Lower Manhattan’s Local News
Need for Affordable Comestibles Inspires Tax Break Proposal and Deliveries to Elders
Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and City Council member Margaret Chin are leading a push to help groceries stores remain viable. Together, they have introduced legislation in the City Council to exempt affordable grocery stores from the commercial rent tax (CRT), which imposes an annual 3.9 percent surcharge on the rent paid by a store. Enacted in 1963, the CRT is currently imposed on businesses below 96th Street, but nowhere else in the five boroughs.
In this context, “affordable” is defined as any supermarket that accepts food vouchers from public-assistance plans like Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), while also setting aside at least 500 square feet of store space for moderately priced fresh produce.
Under these terms, many Lower Manhattan supermarkets would likely qualify for the tax break. This will strike many local residents, long accustomed to paying a galling premium at the checkout counter, as deeply counterintuitive. But it is a feature, rather than a bug in the program’s design. Even with high prices (which are often more a reflection of the staggering cost of doing business in Manhattan, than of windfall profits), many supermarkets operate on a razor-thin margin. They also face increased pressure from landlords, who hanker for the higher rents that might be obtained from banks or drugstore chains, or by splitting the large floor area of a typical supermarket into multiple, smaller storefronts. (Many of the same landlords are also deluged with offers to empty their properties entirely, so that they can be demolished and redeveloped as larger structures — almost none of which end up housing a new supermarket.)
These conditions are vouchsafed by the fact that more than a few local groceries have vanished from Lower Manhattan in recent years, such as Tribeca’s Food Emporium (and its successor at the same location on Greenwich Street, Best Market) and Bazzini, along with Met Foods in Little Italy, Pathmark in Two Bridges, and (most recently) Dean & DeLuca in Soho. Throughout the five boroughs, the City lost roughly 300 greengrocers between 2005 and 2015, with one-third of these causalities occurring in Manhattan. In the majority of cases, these closures occurred in low-income communities, which already lack access to fresh food.
“Affordable supermarkets are the lifeblood of our communities, and New York City is losing them at a rapid pace,” observed Ms. Brewer.
“Every time a grocery store closes its doors, the community suffers,” added Ms. Chin. “While our grocery stores fuel the vitality of neighborhoods across the City, too many of them have been forced to pay the antiquated commercial rent tax on top of the hundreds of thousands of dollars they already pay in rent. Two years ago, the Council passed a landmark bill to exempt more businesses from having to pay this tax. The legislation we are introducing builds on that effort by providing desperately needed relief for the grocery stores and workers on the frontlines of combatting food insecurity in our neighborhoods.”
In a separate (but related) development, Ms. Chin, Ms. Brewer, and the Battery Park City Authority (BPCA) recently concluded their seasonal Fresh Food for Seniors program, which brought low-cost produce to Lower Manhattan’s elder community. Under this plan, a weekly average of 80 seniors received a bag of fresh, regionally-grown fruits and vegetables for $8. This discounted price was made possible by the fact that GrowNYC (a non-profit that runs greenmarkets, community gardens, and recycling programs throughout the five boroughs) coordinated bulk orders (at wholesale prices) from farmers in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania, which were then divided into smaller packages by volunteers from the Battery Park City Authority and Downtown Alliance.
“With one-in-seven seniors food insecure in New York City, the Fresh Food for Seniors program serves a vital role in increasing the nutritional safety net for older New Yorkers,” Ms. Chin said during an October 8 event at which public officials volunteered to help assemble packages for delivery.
“Healthy, nutritious food should be available to everyone, but especially to elderly New Yorkers,” Ms. Brewer said. “I’m thrilled that we were able to serve so many seniors this past season and I look forward to expanding the program again in 2020.”
“Access to healthy, locally-sourced food is important for all New Yorkers, and especially our seniors, who are often discouraged by rising costs and mobility challenges,” said Jessica Lappin, president Downtown Alliance.
When the Fresh Food for Seniors program was launched in Lower Manhattan earlier this year, the BPCA and Downtown Alliance partnered with Ms. Chin and Ms. Brewer, as well as with the Battery Park City Seniors group, to conduct outreach and coordinate deliveries. The program is slated to run again in the coming year, from June to November.
“A Fraudulent Scheme”
FiDi Renters Seek Recompense for Years of Rent Overcharges
In the wake of a June ruling by New York State’s highest court that tenants in Financial District rental buildings had been illegally deprived of rent stabilization benefits, a pair of apartment dwellers is litigating to recoup the money they lost by paying inflated, market-rate rents for years.
In October, Bruce Hackney and Timothy Smith, tenants at Ten Hanover Square, filed suit against their landlord, alleging that the owner’s, “failure to follow rent regulations was part of a fraudulent scheme to deregulate apartments in the building.”
