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News and Events
in Lower Manhattan
Volume 1, No. 74  June 4, 2014

Quote of the day:
"Most people don't care if there's a tall building over here." - Community Board 1 member Paul Hovitz quoting Chris Curry, executive vice president of The Howard Hughes Corporation, on HHC's desire to erect a 50-story hotel/apartment tower in the South Street Seaport.

To read the Seaport Working Group's guidelines, click here. Comments will be accepted through Friday, June 6.

* Seaport Working Group's guidelines released
* Reactions to the Seaport Working Group's guidelines
* Join Poets House's 19th annual Brooklyn Bridge walk
* Bits & Bytes: Keuffel & Esser condos; Feds give $1 billion for storm protection
* Letter to the editor: Parents entreat help to end hazardous walk to school
* Community Board 1 meetings: Week of June 2
* Save Our Seaport holds third Town Meeting on Monday
* Calendar

For breaking news, go to

1 World Trade Center. May 31, 2014. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)

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

South Street Seaport
The Southbridge Towers community room was full on Monday night with people interested in knowing about the Seaport Working Group guidelines for the South Street Seaport.  (Photos: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)

After 11 weeks during which little information emerged, on June 2, the Seaport Working Group was finally ready to reveal the guidelines that it had developed to shape the future of the South Street Seaport. The community room at Southbridge Towers was packed.

"I think you'll be impressed," said Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, who was one of the forces behind the creation of the Seaport Working Group. "We need your input."

"In January, we all heard the call to rethink the current proposal for the waterfront," said City Council Member Margaret Chin, who, last March, played a pivotal role in getting City Council to approve developer Howard Hughes Corporation's plan to demolish the existing mall on Pier 17 and build a new one. "In particular, we realized the need for the public planning process before any ULURP."

Chris Curry, executive vice president of The Howard Hughes Corporation, talking to City Council Member Margaret Chin at the Seaport Working Group open house.
The upcoming ULURP (Uniform Land Use Review Procedure) to which Chin referred has to do with Howard Hughes' previously expressed desire to build a 50-story, luxury hotel and apartment building on the site of the New Market Building on South Street, to move the landmarked Tin Building and add a story to it and to make other changes to the historic Seaport.

Because City-owned property is involved, some of it landmarked, any disposition of it has to be approved by Community Board 1, by the Landmarks Preservation Commission (for landmarked buildings), by City Planning, by the Manhattan Borough President and by City Council.

At a Town Hall meeting in January 2014, many members of the community expressed opposition to the Howard Hughes plans. There are those who now say that that ULURP shouldn't happen at all - that the Howard Hughes proposals and the deals that EDC made with Hughes should be trashed and that a master planning process for the Seaport should begin that is not simply reactive to the Howard Hughes vision.

The Seaport Working Group's guidelines were created by a task force composed of elected officials, Community Board 1 members, Seaport residents and businesses, representatives of the New York City Economic Development Corporation (landlord for much of the Seaport) and The Howard Hughes Corporation. Given that (so far) EDC and Howard Hughes are still in the driver's seat, the Seaport Working Group guidelines are supposed to give them context for a new proposal that would reflect community needs and demands. The guidelines are advisory and not binding.

There are eight guidelines, each of them bolstered by "principles." The working group concurred that the Seaport's "character and sense of place" needed to be preserved. The South Street Seaport is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Manhattan, with a history that goes back to the Dutch settlement in the 17th century. Many of the buildings in the Seaport date to the early to mid-19th century.

The working group wanted to see the South Street Seaport Museum, whose electrical systems in its Fulton Street galleries were destroyed by Superstorm Sandy and have not been repaired, again become "the cultural anchor of the district."

There was an expressed desire for more publicly accessible open space. 

Under the headline, "Preservation," the working group said that it wanted to "Maintain the historic character, visual corridors and sense of place of the Seaport through the preservation and creative adapative reuse of existing historic buildings to the greatest extent practicable."

This guideline obliquely addressed the fate of the New Market Building, constructed in 1939 for use by the Fulton Fish Market. It is not landmarked and The Howard Hughes Corporation had said that it wants to tear it down and erect a hotel/apartment tower on that site.

Although EDC had secretly signed a Letter of Intent with Howard Hughes on Dec. 12, 2011 granting it the right to pursue the possibility of a "mixed use project" along the lines of what Hughes subsequently unveiled, the Dallas-based developer does not have an automatic legal right to the New Market Building or to the land and pier on which it rests.

