Lower Manhattan’s Local News
Downtown Hotel Business May Be an Enduring Casualty of Pandemic
The Conrad Hotel, in Battery Park City, is being used to house healthcare workers battling the pandemic coronavirus.
As local travel and tourism have ground to a halt in the wake of the pandemic coronavirus, one Downtown business sector is undergoing what may be a permanent transformation. By any reasonable yardstick, the hotel business in Lower Manhattan has been drastically overbuilt — the result of nearly two decades of giddy speculation, by developers.
In the years leading up to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, visitors wishing to stay in Lower Manhattan had essentially three choices: the Marriott World Trade Center Hotel (destroyed when the Twin Towers collapsed), the Marriott World Financial Center Hotel (now known as the Marriott Downtown, on West Street), and the Millenium Hilton Downtown Hotel (on Church Street, opposite the World Trade Center complex).
Today, there are 37 hotels operating in the square mile below Chambers Street, offering more than 7,900 rooms, according to the 2019 Lower Manhattan Real Estate Year in Review, a report from the Downtown Alliance. The same analysis indicates that another 15 hotels, containing an additional 2,000 rooms, are currently under construction or in the planning stages. That represents more than one-fourth of the 56 hotels currently being built or planned in all of Manhattan.
The Radisson New York Wall Street Hotel, in the Financial District, has been commandeered for use as a temporary homeless shelter.
Even before the national and local economies stalled, as a result of quarantine measures, the hotel business in Lower Manhattan had begun to show signs of impending trouble. The Ritz-Carlton Battery Park (at Two West Street) opened to much fanfare in 2002, but was never able to turn a profit. Sold to a new operator in 2018, its name was changed to the Wagner. (The current owner is hoping to exit the hotel business entirely, by seeking permission to convert the structure into apartments.)
More recently, the Andaz Hotel (at 75 Wall Street) was put up for sale by its owner, the Hakimian Organization. The building is being shopped to developers based not on its value as a hotel, but instead for its potential to convert into office or residential use.
But all of the harbingers came before every hotel in Lower Manhattan (and most throughout New York City) were shut down as part of the social distancing measures that aim to limit the spread of the coronavirus. In the weeks since, many local hotels have been commandeered for other uses: the City is now using the Radisson New York Wall Street Hotel (located at the corner of William and Pine Streets) to house homeless people quarantined because of possible exposure to the disease. And the Conrad Hotel in Battery Park City (located at 102 North End Avenue) is being used to house healthcare personnel who have volunteered to come to New York and aid in the fight against the pandemic.
Even after the health crisis recedes, however, a significant (and prolonged) financial downturn is widely expected to follow. If this contraction jolts the hospitality industry as similar episodes have in decades past, at least some of the dozens of hotels recently built in Lower Manhattan may not reopen their doors. And other, currently under construction, may never welcome their first guests.
What might become of these structures remains unclear. It is possible (although expensive) to convert hotels into apartment buildings, but a twin glut of residential development is also cresting in Lower Manhattan at the same time. It appears likely, however, that such a transformation will alter the local streetscape is ways that are both significant and hard to predict.
Speaking Up for What Was Left Out
Upstart Assembly Member Opposes Governor and Legislative Leaders on Budget
State Assembly member Yuh-Line Niou: “We’re facing a crisis. The State budget asked us as legislators to respond to decades of shortfalls by cutting more — even as we know that our needs are greater than ever before. With this budget I’m sad to say that we’ve shown we value big businesses and profits more than we value our people.”
State Assembly member Yuh-Line Niou is condemning the budget recently enacted by legislature in Albany, as part of a deal with Governor Andrew Cuomo.
“We had the opportunity with this budget to make a bold shift to a State spending plan that truly values all people and embraces a future in which we are fighting poverty, building upon our criminal justice reform efforts, expanding housing and transit, protecting survivors of sexual abuse, and supporting working families,” Ms. Niou says. To read more…
Beaker takes a seat on Stone Street and wonders, “Where’d everybody go?”
photo by Iphy Murphy
COVID-19 and your pets.
