January 5th - January 11th, 2013
Free Downtown Work Space Offered to Small Businesses Displaced By Sandy
January 4 - The owners of theWorld Financial Centerare offering up free work space -- complete with Wi-Fi and stellar views -- for small businesses and nonprofits displaced by Sandy, reported DNAinfo.com. Brookfield has outfitted 250 workstations with tables, chairs, Internet and cellular access on the 26th floor of their 250 Vesey St. building for those uprooted by the storm. The offices, which are available for up to six months, are currently home to 16 organizations and businesses from Lower Manhattan and Chelsea. A Brookfield spokeswoman said there are currently about 25 open seats and encouraged businesses to continue to apply for space, since more spots will become available as the companies return to their buildings. Brookfield is one of several property owners donating workspace, power and Internet to those still recovering from the storm through a program started by the New York City Economic Development Corporation.
Landlords Are Blocking Rewiring of Cable After Hurricane, Verizon Says
January 7 - Rewiring all of Lower Manhattan with fiber-optic cable after Hurricane Sandy would be hard enough without landlords blocking the way with their palms open. But that is what Verizon alleges some are doing, reported the New York Times. Verizon, whose copper wires under the streets of the financial district were ruined by floodwaters, complained last week that many building owners in Lower Manhattan had barred their doors. Some have simply refused to let the company in, but others have demanded exorbitant fees for access, the company said in a petition to state regulators. A Verizon spokesman declined to say how much the landlords asked for, but cable-industry executives said building owners have sought as much as $150 per apartment in what are known as door fees. For a building like 11 Maiden Lane, that could translate to more than $10,000. Door fees and other financial arrangements between landlords and cable companies were commonplace before regulators started fostering competition. The companies paid to have exclusive access to apartment buildings and complexes, either in upfront fees based on the number of potential customers or by agreeing to share the revenue derived from tenants. But in 2007, the Federal Communications Commission banned cable companies from striking such deals to keep competitors out. Verizon has been rushing to replace all of the copper wire that was damaged by the salt water that flooded into the financial district when Hurricane Sandy hit more than two months ago. The company appealed to regulators on the need to restore telephone service but based the petition on a regulation that prohibits blocking access to cable TV providers. Landlords and their representatives said they recognized the opportunity Verizon was hoping to cash in on. But some said they did not feel any urgency to let the company in to start running wires along their stairwells and hallways.
Downtown Preschool Relocating to the Village to Avoid Future Flooding
January 7 - An elite Manhattan preschool that had planned to open a Financial District location is heading to higher ground after the mass destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy, reported DNAinfo.com. The head of the Mandell School said Monday morning the uptown institution will open a new preschool location this fall inside the Archive Building on Greenwich and Barrow streets in the West Village, which hired experts determined would be a safe location, after their planned Broad Street location sustained water and electrical damage.School officials and outside experts looked at changes to the building's infrastructure that would protect the school from future storm damage. Ultimately, though, dealing with those decisions, plus opening a preschool seemed like a little too much to conquer at once, said a school spokesperson.
Woman Hurt in 1993 WTC bombing loses $5.4 Million Award from Port Authority
January 8 - A woman who suffered devastating injuries in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing was stripped her of $5.4 million jury award against the Port Authority Tuesday, reported the NY Daily News. Linda Nash won the multimillion-dollar verdict in 2009, after waiting 16 years for her day in court against the agency. She argued that its poor security at the WTC opened the door for the truck bombing that killed six and injured more than 1,000. Nash, then an accounting exec at Deloitte and Touche, was in the twin towers underground garage when the bomb went off there. She had been hit in the head with debris and was trapped in the smoldering garage until she was rescued by firefighters, suffering brain damage and lung scarring as a result. Nash had been able to sue the Port Authority after a jury found the agency was 68 percent responsible for the terror attack because it had ignored numerous warnings from security experts about the garages vulnerability to car bombs. But in 2011 -- two years after the Nash verdict -- the states highest court, the Court of Appeals, excluded the PA from liability in another lawsuit. The PA used that ruling to argue the Nash case should be tossed as well. In a 3-2 ruling, the state Appellate Division agreed that Nash's judgment should be tossed because it was based on an order that has been reversed. Nash now lives in Durango, Colo., raising horses. Her lawyer said he would appeal the ruling.
