Governors Island to Remain Open Throughout the Year
Governors Island, the 172-acre park that has come to be regarded as one of the crown jewels of public space in Lower Manhattan.
Since Governors Island opened to the public in 2005, the 172-acre greensward off Lower Manhattan has become Downtown’s equivalent of Central Park—with one crucial difference. The latter is open 365 days per year, while the quarter-square mile of hills and towering old-growth trees that was called Nutten Island by British settlers in the Colonial Era has, for more than a decade, been accessible to the public only in warm-weather months.
That all changed on Tuesday, when Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that, effective immediately, Governors Island will remain open 12 months per year. The extended season will begin November 1, the day after the facility was slated to close for the year at the end of October.
“We have a jewel in New York Harbor,” Mr de Blasio said at a press conference on Tuesday. “We have a place that’s magical, that all New Yorkers should experience. It’s going to be a big part of our future. But Governors Island, for a long time, wasn’t accessible to New Yorkers for the whole year. We’re going to change that. Starting this fall, we’re going to be opening up Governors Island year-round. It’s an amazing place, a great place to go and get a break from the hustle and bustle of the City. It’s part of our history. So, we are going to have now, rather than a very limited schedule, historically, from May to October, it’s going to be year-round that people can go and enjoy everything on Governors Island.”
Above: The administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio plans a Center for Climate Solutions on the 33 acres of Governors Island currently available for redevelopment. Below: Clare Newman, president of the Trust for Governors Island.
Beginning on November 1, he said, “Governors Island will be open seven days a week from 7:00 am to 6:15 pm. And to match this new schedule, we’re expanding NYC Ferry service to reach Governors Island daily, year-round, so New Yorkers can really, really enjoy this special place.” The expanded ferry service will begin this year, when the City’s planned Coney Island route is launched as part of the NYC Ferry program. That route will now include a stop on Governors Island.
“This is an exciting moment in realizing our vision to increase equitable access to this remarkable resource, and an important step in realizing Governors Island’s full potential,” said Clare Newman, president of the Trust for Governors Island
“Lower Manhattan’s ‘backyard’ being open year-round is fantastic news for New Yorkers from every borough, as well as for visitors to our City from near and far,” said Jessica Lappin, president of the Downtown Alliance.
Governors Island has experienced a renaissance in recent years, welcoming almost one million visitors in 2019 (the last full season before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic). They were drawn, in part, by the debut of recreational amenities such as the Hills—a chain of beautifully landscaped, manmade ridges and bluffs, ranging in height from 26 to 70 feet, adorned with 41,000 shrubs and 860 newly planted trees. Another attraction is Picnic Point, where outdoor cooking grills and wooden dining tables are available for public use. Parents will small children flock to Slide Hill, which features three shorter slides (including a family slide built for two people to ride at once), and a fourth with a curving, 57-foot descent—the longest anywhere in the City.
Above: The scale of the proposed Center for Climate Solutions—up to five million square feet—has inspired opposition from Downtown community leaders. Below: This rendering shows the size and location of the development zones that the de Blasio administration plans to build out on Governors Island, in the hope the the revenue brought in by these projects will fund the public amenities elsewhere on the Island.
The island is now also home to an Arts Center, operated by the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, and the soon-to-be-expanded Urban Assembly New York Harbor School, which announced a planned buildout earlier this year. Visitors are additionally lured by a broad range of culinary offerings from high-end food trucks, as well as fee-based activities such as zip lining, rock climbing, and the luxury open-air hospitality experience known as “glamping.”
But controversy also clouds the island’s future. The de Blasio administration has plans to recruit a major university or research institution as a partner in creating a Center for Climate Solutions, which will entail developing up to five million square feet of new buildings, some reaching at tall as 360 feet, on an island of low-density historic structures that reach barely a quarter of that height. These would be located on a pair of building sites (comprising a combined total of 33 acres) that the City envisions developing for nonprofit, cultural, educational, or commercial uses.
The initiative is founded 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 points to another difference between Lower Manhattan’s backyard and Central Park. The latter is simply understood to be something that is funded by tax revenue, while the former is expected to pay for itself.
But the Mayor’s proposal for a climate research center is far from the most contentious idea for making Governors Island profitable. During the Democratic mayoral primary earlier this year, then-candidate Andrew Yang, unaware that casinos are prohibited on Governors Island, proposed building one there.
