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News and Events
in Lower Manhattan
Volume 1, No. 21  Jan. 31, 2014

Quote of the day:
"Community Board 1 is fighting to make sure that we're not window dressing on the process, but that this is a participatory process." - Catherine McVay Hughes, chair of Community Board 1, on the development plans for the South Street Seaport. (1/30/14)
* Battle over South Street Seaport planning process
* Peter Poulakakos and Danny McDonald show off Pier A
* Gibney Dance gets $3 million to renovate 280 Broadway space
* Downtown Real Estate: Another publishing giant considers moving downtown
* Declarations of love
* Letters to the Editor: Applause for Downtown Post NYC
* Calendar

Masthead photo: Xu Lin performing a fan dance last year during a Chinese lunar new year celebration at Pace University to welcome the Year of the Snake. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)

Fulton Street in the South Street Seaport with the early 19th-century buildings of Schermerhorn Row in the background and an ice skating rink erected by The Howard Hughes Corporation in the foreground. (Photo: Barbara Mensch)


At Community Board 1's full board meeting on Jan. 28, chairperson Catherine McVay Hughes stated, "The Howard Hughes' plans to date [for the South Street Seaport] will not go forward as presented. Neither the Landmarks nor the ULURP [Uniform Land Use Review Procedure] process has begun and any future milestones are on hold until a comprehensive community process has taken place."  


She discussed the formation of a task force of community leaders, stakeholders and politicians "to generate a comprehensive, community-driven dialogue and to create development guidelines" for the Seaport.  


However, the New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC), landlord for much of the Seaport, seems not to have gotten that message.  


"This proposal is at the very beginning of what will ultimately be an extensive public review process, and we have strongly encouraged Howard Hughes Corporation to work with local stakeholders to solicit their input and understand their concerns," said EDC spokesperson, Kate Blumm, indicating that EDC and The Howard Hughes Corporation were still in the driver's seat.  

"We're encouraged by the steps the developer is taking in concert with elected officials to more formally structure community involvement, and we look forward to seeing the dialogue evolve," she said. "To date, the process is moving as anticipated along the timeline previously agreed upon."  


Catherine McVay Hughes' comment on EDC's pronouncement was unequivocal. "Community Board 1 is fighting to make sure that we're not window dressing on the process but this is a participatory process," she said in a phone interview.   


The battle lines seem to have been drawn.  


"On one side you have elected officials who, presumably represent the will of the people," said Madeline Rogers, a founding member of SeaportSpeaks - an earlier community planning effort at the Seaport - "and on the other you have an unelected city agency that has been doing business a certain way for 12 years under the Bloomberg administration."   


Meanwhile on Jan. 30, a meeting of Save Our Seaport, a group that has been fighting for years to preserve the historic Seaport, drew so many participants that extra chairs were needed in the large room.  


"We want to take part in this task force, with votes," said David Sheldon, who leads the SOS meetings.  


"What standing will this task force have?" Caroline Miller, one of those at the meeting, wondered. "Will it just be advisory? Will it have any real power?"


"The structure and details [for the task force] are being finalized," Catherine McVay Hughes had said at the Jan. 28 Community Board 1 meeting.  "More concrete details should be available next week."   


- Terese Loeb Kreuzer   



Downtown Dining
Pier A, finished in 1886, is the last surviving 19th-century pier in Manhattan.
(Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)
Pier A, the last 19th-century pier in Manhattan, had been empty for 20 years when Peter Poulakakos and Danny McDonald first walked inside around four years ago. "It was dilapidated," McDonald recalled. Part of the internal structure was rotten. There were places they couldn't walk.

Danny McDonald and Peter Poulakakos.
(Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)
But Poulakakos, McDonald and their partner, the Dermot Group, saw possibilities and put in a successful bid to lease the pier, which sits at the southern end of Battery Park City, just north of historic Battery Park. The Battery Park City Authority gave them a 20-year lease.

