Lower Manhattan celebrated a rite of spring on Saturday, April 18 when the Downtown Little League kicked off the 2009 season with its annual parade and opening day ceremony.
of the \ufb01 rst warm days of the year. The tem- perature went into the 70\u2019s, providing an optimistic backdrop for opening day activities. J.C. Chmiel, parent and former vice president of the league\u2019s board of directors, recalled one opening day when the weather was not so
After General Growth Properties execu- tives spent months promising the com- munity that the company\u2019s \ufb01 nances were strong, the South Street Seaport owner \ufb01led for bankruptcy last Thursday.
The Seaport mall will remain open while G.G.P. tries to restructure its $27 billion of debt, but the proposed redevelopment of Pier 17 is on hold. G.G.P. had hoped to build a new hotel and retail complex on the pier, complete with a 500-foot tower to the north. The company and its consultants spent doz- ens of hours meeting with the community about the controversial plans.
\u201cWe said, \u2018Where\u2019s the money?\u2019 and they said, \u2018Don\u2019t worry,\u2019\u201d said Roger Byrom, chair- person of Community Board 1\u2019s Landmarks Committee. \u201cIt\u2019s all wasted, wasn\u2019t it? The whole community came out over and over again for nothing.\u201d
Julie Menin, chairperson of the commu- nity board, said she could not recall another topic as divisive for the neighborhood as General Growth\u2019s redevelopment plans. The board will likely not receive the givebacks G.G.P. promised in conjunction with the development, including a 30,000-square- foot community center. But Menin said the process of planning the center with consul-
Janell Vaughan, senior general manager of the Seaport, said G.G.P. still hopes to overhaul the Seaport but has slowed down the process. The company is employing con- sultants and meeting with them as needed, she said in a phone interview.
\u201cOur intent is to continue working with the city and community on our plan while we also engage in the Chapter 11 process,\u201d Jim Graham, a corporate spokesperson for G.G.P., said in a statement, although the \ufb01rm\u2019s president said development plans were pretty much on hold.
Graham and Vaughan declined to com- ment on whether the Seaport mall would remain up for sale.
The redevelopment plan suffered several blows prior to the bankruptcy, including the city Landmarks Preservation Commission\u2019s sharp criticism last fall.
Tom Nolan, president and C.O.O. of General Growth, said last week in a confer- ence call with reporters that virtually all development is on hold not because of the bankruptcy but because of the dif\ufb01culty all companies are having in getting \ufb01nancing.
family street fair will be back on Greenwich St. this year on May 2. In our special section on the festival this week, we look at the fair and where the festival \ufb01 ts into the \ufb01lm world seven years later, pages 25-29.
film reviews online at downtownexpress. com.
EDITORIAL PAGES. . . . . . . . . . . .20-21 YOUTH. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .22-24 ARTS. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .25-33
\u201cIt was a real struggle in the beginning until everyone got to know us,\u201d Joseph told UnderCover. \u201cThis place is really off the beaten track\u2026. It\u2019s a completely different crowd.\u201d
people, especially the middle management types at lunchtime.
Asked if any celebrities have wandered in lately, Joseph said
he doesn\u2019t get as many as he did in Soho, but sometimes actors
Community Board 1 is not happy with The Moinian Group, which is building the new W Hotel at 123 Washington St., and the developer may have us to thank for it.
Moinian made a big presentation to C.B. 1\u2019s Financial District Committee April 1 on the W Hotel and also requested liquor licenses for the hotel\u2019s restaurants. But in the course of their presentation on the progress of the job, they neglected to mention that all work on the project was stopped because a piece of plywood had fallen 44 stories just the day before, as we reported last week. No one was hurt.
Community board members were surprised to read Downtown Express\u2019s report, and now they are second-guess- ing their decision to approve Moinian\u2019s liquor licenses. The license applications will go before the full board on Tuesday.
