Rally for Affordable Housing at World Trade Center Site Precedes Hearing Tonight
Above: Democratic Congressional nominee Dan Goldman addresses a rally of supporters for 100 percent affordable housing at Five World Trade Center. Below: A rendering of the proposed 900-foot-plus tower planned for the publicly owned vacant lot. This proposal calls 1,325 apartments, of which almost 1,000 will be market-rate, luxury units.
A Tuesday rally to push for affordable housing at the last remaining development parcel in the World Trade Center complex drew elected officials and community leaders, voicing opposition to a plan for predominantly luxury housing at the site, and support for a grassroots plan to create apartments accessible to mixed-income residents, including survivors of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
The focus of this effort is the proposal, approved in 2021 by The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation (LMDC), to erect a 900-foot-plus tower at the publicly owned vacant lot that occupies the three-quarter-acre block bounded by Greenwich, Albany, and Washington Streets, and Liberty Park. This plan calls for a 78-floor building, including 69 floors of rental units, comprising 1.2 million square feet of residential space. Of the 1,325 apartments planned for the structure, 25 percent (or approximately 330 units) will be permanently affordable homes, set aside for households earning less than 50 percent of the area median income (AMI), or below $51,200 for a family of three.
The Coalition for a 100 Percent Affordable Five World Trade Center was formed in response to this plan. “The goals of our coalition are to make sure that the tower built at site five of the World Trade will be a fully affordable building, with a preference given to September 11 survivors, first responders, and their families,” explained Vittoria Fariello, an elected District Leader for Lower Manhattan, who is also one of the Coalition’s leaders.
Dan Goldman, the Democratic nominee to represent the newly created Tenth Congressional District (which includes Lower Manhattan), said, “we must reimagine the way that development is done in this City. The aspects that need to be included in any development are more community input, more community service, and more affordable housing. We need developers to pitch in for the public good—to help the community, and foster the diversity and affordability that our City so desperately needs. The State should not have to bear the full cost to make this fully affordable. The partnership between the World Trade Center developers and our government must include developers paying their fair share to provide affordable housing.”
Grace Lee, the Democratic nominee to represent Lower Manhattan in the State Assembly, said, “this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create affordable housing—specifically for September 11 survivors and their families, along with first responders and seniors. The people who stayed in Lower Manhattan after the Twin Towers fell revived this community. And even after they developed cancer and other serious diseases, they are now they are being priced out of their homes. Some argue that it’s more efficient to build affordable housing elsewhere, but it doesn’t have to be either-or. It can be both.”
City Council member Christopher Marte said, “every time we deal with the City and the State, in every project they say, ‘give us an alternative.’ This coalition has created an alternative that’s hard to say no to, and so we’re going to make sure that this Thursday, when testifying, we are united in saying, ‘you must choose to make this site 100 percent affordable.’”
This was a reference to an online hearing scheduled for this evening (Thursday, September 15), in which the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC), which oversees the Five World Trade Center plan, will hear public comment about the proposal.
The plan approved by the Port Authority and the LMDC is predicated on a policy axiom dictating that any use to which the site is put must generate as much (or more revenue) on a per-square-foot basis as the office developments that have been erected elsewhere within the complex. This arbitrary requirement effectively renders it administratively impossible that Five World Trade Center be dedicated to any public service purpose that does not maximize financial return.
Such a policy is contradicted by multiple other nearby uses. The leases granted by the Port Authority and LMDC to the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, the Ronald O. Perelman Performing Arts Center, and the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine (all located within the World Trade Center complex) rent many acres of publicly owned land—worth hundreds of millions of dollars—at a price of one dollar per year to each of the non-profit organizations that operate those facilities.
Moreover, the City and the State can be astonishingly generous when the recipient of official subsidies is a constituency more influential than advocates for affordable housing. The Hudson Yards complex on the west side of Midtown (which houses office towers, luxury residential buildings, and a high-end shopping mall) has received $6 billion in taxpayer support. The plan to redevelop the neighborhood around Penn Station has already been earmarked for $1.2 billion in public funds. And the administration of Governor Kathy Hochul has committed more than $1 billion in subsidies to construct a new stadium for the Buffalo Bills football team.
These hurdles notwithstanding, the Coalition for a 100 Percent Affordable Five World Trade Center has engaged a team of urban planning consultants who have devised a program that envisions a slightly smaller building at the site, combined with multiple tiers of affordability (including units set aside for low-income, moderate income, and middle-income residents) that would need very little subsidy from taxpayers. But it would require waiving the demand for any residential building on the site to generate as much income as an office tower.
State Senator Brian Kavanagh noted, “part of the concept here is that the Port Authority wants to be ‘made whole’ for giving up valuable land around the creation of the Memorial. The Port Authority is getting a cash payment out of this deal. We have asked them how much that payment was going to be, and the answer was, ‘we can’t tell you that.’”
Senator Kavanagh added that, “this is the community that has lost the greatest number of rent-regulated affordable apartments in recent years, more than any other area of the City.”
Justine Cuccia, another founder of the Coalition, said, “as a survivor of two September 11 cancers, I’m here strong and determined to push back against the people who are told us that the air was safe to breathe, that we should come home and rebuild Lower Manhattan.”
Gesturing toward a phalanx of Port Authority police officers who were providing security for the rally, she continued. “I am standing here representing the Port Authority police who are protecting us, because what we are doing is demanding housing for you and your families. For people who were first responders, who gave their lives. Because people should be able to live in the neighborhoods where they work. Five World Trade Center is a perfect opportunity to take public property and public funds and make this happen, because at the end of the day this should be the model for New York. We will get economic integration, and racial integration, and we will make New York City stronger and better.”
