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News and Events
in Lower Manhattan
Volume 1, No. 40  March 17, 2014

Quote of the day:
"It would have been impossible for the Queen Mary, the Normandie and other large vessels to enter the harbor without the existence of the Ambrose Channel." - George A. Voss, June 3, 1936, on the occasion of the dedication of a statue in Battery Park honoring John Wolfe Ambrose, an Irish immigrant, who proposed the building of the channel and succeeded in getting Congress to fund it. 
* Battery Park City Authority's construction plans for 2014
* Irish roots: Bust of John Wolfe Ambrose to return to Battery Park
* Bits & Bytes: 3 World Trade Center contention; New York surpasses London as financial capital
* Community Board 1 meetings: Week of March 17
* Calendar

Masthead photo: The Irish Hunger Memorial in Battery Park City. Feb. 14, 2014.
(Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)


In 2014, the Battery Park City Authority will continue to repair the pilings that support Battery Park City's 92 acres. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)


Anyone who still believes that the Battery Park City Authority has transitioned from construction to being primarily a "management" company, should look at what Gwen Dawson is working on these days. Dawson, senior vice president of asset management, is in charge of the BPCA's construction projects.   


For 2014, these include building a plaza at Pier A, fixing the electrical system on the esplanade, installing a new mechanical system in the Battery Park City Parks Conservancy headquarters, repairing the Wagner Park restrooms, building a bridge across West Street at West Thames, waterproofing the Irish Hunger Memorial and the Asphalt Green community center, building a waterproof electrical vault for the Police Memorial and a few other items.  


The capital project budget for 2014 is $51 million, an amount approved by the BPCA board of directors in October 2013.


"All of the approved 2014 capital projects are priorities," said Robin Forst, spokesperson for the Authority - which means that Dawson must be quite busy. 


One of the more interesting topics on the list has to do with repairing the pilings on which Battery Park City sits. As the RFP explains, Battery Park City "was constructed in the 1970's by dredging organic river soils and filling in a portion of the Hudson River with hydraulic sand fill. This fill is laterally retained with a combination of a crushed quarry stone dike, granular filter materials, timber sheeting bulkhead and a relieving platform."  


This platform rests on 20-inch square, pre-cast, pre-stressed concrete pilings. This structure extends along the entire 7,500-foot perimeter of Battery Park City, and it's getting old.  


Several years ago, the BPCA began a "pile remediation program" during which piles were shored up near the ferry terminal and on the south side of the Winter Garden.


Now the BPCA is embarking on Phase Two, with RFP responses due back on April 3.    


"Pile remediation can only be done between May and October because of  New York State Department of Environmental Conservation regulations," said Forst.   


She said that this is "a multi-year project due to both seasonal limitations and the need to organize the work in manageable project units. The sequencing of the work has been prioritized based on the results of prior inspections, and we have been focusing on the most damaged piles first."


The current phase will include approximately 350 piles located in the northern half of the Winter Garden and approximately 300 piles on the northern portion of the esplanade. 


The Asphalt Green community center at 212 North End Ave. is another project on Dawson's to-do list. The community center was extensively damaged by Superstorm Sandy. It still is leaking in some places. 


"We are working with Milstein [owner of the Liberty Luxe/Liberty Green buildings in which the community center is located] to identify exactly what work is required and anticipate the issuance of an RFP for design drawings this spring," said Forst. "An allocation of financial responsibility will be determined once a full understanding of the scope of work is known. We hope to begin work later this year."


Forst was reassuring as to the repercussions. "The work is not expected to have any operational impacts on Asphalt Green," she said.


As for the pile remediation, one of the stipulations in the RFP is that the work be performed with "minimal to no disruption to the finished and adjacent areas and minimal to no impact on the community and the general public."



