Lower Manhattan’s Local News
You Won’t Have John Catsimatidis to Kick Around Anymore
Gristedes Shuts Southern Battery Park City Location Amid General Retrenchment in Supermarkets
The number of grocery stores in Battery Park City is shrinking by one. In a story first reported by the Tribeca Citizen website, Gristedes Supermarket, a fixture at the corner of South End Avenue and West Thames Street for decades, is slated to shut down today.
Two Gristedes employees told the Broadsheet that they believe the store will reopen in several months, after an extensive modernization. But this narrative is contradicted by multiple reports that John Catsimatidis, the billionaire owner of the grocery chain, wants to put the 10,000-square-foot space to more lucrative use. (The second Gristedes outpost in Battery Park City, located at 315 South End Avenue, in Gateway Plaza, is unaffected by these plans.)
The company’s desire to shut down the 71 South End Avenue location has been public knowledge since 2015, when Mr. Catsimatidis first hired a broker to find a new tenant for the space, which he owns. But this push took on fresh urgency two years later, when he retained a different broker to begin marketing the 10,000-square foot facility. At the same time, he also began shopping the lease for another Gristedes outlet in Lower Manhattan, located at 90 Maiden Lane, in the Financial District.
Gristedes had a near-monopoly on the supermarket business in Lower Manhattan for decades, during which local residents chronically groused about both quality and price at the supermarkets. But in recent years, the company has come under intense pressure below Chambers Street, with the arrival of more upscale markets like Whole Foods, in Tribeca, and Le District, in Brookfield Place. This rivalry intensified in 2016 when the Westfield World Trade Center retail complex opened with more than a dozen food destinations such as a new Eataly market and a spinoff of celebrity chef Daniel Boulud’s upscale market, Epicerie Boulud.
And that competitive landscape appears poised to become more rigorous in the near future. Whole Foods signed a lease in 2016 to create a 44,000-square foot store in the Financial District, at the corner of Broadway and Exchange Place, just steps away from Gristedes Maiden Lane location. (The new Whole Foods is expected to open in 2021.) And residents have been pushing the owners of 28 Liberty Street, where a large new retail destination is currently under construction, to lure Trader Joe’s to open an outpost there. (Thus far, these efforts have yielded no conclusive results.)
Nor is Gristedes the only grocer pulling up stakes Downtown. In 2013, Fairway announced with much fanfare that it would soon open a 52,000-square foot flagship store in Tribeca, but these plans were scrapped two years later. In 2019, Dean & Deluca in November canceled plans to plant their flag at 40 Wall Street, also in the Financial District. (More recently, Fairway announced plans to close most of its stores, while Dean & Deluca entered bankruptcy.)
In a separate (but related) development, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and City Council member Margaret Chin are leading a push to help grocery stores remain viable. Together, they have introduced legislation in the City Council to exempt affordable grocery stores from the commercial rent tax (CRT), which imposes an annual 3.9 percent surcharge on the rent paid by a store. Enacted in 1963, the CRT is currently levied on businesses below 96th Street, but nowhere else in the five boroughs.
In this context, “affordable” is defined as any supermarket that accepts food vouchers from public-assistance plans like Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), while also setting aside at least 500 square feet of store space for moderately priced fresh produce.
Under these terms, many Lower Manhattan supermarkets would likely quality for the tax break. This will strike many local residents, long accustomed to paying a galling premium at the checkout counter, as deeply counterintuitive. But it is a feature, rather than a bug in the program’s design. Even with high prices (which are more often a reflection of the staggering cost of renting space and doing business in Manhattan, rather than of windfall profits), many supermarkets operate on a razor-thin margin. They also face increased pressure from landlords, who hanker for the higher rents that might be obtained from banks or drugstore chains, or by splitting the large floor area of a typical supermarket into multiple, smaller storefronts. (Many of the same landlords are also deluged with offers to empty their properties entirely, so that they can be demolished and redeveloped as larger structures — almost none of which end of housing a new supermarket.)
These conditions are vouchsafed by the fact that more than a few local groceries have vanished from Lower Manhattan in recent years, such as Tribeca’s Food Emporium (and its successor at the same location on Greenwich Street, Best Market) and Bazzini, along with Met Foods in Little Italy, and Pathmark in Two Bridges. Throughout the five boroughs, the City lost roughly 300 greengrocers between 2005 and 2015, with one-third of these causalities occurring in Manhattan. In the majority of cases, these closures occurred in low-income communities, which already lack access to fresh food.
“Affordable supermarkets are the lifeblood of our communities, and New York City is losing them at a rapid pace,” observed Ms. Brewer.
“Every time a grocery store closes its doors, the community suffers,” added Ms. Chin. “While our grocery stores fuel the vitality of neighborhoods across the City, too many of them have been forced to pay the antiquated commercial rent tax on top of the hundreds of thousands of dollars they already pay in rent. Two years ago, the Council passed a landmark bill to exempt more businesses from having to pay this tax. The legislation we are introducing builds on that effort by providing desperately needed relief for the grocery stores and workers on the frontlines of combatting food insecurity in our neighborhoods.”
