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News and Events
in Lower Manhattan
Volume 1, No. 41  March 19, 2014

Quote of the day:
"We do not want a tower. The tower would be a stake in the heart of the Seaport."
- Community Board 1 member Paul Hovitz, responding to a presentation on the activities of the Seaport Working Group. 
* A peek behind the curtain veiling the Seaport Working Group
* François Payard and other bakers celebrate Macaron Day
* Bits & Bytes: Related Companies sued for discrimination; DiCaprio at 2 River Terrace
* Community Board 1 meetings: Week of March 17
* Calendar

Masthead photo: Rector Place in Battery Park City. March 16, 2014. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)


Paul Hovitz, commenting at a Community Board 1 Seaport/Civic Center meeting on a presentation about the activities to date of the Seaport Working Group.
(Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)


The Seaport Working Group, which was convened by Community Board 1 and elected officials to create guidelines for the development of the South Street Seaport, has had three meetings so far from which a trickle of information has emerged. 


At a Community Board 1 Seaport/Civic Center meeting on March 18, Marco Pasanella, vice chairman of the committee and a member of the Working Group, provided a little more information. But, he said, everyone on the Working Group has agreed to a "code of silence" so they can "have a frank discussion and not be worrying about the press all the time." He pulled back the curtain veiling the group's activities a little, but not much.   


The members of the group include Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, New York State Senator Daniel Squadron, City Councilmember Margaret Chin, U.S. Congressman Jerrold Nadler, some Community Board 1 members, some community stakeholders and representatives of The Howard Hughes Corporation and the New York City Economic Development Corporation, landlord for much of the Seaport.  


"We are still in the 'discovery' stage," said Pasanella. "We're listening. Nobody has talked about 'this should happen' or 'that should happen.'"  


He said that the issues were "amazingly complex" and that a lot of things had happened historically that needed to be understood before guidelines could be developed and draft principles, created. These, he said, would be released publicly. Then, he said, "obviously, we're going to review the Howard Hughes proposal," which entails demolishing the New Market building and erecting a 50-story tower on that site. HHC also wants to move the landmarked Tin Building and make other changes in the Seaport along South Street and in the uplands. 


The topics to be discussed by the Working Group include the historical significance of the Seaport district, the integration of the piers with the uplands, the preservation of the South Street Seaport Museum, creating a Seaport that serves locals and attracts visitors, creating an inviting streetscape (including upgrading the East River esplanade), supporting commercial vitality, ensuring resilient development, and considering transit options, educational needs and amenities such as maritime uses, open space and a public market. 


The geographic area of the discussions is focused on Water Street to the west and the East River piers to the east, and from the Brooklyn Bridge (including the bridge), to Wall Street.


Michael Levine, land use and planning consultant to Community Board 1, said that the CB1 staff
has been concerned with the points at which CB1 will participate in decision-making on the future of the proposal presented by The Howard Hughes Corporation.

"There are two points at which CB1 will have a formal role in the process," he said. "The first is at the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission review, when CB1 can comment."


He said that this would probably occur during the summer. Secondly, he said, there would be a New York City Public Design Commission review because the parts of the Seaport in question are publicly owned land. "There is no formal role for Community Boards at this point," he said. "We may comment if we want to."


The third regulatory review would be the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation because work will be done on the pilings in the East River, which will require a permit from New York State. This is done without a public hearing. CB1 would simply get an advisory notice from New York State.  


Finally, there would be a ULURP (Uniform Land Use Review Procedure) review, which would be necessary because, "Some actions would have to occur involving transfer of the site to the Howard Hughes Corporation," said Levine, along with other approvals and waivers.     


"We're looking at that happening sometime in the fall," he said.  "That's the tentative timetable. We don't know if that will be fully met."


Community Board 1 member Paul Hovitz greeted this recitation with some skepticism.  


"Those of us who are not on the Working Group have great hopes that this will be, in fact, a process that actually affects the outcome," he said. "That remains to be seen."


