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News and Events
in Lower Manhattan
Volume 1, No. 48  April 4, 2014

Quote of the day:
"I'm just an average guy. I just happen to do a little bit of training." - Tim Donahue, 44, who ran up 72 flights of stairs in eight minutes 56 seconds.

* NYC Comptroller's Office audit of EDC shows "weaknesses"
* Runners get "high" racing up 72 flights of stairs to raise money for cancer research
* Bits & Bytes: New Amsterdam Market to return; Brookfield Place food news; Stormproofing
* Update: Seaport Working Group discusses historic preservation
* Calendar

For breaking news, go to

Stretching before a 72-flight, stair climb race at 4 World Trade Center. April 3, 2014.
(Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)

The New York City Economic Development Corporation is the landlord for much of the South Street Seaport, including landmarked, early 19th-century Schermerhorn Row (on the right).  (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)

For more than a year, the New York City Comptroller's Office has been scrutinizing the New York City Economic Development Corporation, and has not been happy with what it has found.

EDC, landlord for much of the South Street Seaport, was audited by the New York City Comptroller's Office a little more than a year ago and deemed deficient in its handling of lease terms and conflict-of-interest issues at the Seaport.

At the time, Comptroller John Liu said that The Howard Hughes Corporation owed around $1.8 million in back rent for its Seaport leases because it had understated the amount of square footage it was leasing. Liu said that the EDC had not done its own measurements of the leased space "and had no idea that Howard Hughes was shorting it."

Liu also criticized EDC for allowing an unnamed EDC board member to get free office space from Seaport Associates, a Howard Hughes subsidiary.

On March 26, the New York City Comptroller's Office released a new audit of the New York City Economic Development Corporation that showed "weaknesses in EDC's contract awarding and payment processes."

This report looked at EDC's records from July 2007 to April 2013, during which time EDC awarded nine environmental and other engineering consultant contracts worth more than $18 million.

The audit said that EDC "generally complied with applicable procurement rules and regulations" but was sloppy in its accounting practices and remiss in ensuring that contract evaluators did not have a conflict of interest.

According to the Comptroller's Office audit, EDC is a not-for-profit corporation of the State of New York that is supposed to render a variety of services and administer economic development programs on behalf of the City. "One of EDC's primary responsibilities is to use the City's assets to drive growth, create jobs and improve the quality of life," says the report.

"The City requires EDC to procure professional services from competent and qualified vendors at fair and reasonable prices and to establish proper internal controls to monitor contract performance and payment," says the audit.

EDC disputed the Comptroller's Office findings. It said that "its current policies and procedures address the majority of the issues discussed in this report."

"We are pleased at the degree to which EDC has changed or committed to changes in its policies and procedures to address the weaknesses we identified in the agency's contracting processes," said Carlota Flux, a spokesperson for the Comptroller's Office. "We stand by our findings of weaknesses in EDC's processes and will follow up to ensure that adequate measures are taken to strengthen them."

She said that there are additional audits of EDC in process and that final reports will be made public when they are completed. 

"EDC is responsible for a significant portion of the City's economic development activities," she said. "Accordingly, it is important that the Comptroller's Office take an active role in monitoring EDC's fiscal management and programmatic oversight of these activities."

- Terese Loeb Kreuzer


After Superstorm Sandy, electricians supplied and paid for by the New York City Economic Development Corp. (EDC) worked in the basement of the South Street Seaport Museum to repair electrical panels that linked to other buildings on Schermerhorn Row and that were necessary to restore electricity in those buildings.  EDC did not help with electrical repairs that were solely for the museum's use. The museum's electrical system still has not been repaired. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)



Runyon Up 
Tim Donahue, 44, placed first in the 72-flight stair climb at 4 World Trade Center with a time of 8 minutes 56 seconds.  (Photos: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)

Tim Donahue, 44, an English teacher at the Birch Wathen Lenox School in Manhattan, disappeared into the stairwell at 4 World Trade Center shortly after 6:30 p.m. on April 3 and emerged eight minutes and 56 seconds later on the 72nd floor. He was the first of 667 athletes to complete a stair climb benefiting the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation.

He pooh-poohed his accomplishment. "You'd never be talking to me if this were a sport that a lot of people do," he said. "I'm just an average guy. I just happen to do a little bit of training for this and have an edge over people who are pretty fit and who, if they put some effort into it, could beat me pretty handily."

That's not what most people say about this sport. It has been described as "grueling" and a workout that entails total body fitness.

Signing in. 
Donahue said that most of his training is cross-country skiing and that he climbs stairs "maybe once a week." Sometimes he races twice in one weekend. "It doesn't take that long to recover," he said.