Affordability Comes at a Price
Vacant FiDi Lot with Troubled History Bought by Developer Specializing in Below-Market Rents
A real estate development firm that specializes in building affordable housing nationwide has acquired a site in the Financial District, where it plans to erect a 50-story residential tower. Grubb Properties, based in Charlotte, North Carolina, announced Monday that it had paid $89.15 million for the vacant lot at the corner of Washington and Carlisle Streets. The company plans to build a structure enclosing 340,000 square feet on the 11,000-square-foot site, known both as 111 Washington Street and Eight Carlisle Street.
Grubb specializes in building what it calls “essential housing” for people earning between 60 and 140 percent of the “area median income” (AMI) in locations where it develops residential properties. These projects are made possible, in part, by tax incentives and government-backed loan guarantees that aim to encourage builders and landlords to accept lower-than-market rents, while still remaining profitable. To read more…
Ars Gratia Artis
Church Street School Designates a New Leader
A Lower Manhattan cultural mainstay has new leadership. The Church Street School for Music and Art has named Piruz Partow to be the School’s executive director, where he has succeeded co-founder and longtime executive director Dr. Lisa Ecklund-Flores, who stepped down in August, after 30 years at the helm.
The School’s board chose Mr. Partow after a four-month nationwide search. He comes to Church Street from the renowned Brooklyn Music School, where he spent eight years as executive director, following a decade as a music instructor. To read more…
The Winds of Change
Sustainable Schooner, Carrying Comestibles, Makes Port in Lower Manhattan
On Saturday, September 25, the South Street Seaport Museum welcomed the Apollonia, a traditional gaff-rigged schooner, capable of carrying 20,000 pounds of cargo.
The Hudson River’s only carbon-neutral, wind-powered merchant freighter docked at Pier 16 and offloaded a shipment of New York State cider, maple products, wool, and other sustainable goods, for sale at the Fulton Stall Market.
The Apollonia sails regularly between New York Harbor and Hudson Valley towns such as Yonkers, Kingston, Ossining, Newburgh, and Albany as part of an emerging, regional eco-friendly supply chain.
The highly regarded Sing for Hope Pianos program returns to 28 Liberty Plaza (Fosun Plaza) today, September 29, from 9 am. to 6 pm.
10 artist-designed pianos are available for anyone and everyone to play as a one-day-only special event.
Each of the vibrantly colorful pianos were made by local artists, and celebrate a past collaboration from across the entirety of the Sing for Hope Pianos program. Presentation of Art for All Award to Daphne Ruben-Vega will be at 12:30pm.
1. Capital and Expense Budget Items for FY 2023 – Discussion
2. WTC Site 5 Project – Update by Empire State Development Corporation
3. Virtual vs. Hybrid meetings in October – Discussion
4. 1 Fulton Street, application for alteration and method of operation change of liquor license for HHC Fulton Retail LLC d/b/a 10 Corso Cosmo – Resolution
5. 88 West Broadway, application for liquor license for HBM Tribeca LLC d/b/a Homemade by Miriam – Resolution
6. 114 Franklin Street, application for liquor license for Casa Carmen LLC d/b/a TBD – Resolution
7. 135 Reade Street, application for liquor license for Tribeca Hospitality Group LLC d/b/a 135 – Resolution
8. 184 Duane Street, request for waiver of SLA two (2) restroom rules for LM Cafe, LLC d/b/a Laughing Man Cafe – Resolution
9. 5 Beekman Street, application for liquor license for Dinex Beekman Street, LLC d/b/a TBD – Resolution
10. 100 Church Street, basement, application for liquor license for a Private Members Club for 100 Church Street Club, Inc. d/b/a TBD – Resolution
11. 133 Greenwich Street, application for liquor license for 133 Greenwich LLC d/b/a TBD – Resolution
12. 399 Greenwich Street, application for renewal of liquor license for GST 399 Inc d/b/a Greenwich Street Tavern – Resolution
13. Committee reports
Thursday September 30
Meeting of the BPCA Audit Committee
Battery Park City Authority
Notice is hereby given that the following virtual meeting will take place today. It will be livestreamed at: bpca.divacommunications.com/bpca-live/ and video recordings made available for post-meeting access via the Battery Park City Authority website.
