Lower Manhattan’s Local News
How a Nazi Sympathizer’s Tribeca Garage Could Become a Luxe Mansion
Community Board 1 is pushing back, in unusually emphatic terms, against a builder’s plans for a new mansion in Tribeca. The property in question is located at 11 Hubert Street, near the corner of Collister Street.
The builder’s plans call for a new, 17,000-square-foot private home that will contain four bedrooms, ten bathrooms, a multi-car garage, and a basement-level indoor basketball court, as well as outdoor patio above street level. But because the existing structure sits within the Tribeca West Historic District, any new building project must seek the approval of the City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC). And that agency customarily does not make a decision until after reviewing an advisory opinion from the local Community Board.
At the November 21 meeting of Community Board 1 (CB1), Bruce Ehrmann, who co-chairs that panel’s Landmarks & Preservation Committee, began by saying, “this is one of the most egregious applications I’ve seen in Tribeca Historic District.”
He recalled a 2016 design (approved by CB1 and the LPC) from renowned architect Maya Lin (famed for her design of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.), and the highly regarded Lower Manhattan-based architect Bill Bialosky.
That design, Mr. Ehrmann said, “was not contextual in the sense of a Tribeca 19th-century warehouse. But it was respective of the neighborhood and open to the neighborhood. It had some some resonance.” Although this plan garnered official approval, the owners withdrew it several years ago, and began the application process anew this year.
By comparison, Mr. Ehrmann said, the new design, produced by E. Cobb Architects and SPAN Architecture, “is like a prison, guarding the residents from us. The Collister Street facade is way above pedestrians heads. The architect said this way, the owners wouldn’t have to hang curtains or shades.”
The resolution enacted by CB1 at this meeting says, “the new proposal, designed by Washington State architect Eric Cobb, is a disaster and an affront,” with, “a penitentiary-like garage door and front entrance, and frosted glass strung with cabling, vaguely recalling Renzo Piano on a very bad day.”
The resolution goes on to criticize the use of indentations in the proposed facade, “the same size as and suggestive of the actual windows, but actual blank indentations, perhaps for those in solitary confinement.” The measure also bemoans that, “the entire ensemble is belted at street-level by a brutalist black ‘keep out’ steel fence barricade extending high over pedestrians’ heads.”
It concludes that, “clearly, the architect has been tasked with designing a fortress on what is one of the most elegant passages in Downtown Manhattan, and the design in question bears not a scintilla of contextual reference to Tribeca’s historic districts, either graphically or ideologically,” before recommending that the LPC reject the plan, and asking the builder and architects to start again from scratch.
The existing structure at 11 Hubert Street has a tangled pedigree. It was built in 1946 by Dietrich Wortman, who was born in Leipzig, Germany, in 1884, and emigrated to the United States, where he studied architecture at Columbia University. He was also a talented amateur wrestler, who represented his adopted country at the 1904 Summer Olympics, where he placed third. Two years later, he captured the U.S. national wrestling title in the welterweight division. Even after he retired from competition, Wortman remained active as a sporting statesman, pioneering competitive weightlifting in America, and later campaigning to prevent a American boycott of the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. Many Americans, deeply troubled by the Nazi government’s persecution of Jews, had argued for pulling out of the games, which the German regime planned as a propaganda showcase to project the image of a newly invigorated and united Germany, while camouflaging its racism and growing militarism.
Leading the charge against the proposed boycott was Wortman, through a German-language New York newspaper he helped found, Deutsche Zeitung, and his posts as president of the German-American Athletic Club and chairman of the German American Olympic Fund Committee. He argued that American athletes who competed in Berlin would, “return as apostles of truth and justice for the promotion of friendship between our great countries.”
In the end, Wortman’s side prevailed, and American athletes participated in Berlin, although the Nazi propaganda victory was incomplete, at best: An African-American runner, Jesse Owens bested his Aryan adversaries and took home four gold medals, infuriating Adolf Hitler.
