June 22nd - June 28th, 2013
Downtown Hotels Still Feel Hurricane Sandy Impact
June 21 - The 15 hotels in Lower Manhattan have finally recovered from the physical effects of Super Storm Sandy. Holiday Inn Express, at 126 Water St., was the last hotel to reopen, in early April, reported Crains New York. But the impact of the storm is still being felt in reservation books and balance sheets with business off at least 10 percent, say industry executives. And one major hotel,Trump SoHo, is embroiled in a lawsuitwith its insurance carrier and Con Edison. "The storm set us back about a year," said Jeffrey Miller, general manager of the Andaz Wall Street hotel at 75 Wall St. Andaz was closed for 13 days last year, after it lost power and its lower levels were flooded. None of the 253 guest rooms were damaged, but the Hyatt operated property lost its gym, spa, meeting spaces and administrative offices, which reopened only this month after a complete revamp costing several million dollars. The only silver lining for the hotel is that it was able to redesign its lower levels to better fit its needs, creating bigger rooms that are separated by moveable walls and more advanced technology. Some of its losses were covered by insurance, said Miller, but not the loss of revenues. Other hoteliers report similar decline. NYC & Company, the city's tourism arm is promoting Lower Manhattan to global tour operators, said a spokesman.
Woman Identified in Retesting of 9-11 WTC Remains
June 21 - Authorities retesting human remains recovered from the World Trade Center site after the Sept. 11 attacks have identified those of a 43-year-old woman, reported the Associated Press. A spokeswoman for the New York City medical examiner's office says the woman's name won't be released at her family's request. Some 2,750 people died at the World Trade Center in the 2001 terrorist attacks. Friday's announcement brings the number of identified victims up to 1,636. The identification was made from remains collected before May 2002. The last time a person was identified from the original remains recovered at the site had been in October 2012. Recently authorities have been sifting through truckloads of debris unearthed by construction crews working on the World Trade Center rebuilding. Possible remains of more than 20 victims have been recovered since that process began in April.
South Street Seaport Museum Loses Operator
June 25 - The South Street Seaport Museum has lost its operator, reported the Associated Press. The Museum of the City of New York is pulling out of operating the financially-strapped Seaport museum, which continues to struggle in the wake of Superstorm Sandy. The storm inundated the Seaport's electrical and computer systems. City Museum President Susan Henshaw Jones told The New York Times a huge amount of post-Sandy works in terms of dollars remains at the Seaport, and that it could take years. In 2011, the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation gave the City Museum a $2 million grant and 18 months to put the Seaport museum on solid footing. That period was extended by nine months. The city Department of Cultural Affairs says it hopes to find another entity to take over the Seaport.
Terms of Deal May Raise Funds to Repair Pier 40 and Bail Out Park Trust
June 27 - The State and City have agreed on a deal that may fund repairs to Pier 40 and put the Hudson River Park Trust (HRPT) on a better financial footing in the years ahead, reported The Broadsheet. Both goals are widely seen as critical, because Pier 40 (located where Houston Street meets the Hudson River) is in need of more than $100 million in emergency repairs, while HRPT (the agency that oversees five miles of waterfront parkland, stretching from Lower Manhattan to West 59th Street, including Pier 40) has no dedicated source of revenue and has hemorrhaged cash in recent years. The deal, approved earlier this week, will allow HRPT to sell air rights to unused development space within the park to developers of sites up to one block inland from Manhattan's Hudson River waterfront. The new legislation allows HRPT to lease land inside its borders to real estate developers for up to 99 years, rather than the 30 years authorized in the original Hudson River Park Act. This move may unleash a torrent of cash from developers who previously showed no interest in 30-year leases. The amended law also removes some expenses from HRPT's balance sheet. But some important provisions of the original, 1998 law remain in effect. Most notably, residential development within the Hudson River Park's borders is still prohibited.
Beneath the WTC, A Museum Takes Shape
June 28 - Gray dust blankets everything in the subterranean halls of the unfinished National September 11 Memorial & Museum. But while the powder may look ominously like the ash that covered lower Manhattan after the terrorist attacks, this time it is a product of rebirth, not destruction, according to the Associated Press. After a yearlong construction shutdown because of a funding dispute, and additional months of cleanup following a shocking flood caused by Superstorm Sandy, work has been racing ahead again at the museum, which sits in a cavernous space below the World Trade Center memorial plaza that opened in 2011. Some of the museum's most emotion-inspiring artifacts already are anchored in place. About 130 workers are at the site each day and there is much left to be done, but officials with the museum said the project is on track to open to the public in the spring of 2014.
Developers Buy SJU Site in Tribeca for More Residential Construction
June 28 - Residents of Battery Park City, Tribeca, and the Financial District may soon be walking by another construction site and looking at a new tall residential tower through their windows, reported The Broadsheet. St. John's University, which has owned the former College of Insurance building (at the corner of West and Murray Streets) since 2001, sold it a few weeks ago for approximately $223 million to a three-way partnership of real estate developers. The sale of 101 Murray Street, and the plan for a luxury high-rise residential building that appears likely to follow it, raise questions about the frenzied pace of development in Lower Manhattan, and the much-slower tempo of building infrastructure -- such as parks and schools -- that accompanies such development. The structure that currently occupies the site is built out to 145,000 square feet, but today's zoning would allow for a building of almost half a million square feet on the parcel, more than triple the size of the current edifice.