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News and Events
in Lower Manhattan
Volume 1, No. 110  Aug. 27, 2014
Quote of the day:
"I think I can speak on behalf of SOS when I say we have never been a fan of that agreement." - Michael Kramer, a member of the Save Our Seaport group, speaking about a Letter of Intent that was privately signed between The Howard Hughes Corporation and the NYC Economic Development Corporation on Dec. 12, 2011 giving HHC the option to develop the Tin Building and New Market Building in the Seaport.
* Howard Hughes proceeds with South Street Seaport construction plans 
* Bits & Bytes: Universal Pre-K contracts behind schedule; Batard in Tribeca; Diner en blanc
* Downtown Bulletin Board: Extended hours for Liberty and Ellis Islands; Chess for kids
* Letters to the Editor: Battery Park City adult chorus not just for seniors
* Battery Park City in bloom: Hibiscus is showstopper on the BPC esplanade
* Calendar

For breaking news, go to

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

Members of Save Our Seaport wearing T-shirts opposing the high-rise tower proposed by The Howard Hughes Corporation for construction on the South Street Seaport waterfront. From left to right: Rona Kluger, Joanne Gorman, Julie Finch, Kathleen Galante, Jeanine Bianco. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)

The New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC), landlord for much of the South Street Seaport, has informed the members of the Seaport Working Group that The Howard Hughes Corporation is proceeding on schedule with its proposals for the landmarked Tin Building and for a mixed-use project in the Seaport.

An email from EDC dated Aug. 27, 2014 and sent at 5:35 p.m. stated, "As many of you know, per a Letter of Intent between the New York City Economic Development Corporation and the Howard Hughes Corporation executed in December 2011, Howard Hughes Corporation is required to meet a number of milestones, including a submission to the City's Landmark Preservation Commission by August 31, 2014.


"In accordance with the Letter of Intent, Howard Hughes Corporation has submitted an application for work in connection to the Tin Building. Please note, plans for the Tin Building and the larger Mixed Use project haven't been finalized. However, it is important Howard Hughes Corporation submit documentation in accordance with the Letter of Intent as a formality."


HHC had previously stated that it wants to move the Tin Building and add another story to it. Hughes also has stated its desire to build a luxury hotel/apartment high-rise on the site of the New Market Building, which is not landmarked and which HHC would demolish if its plans are approved.


Both buildings are on South Street and were part of the historic Fulton Fish Market, which the City moved to Hunts Point in the Bronx in November 2005.


On Dec. 12,  2011, EDC signed a Letter of Intent with Howard Hughes giving the Dallas-based developer an option to develop the Tin Building and market-rate housing combined with a hotel on the site of the New Market Building.


That Letter of Intent stipulated certain milestones including the Aug. 31, 2014 submission to the City's Landmarks Preservation Commission.


The Seaport Working Group, to which EDC addressed the information that HHC had made the required submission to the Landmarks Preservation Commission, is made up of elected officials, Community Board 1 members, local residents, Seaport business people and representatives of The Howard Hughes Corporation and EDC. The Working Group held its first meeting in February 2014 to establish non-binding guidelines for Seaport development. These were released to the public in June.


At a meeting of Save Our Seaport on Aug. 27 - a group that has been working to preserve the historic Seaport and its maritime heritage - Michael Kramer, a member of SOS and the Seaport Working Group, said that SOS has "always maintained that the Letter of Intent that was signed on Dec. 12, 2011 between Howard Hughes and EDC was done in a private transaction, without any public scrutiny or any transparency.

"We tried to get copies of the agreement for many months. Finally, after a Freedom of Information (FOIL) application, we got a redacted copy. I think I can speak on behalf of SOS when I say we have never been a fan of that agreement. Milestones were placed in that agreement for a reason. EDC is [now] requiring Howard Hughes to submit an application [to the Landmarks Preservation Commission] to meet a milestone, whereas many of us think that a master plan should be created where everything is transparent and the public has an opportunity to speak. With a master plan, we could evaluate an application like this rather than evaluate this application in a segmented manner."


