Lower Manhattan’s Local News
Retrofit and Restoration
Centuries-Old Aesthetics to Converge with Cutting-Edge Technology at Historic Seaport Warehouse
Trinity Church has purchased a historic warehouse in the South Street Seaport district, which it intends to convert into a four-family residence, while also adhering to the environmentally rigorous “passive house” standard. The building, at 245 Water Street (between Peck Slip and Beekman Street), was originally built in 1836, after a fire destroyed the previous structure on that lot. The building was put up by the firm of Hendricks & Brothers, who operated cooper mines in Newark, but had their offices in Lower Manhattan. The family, who had anglicized their names from the Henriques of their native Spain, had been in the cooper business for generations, selling to customers like Paul Revere and Robert Fulton.
The building bade farewell to its commercial and industrial legacy in 2008, when it was initially converted into a two-family residence. But Joshua Levine, the owner for several years, put the property on the market in early 2019, asking $12.82 million. Last August, Trinity Church negotiated a price of $12.3 million and took possession.
Because the property lies within the South Street Seaport Historic District, any significant changes must be approved 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.
Trinity’s plans mostly focus on restoration of the building’s historic character, although the Church also wants to make the building handicapped accessible, which requires the installation of an elevator. (This, in turn, necessitates the creation of a rooftop bulkhead, which will rise 17 feet higher than the current top of the building.)
“There’s going to be a very large and visible bulkhead on the roof,” acknowledged CB1 member Roger Byrom (who chairs that panel’s Landmarks & Preservation Committee) at the Board’s January 28 meeting. “We had some trouble with that. But this is in a flood zone,” he added, in a reference to the need for elevator machinery to be situated at higher levels in buildings facing particular risk from climate change.
Elsewhere, the Church plans to install solar panels on the roof, and retrofit the building to the “passive house” standard for energy efficiency, which will reduce the structure’s ecological footprint, resulting in an ultra-low energy building that uses very little power for heating or cooling. At the local level, this standard has been championed by Community Board 1 (CB1) member Bob Schneck.
Trinity also plans to create new retail space on the building’s first floor, while restoring the building’s face to a contextual design, using legacy materials like wood and limestone. “We also had some concerns about the storefronts,” Mr. Byrom said at the meeting. “But it’s being built to passive, sustainable standards. So we accepted the visibility challenges. Because of the quality of the work, we approved it.”
Following Mr. Byrom’s presentation, CB1 voted to approve the changes Trinity was requesting. On February 4, the City’s LPC followed suit, clearing the way for work to begin at the site later this year.
Trinity has not announced what use it has in mind for 245 Water Street, although the Church is known to own several Lower Manhattan residential properties, which it uses to house staff members and visiting guests.
Longtime Residents, Neither Rich Nor Poor, Face an Uncertain Future Downtown
The administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio has released an updated version of its Where We Live NYC affordable housing plan, which contains some striking insights about Lower Manhattan.
The report finds that between 25 and 30 percent of all local rental units are rent stabilized, while market-rate apartments comprise between 35 and 42 percent of all units. To read more…
Ask and You Might Receive
Community Board Prioritizes Funding Requests to City Hall for Coming Fiscal Year
Community Board 1 (CB1) has completed its annual statement of District Needs and Budget Priorities, which is submitted every 12 months to the City government, to help set the agenda for policy and spending in the next fiscal year.
CB1 chair Anthony Notaro reflects that, “one of the mandates of a Community Board is input on the City’s budget. It is the best way for citizens to have a say in how their tax dollars will be spent, to benefit all of us. For CB1 to develop our budget request, we have a public session at the start of every monthly board meeting. Getting direct input from our neighbors is the best way to validate our needs.”
Another Food Hall Coming to Lower Manhattan, Amid Signs That Community’s Appetite Is Diminishing
A new food hall is coming to a historic (and long neglected) Lower Manhattan building: the former First National City Bank branch at 415 Broadway (on the corner with Canal Street), which dates from 1927.
The building’s owner is the development firm United American Land, a company that has established a niche in Lower Manhattan real estate by acquiring and repositioning historic structures, often transforming former office buildings and warehouses into apartments or retail destinations). To read more…
Community Board Applications Now Being Accepted
Every Community Board has 50 seats which are filled for two-year terms by volunteers, who are selected by the Borough President and local City Council members. Half the seats are up for appointment or re-appointment every year.
Community Boards get a seat at the table in high-stakes land use, real estate, and zoning negotiations, and they work directly with city agencies to influence how government services are delivered at the neighborhood level.
If you’d like to serve as a member of your Community Board, apply online here. The deadline is February 14, 2020
Eyes to the Sky
February 4 – 16, 2020
Planet Venus dazzles, New York stargazers defy light pollution
While we were looking the other way, the dazzle of starry skies that we thought would always be there has been dimmed by a hazy scrim: when encountered, we feel as if a disease has overtaken our eyes. But the haze is accumulated wasted light from each of our trillions of outdoor lights – private and public – that are poorly designed and, in many instances, too bright for the purpose. The result is that the light scatters around and up to the sky, known as “light trespass” and “light pollution.” Excessive light is also wasted light and it is not only a wasted resource. While quick to light up our world, we have not only been oblivious to polluting our skies, but are discovering that light pollution is having deleterious affects on human health and the health of our environment. Look here.
