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News and Events
in Lower Manhattan
Volume 1, No. 98  July 30, 2014

Quote of the day:
"Honestly, Southbridge is the best deal in New York." - Real estate salesperson Bridget Schuy and Southbridge Towers resident, commenting on the proposal now before shareholders to privatize the subsidized Mitchell-Lama co-op. 

* The controversial Southbridge Towers offering plan
* Keyhole view of a walking tour for Seaport bigwigs
* Bits & Bytes: Durst 1WTC share in jeopardy; Downtown Boathouse loses Governors Island pier
* In the farmers' markets: Week of July 28
* Governors Island: Nolan Park scavenger's hunt on Saturday
* Bettye LaVette sings at the River & Blues Festival
* Calendar

For breaking news, go to

South African foxglove blooming in Battery Park City. July 30, 2014. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)


Southbridge Towers. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)
The shareholders of Southbridge Towers' 1,651 apartments continue to war over whether the subsidized Mitchell-Lama coop should go private. On Tuesday night, they packed the Michael Schimmel auditorium at Pace University to hear Stuart Saft, attorney and primary author of the offering plan, speak about the contents of the "Black Book," and Carol Newman, CPA for Southbridge, address the financial issues. Dean Roberts, attorney for Southbridge Towers, moderated.

Among other issues, Saft answered questions about whether lenders would provide mortgages to outside purchasers in the event that SBT does reconstitute as a private co-op and some shareholders choose to sell. He affirmed that they would be eligible for financing, and that Fanny Mae (the Federal National Mortgage Association) agreed. Wally Dimson, president of the SBT board of directors, named some banks that have already indicated that they would offer such mortgages.

"I believe the audience had ample opportunity to have questions answered and information clarified," said Diane Harris Brown, one of the shareholders.

Paul Hovitz, another shareholder, took a dim view of the proceedings. "As expected it was like a time share offering," he said. "We listened to the CPA pooh-pooh all the negatives listed in the Black Book, claiming that only the best scenario should be expected. It was a paid commercial by the SBT Board, whose clear agenda is approval of the plan."

Fourteen of the 15 members of SBT's board of directors favor privatization.

Southbridge Towers tenants currently pay modest amounts of money to live there. A two-bedroom apartment with a balcony, for instance, currently costs $800 a month. However, should shareholders wish to vacate their apartments., their only option is to 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.

The shareholders will vote on the offering plan Sept. 28, 29 and 30. It must be approved by two-thirds of the shareholders to take effect. Even if the occupants of an apartment disagree with each other, each apartment will get one vote.

Bridget Schuy, a licensed real estate salesperson who has lived at Southbridge Towers for more than 20 years, said that she favored privatization. "Basically, it's a win-win situation for everyone," she said. "If people want to remain in their apartments under the Mitchell-Lama status, as it is now, they will have that option and they will also reap the benefits of privatization."

She said that if Southbridge Towers goes private, there would be more reserve funds and there would be more money for capital improvements.

Though her two-bedroom apartment would be worth a considerable sum of money should Southbridge Towers privatize, she said she had no intention of selling. "I love this neighborhood," she said. "I raised my son here. Besides, where would I go? I work in real estate! Honestly, Southbridge is the best deal in New York. Even if we could turn over our apartments at fair market rates, I don't believe that anyone would be able to find anything comparable in Manhattan."

Roberta Singer, a Southbridge Towers resident who opposes privatization, said that it "would close the door to decent, affordable housing for hundreds of people on the waiting lists. It may force moderate income people and those living on a fixed income out of their homes."

She said that the offering plan whitewashes some of the risks. Among them, she said, is that "Funds for repayment of Equity are not provided for in any of the budgets. If one-third of shareholders opt to remain as renters, $10.3 million would have to be returned to them in the first year. Where will this money come from?"

