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August 7, 2009 Downtown Express

August 7, 2009 Downtown Express

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08/06/2009

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Downtown Express photo by Lorenzo Ciniglio
What a long strange trip
With skyscrapers hovering nearby, Arlo Guthrie helped celebrate the 40
th
anniversary of Woodstock during a concertlast week in Battery Park. In one way, the ’60s spirit is more alive near Wall St. than it was four decades ago onYasgur’s farm: The River to River concert was officially free.
BY JOSH ROGERS
A child who was bornthe day of the 9/11 attackhas about a 50-50 chanceof battling senioritis in highschool before the time heor she will be able to ridea train in the multi-billion-dollar train station underconstruction at the WorldTrade Center.That was one of the con-clusions (minus the hypo-thetical high school senior)reached in the latest analysisof the W.T.C. by the LowerManhattan ConstructionCommand Center, a post9/11 agency formed in partto help speed up LowerManhattan rebuilding.Nearly one third of thecommand center’s $17.5 mil-lion annual budget ($5.19million) comes from the PortAuthority, yet its analysisbacked key points SilversteinProperties has been mak-ing in its financial disputewith the Port — namely thatauthority delays are responsi-ble for the construction riskspreventing the firm from fin-ishing the W.T.C. towers ontime. Even Tower 4, the only W.T.C. office Silverstein iscurrently building, has a 50percent chance of finishingover two years late, in 2015,according to the L.M.C.C.C.document.The Daily News firstreported on the confiden-tial analysis on Tuesday, thesame day a copy was provid-ed to Downtown Express.Also this week, Silversteinfiled for arbitration after
 Agency report supports Silverstein in World Trade Center dispute
BY JULIE SHAPIRO
City Councilmember Alan Gersonremains off the ballot five weeks beforethe Democratic primary for his seat.The Board of Elections refused tolet Gerson on the ballot last week afterhis campaign committed a series of small errors. Gerson’s first chance to join his four opponents on the ballotwon’t come until next week, whenJudge Edward Lehner will hear a courtreferee’s opinion on the case.“I’m as confident as ever,” Gersontold Downtown Express Wednesday.He called the Board of Elections’ rulingagainst him “totally bogus” and said hewas not even considering the possibil-ity of being kept off the ballot. “By anylegal analysis, there’s no question thatwe’ll be on the ballot,” said Gerson,who is an attorney.To get on the Democratic primaryballot, City Council candidates haveto file a petition with signatures of at least 900 registered Democrats intheir district. Gerson submitted about7,000 signatures, which should havebeen more than enough, but two of the 13 volumes of signatures misstatedhis address. Parts of those volumes,containing about 1,000 signatures,incorrectly showed Gerson’s address as1505 LaGuardia Place, rather than 505LaGuardia Place, based on a printer’smistake, Gerson said. When the Board of Elections noticedthe discrepancy last month, they contact-ed Gerson’s campaign, and Gerson sent avolunteer elections lawyer to fix it. But thelawyer did not sign and date a modified
Gerson’s opponents make the ballot,but he’s kept off another week
Continued on
 page 5 
Continued on
 page 6 
d
nt
n
 
express 
®
 VOLUME 22, NUMBER 13 THE NEWSPAPER OF LOWER MANHATTAN
AUGUST 7 - 13, 2009
Tribeca’s newest park
P. 19DALÍ PRINTS IMPRESS, P. 24
 