In early September 2013, the  Authority officially completed the core and shell work to rehabilitate the pier, which dates from 1886, and turned it over to the Pier A partners to begin their build-out of the interior.

Even partially finished, the space is magnificent. An impressive corridor leads from a plaza now under construction through brick arches to what the partners call the "Long Room." Arched doorways and windows line both sides of the light-filled room. In summer, breezes will blow through as people enter the room from a promenade that surrounds the building. There are views of the river and the boats that come and go in the harbor.

Anyone, customer or not, may use the promenade, which will be equipped with tables and chairs.

The Long Room will sell oysters and craft beers, at what McDonald called "accessible" prices. There will be a coffee bar and a raw bar. There will be no reservations downstairs.

"It's meant to be very porous," said McDonald. "We're trying to emulate the feeling of walking down Stone Street, where you don't have to stop. You're just there. If something grabs your attention, you might stay."


On the second floor, there will be six dining rooms and two bars. Some of the building's original woodwork and embossed wall coverings plus traces of its old paint are visible on that floor.  


On the east side, an intimate bar is being constructed. It will be called the Harrison Room (after Peter Poulakakos' three-year-old son). On the west side is the building's pièce de résistance - the Commodore Room, so called for its original usage when it was the office for the manager of the Department of Docks and Harbor Police, the first tenant of the building.  


The room is still paneled in teak and has a marble-rimmed fireplace. Doors lead to a balcony overlooking the harbor. Poulakakos and McDonald plan to turn this into an aperitif bar, whose customers will be able to sit on the balcony as they sip their drinks, admiring the Hudson River's dramatic sunsets and the views of Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty.


The first and second floors of Pier A are each around 12, 500 square feet. The third floor, 3,000 square feet, will be used for exhibits, musical events and special events such as small weddings and private parties.


Menus and prices have not yet been set, though McDonald said the menus will rely heavily on Hudson Valley produce and on seafood.   


The partners hope to open on or around Memorial Day. "The challenge of getting open at that time won't be as much internal as having all the paperwork in place," said McDonald.  "We think we'll be pretty close."   


McDonald and Poulakakos complimented the Battery Park City Authority for the work it did in restoring the pier with high-quality materials and workmanship. "They did a fantastic job," said McDonald. "They should be commended."


The Pier A partners are also working to make the pier a showplace. The entrance corridor, which will have a visitors' center on on side, will be lined with historic photographs. Tabletops and counters will be made of walnut. The partners have ordered handmade lighting fixtures from a company in New Orleans. They are installing wainscoting in the Long Room to emulate what the room might have looked like when it was new.


Although McDonald owns or is part-owner of several restaurants, he said that Pier A is the largest project he has tackled. "I'm excited about it," he said. "It's an iconic space and it's a privilege to work on it."


- Terese Loeb Kreuzer

Pier A's clock tower was added to the building in 1919 as the nation's first memorial to those who had died in World War I. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)


Gibney Dance, which has taken a 20-year lease on space formerly occupied by Dance New Amsterdam at 280 Broadway, also has studios at 890 Broadway.
(Photo: Courtesy of Gibney Dance)

Dr. Agnes Varis, who became wealthy developing generic pharmaceuticals, left a legacy when she died in 2011 at the age of 81 that will now enrich lower Manhattan.

Gibney Dance, the company that has taken the space formerly occupied by Dance New Amsterdam at 280 Broadway, announced on Wednesday that the Agnes Varis Trust has pledged $3 million to help renovate the 36,000-square-foot facility and to subsidize usage fees for non-profit arts groups and individual artists.

Gibney Dance will name its lower Manhattan dance space for Dr. Varis. It will include an Agnes Varis Laboratory for Creative Exploration offering technical tools and production resources to developing artists.

Gibney Dance was founded in 1991 by Gina Gibney. In its current studios at 890 Broadway, it has nurtured dancers and has also served at-risk populations and survivors of domestic abuse.