International Holocaust Remembrance Day
Museum of Jewish Heritage
75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. Public candle-lighting area in the Anne & Bernard Spitzer Grand Foyer and free admission to MJH highlights. 36 Battery Place. FREE
Fraunces Tavern Museum
The Art of Chinese New Year
The Art of Chinese New Year is a vibrant, interactive experience where visitors of all ages can explore the Chinese New Year holiday and the traditional visual and performing arts related to it. The installation captures the sights and sounds of the holiday through displays, artist workshops, and hands-on activities, leading visitors to a deeper experience, and a greater understanding, of traditional Chinese culture. In the visual arts, visitors will learn about nianhua (New Year pictures), spring couplets, and papercutting. A showcase on the art of shadow puppetry will feature antique puppets, a traditional shadow puppet theater, and a theater where children can create their own puppet shows. At a lion dance display, visitors can try on real lion dance costumes. 40 Rector Street. FREE
Assembly Member Niou to Host Constituent Symposium This Weekend
This Sunday, Assembly member Yuh-Line Niou will host her annual Legislative and Budgetary Town Hall to discuss priorities for the Albany lawmaking session that began earlier this month.
“Our annual legislative and budget Town Hall is one of our biggest events we hold every year. It’s another opportunity for our community to engage our government and play an active role in advocating for the changes we want to see in our state,” Ms. Niou says. “Inviting constituents to speak with me, our panelists, and each other is so important. The Town Hall promotes engagement and transparency in politics, which is critical in our political climate. We give our constituents information about the budget and our legislative plans and promote discussions on the issues that matter the most to them.”
Asking for the Millennium
City Announces Agreement to Expand FiDi’s Millennium High School
On January 15, jubilant elected officials, community leaders, and education officials toured the new space into which the Financial District’s Millennium High School will expand over the next two years. This was the culmination of a multi-year campaign to win approval and funding for the school’s growth.
To read more…
Vicinage with Vigor
Lower Manhattan Ranked Among Healthiest Districts in New York
Two Lower Manhattan neighborhoods rank among the healthiest communities anywhere in the five boroughs of New York City, according to new research by RentHop, an online listings database.
The analysis gauged overall healthy by three criteria: the proportion of overall space within each community set aside for parks, the number of gyms (and other fitness facilities) in each neighborhood, and the tally of vegetarian restaurants in each area (relative to its number of households).
CLASSIFIEDS & PERSONALS
Swaps & Trades ~ Respectable Employment ~ Lost & Found
NEED A PERSONAL ASSISTANT?
ORGANIZED, RELIABLE, KNOWLEDGEABLE.
LOCAL HIGH SCHOOL SENIOR AVAILABLE
FOR BABYSITTING OR TUTORING
17 year old young man, lifetime resident of Tribeca and BPC.
Went to PS 234, Lab Middle School and currently attending Millennium HS. This summer was a Councilor at Pierce Country Day Camp. Excellent references.Very experienced with kids under 10.
Available for weeknight and weekend baby-sitting and tutoring middle-schoolers in Math or Science. Please contact Emmett at 917.733.3572
IT AND SECURITY SUPPORT
Experienced IT technician. Expertise in 1-on-1 tutoring for all ages.Computer upgrading & troubleshooting. Knowledgeable in all software programs.
James Keirstead email@example.com
347-933-1362 References available
CERTIFIED HOME HEALTH AIDE SEEKING
Full-Time Live-In Elder Care
I am loving, caring and hardworking with 12 years experience. References available. Marcia 347-737-5037 firstname.lastname@example.org
NOTARY PUBLIC IN BPC
$2 per notarized signature Text Paula at 917-836-8802
ELDER CARE NURSE AIDE
with 17 years experience seeks PT/FT work. Refs available Call or text 718 496 6232 Dian
Available starting September for PT/FT.
Wonderful person, who is a great worker. Reference Available
Available for PT/FT elder care. Experienced. References Angella
EXPERIENCED ELDER CARE
Able to prepare nutritious meals and light housekeeping
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If you would like to place a listing, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Eyes to the Sky
January 21 – February 2, 2020
Cygnus the Swan Soars as Summer Triangle sets
The Summer Triangle’s long season in the evening sky ends this week, although one of its remarkable stars, Deneb, lingers for another month. The Summer Triangle is a star pattern known as an asterism; three outstanding stars shape it, one from each of three constellations. It is a commanding sight from its emergence in the evening sky in May through summertime and autumn. Now, stretched out on the skyline from west to northwest as darkness gathers, the great triangle is particularly impressive, but fleeting.
To read more…
The Greek Calends
After Two-Year Hiatus, Work to Resume at St. Nicholas Church
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced on January 2 that a newly formed non-profit organization will raise funds and underwrite the completion of the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, within the World Trade Center Complex.
