February 9th - February 15th, 2013
Pier 17 Mall Remake Gets a Big Boost from Planning Commission
February 7 - Plans for a major overhaul of the Pier 17 mall took a big step forward Wednesday when the New York City Planning Commission approved a variety of zoning changes, special permits and a lease between the city and the developer, reported the Tribeca Trib. The commission gave its OK to most parts of the Howard Hughes Corporation application to develop a two-story, 60,000 square foot mall, with rooftop public space and a performance venue. But minor and not-so-minor changes include restricted illumination of retail signs, required mooring, and more rooftop space than originally proposed. Perhaps most importantly, the commission nixed a big, controversial sign proclaiming The Seaport. The 18-foot-high, 90-foot-long illuminated sign had been proposed to go atop the redesigned Pier 17 mall and had drawn the ire of Community Board 1, though the Landmarks Preservation Commission had approved it. The Pier 17 project is expected to break ground in July, unless it hits an unexpected snag before the New York City Council, when it comes up for a final vote within the next 50 days. Burden praised the mall project and told the packed hearing that it would be an important economic boost to the area, bringing more people to the waterfront when the project is completed in 2015.
PEP Rally: Authority Signs on for Three More Years of Parks Patrol
February 11 - The January 29 meeting of the Battery Park City Authority board of directors included a vote to extend for up to three years the Authority's contract that provides Parks Enforcement Patrol officers to patrol the community, as well as a discussion about the quality of service they provide, reported The Broadsheet.
Downtown Families Face Space Crunch in Beloved Schools
February 11 - The general consensus among Lower Manhattan parents is that they love their highly regarded public elementary schools, according to DNAinfo.com. There is just one longstanding problem: there are not enough of them. Lower Manhattan, one of the city's fastest-growing residential neighborhoods, has nearly doubled its population since Sept. 11, 2001 -- but many residents say the Department of Education is not keeping pace with the baby boom. Despite the opening of three new schools since 2009, classes remain packed, and there are annual waitlists and lotteries. Last spring, nearly 100 kindergartners were waitlisted for their zoned downtown schools, and this year, parents say they fear the overflow may be even worse. Parents just hope the schools they moved to the neighborhood for will still have available spaces for their kids.The DOE has proposed a controversial plan to bus dozens of downtown kids to 12 available classrooms at P.S. 1 in Chinatown in the fall.
Port Authority Denies 18-Month Delay at WTC PATH Station
February 13 - At $3.4 billion, the new Port Authority Trans-Hudson terminal at the World Trade Center will very likely be the single most expensive subway station on earth, reported the Commercial Observer. Riders traveling between the Financial District and New Jersey have been using the $323 million temporary station since it opened a decade ago. And if you believe Cheryl McKissack Daniel, a subcontractor who did ashort Q&A with TheNew York Times,the project will be delayedanother 18 months due to damage incurred during Hurricane Sandy. Before the storm, the new station wasscheduled to openin 2015. An 18-month delay would push that date back to 2016, at the earliest. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, however, denied that there is any delay, and insisted that the station is still anticipated to be complete by 2015. They have not yet, however, responded to inquiries by The Observer regarding possible cost escalations to be borne by the Port Authority in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.
MTA Slog on South Ferry Reopening
February 13 - The A train -- which lost huge swaths of track to the Rockaways in Hurricane Sandy -- should resume normal service in June, but the outlook for the restoration of the South Ferry 1-train terminal remains unclear, officials said yesterday. The NY Post reported that the agency is looking for ways to bring limited service to the lower Manhattan terminal, but is not sure when that would be. The damage was so bad that it will take another two to three months to develop so much as a time line. The agency had previously said that it could take three years and $600 million to completely repair the station, which underwent a more than $500 million renovation and expansion in 2009. Limited service could include running some trains through the station during construction or using the old South Ferry station, which is currently closed. The MTA had looked at using buses to shuttle ferry riders to Rector Street station, the next-closest stop. But it was deemed impractical to shuttle tens of thousands of people a day a few blocks on a bus.
Historic Proto-Skyscraper to Fall for Higher Spire
February 14 - Lower Manhattan is about to lose an old friend. The Broadsheet reported that the historic Western Electric building at the corner of Greenwich and Thames Streets, in the Financial District, is slated to be demolished and replaced by a 50-story residential tower, with the wrecking ball falling in later spring or early summer of this year. The Romanesque revival style building was bought by a developer in 2011, plans were announced to convert the latter to a hotel and retail complex, while tearing down the Western Electric building and replacing it with a high rise. At several hearings in 2011, Community Board 1 advocated for the Western Electric building to be considered for landmark status, and the legal protection that would confer. But in August, 2011, the Landmarks Preservation Commission ruled against the request, even though the structure is a pioneering example of early skyscraper architecture and is one of the last remaining factory buildings in Lower Manhattan. Within a few months, it will be a hole in the ground.
Downtown Construction to Continue But LMCCC to Close in 2013
February 14 - The agency coordinating construction at the World Trade Center and nearby sites is in its last year of operation as the work winds down -- but predicts mid to high levels of downtown construction through 2016, reported the Downtown Express. Lower Manhattan Construction Command Center (L.M.C.C.C.) officials are forecasting widespread public works and private development, resulting in over 2,600 units (and this is a low estimate) of residential housing in the next four years. Yet the Command Center is not planning to continue beyond its three year extension to the end of 2013. Despite that, the community board will be sorry to see them go, said Michael Levine, C.B. 1 director of planning and land use. He also said that while Downtown construction might not be on the scale of years past, it will certainly not go away. "We have been asking every year for their continued funding, and we plan to keep asking," he said. Originally established in 2005 to coordinate W.T.C. construction by Port Authority as well as projects from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and state Department of Transportation, the organization has begun to keep track of a wider range of activities as Downtown construction decentralizes. It is the Command Center's job to coordinate construction of permitted projects, monitor air quality and noise levels around Downtown using four stationary and several mobile units, and connect to the community. It was a surprise for many of the members to see how much large scale development will be going on residentially in coming years, Levine noted.