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News and Events
in Lower Manhattan
Volume 1, No. 76  June 9, 2014

Quote of the day:
"We want to make sure that full transparency and a rigorous process unfolds in the light of day." - Paul Gunther, member of The City Club of New York on why The City Club has written to the NYC Economic Development Corp. and The Howard Hughes Corp. demanding that any new development in the South Street Seaport include an Environmental Impact Study.

* City Club of New York enters the South Street Seaport fray
* Bits & Bytes: Affordable housing $$$; World Trade Center Oculus; Pier 40 deal nixed
* Letter to the editor: Seaport needs new stewardship
* The North River Historic Ship Festival returns
* Community Board 1 calendar: Week of June 9
* Calendar

For breaking news, go to

The Mystic Whaler on the Hudson River. May 25, 2014. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)


Beekman Street in the South Street Seaport. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)

The Howard Hughes Corporation announced on Monday that it wasn't ready to bring its Seaport Mixed Use Project application for the Tin Building, for new pavilions under the FDR Drive and for the demolition of the Link Building to Community Board 1's Landmarks Committee on June 16, as previously announced. A new date has not been set for this meeting.

The postponement was fine with The City Club of New York and doubtless with other parties interested in the fate of the historic South Street Seaport. "It's very important that the area be treated as a comprehensive whole and that there not be segmentation of one project for another," said Michael Gruen, president of The City Club of New York, an organization founded in 1892 to advocate on urban issues. 

HHC does, in fact, have other ideas and proposals for the Seaport, including the construction of a 50-story hotel/apartment tower on the site of the New Market Building, which it would like to demolish, and the construction of a marina. HHC does not have control of the New Market Building site and would have to go through the legal process for the disposition of City property in order to carry out that plan.

On May 30, 2014, Michael Gerrard, an environmental lawyer representing The City Club and Save Our Seaport (a group of volunteers dedicated to preserving the Historic Seaport District), wrote to Kyle Kimball, president of the NYC Economic Development Corporation (EDC) and Grant Herlitz, president of the South Street Seaport Limited Partnership/The Howard Hughes Corporation. The letter asked for "a full environmental impact statement (EIS)" under the State and the City's Environmental Quality Review laws for the proposed Howard Hughes mixed-use project in the Seaport.

"We want to make sure that full transparency and a rigorous process unfolds in the light of day," said Paul Gunther, a member of The City Club's coordinating committee. In the past EDC and HHC had secretly inked leases and letters of agreement that only came to light because of FOIL (Freedom of Information Law) requests.  


EDC is landlord on behalf of the City for much of the Seaport and The Howard Hughes Corporation is its principal tenant, with a long-term lease on Pier 17 and on other Seaport properties.


Among other things, the letter from City Club and Save Our Seaport demands "an assessment of the compatibility with and impact of the proposed 50-story tower and other development on the New York City South Street Seaport Historic District and extension, including the impact on the neighborhood character."


As of June 10, no answer had been received to this letter, which Gerrard said was not unexpected. He said that next steps are "being discussed."


Gerrard, who has been rated by Chambers USA and Who's Who Legal as the "leading environmental lawyer in New York," has chaired the American Bar Association's 10,000-member Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources; the Executive Committee of the New York City Bar, and the Environmental Law Section of the New York State Bar Association.  


Pier 17, where HHC is erecting a new shopping mall to replace one from the 1980s, did not undergo an Environmental Impact Study. The Department of City Planning made a "negative declaration" concerning the need for an EIS for unknown reasons.

Community Board members understood the project was supposed to be a renovation and not new construction taking place in the East River. HHC had indicated that it was going to reuse part of the framework of the existing building and preserve the underpinnings of the pier.


But, as it turned out, HHC has obtained permits to completely demolish the old building and the pier platform and pilings in order to start all over again.


As of June 5, 2014, the Department of Buildings had not approved the building permits for HHC's plans for new construction. In fact, five requests were specifically "disapproved."


"What's happening in the South Street Seaport is a very important issue," said Gruen of The City Club.  "It's the last visible remnant of several hundred years of maritime commercial activity." He praised the South Street Seaport Museum, which is the hub of "a wonderful urban space. It's a reminder of architecture that barely exists anymore."  


Gruen said, "We hope to activate people thoughout the city to recognize how important this is from a citywide point of view. The planning needs to be undertaken with an understanding of how this historic place impacts on the entire city."


- Terese Loeb Kreuzer

Bits & Bytes



Pier 40 on the Hudson River at Houston Street. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)

"Affordable housing push to benefit few builders," The Real Deal, 6/9/14. In an opinion article in The Real Deal, Battery Park City Authority Board of Directors member Donald Capoccia was mentioned as one of the few builders in the city well positioned to benefit from the billions that will be spent to erect affordable housing. Capoccia heads BFC Partners. "Housing experts say the billions planned to be spent on affordable housing in New York City over the course of 10 years may not trickle down to many builders," says The Real Deal. "Only about 20 builders have the experience and capacity to secure city, state and federal funding and meet deadlines for Mayor Bill de Blasio's ambitious affordable housing goals, housing experts told Crain's. On one end of the spectrum are large builders like L+M Development Group, BFC Partners and Phipps Houses. On the other are smaller firms such as Dunn Development and Bluestone Group. Despite being identified as the best firms for the job, even they face significant hurdles, according to Crain's." For the complete article, click here.  


