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DOWNTOWN
POST NYC 
 
News and Events
in Lower Manhattan
 
 
Volume 1, No. 14  Jan. 15, 2014
IN THIS ISSUE  
* South Street Seaport elicits passionate testimony at Community Board 1's Town Hall
* Bits & Bytes: 9/11 Museum seeks City funds; Feds want Jordan Belfort's "Wolf" money
* Letter to the Editor
* Downtown Real Estate: Landmarks Preservation approves two Downtown projects
* Calendar

Masthead photo: Hudson River fog, Jan. 15, 2014. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)

South Street Seaport
C.B. 1 TOWN HALL MEETING ON THE SEAPORT DRAWS A CROWD

 

Several hundred people attended a meeting sponsored by Community Board 1 to discuss the future of the South Street Seaport. (Photos: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)
 

Several hundred people packed the Student Union at Pace University on Monday, Jan. 13, for Community Board 1's Town Hall meeting to discuss the future of the South Street Seaport. Over a two-hour period, more than 40 people came to the podium to express their opinion about what has happened at the Seaport and what should happen in the future. 

 

The Howard Hughes Corporation, a Dallas-based developer, has a long-term lease on parts of the Seaport. The shopping mall on Pier 17 is currently being demolished and rebuilt under Howard Hughes' direction.  

 

Christopher Curry, EVP of Howard Hughes Corp. 

Of great concern to many of those in the room are the Hughes plans for the rest of the Seaport, which the company had previously acknowledged, include a 50-story hotel and residential tower on the waterfront at the site of the New Market Building. Howard Hughes would demolish that building to make way for the proposed tower.  

 

Most of the speakers said that they opposed the tower. Some of them called it "an obscenity" that would overpower the low-rise, historic buildings of the neighborhood and destroy iconic views of the Brooklyn Bridge.  

 

"This meeting is about constructive public brainstorming about the Howard Hughes project,"  C.B. 1 chair, Catherine McVay Hughes, had said when she opened the meeting. "I think it will be particularly important to emphasize the timeline of the project," she continued. "First the landmarks component will go to the Landmarks Planning Commission this spring. Howard Hughes Corporation may file to the Landmarks Planning Commission this February. Then it will go to the C.B.1 Landmarks Committee in March. Secondly, anticipate that there will be a ULURP [Uniform Land Use Review Procedure] when Howard Hughes Corporation submits its plans. C.B.1 will have 60 days to respond. We have been told that it will be in the fall of 2014."

But many speakers said that they disagreed with the premise that the Howard Hughes Corporation had a right to move forward with its plan for the Seaport. They noted that planning thus far has been going on in secret. Even on Monday night, when Hughes executive vice president Chris Curry talked about what Howard Hughes had in mind, he provided few concrete details.

"Howard Hughes does not own or lease or have lease options on these buildings and on other publicly owned sites," said Michael Kramer when it was his turn to speak. "These are public assets. They have been de facto privatized by the old administration, the old EDC [Economic Development Corporation]. We think we need to rethink this whole process." 

 

He and other speakers said that they were asking Mayor Bill de Blasio, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and Public Advocate Leticia James "to reconsider how planning is being done at the Seaport."

 

No elected officials were present at the meeting, although they did send representatives. The Economic Development Corporation, the city's landlord for the Seaport, sent no one.

 

Robert LaValva and Gina Pollara 

Robert LaValva, founder of the New Amsterdam Market on South Street, spoke at the meeting on behalf of a new initiative that he has started with Gina Pollara, who recently oversaw the construction of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park on Roosevelt Island.  

 

They call it "Just Press Pause."

 

"Our premise is very simple," LaValva said, "to halt all current redevelopment proposals for the South Street Seaport and to initiate a comprehensive planning process for this unique and irreplaceable part of New York City. Until such a master plan is put in place, no ULURP process should be initiated."

  

Along with many other speakers, he referred to the Seaport's buildings as "public assets."  

