August 11th - August 15th, 2008
Stringer Calls for Uniform Building Codes
August 11 – Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer is calling for uniform city building codes for all buildings owned by the state or federal government. Stringer says more than 800 city buildings are at risk for fires because they’re exempt from city building codes as well as inspections by the police, fire and buildings departments. Among them are the Freedom Tower, the United Nations, the Javits Convention Center and the Port Authority Bus Terminal. Stringer held a press conference outside the Deutsche Bank building which is exempt from city building codes because it’s owned by the LMDC. The Borough President was joined by Joseph Graffagnino whose son was one of two firefighters killed in the fire there last year. The anniversary of the fatal fire is August 18th. Stringer promised to make sure many of the 800 buildings are brought under compliance with the city code by the end of the year.
New High School Planned to Open in 2009
August 11 – Lower Manhattan will be getting a new high school. Crains is reporting that the School Construction Authority (SCA) has reached an agreement with the Sports Museum of America to lease 136,500 square feet at 26 Broadway between Beaver Street and Exchange Place. The SCA will take the fourth, fifth and sixth floors and the high school is expected to open in Fall 2009.
WTC Site Security Outlined
August 12 - The NYPD’s latest security plan for the WTC site would place tight restrictions on the 16 acre site. Detailed in a story in The New York Times, the plan would place the entire area in a security zone which only specially screened taxis, limousines and cars would be allowed in at five entry points. A dozen guard booths would be set up at street corners and the western lanes of Church Street would be reserved for emergency vehicles. All service and delivery trucks would be directed to an underground bomb screening center. According to the NYPD, the plan is designed to prevent a third terrorist attack on the site.
Security System Based on London
August 12 – The NYPD is working to create a London-style surveillance system for the financial district which includes license plate readers, movable roadblocks and thousands of security cameras below Canal Street. NYPD spokesman Paul J. Brown told The New York Times, “Our main objective would be to, through intelligence, find out about a plot before it ever got to a stage where a nuclear device or a dirty bomb was coming our way.” The plan is called Operation Sentinel and the NYPD hopes to have it in place by 2010.
Memorial and Museum Costs Expected to Soar
August 15 – There’s more stunning news about the cost of rebuilding the WTC site. Expect the price tag for the September 11 Memorial and Museum to soar and the museum may not open until 2013 or 2014. According to The Daily News, the cost of the memorial and museum will go past $1 billion; that’s a 65% increase over the $610 million price tag that officials have spoken about the past two years. The paper reports the original budget was based on completing the project in 2009 and skyrocketing prices for steel, concrete and crude oil are forcing costs up $25 to 65 million every year that the project is delayed. The Port Authority declined to comment on The Daily News report, but at its board meeting, Anthony Coscia said the agency will not offer any more than the $195 million it has committed. Lynn Rasic, a spokeswoman for the Memorial said, “If there are additional costs, we would expect to work with the Port Authority to minimize them and identify funding to cover them.”
One Year Anniversary Marked
August 15 – Monday marks the one year anniversary of the fatal fire at 130 Liberty Street, the Deutsche bank building. In a report in The Downtown Express, a source says the Manhattan District Attorney plans to release a report citing several non-criminal mistakes on the part of government that led to the fatal fire. The criminal investigation is continuing.
Changes in Rental Market
August 15 – The latest report on Lower Manhattan’s commercial property status shows some changes in the market. The Real Deal predicts over the next few months, hundreds of thousands of square feet of sublet space is expected to come on the market, mostly from financial services tenants. Downtown also had the largest flux in asking rent than other districts in Manhattan between May and June. The report says average rent fell to $49.53 a square foot, compared to $49.70 the previous month. The vacancy rate Downtown is 7.1 percent, up from 6.8 percent in May.