A guideline subsumed under the headline "Vitality" states the desire to "Create a Seaport that supports commercial vitality through diverse retail programming."

Finally, at guideline No. 6, " Building Heights & Views," the working group explicitly addressed the subject of a tower. "Buildings developed on properties adjoining the South Street Seaport Historic District should not adversely impact neighborhood scale and character," the guideline says. Under that, the task force stated that, "Alternatives to the proposed 50-story tower should be sought and any building on the New Market site should be contextual with the buildings within the South Street Seaport Historic District."

People who want to preserve the New Market Building for "creative adaptive reuse" should not immediately begin to celebrate, however. It's possible (parsing the language of the guideline) that an alternative to the proposed 50-story tower could be sought and not found, depending on who's looking, and it's also possible, according to the language in this guideline, that the New Market Building could be torn down and replaced with something less than 50 stories in height.

In any case, neither Howard Hughes nor EDC are required to abide by the guidelines.

Howard Hughes is supposed to make a presentation to Community Board 1's Landmarks Committee on June 16, with a proposal about the Tin Building, the Link Building on Pier 17 and about kiosks to be placed under the FDR Drive, in part, where the New Amsterdam Market now sets up. At one time, HHC was supposed to make a presentation of its revised plans for the Seaport to the Seaport Working Group on June 12, but that meeting was cancelled because Hughes said that it needed more time.

Chris Curry.
"I heard all kinds of things from Chris Curry [executive vice president of The Howard Hughes Corporation]," said Community Board 1 member Paul Hovitz. "The only people that are opposing the tower are people from Southbridge Towers and people from that Save Our Seaport group," Curry said, according to Hovitz.

Hovitz further quoted Curry as saying, "Most people don't care if there's a tall building over here. They only want us to revitalize the area, so we don't think that we have that much of a significant opposition."

Which means that the 50-story tower could still be on the table.

- Terese Loeb Kreuzer 

To read the Seaport Working Group's guidelines, click here. Comments will be accepted through Friday, June 6.

Some of the members of the Seaport Working Group.

Some of the Post-It notes at the Seaport Working Group open house voicing public reaction to the guidelines. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer) 


"Given the divergent points of view, it's sort of remarkable that there was so much consensus on what was a good thing," said Marco Pasanella, a member of the Seaport Working Group, co-chairman of Community Board 1's Seaport/Civic Center Committee and a Seaport resident and businessman. "I think everybody was really surprised at how much we agreed. What remains to be seen is how much of that will actually translate into action. Those are really great ideas. Now what?"


He said that he was proud of what the Seaport Working Group had done. "But in the end, it's a document and we just have to hope that we've moved the needle and we've helped," he said. "I'm glad that Howard Hughes was there the whole time. Hopefully, they were listening."


"The new guidelines say all the right things, but what do they really mean, and how will they be implemented?" said a woman who did not wish to be identified. She said that the new guidelines reminded her of what was recommended in 2006 by Seaport Speaks, another collaboration of community stakeholders that agreed on what should be done at the Seaport, but whose recommendations went nowhere.   


In addition, she said, "language can lie. Is a 'vital' district one littered with food trucks that, of course, will attract people, or is a 'vital' district one that is based not just on consumption, but also on the nurturing of productive, sustainable businesses that produce things of value?  


"Is a 'historic' neighborhood one that preserves the brick-and-mortar shells of buildings but fills them with chain stores and cookie-cutter businesses, thus draining the structures of their historical significance and ensuring that native New Yorkers won't be interested in it? 


"Is a 'public market' simply a store, open to the public, where people can buy things or is it a generative engine of innovation that uses public space for the public good: to incubate businesses, educate the public, and support regional agriculture and local chefs?   


"Is a 'viable South Street Seaport Museum' one that truly meets present-day professional and accreditation standards or a stripped-out theme park version of a museum that houses artifacts solely for the purpose of entertainment?"


At the meeting on Monday, Post-It notepaper was distributed so that attendees could write comments about the guidelines. They did not necessarily have statistical validity, however, because people with a vested interest in the outcome could have skewed the results by packing the house.


Nevertheless, this is what some of the comments said:


Get the food trucks out of Schermerhorn Row.


Wall to wall trucks are not the way. Is this a reflection of what is to come?


Maximize open space and keep it public, public, public! No private roof decks and enclosed - i.e. hidden from view - areas. It's the waterfront. It belongs to all.


