March 16th - March 22nd, 2013
Fire Re-Ignites from Weekend Blaze on Fulton Street
March 18 - Firefighters have brought under control a 3-alarm fire at a commercial building in Lower Manhattan, reported the Associated Press. The fire at 140 Fulton Street was at the same address where firefighters battled a 4-alarm blaze on Sunday. There were no reports of injuries at the 5-story, mixed-occupancy building Monday or Sunday. There were no people inside on either day. A fire department spokesman says firefighters worked through the afternoon Sunday to make sure the fire was out. But at 1:55 a.m. Monday they received a 911 of a fire at the same building. The blaze went to a second alarm at 2:25 a.m. and to a third alarm at 3:39 a.m. Part of the roof collapsed. The fire is under investigation.
Startups Take the H.E.L.M. and $250K in Downtown Manhattan
March 18 - Move over Silicon Alley -- a new burgeoning tech community is working to take over the Financial District. According to Fox Business, the Take the H.E.L.M. Competition, which stands for hiring and expanding in Lower Manhattan, has awarded five startups now have an extra $250,000 in cash to move or expand south of Chambers Street. The competition was sponsored by the New York City Economic Development Corporation. Three hundred applicants were first narrowed down to 19 finalists, each receiving $10,000 in cash grants to help grow their companies. But will the tech community moving to this location cause a rivalry between the Financial District and what has become known as Silicon Alley, in Union Square? One official hopes a rivalry begins - it is good for business.
Seaport Restaurateur Sues Pier 17 Developer Over Eviction After Sandy
March 18 - The owners of a shuttered South Street Seaport restaurant are suing their landlord, real estate giant Howard Hughes Corporation, claiming the company has "fraudulently" refused to reopen the restaurant's building months after Hurricane Sandy as a way of forcing them out of their below-market lease, reported DNAinfo.com. The Himami family, which owns six eateries on the Seaport's soon-to-be overhauled Pier 17, says in the suit that Howard Hughes has in "bad faith" kept the Link Building -- which sits next to the pier's mall -- closed since the massive storm. Although Howard Hughes managed to reopen the Pier 17 mall about a month after Sandy hit, tenants of the adjacent Link Building, which is home to the Himamis' Seaport Cafe, received notice in late December that the building would remain shuttered because of storm damage. The suit charges that the real reason Howard Hughes hasn't reopened the Link Building is that the developer wants to force the Seaport Cafe out of its below-market lease, which expires in September 2017, before the company guts the entire pier and replaces it with high-end shops and restaurants built in a sleek, glass structure. The suit, which is seeking $600,000 in damages, also claims that Howard Hughes' own architect certified to the Department of Buildings last fall that the Link Building was safe to reoccupy, so there is no reason for Howard Hughes to keep it closed.
CB1 Chair Testifies to City Council About Impact of Budget Cuts
March 19 - Community Board 1, which functions as the voice of Lower Manhattan residents in local politics, land use, public spending, and education (as well as a variety of other matters) is facing a budget cut of eight percent, which could severely curtail its operations. According to the Broadsheet, this cut, mandated by the Bloomberg administration, would amount to more than $15,000 and would likely require CB1 to eliminate one of its three full-time staff positions. In testimony before the City Council's Committee on Governmental Operations last Thursday, CB1 chair Catherine McVay Hughes said, "Our budget provides the minimum resources that we need to adequately carry out our responsibilities as mandated by the New York City Charter. We provide operating support for ten committees. In 2012, we processed applications for 70 street activity permits, 62 liquor licenses, 26 sidewalk cafes, and 5 newsstands along with 43 applications to the Landmarks Preservation Commission and 10 to the City Planning Commission. We testified at 13 public hearings in 2012." McVay Hughes observed that CB1 plays an especially vital role because, "Lower Manhattan has the fastest growing residential population in New York City, and this rapid increase is also placing a strain on infrastructure and services in the area. Among the issues on which CB1 has taken the lead, she noted, are recovery from Hurricane Sandy and ongoing reconstruction related to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
The Port Inks $875M Deal for 1 WTC Observatory
March 19 - Legends Hospitality LLC, which is owned by the Dallas Cowboys, the Yankees and an investment fund, has been selected to run the observation deck atop One World Trade Center, reported various news sources. The observation deck will give an estimated 3.8 million annual visitors a view from 1,250 feet above ground, and will bring in $875 million in revenue to the Port Authority over its 15-year least, officials said. Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who announced the decision with Gov. Chris Christie, said the move "builds on the tremendous progress we have made at the World Trade Center ... and marks the continued rebirth of Lower Manhattan." One World Trade Center is expected to open in 2014.
Seaport Zoning Plan Modified
March 21- The City Council voted on Wednesday to approve a modified version of a controversial rezoning plan for the South Street Seaport neighborhood, reported the Broadsheet. This move clears the way for the Howard Hughes Corporation, which holds a 60-year lease on several Seaport buildings, to begin redevelopment of the complex, while also addressing some -- but not all -- of the reservations about the plan voiced by Lower Manhattan community leaders. Among the concessions incorporated into the amended plan, the company agreed to make Pier 17 more freely accessible to the public, with open space on the roof that will be available for use by community groups free of charge. The developer has also agreed to retain an acoustical consultant to help mitigate the noise from a concert venue planned for Pier 17's roof. But the most important change may be a requirement that the developer set aside space for two new food markets in the complex.
High-Tech High-Rise Opens in Lower Manhattan
March 21 - A massive center for processing high-tech data opened Wednesday in the old Verizon building near the Brooklyn Bridge, reported the NY Daily News. The fortress-like building in Lower Manhattan will provide a million square feet for computers and servers to crunch data for everything from financial firms to health care companies. It is the biggest high-rise data center in the world, officials said. The center is dubbed Integrate.Manhattan. "Ensuring that institutions can securely store, access and share data really is key to our city's flourishing tech presence and future," Mayor Bloomberg said. The New York Genome Center, a biotech institute, will be the first tenant. Center chief Dr. Robert Darnell said the superpowerful computers will be key to crunching genetic data. The building has a Con Ed substation to supply juice for the computers, housed on the second and third floors to avoid storm damage.