Eighteen Years Later, What about the Children?
Schools Agency Begins Belated Outreach Effort to Former Lower Manhattan Students at Risk of 9/11 Illness
The City’s Department of Education is partnering with the United Federation of Teachers union for an unusual mission: tracking down former New York City public school students who were pupils at Lower Manhattan schools on September 11, 2001 (or in the months that followed) and informing them that their health may be at risk. The project will also seek to put these students in touch with the World Trade Center Health Program and the September 11th Victims Compensation Fund.
In September, the DOE began mailing out the first of more than 19,000 letters to the last known addresses of students who attended schools such as P.S. 89, I.S. 289, P.S. 234, P.S. 150, and Stuyvesant High School, along with dozens of other elementary, middle, and high schools below Houston Street.
Rents Within Reach for 50 Years
Lower East Side’s Depression-Era Equivalent to Gateway Plaza Preserves Affordability Through 2069
City Council member Margaret Chin has brokered an agreement that will preserve affordability for rental tenants at Knickerbocker Village, a giant apartment complex in the Two Bridges neighborhood, which was built by a public-private partnership in the 1930s.
The complex bears striking similarities to Battery Park City’s largest residential development, Gateway Plaza. Both boast multiple buildings (12 on the Lower East Side and six in Battery Park City), surrounding a central garden. Each has a similar number of apartments: 1,590 for Knickerbocker Village and 1705 in Gateway Plaza. And the two projects were conceived as bulwarks of affordability.
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DO YOU NEED A PERSONAL ASSISTANT?
I am experienced, reliable, knowledgeable and able to work flexible hours.
CHINESE AIDE/CAREGIVER FOR ELDERLY
Cantonese/Mandarin-speaking and Excellent Cook for Battery Park City.
SEEKING FREE-LANCE 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.
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IT AND SECURITY SUPPORT
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November 8, 2019
Renwen Music Chat: Songs for the Guqin
The Guqin is a zither-like traditional Chinese instrument that has been played for generations. Long associated with the rich intellectual life of the ancient literati, mastery of the Guqin was seen as part of the “Four Arts” required to become a scholar. During this event, singer and Guqin player Ms. He Yi will discuss the history and beauty of songs for the Guqin and perform a selection for the audience. 40 Rector Street.
2019 New York Comedy Festival Nicole Byer
Tribeca Performing Arts Center
Nicole Byer is an actress, comedian and writer, Nicole hosts the baking show Nailed It currently streaming on Netflix and has a sitcom loosely based on her life streaming on Facebook Watch called Loosely Exactly Nicole. She also hosts a podcast called Why Won’t You Date Me. $27.50, $32.50 199 Chambers Street.
The Public Theater’s Measure for Measure
St. Paul’s Chapel
This season, The Public’s acclaimed Mobile Unit transports the Lower Manhattan community to the vibrant streets of New Orleans for a bold new production of Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure, directed by LA Williams. St. Paul’s Chapel.
Today in History
1731 – In Philadelphia, Benjamin Franklin opens first US library
1789 – Bourbon Whiskey, first distilled from corn (by Elijah Craig, Bourbon Ky)
1793 – Louvre in Paris, opens
1889 – Montana admitted as 41st state
1892 – Grover Cleveland elected president
1895 – German physicist Wilhelm Röntgen produces and detects electromagnetic radiation in a wavelength range today known as X-rays or Röntgen rays
1926 – George Gershwin’s musical “Oh, Kay,” premieres in NYC
1933 – FDR creates Civil Works Administration
1938 – A pogrom against the Jews of Germany and Austria takes place in response to the assassination of a German diplomat in Paris.
1939 – Failed assassination attempt on Hitler in Burgerbraukeller, Munich
1940 – RAF bombs Munich
1942 – Vichy-France drops diplomatic relations with US
1950 – First jet-plane battle in Korean War
1951 – NY Yankee Catcher Yogi Berra wins 1st of his 3 MVP awards
1960 – JFK beats Nixon to become 35th US president
1962 – Canada government orders changing nickel back to round shape
1965 – “Days of Our Lives” premieres on TV
1966 – Movie actor Ronald Reagan elected Governor of California
1976 – A series of earthquakes spreads panic in the city of Thessaloniki, which is evacuated.
1980 – Voyager 1 space probe discovers 15th moon of Saturn
1990 – “6 Degrees of Separation” opens at Vivian Beaumont NYC for 496 perfs
2011 – The asteroid 2005 YU55 passed 0.85 lunar distances from Earth (about 324,600 kilometres or 201,700 miles), the closest known approach by an asteroid of its brightness since 2010 XC15 in 1976.