An agenda will be made available in advance of the scheduled Meeting. There will be no public comment period scheduled at this meeting. The next public comment period will be scheduled during the October 2021 Meeting of the Members of the Authority. For more information visit: bpca.ny.gov/about/board-committees/
The Food for Thought series continues its pursuit of three goals – to restart, revive, and reconnect. Join the conversation on Thursday, September 30 at 5:30 PM with guest speaker and communication expert Caitlin Harper, founder of communication consultancy Commcoterie, who will discuss how to best communicate and collaborate effectively to strengthen your relationships and succeed. Free
Since the first Superman comic was published in 1938, there has been a persistent fascination with superheroes. Today, we see them everywhere: television, movies, comics, toys, and anywhere else one can think of. Jews have played an important role in superhero culture, both as characters and creators. Join the Museum for a program exploring Jewish superheroes with comic book writer Marguerite Bennett (DC Bombshells) and editor Danny Fingeroth (Marvel’s Spiderman Comics Line). They will be in conversation with journalist Abraham Riesman, author of True Believer: The Rise and Fall of Stan Lee. $ 10
ART HOUSE CLASSICS: 7 BOXES
Battery Park City Authority VIRTUAL PROGRAM
In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, Paraguayan thriller 7 Boxes (2012, Juan Carlos Maneglia and Tana Schémbori) follows the adventures of wheelbarrow courier Víctor who receives an unusual proposal: to carry boxes of unknown content through Mercado 4 in Asunción, but things get complicated along the way. Registration required, click here.
Three indicators paint an equivocal portrait of the economic outlook for Lower Manhattan. The most upbeat of these is the so-called Pret Index, a metric created by Bloomberg News, which tracks the sales of lattes at various outposts of Pret A Manger, a chain of sandwich shops that largely serves office workers in urban business districts.
Data released by Bloomberg on Tuesday indicates that, among Pret A Manger locations in the Financial District and Tribeca, sales of cappuccino drinks, “set a new pandemic high last week,” recovering to 45 percent of sales levels from January, 2020—just before the advent of COVID-19.
More sobering is data from Cushman & Wakefield, a global commercial real estate services firm, whose Marketview report for Manhattan retail in the second quarter of this year finds that fully 25 percent of ground-floor storefront spaces in Lower Manhattan are now vacant, and awaiting tenants. To read more…
Sufficient Unto the Dey
Lottery Opens for New Affordable Apartments in Financial District Building
Lower Manhattan’s meager inventory of affordable rental apartments will soon swell by 63 units, thanks to a new development nearing completion at 185 Broadway, at the corner of Dey Street. The building, which will be known by its branding address of 7 Dey, will contain a total of 206 apartments (the remaining 143 units will be market-rate rentals), along with several floors of retail and office space. In exchange for committing to affordability protections on the 63 units, developer S.L. Green received tax incentives worth many millions of dollars, which helped to build the $300 million project. To read more…
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More Survivors than Responders Now are Submitting Claims
The September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) has released its annual report for 2020, which documents some significant developments.
Over the course of its ten years of operation thus far, the VCF has awarded $7.76 billion to more than 34,400 individuals who have suffered death or personal injury as a result of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 and their aftermath. The vast majority of these injuries take the form of illness caused by exposure to toxic materials that were released by the destruction of the World Trade Center.
Samascott Orchard Orchard fruit, strawberries from Columbia County, New York
Francesa’s Bakery Breads and baked goods from Middlesex County, New Jersey
Meredith’s Bakery Baked goods from Ulster County, New York
Riverine Ranch Water Buffalo meat and cheeses from Warren County, New Jersey
1857 Spirits Handcrafted potato vodka from Schoharie County, New York
SNAP/EBT/P-EBT, Debit/Credit, and Farmers Market Nutrition Program checks accepted
Silverstein Envisions Breaking Ground Within Months on New Skyscraper at Two World Trade Center
After two decades years of rebuilding, there remains one significant missing piece in the World Trade Center complex. It is marked by the placeholder “podium” of a building at the west side of Church Street, between Vesey and Fulton Streets, which houses entry points for the underground shopping and transit facilities beneath the plaza, along with some ventilation equipment.
Formally designated at 200 Greenwich Street, this site is slated to someday be the home of Two World Trade Center. But 20 years of false starts may soon give way to actual construction. In a development first reported by the Commercial Observer, builder Larry Silverstein says that his firm is close to securing a deal with a corporate anchor tenant, and may start construction soon, even if such a rent does not commit to the building.