During Pandemic and Revenue Shortfall, City Hall Prioritizes Plans for New Ferry
The ferry terminal on the esplanade (near Vesey Street) is slated by summer to begin hosting an additional 60 vessels each day, carrying as many as 2,500 passengers, as the City inaugurates a new ferry service between Battery Park City and Staten Island.
Amid a massive budget crunch that may require laying off several thousand City employees and slashing services, the administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio has nonetheless found room in municipal coffers to move ahead with plans for a new subsidized ferry that will connect Staten Island with Battery Park City, and Midtown.
Construction began in December at the Staten Island site of a new landing for the planned service, which was originally slated to begin running before the close of 2020, but has now been pushed back to the summer of this year, due to logistical complications caused by the ongoing pandemic.
The plan has proved controversial among Lower Manhattan residents and community leaders, because it will bring to the Battery Park City ferry terminal more than 60 new vessels each day, landing from 6:00 am to midnight, and carrying as many as 2,500 passengers daily. Additionally, for residents whose apartments are located near the dock (at the western end of Vesey Street), fears run high that already-chronic concerns about noise and air quality will worsen.
The plan has also inspired criticism because the NYC Ferry system (a signature initiative of Mayor de Blasio’s) charges passengers the same fare as a subway or bus ride, $2.75, but costs many times that amount to operate. This results in an average subsidy of more than $10.00 per passenger, per ride. And this largesse appears likely to grow: An analysis by the non-partisan Citizens Budget Commission projects that the three new lines City Hall plans to launch this year (to Coney Island and the Bronx, as well as Staten Island) may require subsidies of up to $24.00 per passenger, per ride.
Finally, many local leaders have questioned the efficacy of creating a new ferry service that duplicates (in part) the route of the existing Staten Island Ferry, which costs much less to operate, and is free to all passengers.
In a separate, but related) development, Hornblower (the private contractor that operates the NYC Ferry fleet) has been facing serious financial difficulties, in spite of the generous public support it receives. As ridership fell by more than three-quarters during the New York State on Pause lockdown ordered by public health officials, which came during the warm-weather months that are NYC Ferry’s busiest season, the company’s fleet was largely idled. Its debt was downgraded twice by bond rating agencies. The company’s most lucrative asset, an exclusive contract to bring tourists to and from the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, is also up for renewal in March, fostering further uncertainty.
In a story first reported by Crain’s New York Business, Hornblower was able to raise much-needed cash in the fourth quarter of last year only by pledging as collateral the assets associated with another lucrative franchise (tour boats that operate near Niagara Falls) to new lenders.
Lower Manhattan Unchained
Questions about What’s In Store for Local Retail Point to Glum Answer: Not Much
Small businesses aren’t the only ones hurting in Lower Manhattan. Large national retailers are also shuttering their local stores in record numbers, according to 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. The analysis documents that the number of chain stores in Lower Manhattan decreased dramatically during the past 12 months, with a total of 63 national retailers shutting their doors permanently.
The CUF report, “State of the Chains, 2020,” defines chain stores (or “national retailers”) as businesses that have, “at least two locations in New York City and at least one location outside the City limits.” This analysis documents that there were 351 such stores in Lower Manhattan at the end of 2019, a total that had dropped to 288 retailers by the end of 2020—a decline of 18 percent. This shrinkage is almost 50 percent larger than the contraction that was experienced by New York City as a whole, where the overall decrease was 13.3 percent.
Confederate Battle Flag Found Tied to Front Door of Museum of Jewish Heritage
The “stars and bars” standard flown by the army of the Confederate States of America, as they battled to preserve slavery during the Civil War, was found tied to the front door of Battery Park City’s Museum of Jewish Heritage (MJH) on Friday morning.
While this connection between the Civil War and the Holocaust may not be obvious, the Anti-Defamation League, which has as its mission, “to stop the defamation of the Jewish people, and to secure justice and fair treatment to all,” classifies the Confederate flag as, “a potent symbol of slavery and white supremacy, which has caused it to be very popular among white supremacists in the 20th and 21st centuries.” Such groups (among them, factions as old the Ku Klux Klan and as new as the Proud Boys) are known to revile Jews with nearly as much venom as they reserve for African-Americans.
1) 17 Battery Place, application for renovation of existing entry and storefront including replacement of entrance infill and new louvers – Resolution
Appeals Court Upholds Order Delaying Move of Homeless Men to FiDi
On Tuesday, a five-judge panel of the New York State Supreme Court’s Appellate Division affirmed an earlier ruling (issued on December 3), which has the effect of halting once again the planned transfer of more than 200 men from the Lucerne Hotel, on the Upper West Side, to the Radisson Wall Street Hotel, located at 52 William Street. This order amounts to a partial victory for both sides in the lawsuit, granting some of what opponents of the plan were seeking, while also allowing the administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio limited latitude to begin implementing its proposal on a smaller scale than originally envisioned.
The dead menhaden fish that bobbed at the surface of the water off Lower Manhattan and throughout the Hudson-Raritan Estuary and Long Island Sound during the month of December are gone now. But the concern remains. What killed the fish?
Scientists in the region are putting forth theories. To read more…
Can Anybody Spare $100,000 Per Month?
CB1 Discussion Tonight Will Review Skyrocketing Costs of Home Ownership in Battery Park City
On Wednesday, January 6 the Battery Park City Committee of Community Board 1 hosted a discussion about affordability for condominium owners, for whom the cost of owning a home in the neighborhood is becoming increasingly prohibitive. .