He referenced another task force, one that had been convened to weigh in on the disposition of three City-owned buildings in the Civic Center. "The community, for lack of a better term, got screwed royally," he said. "We ended up with a pittance compared with the amount of money [for which the buildings] were sold."


He went on to say,  "I think that CB1 is clearly on board, as is the Save Our Seaport group, by saying we do not want a tower. The tower would be a stake in the heart of the Seaport. I'm trusting that that is not going to be bargained off for some affordable housing or, as co-chair of the Youth and Education Committee, for a school, which would not be a trade-off for a tower."


In answer to a question as to whether the Seaport Working Group's deliberations would be curtailed so as to make the timetable outlined by Michael Levine, Pasanella said that this had not been discussed.


He also said that what the group decides does not necessarily have to be a reaction to the Howard Hughes proposal. The outcome could be "proactive" and not "reactive," he said.


If it were simply reactive, "that would be missing an opportunity," he commented.

- Terese Loeb Kreuzer 

Marco Pasanella, a member of the Seaport Working Group and vice-chairman of Community Board 1's Seaport/Civic Center Committee, showing the committee the geographic area that the Seaport Working Group is discussing.
 (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)


Downtown sweets    
The Francois Payard bakery at 210 Murray St. in Battery Park City.
(Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)


In 2010, François Payard, chef and owner of FP Patisserie and François Payard Bakery, had a brilliant idea. New York City has so much in the way of food, but it didn't have an annual Macaron Day - so he organized one.  


On Macaron Day, his bakeries and others throughout New York City give out free macarons. If customers are tempted to buy more, part of the proceeds go to City Harvest to feed the city's hungry.   


Tomorrow, March 20, is Macaron Day in New York City. To get a free macaron, tell the shop that that's why you're there. 


A macaron is a classic French cookie. The soft, crunchy shell is made from almond flour, sugar and egg whites, sandwiching a layer of creamy ganache. Macarons come in an assortment of colors and flavors, as vivid as a spring bouquet.  


Payard has a bakery at 210 Murray St. in Battery Park City, the only participating location in lower Manhattan. Other bakeries dispensing macarons can be found in Greenwich Village, on the Lower East Side, in midtown Manhattan and on the Upper East and West Sides.


For a complete list, click here

- Terese Loeb Kreuzer  


Bits & Bytes  

2 River Terrace in Battery Park City, where Leonardo DiCaprio now owns two apartments. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)


"Suit Alleges Developer Violated Civil Rights," New York Times, 3/17/14. "Manhattan's top federal prosecutor filed a civil rights lawsuit Monday against Related Companies, one of New York City's most prolific builders, charging that the developer had violated the Fair Housing Act by discriminating against disabled tenants in the design of two 23-year-old apartment buildings," says The New York Times. One of those buildings is Related's TriBeCa Green at 325 North End Ave., the other is One Carnegie Hill on East 96th St. "Prosecutors are widely expected to file similar lawsuits against other developers, including the Durst Organization and Glenwood Management, in what has become a long-running dispute over whether buildings erected under New York City's accessibility law meets federal requirements," says The Times. The lawsuit claims that Related's buildings "are inaccessible to disabled tenants because kitchens, closets and bathrooms are not big enough for someone in a wheelchair to maneuver within, mailboxes are mounted too high, and room identification signs lack raised-letter Braille for persons with visual impairments." For the complete article, click here.

"Leo DiCaprio buys out neighbors, expands at 2 River Terrace," The Real Deal, 3/17/14. Apparently Leonardo DiCaprio likes Battery Park City. "Hollywood heartthrob and perpetual Oscar hopeful Leonardo DiCaprio looks to be expanding his Battery Park City digs at 2 River Terrace," The Real Deal reports. "DiCaprio, who's had a home at the eco-friendly building since 2008, nabbed the adjacent unit from neighbors Steven Gidumal and Allison Keeley for $8 million, according to public records reviewed by The Real Deal. The acquisition likely means DiCaprio can occupy a much larger footprint at the building, which overlooks the Hudson River." The Real Deal says that DiCaprio hasn't filed plans to combine the two apartments. His new acquisition is 2,327 square feet with two bedrooms and 1,035 square feet of outdoor space, according to a listing for the unit from 2008. For the complete article, click here.