Clear the shipping containers from the public space.


I support Howard Hughes and progress.


No hotel close to the water.


Keep public streets public! Don't fill them with container shops and food trucks.


The Howard Hughes plan is very exciting. Finally.


Vital historic area.  Last remaining area needs protection with integrity. No towers. Nothing higher than what is built there.


Adaptive reuse and contextual redevelopment is a must. The appeal of the Seaport lies in its history. Interiors can be modernized.


Authentic character is ships. Help the museum highlight these cultural and iconic vessels.


Preserve the Seaport Museum, ships and New Amsterdam Market and the local character of the Seaport.


Let's maintain fire lanes so the FDNY can get to these old buildings. No pop-up stores.


Save the Tin Building and New Amsterdam Market. [It] should move into the Tin Building.


Get an independent engineer's report for the Tin Building.


We should not be pressing pause for ULURP. We should be pressing reverse and dropping this entire misbegotten development juggernaut that is an auto-pilot throwback to Bloomberg, who, by the way, is no longer mayor. The "people's mayor" should oppose any plan that is a give-away of public resources and values to a Texas developer.


New governance is essential or nothing will work. The current model - EDC plus private developer (HHC) is broken and can't be fixed by those who created it.


Abolish the EDC and other "quasi-public" entities.


Where, what will be the site of the permanent New Amsterdam Market, which is already doing many of the things you say you want to foster in the district?


Howard Hughes is doing a great job bringing life back to the area.


- Terese Loeb Kreuzer 




Poets House's Brooklyn Bridge poetry walk. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)

Poets House is an oasis of tranquility and inspiration with many free and low-cost lectures, exhibitions and classes throughout the year. Located at 10 River Terrace in Battery Park City, it has a 60,000-volume poetry library and a sunny reading room equipped with WiFi, overlooking the Hudson River. Here, students, scholars, writers and people in search of a welcoming place to think, read and relax set up their computers on the ample tables or settle into comfortable chairs, with numerous books close at hand.

Poets House's annual Brooklyn Bridge walk helps to fund these activities and events.

The 19th annual Brooklyn Bridge walk takes place on Monday, June 9 beginning at 6 p.m. The walk starts from the park next to the Municipal Building. It is punctuated with poetry readings under the Brooklyn Bridge's dramatic, stone arches. Just as the sun is setting over Manhattan, the walkers arrive at Fulton Ferry on the Brooklyn side of the bridge. There, they listen to Walt Whitman's sonorous "Crossing Brooklyn Ferry." Its precise yet ultimately unplumbable language records exactly what they are seeing. Whitman himself seems a presence among them.

The Brooklyn Bridge poetry walk ends with a festive dinner in DUMBO, this year, honoring poet Naomi Shihab Nye. Transportation is provided back to Manhattan.

Tickets are still available for the poetry walk. They are $250 or $225 for Poets House members. Reservations are required.

To buy tickets online, click here. For more information or to make reservations by phone, call (212) 431-7920 x2830 or e-mail


Bits & Bytes
A detail of the Keuffel & Esser building as it looked in 2009.
 (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)

"Inside the Under-Wraps Condo Conversion of 42 Ann Street,", 6/4/14. The gorgeous 1893 Keuffel & Esser building, which uses as its address 42 Ann St., is finally about to hit the market, says with seven floor-through apartments. The Compass Lofts started to develop the building a decade ago, "when, just like that, they disappeared. Not into the portfolios of investors or as the homes of downtown dwellers, just gone as if they never were. Here's what seems to have happened: The Compass Lofts were coming to market at a 'bad time,' says Elie Pariente, Synergy broker and one slice of the new 42 Ann Street's developers. During that bad time, the bank seized the building from the Lofts' developers, selling it to yet another developer who realized they didn't want to see the building through. Queue Empire Capital Holdings and Josh Rahmani, who are now finishing what The Compass Lofts set out to do: introduce seven high-end, floor-through apartments in the wonderfully ornate 1893 landmarked building that formerly served as the showroom and offices of architect instrument manufacturers Keuffel & Esser." For the complete article (with photographs), click here.

