October 26th - November 1st, 2013
Lower Manhattan Condo Seeks a Record $56.5 Million
October 25 - A penthouse atop the Ritz-Carlton in lower Manhattan's Battery Park City is listed for sale at $56.5 million, the highest-ever asking price for a downtown home, reported Bloomberg. The 7,500-square-foot duplex condominium at 10 West St. includes five bedrooms, five bathrooms and two outdoor roof decks, one with a view of the Statue of Liberty, according to the listing by Platinum Realty Group. If sold at the asking price, the deal would be a Manhattan record for a property below 34th Street, according to New York-based appraisal firm Miller Samuel Inc. The current downtown high was set in August, with the $42 million purchase of a penthouse at Zeckendorf Development Co.'s 18 Gramercy Park. The city's biggest completed transaction is the $88 million sale last year of a penthouse at 15 Central Park West by former Citigroup Chairman Sanford Weill.
Hurricane Sandy, One Year Later: Floods Recede from Lower Manhattan, People Trickle Back In
October 26 - Padlocks, papered windows and boarded-up doors are still everywhere in Lower Manhattan's South Street Seaport, which became a ghost town after Hurricane Sandy -- but little signs of rebirth are now scattered along the cobblestone streets, reported the New York Daily News. Things are finally looking up for local businesses. One by one, restaurants and shops are slowly reopening. Last October, the storm overwhelmed Manhattan's tip and drowned two people downtown. Sandy also stranded public housing dwellers without water and heat and displaced residents from 5,950 apartments -- but 12 months later, 100 percent of the living spaces are back open, according to neighborhood association Downtown Alliance. In May, city officials announced they would use $72 million in federal aid to fund business loans and grants, offering small businesses loans of up to $150,000 with just 1% interest and a matching grant of up to $60,000.
Cuomo Gets a Look at State Assets Damaged by Sandy
October 26 - Governor Andrew Cuomo was joined Tuesday by federal Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan for a tour of Hurricane Sandy damage that was focused mostly in Lower Manhattan, where many of the state's assets are concentrated, including critical infrastructure for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, according to New York 1. Although the most haunting and enduring images of Hurricane Sandy come from places like Breezy Point and Oakwood Beach, where homes were flooded and even destroyed, Lower Manhattan suffered a different type of destruction. Flooding there damaged critical assets, including the construction site at the World Trade Center site, where 129 million gallons of water poured in during the storm, and the South Ferry subway station, which is still not open to the public. "During Hurricane Sandy, the largest amount of damage was done here in Lower Manhattan," said Governor Andrew Cuomo. At South Ferry, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority is currently testing a prototype that would be installed to protect subway stations in the event of major storm. The inflatable tunnel plug can be filled with either air or water within minutes to block tunnels from a rushing storm surge. This particular plug is owned by the federal Department of Homeland Security and is currently undergoing testing. However, the real threat of flooding comes not through the tunnels but from vertical entrance points at street level. There are 540 such entrance points at just six Lower Manhattan train stations. "It's a remarkable feat of engineering to be underground, but it provides many challenges for us in terms of what we need to do to waterproof the system," said MTA Chairman Thomas Prendergast. There was nearly $600 million in damage to the South Ferry subway station alone. There is still no exact timetable for its reopening.
The Big U Plan for Flood Protection in New York Made to Look Like Art Installations
October 29 - It would be designed to look like an eight-mile piece of parkland or an art installation at the water's edge, according to the U.K. Daily Mail. But it would serve a much more important purpose than brightening up Lower Manhattan. This is one of more than 40 designs aimed at protecting the New York and New Jersey coastlines from a repeat of the catastrophic flooding that hit the area during Superstorm Sandy a year ago. The design, submitted by Danish architectural firm Bjarke Ingels Group and known as the 'BIG-U', proposes a system of levees and berms that would protect Lower Manhattan. But the system would be disguised behind murals and plant life, making it look more attractive than your standard flood defence. The plans were exhibited at New York University as part of a federally funded design competition aimed at protecting the area from future flooding. The 41 ideas range from the simple to the imaginative, with some proposing to drastically re-alter the appearance of the coast. In the coming weeks the ideas will be whittled down to just 10 by U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan, who led President Obama's Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force. Working with the Rockefeller Foundation, the design teams spent several months doing research and touring storm-damaged areas while they prepared their projects. More than 140 teams originally entered the competition, but that number was previously whittled down to the current group of finalists.