A Guide from the Mayor’s Office of Animal Welfare
how to care for your pet during the COVID-19 Pandemic
NEWS FROM PREVIOUS EDITIONS
OF THE BROADSHEETDAILY
It’s Like Deja Vu All Over Again
Facing Budget Deficit, City Hall Has Plans for BPCA Funds
The administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio will be drawing on nearly $10 million in funds from the Battery Park City Authority to help close the budget cap created by the economic slowdown that has arisen from the pandemic coronavirus.
The City’s budget planners expect tax revenue to fall by 3.5 percent (or $2.2 billion) this fiscal year 8.3 percent (or $5.2 billion) in fiscal year 2021. These shortfalls are attributed to projected declines in several kinds of municipal taxes: the levies on sales, hotel stays, personal income, and business income.
Taste of Tribeca Community Fund
To the community,
Three weeks ago, we launched the Taste of Tribeca Community Fund.
Since then you have given us over $60,000 and with this we have purchased over 4,800 meals from 10 Taste of Tribeca restaurants for delivery to 11 New York City hospitals, plus FDNY Ladder 8, FDNY Engine 7, the NYPD 1st Precinct, and NYC Department of Sanitation Manhattan District 1.
You have helped to keep these restaurants in business, and in turn the restaurant teams have been doing some of the most important cooking and meal service of their careers, for the healthcare workers on the front lines against Covid-19.
The importance of your contribution cannot be emphasized enough. As another organization doing similar work has put it, we are not merely sending care packages as a thank you to the healthcare workers. We are providing them with basic nourishment, which they have no time to buy on their own, and in some areas no one even from whom to buy them.
And in our little corner of the city, we have restaurants willing and able to serve and for whom our large orders are essential to the continued operation of their business.
We are now down to our last few thousand dollars, which, at our current pace, will last us another few days to a week. We would love to keep going until at least May 15, so please consider donating again if you can, and share our mission with your families, friends and colleagues. Your continued generosity and support will directly benefit our restaurants, our neighborhood, and the healthcare heroes in our great city.
Thank you from all of us at Taste of Tribeca!
If you can help us, we would appreciate it.
Here is our most recent campaign update sent to donors, plus our GoFundMe
and Instagram feed
. Our current meal count is over 5,000.
To the editor,
Landlords rent to whomever agrees to pay the rent that the property owner wants.
In BPC, we have duplications of some businesses (dry cleaners, chain restaurants) and wish we had more of others (hair salons, diners/coffee shops).
Since the businesses are not chosen based on community needs, should the community step in to help a landlord and keep a business tenant in place?
Maryanne P. Braverman
To the editor:
I’m curious if the BPCA is going to implement any programs to support local small businesses.
For example, giving landlords a break in ground leases if savings are passed on to small business tenants as rent discounts? As a state agency I would hope they are at least considering steps that can be taken to support local businesses.
To the editor:
One of Battery Park City’s unique amenities is the small rectangular park in the middle of the Rector Place oval.
For more than twenty years, during the mild days of Spring, hot days of Summer and colorful days of Fall, parents and their toddlers have picnicked on the grass, surrounded by neighbors who were reading, chatting or sunbathing.
Signs on the brick posts at the corners of the park state that ball playing and dogs are not allowed. A large field of astroturf at the end of Rector Place by West Street provides a space expressly created for ball playing.
Nevertheless, this Spring, the little rectangular park in the middle of Rector Place has been besieged by ball players both human and canine. By the time that Summer arrives, the ground in this little park will be nothing but mud, unless the BPC Authority and its “Ambassadors” start patrolling the park regularly, and enforcing the rules against ball playing and dogs.
If Local Streets Seem Less Choked with Refuse, It’s Not Your Imagination
Amid anecdotal reports that the economic slowdown accompanying the pandemic coronavirus has resulted in lower carbon emissions and less air pollution worldwide, Lower Manhattan is experiencing a telling indicator of its own: almost 100,000 fewer pounds of household garbage being produced during the month of March, compared to the same period a year earlier.
In an analysis researched and reported by the City (an online, independent, nonprofit news outlet), Community District 1 — a collection of neighborhoods encompassing 1.5 square miles, bounded roughly by Canal, Baxter, and Pearl Streets and the Brooklyn Bridge — produced 1,961 tons of trash for pickup by the City’s Department of Sanitation (DSNY) in March. This amounted to a 2.2 percent drop from March, 2019, when the same catchment produced 2,005 tons.