To register to participate via Zoom in tonight’s ESDC meeting, which begins at 5pm, click here.
Art and Music: All Around Downtown
Lower Manhattan is a music and art lover’s paradise, and to prove it, the Downtown Alliance’s Art is All Around concert series debuts today. Featuring music from jazz to soul, from swing to Cuban salsa, the free concerts will run from 12pm to 2pm, every Thursday through October 20, at different Downtown plazas.
Today, head to 28 Liberty’s Fosun Plaza to hear Tamar Korn and Dennis Lichtman (above right). For a taste of today’s concert, here’s Mr. Lichtman.
The rest of the Art is All Around concert schedule is:
Sept. 22: Los Soneros de Oriente @ 140 Broadway
Sept. 29: The EarRegulars featuring Mike Davis @ WTC’s North Oculus Plaza
Oct. 6: Nealand and The Royal Roses (North!) @ WTC’s North Oculus Plaza
Oct. 13: The Traveling Guitars of Brad Brose and Albanie Falletta @ 28 Liberty’s Fosun Plaza
Oct. 20: The Sean Mason Quartet @ 140 Broadway
Lower Manhattan Gets a Bit Lower
Declining Apartment Rents and Spiking Office Vacancies Signal Soft Property Market
The Downtown Alliance has released its summary of Lower Manhattan real estate indicators for the second quarter of 2022, and most signs point to a slowdown in the sector. This may translate in slightly encouraging news for those seeking to rent apartments, but will offer scant comfort to those hoping to purchase homes. Read more…
Whose Park Is It, Anyway?
City Agency Plans to Fence Off Five Thousand Square Feet of Battery for Storage
The City’s Department of Parks and Recreation plans to commandeer more than 5,000 square feet of formerly public space in the Battery, the historic park at the southern tip of Manhattan, for vehicle parking and equipment storage. The space was previously used as an outdoor beer garden, adjacent to the View at the Battery restaurant. Read more…
Kids in Southern Battery Park City Among Least Protected Against Polio
Amid rising fears of a polio outbreak in New York, southern Battery Park City has the second lowest rate of vaccination for children among any community in the five boroughs of New York City. Read more…
Discussion about the meals likely served at Fraunces Tavern in the 1760s—food cultivation, preparation, and the role these elements played in Samuel Fraunces’ development of an average bill of fare at the tavern. Participants are encouraged to prepare the Bill of Fare before the program. Free.
New York’s first fully staged performances of Craig Hella Johnson’s epic fusion oratorio, Considering Matthew Shepard. Johnson created the oratorio as “a space for reflection, consideration, and unity around [Shepard’s] life and legacy.” Free.
The elegance of Qin, a seven-string zither, has been well recognized since ancient China. It is celebrated for not only the music it makes, but also the atheistic, philosophic, even moral sophistications it symbolizes. Illustrated presentation and performance. $10.
Lower Manhattan Greenmarkets
Greenwich Street & Chambers Street
Wednesdays and Saturdays, 8am-3pm (compost program: Saturdays, 8am-1pm)
Bowling Green Greenmarket
Broadway & Whitehall St
Tuesdays and Thursdays, 8am-5pm (compost program: 8am-11am)
World Trade Center Oculus Greenmarket
The Outdoor Fulton Stall Market
91 South Street, between Fulton & John Streets
Indoor market: Monday through Saturday,11:30am-5pm
CSA pick-up: Thursday, 4pm-6pm; Friday, 11:30-5pm
Outdoor market: Saturdays, 11:30am-5pm
Today in History
The Bugatti Veyron, above, is a luxury super car with an 8-litre W-16 engine and four turbochargers that produce 1,500 horsepower. It was last produced in 2015. Ettore Bugatti, the founder of Bugatti, was born on this day in 1881.
1776 – In the American Revolutionary War, British forces land at Kip’s Bay.
1812 – The Grande Army under Napoleon reaches the Kremlin in Moscow.
1835 – HMS Beagle, with Charles Darwin aboard, reaches the Galбpagos Islands.
1959 – Nikita Khrushchev becomes the first Soviet leader to visit the U.S.
1963 – Four children are killed in the bombing of an African-American church in Birmingham, Alabama.
1967 – U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson, responding to a sniper attack at the University of Texas at Austin, urges the enactment of gun control legislation.
1981 – The Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously approves Sandra Day O’Connor to become the first female justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.
2008 – Lehman Brothers files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, the largest bankruptcy filing in U.S. history.
2021 – SpaceX launches the first all-civilian spaceflight from Cape Canaveral, Florida, for three-day orbit around Earth.
1881 – Ettore Bugatti, Italian-French businessman, founded Bugatti (d. 1947)
1888 – Antonio Ascari, Italian race car driver (d. 1925)
1889 – Robert Benchley, humorist, newspaper columnist, and actor (d. 1945)
1890 – Agatha Christie, English novelist, short story writer, playwright (d. 1976)
1894 – Jean Renoir, French actor, director, producer, and screenwriter (d. 1979)
1924 – Bobby Short, American singer and pianist (d. 2005)
1945 – Jessye Norman, American soprano
1984 – Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, fifth in British succession
1750 – Charles Theodore Pachelbel, German organist and composer (b. 1690)
1938 – Thomas Wolfe, American novelist (b. 1900)
1978 – Willy Messerschmitt, engineer and academic, (b. 1898)
2019 – Ric Ocasek [Otcasek], rock singer-songwriter, found dead at 75