On Thursday, there were eight heats of stair climbers, starting with the elite climbers who had shown their mettle in previous climbs up buildings such as New York's Empire State Building and the Willis Tower in Chicago.

Eight firefighters from the Clinton Rescue Company in North Hunterdon, N.J., each wearing 64 pounds of gear, were the last to ascend. They started out at 7:50 p.m. and finished around 25 minutes later.

Shari Klarfeld. 
Shari Klarfeld, 33, of Plainview, N.Y., was the first woman to finish the climb, with a time of 11 minutes 17 seconds. She said she had a cold earlier in the week and "was on the fence about doing this," but that her husband encouraged her to try. "I was very nervous," she said. "Stairs are harder than running, so you need lungs absolutely clear." She said she was "definitely surprised" that she came in first.

Sally Kalksma, 51, was sweaty but ebullient when she got to the 72nd floor. Her time was 16 minutes 21 seconds, and she said she was "very pleased."

She works for the Board of Elections in Ocean County, N.J., and trains on the stairs in the parking garage.
Once a week, she comes into the city and meets her best friend, Linda Schlachter, "and we sneak into various hotels," Kalksma said. "We act like we're staying there - and we get our distance workout in."

She said they had a favorite hotel. "It's 45 stories and we'll run up and go back down in the elevator around four times."

Kalksma said she had been a runner her whole life. She started stair climbing when she contracted multiple myeloma - a cancer of the plasma cells - and was asked by the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation to enter a stair-climbing fundraiser. She is now healthy, she said.

Schlachter at first just came with her friend to watch, but started stair climbing herself around six months ago.
"The runner's high when you're on top is unbelievable," she said. "I've done jogging and running and other sports, but I don't get a high like I do from climbing stairs. It will last two days, honestly. I'll be up in the clouds. It makes me feel like I could do anything."

Each stair climber was required to raise at least $72 to enter the race in addition to a $40 entry fee. So far, the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation has raised $173,235, but the fundraising will continue through April 30. For more information, click here.

- Terese Loeb Kreuzer 

Sally Kalksma of Ocean County, N.J. with firefighters from Engine 53 in Spanish Harlem after the Runyon Up stair climb at 4 World Trade Center. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer) 


Bits & Bytes  

Liz Gutman and Jen King started Liddabits Sweets in April 2009. Among the first places they sold their candy was the New Amsterdam Market. They now have a thriving business and a permanent store at the Chelsea Market. The New Amsterdam Market will reopen on May 31. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)


New Amsterdam Market reopening: A tantalizing picture on Instagram says simply, "Opening Saturday May 31." Robert LaValva, founder of the New Amsterdam Market, said it was a "teaser image" that he posted on Instagram and Twitter, and that "it seems to have spread." He added, "I have not released anything official and have no official statements to make." When we find out more, we'll let you know. 

"Major Food News About Brookfield Place," 
Tribeca Citizen, 4/2/14. "The food court opening [at Brookfield Place] has been pushed back to May 10, with a VIP event on May 1," says the Tribeca Citizen. "Local residents, despite not being the main target market, will be pleased to learn that the food court's hours will be 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sunday-and Brookfield is insisting all the vendors adhere to those hours. Even better, the kiosks will all deliver." For the complete article, click here

"10 plans to stormproof NY area are finalists," Crain's New York Business, 4/3/14. "The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development unveiled 10 finalists Thursday in a design competition that aims to bring more resilient infrastructure to areas affected by Superstorm Sandy," says Crain's New York Business. "Among the finalists were several that would radically alter New York City. The competition was run by a joint HUD-White House initiative called Rebuild by Design. With the finalists now agreed on, the next step will be to pick one or more winners-something that is expected by the end of the month-who will be eligible for federal cash, in the hope of bringing at least one of the massive projects to fruition." One of the projects being considered has been dubbed the Big U, says Crain's and "aims to create a series of flood and stormwater barriers ringing the southern half of Manhattan. Those barriers would double as public spaces on the model of Battery Park City or former Mayor Michael Bloomberg's proposal for a Seaport City. The Big U would wrap around the island from West 57th Street, run down to Battery Park, then back up the other side to roughly East 42nd Street." For the complete article, click here.

"What to Expect from the Fulton Center Mall," Tribeca Citizen, 4/4/14. At its April 3 meeting, Community Board 1's Financial District Committee got a rundown on the $1.4 billion Fulton Transportation hub at Broadway and Fulton Streets, scheduled to open June 26, and Tribeca Citizen was there, taking notes. Westfield is handling the retail leasing and the maintenance, says Tribeca Citizen, but "None of the storefronts will be occupied by June-they're hoping for early fall at the earliest." The Real Deal elaborated on the Tribeca Citizen report with a video of the five-level complex and additional renderings. For the Tribeca Citizen article, click here. For The Real Deal article, click here.