1968 – Cynthia Lennon is granted a divorce from Beatle member John
1970 – “Easy Rider” director and actor Dennis Hopper (34) divorces singer Michelle Phillips (26) only 8 days after getting married
1656 – Edmond Halley, English astronomer and mathematician (d. 1742)
1836 – Milton Bradley, American businessman, founded the Milton Bradley Company (d. 1911)
1883 – Charles Demuth, American painter (d. 1935)
1884 – Hermann Rorschach, Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst (d. 1922)
1931 – Morley Safer, Canadian-American journalist and author (d. 2016)
1949 – Bonnie Raitt, American singer-songwriter and guitarist
1226 – Louis VIII of France (b. 1187)
1674 – John Milton, English poet and philosopher (b. 1608)
1978 – Norman Rockwell, American painter and illustrator (b. 1894)
National Lighthouse Museum
Model Ship Show
Ship Model Show
Tomorrow, Saturday, November 9, the Ship Model Society of New Jersey will be hosting a show at the National Lighthouse Museum on Staten Island featuring models of different kinds of ships.
Models will be on display and their builders will demonstrate the steps taken to build the Lilliputian vessels. The Society’s members span all skill levels, from neophyte to highly accomplished, with a wide range of interests, from gadget guru to historical re-creator.
If you are a model ship builder and would like to participate and even display your model in this event, please contact the museum to make arrangements as soon as possible. If you have a ship model in need of repair or you need an appraisal, bring it along!
Admission for this exhibit is included in your museum entrance fee.
General Admission: $7 for Adults $7, $5 for seniors (65+), military, and students (12+), Children under 10 & Members FREE
National Lighthouse Museum, 718-390-0040,
Quay to the Future
Hudson River Park Trust Hints at Estuarium Partnership with River Project
A discussion at the October 15 meeting of the Waterfront, Parks & Cultural Committee of Community Board 1 (CB1) pointed toward a possible resolution of a question that has remained unanswered for years: Will a highly regarded non-profit that has served Lower Manhattan for decades continue to have a home on the waterfront?
Click to 30 seconds of morning sounds on the esplanade
A Bridge Too Few
Community Leader Rallies Support to Halt Planned Demolition of Pedestrian Span Over West Side Highway
A Battery Park City resident and community leader is mobilizing support to preserve the Rector Street Bridge, the pedestrian span that is slated for demolition as a newer overpass at nearby West Thames Street (which unofficially opened in September) is gradually integrated into the local streetscape.
Bob Schneck spoke during the public comment session of the Battery Park City Authority (BPCA) board meeting on Tuesday, pointing to a petition drive he has spearheaded, and noting that, “I have collected more than 1,800 signatures by residents who want to keep the bridge. Rector Street lines up with almost every subway line in Lower Manhattan, and ferries on both ends.”
The Subtle Art of Not Giving A Shoot
Chin Pushes Legislation to Rein in Production Permits
City Council member Margaret Chin is co-sponsoring a package of bills to clamp down on rampant film and television production in Lower Manhattan.
Although the new laws, if enacted, will have City-wide effect, their impact would be especially significant in the square mile below Chambers Street, where dozens of movies and TV shows commandeer local streets (sometimes for days at a time) each year.
Steven Amedee Gallery
Jefferson Hayman : New Amsterdam
Exploring themes of nostalgia, common symbols, and memory, Jefferson Hayman invites the viewer to partake in the narrative process that is both intimate and deeply personal.
Each photograph is handcrafted as a silver gelatin, platinum or pigment print, capturing a delicacy in tonality reminiscent of early Pictorial photography as well as the subsequent modernism movement’s refined interplay of light and shadow.
Entitled New Amsterdam, this exhibition will focus in part on Dutch inspired still lives as well as images of the once Dutch colony New York City.
Thursday, November 14th, 2019 6pm – 9pm
Steven Amedee Gallery 41 N Moore Street in Tribeca
Things That Make You Go ‘Hmm…’
Lawsuit Over Similarity Between One World Trade and Architecture Student’s Design Moves Ahead
One thing is reasonably certain: In 1999, Jeehoon Park, then a student at the Illinois Institute of Technology’s College of Architecture, created a design for a very tall building with a large square base tapering to a smaller square top. In Mr. Park’s vision, the square formed by the roof was rotated 45 degrees relative to the one at the ground level, so that the center-points on each side of the quadrilateral below corresponded to the corners of the one above, and vice versa. And instead of four vertical walls, the structure’s facade consisted of eight elongated triangles.
That structure was never built. Or was it?
You Can Hit-and-Run,
But You Can’t Hide
Driver Alleged to Have Run Over Tribeca Pedestrian in May Indicted for Separate Manhattan Traffic Death
The New York County District Attorney’s Office has indicted Jessenia Fajardo, a resident of the upstate town of Walden in two separate incidents involving reckless driving that caused injury to pedestrians. The more serious of these took place on July 19, when Ms. Fajardo is accused of having run a red light on the Upper West Side and then slamming into an elderly couple in a crosswalk. One of these pedestrians, 62-year-old Alfred Pocari, was killed, while the second (whose name has not been released) was seriously injured.