The public authority that runs Governors Island isn\u2019t the only state group using eBay to unload unwanted items. The news that the Governors Island Preservation and Education
Corp. sold a ferry in need of millions of repairs on eBay earlier this year got us curious \u2014 and it turns out that the Battery Park City Authority has been using eBay as well.
The biggest moneymaker in the past couple years was a diesel bobcat with a snowblower, which went for $12,150.87 to William Caldwell of Troy, N.Y. The authority has also unloaded a power broom, a wood chipper, a few mowers and a scooter, all through eBay.
A few items didn\u2019t attract any bids and were chucked earlier this year, including two basketball hoops and six of\ufb01ce chairs.
We\u2019ve been hearing some rumblings in the neighbor- hood against Asphalt Green, the group the Battery Park City Authority is leaning toward to operate the new B.P.C. community center. Several people told us the authority was having some trouble closing the deal with Asphalt because the \ufb01 nancials weren\u2019t working out.
nothing could be further from the truth. He still wouldn\u2019t con\ufb01rm that the authority is in close talks with Asphalt Green over the YMCA, the other contender, but he said the group he is focusing on has no \ufb01nancial issues. He expects to name the operator soon.
Congratulations to Jeff Mihok, Community Board 1 member, and his wife Leslie Overton on the birth of their son Fergus James Mihok on April 9. Fergus weighed in at 7 pounds, 14 ounces and joined his two older sisters in the Mihoks\u2019 Battery Park City apartment.
\u201cIt\u2019s very exciting,\u201d said a tired-looking Mihok as he passed around a picture of his son at a community board meeting Tuesday.
Adding too much of\ufb01 ce space too quickly at the World Trade Center could spell disaster for the city\u2019s real estate mar- ket, Chris Ward, executive director at the Port Authority, said this week.
Ward does not want to back the \ufb01 nancing for Towers 2 and 3, which Silverstein Properties hopes to build at the site, because the Trade Center will already have two other of\ufb01 ce towers coming online in the next \ufb01 ve years: One W.T.C. and Tower 4. Those new towers will present enough of a leasing challenge as \ufb01 nancial \ufb01 rms shutter their Lower Manhattan of\ufb01 ces, Ward told Downtown Express in an interview at the Port\u2019s of\ufb01 ces.
\u201cThe market we are all competing for is so limited,\u201d Ward said Tuesday. \u201cSaying we need to be thoughtful about the mar- ket isn\u2019t being restrictive \u2014 it\u2019s being realistic.\u201d
The Port has fallen under \ufb01 re from Larry Silverstein\u2019s camp for not helping Silverstein \ufb01 nance Towers 2 and 3. Silverstein executives have accused the Port of being overly pessimistic about Downtown\u2019s future.
\u201cThe idea that somehow the Port Authority is restricting Silverstein from building or deterministically saying that the real estate market won\u2019t be back is false,\u201d Ward said. \u201cHe could build today if he had a tenant and someone lent him the money. When the market is back, it won\u2019t be because the Port Authority said, \u2018Come back.\u2019\u2026 It will happen because of market forces.\u201d
Larry Silverstein has not been able to get \ufb01nancing for Towers 2, 3 and 4 and has not yet signed any tenants beside the city and Port Authority. The Port, which is building One W.T.C., also know as the Freedom Tower, has reportedly offered to invest $1 billion in helping Silverstein build Tower 4 and build the infrastructure of Towers 2 and 3 to grade, with six-story retail podiums on top. But the Port wants Silverstein to wait to build Towers 2 and 3 until Silverstein can get private \ufb01nancing.
Silverstein replied with a counteroffer: He wants to build Tower 2 now, and is willing to wait on Tower 3. In response, the Port commissioned a Cushman & Wake\ufb01 eld report pro- jecting that Tower 2 would take 11 years to lease if it opened in 2014 with the other buildings.
Citing a con\ufb01 dentiality agreement, Ward declined to discuss details of the $1 billion offer the Port made to Silverstein but said it was imperative that Silverstein accept and not continue holding out to build Towers 2 and 3 now.