City Environmental Review of New Ferry Service to Battery Park City Springs a Few Leaks
The City’s Economic Development Corporation has released an updated version of the “draft supplemental environmental impact statement” for its plan to bring new ferry service from Staten Island to Battery Park City.
This document is meant to gauge the effect of the plan on metrics like noise, air quality, and greenhouse gas emissions that will result from implementing the NYC Ferry expansion planned by the administration of Mayer Bill de Blasio, which is slated to bring to the Battery Park City ferry terminal more than 60 new vessels each day, landing from 6:00 am to midnight, and carrying as many as 2,500 passengers per day.
One salient finding of the report may call into question the viability of the entire plan. To read more…
‘A Complete Free-for-All’
CB1 Raises Concerns about Wave of New Event and Entertainment Venues Planned for Downtown
Members of Community Board 1 are expressing reservations about multiple new party and performance spaces slated to open in Lower Manhattan this year.
At the January 28 monthly meeting of the Board, Mariama James, who co-chairs CB1’s Quality of Life & Service Delivery Committee, described a production planned for a new theater space now being created within 20 Exchange Place, near the corner of William Street.
“It’s by a group called Emursive,” noted Ms. James, “and the show is called ‘Sleep No More,'” which draw ironic laughs from members who CB1, because the title neatly evokes their concerns for the surrounding neighborhood.
Panegyric to Paul
Veteran Community Leader Honored for Decades of Service
State Assembly member Deborah Glick has issued a proclamation recognizing Paul Hovitz, who stepped down as vice chair of Community Board 1 last June, for 27 years of effort and achievement on behalf of the Lower Manhattan community. In a pronouncement issued recently, Ms. Glick said, “Paul gained a reputation for being a powerful advocate for special education services, the allocation of funding for new school seats in Lower Manhattan, and the distribution of balanced educational programming.” To read more…
Plan for Lower Manhattan’s Highest Residential Tower Put on Hold
In what may be a harbinger of the decades-long Lower Manhattan real estate boom coming to an end, the planned “super-tall” residential tower at 45 Broad Street, in the Financial District, has been put on hold.
In a story first reported by the online architecture and design journal, Dezeen, developer Madison Equities acknowledged that, “due to short-term conditions in the Lower Manhattan market, we have decided to delay on constructing the building in the near future.”
This comes after years of delays in clearing the lot, which was acquired by Madison Equitietal worth (with more than 250 apartments, and some 13,000 square feet of retail space at its base) to be somewhere between $850 million and $1 billion, but realizing such a valuation may prove to be an elusive goal. And with fixed costs and debt topping out at more than $800 million, the margin for error on such a project is slim.
A Pooling of Interests
Would Floating Filtration System That Doubles as a Swim Facility Be a Net Plus?
A decade of grassroots advocacy may be gradually bearing fruit, as community leaders prod the administration of Bill de Blasio into serious consideration of a proposal to create a floating pool in the East River.
The idea, styled as “+ Pool” (and verbalized as “Plus Pool”) began in the summer of 2010, when three friends — designers Jeffrey Franklin and Archie Coates, along with architect Dong-Ping Wong — wondered why there was no facility that would allow the public to swim in the Hudson or East Rivers.
Researching the idea, they realized that 150 years ago, New York had more than a dozen such accommodations. To read more…
You Won’t Have John Catsimatidis to Kick Around Anymore
Gristedes Shuts Southern Battery Park City Location Amid General Retrenchment in Supermarkets
The number of grocery stores in Battery Park City is shrinking by one. In a story first reported by the Tribeca Citizen website, Gristedes Supermarket, a fixture at the corner of South End Avenue and West Thames Street for decades, is slated to shut down today.
Two Gristedes employees told the Broadsheet that they believe the store will reopen in several months, after an extensive modernization. But this narrative is contradicted by multiple reports that John Catsimatidis, the billionaire owner of the grocery chain, wants to put the 10,000-square-foot space to more lucrative use. To read more…
Ars Gratia Communitas
Battery Park City’s Annual Art Exhibit
Battery Park City’s annual art exhibition opened on Sunday, January 26.
The art will be on view at
75 Battery Place, weekdays,
January 27 to March 27,
2PM to 4PM (no viewing on 2/17).
People visiting should check in with our security desk on the ground floor, where they will be directed to the elevators to the 4th floor. The receptionist will direct them to the show.
Today in History
Monday February 10
1258 – Mongol invasions: Baghdad falls to the Mongols, bringing the Islamic Golden Age to an end.