"Seaport Owners Followed Contract, Judge Rules," New York Law Journal, 3/18/14. The New York Law Journal reports that, "The South Street Seaport in Manhattan upheld its contractual obligation to its tenants by maintaining and marketing the property, a state judge has found, mostly wrapping up a nine-year long litigation after a 61-day trial. Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Shlomo Hagler ruled from the bench on March 4 that the plaintiffs had not presented convincing evidence that the owner, South Street Seaport Ltd., had fallen short in its duties, which included keeping up the premises, maintaining security and marketing the seaport to customers. The company is currently owned by Howard Hughes Corp., which is planning to redevelop the seaport and evicted the last remaining tenant last year for non-payment of rent. Most of the other plaintiffs in the suit were evicted by the seaport's previous owner, General Growth Properties." For the complete article, click here. (Free registration required to read article.)

"NY AG steps up campaign against Wall St," Crain's New York Business, 3/19/14. "A day after declaring a new front in his battle against abusive practices on Wall Street, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman bagged another scalp," says Crain's New York Business. "Marketwired, a Toronto-based disseminator of corporate press releases, agreed to stop selling direct feeds to traders who had paid to get a look at the announcements before others. The sneak peak allowed firms with sophisticated computer-driven trading systems to trade ahead of others, Mr. Schneiderman's office said." Schneiderman said that the firms he targeted were parking "their computers inside the massive data centers run by stock exchanges so they can get a glimpse of what the market is doing a split second before others who don't pay for the privilege." This allowed them to bolster their profits and reduce their losses. For the complete article, click here.

Free food:
Terri, a vegan restaurant at 100 Maiden Lane, is giving away free food on Thursday, March 20, in support of the "Great American Meatout," an annual, nationwide campaign to espouse the benefits of a plant-based diet. Customers who mention "meatout" will receive $10 worth of free food. Terri's co-owner, Craig Cochran, explains the restaurant's largesse by saying, "Food advocacy has always been a passion of mine. For me, Terri's role is to maake healthy and delicious plant-based superfoods as accessible as traditional fast food." Place: 100 Maiden Lane (entrance on Pearl Street). Time: 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. For more information, click here.

Help sought for East Harlem building collapse victims:  The Mayor's Fund to Advance New York City is accepting contributions to help the individuals, families and businesses affected by the building collapse that occurred at 116th Street and Park Avenue on Wednesday, March 12. To contribute or for additional information about the Mayor's Fund, click here or call 311.


Eileen Elizabeth Rourke writing comments at a New York Rising forum on March 1 to solicit community input on priorities for spending government money to fortify New York City against future storms and weather events. New York Rising is a topic at tonight's CB1 Executive Committee meeting. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)

All Community Board 1 meetings are held at 49-51 Chambers St., Room 709, unless otherwise indicated, and start at 6 p.m. All are welcome to attend. Bring photo ID to enter the building.

March 19: Executive Committee
* 311 Service by Nicholas Sbordone, Director of External Affairs, NYC Department of Information Technology & Telecommunications - Update
* Community Boards 1,2 and 3 Joint Forum with the State Liquor Authority on Procedures and Enforcement, Tuesday, May 6, 2014  - Update
* NY Rising - Update by Catherine McVay Hughes, Chairperson, Community Board 1
* Committee reports
March 20: Quality of Life Committee
* Concerns regarding radon levels in gas delivered to NYC homes - Discussion with David Gmach and Patricia Richardi, Con Edison
* Lower Manhattan Construction update by Luis Sanchez, Lower Manhattan Borough Commissioner, NYC DOT
* Coalition for the Homeless - Presentation by Patrick Markee, Senior Policy Analyst
* Rodent Academy, April 17, 6 p.m.-8 p.m. - Preparations
* Fire Safety Forum - Discussion


