Lower Manhattan’s Local News
Actually, Maybe You Can Fight City Hall?
Borough President and City Council Member Win Court Round Seeking to Slow Planned Development at Two Bridges
Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and City Council Margaret Chin were handed a victory on Thursday by the State Supreme Court, when Judge Arthur Engoron ruled in favor of their argument that a cluster of super-tall residential towers proposed for the East River waterfront in Lower Manhattan must be subjected to a full public-review process.
At issue is the approval granted by the City Planning Commission (CPC) of a streamlined review that would have allowed all three of these controversial projects (which include a total of four new towers, reaching as high as 1,000 feet, and housing 2,700 apartments) to avoid the full legal scrutiny of the City’s “uniform land use review procedure” (ULURP), and instead move ahead under a less-rigorous standard of review, limited to an environmental impact statement. This was made possible by the CPC’s determination last December that the addition of four new skyscrapers to the community situated between the Manhattan and Williamsburg Bridges (which would more than triple the number of residences in the area) qualified as a “minor modification” to existing zoning for the neighborhood. If this claim by the CPC (which is controlled by Mayor de Blasio) had been allowed to stand, it would also have preempted the legal authority of the City Council to review, and possibly veto, these projects. Within days of the CPC’s determination, the Borough President and the City Council filed suit against the de Blasio administration.
In their lawsuit, Ms. Brewer and Ms. Chin argued that, “such developments are required to be completed with the consultation and advice of the community, including the New York City Council, the Borough President and the Community Board.” They also charge that, “aside from the clear and incontrovertible statutory requirements mandating the application of ULURP, [the City’s] claim that this application, which includes the addition of more than 2,700 dwelling units in three skyscrapers on a single block, is simply a ‘minor modification’ is nothing short of irrational, arbitrary and capricious and is incorrect as a matter of law.”
Ms. Brewer said shortly after the suit was filed that, “City Planning’s staff and the Commission have exceeded their legal authority. They used a made-up process and made-up standards to approve these towers without the full land use review and Council approval that’s required. I don’t like suing the Mayor or his agencies, but if that’s what it takes to get the residents of Two Bridges the full review and real negotiation they’re entitled to under the law, then I’m all in.”
Ms. Chin added that, “this lawsuit was made necessary by the actions of the Department of City Planning and this Administration. My colleagues and I could not stand by as an entire neighborhood’s worth of rezoning was categorized as a ‘minor modification.’ The residents of Two Bridges deserve a full public review process and I will not rest until they receive it.”
On Thursday, Judge Engoron agreed, ruling that the, “irreparable harm here is two-fold. First, a community will be drastically altered without having had its proper say. Second, and arguably more important, allowing this project to proceed without the City Council’s imprimatur would distort the City’s carefully crafted system of checks and balances. Under ULURP, the City Council’s mandatory role is not merely to advise, but to grant or deny final approval (with the Mayor). Without ULURP, the City’s legislature is cut out of the picture entirely.”
“Judge Engoron’s ruling is a victory for the Two Bridges community and demonstrates the power of everyday New Yorkers when they come together and fight,” Ms. Chin responded . “For three years, we have rallied and petitioned. As a final step, we sued the City to trigger the public review process that the proposed mega towers in Two Bridges demanded. Through it all, I was motivated by a single goal — ensuring that the residents of Two Bridges have a say in the future of their neighborhood.”
Ms. Brewer added that, “I’m so gratified that Judge Engoron has ruled in our favor, and that the Two Bridges developments — which will have a ‘huge’ impact on the neighborhood — must undergo the ULURP process.”
Judge Engoron’s finding is the latest in a string of legal victories for opponents of the Two Bridges developments, including a separate ruling in June that gives a storefront leaseholder on one of the sites effective veto power over the tower that is proposed for the space above the retail location.
In February, Ms. Brewer’s and Ms. Chin’s legal action took on a new dimension, when lawyers representing the Borough President and the City Council uncovered decades-old legal covenants meant to ensure that another of the proposed development sites would remain set aside for the elderly, low income residents, and those with disabilities, in perpetuity. The possible abrogation of this deed restriction, “is akin to the City’s disastrous decision to lift a deed on a parcel of land at the former Rivington House in 2015,” according to revised court papers. This was a reference to the controversial move by the de Blasio administration to sell to a private developer (at a fraction of its market value) a building that had been dedicated to the care of people suffering from AIDS. That developer then closed the facility and sold the building (at a profit of tens of millions of dollars) to another real estate operator, who moved ahead with plans for a market-rate, high-rise condominium.
“Like Rivington, which is in the same Council District as Two Bridges, the lifting of the deed would negatively impact a community struggling to remain affordable for all New Yorkers,” the updated lawsuit alleges.