"Westfield's Oculus at WTC moving closer to full occupancy," The Real Deal, 6/9/14. "Westfield Group said roughly 80 percent of the 150 retail brands set to fill an underground mall at the World Trade Center have either signed leases or are close to finalizing deals," says The Real Deal. "Big-name brands such as shoe-centric Stuart Weitzman and British men's clothier Turnbull & Asser have inked leases at the two-level shopping gallery, known as the Oculus. Meanwhile, several retailers are in advanced negotiations with Westfield. Those include Apple, Bobbi Brown, Kate Spade New York and Michael Kors Holdings Ltd. French fashion brands The Kooples and Zadig & Voltaire, and Swedish designer Acne Studios were set to take space there, as The Real Deal reported in April." For the complete article, click here.  


"Secret Pier 40 air rights transfer deal falls apart," The Real Deal, 6/9/14. Several elected officials said they were "shocked" to learn of a secret air rights deal affecting Pier 40 at Houston St. The Real Deal now reports that, "A memorandum of understanding outlining a controversial deal to transfer unused air rights from the Hudson River Park's Pier 40 to a proposed four-story terminal building at 550 Washington Street isn't going to happen. Attorney Arthur Schwartz, who told the Villager last week that he was mulling a possible lawsuit to block the proposed air rights transfer on the grounds that an environmental impact study should be performed, told the news site that Madelyn Wils, president of the Hudson River Park Trust, 'confirmed that the M.O.U. is dead.' The M.O.U. between the Hudson River Park, the Empire State Development Corporation and Atlas Capital Group, was reportedly signed six months ago, as the New York Times revealed at the time. Local elected officials have since written to Kenneth Adams, president and CEO of the ESDC requesting a copy. Despite the request and plans to file a Freedom of Information Act request to obtain a copy, the agreement still has not been seen publicly. The plan reportedly called for the demolition of the three-block-long, four-story building at 550 Washington Street, and for a replacement structure to be rebuilt in phases with a mix of residential and commercial units." For the complete article, click here.  

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

Letter to the editor
Picnic tables, kiosks and food trucks installed by The Howard Hughes Corporation in the South Street Seaport. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)

To the editor:

(Re: "Seaport Working Group's guidelines released," DPNYC, 6/4/14) My immediate reaction to the Seaport Working Group's guidelines for South Street Seaport development was one of disappointment. It seemed like a missed opportunity that merely restated recommendations that, for the most part, have already been presented many times over. In light of the immediacy of the plans being pushed through by The Howard Hughes Corp. and furthered by EDC [the New York City Economic Development Corp.], and in response to the community outcry at the January 2014 Town Hall, I hoped for more concrete action items. For those of us who feel The Howard Hughes Corp. to date uses the Seaport Historic District and the public's interest only as it serves to further its private investment plans, what we didn't need to see were non-specific, easily evaded or worked-around guidelines.
The Seaport Speaks Charrette 2006 proposed a governing body for the Seaport Historic District that would replace EDC and provide a mechanism for community input (pp. 12,13). Now, eight years later, The Seaport Working Group relegates such a transition away from EDC not to an immediate guideline but to a future planning item - too little, and hopefully not too late.

Joanne Gorman


Downtown on the water
The tugboat Pegasus during last year's North River Historic Ship Festival. Pegasus was built in 1907. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)

With 500 free rides on historic ships, circus acts, ship tours and fishing, the North River Historic Ship Festival returns to Hudson River Park's Pier 25 from Friday, June 20 to Tuesday June 24.

The festival takes place at North Moore Street and the Hudson River. Most events are free.

The participating vessels are the Lehigh Valley Barge No. 79, built in 1914 and the only surviving wooden railroad barge of its type afloat; the retired New York City fireboat John J. Harvey built in 1931 (the John J. Harvey memorably and heroically came out of retirement to help fight the World Trade Center fire on 9/11); the 174-foot former Coast Guard cutter Lilac, built in 1933 and the last steam-powered lighthouse tender in America; South Street Seaport Museum's iron-hulled schooner Pioneer, built in 1885 to carry cargo, now carrying passengers on harbor sails; and the 107-year-old tug Pegasus, which once towed barges and docking ships in New York harbor.

In addition to free river trips aboard the John J. Harvey, the Pioneer and the Pegasus, there will be free dockside tours of the Pegasus, the lighthouse tender Lilac, and the wooden barge Lehigh Valley No. 79, where two circus performances will take place.