And Wortman, although criticized as de facto Nazi spokesman, continued to prosper in the years after World War Two. Based in an office at Lexington Avenue and 28th Street, he worked as both an architect and a builder. In 1946, a trucking firm, the Highway Transportation Company, bought a Lower Manhattan lot that had been vacant for almost a decade. Located at the corner of Hubert and Collister Streets, the site had once been a coal yard, which was replaced in the 1850s by a six-story building that housed a sugar refinery, and was later converted to a tin-can factory, which was finally demolished in 1937. On this parcel, the company wanted to erect a one-story garage, with loading bays for its trucks. They hired Wortman, who both designed and built the structure.
Wortman died in 1952, but his building was altered four decades later, when the Gold Wings Air Freight Company added two floors of office space above the garage, in the early 1990s. In the early 2000s, the offices had been converted to apartments, and 11 Hubert was the subject of a lawsuit between neighbors who each wanted control of the building. In 2014, both parties sold their interests to hedge fund impresario Adam Zoia, for $15.3 million. When Mr. Zoia’s 2016 plan to convert he building into a private residence languished, he tried to sell the property for $35 million. Eventually, he settled on a price of slightly less than $20 million, selling in 2018 to an undisclosed buyer, who now hopes to build the design that has been rejected by CB1.
What If All This Is Not Enough?
Pondering Whether $300 Million and 16.5 Feet of Protection Will Matter
At the October 29 meeting of the Battery Park City Authority board, Catherine McVay Hughes raised a potentially troubling question. As BPCA management reviewed plans to spend some $300 million on resiliency measures designed to protect the community against future sea-level rise, extreme-weather events, and climate change, she questioned one of the key assumptions upon which these plans are predicated.
“I think a lot of folks are looking at the depth-to-design elevation flood line,” Ms. McVay Hughes began. “And there was a report that was recently issued… [in which] this technical expert suggested that the 16.5 feet needs to be raised another two to three feet. So I just wanted to make sure that what the Battery Park City will be planning to do will be adequate, as well.”
The metric to which Ms. McVay Hughes was referring comes from the lower end of the mid-range of predicted coastal flood heights for Lower Manhattan by the 2080s. A 2014 report by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, entitled “Climate Change in New York State,” noted that middle range for such predictions at the Battery was 16.5 to 18.3 feet. (The lowest bracket was 16.1 feet or less, while the most extreme scenarios ranged up to 19.9 feet.)
For more information, contact Scott Baker at firstname.lastname@example.org
Today in History
63 BC – Cicero gives the fourth and final of the Catiline Orations.
1484 – Pope Innocent VIII issues the Summis desiderantes affectibus, a papal bull that deputizes Heinrich Kramer and Jacob Sprenger as inquisitors to root out alleged witchcraft in Germany.
1492 – Christopher Columbus becomes the first European to set foot on the island of Hispaniola (now Haiti and the Dominican Republic).
1496 – King Manuel I of Portugal issues a decree ordering the expulsion of Jewish “heretics” from the country.
1766 – In London, auctioneer James Christie holds his first sale.
1847 – Jefferson Davis is elected to the U.S. Senate.
I have nothing against the Tribute Museum and I was angered when I heard that they were losing their lease. It is a good institution and should survive.
However, the National 9/11 Memorial & Museum doesn’t deserve to be put down in comparison to the Tribute Museum.
Arts and Minds
Highly Regarded Local Arts Education Group Stays the Course
To stroll in Tribeca in 2019 is to apprehend what is happening throughout Lower Manhattan. Buildings – along with their occupants and uses – are in perpetual flux. Amid this tumult is a symbol of local continuity: the Church Street School for Music and Art.
Recently, the Broadsheet asked Dr. Ecklund-Flores, who has been the sole proprietor of CSS for many years, to reflect on the move north and the challenges faced in relocating to a new neighborhood. To read more…
Pipes at One
St. Paul’s Chapel
The weekly Pipes at One series showcases leading organists and rising stars from around the country in this year-round series at St. Paul’s Chapel, featuring its celebrated three-manual Noack organ. Today, students of Ken Cowan from Rice University, Houston, TX
St. Paul’s Chapel
Holiday Lights at South Cove
Battery Park City Authority
The Long War in Afghanistan: How Does it End?
