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DOWNTOWN
POST NYC 
 
News and Events
in Lower Manhattan
 
 
Volume 1, No. 102  Aug. 8, 2014
IN THIS ISSUE

Quote of the day:
"We travel the spaceways/from planet to planet." - The Sun Ra Arkestra's concluding chant in a Battery Park City concert this past week.
*Howard Hughes' 2nd quarter SEC filing says a tower is still in the plans
* Pols fire a new salvo in the downtown helicopter wars
* Bits & Bytes: Brooklyn Bridge flag case; Lost dog; Controversial tax break; Carl Weisbrod
* Letter to the editor: Little Syria not yet plowed under
* Correction: South Street Seaport op-ed and letter to the editor
* Time: The waning days of summer
* Calendar

For breaking news, go to www.DowntownPostNYC.com

The Sun Ra Arkestra playing in Battery Park City's Wagner Park. Aug. 7, 2014.
(Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)


 

South Street Seaport
HOWARD HUGHES' 2Q SEC FILING SAYS TOWER IS STILL IN THE PLANS  
Gregg Pasquarelli, a founding partner of SHoP Architects, and Christopher Curry, executive vice president of The Howard Hughes Corporation, presenting Hughes' plans for the South Street Seaport to Community Board 1's Seaport Committee on
Nov. 19, 2013. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)

The Howard Hughes Corporation, which has a long-term lease on parts of the South Street Seaport and designs on other parts not under its control, has been tight-lipped about whether it has altered its plans since November 2013. At that time, it announced the desire to build a 50-story, luxury hotel/apartment building on the Seaport waterfront and to make other changes to the historic fabric of the Seaport neighborhood.

However, a required report filed on Aug. 7, 2014 with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for the second quarter of 2014 lets the cat out of the bag. In that report, HHC indicates that nothing has changed in the last nine months despite opposition from much of the local community and from the Seaport Working Group (a committee of elected officials, Seaport residents and businesses, Community Board 1 members and community groups)  to its proposals.

The 2Q filing says, "On November 20, 2013, we announced plans for further redevelopment of the South Street Seaport district which includes approximately 700,000 square feet of additional space, East River Esplanade improvements, a marina, restoration of the historic Tin Building, and the creation of a dynamic food market, replacement of wooden platform piers adjacent to Pier 17 and a newly constructed mixed-use building."

HHC goes on to say in the SEC report that it expects to begin the formal approval process for these plans in the fourth quarter of 2014. Since the HHC proposal involves some landmarked buildings and some public property, it would have to go through ULURP (Uniform Land Use Review Procedure) to become a reality. This entails getting approvals from Community Board 1, City Planning, the Landmarks Preservation Commission, the Manhattan Borough President and City Council. 

HHC's second quarter filing with the SEC is informative in other ways. HHC says that in 2013 it filed a claim with its insurance carriers for property damage, lost income and other expenses incurred because of Superstorm Sandy. "We believe insurance will cover substantially all of these losses," the report says. "We are continuing to work through the claims process with the insurance carriers and have collected $47.5 million in insurance proceeds through August 6, 2014. Insurance recoveries to date have exceeded the book value of the buildings and equipment at the date of the storm."

"It's ironic that HHC was able to get more insurance proceeds than they could use while the South Street Seaport Museum still does not have working infrastructure," said Michael Kramer, a member of the Save Our Seaport group, which has been trying to preserve the historic Seaport.

Without a working electrical system, the South Street Seaport Museum was forced to close its 12 Fulton St. galleries in April 2013, although it still uses the building for educational purposes. An initial rough estimate of the cost to repair the damage caused by Superstorm Sandy was $22 million.

About Pier 17, HHC says, "Construction began during September 2013 and is expected to conclude in 2016. The Renovation Project will increase the leasable area of Pier 17 to approximately 182,000 square feet."

By the terms of its lease with the New York City Economic Development Corp., landlord for much of the Seaport, HHC had to begin construction on Pier 17 by Oct. 1, 2013 or risk forfeiting its rights to the pier. Kramer questioned the September 2013 date in the SEC filing. He said that Simply Seafood, a fish restaurant that had been a tenant in Pier 17 since 1983, had refused to leave and was not finally evicted until Nov. 15, 2013. Pier 17 was emptied of other tenants before that date, but construction couldn't begin until Simply Seafood was gone.

HHC says in the SEC report that, "The redevelopment of Pier 17 and renovation of the historic area is expected to cost approximately $425 million."

