Lower Manhattan’s Local News
Flood of Ideas
Do You Have Any Notions about What to Do with Hundreds of Acres of New Land, Or Hundreds of Millions of Dollars in New Money?
On Monday (February 24), the City’s Economic Development Corporation (EDC) and the Mayor’s Office of Resiliency will host an interactive Community Open House to discuss the ongoing development of their Climate Resilience Master Plan for the Financial District and Seaport neighborhoods, as part of the broader Lower Manhattan Coastal Resiliency (LMCR) project.
This session will be held at Pace University’s conference center (157 William Street, near the corner of Ann Street), from 4:00 to 8:00 pm. Participants, who are encouraged to arrive or leave at any point during the “drop-in” format, will be invited to learn about and share ideas on climate risks, and the City’s current plans.
The meeting will be structured as an immersive session, with multiple rooms devoted to varying aspects of the project, including a broad overview of LMCR’s efforts, a review of specific risks faced by Lower Manhattan, a rundown of local resiliency measures already under way, and preliminary visions for a master plan to make the Seaport District and Financial District resilient in the face of climate change, rising sea levels, and future extreme-weather events.
Both the hazards and the opportunities are greater than perhaps anywhere else in New York. Unlike other neighborhoods in Lower Manhattan, the shoreline in the Seaport and the Financial District is too low-lying, constrained, and complex to accommodate the resilience tools being implemented in other parts of the City. This is why the City is planning to extend the shoreline with an in-water barrier, so that space will become available to integrate the protective measures these areas need.
The preliminary outlines of such a plan came into focus last March, when Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the City will embark on a massive building project along the East River shoreline of Lower Manhattan to create a bulwark against floods, like the one that inundated Lower Manhattan after 2012’s Hurricane Sandy, which sent an eight-foot wall of water slamming into the Seaport District. That proposal calls for creating new land, at a higher elevation than the current waterfront, using landfill to extend the riverbank by a margin of between 50 and 500 feet, from the Brooklyn Bridge down to the Battery Maritime Building.
“We will initiate an effort that is estimated to cost $10 billion to extend the shoreline of Lower Manhattan into the East River to protect the Seaport area and the Financial District and all the people and live in work there,” Mr. de Blasio said. “This is a very, very big undertaking. Nothing has been done like this in the history New York City. But it is needed. And I want to give you the plain facts that make clear why we have to do this. In the City with four and a half million jobs, one in ten jobs is located in Lower Manhattan; 75 percent of the subway lines in New York City run through Lower Manhattan; there’s $60 billion worth of property in Lower Manhattan, and hundreds of thousands of people who live or work there.”
Mr. de Blasio added that the initial planning studies for the project, expected to cost between $5 and $10 million, will take more than two years, which means the proposal will begin to take shape in the wake of the upcoming presidential election. “If after 2020, there’s a very different reality, and something like the Green New Deal moves forward, there will be a huge amount of federal funding and that would allow us to do these kinds of barriers.” If such federal support does not materialize, he said, “we’ll have to get some private money and there will have to be some development.”
In either scenario, the City intends to create a new agency, “a not-for-profit entity,” based on the model of the Battery Park City Authority (BPCA), according to EDC president James Patchett.
Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer emphasized the importance of consulting with the Lower Manhattan community as the design process moves forward, citing as a successful model the series of public meetings hosted by the BPCA to discuss resiliency plans. Both the Mayor and the Borough President singled out the BPCA as an example of successful community engagement on resiliency. “The BPCA has not only come up with ideas, but they have been very instrumental in bringing the community into that discussion,” Ms. Brewer said. “And this community always has questions.”
Battery Park City is likely to serve as a model for the new project in more ways than one. Also built on landfill, the community withstood the ravages of Hurricane Sandy better than any other Lower Manhattan neighborhood, because it is constructed at a higher elevation. And if the federal funding that the Mayor hopes for after the 2020 presidential election does not become available, Battery Park City’s financial model of leasing land to developers in exchange for yearly ground rent (which now yields hundreds of millions of dollars in excess revenue per year) may provide a mechanism to self-fund the new project.
But the obstacles remain daunting. Battery Park City’s landfill was poured in the 1960s and 70s, before the advent of a raft of new federal environmental regulations, which have made approvals for such land reclamation projects vastly more complex and difficult to obtain. Further, hostility from Washington can take more forms that withheld funding: Because any construction within a navigable waterway (such as the East River) falls under federal jurisdiction, the White House can wield a de facto veto over projects the administration doesn’t support.