- Terese Loeb Kreuzer


The Asphalt Green Community Center in Battery Park City was damaged by Superstorm Sandy and still has leaks that need to be repaired. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)


Irish roots    

The South Street Seaport Museum's 107-year-old lightship, Ambrose, was named for John Wolfe Ambrose, who emigrated to New York City from Ireland in 1852 and became an engineer and developer. He proposed the construction of a channel into New York harbor that allowed the largest ships to enter. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)


On a June day in 1936 in front of 500 guests, New York City Mayor Fiorello La Guardia unveiled a bronze bust set into a niche on the south side of Castle Clinton in Battery Park. The statue depicted  a mustachioed man with an equally impressive set of mutton chops - John Wolfe Ambrose - engineer and developer of elevated railroads on Second Avenue and on the West Side of

Photo: New York City Parks photo archive

Manhattan, and a few other projects that changed the face of New York City. But the work for which he was particularly honored that day was his proposal to build a channel starting at Sandy Hook, N.J. and leading into New York harbor.


He succeeded in getting Congress to fund it but didn't live to see it built. The Ambrose Channel was eventually constructed and named for him, as was a lightship, built in 1907 for a predecessor of the U.S. Coast Guard, to keep ships from running aground as they went through the channel.  


"It would have been impossible for the Queen Mary, the Normandie and other large vessels to enter the harbor without the existence of the Ambrose Channel," said a man named George A. Voss at the unveiling. Voss, who had once worked for Ambrose, added, "His indefatigable labors have been directly responsible for making the Port of New York the principal point of entry on this continent."   


Ambrose was born in Ireland in 1838 and emigrated to New York City at the age of 14, so it seems appropriate to remember him on St. Patrick's Day.  


Unfortunately, that portrait bust in Battery Park was stolen in January 1990 and never recovered.  


Nevertheless, the City Parks Department is planning to replicate it and reinstall it, basing the work on historical photographs. 


"The Ambrose bust replication project is part of the larger Battery Park phase 3 restoration plan," said Phil Abramson, a Parks Department spokesman. He said that the work will include the relocation and/or conservation of eight other monuments in the park. "A number of these monuments, such as the Netherlands Flagstaff and the statue of John Ericsson have been conserved in the past 10 to 20 years, and are simply being reassembled and positioned, under the supervision of professional  conservators," he said.


The monument to Ambrose is slated to be repositioned at a new location along State Street, on the edge of the park, south of Pearl Street.


"We cannot at this time provide a timetable on completion of the Ambrose monument, but it will not be imminent" said Abramson, "as the recreation of the sculpture and relocation of the monument are connected with the larger capital project, as well as the MTA's upcoming reconstruction of the South Ferry subway station."


More imminent is the reopening to the public of the lightship Ambrose, which has been owned by the South Street Seaport Museum since 1968 and is berthed at Pier 16. It should again be ready to receive visitors in April.



- Terese Loeb Kreuzer



Bits & Bytes  

Reflection of 1 World Trade Center in 4 World Trade Center, a Larry Silverstein building. Silverstein is seeking Port Authority funds to complete 3 World Trade Center even though much of both 1 and 4 WTC are still unleased. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)


"Developer's Skyscraper Is Focus of Latest Dispute at Rebuilt Trade Center," New York Times, 3/16/14. As 1 World Trade Center, the transit hub and the September 11 museum near completion, and 4 World Trade Center, built by Larry Silverstein, is open, if not occupied, "the 11-member board of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is sharply divided over whether to double the level of subsidies and support for another Silverstein building, a long-stalled $2.3 billion office tower, at the 16-acre site," says The New York Times. "The dispute, which pits one appointee of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo against another, will come up for a vote Wednesday." The Times says that, "Proponents, led by Mr. Silverstein and Scott H. Rechler, the authority's vice chairman, contend that the tower, 3 World Trade Center, would essentially mark the completion of the new trade center and spur the continuing transformation of Lower Manhattan into a vibrant, 24-hour commercial and residential district no longer reliant on the financial industry. Critics argue that it makes no sense to subsidize another downtown office tower with plenty of vacant space that would compete for tenants with other nearby buildings and the Port Authority's own, half-empty tower at 1 World Trade Center, one of the world's most expensive skyscrapers." For the complete article, click here.

