August 24th - August 30th, 2013
NYC Wants Free Wireless on Staten Island Ferry
August 23 - New York City officials want passengers who make the 5.2-mile, 25-minute trip aboard the Staten Island Ferry to enjoy free, wireless Internet service, according to the Associated Press. Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan said Friday the agency is looking to see if a private company could install and maintain free wireless service at both terminals and aboard the Staten Island Ferry boats. About 22 million passengers used the Staten Island Ferry in 2012. The city has issued so-called Requests for Expression of Interest to see if technology companies can assess how feasible the free Internet service could be. Those plans are due Oct. 8. Any plan that would eventually become adopted would be selected through a separate bidding process. Officials say the requests should detail system designs, costs, and security protections among other details.
Pier 17 Development Eyed Warily by Community
August 27 - The face of the largest historic district in Lower Manhattan may be on the verge of a multiphase development project, but little is known of the developer's plans beyond the first phase, reported the Epoch Times. The Howard Hughes Corporation (HHC) is set to transform South Street Seaport's Pier 17 into a modern, glass structure that will increase open space on the pier and on the building's roof. Merchants in the current building must be moved out by Sept. 9, and demolition will begin on Oct. 1, according to Community Board 1 (CB1). The renovation of Pier 17's main building is expected to be complete in 2015, with new stores, restaurants, shops, and performance space. Much of the local community has bemoaned the project as a danger to the historic district's unique character. It is also concerned that it will open the gate for future development that could include at least one high-rise building. The area is currently the fifth largest tourist attraction in New York City, according to HHC.
Time Equities Secures $400M to Finance Downtown Condo Tower
August 28 - Time Equities has closed on a nearly $400 million financing deal that enables him to build a 63-story residential tower in Lower Manhattan, The Real Deal reported. The Helmut Jahn-designed building at 50 West Street will overlook Battery Park and the Hudson River. Construction is slated to begin this fall and finish by 2016. The firm has owned the site since 1983, but plans for the building were put on the back burner when the financial crisis hit. The debt financing came from PNC Bank, which led a $288 million loan syndication that also includes Wells Fargo and other major banks. Time Equities also secured $110 million in equity financing from hedge fund management firm Elliott Management for the tower, a deal was brokered by Cushman & Wakefield. The ability to secure a construction loan of this size is a welcome sign for the market.
Downtown Burial Ground Marks MLK Speech Anniversary
August 28 - The African Burial Ground National Monument in lower Manhattan was one of more than 300 sites around the country marking the 50th anniversary of Rev. Martin Luther King's "I Have A Dream" speech, reported the Associated Press. About a dozen visitors were at the monument in New York City on Wednesday to listen as a bell rang out around 3 p.m., accompanied by a West African drum. Other places around the nation from Alaska to the National Cathedral in Washington also rang bells to commemorate King's call to "let freedom ring." The timing of the commemoration marked the time King gave his speech on Aug. 28, 1963, at the March on Washington. The monument marks part of the grounds where thousands of African slaves and their descendants were once buried.
Old Fulton Fish Market Building Denied Historic Status
August 29 - A bid to extend the South Street Seaport Historic District to include the New Market Building has been denied, reported the Epoch Times. In an Aug. 21 letter from the Landmarks Preservation Commission Director of Research, Mary Beth Betts stated the property "does not appear to meet the criteria for designation." The letter also states that the property will not be recommended to the LPC's full commission for any additional consideration as a New York City landmark. The New Market Building was opened in 1939 by the Works Progress Administration. The LPC decision comes against a backdrop of concerns over plans that the building's landlord, The Howard Hughes Corporation, will tear the building down and replace it with a high-rise structure. HHC is about to begin construction of a new building on Pier 17, which abuts the New Market Building. The New Market Building, also known as one of the old Fulton Fish Market buildings, falls just outside of the border of the South Street Seaport historic district. Without the designation, the building is subject to development without public review. The Historic Districts Council, an organization that advocates for historic neighborhoods in New York City and filed the request for the designation consideration, plans to keep pushing to protect the building. "The site lacks architectural significance," according to a statement by LPC. The Landmarks Law criteria is that a landmark has "a special character or special historical or aesthetic interest or value as part of the development, heritage or cultural characteristics of the city, state or nation."