The audacious vision outlined by the de Blasio administration represents at least the potential, however, the transform Lower Manhattan in perpetuity. Extending the shoreline by 500 feet for nearly one mile would create land the width of two new city blocks, with at least one longitudinal avenue between them, intersected by more than a dozen latitudinal cross streets. Development on such acreage might include affordable housing, schools, community centers, arts and cultural hubs, and vast stretches of parkland — along with for-profit construction like office buildings, retail, and market-rate apartments.
The push to formulate such a plan took on fresh momentum in October, when the EDC hired a team of a dozen-plus consulting firms to help develop a preliminary vision for the project. This team is led by Arcadis, a Dutch engineering firm that reviewed a similar plan from 2013, formulated by the administration of then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg. That analysis concluded that a multi-purpose levee stretching 1.5 miles from the Battery Maritime Building to Pier 35 (just north of the Manhattan Bridge) would be the most effective and practical of 20 separate options considered.
The Arcadis study, released in 2014 (after Mr. Bloomberg had left office), was more pessimistic about the political obstacles than the physical hurdles, cautioning that, “the processes associated with such permitting and implementation will be complicated and will take a long time.” But even as it acknowledged the procedural difficulties, the feasibility review cited landfill, extending into the East River between 250 and 500 feet from the existing waterfront (and built up to a height of almost 20 feet over the high tide), as the most pragmatic option. The report also called for some 30 million square feet of residential and commercial development to finance the multi-billion project, as well as the creation of hundreds of acres of parkland.
As with Battery Park City, development with such a project would be expected eventually to generate hundreds of millions of dollars per year in excess revenue. These funds could potentially then be allocated to other projects — in this case, likely to include flood and storm mitigation measures elsewhere in the five boroughs.
Battery Park City residents struggled for years to obtain guarantees that residents would be appointed to at least a minority of the board of the BPCA, and are still seeking a voice in determining how the hundreds of millions of dollars the Authority collects each year are spent. Whether robust community participation in the planning for landfill on the East Side of Lower Manhattan can create a more direct route to such benefits remains to be seen.
A passage from the LMCR website challenges Downtown residents with the following acknowledgement: “Much work needs to be done, in collaboration with you, to ensure that this shoreline extension secures the future of Lower Manhattan and New York City, while integrating with the existing neighborhoods and making these communities a better place to live and work.”
Monday’s meeting appears likely to be one step in this collaboration. Admission is free. To register in advance, please browse: www.bit.ly/fidiseaport.
Multiple New Bikes Lanes Coming to Lower Manhattan
A network of new bike lanes is planned for Lower Manhattan’s streetscape, with implementation for some of the project slated for later this year.
The first addition to Downtown’s bike grid will consist of dedicated cycling lanes on Broadway and Whitehall Street, extending from City Hall southward to Bowling Green and the Staten Island Ferry, where this route will link with the existing Waterfront Path, which connects the Battery to bike easements on the East River shoreline and in Battery Park City. To read more…
Render Unto de Blasio?
Municipal Think Tank Urges City to Weigh BPCA Takeover
The City’s Independent Budget Office, a publicly funded agency that provides nonpartisan information on critical issues confronting the City, is proposing that the administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio consider a municipal takeover of Battery Park City.
This recommendation hinges upon the unique, hybrid nature of the community, which was built on acreage newly created from landfill in the 1970s. To read more…
‘Blinded by Greed’
Tenants at Another Financial District Building Seek Class-Action Status in Suit Against Landlords
The wave of Financial District tenants going to court to demand restitution from years of illegally high rent gathered further momentum last week, when tenants at 90 West Street filed court papers arguing that they are entitled to rent stabilized leases for as long as they live in the building, because the landlord did not provide this benefit (as legally required) in the past. In a story first reported by the Real Deal, the same suit also asks the court to appoint an independent monitor with the power to audit and amended leases (without the landlord’s consent) to conform the legally allowed rents.
