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DOWNTOWN
POST NYC 
 
News and Events
in Lower Manhattan
 
 
Volume 1, No. 81  June 20, 2014
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IN THIS ISSUE

Quote of the day:
""The good news about trucks is that they're on wheels, so I can move them around." - Phillip St. Pierre, general manager at the South Street Seaport for The Howard Hughes Corp., explaining how he hopes to defuse some of the community's objections to the food trucks on Fulton Street.

* Howard Hughes execs try to placate hostile community board
* Swedish midsummer festival in Battery Park City
* Bits & Bytes: Pier 26 boathouse delayed; Ritz-Carlton condo asking $118.5 million
* North River Historic Ship Festival
* Letter to the editor: South Street Seaport National Park?
* Calendar

For breaking news, go to www.DowntownPostNYC.com

The Swedish Midsummer Festival in Battery Park City. June 20, 2014.
(Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)


 The Paris Cafe | 119 South Street | 212.240.9797 | thepariscafeNYC.com | @theparisnyc

South Street Seaport
HOWARD HUGHES EXECS TRY TO PLACATE HOSTILE COMMUNITY BOARD 

Phillip St. Pierre, general manager of the South Street Seaport for The Howard Hughes Corporation, with Sherveen Baftechi, vice president, construction, making a presentation to Community Board 1's Seaport/Civic Center Committee. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)

Phillip St. Pierre, general manager of the South Street Seaport for The Howard Hughes Corporation, wanted to talk about free movies and kids' programs when he came before Community Board 1's Seaport /Civic Center Committee on June 17. He was accompanied by Sherveen Baftechi, Hughes' vice president of construction, who wanted to talk about the fact that Pier 17 is 80 percent demolished.

The committee wanted to talk about food trucks on Fulton Street, noise, blocked sight lines, fumes and why the demolition and construction activity have changed at Pier 17 since the ULURP (Uniform Land Use Review Procedure) passed on March 20, 2013, giving Hughes the green light to tear down the existing shopping mall.

St. Pierre's and Baftechi's good-news narratives were derailed by a barrage of hostile questions.

The demolition and construction activities on Pier 17 differ from what Hughes originally presented to the Community Board and to elected officials.

In a letter dated Dec. 12, 2012 to Scott Stringer, who was then Manhattan Borough President and who had to approve the ULURP request for Pier 17, Christopher Curry, executive vice president of The Howard Hughes Corp., stated, "The new Pier 17 building will be built on top of an existing raised platform."

Baftechi revealed to the Seaport Committee that the pier itself was being demolished and that none of the old pilings were being retained. He said that Hughes had done a capacity test and had found that the existing pilings weren't strong enough.

He said that that capacity test had been done in February of 2013. In other words, that capacity test was done right around the time that the Pier 17 ULURP was being discussed -- and voted upon -- by City Council.

Baftechi said that despite this change, no Environmental Impact Study was necessary and that none had been done.

"Everything that we're doing complies with the ULURP," said Adam Meister, a Howard Hughes vice president, who was present for the St. Pierre/Baftechi presentation.

Baftechi said that Howard Hughes had all the necessary demolition permits that it needed for Pier 17 but didn't have the construction permits. "We're not starting that until we rebuild the pier itself so the first step is going to be the demolition permit for the pier, the next step is the new pier permit, and the new building permit comes after that," said Baftechi.

He went on to say that HHC has applied for the construction permits.

Community Board 1 had prepared a list of questions for St. Pierre and Baftechi. Most of them didn't get answered, and CB1 chair, Catherine McVay Hughes, was clearly annoyed. "We gave you in advance a long list of questions," she said. "We wanted to know the steps that you're going through. Unfortunately, it's taking a lot longer to pull out the answers to a lot of questions. So the next time you're back with an update, we need that information."

She asked that St. Pierre and Baftechi return in July. "You didn't come last month. You didn't come the month before, and we need the steps in a Power Point," she said. "We asked for it in advance. So we're going to ask you to come back in July and clarify this."

St. Pierre said that they would be back. In the meantime, he clarified several things that were on the committee's list of concerns. The food trucks would remain "through the season," he said. The shops currently installed in Schermerhorn Row are all on short-term leases. "As we get the right tenants for this neighborhood, we'll be able to turn these over," he stated.

St. Pierre added that he shared the committee's vision for the Seaport. "It's a very special place," he said. "It has all of the ingredients to be that special place that you see. I see the same place. The reason we have so much activity there now is that absent that activity, there would be nothing. People would walk down, look at the boats, get back on the buses and go."