August 7 - 13, 2009
2
downtown express 
U
NDER
 
c
over
W
HAT
 S
 
COOKING
 
 AT
L.M.D.C.?
The brand-new film “Julie & Julia” has a surprising LowerManhattan connection. Starring
Meryl Streep
and
AmyAdams
, the movie chronicles the true story of 
Julie Powell
,a burnt-out New York City secretary who decided to cookall 524 recipes in
Julia Child
’s “Mastering the Art of FrenchCooking” in one year and blog about it.So what exactly was this dead-end job that so bored Powell thatshe was driven to the cooking project that made her famous?As it turns out, it was a gig at the Lower ManhattanDevelopment Corp. Powell worked as a secretary there whileshe was doing her cooking-and-blogging project in 2002 and2003. She frequently vented about her “government drone” job on her blog.In November 2003, shortly before she quit the L.M.D.C.,she described being overwhelmed by likely having to workstraight through the weekend, shortly before eight potentialdesigns for the 9/11 memorial were unveiled.“It is absolutely [expletive] D-Day at the LMDC,” shewrote on Nov. 11, “and if I have to reschedule one more VeryImportant [expletive] Person I will kill someone, and let me just warn any VIFPs who might be out there reading, it’s notgonna be me.”Several months earlier, she complained about the verydetailed procedures she was required to follow and said,“I’m just distressed that there’s no procedure for gettinga [expletive] liquor cabinet in the staff kitchen, where it’sreally needed.”L.M.D.C. spokesperson
John De Libero
declined to com-ment on Powell’s remarks.A Reuters review of “Julie & Julia” draws a connectionbetween Powell’s job and the malaise that compelled her totake on the cooking project: “She works in a federal govern-ment office overlooking the World Trade Center crater andlaments that she has never finished anything in her life.”Upon reading that quote,
Catherine McVay Hughes
,chairperson of Community Board 1’s W.T.C. RedevelopmentCommittee, was filled with sympathy.“Sometimes the community feels like that, too,” Hughestold us.
O
BAMA
 
 SHINE
 
ON
B.P.C.
President
Obama
last week tapped Battery Park Cityresident
Benjamin B. Tucker
to be deputy director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. Tucker,58, is a criminal law professor at Pace University in LowerManhattan and has also worked at Columbia University’snational center on addiction. A former beat cop who grew upin Bed-Stuy, he will have to be confirmed by the U.S. Senatebefore taking office.
 T
RIBECA
 
UNREST
Neil Fabricant
, a leader in the fight a few years ago to keepIndependence Plaza North apartments affordable for existingresidents when the landlord withdrew from the Mitchell-Lamaprogram, has entered a new battle with Mayor
Bloomberg
. Hehas organized FUNY, Fed Up New Yorkers, an anti-Bloomberggroup also opposed to all City Council candidates who sup-ported the end run around term limits. There is a four-pageFUNY paper and there was a FUNY meeting last month.“Voters went twice to the polls and said ‘No third term.’This is about Mike Bloomberg against the people of NewYork,” Fabricant told UnderCover.Public Advocate Candidate
Mark Green
dropped in tothe meeting and representatives of 
Margaret Chin
’s councilcampaign were in attendance. Another I.P.N. resident andFUNY man,
John Scott
, said he was against Councilmember
Alan Gerson
and for Chin in the council race. Scott, anoutgoing member of the District 2 Community EducationCouncil, also denounced Bloomberg for ignoring parents oneducation. “It’s not about mayoral control, it’s about mayoraldictatorship,” said Scott regarding the city school system.
 V
OTE
 
OF
 
CONFIDENCE
Pete Gleason
’s campaign for City Council got a boostthis week from
Fernando Ferrer
, the Democratic nomineefor mayor in 2005.Ferrer, former Bronx Borough President, endorsed GleasonMonday at a rally on the steps of City Hall. Afterward, theGleason campaign released a statement from Ferrer thatpraised Gleason’s background as a lawyer and police officerand noted their shared Bronx heritage.“I know [Gleason] won’t be one of those go-along-to-get-along faces in the crowd,” Ferrer said at the press confer-ence. “He served in the trenches long enough to know thisis about people.”
B
OARD
 
 ADDITION
The L.M.D.C. is getting a new board member to replace
Martha Stark
, the former city finance commissioner whoresigned amid a nepotism scandal in April.Mayor Mike Bloomberg is appointing
Kate Levin
, com-missioner of the Cultural Affairs Dept., to take Stark’s place.That could signal that the mayor wants to push forwardthe plans for the performing arts center at the World TradeCenter site, a project that has languished as a low prioritysince it can’t be built for years under the current plan.The L.M.D.C. recently floated moving the PAC to theTower 5 site once the Deutsche Bank building comes down,which would allow the PAC to rise sooner. Levin’s appoint-ment could be another signal of progress in that direction.
NEWS
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1-17  Mixed Use . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .15 Transit Sam . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .17 
EDITORIAL PAGES
. . . . . . . . . . . . .18 
 YOUTH
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20-21
 ARTS
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
 22-26 Listings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .26 
CLASSIFIEDS
 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .27 
C.B. 1
M
EETINGS
The upcoming week’s schedule of CommunityBoard 1 committee meetings is below. Unless other-wise noted, all committee meetings are held at theboard office, located at 49-51 Chambers St., room709 at 6 p.m.
ON THURS., AUG. 6:
The Landmarks Committeewill meet.
Read the Archives
 www 
.
DOWNTOWNEXPRESS
.
com
 A Strong Voice
 The Downtown Express Difference
C
ELEBRATING
20
 YEARS
 