She also raised questions about asbestos in the buildings and about the cost of maintenance and repairs, now included in each shareholder's maintenance fee.  "There is no plan, no budget, and no professional opinion as to the cost of encapsulating or removing friable asbestos in our homes," she said in a statement. "Shareholders will be 'responsible for remediation of all environmental hazards within the Apartment,'" she said, quoting a sentence from the offering plan.
Singer asserts that, "Shareholders need to know - and the sponsor has an obligation to provide - all the risks that can be knowable. What Sponsor has told us is that "The budget for the first year of operation provides that the Apartment Corporation will be operating at a deficit."

- Terese Loeb Kreuzer

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

South Street Seaport

South Street Seaport Museum properties on Water Street.
(Photos: Terese Loeb Kreuzer) 

On July 29, said Jonanthan Boulware, interim president of the South Street Seaport Museum in a statement for Community Board 1's monthly full-board meeting, "I had the privilege [of hosting] a walking tour of [the South Street Seaport]." On the tour, he said, were "interested individuals including Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and others representing Community Board 1, the New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC), Howard Hughes Corporation and others."

Capt. Michael Abegg, a member of Save Our Seaport, a group that has been working to save the historic seaport, was among the "others."

In addition to Boulware, executives from The Howard Hughes Corporation and from South Street Seaport Associates, led the tour, Abegg said. (South Street Seaport Associates has a contract from EDC to maintain and collect rents on the office spaces above the shops and restaurants in the historic Seaport area between Water and Fulton streets.)

The tour lasted more than two and a half hours.

"It was really just a dog-and-pony show," according to Abegg. Phillip St. Pierre, general manager for the Howard Hughes Corporation in the South Street Seaport and Christopher Curry, HHC executive vice president, started the tour shortly after noon by showing what HHC has been doing in the Seaport.

Howard Hughes installations on Fulton Street, with Schermerhorn Row in the background. 
As Abegg summed up their presentation, it was about, "look at all the wonderful things that Howard Hughes has done! Everything we've done is beautiful. We're looking for the right tenants."

At one point, said Abegg, Curry referred to the South Street Seaport Museum properties as being among those that Howard Hughes has an option to acquire and develop. "I think they want to place offices or apartments in Schermerhorn Row," Abegg said.

Boulware said that the Museum needed to keep both its land-based premises and its ships in order to tell the story of how commercial goods arrived in New York City by water, were unloaded on the piers, went to the warehouses and then to the rest of the country. But, he said, according to Abegg, "maybe we don't need all of our square footage."

The museum has been unable to open its galleries at 12-14 Fulton St. because of damage to the electrical systems inflicted by Superstorm Sandy on Oct. 29, 2012. Exhibits can't be mounted in rooms that are not correctly heated and air conditioned.

But Boulware said that the buildings are being used as often as possible. The museum also has premises on Water Street, including Bowne Stationers, Bowne Printers and the Melville Gallery.

The group toured the Melville Gallery housed in the Thompson Warehouse at 213-215 Water St.
The Italianate Thompson Warehouse on Water Street dates from 1868 and is part of the South Street Seaport Museum. 
The cast-iron and stone building dates from 1868 and was designed by the renowned New York City architect Stephen D. Hatch for A. A. Thompson & Co. as a warehouse for tins and metals.

Some in the group ascended to the fifth floor, said Abegg. Others, he said, dropped by
the wayside. One of the group was heard to remark that the upper floors of the building would make nice apartments.

Regarding the Howard Hughes part of the walking tour, Abegg reported that, "Some people thought that what Howard Hughes was showing was 'neat.' [Manhattan Borough President] Gale Brewer didn't seem to like parts of it. She kept saying, 'I don't want to see any chain stores. I want to keep it historic.'"

Chris Curry replied that there might be "one or two" chain stores.

City Council Member Margaret Chin attended the tour for around one hour. Brewer stayed for the whole thing.

"Brewer was on point and sharp," Abegg observed. "Chin had no questions and left quite early. No one wanted to walk stairs to see the South Street Seaport Museum stuff," meaning the thousands and thousands of maritime artifacts that were once on display in the museum's Fulton Street galleries and are now crammed into an air-conditioned space on the John Street side of what is left of the museum's principal buildings.

