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News and Events
in Lower Manhattan
Volume 1, No. 57  April 25, 2014

Quote of the day:
"In New York, you can become the person you want to be."- Dublin-born Siofra Neary, 24, director of the Manhattan Sailing School in Battery Park City

* Julie Menin named Consumer Affairs Commissioner
* Manhattan Sailing School season begins
* Bits & Bytes: More WTC shops; 50 West St. takes a bow; El Vez opens on Vesey Street
* Seaport Working Group goes for a Seaport walk
* Letter to the editor: Southbridge Towers offering plan
* Downtown bulletin board: Poem in Your Pocket Day; Seaport panel; Community Awards event
* Calendar

For breaking news, go to

The Manhattan Sailing School in North Cove Marina runs from April 26 to Oct. 19.
(Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)


On April 24, Mayor Bill de Blasio named Julie Menin Consumer Affairs Commissioner. (Photo: Twitter/@BillDeBlasio)

Julie Menin, who chaired Community Board 1 for seven years (June 2005 to June 2012) and who subsequently ran unsuccessfully for Manhattan Borough President, has a new job. Yesterday, Mayor Bill de Blasio appointed her Consumer Affairs Commissioner. Menin said she was "thrilled."

One of Menin's first responsibilities will be to ensure that the City's new paid sick leave law is honored and enforced. Her broader responsibilities will include enforcing consumer protection laws, ensuring that inspector fines are fairly levied and that consumer complaints are handled quickly and efficiently.

During Menin's tenure as CB1 chairman, she dealt forcefully with community issues raised by Occupy Wall Street and by the so-called Ground Zero Mosque. At one rowdy meeting of Community Board 1 that was packed with opponents of the proposed Park Place community center and prayer space, she had New York City police officers standing behind her to help keep order.

She took on Con Edison in 2010 over $200 million of post-9/11 Lower Manhattan Development Corporation funding that Con Ed wanted to pocket. Menin prevailed, and the money went to the Lower Manhattan community instead.

She fought against holding the trial of 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed in Lower Manhattan, causing the Obama Administration to move it elsewhere.

Menin holds a law degree from Northwestern University School of Law. She began her career as a regulatory attorney for a Washington, D.C. law firm and worked as a regulatory attorney at Colgate-Palmolive in New York City. She specialized in consumer protection law, helping ensure that businesses complied with product safety regulations and were not engaged in deceptive advertising.

She has been a restaurant owner and was the founder of Wall Street Rising, a non-profit organization that helped small businesses recover after 9/11.

In a statement after her appointment, Menin said that she had "become a lawyer decades ago to protect consumers and help businesses comply with the law - and I'm thrilled to lead an agency that pursues this goal across all five boroughs."

- Terese Loeb Kreuzer

Siofra Neary, director of the Manhattan Sailing School. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)

Siofra Neary, 24, is one happy woman. Two years ago, she arrived in Battery Park City from Dublin, Ireland, to teach sailing to the 8- to 12-year-old kids in the Manhattan Sailing School. The next year, she returned to run the junior sailing program. This year, she is the director of the Manhattan Sailing School, which is based at North Cove Marina.

"I fell in love with the city and the people and the fact that I could come back in this position," she said. "It's amazing, being here and doing the work I love."

According to the American Sailing Association, the Manhattan Sailing School is the biggest adult sailing school in the country. It can accommodate up to 78 students a weekend.


There are also sailing programs for teens, 13 to 18 years old, who go out in J24s. The Manhattan Sailing School can teach up to 40 teens a week.


The junior sailors go in Optimists. "They are light and look like bathtubs," said Neary. "Four kids work together to ready them for sailing. Then each child has his or her own boat."


The school can work with 25 children a week.


The school for juniors and teens is run through the New York Harbor Sailing Foundation. It was founded by the North Cove Marina's commodore, Michael Fortenbaugh, and a few of the Manhattan Sailing Club members as a non-profit organization to teach kids to sail.


The adult program is run by the Manhattan Sailing School.


Basic sailing for adults is a two-day course that costs $390. The classes last for 10 hours each day. Teens get a five-day course from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. for $390. The classes for juniors are also five days and cost $590.


There are scholarships available for the junior and teen sailors. To apply, the kids write about why they want to learn to sail and the family submits a tax return.


"Everyone can learn to sail," said Neary. In Ireland, she said, she learned how to work with disabled people. "I had to teach someone to sail with blindfolds on and to sail using only one hand," she recalled.  


There are 15 instructors for the adult program, seven for the teens and five for the juniors.   


"Everyone who works here loves sailing," she said. "Many instructors have other jobs as well but come here on the weekends because they love to teach sailing. They want to share that love. They work in finance, the Coast Guard, for the government, in marketing and advertising."