OF
 
PUBLISHING
 
 THE
 
NEWS
 
OF
D
OWNTOWN
.
 We believe that a goodcommunity newspaperdoes make a difference.
 
downtown express 
August 7 - 13, 2009
3
BY JULIE SHAPIRO
Battery Park City residents are launching anew campaign to keep their homes affordable,and they have a powerful ally on their side.That ally is Assembly Speaker SheldonSilver, who recently met with residents of 11 condo buildings in southern B.P.C. whereannual fees are slated to skyrocket in the nextseveral years.At Liberty House on Rector Pl., for example,residents paying an average of $31 a month inground rent will have to pay $276 a monthstarting in June 2011.“I am very concerned about the impactof these increases on the entire Battery ParkCity community,” Silver said in a statement. “Ibelieve that these increased payments, particu-larly in these tough economic times, threatenthe financial stability of the buildings and couldforce residents out of their homes.”Even before the scheduled increases, B.P.C.residents already pay among the highest taxesin the city. The arrangement dates back to thefounding of Battery Park City, which is publicland that was leased to developers throughcompetitive bidding. When residents buy con-dos, they take over a small portion of the devel-oper’s ground lease, essentially renting theirspace from the Battery Park City Authority.The authority turns much of that ground rentmoney over to the city, where it is intended to gotoward affordable housing. That is because theearliest plans for Battery Park City called for theneighborhood to have mostly low and middle-income housing. Instead, the planners decidedto use the prime waterfront property for mostlymarket-rate housing, and charge a ground rentthat would be used to build affordable housingelsewhere in the city.Residents now pay anywhere from $30 toover $500 a month in ground rent, in additionto paying the equivalent of city property taxesand a fee to support the neighborhood’s parks.Under schedules negotiated with the developersseveral decades ago, the ground rent paymentsare set to increase dramatically in the nextseveral years.A source familiar with the discussionsbetween Silver and the condo owners, speak-ing on condition of anonymity, said the solu-tion is to draft a long-term agreement thateliminates sudden spikes in ground rent.“We can’t see why ground rents have todouble or in some cases more than double,”the source said. “That’s just added tax dollarsflowing to the city.”Jim Cavanaugh, president of the B.P.C.A.,said he was open to meeting with Silver andthe residents but could not comment on theirideas because he hadn’t seen details.The authority has already adjusted groundrents at three buildings in Battery Park City:the Regatta, the Liberty View and the CoveClub. But those buildings were slated to paymuch more ground rent than the buildingsnow meeting with Silver, and Cavanaugh hassaid that the decision to mitigate the increasesat the Regatta, Liberty View and Cove Clubshould not be viewed as a promise to helpother buildings as well. (The Cove Club wasdissatisfied with the authority’s offer and isamong the 11 buildings now working withSilver.)One of the condo owners hoping the author-ity will change its mind is Eric Wallace, whobought a unit in the Liberty House in 2002 withassistance from federal 9/11 recovery grants.He and his wife want to raise their young sonsin the neighborhood, but they would havetrouble paying the planned 10-fold increase intheir ground rent.“That’s just not a sustainable way to grow acommunity,” Wallace said.On top of ground rent and taxes, Wallaceand other condo owners also pay building main-tenance fees and extras like flood insurance. While virtually all fees are increasing, Wallace,who works in healthcare, said the economymeans that his family’s income is staying flat,and he knows other families that have had toleave the neighborhood.Last week, Wallace start-ed an online message board(groups.yahoo.com/group/bpcgroundrents) forconcerned B.P.C. residents to share informa-tion. More than 20 people have joined so far,including one retiree who wrote that the groundrent increases would be “devastating.” Wallace said the model of Battery Park Citygenerating revenue for the rest of the city wasbased more on a vision of Battery Park City as acrash pad for wealthy stockbrokers, not on thefamily-oriented community that the neighbor-hood has become.Terry Lautin, a broker with PrudentialDouglas Elliman who has been living andworking in B.P.C. since 1998, agreed that theneighborhood’s residents are being dispropor-tionately taxed.