Save Our Seaport has been adamantly opposed to having a high-rise tower constructed in the Seaport Historic District. It has also campaigned for the protection of the historic district's buildings, many of which date from the early 19th century.


SOS is planning to hold a public conference at Pace University in conjunction with The City Club of New York to discuss the waterfront, the New Amsterdam Market, the South Street Seaport Museum and the historic district. SOS is trying to arrange a date in late September or early October for this public informational meeting.


"Howard Hughes will present their plan to the Seaport Working Group and then to CB1," said Catherine McVay Hughes, chairperson of Community Board 1.  "No date for either has been set at this time. When HHC presents to CB1, like any other landmark process, CB1 will hold a public hearing where everyone will be invited to attend and to speak. A resolution will go from the committees to the full board for a vote. A tentative date had been set for this past June, but HHC asked to postpone it. The ULURP [Uniform Land Use Review Procedure] process is not likely to begin till 2015."


A ULURP is required for any disposition of public property, which would be what's involved in this case. It entails getting approvals from the community board, from the Landmarks Preservation Commission, from City Planning, from the Borough President and from City Council. 


- Terese Loeb Kreuzer 



Bits & Bytes
Rockefeller Park in Battery Park City, where 4,500 people gathered on Monday night, Aug. 25, for the "Diner en Blanc" party. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)

Contracts behind schedule for Universl Pre-Kindergarten providers
: The first day of school is Sept. 4, but so far the New York City Comptroller's Office has received only 141 of over 500 contracts for Universal Pre-Kindergarten (UPK) service providers. According to the City charter, the Comptroller's Office is supposed to review and register these contracts. 
"We cannot sacrifice safety in the name of expediency," said New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer, in a statement announcing the delay.

Among the contracts reviewed to date, the Comptroller's Office has uncovered significant problems. These included a vendor that had a former employee who was charged with conspiracy to commit child pornography, as well as a vendor that had six violations issued for failing to have required personnel screened with the New York State Central Register of Child Abuse and Mistreatment.  The Administration has since been able to provide documentation to prove that those problems were addressed.

Under the City Charter, the Comptroller's Office has 30 days to conduct integrity reviews on all contracts for corruption, fraud and fair contract practices. In addition, many contracts received to date have included other errors such as missing permits, inconsistent counts of students on multiple documents, and vendors not listed on the charities website as being up to date with filing requirements.

 "I will continue to work closely with Mayor de Blasio to resolve these issues," Stringer said. "I am confident that he will devote the necessary resources to ensuring the safety and security of these classrooms."

"Expensive Beach Street Condos Will Be Even More Expensive,", 8/26/14. The office-to-condo conversion at 11 Beach St. hasn't hit the market yet, but "HFZ Capital Group decided that $4.5 million was just too cheap for a three bedroom so they've already increased the minimum price to $5.3 million," says That buys a 2,361 square foot, three bedroom, 3.5 bathroom apartment. It will cost $6,650,000 for a 3,117 square foot, four bedroom, 3.5 bath apartment; and $7,750,000 for a 3,844 square foot, five bedroom, 4.5 bathroom apartment - with pricing subject to change. For the complete article, click here.

"Expressing Himself With Joy," New York Times, 8/26/14. "A few minutes into my first dinner at Bātard, it became obvious that the chef, Markus Glocker, has a sniper's accuracy at the stove," says Pete Wells of The New York Times. "Nothing on his gracefully composed plates was chewier or crunchier or softer or saltier than it wanted to be." Wells goes on to praise Glocker for having "something to say" and saying it "clearly and with charm, as I learned over three excellent meals since Bātard opened in May. Some dishes were so successful they seemed destined never to leave the menu." For the complete article, click here.
"Diner en Blanc: New York's biggest secret party requires lots of planning, a dash of spontaneity," Daily News, 8/27/14. "Year after year, pop-up picnic Diner en Blanc manages to keep the location of its all-white attire affair under wraps. And the mystery behind Monday's spot - Manhattan's Nelson Rockefeller Park - was no different," says the Daily News. "More than 20,000 people vied for about 4,500 invitations to the fourth New York installation of the event." The Daily News says that the organizers "locked down the Battery Park City venue in early August. In the weeks leading up to the event, they worked feverishly to secure the necessary permits and licenses for the spot - while divulging as little as possible." For the complete article, click here.