Neary said that after the basic sailing class, students will be competent and confident at crewing on a boat. "Everything you need to do on a boat, you will be able to do, but you'd want to have an experienced person with you," she said.  


In addition to basic sailing, there are courses in racing and in basic coastal cruising. In that course, the participants get on a boat on a Saturday morning and sail to Sandy Hook, N.J. where they stay overnight. Then, they sail back the next day. That costs $590 plus the hotel.   


Classes for adults start on April 26 and go through Oct. 19. The classes for children are in July and August.


"The best part of sailing down here is that you get a completely unique view of the city," said Neary. "Out on the water, it's quiet and calm and peaceful and yet you're still in Manhattan. It's an experience you can only have here because of what 'here' is."  


As she speaks, she doesn't stop smiling. 


"In New York, you can become the person you want to be," she said.  "I weirdly feel more at home here than I feel in Dublin."


- Terese Loeb Kreuzer


For more information about the Manhattan Sailing School, click here



Bits & Bytes  

More shops announced for the World Trade Center. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)

"World Trade Center takes Soho turn in main hall,"
The Real Deal, 4/25/14. The flood of shops coming to Lower Manhattan shows no signs of abating. "The lineup for Westfield Group's central shopping hall within the World Trade Center retail complex, known as the Oculus, is shaping up to have the flavor of Soho, even if it lacks the very high-end luxury tenants of Upper Fifth Avenue," says The Real Deal. "Retailers such as trendy handbag designer Kate Spade, French fashion brands The Kooples and Zadig & Voltaire, and Swedish designer Acne Studios are set to take locations in the oval-shaped, below-grade shopping hub that will be the focal point of the 365,000-square-foot World Trade Center retail area." The newcomers to the Oculus will join Apple, Michael Kors, Hugo Boss, John Varvatos, J. Lindberg, Cole Haan and Canali. For the complete article, click here.

"In High Gear," New York Times, 4/24/14. The New York Times takes a look at three high-profile apartment towers now under construction in Manhattan. One of them, 50 West St., is next to the Hugh L. Carey Brooklyn Battery Tunnel, which took a major hit during Superstorm Sandy. This 64-story condo from Time Equities has been in the works since 1982, says The Times. "If delays made the $500 million project more floodproof, they also influenced its makeup. Fifty West was originally conceived as a hotel-condo. Now, it's a residential building with amenities on the lower floors and apartments on the 7th through 64th floors. Helmut Jahn, who created the mixed-use CitySpire Center on West 56th Street in the 1980s, is the building's architect, while Thomas Juul-Hansen designed the interiors, which will range from one to five bedrooms and have floor-to-ceiling windows. Cabinets in the kitchens will be made of walnut, while bathroom vanities will be marble." The Times also mentions that the apartments will have thick glass "to mute traffic noise from below." For the complete article, click here.

El Vez opens on Vesey Street: El Vez at 259 Vesey St. opens for dinner tonight (April 25). The restaurant has 190 seats and will also have outdoor seating. The menu includes salsa and several kinds of guacamole ($5 to $15), ceviches ($12 to $18), tacos and enchiladas, soups, salads, quesadillas - and everything else that you might expect to see on a Mexican-American menu. Dinner hours are 4 p.m. to 10 p.m., Sunday through Thursday, and 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. El Vez will begin serving lunch on Monday, April 28 (lunch hours, Monday to Friday, 11:30 a.m.-4 p.m.) and will eventually also serve brunch on Saturdays and Sundays (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.) El Vez is the fourth restaurant to be opened in Manhattan by Philadelphia restaurateur Stephen Starr. For El Vez reservations, call (212) 233-2500 or click here.


South Street Seaport

Pier 17 as it looked in 2008. The mall on Pier 17 is now being demolished.
(Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)

Yesterday, the Seaport Working Group "toured the historic Seaport neighborhood, identifying cultural and commercial elements that contribute to the Seaport area," according to a statement from the Seaport Working Group. "In addition, the Working Group discussed methods and language that could support the Seaport through planning principles and guidelines, including those regarding the area's vitality and ability to attract locals and tourists to the area."

One of the goals of the Seaport Working Group is to identify a sustainable operating model for the South Street Seaport Museum. Several possibilities are being discussed.

The Seaport Working Group will be issuing recommendations in the coming weeks. They will be advisory and non-binding.

This was the ninth meeting of the Seaport Working Group, a committee composed of elected officials, community stakeholders, Community Board 1 members and representatives of The Howard Hughes Corporation and the New York City Economic Development Corp., that was convened to advise on how the Seaport should be developed.