"Our aim is not to fight against the current plan by Howard Hughes," he said. "There is no need to fight against a plan that should never even have been proposed." This remark was followed by applause.

 

Not everyone in the room was down on The Howard Hughes Corporation, however. Andrew Breslau, senior vice president of the Alliance for Downtown New York, praised Hughes' "transformation of Pier 17" and its summer programming at the Seaport.  

   

Breslau acknowledged that the "Howard Hughes' plans for the reconstruction of the landmarked Tin Building, and the addition of a marina and 50-story hotel and apartment tower have clearly sparked some concerns." He said the Alliance was not taking a position on those specific aspects of the plan at this time, but went on to say that, "The cost of rebuilding the infrastructure around the Seaport is simply one, in our estimation, the City will not undertake. It is incumbent on all of us to work creatively and constructively with Howard Hughes to bring about the kind of investment and the kind of visionary project that best benefits both New York's interests and the company's bottom line."  

 

After the meeting, Catherine McVay Hughes noted that people from other parts of the city had made an effort to attend.    

 

"The historic Seaport belongs to all of us," she said in an email. "The Economic Development Corporation (which owns the property for New Yorkers) must get it right this time. This may be our last chance to make it work and we can't lose such a valuable part of our neighborhood, which is recovering still from Superstorm Sandy." 

 

There will be a C.B. 1 Seaport/Civic Center Committee meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 21 at 6 p.m., held at 49-51 Chambers St, Room 709, where there will be an update on the Town Hall Meeting.  

 

- Terese Loeb Kreuzer   

 


 

Bits & Bytes
FEDERAL PROSECUTORS WANT BELFORT'S 'WOLF' MONEY
An ad for "The Wolf of Wall Street." (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)

"Wolf of Wall Street: Jordan Belfort's rights payments may be seized," The Guardian, 1/13/14.  Leonardo DiCaprio won a Golden Globes "best actor" award in a comedy for his portrayal of Jordan Belfort, the stockbroker who scammed around $111 million from his victims, but Belfort's victims certainly didn't regard what happened to them as "comedic." Now Belfort is profiting handsomely from rights payments and publicity surrounding "The Wolf of Wall Street." The U.S. government wants to seize some of that money, according to The Guardian. In the decade since Belfort was sentenced, his victims have only received $11.6 million in compensation, federal prosecutors say. For the complete story, click here.

"9/11 Memorial to Seek Funds From New York's Mayor," Wall Street Journal, 1/14/14. "After years of delays, the National September 11 Memorial Museum is set to open this spring, but officials still don't know where they will find the money to keep it running," the Wall Street Journal reports. "The memorial foundation, after failing to secure funding from Congress or New York City, now plans to appeal to the city's new mayor, Bill de Blasio, to subsidize its projected $60 million annual budget." The museum is likely to be a big tourist draw even if, as now proposed, it charges an admission fee of $20 to $25. According to the Wall Street Journal, "More than 5 million people visited the 9/11 Memorial plaza in 2013. The foundation expects 2.5 million people to visit the museum each year." For the complete article, click here.


Letter to the Editor
PROTECT THE SEAPORT'S HISTORIC PAST

Beekman Street in the South Street Seaport. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)

To the Editor:

The South Street Seaport historical area is the last remnant of a glorious past that is tragically being lost to re-development action and plans by a large, commercial, self-serving - not preserving - Howard Hughes Corporation that is currently turning pier 17 into a huge glass cube, with plans to build a 50-story luxury building in the water next to it, and recently announced, to build a plush, expensive movie multiplex with a bar and theaters where waiters would serve the elite.

These Howard Hughes realities mark the ominous end of a treasured historical site that people have come to see from everywhere - to observe and enjoy its ships, piers, museums and shops. This is an irreplaceable, priceless part of New York's heritage.

The real problem lies in the thinking that the South Street Seaport area and museum "should be self-supporting" as Mayor Bloomberg repeatedly stated in turning rights to the Seaport area to Howard Hughes for a few dollars per square foot.

