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News and Events
in Lower Manhattan
Volume 1, No. 69  May 23, 2014

Quote of the day:
"Residents shouldn't have to spend thousands of dollars on utility bills to have a little heat in the winter." - N.Y. State Senator Daniel Squadron on a deal he helped broker to get new heating and cooling units and new electric meters for the tenants of Gateway Plaza.

* HHC puts food trucks on Fulton Street, kiosks on Water Street
* Turmoil at Southbridge Towers over offering plan
* Battery Park City: Gateway Plaza gets heat and accurate electric bills
* Bits & Bytes: Memorial Museum cafe; Time Inc coming to Battery Park City; Seaport City
* Letter to the editor: Pier A clock tower
* Calendar

For breaking news, go to

Lightning striking 1 World Trade Center. May 23, 2014. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)

The Howard Hughes Corporation has placed food trucks and picnic tables on Fulton Street in the South Street Seaport. (Photos: Barbara Mensch)

William Zafiros and Aristotle Hatzigeorgiou showed up at Community Board 1's Seaport/Civic Center Committee meeting on May 20 to talk about a seasonal liquor license for B and T Fulton, LLC and food trucks. The request for a license to sell liquor at two outdoor locations on Fulton Street in the historic South Street Seaport was expected. The food trucks were not.

"We're curating food trucks," they explained. "Every day, there will be around eight different food trucks." They said they would be "scattered throughout the Seaport in the cobblestoned area." They also said that they wanted to open by Memorial Day weekend.

The committee had questions. " 
Do the food trucks have to be turned on?" Michael Kramer asked.  "Are the motors running the whole time? Have you done an environmental impact study of the idling?"


"I think the food trucks draw power from some of the buildings. I think," Zafiros replied.


"I'm a little concerned," said Deron Charkoudian, a member of the committee. "We're tight on space. Where are the food trucks going to go, exactly?"


He was told that the trucks would go to the left of the picnic tables on Front Street and below them on Fulton Street - where the food stands were last year.  


The committee still wasn't buying this.  


Zafiros and Hatzigeorgiou said that The Howard Hughes Corporation, the Dallas-based developer with a long-term lease on parts of the South Street Seaport, had asked them to arrange for the food trucks because "there was no place else to eat." 


We're a neighborhood where food trucks just come together and gather on Fulton Street to serve food until 1 a.m.?" said committee member Jason Friedman, who lives in the South Street Seaport.  "It's not the nicest thing in the world." He wanted to know why Howard Hughes hadn't created permanent restaurant spaces on Fulton Street.

Representatives of The Howard Hughes Corporation were supposed to be at this Seaport Committee meeting, but did not attend.

"It's outrageous that Hughes isn't here," said Kramer. "This is our only chance to comment on the Hughes plan." He observed that a diagram showing where the trucks might go seemed completely erroneous, with construction fences and picnic tables taking up much of the indicated space.

He also noted that, "The Old Seaport Alliance has all these restaurants in the area." Within three blocks of Fulton Street are Fresh Salt, Il Brigante, Barbalu, Nelson Blue, Jeremy's Ale House, Acqua, Suteishi, The Paris Cafe, Cowgirl Seahorse, the Mark Joseph Steakhouse and several other restaurants.  


"I suggest that you guys not proceed without coming back to us on the truck issue because the pollution, the noise, the issues, are relevant," said committee member Paul Hovitz. "We do want to bring people in, we do want to want to have services for them - but we do have other restaurants. The trucks are really a problem."


However, on Friday, at the start of the Memorial Day weekend, the trucks were on Fulton Street, and, as the committee feared, blocking much of it, including the intersection with Water Street where the South Street Seaport Museum's shops, Bowne Printers and Bowne Stationers, are located.  


In addition, Howard Hughes had placed kiosks on Water Street near the Bowne shops, a block that had previously preserved its historic ambiance.


