July 7th - July 13th, 2012
American Stock Exchange Building is Finally Protected
July 9 - It is a giant of both financial history and Art Deco architecture, a 14-story limestone building with handsome angular lines and fluted piers that was home to the American Stock Exchange from 1921 until the exchange closed in 2008. According to the Tribeca Trib, the 210-foot-tall Curb Market Building at 86 Trinity Place is so prominent, in fact, that the most surprising thing about the landmark designation bestowed upon it last month may be that it was not already a protected building. The building designation is due in part to the efforts of preservation consultant and nearby resident Mary Dierickx, and her recently revived group Citizens for Downtown.
Rally at City Hall Against Proposed Super-Sized Drinks Ban
July 9 - Mayor Michael Bloomberg says that if New Yorkers want to kill themselves with sugar -- that is their right, reported the Associated Press. That was the mayoral response Monday to a small, peaceful protest rally against a ban on big sodas on a sidewalk near City Hall Park -- dubbed the Million Big Gulp March. Bloomberg has proposed a crackdown on super-sized drinks. He wants to stop bar restaurants, movie theaters, sports arenas, food carts and delis from selling sodas and other sugary drinks in servings larger than 16 ounces. He says it is a way to fight obesity in a city that spends billions of dollars a year on weight-related health problems. The planned rally eventually drew dozens of protesters. Opponents say the city is overstepping its authority and infringing on personal freedom.
New York City Micro Apartments Aim to Be Cozy, Not Cramped
July 10 - Could apartments in New York City get any smaller? Mayor Michael Bloomberg hopes so. Reuters reported that on Monday the mayor announced the adAPT NYC competition for architects to submit designs for apartments measuring just 25.5 to 28 square meters to address the shortage of homes suitable and affordable for the growing population of one- and two-person households. They will be about four times the size of a typical prison cell and about one-fortieth the size of the Upper East Side townhouse where Bloomberg lives. The mayor is calling for proposals over the next two months for a building containing about 80 micro-units, all of which must have kitchens and bathrooms. Under local zoning regulations, the average apartment size in a new building must be at least 37 square meters, although there are exceptions to the rule. The mayor said the project is part of his plan to create or preserve 165,000 affordable homes in the city by 2014.
World Trade Center Transportation Hub Assumes Its Sinuous Form
July 10 - It has cost much more and taken far longer than expected, but as the structural form of the World Trade Center Transportation Hub by Santiago Calatrava begins to emerge, it is clear that New York and New Jersey will get some serious architecture for all that time and money, reported the New York Times. Passers-by have no way yet to gauge how much progress has been made, since the work so far has occurred below street level. Absent any visible signs, it has been easy to focus on the budget, now nearly twice the original estimate of $2 billion, and on the construction timetable, which has stretched to 10 years from 4. But for the first time, completion is imaginable. An aboveground entrance at Church Street known as the Oculus, has taken on its finished oval shape and the sweeping ceiling beams of the mezzanine are in place. Wherever one turns, the sensuous Calatrava curves have taken tangible form. At this time, the Port Authority expects the project to cost $3.94 billion. The first PATH passenger platforms are to be in service by the end of next year. The entire hub is to be in service by the end of 2015.
9/11 Memorial Bars Elected Officials From Speaking at Ceremony
July 11 - Elected officials will be barred from speaking at the 2012 ceremony to commemorate the anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center, the National September 11 Memorial and Museum announced on Wednesday. The New York Times and other sources reported that the change comes amid reports of tension between the office of Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the memorial chairman, and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, over control of the ceremony and other developments at the World Trade Center site. The details of the annual ceremony are often the subject of heated debate among lawmakers and families of victims of the attacks. As in past years, family members will read aloud the names of the victims, a tradition that Bloomberg had once publicly considered ending. Politicians, who have typically recited poems, quotations and literary passages at the annual event, can attend but must stay silent.
NYC Cultural Center Imam Had Life Threatened
July 11 - A leader of the effort to build an Islamic community center near the World Trade Center thanked the NYPD for coming to his aid during the furor over the project when he and the mosque were receiving death threats, reported the Associated Press. Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf said at the annual pre-Ramadan conference that he was forced to move because of the threats two years ago, but the department gave care and attention to the mosque, to the workers, to him and his family. Rauf helped come up with the idea for the center, called Park51, and promoted it amid fierce criticism because of its location. Rauf now has a reduced role in the project, which is moving forward although nothing has been built yet. Plans called for replacing a defunct clothing store two blocks from the World Trade Center site with a 13- to 16-story building that would hold athletic facilities, a day care center, art galleries, an auditorium, a 9/11 memorial, and a prayer space with room for a congregation of about 1,000. Critics assailed the project as insensitive, saying it was improper for a Muslim institution to be located so close to the site of an attack by Islamic extremists. The furor dissipated following the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks last year.
Water Main Project Heads to Broadway Next Year
July 11 - A $48 million water main project is coming to a busy downtown stretch of Broadway starting early next year, city officials said. DNAinfo.com reported that the construction, which will last four years, will affect eight blocks of the thoroughfare between Ann and Rector streets. Workers will replace old water mains and repair sewers beneath the street, a spokesman for the Department of Design and Construction said. City officials told residents at a Community Board 1 meeting Tuesday night that two lanes of Broadway would stay open at all times. The officials also said the work would begin with the two-block section of Broadway between Ann and John streets, moving south after about 18 months. The city initially planned to start at Rector Street instead and move north, but the old water pipes are causing leaks at the Fulton Center so that section needs to be fixed first. Catherine McVay Hughes, chairwoman ofCB1, sees the Broadway water main project as yet another reason to continue funding the LMCCC, which is responsible for managing many overlapping construction projects downtown.
Taxi Fares in New York to Rise by 17 percent
July 12 - The New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission has approved a taxi fare hike that will increase the cost of the average ride by 17 percent, reported the Associated Press and other news sources. The commission approved the fare increase by a vote of 6-2 Thursday with one abstention. The base fare of $2.50 will not increase, but the mileage charge will. The flat-rate fee between Manhattan and Kennedy Airport will jump from $45 to $52. The surcharge to travel to or from Newark Liberty International Airport will rise from $15 to $17.50. The last time taxi fares increased was in 2005.