The Howard Hughes Corporation, which has a long-term lease on much of the Seaport, has proposed building a 50-story-tall luxury tower on the site of the New Market building, an idea that was criticized by many members of the Lower Manhattan community.

Howard Hughes also proposed moving the landmarked Tin Building and making other changes to the historic structure of the South Street Seaport.

Letter to the editor

Southbridge Towers is a middle-income, Mitchell-Lama co-op.
(Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)

To the editor:

(Re: Letter to the editor, "Southbridge Towers Offering Plan," DPNYC, 4/23/14.) This is in reply to Seymour Schleimer's letter in Downtown Post NYC in which he says that taking Southbridge Towers out of the Mitchell-Lama program would give shareholders the opportunity to "live the American dream of owning your home, with all the rights and advantages of owning real estate equity."


We, here at Southbridge Towers, are already living the middle-class American dream of home ownership. We wouldn't have to purchase our apartments if SBT should privatize because we already own them!


Every shareholder I've ever met here was overjoyed to buy into a "limited equity" co-op at a most affordable price. Who among us bought into SBT thinking that somewhere down the line, personal gain would justify pulling up the ladder behind us and depriving others of the same opportunity we continue to enjoy?


The buildings and grounds at Southbridge Towers have been, at least in part, modernized with taxpayer-subsidized loans and grants available to limited equity co-ops. Without subsidies and grants from the City and State for the social and support services we now receive, we will either lose those services or pay market rate for them. We own with pride and gratitude to the taxpayers of the State of New York.


Under the offering plan we would not be able to simply leave our apartments to heirs. Should the new plan go into effect, with only one exception, shareholders would have to bequeath their apartment to their heirs in a will. Succession could only take place after the shareholder dies. The heirs would be required to pay 33 percent of the market value to the Apartment Corporation plus all brokerage and legal fees before taking possession of the apartment.


Currently, shareholders can "transfer their apartments to certain family members without paying a transfer fee" (see Plan p. 7).


An alleged advantage of the offering plan is that it would enable reverse mortgages. However, government-backed reverse mortgages are not available to co-ops in New York.


In addition, a building and apartment containing friable asbestos (as SBT does) may not qualify as collateral for an equity loan.  This issue is most inadequately addressed in the Plan.


Mr. Schleimer lauds removal of "the power of the state agency to control the fate and management of the co-op." DHCR [Department of Housing and Community Renewal] would be replaced by a co-op Board of Directors with the right of refusal of just about everything and no regulatory oversight agency to rein in excesses. The Board would have the right to refuse a potential buyer and to refuse a person to whom a shareholder wished to sublet. Among other powers, the Board could deny or limit a shareholder's right to renovate an apartment or to make two bedrooms out of one.


Many co-op boards have been taken to court by shareholders over abuse of authority.


For these reasons, and others, I am opposed to the offering plan.


Roberta Singer

Southbridge Towers Shareholder


From the editor:

Downtown Post NYC welcomes letters to the editor. DPNYC reserves the right to edit letters, if necessary, for length and clarity. The Lower Manhattan community is faced with some thorny situations about which people disagree. Letters expressing disagreement are welcome so long as they remain respectful of other's opinions and refrain from personal invective. Send letters to


Correction: The letter to the editor in DPNYC, 4/23/14, was incorrectly headed "Stockbridge Towers offering plan." It should have said, "Southbridge Towers offering plan."  





Downtown bulletin board   

Tina Chang, poet laureate of Brooklyn, read poems at Poets House during "Poem in Your Pocket" day on April 24. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)

Poets House: Poems in your pocket and a sleepover
Try giving New Yorkers something free, even a free poem. They're in a hurry. They're suspicious of handouts. Mostly, they scurry by, especially if they're on their way to work. But some do a second take, pause and double back to accept the offering.

That's what Suzanne Lunden reported after spending her lunchtime on April 24 as one of the volunteers handing out poems for Poets House's Poem in Your Pocket (PIYP) day. Lunden, who works at Poets House in Battery Park City, said that April is National Poetry Month and that the idea is to encourage people to read poetry, to write poetry, to listen to poetry and to share poetry.

Surprisingly, it was that businessman/mayor Michael Bloomberg, who started PIYP day in 2003 when the Office of the Mayor in partnership with the New York City Departments of Cultural Affairs and Education initiated an annual City-wide PIYP celebration. In 2008, the Academy of American Poets took the idea national.

This year, some of the poems that Poets House handed out were written by school children and had to do with New York City's landmarks. April 2015 will mark the 50th anniversary of the passage of New York City's Landmarks Preservation Law, so this is the anniversary year. That means that the topic of landmarks will come up again (and again). 

