The Battery Park City Authority (BPCA) has begun implementation of a landmark plan to “achieve progressive sustainability targets over the next decade, and lay the groundwork for continued sustainability action after 2030.”
“Even in the midst of present challenges, it’s imperative that we strengthen our commitment to greater environmental responsibility,” noted BPCA president and chief executive officer B.J. Jones, adding that, “the future depends on it. To that end, we’ve developed this neighborhood plan with energy, waste, water, and site management strategies to help advance our efforts and illustrate to others how Governor Cuomo’s ambitious vision for carbon neutrality can be achieved.”
• The first of these is “Resource Management & Reduction,” which aims to reduce the demand for energy and water in the community, while promoting reuse of resources and minimizing waste.
• The second, labeled “Innovation & Inspiration,” seeks to leverage Battery Park City initiatives as scalable models for other urban developments around the nation and the world.
• And the third, termed “Education & Collaboration” is designed to raise local awareness of sustainability-related issues and actions.
These goals are organized into four sets of strategies, which focus on energy, water, materials/waste, and site management. The energy strategies include power retrofits for buildings within the community, including electrification measures that will replace legacy heating and cooking systems powered by oil or gas, along with renewable energy supply and storage measures. The water strategies will focus on conservation, recycling, and storm water management. Materials and waste will prioritize waste diversion, along with the collection and composting of organic refuse. Finally, the site management strategies will include environmental monitoring and data sharing, as well as electric vehicle infrastructure (such as curbside charging stations for vehicles and scooters).
The milestones that this plan is expected to achieve by 2030 stand to transform the community, with 70 percent of its electricity coming from renewable energy sources, and one third of its greenhouse gas emissions (relative to 2017 levels) eliminated, while 29 percent of the community’s buildings will be served by a water-recycling system. At the same time, the BPCA aims to increase the total number of street trees within the community to 720, and redesign 1.5 miles of local streets with “cool pavement” (which reflects more light and traps less heat than conventional surfaces).
The Authority also hopes to reduce truck traffic (and the emissions associated with it) through the use of new, centralized waste collection and retailer “cargo sharing” facilities, and slow all vehicle traffic by implementing a community-wide 15 mile-per-hour speed limit. In a related move, the BPCA hopes to create new “logistics centers” for residential buildings, which will serve as centralized package delivery sites for apartment towers.
All of these measures are separate from (but related to) the BPCA’s ongoing resiliency plans, which aim to create infrastructure that will render the community safe from rising sea levels, future extreme-weather events, and other effects of climate change.
The BPCA’s Sustainability Plan is one component of its broader Strategic Plan, which contains a mandate “develop and implement a strategy to achieve a carbon neutral Battery Park City,” no later than 2050. It is also related to the Climate Mobilization Act passed by New York’s City Council last April, a package of eleven pieces of legislation that requires buildings greater than 25,000 square feet to reduce their carbon emissions to meet strict limits in 2024 and 2030.
For Battery Park City, both the opportunities and the challenges will be considerable. In the spring of 2003, the community, under the leadership of the BPCA, became the site of the first “green” residential high-rise (the Solaire, located at 20 River Terrace) in the United States. This was the first of eight similar buildings, all boasting various levels of LEED (“Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design”) certification. Those buildings were developed within the BPCA’s “green guidelines,” first issued in 2000, and then updated five years later. And the eco-friendly buildings themselves followed decades of environmental stewardship in the community’s parks, which have been managed and maintained without harmful pesticides or fertilizers, from Battery Park City’s earliest days.
But, with the community now essentially built out, the opportunity to break new ground will inevitably focus (both figuratively and literally) more on modernizing existing facilities and infrastructure, rather than building from scratch. Many of the older buildings within the community (particularly Gateway Plaza) are strikingly inefficient by modern environmental standards. And even the second generation of towers, dating from the 1990s, now contain features (such as hydrocarbon-based heating systems, and non-insulated windows) that were standard in the era before climate change had become an issue, but are now functionally obsolete—and are, in any event, nearing the ends of their design lifetimes.
Given that the Climate Mobilization Act affects some 50,000 existing residential and commercial buildings throughout New York City, it is possible to argue that sustainability retrofits do not impose unique challenges on buildings in Battery Park City. But this position would ignore the exotic nature of property ownership in the community, where homeowners, landlords, and developers do not own outright the acreage they occupy, but instead lease the space (through the year 2069), in exchange for yearly payments to the BPCA of ground rent, as well as so-called “payments in lieu of taxes” (PILOT).
In this context, a coherent case can be made that it is not only in the BPCA’s best interest—but also that agency’s ultimate responsibility—to play a leading role in maintaining and updating these buildings. The Authority’s Strategic Plan calls for the BPCA to, “incentivize residential and commercial buildings to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.” Whether these incentives will include financial assistance has yet to be determined. But such a program would be welcome news for many of the residential towers, which are already facing an onerous financial burden in the forms of ground rent and PILOT obligations.
Getting a Corner on the Market
Retail Developer Wins Years-Long Struggle for Control of Legendary Bank Building
When the financial upheaval unleashed by the pandemic coronavirus begins to settle, a long-neglected local landmark may resume its erstwhile status as an iconic Lower Manhattan public space.
The building, 23 Wall Street (at the corner of Broad Street), is a former tabernacle of American capitalism. To read more…
Tuesday September 22
Adult Outdoor Zumba
Battery Park City Authority at the Irish Hunger Memorial.