According to a new Marketplace lease signed with the New York City Economic Development Corporation on June 27, 2013, Howard Hughes apparently does have the right to erect "mobile or impermanent vending units" in parts of the South Street Seaport, but according to a diagram accompanying that lease, that right would not extend to the museum block on Water Street. Nor would it include permission to block the Water Street and Front Street intersections or to place  vending units in front of landmarked Schermerhorn Row.


On the afternoon of May 23, Hovitz sent an email to the other members of the Seaport Committee saying that he had just been informed that the food trucks were already present on Fulton Street despite the committee's request to hold off.  


"I believe we need to strongly object and oppose placement of food trucks on the basis of congestion, air pollution, and detracting business from established Seaport restaurants and food services," he wrote. "Let's do a resolution to place before the full board next week."


- Terese Loeb Kreuzer  




The Paris Cafe | 119 South Street | 212.240.9797 | | @theparisnyc

Southbridge Towers. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)

A bitter war continues to divide the tenants of Southbridge Towers as to whether to take the co-op out of the subsidized Mitchell-Lama program and make it private. After many years of discussion, a "black book" containing an offering plan was finally distributed to tenants on April 21, with the privatization vote scheduled for June 22 to 24. However, errors were found in the offering plan causing 200 pages of it to have to be reprinted - twice.

Now, the privatization vote will likely take place in September with an official informational meeting held sometime in July.

The Southbridge Towers complex, which dates from 1969, has 1,651 apartments whose tenants currently pay modest amounts of money to live there. However, they also reap modest amounts of money should they wish to vacate their apartments. They must surrender them to the housing cooperative in exchange for their equity. In the open market, the Southbridge Towers apartments could be worth a half million dollars each or more.

With a lot of money on the table for some shareholders who might like to cash in, especially if they own houses elsewhere, and the threat of losing their affordable housing for shareholders whose finances are marginal, Southbridge Towers is a tense place these days.

In the latest donnybrook, a group of shareholders wanted to reserve Southbridge Towers' community room for Wednesday, May 28 to discuss the plan. The management office granted the request and then withdrew permission.

"This is an outrageous denial," said Margaret Cooney, a Southbridge Towers shareholder and former Board of Directors member in an email to Paul Hovitz, president of the Southbridge Towers Shareholders Association, a group with members on both sides of the offering, but that is largely in opposition. "We shareholders own the community space and have every right to its use." She characterized the denial as "censorship" authorized by Southbridge's Board of Directors. Fourteen of its 15 members favor privatization.

"What is the Board afraid of?" Cooney asked rhetorically in her email to Hovitz.

In a letter to Southbridge Towers shareholders dated May 22, 2014, Wallace Dimson, president of the Board of Directors, said that, "Since the distribution of the plan, opponents of the conversion have distributed literature that contains significant distortions and misrepresentations about its contents. In addition, the literature contains statements and suppositions that are not part of the plan."

On behalf of the Board of Directors, Dimson appealed to the New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR) for the right to hold a "question and answer session on June 4, 2014" to present its own version of the plan's merits. In a letter dated May 21, 2014, Robert McCurnin, Assistant Commissioner, agreed that this meeting could take place, with restrictions.

As the sponsors of the offering plan, the Board would only be permitted to impart "information that is a part of the Plan" and the session "shall not be used as an opportunity to introduce new information meant to supplement or explain the disclosures set forth in the Plan."

The letter mentioned other restrictions as well.

Dimson was unhappy with this response. He distributed McCurnin's letter to Southbridge Towers shareholders, with his own letter stating that the Board was being prevented from explaining disclosures set forth in the plan. Without the Board's input, said Dimson, "shareholders will continue to be deprived of information that is vital to helping them make an informed decision regarding privatization."

When McCurnin got wind of this, he expressed his own displeasure. "The conditions contained in the letter were reasonable in nature," he wrote to Dimson on May 23, 2014. "They nowhere prevented the board from explaining the disclosures set forth in the plan or from responding, based on information contained in the plan, to claims made by opponents of the plan."