"New York Strips London of Mantle as World's Top Financial Center," Bloomberg Businessweek, 3/16/14. We keep reading that media companies are displacing financial service companies in lower Manhattan, but it seems that "FiDi" is still an appropriate name for the Financial District. "New York replaced London as the world's leading financial center for the first time, after the City was rocked by a series of scandals and questions over the U.K.'s place in the European Union," says Bloomberg Businessweek. "New York holds the top spot in the latest Global Financial Centres Index with a 'shaky, statistically insignificant' two-point lead, according to Michael Mainelli, chairman of Z/Yen Group Ltd., which compiles the index. Competition is heating up, with Hong Kong and Singapore, the two leading Asian centers, narrowing the gap between themselves and the top two to fewer than 30 points on a scale of 1,000, the index shows." Why did this demotion occur? "Scandals including banks abusing their clients by selling unneeded insurance, manipulation of financial benchmarks and trading losses, have combined to damage the City's standing, just as plans for a referendum on EU membership cast doubt on the terms of its access to that market," says Businessweek. 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.

"Body pulled from waters near lower Manhattan," amNewYork, 3/16/14. "The NYPD's Harbor Unit Sunday removed a body found off the tip of lower Manhattan," amNewYork reported. As of late Monday afternoon, the body, a woman believed to have been in her 30s, had not been identified. "The body was decomposing, so it takes time," an NYPD spokesman said. The woman was unclothed, according to the NYPD. For the amNewYork article, click here.


Gina Gibney, artistic and executive director of Gibney Dance, which has taken over the space formerly occupied by Dance New Amsterdam on Chambers Street. She will make a presentation to CB1's Seaport/Civic Center Committee on Tuesday.
(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 18: Seaport/Civic Center Committee
* Pier 17 construction schedule - Update by Phillip St. Pierre, general manager of the South Street Seaport, Howard Hughes Corporation
* South Street Seaport Task Force - Update by CB1
* Fulton Street Phase 2 - Update by Hesham Kotby, HAKS Engineering & Norberto Acevedo, DDC Outreach
* Gibney Dance - Presentation by Gina Gibney, Artistic & Executive Director
* It's My Park! Day Beach Clean Up - Discussion
* Maintenance of plantings on Fulton Street between Gold and Pearl - Discussion
* Seaport/Civic Center Committee Liquor License Application Guidelines - Discussion
* 36 Peck Slip, renewal application for an undisclosed sidewalk café for Goat Fifty LLC d/b/a Nelson Blue - Resolution
* 150 Centre St., application for change of method & operation for a restaurant liquor license for Mika Japanese Cuisine Bar & Inc. - Resolution
* 15 Ann St., application for a restaurant wine and beer license for 15 NNA ST. LLC d/b/a Pita Express - Resolution
The following notices have been received for renewal, upgrade, or transfer of wine and beer or liquor licenses or sidewalk cafe permits:
·         15-17 Beekman Street, renewal application for restaurant liquor license for Conjer Restaurant Corp. d/b/a The Beekman
·         1 Pace Plaza, renewal application for restaurant liquor license for Compass LCS, LLC
·         North Cove Yacht Harbor, renewal application for tavern liquor license for Nautical Gourmet Inc. d/b/a Shearwater
·         South Street Seaport Pier 17, renewal application for tavern liquor license for Nautical Gourmet Inc. d/b/a Clipper City
·         42 Peck Slip, renewal application for restaurant liquor license for P C Restaurant Corp d/b/a Paris Cafe
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
City Hall Park and part of the Civic Center, subject of a walking tour on Saturday.
(Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)
March 18: "Tuesday Talks" continue at Asphalt Green Battery Park City with "The Music and Magic of Cole Porter," whose masterpieces include "Night and Day," "You're the Top," "I Get a Kick Out of You" and many others. Listen to Carla Innerfield, a musicologist, music educator and performer and the Education Director for the Dicapo Opera Theater in New York and Chris Coogan, a jazz and gospel musician. Place: 212 North End Ave. Time: Noon to 1 p.m. Tickets: $22; $18 (members). To buy tickets, click here.
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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