Downtown bulletin board
On Sept. 10, the National September 11 Museum will be open free from 5 p.m. to 9/11 families, Lower Manhattan residents and others directly affected by the World Trade Center attack on Sept. 11, 2001. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)

Extended hours for Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island
:  This summer there has been "a surge of interest of people wanting to visit the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island," according to John Piltzecker, Superintendent of the Statue of Liberty National Monument and Ellis Island. The National Park Service has responded by keeping both islands open from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. through Columbus Day, Oct. 13.

Ferry departures will take place from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. through Columbus Day. The last boat will leave Liberty and Ellis Islands at 6 p.m.

Visitors can reserve Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island tickets from Battery Park and Liberty State Park now through Spring 2015. Audio Tours for both islands come in many languages and are included with every ticket purchased. Online reservations are recommended. For more information and to purchase tickets, go to, or

Located on a 12-acre island in New York Harbor, the Statue of Liberty, officially entitled "Liberty Enlightening the World," was a gift from the people of France to the people of the United States.  It was dedicated on Oct. 28, 1886, designated as a National Monument in 1924 and restored for a centennial celebration on July 4, 1986.

Chess for children: The Battery Park City Parks Conservancy's chess instructor, Michah Saperstein, offers chess lessons for children ages 5 to 12 who are beginner to early intermediate players. The classes meet on Tuesdays, 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m., from Sept. 16 to Dec. 16 (no class on Nov. 11) at 6 River Terrace. Chess improves concentration, critical thinking, abstract reasoning, problem solving, pattern recognition, strategic planning, creativity, synthesis and evaluation. Space is limited and pre-registration is required. Fee: $350. For more information, call (212) 267-9700, ext. 363 or email

Stories & Songs:
Under the auspices of the Battery Park City Parks Conservancy, newborn children, toddlers and pre-schoolers up to age 3.5 years enjoy music, parachute games, dancing, singing and music-making in sessions conducted by professional musicians. The classes last 40 minutes and take place on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 6 River Terrace in Battery Park City starting on Sept. 9 for the Tuesday sessions and Sept. 10 for the Wednesday sessions. Advance registration is required. Space is limited. Fee: $315 for 14 sessions. For more information, call (212) 267-9700, ext. 363 or email

Community evening at 9/11 museum: Free tickets will be available to the National September 11 Museum on Wednesday, Sept. 10 for  9/11 families, 9/11 rescue and recovery workers, active duty first responders, 9/11 survivors, and Lower Manhattan residents and business owners. The tickets will be valid from 5 p.m. to closing time.

To reserve free tickets to the Museum for that evening, click here or call (212) 266-6211.  Reservations are available on a first-come, first-served basis. A limited number of walk-up tickets will be available the day of for stakeholders at the Museum ticket windows. Photo identification will be required to verify your selected affiliation.

Free kayaking on Pier 26: On July 4, the volunteer-run Downtown Boathouse returned to its former home on Pier 26 at North Moore Street in Hudson River Park. Since then, thousands of people have gotten into one of the Downtown Boathouse's sit-on-top kayaks to row themselves around the embayment. In addition, there are free kayaking classes on Wednesdays from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. In the past, the Downtown Boathouse offered three-hour trips up, down and across the Hudson River for more experienced kayakers but these were temporarily suspended this season because the volunteers needed to work on settling into their Pier 26 home. The Boathouse is open Saturdays, Sundays and holidays from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. through mid-October. For more information, click here.