Howard Hughes is paying less than $3.50 a square foot for its leaseholds in the South Street Seaport. In the current market, it should be able to lease this space for several hundred dollars a square foot. According to the Alliance for Downtown New York's recently released Real Estate Market report for the second quarter of 2014, retail rents on lower Broadway (for instance) are averaging $277 a square foot. Cushman and Wakefield is reporting retail asking rents of $346 per square foot in the Financial District.

To see Howard Hughes' second quarter SEC filing, click here.

- Terese Loeb Kreuzer




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


POLS FIRE A NEW SALVO IN THE DOWNTOWN HELICOPTER WARS     
A helicopter flying over the East River. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)
 
Helicopters buzzing over the west side of Manhattan, parts of Brooklyn, Governors Island and northern New Jersey make a lot of noise, but so can 20 New York City elected officials. On Aug. 8, they fired off a letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio protesting the constant parade of tourism helicopters from the Downtown Manhattan heliport.

"We are concerned about the safety implications of unregulated tourist helicopter flights, as well as the helicopters' impact on quality of life in neighborhoods in both States that experience take-offs and landings or heavy flyover helicopter traffic," the officials wrote. "To address these real quality of life issues of residents of New York and New Jersey and to protect the safety of helicopter users we urge you to eliminate all tourist flights and traffic from the City-owned Downtown Heliport as soon as possible. The status quo of largely unregulated flights that endanger tourists and disturb the peace in Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx, Staten Island and New Jersey neighborhoods is unacceptable."

The signers included Congressman Jerrold Nadler (NY-10), Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez (NY-7), Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer, New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, New York State Senators Brad Hoylman,  Velmanette Montgomery, Diane Savino, Daniel Squadron and Herman D. Farrell, Jr., New York State Assembly Members Deborah Glick, Richard Gottfried, Joan Millman, Felix W. Ortiz and Linda Rosenthal and New York City Council Members Margaret Chin, Corey Johnson, Steve Levin, Mark Levine, Carlos Menchaca, and Helen Rosenthal.

This letter was sent in addition to a letter sent to the Federal Aviation Administration and New Jersey Department of Transportation by New Jersey officials, including Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Congressman Albio Sires (NJ-8). Their letter also expressed concerns about the issue of tour helicopter traffic in the northern New Jersey-New York City airspace.

"For months, we've been talking with stakeholders, convening roundtable discussions, and trying to take steps towards a rational way to deal with these helicopters, but the time for talk is long over," said Sen. Menendez. "It is time for the FAA to use any-and-every tool they have to shut down these helicopters and put an end to this problem, and if they don't have the tools they need, then we will do all we can to make sure they have them."


Bits & Bytes
BROOKLYN BRIDGE FLAG CASE; LOST DOG; CONTROVERSIAL TAX BREAK FOR HIGH-END DEVELOPERS; CARL WEISBROD; TWIN TOWERS WALK     
 
Brooklyn Bridge. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)


"Inquiry Seeks Twitter User in Brooklyn Bridge Flag Case," New York Times, 8/8/14. The mystery of who put white flags on top of the Brooklyn Bridge remains unsolved but "The Twitter account purportedly representing an 'all-powerful' coalition of radical cyclists has claimed responsibility for knocking out Metro-North Railroad service, swinging the World Series and strong-arming Bruce Springsteen into changing a song title to 'Thunder Lane,'" says The New York Times. "So when the account, @BicycleLobby, wrote on Twitter last month that it had placed white flags atop the Brooklyn Bridge 'to signal our complete surrender' of the bridge's bicycle path to pedestrians, most followers of the self-described 'parody account' allowed themselves a chuckle at the several news organizations that reported the remark as a proper confession before backtracking. On Friday, though, with the authorities still searching for the perpetrators in the flag affair, it seemed that @BicycleLobby had not been cleared. Steve Vaccaro, a lawyer for the account's author, who has remained anonymous, said Twitter had received a subpoena from the Manhattan district attorney's office in a bid to identify his client." For the complete article, click here.

Lost dog, found: For the second time in about a month, we bring you a story about a dog that somehow wandered away from its owner and was retrieved with the help of several caring people
A chihuahua named Reina.
who went out of their way to help.

On Aug. 8, a chihuahua was noticed wandering around among the picnic tables in the Seaport, with no owner in sight. Several people went to The Salty Paw's pop-up shop at John and Front Streets to see if anyone there knew something about the dog. (The Salty Paw is a dog grooming shop and boutique whose main store is at 38 Peck Slip.) No one had seen the dog before.