The discussionl featured a presentation by a new grassroots organization, the Battery Alliance, which was recently founded by longtime residents Daniel Akkerman and John Dellaportas, both of whom serve on the boards of their condominiums (Hudson View West and Liberty House, respectively). Their organization can be found online at SaveBPC.org, and contacted via email at Info@savebpc.org. To read more…
Architects Propose to Reclaim Park Tribeca Lost Nearly a Century Ago
Community Board 1 (CB1) is supporting a plan to create a new park in Tribeca, within the Holland Tunnel Rotary, the six-acre asphalt gyre of exit ramps that connects traffic from New Jersey to Lower Manhattan’s street grid.
The husband-and-wife architecture team of Dasha Khapalova and Peter Ballman are proposing to create a constellation of small, street-level parks at the corners of the complex (bounded by Hudson, Laight, and Varick Street, as well as Ericson Place) which will double as entry points for a new, submerged central plaza. This plaza is anachronously known as St. John’s Park, although it has not been a publicly accessible space since the Holland Tunnel opened, 94 years ago.
A Leader Who Presided Over Transformational Times in Lower Manhattan Passes from the Scene
Anthony Notaro, a Lower Manhattan community leader for decades and chair of Community Board 1 (CB1) from 2016 to 2020, died on December 30, after a years-long battle with cancer. He was 69 years old. A resident of Battery Park City since the late 1990s, Mr. Notaro joined CB1 shortly after moving to Lower Manhattan. To read more…
Eyes to the Sky
January 4 – 17, 2021
Early nightfall and late sunup beckon to stargazers before days lengthen
The last of the longest nights of the year are bookended by planet Venus taking final bows in early morning twilight in the southeast and planets Jupiter and Saturn poised at the edge of the southwest skyline in afternoon dusk. The latest sunrises of the year – 7:20am through January 10 – and early sunsets, around 4:40pm, motivate this stargazer to greet starry skies, mostly in short jaunts or from a window or balcony, during morning darkness and half-light, 6am to 6:50am, and in the afternoon from just after 5pm – 5:40. To read more…
CLASSIFIEDS & PERSONALS
Swaps & Trades, Respectable Employment, Lost and Found
1942 – Henry Ford patents a plastic automobile, which is 30% lighter than a regular car
532 – The Nika riots break out, during the racing season at the Hippodrome in Constantinople, as a result of discontent with the rule of the Emperor Justinian I.
1815 – War of 1812: British troops capture Fort Peter in St. Marys, Georgia, the only battle of the war to take place in the state.
1840 – The steamship Lexington burns and sinks four miles off the coast of Long Island with the loss of 139 lives.
1888 – The National Geographic Society is founded in Washington, D.C.
1893 – U.S. Marines land in Honolulu, Hawaii from the USS Boston to prevent the queen from abrogating the Bayonet Constitution.
1910 – The first public radio broadcast takes place; a live performance of the operas Cavalleria rusticana and Pagliacci are sent out over the airwaves from the Metropolitan Opera House in New York.
1942 – Henry Ford patents a plastic automobile, which is 30% lighter than a regular car.
1953 – An article appears in Pravda accusing some of the most prestigious and prominent doctors, mostly Jews, in the Soviet Union of taking part in a vast plot to poison members of the top Soviet political and military leadership.
1966 – Robert C. Weaver becomes the first African American Cabinet member when he is appointed United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.
1982 – Shortly after takeoff, Air Florida Flight 90, a Boeing 737 jet, crashes into Washington, D.C.’s 14th Street Bridge and falls into the Potomac River, killing 78 including four motorists.
1990 – Douglas Wilder becomes the first elected African American governor as he takes office as Governor of Virginia in Richmond, Virginia.
1993 – Space Shuttle program: Endeavour heads for space for the third time as STS-54 launches from the Kennedy Space Center.
2012 – The passenger cruise ship Costa Concordia sinks off the coast of Italy due to the captain Francesco Schettino’s negligence and irresponsibility. There are 32 confirmed deaths.
2018 – A false emergency alert warning of an impending missile strike in Hawaii caused widespread panic in the state.
1400 – Infante John, Constable of Portugal (d. 1442)
1477 – Henry Percy, 5th Earl of Northumberland (d. 1527)
1832 – Horatio Alger, Jr., American novelist and journalist (d. 1899)
1927 – Brock Adams, American soldier, lawyer, and politician, 5th United States Secretary of Transportation (d. 2004)
1935 – Rip Taylor, American actor and comedian (d. 2019)
1949 – Brandon Tartikoff, American screenwriter and producer (d. 1997)
1955 – Jay McInerney, American novelist
1975 – Andrew Yang, American entrepreneur, founder of Venture for America, and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate and New York City mayoral candidate
86 BC – Gaius Marius, Roman general and politician (b. 157 BC)
703 – Jitō, Japanese emperor (b. 645)
888 – Charles the Fat, Frankish king and emperor (b. 839)
1625 – Jan Brueghel the Elder, Flemish painter (b. 1568)
1864 – Stephen Foster, American composer and songwriter (b. 1826)
1941 – James Joyce, Irish novelist, short story writer, and poet (b. 1882)
1978 – Hubert Humphrey, pharmacist, academic, and politician, 38th Vice President of the United States (b. 1911)