Letter to the editor
The Battery Park City Adult Chorus. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)

To the editor:
(Re: "More people are growing old in Lower Manhattan" DPNYC, 8/25/14) Thanks for the nice photo! But we are now called the Battery Park City Adult Chorus, not the Battery Park City Seniors' Chorus as stated in the photo caption. All adults are welcome to join.

The Battery Park City Adult Chorus is directed by the Church Street School for Music and Art. Rehearsals are on Wednesdays at 1 p.m. at 6 River Terrace. No singing experience is required. To sign up, call (212) 571-7290 or email Or just come. Everyone is welcome.

Fran Dickson

From the editor:

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

Battery Park City in bloom 
Swamp rosemallow (Hibiscus moscheutos) blooming in Battery Park City on the esplanade near the Museum of Jewish Heritage.  (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)
With flowers the size of dinner plates, the hedge of swamp rosemallow (Hibiscus moscheutos) blooming on the Battery Park City esplanade near the Museum of Jewish Heritage is a showstopper. Each flower lasts for only one day, but the blooms appear one after the other, for months.

Swamp mallow and other relatives from the hibiscus genus are native to eastern and southern North America. They have been cultivated in American gardens for more than 250 years. Thomas Jefferson is known to have grown a "scarlet mallow" in his gardens at Monticello.

Another Virginia gardener of that period, Lady Jean Miller Skipwith, kept voluminous records of the flowers, shrubs and trees that grew at her estate, Prestwould in Mecklenburg County. In her list of plants, she noted a "crimson mallow," a cousin of the Battery Park City blooms. Lady Skipwith's mallow would have come from the coastal swamps of Georgia and Florida and was capable of growing to a height of eight feet in a single season.

It's fascinating what you can learn when you look into botanical history.

Lady Jean Skipwith was the second wife of Sir Peyton Skipwith. They married in 1788, when Lady Jean was 40 years old. Sir Peyton's first wife was Jean's sister, Anne. As the story goes, Anne and Peyton were attending a ball at Colonial Williamsburg when they got into a loud fight over the fact that Peyton was having an affair with Jean. Anne supposedly ran back to Wythe House where she was staying and killed herself. That part of the story isn't true. She died in childbirth in 1779.

Jean and Peyton remained married until his death in 1805. Jean died in 1826. They had four children.

- Terese Loeb Kreuzer


CALENDAR: Week of Aug. 25
Front/Row Stage in the South Street Seaport, where The Howard Hughes Corporation is showing free movies and presenting music events. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)

Aug. 29: Joanna Gruesome and Big Ups conclude the Seaport Music Festival, which was produced and partially sponsored by The Howard Hughes Corp. Hughes' See/Change website describes Gruesome's music as "drawing inspiration from DIY scenes such as Riot Grrrl/noisepop/C86 /K Records as well as post hardcore like Drive Like Jehu/Converge and the art rock of The Velvet Underground and My Bloody Valentine." She displays "staggering diversity," according to the Seaport Music Festival website, "unexpectedly quiet and surprisingly loud." Big Ups "blends punk, post-punk, metal, and indie rock into a salty mash that gets stuck to the roof of your mouth," says the Seaport Music Festival website. Place: Fulton Street at Water Street. Time: 7 p.m. Free. For more information, click here
Aug. 31: For the last 22 years, Labor Day Weekend has included the Great North River Tugboat Race and Competition in which some of the harbor's mightiest and smallest tugs and everything in between race each other down the Hudson River. The day's events also include a nose to nose competition (like arm wrestling except done with tugboats), a spinach-eating contest, a line toss competition and awards for such things as best mascot and best tattoo. A spectator boat accompanies the tugs as they parade up the river and then race back down to Pier 84 at West 84th Street. The spectator boat boards at 9 a.m. and leaves from Pier 83 at 9:30 a.m. Tickets: $25 (adults); $12 (kids). For more information or to buy tickets, 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: "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, Nov. 15, 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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