McNally Jackson Book Reading at 4 Fulton Street
K. Khabensky & A. Tsypkin in “The Best”
Tribeca Performing Arts Center
DoublePlus: Dana Davenport + Samita Sinha
Cruise Ships in New York Harbor
Arrivals & Departures
Sunday, December 8
Anthem of the Seas
Inbound 5:30 am (Bayonne); outbound 3:00 pm
Queen Mary 2
Inbound 6:00 am (Brooklyn); outbound 5:00 pm
Transatlantic (Southampton, UK)
Friday, December 13
Inbound 9:15 am; outbound 3:30 pm; Port Canaveral, FL/Bahamas
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.
CB1 to Consider Cutbacks in Number of Stops on Free Bus Service
Tonight (Tuesday, December 3) the Transportation Committee of Community Board 1 (CB1) will hear a presentation from the Downtown Alliance about planned cutbacks to the number of stops on its free Downtown Connection shuttle bus.
The plans include the elimination of six stops within Battery Park City.
Gotham Girls Winter Futsal League & Formativo Training
Gotham Girls F.C. – the only NYC all-girls soccer club is running our Winter Futsal League for girls ages 7 to 16.
(Our foundational development soccer – Formativo – is available for girls ages 7-10).
Our dedicated coaches ref the fun, active 50-minute 4v4 indoor futsal games, and provide coaching to develop girls foot skills and knowledge.
Games are on Saturdays or Sundays (depending on age)
at PS276 and PS234 gyms.
Cost is $210 for 12 games.
To register for Winter Futsal or Formativo, please go to http://gothamgirls.org.
CLASSIFIEDS & PERSONALS
Swaps & Trades ~ Respectable Employment ~ Lost & Found
LOCAL HIGH SCHOOL SENIOR AVAILABLE
FOR BABYSITTING OR TUTORING
17 year old young man, lifetime resident of Tribeca and BPC.
Went to PS 234, Lab Middle School and currently attending Millennium HS. This summer was a Councilor at Pierce Country Day Camp. Excellent references.Very experienced with kids under 10.
Available for weeknight and weekend baby-sitting and tutoring middle-schoolers in Math or Science.
Please contact Emmett at 917.733.3572
CERTIFIED HOME HEALTH AIDE SEEKING
Full-Time Live-In Elder Care
I am loving, caring and hardworking with 12 years experience. References available. Marcia 347-737-5037 email@example.com
ELDER CARE NURSE AIDE
with 17 years experience seeks PT/FT work. Refs available Call or text 718 496 6232 Dian
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.
Please send resume and fee schedule to: Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Available starting September for PT/FT.
Wonderful person, who is a great worker. Reference Available
Available for PT/FT elder care. Experienced. References Angella
DITCH THE DIETS & LOSE WEIGHT FOR GOOD
Call Janine to find out how with hypnosis.
EXPERIENCED ELDER CARE
Able to prepare nutritious meals and light housekeeping
Excellent references 12yrs experienced 347-898-5804
Call Hope email@example.com
NOTARY PUBLIC IN BPC
$2 per notarized signature Text Paula at 917-836-8802
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 347-933-1362. Refs available
OLD WATCHES SOUGHT, PREFER NON-WORKING
Mechanical pocket and wristwatches sought and sometimes repaired
If you would like to place a listing, please contact email@example.com
The Train to the Plane
A Convenient Connection to the Airport Visible from Lower Manhattan Rooftops May Be Less Than Ten Years Away
The Regional Plan Association (RPA) recently partnered with the Downtown-Lower Manhattan Association (DLMA) to build support for a proposed rail connection between Lower Manhattan and Newark Airport. A report the two organizations produced together, “Taking the PATH to Newark Airport,” summarizes the potential and the prospects for such a link, which local leaders have long pushed for.
“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.” To read more…
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. To read more…
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?
Death Came Calling at the Corner of Wall and Broad Streets, in Lower Manhattan’s First Major Terrorist Attack
As the noon hour approached on a fall Thursday morning in 1920, a horse-drawn wagon slowly made its way west down Wall Street toward “the Corner,” the high-powered intersection of Wall and Broad. Its driver came to a gentle stop in front of the Assay Office, where stockpiles of gold and silver were stored and tested for purity. But theft was not his motive.
Cass Gilbert and the Evolution of the New York Skyscraper
by John Simko
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