CALENDAR: Week of March 17
An exhibit of artwork done in classes sponsored by the Battery Park City Parks Conservancy continues through March 28. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)
 March 19: A documentary film, "Shadow in Baghdad" (Israel, 2013, 65 min., English and Hebrew with English subtitles), follows Linda Abdul Aziz, an Iraqi Jew now living in Israel, as she investigates the fate of her father, who stayed in Iraq and, ultimately, disappeared. This film is part of the 17th NY Sephardic Film Festival and is presented at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in conjunction with the exhibition, "Discovery and Recovery: Preserving Iraqi Jewish Heritage." Tour the exhibition at 6 p.m.  Pre-registration for the tour is suggested. Call (646) 437-4202. Place: 36 Battery Place. Film: 7 p.m. Tickets: $10. For more information, click here.  

March 20:  "Concerts at One" at Trinity Wall Street present professional vocal and instrumental performances from emerging and established artists playing in a range of styles from jazz to classical. Today hear "Contemporary American Art Song: Songs of Jake Heggie." Place: Trinity Church at Broadway and Wall Street. Time: 1 p.m. Free. For more information, click here

March 22: Under the auspices of the Municipal Art Society, Linda Fisher, a 30-year city court insider, leads a walking tour of Manhattan's Civic Center. Fisher's work as an official court reporter gives her a unique view into the workings of the judiciary and the democratic process. At the northern end of City Hall park, the site of the city's first penal institutions, she will describe the Civic Center's development, and deconstruct the web of City, State and Federal halls of justice and governance. Meeting site will be sent on registration Tickets: $20; $15 (MAS members). To buy tickets, click here.

March 23:  In a series of Sunday concerts called "Lamentatio," Trinity Wall Street presents six performances of early Renaissance music juxtaposed with contemporary music. The third concert features work by Johannes Ockeghem, Thomas Tallis and Guillaume Dufay performed by the Choir of Trinity Wall Street, NOVUS NY, Decoda and the Choir of Merton College, Oxford. Place: Trinity Church, Broadway at Wall Street. Time: 5 p.m. Tickets: $25. For more information or to buy tickets, click here. Concerts every Sunday through April 13.
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: "Defining Lines: Maps from the 1700s and early 1800s" at the Fraunces Tavern Museum. Twenty-seven maps provide a perspective on the evolving nation's place in history. A map from 1804, never before exhibited, shows the U.S. postal routes. Place: 54 Pearl St. Time: Noon to 5 p.m., daily. Admission fees: $7; $4 (seniors, students with ID, children, 6 to 8 years old. Children, 5 and under, free. Active military with ID, free. 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.

Register Now:  The Seaport: A Place in the Making, Talks and Charrette at Pace University on March 22.  The South Street Seaport is a place with a rich history and meaning to New York. Its federal-style brick buildings and historic boats, rich culinary and waterfront culture, and the long presence of an arts community are among its assets. This talk and charrette will consider how we can use design to make these cultural gems more visible and create a more vibrant place in Lower Manhattan.

The talk: Susan Silberberg, the critically acclaimed expert on placemaking and founding director of CivicMoxie, author of Place in the Making (MIT), will discuss the interactions between placemaking, arts and culture, inclusive participation, and the expanding ways communities are collaborating to make great public spaces. Time: 2 p.m. to 3 p.m.

The charrette: Participate in an interactive, fun workshop to help the Seaport community collectively identify the hidden cultural gems and untold stories in the Seaport and raise their visibility. Introduction by Seaport's Fresh Salt Sara Willams and Design/Relief's Catch*Release team will precede the workshop. Time: 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Location: Aniello Bianco Room, ground floor, Pace University, One Pace Plaza (use the side entrance of the Schimmel Theater on Spruce Street). Free. To register, click here.

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Editor: Terese Loeb Kreuzer

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