October 19th - October 25th, 2007
Mayor Disagrees with City Council over Explosives Regulation
October 25th: Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Council Speaker Christine Quinn reached a "rare note of legislation discord" this week over a proposal in the City Council that would impose a new regulation on the construction industry, according to a report in the New York Sun.
The council and Speaker Quinn are pushing for a new law that would impose revised rules for using explosives during site excavation and demolition. The law would impact the construction industry in that it would add additional layers of both city and state oversight to the demolition process. If passed, the law will also require that a city inspector be present on site any time a contractor engages in blasting.
The bill comes in response to the partial collapse of a retaining wall on the Upper West Side earlier this summer, according to the Sun. The collapse apparently occurred just shortly after workers on the site used explosives for excavation purposes. Critics of the bill say that it will add unnecessary regulations that would strain the department and other agencies while not increasing the level of safety.
Lower Manhattan Still Fighting to Keep Merrill Lynch Downtown
October 25th: The New York Times speculates this week that long-time Lower Manhattan tenant Merrill Lynch may be moving its headquarters to a new skyscraper in midtown. However, Lower Manhattan leaders are not ready to give up the fight for the company and its 11,000 employees.
"We understand that Merrill is still reviewing several options and suspect that they have to take into account a variety of factors, including cost and execution risk, before determining how to proceed," said Empire State Development Corporation President Avi Schick. According to the Times, both Larry A. Silverstein, the developer at ground zero, and Brookfield Properties, Merrill's current landlord at the nearby World Financial Center, have increased incentives this week to further entice the company to stay put. Reports this week say that Merrill Lynch has been offered a lease in Lower Manhattan that would be $1 billion cheaper than its prospective midtown location.
More Shopping at World Trade Center
October 24th: A new retail plan has been put in place for the new World Trade Center site, according to the New York Post. The plan includes shopping on six levels, including outlet space located both above and below ground levels. The 500,000 square feet of retail space will span from the Fulton Street Transit Hub to the World Financial Center across various concourses and portions of the new towers, reports the Post.
Robert K. Futterman, chairman of Robert K. Futterman & Association, had this to say to the Post when asked about the new retail developments: "It has so much going for it. It's a tourist location and has a cultural component and great visibility and access to the subways, the PATH train and the West Side Highway." A good chunk of the street level retail space will be located along Church Street. Additionally, tree-lined pedestrian corridors will allow "shopping interaction" between the new towers, according to the Post.
Save Pier 40! Parents Demand Alternative to Entertainment Megacomplex
October 22nd: The battle to save Greenwich Village's Pier 40 continues, according to reports in the New York Post this week. A group of "high-powered" parents, calling themselves the Pier 40 Partnership, have stepped up this week in a bid to find an alternative to the proposed entertainment megacomplex planned for the site.
Soccer and baseball fields at Pier 40 are among the many luxuries it provides for residents -- particularly the neighborhood children -- and they would no longer be available if the new megacomplex is approved for construction, according to the report. Parents are now working to raise money to hire consultants who could help identify a "low-key option to keep the pier afloat," reports the Post.
The Hudson River Park Trust, which controls Pier 40 and the five-mile stretch of waterfront park, is reviewing two proposals to rebuild the pier and develop it for commercial and recreational use. One plan would make the pier the new home to Cirque du Soleil and would include a multi-screen theater for the Tribeca Film Festival. The second plan would open privately operated summer camp and athletic facilities. However, no final decisions have been made about the future direction of Pier 40 at this time.
Tenants Leaving Midtown Flock to Lower Manhattan
October 19th: Tenants relocating their office space to Lower Manhattan account for nearly one-third of all leasing activity downtown, reports Real Estate Weekly this week. Rents in the midtown area have soared by 40 percent in the past year, which is why many are said to be attracted to the downtown area, where asking rents are less than two-thirds those in midtown.
Over the past two-and-a-half years, 171 firms from various industries have chosen to relocate their offices to Lower Manhattan. That number represents nearly four million square feet in office leasing activity, according to the Weekly. The new tenants are still made up in large part by the FIRE sector -- finance, insurance and real estate businesses; however, reports say that the professional services industry, particularly law firms, has been catching up recently.