October 5th - October 11th, 2013
9-11 Museum Unveils Survivor Tree Seedling Program
September 11 - The National September 11 Memorial and Museum is launching a seedling program based on the Survivor Tree, a pear tree pulled from the World Trade Center rubble after 9/11, reported the Associated Press. The museum says seedlings from the tree will be sent to what it calls "resilient communities" that embody "the spirit of the Survivor Tree." Three communities have been selected for the inaugural launch. They are Boston, in honor of the marathon bombing in April that killed three people and injured more than 260; Prescott, Ariz., for the 19 firefighters who died battling a wildfire in June; and the Far Rockaways in New York City, which were devastated last year by Superstorm Sandy.
1 WTC Awaits FCC Decisions for New Broadcast Tenants
October 7 - Twelve years after the destruction of the World Trade Center -- home to many broadcast antennas for New York City television and radio stations -- much has changed. Most transmitters and antennas eventually relocated to the Empire State Building (where CBS was previously located) and 4 Times Square, reported Broadcast Engineering. Now, as work is being completed on the top of the new 1 WTC, broadcasters are faced with the decision of whether or not to return to the location. Antennas can go up to a height of 1700ft on the new building, and the facility will be ready for broadcasters who want to move there in 2015. However, so far, none have made the commitment.
The $10 Deal That Cost NY Millions
October 7 - State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is probing the most towering sweetheart deal of all time, reported the New York Post and other sources. Schneiderman has sent a letter demanding to see the records behind the agreement for the World Trade Center's naming rights, which were sold to a former Port Authority executive in 1986 for just $10. Late PA chief Guy Tozzoli and his group, The World Trade Centers Association, have made tens of millions of dollars off of the landmark's name. The PA and the public, meanwhile, haven't gotten a dime. After the pact was exposed publicly in the past month, Gov. Cuomo called on Schneiderman to launch a probe, saying Tozzoli "received exorbitant annual compensation from WTCA, bringing in $600,000 in pay in 2011." Schneiderman's office has responded to the governor's request by sending letters to the WTCA on Oct. 3 asking for specifics on naming deals that the group has entered into over the years. The World Trade Centers Association has sold the rights to use the World Trade Center name to hundreds of companies -- from a luxury hotel and convention center in Boston to a conference center in Las Vegas to an office suite in a rundown storefront in Hackensack, NJ. It isn't clear how much it has made over the past three decades, but in 2011 alone, the WTCA raked in $6.9 million. Tozzoli -- who oversaw the design and construction of the Twin Towers -- died in February at 90. He has been succeed by Eric Dahl, the founder of a Swedish consulting company. Dahl defended the deal, "The World Trade Centers Association (WTCA) is an organization with a long history of creating value," he said in a statement. "The WTCA lawfully obtained all rights to the World Trade Center trademark in 1986 in an agreement reached between the WTCA and the Port Authority." Although current PA officials have reportedly been surprised to learn of the deal, Dahl said the "agreement has been honored…with the knowledge and participation of the governing bodies of both organizations and was reapproved by the Port Authority as recently as 2006." Particularly galling to Cuomo and other PA officials is that the WTCA is now selling back the World Trade Center name to be used for the new One World Trade Center tower in return for a fee and nearly half a million dollars in free office space.
Vesey Bridge is Coming Down, with New Concourse to Open
October 9 - Don't be fooled when you pass the sparkling new entrance to the Winter Garden facing West Street -- it's not open, yet, reported The Broadsheet. But it will be this month, according to Brookfield Office Properties management, which has spent the past several years managing reconstruction of the stunning new gateway to the Winter Garden and the Hudson River's North Cove Marina. The marble staircase in the middle of the Winter Garden, although now shrouded in construction barricades, will remain in place. "The Transit Pavilion," as the entrance facing West Street is to be called, "will open this month, so all the finishing touches are currently in progress," according to Patricia Bertuccio, manager of corporate communications for Brookfield Office Properties. Construction is on target to be complete before the end of October, she says. When the Pavilion opens, pedestrians will be able to descend via escalator from the Winter Garden to a passage beneath West Street, the East-West Connector, that will initially offer access to the World Trade Center PATH Station and Greenwich Street. This access will eventually be extended eastward by several hundred yards to the World Trade Center Transit Hub and Fulton Center. Construction on this second phase is expected to be complete by early 2015. In a related development, the Vesey Street pedestrian bridge (which has offered a safe crossing over West Street since 2002) was permanently closed on Monday, in preparation for its removal.