1306 – In front of the high altar of Greyfriars Church in Dumfries, Robert the Bruce murders John Comyn sparking the revolution in the Wars of Scottish Independence.
1840 – Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom marries Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha.
1861 – Jefferson Davis is notified by telegraph that he has been chosen as provisional President of the Confederate States of America.
1906 – HMS Dreadnought, the first of a revolutionary new breed of battleships is christened and launched by King Edward VII.
1947 – The Paris Peace Treaties are signed by Italy, Romania, Hungary, Bulgaria, Finland and the Allies of World War II.
1954 – President Dwight D. Eisenhower warns against United States intervention in Vietnam.
1962 – Cold War: Captured American U2 spy-plane pilot Gary Powers is exchanged for captured Soviet spy Rudolf Abel.
1962 – Roy Lichtenstein’s first solo exhibition opened, and it included Look Mickey, which featured his first employment of Ben-Day dots, speech balloons and comic imagery sourcing, all of which he is now known for.
1996 – IBM supercomputer Deep Blue defeats Garry Kasparov in chess for the first time.
possible war with Iraq.
2007 – Then Illinois senator Barack Obama announces his candidacy for president in the 2008 elections.
2009 – The communications satellites Iridium 33 and Kosmos 2251 collide in orbit, destroying both.
1744 – William Cornwallis, English admiral and politician (d. 1819)
1890 – Boris Pasternak, Russian poet, novelist, and literary translator Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1960)
1893 – Jimmy Durante, American actor, singer, and pianist (d. 1980)
1894 – Harold Macmillan, English captain and politician, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (d. 1986)
1898 – Bertolt Brecht, German director, playwright, and poet (d. 1956)
1905 – Chick Webb, American drummer and bandleader (d. 1939)
1950 – Mark Spitz, American swimmer
1955 – Jim Cramer, American television personality, pundit, and author
1961 – George Stephanopoulos, American television journalist
1524 – Catherine of Saxony, Archduchess of Austria (b. 1468)
1992 – Alex Haley, American soldier, journalist, and author (b. 1921)
2001 – Abraham Beame, American academic and politician, 104th Mayor of New York City (b. 1906)
2003 – Ron Ziegler, American politician, 14th White House Press Secretary (b. 1939)
2005 – Arthur Miller, American actor, playwright, and author (b. 1915)
Photos and information culled from Wikipedia and other internet sources
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Asking for the Millennium
City Announces Agreement to Expand FiDi’s Millennium High School
On January 15, jubilant elected officials, community leaders, and education officials toured the new space into which the Financial District’s Millennium High School will expand over the next two years. This was the culmination of a multi-year campaign to win approval and funding for the school’s growth.
The Greek Calends
After Two-Year Hiatus, Work to Resume at St. Nicholas Church
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced on January 2 that a newly formed non-profit organization will raise funds and underwrite the completion of the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, within the World Trade Center Complex.
The building, designed by renowned architect Santiago Calatrava (who additionally created the nearby Oculus, also in the World Trade Center) is slated to replace the histo precious parish church that fell among the victims of September 11. To read more…
Vicinage with Vigor
Lower Manhattan Ranked Among Healthiest Districts in New York
Two Lower Manhattan neighborhoods rank among the healthiest communities anywhere in the five boroughs of New York City, according to new research by RentHop, an online listings database.
The analysis gauged overall healthy by three criteria: the proportion of overall space within each community set aside for parks, the number of gyms (and other fitness facilities) in each neighborhood, and the tally of vegetarian restaurants in each area (relative to its number of households).
They Didn’t Get the Memo…
Much-Touted Crackdown on Placard Parking Not All It Was Cracked Up to Be
Amid much fanfare, multiple City agencies recently announced that they would take part in a crackdown on illegal parking by government employees, whose personal vehicles bear placards that allow them to leave their cars blocking bus stops, crosswalks, fire hydrants, bike lanes, and lanes needed for use by fire trucks and ambulances.
By Tuesday, it appeared that dozens of law enforcement personnel who work in Battery Park City hadn’t heard, or perhaps knew better.
Recalling Five Points
Epicenter of a Notorious Slum Proposed for Commemoration
In 1831, the City government considered a petition that warned, “that the place known as “Five points” has long been notorious… as being the nursery where every species of vice is conceived and matured; that it is infested by a class of the most abandoned and desperate character.”
A decade later, Charles Dickens, visiting New York, wrote of the same Lower Manhattan neighborhood that had inspired the petition, “what place is this, to which the squalid street conducts us? A kind of square of leprous houses, some of which are attainable only by crazy wooden stairs without. What lies behind this tottering flight of steps? Let us go on again, and plunge into the Five Points…. To read more…
Cruise Ships in New York Harbor
Arrivals & Departures
10:00 ~ 16:00
07:00 ~ 17:00
07:00 ~ 17:00
10:00 ~ 16:00
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 passenger and propulsion problems, tides, fog, winds, freak waves, hurricanes and the whims of upper management.
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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