upper West Side and on Madison Avenue on the Upper East Side.

Theory has signed a 10-year lease for 2,480 square feet in the evolving retail complex now under construction in what was formerly called the World Financial Center in Battery Park City.

Most of Theory's clothing sells for between $200 and $400. "Theory is a brand that resonates with the most fashion-conscious consumer," said Ed Hogan, Brookfield's national director of retail leasing.  "Its contemporary aesthetic epitomizes the ideal Brookfield Place customer."

Theory joins a number of other stores that have already signed leases for space in Brookfield Place. They include Hermes, Salvatore Ferragamo and Ermenegildo Zegna. 

CALENDAR: Week of Dec. 16

Dec. 18-Dec. 20: New York Classical Theatre presents a 15-minute-long version of Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" with Scrooge, Marley, Cratchit, Fezziwig, Tiny Tim, and all of Dickens's best-loved characters performed by just two actors! Brookfield Place, Winter Garden, 220 Vesey St. Time: 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. Free.

Dec. 18-Dec. 22: "Family Furniture," the world premiere of a new play by A. R. Gurney at The Flea theater, described as "a coming of age tale about a family and one certain summer when everything shifts." Gurney has been writing plays for more than 50 years, among them, "The Cocktail Hour," "The Grand Manner" and "Scenes from American Life." The Flea, 41 White St. (between Broadway and Church Streets). Wednesday-Sunday, 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, 3 p.m. Tickets, $15-$70. Lowest price tickets available on a first-come, first-served basis. 
Dec. 19: Holiday concert, West Point Band. Trinity Church, 79 Broadway (at Wall Street). Time: 1 p.m. Free.

Dec. 20: The U. S. debut of the Maria T. Balanescu Quartet led by Romanian virtuoso violinist and composer Alexander Balanescu. Artist website: Michael Schimmel Center for the Arts, Pace University, 3 Spruce St. Time: 7: 30 p.m. Phone: (212) 346-1715. Tickets, $35.  
Dec. 21: Holidays on Wall Street. Led by Wall Street Walks, take a holiday-themed walking tour of Wall Street sponsored by the Museum of American Finance, 48 Wall St. 1 p.m.-2:30 p.m. Tickets, $15, include museum admission. Phone: (212) 908-4110.
Dec. 22: Compline by candlelight. Trinity Choir singing Benjamin Britten's "There is no Rose." St. Paul's Chapel, 209 Broadway. Time: 8 p.m. Free. 

All meetings take place at 49-51 Chambers St., Room 709, and start at 6 p.m. unless otherwise noted.

George Calderaro and Anthony Notaro at a recent meeting of Community Board 1's Battery Park City Committee. C.B. 1 members are volunteers who are appointed by the Manhattan Borough President and by the City Councilmember representing District 1. Applications to serve on the Community Board are now being accepted. The deadline for submission is Feb. 1, 2014. For more information, click here.
(Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)

Dec. 19:   Community Board 1 monthly full-board meeting
Location: Southbridge Towers, 90 Beekman St. - Community Room
Time: 6 p.m.

Dec. 25:  Office closed - Christmas Day
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Editor: Terese Loeb Kreuzer

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