Preservation Talk in the Air as Seaport Market Bustles
October 9 - The New Amsterdam Market proved that though it had been gone for months, it had not been forgotten, according to the Downtown Express. On a sunny Sunday at the end of last month, about 6,000 people made their way to the parking lot under the F.D.R. Drive between Beekman St. and Peck Slip, where they stocked up on food from regional farmers. Robert LaValva, founder of the New Amsterdam Market, had organized weekly markets on South Street since 2010, but this year, he had a three-month hiatus. LaValva's decision to cancel the summer markets stemmed from what happened in March when the City Council approved the Howard Hughes Corporation's Uniform Land Use Review Procedure application to replace the existing mall on Pier 17. Following the vote, Council Speaker Christine Quinn and City Councilmember Margaret Chin announced at a press conference that as part of the deal, before Oct. 1, 2014, Hughes would open a 10,000-square-foot food market in the Link Building on Pier 17. The deal specified that there would be another food market in the Tin Building occupying at least 10,000 square feet of floor space showcasing locally and regionally sourced foods. At the Community Board 1 Seaport Committee meeting on Sept. 17, Phillip St. Pierre, the general manager of the Seaport for The Howard Hughes Corporation, mentioned that the stalls, which housed fishmongers from 1950 to 2005, when the Fulton Fish Market moved to the Bronx, will be demolished when The Howard Hughes plan for the Seaport uplands goes into effect.
Park Work Resumes as Governors Island Closes for Season
October 9 - A gorgeous getaway to rival Central Park will be rearing up just south of Manhattan, reported the Downtown Express. Governors Island celebrated its final weekend open to the public on September 29, and will reopen in May. But that does not mean the 172 acre island will be hibernating through the winter. Work is underway to create 30 acres of new parkland this coming year, with even more to open by 2015. Leslie Koch, president of the Governors Island Trust, brought a breath of fresh air to Community Board 1 with a presentation on the progress and vision for a refurbished Governors Island, a haven away from the bustle of Manhattan. The final weekend welcomed more than 5,000 visitors to the park site, Koch said. "It's really looking like a park, there's trees and flowers… We are on track to complete construction in November, which means we will open in the spring," Koch added. The winter months will give the plants an opportunity to establish themselves before they are inundated with visitors. Another vision for the park is "The Hills," which will use debris of all the building demolished on the island to build a large hill overlooking Lower Manhattan. The largest will rise 80 feet above the harbor. The Trust is also looking at tenants at the moment to fill its many vacant buildings, but did not want to talk about any specifics. The Trust is also considering spas, art galleries and eventually, they hope, a luxury hotel.
Federal Employees Rally in Lower Manhattan as Government Shutdown Continues
October 10 - Hundreds of federal employees in the city rallied in Lower Manhattan Wednesday as the partial federal government shutdown continued, reported NY1. The employees called on Congress to pass a clean funding bill so they can get back to work. The rally came as there were new developments on Capitol Hill. The House unanimously passed legislation to restore death benefits to the families of fallen soldiers. The Obama administration also cut a deal with a charity to cover any gap in payments and then later be reimbursed by the Defense Department. However, there's increasing concern over the Department's ability to continue making benefit payments to all veterans. Meanwhile, the GOP is sending about two dozen members of Congress to meet with Obama on Thursday. The White House invited the entire caucus, but Speaker John Boehner said the meeting is only worthwhile if it stays focused on a solution. Republicans want changes to the president's health care law in exchange for reopening the government. They also want spending cuts in exchange for raising the debt limit. The deadline for that is October 17. The president and leading Democrats said that they're willing to negotiate, but not until Congress approves funding for the full government.
Law Firm Signs Huge Renewal Downtown
October 10 - Hughes, Hubbard & Reed has signed a 226,416-square-foot lease at Rudin Management Company's One Battery Park Plaza -- one of the largest Lower Manhattan deals of the year, which follows a surge in demand for big blocks of space, reported the Commercial Observer. The international law firm's 20-year lease spans nearly 11 floors, comprising floors 10 through 18, a portion of 7 and a portion of the basement in the 36-story, 875,000-square-foot, class A building. Candace Beinecke, Chair of Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP, noted the firm's 75-year commitment to Downtown and faith in its future as a keys to the decision to renew. "We believe that maintaining our offices in Lower Manhattan will best enable our firm to continue to provide best in-class services to our clients," she said, in the statement. "This commitment reflects our confidence in the Lower Manhattan market and its future as a true 24/7 hub for business, residents, tourists, open space, art and culture." Optimism in the Manhattan commercial real estate market has resulted in demand for big blocks of space. The data also shows that 94 tenants have moved south of Canal Street since January 2012.
Next for Chinese Developers: Making It in New York
October 11 - With its plans to take a majority stake an apartment project next to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, state-owned developer Greenland Holdings Group is joining in on one of the Chinese real estate world's hottest new trends: piling money into the New York City skyline. According to the Wall Street Journal, Shanghai-based Greenland has agreed to buy a 70% stake in a 15-tower apartment project located in the Atlantic Yards site from Forest City Ratner Cos. The project, which includes an office building and retail space, is expected to cost more than $5 billion, according to an updated estimate from Greenland. It is the largest commercial-real-estate development in the U.S. ever to get major backing directly from a Chinese company, according to a Greenland statement. Cash-rich Chinese developers have been looking for geographic diversification as the domestic economy slows. And New York is fast becoming a favorite destination. Beijing-based Vantone Holdings, controlled by Feng Lun, spent $100 million on a 20-year lease for five floors in 1 WTC, which is slated to open by 2014. Feng said in a recent interview that expects an 8-11 percent annual return from the 1 WTC investment after around 3-5 years. "We could have built an office ourselves, but we want to be involved in something iconic and with historical value, so that people will flock to it," he said.