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News and Events
in Lower Manhattan
Volume 1, No. 55  April 21, 2014

Quote of the day:
"I believe that it is unconscionable to take 1,651 units of affordable housing off the market."- John Fratta, Southbridge Towers board of directors member, explaining his opposition to the co-op's offering plan.

* Southbridge Towers residents get offering plan
* Bits & Bytes: New chef for North End Grill; SUNY Prof pleads for historic Seaport
* Downtown bulletin board: Seaport Kids' Academy; Scholarships for chefs; Garden volunteers
* Calendar

For breaking news, go to

Easter Sunday cruise of New York harbor aboard Hornblower Infinity. April 20, 2014.
(Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)


Southbridge Towers.   (Photos: Terese Loeb Kreuzer) 

In December 2005, the shareholders of Southbridge Towers, a subsidized co-op in Lower Manhattan, began talking about the possibility of taking their low-cost apartments out of the  Mitchell-Lama program and privatizing them. The shareholders authorized a feasibility study that was completed in November 2006.

Since then, there have been years of discussions and negotiations with the New York State Attorney General's office, but no offering plan. On April 21, the wait was finally over. Beginning at noon, residents lined up in the complex's management office to get a copy of the "black book" describing the pros and cons of converting Southbridge Towers' 1,651 co-op apartments from low-cost Mitchell-Lama ownership to market rate.

In the present market, proponents of the plan say that the apartments could be worth a half a million to a million dollars each.

The plan would need to be approved by two-thirds of the residents (each apartment in good standing gets one vote), in order to go through. The vote will occur over a three-day period between June 22 and June 24. For those who can't vote in person, proxy ballots will be available.

The Southbridge Towers complex, which dates from 1969, consists of four 27-story towers and five low-rise buildings set on acreage bounded by Pearl, Frankfort, Gold and Fulton Streets.
SBT's board of directors is sponsoring the plan. Fourteen members of the 15-member board are in favor of it.

"I'm not going to give any statements at this point," said Wallace Dimson, president of the Southbridge Towers board of directors, when asked why he favors the privatization plan. "This is an internal discussion at Southbridge."

Dimson said there would be an "informational meeting" in May, during which "consultants will present the plan." He said that meeting would be open to shareholders, but that he didn't believe it would be open to the press.

"My opposition to the reconstitution of Southbridge Towers has always been on moral grounds," said John Fratta, the one member of the board who is opposed. "It has nothing to do with finances. I just believe that it is unconscionable to take 1,651 units of affordable housing off the market. Southbridge is, and has always been, a great opportunity to be able to live in Manhattan and not have to sell your first-born. As someone that has run for office over the years advocating the need for affordable housing, how could I now change that position because there may be a financial gain?"

Fratta observed that there are many housing complexes for the poor that are run by the New York City Housing Authority. "However, there is so little housing for middle-income residents," he said. This is "causing them to flee New York. More Mitchell-Lama or similar housing is the most pressing need in New York today."

Roberta Singer, who has lived at Southbridge Towers since 1988, also opposes the plan, but for different reasons.

"Under Mitchell-Lama, Southbridge Towers has been well run," she said. "We're walking up to the edge of an abyss. There's no telling what's down there. There is very little in the plan that is concrete or assured."

She said that the Attorney General's office has required a statement in the plan warning people that it has "many significant legal and financial risks and that it may be one of the most important financial transactions of your life."
Southbridge Towers residents are advised to read the offering plan carefully and to consult with an attorney before signing a participation agreement. However, consulting with an attorney is expensive so a group of tenants opposed to the plan -  the SBT Cooperators for Mitchell-Lama - have engaged their own attorney, Barry Malllin of Mallin & Cha, to review the plan.

- Terese Loeb Kreuzer



Bits & Bytes  

The Howard Hughes Corporation is demolishing Pier 17 and wants to knock down the neighboring New Market Building as well. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)

"Calliope Veteran Eric Korsh IN at North End Grill,", 4/19/14. Danny Meyer's North End Grill was supposed to be the jewel in his Battery Park City troika, which also includes Blue Smoke and Shake Shack. As it turned out, North End Grill was liked but not loved. Last week, executive chef Floyd Cardoz announced his departure. "Eric Korsh, previously of Calliope and The Waverly Inn, will be the new executive chef at Union Square Hospitality Group's North End Grill," says On its website, the Union Square Hospitality Group elaborated on Korsh's credentials. "A New York native, Eric has worked in restaurants since he was a teenager, and has cooked in leading New York kitchens such as Picholine, Prune, and the Waverly Inn. Most recently, he was the Chef/Co-Owner of Calliope in the East Village, during which time the restaurant earned critical praise and was named one of 12 Restaurant Triumphs of 2012 by the New York Times. Eric will spend his first weeks at North End Grill familiarizing himself with the restaurant's distinctive open kitchen, which features custom-designed wood-burning grills and two charcoal-fired Josper Ovens." Cardoz will stay on through April 30. For the article, click here.