Gibney Dance plans to establish a Community Action training program and resource center at 280 Broadway that will teach how to use dance and creativity to address the problems of domestic violence survivors and the needs of people with HIV/AIDS. 

Classes will begin at 280 Broadway on Monday, Feb. 3, with renovations taking place around them. The renovations should be completed by August. For information on the classes, click here.

- Terese Loeb Kreuzer

Downtown Real Estate

Brookfield Place on the left and 4 World Trade Center on the right are two of the buildings that Time Inc. is said to be considering if it moves downtown. Condé Nast has already taken space in 1 World Trade Center (center). (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)

"Time Inc. Said to Weigh Leaving NYC Time & Life Building," Bloomberg News, 1/31/14. This deal is definitely not done, but according to Bloomberg News, Time, Inc. is thinking of moving from its iconic quarters at 1271 Avenue of the Americas to downtown Manhattan in search of lower rents. The rumor mill says that Time Inc. execs are considering space at Brookfield Place in Battery Park City, 4 World Trade Center and the former Goldman Sachs headquarters at 85 Broad St. The company would need around 600,000 square feet of space. In the Rockefeller Center area, this would go for an average of $83.35 a square foot compared with $53.79 downtown.

"Leaving the Rockefeller Center-area tower would end an association that goes back to the days of founder Henry Luce, when Time and Life were among the most popular magazines in the world," says Bloomberg News. "Time Inc. is being spun off from the parent company it helped to create as an industrywide slump in print advertising contributed to revenue declines in five of the past seven years." For the complete article, click here.

"Hearst-affiliated Production Company Moving Downtown,"Commercial Observer, 1/30/14.
NorthSouth Productions, a television production company 50 percent owned by the Hearst Corporation, has signed a lease for 27,000 square feet on the 15th floor of 75 Broad St., according to Commercial Observer. Asking rent in the building ranges from $35 to $40 per square foot.
NorthSouth's productions include "Million Dollar Agents," "Say Yes to the Dress" and "Hard Parts: South Bronx." For the complete article, click here.


A valentine-making workshop sponsored by the Battery Park City Parks Conservancy. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)

Next Saturday, Feb. 8, there will be two chances to get creative with a heart-felt, handmade valentine's message.

"Love the Air," is for "artists and romantics of all ages who are 4 years old and older." Make your own aromatic valentines with dried lavender, rose petals, anise and other garden fragrances, as well as salvaged paper, lace and ribbon. If you wish, bring something to personalize your valentine card. All other materials are provided. Organized by the Battery Park City Parks Conservancy. Fee: $10 a person. Place: 6 River Terrace. Time: 10 a.m. to noon. Pre-registration recommended. Call (212) 267-9700, ext 342.

Valentine Block Party takes place at Bowne Printers in the South Street Seaport. Participants will make valentines on wood blocks that will be printed at the end of the workshop on Bowne's vintage Vandercook press. Each student will go home with their block, individual prints, and one poster of everyone's prints together. All materials supplied. Suitable for apprentices 12 & up. Fee: $50 (non-members); $45 (South Street Seaport Museum members). $15 non-refundable deposit for materials due by Feb. 5. Place: 211 Water St. Time: 11 a.m.- 2 p.m. Registration required. 10 person limit. E-mail Bowne Printers to reserve your spot. For more information, call (646) 628-2707.

Gideon Finck setting type in the South Street Seaport Museum's print shop at
211 Water St. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)

Letters to the Editor

Lower Manhattan. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)

To the Editor:
How needed your new on-line newspaper is. It is professional and informative. I look forward to reading every issue. I hope you have every success with it as our growing community needs to be informed intelligently. Thank you for taking this on.

Patricia Ryan

To the Editor:

Enjoyed your previous articles in Downtown Express, and now am so glad to have access to your new site - much success with it. Thanks for your great coverage of downtown - the articles, photos, and videos.

