Lower Manhattan’s Local News
The Fate of a Neighborhood
State Judge Rules Against City Hall on Two Bridges Developments
Opponents of four massive new towers proposed for the Two Bridges neighborhood on Lower Manhattan’s East River waterfront were handed a major victory this week, when the State Supreme Court tossed out the City’s 2018 approval for the buildings.
On Monday, Judge Arthur Engoron ordered the City Planning Commission (CPC) to start anew the process of okaying the proposed buildings, in a ruling that decided a suit brought by a coalition of Lower East Side community organizations. The group, which included the Lower East Side Organized Neighbors, the Chinese Staff and Workers Association, and the Asian American Legal Defense Fund, argued in their court filings that the proposed buildings, “are a catalyst for cumulative environmental damage to the broader Lower East Side and Chinatown neighborhood and beyond.”
The central issue being litigated was the CPC’s 2018 approval of a streamlined review that would have allowed all three of these controversial projects (which include a total of four new towers, reaching as high as 1,000 feet, and housing more than 2,700 apartments) to avoid the full legal scrutiny of the City’s “uniform land use review procedure” (ULURP), and instead move ahead under a less-rigorous standard of review, limited to an environmental impact statement. This was made possible by the CPC’s determination, in December, 2018, that the addition of four new skyscrapers to the community situated between the Manhattan and Williamsburg Bridges (which would more than triple the number of residences in the area) qualified as a “minor modification” to existing zoning for the neighborhood. If this claim by the CPC (which is controlled by Mayor de Blasio) had been allowed to stand, it would also have preempted the legal authority of the City Council to review, and possibly veto, these projects. Within days of the CPC’s determination, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and City Council Margaret Chin filed a separate lawsuit against the de Blasio administration.
Judge Engoron’s decision in the suit filed by the community groups hinged, in part, upon the issue of whether such large-scale, potentially transformative development qualified as a minor change to the fabric of the community. In this context, he focused also on gentrification in Two Bridges, because the City’s environmental review standard allows for consideration of what it calls, “indirect residential displacement,” and whether, “a proposed project may either introduce a trend or accelerate a trend of changing socioeconomic conditions that may potentially displace a vulnerable population to the extent that the socioeconomic character of the neighborhood would change.”
The City argued that because nearly 700 of the new apartments would be set aside as affordable, gentrification in the Two Bridges community would actually be slowed, relative to what would happen if the projects were not built.
Judge Engorgon stopped short of agreeing with the plaintiffs that this prediction was, “utterly irrational,” but he did call it, “seemingly belabored,” adding that he found, “many of the statistics relied upon by the Planning Commission to be dubious.” And he was persuaded by what he called the “common-sense analysis” of the community groups, writing that the CPC’s, “determination that adding 2,000 units of high-end condos is not going to accelerate gentrification is akin to arguing that global warming is happening, but there is no need to stop burning fossil fuels.”
The Judge ordered the CPC to reconsider the applications for all of the proposed buildings, and to apply the more exacting standard of ULURP to any future deliberations about whether to approve them once again. This represents a serious setback for the developers, because ULURP includes an opportunity for the City Council to weigh in on any proposed development (giving it effective veto power), and that body traditionally defers to the member in whose district the building site is located. Because Council member Chin opposes the Two Bridges projects, the Council would be very unlikely to allow it to proceed.
This week’s victory for opponents of the projects follows a similar ruling, also from Judge Engoron, last August, in the related (but separate) lawsuit filed by Ms. Brewer and Ms. Chin. In that action, the Borough President and the Council member argued that, “such developments are required to be completed with the consultation and advice of the community, including the New York City Council, the Borough President and the Community Board.” They also charged that, “aside from the clear and incontrovertible statutory requirements mandating the application of ULURP, [the City’s] claim that this application, which includes the addition of more than 2,700 dwelling units in three skyscrapers on a single block, is simply a ‘minor modification’ is nothing short of irrational, arbitrary and capricious and is incorrect as a matter of law.”
Ms. Brewer said shortly after the suit was filed that, “City Planning’s staff and the Commission have exceeded their legal authority. They used a made-up process and made-up standards to approve these towers without the full land use review and Council approval that’s required. I don’t like suing the Mayor or his agencies, but if that’s what it takes to get the residents of Two Bridges the full review and real negotiation they’re entitled to under the law, then I’m all in.”