- Terese Loeb Kreuzer


Bits & Bytes
1 World Trade Center with Battery Park City in the foreground.
(Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)
"Durst under pressure, could lose share if 1 WTC sales don't spike," New York Post, 7/28/14. "It's crunch time for the Durst Organization at 1 World Trade Center," says the New York Post. "Despite popular wisdom that Douglas Durst's 10 percent, joint-venture partnership with the Port Authority was a sweetheart deal, it turns out he's under the gun to find new tenants or face getting booted from the project." The Post says that according to Port Authority board minutes from August 2010, "if Durst doesn't achieve a 'minimum threshold for lease-up' once the tower opens, the agency can buy back his $100 million share." The threshold is "150,000 square feet within the first year after the tower's opening - which begins when Condé Nast moves in by January. Moreover, it isn't sufficient that the new leases merely be signed by the end of 2015 - the tenants must actually be paying rent on them in that year." For the complete article, click here.

"Tribeca's Newest Conversion Has Floorplans, $53M Penthouse,", 7/28/14. has floorplans for Tribeca's handsome book bindery-turned-condos at 443 Greenwich Street. According to Curbed, "the sales office for the 42 condos officially opens in September, with the following pricing: two-bedrooms from 2,400 to 3,000 square feet ranging from $7 to $8 million; three-bedrooms from 2,600 to 4,600 square feet ranging from $7.5 to $12.95 million; and four-bedrooms from 3,600 feet to 4,250 square feet ranging from 10.5 to 14.25 million. Then there are the penthouses, which will range from three to five bedrooms, or 3,400 square feet to 8,900 square feet. They'll start at $15 million, with the most expensive projected to cost a whopping $53 million." For the complete article, click here.

Downtown Boathouse loses Governors Island pier: Downtown Boathouse, which offers free kayaking opportunities, had been putting its boats in the water on Governors Island, however, the pier from which they were being launched was badly damaged on July 12, City of Water Day. Graeme Birchall, Downtown Boathouse president, said that the organization was working with the Trust for Governors Island and the New York Harbor School to ensure that the free public kayaking program restarts as soon as possible. However, he said there was a good possibility that there would be no more kayaking at Governors Island for the rest of the season.

Downtown Boathouse is run by volunteers. It has kayaking programs on weekends and some week days at Pier 26 (North Moore Street on the Hudson River). Birchall said that during the month of July, around 4,000 people participated in these programs. For more information, click here.

"Teenager Pleads Guilty in World Trade Center Climb," New York Times, 7/30/14. "A teenager who made a surreptitious climb to the top of the 1 World Trade Center tower has pleaded guilty in an escapade that fanned concerns about security there," says The New York Times. "The youth, Justin Casquejo, admitted in Midtown Community Court in Manhattan on Wednesday that he broke a New York City misdemeanor law against scaling tall buildings without permission. He is expected to be sentenced in September to 23 days of community service." For the complete article, click here.



There are watermelons at the Tribeca Greenmarket this week.
 (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)

This week at the Tribeca Greenmarket on Greenwich Street, just north of Chambers Street, you will find peaches, plums, cantaloupes, eggplants, corn, potatoes, peppers, onions, kale, escarole, Swiss chard and watermelons on Wednesdays and grass-fed lamb, peaches, plums, edamame, shishito peppers, bell peppers, okra, many varieties of eggplant, summer squash and corn on Saturdays.

In Lower Manhattan, there are also Greenmarkets at Bowling Green, City Hall and the Staten Island Ferry Terminal. On Thursdays, there is a small farmers' market on the Andaz hotel plaza at Wall and Water Street and a "Youthmarket" on Fulton Street in the South Street Seaport.