Several Dozen Injured in Ferry Crash in Lower Manhattan
January 9 - A total of 74 people were injured Wednesday when a ferry coming from New Jersey slammed into a dock at a pier in Lower Manhattan, reported the New York Times and other news outlets. On Wednesday evening investigators said mechanical failure caused the crash. Crew members told NYPD investigators the navigation controls locked or froze into place as the ferry was headed into dock. Around 8:40 a.m., the ferry banged into the mooring as it was coming into Pier 11 at South Street and Gouverneur Lane, officials said. Police said there were 326 passengers and five crew members aboard when the impact sent people off their feet and onto the deck. A picture of a nearly shattered window provided an idea of the force of the crash. The crash brought a massive emergency response to the pier near the South Street Seaport. The injuries ranged from broken bones to wrenched backs and twisted necks. Of those injured, two were in critical condition with head wounds, officials said. Nine more were in serious condition. As of 5 p.m., one remained in critical condition, and all but four had been treated and released.
Congress Passes Sandy Flood Insurance Bill
January 9 - One of the first acts of the newly sworn-in 113th Congress was to vote ona $9.7 billion bill to fund the National Flood Insurance Program, reported the Downtown Express. After having taken the oath of office the day before, the House of Representatives passed the bill on the morning of Jan. 4, 2013. The bill then went to the Senate, which approved it by unanimous consent. It will become law when President Barack Obama signs it. The vote in the House was 354 in favor, 67, against. All of the votes against the bill came from Republicans, who opposed passage without equivalent cuts elsewhere in the federal budget. The National Flood Insurance Program covers structural losses due to flooding such as that caused by Superstorm Sandy. Without the package that passed Congress on Jan. 4, the program would have run out of money by mid-January. According to FEMA, around 140,000 Sandy-related claims have been filed so far, with many applicants having received only partial payments. Congress is scheduled to vote on a $51 billion Sandy aid package on Jan. 15.
Setting Liberty Street Free
January 9 - The liberation of Liberty Street is within sight -- a move that will also make visible the scaffolding-blocked stores across from the World Trade Center. The Downtown Express reported that the construction shed went up over a year and a half ago to protect residents, workers and tourists from falling debris from the construction of 4 WTC. "Weather permitting, we hope to enclose the south side of 4 World Trade Center around the end of February," said Dara McQuillan, spokesperson for developer Silverstein Properties. Once enclosed, the scaffolding can be removed. Although some thought of it as a necessary evil to protect people, proponents and opponents agreed it had more than its share of negative consequences. The scaffolding went up soon after a boy was hit and slightly injured from a piece of debris in 2011. Silverstein agreed to the shed soon after at the request of the community board.
Remediation Works Begins at Asphalt Green Community Center
January 11 - The new community center on North End Avenue, built by the Battery Park City Authority (BPCA) and slated to be managed by Asphalt Green, was a few weeks from debuting when Hurricane Sandy struck in late October, but now appears to be many months from opening, according to The Broadsheet. At the time of the storm, construction was essentially complete, a year-long process of obtaining safety inspections and permits was successfully concluded, and a long-running contract dispute between the BPCA and Asphalt Green was amicably resolved. In a statement released on January 8, the Authority detailed a list of problems created by Hurricane Sandy, which flooded the centers two lower levels: both swimming pools (and the machinery rooms that support them) were contaminated with sewage, the gymnasium floor was irreparably warped, as was the foam flooring in two exercise rooms. Several hundred square feet of wall sustained water damage. Electrical transformers, as well as central heating and air conditioning units, were submerged and will need to be replaced. Additionally, damaged insulation and wiring will have to be replaced throughout the facility. BPCA spokesman Matthew Monahan explained that some of this work is already in progress. In the meantime, however, he noted that the Authority is in the process of ordering material and equipment for the next stages of reconstruction. Monahan says, "We are pushing ahead and we are optimistic about getting this done as quickly as possible."