Lower Manhattan’s Local News
Tots Take Priority Over Traffic
CB1’s Youth and Education Chair Announces Plaza for Front of New Fidi School
Tricia Joyce, the chair of the Youth and Education Committee of Community Board 1 (CB1) announced at the Tuesday night meeting of the Board that local leaders and elected officials had won a long-sought victory for Downtown school kids.
“We are happy to say that the City’s Department of Transportation [DOT] has agreed to close the west-bound lane of Edgar Street,” she said, referring to a seldom-used one-block byway that connects Greenwich Street and Trinity Place, dead-ending where the southern terminus of Greenwich Street meets the Battery Garage. This is significant because that street will become the drop-off point for some 450 students elementary-school students, when the new Trinity Place public school opens in September, 2022.
“They will be keeping the east-bound lane open,” Ms. Joyce continued, “so that the Greenwich South community and emergency vehicles will have that route from Greenwich Street to Trinity Place.”
“What this street will afford us is considerable,” she added. “We will be able to expand what is now a seven-foot sidewalk, where children and strollers and caretakers would have been walking right next to commuter buses coming out of the Battery Tunnel. We are thrilled that we are expanding this drop-off plaza and creating a safe, outdoor space for these children.” That news elicited a round of applause from the audience at Tuesday’s meeting.
This outcome tracks precisely to a CB1 resolution enacted in April, 2017, at Ms. Joyce’s urging. This measure argued that, “the westbound lane of Edgar Street, between Greenwich Street and Trinity Place adjacent to the school, be closed to traffic and paved to create an outdoor area for school children and their caregivers to safely gather next to the school.”
Before such a change could be considered, City law required that a formal study be conducted to gauge its impact. For this reason, the same resolution urged, “either the Department of Transportation or the School Construction Authority conduct the appropriate study to enable the closure of the westbound lane of Edgar Street to enable the creation of a student plaza.”
The school, which will occupy the first eight floors of a new, 500-foot residential tower (now nearing completion), is slated to host students in kindergarten through fifth grade. Nearby, there are four subway entrances around the school’s perimeter, three of which are on Trinity Place, adjacent to the school’s planned entrance, which will render sidewalk space surrounding the building even more congested.
“With the size of this student body, there would be no way that parents with children will have enough space around this school even to be able to drop their kids off and stand outside,” Ms. Joyce said in 2017. “The school will have almost 500 kids. But this is an elementary school, so 500 children means that many, plus their caregivers. This translates to something closer to 750 or 800 people congregating there, every morning and every afternoon. There’s no way this area can accommodate those children being dropped off.”
“This is a very narrow street, with a very narrow sidewalk, where there is almost never any traffic,” she said of Edgar Street. The 2017 CB1 resolution also argued, “given that there is no ground-level gathering space inside the school, it is essential to have an outdoor space adjacent to the school for adults/caretakers to drop off and pick up the 450-500 students safely. Children at the school will be between the ages of four and 11 and are likely to also have siblings in strollers in addition to their caretakers.”
Converting only the westbound side of Edgar Street into a plaza represents a compromise relative to CB1’s original position (dating from 2016), which proposed that both sides of the street be converted into pedestrian space. This plan was scuttled by the need for police, fire, and emergency medical vehicles to be able to move between Greenwich Street and Trinity Place, and also because closing Edgar Street entirely would have turned Greenwich Street (south of Rector Street) into a dead end, with no room for vehicles that entered to turn around and exit.
But the original plan would also have delivered a significant, additional benefit for the community. Elizabeth Berger Plaza, across Edgar Street from the new school, is now being converted into a park. Turning both sides of Edgar Street into a pedestrian plaza would have linked the school to the new park, and made it possible for small children to use the outdoor space as a recreational facility.
This prospect may not be entirely off the table, however. The DOT, in partnership with the City’s Health Department, operates a program called Play Streets, in which seldom-used thoroughfares are closed to traffic during schools hours, and the road becomes a schoolyard. One such Play Street was implemented in front of the Peck Slip School, in the South Street Seaport, in 2017. This option would still allow for emergency vehicles to move between Greenwich Street and Trinity Place, but would also give students in the new elementary school safe, direct access to the park at Elizabeth Berger Plaza during school hours.
Enoteca on the Hudson
City Winery Prepares to Open at Pier 56
As Lower Manhattan has morphed into a residential community and dining destination, another ongoing evolution has attracted less notice: Downtown is becoming a performing arts district. The highest-profile illustration of this shift is the Perelman, which (thanks to the largesse of its eponymous benefactor) has become the shorthand name for the World Trade Center Performing Arts Center that is slowly rising out of the ground near the intersection of Vesey and Greenwich Streets. But the opening of this facility is still several years away. To read more…
Aversion to Immersion
CB1 Skeptical about New Performance Venue in FiDi
In a preliminary vote, the Licensing & Permits Committee of Community Board 1 has enacted a resolution calling upon the State Liquor Authority to reject an application by Ermusive, a production company that wants to open a new performance venue in the basement of 20 Exchange Place, in the Financial District.
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.
Wednesday February 26
6 River Terrace
Barrio America: How Latino Immigrants Saved the American City
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.
Ban on Broker’s Fee Will Impact Lower Manhattan More Than Other Communities
A new analysis from PropertyClub.com, an online real estate marketplace that eliminates middle-men for landlords, brokers and managers, indicates that Lower Manhattan renters will gain more than those of most communities from the recently announced ban on tenants paying broker’s fees.
A Plan to Warm Up the Frozen Zone
Alliance Readies First Steps in Master Plan to Balance Beauty with Security Around Stock Exchange
The Downtown Alliance is preparing to implement the first phase of a master plan unveiled in May, 2018, which aims to transform the “frozen zone” — a 3,000-feet security perimeter surrounding the New York Stock Exchange, which has enclosed (and limited access to) 19 acres of the Financial District since shortly after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. To read more…
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…
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
1606 – The Janszoon voyage of 1605-06 becomes the first European expedition to set foot on Australia, although it is mistaken as a part of New Guinea.
1616 – Galileo Galilei is formally banned by the Roman Catholic Churchfrom teaching or defending the view that the earth orbits the sun.
1775 – The British East India Company factory on Balambangan Island is destroyed by Moro pirates
1815 – Napoleon Bonaparte escapes from Elba.
1914 – HMHS Britannic, sister to the RMS Titanic, is launched at Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast.
1993 – World Trade Center bombing: A truck bomb parked below the North Tower of the World Trade Center explodes, killing six and injuring over a thousand people
1564 – Christopher Marlowe, playwright, poet and translator (d. 1593)
1275 – Margaret of England, Queen consort of Scots (b. 1240
1813 – Robert R. Livingston, American lawyer and politician, 1st United States Secretary of Foreign Affairs (b. 1746)
2015 – Theodore Hesburgh, American priest, theologian, educator, and academic (b. 1917)
Photos and information culled from Wikipedia and other internet sources
Cruise Ships in New York Harbor
Arrivals & Departures
Sunday, March 1
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
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.
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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…
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.
Cass Gilbert and the Evolution of the New York Skyscraper
by John Simko
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