The Broadsheet – Lower Manhattan’s Local Newspaper
Preservation as Privatization
Historic, Publicly Owned Battery Maritime Building Has Reopened, But Only for Paying Customers
Above: The Battery Maritime Building, built in 1909, are reopened in the summer of 2021 as Casa Cipriani. Below: A rendering of the Great Hall, as originally conceived to serve as indoor market and public space.
Community Board 1 (CB1) is raising questions about the use of what was supposed to be public space at the Battery Maritime Building, located at Ten South Street.
The publicly owned structure, located next to the Staten Island Ferry, is a landmarked Beaux Art ferry terminal built in 1909. It served for three decades as the gateway for boats taking passengers across the East River, but after commuters and vehicles gained direct access to Manhattan with the advent of bridges, tunnels, and subways, ferry usage declined and the building fell into disrepair.
(In recent decades, its sole use was as a berth for ferries taking passengers to and from nearby Governors Island.) Starting in the early 2000s, developers and community activists proffered competing visions for the building, with the former advocating commercial uses (such as a hotel and restaurant) and the latter pushing for civic amenities, such as a school or museum.
For years, a succession of developers partnered with the City’s Economic Development Corporation (EDC)—a non-profit corporation that negotiates strategic partnerships designed to harness private-sector resources to public projects, and thus foster economic growth—to rehabilitate and reopen the Battery Maritime Building, but then went bankrupt.
Finally, in 2017, the troubled project was taken over by a partnership led by hospitality firm Cipriani USA, a legendary proprietor of food destinations and event spaces worldwide. That firm’s Lower Manhattan footprint includes two venues carved out of historic building lobbies: Cipriani Wall Street (in the former banking hall of the onetime headquarters of National City Bank) and Cipriani 25 Broadway (in the erstwhile ticketing hall of what was once Cunard’s New York office). The newly branded Casa Cipriani launched with a “soft opening” in the Battery Maritime Building last summer, featuring a hotel, restaurant, private club, and event space.
Above: A historic view of the Battery Maritime Buildings Great Hall from the early 1900s, when it functioned as a waiting room and ticketing hall for ferry passengers.
Below: The Great Hall today, repurposed as a private events venue that is closed to the public.
Among the structure’s more notable features is its Great Hall, a majestic 8,500-square foot space, with ceilings 34 feet high, lined with Guastavino tiles. Originally touted by EDC as the home of a new indoor, public market, this space was later reimagined as an event venue and community facility.
At the February 22 monthly meeting of CB1, Susan Cole, who chairs the Board’s Licensing & Permits Committee said that in a recent discussion with representatives from Casa Cipriani, “we raised the issue that there’s no public access to this wonderful building. It’s infuriating.”
CB1 chair Tammy Meltzer then observed, “they had a legal requirement to do public programming, and keep it open to the public. It’s part of the deal that they signed.”
Ms. Cole responded that the Casa Cipriani team, “said that there’s one restaurant that’s open to the public.”
Since opening last year, Casa Cipriani has hosted a single event in the Great Hall: the Independent Art Fair, which charged $55 for admission. No free public or community events have yet been held at the Battery Maritime Building, nor have plans for any been announced.
BPCA Chair Will Depart to Serve as Next American Ambassador to Greece
Battery Park City Authority (BPCA) chairman George Tsunis has been confirmed by the U.S. Senate as the next American Ambassador to Greece, after being nominated to that post by President Joe Biden in October.
This development follows a hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in January, in which Mr. Tsunis won praise from Senators on both sides of the aisle for his performance. To read more…
Watch the film at home, then enjoy a free virtual talkback with Columbia University Film Professor Richard Peña, former Program Director of the Film Society of Lincoln Center. Sure to be remembered as a landmark in Chinese cinema, this intensely felt epic marks a career cut tragically short: its debut director Hu Bo took his life in October 2017, at the age of 29. The protagonist of this modern reworking of the tale of Jason and the Argonauts is teenage Wei Bu, who critically injures a school bully by accident. Over a single, eventful day, he crosses paths with a classmate, an elderly neighbor, and the bully’s older brother, all of them bearing their own individual burdens, and all drawn as if by gravity to the city of Manzhouli, where a mythical elephant is said to sit, indifferent to a cruel world. Full of moody close-ups and virtuosic tracking shots, An Elephant Sitting Still is nothing short of a masterpiece. Free
Seven new works choreographed by Gibney Company Artistic Associates: Alexander Anderson, Zui Gomez, Jesse Obremski, Kevin Pajarillaga, Marla Phelan, Jie-Hung Connie Shiau, and Jake Tribus. Also at 2pm on March 18 and 19. $20-$50
From the host of NPR’s Planet Money, the deeply-investigated story of how one visionary, dogged investor changed American finance forever. Before Bill Gross was known among investors as the Bond King, he was a gambler. In 1966, a fresh college grad, he went to Vegas armed with his net worth ($200) and a knack for counting cards. $10,000 and countless casino bans later, he was hooked: so he enrolled in business school. The Bond King is the story of how that whiz kid made American finance his casino. Over the course of decades, Bill Gross turned the sleepy bond market into a destabilized game of high risk, high reward; founded Pimco, one of today’s most powerful, secretive, and cutthroat investment firms; helped to reshape our financial system in the aftermath of the Great Recession—to his own advantage; and gained legions of admirers, and enemies, along the way. Like every American antihero, his ambition would also be his undoing.
