Lower Manhattan’s Local News
‘A Complete Free-for-All’
CB1 Raises Concerns about Wave of New Event and Entertainment Venues Planned for Downtown
Members of Community Board 1 (CB1) 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. ‘Sleep No More’ is an adaptation of Shakespeare’s ‘Macbeth,’ infused with a 1930s film noir sensibility. The “immersive” approach fuses ‘promenade theater’ (in which the audience strolls at whatever tempo they chose through a succession of rooms) and ‘environmental theatre’ (in which staging takes place within physical spaces that resemble the play’s setting, rather than using a traditional theater layout). After a 2003 premier in London, the show opened on West 27th Street in 2011.
“They want to be open from 11:00 am for their cafe,” continued Ms. James, “then start performances at 6:00 pm, and stay open until 3:00 am. So they plan to be open far longer than they are closed — seven days a week, 365 days per year, with no holidays, and no breaks.”
This has led a new grassroots organization, Keep FiDi Safe, to collect more than 1,000 signatures from local residents on a petition, urging CB1 and the State Liquor Authority to deny Emursive’s application for a liquor license. The group’s online petition (which can be found at: http://keepfidisafe.org) notes that, “our historic neighborhood is a quiet, residential enclave, home to thousands of families who already struggle with the significant challenges posed by a saturated nightlife scene on nearby Stone Street, noise pollution, garbage overflow, heavy foot and vehicular traffic and impeded emergency vehicle access.”
Keep FiDi Safe describes the liquor license application for 20 Exchange Place as an attempt to, “force a nightclub in our backyard” and argues that, “the narrow one-way streets, limited sidewalk space and quiet nature of the area make the corner of William Street and Exchange Place an incredibly irresponsible and ill-suited home for a nightclub.”
“Obviously that will have an impact on the neighborhood,” Ms. James observed. “We need to know, how much can the people who live there take? And what will be the impact on the infrastructure — the transportation and the sanitation? How much can that neighborhood and the streets take?”
This led Bruce Ehrmann, who co-chairs CB1’s Landmarks & Preservation Committee, to observe that, “Manhattan’s entertainment district was once, roughly, Herald Square to Times Square. But because so many things are moving Downtown, entertainment is following. And the result of a ’24-hour-per-day vibrant community’ — which is all we’ve heard since zoning has been essentially out the window, with everything being mixed-use so that everyone can make a profit — is this complete free-for-fall. Zoning, as we knew it, has become almost non-existent, under the name of ‘activation’ on every single block.”
Citing a broader context of concern, Ms, James said, “we’re going to convene a Large Venue Working Group, to discuss these issues,” noting that this meeting would review plans for multiple large party and performance facilities planned for Lower Manhattan.
Ironically, that meeting (which is scheduled for 6:00 pm, this Wednesday, February 6) will be held within another of these planned event spaces, this one at 48 Wall Street (near the corner of William Street). That building, the historic Bank of New York & Trust Company headquarters, more recently served as home to the Museum of American Finance, which vacated the space last year.
The 30,000-square-foot facility is now occupied by MMEink, which describes itself as, “a full service event planning company specializing in event production, engagement, facilities management and hospitality services in the New York.” The company has converted the space to use as a catering and party venue, and is marketing it as “the Will and Wall Ballroom.”
CB1 member Joel Kopel (who serves on the Board’s Land Use, Zoning & Economic Development Committee, as well as its Licensing & Permits Committee), interjected that, “just to give you an idea of who many people will be involved with this venue — 3,500 people a night, times 365. That’s over two and a half million people coming to that corner of William and Wall Street throughout the year.” This drew stunned gasps from several members of CB1.
But neither the space at 20 Exchange Place nor the facility at 48 Wall Street qualifies as the largest venue to arouse concerns about local crowding and safety. This title is claimed by the former American Stock Exchange building (located at 74 Trinity Place), where the massive (and now disused) trading floor is being converted into an 80,000-square-foot concert and performance space. There, Live Nation Entertainment, a firm that owns or operates more than 200 venues throughout North America and Europe, including the outdoor concert space on the roof of Pier 17 in the South Street Seaport, is partnering with another management company that already has a significant presence Downtown, Legends Hospitality, which currently manages One World Observatory, atop the World Trade Center. (Legends is also now developing a new food hall and music venue at 28 Liberty Street.)
