August 3rd - August 9th, 2007
Illegal Converters Face Harsher Penalties Under New Law
August 3rd: Harsher penalties will be enforced against New York City contractors who do illegal conversions, according to a report in the New York Post. Thanks to a new bill that was signed into law this week by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, general contractors who violate the new law could faces fines between at $5,000 and $25,000, not to mention possible jail time. Anyone found guilt of illegally converting industrial or manufacturing space into residential space could face up to one year in prison.
The move comes as the city's population continues to grow rapidly and, as a result, the demand for residential property continues to soar. The new law also stipulates that all general contractors must register with the New York City Department of Buildings. This requirement is designed to keep track of violators convicted of illegal conversions and to remove them from the contracting industry entirely.
Survivors Staircase to Remain Intact Under New Plan
August 6th: Governor Eliot Spitzer and Lower Manhattan Development Corporation Chairman Avi Schick may finally have presented a winning solution to the much debated question of where the only remaining aboveground remnant of the World Trade Center towers will ultimately end up. Commonly referred to as the "survivors' staircase," the structure has received tremendous attention in New York since 9/11. It is seen by many as a symbol of resilience, according to a report in New York Times.
In the new plan, Schick proposes keeping the entire staircase intact and removing the "hulking" concrete structure around it, the Times reported. "The stairs are a potent reminder of the path to salvation and survival that many people had," Schick told the Times. Before it is approved, the new plan will have to undergo the same scrutiny that proposals before it have had to endure. This time, however, it looks like the new plan will gain the support it needs from all parties involved.
Once construction of the World Trade Center Memorial site is complete, visitors will be able to walk alongside the staircase as they descend into the site. According to Schick, this will allow visitors to experience "the path of travel" just the way those who used the stairs as an escape route on 9/11 did.
WTC Column Returns to Ground Zero
August 6th: The last piece of the Twin Towers to leave Ground Zero will be the first to return, according to a report in the New York Post. Standing 35 feet tall and weighing around 65 tons, the last column removed from the site in the spring following 9/11 has become a symbol of the attacks for many.
Due to the sheer size of the column, museum officials have said they will have to build the museum around it once it is returned to the site. The column is said to be nearly fully preserved thanks to the efforts of a team of preservationists led by Steven Weinstein and Peter Gat, the Post reported.
50 West Street Developers Face Opposition from City Officials
August 6th: Time Equities' plan to demolish the building at 50 West Street in Lower Manhattan was shot down this week by Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer. According to a report in the Downtown Express, Stringer flatly rejected developer Francis Greenburger's plan to knock down the old building in order to make way for a new 63-story mixed-use luxury tower.
Greenburger's plan would benefit from hefty tax subsidies and would include purchasing 180,000 square feet of air rights from the city for its most expensive top-floor condos. Stringer hopes his actions will help strengthen City Councilmember Alan Gerson's stance on the issue. The property is within Gerson's district, and he and other proponents of affordable housing are working to convince Time Equities to incorporate some element of affordable housing in the project.