May 6th - May 12th, 2005
Financial District Neighborhood Proposed as Historic District
Friday, May 6: The Financial District's Fulton Street area may soon become a recognized historic district on the New York State registry, the Downtown Express reported.
Comprised of a significant number of largely-preserved buildings constructed between the 1860s and 1930s, the Fulton-Nassau Street area -- located north of Liberty Street and south of Spruce Street -- is among the historic districts under consideration by the State Historic Preservation Office, the paper said.
If granted historic status on the registry, state officials will then apply to be included on the national register of historic places. Unlike city preservation laws, national regulations place fewer restrictions on property owners, allowing developers to alter -- or demolish -- the properties, as well as buy and sell them freely. The owners would also be eligible for a preservation tax credit, which allows a 20 percent credit for certain renovations, the Express explained.
The state proposal is expected to be submitted for review on June 15 and, if approved, the Fulton Street area could join the 80,000 New York State properties on the national register in the fall, the paper added.
Weisbrod to Oversee Trinity Church Realty Operations
Tuesday, May 10: Carl Weisbrod, the longstanding president of the Alliance for Downtown New York, has been appointed to oversee real estate operations for Lower Manhattan's historic Trinity Church -- one of the largest property owners in New York City, the New York Times reported
Weisbrod will be tasked with managing the leasing and development of the church's six million square feet of commercial and retail space, which is spread across 18 buildings in and around Hudson Square, the paper said.
"It provides me with the opportunity to help create a fabulous New York City neighborhood around Hudson Square for a distinguished New York institution that is really interested in making a positive contribution to the city generally, and to my continuing to work in Lower Manhattan," Weisbrod told the Times.
At age 60, Weisbrod -- an urban planner and lawyer who has been actively involved in the redevelopment of both Lower Manhattan and Times Square for a quarter of a century -- will step down from his post at the Alliance and begin spearheading Trinity's real estate initiatives in July. While the Alliance is working to create a seat on its board for the former chairman, Weisbrod's new position guarantees that he will maintain a close connection with the rebuilding effort, the paper said.
Trinity Church has long been in control of downtown real estate. Under a 1705 land grant from Queen Ann of England, it gained ownership over a significant portion of city property. By the early 1900s, the church sold and donated much of the land, except for a large section downtown. During the Depression, Trinity assumed control of a slew of factory buildings in the Hudson Square area that it had leased to developers who faulted on their loans. Since the 1980s, Trinity has been working to gentrify the neighborhood, replacing many older commercial printing companies with office buildings, the Times noted.
EPA Announces New Plan to Test Buildings for Post 9/11 Contaminants
Wednesday, May 11: Responding to public and expert recommendations, the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a draft plan to test a sample of 150 buildings in Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn for remaining contaminants from the World Trade Center collapse, the New York Times and New York Post reported.
The draft plan calls for an extended inspection of dust and debris in business and residential buildings along the Brooklyn waterfront and as far north as Houston Street in Lower Manhattan. In 2002, the EPA's testing and cleanup effort was restricted to buildings in Manhattan south of Canal Street. An expert advisory panel created to evaluate the EPA's original testing report in 2003 called for additional, more extensive testing, the Times explained.
"By conducting this sampling program, we can determine the geographic extent of WTC contaminants that may remain and whether or not they are present at levels of concern," E. Timothy Oppelt, acting assistant administrator for the EPA's Office of Research and Development, told the Post.
A team of inspectors will search for contaminants, such as asbestos, lead, glass fiber, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, throughout 150 of the nearly 7,000 buildings within the study's designated boundaries. The plan relies on building owners volunteering to have their properties sampled, resulting in criticisms that the process will not be as conclusive as it could be, the Times noted.
The EPA will begin taking public comments on the draft plan during its expert-panel meeting on May 24. The agency hopes to finalize the testing plan by mid-summer and begin testing soon after, the Post added.
UN Considers WTC Site, Brooklyn in Relocation Plans
Wednesday, May 11: The United Nations announced that it is considering new locations to serve as a temporary home while its Midtown Manhattan headquarters undergoes an extensive renovation, according to a report released by Secretary-General Kofi Annan, the Associated Press and Daily News reported.
After conducting a search of more than 100 properties in Manhattan, the UN is now favoring an undisclosed space on the Brooklyn waterfront over other Manhattan options, including 7 World Trade Center, but has still not found an adequate facility, AP explained
According to the report, "after researching over 100 properties…it appears that existing commercial space that could accommodate the conferencing requirement is unavailable in Manhattan at the scale required," the News said.