In March, a separate lawsuit was filed by a coalition of community groups, who allege that the planned developments will cause irreparable harm to their neighborhood. The group, which includes the Lower East Side Organized Neighbors, the Chinese Staff and Workers Association, and the Asian American Legal Defense Fund, argues in their court filings that the proposed buildings, “are a catalyst for cumulative environmental damage to the broader Lower East Side and Chinatown neighborhood and beyond.”
The Path of Lease Resistance
CB1 Joins Elected Officials in Calling for Renewed Stabilization at Gateway
Community Board 1has endorsed the call by the Gateway Plaza Tenants’ Association to renew the rent stabilization program at Battery Park City’s largest residential complex. To read more…
Lighthouse Weekend Ambrose Channel Tour
August 4, 2019
This Sunday, August 4, we conclude Lighthouse Weekend with our cruise popularly regarded as the “Signature Tour.”
This exciting boat tour familiarizes passengers with key lighthouses that facilitate safe passage from the Atlantic Ocean into Lower New York Harbor.
We’ll explore a total of nine lighthouses on this boat tour: the Battery Weed Light at Fort Wadsworth, the Coney Island, West Bank, Romer Shoals, Sandy Hook and Twin Lighthouse of Navesink at the Atlantic Highlands, the Staten Island Rear Range at Richmond Hill, the New Dorp Light, and the Elm Tree Beacon at Miller Field, also located in New Dorp.
Treat yourself and your guest to a memorable cruise.
Refreshments are available on board. Don’t forget your camera. The views are incredible!
The boat leaves promptly at 11:00 am, rain or shine, from Pier 1, adjacent to the National Lighthouse Museum however tide and currents may delay our return to port. Please plan accordingly.
Tickets are $62 Adults, $42 Children (10 & under), $52 Military and Seniors (62+).
Sunday, August 4, 2019 from 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM
National Lighthouse Museum 200 The Promenade at Lighthouse Point
Pier 1, Adjacent to the Museum Staten Island, NY 10301
When Vice is Nice
Two Veteran Committee Chairs Seek CB1’s Number Two Spot
Community Board 1 (CB1) has a new vice chair. Tammy Meltzer, who currently serves as CB1’s Secretary, as well as the chair of the Battery Park City Committee, was elected at the Board’s monthly meeting on Tuesday evening.
Also vying for the post was Paul Goldstein, who serves as the chairman of CB1’s Waterfront, Parks & Cultural Committee.
photo: Dorothy Lipsky
CLASSIFIEDS & PERSONALS
Swaps & Trades Respectable Employment
Lost and Found 212-912-1106
PUBLIC RELATIONS PROFESSIONAL
OR SMALL PR FIRM
Work with well-reviewed author of five E-books, developing and implementing outreach strategies. Includes writing, placement, research, new outlets and on-line advertising.
Savvy social media skills a must. Downtown location.
Please send resume and fee schedule to: Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Available for PT/FT elder care. Experienced. ReferencesAngella 347-423-5169
Call Janine Today. Limited time offer! 917-830-6127
Experienced Elder Care (12 years)
Able to prepare nutritious meals and light housekeeping
Excellent references 347 898 5804 Hope
NOTARY PUBLIC IN BPC
$2 per notarized signature
Text Paula at 917-836-8802
Dishes, windows, floors, laundry, bathrooms.
You name it – I will clean it.
Call Elle at 929-600-4520
IT AND SECURITY SUPPORT
Experienced IT technician. Expertise in 1-on-1 tutoring for all ages.Computer upgrading & troubleshooting.
Knowledgeable in all software programs. James Kierstead email@example.com 347-933-1362. Refs available
Experienced with BPC residents. Available nights, days, and weekends. Will cook, clean and administer medicine on time. Speaks French and English. Can start immediately. Please call or text 929-600-4520.
OLD WATCHES SOUGHT
Mechanical pocket and wristwatches sought and
If you would like to place a listing, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
A Shore Thing
HRPT Plans Beach and Historic Sculpture for Gansevoort Peninsula
The Hudson River Park Trust has unveiled plans to create Manhattan’s first-ever public beach on the Gansevoort Peninsula, a five-acre-plus chersonese that juts out from the West Side waterfront, between Horatio and West 13th Streets.
The beach will be more for viewing the water than public bathing, owing to concerns about hygiene and safety — although a kayak launch is also planned for the site, for parks users who want to come into contact with the Hudson. But the sandy riverfront portion of the park will feature a playground and an area for sunbathing.