A staff member at the pop-up shop contacted Janet Carhuayano, manager of The Salty Paw, to ask what to do. "I asked my staff to take the dog to the Seaport Animal Hospital at 80 Beekman St. to see if the dog was microchipped," said Carhuayano. But the dog didn't have a microchip or any tags.

"By this point I had a picture of the dog and turned to Facebook and Twitter to spread the word," Carhuayano said. "Since we didn't know if she had just gotten loose or had possibly been abandoned, I wanted to make sure we found someone to foster her or adopt her. Within an hour I had several people call, email and message us willing to step up to take care of her. Of course we needed to wait a day or so to see if she was claimed. Our head receptionist  stayed with her. Within another hour, security from the Seaport came to our pop-up to see if we had seen the dog. It turns out the chihuahua belonged to a woman who had just opened up her business in the Seaport. Her staff was supposed to keep an eye on the dog, which it failed to do. We directed her to the hospital to claim the dog, whose name is Reina."

The lucky owner was advised to microchip her dog. "The dog was super friendly and definitely had been well cared for, which is what led me to hope she had just gotten lost," Carhuayano said.
- Terese Loeb Kreuzer

"Two high-end developers cashed in on controversial tax break," The Real Deal, 8/7/14. "Of the five luxury housing developers for whom controversial tax break measures were crafted in January 2013, only two have actually applied for and received the credits," says The Real Deal, citing Department of Housing Preservation and Development data. "Silverstein Properties, Thor Equities, Friedman Management, Fisher Brothers and Extell Development Company have come under fire and were hit with subpoenas from the Moreland Commission as part of an investigation into public corruption before the agency was suspended in March. But of the five, only Extell and Friedman Brothers have actually secured the 421-a exemptions thus far, the New York Observer reports." Three properties - Silverstein's 99 Church Street, Thor's 520 Fifth Avenue and Friedman Management's 113 Nassau Street - did not apply. For the complete article, click here.

"City Planning Chair Carl Weisbrod: an understated force," The Real Deal, 8/1/14. "Carl Weisbrod, the recently appointed chair of the New York City Planning Commission, may not have the star power that his predecessor Amanda Burden did," says The Real Deal. "Burden is an heir to the Standard Oil fortune, dates broadcast journalist Charlie Rose and lives blocks away from Mayor Michael Bloomberg on the Upper East Side. But Weisbrod is an old hand at city politics and a veteran on the New York City real estate scene. So when Mayor Bill de Blasio picked him to head the commission charged with overseeing the city's rezonings and trajectory for growth, the real estate industry was relieved." The relief was short-lived, however. As director of the Department of City Planning, Weisbrod "will be overseeing a controversial policy shift that may test his popularity in the real estate world. He's tasked with implementing de Blasio's mandatory inclusionary zoning policy - which requires, rather than incentivizes, developers to build affordable housing at projects that benefit from a rezoning." For the complete article, click here.

"Philippe Petit's Moment of Concern Walking the WTC Tightrope," The Daily Beast, 8/8/14. "It is 40 years since Philippe Petit made a wholly illegal walk 1,350 feet above the ground between the two towers of the World Trade Center, going back and forth eight times," says The Daily Beast. "It was a week before his 25th birthday. He had been dreaming of making this walk since he had read about plans to construct the towers when he was 17. He had made illegal walks before, but this one made him world famous." For the complete article, click here.


 

 
Letter to the editor
'LITTLE SYRIA' NOT YET PLOWED UNDER

Two tenements on Greenwich Street survive from the 19th century, when the neighborhood was known as "Little Syria." (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)
  
To the editor:
(Re: "In search of the immigrant Lower West Side," DPNYC, 8/6/14): Thank you for boosting our cause! Your article really had heart and we are all encouraged to keep advocating.
                                                
Mary Ann DiNapoli

From the editor:
The Washington Street Historical Society is a New York State-chartered educational institution that was formed to foster awareness of the history of migration to the Washington Street neighborhood in Lower Manhattan's Financial District. Downtown Post NYC readers who want to know more about its efforts to save the remnants of "Little Syria" can click here.

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


CORRECTION: SOUTH STREET SEAPORT OP-ED AND LETTER

Fulton Street in the South Street Seaport as it looked on July 18, 2009. Schermerhorn Row is more than 200 years old. (Photos: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)

In "A different vision for the Seaport," (Bits & Bytes, Downtown Post NYC, 8/6/14), a letter written by Philip St. Pierre to The New York Times was cited. St. Pierre is The Howard Hughes Corporation's senior general manager for the South Street Seaport. The link to St. Pierre's letter didn't work. For the letter (correctly linked), click here.