McCurnin went on to say, "We've been informed by some shareholders that the housing company has recently withdrawn the permission that had been given to some groups to use the community room to hold discussions on the conversion plan, pending guidance as to how those discussions should be conducted. Nothing in my May 21 letter or in this letter should be seen as a basis to withhold access to the community room to those groups."

In an email on May 23 to Downtown Post NYC, Dimson said that the Board of Directors had actually not refused to allow the dissident shareholders to use the community room. "Southbridge did not refuse permission," he said. "Permission was temporarily suspended pending clarification from DHCR regarding a letter that they sent to us on May 21. Clarification was received on May 23 so permission was granted to use the room."

The meeting will take place in the Southbridge Towers community room, 90 Beekman St., at 6 p.m. on May 28. All are welcome to attend.

- Terese Loeb Kreuzer


Battery Park City

One of Gateway Plaza's six buildings (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)

There's good news for Gateway Plaza tenants today. Most of the heating and cooling units in the 33-year-old Battery Park City housing complex are antiquated, as are the gas meters. In last winter's bitter cold weather, tenants were faced with running up sky-high electric bills while still suffering in inadequately heated apartments.

After every elected official in the community went to bat for the tenants, Gateway Residential Management LLC, the management company for Gateway's 1,700 apartments, announced plans today to replace 3,100 individual packaged terminal air conditioners (PTAC), which provide cooling and heating to apartments and to upgrade the 1,700 electrical sub meters, used to measure tenant electricity use. Nine hundred of the PTAC units had previously been replaced.

Gateway's landlord, Marina Tower Associates - a development company owned by LeFrak, Olnick and Fisher, had previously refused to replace the heating and cooling units or the electrical sub-meters.

On the side of the tenants were New York State Senator Daniel Squadron, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Congressmember Jerrold Nadler, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, and Council Member Margaret Chin, working with the Gateway Plaza Tenants Association (GPTA). 

At a town hall meeting convened in February 2012 by Senator Squadron and the GPTA, Gateway Plaza residents complained that aging infrastructure was causing exorbitant and erroneous heating and cooling bills, highlighting the need for significant energy efficiency improvements.

"These energy upgrades are one step to bringing real relief to Gateway residents, in terms of comfort and dollars," said Sen. Squadron. "Residents shouldn't have to spend thousands of dollars on utility bills to have a little heat in the winter." He said he looked forward "to continuing to work with LeFrak and my elected partners to bring additional improvements to make Gateway Plaza more livable and affordable."

Ice inside a Gateway Plaza apartment.
Assembly Speaker Silver called today's developments a "first step."

All of the windows at Gateway leak and need to be replaced. In many apartments, ice forms on the inside of the windows in the winter.

"I will continue working with my fellow elected officials and the Gateway Plaza Tenants Association to improve these conditions and to help address a wide range of quality-of-life issues for residents," Silver said.

"This development has been in the works for two years," said Gateway Plaza Tenants Association President Glenn Plaskin. "We're immensely grateful to Senator Squadron, Speaker Silver, BPCA Chairman Mehiel, and Council Member Margaret Chin for their passionate effort to procure new PTACs and electric meters for the entire Gateway complex. Our nearly 4,000 tenants will benefit greatly from these improvements."

He said, however, that the leaky windows remain a continuing problem. "The building needs to be 'greener,'" he said. "Our hope is that ongoing talks will result in added improvements for the Gateway complex, believing as we do that principled negotiation with all parties should be the most effective way to accomplish our goals."

Gateway Plaza is the largest apartment complex in Battery Park City. Installation of the new equipment is expected to begin in June, and will require approximately 16 weeks to complete.