St. Nicholas Church, Destroyed on 9-11, to Rebuild With Byzantine Design
October 30 - A gleaming, monumental and unmistakable symbol of Orthodox Christianity would rise at the south end of the National September 11 Memorial under plans drawn up for the new St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, according to the New York times. The original St. Nicholas Church was crushed on Sept. 11, 2001, when the south tower of the World Trade Center collapsed. Plans to replace it on the grounds of the new trade center, across Liberty Street from the memorial, have crept ahead in the intervening years. But no images of the new church have been made public. Until now. Eight images published recently on the website of the architect Santiago Calatrava, who is designing St. Nicholas, showed a building that would draw inspiration from the great churches of the East: Hagia Sophia and the Church of the Holy Savior in Chora. Both are in Istanbul. Calatrava, the architect of the WTC Transportation Hub, is known for his expressive designs and, sometimes, projects with impressive cost overruns. Certainly, his St. Nicholas, which will include a nondenominational bereavement center, will look nothing like the modest old parish church that it is replacing. That was housed in a decrepit 19th-century tavern at 155 Cedar Street with a little rooftop bell cote and cross to announce its purpose. The new church will occupy the corner of an L-shape block bounded on the north by Liberty Street and on the east by Greenwich Street. Much of this block is already taken up by a large bulkhead being constructed over entrance ramps to a vehicle security center beneath the World Trade Center. The church and a landscaped open space known as Liberty Park will sit atop this bulkhead, a little more than 20 feet above street level. That a Spanish architect should design a modern Byzantine church in Lower Manhattan for the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, based on buildings in Turkey that were used for Islamic worship, goes to the heart of the message the archdiocese says it hopes to send with the $20 million project. The new St. Nicholas is to open by early 2016.
A Modern Flood Barrier Aims to Protect Landmark Verizon Building
October 30 - To protect their Manhattan settlement in the 17th century, the English built a wall. To protect Wall Street in the 21st century, Verizon is doing much the same thing. According to the New York Times, passers-by have been startled this week by the sight of a nine-foot-high wall standing in front of the company's switching center at 140 West Street, across Vesey Street from 1 World Trade Center. This wall was intended to defend against floodwaters. Segments of it were being tested. Made of steel posts and aluminum planks, the removable barrier would look like a heavy-duty storefront security shutter about 1,000 feet long if it were completely installed. But it has not been designed to win aesthetic awards. It has been designed to protect Verizon equipment, electronics, cables and conduits from inundation. Four of the five subbasements at 140 West Street were immersed during Hurricane Sandy. Tanks storing fuel for the emergency generators were submerged. The catastrophe at 140 West Street, crucial for providing communication services for the New York Stock Exchange and other downtown financial giants, added to the disruption caused by the storm. It also left Verizon with a $35 million cleanup and repair tab, including the restoration of the lobby muralsin the building, which is a designated landmark. So it happened -- by coincidence, Verizon executives said -- that on the first anniversary of the hurricane's arrival, the company was testing the installation of what is supposed to be a nearly impermeable flood barrier, no matter how fundamentally the climate may be changing. The wall was fabricated, largely in North Dakota and Ohio, by Flood Control America. Verizon executives would not disclose its cost.
Evicted by Sandy, the NYC Police Museum Finds a Temporary New Home
October 31 - In 1909 the New York City Police Department's first precinct moved into a gracious Neo-Italian Renaissance style building at 100 Old Slip. As a model police facility it was visited by police chiefs from around the country looking to emulate its features in their own new station houses. The first precinct moved further uptown in 1973, and in December 2001 their old building was repurposed as the home of the NYC Police Museum. Situated just a block from the East River, it was inundated by Hurricane Sandy floodwaters a year ago, and has been closed for repairs since then. In the interim several police museum exhibitions have been staged at fellow cultural institutions, such as the Children's Museum of Manhattan. This month the NYC Police Museum opened a temporary location at 45 Wall Street (between Broad & William Street, close to the Museum of American Finance at 48 Wall Street). Current exhibitions include Lieutenant Joseph Petrosino and his heroic stand against the Black Hand; a photography exhibit of Associated Press photographers documenting 9/11; and a history of policing from the Dutch Rattle Watch of the 1650s to the modern NYPD. The temporary police museum is open Monday through Saturday from 9am - 5pm and includes a gift shop. For more information please call 212-480-3100 or visit nycpm.org.