Lower Manhattan’s Local News
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. Much of the remaining housing stock (between 27 and 33 percent) is made up of owner-occupied housing, chiefly condominiums and cooperatives. Unsurprisingly for an increasingly affluent district, City Hall’s research indicates that zero percent of apartment units in Lower Manhattan are public housing, and fewer than one percent are paid for by federal vouchers.
The same analysis finds that more than 2,600 units of new housing were built in the Financial District between 2010 and 2018, while housing stock in the combined area of Tribeca and Soho jumped by more than 1,700 units. The City Hall data crunchers find, however, that among these 4,300-plus new dwellings, fewer than 99 qualified as affordable dwellings under the Housing New York initiative pushed by Mr. de Blasio. The picture is grimmer for preserving existing (rather than building new) affordable units. The report indicates that not a single unit of legacy affordable housing was preserved anywhere in Lower Manhattan during the same period.
A similar analysis by the de Blasio administration, unveiled in 2018, showed that since Mr. de Blasio took office in 2014, Lower Manhattan has seen the creation (or preservation) of only 143 affordable apartments at just three sites. Put another way, the de Blasio administration pointed with pride in 2018 to its record of having preserved 52,000 affordable homes, and having begun construction of 25,000 more, since taking office. The 143 units located in Lower Manhattan represent slightly less than one-fifth of one percent of this City-wide total, or roughly one out of every 550 new affordable homes created or preserved throughout New York City.
Because Downtown is an increasingly affluent area, it would be intuitive to conclude that affordable housing in necessarily more difficult to create or preserve here. But this seems not to be the case in other, similarly fashionable districts. For example, Community Board 2 — which covers Manhattan north of Canal Street, south of 14th Street, and west of a line extending from the Bowery through Fourth Avenue, including neighborhoods such as the West Village and SoHo — saw the creation or preservation of 268 units of affordable housing in five buildings during the same period. And Community Board 7 — the Upper West Side, or Manhattan from 59th to 110th Streets, between Central Park and the Hudson River — benefitted from the creation or preservation of 991 affordable housing units in 14 separate buildings.
In a separate, 2018 report, the Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development (ANHD), an umbrella organization of 100 non-profit affordable housing and economic development groups that serve low- and moderate-income residents in all five boroughs of the City, found that Lower Manhattan housing has, in recent years, become markedly less affordable in a several key respects. “The first is the per-square-foot change in residential sale prices,” explained Lucy Block, ANHD’s Research and Policy Associate, and the report’s primary author. “This figure jumped 42 percent from 2015 to 2017.” This adds to the 87 percent increase that the 2017 edition of ANHD’s report documented between 2014 and 2016, and this trend places Downtown in the top 20 of all neighborhoods throughout the five boroughs, when ranked by increase in the price of homes.
The second is, “the portion of properties sold that went to buyers who meet the definition of low-income households,” said Ms. Block. For a household of three in the New York area (which the federal government delineates as the five boroughs of New York City, plus Westchester and Rockland counties), the Department of Housing an Urban Development (HUD) defines “low income” as earning less than $75,150 per year. “These sales declined by 66.7 percent from 2012 through 2016,” Ms. Block noted. She added that, “the jump in home prices in Lower Manhattan makes it very unusual for somebody making less than $70,000 per year to purchase here.” This statistic puts Lower Manhattan in the top ten for all communities in the City when ranked by decline in the number of purchases by low-income buyers.
A third benchmark that the ANHD report notes is local “income stratification.” This measure relies on the “Gini coefficient,” a gauge of statistical dispersion intended to represent the wealth distribution among a given population. The most commonly used measurement of financial inequality, the Gini coefficient ranges between zero (which would represent absolute parity) and one (which would denote maximal inequality). Lower Manhattan’s rank is 0.54, which places it among the top 20 of most unequal communities in New York City.
Elsewhere in the same report, ANHD found that 30.1 percent of Lower Manhattan residents contend with “rent burden,” which is defined as the cohort of tenants who spend more than one-third of their gross monthly income on rent. (This metric declined from 37.8 percent from ANHD’s analysis the previous year.) Although apartment rents are climbing ever higher in Lower Manhattan, this statistic appears to hinge on the unusually high local household income combined with a large number of dwellings owned by their occupants. (Condominium apartments are excluded from rent surveys.) It may also be worth noting that the “rent burden” is traditionally much higher in economically distressed neighborhoods, where rents tend to be significantly lower, but household incomes are even more depressed.