Who remembers Iggy, the 40-foot iguana formerly of the Lone Star Cafe on Lower 5th Avenue and subsequently perched atop Pier 25 by Bob Wade and Bob Townley in the 1980s? For some years now, Iggy has resided at the Fort Worth Texas Zoo reptile exhibit. The charismatic iguana was recently seen practicing social distancing.
EYES TO THE SKY
April 20 – May 3, 2020
Not to be missed: International Dark Sky Week programs reach us at home.
Now in progress, International Dark Sky Week:
The International Dark-Sky Association invites us — with a special nod to homebound families — to engage with dynamic authors, educators, artists, and scientists from around the world. The distinguished presenters are excited to share their passion for astronomy, our cultural connection to the stars, life in the dark, and how we can work together to protect the night.
Governor Cuomo has issued an executive order requiring all people in New York to wear masks or face coverings in public, including when taking public or private transportation or riding in for-hire vehicles.
More information: coronavirus.health.ny.gov/home
or call 1-888-364-3065.All non-essential workers must continue to work from home and schools will be closed through May 15th
, and everyone is required to maintain a 6-foot distance from others in public photo courtesy: BPCA
Latest Local Pandemic Statistics
Confirmed Infections Among Downtown Residents Jump by 31 Percent, But Lower Manhattan Remains One of Least-Affected Communities City-Wide
Lower Manhattan’s eight zip codes are the site of 529 confirmed cases of coronavirus, up from 402 cases on April 9, which represents an increase of approximately 31 percent.
A total of 529 residents of Lower Manhattan are confirmed to have been infected by the pandemic coronavirus, according to statistics released by the City’s Department of Health. These numbers are current as of Thursday afternoon.
‘As Sick as I’ve Ever Been in My Life’
One Survivor’s First-Person Account of Grappling with the Coronavirus
(Editor’s Note: This narrative was supplied to the Broadsheet by a Battery Park City resident who has asked to remain anonymous.)
When I first heard about this, back in late January or early February, I wasn’t sure how it was different from a more serious version of seasonal flu, because the narrative was familiar — starting in Asia, and coming from some kind of animal population. The one difference I remember noting was that this sounded much more contagious.
After that, I didn’t think much more about it for several weeks, other than to frame it as a kind of “second” flu season. But near the end of February, the beginning of March, my perception changed, along with everybody else’s. This was clearly different, because of how it had jumped to humans, and how aggressively it was spreading.
When it hit Italy as hard as it did, I though this might be something to worry about. Maybe not for me, personally, but it was clear that a lot of people were going to be harmed by this, that a lot of people were going to do — especially the elderly and the most vulnerable. To read more…
A Personal Appreciation: Michael Sorkin
A Friend and Comrade of the Late Architect Recalls Battles Waged on Behalf of the Community
Author, architect, critic, and scholar, Michael Sorkin: “Tribeca – and its surrounding neighborhoods — are among the most ‘at risk’ for the loss of an architecture and an aura that is unique not just in New York, but in the world. To fail to protect this brilliant and beloved environment is nothing less than vandalism.”
Tribeca resident, professor, architect, and critic Michael Sorkin died on March 26 from the coronavirus. You might have seen the tributes pouring in from the architectural world. A chorus of accolades attested to Michael’s astonishing career and accomplishments, among them authoring 18 highly regarded books, being awarded multiple prizes and fellowships, writing criticism for the Village Voice, The Nation, and founding Terreform, a non-profit that published books on urban research.
Unbeknownst to many, Michael was also our neighbor and a fellow comrade-in-arms for Tribeca’s historic districts. I first met him when he moved to the corner of Chambers and Broadway in Tribeca, from Greenwich Village (where he documented his walk to work in the wonderful book of essays, “Twenty Minutes in Manhattan”). To read more…
A Bear Market for Apartments
Downtown Residential Real Estate on Life Support
As business activity ground to a halt in March due to the pandemic coronavirus, the market for apartments in Lower Manhattan experienced something akin to a heart attack during the first quarter on this year, according to analyses from two real estate data firms.
