September 22nd - September 28th, 2012
Group to Monitor Aid for 9/11 Responders
September 21 - Unions and advocates have formed a watchdog group to ensure continued health coverage and compensation under federal legislation for 9/11 responders and others exposed to World Trade Center toxins, according to Newsday. Their first order of business is to see that $329 million is not automatically chopped from the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act if Congress does not enact deficit-cutting legislation by Jan. 2. Called 9/11 Health Watch, the not-for-profit organization was formed to give continuity to the work of union leaders and advocates who fought for about a decade to get the $4.3-billion law passed and signed in January 2011. The Zadroga Act loses funding in 2016, meaning that unless a new law is passed, there will be no more money for health care coverage or for the victims compensation fund.
City Leaders Call for Greater Safety at Parks Following Recent Sexual Assaults
September 23 - City officials spoke out following the second sexual assault at a city parkin as many weeks, reported CBS News and other sources. Elected officials led by City Council Speaker Christine Quinn joined together at Hudson River Park in Lower Manhattan in a show of solidarity and outrage. Members of the city council have written a letter to Mayor Michael Bloomberg in an effort to prevent $100 million in mid-year NYPD budget cuts that could take some officers out of city parks. Elected officials also said they want crime statistics from city parks available so experts can analyze trends in an effort to cut down on future attacks. An elderly woman was raped in a wooded area of Central Park two weeks ago, another was raped on the new Pier 15 on the East River, and awoman was sexually assaulted by a homeless man this weekend in Hudson River Park.
WTC Construction Leads to Downgrade of Port Authority Bond Rating
September 24 - The potential downgrade that spooked the Port Authority into raising tolls and fares last year happened anyway Monday, and a driving factor was the cost of reconstruction at the World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan, reported the Wall Street Journal. Analysts from Moodys Investors Service downgraded the bond rating for the Port, to Aa3 from Aa2. The downgrade will affect $18.2 billion in consolidated bonds, Moodys said. It could add millions of dollars to the Ports borrowing costs, even as leadership struggles to shore up its finances as the WTC development enters its final stages. The primary factor in the downgrade was roughly $2 billion in new costs the authority will shoulder through 2016, a figure driven by the Ports share of the redevelopment of the WTC. In addition, a recently completed audit of agency finances shows as much as $17 billion in new potential capital needs over the next 10 years. And the authority is reaching the limit of its ability to turn to toll-payers to cover its debts, analysts said.
130 Liberty Site Likely to Be Condo-Hotel, Say Appraisers
September 26 - An agreement paving the way for the redevelopment of the 130 Liberty Street site in Lower Manhattan will likely lead to a new hotel and residential project, the firm that recently appraised the site told Real Estate Weekly. Site 5, as it is known, will likely be purchased for a mixed-use development project consisting of a hotel on the lower floors and upper level residential apartments and not for office development. The agreement, first reported by major newswires on the Sept. 11 anniversary, requires the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, which acquired Site 5 from Deutsche Bank in 2004, to complete a 2006 agreement and turn it over to the Port Authority. In exchange, the Port Authority would give the museum the title to the eight acres of land that it and the memorial occupy on the 16-acre World Trade Center site. The land swaps entailed in the agreement were stalled in part due to a political standoff over the running of the Sept. 11 anniversary ceremonies at memorial plaza, with the Governors of New York and New Jersey, who run the Port Authority, demanding more control over the ceremonies. The agreement gives the two sides six months to finalize the exchange.
3 Bidders Left to Run World Trade Center Observatory
September 26 - And then there were three. A French firm, a Canadian outfit, and the company that runs the stadiums for the Dallas Cowboys and the New York Yankees are the finalists in a fierce eight-way competition to operate what will be one of the highest and presumably most lucrative observatories in the nation, at 1 World Trade Center, according to bidders and other executives involved in the bidding process. According to the New York Times, when the building opens in 2014, millions of visitors a year are expected to pay about $25 each to be whisked from the basement of the skyscraper to a three-level attraction more than 1,230 feet above the street, on floors 100 through 102. Revenues, experts say, should exceed $100 million annually. The observatory, which will offer unobstructed views of the city, New York Harbor, and New Jersey, will compete against similar attractions atTop of the Rock, at 30 Rockefeller Plaza, and the Empire State Building, whose observatory decks attract four million visitors and generate $60 million a year in profits. The Port Authority, which is desperately searching for new sources of revenue, hopes that it has found one in the observatory.
More Funding Woes for Planned Cultural Venue within WTC Complex
September 26 - The long-planned Lower Manhattan Performing Arts Center -- budgeted at more than $400 million, designed by Frank Gehry and slated for a 2017 opening within the WTC site -- is still awaiting its first dime, reported the Battery Park Broadsheet. The LMDC, which delayed for several years handing over $155 million in federal funds earmarked for the project, also announced at a September board meeting that it is not yet willing to turn over even $1 million for the organization to begin hiring staff. Meanwhile, the Performing Arts Center project is expected to raise from private donations another $295 million to cover the remainder of its budget. But scant progress has been reported toward this goal. And the Joyce Theater dance company, the only major tenant that has committed to move into the Performing Arts Center, announced in September that it has decided to spend $24 million buying the space it has rented for decades in in Chelsea, although a spokesman denies that this will affect the groups plans to move to the WTC facility, once it is complete. The planned location of the Performing Arts Center is near Vesey and Greenwich Streets, approximately where the entrance to the temporary WTC PATH station is now located.