The convergence of these trends was put in perspective at a meeting of the Battery Park City Committee of Community Board 1 on Wednesday evening when that panel’s chair, Tammy Meltzer, remarked on the scarcity of affordable dwellings for middle-class residents in Lower Manhattan, saying , “I have lived here for 25 years, but I can’t see how I’m going to be able to afford another 25.”
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 through February16
Van Der Plas Gallery, 156 Orchard Street 212-227-8983
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
In the extremely cold of the winter of 1976, I had the opportunity to go birding near Dingman’s Ferry, Pennsylvania.
There were a handful of us and I was new to birdwatching. Living for a year in the Pennsylvania woods afforded me the opportunity to see some amazing things in nature, but none compared to the sighting of two Bald Eagles and two Golden Eagles flying low over our heads, no doubt as curious about us as we were of them. Their wingspan was about six feet! I was hooked.
On Sunday, February 9, Mr. Padalino will lead the birding adventure in the search for eagles. Mr. Padalino, president emeritus of PEEC (Pocono Environmental Education Center) and the Brandwein Institute, a partner with the National Park Service, leads the winter search for Eagles.
It’s a drive away from Lower Manhattan. The morning begins at 8am when the group meets in the parking lot of PEEC. Or you can meet them at the Historic Callahan House, 101 Route 209 South @ mile marker 21, Milford, Pennsylvania. It’s about a 1.5-2 hour trip from Lower Manhattan, but worth the trip.
Dress warmly, bring binoculars, a field guide, and a lunch.
If you are interested in participating, call Jack Padalino at 570-296-6752 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org It’ll be a day you’ll never forget.
There’s no charge for this adventure. Future outings: Sunday March 1 and 8.
Stretching the Canvas Exhibition Tour
National Museum of the American Indian
Friday Night Art House Classics: Shadows
Battery Park City Authority
Music Chat with Guqin Master Dai Xiaolian
Church Street School for Music and Art in partnership with Keyed Up! and International Contemporary Ensemble will begin a weekly concert series featuring renowned jazz musicians in the performance space at Church Street School. Tonight, Tadataka Unno, piano; Phillip Harper, trumpet; and more!
Through mid June. $10 suggested donation at the door.
41 White Street 212-571-7290 churchstreetschool.org
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…
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.
‘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
Friday February 7
1497 – The Bonfire of the Vanities occurs, during which supporters of Girolamo Savonarola burn cosmetics, art, and books in Florence, Italy.
1795 – The 11th Amendment to the United States Constitution is ratified.
“The Eleventh Amendment (Amendment XI) to the United States Constitution was passed by Congress on March 4, 1794, and ratified by the states on February 7, 1795. The Eleventh Amendment restricts the ability of individuals to bring suit against states in federal court.” (wikipedia)
1812 – The strongest in a series of earthquakes strikes New Madrid, Missouri.
1904 – A fire in Baltimore, Maryland destroys over 1,500 buildings in 30 hours.
1962 – The United States bans all Cuban imports and exports.
1979 – Pluto moves inside Neptune’s orbit for the first time since either was discovered.
1984 – Space Shuttle program: STS-41-B Mission: Astronauts Bruce McCandless II and Robert L. Stewart make the first untethered space walkusing the Manned Maneuvering Unit (MMU).
1990 – Dissolution of the Soviet Union: The Central Committee of the Soviet Communist Party agrees to give up its monopoly on power.
1991 – Haiti’s first democratically elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, is sworn in.
1995 – Ramzi Yousef, the mastermind of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, is arrested in Islamabad, Pakistan.
1997 – NeXT merges with Apple Computer, starting the path to Mac OS X.
2013 – The State of Mississippi officially certifies the Thirteenth Amendment, becoming the last state to approve the abolition of slavery.The Thirteenth Amendment was formally ratified by Mississippi in 1995.
1478 – Thomas More, English lawyer and politician, Lord Chancellor of the United Kingdom (d. 1535)
1804 – John Deere, American blacksmith and businessman, founded Deere & Company (d. 1886)
1812 – Charles Dickens, English novelist and critic (d. 1870)
1885 – Sinclair Lewis, American novelist, short-story writer, and playwright, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1951)
1906 – Puyi, Chinese emperor (d. 1967)
1932 – Gay Talese, American journalist and memoirist
1932 – Alfred Worden, American colonel, pilot, and astronaut
1333 – Nikko, Japanese priest, founder of Nichiren Shoshu Buddhism (b. 1246)
1560 – Bartolommeo Bandinelli, Florentine sculptor (b. 1493)
1999 – King Hussein of Jordan (b. 1935)
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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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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