The building, designed by renowned architect Santiago Calatrava (who additionally created the nearby Oculus, also in the World Trade Center) is slated to replace the histo precious parish church that fell among the victims of September 11. To read more…
Hundreds of Local Storefronts Remain Rented to Corporate Brands
A new report from the Center for an Urban Future (CUF), a public policy think tank that uses data-driven research to bring attention to overlooked issues, documents that the proliferation of chain stores in Lower Manhattan has decreased slightly during the past 12 months, but at a slower rate than for the City as a whole.
Today in History
AD 98 – Trajan succeeds his adoptive father Nerva as Roman emperor;under his rule the Roman Empire would reach its maximum extent.
1343 – Pope Clement VI issues the papal bull Unigenitus to justify the power of the pope and the use of indulgences. Nearly 200 years later, Martin Luther would protest this.
1606 – Gunpowder Plot: The trial of Guy Fawkes and other conspirators begins, ending with their execution on January 31.
1825 – The U.S. Congress approves Indian Territory (in what is present-day Oklahoma), clearing the way for forced relocation of the Eastern Indians on the “Trail of Tears”.
1880 – Thomas Edison receives a patent for his incandescent lamp.
1585 – Hendrick Avercamp, Dutch painter (d. 1634)
1756 – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Austrian pianist and composer (d. 1791)
947 – Zhang Yanze, Chinese general and governor
1592 – Gian Paolo Lomazzo, Italian painter (b. 1538)
Photos and information culled from Wikipedia and other internet sources
Cuomo Announces Planned Expansion of Museum of Jewish Heritage
At his annual State of the State address, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo included on his list of dozens of proposals an announcement that he was directing the Battery Park City Authority to develop an expansion plan for the Museum of Jewish Heritage — A Living Memorial to the Holocaust, located within Wagner Park, on Battery Place.
They Didn’t Get the Memo…
Much-Touted Crackdown on Placard Parking Not All It Was Cracked Up to Be
Amid much fanfare, multiple City agencies recently announced that they would take part in a crackdown on illegal parking by government employees, whose personal vehicles bear placards that allow them to leave their cars blocking bus stops, crosswalks, fire hydrants, bike lanes, and lanes needed for use by fire trucks and ambulances.
By Tuesday, it appeared that dozens of law enforcement personnel who work in Battery Park City hadn’t heard, or perhaps knew better.
When a Deadline Becomes a Lifeline
Renewed Victims Compensation Fund Extends Cutoff Date for Registration
Following last summer’s passage of a new law that extends (and expands funding for) the September 11th Victims Compensation Fund (VCF), the Fund will be accepting claims until it sunsets in 2090. Another benefit of passage is that the cutoff date by which current claimants must register for the VCF has been pushed back to July 29, 2021.
Kimberly Flynn, the director of 9/11 Environmental Action, a non-profit advocacy group whose mission is to ensure that those who were affected by September 11 (physically or emotionally) get the specialized health care they need, commented, “the best possible news is that on July 29, 2019, the ‘Never Forget the Heroes: James Zadroga, Ray Pfeifer, and Luis Alvarez Permanent Authorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund Act’ was signed into law.
Recalling Five Points
Epicenter of a Notorious Slum Proposed for Commemoration
In 1831, the City government considered a petition that warned, “that the place known as “Five points” has long been notorious… as being the nursery where every species of vice is conceived and matured; that it is infested by a class of the most abandoned and desperate character.”
A decade later, Charles Dickens, visiting New York, wrote of the same Lower Manhattan neighborhood that had inspired the petition, “what place is this, to which the squalid street conducts us? A kind of square of leprous houses, some of which are attainable only by crazy wooden stairs without. What lies behind this tottering flight of steps? Let us go on again, and plunge into the Five Points…. To read more…
Cruise Ships in New York Harbor
Arrivals & Departures
Sunday February 2
07:00 ~ 17:00
10:00 ~ 16:00
07:00 ~ 17:00
07:00 ~ 17:00
10:00 ~ 16:00
Many ships pass Lower Manhattan on their way to and from the Midtown Passenger Ship Terminal. Others may be seen on their way to or from piers in Brooklyn and Bayonne. Stated times, when appropriate, are for passing the Colgate clock in Jersey City, New Jersey, and are based on sighting histories, published schedules and intuition. They are also subject to passenger and propulsion problems, tides, fog, winds, freak waves, hurricanes and the whims of upper management.
Death Came Calling at the Corner of Wall and Broad Streets, in Lower Manhattan’s First Major Terrorist Attack
As the noon hour approached on a fall Thursday morning in 1920, a horse-drawn wagon slowly made its way west down Wall Street toward “the Corner,” the high-powered intersection of Wall and Broad. Its driver came to a gentle stop in front of the Assay Office, where stockpiles of gold and silver were stored and tested for purity. But theft was not his motive.
Cass Gilbert and the Evolution of the New York Skyscraper
by John Simko
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