In response to that comment, Jared Brown, a Southbridge Towers resident, said, "If you go to the Seaport, you can't see past the food trucks to see the ships that are down there. It's all blocked."

St. Pierre said that he was working on addressing the committee's concerns about Fulton Street sight lines. "We're trying some different configurations," he said. "The good news about trucks is that they're on wheels, so I can move them around."

"It would be nice if you moved them out," committee member Paul Hovitz replied.

A food truck on Fulton Street. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)
St. Pierre made it clear that that wasn't going to happen. "To put this in perspective, the sales from food trucks represent less than 10 percent of the sales from restaurants that were lost in this neighborhood," he said. "The people who are patronizing the food trucks would have had to walk by all those restaurants as well if those were up and operating. It's really a drop in the bucket." He said that, "There are a ton of people who are very happy with the food trucks."

Calli Lerner, a partner in two Front Street restaurants, BIN 220 and KEG 229, said that she was not among them. She said that business at her restaurants was down 18 percent since the food trucks appeared.

"We have businesses that are trying to recover," said Seaport Committee chairperson, John Fratta, "and those food trucks are hurting those businesses."


- Terese Loeb Kreuzer

For a schedule of Howard Hughes events in the South Street Seaport, click here.


 

Summer solstice
SWEDISH MIDSUMMER FESTIVAL IN BATTERY PARK CITY
 
The Swedish Midsummer Festival on June 20 drew a huge crowd to Battery Park City's Wagner Park. (Photos: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)

The summer solstice actually takes place on June 21 at 6:51 a.m. but Friday, June 20 was close enough for several thousand Swedes and several thousand would-be Swedes to descend on Battery Park City's Wagner Park to celebrate midsummer with music, dancing, wreath-making and Swedish food.

The holiday is a big deal in Sweden, where it coincides not only with the solstice but with the Feast of St. John the Baptist on June 24. It is an amalgamation of pagan and Christian rituals and symbols. A maypole is decorated with flowers and maidens wear wreaths of garlands in their hair, a nod to pre-Christian fertility rites. There are supposed to be seven different kinds of flowers in the garlands. According to tradition, if a woman puts the wreath under her pillow, she will dream of her future husband.

This year, as in previous years, fiddlers from the American Swedish Institute in Minneapolis provided the music as Ross Sutter, folk musician and Swedish heritage historian, directed the dancing. Paul Dahlin, the lead fiddler, was recently knighted by the King of Sweden for his contribution to the preservation of traditional Swedish music. Dahlin learned fiddle playing from his grandfather, Ivares Edvin Jonsson, who emigrated from his native Rojerasen, Dalarna, in 1924, at age 19. "He came into the United States through Ellis Island," said Sutter - visible across the harbor at Battery Park City's festivities.

Jonsson taught the music of his homeland to his children, Bruce and Nancy (Paul's mother) and to Paul. When, over the years, the family played in Sweden, their Swedish colleagues were amazed to hear traditional tunes and a traditional style of playing that had disappeared in Sweden. The Jonsson and Dahlin family had kept the knowledge and had returned it, intact.

The Swedish Midsummer Festival was sponsored by the Battery Park City Parks Conservancy and by the Swedish Consulate General in New York.

- Terese Loeb Kreuzer







Bits & Bytes
PIER 26 BOATHOUSE DELAYED; RITZ-CARLTON CONDO ASKING $118.5M; 20 EXCHANGE PLACE RENTALS; GOVERNORS ISLAND GETS WATER

"Head in the Clouds" designed by Studio Klimoski Chang Architects and constructed from milk jugs and water bottles, was part of the Figment art installation on Governors Island for the summer of 2013. Until this past week, Governors Island had no potable drinking water. Now, it has two drinking fountains. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)

Another Pier 26 delay for Downtown Boathouse: The Downtown Boathouse, a free kayaking program run by volunteers, had hoped to move into its boathouse on Pier 26 at the start of this year's kayaking season on May 17. However, that didn't work out and neither did a hoped-for June 1 opening. The problem is that the Hudson River Park Trust does not yet have a Certificate of Occupancy for the boathouse and can't provide an estimated occupancy date because the boathouse still needs to pass City inspections.

"It is really hard to run a popular, free public boating program without a boathouse," said the Downtown Boathouse's president, Graeme Birchall.  The group needs the boathouse to store its equipment and to repair broken boats. "We have canceled our classes, our harbor trips, and our weekday evening kayaking program for the duration," said Birchall. "However, we still offer free public, walk-up kayaking at Pier 40 (Houston Street) on weekends and holidays." The Downtown Boathouse also runs free kayaking on Governors Island.

