Plan for Climate Solutions Center on Governors Island Advances
Above: At the end of his administration, former Mayor Bill de Blasio proposed a plan for a Center for Climate Solutions on Governors Island. Below: This rendering shows the size and location of 33 acres of development zones on Governors Island. Below: This rendering shows the size and location of the development zones that the de Blasio administration planned to build out on Governors Island, in the hope that the revenue brought in by these projects will fund the public amenities elsewhere on the Island.
In one of its last official acts before departing City Hall on December 31, the administration of then-Mayor Bill de Blasio selected four finalists in the competition to build a Center for Climate Solutions on Governors Island.
The competition, announced in 2020 and formally launched a year later, envisions combining interdisciplinary research with education and public engagement in a single physical hub. Universities from around the world were invited to submit proposals in the first stage, called a “request for expressions of interest.” A dozen plans were submitted, and four of these were deemed worthy of moving to the final round.
All of the finalists are partnerships, with each team led by a major university: the City University of New York, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Northeastern University, and the State University of New York at Stony Brook. This quartet will now be invited to expand and refine their initial ideas in the second (and final) round of the competition, known as a “request for proposals,” which will begin in the spring.
The scale of this proposed project (up to 3.7 million square feet) has inspired opposition from Downtown community leaders.
But the de Blasio plan for Climate Solutions Center is not without controversy. Creating the new facility will entail developing up to 3.7 million square feet of new buildings, some reaching as tall as 225 feet, on an island of low-density historic structures that top out at barely half of that height. These will be located on a pair of building sites (comprising a combined total of 33 acres, or approximately one-fifth of Governors Island) that the City envisions developing for nonprofit, cultural, educational, or commercial uses, which were set aside for such uses in a 2010 master plan.
The Climate Solutions initiative is predicated, in part, on the assumption that some form of massive real estate development is required to generate sufficient cash flow to pay for other, public-benefit activities on Governors Island. This model echoes the approach taken in the Hudson River Park, where property deals (such as air-rights transfers) are the primary source of revenue that has enabled the creation and upkeep of what has evolved into a treasured public amenity.
After an unplanned interruption in service at the end of 2021, the Downtown Alliance has announced that its popular Connection Bus shuttle, which provides free service to 36 stops around the perimeter of Lower Manhattan, has resumed.
Daily service starts at 10:00 am and continues through a final run at 7:30 p.m. Arrival times average ten-minute intervals on weekdays, with 15 minutes between buses on weekends (depending on traffic conditions).
‘We Need An Activist and an Advocate’
Assembly Member Niou Challenges Kavanagh for State Senate Seat
State Assembly member Yuh-Line Niou has announced that she is challenging incumbent State Senator Brian Kavanagh in his bid for reelection this year. Both Ms. Niou and Mr. Kavanagh represent Lower Manhattan in their respective houses of the State legislature. To read more…
A boon for stargazers, unusually long, dark mornings follow the winter solstice and continue as the New Year begins, rewarding the curious who venture outdoors at dawn. The solstice-time Sun rises at 7:20am this week through January 10. Mornings continue dark as afternoons are increasingly brighter: today’s sunset is at 4:40pm; sundown on January 10 is 4:47pm.
While familiar constellations of the winter season travel the sky at night, the celestial dome at dawn is painted with spring and summer stars and planet Mars. Around the winter solstice, quintessential summer star patterns, Scorpius the Scorpion and the Summer Triangle, rise in the morning sky along the southeast and northeast horizon, respectively. At summer solstice they are in the same positions when they rise in the evening sky. When we recall where on the skyline the Scorpion and the Triangle rise in June, we are reminded of balmy summer evenings while stargazing on frosty mornings.
Referring to the diagram, above, spring stars are higher in the sky at dawn, having preceded summer. See orange Arcturus, the second brightest star in northern skies, trailed by blue Spica and vivid Corvus the Crow.
