March 11th - March 17th, 2005
Demand for Downtown Condos Gives Prices a Boost
Friday, March 11: According to the latest annual report issued by the Real Estate Board of New York, downtown is home to the most expensive condominium apartments in Manhattan -- overtaking uptown for the first time in the report's history, the New York Post reported.
The Real Estate Board, which has been tracking prices of residential real estate since 1995, found that the median price of condo residences south of 42nd Street skyrocketed to $667,000 -- outpacing the Upper West Side's $650,000 median price and the Upper East Side's $630,000, the paper said.
Driving the increase were sales below 14th Street, where prewar condos surged to a median price of $1.275 million and postwar units registered at a median of $950,000, the Post noted.
The report also shows that the overall number of apartment sales in Manhattan hit an all time high in 2004, exhibiting a 39 percent increase in the number of co-op sales and a 29 percent rise in condo sales, the paper added.
Milenium Hotel Reaches Settlement in 9/11 Suit
Friday, March 11: The owner of downtown's Milenium Hilton hotel reached a $25 million settlement with its insurance carrier, ending a lengthy dispute over the amount of damage to the property and subsequent loss of business resulting from the 9/11 attacks, Newsday reported.
The settlement brings the hotel's total insurance proceeds to $85 million. In addition to the recent $25 million deal, the hotel owner won a $50 million settlement agreement from Travelers Property Casualty Co. and an additional $10 million in 2002 from another insurance carrier, the paper noted.
Owned by Singapore-based Millennium & Copthorne Hotels, the 565-room Milenium Hotel reopened in May 2003 and continues to run at full capacity, Newsday said.
Downtown-JFK Rail Link Funding Estimates Fall Short
Saturday, March 12: The Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation estimated that the federal tax credits available to New York City and state officials for the construction of the proposed rail link between Lower Manhattan and Kennedy International Airport are worth only $727 million -- approximately $1.3 billion less than officials had hoped, the New York Times reported.
While officials may be faced with having to find alternative sources of federal money to compensate for the $1.3 billion, they are still committed to seeing the rail link realized. Last month, President George W. Bush renewed his support of the project, endorsing Gov. George Pataki and Mayor Michael Bloomberg's request for $2 billion in federal tax credits, and Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Dan Doctoroff testified before the Senate Finance Committee on behalf of the link last week, the Times noted.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates the region's three major airports, has already committed $560 to the project, and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) has proposed contributing $400 million as part of its new five-year capital program, still under review in Albany, the paper said.
The proposed rail link calls for the construction of a tunnel under the East River that would connect the Fulton Transit Center to Brooklyn's Atlantic Avenue subway and commuter rail terminal. From there, the service would continue along Long Island Rail Road to the AirTrain terminal in Queens. For more about the rail link, click here.
LMDC Evaluates Plans for WTC Cultural Complex
Wednesday, March 15: As the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation (LMDC) prepares to unveil a design for the museum complex planned for the new World Trade Center site in coming weeks, the decision of which cultural institutions will ultimately occupy the space has not yet been fully finalized, the New York Times reported.
LMDC officials are currently evaluating financing options and operating costs for the WTC cultural center, as well as assessing whether or not the four selected tenants -- the Joyce International Dance Center, the Freedom Center, the Signature Theatre, and the Drawing Center -- will be able to sustain their operations downtown, the paper said.
As part of the selection process for the four cultural institutions chosen to occupy the WTC arts center last June, the LMDC noted that each cultural group would have to demonstrate that it could survive downtown and that final selection would be contingent upon a feasibility analysis of its programming, funding capacity, and space restrictions, the Times explained.
"These are painful discussions for the institutions," LMDC President Kevin Rampe told the Times. "We're asking them hard questions, making them make commitments. No one's in until we've gone through the process."
The LMDC is currently considering the number of expected visitors to the site, potential retail and restaurant operations, building occupancies, and appropriate ratios of earned to contributed income, among other items, the Times said.
Transportation Council Readies to Appoint New Director
Tuesday, March 15: The New York Metropolitan Transportation Council plans to appoint Joel P. Ettinger as its new executive director, a post that has been vacant for nearly 15 months, the New York Times reported.
For more than three years, the council, which monitors traffic congestion and air pollution as well as plans for the transportation needs of New York's southern 10 counties, has been recovering from the loss of its headquarters in the World Trade Center's north tower during the 9/11 attacks. The council lost three employees in the attack, and its records, dating back to the 1960s, and a computer server were also destroyed, the Times explained.
The decision to appoint Ettinger, a Brooklyn native who is currently serving as a top federal transit official in Chicago, marks a significant step in the council's recovery process. Ettinger will lead the council, which includes representatives from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), Department of City Planning, city and state Departments of Transportation, and five suburban counties, the Times added.
Last November, the council moved into its new headquarters on Lower Manhattan's Water Street after temporarily relocating to Long Island City. It also has offices in Hauppauge, Long Island, and Poughkeepsie, the paper said.
First WTC Liberty Bonds Sold
Wednesday, March 16: Banc of America Securities sold $475 million worth of Liberty Bonds for the development of 7 World Trade Center, marking the first sale of the tax-exempt bonds for the rebuilding of the World Trade Center, Crain's New York Business reported.
Plans for WTC-Area Property Remain Unsettled
Thursday, March 17: The public comment period on New York State's plan to condemn the 20,000-square-foot block of land located south of Ground Zero -- a vital element of the WTC rebuilding plan -- concluded last week, leaving the fate of the coveted parcel largely unsettled, the New York Times reported.
The property, bound by Liberty, Washington, Cedar, and West Streets, is currently owned by the Milstein family but is being hotly sought by the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation (LMDC) for inclusion in the new World Trade Center site. According to current plans, the area would serve as a gateway for ramps, service roads, loading docks, and parking spaces beneath the future World Trade Center, the Times explained.
The LMDC began negotiations with the Milsteins last year, offering them $30 million for the property, but the two sides have yet to come to an agreement. Although state officials are going forward with a plan to condemn the property in order to gain control of it, the LMDC is still working to reach an agreement with the Milsteins, the paper said.
"We remain hopeful that we'll able to reach a negotiated settlement," LMDC President Kevin Rampe told the Times.
The Milsteins, who purchased the plot in 1978, used the property as a parking lot until the city Department of Design and Construction, and, later, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, seized control of it after September 11, 2001, the paper added.
Pace Index Shows 18th Consecutive Month of Economic Improvement
Thursday, February 17: The Pace Downtown Index (PDI) -- the first comprehensive economic indicator for Lower Manhattan -- shows a continuing upward trend for the downtown economy for the 18th consecutive month.
The PDI is determined by tracking economic progress as a weighted average of four variables, two representing activities in the financial markets and two representing the commercial real estate market and the city's overall economy. The selected variables are the S&P 500 Index, the Federal Funds Rate, the total commercial real estate inventory in Lower Manhattan, and the Gross Lower Manhattan Product.
The latest PDI released registers at 98.99 for February, an increase of 0.25 percent from last month and 2.21 percent from February 2004.
Pace University's Center for Downtown New York (CDNY), with assistance from the Mayor's Office and the Alliance for Downtown New York, developed the PDI. On the third Thursday of each month, Pace announces the latest PDI and posts a full report on the PDI webpage.