"Three Contiguous New York Condos Ask a Combined $118.5 Million," Wall Street Journal, 6/19/14. "The owners of three contiguous apartments at the Residences at the Ritz-Carlton in Manhattan are simultaneously putting their units on the market, hoping the sum will be greater than its parts," says the Wall Street Journal. "The three units will list this week for $118.5 million, giving the combined spread the highest asking price for a downtown home in New York. Comprising the top two floors of the building in Battery Park City, the units can be combined into a duplex of about 15,434 square feet, plus terraces totaling 2,193 square feet, according to listing agent Ryan Serhant of Nest Seekers International. From a 40th floor terrace, the Statue of Liberty and Governors Island are clearly visible, with ferries gliding past and the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in the background. The homes aren't available for individual purchase." For the complete article, including photos, click here.

"Rental conversion at 20 Exchange Place gets $240M loan,"
The Real Deal, 6/19/14. "Developer DTH Capital said it will complete the long-awaited conversion of the landmark Financial District building at 20 Exchange Place into a full residential tower, after obtaining $240 million in financing," according to The Real Deal. "Andrew Singer of Singer & Bassuk Organization served as the broker for the loan, which Natixis Real Estate Capital provided. The conversion at the Lower Manhattan property, formerly called the City Bank-Farmers Trust Building, is largely complete. A group of lenders including German commercial bank Helaba provided a $256.5 million construction loan in 2006. Steve Galiotos, president of DTH, says the new funds will help pay for the conversion of  the 9th to 15th floors at the tower from commercial space into 221 additional residential units. This follows the exit of DMJM Harris Arup from the building, where it was subleasing space." For the complete article, click here.

"Orlando Bloom Leaps His Way Into $5M Franklin Street Loft," Curbed.com, 6/19/14. "Actor Orlando Bloom has a lot to be happy about: his involvement as the bow and arrow-wielding elf Legolas in Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings and Hobbit films, his son with ex-beau model Miranda Kerr, and now, his new home," says Curbed.com, citing the New York Post as its source.  "Bloom picked up a three-bedroom loft in Tribeca's Sugarloaf Condominium at 155 Franklin Street for $4.875 million." For the complete article, with photos and a floor plan, click here.

"Governors Island finally gets drinkable water - nine years after it opened to public," Daily News, 6/19/14. "The drought is over on Governor's Island," says the New York Daily News. "The 172-acre island - which reopened last month after a $75 million renovation without a drop of drinkable tap water - now has two fountains with fresh H20 at its Liggett Terrace, a sprawling plaza with seating, greenery and artworks. More fountains are expected to come later this summer, and the island's Building 110 - which houses its indoor restrooms - will get potable water by August, officials said. The former military base, which is now under city-control, has had no tap water since it opened as a public greenspace in 2005. Park-goers were forced to shell out for bottled water, or go thirsty." For the complete article, click here.

"A Chiseled Bodybuilder, Now Shaping Frail Clients,"
New York Times, 6/20/14. Martin Luther King Addo, a two-time former winner of the Mr. Ghana bodybuilding championship, is now running a storefront gym at Southbridge Towers in the South Street Seaport where he helps clients like 90-year-old Shirley Friedman regain strength, mobility and balance, the New York Times reports. Mr. Addo "says the seniors energize him. Raised within the Ashanti tribe, Mr. Addo was always taught that improving the lives of one's elders is of the highest virtue. 'They remind me of my grandmothers and aunties back home,' he said. Pete Molinelli, a court officer who lives in Southbridge Towers, said that the building's seniors used to be 'just kind of shut in.' And then Mr. Addo arrived. 'All of a sudden, it's like there are all these new people in the neighborhood,' Mr. Molinelli said. 'But no, they've been here forever. Addo brought them out.'"For the complete article, including a video, click here.



NORTH RIVER HISTORIC SHIP FESTIVAL: June 20-June 24
 
The tugboat Pegasus and the fireboat John J. Harvey will participate in the North River Historic Ship Festival, from June 20 to June 24. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)

The North River Historic Ship Festival starts today, June 20, with dockside ship tours at Hudson River Park's Pier 25 (North Moore Street on the Hudson River) from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m..

The festival continues through Tuesday, June 24, with 500 free rides on historic ships, circus acts, ship tours and fishing. 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.

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 www.nrhss.org 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 www.nrhss.org. $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 program

 

 
Letter to the Editor
SOUTH STREET SEAPORT NATIONAL PARK?