For the Op-Ed article in The Times called "The War on New York's Waterfront" by Roland Lewis, Paul Greenberg and Joan K. Davidson to which St. Pierre was responding, click here.

Fulton Street in the South Street Seaport as it looked on May 31, 2014 with installations by The Howard Hughes Corp. under its See/Change program.


TIME: THE WANING DAYS OF SUMMER
 
Musicians of the Sun Ra Arkestra playing in Battery Park City.
(Photos: Terese Loeb Kreuzer) 

As summer hastens to its close  - Labor Day comes early this year, on Sept. 1 - the Sun Ra Arkestra came and went in Battery Park City. On Aug. 7, the flamboyantly garbed musicians played to a crowd that packed Wagner Park.

The sun set over Liberty Island. The moon rose over Pier A - scheduled to open in September with several restaurants, bars and a visitors' center - around three months behind schedule.

During the concert, the clock in the Pier A clock tower said 6:10. Perhaps someday it will tell the time again. Not now.

This year, the Arkestra celebrates the 100th birthday of its founder, Sun Ra, born on May 22, 1914. It also celebrates the 90th year of its director, Marshall Allen.

The Arkestra concluded its set by singing and playing a chant of hope and mystery with the words, "We travel the spaceways/from planet to planet." That puts a three-month delay in perspective. Even a hundred years isn't that long. - Terese Loeb Kreuzer

Marshall Allen, 90, director of the Sun Ra Arkestra.


CALENDAR: Week of Aug. 4
Fishermen at dusk on Jamaica Bay, an 18,000 acre body of water that lies between Brooklyn and Queens. On Sunday, Aug. 10, the New York Audubon Society hosts an "ecocruise" to Jamaica Bay aboard New York Water Taxi. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)




Aug. 9: See a movie in the South Street Seaport. The Howard Hughes Corporation presents "Four Weddings and a Funeral" on the Front Row Stage. Place: Fulton and Front Streets. Time: 8 p.m. Free. For more information about this and other events in the Seaport, click here.

Aug. 9: During Civil War Weekend on Governors Island, visitors will see reenactments of a typical day in the life of Union soldiers stationed on the island and their prisoners from the Confederate army. This is the 8th year that the National Park Service has invited living historians from the 119th New York Volunteer Infantry and the Liberty Rifles to come to Governors Island to help tell the story of its Civil War history. Also on Aug. 10, each day's events will begin with cannon firing demonstrations at 11:30 a.m. On Saturday, there will be a Civil War baseball game at 4 p.m. Free. For more information, click here. For information about ferry service to Governors Island from Manhattan and Brooklyn, click here.

Aug. 10: Block-printing workshop at Bowne Printers, part of the South Street Seaport Museum. Students will learn the basics of linoleum block printing and how to print manually and on a printing press. Place: 211 Water St. Time: 2 p.m.-5 p.m. Because of the tools used, the workshop is suitable for people 12 and older. Reservations are required with a non-refundable $15 deposit for materials. The cost for the workshop is $50; $40 (for South Street Seaport Museum members). For more information, call (646)-628-2707 or email bowneprinters@seany.org. To buy tickets, click here.

Aug. 10: Full moon sail: As the sun sets and the full moon rises, come aboard the South Street Seaport Museum's 1885 schooner, Pioneer, for a two-hour cruise of New York harbor. This month's full moon is this year's "super moon" -- the largest moon we will have for 2014. This is because on Aug. 10, the moon will be its nearest to the earth for the entire year. Bring your own food and beverages. Place: Depart from and return to Pier 16 in the South Street Seaport. Time: 7:30 p.m.-9:30 p.m. Tickets: $45 (adults); $35 (museum members); $25 (children); $10 (child under 2). To buy tickets, click here.

Aug. 10: Aboard a New York Water Taxi, Gabriel Willow, a naturalist with the New York City Audubon Society, will lead an ecocruise to Jamaica Bay. There will also be one on Aug. 17. The cruise is three hours long (6 p.m. to 9 p.m.).  Jamaica Bay, an 18,000-acre body of water that lies between Brooklyn and Queens, teems with wildlife. For more information and to buy tickets, click here.  

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

Ongoing
: 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

  

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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2014