A pair of reports from Platinum Properties, a brokerage firm headquartered in the Financial District, documents the carnage in Battery Park City and the Financial District. The first notes that the median price for condominiums sold in Battery Park City dropped from $1.515 million in the first quarter of 2019 to $1.005 million in the same period this year. That represents a 33.7 percent decline in 12 months, and a 14 percent decline just since the last quarter of 2019, when the median price was $1.168 million. To read more…
Doing Good, Even When Not Doing Well
A Local Business Struggles to Survive, By Helping Those Less Fortunate
In happier times: Karen Barwick (right) and her staff, at Tribeca’s Boomerang Toys
Karen Barwick, the proprietress of Boomerang Toys in Tribeca, which has been a fixture in the lives of generations of Lower Manhattan kids, is leading a push to bring a smile to the faces of homeless children, who are quarantined in shelters, while also helping small businesses.
“We have teamed up with several other neighborhood toy stores that are struggling, because of being locked down,” she explains, “and partnered with Homeless Services United” (HSU) — a coalition of nearly sixty non-profit agencies serving homeless families. By browsing www.BoomerangToys.com
, and clicking on the Donate button, users can purchase a toy that will be delivered to a shelter by the HSU’S existing distribution network, which already parcels out clothing and food. To read more…
Your Coronavirus story in one hundred words.
Federal Legislator Backs Proposal to Extend September 11 Safeguards to Coronavirus
A screen shot from Monday evening’s online meeting of the Downtown Independent Democrats political club (to which all participants linked remotely, via the Internet, from their homes), during which Lower Manhattan community leader Justine Cuccia (upper right) proposed to United States Congressman (center) that federal programs aiding September 11 first responders and survivors be expanded to cover the pandemic coronavirus
United States Congressman Jerry Nadler has endorsed a proposal by a Lower Manhattan community leader to expand the World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP) September 11th Victims Compensation Fund (VCF) to cover illness and death from the pandemic coronavirus among the populations of first responders and survivors whose health was impacted by the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
An an online meeting of the Downtown Independent Democrats political club on Monday evening, Mr. Nadler was asked by Justine Cuccia, a co-founder of the grassroots organization, Democracy for Battery Park City, whether he would, “support an expansion of the Health Program and the VCF to cover COVID-19, because the survivor population are among those who are at heightened risk of complications from this disease?” To read more…
Resilience, in the Original Sense of the Word
Facing Adversity, One Community Leader Tries to Lead By Example
In the days following September 11, 2001, Bob Townley called the community together at the basketball court at the intersection of Canal Street and Avenue of the Americas.
Bob Townley, the founder and executive director of Manhattan Youth, reflects, “I’ve been through this before — twice, actually.” He is referring to a pair of previous cataclysms that seemed to threaten the viability of the Lower Manhattan community he serves, as well as the organization he leads.
The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and the inundation of Hurricane Sandy, 11 years later, both wrecked the neighborhood. And both raised questions about whether Manhattan Youth, which provides services to thousands of school children, families, and seniors, could remain viable. So the ongoing crisis related to the pandemic coronavirus is not without precedent for him.
“In the fall of 2001,” he recalls, “pieces of the World Trade Center were in a pool on Rector Place, where we had been giving toddlers swimming lessons a few days before. And when I finally got back into our Downtown Community Center in November, 2012, we had 20 feet of water in the basement. The entire bottom level, and a second story below the street, were both submerged.”
A pair of peregrin falcons are back in Lower Manhattan, high above 55 Water Street. Click to watch
a live camera as they care for their clutch of eggs that are expected to hatch in the coming weeks.
Virtual Events Available to All
Developing Stories: Native Photographers in the Field
National Museum of the American Indian
Developing Stories: Native Photographers in the Field is a pair of sequential photo essays created by Native photojournalists Russel Albert Daniels and Tailyr Irvine in collaboration with the National Museum of the American Indian. The work of both photographers springs from the same desires—to break down stereotypes of Native peoples and to portray stories that show the diversity and complexity of their contemporary lives.
