April 13th - April 19th, 2007
Breaking Ground for Second Avenue Subway
Friday, April 13th: New York City officials broke ground Thursday in a section of tunnel 40 feet below Second Avenue and East 99th Street, marking yet another revitalized attempt to build the Second Avenue subway line, the New York Post reported. The site marks the location where previous construction during the 1970s was halted due to the city's fiscal crisis.
The 8.5-mile-long project will run from E. 125th Street to Hanover Square in Lower Manhattan. It will be completed in four phases to make construction more manageable, according to officials quoted in the New York Daily News. Officials also noted that nearly $3 billion in federal, state, and city funds are already in place for the first phase of the project, which is set for E. 96th Street to E. 63rd Street. The first phase will cost an estimated $3.8 billion and is scheduled for completion in 2013.
The second phase will connect E. 96th Street to E. 125th Street, and the third will extend the line from E. 72nd Street to Houston Street. The final phase of construction will link Houston and Hanover Square in the Financial District. The entire project is slated for completion by 2020.
Maikish to Step Down as Command Center Chief
Friday, April 13th: Charles Maikish announced that he plans to resign from his position as executive director of the Lower Manhattan Construction Command Center. He will leave the agency on or before July 15, 2007. For more information, please click here.
Rent Relief Extended for Downtown Tenants
Friday, April 13th: The Downtown Express this week reported that the State Assembly will continue to give rent relief to tenants in downtown Manhattan. The decision will add three years to the Commercial Revitalization Program, which provides a $2.50-per-square-foot tax abatement to building owners. Owners are then required by law to pass these savings on to their tenants in the form of reduced rents.
The program only applies to buildings that were built before 1975, and the rent relief element applies solely to the first five years of a lease. These specific restrictions are meant to encourage business owners to move into what are termed "class B and C market" commercial spaces. Considered less desirable by some larger tenants, these spaces are often well suited to the many smaller businesses that have come to represent the backbone of downtown's revitalization.
According to the Downtown Express, State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was very active in pressing Albany legislators to approve this extension. The next item to address will be the Lower Manhattan Energy Program, which offers relief on energy costs of up to 45 percent for Lower Manhattan businesses and is set to expire this June. Downtown Alliance President Eric Deutsch told the Express that he is confident that this program will also be renewed.
Spitzer Announces New LMDC Chair, President
Monday, April 16th: Governor Eliot Spitzer announced the appointment of a new chairman and president for the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation (LMDC). Avi Schick, the current president and chief operating officer of the Empire State Development Corporation, will serve as LMDC board chairman. David Emil, a New York businessman who owns and operates several local businesses, including the former Windows of the World restaurant atop the World Trade Center, will take over as president of the rebuilding agency. For more on this story, please click here.
Construction of New Performing Arts Center Delayed at Ground Zero
Tuesday, April 17th: Construction of a new performing arts center at the World Trade Center site, initially slated to be completed by 2009 or 2010, will be delayed until 2011 due to rising costs of the facility and complexity at the building site, the Daily News reported. Before the new center can be built, the Port Authority must first complete construction of its new PATH transit hub, which will be located beneath the center's site.
Rising costs for the proposed arts center have led planners to rethink the original design plans and reconsider the chosen cultural tenants. New York City Department of Cultural Affairs Commissioner Kate Levin testified to a City Council committee meeting that only the Joyce Theater will be based inside the new performing arts center. According to the News, Levin said that the city hopes to present a revised plan for the arts center within the next eight weeks and to bring the cost down to below the initial $500 million budget.
World Trade Center Memorial Funds Reach $300 Million
Wednesday, April 18th: The World Trade Center Memorial Foundation has raised $165 million since Mayor Michael Bloomberg was appointed foundation chairman six months ago, bringing the total raised to date to $300 million, just short of the $350 million goal for private donations, foundation officials reported.
More than 32,650 people have donated so far, heralding from every U.S. state and 23 foreign countries. "Every contribution, both large and small, helps make this national memorial a reality," Bloomberg said in a statement. The funds raised by the foundation will support capital and planning costs, as well as an initial endowment to support operations once the memorial and museum open.
The memorial is currently under construction and expected to open in 2009.
Pace Downtown Index Reveals Shows Downtown Defying Market Downturn
Thursday, April 19th: The Pace Downtown Index (PDI) -- the first comprehensive economic indicator for Lower Manhattan -- showed an upward trend for the downtown economy for the first quarter of the year even as the national economy faced uncertainty.
The PDI is determined by tracking economic progress as a weighted average of four variables, two representing activities in the financial markets and two representing the commercial real estate market and the city's overall economy. The selected variables are the S&P 500 Index, the Federal Funds Rate, the total commercial real estate inventory in Lower Manhattan, and the Gross Lower Manhattan Product.
The latest PDI released registered 0.11 points higher than the previous December high of 106.10. "This is great news for the downtown New York, as the U.S. economy was certainly in turmoil in the first three months of the year," said Farrokh Hormozi, professor of economics at Pace, in the most recent PDI quarterly report.
"Drops in the Dow Jones Industrials, followed by the sub-prime lending crisis, rising oil prices, slower than expected manufacturing growth, and gloomy housing market reports, created an atmosphere of uncertainty in the financial market. However, the city of New York, and particularly Lower Manhattan, showed immunity to all these and kept pace with its above-average growth rate of better than 4.4 percent," Hormozi continued.