How did Omicron Ophiuchi, 5.12 magnitude (i.e. not visible with the naked eye), come to my attention? When working on StarryNight7 software to compose the star chart, a slip of the cursor into the space around Mars brought Omicron Ophiuchi into view. Intrigued, I read the description: “a double star, part of a multiple star system.”
Although the Omicron variant of Covid-19 is simply named for the fifteenth letter of the Greek alphabet, I had in mind reports that state the number of mutations is higher than we’ve seen in previous variants. My interest in the multiple aspect led me to discover that in astronomy, “Omicron is used to designate the fifteenth star in a constellation group,” prompting more questions. Celebrate curiosity in 2022.
In 2018, Poland’s nationalist government enacted a law which criminalized speech that holds Poland responsible for Nazi crimes. Forced by international pressure to withdraw the criminal provisions, nationalists promised instead to use civil litigation to achieve their aims. In 2021, for the first time, the law was used to target Holocaust scholars in civil court. As Poles wrestle with their ancestors’ roles during the Holocaust, observers inside the country and across Europe are sounding alarms over the whitewashing of history.
Join the Museum for a conversation about the politics of memory with leaders in Polish civil society, including Dr. Jan Grabowski, one of the historians sued for his research; Dr. Dariusz Stola, the former director of POLIN: Museum of the History of Polish Jews; and Konstanty Gebert, a journalist and founder of the Polish Jewish monthly Midrasz. The discussion will be co-presented by Descendants of Holocaust Survivors (2G Greater New York) and moderated by Rachel Donadio, a contributing writer for The Atlantic. Free; suggested $10 donation,
1. Request for Conaming of Northeast Corner of Walker Street and Centre Street After Harold Lui – Presentation by Virginia Tong
2. Partially Converting Bus Parking Zone on West Street into a For-Hire Vehicle Pickup/Dropoff Zone – Presentation by Suany Chough, Director of Project Development, Performing Arts Center & Jenna Chrisphonte, Director of Civic Alliances, Performing Arts Center – Discussion & Possible Resolution
3. Request for Revocable Consent to Add an Accessible Ramp to the 159 Worth Street Entrance of 80 Centre Street – Discussion & Resolution
4. Citibike Infill (Continuation from December 2021) – Discussion & Possible Resolution
What is China’s goal in making global development investments? Despite the fact that the U.S. declined to join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, are U.S. investors still welcome in AIIB projects? Is there room for U.S.-China collaboration around global development and governance in the financial arena? Jin Liqun, President of the AIIB and one of China’s top development experts, will share his insights in an exclusive, virtual conversation with James Heimowitz, President of China Institute. $10
CLASSIFIEDS & PERSONALS
Swaps & Trades, Respectable Employment, Lost and Found
Providing Companion and Home Health Aide Care to clients with dementia.Help with grooming, dressing and wheelchair assistance. Able to escort client to parks and engage in conversations of desired topics and interests of client. Reliable & Honest
78 year old refined intellectual gentleman having a passion for cruises and travel seeking a male or female caregiver/companion in exchange for all expense paid venture on the ocean. Only requirement is relationship comfort between us and ability to help with physical care regarding the limitations and restrictions of COPD.
The Norwegian sail training ship Statsraad Lehmkuhl docked in Brooklyn, as seen from Pier 17.
From Norway, the 107-year-old Statsraad Lehmkuhl is in the middle of a round-the-world tour as part of the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development. Built in 1914 as a training ship for the German merchant marine, she was seized after WWI by the U.K. In 1921, the vessel was bought by Kristofer Lehmkuhl, the former cabinet minister of Norway (the name means “Cabinet Minister Lehmkuhl”). Captured by German forces during WWll, she was donated to the Statsraad Lehmkuhl Foundation in 1978. This beautiful vessel is among the oldest large square-riggers in operation. She is scheduled to depart New York today.