The festival begins on June 20 with dockside ship tours from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

On June 21, there will be free dockside ship tours from noon to 5 p.m. of the Lehigh Valley Railroad Barge No. 79 and Lilac. Also from noon to 5 p.m. there will be free boat trips on the Hudson River aboard the fireboat John J. Harvey, tug Pegasus and the schooner Pioneer.  Trips take place on Saturday only. Four hundred tickets were available for advance reservations at but immediately sold out. More than 100 tickets will be distributed first come, first-served, beginning at 11:30 a.m. at the North River Historic Ship Society booth on Pier 25.

On June 22 at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m., there will be two performances of "DeadPan Alley," a one-hour, one-man performance of physical comedy, verbal wit and expert skill, starring Will Shaw. Tickets are on sale now at $13 (adults); $10 (kids). If available, tickets will be sold at the door: $15 (adults); $12 (kids).

From 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on June 22, there will be free fishing, river-critter exploration and knot-tying, alongside and onboard Lilac. Educators from Hudson River Park and the River Project will share local research and fun science activities for families to experience the Hudson River and its wildlife. Lilac crew will offer lessons in maritime knot tying. Ship tours and the photography exhibit are also open.

Also on June 22, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. there will be free dockside tours of the tug Pegasus.

No events are scheduled for Monday.

The festival wraps up on Tuesday, June 24 from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. with a gala honoring 2014 Historic Ship Champion Helena Durst, vice president of the Durst Organization and president of New York Water Taxi. Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer will also be there to welcome the party-goers. Tickets start at $50. For tickets, click here.

Founded in 1994, the state-chartered, nonprofit North River Historic Ship Society supports and encourages the restoration of historic ships, advocates for free dockage so that these ships can be open to the public, and sponsors public programs.


The building at 25 Broadway was constructed for the Cunard Line. On Thursday, CB1's Landmarks Committee will consider plans to convert the interior into a catering hall. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)

All Community Board 1 meetings take place at 49-51 Chambers St., Room 709, starting at 6 p.m. unless otherwise noted. Bring photo ID to enter the building.

June 10: Youth & Education Committee
* New York Harbor School - Presentation by Murray Fisher, President of New York Harbor Foundation - Resolution
* Deficiencies in Public School Budgets - Resolution
* Division of classrooms inside Tweed Courthouse - Discussion and possible resolution
* Pre-K and Kindergarten registrations - Update

June 11: Tribeca Committee
* Pier 26 construction, update on condition of Pier 40 and report on air rights transfer discussions by Noreen Doyle, Executive Vice President, Hudson River Park Trust
* Overview of 2014 summer programming by Tom Lindon, Vice President, Marketing and Events and Nicolette Witcher, Vice President, Environment and Education, Hudson River Park Trust
* JCP Sukkot Block Party street activity permit application for Duane Street between Church Street and West Broadway, Sunday, October 12, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. - Resolution
* 113 Reade St., application for restaurant liquor license for 113 Reade Street LLC d/b/a Cafeteria - Discussion and possible resolution
* 429-435 Greenwich St. a/k/a 62 Laight Street, application for alteration of liquor license for Dylan Prime - Resolution
* 361 Greenwich St., application for sidewalk café license for Silmor  Enterprise Corp. d/b/a Tablao - Resolution
* 396 Broadway, application for hotel restaurant liquor license for Bridgeton 396 Broadway LLC d/b/a TBD - Resolution
* 98 Chambers St., application for restaurant beer license for Satya Foods Inc. d/b/a A Saffron Thread Fresh Indian - Resolution
* 59 Reade St., application for alteration of liquor license to permit sidewalk café for 59 MACT Corp. d/b/a Maxwells - Resolution
* 329 Greenwich St., application for alteration of liquor license to permit sidewalk cafe - Resolution

The following notices have been received for renewal, upgrade, or transfer of wine and beer or liquor licenses or sidewalk cafe permits:
* 15 6th Avenue, application for renewal of tavern liquor license for Laura Kosovoi d/b/a Tribeca Tavern
* 190A Duane St., application for renewal of restaurant liquor license for Nonna Restaurant Corp. d/b/a Roc Restaurant
* 179 Franklin St., application for renewal of restaurant liquor license for Fiskardo Estiatorio Inc. d/b/a Thalassa
* 319 Greenwich St., application for renewal of restaurant liquor license for Salaam Bombay Restaurant Inc.
* 369 Greenwich St., modification of a sidewalk café license for Benvenuto Café

June 12: Landmarks Committee
* 25 Broadway, application for master plan for catering hall in Great Hall - Resolution
* 87 Leonard St., application for storefront renovation ADA entries, lowering of transoms and addition to the penthouse - Resolution
* 21 West St., application for removable flood barrier - Resolution
* 15 Jay St., application for sixth floor addition - Resolution
* 66 Leonard St., application for approval of signage - Resolution
* 233 Water St., application for facade alteration - Resolution

CALENDAR: Week of June 9
The radio room of the South Street Seaport Museum's lightship Ambrose. Ambrose, built in 1907, was stationed in hazardous shipping channels near New York City and used radio transmissions to communicate with other ships. Tours of the Ambrose are available from Wednesday to Sunday. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)
June 11: "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 11-June 14. For more information, click here.

June 13: 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.

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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