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News and Events
in Lower Manhattan
Volume 1, No. 36  March 7, 2014

Quote of the day:
"Their hundred percent focus is on fixing the street - not on fixing the problems that the construction causes." - Ro Sheffe, Community Board 1 Financial District Committee chairman on the four-year-long construction project under way on Broadway.

* Three more years of construction planned on lower Broadway
* Seaport Working Group meets for second time
* Manhattan Borough President Brewer begins Community Board selection process
* Bits & Bytes: New York Times says transportation hub looks "cheap;" Ray Kelly's new job
* Calendar

Masthead photo: Battery Park City skyline. The buildings on the right were designed by César Pelli.
(Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)


Because of construction, parts of Broadway can only accommodate one lane of traffic. The work will continue for the next three years. (Photos: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)


On Broadway at Liberty Street, construction workers stand with signs that they are using to direct traffic. One side of their signs says "Stop." The other side says "Slow."  Though not intended, they could be signaling the construction project itself. The work is slow. 


It entails tearing up Broadway between Rector Street and the place just south of City Hall Park where Broadway and Park Place converge. The workmen are replacing all of the infrastructure beneath this old street - all the pipes, all the wiring, all the phone cables - everything.


Some of it is more than a hundred years old. It takes six to eight months to complete two blocks.  


Construction started last summer and won't be finished until the summer of 2017, if it stays on schedule. This winter's snowstorms and icy cold haven't helped. Concurrent construction on a building at 170 Broadway was also an impediment. 


"One of the biggest problems with that kind of work is that there is so much down there and it's so old," said Ro Sheffe, chair of Community Board 1's Financial District Committee. "I think it was best described to me years ago by Michael Levine [CB1's planning and land use consultant], who said that working on the streets of New York is so delicate that those guys are down there with teaspoons, not with backhoes. If you look down into the street where they're working, you can see that. It's full of corrosion and wires that have lost all of their insulation, and it's very scary."


Broadway, which despite its name is not very wide in lower Manhattan, has now been reduced to one lane. City buses, tour buses, trucks, vans, private cars and taxis wait their turn to get through the construction bottleneck. Sheffe called it a "catastrophe," but acknowledged that it could be an even bigger catastrophe if the work weren't done and done carefully.  


One mistake, he said, could take out the electricity for numerous buildings.


However, he also said that the traffic bottleneck is a major problem. In order to alleviate it, he would like to see tour buses banned from Broadway while the work continues.


"Especially at rush hour, that one lane of Broadway is just a wall of double-decker buses," he said. "If we could just divert them, even if only for a few blocks where that construction is taking place, it would be a tremendous help."


The project is being supervised by the City's Department of Design and Construction with the assistance of the City's Department of Transportation.


"Their hundred percent focus is on fixing the street - not on fixing the problems that the construction causes," said Sheffe.



- Terese Loeb Kreuzer


Pipes and wiring under Broadway at Liberty Street. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)



Fulton Street and Schermerhorn Row in the South Street Seaport before being flooded by Superstorm Sandy. Most of the stores on Fulton Street between Water and South Streets are still closed. (Photos: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)


The Seaport Working Group met for the second time on March 6 to discuss issues related to the development of the South Street Seaport. The two-hour meeting took place at the office of Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer.   


Members of the Working Group are not permitted to reveal what happens at the meetings. Reporters were not present.  


Brewer's office released the following statement:

"The Seaport Working Group began its substantive work on the history and facts on the ground in the Seaport area. The Group began an initial discussion of topics to be addressed in coming meetings. Three presentations were made to establish a baseline of information for all Group members, to encourage productive conversations going forward."
According to the statement, someone from the New York City Department of City Planning made a presentation on the historical background of the Seaport area. A representative of The New York City Economic Development Corporation, the landlord for much of the Seaport, talked about "maintenance arrangements and obligations," and then someone from The Howard Hughes Corporation spoke about "Upland property and Pier 17 update."


No information was supplied as to who spoke or what they said.  


The shuttered Heartland Brewery at the corner of Fulton and South Streets and one of the shipping containers on Fulton Street. Jan. 11, 2014. 

The Howard Hughes Corporation of Dallas, Texas, holds long-term leases on much of the Seaport, including Pier 17 and what are called "the uplands" on Fulton Street between South and Water Streets. It also holds leases on some of the streets that intersect Fulton, but not on the landmarked Tin Building or on the unlandmarked New Market Building, which it would like to demolish so that it can build a 50-story apartment/hotel tower on that site.


Most of the stores on Fulton Street leased to Howard Hughes are still closed in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy. Instead of reopening them, Hughes installed shipping containers on Fulton Street to house pop-up stores.     


The conclusions of the Working Group will be advisory and non-binding on the future course of development at the Seaport.  