- Terese Loeb Kreuzer


Bits & Bytes

"Danny Meyer responds to 9/11 café backlash," Crain's New York Business, 5/23/14.
Danny Meyer, the restaurateur who was caught up in the firestorm this week over a private VIP party hosted by the National September 11 Memorial Museum, says that he was "misunderstood," according to Crain's, and "was surprised by the backlash against him for operating a café in the facility." He had the best of intentions. "Mr. Meyer's catering arm, Union Square Events, was selected by the museum-in a request for proposals process-to run the Pavilion Café opening this summer. But the café has become a lightning rod of controversy among 9/11 family members and others who question whether a for-profit restaurant is an appropriate use of space in what is seen as sacred ground, where thousands of victims lost their lives. When the museum hosted a private party to thank its donors on the eve of its public opening on May 21, some 9/11 family members were turned away. Mr. Meyer and museum officials were immediately attacked for their insensitivity." For the complete article, click here.

Time Inc. coming to Brookfield Place: Brookfield Office Properties Inc. announced today that it has signed a lease with Time Inc. for 700,000 square feet at 225 Liberty St. -- one of the five office towers of the Brookfield Place complex in Lower Manhattan. Time Inc. will be relocating its global headquarters from Midtown Manhattan. Joe Ripp, Time Inc.'s chairman and CEO said that the move "will deliver significant cost savings." Time Inc. is one of the largest branded media companies in the world reaching more than 130 consumers each month across multiple platforms. Its publications include Time, People, Fortune, Sports Illustrated, InStyle, Real Simple, Travel + Leisure, Food & Wine and Wallpaper. Time Inc. will be occupying space vacated by Bank of America/Merrill Lynch. For more about the move from the New York Business Journal (5/23/14), click here.

"Study: Seaport City idea hard, but 'feasible,'" Capital, 5/22/14. "A new study has found that the most ambitious element in former mayor Michael Bloomberg's 257-point, post-Hurricane
A rendering of 'Seaport City.'
Sandy resiliency plan-a proposal to build a Battery Park City-like embankment on lower Manhattan's East Side-is "feasible," says Capital. "Bloomberg called the project 'Seaport City,' envisioning it as a neighborhood built on landfill that could, perhaps, pay for itself. It would be the sort of infrastructure development known among urban planners as a 'multi-purpose levee.' The study released today, which was commissioned by the city and carried out by a group of design, engineering and environmental consultants, found that a multi-purpose levee with buildings and parks on top of it is physically, legally and financially 'feasible,' but that 'the processes associated with such permitting and implementation will be complicated and will take a long time.' During Hurricane Sandy, storm surges topped bulkheads in Manhattan south of 42nd Street, flooding nearly 1,000 residential buildings and more than 700 commercial ones, and inundating the eastern edge of Lower Manhattan with particular ferocity." For the complete article, click here.

"Evacuation at Sept. 11 Museum Is Revealed," New York Times, 5/22/14. "Last week, five days before it opened to the public, the National September 11 Memorial Museum was briefly evacuated, sending dozens of startled visitors scrambling up seven stories to daylight," says The New York Times. "Museum officials did not publicly acknowledge the evacuation until Thursday. The New York Fire Department responded at 1:08 p.m. last Friday 'for a report of an alarm activation, which turned out to be a false alarm,' Frank Dwyer, the department press secretary, said, adding that there were no injuries. Police officers with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey were also called to the museum." For the complete article, click here.

Letter to the editor
Pier A. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)

To the editor:
(Re: "Bells are ringing at Pier A," DPNYC, 5/21/14) Pier A's clock has worked in my memory. I believe I last heard the chimes in the '70s, possibly '78 or '79, when Pier A was still a FDNY fireboat station. It would be wonderful for the memorial clock to chime again. It used to ring time using the venerable ship's bell system. A memory fragment says that this was the only public clock that maintained the tradition.

This system dates back to timekeeping aboard ship using a half-hour sandglass. At the hour and half-hour marks, the sand would run out. The glass would be turned to start the sand flow again, and the order given to "Turn the glass and strike the bell."

Each old-style watch was four hours long. The first bell of the watch, say 12:30, would be one bell, 1:00 two bells, 1:30 three bells, and so on until 4:00 which would ring as eight bells.  Then the cycle would start all over again.

I believe the U.S. Navy still used this bell system as recently as World War II, and perhaps after. They disposed of the half-hour glass, however.