When police took Ms. Fajardo into custody at the scene of the July incident, they discovered that she was also involved in a similar (albeit less gravely serious) incident two months earlier. To read more…
What’s In Store?
Amid a Booming Economy, Lower Manhattan Retail Space Languishes
A new report from City Comptroller Scott Stringer finds that in one Lower Manhattan zip code — 10013, which covers parts of western Tribeca SoHo, and the Canal Street corridor in Chinatown — there are 319 empty retail spaces, comprising almost 300,000 square feet of unused property. To read more…
Damascus on the Hudson
Lower Manhattan’s Old Syrian Quarter
Today, the stretch of Greenwich and Washington Streets between Battery Place and Albany Street — bisected by the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel entrance — is known by the forgettable name, “Greenwich South.”
By all appearances it is an orphan of a neighborhood that never quite coalesced. But nothing could be further from the truth. A century ago, before the World Trade Center or the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel (the two giant public works projects that decimated this once-thriving quarter), it was an ethnic enclave as vibrant as Little Italy or Chinatown. To read more…
BPCA’s Public Art Collection Represents Multiple Layers of Value
The Battery Park City Authority, has completed an inventory and appraisal of its public art collection. This is part of a broad effort to take stock of the Authority’s ongoing role as a patron and custodian of pieces that represent an integral thread in the fabric of the community, as evidenced by the fact that space and funding for public art were both set aside decades ago, in the neighborhood’s first master plan, before the first building was erected.
Keep It Light
Condo Boards Question Need for South End Avenue Redesign After Installation of Traffic Signal
At the October 2 meeting of the Battery Park City Committee of Community Board 1, Battery Park City Authority president B.J. Jones was apprised by the leader of a coalition of condominiums along South End Avenue of that group’s ongoing reservations about the Authority’s plan to revamp the thoroughfare.
Pat Smith, the board president of the Battery Pointe condominium (at South End Avenue and Rector Place) told Mr. Jones, “before you go too far on South End Avenue, please remember that six condo boards, representing more than 1,000 households along South End Avenue, from Albany down to West Thames, don’t want you to do this.” To read more…
Residents Riled about Tribeca Tavern
More than a dozen concerned Tribeca residents turned out for the September meeting the Licensing and Permits Committee, which weighs in on the granting or renewal of liquor licenses.
They showed up to voice concerns about MI-5, a bar located at 52 Walker Street, which has been a source of local complaints as far back 2007.
Neighbors of the bar allege that it operates as a dance club (in violation of its current license, which is now up for renewal), and that loud music penetrates the upper floors of the residential building located above the bar as late as 4:00 am. To read more…
Sin of Omission
City Agency Leaves Cash-Strapped Local Museum Off Roster of Cultural Institutions
The City’s Department of Cultural Affairs has omitted from its list of dozens of New York-based cultural institutions that receive public support the museum that chronicles the oldest community anywhere in the five boroughs.
BPCA Puts the Brakes on Conversions of Rental Buildings within Community
Residents of rental apartments in Battery Park City who fear being thrown out of their homes as developers plan to convert those buildings to condominiums can rest a little bit easier, according to the Battery Park City Authority.
At the October 2 meeting of the Battery Park City Committee of Community Board 1, Authority president Benjamin Jones said, “I want to talk about some of the potential condo conversions that people are concerned about. We have been very clear with developers over the last year, and then some, about our position — that we want to preserve the rental housing that exists in Battery Park City.” To read more…
Costs to Rent or Own in Lower Manhattan Are Matched by Lofty Local Earnings
A slew of recent reports documents what everyone who lives or works in Lower Manhattan already sensed in their bones: This is a mind-numbingly expensive place to call home.
In September, RENTCafé issued a new analysis of the most expensive neighborhoods for renters in the United States that finds northern Battery Park City (zip code 10282) is the priciest enclave in America, with an average rent of $6,211 per month. Coming in at second place is zip code 10013, which covers western Tribeca, along with part of Soho. To read more…
Breaking It Down
Composting Catches on in Battery Park City
You’re probably heard of the farm-to-table movement. Thanks to the Battery Park City Authority’s compost initiative, there’s a burgeoning table-to-earth movement in this Lower Manhattan community.
What happens to the scraps after you’ve dropped them in the bin? How do your apple peels and corn husks turn into rich, beneficial compost?
The Broadsheet set out to investigate. To read more…
Cass Gilbert and the Evolution of the New York Skyscraper
by John Simko
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