"N.Y., N.J. to Receive Nearly $1 Billion to Protect Against Future Storms,"
Wall Street Journal, 6/2/14. "The federal government plans to spend nearly a billion dollars to build earthen levees, add a system of water pumps and construct partially submerged barriers that will double as marine habitat to guard New York and New Jersey against future storms," the Wall Street Journal reports. "The money represents a down payment on the daunting task of protecting one of the most densely populated coastal areas in the U.S., one expert said." According to the Journal, "The $920 million will be distributed among six projects in New York and New Jersey. The largest share-$335 million-will go toward building a portion of the first phase of a 10-mile protective barrier on Manhattan's east side. The first step will be creating an earthen berm 10 to 20 feet tall that will run along the middle of East River Park and FDR Drive and will connect residents to the river by sloping bridges over the highway." For the complete article, click here.


Letter to the editor
Crossing West Street at West Thames Street (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)

To the editor:
It is almost the end of the school year but despite our tremendous efforts, our children's walk from the Financial District to PS 276 in Battery Park City is still unsafe. They continue to have to walk over closed sidewalks, unmarked crosswalks and across one of the most dangerous and busiest highways in New York City.

A proposed plan for a bridge crossing the West Side highway at West Thames Street does not keep our children safe today, tomorrow, or a year from now. The bridge will take years to build.

We need a solution. Now. We need a plan that prioritizes children's safety and starts today.

Our children's commute went from dangerous to "grave" over the last few months. The almost-empty school bus that transports young children to school is still almost empty. At the same time, funding for the West Side highway/West Thames crossing agents dried up. Despite our best efforts, the guards are no longer there.

We have four traffic officers directing cars into the tunnel on one corner, while the other four corners are full of pedestrians (unintentionally) 'playing chicken'. We have two new stop signs in front of our school, but despite our pleas, the stop signs are not enforced. As a result, one out of every four cars, taxis and/or buses speeds through the signs every day - all day!

The "vision" in Vision Zero needs to start with common sense, not pedestrian death statistics and traffic studies.  

We want children living east of Broadway and the West Side highway to have permission to ride on the almost-empty school bus, and we want the intersections near our school to be marked and staffed with crossing guard(s) until the new pedestrian bridge is erected. That is the solution we have been asking for since day 1--and we are not backing down.

On June 12th, we are asking everyone who supports our effort to walk with us to school along the path that our children are being required to take. We will leave from the southeast corner of Wall and William Streets (the current bus stop) at 7:50 a.m. All community members are welcome to join us.

Your support makes a difference. Our children's safety depends on our collective effort.

Please let us know that you will be there. Thank you.

Kate Godici 
(917) 843-3565;  
Stacey Vasseur 
(917) 615-9346;


Tour buses will be discussed at Community Board 1's Financial District Committee. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer) 

Community Board 1 meetings take place at 49-59 Chambers St., Room 709, starting at 6 p.m. unless otherwise noted. Bring photo ID to enter the building. All are welcome

June 4: Financial District Committee
* Tour bus management - Update by Luis Sanchez, Lower Manhattan Commissioner, NYC Department of Transportation
* Water Street Summer Programming - Presentation by Fred Sham, Operations Director of Planning, Downtown Alliance
* Coenties Slip Pop-Up Greenmarket - Presentation by Cathy Chambers, Intergovernmental Relations and Special Operational Projects, Greenmarket, GrowNYC - Resolution
* National Park Service - Presentation by Mindi Rambo, Public Affairs Specialist, NPS
* 195 Broadway, letter requesting waiver by NYS legislature of 200-foot rule - Committee vote
* 103 Washington St., application for liquor license for SMG Hotel, LLC d/b/a TBD - Resolution
* 86A West Broadway, application for wine and beer license for J R Sushi 2 Inc. - Resolution
* 108 John St., application for liquor license for Thai Sliders & Co. LLC - Resolution
* 88 Fulton St., application for beer license for A Spice Route Inc., d/b/a Tandoor Palace - Resolution

June 5: Planning Committee
* MTA Bridges and Tunnels - Update on Post-Sandy Repair/Construction Improvements by Lou Andreani, Romolo DeSantis, Marc Mende & Joyce Mulvaney, MTA
* Lower Manhattan Multi-Purpose Levee Feasibility Study - Update by Alejandro Baquero, Vice President, Development, NYC Economic Development Corporation & Daniel Zarrilli, Director, Mayor's Office of Recovery and Resiliency
* The Big U protective system for Manhattan - Update by BIG Team, Rebuild by Design & possible resolution
* Opening Cortlandt Way as a pedestrian pass-through - Resolution
* Affordable Housing & Stabilization Guide Updates - Julien-Pierre A Schmitz, CB1 Community Planning Fellow
* WTC Performing Arts Center - Update by Maggie Boepple, President and Director, Performing Arts Center at the World Trade Center (POSTPONED)


Archaeologist Alyssa Loorya will be among the guest speakers at a Save Our Seaport Town Meeting on Monday, June 9. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)

Save Our Seaport is hosting a series of Town Meetings to talk about New York's South Street Seaport Historic District followed by guided tours.  The next one will take place on Monday, June 9 starting at 6:30 p.m.