Justice Delayed, But Not Denied
Ten Years Later, It Turns Out That FiDi Tenants Were Entitled to Rent Stabilization
Tenants at two FiDi rental buildings scored a major victory on June 25 when New York State’s highest court ruled that they had been illegally deprived of rent stabilization benefits.
The suit, which has been winding its way through the courts for a decade, focused on residents of 90 West Street and 50 Murray Street, but has implications for more than 5,000 apartments spread across more than a dozen buildings throughout Lower Manhattan.
Cass Gilbert and the Evolution of the New York Skyscraper
by John Simko
Friday August 2
Battery Park City Authority
Build muscle and strength, improve flexibility and balance, and increase aerobic conditioning. Tai Chi results in strength and focus of body and mind. Esplanade Plaza. https://bpcparks.org/events/2019-08/
Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House Tour
Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian
Tour of the Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House, home of the National Museum of the American Indian in New York. Tour highlights include a discussion of the history of the site, architect Cass Gilbert, viewing the Collectors office; Tiffany woodwork; Reginald Marsh murals; and the 140-ton rotunda dome by Raphael Gustavino. One Bowling Green. https://americanindian.si.edu/calendar
Pipes at One
St. Paul’s Chapel
Pipes at One concerts feature the celebrated three-manual Noack organ that was inaugurated in the spring of 2018. Today, listen to Maria Budacova and Nicholas Capozzoli, McGill University, Montreal, Canada.
Those Before Us
Those Before Us is an audio immersive dance experience designed for public spaces by Rebis Immersive. Audience participants wear headphones or Bose AR sound glasses and are guided around historic locations through audio-narration, with the freedom and autonomy to switch between distinct narratives across different time periods. Please bring your own headphones and a phone with web capability!
On the first Friday of each month, many houses in Nolan Park and Colonels Row stay open late so visitors can enjoy their incredible free programs in the evening.
Sunset Jam on the Hudson
Rhythm and grooves fill the air at this Friday evening program. Follow the lead of professional drummers as they guide you through the pulsating beats of traditional African drumming techniques and methods.
Rooftop at Pier 17
Country Music concert
BPCA and CB1 to Host Discussion of Ball Fields Resiliency Plans Tonight
Tonight (Thursday, July 25), the Battery Park City Authority (BPCA) and Community Board 1 (CB1) will co-host a public meeting to review resiliency plans for the ball fields in Battery Park City’s northern section. To read more…
Dulce et Decorum Est…
City Council Overrules CB1 on Naming Tribeca Intersection for NYPD Officer Killed in Iraq
The City Council on Tuesday overturned a preliminary determination made by Community Board 1 last October, by deciding to approve a proposal to co-name the Tribeca intersection of West Broadway and Lispenard Street in honor of James D. McNaughton, who, on August 2, 2005, at age 27, became the first New York City Police officer to be killed in action while serving in “Operation Iraqi Freedom.”
In a vigorous debate, CB1 members voiced competing priorities.
Bumptious Bumpkins Make for Bus Bumpy Ride for Locals
Lower Manhattan community leaders are grappling with concerns about crowding, safety, and possible criminal activity surrounding the Connection shuttle bus, operated by the Downtown Alliance, which ferries riders around Lower Manhattan, free of charge.
For several years, apprehension about spurious ticket sellers hawking fake boarding passes to boats that purport to bring tourists to the State of Liberty have overlapped with concerns about the Connection bus.
A Super-Tall Laid Low
Stalled Tower at 125 Greenwich Street May Be Headed to Foreclosure
The troubled residential tower at 125 Greenwich Street may be facing foreclosure by lenders who say the development team has defaulted on the terms of several mortgages.
In May, work stopped on the building when multiple construction contractors filed liens against the developers for some $40 million in unpaid fees. This prompted several creditors — most prominently, the United Overseas Bank — to file notice with New York courts that they are owed $199 million in mortgage payments. The bank’s overall loan to the developers of 125 Greenwich is more than $450 million, and it is only one of half a dozen creditors.
Leader of the PAC
Former Governors Island Overseer Takes Helm at World Trade Center Performance Venue
The Ronald O. Perelman Performing Arts Center, now under construction at the World Trade Center, has a new president — Leslie Koch. Ms. Koch will be most familiar to Lower Manhattan residents as the guiding hand behind the Trust for Governors Island.
Her decade-long tenure there, which saw seasonal visitation rise from 8,000 per season to more than 600,000, ended in 2016. To read more…
Today in History August 2
1343 – After the execution of her husband, Jeanne de Clisson sells her estates and raises a force of men with which to attack French shipping and ports.
1610 – During Henry Hudson’s search for the Northwest Passage, he sails into what is now known as Hudson Bay.
1776 – The signing of the United States Declaration of Independence took place.