Governors Island
Nolan Park on Governors Island. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)
For a peek-and-run view of the 19th-century houses that line Nolan Park on Governors Island, show up on Saturday, Aug. 2 for the first-ever "Explore Nolan" Scavenger Hunt. Starting at 1 p.m.,  participants can dash in and out of the houses in Nolan Park, answering clues about nearly a dozen exhibits that are ensconced in the handsome homes built for the officers of the U.S. Army, which once had a base on Governors Island.

The competitors can sign up as a team, as an individual or as a child under 12.

The first five teams to complete the hunt will get a gift certificate for a free surrey from Blazing Saddles. There are a variety of additional prizes for those in the individuals' and children's categories. They include gift certificates for a Blue Marble ice cream cone, a guest pass to the Children's Museum of the Arts, a family pass to the New York Historical Society, a season pass on the Governors Island ferry, "Earth Grid" hologram stickers from the Holocenter, a 10 percent discount on the Brooklyn ARTery's artisanal foods, a Governors Island tote from Better than Jam, a color catalog of the Sculptors Guild's TransFORMation show, an invitation for two to a future Third Rail Project special event, and merchandise from the International Center of Photography.

All prizes are provided by organizations and vendors on the Island.

Contestants can get a head start on the scavenger hunt by downloading the clues in advance. Clues will also be available at the Governors Island Alliance (GIA) welcome tables at Soissons Landing and Yankee Pier.

To complete the hunt, participants must answer 11 questions correctly and take and post a selfie in Nolan Park. Visitors can bring their completed sheet to the GIA welcome table at Soissons Landing to get their prize.

Exhibits in Nolan Park range from Mu Math's mobile unit to promote mathematical thinking to the International Center for Photography's "Capa in Color." They are a part of the Island's OpenHouseGI program, which offers free space to arts and cultural groups presenting free work to the public.
Presenting organizations include the Brooklyn ARTery, Sculptors Guild, New York Historical Society, Children's Museum of the Arts, Empire Historic Arts, Better than Jam, Third Rail and the Holocenter.
This year, Governors Island is open seven days a week through Sept. 28. It has five miles of bike paths, 30 new acres of park and special events and programs every week. For a full calendar of events, click here.

Ferries run from Lower Manhattan all seven days and run from Brooklyn Bridge Park's Pier 6 on Saturdays, Sundays and Labor Day. There is a $2 round trip fare for adults and children over the age of 12. Seniors pay $1. The 10 a.m., 11 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. ferries from Manhattan are free on Saturdays and Sundays. They are also free on the 11 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. ferries from Brooklyn on Saturdays and Sundays.

For ferry schedules, click here.

Battery Park City

Bettye LaVette 
"We are thrilled that Bettye LaVette is coming to River & Blues," said Abby Ehrlich, director of parks programming for the Battery Park City Parks Conservancy, which sponsors the annual festival.

"She sang at President Obama's first inauguration, and it was very stirring to watch and listen," Ehrlich recalled.

LaVette, now 68, made her first album at 16 but was not widely recognized until 2005. She won a Blues Award in 2004 for "Best Comeback Album of the Year" and in 2008, was named "Best Female Blues Contemporary Artist of the Year."

"I want older people, especially older women, to see that you can go through a whole bunch and you can still go on," LaVette said on a video in which she sang and talked
about her life. (To see it, click here.)

Her concert in Wagner Park on Thursday, July 31, starts at 7 p.m. and is free. 

CALENDAR: Week of July 28
Gary Fagin, conductor of the Knickerbocker Chamber Orchestra. The orchestra will give a free concert in the South Street Seaport, on Sunday, Aug. 3 at 5 p.m.
(Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)
July 31: A screening of "Nosotros Los Nobles" from Mexico, part of the Seaport Film and Food Festival highlighting a different country on each of three Thursdays through Aug. 18. Free food while supplies last. Place: Front and Fulton Streets in the South Street Seaport. Time: 7 p.m. Film starts at 8 p.m. For more information, click here.