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Folk dance group seeks empty space of 400+ sq feet for 2 hours of weekly evening dance practice.
Average attendance is 10 women. This is our hobby; can pay for use of the space.
Call 646 872-0863 or find us on Facebook. Ring O’Bells Morris.
Kind loving and honest Nurse’s aide seeking FT/PT job. Experience with Alzheimer’s patients
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HOUSEKEEPING/ NANNY/ BABYSITTER
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Worked in BPC.
Call Tenzin 347-803-9523
News Analysis & Opinion: Stop Driving Us Out of Our Homes
Why Parity Is a Parody of Affordability
If you live in Battery Park City, you likely received a letter in the mail recently from the Battery Park City Authority (BPCA), spreading a false narrative about how the Authority is “keeping Battery Park City affordable.” The truth is that the BPCA appears to be doing everything in its power to create and preserve luxury housing, along with a token number of low-income rental apartments. This is forcing out moderate- and middle-income homeowners and renters—who have built Battery Park City into the vibrant, thriving community it is today. And it is worth noting that 40 percent of owner-occupied homes in Battery Park City fall into the moderate- and middle-income categories. To read more…
Esplanade or Espla-Nada?
City Says Planned Improvements to East River Waterfront Are On Hold
The February 22 meeting of Community Board 1 (CB1) included an update about long-planned improvements to the East River Esplanade, some of which are being cancelled.
Paul Goldstein, the chair of CB1’s Waterfront, Parks & Cultural Committee, said, “we got a report from Economic Development Corporation [EDC] regarding some of their waterfront assets and projects that are ongoing—or not.” (The EDC is a not-profit corporation controlled by City government, which oversees development of assets, such as publicly owned property.)
“Unfortunately, a lot this project is not moving ahead for a variety of reasons,” Mr. Goldstein explained, “the biggest one being that the City is focusing much more on resiliency, and they don’t want to go ahead with improvements that may interfere with that.” 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.
Fulton Street cobblestones between South and Front Sts. across from McNally Jackson Bookstore.
Locally grown produce from Rogowski Farm, Breezy Hill Orchard, and other farmers and small-batch specialty food products, sold directly by their producers. Producers vary from week to week.
SNAP/EBT/P-EBT, Debit/Credit, and Farmers Market Nutrition Program checks accepted at all farmers markets.
Today in History
Self-portrait of Constantin Brancusi, taken in the studio in 1933-34.
597 BC – Babylonians capture Jerusalem, replace Jehoiachin with Zedekiah as king.
1830 – New York Stock Exchange slowest day ever (31 shares traded)
1850 – Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “Scarlet Letter” published
1861 – Arizona Territory votes to leave the Union
1881 – Barnum & Bailey Circus debuts
1910 – Barney Oldfield uses a Benz to break the existing records at Daytona Beach Road Course (131.25mph)
1916 – US and Canada sign migratory bird treaty
1926 – Robert Goddard launches first liquid fuel rocket, goes 184′ (56 meters)
1939 – Germany occupies Czechoslovakia
1945 – Würzburg, Germany is 90% destroyed, with 5,000 dead, in only 20 minutes by British bombers
1968 – My Lai massacre occurs. Hundreds die in a mass killing of between 347 and 504 unarmed civilians in South Vietnam on March 16, 1968.
Twenty-six soldiers were charged with criminal offenses, but only Lieutenant William Calley Jr., a platoon leader was convicted. Found guilty of killing 22 villagers, he was originally given a life sentence, but served only three and a half years under house arrest.
Initially, three U.S. servicemen who had tried to halt the massacre and rescue the hiding civilians were shunned, and even denounced as traitors by several U.S. Congressmen, including Mendel Rivers, Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. Only after thirty years were they recognized and decorated, one posthumously, by the U.S. Army for shielding non-combatants from harm in a war zone.
1968 – Robert Kennedy announces his Presidential campaign
1968 – General Motors produces its 100 millionth automobile, the Oldsmobile Toronado.
1984 – Gunmen kidnap William Buckley, CIA station chief in Beirut
1998 – Pope John Paul II asks God for forgiveness for the inactivity and silence of some Roman Catholics during the Holocaust
Brancusci’s Bird in Space
1751 – James Madison, Port Conway Va, (D-R), Fourth US president (1809-17)
1927 – Daniel Patrick Moynihan, US ambassador to UN/(Sen-D-NY, 1977- )