“I don’t know that the escalation of [groundrents] is really going to be helpful for anybody,”Lautin said. “It’s still a young neighborhood.Just because it’s enjoyed healthy growth, I don’tknow that you’d want to penalize that.”Lautin also pointed out that the neighbor-hood has been through a lot since 9/11, fromtoxic dust to the seemingly endless rebuilding.Tom Tam, a broker with Battery Park Realty,said the maximum monthly ground rent thatwould make sense is 25 cents per square foot,or $250 a month for a 1,000-square-foot apart-ment. Some condo owners will be paying morethan twice that figure after the increase.Tam said he has had buyers back out of deals after finding out about the upcomingground rent increases.Charles Urstadt, vice chairperson of theB.P.C.A. board, said the question of offeringrent relief is not a simple one. He objects to anychanges to ground rent agreements that reducethe amount of money that goes to the city foraffordable housing.Urstadt said that when the authority sellsbonds, the deals are based on the authority’sfinances, including the amount of ground rentthe authority expects to collect. Changing theground rents could violate those agreements,Urstadt said.In addition, Urstadt pointed out that the cityshould have a say in any changes, since the cityis the party that gets much of the ground rentmoney. A spokesperson for the mayor’s officesaid in an e-mail that the city would have toreview the details of any proposal before com-menting.One argument against changing the groundrents is that the condo owners knew whatthey were getting into when they bought theirunits, and they received a below-market pricefor the units because of the future ground rentincreases.In the 1990s, Battery Park City apartmentssold for 25 to 30 percent less than comparableunits in other neighborhoods, said Tam, thebroker.“If you bought it over 10 years ago, then youhave good deal,” Tam said.Both Tam and Lautin, the Prudential broker,said reducing ground rents would increase salesprices, which would benefit current residents. Wallace, the Liberty House resident, said heis not looking to make money off of a reductionin ground rent — he just wants to be able toafford to stay in his home. While Wallace saidhe has always known about the rent increase, hewas not expecting it to come in the middle of aneconomic downturn. At a time when corporateAmerica is receiving all sorts of subsidies andtax breaks, Wallace said it makes sense to offersome assistance to homeowners like himself and his neighbors.“This is a cost of living issue,” Wallace said.“We’re just trying to make sure we have enoughto get by.”
 Julie@DowntownExpress.com
B.P.C. residents push for ground rent changes
For the next three weekends, seven milesof New York City streets will be closed threeSaturdays as part of the city’s “Summer Streets”program.Introduced last year by the city Dept. of Transportation, Summer Streets closed off sections of several major streets in Manhattanin order to encourage alternative transporta-tion — walking, biking, and rollerblading —and offered free events throughout each day.This year’s program, which begins August 8,includes free salsa and tennis lessons as well aslive music. The route will be the same this year– Brooklyn Bridge to Central Park via LafayetteSt., Fourth and Park Aves. then 72nd St. Carswill also not be allowed on those streets from 7a.m. to 1 p.m. on Aug. 15 and 22nd.The events will also serve as a stage forthe winners of the “Bike in Style” contest,sponsored by LMVH Moët Hennessy LouisVuitton. Students from the Fashion Instituteof Technology designed biking gear for the con-test, focusing on style as a motivation to createclothing and other items for the contest.“I thought last year it was going to causehavoc in the community,” said John Fratta,chairperson of Community Board 1’s Seaport/Civic Center Committee. “For the most part Iwas pretty pleased. It was a nice event.” Hesaid he supports the event this year.As part of this year’s “Summer Streets”events, Stanton St., between Allen and OrchardSt. will be closed Sundays. The events aresponsored by the Lower East Side BusinessImprovement District, and take place in 13communities citywide. Between one and sevenblocks are closed, and the event drives foottraffic to local businesses.“The challenge in this city is always thatpeople shop where they look, and not wherethey live,” said Roberto Ragone, executivedirector at the Lower East Side B.I.D. “It’s away for people to relax and enjoy themselves,and take inventory and what’s available in thisneighborhood.”The Stanton St. “Weekend Walks” will takeplace on Aug. 23rd, 30th and Sept. 6th and13th from 1 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Car-free street fair returns Saturday
Downtown Express file photo
Pedaling south near Prince St. on Lafayette St. during last year’s “Summer Streets.”

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