In the afternoon of Poem in Your Pocket Day, poets of all ages convened at Poets House to read their own poems and read poems they liked. The topics ranged from a baseball hero to a brother wounded in Vietnam to a lost love to children moving away and leaving an empty house - the usual stuff of poetry and of life.

One couple had come in from Mineola, Long Island for the event. "I love it here," the woman said of Poets House. "It's so peaceful."

On May 3, Poets House will be especially peaceful and also inspiring. That's the night of the annual sleepover. Participants show up at Poets House at 8 p.m. and spend the night.

This year, there will be "guided meditations and intuitive writing sessions, proprioceptive movement and acupuncture options, and other activities designed to clear and comfort the mind and body, and open up new space for creativity," says the flier for the sleepover. "Treat yourself to relaxed inspiration, led by poet and certified hypnotherapist Kristin Prevallet, yoga and mindful movement teacher Romona Mukherjee, and licensed acupuncturist and holistic healer Mona Chopra, in the context of our 60,000 volume library."

The sleepover costs $75 and is open to Poets House members only. Memberships cost $50 a year, with a discount for seniors. To register, contact Krista Manrique, (212) 431-7920 ext. 2830, or email Poets House is at 10 River Terrace in Battery Park City. For more information, click here. - Terese Loeb Kreuzer

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

Manhattan Youth: Downtown Community Awards 2014 Event
At its annual Community Awards event, this year on May 15, Manhattan Youth honors seven people for their commitment to education in the Lower Manhattan community. The honorees are
Wendy Chapman, for her advocacy on behalf of children and education, and Michael Clark, Frank DiOrio, Derick Henry, Jose Velez, James Willie and David DiGiacomo, for their stewardship of the PS 89/IS 289 physical plant through 9/11, Hurricane Sandy and every school day, and their commitment to the community's children.

Invited guests include Mayor Bill de Blasio, Hon. Sheldon Silver, Hon. Scott Stringer, Hon. Gale Brewer, Hon. Daniel Squadron, Hon. Deborah Glick, Hon. Margaret Chin, and Community Board 1 Chair Catherine McVay Hughes.

Proceeds from the event will help Lower Manhattan working families obtain after-school and summertime childcare services of the highest quality regardless of their ability to pay. Manhattan Youth provides nearly $500,000 in childcare subsidies to families each year in addition to $500,000 in free programming, and has been the leading provider of after-school childcare, summer camp, recreation and enrichment programming in Lower Manhattan since 1986.

The Community Awards Event will take place at the Manhattan Youth Downtown Community Center, 120 Warren St.

The evening will begin with a cocktail reception at 7 p.m. featuring the piano stylings of Nate Andersen followed by an awards ceremony at 7:30 p.m., a buffet dinner and live music. The Manhattan Youth Players of IS 276 will present "It's a Hard-knocks Life" from their recent production of "Annie."

Click here for tickets to the event or contact Jim Hopkins at (212) 766-1104 ext. 232, or by e-mail Ticket prices start at $150.

CALENDAR: Week of April 21
Self-portrait of George Schneeman (1978) flanked by photographs of Schneeman painting and of the artist with family and friends in an exhibit at Poets House through Sept. 20, 2014. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)
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: The Fraunces Tavern Museum is sponsoring a walking tour of the Lower Manhattan waterfront. Entitled "A Rebellious Brew," the tour, led by Fred Cookinham, will envision New York's 1774 waterfront and discover why the city was so late to revel in patriotic spirit. Fraunces Tavern Museum is at 54 Pearl St. Time: 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Tickets: $20; $15 (museum members). For more information and to buy tickets, click here.

April 26: Battery Urban Farm EarthFest. Arts and crafts, farm tours, planting workshops, games, and live music to celebrate and encourage food, farming, and sustainability in New York City. Bring a picnic or buy lunch. Raindate, Sunday, April 27. Time: 11 a.m.-3 p.m. 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

April 26: 5K Shad Run and 1.5 mile walk, a fundraiser for The River Project, a non-profit marine-science field-station located on Pier 40. Time: Starts at 8:30 a.m. at Pier 25, at North Moore and West Streets. Participants (dogs welcome) can run or walk along the river where schools of American shad make their annual swim from the ocean upriver to freshwater spawning grounds. 5K run goes to Pier 54 and back to Pier 25. 1.5 mile walk goes to Pier 40. Public education displays continue until 1 p.m. at Pier 40, Houston and West Streets. Fee: $45 (in advance); $50 on April 26. For more information and to register, click here.

April 27: New York State Senator Daniel Squadron's Sixth Annual Community Convention takes place 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: 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. Exhibition on view through Saturday, Sept. 20, during regular Poets House hours. Place: 10 River Terrace. Free. For information about Poets House, click here.

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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