Together, Live Nation and Legends hope to create an entertainment destination within the 1921 landmarked structure (which has been vacant since 2008, when the American Stock Exchange merged with the New York Stock Exchange) that will host as many as 3,000 people. They also plan to have eight bars throughout the facility.
A thematically similar (but much more modest) plan to bring a live performance venue and bar, combined with a luxury bowling alley and upscale pinball arcade, to nearby 23 Wall Street (another iconic, but disused, tabernacle of capitalism) aroused spirited opposition from the community, based on concerns about crowding and quality of life impacts. That 2015 scheme was later abandoned by Latitude 360, the firm that had hoped to redevelop 23 Wall Street.
The plan for the American Stock Exchange is more ambitious by several orders of magnitude. Located across the street from Trinity Church and in the midst of what has evolved into a residential neighborhood over the last two decades, it would bring thousands of pedestrians to narrow local thoroughfares (some barely wide enough to accommodate a single lane of traffic) that were laid out in the 1700s, such as Cedar, Thames, and Carlyle Streets. The siting of a concert venue there could also be expected also to draw many dozens of large trucks and buses to the site (carrying equipment for shows, and ferrying audience members), along with hundreds of for-hire vehicles.
Moreover, some of these narrow lanes may be only intermittently available. Thames Street, between Trinity Place and Greenwich Street, has been closed for several years, to facilitate construction on a large hotel (on the north side of the street) and then a “super-tall” apartment tower (on the south side). Separately, another block of Thames Street, between Broadway and Trinity Place, is the subject of a proposal by a real estate developer to close the road permanently, and convert it into an outdoor shopping arcade.
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.”
This was a reference to multiple campaigns spearheaded by Mr. Hovitz to build new schools (among them P.S. 234, P.S. 89/I.S. 289, P.S./I.S. 276, Peck Slip, Spruce Street, and Millennium High School), as well as to save and expand existing schools. 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…
Tackling the Classics: Beloved by Toni Morrison
New York Public Library
“The classics can be a challenge, especially facing them by yourself; classics can also be a true joy, magnified in conversation with others! Tackling the Classics is a team-effort where we will read sections of a classic novel and meet up to discuss what we’ve read. Our selection this time is Beloved by Toni Morrison, a great American classic of slavery, family, and freedom. For this meeting we will discuss Part 2 and 3. New York City Public Library, Battery Park City branch, 175 North End Avenue.
A Century Downtown
Showcasing an unprecedented array of photographs, paintings, renderings, drawings, and other images culled from dozens of archives and individual collections worldwide, A Century Downtown ensures that no one will ever forget the vast and varied history of this famous part of New York City.
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 3
1488 – Bartolomeu Dias of Portugal lands in Mossel Bay after rounding the Cape of Good Hope, becoming the first known European to travel so far south.
1690 – The colony of Massachusetts issues the first paper money in the Americas.
1783 – American Revolutionary War: Spain recognizes United States independence.
1870 – The Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution is ratified, guaranteeing voting rights to male citizens regardless of race.
1913 – The Sixteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution is ratified, authorizing the Federal government to impose and collect an income tax.
1918 – The Twin Peaks Tunnel in San Francisco, begins service as the longest streetcar tunnel in the world at 11,920 feet (3,633 meters) long.
1945 – World War II: The United States and the Philippine Commonwealth begin a month-long battle to retake Manila from Japan.
1960 – British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan speaks of “a wind of change”, signalling that his Government was likely to support decolonisation.
1961 – The US Air Force begins Operation Looking Glass, and over the next 30 years, a “Doomsday Plane” is always in the air, with the capability of taking direct control of the United States’ bombers and missiles in the event of the destruction of the SAC’s command post.
1966 – The Soviet Union’s Luna 9 becomes the first spacecraft to make a soft landing on the Moon, and the first spacecraft to take pictures from the surface of the Moon.
1971 – New York Police Officer Frank Serpico is shot during a drug bust in Brooklyn and survives to later testify against police corruption.
2014 – Two people are shot and killed and 29 students are taken hostage at a high school in Moscow, Russia.
1747 – Samuel Osgood, first United States Postmaster General (d. 1813)
1809 – Felix Mendelssohn, pianist, composer, and conductor (d. 1847)
1428 – Ashikaga Yoshimochi, Japanese shōgun (b. 1386)
Photos and information culled from Wikipedia and other internet sources
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.
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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
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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…
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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