I'd be very happy to see this tradition revived.

Capt. Robert Rustchak

From the editor:
Thank you for the interesting information. According to Wikipedia, "The clock is a ship's clock and was donated by Daniel G. Reid, founder of United States Steel Corporation. The clock was unveiled at noon on January 25, 1919 by Rear Admiral Josiah S. McKean, with speeches made by Mayor John Francis Hylan and Docks Commissioner George Murray Hulbert."

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CALENDAR: Week of May 19
Governors Island opens this weekend with a Family Festival.
(Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)
May 24: Governors Island opens for the 2014 season with a Family Festival on Colonels Row and Liggett Terrace. Join the Governors Island Alliance in Nolan Park for arts and crafts, musical and theatrical performances, and harbor-education activities for kids. Time: 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, click here. Also, the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council hosts Open Studios in Building 110. Time: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, click here.

May 19-May 27: Fleet Week 2014 events will include military aircraft flyovers, aerial demonstrations, and static/stationary exhibitions throughout the New York City area.  Beginning on May 19, the U.S. Navy will conduct familiarization flights with four (4) MH-60 helicopters in various citywide locations beween 1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. and between 3 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. For more information, click here.

Ongoing: "A Town Known as Auschwitz" is an exhibit of photographs at the Museum of Jewish Heritage tracing the history of a town called "Oswiecim" in what is now Poland, where Jews and non-Jews lived side by side for centuries. When German forces occupied the town in September 1939, they renamed it "Auschwitz" and established a concentration and death camp there. More than 1 million people died at Auschwitz, including 90 percent of the town's Jews. The museum is at 36 Battery Place. For information the exhibit, click here. For information on the museum's hours and admission fees, click here.

May 25: The Municipal Art Society offers a Wall Street walking tour led by Anthony W. Robins that takes in Steamship Row, Castle Clinton, Federal Hall and the House of Morgan. Robins will discuss both well-known highlights and unexpected delights. Meeting location provided after ticket purchase. Time: 2 p.m., rain or shine. Tickets: $20; $15 (MAS members) To buy tickets, click here.  

Ongoing: An exhibit called "Bright! Color in Three Dimensions" is in the lobby of 250 Vesey St., Brookfield Place. With the advent of digital and commercial technology, it has become easier to take the power of color for granted in two-dimensional mediums. The artists - Justin Adian, Caitlin Bermingham, Benjamin Dowell, Charles Dunn, Juan Fernando Morales, and Courtney Puckett - in Bright! take color to another level by manipulating it into sculptural forms. Whether made of plastic, textile, or paper, the artists use color as a foundation for the entire object, rather than the decorative finish to the piece. Time: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.Through June 1. Free. 

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: The South Street Seaport Museum's lightship Ambrose and its barque Peking welcome visitors Wednesdays to Sundays, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Pier 16 (on the East River at Fulton Street). The Ambrose, launched in 1908,  once guided large ships through the Ambrose Channel into New York harbor. Peking was launched in Hamburg, Germany in 1911, one of the last commercial sailing ships ever built. She was used to carry goods from Europe to South America and to return to Europe with nitrate. The museum's Visitors Services associates explain all of the fascinating details of the ships and their relevance to the history of New York as a port city. Cost: $12 (adults); $8 (students, 12-24 and seniors); $5 (children 2-11); under 2, free. To buy tickets, 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.

Mark your calendar: The Community Center at Stuyvesant High School will hold an Open House on Sunday, June 1 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. with swimming, badminton, basketball and free demo classes in yoga and tai chi. For swimming, bring a towel. Swim caps are available for purchase. For more information, call (646) 210-4292 or click here.

Mark your calendar: There will be an Open House on Monday, June 2 so that members of the public can see, read and comment on the guidelines for South Street Seaport development compiled by the Seaport Working Group. Place: Southbridge Towers Community Room, 90 Beekman St. Time: 6 p.m.-8 p.m. Session will start promptly.

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Editor: Terese Loeb Kreuzer

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