Exercise in disguise! Join in on the fun featuring easy-to-follow Latin dance choreography while working on your balance, coordination and range of motion. Come prepared for enthusiastic instruction, a little strength training and a lot of fun. Participants are expected to bring their own equipment: weights, water bottle, hand towel etc. Program is first come, first served for up to 15 participants. Masks and contact information required upon arrival. Spatial parameters will be set. Participants must remain 6 ft apart for the duration of the program. All programs will be held in accordance with New York State reopening guidance.
Nature in the Park
Battery Park City Authority in Rockefeller Park
Celebrate the nature found in our beloved BPC parks. Pick up a self-guided worksheet that will invite you to tour the gardens investigating plants and trees, as well as the pollinating insects and birds that visit the parks of BPC. Participants are expected to bring their own pencils and clipboards. Program is first come, first served for up to 20 children with accompanying adults. Masks and contact information required upon arrival. Activity is self-guided. Participants must maintain six feet of physical distance between households. All programs will be held in accordance with New York State reopening guidance
City Council Backs Study of Drones to Inspect Buildings
Lower Manhattan skies may soon be slightly more crowded. The City Council on Wednesday enacted legislation authorizing the Department of Buildings to study the feasibility of conducting facade inspections using the small, robotic aircraft known as drones.
City law requires such facade inspections every five years for all buildings taller than six stories. These reviews are usually performed by contractors suspended from the roof of each structure, but the danger of such overhead work requires the installation of the unsightly scaffolds commonly known as sidewalk sheds.
The impact of such a program would likely be especially significant in Lower Manhattan. To read more…
‘How Solitary the City Has Become…’
A Downtown Photographer, Forced to Pause and Reflect, Sees New York in a New Light
A Battery Park City resident has created a haunting evocation of Manhattan in the time of COVID. His new book, a compendium of photographs entitled “Quiet in NYC: Images from a Time of Quarantine,” eloquently documents the stark beauty and forlorn grace of an erstwhile-bustling streetscape, suddenly rendered desolate.
“The project was born from the inability to do just about anything else but walk around the City in the early days of the quarantine,” says Brad Fountain, who is a graphic designer in his professional life. “No sports, shopping, concerts, or museums. The stark emptiness of the streets seemed to be asking to be photographed. I could walk for hours and see only a half a dozen people, even if I visited some of the most famous sites in New York.”
1499 – The Treaty of Basel concludes the Swabian War.
1692 – The last hanging of those convicted of witchcraft in the Salem witch trials; others are all eventually released.
1711 – The Tuscarora War begins in present-day North Carolina.
The Tuscarora War was fought in North Carolina from September 22, 1711 until February 11, 1715 between the Tuscarora people and their allies on one side and European American settlers, the Yamassee, and other allies on the other. This was considered the bloodiest colonial war in North Carolina.Wikipedia
1776 – Nathan Hale is hanged for spying during the American Revolution.
1823 – Joseph Smith claims to have found the golden plates after being directed by God through the Angel Moroni to the place where they were buried.
1896 – Queen Victoria surpasses her grandfather King George III as the longest reigning monarch in British history.
1914 – A German submarine sinks three British cruisers over a seventy-minute period, killing almost 1500 sailors.
1919 – The steel strike of 1919, led by the Amalgamated Association of Iron and Steel Workers, begins in Pennsylvania before spreading across the United States.
1975 – Sara Jane Moore tries to assassinate President Gerald Ford, but is foiled by the Secret Service.
1980 – Iraq invades Iran.
1991 – The Dead Sea Scrolls are made available to the public for the first time.
1547 – Philipp Nicodemus Frischlin, German philologist, mathematician, astronomer, and poet (d. 1590)
1791 – Michael Faraday, English physicist and chemist (d. 1867)
1920 – Eric Baker, English activist, co-founded Amnesty International (d. 1976)
1927 – Tommy Lasorda, American baseball player, coach, and manager
1928 – Eric Broadley, English engineer and businessman, founded Lola Cars (d. 2017)
1777 – John Bartram, American botanist and explorer (b. 1699)
1828 – Shaka Zulu, Zulu chieftain and monarch of the Zulu Kingdom (b. 1787)
1989 – Irving Berlin, Russian-born American composer and songwriter (b. 1888)
2001 – Isaac Stern, Polish-Ukrainian violinist and conductor (b. 1920)
2007 – Marcel Marceau, French mime and actor (b. 1923)
2015 – Yogi Berra, American baseball player, coach, and manager (b. 1925)
What’s Next for the Store of the Future?
As Century 21 Shutdown Looms, Opportunity Arises to Ponder New Uses for a Storied Temple of Commerce
With local shoppers still mourning the impending demise of Century 21, the renowned fashion discounter, the family that owns the soon-to-be-defunct retailer may be crying all the way to the bank.
Century 21 was founded in 1961, by Al Gindi and his cousin, Samuel (“Sonny”) Gindi, who set up shop in the palatial former home of the East River Savings Bank at the corner and Church and Cortlandt Streets, and took their new venture’s name from the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair, which styled itself the “Century 21 Exposition.” That event focused on the theme of how Americans would live come the millennium, but its predictions did not include an epochal pandemic, or the death of retail driven by online shopping.
Urban Squatters Stake a Short-Lived Claim to Empty Lot in FiDi
A Financial District lot with a turbulent history that has sat empty for nearly two decades briefly become the venue for an insurgent (although anonymous) effort to open the space for public use, while also making quixotic political point. The parcel in question is 111 Washington Street, at the corner of Carlisle Street.
Need a safe and breezy break from your apartment? Several cruise operators have reopened in North Cove and are offering opportunities to get out on the water, including Tribeca Sailing, Ventura, and Classic Harbor Line. All cruise operators are adhering to social distancing guidelines; check individual websites for details.