SOS maintains that, "Developing and preserving the New York South Street Seaport Historic District is a two-fold challenge. It requires a responsible development plan that guarantees the economic viability of the District while also maintaining, preserving and celebrating the historic importance of this integral part of our city's history."

SOS invites the public to examine development that preserves the view of the iconic Brooklyn Bridge and the Tall Ships; re-establishes the vibrancy and color of the Seaport District; fully engages the educational work of the South Street Seaport Museum, maintains ties to an active waterfront, and locates a world-class food mecca in the New Amsterdam Market.

Guest speakers on Monday include Kelly Carroll, Director of Preservation and Community Outreach, Historic Districts Council; Alyssa Loorya, president, Chrysalis Archaeological Consultants and Brendan Sexton, former board member, South Street Seaport Museum.

After the speakers there will be a brief question-and-answer period with open discussion followed by a walk through the South Street Seaport Historic District. Place: Titanic Memorial Park, Fulton and Water Streets. Time: 6:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m.

The fourth in the series will be Monday, June 23, from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., Titanic Memorial Park, Fulton and Water Street. For more information, email

CALENDAR: Week of June 2
The National Museum of the American Indian is housed in the former U.S. Custom House, designed by Cass Gilbert and completed in 1907. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)
June 5: "Deepest Man" at 3LD Art & Technology Center, is a dark, new-age-science, multimedia theatrical production delving into the controversial and amazing properties of water. "Deepest Man" weaves a complex narrative flowing from the mind of a man teetering on the edge. Place: 80 Greenwich St. Time 8 p.m. Tickets: $20; $15 (seniors and students). From Wednesday to Saturday, June 4-June 7 and from Wednesday to Saturday, June 11-June 14. For more information, click here.

June 6: The Sunset Singing Circle meets in Wagner Park, Battery Park City, to sing folk songs led by folksinger Terre Roche. Music and words provided. No experience necessary. All ages. Time: 7 p.m.-8:30 p.m. Free.

June 8: The Almost Summer Celebration in Battery Park City's Wagner Park will include art (11 a.m. - 2 p.m.), storytelling (11:15 a.m.), a concert by Brad Rymer and the Little Band That Could (12 p.m. and 1 p.m.), and Hoop of Life Native American Dances (12:30 p.m.) Presented by the Battery Park City Parks Conservancy in partnership with the Museum of Jewish Heritage and the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian. In case of rain, the event will be held in the Museum of Jewish Heritage, with tickets released on a first-come, first-served basis, beginning at 10 a.m. Call (212) 267-9700 for more information.

Ongoing: "SKY HIGH" identifies a new form of skyscraper in New York and in the world: the super-slender, ultra-luxury residential tower. While Manhattan is the historical home to improbably slender spires, these buildings represent a new typology of trophy properties that use the city's system of transferable air rights and employ a development strategy of slenderness to stretch up 700-1300+ feet tall. The exhibition examines a dozen new examples that rise 50 to 90+ stories on tiny footprints and have slenderness ratios ranging from 1:12 to 1:23. Through June 15. Place:  39 Battery Place. Hours: Wednesday to Sunday, noon to 6 p.m. $5; $2.50 (students and seniors). For more information, click here.

Ongoing: "From Drills to Drums: Civil War Life on Governors Island." A program for kids, who will see first hand the lives of soldiers, civilians and prisoners on the island in the 19th century. No tickets or reservations required, but large school or day camp groups should call (212) 825-3045. Every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Place: Governors Island. Time: 10:20 a.m. Also at 11:20 a.m. Free.

Ongoing: Hike Through History. The most comprehensive tour of Governors Island National Monument takes in nearly every highlight in the historic district. No tickets or reservations required. Visitors should be prepared to stand for a full 90 minutes and walk a distance of about 1.5 miles. Wednesdays to Sundays. Place: Governors Island. Meet at Soissons Dock. Time: 2 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.
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.

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Editor: Terese Loeb Kreuzer

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