The business of business is business. The business of our national, state and city governments is  to protect and support the people's special historical and wildlife areas as has been done all over the country and the world. It is time for the people to waken our civic leaders and politicians like Paul Revere did; the developer is coming to the South Street Seaport! Protect it.

Sy Schleimer

Downtown Real Estate
LANDMARKS PRESERVATION COMMISSION HAS BUSY DOWNTOWN DAY

"Franklin Street Condo Ditches Glass for Brick, Wins Over LPC," Curbed.com, 1/14/14. Eight hundred Tribeca residents didn't like the original design for a condo at 100 Franklin St. and neither did the Landmarks Preservation Commission, which said 'no' in November. However, yesterday, the LPC approved a completely different design for the six-story building. There will be no four-layered facade made with fritted glass, metal and recovered brick. Instead, the building will be constructed of brown brick with a Romanesque arch on the ground floor. In approving the design, one commissioner called it "simple and elegant," according to Curbed.com. For the complete article, click here.

"Tribeca condo project at 6 Cortlandt Alley gets Landmarks nod,"
The Real Deal, 1/14/14. The Landmarks Preservation Commission has approved a condo conversion at 6 Cortlandt Alley after asking the developers, Megalith Capital Management and the Imperial Development Group, to go back to the drawing boards because it didn't like a glass addition proposed for the roof. According to The Real Deal, the five-unit project will offer three- and four-bedroom full-floor apartments and penthouses with "generous amounts of outdoor space." The seven-story building, constructed in the 1850's, is in the Tribeca East Historic District. For the complete article, click here
   

CALENDAR: Week of Jan. 13


The Museum of American Finance is housed in a former Bank of New York building at 48 Wall St. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)

Jan. 15: "Stranger in My Own Country" is Yascha Mounk's account of growing up Jewish in post-war Germany, which is still struggling with the legacy of the Third Reich. He will discuss his book at the Museum of Jewish Heritage, 36 Battery Place. Time: 7 p.m. $15; $12 (members). For more information, click here. For Mounk's recent Op-Ed entitled "German, Jewish, Neither," in The New York Times, click here.

Jan. 15: "Angel's Bone" follows the plight of two fallen angels whose nostalgia for earthly delights finds them far from heaven - and victims of human trafficking. The story is told through composer Du Yun's eclectic music: part chamber music, theater, pop music, opera, cabaret, and involving visual arts and noise. The presentation is a co-production of Trinity Wall Street and the Prototype Festival, the annual festival of visionary opera-theater and music-theater works by pioneering artists from New York and around the world. Trinity Church (Broadway at Wall Street). Time: 9 p.m.  Tickets, $15. For more information, go to  prototypefestival.org or click here.

Jan. 15: Opening night of "My Daughter Keeps Our Hammer," a play by Brian Watkins at The Flea Theater. It's about two estranged sisters, their needy mother and a sheep. Through Feb. 15. The Flea, 41 White St. Time: 7 p.m. Tickets, $15 to $35. For more information and to buy tickets, click here.

Jan. 16: As part of the "Lunch and Learn" series at the Museum of American Finance, John F. Wasik, the author of "Keynes's Way to Wealth," talks about the economist's  investment strategies and explains how contemporary investors can learn from, and imitate, his success. 48 Wall St. Bring your lunch. Time: 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. Talk will be followed by Q&A and book signing. Tickets, $5, include Museum admission. Museum members and students, free. Click here to register or contact Tempris Small at tsmall@moaf.org for more information.
                 
Ongoing: The National Museum of the American Indian is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., with free admission. It offers free films, docent-led tours of its exhibitions and tours of its premises, the Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House, designed by Cass Gilbert. The building, which was completed in 1907, is a National Historic Landmark and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. One Bowling Green. Phone: (212) 514-3700. For the museum's calendar, click here.

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Editor: Terese Loeb Kreuzer

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2014