The next meeting of the Seaport Working Group will take place on Thursday, March 13 in the office of City Councilmember Margaret Chin.


- Terese Loeb Kreuzer 


A plaque on the exterior of 14 Schermerhorn Row says:
Restoration of Schermerhorn Row, 1981-1983
People of New York State
New York State Urban Development Corporation
New York State Office of Parks and Recreation. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)


Community Boards
The audience at a Town Hall meeting convened by Community Board 1 and held on Jan. 13, 2014 to discuss the future of the South Street Seaport.
(Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)

The process begins today to pick the people who will serve on Manhattan's 12 community boards. Each has 50 members. All are volunteers who serve two-year terms.

For the 300 seats currently available, there were 328 new applicants and 268 renewal applicants.

Community Board members are appointed by the borough president and the City Council member for each district. In lower Manhattan, the appointments are currently made by Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and City Councilmember Margaret Chin.

This year for the first time, finalists will be asked to participate in group role-playing exercises to assess their consensus-building skills. New applicants will also first be screened by a committee of representatives from good government groups, civic and community organizations and staff from the borough president's office.

Though community board recommendations are mostly advisory, the boards play a legislated role in land use decisions such as the ones now confronting the South Street Seaport.

They also serve as important information conduits to the communities they represent and have the ability to get high-ranking members of government and the private sector to appear before them on specific issues.

They are watch dogs for the community.

"Community boards are the most grass-roots form of local government, and I commend anyone seeking to volunteer for their board," Brewer said. "The boards play a crucial role in enhancing the quality of life in Manhattan's many neighborhoods. Each has its own flavor. I encourage all Manhattanites to get to know their board by attending a meeting." (Information on each is available by clicking here.)

This year, there were 25 new applicants for seats on Community Board 1.

Across the 12 community boards in Manhattan, the issues deemed by new applicants of most pressing concern were affordable housing, transportation/traffic and pedestrian problems, education/youth programs, quality of life and land use/development and zoning.

There were also neighborhood-specific concerns such as the effects of Superstorm Sandy, the renewal of the South Street Seaport, Second Avenue subway construction and oversight of 9/11 construction and security zones.

The new appointments will be announced in April.

- Terese Loeb Kreuzer 


A meeting of Community Board 2's Parks & Waterfront Committee to discuss the future of Washington Square Park. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer) 

Bits & Bytes  

A photo from August 2010 of Sharif El-Gamal, chairman of Soho Properties, during a period of controversy over his plans to turn 45-51 Park Place into a community center and Islamic prayer space. Soho Properties is now seeking temporary space for the facility elsewhere in lower Manhattan. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)


"At Trade Center Transit Hub, Vision Gives Way to Reality" New York Times, 3/5/14: "How can a $3.94 billion building be made to look cheap?," David Dunlap wonders in The New York Times. "Clunky fixtures and some rough workmanship in the underground mezzanine of the World Trade Center Transportation Hub, a small part of which opened last week, detract from what is meant to be breathtaking grandeur," he says. "Ten years ago, the architect Santiago Calatrava and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey seduced a large audience, this reporter included, with a vision of a dazzling new PATH train station rising at the trade center site. Where ground zero was dark, misshapen, jagged and sorrowful, the transit hub was to be brilliant, smooth, pristine and promising. That vision may yet materialize. Some flaws that are now visible can and probably will be fixed. And when the station fully opens in 2015, the whole of it may be so spectacular that little shortcomings are easy to overlook." For the complete article, click here.

"Soho Properties Shops for Temporary Park51 Space,"
Commercial Observer, 3/5/14. "More than three years after developer Sharif El-Gamal faced a firestorm over plans for an Islamic prayer and community center in lower Manhattan, the head of Soho Properties is searching for temporary space for Park51," according to the Commercial Observer. Apparently a 2,000-square-foot at 44 Trinity Place is under consideration. It is located on the second floor above Wogie's Bar & Grill. A spokesman for Park51 said that it "is operating as it always has - a community center and prayer space." He said that Park51 was "looking for temporary space in case we have to relocate during some planned maintenance." For the complete article, click here.

"Former NYPD Commissioner Joins Cushman & Wakefield," Wall Street Journal, 3/5/14. Battery Park City resident Ray Kelly has a new job, according to the Wall Street Journal. "Former New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly is headed to the private sector to run a new division for Cushman & Wakefield Inc. that will advise clients of the commercial real-estate firm on how to protect themselves from terrorism, crime and other threats," says the Journal. "Mr. Kelly, who was Mayor Michael Bloomberg's police commissioner for 12 years, will lead the firm's new 'risk management services' division that will help corporations decide where to locate and how to protect their buildings and their data. It also will help investors decide whether or not to buy buildings in certain countries and locations and how to set up their building and cybersecurity if they do." For the complete article, click here.