Joanne Gorman

From the Editor:
Thank you so much for writing to say that you like Downtown Post NYC! If you know of others who might like it, please tell them to go to and sign up for the subscription list.
We welcome letters to the editor. Email [email protected]/

CALENDAR: Week of Jan. 27
Last year, performers from the New York Chinese Opera Society welcomed the Year of the Snake at Pace University with a scene depicting the flirtation between a country lad and a well-to-do maiden. This year, the Confucius Society rings in the Year of the Horse with a celebration on Sunday, Feb. 2, at Pace University. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)

Jan. 31: "My Daughter Keeps Our Hammer," a play by Brian Watkins, is 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. 31: "Bikeman: The 9/11 Theatrical Experience" is a new play by journalist Thomas F. Flynn based on his book describing the morning of Sept. 11, 2001. Flynn, an award-winning writer and producer for The CBS Evening News with Dan Rather, was outside his Greenwich Village home when the first plane flew directly over his head. He immediately called into the news desk to tell them he was headed downtown. He jumped on his bicycle and began his ride to the towers. His harrowing story recounts his transition from reporter to participant. Now in preview at the Tribeca Performing Arts Center, 199 Chambers St. Opening night is Feb. 18. Time: 7 p.m. Tickets: $39-$79. For more information and tickets, click here.

Jan. 31: Conehead Buddha at Front Row/Stage, The Howard Hughes Corporation's heated music tent on Fulton Street. Time: 7 p.m.-11 p.m. For ages 21+. Tickets: Free, but reservations are required. For reservations, click here.

Feb. 1: 45 Riots will be performing two sets of contemporary and classic covers from hip-hop, house, top 40, soul, funk, R&B, pop, rock, reggae, and jazz at Front Row/Stage in the South Street Seaport. Ages, 21+. Time: 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.. Free, but reservations are required. For reservations, click here.

Feb. 1: P.S./I.S. 276's annual Winter Carnival features games, dancing, arts and crafts, face painting and more. Desserts, many of them prepared by Battery Park City School parents, and hot chocolate will be for sale. Proceeds support enrichment programs at the school. Place: 55 Battery Place. Time: 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Admission fee: $3. Additional tickets required for games and food. All are welcome.
Feb. 2: The New York Audubon Society in partnership with New York Water Taxi offers a  cruise of New York harbor to see birds and seals that are only here in the winter. The two-hour cruise, "Winter Seals and Waterbirds of New York Harbor," takes place on Sundays through March 9, leaving from Pier 16 in the South Street Seaport. Time: Noon to 2 p.m. Tickets: $35, adults; $25, children, 3 to 12 years old. For more information and to buy tickets, click here.

Feb. 2: The Confucius Institute at Pace University rings in the Year of the Horse with Chinese opera, a lion dance and other dances, a martial arts demonstration and more. Place: Michael Schimmel Center for the Arts, 3 Spruce St. Time: 1 p.m.-3 p.m. Free. For more information, click here.
Feb. 2: Celebrate Chinese Lunar New Year -- the Year of the Horse -- in Chinatown. A parade starts at 1 p.m. in Little Italy and then wends its way through the major streets of Chinatown. For more information, click here.

Feb. 2: "The Big Picture" at the Museum of Jewish Heritage, 36 Battery Place. Joined by other musicians, master clarinetist David Krakauer explores the intersection of music and Jewish identity in iconic movies of the last 50 years. They will play songs from films ranging from "Funny Girl" and "Fiddler on the Roof" to "Sophie's Choice" and "The Pianist." This is the second in a series of eight concerts on Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m. and on Sundays at 2 p.m. Time: 2 p.m. Tickets: $35; $30 (students/seniors); $25 (members). For tickets and more information, click here.

Through March 28: Exhibit of artwork done in classes sponsored by the Battery Park City Parks Conservancy. 75 Battery Place, weekdays, 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Free.
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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