The 38-story UN secretariat building is set to undergo a significant renovation that will total $1.2 billion. The UN's original plan, which included building a 35-story auxiliary tower south of its headquarters, has not yet been approved by state lawmakers and has prompted UN officials to research other options. While UN officials acknowledged that chances of relocating to Brooklyn are slight, they have not said when a final decision will be made, AP added.
Pataki Details Rebuilding Progress, Appoints Rebuilding Officials
Thursday, May 12: Gov. George Pataki announced that the construction of the redesigned Freedom Tower and other major rebuilding projects will continue as scheduled without delay, establishing key new milestones, including concrete timelines and new funding plans.
"September 11th saw the Twin Towers fall, now let's make the Freedom Tower rise. Let's move forward in unity, and rededicate ourselves to the sacred task of rebuilding Lower Manhattan," said Gov. Pataki in a news release.
According to Pataki, the redesign of the Freedom Tower, which was approved by the New York Police Department (NYPD), is scheduled to be completed and unveiled by the end of June. The design will be consistent with WTC master architect Daniel Libeskind's plan for the site, including a 1,776-foot tower located in the northwest corner of the site.
Additionally, officials will break ground on the WTC Memorial by early 2006 and complete the project in time for its scheduled opening on September 11, 2009. Gov. Pataki and Mayor Michael Bloomberg have agreed to dedicate $300 million of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation (LMDC)'s remaining funds to the project. Other funding will be devoted to the completion of the Tribeca section of Hudson River Park, the deconstruction of Fiterman Hall, the transformation of Lower Manhattan's waterfront, and enhanced community amenities for Lower Manhattan.
To help spearhead the effort, Pataki appointed his chief of staff, John P. Cahill, to lead and coordinate the rebuilding efforts of the LMDC, Port Authority, Empire State Development Corporation, Department of Transportation, and the Battery Park City Authority, among others.
The governor also named Stefan Pryor as president of the LMDC, to succeed Kevin Rampe, who announced his resignation last week. The LMDC board is expected confirm the appointment of Pryor, who has served as the LMDC senior vice president for policy and promotions since its inception, next Thursday.
A copy of the governor's address is available on the LMDC website. For additional coverage, please click here.
Plans for National Sports Museum Unveiled
Thursday, May 12: Gov. George Pataki joined more than a dozen sport legends, including Bob Cousy and Billie Jean King, to unveil the design for downtown's National Sports Museum, the first-ever major comprehensive museum of sports in the United States.
"The National Sports Museum will be a great addition to the many outstanding attractions already in Lower Manhattan. Not only are we providing jobs and opportunities, we are giving visitors from around the world a unique reason to visit and experience New York," said Gov. Pataki in a statement.
The event marked a major milestone in the project, formally launched last year when Pataki and Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that $52,000,000 in Liberty Bonds had been allocated for the project.
The 100,000-square-foot museum, which will be located in the former Cunard Passenger Shop Line building on Broadway at Bowling Green, will present the memorabilia and history of sports such as baseball, basketball, football, hockey, auto racing, golf, tennis, boxing, track and field, collegiate athletics, soccer, swimming, the Olympic Games, and more.
When completed, catering and restaurant operations and visitor spending at the museum is expected to generate $73 million in economic activity throughout New York City, along with 1,020 full-time-equivalent jobs.
Architects Test WTC Memorial Design in Backyard Model
Thursday, May 12: Architects have created the first full-scale, three-dimensional model of the World Trade Center Memorial, "Reflecting Absence," in the backyard of a home in Ontario, the New York Times reported.
Dan Euser of Dan Euser Waterarchitecture Inc., a consultant to the memorial designers, created the $175,000 imitation of the memorial in order to test and modify the design. Measuring 27 feet high, the structure is made of 300 plywood sheets, timber framing, steel-plate bracing, and three 10-horsepower pumps, all used to simulate the 40-corner section of the memorial voids, the paper explained.
Since January, Euser has been testing how the waterfalls in Michael Arad and Peter Walker's design will flow, making sure that they will not negatively impact the site by splashing visitors, causing deafening roars, or become frozen or clogged in different seasons, the Times said.
Among the other issues that Euser will focus on is how the edge of the voids will be treated in the plaza and how to soften the sound of the waterfalls as they strike the pools below. While rebuilding officials are working on revising the design of the Freedom Tower, plans for the WTC memorial continue to progress, the paper noted.