Ms. Chin added that, “this lawsuit was made necessary by the actions of the Department of City Planning and this Administration. My colleagues and I could not stand by as an entire neighborhood’s worth of rezoning was categorized as a ‘minor modification.’ The residents of Two Bridges deserve a full public review process and I will not rest until they receive it.”
Judge Engoron agreed, ruling that the, “irreparable harm here is two-fold. First, a community will be drastically altered without having had its proper say. Second, and arguably more important, allowing this project to proceed without the City Council’s imprimatur would distort the City’s carefully crafted system of checks and balances. Under ULURP, the City Council’s mandatory role is not merely to advise, but to grant or deny final approval (with the Mayor). Without ULURP, the City’s legislature is cut out of the picture entirely.”
Friday February 28
Head over to Church Street School for Music & Art tonight Friday, February 28th for The Hang.
This week International Contemporary Ensemble will be performing the first in a series of Collaborative Explorations: a celebration of the collaboration between two performers though material that speaks to their individual practices and growth.
Raquel Acevedo Klein, will serve as conductor, vocalist, pianist, and visual artist; and Jacob Greenberg will be on piano. They will be joined by Izzie Stevenson, voice; Pablo O’Connell, oboe; Yuma Uesaka, saxaphone; Katherine Kyu Hyeon Lim, violin; and Wick Simmons, cello.
This week’s performance will feature works by John Cage, Nathan Davis, Phyllis Chen, and Bethany Younge as well as free improvisation. Stop by for a night of music, drinks, and good times. $10 suggested donation. Learn more
Now until the end of March, a group of paintings displayed in a window on 160 West Broadway are from John Lloyd’s past 4 years of wandering in Lower Manhattan inspired by the architecture, public spaces, and neighborhoods of lower Manhattan. Here’s a link to view more.
One Art Space
One Art Space
The New 20’s Art Show
40 contemporary artists, including long time Battery Park City resident Larry Leventhal, who retired from the NYC subway system and began a new career in art as a photographer, will show in THE NEW 20’s ART SHOW with a collection of sculptures, paintings, digital paintings, photography and virtual reality. Guests will have the opportunity to learn some of the stories behind the artwork in the “Moments with the Artist”, short interviews made with the creators throughout both days of the show.
Friday 6pm-9pm & Saturday 3pm-9pm 23 Warren St.
Steven Amedee Gallery
Tapestry of Discord
A solo exhibition of oil paintings and mixed media works on paper by the South African artist Luke Baggott.
In Tapestry of Discord, Mr. Baggot uses New York City as a backdrop to challenge narrative conventions about place and community. Drawing on his experiences as a foreigner, his work highlights the fragmentation and confusion present in familiar spaces, destabilizing entrenched ideas about the City. His work examines what it is to be different and whether the process of assimilation requires us to abandon vital parts of our identity in the quest for belonging.
41 N Moore Street email@example.com
Soho Photo Gallery
Krappy Kamera Exhibition
The gallery is proud to present its annual Krappy Kamera Exhibition, including the winners of the 2020 International Competition. Exhibits by Soho Photo Gallery artists. The Competition originated at Soho Photo Gallery in 1998 and is one of the high points of the year. “Selecting just forty-five photographs from well over eight hundred submissions is no easy feat, especially when presented with such a rich array of diverse imagery. Nonetheless, I have endeavored to assemble an impressive group of photographic prints by a wide range of artists employing cameras outfitted with ‘lousy lenses.’ The outstanding results are an inspiration.”
— Brian Paul Clamp, Juror
15 White Street
EXHIBITION DATES: February 17 – March 7
Van Der Plas Gallery
ANOTHER MAN’S TREASURE FOR ALL TO BEHOLD
On the occasion of his 80th birthday, Van Der Plas Gallery presents a solo exhibition of work by Konstantin Bokov on view now through February 16th, 2020. It features Bokov’s signature found-art assemblage, sculptures, paintings, and sketches over four prolific decades.
Born in Ukraine, was groomed to pursue music at the Art Academy of Leningrad in St. Petersburg, a visceral encounter with Vincent van Gogh’s sunsets changed the trajectory of his life. From Moscow, he immigrated to New York City in 1974.