"Infections Linked to Chinese Seafood Markets in New York," New York Times, 3/5/14. "At least 30 people have contracted a rare skin infection after buying seafood at markets in Chinese neighborhoods across New York City, prompting health officials to issue a warning to consumers and market workers to take precautions when handling raw or live fish," according to The New York Times. "The source of the outbreak was unclear, but health officials said that all of the people who were infected had bought fish at markets in Sunset Park, Brooklyn; Flushing, Queens; or Chinatown, in Manhattan." For the complete article, click here.

CALENDAR: Week of March 3
Signs in front of Trinity Church at Broadway and Wall Street announce midday concerts on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays and a series called "Lamentatio" of Sunday concerts from March 9 through April 13. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)

March 7: Brooklyn Women's Chorus at the Tribeca Performing Arts Center. The Brooklyn Women's Chorus is a community chorus that was formed in October 1997 by Park Slope resident and musician, Bev Grant. The chorus has a repertoire ranging from South African freedom songs to socially relevant songs by contemporary American songwriters like Garth Brooks, Jackson Browne, Pat Humphries and Bev Grant, herself. Place: 199 Chambers St., Room S110C. Time: 8 p.m. Tickets: $15. For more information, click here.

March 8: Walking tour with the Municipal Art Society: "The Hidden Impact of Women on Downtown Manhattan." Developed by the award-winning non-profit news service Women's eNews, this tour celebrates women's contributions to our city and society. Join guide Rita Henley Jensen, founder and editor-in-chief of Women's eNews, as she highlights pioneer writers, agitators, abolitionists, suffragists and those we now call activists, as well as three heroes who gave their lives on September 11, 2001. Meeting place provided on ticket purchase. Tickets: $20; $15, Municipal Art Society members. For more information, click here.

March 9:
"Purim Playground with the Macaroons," a family program at the Museum of Jewish Heritage, featuring Purim-related melodies and pop rock. Costumes are encouraged. For ages 3 to 10. Place: 36 Battery Place. Time: 2 p.m., concert. 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., crafts for children. 1:30 p.m., family friendly tours. Tickets: $10, $7 children 10 and under; museum members,  $7, $5 children 10 and under. For more information, click here.   
March 9: The last outing for this year of the New York Audubon Society's "Winter Seals and Waterbirds of New York Harbor" cruise, offered in partnership with New York Water Taxi. The two-hour cruise to see birds and seals that are only here in the winter leaves 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.

Through March 14: The exhibition "come celebrate with me: The Work of Lucille Clifton," featuring rare photos, letters, manuscripts and more, from Emory University's Danowski Poetry Library at the Manuscripts, Archives, and Rare Book Library. Place: Poets House, 10 River Terrace. Free. For more information, including hours, 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: "Discovery and Recovery: Preserving Iraqi Jewish Heritage," is at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in Battery Park City. The exhibit details the dramatic recovery of historic materials relating to the Jewish community of Iraq in a flooded basement in Saddam Hussein's intelligence headquarters, and the National Archives' ongoing work in support of U.S. government efforts to preserve these materials. Through May 18, 2014. Place: 36 Battery Place. Varying hours. Museum admission fees: $12 (adults); $10 (seniors) and $7 (students). Members and children 12 and under, free. Free admission on Wednesdays from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. For more information, click here.
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.

Reserve now for Saturday, March 15:
Seaport Series: Repairing the Rift, a walking tour in the South Street Seaport organized by Open House New York (OHNY) won't take place until Saturday, March 15, but reservations will be taken starting today at 10 a.m. When the FDR elevated highway cut through the South Street Seaport in 1954, it had a profound impact on the feel and flow of the area. The tour will be led by WXY Architecture + Urban Design's Adam Lubinsky and artist and designer Yeju Choi. It will explore the proposed site of the Brooklyn Bridge Beach, part of the East River Blueway Plan, and the pop-up participatory installation Catch - & - Release, part of the Design/Relief initiative by AIGA New York, to understand how social and infrastructural strategies for addressing the void created by the FDR can work hand-in-hand to reconnect the neighborhood with its waterfront. Tickets,  $25; $15 OHNY (members). For more information and reservations, click here.

Block Party Workshop at Bowne Printers, 211 Water St., 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. On March 15, resident printer Ali Osborn will teach the basics of carving and printing linoleum blocks. Come to the workshop with a couple of ideas for images and learn how to transfer your design from block to paper. At the end of the workshop, everyone's designs will be locked up together (you'll find out exactly what that means) and printed on the South Street Seaport Museum'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. 10 person limit. Fee: $50; $45 (South Street Seaport Museum members). Email [email protected] or call (646) 628-2707 for reservations. $15 non-refundable deposit for materials due by March 12.


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Editor: Terese Loeb Kreuzer

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