"Why NYC must save the South Street Seaport," New York Post, 4/19/14. James M. Lindgren, professor of history at SUNY Plattsburgh and author of "Preserving South Street Seaport" (New York University Press, 2014), spells out the history of the South Street Seaport in an article in the New York Post. "The Seaport Museum rose to become NYC's No. 3 history museum," he tells readers. "In 1998, Congress even named it 'America's National Maritime Museum.' New Yorkers should have been proud, though few knew about it. Then came the twin blows of 9/11 and Hurricane Sandy, which devastated tourism and destroyed the mechanical and electrical infrastructure of the Seaport area. New York City refused to repair the museum buildings it managed - because the Bloomberg administration had, in secret negotiations, agreed to evict the museum." Lindgren says that The Howard Hughes Corporation, the beneficiary of these negotiations, is building a new mall on Pier 17 and "plans on finishing the job - asking the city to evict the museum from the last buildings it occupies and for permission to erect a 50-story hotel complex on the publicly owned site of the 1930s fish market, which has moved to The Bronx." For the complete article, click here.


Downtown bulletin board   

Part of the East River waterfront. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)

Old Seaport Kids' Academy:

The Old Seaport Kids' Academy classes started this past week and will continue through May 4. Each business in the Old Seaport is hosting a series of fun and creative classes for children ages 5 to 12.

Among the classes coming up this week are "basic pet care" at The Salty Paw on Tuesday, April 22 from 11 a.m. to noon and "the art of sushi making" at Suteishi on April 26 and 27. Classes cost $25 a child. For more information, click here.

Seaport Panel: Who Owns the Waterfront?
In the midst of negotiations about development in the South Street Seaport, a panel with deep knowledge about its past and with great concerns about its future will discuss "Who Owns the Waterfront?" on May 15 at Pace University.

Topics will include the history of the New York City waterfront, historic preservation, waterfront development and the public trust doctrine.

Panelists include Daniel E. Estrin, supervising attorney, Environmental Litigation Clinic, Pace Law School; Andrew Genn, senior vice president of ports and transportation, NYC Economic Development Corp.; Robert LaValva, founder and president of the New Amsterdam Market; and Roland Lewis, president and CEO of the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance. The moderator will be Jason J. Czarnezki, Gilbert and Sarah Kerlin Distinguished Professor of Environmental Law, Pace Law School.

Date: May 15. Time: 7 p.m. Place: Lecture Hall North, Pace University, One Pace Plaza. Free, but space is limited. RSVP to

Scholarships for chefs:
The James Beard Foundation is accepting applications for its 2014 scholarship program, with over $450,000 in scholarships and grants available to help aspiring and established culinary professionals who plan to further their education at a licensed or accredited culinary school or hospitality institution. 

The new scholarship and grant offerings for 2014 include:
*    Spencer's Restaurant at the Mountain: the four-star American restaurant in Palm Springs, California is offering an unrestricted scholarship to a deserving student selected by the JBF Scholarship Selection Committee.
*    Andrew Zimmern's "Second Chances" Scholarship: sponsored by Eyebobs, will offer a student faced with extreme challenges, a "second chance," to overcome these hardships.
*    Green Door Gourmet Scholarship: sponsored by Sylvia Harrelson Ganier, will reward a student with an interest in sustainable farming and learning creative cooking using fresh, nutritious foods.
*    Miljenko "Mike" Grgich's American Dream Scholarship: sponsored by Grgich Hills Estate offers a professional wine studies program.
*    Union Center National Bank Scholarship: will be presented to an individual from the state of New Jersey who possesses an entrepreneurial spirit and aspiration for excellence.

Additionally, JBF School Scholarships will include a $16,000 tuition waiver scholarship from the new Colorado Culinary Academy in Denver, and two scholarships of $15,000 each in Culinary Arts or Hospitality Management from Drexel University in Philadelphia.