If the Port and Silverstein do not resolve their dispute by the end of the summer or early fall, the site will see serious delays, Ward said.
Bud Perrone, a spokesperson for Silverstein Properties, said in a statement that the Port\u2019s proposal would \u201cput off \ufb01 nishing the rebuilding of the World Trade Center site for decades, based on pessimistic projections about the future of New York and Downtown\u2019s economy. We obviously dis- agree.\u201d
\u201cIt\u2019s at a stalemate,\u201d added a rebuilding source who spoke on condition of anonymity. The source guessed that the dis- pute will go into arbitration, just as a comparatively minor dispute did last fall.
In the meantime, the Port is planning ahead as though Silverstein agreed to the proposed deal. The Port is already designing the glossy, white retail podiums, but declined to release the renderings. They would be placeholders for Towers 2 and 3 for 10 to 15 years. Ward said the podiums could contain public space, perhaps like the World Financial Center\u2019s Winter Garden, in addition to retail.
He gave examples of other towers in New York that were built on smaller structures, including the Hearst build- ing in Midtown. Coincidentally or not, Lord Norman Foster designed the Hearst tower and is Silverstein\u2019s architect at Tower 2.
Faith Hope Consolo, a retail broker, said the podiums could attract high-quality retail if the Port and Silverstein agreed to keep the stores in place for at least 10 years with- out beginning construction on the towers above.
In planning for the future, Ward hopes to learn lessons from the leasing of the original World Trade Center, when the Port priced the millions of square feet of space below market value and dragged down the real estate market citywide. That\u2019s what happens when public dollars are spent building of\ufb01 ce space without private demand, Ward said.
The rebuilding source said the leasing of Silverstein\u2019s new of\ufb01 ce towers would look more like 7 W.T.C. than the original Trade Center. At 7 W.T.C., Silverstein priced the space above the surrounding market in the face of harsh criticism from the mayor and others, and waited until he found tenants who would pay his prices.
Like 7 W.T.C., the green Silverstein towers will draw from Midtown and outside of the city, not just poach tenants from other Lower Manhattan buildings, the source said.
Ward said it\u2019s not up to the Port Authority to predict mar- kets, but that the markets are making themselves clear and the Port is already offering to pump extra money into Silverstein\u2019s ventures, just not as much as Silverstein wants. Ward said Silverstein agreed to the rebuilding milestones in the 2006 deal the two parties struck, and said the Port\u2019s offer is generous since without it, Silverstein would likely lose the sites because he can- not build the towers as promised.
Perrone, the Silverstein spokesperson, replied that the Port hasn\u2019t lived up to its end of the deal, since the Port has been late delivering the sites and announced last October that infra- structure like the PATH hub and Vehicle Security Center were years behind schedule.
Julie Menin, chairperson of Community Board 1, said that rebuilding the World Trade Center is imperative, but the Port Authority also has to be careful how much money goes to sub- sidize Silverstein.
The site\u2019s schedule has been another point of contention between the Port and Silverstein. Janno Lieber, president of Silverstein\u2019s World Trade Center Properties, recently criticized the Port for not having a detailed construction schedule for the entire project to match the broad timeline released last fall.
A Port Authority of\ufb01 cial, who spoke on condition of ano- nymity, said Lieber was right that the detailed schedule does not exist. The of\ufb01 cial said Lieber was not wrong to be concerned, and the Port is working on building that type of schedule for some aspects of the project, like bringing steel at the site to grade.
\u201cWe\u2019re concerned about it and we\u2019re working on it,\u201d the of\ufb01 cial said. \u201cBut I don\u2019t think you necessarily have to say that the only way you know you can build it is if you have a whole schedule.\u201d
\u2018Larry, we didn\u2019t change the real
estate market \u2014 you signed a deal\u2026
He could build today if he had a
tenant and someone lent him the
Use your Facebook login and see what your friends are reading and sharing.
Now bringing you back...