While the installation of the first photo essay by Daniels — The Genízaro People of Abiquiú — is postponed due to coronavirus, the photo essay is online.
Youth Art Contest
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Celebrate Endangered Species Day (May 15) and the 50th anniversary of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) by participating in the Greater Atlantic Region’s Marine Endangered Species Art Contest.
Endangered and threatened species need our help. Students’ artwork will showcase their knowledge and commitment to protecting these animals. Throughout 2020, NOAA is celebrating 50 years of science, service, and stewardship. NOAA is a world-class forecasting and resource management agency with a reach that goes from the surface of the sun to the depths of the ocean floor. In the next 50 years, NOAA will advance innovative research and technology, answer tough scientific questions, explored the unexplored, inspire new approaches to conservation, and power the U.S. economy. Through April 24
Today through April 30
Mission to Remember
9/11 Memorial and Museum
This documentary series explores the shared commitment to the mission behind the 9/11 Memorial & Museum. From showing how we create new traditions of tribute, to demonstrating our unique conservation techniques, the short films go beyond the surface to immerse viewers in untold stories of honor and remembrance. Click here to view the series.
Today through April 30
The Stories They Tell
9/11 Memorial and Museum
Family members, survivors, first responders and recovery workers discuss the 9/11 history they are helping to preserve through the material they have shared with the 9/11 Memorial Museum. Click here.
Today through April 30
Battery Dance TV
morning warmup/stretching/conditioning exercises, mid-day classes in contemporary dance with afro, ballet and jazz fusion elements, evening classes in varied ballroom styles, plus a daily short video at 4pm by dancers performing in their living rooms.
Today through April 30
Tourist in Your Own Town Videos
The New York Landmarks Conservancy
Now that most of us are staying home, you can take virtual tours of New York City.
Visit Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx, Alexander Hamilton’s home in Upper Manhattan, the Woolworth Building in Lower Manhattan, the site of the Battle of Brooklyn, the home of one of America’s first female photographers on Staten Island, and Louis Armstrong’s home in Queens. There are 61 sites in all. You’ll be amazed at the discoveries you will make.
Downtown Food Festival Supports Local Restaurants by Feeding Healthcare Workers
The ever-popular Taste of Tribeca food festival has been cancelled for this year, but the organizers are rallying support to help the now-struggling restaurants that have contributed food for decades, by purchasing meals to donate to hospital workers.
Starting today, up to 100 free meals will be arriving daily at local healthcare facilities, prepared by half a dozen Lower Manhattan restaurants, and paid for with contributions solicited by the Downtown parents who organize the Taste of Tribeca food festival.
For the past 25 years, that event has accepted food contributed by dozens of eateries, and sold these “tastes” at a street fair, to raise money for two beloved local public schools: P.S. 234 and P.S. 150. Earlier this month, however, mounting concerns about the pandemic coronavirus forced the first-ever cancellation of the event.
Biking through traffic seven years ago at lunch hour in downtown Manhattan compared to the dearth of people and traffic after the Corona virus epidemic is a huge contrast. Footage is sped up, so although it may look a but scary, the ride was totally safe!
Thanks and be well! -Esther R.
Where to Get Care
Lower Manhattan Health Resources for Residents with Concerns
Government officials are asking that people with non-urgent health problems avoid showing up at hospital emergency rooms, which are already overburdened.
Instead, they ask that patients who have concerns consult with their personal physicians. Those in need of non-emergency medical help can also call (or walk into) one of the five Lower Manhattan urgent care clinics that remain open. As of Thursday afternoon, these are:
• CityMD Financial District (24 Broad Street). No appointment necessary. 646-647-1259.
• CityMD Fulton (138 Fulton Street). No appointment necessary. 212-271-4896.
• CityMD Tribeca (87 Chambers Street). No appointment necessary. 347-745-8321.
• NYU Langone at Trinity (111 Broadway). Appointment required. 212-263-9700.
• Mount Sinai Doctors (225 Greenwich Street, fifth floor). No appointment necessary. 212-298-2720.
That noted, anyone experiencing dangerous symptoms (such as trouble breathing or dangerous spikes in body temperature) is encouraged to go to a hospital emergency room.