Price of Progress
Battery Conservancy Chief Floats Plan for Pier A
Warrie Price, the president and founder of the Battery Conservancy (the nonprofit that designs, builds, and maintains, the 25 acres of historic public parkland at the southern tip of Manhattan) is proposing to adapt the abandoned restaurant space within Pier A as an embarkation point for ferry passengers bound for Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty.
At a meeting of the Waterfront, Parks, and Cultural Committee of Community Board 1 (CB1) earlier this year, Ms. Price recalled that, “at one point, a visitor center was going to be housed at Pier A, when the Fire Department left and it was at Parks.” To read more…
Kids Play at the Battery
The New Battery Playscape is the Final Piece of the Master Plan
On December 16, as children whooped down long slippery slides and explored a treehouse, and the Knickerbocker Nighthawks band played danceable Dixieland tunes, The Battery Playscape opened at the southernmost tip of Manhattan.
The final piece of The Battery Master Plan, this new 1.5 acre playground completes more than 25 years of work by The Battery Conservancy to revitalize and rebuild this historic public park using sustainable design and ecological practices.
Under the leadership of founder and president Warrie Price, the Conservancy initiated the Playscape’s resilient design after Tropical Storm Sandy battered the Battery with a 15-foot storm surge. Designing for sea-level rise became imperative, and Battery Park—the historic southern tip of Manhattan that will always bear the brunt of rising waters—became a focal point. Designed by BKSK Architects and Starr Whitehouse Landscape Architects and Planners, The Battery Playscape is built with absorbent elements that will accept floods and storm surges, and then recover. The playground design features five ecological zones—bluff, riverbed, marsh, dune, and meadow—each inspired by topography created by water shaping the land. Creative, adventurous play is encouraged.
“We immerse children into the natural wonders formed by plants, trees, sand, and ancient stone while building an understanding of accommodating climate,” Ms. Price said.
The $18.3 million project was funded by $9 million from Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, a $7.65 million MTA grant, $800,000 from Mayor Bill de Blasio, $500,000 from City Council Member Margaret Chin, and $350,000 from Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer. Visited by 15 million people each year, The Battery is one of the oldest public spaces in continuous use in New York City.
‘One False Promise After Another’
Lenders Who Fronted Millions to Operators of Pier A Allege Fraud
Investors who lent more than $16 million to the operators behind the shuttered restaurant at Pier A, on Battery Park City’s southern border allege that the borrowers, “used a fraudulent scheme to squeeze out of the Project all the fees and distributions for themselves that they could before shutting the doors.”
In a development first reported by property industry newsletter the Real Deal, the lenders (Tribeca-based New York City Waterfront Development Fund II) filed suit in Manhattan Supreme Court in November, seeking the return of $16.5 million (the original amount of the 2011 loan, none of which has been repaid), along with $2.63 million in accrued interest, plus attorney’s fees and court costs.
The defendants in this action are a partnership between the Poulakakos restaurant family (who operate numerous Lower Manhattan eateries) and the Dermot Company (a developer of garden apartment complexes around the United States that more recently branched out to New York projects, such as the conversion of Brooklyn’s landmarked Williamsburgh Savings Bank tower into condominium residences). To read more…
Lower Manhattan Greenmarkets
Greenwich Street & Chambers Street
Every Wednesday & Saturday, 8am-3pm
Food Scrap Collection: Saturdays, 8am-1pm
Open Saturdays and Wednesdays year round
Bowling Green Greenmarket
Green Greenmarket at Bowling Green
Broadway & Whitehall St
Open Tuesday and Thursdays, year-round
Market Hours: 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Compost Program: 8 a.m. – 11 a.m.
The Bowling Green Greenmarket brings fresh offerings from local farms to Lower Manhattan’s historic Bowling Green plaza. Twice a week year-round stop by to load up on the season’s freshest fruit, crisp vegetables, beautiful plants, and freshly baked loaves of bread, quiches, and pot pies.