February 16th - February 22nd, 2013
Towering 50 West St. Project Still in Limbo
February 11 - Plans for a financially-strapped 62-story apartment-and-hotel project on lower West Street continue to languish six years after the developer got the city's green light to build, reports the Tribeca Trib. So much time has elapsed that the developer, Time Equities, Inc., must renew special city permits for 50 West Street, a 730-foot-high structure with a hotel on its five lower floors and 300 apartments above. Time Equities has yet to score financing for the project. The permits, which must be renewed every few years, allow the developer to position the tower further back on the lot, build higher through the purchase of air rights from the city, and create a public plaza connecting West and Washington Streets. The plaza would connect to a pedestrian bridge over West Street at West Thames, due to open in 2015. Time Equities has set 2017 as its new target date for completing the building.
1 WTC Bomb-Proof Base Gets a Shiny Green Skin
February 15 - The bunker-like base of 1 World Trade Center is getting a shine, according to the Tribeca Trib. Each day, more shimmering glass covers are hoisted and fastened onto the building's 186-foot high podium. More than 2,000 of these green panels, each with two sheaths of glass, will make up the base once it is finished later this year or early next. The European-made glass, each piece measuring 13 feet 4 inches by two feet, has a special coating that absorbs sunlight while trapping minimal amounts of heat. Once the installation is complete, the glass will form a shiny skin around the protective concrete walls of the base. In early 2011, designers nixed an original plan to use a prismatic glass, deemed too costly, impractical and brittle. The glass panels, arranged at different angles, will be illuminated with energy-efficient lighting that will "make the building sparkle."
City Moves to Transform LoMa Into Next Tech Hub
February 18 - Twenty firms, mostly in the technology field, have submitted proposals to open offices in Lower Manhattan, in a move that could transform the cultural makeup of the neighborhood, Crains reported. The city, in an attempt to encourage tech migration to the Sandy-ravaged neighborhood, will announce the 20 finalists who will receive grants from $10,000 to $250,000 to establish a presence there.The finalists include e-commerce site Of a Kind, green-tech company ThinkEco, online-invitation company Paperless Post, and Stella-Service, an analytics firm that helps measure an online retailers customer service. Almost 500 tech firms already have a downtown presence, and this initiative would increase that number and build more of a sense of a tech community. Across the city, the Bloomberg Administration has been actively courting the tech community.
Goldman Ferries on Hudson Are Finally in Service
February 19 - It is a mystery that has drifted around New York Harbor for two years: Why did one of the world's biggest investment banks buy two custom-made ferry boats and leave them bobbing, unused, on the Hudson River? According to the New York Times, this week the idleness ended when the boats -- named York and Jersey -- suddenly slipped into service as commuter ferries, carrying passengers, bank employees or not, between Lower Manhattan and Jersey City. The same passengers who paid $6 each way to ride a New York Waterway workhorse last week have traded up to smoother, quieter boatswith plush seating, courtesy of the bank,Goldman Sachs. The 72-foot-long catamarans may have been built to Wall Street standards, but because they land at a public pier near the World Financial Center, Goldman could not exclude the public. In this case, the operator will be the BillyBey Ferry Company, which owns a fleet of boats that it hires New York Waterway to run as commuter ferries. Paul Goodman, the president of BillyBey, said there would be no change in the existing New York Waterway schedule or fares for the route.
WTC Developer: Airline Reneging on 9-11 Promise
February 20 - A World Trade Center developer asked a judge Wednesday to disqualify American Airlines from using an act of war defense to dodge property liability resulting from the Sept. 11 attacks, reported NBC News and other sources. Lawyers for the developer, Larry Silverstein, filed papers in U.S. District Court in Manhattan to urge rejection of American Airlines claim that the 2001 terrorist attack was an act of war that should shield the airline from liability. The lawyers said the airline and its insurance carriers promised Congress, regulators and the American people after the attacks that the defense would not be used. In return, the lawyers said, the aviation industry got a massive federal bailout that protected their businesses after the attacks. Silverstein has been aggressive in the courts to try to collect as much money as possible to rebuild the trade center after the Sept. 11 attacks demolished two 110-story towers. A judge has limited him to $2.8 billion in potential payouts from remaining litigation, including his action against Texas-based American Airlines.