1830 – Charles X of France abdicates the throne in favor of his grandson Henri.
1870 – Tower Subway, the world’s first underground tube railway, opens in London, England, United Kingdom.
1873 – The Clay Street Hill Railroad begins operating the first cable car in San Francisco’s famous cable car system.
1923 – Vice President Calvin Coolidge becomes President upon the death of President Warren G. Harding.
1932 – The positron (antiparticle of the electron) is discovered by Carl D. Anderson.
1937 – The Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 is passed in America, the effect of which is to render marijuana and all its by-products illegal.
1939 – Albert Einstein and Leo Szilard write a letter to Franklin D. Roosevelt, urging him to begin the Manhattan Project to develop a nuclear weapon.
1943 – World War II: The Motor Torpedo Boat PT-109 is rammed by the Japanese destroyer Amagiri and sinks. Lt. John F. Kennedy saves all but two of his crew.
1947 – A British South American Airways Avro Lancastrian airliner crashes into a mountain during a flight from Buenos Aires, Argentina to Santiago, Chile. The wreckage would not be found until 1998.
1990 – Iraq invades Kuwait, eventually leading to the Gulf War.
2018 – Apple Inc. became the first U.S. company to be valued at over $1 trillion.
1612 – Saskia van Uylenburgh, Dutch model and wife of Rembrandt van Rijn (d. 1642)
1696 – Mahmud I, Ottoman sultan (d. 1754)
1754 – Pierre Charles L’Enfant, French-American architect and engineer, designed Washington, D.C. (d. 1825)
1871 – John French Sloan, American painter and illustrator (d. 1951)
1880 – Arthur Dove, American painter and educator (d. 1946)
1922 – Betsy Bloomingdale, American philanthropist and socialite (d. 2016)
1923 – Shimon Peres, Polish-Israeli lawyer and politician, 9th President of Israel (d. 2016)
1932 – Peter O’Toole, British-Irish actor and producer (d. 2013)
1939 – Wes Craven, American director, producer, and screenwriter (d. 2015)
1316 – Louis of Burgundy (b. 1297)
1788 – Thomas Gainsborough, English painter (b. 1727)
1986 – Roy Cohn, American lawyer and politician (b. 1927)
1997 – William S. Burroughs, American novelist, short story writer, and essayist (b. 1914)
Cruise Ships in the Harbor
Arrivals & Departures
Saturday, August 3
Inbound 7:15 am; outbound 3:30 pm; Port Canaveral, FL/Bahamas
Adventure of the Seas
Inbound 6:30 am (Bayonne); outbound 3:00 pm; Bar Harbor, ME/Canadian Maritimes
Sunday, August 4
Inbound 7:30 am Bayonne; 4:00 pm; Bermuda
Inbound 6:15 am; outbound 4:30 pm; Bermuda
Many ships pass Lower Manhattan on their way to and from the Midtown Passenger Ship Terminal. Others may be seen on their way to or from piers in Brooklyn and Bayonne. Stated times, when appropriate, are for passing the Colgate clock in Jersey City, New Jersey, and are based on sighting histories, published schedules and intuition. They are also subject to tides, fog, winds, freak waves, hurricanes and the whims of upper management.
The Tale of the Ticker Tape,
or How Adversity and Spontaneity
Hatched a New York Tradition
What was Planned as a Grand Affair became a Comedy of Errors
While the festivities in New York Harbor didn’t go as scripted that afternoon, the spontaneous gesture it generated from the brokerage houses lining Broadway famously lives on more than a century later.
On October 28, 1886, Liberty Enlightening the World was to be unveiled to New York City and the world as it stood atop its tall base on Bedloe’s Island. But the morning mist had turned to afternoon fog, blurring the view of the statue from revelers on the Manhattan shore and the long parade of three hundred ships on the Hudson River.
Albany Wants to Keelhaul Ad Barges
State Lawmakers Bark ‘Belay That’ to Water-Borne Marketing Messages
The ubiquitous advertising barges that have become anathema for Lower Manhattan residents over the past year have attracted hostile attention from members of the State Senate and Assembly.
Bills were enacted in the closing days of the legislative session that would ban the 60-foot catamaran — bearing an electronic sign capable of rendering high-definition, full-motion video, similar to the “jumbo-tron” panels that adorn multiple buildings in Times Square — from continuing to conduct its business in New York’s waters.
Come Hell and High Water
Federal Report Foresees More Frequent Flooding for Lower Manhattan
A new report from the
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the federal scientific agency responsible for study of oceans, major waterways, and the atmosphere, predicts that Lower Manhattan will, in the next 12 months, experience between double and triple the number of flooding days that it did in 2000.
Anthem of the Seas Spins About
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