Food trucks parked next to the Titanic Memorial Lighthouse on Water Street in the South Street Seaport. (Photo: Barbara Mensch)

To the editor:
The sleazy and horrifying pile of food trucks, lawn chairs, and plastic grass at the South Street Seaport may be a good thing. They show us that we can make no mistake about it: these Texans -- The Howard Hughes Corporation -- have nothing but disregard and contempt for New York and our national history, not to mention style.

They had every chance in this interim period to do something appropriate that the community could get behind and therefore, pretend at least, that they are working with us.

But apparently they don't think this is necessary because they must know something the rest of us only suspect -  that they have it all sewn up already and can go ahead with whatever they want to do.

The only solution to this now and future tragedy is for all the apparent fire power of the Seaport Working Group members - representatives of the United States Congress, the New York State Legislature, the City of New York, and the community - to stop saying "Please, don't" and just say "Stop!"

 

I can't believe there is not some legitimate way to come up with a new model. There are several examples around the city that work and from which we could learn, and, yes, make money for the city and boost the local economy instead of putting it all in the pocket of one developer.

Setting up the Seaport area as a National Park would not be too far-fetched. There are already some 22 National Parks in New York Harbor alone, plus several more around the five boroughs of the city. The Seaport contains not only our local history, but our national history as well.

An exhibit in the South Street Seaport Museum depicted some of the activity in the Seaport of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when coffee and tea dealers were among the occupants of Schermerhorn Row.
(Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)
In steps that eventually brought about this new nation, George Washington fought the British somewhere close to what is now an outdoor movie screen. His first home as president of the United States was here, near what is now the Brooklyn Bridge.

The Seaport helped to jump start the prosperity of the entire State of New York and the American Midwest as goods and services were funneled up and down our rivers via the Erie Canal and unloaded in this port. The Seaport deserves national recognition as well as being what is left of a living continuum of where "the greatest city in the world" all started.

A designation as a National Park, which one could argue the Seaport deserves,  comes with funding and upkeep and according to on-line research does not seem like a gargantuan task to do.

If a National Park is not the way to go, we could consider, although vastly different, the model of the High Line.  This could show us that the city's contract with Howard Hughes may not be too far gone to put behind us: remember the High Line was saved even after Mayor Giuliani had signed its destruction orders.

So what about money for these "grand plans?"  It cost  $100 million to rescue the High Line, which has generated $2 billion dollars in economic growth for the city, the local economy and multiple developers (instead of just one.)

Community Board 1's Landmarks Committee will soon be reviewing the HHC plans for the Tin Building. If they take a look at the Seaport now, they will have all the information they need about what to recommend.

Patricia Ryan
Southbridge Towers

From the editor:
We welcome letters to the editor. Email them to editor@downtownpostnyc.com. We reserve the right to edit them for clarity and length.


CALENDAR: Week of June 16
Musicians playing at the Bang on a Can Marathon. The annual event takes place on Sunday, June 22 in Battery Park City's Winter Garden. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)

June 20: The Trisha Brown Dance Company will perform at the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council's Arts Center on Governors Island between June 20 and June 29. Times: Monday-Friday 12 p.m.-5 p.m., Saturdays 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Sundays 12 p.m.-5 p.m. The performances will examine the artist's early work, collaborative practice and relationship to New York City, showing how she affected audiences, and her significant influence on a new generation of artists.

June 22: The dancer, Eiko, presents a duet with Japanese dancer Tomoe Aihara in a piece called "Two Women" at LMCC's Arts Center on Governors Island as part of the River to River Festival. The experimental performance focuses on their age difference and explores how two bodies sometimes mirror each other in parts or collide into one. The New York Times described Eiko as "the extraordinary Japanese dancer revered for her haunting collaborations with Koma, her usual male counterpart," and said that she would be shaking up her creative process by collaborating with Tomoe Aihara. Time: 2 p.m. Free.

June 22: The annual Bang on a Can Marathon returns to Brookfield Place's Winter Garden with eight hours of contemporary music. Time: 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. Free. For a schedule, click here. 

June 22: Tour the Irish Hunger Memorial in Battery Park City with art historian Dorothea Basile. Meet at the west side of the memorial. Time: 2 p.m. Free.

June 22: New American Youth Ballet presents "Magical Moments of Ballet" with a live orchestra. Excerpts from "Les Sylphides," "Paquita," "Carnival of the Animals," "Let It Go," and "The Helen Keller Ballet."  Stuyvesant High School Theater, 345 Chambers St. Time: 3 p.m. Advance tickets, $28 (adults); $20 (children and seniors). Tickets at the door: $35. Call 212-945-2926 for reservations or email NAYB.tickets@gmail.com. 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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2014