Gallerist and curator Adriaan van der Plas shares, “Bokov embodies the true spirit of an outsider with no phone or email to reach him. With a pure heart, he regards creativity as spiritual, and offers it with unbridled generosity.”
Exhibition extended through February29
Van Der Plas Gallery, 156 Orchard Street 212-227-8983
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 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.
Church Street School for Music & Art
Celebrates 30 Years
Church Street School for Music & Art is turning 30 and throwing a party to celebrate!
On Tuesday, March 10th from 6:30pm to 10:30pm Church Street School will be hosting The Event: a fundraising gala honoring the Kleiman family with Artist Chair Julia Stiles.
The evening will include music, dancing, cocktails, fine dining, and a live and silent auction. Don’t miss your chance to be a part of a cultural beacon in the downtown art and music community and to show your support for arts education.
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…
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.
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…
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…
A Flood of Ideas
On Monday, February 24, the City’s Economic Development Corporation and the Mayor’s Office of Resiliency hosted an interactive Community Open House at Pace University’s Conference Center to discuss the ongoing development of the Climate Resilience Master Plan for the Financial District and Seaport neighborhoods, as part of the broader Lower Manhattan Coastal Resiliency project.
The Open House was divided into different rooms, each one explaining separate aspects of future challenges to keep Lower Manhattan above water.
Participants learned about existing infrastructure, such as combined sewer pipes and outfalls, and how the City is understanding and coming up with solutions to deal with severe storms as well as sea level rise due to climate change.
Today in History
202 BC – Liu Bang is enthroned as the Emperor of China, beginning four centuries of rule by the Han dynasty.
1784 – John Wesley charters the Methodist Church.
1827 – The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad is incorporated, becoming the first railroad in America offering commercial transportation of both people and freight.
1849 – Regular steamboat service from the west to the east coast of the United States begins with the arrival of the SS California in San Francisco Bay, four months 22 days after leaving New York Harbor.
1935 – DuPont scientist Wallace Carothers invents nylon.
1942 – The heavy cruiser USS Houston is sunk in the Battle of Sunda Strait with 693 crew members killed, along with HMAS Perth which lost 375 men.
1953 – James Watson and Francis Crick announce to friends that they have determined the chemical structure of DNA; the formal announcement takes place on April 25 following publication in April’s Nature (pub. April 2).
1983 – The final episode of M*A*S*H airs, with almost 106 million viewers. It still holds the record for the highest viewership of a season finale.
1986 – Olof Palme, 26th Prime Minister of Sweden, is assassinated in Stockholm.
1993 – The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agents raid the Branch Davidian church in Waco, Texas with a warrant to arrest the group’s leader David Koresh. Four ATF agents and six Davidians die in the initial raid, starting a 51-day standoff.
2013 – Pope Benedict XVI resigns as the pope of the Catholic Church, becoming the first pope to do so since Pope Gregory XII, in 1415.
1901 – Linus Pauling, chemist and activist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1994)
1903 – Vincente Minnelli, American director and screenwriter (d. 1986)
1906 – Bugsy Siegel, American gangster (d. 1947)
1929 – Frank Gehry, Canadian-American architect, designed 8 Spruce Street and Walt Disney Concert Hall among others.
1940 – Mario Andretti, Italian-American race car driver
628 – Khosrow II, king of the Persian Empire
1967 – Henry Luce, publisher, co-founded Time magazine (b. 1898)
2007 – Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. American historian and critic (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.
CLASSIFIEDS & PERSONALS
Swaps & Trades ~ Respectable Employment ~ Lost & Found
NEED A PERSONAL ASSISTANT?
ORGANIZED, RELIABLE, KNOWLEDGEABLE.
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
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.
Wonderful person, who is a great worker. Reference Available
Available for PT/FT elder care. Experienced. References Angella
EXPERIENCED ELDER CARE
Able to prepare nutritious meals and light housekeeping
Excellent references 12yrs experienced 347-898-5804
Call Hope firstname.lastname@example.org
If you would like to place a listing, please contact email@example.com
Cass Gilbert and the Evolution of the New York Skyscraper
by John Simko
No part of this document may be reproduced without the written permission of the publisher