July 31: The Battery Park City Parks Conservancy presents Bettye LaVette, an American Soul singer/songwriter, as part of its annual River & Blues Festival. LaVette was named "Best Female Blues Contemporary Artist of the Year" in 2008. Place: Wagner Park in Battery Park City. Time: 7 p.m. Free. For more information, click here.

Aug. 2: Poets House, a free, 60-000-volume poetry library based in Battery Park City, will have an outpost on Governors Island for one more weekend in August. Visitors will be able to settle into one of the historic houses on Colonels' Row and make drawings and write poetry, filling in the outline of a gigantic mural cityscape created by artist Felipe Galindo. The idea is to make a city of poems. There will be writing prompts for those who want them, including a Haiku station where visitors can play with the ancient form via social media applications. Drawings will also be welcome as contributions to the cityscape. When: Saturday and Sunday, August 2 and 3; Time: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Where: 406A Colonels' Row, Governors Island; How to get there: Ferries go to Governors Island from South Street in Manhattan and from Brooklyn. Ferries are free on weekend mornings. For the ferry schedule and fare information, click here. 

Aug. 3: The Knickerbocker Chamber Orchestra plays music for dancing in the South Street Seaport. The free performance, "Sweet Sounds of Summer," conducted by KCO founder and director Gary S. Fagin, will feature music by Johann Strauss, Irving Berlin and others. Place: Front and Fulton Streets. Time: 5 p.m. Free. For more information, click here.

Aug. 3: Aboard a New York Water Taxi, Gabriel Willow, a naturalist with the New York City Audubon Society, will lead a two-hour ecocruise to the Brothers Islands in the East River. Participants will see herons, egrets, cormorants and gulls and the ruins on the island where Mary Mallon (Typhoid Mary) was quarantined from 1915 until her death in 1938.. The next New York Water Taxi/New York City Audubon Society ecocruise to Jamaica Bay takes place on Sunday, Aug. 10, followed by one on Aug. 17. The cruise is three hours long (6 p.m. to 9 p.m.).  For more information and to buy tickets, click here.    

: Snowmine and The Casket Girls perform at the Seaport Music Festival on Aug. 1. The Festival is produced and partially sponsored by The Howard Hughes Corp. Place: Fulton Street at Water Street. Time: 7 p.m. Free. The Festival continues on Friday nights through Aug. 29. For more information, click here.  

: Every Friday through Aug. 22, join a master drummer in Battery Park City's Wagner Park for Sunset Jams on the Hudson. Improvise on African, Caribbean and Latin rhythms. Drums provided, or bring your own. Place: Wagner Park. Time: 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Free. For more information, click here

: "Tugboats: Workhorses of New York Harbor," photographs by John Skelson, are on exhibit aboard the Lilac, a historic lighthouse tender docked at Pier 25, through July 31. Skelson's photographs document the powerful and colorful array of tugs that keep our harbor working. The Lilac is open 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Thursdays and 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. For more information about the Lilac, click here.

Ongoing: An exhibit in the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council's arts center on Governors Island examines a pivotal time in Trisha Brown's early career as an artist and choreographer, as well as a particularly fertile moment for artistic production in New York City. With videos, photographs and installations, "Trisha Brown: Embodied Practice and Site-Specificity" highlights Brown's community of performers and artists, and the Lower Manhattan in which they lived and created. The exhibit shows Brown's investigation of simple movements such as walking or dressing, and the built environment, specifically through performances that took place on buildings inside and out, museum walls, parks, cobblestone streets, and other non-traditional performance spaces. 
The exhibition also bridges the transition in Brown's practice from site- and gallery-based work to proscenium stage work, for which she became well-known throughout the 1980s and beyond. Through Sept. 28. Times: Fridays and Sundays, noon to 5 p.m. Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Free. For more information, click here.

Ongoing: Poets House presents its 22nd annual showcase, a free exhibit featuring all of the new poetry books and poetry-related texts published in the United States in a single year from over 650 commercial, university, and independent presses. Through Aug. 16. Place: 10 River Terrace. Free. 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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