"Lightstone Group to clear site for FiDi high-rise," The Real Deal, 4/2/14. "The Lightstone Group is one step closer to erecting its lean 59-story mixed-use tower in the Financial District," says The Real Deal. "Demolition of the low-rise apartment buildings at 112-118 Fulton Street is reportedly imminent now that construction fencing and signs are up. Lightstone originally sought to tear down 120 Fulton Street, too, but the state denied the developer's initial bid. That proposal included a 421a tax abatement. The new building, located between Nassau and Dutch Streets, would include 460 units, 20 percent of which will be affordable." For the complete article, click here.


Fulton Street in the South Street Seaport. An inflatable tent erected by The Howard Hughes Corporation now takes up much of the street. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)

The Seaport Working Group met on April 3 at the office of U.S. Congressman Jerrold Nadler.  According to a statement released after the meeting, the discussion revolved around "historic preservation and community needs at the Seaport. Members began articulating and exploring their priorities for these focus areas, as the group moves toward drafting broader planning principles for the Seaport area in the meetings ahead."
Congressman Nadler was unable to attend the meeting because of his schedule in Washington, D.C. The meeting was led by Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, City Councilmember Margaret Chin and Community Board 1 Chair Catherine McVay Hughes. All of the other elected officials were represented by staff.

The next meeting of the Seaport Working Group will take place on Thursday, April 10, at the offices of the New York City Economic Development Corporation, landlord for much of the Seaport.


CALENDAR: Week of March 31
The Municipal Art Society is offering a tour of historic Battery Park on Sunday.
(Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)

April 4: Opening day for an exhibit called "Smile! A Photo Anthology by VII" in the Winter Garden at Brookfield Place. The exhibit of 84 photographs by award-winning photojournalists was drawn from work produced over a period of 30 years in 30 different countries. Place: 220 Vesey St. Time: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. Free. Through May 1. The public is invited to add smile photos to the exhibit by following @ArtsBrookfield on Instagram and Twitter and submitting your photo via Instagram and/or Twitter using hashtap #ShareMySmile. Also, answer in a few words, "What makes you smile?" Arts Brookfield will screen and add submissions on a rolling basis.

April 5: Opening day and street fair for the Downtown Little League. As always, the festivities will begin with a parade from City Hall to the Battery Park City ball fields. It will be followed by speeches, an opening day pitch and a carnival on Warren Street. Parade time: 8:30 a.m.

April 5: Leaving from Chelsea Piers, Classic Harbor Line offers Saturday and Sunday morning brunch cruises aboard its luxury yacht, Manhattan, from now through Oct. 12. The cruise of just under three hours, usually circumnavigates Manhattan. Passengers can sit in a cozy, glass-enclosed lounge or position themselves on the outdoor decks. A buffet includes bagels and pastries, fresh fruit, glazed ham, spring mix salad, stuffed quiche, a Belgian waffle station, smoked salmon, and turkey sausages.  One beverage in included (soda, juice, coffee, tea, beer, wine, champagne, Bloody Mary or Mimosa) with additional beverages available for purchase. Cost: $88/person. To buy tickets, click here

April 6: The Municipal Art Society offers a tour with art historian Sylvia Laudien-Meo of historic Battery Park, the site of New Amsterdam's original settlement, and of Castle Clinton, originally built to fortify the city against British invasion in the War of 1812.  Battery Park features an urban farm, the SeaGlass carousel, Piet Oudolf's Gardens of Remembrance, a labyrinth and more. The park is also home to a large number of sculptures and memorials honoring a variety of New Yorkers. Time: 11 a.m. Place of meeting provided with reservations. Cost: $20; $15 (MAS members). To buy tickets, click here.          

April 6: "America's Jews & America's Game: Voices of a Growing Legacy in Baseball" at the Museum of Jewish Heritage. Join author Larry Ruttman, longtime New York Times baseball writer Murray Chass, retired major league pitcher Bob Tufts and others to discuss the ever-evolving love affairs between Jews and the national pastime.  Place: 36 Battery Place. Time: 2:30 p.m. Tickets: $10; $7 (students and seniors); $5 (members). To buy tickets, click here
April 6:  In a series of six Sunday concerts called "Lamentatio," Trinity Wall Street presents  early Renaissance music juxtaposed with contemporary music. The fifth concert features work by Bo Holten, Pawel Lukaszewski, Johannes Brahms, Thomas Jennefelt, David Lang and Joby Talbot Santiago performed by the Choir of Trinity Wall Street with Michael Zaugg conducting. 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.
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.

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Editor: Terese Loeb Kreuzer

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