LMCCC to Close This Year, But Work Goes On
February 20 - The agency coordinating construction at the World Trade Center and nearby sites is in its last year of operation as the work winds down -- but predicts mid to high levels of Downtown construction through 2016, reported the Downtown Express. Lower Manhattan Construction Command Center (L.M.C.C.C.) officials are forecasting widespread public works and private development, resulting in over 2,600 units (and this is a low estimate) of residential housing in the next four years. Yet the Command Center is not planning to continue beyond its three-year extension to the end of 2013. Despite that, the community board will be sorry to see them go, said Michael Levine, C.B.1's director of planning and land use. He also said that while Downtown construction might not be on the scale of years past, it will certainly not go away. "We have been asking every year for their continued funding," and we plan to keep asking, he said. Originally established in 2005 to coordinate W.T.C. construction by Port Authority as well as projects from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and state Department of Transportation, the organization has begun to keep track of a wider range of activities as Downtown construction decentralizes.
Risk of Flooding Will Not Alter Plan to Preserve 9/11 Remains
February 20 - Despite what is now a known risk of flooding, the Bloomberg administration and the 9/11 memorial foundation still intend to place the unidentified remains of World Trade Center victims at the bedrock level of the National September 11 Memorial Museum, as they have long planned to do, according to the New York Times. After Hurricane Sandy, at least seven feet of water flooded the bedrock level of the unfinished museum. They said the question of where to place the remains was settled long ago, with the relatives knowledge and assent, and need not be revisited. They also said that the safety of the remains can be guaranteed. A group of 17 family members wants to survey all the next of kin, in the belief that most would prefer a different resting place for what may or may not be the remains of their relatives. But the city will not turn over its master mailing list of those relatives, citing privacy concerns. Its refusal to do so was upheld last month by the Appellate Division of the State Supreme Court. Under the current plan, 8,354 unidentified human remains are to be stored in a repository, controlled by the NYC chief medical examiner, adjoining the underground museum. The repository will not be open or visible to the public.
BPCA Selects Contractor to Replace Ball Fields
February 22 - The Battery Park City Authority (BPCA) has chosen a contractor to replace the artificial turf ball fields that were flooded and seriously damaged during Hurricane Sandy in October, reported The Broadsheet. Applied Landscape Technologies has been selected to begin work as soon as possible, with the provisional goal of finishing the project (originally projected to take six months) sometime in April. This might allow Downtown Little League to begin its annual spring season with little or no delay from its originally scheduled start date of Sunday, April 7. If the fields are completed in time for Downtown Little League to begin play in April, that success may be attributable, at least in part, to a decision by the BPCA earlier this year to begin on its own the work of clearing the fields of their old surface, in advance of a contractor being designated. The BPCA request for proposals (to which Applied Landscape Technologies responded) calls for work to begin no later than February 28.
Three Construction Workers Busted in WTC Drug Ring
February 22 - Three World Trade Center concrete workers were just arrested on charges they have been peddling drugs to other hardhats at the worlds most famous construction site, reported the New York Post. Port Authority investigators were tipped off about seven months ago that a drug ring was operating at the problem-plagued WTC site and traced it to the trio who work for Sorbara Construction of Lynbrook, LI. The three were nailed as they arrived for work this morning; all are facing five counts of drug sale and possession. The WTC reconstruction has been plagued by a series of workplace accidents, though investigators were quick to caution that they do not yet know whether drugs have played any role in those incidents. The Post has also detailed a wide-ranging problem with hard hats downing booze during the work day at the WTC. As a result, the PA has cracked down by rounding up construction workers found drinking, arresting them and permanently revoking their credentials to work on the site.