Two Lower Manhattan healthcare providers are also offering Virtual Visits, in which patients can consult over the phone or video link with a physician or nurse practitioner.
To schedule such a session with NYU Langone, please browse: NYULangone.org
, and click on Virtual Urgent Care.
To make an appointment with New York-Presbyterian Lower Manhattan Hospital, please browse NYP.org
, and click on Virtual Urgent Care.
Patients enrolled in the World Trade Center Health Program are advised not to cancel or reschedule existing appointments. Clinic staff will be contacting you to make arrangements to convert these sessions into a tele-visits.
All program participants with prescriptions for their certified WTC-related conditions are strongly encouraged to sign up for Optum Home Delivery which allows for 90-day prescription fills and delivers directly to members by mail.
For more information, please call Optum at 855-640–0005, Option 2. For members who prefer to pick up prescriptions at retail pharmacies, the program is waiving early medication refill limits on 30-day prescription maintenance medications. Please call Optum at 855-640–0005, Option 3 for more information.
The World Trade Center Health Program is also covering limited COVID-19 testing for members with certain certified World Trade Center-related conditions that may put them at higher risk of illness from COVID-19. In addition to testing, treatment for COVID-19 is also covered, contingent on certain criteria being met, including that the member was eligible for COVID-19 testing, the treatment is authorized by the program, and the treatment is not experimental. Coverage of COVID-19 treatment costs requires approval by the program’s administrator, on a case-by-case basis.
Meditations in an Emergency
Our Hometown and the Myth of Eternal Return
You tell yourself that you’ve seen this story before, and more than once: edifices falling; waters rising. And you reflect that the worst situations are not those that can’t get any worse. The worst situations are the ones that are going to get worse before they get better. So you hunker down.
You recall the Old Man deciding, a lifetime ago, that since you were too old for fairy tales, you were perhaps old enough for true confessions. To read more…
Today In History April 23
1597 – William Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor is first performed, with Queen Elizabeth I of England in attendance.
1635 – Oldest US public institution, Boston Latin School founded
1838 – English steamship “Great Western” crossing Atlantic docks in NYC
1861 – Robert E. Lee named commander of Virginia Confederate forces
1954 – Hank Aaron hits first of his 755 homers
1962 – First US satellite to reach the moon launched
1965 – Launch of first Soviet communications satellite
1969 – Sirhan Sirhan sentenced to death for killing Bobby Kennedy
1972 – Apollo 16 astronauts explore Moon surface
1984 – AIDS-virus identified (acquired immune deficiency syndrome)
1995 – President Clinton declares a national day of mourning for Oklahoma City
2012 – 38,000 London Marathon entrants have their home and email contacts published in a data protection breach
The Great Western
A wooden-hulled paddle-wheel steamship, The SS Great Western was the first vessel to be powered by steam to cross the Atlantic. The largest ship in the world at the time, there were many who thought she was too large, but she proved capable and is said to be the model for other steam-powered ships to cross from Europe to America. During the Crimean War, she served as a troop carrier before being scrapped. in 1856.
1564 – William Shakespeare, Stratford upon Avon, English Poet and playwright, traditionally regarded as his birthdate
1791 – James Buchanan, Cove Gap PA,, 15th US president (1857-61)
1813 – Stephen Arnold Douglas, (Little giant), US senator (Lincoln debates)
1899 – Vladimir Nabokov, St Petersburg, Russia, novelist (Lolita, Ada)
1936 – Estelle Harris, actress (Estelle Castanza-Seinfeld)
1942 – Sandra Dee, [Zuck], Bayonne NJ, actress (Gidget, Imitation of Life)
1954 – Michael Moore, Flint, Michigan, American filmmaker (Fahrenheit 9/11, Bowling for Columbine, Sicko)
1616 – William Shakespeare, English poet and playwright (b. 1564) (Julian calendar) dies aged 52
1850 – William Wordsworth, poet, dies at 80
1995 – Howard Cosell, sportscaster (Monday Night Football), dies at 77
1998 – James Earl Ray, American assassin (b. 1928)
2007 – Boris Yeltsin, first President of the Russian Federation (b. 1931)
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