May 18th - May 24th, 2013
In Lower Manhattan, a New Public Space Near the Holland Tunnel
May 16 - A new public space sprouted up in Lower Manhattan Thursday, a triangle of gravel, patio tables and greenery right next to what is arguably one of the least bucolic spots in the city: the entrance to the Holland Tunnel, according to the Wall Street Journal. Until recently, it was a vacant swatch of land ringed by a locked, rusty chain-link fence. Spruced up by the Port Authority and Hudson Square's business improvement district, the location didn't deter visitors, even as a steady flow of trucks rumbled by. Hudson Square, formerly an industrial neighborhood, is now home to creative firms including graphic designers, architects, print and broadcast media and public relations. Public open space is hard to find in the area. Freeman Plaza West is a 15,000-square-foot space ringed by Hudson Street, Broome Street and ramps to the Holland Tunnel. Traffic is heavy and constant all around, particularly in the multiple lanes merging to enter the tunnel. Hudson Square Connection spent about $200,000 to convert the plaza into a seating area, repaving it with smaller gravel and replacing the rusty chain links with a more attractive black welded wire mesh fence.
For M.T.A., Flood Plan Is Still a Work in Progress
May 16 - Inside a crew room at the new South Ferry subway station, once flooded wall to wall with the waters of Hurricane Sandy, transit officials on Thursday offered a sobering progress report on a system that continues to feel the storm's effects, reported the New York Times. Emergency repairs have proliferated. Exposure to saltwater accelerated the corrosion for many metallic parts, and reduced the useful life of equipment like cloth cable sheathings. Last month, a pump discharge line in the Canarsie tube, where the L train operates, ruptured under normal loads -- residual evidence of the storm's excessive stress on the system, according to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. And if a hurricane were to approach the city in the immediate term, the agency's best option for fortifying stations would most likely be the same: sandbags, plywood, and the hope that water would not find a way through. Eight underwater subway tunnels flooded during Hurricane Sandy, and South Ferry station, opened in 2009 at a cost of over $500 million, was almost entirely destroyed. Last month, the authority reopened a once-decommissioned, century-old stop at the same location, predicting that the newer hub still required years of renovations. As the storm battered Lower Manhattan in October, a bundle of unsecured construction timbers punched through the plywood at street level and floated down into the station. MTA officials said that for the six Lower Manhattan stations in the storm path for a Category 2 hurricane -- and the tunnels that connect them -- there were 540 points vulnerable to water entry.
Latest Security Plan for WTC Site Reduces Traffic and Parking
May 17 - The NYPD's latest plan for security measures at the World Trade Center site are out and open for public comment, reported WNYC. The proposal would ring the 16-acre World Trade Center site with various security measures. In addition to six guard booths, there will be several hydraulic Sally Ports, the secure gateways that already block traffic on Wall Street, which will also be operated by the police. On site parking, which was initially estimated to accommodate 1,200-1,400 cars, will be reduced to about 500 underground parking spots. There will be 67 spots for tour buses. Delivery vehicles and black cars that want to enter the site, will have to register to enter. All vehicles entering the site will undergo manual and mechanical inspections for dangerous materials. The project is funded by the Port Authority and the NYPD, and is open for public comment through May 22.
Plans for Pier A Public Space Questioned
May 22 - The May 7 meeting of the Community Board 1's Battery Park City committee included a discussion about plans for a 3,000-square-foot space within Pier A, the historic dock that lies between Battery Park City and Historic Battery Park, which is being redeveloped as a restaurant, reported The Broadsheet. The public space, situated just inside the pier's main entrance, will also serve as a passage between the outdoor plaza on the landward side of the structure and the restaurant housed within. "My understanding was that this would be a public exhibition space or an information center or visitors center," said George Calderaro, the committee's co-chair, "so that the 30,000-square foot facility would not be exclusively a restaurant." Reviewing the most recent floor plans for Pier A, he added, "this space has become one or two rooms that can be closed off or locked, which to me does not connote an open, exhibition, visitor space. This looks to me like it could become a 10-foot-wide corridor leading to a restaurant." He also noted that the current plans, "make no reference to what will be done with this space. This is unacceptable, in terms of a public space. There's a lot of education that could be happening around there about the harbor and about local history."
Freedom Tower Enters Crowded New York Market to Lure Broadcaster Antennas
May 21 - One World Trade Center, which is popularly known as the Freedom Tower, has more than two million square feet of office space to fill on 104 floors, reported Marketplace. John Lyons is working to rent space above all that. His aim is to cover the newly installed spire with broadcast antennas, like the north tower of the old WTC had. The financial stakes are high, and it's a more competitive market, as he can see from the window of his office, 740-feet above Midtown Manhattan. After 9-11, many broadcasters crowded onto the tower of the Empire State Building, bringing a windfall of $16 million in 2010, the last full year for which figures are publicly available. 4 Times Square tripled the height of its rooftop tower to fit even more antennas. That means now broadcasters don't have to rely on just one site, as many did in 2001. Lyons is trying to capitalize on this new demand for two antennas. He says stations could have any combination of primary and secondary towers distributed among 1 WTC and 4 Times Square, whose antenna towers are managed by Durst, and the Empire State Building. More choice means better signal coverage, not to mention better deals. At the newest skyscraper, 1 WTC, Lyons hopes to lock in antenna leases worth $10 million a year.