Higher, Wider, Handsomer
City Council Announces Design Competition to Improve Pedestrian Access to Brooklyn Bridge
The City Council has partnered with the Van Alen Institute (a New York nonprofit architectural organization, dedicated to improving design in the public realm) in sponsoring a contest to incubate fresh ideas for better pedestrian access to the Brooklyn Bridge. To read more…
City Plans to Raise Esplanade in the Battery to 11 Feet Above Waterline
Among the myriad of resiliency projects that are now in the planning stages for various parts of Lower Manhattan, the City is planning to raise the level of the waterfront Esplanade in the Battery to an elevation 11 feet above the current waterline. To read more…
Friday February 21
143rd George Washington Birthday Ball
In honor of George Washington and to benefit Fraunces Tavern Museum 54 Pearl Street.$500
The award ceremony and gala dinner will take place at midtown’s Metropolitan Club.
The evening will feature a host of patriotic festivities to honor George Washington’s 288th birthday, including a procession featuring displays of historic flags from SRNY’s Color Guard and the Veteran Corps of Artillery of the State of New York, as well as a variety of inspiring patriotic toasts, gourmet cuisine, a live band, dinner, and dancing. This year’s Distinguished Patriot Award will be presented to Dr. Laurence S. Simpson, General President, General Society Sons of the Revolution.
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…
Today in History
1245 – Thomas, the first known Bishop of Finland, is granted resignation after confessing to torture and forgery.
1613 – Mikhail I is unanimously elected Tsar by a national assembly, beginning the Romanov dynasty of Imperial Russia.
1804 – The first self-propelling steam locomotive makes its outing at the Pen-y-Darren Ironworks in Wales.
1848 – Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels publish The Communist Manifesto.
1878 – The first telephone directory is issued in New Haven, Connecticut.
1885 – The newly completed Washington Monument is dedicated.
1918 – The last Carolina parakeet dies in captivity at the Cincinnati Zoo.
1921 – Rezā Shāh takes control of Tehran during a successful coup
1925 – The New Yorker publishes its first issue. Yes, The New Yorker
1947 – In New York City, Edwin Land demonstrates the first “instant camera”, the Polaroid Land Camera, to a meeting of the Optical Society of America.
1952 – The British government, under Winston Churchill, abolishes identity cards in the UK to “set the people free”.
1965 – Malcolm X is assassinated at the Audubon Ballroom in Harlem.
1972 – President Richard Nixon visits the People’s Republic of China to normalize Sino-American relations.
1972 – The Soviet unmanned spaceship Luna 20 lands on the Moon.
1975 – Watergate scandal: Former United States Attorney General John N. Mitchell and former White House aides H. R. Haldeman and John Ehrlichman are sentenced to prison.
1995 – Steve Fossett lands in Leader, Saskatchewan, Canada becoming the first person to make a solo flight across the Pacific Ocean in a balloon.
1397 – Isabella of Portugal (d. 1471)
1621 – Rebecca Nurse, Massachusetts colonist, executed as a witch (d. 1692)
1788 – Francis Ronalds, British scientist, inventor and engineer who was knighted for developing the first working electric telegraph (d. 1873)
1821 – Charles Scribner I, American publisher, founded Charles Scribner’s Sons (d. 1871)
1903 – Anaïs Nin, French-American essayist and memoirist (d. 1977)
1907 – W. H. Auden, English-American poet, playwright, and composer (d. 1973)
1924 – Dorothy Blum, computer scientist and cryptanalyst (d. 1980)
1962 – David Foster Wallace, American novelist, short story writer, and essayist (d. 2008)
4 AD – Gaius Caesar, Roman consul and grandson of Augustus (b. 20 BC)
1965 – Malcolm X, American minister and activist (b. 1925)
Photos and information culled from Wikipedia and other internet sources
Cruise Ships in New York Harbor
Arrivals & Departures
Sunday, February 23
Anthem of the Seas
Inbound 5:30 am (Bayonne); outbound 3:00 pm
Port Canaveral, FL/Bahamas
Inbound 6:15 am; outbound 3:30 pm
Port Canaveral, FL/Bahamas
Inbound 9:15 am; outbound 4:30 pm
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.
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.
CLASSIFIEDS & PERSONALS
Swaps & Trades ~ Respectable Employment ~ Lost & Found
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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
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 Keirstead firstname.lastname@example.org
347-933-1362 References available
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
NOTARY PUBLIC IN BPC
$2 per notarized signature Text Paula at 917-836-8802
ELDER CARE NURSE AIDE
with 17 years experience seeks PT/FT work. Refs available Call or text 718 496 6232 Dian
Available starting September for PT/FT.
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EXPERIENCED ELDER CARE
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If you would like to place a listing, please contact email@example.com
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…
Cass Gilbert and the Evolution of the New York Skyscraper
by John Simko
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