The James Beard Foundation also offers work/study grants for current working culinary professionals to expand their culinary experiences. As in previous years, the Jean-Louis Palladin Professional Work/Study Grant, in memory of one of the great culinary geniuses of the 20th century, will be offered, enabling a qualified professional to work with food producers at their source and to study varied specialized skills. Also granted again this year will be the Rhone Rangers Professional Study/Travel Grant for working chefs or sommeliers who wish to learn about American Rhône-varietal wines.

The James Beard Foundation Scholarship Program is administered by the Scholarship Management Services division of Scholarship America, a nonprofit organization that has helped award scholarships to over one million students. Applications for scholarships are received and evaluated by Scholarship America. The applications of the finalists are then submitted to the James Beard Foundation's Scholarship Selection Committee for final review.

For application forms, click here. All scholarship application materials, including transcripts, must be postmarked by May 15, 2014.  Professional grant applications must be postmarked by June 15, 2014. Scholarship winners will be notified in August 2014.

Volunteers wanted: 
Battery Park City has 32 acres of parks and gardens. They are tended by the Battery Park City Parks Conservancy, which is renowned for its organic gardening methods. Volunteers are wanted to work alongside the Conservancy's horticulturists on Wednesday mornings from May 7 to Oct. 29, 7:30 a.m. to noon. For more information, call (212) 267-9700, ext. 364.


CALENDAR: Week of April 21
Sail raising on the Pioneer will be part of the South Street Seaport Museum's celebration on Saturday, April 26 from noon to 5 p.m. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)
April 22: Poets House in Battery Park City presents "A Painter and His Poets," the first major retrospective show of George Schneeman's collaborative paintings, collages, prints, and books, with portraits of his poet friends, spanning 40 years. "A sort of utopia in the visual field filled with pleasure, quickness and wit" is how Schneeman himself described his collaborative work with poets. Opening reception: 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., April 22. Exhibition on view through Saturday, Sept. 20, during regular Poets House hours. Place: 10 River Terrace. Free. For information about Poets House, click here.

April 23: "Jews, Comics and the City," at the Museum of Jewish Heritage, with Liana Finck, author of "A Bintel Brief," Miriam Katin ("Letting it Go"), and Eli Valley (artist in residence, the Forward); moderated by Tahneer Oksman, Marymount Manhattan College. Three cartoonists discuss how their surroundings, family history, and backgrounds have inspired their representations of Jewish life in pen and ink. Place: 36 Battery Place. Time: 7 p.m. Tickets: $10, $7 (students/seniors), $5 (members). To buy tickets, click here.

April 26:    At Poets House, a panel discussion and reading in conjunction with the exhibition "A Painter and His Poets: The Art of George Schneeman," the first major retrospective of the artist's collaborative paintings, collages, prints, and books. 3 p.m.-4:30 p.m. Poetry Reading with Michael Brownstein, Larry Fagin, Alice Notley, Maureen Owen, Harris Schiff, Anne Waldman and Lewis Warsh, introduced by Bill Berkson. 5 p.m.-6 p.m. Panel Discussion with Bill Berkson, Larry Fagin, Alice Notley, Maureen Owen, Peter Schjeldahl, and Anne Waldman, moderated by Ron Padgett. Place: 10 River Terrace. Time: 3 p.m.-6 p.m. Fee: $10, $7 (students and seniors), free to Poets House members. For more information, click here.


April 26: The South Street Seaport Museum will celebrate the coming of spring and summer with ship tours, wood carving, sail raising, live music, local food, vendors, New York harbor souvenirs, and "living history. There will be a bell-ringing ceremony and remarks at 2 p.m. The 102-year-old barque, Peking, the 1885 schooner, Pioneer, the tugboat, W. O. Decker, and the lightship, Ambrose will be open to visitors as will the Bowne stationery and printing shops on Water Street. Place: Pier 16 in the South Street Seaport and Bowne shops on Water Street. Time: Noon to 5 p.m. (rain or shine). Free. For more information, click here.  
April 26: 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.    

Save the Date: New York State Senator Daniel Squadron's Sixth Annual Community Convention takes place on Sunday, April 27 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Seward Park Educational Campus (Formerly Seward Park High School), 350 Grand St. (Between Ludlow and Essex Streets). The keynote speaker this year will be New York State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman. Sen. Squadron started holding community conventions in order to be able to hear directly from constituents about issues they were facing and their ideas for solving community problems. There are numerous topic-driven breakout sessions at which everyone has a chance to speak. Transportation: Subways J/M/F to Essex & Delancey or B/D to Grand Street. RSVP: Mauricio Pazmino at (212) 298-5565 or click here.

Ongoing: An exhibit called "Smile! A Photo Anthology by VII" is 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.

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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